Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Veggie Beef Stew (slow cooker)

Tonight's dinner is a throw it in and forget it kind of day. I'm making some fresh bread to go with it. I was just going to make some beef stew, but realized I wanted more veggie content. Then it turned into more of a veggie stew with a few chunks of beef. I think this will be a good dinner full of vitamins. It should have a great beefy flavor. A nice and hearty dinner.

1 fajita dry mix
1 cup beef gravy dry mix
1 can beef stock
1 cup diced onions
1 lb beef stew chunks
1 bag frozen mixed veggies
2 cups dried potato slices
4 -6 cups water
10 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
1 regular bag of carrots 8 or 9 regular, thick sliced
4 stalks of celery, large slices

dump the fajita and beef gravy mix in the bottom of the slow cooker. Then add the beef stock and 4 cups water. Stir to dissolve the fajita and beef gravy mixture. Then add the potatoes, carrots, celery, and mixed veggies. Stirring to mix it all together. Then add the beef chunks and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to incorporate it all. Add more water to cover if not enough liquid to cover.

Set on low for 6 hours. High for 3-4.

Serve with warm rolls, and a salad.

My kids ate it all up and then even finished the broth. That's a win in my book. My husband said it was good too... I really liked it. Not bad for throwing things I had on hand in a slow cooker to eat for dinner. Yeah Me! I hope you enjoy it too :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Five Cheese Baked Mac N Cheese

After the last baked mac n cheese, my husband has been craving baked mac n cheese. He used to never ask for it. But he has lately. So when I went grocery shopping with him I asked him if he wanted it on the menu this week. He said "Sure! What do you need?" So, needlessly to say, we picked cheeses we thought would be tasty in a baked mac n cheese. A small block of white sharp cheddar, and some gruyere. I already had at the house some Asiago, and Romano. It was originally going to be just the four cheeses. Then I decided at the last minute that it would be a nice touch to add some mozzarella cheese on top of the dish. So that is how we got the 5 cheese mac n cheese. This is a pretty typical (at least I think so) baked mac n cheese recipe.  I did not look at any recipe for this. I just kept thinking... what would taste good and then I just went with the flow. I know it's kind of dangerous to do that, but I like living on the edge. Can you tell?

This dish I think would have to be my favorite Baked Mac N Cheese I've ever had. And that's saying something. It is flavorful without being too salty or too bland. This is the perfect Baked Mac N Cheese.

4 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar (white)
2 cups shredded gruyere
1 cup asiago shredded
1 cup romano shredded
1 Tbsp pesto
1/2 tsp white pepper
8-9 cups of milk
3 cups half n half
1 box elbow macaroni (I used quick cook)
1 cup diced onion
1 tsp garlic paste
4 Tbsp butter
4-5 heaping tsp flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup italian bread crumbs (to sprinkle on top)
1 cup mozzarella cheese (to sprinkle on top)

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare 13X9 baking dish by spraying all sides and bottom generously with non stick cooking spray, or lining with foil sprayed with non stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl shred all cheeses and set aside.

In a large pot place water on to boil to prepare pasta according to package directions (cook to al dente).

In a medium sauce pan, place the onions, butter, and garlic paste. Cook until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally to incorporate all ingredients. Then add the flour and stir until slightly golden color, the flour and butter will combine to make a think paste like consistency. Gradually whisk in the milk, and half n half. This will be a thin consistency until the milk heats enough to thicken the mixture. Add the pepper and pesto. Stir/whisk constantly until thicken. Add pasta to boiling pot of water (Do not add any salt to the water) and cook to al dente.

In a small bowl beat the eggs and gradually add some of the milk mixture to the eggs while consistently beating them together. This will temper the eggs so they won't cook separately in the sauce. Once they are tempered, pour the egg mixture into the rest of the milk mixture, stirring to incorporate. Then while still on the heat, add the cheese and stir until all the cheese is melted.

By now the noodles should have been completely cooked (leave slightly al dente) and drained. (DO NOT RINSE PASTA) Turn the heat off under the cheese sauce. Add cheese sauce to the pasta. Pour pasta/cheese sauce mixture into a prepared (Sprayed with non-stick cooking spray) 13X9 baking dish.

Place baking dish in a 350F oven for 25 minutes, then turn heat up to 425F. Sprinkle the pasta dish with the italian bread crumbs and mozzarella cheese. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes until sides are browned and cheese is bubbly.

Serve hot/warm.

my leftovers :) lunch tomorrow

My favorite dish! My husband agrees that this is the best baked mac n cheese. He had two helpings, I had two helpings, even two of my kids had seconds. I have enough for a little leftover but not much. It will feed a ton. This is good as a dish for a potluck, dinner by its self or served as a side dish. If you use this mixture of cheeses this will be a small slice of heaven.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fruit Salad

Today I had a baby blessing to attend, and then a pot luck meal afterwards. I was asked to bring a fruit salad. I for some reason am a little intimidated by fruit salad. I worry about allergies, and putting the right combination of fruit together, so that everyone will like it. I am a people pleaser... or at least I try to be. I don't recall ever putting together my very own fruit salad, unless it was from the store and or a frozen fruit mixture thing. This today was done all by myself. I cut all the fruit that needed cutting or at least picked it all up from my local grocery store fresh the day before. I had my husband come with me to help me pick out yummy fruit. That was also one way that I could make sure he liked what was in it. Sometimes I do have ulterior motives for why I do things the way I do. With that being said. This was fairly easy to put together, I don't think I will ever use a store prepared one again. It was so fresh and delicious. I would have eaten the whole thing but I decided I would be patient incase there were any leftovers I could bring some home. I was glad I didn't eat it all there, I still had about half of the salad left and brought some home. Now mind you, this makes a TON of fruit salad. It might be good for freezing half of it for when you have several gatherings to go to, or just a HUGE neighborhood get together or family reunion to attend. Even a church pot luck this would be great, because it makes so much.


2 clam shells black berries
2 clam shells blue berries
2 clam shells strawberries
1 cantaloupe
1/2 a seedless watermelon
7 nectarines
1 big bag of red or green grapes


rinse all the black berries and blue berries, place in large bowl, then rinse and drain the strawberries cutting the green stems off and slicing, then adding to the bowl. Cut the cantaloupe and add to the big bowl, then cut the nectarines up and add to the bowl. Cut half of the watermelon up and add to the bowl. Rinse and remove stems from the grapes and add whole or cut to the salad. Toss with two spoons gently, but allow fruit to mix completely. Serve chilled or right away.

This makes a great summer snack for the kids, or even for a pot luck. The fruit was in season and so flavorful. I highly recommend using any fruit that is in season. It cuts the cost down and the flavors will be so tasty. After I was on my way to the pot luck, i realized that kiwi's would have been a yummy addition to this recipe as well. There is no added sugar or flavorings.