Chicken and Waffles

We finally hit somewhat of a cool period, so I thought I would take advantage of the not 90 degree weather to make one of my favorite family recipes. My great-nana used to make chicken and waffles, and her recipe is what my mom used to make for me. There is something extremely comforting about consuming a recipe that has been made across generations of your family.

Also, if you think chicken and waffles should be breaded and fried chicken with syrup over waffles, you are wrong. If you don’t believe me on how wrong you are, then make this recipe!

RECIPE: Chicken and Waffles
Makes 2 servings with some leftovers

Waffle Iron
Dutch oven or pot with lid
Cast iron pan
Baking Sheet
Oven set to 250 degrees

1 1/2 Cups Milk
6 Tablespoons Melted Butter
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Eggs
2 Cups Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoon Yeast
Chicken with skins and bones
Bay Leaf

1) The waffle batter has to sit for an hour, so its important to make it first. Warm the milk and combine it with the melted butter in a bowl.
2) Stir in the maple syrup, salt, and vanilla.
3) Crack in two eggs and mix well.
4) Add the flour and yeast, stirring and then let sit with a towel over the bowl for an hour. I set a timer for thirty minutes so I had time to get the chicken portion ready.

5) In a dutch over or pot, combine the chicken with enough water to cover the chicken.
6) Let the water come to a low boil or high simmer, keeping the pot covered while the chicken cooks.
DSCF48227) Once the chicken is about cooked through and looks like it will easy peal from the bone, begin heating a cast iron pan with crisco in it. You will want a good amount of crisco for this stage to prevent sticking.
8) Once the crisco is melted and hot, remove the chicken from the pot to a baking sheet. Blot dry a little bit to limit splatter.
9) Fry the chicken one piece at a time in the cast iron pan until the skin and chicken is brown and crispy.
10) Place the browned chicken bake on the baking sheet and put into the oven while you finish the waffles and gravy.
11) Keep the water you cooked the chicken in cooking, and add some salt, pepper, a bay leaf, and anything else you like in your gravy.
12) Begin cooking the waffles in your waffle iron/maker. The recipe made four full waffles in my machine.
13) Stir and taste the gravy between waffles until its a nice and tasty chicken gravy.
14) Serve the chicken on top of the waffles and then pour the gravy over top. The gravy should soak into the waffle.


The waffle recipe was one from Charlie, and I have never had a bad recipe from him. His waffles are a perfect match for this recipe, so please don’t use waffle mix or another recipe that you have. Also, my Great-Nana taught me that any leftover waffles should be eaten for dessert with a bit of butter and a sprinkle of white sugar!


Zucchini Lasagna

I had half a zucchini that had been cut length wise. I was trying to figure out what to do with it, when suddenly the thought popped into my head! Everyone loves spaghetti style zoodles, so why not make lasagna style zoodles? I didn’t have traditional lasagna ingredients on hand, but I think I made do pretty well!

RECIPE: Zucchini Lasagna
Makes 6 servings

Cutting Board
Oven set to 375 degrees
Cast iron pans
Cheese Grater

Ground Pepper
Pizza Sausage
Canned Hot Peppers
Cream Cheese

1) Pour the canned tomatoes into a cast iron pan.
2) Chop up the garlic and toss it into the tomatoes.
3) While letting the tomatoes cook a bit, add the pizza sausage to another pan.
4) I like hot Italian sausage in my lasagna, so pour the liquid from the canned hot peppers over the cooking sausage.

5) Season the tomato sauce with lots of chopped up fresh basil, a bit of sage, a heavy dash of oregano, and some freshly ground pepper. Stir occasionally as it cooks.
6) When the sausage is done, remove it from the pan to a plate.
7) Slice the 1 and 1/2 zucchinis length wise into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Then cut them down to cast iron pan length.
8) In a bowl of measuring cup, stir together cream cheese, lots of parsley, and tons of Parmesan. This was my attempt to replace the feel and flavor of the missing ricotta cheese element.
9) Shred the mozzarella cheese.

10) In the pan that  you had cooked the sausage, lay down a layer of zucchini noodles.
11) Top the zucchini noodles with tomato sauce, sausage, cream cheese mix, and mozzarella.
12) Repeat step 11 until out of ingredients or you’ve reached the top of the pan.
13) Always top with as much leftover cheese as possible.
14) Bake for between 20-30 minutes or until all the cheese is melted and starting to brown.
15) Slice and serve.DSCF4806With all the filling, I was amazed that the zucchini stayed in layers! The tomato sauce next to the zucchini helped it soften while it baked, and you could cut through the whole thing with your fork just like a regular lasagna. Even my husband liked the cream cheese/Parmesan cheat for the ricotta replacement! DSCF4807

Late Summer Nachos

I almost wanted to call these harvest nachos, but with it still being summer it didn’t quite feel accurate. These nachos are made with all locally harvest and prepared vegetables, and the combination of fresh and seasonal just made the flavors pop! If you ever have leftover grilled corn, I highly recommend making nachos with it!

RECIPE: Late Summer Nachos
Makes 2 Meal Servings

Cutting Board
Oven set to 375 degrees
Baking Sheet

Tortilla Chips
Pepper Jack Cheese
Orange Tomato
Banana Peppers
Grilled Corn
Lemonade (optional)

1) Lay out a single layer of tortilla chips on a baking sheet. We had one bag that was almost empty and used maybe a 1/4 of the second bag. DSCF4811

2) Shred 4 ounces or half a block of pepper jack cheese. Sprinkle it evenly across the chips, but try not to let any lay just on the baking sheet.
4) Chop the banana peppers into rings. I like a bit thicker ring because I think it makes for a better bite, but if spicy isn’t your thing than go for thinner slices.
5) Cut the tomato into bite size chunks.
6) Distribute the peppers and tomatoes across the chips.
7) Husk the grilled corn and then carefully use a knife to cut off the kernels. Break up the kernels and sprinkle over the chips. 
8) Back in the 375 degree oven until the cheese is melted and just starting to brown.
9) Serve with the salsa of your choice. I went with the jalapeno salsa that I had canned last month.

These nachos are not only delicious, but colorful! I enjoyed the contract between the red salsa, the orange tomatoes, the green banana peppers, and the yellow corn. It really made the whole dish feel festive! Also, these meal goes really well with some nice cold lemonade!

Bacon Grease Potato Salad

If you have a cardiologist, I would suggest skipping this recipe because it is not heart healthy in the least. Just like the bacon wrapped ribs, this recipe is delicious, but also probably not worth making more than once a year to keep your arteries clear and operating. Also, this recipe includes chilling it so I recommend starting it a few hours before dinner and letting it just hang in your fridge while you cook the rest of the meal.

RECIPE: Bacon Grease Potato Salad
Makes 4 Servings

Cutting Board
Spatula or Spoon

Bacon Grease
2 Potatoes
2 Eggs
Carrots with greens
Malt Vinegar
Garlic Powder

1) Pour the bacon grease into a pot and begin heating it up over medium heat.
2) Dice the potato into little pieces. Toss it into the bacon grease and cover.
3) Place two eggs in a pot of water and bring it to a boil. I have a little egg timer that tells me when they are hard boiled.
4) Chop the carrots and place them in a bowl. They won’t be cooked so they stay crispy crunchy.
5) Chop up the carrot greens and toss them in with the potatoes. Keep the potatoes uncovered and stir occasionally so that they cook evenly and get just a bit crispy on the outside.
6) Season the potatoes in the pot with malt vinegar and a dash of garlic powder.
7) When the potatoes are cooked through, pour them into the bowl with the carrots.
8) Scoop mayo over the potatoes while they are still warm and stir until everything is evenly coated. Cover the bowl and let it chill in the fridge for a while.

DSCF48329) When the eggs are done, drain them and pour ice water over them to cool them quickly and make them easy to peel.
10) Peal the eggs and then rinse them to make sure all the egg shell is gone.
11) Remove the yolks form the eggs and put into a small bowl.
12) And just enough mustard to the bowl that you can mash it with the yolks into a spread.
13) Chop up the egg whites into little pieces.
14) Stir the egg yolk mix and egg whites into the potato mixture.
15) Let chill fully combined for an hour or two prior to serving. DSCF4833This potato salad goes really well with fresh and light meals. We did a lemon ginger marinated chicken and grilled corn to balance out the strong flavor of the potato salad.

The Classic B.L.T.

When I was a kid, I hated tomatoes. All tomato byproducts were fine, but the real deal was a no go. I used to eat tomato soup, ketchup, and even bruschetta. A whole or sliced tomato though was to me what garlic is to a vampire.

Fortunately, I have outgrown my dislike of tomatoes. I know have an appreciation for the wonderful flavor they imparted to your tastebuds, especially when they are freshly picked and warm from the sun. Here is my classic BLT recipe to use as soon as you find red tomatoes on your own vines or see them available at the market.

RECIPE: The Classic B.L.T.
Makes 3 Servings 

Cutting Board
Oven set to Broil
Cast iron pan
Plate with paper towel

Whole Wheat Bread
Sea Salt
Romaine Lettuce
Light Mayo

1) Begin by frying the bacon in the pan. You will want two to three slices per sandwich depending on the size of the bread slices.
2) Put the necessary number of pieces of bread under the broil to start toasting. Its easier to have them all done at once using this method. Don’t forget to flip or remove them or you’ll just end up with burnt bread.
3) Slice the tomatoes and lay the slices out on the cutting board. Sprinkle with a little bit of sea salt and pepper. Let rest while you finish prepping the rest of the ingredients.
4) Wash and tear off one to two leaves of romaine per sandwich. If they are large leaves you will want to rip/cut them down to bread size. DSCF4786
5) Take the toasted bread and spread a layer of mayo on one slice.
6) On the top piece of bread, lay down the one to two leaves of romaine and the sliced tomato. Lay the bacon on top of the mayo.
7) Lay the bacon on top of the mayo. 
8) Close the sandwich and enjoy as is. Do not cut it in half or in quarters for risk of mushing the tomatoes when they are perfectly firm in the whole sandwich.  DSCF4790

The salt and pepper on the sliced tomatoes is the real trick for this classic B.L.T. It may seem like a small, inconsequential step, but trust me, you don’t want to skip it!

Pickles, all kinds of Pickles

There is a cucumber fairy where I work, who has bestowed upon me lbs and lbs of cucumbers. Now there really is only one thing to do when you are gifted an almost overwhelming amount of cucumbers…pickles. This has been the summer of all the pickles. The little ones were made into my Grandma Connie’s fridge pickles, because they are delicious and the best summer snack ever. The larger ones were destined to become canned pickle chips to enjoy this winter.

RECIPE:  Pickles, all kinds of Pickles
Makes as many cans as you have cucumbers

Cutting Board
Large Pot
Pot Holders (lots)
Large bowls

Hot Peppers
Bay Leaves
Hot Pepper Flakes
Mustard Seed
Mustard Powder

DSCF47691) Wash the cucumbers! My favorite method is to fill up one of the kitchen sinks with water and just pour all the cucumbers in. Wash and dry each cucumber individually before setting next to the cutting board.
2) Slice the pickles to your preferred thickness for pickle chips. I make them sandwich thick, which is slightly thicker than hamburger thick.
3) If you use garlic, you will want one or more cloves before can. Remove the skins from the garlic.
4) Use gloves to slice up jalapenos or hot peppers of your choice.
5) For the base of the pickle brine, I use the Ball Blue Book Hamburger Dill recipe. I let my husband read through all the pickle recipes, and this is the one he picked. The ratio is 6 tablespoons salt to 4.5 cups water to 4 cups vinegar.
6) Sterilize your jars and bring the brine to a boil at the same time.
7) The original recipe calls for mustard seeds, dill heads, and peppercorns to season the mixture. Other pickle recipes in my canning books also used bay leaves for more of a kosher style, hot pepper flakes for a bit of spice, some garlic for a kick, and even fresh hot peppers. When I ran out of mustard seeds, I switched over to the mustard powder which is what I use in the dilly beans as well.
8) Fill each jar with pickle slices and add the mix of seasonings that you desire. I insist that peppercorns go into each batch, but have fun mixing up the flavors. The herbs in the quantities you add won’t impact the acidity of the brine, so have fun!
9) Fill the jars with the hot brine, leaving a 1/2 inch head space. Use a spoon or knife to make sure all the bubbles are remove from the jars before processing.
10) Process pint jars for 15 minutes and quarts for 20 minutes in a boiling water canner.
11) Let cool over night and then make sure all of the jars are properly sealed before labeling and storing in a cool dark place.


The worse part about canned pickles is that you have to wait 6 weeks before you crack open the first jar. I am excited to see how all the different combination of pickle flavors will come out this winter, and hopefully it will help me narrow down my favorite combinations for next year!

Dried Pepper Pizza Experiment

I like to experiment, but it doesn’t always work out as perfectly as I hope. I have been having fun just snacking on dried banana peppers. They are surprisingly tasty! I know I will be using in soups, stews, and chili this winter, but I wanted to see how dried peppers worked on pizza.

It’s still too hot to bake actual pizza dough, so I cheated and made more tortilla pizzas!



RECIPE: Dried Pepper Pizza Experiment
Makes 4 Servings

Cutting Board
Baking Sheet
Oven set to Broil
Cheese Grater

Garlic Scapes
Dried Peppers
Green Onions
Fresh Basil

1) Place the tortillas on a baking sheet evenly spaced out.
2) Shred half a block of mozzarella.
3) Chop up the garlic scape and green onion into little pieces. Slice up some fresh basil leaves.
4) Spoon sauce over the tortillas, sprinkle it with mozzarella.
5) Top it with garlic scapes, dried banana peppers, green onion, and fresh basil.
6) Put in the oven under the broiler until the cheese melts and browns.

The dried peppers crunched up a little too much, I think they would have done better hidden under the cheese. Then they would have not crunched up as much and you would have hidden delicious pepper bites!

Canned Tomato Puree

I love tomatoes. Last year was terrible for tomatoes. We had the worst weather patterns and just enough hail storms to completely wreck all the tomato plants in the region. The sad result was that I was unable to can any tomatoes last year! I had to…sob…buy canned tomatoes at the store!

Fortunately, this year has been great for tomatoes and I have made friends with one of the local farms. The result is lots of tomatoes and tomato seconds. Below is my recipe for tomato puree! I use this recipe to make sauces, soups, stews, and much more all winter long.

RECIPE: Tomato Puree
Makes 17 Quarts 

Cutting Board
3 large pots
Pot Holders (lots)
Foley Food Mill
Large bowl

A whole mess of Tomatoes
Lemon Juice

1) Wash the tomatoes and cut them in half or quarters before dropping in two large pots on the stove. You will need to do multiple batches on the stove because there will be more tomatoes then pot space.
2) Cover and simmer on medium/ medium low heat while stirring occasionally.
3) When the tomatoes are soft and mushy, place the food mill over a third large pot.
4) Scoop tomatoes into the food mill and process. All the good tomato should easily get pushed into the pot below leaving just the skins and seeds in the food mill.
5) Bring the large pot to a boil, stirring to prevent sticking on the bottom.

6) Let the large pot reduce just a bit as it boils.
7) Sanitize the quart jars and prepare all your canning materials.
8) Place a tablespoon of lemon juice into each quart jar.
9) Ladle the tomato puree into each jar, leaving a 1/2 inch head space at the top.
10) Place the lid and the ring on each jar.
11) Process in a water bath canner for 45 minutes.
12) Remove from the canner and let sit on a flat surface until cool.
13) Listen for the wonderful popping noise of each can sealing.
14) Once cooled, (I usually wait till the next day) check the seal on each jar before removing the rings. Label with date or year with permanent marker and store in a cool dark place. DSCF4734

Fancy Fresh Sloppy Joes

It has been raining all day. Rain always makes me crave comfort foods, like soups and stews. Unfortunately, the rain has not made it any colder and I have no desire to stand and sweat over the stove. To meat my craving for comfort food on this so very hot and rainy day, I thought I would do sloppy joes. It also gave me an excuse to use some of my fridge pickles based on my Grandma Connie’s recipe, and some sweet pickle chips from one of my coworkers.

RECIPE: Fancy Fresh Sloppy Joes
Makes 2 Servings 

Cutting Board
Cast iron pan
Wooden Spatula

Ground Beef
Celery Seed
Worcester Sauce
Brown Sugar
Hamburger Buns

1) Begin cooking the ground beef in a cast iron pan.
2) Roughly chop up a tomato and add it to the pan.
3) Add a very small squirt of ketchup (because the tomato wasn’t quite big enough), 1 teaspoon of worcester sauce, and 1/2 a tablespoon of brown sugar to the meat.
4) Sprinkle with celery seed.

5) Toast the hamburger buns.
6) Plate the strawberries and pickles. My husband liked the fridge pickles on the side, while I opted to put the pickle chips on top of my sandwich.
7) Once the sauce has simmered and thickened, serve on the toasted hamburger bun.

The fresh tomato add to the sloppy joe really kicks it flavor up a notch. The pickles just added a nice crisp acidity to the meal as well!DSCF4765

Bacon Wrapped Rib

Whenever my husband says he is making dinner, I know I will be coming home to something interesting. He did not disappoint in the least. I could not eat more than one of the ribs because they were that decadent and filling. Also, am I the only one who finds it ironic that we go from vegan dinner one night to meat wrapped in meat?

RECIPE: Bacon Wrapped Ribs
Makes 4 Servings 

Smoke Tube
Wood Pellets
Kitchen Shears

Garlic Powder
Dilly Beans
BBQ sauce of your preference

Rub the ribs with salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic powder.
2) Carefully wrap the ribs in bacon, overlapping each piece just slightly to ensure even coverage.

3) Light the smoking tube and grill.
4) Grill and smoke for the next two or more hours until the meat is all cooked through.
5) Heat dilly beans or your side of choice.
6) Remove the ribs from the grill and let sit for five minutes while you set the table with the BBQ sauces of your preference in small bowls. I went with the Heinz Kentucky Style Sauce, while my husband went with the Arizona Gunslinger BBQ sauce.
7) Use the kitchen sheers to cut the ribs apart, and serve. IMG_3305IMG_3308