Monday, May 18, 2015

Slow Cooker Hot Beef Sandwiches

Now, this, ladies and gentleman is going way back for me.  This is one of my favorite comfort foods EVER.  I wish they were calorie free, fat free and all that jazz, but, they aren't.  If they were I could eat them at least 3 times a week.  No joke  But let me tell you what I realized about hot beef sandwiches

Not all of these sandwiches are created the same  In fact, some people have no idea what they are.  (GASP).  I know, right?  When I become an eastie, (moved to NJ) I wanted a hot beef sandwich.  I was missing home and wanted some HOME food.  Not pizza, no cheesesteaks, just as my husband calls it, "farm food".  Well, we went to our favorite diner, (shout out to Golden Palace in Vineland, NJ) and ordered a hot roast beef sandwich.  When it arrived, it was roast beef, swimming in gravy on a toasted hoagie roll.  Ok, it wasn't what I was planning, but, hey, it was as close as I figured I would get, so I enjoyed every luscious bite!  When my husband asked what was different I said, "Where are the potatoes?  Where is the sandwich bread?"  He was not nearly as concerned as I was but, to end this story on a positive note, I did find a hot beef sandwich that slightly resembled my most coveted treat from home.  You were holding your breath, weren't you? 

Now, while I enjoy all things homemade, I have to tell you, I tend to make fake gravy for this but I do it in a "nobody can tell" way..  I use that package that you add 3 or 4 cups of water to, but you could use 3 small packages, or as I will write the recipe, how I do it when I make homemade gravy

Make sure to make a batch of mashed potatoes to serve along side of this delicious sandwich, from my childhood and from, well.......dinner tonight!

You will need
4-5 lb. roast of your choice (I like very little fat for this recipe
2 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. poultry seasoning (I know, just trust me)
1 tbsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. salt (if making homemade gravy, reduce to 1 if using package gravy)
1 tsp. black pepper (or to taste, or not at all)
3-4 cups of beef stock or water with bouillon cubes
1/2 cup flour
3 tbsp. butter
kitchen bouquet (as desired)
ALL liquid left from your slow cooker

In your slow cooker, add your roast.  Sprinkle over onion powder, poultry seasoning, dried parsley, salt and pepper to taste.  Add in beef stock or water and bouillon cubes.  Place the lid on and cook on high for 6 hours.  I normally like my roast beef medium, but for this you want it well done.  Don't mess with it just let it go.

When your roast is done, remove unto a platter.  Leaving your slow cooker on high!

Now, to the stock left in your slow cooker, add in flour, butter and Kitchen Bouquet, and whisk that goodness until it is glossy, and thickened. 

(If using packages of gravy, add them right into the stock and whisk until no lumps appear)

Slice your roast beast and then slide it back into the gravy.  Place on warm until you are ready to serve.  Make a sandwich, add a side of mashed potatoes and your carb heaven has arrived!

This is perfect to make extra and freeze for later!


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Chicken Parmesan Bake

This is one of my favorite dishes  I think it is a popular dish, that lots of people love, but don't always feel like dealing with the whole process.  Well, I am happy to tell you I took the process out of it. 

Ok, I can't take ALL of the credit, my sister has a friend who has a friend who told her about this recipe.  I, as usual made some of my own modifications but, it will taste very much the same no matter how you do it   Originally I think the breasts were left whole, which just seemed like so much work.  If this was going to be an easy version, then it should already be cut up.  Right?  Wow, that sounded so very lazy of me.  The breasts I was working with (teehee) were huge (teehee again) and while I would use as many breasts as you have people, I used only 3 of these monsters.  Sorry, my maturity level is at an all time low lately.  Blame it on the grand littles.  HA!

You can use store bought sauce, or use your own.  We aren't having that battle tonight, I have been to busy, and don't have the strength.  I actually just laughed at that comment.  I used store bought jarred sauce for this recipe.  I could have made homemade croutons but, duh, this is supposed to be the easy version of chicken parmesan. 

Serve this over any pasta you like, I served it with rotini, and loved it.  In fact, I loved this so much, I might make it every week all summer because, I just like it that much.   Alright, that might have been a bit dramatic but I will be making this often. 

Oh wait did I mention the oven decided to stop working about 15 min after I put this in?  Yea, well, it will be fixed up soon, and I don't think 3 hours to wait was THAT long.  Do you?  HA!  Hopefully your oven isn't moody, and it will take the real amount of time!

You will need
3-4 chicken breasts, boneless skinless, cut into cubes
2 T. olive oil
1 T. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 jar of marinara (omg I can't remember the ounces)
1 can of tomato soup
1 T. sugar
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
1, 5oz bag of seasoned (garlic) croutons
Extra dried Italian seasoning

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Place chicken cubes into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Add olive oil, onion powder, salt, and Italian seasoning.  Toss the chicken to get everything seasoned up! In a bowl mix together marinara, tomato soup and sugar.  Pour over your chicken!

Now sprinkle liberally with your mozzarella cheese  Make sure to get the corners!  Don't let the corner people out!  Now top with your croutons  You could use the double the amount but trust me when I tell you this is enough even thought it may seem like it isn't.

I think this pic is upside down  Oh well, let's go with it, to change things up!

Now cover the top with parmesan cheese!  Then sprinkle on more Italian seasoning, a lot or a little the choice is yours, I did a LOT!

Now, bake this bad baby for 35-50 minutes  I know that is a large range of time but it just depends on how big your chunks of chicken are.  As soon as you are certain they are done, this is ready to eat!  If the top gets a bit, or starts to get a bit brown cover with foil for the duration of baking.  I personally am all about those really brown cheese bits.  Oh yea!

Serve with pasta of your choice or eat it alone!


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Frozen Butterfinger Pie

It is 80 degrees today.  Time for some fun COLD treats, don't you think?  I do! 

I am guilty of hitting up the after Easter sales on candy.  I mean, I bought A LOT of it.  I have used most of it but this bag of Butterfingers keeps getting pushed to the side.  I like them but I don't need them and they get stuck in my dang teeth.  Drives me nuts!  I decided to make them into something delicious for these warm spring/summer days ahead!

I love no bake desserts.  For some reason, now that I think about it, my favorite desserts are NO bake.  Except for cream puffs, but they are in an entirely different realm of fabulousness so they don't count.

These ingredients are pretty straight forward but, if you want to use a premade chocolate cookie crust feel free.  I didn't want that much chocolate so I used some store brand, half vanilla, have chocolate sandwich cookies.  They worked out fabulously.  This is a very rich pie, I would guess you could easily serve 12 with it.  Also, I used Cool Whip, please feel free to use fresh sweetened whipped cream.  That is just a personal preference, and while I normally choose that, it was more in the realm of what I wanted to use cool whip. 

On that note, let's get to this EASY recipe.  Make sure to make it the day before so it is frozen nice and firm!

30 sandwich cookies
6 T. melted butter

Place cookies in a food processor and process until fine crumbs.  Add in butter and process until you get the consistency of wet sand.  Pour out into a pie pan and press firmly.  You could do this in a 9x9 square baking dish as well.  Set aside

In a stand mixer bowl or mixing bowl combine the following except candy bars....

3.4 oz. box of vanilla pudding mix (instant)
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
8 ounces cool whip
8 ozs cream cheese
12 fun size butterfingers chopped (reserve 2 for topping)
remaining cool whip for the top

When all ingredients are a smooth mixture, fold in candy bars.  Pour into crust smooth over and top with cool whip.  Sprinkle leftover candy bars on top and freeze at least overnight!


Monday, April 27, 2015

Triple Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake

Mmm-hmmmm.  I know.  To good to be true?  I would agree if I hadn't eaten 2 slices myself.  But, as per usual, there is a story here.  This didn't turn out to be what I planned for it to be. 

So, I confessed on my Facebook page that I love those little chocolate bundt cakes from Kentucky Fried Chicken.  So sue me.  It has been my personal mission to recreate those little rings of love from the beginning.  I have tried a few things but, this time....THIS time, was going to be, THE time.  Well I am not to proud to admit it wasn't THE time, but this time, it came out so delish, I had to share it anyway.  I have figured a few things out about those little rings of love.  They are frozen, that alone keeps them super moist, so if you want to make this cake ahead, and freeze it for a few days or a week before you ice and serve it, you might get a closer result.  I was not going to give you a cake that you had to freeze for a week, but if you DID do that, uh-huh, might be your ticket to greatness. 

When I originally made this with just a regular from scratch chocolate cake recipe, it didn't do so well.  A bit like falling apart brownies, no bueno.  So I knew this time I wanted to use a pound cake base.  Well, it turned out lovely, and seriously, if the "triple" doesn't reel you in on the chocolate factor, maybe the sour cream will. 

Here we go!  You want ALL of your ingredients at room temperature, even the sour cream.  Do this by leaving everything on the counter for at least 30 minutes prior to baking!  There are a few ingredients near the end, I will make all ingredients RED!

You will need

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 cup sour cream
3 cups all purpose flour
3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1, 3.9 oz. box of instant chocolate pudding
1 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F, and spray a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. 

In the bowl of your mixer, or any large bowl if mixing with an electric mixer, add in your butter  Beat until creamy and smooth, and it has lightened a bit in color.  Add in sugar and continue to beat until sugar and butter are light and fluffy.  Add in your eggs, one at a time, beat it in before adding the next.  Next you will add in your vanilla and mix until fully incorporated.

In another bowl combine, your flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and instant chocolate pudding mix together.  Just give it a quick mix to combine it. 

Now alternately add in some of the flour mixture to your butter and egg mixture, and then add some sour cream.  Alternate until all ingredients are combined and your batter is smooth and creamy. 

Fold in chocolate chips and pour into your bundt pan.  This will fill it nearly to the top.  No worries, it won't rise a ton, and even at that, it won't overflow.  It might make you nervous, but no worries, I got your back on this.  Trust me.


Now bake for 90 minutes.  Yes, I said it, 90 minutes.  Start checking at the 70 minute point, and when a toothpick comes out clean it is done.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Next you will need

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup regular milk of your choice

Mix these together and set aside.  Poke holes in your cake, while still in the pan.  Make them go all the way through just don't go quite all the way through.  Make these wholes all over.  I used a chopstick.  Now SLOWLY pour the milk mixture over the cake.  Go slow or don't call me to clean up the sticky mess!  When you are done, let sit until completely cooled and the milk is completely absorbed.  Run a knife around the inside hole and the outside, and flip out on to a plate.  If I were going to freeze it, this would be the point where I would wrap it tightly in saran wrap, and then foil and place in the freezer, otherwise, move on!

THEN you will need:

1 cup powdered/confectioners/icing sugar
1 1/2 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients.  Make sure it is a loose enough mixture to drip down the sides of the cake and go for it.  Drizzle it, spoon it, do whatever you feel is necessary to get that icing on that cake!  Garnish with some mini chocolate chips if you like!

Enjoy this rich chocolate goodness!  I have to admit, I still put some whipped cream on top because, well, everything is just better with it. 


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ham Croquettes

We meet again!  And lo and behold, with another leftover Easter ham recipe!  This is the exact reason we bought 2 you know.  Just so my husband could make some of his favorites, which is an absolute pleasure to see him enjoy.  This recipe was one his mom made often and so we would like to share it with you!

These are crispy and lovely on the outside and the inside is just ham goodness.  As I had never heard of these before my husband, I did some looking around and found these to be made about a million different ways and seasoned in as many ways.  These are just plain, not a lot of seasoning as the ham gets to be the star of the show.  I think these might surprise you.  They look like a lot of work but they are definitely not, especially if you have some mashed potatoes needing used up or just mix up some instant ones.  I did not have any and just used 3 decent sized potatoes, and made a small batch. 

You will need a baking sheet with a cooking rack on top to put these on as they cook, or you could probably use paper towels, either way, prep somewhere to put them.  I made these bigger than what I have seen, and I got about 10 patties. 

Here is what you will need:

3 cups ground cooked ham
1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 egg

For breading
2 cups flour
2 eggs + 2 T. water, beaten together
3 cups bread crumbs (flavored or plain)

3 T. butter
4 T. flour
3-4 cups milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper (optional)

Make your béchamel first.  In a medium pot, melt your butter, add flour and salt, and whisk for 2 minutes.  Slowly add in your milk.  Now you can warm your milk if you like, it will make for a quicker thickening process.  Just keep whisking at a slow boil until thickened.  Add in pepper and whisk to combine.  When it is nice and thick, set aside. 

For the croquettes, in a large bowl add in ground ham, mashed potatoes, pepper and egg.  Mix until completely combined. 

I used my cookie scoop to portion out my croquettes.  Flatten them out into patties until all of the mixture is used up.  You can refrigerate them at this time if you like for a few minutes but it isn't necessary.  They are fragile and completely workable but might be easier to refrigerate for a few minutes first.  Now get your bread station together.  One plate with flour, one with breadcrumbs and a lard shallow bowl with egg.  Heat up a large nonstick skillet with about 3 T. of vegetable, canola or peanut oil. 

Dip the patties in flour, GENTLY shake them off, into the egg and then into breadcrumbs and in the pan.  Let fry on medium until golden brown and then flip.

Drain on the cookie sheet you prepared earlier.  Fry until all are done, and serve with the béchamel on the top! You might need to reheat a bit. 


Friday, April 17, 2015

Easy Homemade Caramels

Life lessons.  We all experience them, we all learn from them hopefully, and sometimes they sting.  Or wait, sometimes rather, they give you 2nd degree burns, on your feet!

OK, so maybe 2nd degree burns is a little over the top but, my heart will not get over how freaked out I was!  When people tell you to read up on candy making or watch a video, talk to others who make candy.....yeah, you should probably do that.  I only tell you that because, I DIDN'T!

For a beginner this is really an easy recipe.  I think when you make candy you need to start out easy.  And make sure you have access to a candy thermometer or you will end up using a meat thermometer.  HA!  Or you can ALMOST forgot what is bubbling and stick your finger in it to taste it.  I am a mess friends, a hot, bubbling over mess.  When my temperature got to that very anticipated "firm-ball stage", I kept the pot on the burner, shut off the heat, and added my vanilla.  DUH.  It blew up, a small explosion but none the less, is scared the hell outta me. I will make these again because they are so easy, and I know, but my candy making days are over.  If you need a recipe for candy, as me, I will refer you to a good website!

One thing about these caramels, is you MUST prepare the pan well.  I mean, when I tell you that you MUST, you MUST.  I used foil, but in hindsight I would use parchment and then I would spray the heck out of it with nonstick cooking spray, maybe even like 4 times over.  Yes, use parchment.  I also used parchment to individually wrap them, waxed paper is a good alternative.  If you cut these into 1 inch squares you will get about 81 candies.  Uh-huh.......start cutting girlfriend/boyfriend. 

These would be a delightful edible gift and if you groove on the salted variety caramel, after you pour the mixture in your pan, sprinkle with course sea salt or pink salt!  Hereeeee..we go!

1 cup butter
2 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Line a 9x9x2 baking pan with parchment.  Then spray or butter it WELL with non stick cooking spray.  Set aside. 

In a large pot add all ingredients EXCEPT the vanilla. Clip a candy thermometer to your pot and stirring almost constantly bring your mixture to the firm-ball stage.  This will be 242 degrees F.  This took me about 19 minutes on medium heat.  Don't use more than medium or you will burn your mixture.  Your mixture will be a moderate, steady bubble. 

Remove the pot from the heat.  remove your thermometer, and add vanilla.  BEWARE, you will have a mini volcanic eruption on your hands, so thus, using a large pot!  Maybe if you use a large pot you won't have an eruption but I had one, so I am just putting it out there into the universe, wear socks!

Pour immediately into your prepared backing dish and let cook in the fridge.  When it is set, use the parchment to live the caramels out and a buttered knife to cut into 1 inch squares or whatever size you like.  I did bigger pieces as you can see.

DE-lightful.  I promise!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Simple Ham Salad

Ok, we need to talk.  Remember when I said, I often make things I don't personally care for, because I just like to make all kinds of things?  This is one.  This was my husbands reason for 2 hams at Easter, I should have known he had a plan.  Ham this, ham that, ham fried, ham ground, ham anything, ham everything!  It's ok, he loves it.  And maybe you will too!  I mean after all, it does take ground ham lovers to make the world go 'round, right?

That being said, I actually enjoy the flavor here.  I just don't care for the consistency.  I used my meat grinder attachment on my mixer, but you could certainly use a food processor and just get it to the consistency that you like.  Maybe you like it a bit more chunky or maybe even (omg I am gonna say this) more mushy. 

How many people write a blog on a recipe they don't care for?  You just remember that, if you ever think for a second I am not honest!  My husband just ate the last of this last night, (thank you Lord) and yet, there were more recipes he wanted to try with this ham.  You will be getting that one later, and I actually liked it!

Anyway, this is just simple, and easy and a good use up for leftover ham if you are into that "make everything leftover into a salad" sort of thing.  God bless her, my mom fits into this category as well.  Any leftover meat became a sandwich spread.  I feel so ill right now.  She did it with goose once. 

If you haven't lost your lunch at this point, from this positive, happy, exciting blog post, we will get on with the VERY SIMPLE recipe that is my husbands favorite ham salad!  Eat it on crackers, as a sandwich, the world is your sandwich friends, make it how you like it!

3 cups ham, ground, chopped fine, etc
1/2 cup mayo (no miracle whip)
2 T. sweet pickle relish

Combine all ingredients.  If you prefer more relish add more, if you prefer less add less.  Maybe start with 1 T. and go from there.  Serve on toasted bread as a sandwich or with crackers as a dip.  You choose!!!