Hamburger Steak & Gravy… Crock-pot

We love hamburger steak and gravy. It is much better in a crock-pot. This does well in the freezer. I usually freeze in small portions. I will take them out and thaw in fridge over night. I would need to only make the mashed potatoes. I cannot take credit for this recipe. I found this searching for recipes. Here is the link for the original recipe. I did change it up a bit. It called for 2 pounds of ground beef. I ended up using 3 pounds. I also used “Lean” ground beef. I found that using anything else other than the lean ended up more oil with the gravy. I was not sure on some of the ingredients first time I made this but I followed the recipe. The gravy is not a traditional gravy. It is actually a mix of Au Jus mix, water and cream of chicken soup. It was a very light brownish orange color. I thought I made a mistake somewhere the first time I made it but I followed the instructions. I had a back up plan in case the recipe bombed. It did not. The longer the gravy and meat cooked; the darker the gravy became. I made mashed potatoes to go along with it. I like to make mine creamy. I really do not have a recipe for it. I mix a little salt, pepper, mayonnaise, butter, milk and sour cream in the potatoes after boiling. I will add more if needed during mixing I used a potato masher to smash the big chunks up. Then I get my hand mixer out and blend up into a smooth mixture. I do not like very thick potatoes – Creamy and not too thick.

hamburger-steak

Hamburger Steak & Gravy.. Crock-pot

  • 3 pounds ground beef (any type is fine but more fat content will cause more oil in the crock-pot as it cooks
  • 1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or more if needed – I used olive oil
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 (1 ounce) packet dry Au Jus mix
  • 3/4 cup water

In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, onion soup mix, bread crumbs and milk using your hands. Shape into 8 patties.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the patties in the flour just to coat. Quickly brown both sides of each patty. Place browned patties into the slow cooker stacking alternately like a pyramid. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream of chicken soup, au jus mix and water. Pour over the meat. DO NOT STIR. Cook on low setting for 4 to 5 hours, until ground beef is well done. I have left this cooking on low up to 7-8 hours before. Stir gravy gently before serving. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This chocolate chip cookie recipe that I have made is probably the best one yet. I have made many different ones; looking for that perfect recipe online and from all my recipe books – I have many of them. I have tried altering a few recipes and it just does not come out the way I wanted them. These are packed with loads of chocolate, thick, big, soft and chewy. It has all the requirements that I have been looking for. I don’t want a chocolate chip cookie too thin nor do I want it very thick that I would consider cake-like. The link for this original recipe can be found HERE.  I am going to try to make them smaller and try to freeze them individually. A tin of cookies and a tin of frozen ones would be a wonderful gift. One to enjoy now and the other one will be when the cookies run out. According to the recipe, I needed to use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to measure out for each cookie. I could not get this to work for me. I just used an ice cream scooper. I also did a mixture of chocolate chips I had on hand. I think it was mini chips in semi sweet and dark chocolate chips. I used my kitchen aid with this – made it much easier.

chocolate-chip-cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  •  3/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 – 1/4  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 – 3/4 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Mix in eggs and vanilla extract.
  4. With the mixer on low-speed – add flour, cornstarch, baking soda and baking powder.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips. Dough will be thick. The paddle attachment is great for this.
  6. Measure out each cookie using a 1/4 cup measuring spoon or ice cream scooper. They should be in the shape of thick discs.
  7. Bake for 11-12 minutes. The center of the cookie will still look a little undercooked. This is what you want.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cook 1 minute on the pan, then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

chocolate-chip-cookies-1

Chicken Alfredo Casserole

Alfredo sauce is usually the answer I get when I ask either of my girls what kind of sauce they would want with their pasta. I will not eat the white stuff from the jar. I did use the jar sauce in the beginning and still use in emergency situations.  I have found an easy recipe for Homemade Alfredo Sauce. The link will have the original recipe. It’s really good and I usually make larger portions to freeze in small containers. I did decrease the garlic powder; it was a but too much for us. I also decreased the cream cheese a bit and increased the milk. It was a bit too thick for our taste. I will include the recipe at the end of this post.

Chicken Alfredo Casserole is something I came up with years ago. It’s one of those “What do I fix for supper” moments. I think the secret ingredient is using the fresh pasta. I have used dried pasta in the past and it comes out fine. It just taste better with the fresh pasta. One day I will take it to the next level by making my own pasta -(attachment for kitchen aid!) but for now I will stay with Buitoni Pasta. I find this in the Deli area of your grocery store.

casserole

This casserole can be made ahead. Take out and get room temperature in a preheated oven. I have put straight from fridge to oven while it is preheating. It’s so easy. I really never measure with this dish. I just eyeball it and throw it all together. Broccoli can be added to this dish or anything you would like.

Chicken Alfredo Casserole

  • 3-4 chicken breast
  • 1 pound of mozzarella cheese – reserve a little for topping
  • 3/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese – reserve a little for topping
  • alfredo sauce
  • Fresh tortellini pasta
  • crushed crackers, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cube and cook the chicken to your choice. I usually saute the chicken with a little olive oil.
  3. Cook the pasta according to directions but reduce cooking time by half. It will continue cooking in the oven.
  4. Grate the mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  5. Gently fold the pasta with a little of the alfredo sauce in a large mixing bowl. This will help the pasta to cool. I want it cooled a bit so the pasta will not melt the cheese quickly.
  6. Add to the cooled pasta – the remaining alfredo sauce, chicken, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  7. Top with  reserved mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  8. Sprinkle crushed crackers on top, if desired.
  9. Cook until hot and bubbly, about 20-30 minutes.
  10. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

 

alfredo-sauce

Alfredo Sauce

  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 (4 tablespoon) butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, more if you want
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of freshly ground black pepper

*note – this makes about four adult servings, double as needed for more.

  1. Add cream cheese and butter to a sauce pan.
  2. Add the garlic powder and milk next.
  3. Then, add parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
  4. Then put on the stove over medium heat. Stirring it with a whisk as the cream cheese and the butter melt.
  5. Once it begins to boil whisk constantly so it doesn’t burn and turn down the heat after about 2-3 min to med/low heat.
  6. Let it cook for about 5-7 min more while whisking, until it is a little thicker but not quite the thickness you want your sauce to be. It will thicken as it cools down. If it is too thick on the stove it will be very thick and chunky off the stove.

French Toast

Thick bread buttered and fried on a griddle. What’s not to love?  According to ChefTalk, french toast was created by medieval European cooks. They needed to use every bit of food that was available to them for their families and that meant using stale bread for a meal. The website offered interesting facts about the origin of the french toast.

french-toast

They are different ways to make french toast: baked in a casserole, sandwich or simply cooked on a griddle. This is the way we enjoy it. I do not measure my ingredients since I throw all this together in a bowl. I will only guess at the ingredient amounts. This can be adjusted to make for 1 to 2 servings. You cannot go wrong with the ingredients. The bread does not have to be stale. I have used fresh bread before but I do prefer the stale bread.

French Toast

  • 6-8 slices of french bread or any hearty thick bread – sliced about 1-2 in thick
  • 1 egg
  • about 1 cup of milk, add more if needed depending on how many slices you want
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Butter – however much you want to use
  1. Whisk the egg until mixed and slowly mix in milk.
  2. Whisk in the vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.
  3. Melt a couple pats of butter (Not margarine) on a griddle.
  4. Whisk the milk mixture to incorporate the spices – they usually like to float on the top. I do this for each slice of bread.
  5. Dip the slice of bread on both sides into the milk mixture and cook on griddle until golden brown on each side.
  6. Sprinkle powder sugar on top (my daughter favorite), optional.
  7. Can be topped with syrup, honey, fruit or whip cream.

Don’t forget the bacon on the side – if you can keep others out of it while you are cooking.

 

Classic Southern Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet cake is a classic southern tradition. It becomes center stage for Christmas desserts. This cake is not always for Christmas. It has been used for Valentin’s Day and weddings. This can be made anytime and homemade is the best – not from a box!

This first time I made this – chocolate cake infused with rich red color and topped with cream cheese frosting – was about 9 years ago at Christmas. My youngest daughter was about 8 years old then. She decided then that every birthday I must make this for her. She was not a big fan of a decorated cake; she went for taste.

I have over the years played around with the ingredients. Here is a link to the original recipe I used. It was from a cookbook that I have in my recipe collections – Paula Deen The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook. The pages have been written all over it by now with all my adjustments. I did make a promise to my daughter that I would not share any adjustments I made. This is “Her Cake”. She is so funny with this but I can share the original recipe. One other thing I did that is optional is that I added a buttermilk glaze after cooking. I can share this too since it is not part of the “actual” cake.

I did not use the original frosting recipe. I just could not change the fact that red velvet cake needs a Cream Cheese Frosting and I did not use the pecans. My daughter has a tree nut allergy so we just did not use them. I figured a trip to the hospital was just not worth it.

I decided to make little 3 inch cakes. The little cakes were not as easy to frost as I thought it would be but it will become easier the more I do them.

red cake1

Red Velvet Cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa
  • 2 ounces red food coloring
  • 1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat eggs and sugar.
  3. Mix cocoa and food coloring.
  4. Add butter and egg mixture, mix well.
  5. Sift together flour and salt.
  6. Add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk.
  7. Blend in vanilla.
  8. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar.
  9. Add to the mixture.
  10. Pour int o prepared 3 9-inch pans.
  11. Bake 20-25 minutes or until test is done.

I use was paper inside pan. This will help with releasing cake from pan. I have added a buttermilk glaze and I cannot remember where I found this from. I figured one day I would try it. This is not needed,  it’s just one of those extra toppings.

Last 15 minutes of cooking time start the glaze.

Buttermilk Glaze

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  •  1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Boil 4 minutes, stirring constantly until golden “caramel color”
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in vanilla and do not overcook.

Once the cake is done. Take out of oven and do not take out of pans. Poke holes all over the cake with a toothpick. Slowly drizzle the glaze over the cake layers. I will take a spoon and spread gently. Pouring too much and too quickly will cause the glaze to settle on top of cake instead of cake soaking up the glaze. Let set 10 minutes in pan. Take cakes out of pans and wrap them with plastic wrap. I usually turn the cakes out onto a piece I have on counter. Freeze  on a flat surface about an hour. If not really cold; the cake could break apart while frosting because of the glaze.

Take cake layers out of freezer and unwrap. Frost with cream cheese frosting

Freezing the cake is helpful when cutting them for mini cakes. I used a 3 inch cookie cutter. This cake makes a lot and I have several mini cake layers in the freezer now. I figured this would be a great keep and take out when we would want some. I did wrap each one in plastic wrap. Then they all went into a freezer container.

 

 

 

“Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake

This recipe has become a favorite for my family. I made this first time last year for a birthday and it was a hit. I did change some and those are listed at the end of the recipe. This recipe came from a Hershey’s Recipe Tin Box. This was a  wonderful gift from my husband and girls since I love recipes but the recipe can be found online Here.

This cake batter is very thin and the frosting has this fudgy texture. Hershey Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 – 3/4 cups all – purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder
  • 1  – 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 – 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  1.  Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease and flour baking pans. I use Pam Baking Spray.
  3. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed with a mixer for 2 minutes.  Stir in boiling water (batter will be very thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
  4. Bake time is based on size of the pan you use.  There is a list at the end of the recipe.

“Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Melt butter. Stir in cocoa.
  2. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
  3. Add small amount of additional milk, if needed.
  4. Stir in vanilla.
  5. Makes about 2 cups.

 

Cooking Times

  • One-Pan cake: (13x9x2) Bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost
  • Three Layer cake: (8 inch) Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks. Frost.
  • Bundt Cake: (12 cup fluted tube pan) Bake 50-55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes and cool completely on wire rack. Frost.
  • Cupcakes: Line muffin tin (2-1/2 in diameter) with liners. Fill cups 2/3 full. bake 22-25 minutes. Cool completely and Frost. Makes about 30.

 

**NOTES**

  • I used 3 – 9 inch pans and reduced cooking time to 25-30 minutes.
  • I doubled the frosting recipe and I mixed 1/3 cup dark cocoa with the regular cocoa

 

 

 

 

Bread and Butter Pickles

bread and butter

May though July are my busy summer months. It is what I call “vegetable season”. I will spend those months canning or freezing vegetables. I remember my parents and grandparents did this when I was younger. My parents would have waiting for me bushels of peas, butter beans, tomatoes, corn and anything else that they decided to pick up at the Farmer’s Market. I hated to see those bags but what I would love to go back to those days with them and pay more attention. I also remember sitting under my Grandma’s cedar tree shelling peas or shucking corn with her. Those are good memories.

This year for the first time I decided to make pickles. I had no idea where to begin on this process or what type of cucumber to use. I searched Pinterest for several different recipes and I decided on this Bread and Butter Recipe. I am really glad that I did. This is really good stuff and I see myself making this again.

I used a Mandoline to slice the cucumbers and onions. It was so much easier than slicing by hand. You do need to be very careful with your fingers. You will get cut. My husband decided to do this very thing.

I ended up with 14 pint jars and I am hopeful it will last through next year. I usually plan my canning and freezing for the year to come. The following summer I will do it all over again.

jar bread and butter

Bread and Butter Pickles

  • 6 pounds pickling cucumbers, 1/4 inch thinly slice
  • 2 pounds of sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup canning / pickling salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 2 quarts crushed ice or ice cubes and water
  1. Wash cucumbers. Slice and discard ends. Slice the onions thinly and add to the cucumbers in a large bowl. I used an old metal dish pan. Sprinkle salt and the ice over the top and let set for 3 hours or longer. I did let the first batch set overnight and it did fine. Place a towel over top of ice.
  2. Drain and rinse the cucumbers and onion thoroughly. The pickles will have a salty taste if it is not rinsed thoroughly. I rinsed them many times.
  3. Prepare the jars and lids. Wash and sterilize the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Place the lids in a small pan with water and simmer over low heat. Boiling the lids could damage the rubber seal.
  4. In a large nonreactive pot (I used a stainless steel) combine sugar, spices and vinegar. Heat to a boil and add the drained cucumbers and onions. Return to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Fill jars loosely with cucumbers and onions, leaving 1/4 inch head space.
  6. Add Ball Pickle Crisp Granules to the each jar, optional.                                                1/8 teaspoon per pint and 1/4 teaspoon per quart
  7. Ladle hot liquid over the pickles, maintaining the 1/4 inch head space.
  8. Clean the rim of the jar. Place lids and rings onto the jar. Do not overtighten.
  9. Process 10 minutes in a Water Bath Canner.
  10. Remove rings after 24 hours and clean jar. Replace rings if you want to.
  11. Store is a cool dark place.
  12. Allow 4-5 weeks to sit for pickles to develop flavor.