Thursday, January 12, 2012

Crack open that crock pot!!

I know I've said it probably a thousand times before, but I love my crock pot.  And anytime I can find new recipes for it, I am all OVER them!!  A friend of mine from work, Tiffany, gave me a recipe for a beef roast and I was so anxious to share it with ya'll that I am posting it before I've even tried it myself!  (which is rare!)  But I trust Tiffany's opinion and recommendation, and (for most of you anyway) it IS perfect weather to have a nice roast (for those of us down South the crock pot doesn't get the kitchen and house all hot like the oven does! ) so here it is....if any of you make it before I get a chance to post my comment on it, PLEASE post your opinions here...AND if YOU have any crock pot recipes to share please do so.  Crock pots are great for those of us who work outside the home, but also they infuse that slow-cooked goodness that comes from letting something just simmer all day (I've been known to put roasts on the night before and let them cook all night AND all day!)

Here is...."Tiffany's Roast":

1 beef roast, 2-3 pounds any type is find, chuck roast, rump roast, whatever you have or whatever is on sale.
2 brown gravy packets (the dry powder kind)--any brand
1 packet of Italian dressing mix--any brand
1 packet of Ranch dressing mix (or 3 T dressing if you don't have the packet), again, any brand
1/2 c. water
Add onions, carrots, celery, etc...your choice

Cook on low for 7-9 hours.  You can make gravy from the "pan drippings" within the crock pot.

(fyi: I use flour to thicken my gravy...never had great luck with corn starch....if you WANT to thicken it instead of using it straight from the crock pot you need to put about 2-3 T. of flour in a cup of warm water...I whisk to dissolve...then  ladle out as much of the pan drippings as you want into a saucepan---bring to a boil and quickly stir/whisk in the flour/water mixture.  Lower heat and cook for few minutes.  Gravy should thicken as it cooks (notice I said "should"..if it DOESN'T you'll need to dissolve more flour in warm water, bring to a boil again and whisk in)....this was not in Tiffany's recipe...I'm just adding a "gravy tip" for ya' case you are as "gravy challenged" as "I" am!!)

Like I said, share your great crock pot recipes if you have crock pot is currently simmering away with a pork roast...and the smell throughout the house is heavenly.  Also great that dinner was basically "done" by 8:30 least "my part" anyway!!  ;)

Food quote:  "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." —-Virginia Woolf

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Crescent Rolls....the versatile tool.

I have been quite remiss in posting here lately...I know I posted the Blackberry Wine Bundt Cake last month (or, as my daughter in law's brother calls it, "All hail the Giant Donut!) So in the coming year I am hopefully going to be more diligent about keeping up the postings here on this blog (notice I did NOT call it a resolution...I steadfastly refuse to make them...hate them in fact). In any case, to make up for my laziness...I'm giving you.....THREE FOR THE PRICE OF ONE! And I'm utilizing one of my favorite kitchen tools...the Pillsbury Crescent Roll. This little known and under utilized tool is FANTASTIC in the kitchen for whipping up the most AMAZING things! My daughter, Karis, has given me tips on using Crescent Rolls as well (did you know they now make them WITHOUT perforations? They're called Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations refrigerated seamless dough sheet---I prefer to shorten that to..."Crescents without Holes")You can find both the seamless and "seamed" varieties in your grocer's refrigerated case. So, here goes for some fantastic fun with crescents!

  • Crescent Wrapped Brie I actually got this off the TV..took one look at it and headed for the internet to look it up. It's SUPER easy to make and SUPER delicious! 
  •  1 can (8 oz) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or 1 can (8 oz) crescent seamless dough sheet 
  • 1 round (8 oz) Brie Cheese (I'm going to insist that you look for "French Imported" Brie...I've had a LOT of people say to me, "I don't like Brie" and I always tell them, then you PROBABLY didn't eat a "good one") 
  • 1 egg, beaten 
 Heat oven to 350 If using crescent rolls, unroll dough, separate crosswise into 2 sections. Pat dough and firmly press perforations to seal, forming 2 squares. If using dough sheet, unroll dough, cut crosswise into 2 sections, and pat into 2 squares. Place 1 square onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Place cheese on center of dough. With small pastry cutter or sharp knife, cut each corner off and reserve. Place remaining square on top of cheese round. Press dough evenly around cheese and fold bottom edges up over top edges. Gently stretch around creases evenly, press to seal completely. Brush with beaten egg. You can take reserve corners and top the round (you can cut shapes if you want) and brush with additional egg. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm with crackers (I prefer water crackers), apple and/or pear slices, grapes...or crudites of your choice. This is SO awesome that even BRIE HATERS will LOVE it!!

  •  Recipe 2:  Apple Dumplings My husband, who as a rule doesn't have a sweet tooth in his head, LOVES these...Whenever he finds out I am making them he is REALLY happy. They are super easy to make...but are SUPER sweet! You need ice cream to "cut the sweetness"...if that doesn't make sense to you, well then you don't live in The South. :) This recipe makes a 13x9 pan full, but I often cut it in half if it's just Dan and myself. So here we go: 
  •  2 Granny Smith Apples 
  • 2 tubes of Crescent Rolls 
  • 12 oz of Mountain Dew (yup, you heard me!) 
  • 2 sticks of butter (no this is NOT an Paula Deen recipe...but it COULD be!)
  •  1 1/2 c. sugar (doesn't this sound HEALTHY??? NOT!!) 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • cinnamon 
  • Vanilla ice cream (or, if I make them and don't have vanilla ice cream on hand and don't want to go GET any...I have used Cool Whip, I always have that in my freezer)
  •  Peel and core the two apples--slice each into 8 slices--there are 8 crescent rolls in each tube so you can see where this is going..( I use an apple slicer, one quick movement and you're done AND the slices are all uniform in size) wrap each piece of apple in a triangle of crescent dough and place side by side in two rows in your greased (or sprayed with PAM) baking dish 
  •  Melt butter and add sugar and vanilla. Stir. 
 Pour your butter/sugar/vanilla mixture over the wrapped apples. THEN pour the 12 oz of Mountain Dew all around in the pan. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon. Does it look kind of gross? Then you did it right! :) Bake them at 350 for 30-40 minutes; the smell in your kitchen is to DIE for! Serve hot with the ice cream. 
  • Now for Crescent bonuses! If you have leftover chicken, turkey, ground beef (like taco meat) or really any kind of meat you can mix it with some mayo and/or some Campbell's cream soup(s) (do NOT dilute with milk or water, use it straight from the can) Feel free to add some veggies (maybe leftovers as well?) and/or some grated cheese of any kind and mix together into a bowl. Open your crescent rolls and press out perforations (unless you're using the non-perforated pastry sheets). Cut into 4 even strips and place a small amount of the mixture in and fold over. Brush with a beaten and and bake for about 15 minutes (maybe 20) and VOILA! You have homemade Hot Pockets!! Another idea is to stuff  crescents with Nutella or even a small square of chocolate, wrap them up, brush them with a beaten egg, sprinkle with a bit of sugar and bake according to package directions...such a decadent breakfast treat...great with your morning coffee!! There are so many things you can do with these little triangles (or just the dough if you want)! Fill them with fruit or jam, brush with an egg and bake and you have little pies! Fast food that's homemade and that taste SO much better (I'm not going to say it's better for you because you've seen some of the ingredients...butter, sugar, cream soup, mayo...but they do TASTE a lot better, I promise!!) 

  • Today's food quote: “We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.” Alfred E. Newman