I Haz Crockpot ~ Pumpkin-Apple Dessert

I saw this recipe on the Betty Crocker website for Slow Cooker Pumpkin-Apple Dessert and I knew I just had to make it! I rarely buy ice cream, but did so for this recipe. It's a great way to learn how to use my Crockpot for desserts and to make something very suitable for the season.

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Ingredients:

1 21 oz. can Apple pie filling
Dry Ingredients
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Wet Ingredients
1 cup packed brown sugar*
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup liquid egg product
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Good quality vanilla ice cream

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* I reduced the amount of brown sugar from the original recipe by 1/4 cup.

To make this you have to have a Crockpot or Slow Cooker that heats on the bottom AND on the sides. That's super important!

Spray the inside of your Crockpot with Pam cooking spray. Add the apple-pie filling to the bottom and spread evenly.

Mix dry ingredients.
Then incorporate the wet ingredients. Pour batter into the crockpot and cook for 2 hours. If you don't have the 2 hour setting, cook on the 4 hour setting for about 2-1/2 hours. This worked for me.


Scoop out some dessert while it's hot, making sure you get some of the apple on the bottom. Serve with ice cream.

I used Breyer's Lactose Free Vanilla Ice Cream.
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Next time I would add 2 cans of apple pie filling because I don't think there was enough apple for the dessert. Or maybe I would make my own apple mixture. I would also make half the amount of batter because this turned out to be an enormous dessert!

Pumpkin on Foodista

Pastel de Choclo

Carlos' favorite food of all-time is Pastel de Choclo, a Chilean corn casserole full of an odd medley of ingredients. It contains layers of ground beef, olives, raisins, hardboiled eggs, chicken and a special corn mixture and topped off with sugar. I really wanted to make this for Carlos and it was important that I get it right. I found two recipes. The first was from Food Network. I read the reviews and most people complained that this recipe was lacking ground beef. So I found this recipe which included ground beef but called for bone-in chicken. I opted to combine the two recipes, instead of sticking with one, to create my own version.

This recipe is pretty complex with lots of time-consuming steps. Make sure you have a free afternoon to devote to it.
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Ingredients:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups of chicken broth

5 ears of corn, grated
1 cup of milk
3 tablespoons butter
chopped fresh basil

4 hard-boiled eggs sliced
1 cup black olives
1 cup raisins

1 large onion chopped
1 pound of ground beef
4 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons confectioner's sugar

salt
pepper
cumin

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Start off with 5 ears of corn (6 is preferrable)

Grate each corn by hand. Do this first because it takes the longest amount of time of everything you will do. Once you are done, set aside the grated corn mush.

Heat up your 2 cups of chicken broth, add a dash of cumin and the two chicken breasts. Cook the breasts until they are tender and you can easily pull apart the meat with two forks. This will take a while so keep it in the background while you are working on other things.

Prepare 4 hardboiled eggs. Peel them and slice them and set aside.

Now on to the corn mixture. To a pot add 3 tablespoons of butter, basil, salt and the corn mush.



Slowly add the 1 cup of milk incorporating it into the mixture. Cook the mixture over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl and set aside in the fridge.

Chop one large onion and sautee in a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside the onion.



With 2 more tablespoons of olive oil, brown the ground beef. Season the beef with salt, pepper and cumin to taste. Make sure you use a good amount of cumin, around 1/2 teaspoon. Cumin is a very important spice in this dish. Mix your cooked beef with the onions.

Take your baking dish and spray it with a cooking spray. Add the onion-beef mixture to the dish. This is your first layer.

Then add hardboiled eggs, olives and raisins. This is your second layer.

Take out your two poached chicken breasts and shred the meat with two forks.



Add the shredded chicken to the dish as your third layer.

Carefully top the whole thing with the corn mixture. Make sure you cover every piece of chicken. Then sprinkle confectioner's sugar over the top.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes.

Serve hot! Sorry I couldn't get a better picture of the final product. This casserole took so long that by the time we ate, it was night time and all my natural light was gone. Oh well!
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Carlos' verdict - 4 stars and 20 million points!


Raquelle's Pastel De Choclo on Foodista

I Haz Crockpot ~ Beef Stew

To break in my brand new crockpot, I made a humongous batch of hearty beef stew. I based my recipe off of Emeril Lagasse's and made some changes and additions. Mostly I added a whole bunch more vegetables. I had fully intended to add frozen peas and pearl onions at the end but the pot was overflowing with stew and there wasn't enough room. Maybe next time.

Beef Stew

2-3 pounds of Chuck Beef for Stew
Seasoning for Beef (to taste):
Salt
Pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Paprika
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Dried Thyme
Dried Oregano

Whole Small Red Potatoes
2 large carrots peeled and cut into chunks
4 celeries, roughly chopped (use the hearts and the leaves please!)
Handful of green beans with ends cut off
Handful of wax beans with ends cut off
2 cups of mushrooms halved
4-5 garlic cloves smashed
4 springs of Thyme

2 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of flour
1 small can of tomato sauce
3 cups of beef stock
1 cup of Pinot Grigio or another white wine
1 cup of water


For the first time ever in my life, I bought a "Family Pak" of beef. Holy moly! Look at this monstrosity. It makes enough beef stew for 5-7 servings.



Season the beef and set aside. You can also get Emeril Lagasse's Essence seasoning blend. I have all of the seasonings on hand so I just use them individually instead.



Rinse your potatoes!



And your green and wax beans! Sorry. These are just some beauty shots I wanted to take. I love taking pictures of produce.


Here's another sexy shot. These are all the vegetables I'm cramming into this beef stew.



And here are the mushrooms. Mmmm...


Heat a skillet with some olive oil. Sear the meat in batches, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Set aside the meat and cover it with foil while you are cooking the different batches.

Add Beef, stock, pinot grigio, water mushrooms, flour, butter, tomato sauce and thyme sprigs to crockpot. Set to 8 hour setting.


After an hour of cooking, add all the vegetables for the last 7 hours. You can speed this up by doing the 6 hour setting and adding the vegetables after 45 minutes instead.



Add some salt and pepper to the stew before serving. Voila! A bowl of piping hot beef stew is perfect for a snow day. Even if it is October!


Beef Stew on Foodista

I Haz Crockpot!


I've been thinking about getting one and when I saw a nice version on sale at Target for $29.99 I snapped one up and took it home with me (I paid for it of course!). There was a Hamilton Beach version at Target for the same price but it didn't have the 5 heat settings that this one has. You can set it at 4 hours, 6 hours, 8 hours and 10 hours. Once it's done it's cycle it goes into Warm mode. You can also just turn it on to warm mode too. The Hamilton Beach version had only low, medium and high settings. No hours and no warm mode! Not good.

I think a crockpot is a good investment for the Fall and Winter. I'll be making lots of soups and stews and casseroles. I also very much like the idea of throwing some ingredients into the crockpot in the morning, going to work and coming home to a hot meal, ready-to-eat.

I just made my first beef stew in the crockpot and that recipe is coming up next. Stay tuned.

How to Freeze Bacon

Have you ever purchased bacon and have had most of the strips go bad before you can use them all? I have! You could freeze those leftover strips to make them last longer. But if you freeze them stuck together, they will freeze together. Have you ever tried to pull apart frozen bacon strips? I have! It doesn't work. You could wait until it fully thaws, but if you don't need all those strips you are left with more than you need. Or you can cut a chunk of frozen strips and just use that. Or you could use the bacon-freezing method my mother taught me!

I only ever use bacon once in a great while or I skip it altogether because it's never in my fridge. So I decided I wanted to freeze some bacon to have it always on hand! Because a good fridge/freezer always has useful food items in it.

How to Freeze Bacon:

Behold the bacon strips!


Separate each of the strips and roll them individually. You want to roll the strips around two finger to make one roll.


Then when you have 3-4 rolls, place them in a freezer-friendly Ziploc bag. Squeeze some of the air out then put in your freezer. When you want just one or two strips of bacon, you can just pluck out a couple of the frozen rolls.


So on that morning when you are hankering for some bacon and eggs and only need a couple of strips, you have some frozen rolls waiting for you in your freezer ready to go!

Bacon on Foodista

How to Section a Grapefruit

Please go check out my guest post on Kate Gabrielle's wonderful blog: The Grapefruit Chronicles. It's a picture and text tutorial on how to section a grapefruit.


Grapefruit on Foodista

Black-Bottom Banana Cream Pie

I found this jewel of a recipe on the Kraft Foods Food & Family Newsletter. I have heard of black-bottom banana pies but have never tried it. This one is very simple and easy to make and is quite delicious. My only complaint is that the chocolate hardens considerably on the bottom making it difficult to cut into and to eat! I wonder if adding cream to it instead of just butter would make a nice soft ganache that would be more conduce to this otherwise soft cold pie. One final note: I know that Jello makes Banana flavored instant pudding but go with Vanilla instead. Don't make artificial banana flavoring compete with the nice fresh bananas in the pie!

Black-Bottom Banana Cream Pie

Nilla Wafer Pre-made Crust
2 tablespoons of butter melted

4 Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Squares
4 tablespoons of butter

Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding
2 cups of milk

Cool Whip softened in the fridge

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Mix the Jello Vanilla Instant Pudding mix and the 2 cups of milk according to package instructions. Set aside so the pudding can start to gel.

Rehydrate the Nilla Wafer Pre-Made Crust by brushing it with the 2 tablespoons of butter. Heat the other 4 tablespoons of butter in a bowl with the chocolate baking squares in the microwave for 1 minute. Mix thoroughly and let cool for a couple of minutes. Then pour into the pie mold at the bottom.





Slice two bananas and place the slices on top of the chocolate.



Pour in the Jello Pudding. Do this very carefully! If you start dumping all of it in, bananas and chocolate will go flying. Easy does it!


Cover with saran wrap so that the plastic touches the top of the pudding. Otherwise the pudding will create it's own skin (which you'll have to peel off later, blegh!). Put in the firdge for 3-4 hours.



Take out of the fridge and cover with Cool Whip. Again, be very careful so the Vanilla Pudding doesn't mix with the Cool Whip.



Use a knife with a sharp point (like a good size paring knife) to cut a slice. Then scoop out with a large spoon or small flat spatula. Enjoy!




Hey here is a picture of a slice! Like it Tommy?!

Banana Cream Pie on Foodista

The Ultimate Autumn Sandwich ~ Pumpkin Butter, Apple & Cinnamon on Nature's Pride Bread

Autumn isn't Autumn without pumpkins and apples. You could argue too that cinnamon is a mainstay of the season especially when used to enhance the natural flavor of both those fruits. I decided to create a dessert sandwich that epitomized Autumnal flavors. This is a super easy sandwich to make and it's great for breakfast, as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack or even as dessert to cap off a nice home-cooked dinner. There is something so satisfying yet light about this sandwich. I hope you'll try it out and make it part of your Fall menu.

First I start off with Nature's Pride 100% Whole Wheat Bread. The slices are wide enough to hold a substantial amount of pumpkin butter and thick enough to hold up against the crisp apples. I toast them for this sandwich to add an extra crunch.



For the filling, start off with a nice tart Granny Smith apple. The Pumpkin butter is already very sweet so this is the perfect apple to balance out the flavors.



Halve the apple then quarter it. Core the pieces by cutting into each quarter diagonally with your knife in between the core and the flesh of the apple. Cut each quarter into thin slices. Squeeze a good amount of lemon juice over the slices, mix by hand and set aside.



Take two slices of the toasted Nature's Pride 100% Whole Wheat Bread. You can butter the outside of each bread with regular unsalted butter if you want to make it extra decadent.



Slather them with a good amount of Pumpkin Butter. You can find Pumpkin Butter at your local Trader Joe's. I got mine from my favorite high-end produce shop Wilson Farms.



One one slice of bread add a layer of apples. Then sprinkle cinnamon on top.




Close your sandwich and cut on the diagonal with a nice sharp knife. Devour happily.



One Granny Smith apple will probably make you around 4-6 sandwiches.

Have a great Fall!
Pumpkin Butter on Foodista
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