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 freeze overnight for best results in my opinion.  These are a cold, refreshing pick me up that should 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!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Taco Cookies

Summertime, Summertime, Sum-Sum-Summertime..........

This has been one of the busiest summers of my life.  Even when my son was little, and I was working full time, my summers weren't this busy.  Lots of  time with grandchildren, recipe writing, and raising my parents, (teehee) and enjoying the beautiful weather!  I hope that you all are experiencing the same kind of fun summer! 

Let's talk, menu planning.  Do you plan your menus?  Do you grocery shop and plan your menu so that you use everything up that you buy?  I always get razzed about scraping things out with a rubber spatula, creating random recipes, etc to use things up.  I paid for them, I am USING them.  Am I right or am I right?  When my son was little, he and my husband could always plan on something with baked potatoes the night after taco night, to use up the cheese and sour cream.  After a roasted chicken night, they could plan on chicken salad sandwiches, or soup, or pot pie, to use up the chicken and veggies.  If I don't do things like this, things get pushed to the back of the fridge, go bad, get old, and ultimately have to be thrown out.  No, that doesn't happen very often with me anymore.  Who can afford to through things away you pay for?

Anyway, instead of the usual baked potatoes after "walking taco" night, I decided to try something new.  I had one sheet of puff pastry that needed used, along with meat, cheese and taco sauce, and so I went for it.  Taco cookies.  I mean why not?  Enjoy these for a snack, a light lunch, an appetizer.....  Your family will love the change up from regular taco leftover fare!

1 sheet of puff pastry
1/2 cup taco sauce
1/2 cup browned hamburger (seasoned with taco seasoning)
1/2-3/4 cup shredded cheddar

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly flour your work surface and lay out your pastry sheet.  Using a rolling pin, just roll over it in each direction a time or two, just to make sure the seams are secure and you get a wee bit of size out of it.  Now, spread 1/2 cup of taco sauce over the entire sheet of pastry, sprinkle on your taco seasoned ground beef, and then let the cheese rain down!  Carefull roll it up into a log.  You can chill this for 30 minutes before slicing into "cookies" or  you can just go for it, like I did!  Place on a parchment or nonstick spray coated cookie sheet and bake 15-17 minutes.  Let cook for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. 

Now, sit and enjoy the glorious treat you have made!  I bet nobody else brought "taco cookies" to the party, did they?


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cherries In The Snow, Cherry Almond Popsicles

I love garage sales.  I love makeup.  I love things that bring back happy childhood memories.  Do any of these things relate to each other?  Relate to food?  Well let me explain how they do.

I was out at garage sales with my daughter in law the other day.  We did a few "drive-byes" and found one that looked promising.  I sent my daughter in law to scope it out as we had one screaming twin in tote.  She yelled back at me that there was a ton of Tupperware, like new.  Well, Tupperware is a complete blast from the past for me.  I mean haven't a lot of us moved on to Rubbermaid and Glad disposable storage bowls?  I had to go check it out.  As I was moving toward the boxes of Tupperware, I had eyeballed something that looked familiar right away.  I couldn't be sure if it was, in fact, what I thought it was.  As I got closer, my blood pressure rose, and I started to get the shivers, I had, at that moment, in fact, laid my eyes on none other than a  "vintage" Tupperware Popsicle Set!!  WHAT?  This was like my childhood  all wrapped in a Ziploc!  I was thrilled!  I snagged those babies up.  I wouldn't have cared if they were 20.00, I was going to leave with them in my hand! 

I got home, washed them up and sat contemplating what my first flavor would be.  I knew I had cherries to use up.  I didn't want to go with chocolate and cherries, it just seemed, not the right thing.  As I sat, I was thinking that I needed to do my makeup for an outing later and so I got to it.  When I put on my favorite red lipstick, it all came rushing to me.  YES!  Cherries and almond!  I would keep them looking white, with cherries in them and I would call them none other than, "Cherries In The Snow"! (Thanks Revlon!)  Many things I love rolled into one, Tupperware, garage sales, lipstick and food.  . 

My life is now complete.

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup cherries, pitted and chopped
1/8 tsp. almond extract
1/8 tsp. cherry extract

Combine all ingredients, pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze until completely frozen overnight is best!!  While I am not exactly sure how many ounces each of these hold, this will make 6 popsicles using this set!  Very easy to double or triple! 

Enjoy these simple, but delicious summer treats!  But, be prepared because..... I'm in a popsicle state of mind!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Peach Upside Down Bundt Cake

Evenin' friends!

Excuse my lack of new recipes, things are NOT slowing down!  I am getting a lot of recipe writing done, now to get some recipe making done!  As I was making a midnight run to Walmart the other night, I noticed when I walked in I could literally SMELL the peaches.  Not being a huge fan of the peach, I sort of poo-poo'd it and moved along.  I had to come back by the produce again and the smell was just incredible so I picked up a few.  I knew my husband and kids would love dessert with some fresh peaches. 

I decided to treat them much the same was a pineapple upside down cake.  I wanted a beautiful pound cake to be the cake part though and I have my moms sour cream vanilla pound cake recipe and thought it would be the perfect marriage.  Boy WAS it!  That baby was gone before I could even get coffee made to go with it!  I do have a tip.  Blanch your peaches.  Toss them in boiling water for 5 minutes and then let cool, the skin will come right off.  Hairy peaches (shutters).  Yuck!

I hope you make and enjoy!  I make mine in a bundt pan but feel free to use an 8x8 or 9x9 square.  Same toothpick rules apply, your baking time will be slightly decreased I would guess!

3 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray all over the sides and inside of pan.  Place melted butter in the bottom of the pan.  Swirl around until the entire bottom is covered.  Sprinkle in brown sugar all over the top of the butter and then place sliced peaches on top of the brown sugar.  Place them in a design or just spread them around!  Remember this will be the top of your cake in the end!  Set aside and mix up your cake batter.  In a mixing bowl cream together softened butter and sugar.  When it is creamy and smooth, add in eggs and sour cream.  Continue to mix until mixture is thoroughly mixed and creamy.  Add in vanilla and baking soda and mix in, completely.  Now add in flour and mix JUST UNTIL combined.  Pour this mixture evenly (might need to spoon it) over the peaches and even out the top.

Bake for 45-60 minutes.  Start checking at about 40 minutes.  When a toothpick comes out clean, it is done.  Let sit 3 minutes, and then turn out on to a cake plate! 


Friday, July 4, 2014

4th Of July Strawberries


Happy 4th Of July to my fellow Americans! 

As most of you know I got called out of town for a family emergency and I had just finished making these.  I had no time, didn't take my camera or computer and just got home and decided to throw them up in case anyone needed some last minute thing!  Maybe you are celebrating this weekend or ALL weekend long!  These are so easy and SO delicious!  I love festive desserts fitting for the holiday!

ENJOY and celebrate safe my friends!

2lbs strawberries, rinsed and dried completely
2 cups white chocolate or almond bark
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1- 2.2oz container of blue sugar

After strawberries have been prepared, line a baking sheet with parchment.  Melt white chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments.  When all melted add vegetable oil and stir to combine.  Put sugar in a small bowl.  Take your strawberry and dip 3/4 of it in white chocolate.  Let the excess chocolate drip off.  Let dry for about 1 minute and then dip half of the white chocolate section into blue sugar.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and continue in this fashion until all are done.  Refrigerate for 1 hour and serve!