Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

A friend of mine had posted this recipe on Facebook. It looked really good and pretty simple. I have to admit, I'm not a big Mac and Cheese fan...I never have been, even as a child....however, Ryan and my husband are. If we have Mac and Cheese, which is pretty rare, I just pull it out of the box and whip it up. I then make something different for myself...because, yeah, not a big fan.

The picture that was posted with the recipe just looked so good. So, what was the consensus? I still don't like boxed Mac and Cheese, but I really, really like THIS Mac and Cheese! Of course it is more work and expense than the boxed kind, but it is soooo much better. It doesn't actually taste anything like boxed Mac and Cheese.

This was a thumbs up from the entire family! It made quite a lot too...which is great since we had leftovers for lunch for several days.

My family thinks that rating from 1-10 is really difficult...so I think I will do thumbs up or down, but I need to think of something to do if it's in the middle range. Hmmm.....

1 pound uncooked pasta shells

4 cups whole milk

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard (optional)

3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook it just until al dente, about 11 minutes. Drain the pasta then set it aside.
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, warm the milk until it is simmering then set it aside.
In a large heavy-bottomed stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it turns light brown in color and has a slightly toasted aroma, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the dry mustard (optional).
Remove the pot from the heat then slowly whisk the warm milk into the flour mixture. Continue whisking constantly to avoid any lumps. (The mixture will become very thick and then thin out gradually until it is smooth.)
Return the pot to the stove over medium-high heat and cook the mixture while whisking constantly until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses until they are melted and the cheese sauce is smooth. Add the pasta, stirring to combine, and cook just until the pasta is warmed throughout. Serve immediately.
You can add chicken, ham, vegetables or anything else to this to suit you!!
Recipe from: Justataste.com

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fall-Off-The-Bone Slow Cooker Ribs

I found this recipe on Pinterest a few months ago and since I rarely make ribs, and have never done so in a crockpot, I decided to try this recipe. My afternoons are busy so anything I can make ahead is a total bonus for me. It is so great to be able to throw something in the crockpot in the morning and pull it out in time for dinner. This would have been great back when the boys were playing football to have had ready when they came home late in the evening famished!

So the consensus was....DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Texas Roadhouse has nothing on these babies!! It was also one of the easiest meals I have made in awhile. The ribs were fall apart tender!!!! Plus, it made everyone in the family happy as our chocolate lab, Mamie, enjoyed the bones. :)


Place a slab (you can cut it in half or thirds if it won't fit in your pan) of Baby Back or St. Louis Style Pork Loin Ribs (I'm sure beef ribs or any other ribs would be just fine too) in a baking dish and put them into a pre-heated 425* oven and bake for 20 minutes (this is the trick to making these ribs great and it gets some of the fat off). After you remove it from the oven, let the ribs sit for about 10 minutes to cool down to about room temperature. Season well with your favorite rub...I just used salt and pepper.

At this point I cut the slab in half to fit into the slow cooker. Just throw them in, add a little of your favorite BBQ sauce (not the whole bottle, just enough that the ribs have some sauce on them), cover and cook on low for 6 hours.....and....wah-lah.. out come beautiful, fall-off-the-bone ribs! Warm up some of the BBQ sauce to serve on the side. YUM!!!! How easy is that? Our favorite BBQ sauce is Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Barbecue Sauce.

This recipe came from Renee's Kitchen Adventures

Monday, September 14, 2015

Billion Dollar Candy Bar

Two years ago, going around on Facebook was a delicious looking dessert recipe called "Billion Dollar Candy Bar." I posted it to my wall to try at some point and then totally forgot about it. While browsing my past posts on Facebook, I came across this recipe I had saved to my wall. I just had to try it!! Ummm, yeah, these are really good!! They are super rich so I would suggest cutting them into bite sized pieces. They are a layered candy, so they take a little time to make, but the recipe was really simple. I didn't take everyone's individual ratings...you can just look at these and see they are super delicious!!!!

Bottom  Chocolate Layer
1 cup milk chocolate chips (or half semi-sweet)
1/3 cup butterscotch chips
1/3 cup peanut butter
Melt milk chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and peanut butter in a pan over low heat; stirring constantly. Pour mixture into a 9 x 13″ baking pan lightly coated with nonstick spray or lined with plastic wrap which is long enough to drape over sides of the pan. Spread mixture and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Nougat Layer
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1-1/2 cups marshmallow creme
1/3 cup peanut butter
1-1/2 cups chopped salted peanuts (optional)
Melt butter over medium heat in pan; add sugars and evaporated milk; bring to a boil, and cook additional 5 minutes while stirring. Remove from the heat and add marshmallow creme and peanut butter. Pour over the bottom layer and gently spread mixture. If you use peanuts, scatter across the top. Place in the refrigerator for 15 - 30 minutes.

Caramel Layer
1 (14-ounce package) caramel candy
1/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon butter
Place the unwrapped caramel candy, butter, and cream in a medium saucepan. Place over low heat and stir until the mixture has completely melted and is smooth. Pour in the pan and quickly spread over nougat layer.  Place in the refrigerator for 15 - 30 minutes.

Top Chocolate Layer
1 cup milk chocolate chips (or half semi-sweet)
1/3 cup butterscotch chips
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
Melt milk chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and peanut butter in a pan over low heat, stirring consistently. Pour over the caramel layer and spread. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before cutting into squares. Store in an air-tight container.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Since Sunday was the first cooler day we have had in awhile, I decided to make soup for dinner.
I had my eye on this Broccoli and Cheese Soup I found on Pinterest (peasandcrayons.com) 
and decided to give it a go.
It was really thick...and I told the family I wouldn't make it so dense next time, but they said they liked how thick it was. It was so good and very filling.  We had French Bread with the soup and it was a perfect cool, evening dinner. Definitely a keeper!! If you are feeding more than 3 people, I would suggest doubling the recipe. The three of us each got a bowl, but that was it.

Ben: 10
Becky: 9
Ryan: 8

Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2 big bowls
  • one bunch of fresh broccoli [enough for a few cups of chopped tops]
  • 2 cups vegetable [or chicken!] broth
  • ½ cup of sharp cheddar cheese, plus extra for topping [freshly grated]
  • 1 heaping cup of regular gouda cheese [freshly grated]
  • 1 cup of shredded carrots [or a little extra!]
  • 1 small white onion [about ⅔ cup or 1 cup, chopped]
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup half and half [or heavy cream], room temperature
  • 3 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ⅛ tsp allspice
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp dried basil
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ⅛ tsp salt [will vary based on salt content of your stock/broth]
  • a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. First chop veggies: Chop em! Dice the onions super small, mince the garlic, an shred the carrots if you didn't buy pre-shredded. This can all be done ahead of time and stored in the fridge for later. For the broccoli, chop ⅔ of it into tiny florets [just cut off as much stem as you can and it'll fall apart in the pot] and then take the remaining ⅓ and give it a rough chop so you have a few large pieces to add to the soup. Totally optional!
  2. Add your veggie broth to a pot on medium-high heat, add your ⅔ of your broccoli [about 2 cups of florets] as well as your onion, garlic, carrots, and bay leaf. Simmer on medium, covered, for about 15-20 minutes or until the veggies are tender.
  3. Once the broth is done, start your roux: In a large pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter on medium heat, whisking constantly. Once melted, slowly add 3 tablespoons of flour as you continue to whisk.
  4. For a thicker soup, use an extra tablespoon of each. I skipped it. Remove from heat and slowly pour in the broth from your veggie mixture [its okay if some of the veggies jump in along side it!] and stir to incorporate.
  5. Next pour in the veggies and slowly stir in 1 cup of room temperature half and half.
  6. Return to the burner on very low heat, uncovered.
  7. Spoon out the bay leaf and season with the above herbs and spices, adding a little extra of whichever you like to taste. I personally adore the pinch of nutmeg in this soup but feel free to leave it out if it's just not your cup of tea! The soup is great both ways! Depending on the saltiness of your broth, you might skip the salt entirely or prefer to add a bit more. Taste and tweak as needed after adding your cheese.
  8. Oh yes: the cheese! Once the soup has warmed back up, stir in the grated cheeses [slowly and in small batches] and remove from heat immediately. I won't tell if you sneak extra cheese in your soup =)
  9. That extra broccoli you left on the side? Blanch in boiling water, steam in your microwave, or basically cook it however you'd like, then stir that green goodness into your completed soup for great texture and an extra burst of broccoli.
  10. Garnish with a little extra grated cheddar and a sprinkle of parsley and even a pinch of spicy red pepper flakes if you'd like! Anything goes!
Feeling fancy? garnish with red pepper flakes, parsley, and extra sharp cheddar