Drool-Worthy Bacon Wrapped Chicken

 

When your cooking on a budget, you must get creative.

Saturday night, we had a hankerin’ for some bacon.

Who doesn’t love bacon?

So, we experimented with bacon, chicken and cheese.  And came up with this totally budget-friendly meal that our kids LOVED.



Bacon Wrapped Chicken

8 portions of thick boneless skinless chicken breast, thawed

1 lb. package of bacon

2 cups shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  While oven is preheating, fry the chicken in a skillet with a bit of oil, until nice and golden brown, but not cooked completely through.

Make a pocket in the chicken, by slicing lengthwise down the side of each piece.  Stuff shredded cheese inside each piece.

Wrap the chicken with the bacon.

Place in a baking pan and cook for about 30 minutes.  **Remember that poultry should be cooked to at least 165 degrees* We ensured that ours was cooked completely by inserting a meat thermometer in the THICKEST part of the chicken breast.

We love our cheese.  So, after we determined the chicken was done, we sprinkled the remaining cheese on top, and put it back in for about 5 minutes.

We served it with rice on the side, and veggies.



 

In other news, there is a lot going on behind the scenes.

There are crochet patterns being tested right now, (if you would like to be one of my testers, please click here)

There are several DIY projects going on right now, ranging from scrap wood projects to sewing.  Don’t worry, it’ll be up on the blog soon!

 

The BEST Fried Chicken EVER

One of my favorite memories of growing up, is Sunday afternoons during the summer.

My dad would be listening to a CD or a vinyl record, usually classic country music.  My mom would be in the kitchen, making either roast, pork chops, or her fried chicken, in her big cast iron skillet.

It wasn’t too crispy, and nowhere near soggy.  It was PERFECT.

Now, my mom used bone-in chicken.  I use boneless, skinless chicken.  But you can use both, and it’s going to taste amazing either way.



The BEST Fried Chicken Ever:

In a cast-iron skillet, pour in about 2 cups of oil.  Heat over medium heat while you prepare the chicken.

In a 1 giant Ziploc bag, combine:

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp onion powder

Shake to combine everything.

 

In a bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, and 1/2 cup of milk.

Take your chicken, and place into the egg mixture, ensuring it’s covered well.  Place into the Ziploc bag and shake to coat the chicken.  I usually shake 4 -5 pieces at a time.

Place chicken into the oil.  Cook until golden brown, and of course, at least 165 degrees.  You MAY have to turn down the heat to make sure the chicken isn’t getting too brown before it’s cooked thoroughly.

Cozy Comfy Pullover Sweater

I heart sweaters.  They are cozy, some are warm, some are just the perfect weight for a cool late-summer night.




Materials:

9.00mm crochet hook

If you wish to save or download the ad-free version, it is available on Ravelry, for 2.00.

Thanks for your support!!!

 
Worsted-weight yarn (about 1200 yards for a size large) I used Yarn Bee’s “Sugar Wheel” for this particular sweater.  But if you don’t have a Hobby Lobby near you, you could certainly use Lion Brand’s Mandala Yarn.

Yarn needle for weaving in loose ends

**This sweater is crocheted using the “Suzette” stitch.  Check out a tutorial for this stitch HERE.**


Sizing

I don’t know about anyone else, but my body does not conform to any one pattern.  There are so many variations in the way one person crochets to another, that it makes sizing difficult, at least for my body….and I KNOW there has to be others out there in the same boat!

With this sweater, there really isn’t chain number set in stone.  What I do, is chain until my chain reaches from hip to hip, comfortable, not stretched out.  With this stitch, I continue to chain up to the next odd number.

For example, my hip measurement is 34, so I chained until the length reached 17”. This was only 44 chains, so I went up to 49 to start my sweater.  (I like my sweaters to fit loose)

**If this sweater is for a gift, HERE is some handy sizing information**

 

PATTERN:
BODY:

*Make 2*

Chain ______ (insert your chain number here)

Row 1: sc in 2nd chain from hook, dc in same chain.  Skip 1 chain.  *sc,dc in same chain, skip 1 chain*  Repeat between *  * to end.

Rows 2- 58: Repeat row 1.



At this point, you should have 2 giant rectangles.

Join the front to back by laying right sides together, flat on a table (that’s the easiest for me, do what works for you).  Stitch the sides together from row 1 to row 48.

To make the neck opening, stitch from the beginning of the arm hole, towards the center.  For mine, I sewed about 7 inches in, but this is totally up to you, depending on how large of an opening you want.



SLEEVES

To make the sleeves, join yarn with a slip stitch in the bottom of the armhole, and sc in each space around, making sure your stitches are even, and that you end on an odd number.  Do not join.

Turn your work.

Row 1: *sc, dc, skip one chain* to end.  Turn.

Row 2-18: Repeat row one.

For row 19, we are going to decrease.  I wanted the decrease to be slight.  I didn’t want a huge decrease that would be lumpy when you sew your seam.

Row 19: sc in 2nd chain from hook. Skip 1 chain.  *sc, dc, skip one chain* until you reach the 3rd chain from the end. Skip that chain, and sc in the next.  Turn.

Rows 20-25: Repeat row one.

Row 26: Repeat row 19.

Rows 27-32: Repeat row one.

The sleeves should come down about mid-hand.  Personally, that is where I like my cozy-sweater sleeves to end.

Sew the sleeve seams together, sew in those yarn tails, and you’re done!

After I washed mine it relaxed a bit, and is ohhhh soooo cozy!  I would LOVE to see your finished projects!  Post them in the Facebook group, Small Town Crochet!



10 Things I Wish I Had Been Taught About Crochet

My mom taught me to crochet when I was about 9 or 10.  I would watch my mom crochet afghans on summer afternoons, and ask a zillion questions.  Finally, she gave me a J hook.  I still have it.

Did I mention my mom is totally blind?  Yep.  She crochets blindly.  AMAZING.

As a lot of kids do, I got bored rather quickly.  I got frustrated because I couldn’t crochet as fast as my mom does.  So I put the hook away.

When my oldest was a baby, a friend of mine was crocheting.  After a quick reminder course, I picked the hook back up and crocheted an afghan.  It was awful!  But I kept at it.  After 17 years, I can crochet pretty darn fast.

But it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I realized everyone crochets differently.  I crochet a bit tight.  A friend of mine crochets so loose that she has to go down a hook size.  That’s when I realized there was so much that I hadn’t been taught.



 10 Things I wish I had been taught about crochet

1.  You have to have the correct gauge.

You have got to work up a swatch and measure that puppy to get the correct gauge.  Like I said above; everyone crochets differently.  You may need to go up or down a hook to get the correct gauge.  VERY important for garments

2. You have to COUNT, COUNT, COUNT those stitches.

An even stitch count means straight edges.  Every row must have the same number of stitches.  If your just beginning, stop at the end of the row and count stitches.  Once you are fairly experienced, you’ll “just know” that you’ve got the right stitch count.  Straight edges means your afghan isn’t going to look like a trapezoid.  My very first afghan was a trapezoid.

3. It’s okay if you’re not holding the yarn “the correct way”.

I hold my hook in my right hand, and the yarn in my left hand, I hold my work with the thumb, index and middle finger.  I hold the yarn with my ring and pinky finger.  It works for me.  My mom hold it the traditional way, wrapped around a finger…but I just can’t.  I get a cramp just thinking about it.

4.  Dye lots matter.

When you buy yarn for a project, try to get all the yarn you think you will need, PLUS an additional skien (or cake).  And make sure the lot numbers match.  This will give you the best color.  Remember that horrific afghan I mentioned at the beginning of this post?  Yea.  I knew nothing about dye lots.

5.  Don’t go by the letter on your crochet hooks.

Crochet hooks are labeled by letter and millimeter size.  However, you may run into an instance where you pick up two N hooks, and one will say 9.00 mm, and the other will say 10.00 mm.  Different manufacturers, as well as the age of the hook cause this.  Always go by the millimeter size on the hook, and work up a gauge swatch if it’s a garment you are creating.



6.  You will make mistakes.

And that’s okay.  Even those who have been crocheting for eons will tell you that you will frog (rip out) your fair share of mistakes.  EVERYONE miscounts from time to time.

7.  The Back of your work should look as good as the front.

I, personally, am very particular about this.  When your working a pattern on a hat, for instance, you want the inside of the hat to be just as pretty as the outside.  If there is a ton of knots, or unwoven ends in there, it just looks…messy.  And especially in a hat, hair is going to get tangled up in unwoven ends and knots.

8.  US and UK terminology is different.

There’s nothing like surfing on Pinterest and finding as awesome crochet pattern.  And then realizing that what you are crocheting doesn’t look like the picture.  That’s probably because the pattern is using UK terminology.  Here is a handy translation for UK crochet terminology.

9.  There is no wrong way to hold the hook.

Some people hold the hook like a pencil.  Others hold it between their thumb and middle finger.  Some put their index finger over the loop on the hook, some do not.  Just do whatever feels natural to you.  There is no wrong way.

10.  Crochet isn’t just for grandma’s.

You can create lots of boho-style garments by crocheting!  Here is just a few ideas.

Fool-Proof Homemade Bread

One way I save money in our household is to make my own bread.

We use about 3 loaves a week, at about $2.28 each,  which adds up to $6.84 a week, or $27.36 a month….you get the picture.

Now, I have a bread machine, that I picked up from Goodwill about a year ago.  I paid 15.00 for it, and it paid for its self with in the first couple of months.  If you can’t find one at your local Goodwill or thrift store, you can find them on Amazon by clicking here.

Does this actually save money?

You are probably thinking the same thing I did when I came up with the idea of making my own bread to save money.  Am I really saving money?

Yes.

This is based upon my prices here in the midwest.  The breakdown is as follows:

Flour, 5lbs for 1.88

Salt, .54

Vegetable oil, 48oz for 1.88

Yeast, 4oz for 4.58

Sugar, 4lb for 1.98

That all comes out to 10.86.  I know in my house, we always have sugar, vegetable oil, salt and flour on hand, as we use them for other things as well.  The only extra ingredient I had to buy, was the yeast.  And I usually get 6 loaves out of a bag of flour.  I’ll spare you the math, but it comes about 4.34 per week for bread.  I make 1 loaf per day.  It’s super simple and literally takes about 15 minutes.  My machine does the rest.

To save even more money, I coupon; so the price per week is even LESS if I coupon for those items (my favorite stores to coupon at are Dollar General and Family Dollar).  If you work it right, you can get that flour and sugar pretty much free.  (We’ll get to that in another post)

In order to make sense, it has to save money, taste like the store-brought product, and be quick and easy.

Let’s face it.  When making household staples from scratch, the quality has to be the same as what your replacing.  If the item tastes nothing like what you would buy from the store, or if it takes way too much time to prepare, you’re going to get discouraged and not stick with it.

With SOME items, the convenience is worth the money spent.  With as busy as we are in my house, I could never make cheese. (Kudos to those that can!)  There just isn’t enough time between kids, work, etc.

That being said, I have searched high and low for a recipe that is going to have the same texture and taste as sandwich bread.  My family’s favorite is Wonder Bread, and I think I have found the perfect “copy cat” recipe.  I needed a bread that is soft (yet firm enough to not get soggy when you put mayonnaise on it), and not yeasty-tasting, and not overly sweet.

I tweaked and tweaked a basic bread recipe until I finally found what my kids call “moms special bread”.

Fool-Proof Homemade Bread

2 tsp yeast.  I use the instant yeast that is compatible with “Rapid Rise” recipes.

2 1/2 TB sugar.

1 cup of hot water.  I use cold tap water, and put it in the microwave for about a minute.

1/4 cup vegetable oil.

3 cups + 2 TB of stirred flour.

1 tsp salt.

**I have used both all-purpose and bread flour.  I always fluff my flour before spooning it into the measuring cup.  I then take a knife and scrape the top of the measuring cup.  Honestly, I haven’t noticed a difference in the way the bread rises with bread flour vs. all-purpose.  And it tastes the same in my opinion.**



First, put the yeast and sugar in your bowl, add the water.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  The yeast will foam, and look something like this:

Next, pour your vegetable oil in, put the flour in and lastly, the salt:

Finally, close your lid, and set your machine to “Rapid”.  And walk away.  When it’s done, it will look something like this:

 

Enjoy!!