Pie Crust Pleasers

After making chicken pot pie last week, I had some leftover pie crust.  The thing about tender, flaky pie crust is that you shouldn’t touch it.  Don’t mess with it too much, or it gets tough.  Tough pie crust is not tasty pie crust.  And “not tasty” pie crust is just plain not worth it!

So, instead of messing with your crust and trying to make something out of it (like rolling it out again to make another pie crust, only to be disappointed when your crust doesn’t quite fit… and is now quite tough… wanna ask me how I know?) make Pie Crust Pleasers (I totally made up that name for this post… I don’t think these really have a name)! 

Simply lay your scraps in a pan as you cut them, and generously sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. 

"That MY job, Mommy."

"That MY job, Mommy."

Bake in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Mmmmm.  I remember fighting over these sharing these with my siblings growing up.  And my sister?  Don’t tell her I told you this, but I think she sometimes makes pie crust just to make these.  Yep.  She cuts the whole recipe into strips for Pie Crust Pleasers.  They are that good.

Be sure to visit Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Kitchen Tip Tuesday, and check out my church cookbook giveaway!

Floss Your Rolls

A quick tip for making pretty cinnamon rolls:  don’t slice them, floss them!  Using unflavored waxed dental floss, slide the floss under the rolls.


Bring the ends of the floss up, cross and pull.

No more squishy rolls!

Pretty, right?  She sure thought so…

You can find more kitchen tips and recipes at Tammy’s Recipes and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.

Pizza Braid

Homemade pizza is all the rage these days in menu planning and recipe sites.  We love homemade pizza, too, but sometimes it’s fun to have a pizza switch up.  This pizza braid fits the bill; it’s tasty, easy to prepare, and beautiful!  Serve slices with a salad and you have a lovely, fun meal for company or for family fun night.

Pizza Braid


  • 1 pkg. (1 scant T.) yeast
  • 1 c. very warm water
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. butter
  • 3 c. flour (I use 1/2 white, 1/2 whole wheat)

Filling:  This is what we used on our most recent braid.  Feel free to adjust to your liking!

  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 2 oz. pepperoni, sliced in quarters
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1/2 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 can mushrooms, chopped
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Dissolve yeast in water; add sugar, salt, egg, butter and 1 1/2 cups flour.  Beat until smooth; add enough remaining flour until dough is stiff enough to knead.  Knead for 10 minutes.  (I never knead that long, and I let my dough hook do most of the work!)  Place in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.  While dough is rising, brown ground beef in skillet; add pepperoni and veggies, then add seasonings and tomato sauce.  Mix well. Set aside.  Punch down risen dough.  Roll dough into a rectangle on a greased cookie sheet.  Spoon meat filling down the center of the dough.  Top with mozzarella cheese. 

Cut 8 even slits from the filling out to the edge of the dough.  (I use my pizza cutter to do this.  Hint:  for even strips, slice your middle strip first.  Then slice the middle of the halves, then the middle of the quarters.) 

Start at one end and criss cross the dough strips. 

Tuck the last strip under.  Bake for 15 minutes at 400*.

Serve with a side salad or veggie for a fun twist on pizza night!

 For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy’s Recipes, and for more yummy recipes, visit Blessed with Grace.

Stretchy Taco Meat

Mexican-themed meals go over so well at our house that I usually prepare some form of tacos, burritos, enchiladas and the like at least 2 or three times a month.  Until about a year ago, the filling for our tacos was generally just the seasoned meat, lettuce, tomato, cheese, salsa, and sour cream if we had it on hand.  A pound of taco-seasoned ground beef would be enough for one meal plus a couple of taco salads for lunch the next day.

I don’t remember what exactly it was that made me think to stretch my meat… unexpected company, maybe?… but I did it, and we loved it, and I haven’t turned back.  Now our seasoned meat mixture consists of meat (beef, chicken, or pork) mixed with refried beans (homemade) and rice.  The only thing I do other than add the extras, is to also add a little more seasoning and sometimes a little water if it gets too thick.     

We also add a layer of black beans before the veggies. 

The same meat mixture that used to last us one or two meals now needs to be frozen, because we can’t eat it all in one week!

Here’s to frugal, tasty, streeetttcchhyy taco meat!

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy’s Recipes.

Roast Beef Redos

A friend once commented that she doesn’t like to make roast because “we end up eating it all week and it gets dry and we get sick of it and I have to throw it out.”  Ouch!  I don’t do wasting food, but if I tried to reheat and eat the same roast all week, in the same way, well… I’d get pretty sick of it too. 

A few roast beef tips:

  • We get a variety of roasts with our 1/2 beef order, and I learned a valuable lesson early in my bulk-beef purchasing experience:  don’t buy chuck roast.  It’s the fattiest cut, and it’s tough, and it’s just not very easy to work with.  Any other cut works great for me, but we have our chuck ground into hamburger.  **Update:  this might just be my experience.  Several people have commented that they have good luck with chuck.     
  • My favorite roast beef cooking method is to stick it in the crock pot with some carrots, potatoes, onions, either beef bouillion granules or dry onion soup mix, and some water.  How about that smell in your kitchen all day!  Yum!
  • I prefer to pull my roast apart with forks instead of slicing it.  It’s easier to prepare, easier to eat, and easier to create the “redos” when it’s shredded.

  • If you’re going to eat it again the next day, pour a little of the juice over the meat before refrigerating to keep it moist.
  • Cooked roast freezes beautifully.  Bag it and save it for a busy day!

Our favorite roast beef redos:

Photo from Taste of Home

Photo from Taste of Home

  • Roast Beef Burritos — My all time favorite roast beef meal.  Sometimes I make a roast just so we can have these!  We like to top them with shredded lettuce, cheese, and sour cream.

We’ve also enjoyed these meals with leftover roast:

  • bbq beef sandwiches
  • hot beef sandwiches
  • beef ‘n noodles
  • roast beef salad (like chicken or tuna salad) for sandwiches
  • roast beef salad (shredded on a lettuce salad)
  • beef and bean nachos
  • beef and veggie soup

Does your family enjoy roast beef?  What do you like to do with your leftovers?

Check out more kitchen tips at Tammy’s Recipes.

A Well-Stocked Freezer, Part 3

After sharing with you WHY I like to keep my freezer full and WHAT I like to put in it, today I thought I’d share a couple tips to make your freezer stocking easier.

I am fortunate to have lots of freezer space, including two refrigerator/freezers and one deep freezer, therefore my freezers are never truly full.  The deep freezer can still create organizational issues with its cavernous space, but we’ve found a solution that prevents me from digging through three feet of steak and roasts looking for the last package of hamburger.

Four of these inexpensive crates have saved us!  We organize our beef in them (hamburger in one, roasts and round steak in another, steaks for the grill in the third), and put lightweight extras on top.  The fourth (not shown) is used for other meat I have on hand (chicken, turkey, sausage).  They are easy to lift, and it’s easy to find what I need.

Another way to use the crates (if you don’t keep quite as much beef as we do!) is to purchase multi-colored crates for different items.  Veggies in one, meat in another, maybe fruit or baked goods in another crate.  The options are limitless!

This next tip is my all-time favorite freezer cooking tip, and I must credit my high school home ec. teacher for the advice.  See Mrs. R, I was listening!  Just don’t ask me a thing about what I remember from the sewing project… which I never even completed…

Line your baking dishes with foil (I recommend heavy duty) before you freeze the meal!  No more flimsy aluminum pans (and for those of you frugal enough to reuse them, no more cleaning those nasty ridged corners!), and… you can still have your lovely baking dishes handy for other meals, not hiding away in the freezer!  Yea!  Oh, and this method takes up a little less space for those of you with a freezer space crunch.

I line the pans with foil, making sure to leave enough around the edge to fold over the food.

Then I place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top (mostly so my cheese doesn’t stick to the foil), fold the foil over the top, and freeze the dish.

After it’s frozen, I pop the foil lined food out of the dish and put it in a freezer bag for storage.  I don’t freeze many things in a 9×13 dish because my family would be eating lots of leftovers, and we prefer to just freeze half of the meal to fix another week instead of eating the same thing all week (9×9 pans are perfect for gallon freezer bags).  For those of you with larger families, you could just wrap your frozen food in extra foil before freezing.

When you’re ready to bake, you have two options.

  1. Peel the foil off while it’s still frozen, then place back in your favorite dish. (preferred method if you get points for presentation!)
  2. Stick the frozen foiled food in the dish and bake as is (preferred method for very little clean up!) BUT don’t forget the plastic wrap that might be protecting your cheese!

Do you have any helpful hints for organizing your freezer or freezing lots of food?  I’d love to hear them.

Oh, and the casserole that’s pictured up above?  To die for Cavatini.  Come back tomorrow.  I’ll share the recipe!

Happy freezing, everyone!

Check out more kitchen tips at Tammy’s Recipes.

A Well-Stocked Freezer, Part 2

Our air conditioner broke on Saturday just as the hot, muggy Kansas temperatures were making a comeback. Once the indoor temp surpassed 85 degrees today, I lost all desire to think about baking and stocking my freezer, but press on I must! And… the forecast for Wednesday says a HIGH of 72! Woo-hoo! Now that’s baking weather!

Last week I shared why I like to keep my freezers fully stocked. Here’s what I like to keep in them. Well, mainly what I keep in the chest freezer and my extra refrigerator/freezer downstairs. Upstairs is my “daily” freezer.

Some basics.

  • Milk. I bought 7 gallons of milk at the store today. They are all in my freezer.
  • Beef. We purchase 1/2 a cow at a time. (Would anyone be interested in seeing our beef? I could share the different cuts we get and what we do with it if you’d like.)
  • Corn. We’ve got 40 bags of sweetcorn in there now.
  • Fruit. Currently a bag of peaches from my neighbor’s tree and several bags of apple pie filling and apple juice (ready to be made into jelly) from this surprise gift.
  • Tomorrow I’ll add a few bags of shredded zucchini.

Meals for our crazy days or to share with families in need. My favorites are:

  • cavatini (My all-time very favorite casserole! A single recipe serves 16+ adults.)
  • lasagna
  • meatballs and cheesy potatoes
  • chili
  • other casseroles
  • other soups

Quick breads and sweet treats. These are perfect for last minute gifts or last minute guests! They’re also nice to have on hand for a quick treat after supper without indulging in a big dessert.

  • banana bread (I use this recipe just for special occasions or gifts. I have another healthier recipe for breakfast and such.)
  • banana crumb muffins (I alter this recipe, using 1/2 whole wheat flour.)
  • zucchini pineapple bread (the only way to have zucchini bread — so moist!)
  • poppy seed bread – yum!
  • cookie dough balls

Ready for the oven - no mess!

Heat and eat lunches. (Or grab and go suppers if we’re headed to a ballgame!) I’m home everyday with two of my kids and often a couple of extra children. I like to have no-fuss options available other than leftovers or a sandwich.

Two “must haves” in my freezer for lunches:

  • homemade Brown Bag Burritos (we dress these up for supper by topping them with lettuce, tomato, cheese and salsa)
  • pigs in a blanket (Keep reading for the recipe! These are so handy!)

Two lunch items that I plan to try out very soon:

  • Pizza Pockets (I just know these will be a hit at our house!)
  • Bierocks (I love these… when my mom makes them… but I’ve never made them myself.)

** Here’s my Pigs in a Blanket recipe. The last time I made these I substituted some whole wheat flour to make them a bit healthier. 😉 I also like them best with bun-length hot dogs. ** OH, if you skip the hotdogs and cheese, you’ll have some very nice homemade rolls! I make them for big family dinners.

Pigs in a Blanket

2 packages dry yeast (2 ¼ t. per pack – ALWAYS purchase your yeast in bulk!)

2 c. very warm water

2 t. salt

½ c. sugar

¼ c. melted shortening

1 beaten egg

6 ½ – 7 c. flour

  • combine first two items
  • add sugar, salt, and ½ c. flour; beat 2 minutes
  • add egg and melted shortening; beat until smooth
  • add flour 1 c. at a time… usually 5-6 c.; knead until smooth (I don’t knead very long, but I do knead some of the flour in)
  • set aside in greased bowl, cover with towel, let rise until double

  • punch dough; divide in half
  • roll out ½ dough into large circle; spread with softened butter
  • cut with pizza cutter into 16 pieces

  • sprinkle outside edge of circle with cheddar cheese

  • place ½ hot dog on edge of each triangle; roll

  • place on greased cookie sheet

  • let rise
  • bake at 400 for about 12 minutes

  • remove to wire rack to cool, then bag and freeze!

** The “1/2 hot dog” size is perfect for young children. Enjoy!

Check out more kitchen tips at Tammy’s Recipes.

A Well-Stocked Freezer (Part 1)

With the start of the school year and the unseasonably cool weather we’ve had (70s and 80s in August… in Kansas… never!) my culinary thoughts are turning to comfort food. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our light, fresh produce-filled summer meals, but I’m ready to get back to baking and stocking my freezers with casseroles, meatballs, breads, sweet treats and soup.

A freezer well-stocked with baked goods and meals comes in handy in many ways:

  • to serve to unexpected guests
  • to share a treat when you become an unexpected guest (what a fun reason to visit an elderly neighbor)
  • to pop supper in the oven or warm in the microwave on crazy days when you must sacrifice either your meal plan or your sanity… or your children 😉
  • to give as a last minute gift (see, I didn’t forget your birthday!)
  • to bless others in an emergency (death in the family, hospitalization of family member, surgery)
  • to bless others during pregnancy or after the arrival of a new baby
  • for a quick heat-and-eat lunch when you need to get out the door (our version of fast food)
  • Good food fast - Pigs in a Blanket

    Good food fast - Pigs in a Blanket

  • to take to friends who are moving, or to welcome new neighbors
  • and now that my daughter is in school… to have on hand for last minute school treats that Mommy just found out about two minutes ago (surely that will never happen to me)

My kitchen encouragement this week is to stock your freezer. I’ve given you some whys. Next week I’ll show you what I like to keep in my freezer!

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy’s Recipes.

Fill Your Grill

It’s stinkin’ hot where we live.  I’m talkin’ 99 and humid.  Eeek.  Even our favorite summer fare, anything from the grill, seems like too much trouble in this heat. 
But… we have to eat.  And… I like to keep the oven off as much as possible.  So… when we do cook outside, we FILL our grill

If I’m careful I can cook four, maybe five meals (for our family of 5 — three small children) on our grill at the same time. 

  1. steak (right off the grill, I don’t like reheating steak)
  2. hamburgers
  3. chicken, for grilled-chicken Cobb salad
  4. bratwurst, chopped and sauteed with peppers, onions, and potatoes
  5. we usually have chicken and brawts left over for another meal

Filling our grill saves us time and propane energy, and keeps us cool on hot days.

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy’s Recipes.