Upcycled Fire Starters

Whether its a grill, fire-pit or fireplace, getting the fire going is the hardest part. There are all sorts of products out the for starting fires, and they all come with a pretty price tag. Over the years my family has tried a variety of DIY fire starters for the fire-pit at my grandparents farm. The one thing they all had in common? You still needed charcoal lighter fluid to really get the fire blazing. Alas, that day is gone!

Upcycled Firestarters

We’ve all heard at least one dryer fire story. But did you know that the same thing that causes dryer fires to be so destructive can make an amazing fire starter? Dryer lint. It is incredibly flammable but doesn’t burn out too fast. Making dryer lint the perfect fire starter.


  • Dryer lint
  • Empty toilet paper rolls
  • Newspaper
  • Twine

So here’s how it goes! Stuff the toilet paper rolls full of dryer lint. The tighter you pack them the longer they burn.

Fire Starter #1

Then roll the toilet paper roll up in the newspaper and immediately pinch the paper on either side of the roll. This will prevent the paper from unrolling.

Fire Starter #2

Then tie your twine around either end. Use something organic like cotton, hemp or sisal to prevent burning plastic.

Fire Starter #3

Viola! You just made your own fire starters by using up stuff you would have thrown out or recycled! Surround them with some dry kindling and you’re golden! I hope these prove to be as useful for you as they have for our family!

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

Cheesy Garlic Pull-Apart Bread

Prepare yourself for a restaurant quality bread side you’ll want to eat again and again! This version is semi-homemade because I used store-bought yeast rolls, but you can easily make rolls from my Homemade White Bread recipe for a completely homemade treat!

Cheesy Garlic Pull-Apart Bread

I prefer Kroger brand yeast rolls, but any yeast roll will do. If you are making rolls from scratch, omit this first step. Set 16 rolls out at room temperature until they have thawed. Once thawed, cut each roll in half.

Cheesy Garlic Pull-Apart Bread #1

Melt your butter. Stir the Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese, parsley, garlic powder, salt and Italian seasoning together with the butter. Toss the rolls in the mixture and pour into a greased, round cake pan. Let rise until doubled in size (about an hour depending on your kitchen temperature).

Top the rolls with the remaining mozzarella cheese before baking. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve by itself or with my Homemade Marinara Sauce for dipping!

Cheesy Garlic Pull-Apart Bread #5

Cheesy Garlic Pull-Apart Bread

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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  • 16 Frozen Yeast Rolls
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, melted
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1/2 Cup Mozzarella Cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp. Parsley Flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning


  1. Thaw the yeast rolls.
  2. Cut yeast rolls in half.
  3. Melt the butter.
  4. Combine the butter, Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, parsley, garlic powder, salt and Italian seasoning in a bowl.
  5. Toss rolls in butter mixture.
  6. Pour roll mixture into well-greased, round cake pan.
  7. Let the rolls rise until doubled in size. Approximately 1 hour depending on kitchen temperature.
  8. Top rolls with remaining mozzarella cheese just prior to baking.
  9. Bake rolls at 350 degree Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

Freezer Friendly Chicken Parmesan

My husband tends to pick the more expensive options for lunches. A very popular freezer meal brand charges $2.50 for one portion of chicken and a whole lot of pasta in the Chicken Parmesan meal. That’s HALF the tasty part for $2.50. You’ll be delighted to know that these 2 chicken fillet portions will only cost you $1.75 each! I know I was!

Chicken Parmesan (Freezer Friendly)

I hadn’t ever fried anything before making this, but after a few batches I feel like an old pro. First, I prefer canola oil for two reasons. It doesn’t affect the flavor of the breading and it has a higher flame point than olive oil. The flame point is the temperature at which the oil will catch fire, and because I’m a big old chicken… I prefer a higher flame point.

The first thing to do is prepare your chicken. After playing around with it, two smaller portions of chicken reheat much better than one large portion. If you are serving immediately this obviously is a mute point. Cut up all of your chicken.

Chicken Parmesan #1

Then I set up my assembly line of chicken, seasoned flour, egg wash, bread crumbs and a plate for the breaded chicken.  Each piece of chicken gets dredged in all three dipping stations. Flour first, then the egg wash and finally a heavy coat of bread crumbs.

Repeat this process until all of the chicken fillets have been breaded. You’ll want to fully attend to them once they are in the frying pan, and you don’t want to leave the hot oil unattended.

Chicken Parmesan #5

Now you want to prepare your frying pan. You only need about 1 cup of oil, potentially a little more if you have a really large frying pan. Keep in mind it only needs to cover one side of the chicken. Heat the oil on medium-high heat until the oil starts to become wavy. Once the oil is ready, cook the fillets for about 1 minute on each side. You want the breading golden brown but not burnt.

After both sides are golden brown place the fillets on a broiler pan. (I jerry-rig my own with a cooling rack on a foil-lined sheet pan.) Top each fillet with a generous amount of my Homemade Marinara Sauce, then grated Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.

Then you bake them for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees. Make sure the chicken is cooked through and your cheese is completely melted. Then label and package in freezer safe containers (these are my favorite). When my husband takes these to work he always stores them in the fridge until lunch time, and then microwaves them for 3 minutes until heated through.

Freezer Friendly Chicken Parmesan

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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  • 4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour, salt & peppered
  • 4 Eggs + 2 Tbsp. Water, Beaten
  • 2 Cups Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1-2 Cups Canola Oil
  • Mozzarella Cheese, grated
  • Parmesan Cheese, grated


  1. Cut chicken breasts into fillets.
  2. Mix flour, salt & pepper.
  3. Make egg wash with eggs and water.
  4. Form an assembly line with seasoned flour, egg wash and bread crumbs.
  5. Dredge chicken in flour. Tap off excess.
  6. Dredge chicken in egg wash. Let excess drip off.
  7. Dredge chicken in bread crumbs. Don’t be stingy!
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 until all fillets are breaded.
  9. Heat canola oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat until oil is wavy.
  10. Fry each fillet for 1 minute on each side or until golden brown.
  11. Place fried fillets on a broiler pan.
  12. Top with a generous portion of my Homemade Marinara Sauce.
  13. Then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.
  14. Bake chicken fillets at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes, ensuring chicken is cooked through and cheese is melted.

To reheat from frozen: Allow to thaw in the fridge from morning to lunch. Reheat in the microwave for 3 minutes or until heated through.

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

I love sauce, especially red sauces. While this will always be my favorite, this marinara sauce has quickly become a must-have staple in my freezer. Its perfect for spaghetti, dipping bread or topping Freezer Friendly Chicken Parmesan. I served it over Christmas with my Cheesy Garlic Pull-Apart Bread, and I think the bread may have become a delivery system. There was no marinara left behind!

Homemade Marinara Sauce

As far as sauces go, this one is pretty quick and fool proof. The most time consuming part is letting the sauce simmer to develop the flavors.

Start by heating the olive oil on low-medium heat. The oil is ready when it looks wavy. Saute the garlic and onion until they are translucent, pictured below.

Marinara Sauce #1

I like to go ahead and open the can of tomatoes and measure out the spices while the garlic and onion are sauteing. Once they are ready, you risk them burning if you wait to add liquid.

Marinara Sauce #2

Pour in the tomatoes and spices, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes. By now the flavors have developed, you can adjust salt and pepper to taste. The marinara sauce is very chunky at this point. To smooth it out either use an immersion blender (like this immersion blender I got for Christmas which is so much easier to use than a conventional blender and reduces clean up) or dump the whole pot of sauce into a blender and pulse until desired consistency.

Marinara Sauce #3

Use immediately or store in freezer safe containers to use for up to 3 months.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


  • 1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
  • 2 Cans Crushed Tomatoes (28 oz.)
  • 1 tsp. Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Basil
  • 2 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Salt
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil on low-medium heat until wavy.
  2. Saute garlic and onion.
  3. Add in tomatoes and spices. Reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes.
  4. Use immersion blender or conventional blender to smooth sauce to desired consistency.


This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.