Monday, August 18, 2014

Stone Fruit Crisp

Evening friends!

I am so ready for fall!  SO ready!  My mind is on crumbles, and crisps and cobblers, oh my!  I found some nice fruit the other day and undoubtedly knew what I had to do with them!  The plums, the peaches, just beautiful.  My husband had been mentioning that I hadn't made a dessert lately and how "good it sounded".  You know wives that is code for, "please make it now".  And with a face like his, how could I say no?!?!

You can use other stone fruit in this as well, I just used peaches and plums.  It came out delish, and with a scoop of ice cream on top.... get outta here!  Perfect crumbly, crunchy top, sweet fruity bottom, the texture was awesome and so was the flavor!

By the way, on a side note.  When I typed out "fruity bottom", my head started singing, "apple bottom jeans and the boots with the furrrr"

I don't like fruit, remember?  Yea well, I ate this.  (insert awkward silence where you all are gasping in shock) I KNOW!

4 plums, peeled and sliced
4 peaches, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar (more or less depending on the sweetness of your fruit)
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix ingredients together well.  Pour into a casserole dish that has been buttered or sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Crisp Topping:
1/2 cup flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened.

Using a fork, mix all ingredients until well combined, and it becomes crumbly and holds together when you press it together in your hand.  Sprinkle over the top of the fruit, covering the entire top.  Place on a cookie sheet in case it bubbles over and bake for 45-55 minutes.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving. 

Enjoy this fruity goodness over some ice cream!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Crabby Macaroni Salad

Am I not.....HILARIOUS?  I know, it was a sad attempt at humor.  This has been one the craziest days I have had for awhile, and frankly, I am so tired, I am on cup of coffee number 2, just to get the job done kids!

The truth is, this is another "for the love of hubby" recipe.  He has been asking for some sort of seafood macaroni salad for awhile.  He has been oh so patient, for more than I would have been if I were waiting for something from him.  Finally he said in this cute little desperate voice, "Honey, I know you are really busy but could you write up some sort of salad with crab and pasta in it for me and use black olives"?  Easy enough.  I just picked up some of the great farmers market finds I had from the weekend and went to town. 

I am not a huge fan of mayo based salads, but I guarantee you will love this one.  It makes me so happy when my husband requests something and I am able to create it for him just how he likes it.  Nothing makes me happier than to hear his "insert moan" and then "Christine, Christine, Christine, hits another one OUT OF THE PARK"!   Love is grand isn't it?

This is going down as a Simmerman family staple.  I hope it is enjoyed by yours too!

16 ounces shell pasta (or any very short pasta), cooked and cooled
10-12 ounces crab meat, real or imitation
10 ounce can of black olives, chopped
1 med-lg bell pepper, chopped fine
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered. (use a large regular tomato if you want)
1 cup Hellmann's Mayo (or best foods)
1 T chives
1/4 tsp,. garlic powder
2-3 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste

You can add the pasta while it is still slightly warm if you wish.  Otherwise, mix all ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving!

Easy?  Definitely!  Delicious?  DEFINITELY!


Monday, August 11, 2014

Easy Baked Beans

More beans.  Are you KIDDING me?  You know how I feel about the "musical fruit", but it summer, this is America and we all know, no summer bbq or picnic is complete without them!  I have succumbed to the pressure of my family to learn to make them.  I can recall my dad eating them out of the can, cold, and oh, yuck.  My memories were validated when I was at my parents a couple of weeks ago and my dad wanted cold pork and beans and hot dogs for dinner. 

I have said it before...  Even though there are foods I don't particularly care to eat, I love knowing how to make everything I can.  While I can down a couple spoonful's, just to be polite, I don't like actual onion in mine, so I go with onion powder.  Get the flavor, but none of the sliminess.   I also like my bacon not real crispy in baked beans, that is my preference, you go with yours!  These are awesome to make ahead, I mix mine up sometimes a day or 2 in advance, put the bacon in before baking and there ya go!

*omit the bacon for a great vegetarian side*

3- 15oz. cans pork and beans (I use the cheapo brand, use your favorite)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2T ketchup
1T yellow mustard
1T molasses
1/2 tsp. onion powder
4 strips of bacon, diced. 

Preheat your oven to 350.   In a skillet, fry up your diced bacon.  It doesn't need to be super crispy, but if it is, that is fine too.  Get it fried up and drained on a paper towel.  In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix to combine.  Add in bacon and pour into a casserole dish that will hold your mixture, I used about a 3 quart and it was obviously plenty big.  Pour the mixture in and bake uncovered 50-75 minutes.  It will thicken a bit as it cools. 

I hope you enjoy this simple recipe, that just gets better the longer it sits!  Warm, cold, steaming hot, I have seen these eaten every which way!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Banana Poke Cake with Cream Cheese Brown Sugar Frosting

Once again, I apologize for this spotty, at best posting schedule.  My parents need raised, my grandchildren moved to town, and my sister from Cinci was here for a week, and, and, and....   I swear when September hits, I will be back on schedule.  I appreciate all of you who have stuck around and continue to support me here, and on social media!  Make sure to join me on those if you haven't!  I love your comments here on the website, please keep them coming!

So, back to the raising of my parents.  Pffftt.  My mother has the audacity, after raising 10 kids, and living 81 years, to have an OPINION!  Can you believe it?!?  I spent a week, a couple of weeks ago and needed to run for some groceries.  My mom needed her bananas, for her ritual cereal and banana breakfasts.  She sent me with a list and as I perused the produce section, which by the way in my hometown grocery store is like the size of your living room, I saw a bargain bin!  YES!  An entire bag of bananas for .69!  I nabbed them up, continued my shopping and headed for home.  When I walked in with my finds, my mom gives me this "look".  It was a look I have seen often, one of disappointment and, oh wait, let me clarify I never actually did anything to get that look in my younger days.  Do you believe me?  Anyway I got this, "Chhhrriisssss, those bananas are way over ripe".  Excuse me Marlene?  I can remember a day, she would have just cut out the dark spots, saved them and used them for banana bread and eaten or fed us the rest of the banana.  Kids are grown, and diva queen wants her bananas a little "green"?!?  (for anyone who at this point thinks I am serious, please know, in my family, we tease, we laugh and we joke, I adore my mother and she deserves whatever she wants!) 

So the point is, I took my bag O' bananas and I brought them home.  Hmmppfff.  This cake was born from them and I think you will agree, she can keep her GREEN bananas!  Overripe ones always turn into something amazing too!

Don't ask how I know this, but this cake freezes like a dream and I kind of liked eating a piece half frozen!

2 cups flour (all purpose)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 very ripe bananas, mushed to perfection
1 box instant vanilla pudding

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.  Combine all ingredients EXCEPT flour.  When all ingredients are well combined, add in flour just until mixed.  Pour into prepared cake pan and bake 40-50 minutes.  When a toothpick comes out clean it is done!  Let cool completely.  Using the round handle of a spoon or whatever else you can find with a round end, (I shutter at what people might use), poke holes all over the cake.   Prepare pudding per package directions and slowly pour over the cake.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes while you prepare the frosting!

Cream Cheese Brown Sugar Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
3 T butter, softened
1-2 T milk.

Combine, cream cheese, vanilla, brown sugar and butter.  Beat for 3-4 minutes, until creamy and smooth.  Add in milk according to how you like your frosting.  Less milk for stiffer, more for thinner.  Spread over cake and sprinkle with nuts of your choice, IF you choose!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Slow Cooker Mac N Cheese

Oh no, here we go with another slow cooker recipe!  You guys are getting to me, I mean...  I am USING my crockpot!  It isn't so bad after all, but, I definitely pick and choose what I use in ol' "Crocky". 

I know how some of you feel about Velveeta.  But I must tell you, it has its place in my world.  Not for everything by any means, but, there are things that simply can't be perfected without it.  If you don't want to use Velveeta, this might be the recipe for you, unless you want to go with all shredded cheese and then the success is on your shoulders!

I know for many, the start of school is right around the corner.  This means more slow cooker meals for many parents, grandparents and busy people in general.  I have been craving mac and cheese.  I will be honest, I looked at a few slow cooker recipes that didn't seem handy at all.  By that, I mean, you had to boil the pasta first.  Ewww!  So boil the pasta and then cook it for 3 or 4 hours?  No thanks.  How convenient is that anyway??  Not at all in my opinion.   When I see convenient, I want to throw it all in one pot and forget about it.  Don't you?

So this is my own rendition of slow cooker mac and cheese and might I say, it is pretty awesome.  You MUST like creamy, rich, cheesy goodness, or you won't be thrilled.  As if someone doesn't love all that.  Pfftt.

16 ounces of short cut pasta (I used rotini)
1- 13oz can, evaporated milk
1 3/4 cup milk (skim, 2%, or whatever you have on hand is fine)
1/4 cup sour cream
12 ounces Velveeta processed cheese, cubed
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. yellow mustard

Set your crockpot on low.  Spray the inside with nonstick cooking spray.  Add in milks, salt, pepper, mustard, and whisk to combine.  Add in pasta, and cheese and stir.  Cover and let cook on low for 3.5 hours.  Make sure not to hesitate to stir once or twice during cooking.  Right before serving, stir in your sour cream.  Don't skip it!!  As this cools it will thicken.  If you need to add a splash of milk to loosen it back up, go for it!

Your pasta will NOT be mushy, it will be thick, rich and creamy and oozing with cheesy goodness.  Ok, PROCESSED cheesy goodness!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Vietnamese Coffee Pops

OK.  Just admit it.  You saw the word "coffee" in the title and you knew it had potential right?  It's OK, I am the same way.  As much as I love coffee I don't have a ton of coffee recipes. 

I was recently introduced to Vietnamese Coffee and just knew immediately it had to become the next victim of my retro Tupperware popsicle molds!  This has 2 ingredients, yes, TWO!  You understand that this now gives you permission to have popsicles in the morning, right?  What?  You didn't need an excuse? Awesome!   Now traditional Vietnamese Iced Coffee calls for a French press coffee pot.  Listen, I wasn't going to go buy one for one recipe.  I know, I should have one anyway because the coffee is amazing but truth be told, I brewed a cup of French Dark Roast in my Keurig and it was perfection. 

Here we go, now make notes, this is going to be a process, but the lovely part is, that while the "process" is happening you can be drinking your coffee HOT!

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup very strongly brewed coffee or espresso

Combine both ingredients with a whisk.  When combined, carefully pour into molds.  Let freezer overnight for best results in my opinion.  These are a cold, refreshing pick me up that should not be experienced by every coffee lover alive!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Crockpot O' Pintos

Ahh, so we meet again.  Me....and the bean. I mean, you and I as well, but that is a beautiful meeting.  Me and the bean have not had a relationship for 40 years.  I want to love the bean, my health wants to love the bean, and always having to pick beans out of chili at the parties of friends and family gets tedious.  This recipe, didn't make me love the bean any better. 

Let me clarify.  This is a great recipe.  It is especially great for someone who loathes beans, but wanted to learn to make a good pot of beans and has no idea what a good pot of beans tastes like.  Phew, did you get all that?  I listened to a lot of your comments and advice.  I even attempted this "method" that would make the room smell nice even after consuming the beans. 

Let's just cut to the chase.  I hope you give you these a try.  They are crockpot friendly for all of you crocky lovers out there and I hope you enjoy them as much as the beans lovers in my family did!

This is a bit of a process at first, but, well not really.  Ok for some of you it might be but just do it.  Trust me.

First off you will need:
4 cups dried pinto beans

Rinse these in a strainer.  Pick out any rocks, odd pieces, I even have heard of there being sticks in them.  Just clean them up and rinse a couple of times.  Now place in a pot, and cover with water.  Make sure the water comes up a few inches higher than the beans.  Place on high heat and bring to a boil.  Let boil for 5 minutes.  Immediately drain the water.  It will be brown and gross looking.  This is "supposedly" all the toxins that will keep your house from blowing up with gas from whoever eats these!   Now, rinse the beans again.  Place back in the pot, cover with water.  Again, make the water a few inches higher, cover and let sit for at least 8 hours.  Overnight is awesome, 12ish hours is even better. 

Now get up, get yourself going and get your crockpot out.   Here is what you will need for the rest:

1 ham bone (ham hock or bacon will work too) 
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
2 cups beef stock (use veggie or chicken if you choose)
2 cups water
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Place beans in your slow cooker.  Add stock, water, and all seasonings.  Stir it up and then nestle your onions and ham bone down in the beanie bed of love.  Put the lid on, set on high and let it rip for 8 hours.  If you need to add water as it cooks, please do so.  (or stock).  Serve as you wish.  With cornbread, with cheese, with cilantro, with anything you please!

You can feel free to smoosh the life outta these babies, toss them in a skillet with a bit of oil, and make some homemade refried beans!


PS.  What I failed to tell you when I wrote this post was that I actually used a CORNED BEEF for the first 2 hours.  I had leftover corned beef in the freezer sitting right next to the ham bone.  I saw pink and tossed it in.  When I went to stir it, I was like...hmm, this is NOT ham.  Holy cow, it was in fact, corned beef!  Of course this was after I forgot to turn the crockpot ON for an hour.  UGH!  See, everyone makes mistakes, especially in a hurry.  Moral of the story, MARK YOUR ZIPLOC BAGS! HAHA!