• Food

    Recipe: Baked Club Loaf

    Baked Club Loaf {recipe} | rainerlife.com

    Football Season! I love watching college football and, of course, I enjoy eating game day foods. I make a variation on the club sandwich that is really easy to prepare and tastes good. This recipe could be made for other occasions, but I seem to only make it during football season.

    1 can Pillsbury® Crusty French Loaf
    12 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
    12 cup shredded Swiss cheese
    5 slices deli turkey
    5 slices deli ham
    4 slices bacon, cooked

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

    2. Unroll the dough. Sprinkle the cheeses over the dough.

    Baked Club Loaf {recipe} Step 2 - cheese | rainerlife.com

    3. Place the turkey, ham, and bacon on the dough.

    Baked Club Loaf {recipe} Step 3 - meats | rainerlife.com

    4. Roll the dough and press the edges to seal. Make 4 slits in top of loaf. Place on cookie sheet.

    Baked Club Loaf {recipe} Step 4 - roll | rainerlife.com

    3. Bake the club loaf at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch slices.

    Baked Club Loaf {recipe} Step 5 - baked | rainerlife.com

    Baked Club Loaf {recipe} Step 5 - sliced | rainerlife.com

    Enjoy! And Geaux Tigers!!

  • Food

    Recipe: Spaghetti & Meatballs


    Michael and Gavin both love all types of pasta dishes. Going through my recipe box, I came across an old recipe for a copycat Monjuni’s spaghetti sauce. I made a couple of changes, added meatballs, and a new family favorite was made! This is a super easy recipe, and I can keep everything on hand to make whenever the mood strikes.

    Servings: 8
    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 12 hours

    2 (28 ounce) cans tomato puree
    2 tablespoons basil
    2 tablespoons oregano
    1 clove garlic, minced
    2 teaspoons olive oil
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    12 teaspoon black pepper
    1 (1 pound) package of frozen meatballs
    thin spaghetti

    1. Combine tomato puree, basil, oregano, garlic, olive oil, onion powder, black pepper, and frozen meatballs in a large pot, cover, and simmer for at least 1 hour.



    2. Cook spaghetti.


    3. Serve sauce over spaghetti. I usually make garlic bread to go with it.

    I put the cook time as 1 12 hours, but sometimes I cook the sauce a little longer. Also, you could substitute ground beef for the meatballs, or the sauce can be made without adding any meat. This is easy to make and we all enjoy it.

    Gavin eating spaghetti | rainerlife.com

  • Food

    Recipe: Chicken Enchilada Soup {Slow Cooker}

    Slow cooker recipes are great! I’ve previously mentioned my love of Tex-Mex food, and with winter here, I’m loving the soups…. so obviously, one of favorite recipes is chicken enchilada soup. This is a super easy recipe, just add everything to your slow cooker and come back to a yummy meal at the end of the day.

    Chicken Enchilada Soup {Slow Cooker Recipe} | rainerlife.com

    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 6-8 hours

    1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained or 34 cup dry beans that have soaked overnight
    1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
    1 can (4 oz) green chiles, chopped or 2-3 jalapeños, chopped
    1 small onion, chopped
    1 red or green pepper, diced
    2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    2 tablespoons chili powder
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    12 teaspoon sea salt
    18 teaspoon black pepper
    18 teaspoon oregano
    18 teaspoon parsley
    dash of paprika
    1 cup chicken broth
    112 cups milk
    112 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

    1. In a slow cooker, add the black beans, tomatoes, green chiles/jalapeños, onion, and bell pepper. Place 2 chicken breasts on top of the mixture. Note: I use a 7-quart slow cooker.

    2. In a large bowl, whisk together the chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, paprika, chicken broth, and milk. Pour sauce mixture over ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours (or on high for 3 to 4 hours).

    3. After cooking, remove chicken from slow cooker and cut or shred into bite-sized pieces. Add chicken back into the soup.

    4. Top with cheese and serve. This soup can also be topped with avocado, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, or other shredded cheeses. Makes 6-8 servings.


  • Food

    Recipe: Potato Bacon Soup

    With the weather getting colder, I’ve been in the mood for soup lately. A couple of weeks ago I made potato bacon soup using my Mama’s recipe. Potato soup is one of my favorites, and I love this recipe.

    Potato Bacon Soup | rainerlife.com

    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 45 minutes

    12 ounces (8 slices) bacon
    1 white onion, diced
    12 cup celery, diced
    12 cup carrots, diced
    2 pounds red potatoes, peeled and diced
    1 can or 134 cup chicken broth
    12 teaspoon salt
    Dash of black pepper
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
    1 can cream of chicken soup or 1 cup homemade cream of chicken soup
    1 cup sour cream
    134 cups milk
    2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
    2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded


    1. Cook bacon in a large pot over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon to drain on paper towels; dice and set aside.

    2. Add onion to drippings in pot and cook over medium heat until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

    3. Add bacon, celery, carrots, potatoes, chicken broth, salt, pepper, garlic, Worcestershire, and Tabasco. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, about 25 minutes (until potatoes are soft). Coarsely mash the potato mixture with a potato masher or large spoon.

    4. Blend soup, sour cream, and milk together. Gradually add to potato mixture and simmer until thoroughly heated, do not boil. Add water if it is too thick.

    5. Remove soup from heat; top individual servings with parsley and cheese. Makes 8-10 servings.


  • Food

    Recipe: Homemade Vanilla Extract

    Several vanilla extract recipes are floating around the internet, and I thought I’d try my hand at making some. I used four different liquors (vodka, bourbon, brandy, and rum) to compare the differences in flavor. The cheaper brands of liquor seem to work fine for making homemade extracts. Vanilla beans at our local stores were way too expensive, so I checked into ordering vanilla beans online. After comparing prices and reading reviews of different places, I found an online supplier to use.

    Four jars with lids
    1 cup of vodka
    1 cup of bourbon
    1 cup of brandy
    1 cup of spiced rum
    12 vanilla beans
    Kitchen shears

    Supplies for homemade vanilla extracts.

    Supplies for homemade vanilla extracts.

    1. Split beans lengthwise, leaving the ends attached.
    2. Place the split beans in the jars.
    3. Add booze of choice (vodka, bourbon, brandy, or rum) to the jars. I used a funnel for this part, but it’s not really necessary.
    4. Label jars with liquor choice used, especially if doing multiple ones like I did.
    5. Store jars in a cool, dry place. Remember to occasionally shake the jars.
    6. Wait. The vanilla extracts should be ready in two months. I waited longer (about 4 months) before using the homemade extracts.

    Jars of homemade vanilla extracts.

    When the vanilla extract was ready, it was time to taste the differences. I made basic sugar cookies, using more vanilla than I normally would. I previously made cookies using the recommended amount of vanilla, but we couldn’t taste much of a difference between the extract recipes. So, I doubled the vanilla extract the second time I made the basic sugar cookies. I also made a batch of cookies using store brand pure vanilla extract – thought it would be good to compare the homemade versions to store bought vanilla extract.

    I used the Sparkling Sugar Cookies recipe from Southern Living Cooking for Christmas 2012. I halved the recipe since I was making multiple batches. So, I made about a dozen cookies per batch instead of the 2 dozen that this recipe will make.

    Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe

    1 cup unsalted butter, softened
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1 large egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon salt

    1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy.
    2. Slowly add sugar, continue beating.
    3. Add egg and vanilla, mix until well blended.
    4. Combine flour and salt. Slowly add to butter mixture.
    5. Cover and chill mixture until it is firm (about an hour).
    6. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    7. This cookie dough can be rolled and cut into shapes, but I didn’t get that fancy. I placed spoonful sizes of dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.
    8. Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
    9. Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute and then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling. Enjoy!

    After baking cookies (5 small batches), Michael and I did a taste test.

    Basic sugar cookies made using different vanilla extracts.

    Michael liked the cookies made with store brand extract and spiced rum extract best.
    I liked the cookies made with bourbon extract and spiced rum extract best.
    I thought the cookies made with vodka extract were closest to the store brand extract.

    Turns out the homemade vanilla extracts were all good, and I’ll be using them in future recipes.

  • Food

    Recipe: Chicken Enchiladas

    I love Tex-Mex foods – enchiladas, tamales, burritos, fajitas, etc. It’s all good. One of my favorite Tex-Mex foods to cook at home is chicken enchiladas. I’ve tried various recipes, made changes, combined recipes, etc. all in the search for a recipe that had just what I wanted. This recipe is what I’ve come up with to satisfy my chicken enchilada cravings. This recipe makes up a large amount of enchiladas… the leftovers are good too.

    Servings: 8 (2 enchiladas per person)
    Prep Time: 40 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 minutes

    Ingredients (* ingredients fresh from our garden)
    2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
    4-5 tomatoes*, diced or 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
    1 medium onion, chopped
    2 jalapeños*, seeded and chopped or 1 can (7 oz) diced green chiles
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 container (16 oz) sour cream
    12 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro* or 12 tablespoon dried cilantro
    1 cup homemade cream of chicken soup or 1 can (10.5 oz) cream of chicken soup
    16 fresh, small tortillas (I use flour tortillas from the bakery in a local grocery store)
    2 cups shredded Colby and Monterey Jack cheese blend

    1. Cook chicken. I prepared my chicken using this Perfect Chicken recipe from The Recipe Crayon Box. Adjust your seasonings as you would like your meat seasoned for a Tex-Mex meal.

    2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sour cream, cream of chicken soup, cumin, and cilantro. Heat the mixture thoroughly, then reduce heat to low until ready to use. For the cream of chicken soup, I used this Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup recipe from Our Best Bites.

    Saucepan with sour cream, cream of chicken soup, cumin, and cilantro.
    Sour cream, soup, cumin, and cilantro.

    Saucepan with sour cream sauce.
    Heat sour cream sauce.

    3. In a large pan, add olive oil and sauté onions. Then add the chicken, tomatoes, and jalapeños/green chiles. Heat thoroughly.

    Pan with chicken, onions, tomatoes, and jalapeños.
    Chicken, onions, tomatoes, and jalapeños.

    4. Fill each tortilla with roughly 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture. Top with 1-112 tablespoons of shredded cheese.

    Tortilla with chicken mixture topped with cheese.
    Add chicken mixture to tortillas and top with cheese.

    5. Roll each tortilla and place it in a greased 9×13 glass baking dish. The baking dish should hold 16 small enchiladas.

    Baking dish with sixteen small chicken enchiladas.
    Chicken enchiladas without sauce.

    6. Spread the sour cream sauce over the enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese.

    Baking dish with chicken enchiladas topped with sour cream sauce and cheese.
    Chicken enchiladas with sour cream sauce and cheese.

    Baking dish with chicken enchiladas topped with sour cream sauce.
    Chicken enchiladas with sour cream sauce.

    7. Bake the enchiladas at 350°F for 25-30 minutes.

    Cooked chicken enchiladas on a plate.
    Chicken Enchiladas