Kyle in da House!

Oh hey Crockheads, long time no see! If there’s one way to get back in the saddle it’s with some liquid courage. Coming at you now, award-winning Food and Wine champion bartender of Charleston, SC………….Kyle DeGoyler!!!!!!!!!

“With the latest edition of Friday Feature we are literally going to shake things up. Instead of food, we are going to be talking cocktails. Specifically, we are going to be talking about bitters, what they are, how you can make them yourself and how to apply them to cocktail mixing and even cooking.20150526_204907

What are bitters? The question is as common at my bar as (What’s a grit?) is to our servers. My bartenders and I look forward to the question as I have set the bar up to encourage the conversation on a nightly basis. Our front rail is a neatly lined barricade of 20-30 different apothecary looking bottles, each adorned with a dasher top or dropper to properly distribute the unique and often misunderstood potions inside. The bottles do their job and catch many of our guests’ eyes as they belly up. The back bar-besides the selection of spirits, has numerous books that we dive into when in doubt or searching for the perfect recipe when the time calls. One of the books, Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons is what I consider to be the Holy Grail for any would-be bitters maker. Mr. Parson details everything you need to know about making bitters, from history, tools, ingredients and recipes.

Back to the question. What are bitters?

Bitters are typically a combination of dried roots, barks, herbs, fruit and vegetables and spices that are steeped in a very high proof alcohol for a long period of time, then strained, mixed and sweetened. Creating a very intensely flavorful concoction that keeps almost indefinitely and is indispensable behind the bar.20150526_182107

Bitters first gained prominence during the post-civil war era by the peddling of “snake oil salesmen” who pawned these concoctions off as cure-alls and patented medicines. The reason this was possible is because many of the primary bittering agents have positive qualities like cinchona bark, which is prominent in quinine of tonic water, helping with nausea. Even today, a few dashes of bitters in soda or ginger ale is what I swear by to help with indigestion.

My favorite bitters flavor to make has to be Coffee. This is a flavor that isn’t as widely available as others on the market and after lots of trial and error, I have worked out a consistent recipe. When making cocktails with bitters, one important to remember is that bitters to a bartender are like salt and pepper to a chef. They are not used to be the main flavor but they are there to enhance, round out and bring forward the flavors that are already present.

Coffee Bitters
2 C Bacardi 151 (you can use any alcohol of at least 100 proof)
1 ½ C coffee beans (cracked with mortar and pestle)
1/3 C roasted cacao nibs
1 tsp cloves
3 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick (cracked)
1 TBS wormwood
½ TBS gentian root
3 TBS demerara sugar syrup
3-4 C H2O

Most of these unusual ingredient like wormwood or gentian root can be purchased online from places like Mountain Rose Herbs or Kalustyans.20150526_200513

Combine all ingredients except syrup and water in a mason jar, cover with high proof alcohol and seal well. Shake like crazy and store in a dark cupboard or somewhere away from light. Shake the jar every day for three weeks. I have found light to be my biggest culprit when spoiling good bitters.20150603_183812

After three weeks, open the jar and strain your liquid through cheesecloth into another jar. Feel free to strain multiple times to ensure you are getting all of the tiny particles. Squeeze your solids tight to get all of the alcohol that you can, then seal your alcohol solution and put it aside.

Next, place your solids in a pot and pour just enough water (3-4 cups) to cover everything entirely. Bring them to a quick boil and then gently simmer them for about 10 minutes, extracting all of the flavors into your water. Take off heat and allow to cool before adding everything, solids and all into a second mason jar. With this step I like to sterilize the Mason jar with some alcohol before I pour, as this solution will not have the alcohol content of the first and you don’t want bacteria ruining a month long project.IMG_20150607_232248

Some recipes call for this second solution to sit for up to a week. I have found that 3-5 days is sufficient, if you let it go too long this can turn funky and chunky. Again, shake this jar daily until your last step.

After 3-5 days, open your second jar and strain your solids out one more time. This time, discard them, we have from them everything we need. Repeat your strain until you are happy with the consistency. Then combine your water and your alcohol solution from the first mason jar. To this jar we will add our sweetener. I prefer the demerara with my coffee bitters and you can adjust your sweetening agent according to the flavors you want to put on display. For example, with Chocolate and Aromatic bitters, I prefer Muscovado sugar which has a higher molasses content reminiscent of raisins and black currants. For Citrus Thyme bitters, I use a honey syrup. Once our sweetener is in, we shake the jar until our arms are sore, ensuring that all of the sugar has been incorporated.20150526_201111

Finally…nope we are still not done. Let this jar rest for 3 more days, allowing any remaining sediment or floaters to separate. After 3 days, skim the surface for any would be floaters and decant your bitters into individual bottles. These bitters will keep indefinitely but are best used within a year.20150610_120221

Even if you have executed this perfectly, you may still notice separation at the bottom of your bottles. This is entire naturally just like a blood mary mix. Simply give a shake before you pour.

Now for using your bitters. The most common application of bitters that I have found is the classic Manhattan cocktail. The original recipe calls for 2 oz. of Rye or Bourbon, 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth and 2-3 dashes of aromatic (typically Angostura) bitters, stirred with ice, strained and garnished with a cherry or lemon peel. As for the coffee bitters, at Poogan’s Porch I have a drink called the Man of the House in which we use 2 oz. of Chattanooga Tennessee Whiskey, 1 oz. Dolin Sweet Vermouth and 3 dashes of coffee bitters, stirred, strained over a large cube and garnished with a brandied cherry.”

MIND BLOWN! Mixology=Science Class. We had a such an informative night’s lesson at Kyle and Jen’s house and I learned a whole new side of the drink world. Who knew all of this knowledge and specific techniques went into making a cocktail. Now I know I like my Manhattans with aromatic and lavender bitters and egg whites, shaken. THANKS KYLE!IMG_0011

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ShuLaur in the house!

Crockpottuesday has a special guest in the house this week for Friday Feature. This person is probably one of my sweetest friends and nicest of my group of high school friends. Girls…the one that always said, “well you can if you want to…” Miss Lauren Shuler in da kitchen!!!!!

“About a month ago I was tailgating with Susu at a South Carolina home game (side note: go Tigers and go Gators!!) when I expressed to her my wish to use my crockpot more, which, by the way, I received as a Christmas gift but had never used it. She encouraged me to just research recipes and go for it. Crockpotting and cooking is easy and about experimenting. So my first crockpot experience which was 10 months after I received it began like this….picture of us

October. The best month of the year: cooler weather, college football, Oktoberfest beers, the return of The Walking Dead and post season baseball (the last two mainly because my boyfriend, Stephen, enjoys them). *Editor’s note: also the month Lauren and Stephen were born!!!* Alongside cooler weather comes warm comfort food, my personal favorite being CHILI! There are so many ways to make chili. We’ve already made this recipe twice this fall. One of the great things about this recipe is that it lends itself well to variations depending on personal preference and what you have in your cupboard. It’s easy to make and you have leftovers for days which certainly is a plus.chilliIngredients:
1 pound ground beef
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cans of kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
2 cans of pinto beans (rinsed and drained)
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon of cumin Red pepper flakes
Sriracha

Dircetions:
1. Brown ground beef in skillet with garlic.

2. Once meat is browned, add celery, carrots, onion, red pepper flakes (to taste, depending on your desire for spicy, we used about a teaspoon). Keep cooking in skillet on medium for about 6 minutes.

3. Transfer contents of skillet into crockpot and add beans, tomato paste, chili powder, and cumin. Add Sriracha. The amount of Sriracha will vary depending on your preference. We used about 2 tablespoons.

4. Set on low for 6.5 hours

It’s that simple! Add sour cream, cheese, green onion, cornbread, or whatever your stomach desires!

And, of course, a good fall beer, as pictured by our puppy Bailey below.bailey

Thanks Lauren- will definitely be copying this recipe in the near future!! Happy fall y’all…and get yo chilli on dawg!

Katie in the House!

There’s not a lot of people in this world that I greet with a large hug, a lot of clapping, a lick, and a 10 second sniff session. All this excitement happens though every time I see one of my best friends and, as of recent, my soon- to- be- again- ROOMMATE! Crockheads, for this week’s Friday Feature, my number one dawg, Katie Nichols, has the kitchen.

katie

When I think Summer, I think BARBEQUE!

“Okay people, that was one heck of a winter. Now I’m no beach babe (unless Casper could pass as a beach babe, that is) and most of my friends would tell you I love a good winter, but as a bona fide southerner (aka pansy when it comes to truly cold weather) I’m peelin’ off my last layer of long undies (yep, I wear those) and shoutin’ BRING ON SUMMER! And when I think Summer, I think BARBEQUE!bbq

One of my favorite things about barbeque is the various forms it can take—both linguistically and physically. Take, for starters, that the word “barbeque” is one of the few words in the English language that can function as a noun or verb. Most of us Southerners think of it as a noun—usually the likes of a mouth-watering pile of pulled pork (more on this later). However, the term can also be used as a verb…to barbeque some ribs or to barbeque chicken for dinner. You get the picture. Let’s move on to more concrete examples.

By birth I’m no big city gal (shout out to Murrells Inlet), but my curiosity has led me in the way of some amazing travels. For example, in Australia (shout out to my Aussies), the term “barbeque” refers exclusively either to 1) an actual gathering of friends and family, usually in a backyard and/or 2) the actual device in which one would use to cook such outdoor meals. “Barbie”—short for barbeque of course—is the Australian synonym for what we call a “grill.” barbie

Now, moving on to more domestic discrepancies—I’m talking right here in the good ole U.S. of A. I debated mentioning the following story, as it is still a subject of an uneasy “agree to disagree” with my wonderful (cough cough, Yankee) boyfriend, Jay. It involves the day it really hit me that I was dating a northerner. During our first year of dating we ventured into Jim-N-Nick’s one day on King Street for lunch. As I scurried off to the ladies I quickly told Jay what I wanted. I said, “a barbeque sandwich, please.”

I’m quite the omnivore, so what follows didn’t really affect my appetite (I still ate every bite) as much as it got my pensive wheels a turnin.’

Drumroll. He ordered me a barbeque chicken sandwich.

From my southern born and bred vantage point, obviously, because I did not specify a different kind of meat I, by default, (say it with me Southerners) meant pork.

I’ll never forget the bewildered expression on his face as he drank his unsweetened tea and tried to make sense of my explanation that in the South we consider barbeque to be pulled pork, unless otherwise specified.jay

Now, all that being said, I made a BBQ Beer CHICKEN crockpot recipe—and it is GOOD people! I asked my friends Lee and Logan to share the meal with me. Since I moved to Greenville a few months ago, they have been so gracious; they’ve fed me A LOT (I’m that guest that takes seconds every time). I figured it was my turn. When I ran the idea by Lee she immediately offered to make blue cheese cole slaw to go with our BBQ beer chicken….dynamite.lee

Before I leave you with what I used and what I did, let me just say…

Wherever you’re from and whatever “barbeque” means to you—I hope you’ll CELEBRATE IT THIS SUMMER!

Ingredients (makes about 8 servings and stellar leftovers)

  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 large)

  • 1 tbsp onion powder

  • 1 tbsp paprika

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1tsp salt
/1 tsp black pepper

  • 1 cup beer (any kind you like; I used Stella)
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) of barbecue sauce (any kind you like—I used a combination of Trader Joes Carolina Gold and Weber Real Molasses)
  • hamburger buns
 (we didn’t use—but of course its an option)
  • coleslaw (preferably blue cheese coleslaw if you have a friend that makes it 🙂 )

Directions
Put all ingredients in crockpot except chicken. Stir to combine.
Add the chicken to the mixture and spoon the sauce on top of the chicken.
Cook on low for 6-7 hours.
Shred the chicken and let sit for a few minutes before serving so it can fully absorb the sauce.
I served with blue cheese coleslaw and sweet potato fries.

platesauce Recipe adapted from http://www.fatgirltrappedinaskinnybody.com “

Katie, my dawg, well done I will certainly look forward to making your BBQ Chicken. Actually, can you just do it when you move in? Thanks for your Friday Feature!

 

Odom in the House!

Crockheads,

You’ve seen him around town, you’ve heard of him on the blog, and you know the name, now coming to you live from Charleston for Friday Feature……. ALEX ODOM!!!!!!!!!! snaps snaps snaps.

“Having never blogged before I hope you all can hear my writer’s voice.  It’s more of a yell so be glad this isn’t a podcast. What a true honor to have Susu relinquish control of CPT and author a Friday Feature! Big shoes to follow in with Richard (literally, he’s huge) and Mr. Kassel… but I’m no slouch so here we go. Having read CPT since the Manhattan days and helped Su work her way through Charleston’s finest restaurants (Zaxby’s anyone? Kidding, Charleston Grill is where it’s at) this is a true honor. I have been in Charleston for the last 2 years working on a Master’s degree at MUSC, but have been cooking since childhood. Coming from a family of well-fed individuals if you wanted to eat, you had to cook. Or at least contribute. And in honor of the upcoming Gamecock football season—139 days y’all—I decided on Cajun Boiled Peanuts. The original Redneck Candy and perfect for tailgate.  Beautiful in its simplicity, all you need are a few ingredients and a little patience and you will wow even the snootiest of Clemson fans.
 
Ingredients:
1 bag or RAW peanuts… do not get green, they are terrible
3/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons red pepper flakes
Hot sauce
Enough water to cover the peanuts, adding as needed
Heavy plates
*All ingredients are to taste, so this is just a guideline
 
Wash peanuts in a colander and place in crockpot with plain water covering the nuts. Place heavy plates over the top and let soak for at least 6 hours. Leave crockpot OFF.

plates
Remove plates and add all seasonings. Replace plates and set crockpot to LOW.
Let peanuts cook for 15-18 hours. The plates need to stay on for a while to cook evenly. But when the color darkens you can remove the plates and just stir occasionally. in pot

Remember this is an all day affair and peanuts are extremely hard to mess up.
Approximate cook time for this batch was 18 hours, and they were perfect I must say. The longer they cook the stronger the flavor.
Serve with a fine craft beer such as Bud Light.

beer 
A bike delivery for Su and Kendall at the Charleston Place makes for very jealous co-workers.Su See you all in August, Go Cocks!

These boiled peanuts were cooked perfectly! Kendall and I destroyed them at work…and I could handle the heat! Odom, thanks for the Friday Feature…what’s next on our bucket list? I’m not canoeing to Edisto…1546364_10201851009865506_1373382752_n

My Pops in the House!

Ladies and Gentleman, Happy Friday Feature! Coming to you now my number 1 man, my main inspiration, and where all this cooking and crocking derived from. All the way from Columbia, South Carolina my very own poppas John Kassel on Crockpottuesday!!!  (aroooooo the crowd goes wild!)

CrockPot Barbecue Ribs? Yes, Really!the_finished_ribs     The season is changing. It is getting warmer and the days longer. When I got home from work the other day, it was still light out. And it wasn’t raining! This change effects how I like to cook. As we move toward spring and summer, the grill beckons. My charcoal cooker sits on the back deck. The beautiful weather pushes me outside. But before I devote luxurious time and attention to cooking over outdoor fire, it is time for one last crockpot meal to make. My faithful crockpot has kept me warm and nourished all winter long with Susu’s delightful recipes of cranberries and pork, beef chuck roast, and of course, Boston butt. (“What’s in that bad boy!”). I love coming home from work, opening the door, and being greeted by wonderful aromas, as if someone had been cooking all day. That is the beauty of the crockpot. So, it is only fitting to present a crockpot recipe of a southern, summer favorite: BBQ ribs. Yes, ribs can be cooked in a crockpot. It is true that the iconic smoky flavor is missing. But the ease of unattended cooking and the sweet tenderness of the finished meal cannot be beat. So, for this Friday Feature, let’s talk ribs.

Cooking ribs in a crockpot could not be easier. This recipe is a little more elaborate because I am trying strenuously to make it harder than usual…trying to coax out as much flavor as possible. So, for the ingredients:

At least 3lbs to 4lbs of  ribs. The amount is really determined by the size of your crockpot. I have loaded mine up and still got good results. The choice of ribs is a matter of preference. I am using St. Louis style ribs because that was what the Publix had for sale. But you can use any sort of ribs; country-style, spare ribs, baby back ribs. They are all pork ribs but different cuts. Try different ones.                                              uncooked_ribs            Spice mixtures: Have on hand salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder, brown sugar. Notice I did not list amounts. Up to you.

spices            Favorite BBQ sauce: 2-3 cups. You can make your own, or use a store bought brand. You can add it to the crockpot or put it on afterward. I tend to do the latter.

Assembly: Lay the ribs out on your counter. You can remove the membrane from back of ribs or leave it. Remove any excess fat with a sharp knife. Don’t gouge the meat. Rub the spice mixture on both sides of the ribs.

patting_on_spices

You can tell if you performed the task perfectly by the telltale darkened spots on your fingertips.                                   dirty_handsPlace the seasoned ribs in the crockpot with the meat side placed up against the inside wall of the crockpot. This will help develop a fine sear on the ribs.                                ribs_in_the_crockSome folks add their BBQ sauce to the ribs before placing the ribs in the crockpot. I wait instead. I think it produces a better caramelized effect to put the sauce on later. Cook for 8-10 hours on low. You want the meat falling off the bone but still have some chew left to the meat. I tend to cook longer times because I put the crockpot up in the morning and do not return till evening after work. If you have a crockpot with a timer, set it for 8-10 hours. At the appointed time, the crockpot will automatically revert to a warming cycle. Remove ribs from the crockpot and place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Smear with BBQ sauce and place in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Pull out and re-lather the ribs. Place back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. The layering builds up a gorgeous looking lacquer.                             painting_sauce_on_ribsPull out the ribs and serve as bundles of 3-4 ribs. Have plenty of paper napkins around. I like sides of coleslaw, scalloped potatoes, baked beans, or corn on the cob (wait for summer). A cold beer works well.  Crockpot BBQ St. Louis style ribs. My ode to summer!

the_mama_with_ribs                     the_group_shot            Special thanks to Jim Work, master craftsman, who helped with the preparation of this meal. We enjoyed having Robert and Jane Key, who came by to help eat these beautiful ribs.

Dad you’ve done it again. Looks amazing and the pictures are beautiful. I have to say i’m intimidated to follow that!

Thanks for reading Crockheads! Whose next??

Mooka in the house!

I need to brag on my friend and co-worker Larry Crosby real quick. Last week I asked him how his Valentine’s Day was. His easy-going reply, “It was good, how was yours?” I told him nice, but unfortunately had to work and then we ventured into crazy hotel talk. Later, I asked him where he went to dinner and it wasn’t until then that he unleashed on me his unbelievable Valentine’s Day. Larry cooked up a 4-course meal from scratch for his fiance AND paired each course with his homemade beer (Check out Mooka Brewery)! I was over the top impressed and I admired so much his modesty that I begged him to do a Friday Feature. So! Coming to you now….MOOKA’S VALENTINE’S DAY!

“Valentine’s. An epic day of love (or lack of) for many people. It’s probably my least favorite holiday for all the obvious reasons, but I am in a quite awesome relationship myself so I try to embrace the day as much as the next man – Just get through it.

But seriously, I thought to myself, my fiancée and I are tying the knot soon and I’m over the elaborate, pre-fixe, $125 per person affair that seems to encompass the 14th of February. One thing that separates the men from the boys, isn’t some notion that you can throw chocolate and a few flowers at your sweetie in hopes of making your Valentine’s Day special. Nope, it’s the guys that approach the day with a uniqueness of style that makes her say, “Oh shit!”

So, since I consider myself a decent cook (and I was on a budget :)), I decided to up the ante and whip up a nice 4-course meal of my own. One thing I know is, the key to someone’s heart is FOOD.

I head to Harris Teeter and to no one surprise, the place is flooded. Not your usual, after-work, Friday crowd. Instead, guys are running around everywhere buying wine, last-minute roses, chocolates, you name it. I couldn’t help but smile ear to ear when I entered the store gazing at the amount of guys that may not be all about Valentine’s Day but knew they couldn’t go home empty-handed. Let’s just say, they better have brought something, or else.  Anyways, I pondered over the week what I would make so, I was plenty prepared.

The menu:

1st Course – Rice Noodle Soup with mustard greens, red pepper, garlic, soy ginger broth

soup

2nd Course – Lump Crab Cakes with tomato, okra, dill

crab

3rd Course – Grilled Prime Rib with garlic potatoes

prime rib

4lh Course- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Oops! No pics of the cheesecake, but it came out very well. I don’t bake so I considered it quite the accomplishment!

I paired everything with beers (Yes, Beers!) instead of wine. The pairings go amazingly well and it’s definitely a different touch.

I did a Ranger IPA for the first course to match with the ginger and cut through the spice.

A Belgian Blonde (Leffe) was for the crab cakes to complement the citrus in the dish but also provide sweetness to accompany the crab.

The steak was paired with Bell’s Amber ale. The caramel sweetness goes perfectly with the charred and caramelized sear on the steak. But also, the carbonation cleans the fat from the palette to get you ready for the next bite!

Finally, the cheesecake was paired with Duck Rabbit Milk Stout. It’s a sweet stout that goes great with dessert. Chocolate and Chocolate. Not much better than that!

couple pic

WOW! Thank you so much Larry for sharing!! All I gotta say is ….Gentlemen…hope you took notes 😉

October Chilli

For this week’s Crockpottuesday I knew I wanted to make chilli since the Holy City herself is starting to get chilly. And when I say chilly, I mean low 70s…brrrr. Chilli is a great meal to kick off the fall season and enjoy with good friends. It’s also a meal easy to feed a group of 5 people…including…wait for it…our featured guest RAY BOAZ!! Ray, it was a true pleasure to finally have you join us at Crockpottuesday 😉

My plan was to find a  hearty chilli recipe and then set up a toppings station that my guest could add what they wanted to their bowl. Another key factor for me when searching for the perfect recipe is one that has a cook time of 8hrs. It is so nice to be able to set my crock pot in the morning on a low temperature for 8 hours, work a full day (like a boss) and then come home to a beautiful cooked meal. So below are the ingredients for what I found: (and this serves 6 people)

  • 2 pounds Ground Beef
  • 1 Yellow onion
  • 3 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 can of Kidney beans
  • 1 can of Black beans
  • 4 cups Tomato Sauce
  • 2 cans Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup Frozen Corn
  • throw is some Green Chiles, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Chili Powder
  • 3 tablespoons Cumin
  • Salt- up to you
  • Pepper- up to you
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • Red Pepper Flakes if you’d like

Crockpottuesday this week was on Monday, so on sunday night I prepared everything ahead of time by:

photo_1

Adding the Kidney beans,

photo_2

the black beans,

photo_3

 the green chiles,

photo_4

all of the spices,

photo_5

the fire roasted tomatoes,

photo_6

And then the tomato sauce.

I then placed my crock pot in the fridge and went to bed. On Monday morning I got up early to brown the meat. I also added in the onions and after 5 minutes the garlic.

photo_7

Once the meat was browned, I threw it in the crock pot and added the frozen corn and mixed everything together.

photo_10

Then I set the bad boy on low for 8 hours and walked to work. I have to admit, on my walk to work I laughed out loud thinking to my self, “Damn, this girl has already cooked some meat today and its not even 8:30AM!” Then after a long busy Monday and yoga class with Katie, I was home and it was time for dinner. When my company (Ray, Odom, Katie, and Jay) arrived everything was ready and I really didn’t even have to do anything, but place out the toppings! I served the chilli with fritos, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced onions, black olives, halved grape tomatoes, cilantro, and hot sauce. Oh, and the famous Mama Connie corn bread cassarole…sorry that recipe’s a secret.

I will certainly make this recipe again as it was easy to prep, cooked all day, was filling, and well liked by my people. I thought it was delicous and I can’t even take the credit as my crock pot did all the work! I might even consider making it more spicy as I think I could stand some more heat!

photo_13

 Thank you come again 🙂

Potatoes and SquashTA

Dear Followers,

Nothing makes me more happy then the answer to, “What do I do with all these potatoes?”ImageAnswer is OBVI- throw em in the crock!

On a side note before we start cooking-I have finally settled into my new apartment by Colonial Lake and I am so happy. My roommate Lee Anne is the best and we have such a great set up. Our very first night we could barely sleep because of excitement and kept peepin’ our heads out our bedroom doors just to yell the other persons name, we were so excited! The next morning I woke up to sweet Lee Anne fixing me a chai latte and an egg sandwich….whaaaa this is really going to work out. Then we both had to be at work at 10 and the best part is we can both walk to our respective jobs. We walked out the front door and Miss Lee Anne went left and I went right and I had a moment of wow- this just feels right. Its funny too because I am very accustomed to walking to work and one of the pleasures for me of living so close. The walk being back in the South to work though is very different from the walk to work in the North. I think I might have had 6 different people in my short 15 minute walk say hello and talk to me on that first day. I forgot what it was like and loved the feeling. And just as I was having a great morning and walking into work, Lee Anne textes me and says, “I’m on Cloud Nine”…and I knew the feeling!

Now- back to potatoes.

Ingredients needed: Potatoes, cream of mushroom soup, cheddar cheese, onion, paprika, salt and pepper, and butter.

1st- Slice the potatoes:

Image

Then heat your crockpot on high and set for four hours. Mix your potatoes with the cream of mushroom soup, paprika, salt, and pepper. Then layer them in the crockpot with sprinkled cheddar cheese and onion between layers. On top I threw in some cubed butter…because we’re southern..and we can.Image

(Also-when serving, place on top scallions and bacon for extra goodness!)

Next dish: Spaghetti squash- or as my good buddy Harleston likes to say SQUASHTA! This thing is so much fun to cook. I was truly amazed. What you do first is just stick the squash on a cooking tray and cook for about an hour and fifteen minutes at 375. You will know when it is ready once you can cut it down the middle easily.Image

Now the fun. Take a spoon and spoon out the insides (avoiding the few seeds that it contains) and place into a bowl. You will notice that it really does come out like spaghetti!ImageYou can definitely eat the squash as bland as you want because it has a great taste, but we added a few things. I had in a skillet some butter heated up on low with garlic and mushrooms in it that we tossed the squash into. Then we threw in some cut cherry tomatoes,  fresh basil from Harl’s farm, salt, pepper, and shredded Parmesan on top and and it was B E A- utiful!

Image

I then cooked the typical chicken dipped in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs routine. I fried it at first on the stove to brown the sides then threw the bad boys in the oven to finish cooking the insides.

Final three projects were quite tastey:

Image

Success?-YES!

Thanks for joining crockpottuesday Lee Anne and Harl!

And thanks for reading crockoholics!

Macaroni and Cheese

Alright so everyone needs to make this dish: SUPER EASY and who doesn’t LOVE mac n cheese???

A couple of Thursdays ago we had a great crockpottuesday with sooooooo much food.  On the menu was:

Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese, green bean casserole, cornbread casserole, and baked chicken, with then cookies for dessert 🙂

So crockheads: for the Mac you need:

  • 6 cups of cooked macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups evaporated milk
  • 6 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt/ pepper
  • Then all you do is in a large bowl, mix the milk, cheese, butter, salt and pepper and the cooked macaroni. Then throw all that in your bad boy and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours (tasting occasionally to perfection!)

 

That night our guest were Caitlyn, Russell, Mckinnley, Eliza, Brooke, Milos, and myself. We all had a really good time and of course enjoyed Caitlyn telling us about cookies from her high school…tard cookies were they? yea…good thing the rest of us went to normal schools….

success? YES

Creamy Chix and Garden Soup

Hola Amigos,

Hope everyone is good and I want to start off by saying I miss all of you so much! I start to really miss the south when it gets cold up here…and can I just mention that it FREAKIN’ SNOWED ALL DAY YESTERDAY! And not just -yea some flurries here and there..I’m t-a-l-k-i-n’ blizzard. I walked outside in my little jacket thinking I would be fine and I clearly have forgotten what a down pour of snow feels like- this was definitely a very early wake up call.  It’s crazy to me because number one, it is October, and number two, does this mean we just skip over fall?  Last week was so warm and nice and now all of a sudden we are jumping to winter?…this is ridiculous.

So this leads to why when I got out of work today I decide I needed a creamy hot type of soup for dinner. I went to my real* grocery store and got:

  1.  A bag of frozen stir fry vegetables
  2. A cup of frozen corn and peas
  3. 1 zucchini, sliced
  4. boneless skinless chicken breast
  5. chicken broth
  6. uncooked egg noodles
  7. a cup of half-and-half
  8. thyme and parsley
  9. butter
  10. and salt and pepper and minced garlic

First coat your crockpot with spray or butter and then place the stir fry veggies, the corn and peas, and the sliced zucchini in the bottom. Then add your chicken, salt, pepper, garlic, broth, and thyme. I let this all cook for about 3 1/2 hours on high. (TIP: occasionally stir so chicken is always in the broth so it doesn’t dry out.) After all of these things cooked, I turned the crockpot down to warm and let it sit while I cooked the egg noodles on the stove. I also took out the whole pieces of chicken breast, shredded them, and put them back in the crockpot. Once the noodles were done, I transferred them to the crockpot and added the half-and-half, butter, parsley, and some more salt and pepper.

This was actually really good and I was surprised because I thought I had dried out the chicken. You definitely have to be careful about that and be sure to stir it every once in a while. I did not do this, but I think what saved me was shredding the chicken and then putting it back in  to soak. Also at the store I bought  little roasted garlic bagel crisp, which were really good broken up in the soup.

The good thing about this meal is I have lots of left overs ..so….YALL COME UP HUR AND GET SUM!

Successful? yes