Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole

This is a rendition of the casserole we all know and love from our Thanksgiving Day dinners.

I’ve adapted an adaptation since I wasn’t happy with the original results.

Ingredients
2 16 ounce packages frozen cut green beans
2 10.75 ounce cans cream of chicken soup
2/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 6 ounce can French-fried onions, divided
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Directions
Combine green beans, cream of chicken soup, milk, salt, black pepper, and half the can of French-fried onions in a slow cooker.

Cover and cook on Low for 5 to 6 hours. Mix the cornstarch, water, and soy sauce to make a slurry. Mix that with the beans in the slow cooker. Let cook until thickened.

Top casserole with remaining French-fried onions to serve.

I did use more fried onions, I have a thing for them. 🙂

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Creamy Tortellini Soup

This one is a keeper.

Unlike many recipes I try, this one came out amazing as is. So here it is without any Dave changes to it.

Ingredients

1 pound ground Italian sausage, browned
1 onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons beef bouillon powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups beef broth
1/4 cup cornstarch mixed and dissolved in ¼ cup water
3 12-ounce cans full fat evaporated milk
1 12-ounce packet three cheese tortellini
5 cups fresh baby spinach
1 cup half and half

Instructions

Place the browned sausage, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, Italian seasoning, beef bouillon powder, salt, and broth in a 6-quart slow cooker bowl. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7 hours.

Uncover and skim any fat that is sitting on the top of the soup with a spoon and dispose of it. Stir in the cornstarch mixture with the evaporated milk. Add the tortellini and mix well. Cover again and cook on high heat for another 45 minutes until the soup has thickened, and the tortellini is soft and cooked through.

Add in the spinach, completely covering the leaves with the liquid. Cover again for a further 5-10 minutes until the leaves have wilted.

Pour in milk in 1/4 cup increments, as needed, to reach your desired thickness and consistency. Taste test and season with extra salt only if needed, and pepper to suit your tastes.

Serve with a hearty warm bread.

Creamy Tortellini Soup

Fresh ingredients make this great, don’t skimp!

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Paula Deen’s House Seasoning

This is a super simple seasoning Paula uses in many recipes.

Paula Deen's House Seasoning

Paula Deen’s House Seasoning

1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Optional: Add onion powder to your liking.

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Crockpot Pulled Pork

I like pork.

I mean I really like pork. 🙂

Had a need recently to cook for my family’s weekly dinner and decided pulled pork was going to be my contribution.

And the Crockpot makes it extra simple.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 hours
Total time: 8 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients
2 – 2.5 lbs. boneless pork loin
1/2 onion sliced
1 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
8 ounces BBQ sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup Coca-Cola

Instructions
Add all ingredients to the slow cooker.
Cook on medium for 6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.
Shred, then let the meat bask in the sauce for about half an hour more, then serve.

If you need to leave the meat in the Crockpot longer, add more liquid to ensure it doesn’t go dry.

Pulled pork swimming in BBQ sauce.

Pulled pork swimming in BBQ sauce.

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Popcorn time, let’s celebrate National Popcorn Day

It’s National Popcorn Day!

I bet you didn’t realize that.

Luckily I am here to help you out.

What follows are a few of my favorite popped corn recipes.

From the basics to the more involved, I encourage you to explore the many recipes you can use to enhance popped corn.

Popcorn

Hot, buttery, delicious popcorn.

Popcorn Seasoning

I like to experiment with popped corn toppings, some are better than others.

This one skips butters and oils in favor of well-balanced spices, and that means it delivers guilt-free popped corn with tons of flavor.

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons celery salt
4 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
6 teaspoons garlic powder
6 teaspoons salt
6 teaspoons ground savory (for stronger flavor use thyme, or moderate and use 3 teaspoons of each)
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground sage

Directions:

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl.

Store in an airtight container, this will have a tight fitting lid.

Stir or shake well before sprinkling atop freshly popped corn.

Italian Breadstick Popcorn

This recipe manages to pack the herby, garlicky kick of restaurant breadsticks without the excess calories or butter.

Ingredients:
8 cups popped corn, hot and fresh
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon popcorn salt (or fine grain salt)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

Mix together the basil, parsley, garlic salt and popcorn salt in a small bowl. Then, put your freshly popped corn to a larger container with a lid and add the spice mixture and drizzle the olive oil on top. Put the lid on and shake until the popped corn is evenly coated with spices.

Do this while the popcorn is hot so the spices stick better and the flavor will be better as well.

Churro Popcorn

A taste of summer, any time.

Ingredients
6 cups popped corn
1/2 cup cinnamon chips, melted
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Drizzle the melted cinnamon chips over the popcorn and toss to coat evenly.

In a separate bowl, mix the powdered sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon.

Sprinkle the mixture over the popped corn, then toss to coat again.

Cool completely before serving.

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Chili Cornbread Pie, Aweseome Winter Supper!

Ah chili cornbread, this is one of those awesome supper dishes. You know, the ones for that are made for a cold winter’s night?

Yeah, this is one of those alright.

And despite temperatures here in the 50s and 60s lately, I can still see myself digging into one of these.

It’s very similar to a dish I remember Mom making when we were growing up. It’s flavorful, hot, hearty, and jsut a good all-in-one supper.

Chili
1 lb. 85/15 ground beef
10 ounce pico de gallo
15 ounce can tomato sauce
14.5 ounce can chili ready diced tomato
15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
15.5 ounce can light red kidney beans (rinsed & drained)
1.25 ounce chili mix1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

Cornbread
8.5 ounce box Jiffy Cornbread Mix
1 large egg
1/2 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°, lightly spray a 3-quart oven dish with nonstick spray.

Preheat a soup pot over medium-high heat.

Brown ground beef, drain then add pico de gallo. Cook the pico de gallo until tender, this will take about 5 minutes.

Add tomato sauce, diced tomato, crushed tomato, beans, chili mix and salt.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cook another 5-7 minutes, stirring often.

Combine Jiffy mix, egg, cheese, sour cream, milk, and jalapeno pepper in a large bowl. Blend well.

Pour the meat mixture into prepared dish. Spoon the corn bread batter evenly to cover the meat mixture.

Bake 35-40 minutes until the cornbread is browned and set.

Serve piping hot with a dollop of sour cream.

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Popcorn Salt: How to Make Your Own

This is a super easy method for making popcorn salt.

Not really a recipe.

Store bought popcorn salt is regular salt that has been ground very fine. This is done so that it sticks to the popcorn.

No need to buy this since you have everything needed to make it already.

Put one cup of kosher salt into a food processor. 10 3-second pulses should perfectly blend this to the correct consistency.

Store in an appropriate shaker or dredge.

Dredge Shaker for Popcorn salt

I have a number of these, I use them for salt, pepper, popcorn salt, confectioner’s sugar, etc.

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Staple Recipes You Need to Use: Chili Powder

Homemade Chili Powder

Freshly made chili powder, what a great way to add a kick of flavor to your next meal.

I love how the flavors in this come together as it all toasts in the pan.

The aroma in nothing short of amazing.

Ingredients

3 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
3 cascabel chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
3 dried arbol chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Directions

Place all of the chiles and the cumin into a medium nonstick saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
Note, while a cast iron pan works great for this, the weight may be a concern. Nothing wrong with using a noinstick pan for this.

Cook, moving the pan around constantly, until you begin to smell the cumin toasting, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

Set aside and cool completely.

Once cooled off, place the chiles and cumin into a blender or coffee grinder repurposed as a spice grinder, along with the garlic powder, oregano, and paprika. Blend until a fine powder is produced.

Allow the powder to settle for at least a minute before removing the lid of the grinder.

Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Example of a spice can with a see through lid. Most have a magnet attached so you can store them on the side of your refrigerator or on your stove's hood.

Example of a spice can with a see through lid. Most have a magnet attached so you can store them on the side of your refrigerator or on your stove’s hood.

A note about staple recipes:
Staple recipes are ones I like to think of as a pantry item. Something that is used regularly and is akin to salt and pepper. You have to have it in your pantry or something feels wrong.

Besides chili powder, I like to keep taco seasoning, garam masala, and chili mix onhand in my pantry.

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Staple Recipes You Need to Use: Chili Mix

Chili mix is something I make a point of keeping onhand ready to go. One never knows when you’ll want to make a pot of chili.

And a good chili mix is the foundation for it.

I know it may seem extreme to make a chili mix from scratch, but I like that I can modify the amount of salt in it. And that I can modify the ingredient’s ratios to be more to my liking or mood.

Chili Mix

Mix your own, it’s not hard and is more flavorful than a store bought mix.

Some day, I will do the math and breakdown the cost involved. I’m not positive it’s much cheaper than buying pre-packaged, but I like the flavor more. And flavor is what it’s all about.

1/4 cup chili powder, you can use less for milder chili but I tend to use more
1-2 teaspoons ground cumin, I tend to use more as I really like the flavor of cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. I like the spice cans with see through lids and the magnet on the back. Makes storage easy and I can see what’s in them without having to hunt for what I need. I recommend storing no longer than 3 months.

Spice can with a see through lid.

Example of a spice can with a see through lid. Most have a magnet attached so you can store them on the side of your refrigerator or on your stove’s hood.

If you’re like me, this time contraint will be of no consequence as I always use it well in advance of it’s “expiration’ date.

A note about staple recipes:
Staple recipes are ones I like to think of as a pantry item. Something that is used regularly and is akin to salt and pepper. You have to have it in your pantry or something feels wrong.

Besides chili mix, I like to keep taco seasoning, garam masala, and chili powder onhand in my pantry.

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Mix of my Youth, Original Chex Mix

This is a classic snack mix you will want to make over and over again! Read on for details on what makes this recipe slightly different and in my opinion, better!

One of the differences some may notice in this recipe is the amounts of many of the ingredients are doubled.

I think some explanation is needed here.

I grew up eating Chex Mix as a snack. Every Christmas, my Mom would make a big batch of it and we would all feast on it throughout our Chistmas vacation. And we loved every bite.

But somewhere during those times, I noticed this Chex Mix wasn’t always giving me all the flavor I was hoping for.

So, when I decided to make it on my own, I experimented with it. And doubling the flavors portion of the ingredients was the solution.

Therefore, I present to you Chex Mix, kicked up a notch.

Chex Mix

Savor the flavors in this classic snack mix, better make a double recipe!

Ingredients

3 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
1 cup dry rosted peanuts
1 cup bite-size pretzels
1 cup garlic-flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into 1-inch pieces
12 tablespoons butter or margarine
6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 teaspoons seasoned salt
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder

Directions

In a large bowl, mix cereals, peanuts, pretzels and bagel chips; set aside.

In a small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High for about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in seasonings.

Then pour the butter mixture over the cereals and stir until evenly coated.

Pre-heat oven to 250°. Put cereal and seasoning mixture into ungreased roasting pan and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Now, remove from oven and allow to cool.

Store in airtight container.

There are probably a thousand variations of this classic recipe, here are a few of my favorites.
Add some Tabasco sauce for a spicy kick.

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