Lemon Chicken + Cheater Potatoes + Bacon Green Beans

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Hi y’all, I told you I would be back tomorrow yesterday, and I swear I am! According to WordPress it’s September 1 already, even though here in Columbus, OH it’s 9:30, so, I believe, legally, I still have a couple of hours. Don’t hassle me.
I told you I would give you something delicious for your tummy, and believe me, this dinner won’t disappoint!

One of my Aunties, on my Mama’s side, makes the most amazing Lemon Chicken I have ever eaten. I often use her use recipe, because it is perfection, I think she stole it off a restaurant chef… Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut, it’s a little labor-intensive. And I get lazy. So I made up my own Lemon Chicken recipe that can be made in about half the time of the deluxe recipe. It doesn’t involve any chicken pounding, cheese grating, or double-dredging. It DOES result in juicy, flavorful chicken breast pieces that will be inhaled off your serving platter. Just for fun, I decided to share the sides I made with it that night, which are also really tasty. A note: I call the potatoes ‘cheater’ potatoes because of the dressing mix; I try very hard to stay away from too many processed foods, and spice mixes are usually high on my list of unnessesaries, but they is just something in there that makes your potatoes sweet and sour and salty and crunchy and soft and all the good things potatoes can be rolled into one tiny piece.

Is that your mouth watering? I’ll get to it then.

Lemon Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
2 lemons
1 large egg
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, crushed
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp salt-free seasoning mix (like 21 Seasoning Salute or Mrs. Dash)
1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp ground pepper
2 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter

Pat chicken dry, set aside. Zest lemons, reserving for future use. Juice lemons, being sure to strain out seeds. Mix juice of 2 lemons with the egg in a large bowl, add chicken pieces, cover, and set aside.

Combine crushed breadcrumbs, flour, garlic powder, seasoning blend, Italian Seasoning, salt, pepper, and sugar in a separate large bowl.
Place olive oil and butter in large cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet, set on medium heat. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

One piece at a time, remove chicken from lemon/egg mixture and allow excess goo to run off. Toss in flour mixture until evenly coated, shaking off excess breading. Repeat with all other pieces. Set aside.

When the butter is melted, test the oil by tossing in a speck of your leftover breading mixture. It should immediately bubble and begin to color. Gently add chicken to the HOT skillet, and very carefully jiggle pan to prevent sticking (Be careful to avoid oil splatters! They hurt!). Cook chicken on each side 7-10 minutes or until golden brown, only flipping once.

Remove done pieces to a metal rack over a sheet pan, place in oven for an additional 10 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then enjoy!

Cheater Potatoes
1 1/2 lbs red potatoes
1 packet of Italian Dressing mix
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Clean and dry potatoes, removing any eyes, cut into 1 inch pieces. Coat in olive oil, and toss with Italian Dressing mix, salt, and pepper.

Spread potatoes out in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring/turning often, or until golden brown and fork tender.

Let cool for a few minutes before serving to allow the ‘crust’ to set.

Bacon Green Beans
1 lb fresh green beans, cut in half (or smaller)
1/2 lb bacon
Seasoned salt, seasoning blend, and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Crisp bacon in a skillet over medium-low heat, being sure not to burn the rendered fat. Remove bacon from pan to paper towels, and remove pan from heat.

After a few moments to cool down, add green beans to rendered bacon fat, stirring to coat beans. Cover, let cook over medium-low for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, crumble cooked bacon. Season beans liberally with seasoned salt, seasoning blend, and pepper, then transfer to a baking dish. Top with crumbled bacon, and bake for 15 minutes or until outer-edge beans start to darken.

Now you have something to make for dinner. I bet you already have most of the stuff in your house. I think a squeeze of lemon on the beans would be lovely, and I’m going to try a zesty version sometime soon.
I am actually not a veggie eater, much to my dismay, and I thought loading some bland green beans up with bacon would push me over to the light side… I only had a couple bites of these holiday-worthy green beans, but Boyfriend and our roommate loved them, so I will definitely make them again. They’re salty and a little smokey, but still too… Bean-y.
You must promise to report back here if you whip up my Lemon Chicken, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed, but I want to know what spin you put on it! And if you have a preservative-free solution to my Cheater Potato problem, you’d better spill it. You can tell me here, or on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.


DIY Liquid Laundry Detergent + Softener/Dryer Sheets

Hi all!
Are y’all as intrigued by the ‘crunchy’ movement as I am? I started following CrunchyBetty a little over a year ago, she is one of my favorite bloggers, so for those who are not yet familiar: She is full of FABULOUS ideas on how to naturalize your home, and her real ‘specialty’ is crunchy beauty products, because while we all want to look good and live well, we shouldn’t have to shell out big bucks and expose ourselves to harmful, unnatural concoctions to do so {We WILL be discussing more of her great recipes and tricks soon and often, I’m sure!}. She inspires me all the time, and my first ever crunchy project was making my own laundry detergent! I have kept it up for about 6 months now, and I can’t see myself turning back! I started with CrunhyBetty’s Homemade Laundry Detergent, a dry, grated bar-soap and powder version, but prefer liquid personally, so I started researching and tweaking.

 I have tried many others’ recipes, I liked The Duggar Family’s Liquid Detergent that used grated bar soap and this One Good Thing By Jillee recipe featuring blue Dawn liquid, but my experiments weren’t performing as well as I wanted and the blue Dawn was a little rough on the skin… Back to tweaking I went. And I believe after a few tries, I finally landed on the ultimate recipe for liquid detergent free of dyes and artificial perfumes! It is more concentrated than the recipes I mentioned above, so it suds a little more, but I compensate by using less per load, so don’t worry! It still works in top-loaders and HE front loaders, and in large loads, you don’t really notice any bubbles at all.

I used it for about a month, then passed a bottle on to my Mama. She liked it so much, she wanted to learn how to make it, so we whipped up this batch. I even went out and bought a bunch of nice lidded pitchers, I’m so dedicated to making it forever! It is so easy!! I’m going to teach you how, too!
**I would like to note now: We did things a little differently (a little more simply) at my Mama’s house, because she has this humongous 4-gal pot and we were only making a half-batch, so I will post both ‘variations’ as I go.**

Big thanks to my Mama for letting me use her kitchen and BIG stock pot for these pics!
{You can sorta see our reflections in the first picture – left, my fantastic Mama, right, me}
If you don’t happen to have a humongous 4-gal pot like she does, don’t fret, I use a 5-qt at home and it’s worked great so far.

Homemade ‘Free & Clear’ Liquid Laundry Detergent
Yields: 4 Gallons

1 gallon water
1 cup Borax (I used 20 Mule Team Borax)
1 cup Super Washing Soda (I used Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda)
2 cups ‘Free & Clear’ liquid dish soap (I used Seventh Generation)
8-10 drops each Lavender essential oil and Lemon essential oil (I use doTERRA)
3+ gallons water (to finish)

5-qt or larger stock pot
Metal whisk or stirring spoon (I worry about hot soap leaching into plastic, am I crazy?)
1-qt (4 cups) Pyrex measuring cup with spout and/or funnel
4 1-gallon containers

Set your largest stock pot filled with a gallon of water to boil.
**At Mama’s we boiled 2 gallons, we were making a half-batch, so that’s all the liquid needed except what cooks off, but we wanted to take advantage of the ginormous stock pot and eliminate the need to dilute to finish**

Take the water off the heat. Measure out 1 cup Borax
**At Mama’s it was 1/2 cup Borax**

Then measure out 1 cup Super Washing soda
**At my Mama’s it was 1/2 cup Super Washing Soda**

Stir in Borax and Super Washing Soda until completely dissolved

Gently stir in 2 cups dish soap.
**My Mama’s used 1 cup dish soap**
Note: My bottle of dish soap was 25oz; converting cups to ounces, 2 cups is 16oz, which is approximately 2/3 of my bottle, give or take a smidge. Because I knew I was ultimately making a batch and a half, I poured from the bottle and used my best judgement both times, and I am confident that they’re interchangeably similar/consistent.

Let the solution cool until tepid or overnight, covered, stirring occasionally.
**At my Mama’s, there was a lot more to cool since we weren’t diluting the ‘concentrate’; we let it sit for an hour and it was still too hot, we wanted to cool it down FAST, so we covered the stock pot and set it in the sink, which had been half-filled with cool water and ice cubes (be careful not to overflow the sink or submerge the pot!). Sitting like this for 30 mins cooled it perfectly.**

Add 8-10 drops each Lavender and Lemon essential oils, it is important that the mixture be cool or the oils will dissipate
**At Mama’s we used 4-5 drops each**

Transfer solution into its pitchers/containers. For 4 1-gallon containers, ladle a quart of the mixture into each container (Or pour if you’ve got handy-dandy markings on your pitchers, like us 🙂 ), then slooooowly fill with cool water to finish each gallon
**Because we had essentially pre-diluted our solution at my Mama’s, but wanted to account for some water cook-off, we equally distributed the mixture between both her 1-gallon containers. Surprisingly, we lost about half a quart! Sloooowly fill with cool water to finish each gallon**

This is what happens when you pour too fast and your bubbles are strong enough to lift your funnel!

These are my 4 finished gallons of detergent + my 2 gallons of Homemade Softener/Dryer Sheets…
Ahhhh…. They make me so happy, just to look at them… This will last me a few months, and it cost less than $10!
Not including the pretty pitchers of course.

To Use:
Shake well before each use.
Top-loaders- Add 2/3 cup to standard load, 1 cup to x-large/heavily soiled loads
Front-loaders/HE- Add 1/3 cup to detergent cup.
As a pre-treater: Saturate stain and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour before washing

Wait, what?? I forgot to tell you about the Softener/Dryer Sheets!?!?
Must be because I only have the one pretty picture. But it is seriously SO quick and easy to make, you won’t have time to take any either {But if you do, let me know!}.
Sorry again for no pics!

Homemade Fabric Softener/Dryer Sheets
Yields: 2 gallons

2 quarts (8 cups) white distilled vinegar
2 tbsp hair conditioner (I used Organix, extra moisturizing)
6+/- quarts water to finish

2 1-gallon pitchers/containers with lids
4-8 rags, pre-washed

Put 1 tbsp conditioner in each container. Add vinegar and whisk until no conditioner chunks remain
Slowly fill with cool water to finish each gallon. Add half the rags to each container, lid ’em up
That. Is. It.

To Use:
Add 1/3 cup to softener well or to water before adding load.
For Dryer Sheets: Remove a rag and gently squeeze out excess liquid, toss into dryer with load.

I really do foresee making my own detergent into the furthest conceivable future! I’ve started DIY-ing all sorts of things in my home and life, and I’m just getting started!! To all the other crunchy-converts: What were your first projects? Which have impacted your life the most? Which do you want to know more about?

Leave me some comments here, or you can find me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter!