Thursday, October 29, 2015

Caramel Apple Monkey Bread Baked in Crock Pot's New Casserole Pot

I didn't even know Crock Pot had made a casserole pot until I stumbled across this one at a Kroger store.
Loving crock pots like I do (I only owned 8 of them)
This baby came home with me making it my 9th pot :-)

First day I baked enchiladas in it, second day I baked baby back ribs.. everything turned out delicious and perfectly done.
So then my devious mind went to work thinking up what else I might use it for..
I started wondering whether I could bake in it.. maybe something like monkey bread.. 
Here's what I did and the results:
BTW don't ask for a recipe because I don't have one, I just used what I had and could fix up myself such as caramel sauce which I will share that recipe with you.

Chopped and slightly cooked 4 apples with a bit of lemon juice and sugar. I wanted to get all the moisture out of them.
 Then I poured a bit of white sugar into a bowl and added cinnamon until it looked good to me.

Chopped up and toasted a bit of pecans.. you can toast them in the microwave, just drizzle on a bit of olive oil and do in 30 second increments, stirring each time and checking until their the way you want them.. go slowly, they do burn easily if cooked too long.

 Once all the moisture is out of the apples, spread them on a plate to cool.
While their cooling make the caramel sauce:

Put in a sauce pan
1 cup of packed brown sugar
1/2 cup of half and half or cream
4 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt.
Bring to a boil and simmer until thick stirring frequently..
Once thick add 1 tablespoon of vanilla and simmer again until as thick as you want..

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter and sit it aside to cool
Now you're ready to assemble the monkey bread

I used two cans of cheap biscuits for this.. 
cut each biscuit in quarters and toss in the sugar/cinnamon mixture
After you have one can sugared, lay them out in the bottom of the greased casserole dish.
Spread the apples over top, add the nuts and then cut and sugar the second can of biscuits and lay them on top.. sorry I forgot to take a picture of the separate layers.. but there are two of them, biscuits on bottom, apples and nuts in the middle with the last can of biscuits on top..
Drizzle the melted butter on top and then the caramel over it all.
Cover and bake on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.. I started out on low then got impatient and turned it to high.  just keep a check on them, you can tell if their done by pinching a center piece of dough..
here they are when they were done.. you can see where I pinched off a tiny piece of a biscuit :-)
I let them sit for 5 minutes before turning out onto a platter..
I learned something.. not only is the casserole dish heavy it's hard to flip over so the next time I bake something in it, I'm going to remove piece by piece using a spatula.. or just leave it in the dish.. 
Here it is upside down out of the pan
 Will I do this again? 
I sure will.. its fun, easy and no oven heat..

Friday, October 23, 2015

Main Street Meatloaf using Dehydrated Veggies

This is a recipe that came with my FoodSaver..  
I made a few changes such as using dehydrated veggies but the basic recipe is still the same.. 
All the dried foods came from my garden and was dried in my Excalibur

4 tablespoons dried onions 
4 tablespoons dried celery
4 tablespoons dried chopped or shredded carrots
3 tablespoons dried chopped mushrooms
3 tablespoons dried chopped red, orange and yellow bell peppers
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cloves garlic, minced (I used fresh)
1/2 cup light cream or milk
1/2 cup ketchup
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 lb of savory pork sausage
3/4 cup bread crumbs 
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 thick slices of bacon

place all dried vegetables (not herbs) in a bowl and cover with boiling water.. let sit for about an hour then drain. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, Coat a large rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.
Place everything except the topping ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly either by hand or using a Kitchen Aid mixer..
Shape into a loaf and place in baking pan.
Mix the tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce together and spread over loaf.. place bacon on top and bake for 45 minutes or until internal temp reaches 162
Remove from oven, loosely cover and let rest for 15 minutes. 
Slice and enjoy
One of the best meatloaf recipes I've found.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Cooking With Dehydrated Apples

Last fall I dehydrated about 30 pounds of apples, we've ate all but 2 pint jars.  The more I use them the more idea's I'm coming up with.

I like to cook them in apple juice, sugar and a couple tablespoons of lemon juice... apple juice isn't necessary but adds greatly to the flavor.  They make a nice side dish for pork and really good just as a dessert..  

This morning my daughter ate some on waffles and as I was watching her enjoy her breakfast it came to me they just might be delicious in cinnamon rolls..
So I made my usual batch of rolls, added the normal cinnamon, butter, sugar, nuts and on top of that I spread out the rest of the apples, rolled them up and sliced and baked.

After they cooled I added my standard icing which I like to use almond extract in place of vanilla.. 

Here's one cut in half and its really delicious..


Monday, July 27, 2015

Dehydrating Herbs

This is what is in my dehydrator today
Chives, green onions, basil, sage, oregano, thyme and a white onion because I had an empty tray.
Yesterday I dried 20 limes
Our local Mexican store had them 10 cents each
Plus beautiful jalapeno peppers for 99 cents a pound.
Going to be some good eats this winter

Monday, July 20, 2015

Easy and Delicious Zucchini or Banana Bread

Have you ever wanted to make zucchini or banana bread that was soft and light like what the store sells?  Or those expensive muffins that we all love but don't like the price or the amount of calories?
I have found out how to do it.
You can use my basic method to make any kind of bread you wish by changing the add in ingredients.. I've tried just about everything I can think of and it has never failed me.
This batch I made today has 2 cups of zucchini, one banana, two handfuls of blueberries and half cup chopped pecans.

What you need is one box of yellow or white cake mix
 (yes, I know we've all saw those recipes on the net using cake mix to make muffins, I don't know if theirs is good or not but how I make mine really works)

Add in's.. Two cups (you can use a bit more if you wish) of what ever you want:
Grated zucchini
Crushed ripe banana's
Chunks of strawberries
Orange zest (but not two cups) :-)
Diced sweetened cranberries
Diced apples
Grated carrots
let your imagine go wild here..
What I meant about the orange zest is if you want to make cranberry orange bread, it really kicks it up a notch to add a teaspoon of orange zest and use orange juice for the liquid.

To make your batter, add everything the box of cake mix calls for except for the liquid.
My box called for 3 eggs and 1/3 cup oil

Place it all in a large mixing bowl and add your zucchini or whatever you've chosen.  I used one banana and two cups of zucchini.
Mix it all together with a hand mixer 

Dump the box of cake mix on top and beat until well mixed
The batter will be thick and that's how you want it because this is where the fun part comes in..
If you've made cakes before then you already know the consistency of a cake batter.. 
Now it's time to decide on the wet ingredient.
I'm sure the box says to use water but 
wet ingredient choices are:
spiced rum
apple juice
orange juice
mixed berry juice
etc. etc.
Choose something that goes well with the fruit/veggie you've used..

I love to use spiced rum when making just straight banana bread but this bread was going to have blueberries folded in so I used 
Apple juice
only as much as needed for the right consistency, I usually start with half the amount of liquid the box called for, you can always add a splash more if needed but you can't take it back out. 
Here it is after adding the apple juice and folding in the blueberries
Not too runny or too thick
I like baking sweet breads in a bunt pan
Bake at the same temp the box calls for which is usually 350 degrees but expect it to take a bit longer then usual.
This batch took 50 minutes.. bake until a tooth pick comes out clean..
of course muffins will bake faster. 
There you go.. 
Another perfect sweet bread
In the morning, grab a cup of coffee, a slice of sweet bread and kick back and reflect on all the healthy ingredients you put in it
veggies, fruit, fruit juice, eggs and nuts
I hope you give this a try

Friday, April 10, 2015

Container plants that survived the winter

I do all my planting in containers and last Fall I brought my thyme and parsley indoors to sit in my kitchen window in hopes it would make it till Spring when I could replant it outdoors.. 
Winter in my area is usually a lot of gloomy days with little to no sunshine but these two plants hung in there and are now enjoying warm sunny weather.. soon I'll be replanting them into larger containers..
I also dug up some of my chive's and put them in a smaller pot to sit in the window along with some onions I'd had in a glass of water..
I didn't do much clipping off these plants, they seemed best to leave them alone.
I knew from experience that chives would survive the cold winter which they have done and are now growing nicely
What really surprised me was finding my sage coming back to life
Now before any of you start telling me these plants always come back up in the Spring, let me remind you, they spent the winter in pots that got rained, sleeted and snowed on and most of the time the dirt in the pots froze solid.
That is what's so amazing

Friday, January 23, 2015

Food Storage Record Keeping Made Easy

I don't consider myself a Prepper..   
stocking up on food is and always has been a way of life for me.  
I grew up on a farm and we stored enough food to make it to the next growing season.  Moving to Urban living is no different to me, I still grow a garden and the things I can't grow I buy in quantities when on sale.
I do keep spare water because I've seen the times when a water main broke and we needed stored water to drink.
I've also saw times when ice storms has knocked out the power for weeks at a time and the store shelves were bare.
With out our food storage we'd been a bit hungry.
so if that makes me a Prepper, then so be it.

The reason I'm showing you a glimpse of my storage is to bring to mind how hard it is to keep track of what you do have.
Do you really think you can remember all that you have stashed away and the expiration dates without a record?
I can't
Not without a record of some kind
And that's what this blog is all about, I want to show you what and how I keep up with everything.
If you are using Google Chrome then you probably know all about how you can keep up with everything from browser to browser to different computers.. bookmarks follow you on all your signed in computers.
Did you know Google also has a Drive you can use to store pictures and documents?  Yup and it also follows you on all your devices.
But the neatest part is Drive also has a spread sheet
That's what you can use for your storage records.. make changes anytime you add or remove and item and no matter which computer you're on you can access it and even print off hard copies.
Now you ready for the next BINGO?
If you own a Kindle Fire you can also access those pictures and records.. some people say you can't but you can.
Go to Amazon app store and download their ES3 app.
Sorry the center of the app didn't show up but you can read what's under it and see the shape.. it's a light blue with ES3 written inside.
Using that app you can download Google Drive and all your records.
There's my records on my Kindle Fire
You can add or remove on it too, just like on your computer.
Same as on my computer
Neat huh?
If you're like me, when I come across a good deal at the store, say on syrup, I like to know how many I have stored in the basement.
I don't want more then we can use before it expires so I print off a hard copy of my list and keep it in my wallet.
I guess you could take your tablet to the store but that's not something I care to do when a printed copy works just as well.
I'm so in love with this that I'm planning on making up lists for my two freezers.. and who knows, I might even start a list of my upstairs pantry.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


My family is addicted to jalapeno salt and pepper
It's delicious on just about everything.. the first time I made some I added salt to keep it from clumping but adding extra salt to some foods wasn't a healthy idea so I now make some with black pepper too and this is working out great..
Use the jalapeno salt when cooking and the jalapeno pepper on already salted foods.
The other day I found some nice looking jalapenos at a local Mexican store for 99 cents a pound and I bought 11 pounds of them.

Cut into long slices and dried in my Excalibur dehydrator over night at 135 degrees

I use my herb/coffee grinder and after I fill each salt shaker half full I top one off with salt and the other with black pepper then I dump each one back in the grinder for a quick pulse to make sure their blended.
A word of warning 
be sure you wear a face mask when doing this because the fine powder will get breathed into your nose.. when you take the lid off the grinder it looks like a green cloud floating up and around you.
 if you don't own a mask then wrap a wet rag around your face.