Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Taco Soup

Go ahead.


Say it!

"Is this all you've got?"

I know.


With everything out there, isn't there something "new" to post?


But sometimes, the old stuff is some of the best stuff.

And truthfully, I haven't made this in such a long time.

As in, maybe two or three years.

Yes, years!

This is not my go to soup.

However, a weekend or so ago, when I thought it would be cooler, I bought the ingredients for this tried-and-true soup.

We ate.

I froze the left-overs.

We had it again just last night.

This soup throws together in a flash and freezes great.

And if you need it to feed more, you just add more stuff. 

You can't ask for much more than that!

Taco Soup

1-2 pounds ground beef
1 onion, diced
2 cans pinto beans
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
2 cans  can tomatoes with chiles
1 can diced green chiles
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 package ranch salad dressing mix
Corn chips, for serving
Sour cream, for garnish
Grated cheese, for garnish
Chopped green onions, for garnish
Pickled jalapenos, for garnish
Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain the excess fat, then transfer the browned beef and onions to a large slow cooker or a stockpot. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles,  taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix, and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove.

To serve, ladle soup in a bowl and top with chips, sour cream, cheese, green onions and jalapenos.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mom's Easy Apple Crisp

Several years ago, a friend of mine made this easy dessert.

Matter of fact, she threw it together as we sat around the table.

Which, in my book, means it's a great recipe to have on hand.

Now that Fall weather has settled in, I decided to make this the other night.

I halved the recipe.

There were only 4 of us for dessert and I didn't want a lot left over.

It worked out perfectly!

The original recipe doesn't use oatmeal. 

But I like the oatmeal.  I reduce the amount of flour and make it up with old fashioned oats.

I also like that this recipe makes it's own delicious sauce.

Just perfect!

Mom's Easy Apple Crisp

6 apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)*
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup water

Crumb Topping

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup flour (or reduce the flour to about half and add old fashion oats)
1/4 tsp. salt
6 TBSP butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss the apples with the sugar and cinnamon.  Add the lemon juice and water.  Toss to coat.

Pour into a greased 8 X 8 pan

For the topping; mix the brown sugar, flour (and oats, if using) and salt together.  Add the melted butter and stir until coarse crumbles form.

Sprinkle over the apples and bake for 40 minutes.

Serve warm.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

My mom was coming this weekend and I wanted to have something already made that we could have for breakfast each morning.

 .  . . And maybe each evening for dessert too, if we wanted!

I saw this recipe and it caught my eye.

Knowing that my cherubs love just about anything pumpkin, I knew they'd be great with it too!

I made a couple of minor changes to the recipe that I found.  Next time, I think I'm going to put a ribbon of cream cheese in the center of it before baking -- just because!  You may want to try that too!

Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
15 oz can pumpkin
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pumpkin flavoring from King Arthur
Streusel Topping:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 TBSP butter, melted
1/3 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the inside of a tube or bundt pan with nonstick spray; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well blended. Add the pumpkin and eggs and mix thoroughly.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture. Mix on medium speed until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Prepare the streusel topping: In a small bowl combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, melted butter and walnuts. Sprinkle the streusel over the cake batter.
Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Slide a knife around the pan so the cake doesn’t stick when removing it. Invert the cake onto a plate. Then invert the cake onto another plate, so that the streusel is on the top. Cool completely.  Top with browned butter icing, if desired.
**If all of the flipping of the cake drives you nuts -- then just put the streusel topping in the bottom of the prepared pan before you pour the batter in the pan.  Once you turn the cake out, everything will be on top!  The reason for all of the flipping, is that you end up with a flatter and wider surface of the cake; it's just something a little different.
Cover and store at room temperature.
Browned Butter Frosting
1 1/2 TBSP butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
heavy cream or milk
In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until it turns a golden brown. Whisk in the sugar and add cream, one tablespoon at a time until you have pourable icing. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Old Fashioned Caramel Popcorn

Image from the Internet

My boy cherub is raising money for a trip that he will go on this Spring.

He is raising money in two different ways.

First, he is willing to be "hired" to do small jobs around the house:  lawn mowing, leaf raking, grocery shopping, and the likes.

The second way might surprise you.

He is selling "treats of the month."

That's right!

I'm helping him with different treats that people have ordered.

This month, it is caramel corn.

The "old fashioned" kind!

I told him, perhaps we should have thought through what we were doing!

Each recipe takes about 1 1/2 hours to make from beginning to end!

But I love this recipe because it starts with fresh popped corn.

Like the kind that you pop in a pan.

I guess you could use microwave popcorn for this recipe.

But I don't.

I get out the popper and we go to town!

If you're looking for something fun to do with your family -- maybe gathering in the kitchen and making caramel corn is the answer!

Old Fashioned Caramel Corn

6 quarts fresh popped corn (about 2/3 cup of unpopped kernals)
1 1/2 cups pecan halves, optional
1 1/2 cups raw peanuts, optional
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup light corn sytrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Place the popped corn in a large bowl or roasting pan.  Add the pecans, if desired.

In a lage sauce pan, add the peanuts, if using, along with the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and soda.

Pour the sugar mixture over the popcorn and stir with a lightly greased wooden spoon until the popcorn is well coated.

Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. 

Remove from the oven, and immediately pour mixture onto wax paper, breaking it apart as it cools.

Store in an airtight contaners at room temperature.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vanilla No-Bake Cookies

Image from the Internet!
I thought I took a picture, but can't find it!

The other day, when I was trying to make a non-chocolate cookie, but make it quick, I kept coming back to "no bake cookies."

But I couldn't make those because they're chocolate.

And I needed no chocolate.

But I kept thinking that surely those could be make without chocolate.

But I couldn't really get it figured out.

I knew it was more than just not adding the cocoa.

And maybe not the peanut butter too.

And as any good person does -- I went to the Internet.

I heart the Internet.

But!  The dilemma was the cookies I found had pudding in the mix.

I'm not being rude -- because I haven't tried it -- but that didn't really sound like something I was looking for.

Maybe it's good.

Maybe I'll try it.

Because the recipe I did find isn't just perfect for me.

It's good.

It has a good flavor.

But it's not "spot on" for me.

My one complaint is that they are too dry.

But I'm giving you the recipe as I've made them.

Maybe you'll like them.

Or maybe you'll make them and figure out that they're "almost" there, all we need to do is . . .!

And we'll do it and then we'll have the perfect no bake vanilla cookie!

What I do love about this recipe is that no bake cookies are so easy.

But the Mr. doesn't like regular no-bakes.

Because they have peanut butter in them.


We're going to disregard an entire cookie because of a little peanut butter?


The Mr. does like this cookie; so here you go -- try it and let me know what you think!

Vanilla No-Bake Cookies

3 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 stick butter
2 tsp. vanilla

In a large bowl, place the dry oats.

In a medium sauce pan, cook the sugar, milk and butter. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes till good soft ball stage.  Add the vanilla.

Pour over all other ingredients and stir until well mixed.

Drop by teaspoonfuls (if you're on a diet) or by a tablespoonful if you're wanting more than one bite, onto waxed paper to cool.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Sausage and Parmesan Cheese Grits

Sausage and Peppers With Parmesan Cheese Grits Recipe
Picture from "My Recipes."

I found Italian sausage on sale a few weeks ago while at the grocery store.

My boy cherub really likes Italian sausage.

He really likes the Italian sausage and peppers that I make.

But I wasn't in the mood for that the other day.

I was in the mood for grits.

Which is weird.

I don't really ever crave grits.

But I was that day.

And since I was the one cooking, I gave in to my wants.

That's the beautiful thing about "owning" the kitchen!

So I thought, "Self!  Italian sausage and grits would probably taste really good together!"

And since I'm smart enough to think of it, I was rather certain that someone else had already thought of it too!

That started my google search!

And sure enough!  Someone had already figured it out for me!

I love that!

I found a recipe that sounded great and I made it for dinner and the whole family liked it.

It was also great reheated for leftovers.

And I'm NOT a leftover girl.

I pawn those off to the cherubs for their lunch, remember?

But for this recipe, I was the one having it for lunch the next day!

Italian Sausage and Parmesan Cheese Grits
(From Southern Living)

1 (19-ounce) package sweet Italian sausage
3 red, yellow, or green bell peppers, cut into strips
1 large sweet onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 to 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Remove sausage casings, and discard. Cook sausage and next 7 ingredients in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink and vegetables are tender.  Serve over the cheese grits.

Cheese Grits

1 cup grits
4 cups water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tater Tot Casserole

I can NOT believe I haven't posted this recipe.

This is an easy, have-on-hand, throw-together-quick dinner.

That's a winner!
The Mr. was more excited about this last night than the cherubs where!

From the kitchen, I hear him say, "Yeah!  Tater Tot Casserole!  I love that stuff!"

And he does.

And so do the cherubs.

And so I'm glad to make it!

What's funny about this casserole:  I only make it in the Fall and Winter.

That's it.

I've relegated it to a seasonal casserole.

That's OK.

It makes the family more appreciative!

Tater Tot Casserole

1 TBSP oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup* (see below for gluten free substitution)
salt (I don't salt because of the soup, but you can if you want!)
cheddar cheese, grated
1 16oz  package frozen tater tots**

In a pan, heat the oil.  Add the onions, green pepper and carrots.  Saute until tender.  Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink.

If your pan is large enough and oven proof, add the soup and stir until well combined.  If not, transfer your meat mixture to a casserole pan that's been sprayed with cooking spray, and mix the soup into the meat mixture.

Top with the grated cheese (I probably use 1/2 cup of cheese).  Go more or less, depending on your taste.  Top with the frozen tater tots and season with pepper, if desired.  Sprinkle a little cheese on top if you wish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until hot and the tater tots are browned and crispy.

*If you need this to be gluten free, substitute the condensed cream of mushroom soup for 1 can Progresso gluten free cream of mushroom soup.

**Ore-Ida brand tater tots are gluten free!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

18 years and Counting

The Mr. and I celebrated 18 years of joy yesterday.

We were young when we got married.

We didn't think about "what would be."

Like what it would "really" be!

We just thought of what we THOUGHT  it would really be.

But now, we know.

Now, we've got a house, 2 cars, a dog, 2 cherubs and a busy schedule.

We no longer eat dinner on the bed and watch t.v. after work.

We no longer can clean the house in 45 minutes.

We no longer wonder on the weekends, "what can we do next?"

We no longer can go one week with one gallon of milk.

We no longer sleep in on Saturday.

We no longer rush home on Sunday, throw together a sandwich, and make it down for a nap all before one o'clock.

Heck!  We don't even get a Sunday afternoon nap anymore!

We wouldn't change it, though!

I was 18 when I met the one who would become my Mr.

We were in college.

We were friends for 4 years before we started dating.

Once we started dating -- it didn't take long to become engaged.

One year later, we were married.

It hasn't been perfect.

But it's been great.

And this IS my happily ever-after!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Spiced Pecan Honey Butter

To go on the waffles I made the other night for dinner, I thought it might be fun to have a flavored butter.

You know, you can buy that in the store -- but I never do.

When I thought about the Fallish waffles, I thought Fallish butter.

Can there be such a thing?

In my world, there's room for most anything I want.

But only when I'm the only one in my world.

Which, by the way, doesn't happen real often!

But I basically took the same spices from the waffles and added to it for the butter.

I didn't think I could go wrong.

And if I did go wrong, it was only for me . . .and the Mr. and the two cherubs.

Who of us would complain?

At least I cooked, right?

So, here it is!

Spiced Pecan Honey Butter

½ cup butter, softened
a good squeeze of honey
1 to 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 to 2 tablespoon brown sugar
½ cup chopped pecans

In a small mixing bowl, add the butter and all of the ingredients.  Using a hand mixer, blend until all of the ingredients are well incorporated.

Taste.  Make any adjustments for taste or consistency.

Mix again, if necessary.

Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve, if you like your butter firm.

Leave it out if you like your butter soft.

Either way, just enjoy!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Spiced Waffles

Image from the Internet

It's October and, until now, there's not been even a hint that it's Fall.

But my mind tells me that it's Fall . . .because it's October.

October = Fall.

October + Pumpkins = Fall.

October + Candy Corn + Peanuts = Fall.

In 27 short days, my cherubs will want to wear some costume and go door to door trick-or-treating.

Therefore, I must pretend it's Fall!

We decided we'd have breakfast for dinner the other night.

I had spent the day subbing at school and wanted to make pumpkin waffles for my boy cherub.

But I didn't really have the time.

So, I made this up as I went along.

We all decided the waffles tasted kind of gingerbread-y.

Which we liked.

I made extra and stuck them in the freezer for a fast Fall breakfast!

Whether Fall ever gets here or not!

Fall Spiced Waffles

Your favorite pancake/waffle mix
AND the ingredients it calls for (usually milk, egg, and oil)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon ginger
1/8 tsp. pumpkin flavoring (King Arthur brand) OR 1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat waffle iron.

Add the dry pancake/waffle mix to a bowl.  Add the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger.  Add the egg/s, oil, optional flavoring, and milk.  However, I reduced the amount of milk by about 1/4 cup or smidge more.  I wanted a thicker waffle batter.

Ladle the batter into the heated waffle iron and cook until desired doneness.

You can keep waffles warm in a 170 degree oven until ready to serve or cool completely and freeze and reheat in a toaster oven or microwave.

Enjoy with butter and maple syrup, or our favorite, apple butter.