Saturday, March 17, 2012

Creamy Guacamole Dip

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Since green and/or rainbow colored foods are pretty much a requirement for St. Patrick's Day, here is a recipe for a guacamole style dip that's perfect for any time of the year.  I don't know where the original recipe comes from; I've been using a copy that's been sitting in my recipe binder for a few years.  I've made some changes here and there, and I think I've finally settled on a version of the dip that comes darned close to perfection!  My sister affectionately refers to this dip as "crack dip" because of how addictive it is, so it's a good thing the batch size is plenty generous! :)

Creamy Guacamole Dip
Yield: about 5 cups

juice of 1 lime
10 oz. can Ro-tel® tomatoes, undrained
4 oz. can chopped green chiles, undrained
4 or 5 ripe avocadoes (depends on size)
16 oz. sour cream
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
small handful chopped cilantro (optional)

Place lime juice, tomatoes, and chiles in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the avocadoes to the food processor, pulsing after each addition.  (This covers the avocadoes in the acidic juices and helps retain their green color.)  Add remaining ingredients to food processor and blend until smooth.  Dip may be served immediately or divided into containers and chilled until serving time.  Over time, the dip will darken and turn brownish...which isn't pretty but is still okay to eat!  Serve with tortilla chips or your favorite dunking items.


Friday, March 16, 2012

New York Style Cheesecake

Special thanks to Mr. K for plating up and taking the photo for this post!

While going through our combined collection of cookbooks and recipe cards/booklets, I came across an old promotional booklet for Eagle® Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk.  It's about 5 inches tall and features twenty recipes and looked like it was from the eighties:

I had big plans to make a New York style cheesecake and slice it, separate the slices with parchment paper, and stash it away in the freezer for whenever those cheesecake cravings strike.  We proceeded to enjoy the cheesecake over the course of a week or so, changing up the toppings each time (stawberry, chocolate, caramel sauce, lemon curd, peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, etc.).  By the end there was nothing left for the freezer!  Oh well.  Take that as a good sign that this is one tasty cheesecake! 

Bear in mind that with the long bake time (no water bath needed) and addition of flour, this cheesecake will be drier than the creamy gooey cheescakes you might be used to.  The texture is smooth and dense--firm enough break off cleanly with your fork.  A quick peek at the current NY Style Cheesecake recipe now featured on the Eagle® Brand website shows that they've tweaked their recipe over the years to include less flour than originally called for, as well as a shortened baking time.  Perhaps our tastes have changed over the years?  I'll have to give the newer version of the recipe a try sometime when cream cheese goes on sale again.  An 8 ounce block is currently $1.99 (even generic!); this cheesecake used up my stockpile of cream cheese I scored for $0.88 each!

New York Style Cheesecake
From "Delicious Desserts Made Easy" by Borden

Yield: one 9-inch cheesecake

1/4 cup margarine or butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup flour
4 eggs
1 (14-ounce) can Eagle® Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Tbl. vanilla extract
1 tsp. grated lemon rind (I used lemon extract)

Preheat oven to 300°F.  In saucepan, melt margarine; stir in crumbs and sugar.  Pat firmly on bottom of buttered 9-inch springform pan.  In large mixer bowl, beat cheese until fluffy.  Beat in 1/2 cup flour and 4 eggs; mix well.  Stir in Eagle® Brand, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake 1 hour and 10 to 15 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.  Chill.  Remove side of pan.  Garnish as desired.  Refrigerate leftovers.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Shrimp Fettucine

Seafood fettucine is a very popular dish here in south Louisiana.  I like to think of it as a special occasion dish because it's definitely on the indulgent side in terms of cost and calories...but every now and then it's worth the splurge!  Here's a special recipe for fettucine I received from my mother in law last year.  You can make it using either crawfish or shrimp; it's delicious either way!

Recipe Notes:
  • The original recipe calls for fettucine noodles, but I've switched to egg noodles (thin to medium width).  I find that it's easier to stir and get the goodies distributed when I don't have to fool with the longer noodle strands.
  • One manufacturer's "medium" egg noodle might be another's "wide". What you're looking for here is a noodle comparable in width to a fettucine noodle.
  • Great for feeding a crowd!  Only have 2 mouths to feed?  Leftovers freeze wonderfully.
  • Any size shrimp would work for this recipe, so don't worry about buying the pricier bigger shrimp.  (I used 90-120 count/pound)

Kay's Seafood Fettucine
Serves 8-10 generously

1 1/2 lbs. diced onion, bell pepper, and celery mix
3 sticks butter
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
1/3 cup flour
1 pint half and half
1 lb. Mexican Velveeta®
2 tsp. Tony Chachere's® seasoning (more or less to taste)
2 lbs. crawfish or shrimp
1 lb. thin to medium egg noodles

Saute vegetable mix in melted butter over medium heat until softened and translucent.  Add minced garlic and flour to pan, stirring well.  Cover and reduce heat to medium low.  Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occassionally.  Add half and half, cheese, seasoning, and seafood.  Stir until cheese is melted.  Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring often to prevent cheese sauce from sticking and burning.

While sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook egg noodles according to package directions.  When sauce is ready, add drained noodles and stir to combine.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Crazy Cooking Challenge: Spaghetti

The "Spaghetti" theme for this month's Crazy Cooking Challenge really had me excited because spaghetti night is fairly common in our house.  What's not to like about a spaghetti dinner, right?  It's quick, easy, budget-friendly, and a general crowd-pleaser.  Around here we're perfectly content with throwing some cooked ground beef into a jar of sauce and calling it a day, but in keeping with the spirit of the "challenge" part of the Crazy Cooking Challenge I decided to look for a from-scratch sauce recipe.  I knew from the get-go that I wanted to look for a spaghetti and meatballs recipe, as opposed to our usual meat sauce.  Meatballs are a treat indeed!


At first I had my heart set on Spaghetti and Meatballs All'Amatriciana from Bon Appétit.  Packed with bacon and red pepper flakes, it was just begging for me to make it.  Most of the bloggers who tried the recipe really enjoyed it, aside from the generous amounts of crushed red pepper.  In the end though, laziness won out for me...after all, I will be having a baby in 2 1/2 weeks!  I found a recipe that uses the slow cooker AND doesn't require me to make my own meatballs:  Slow Cooker Spaghetti by Lizzy of The Lizzy Pad.  As an added bonus, it contains pepperoni!

Recipe Notes:
  • Unless you have a mega capacity slow cooker (7 quarts), I highly recommend cutting the recipe in half.  Or if you're lucky enough to own more than one slow cooker, divide the recipe between two of them and cook them both at once.  I used a 6 quart slow cooker, and it was filled to the brim.  By the time the sauce got up to a nice simmer it was starting to bubble out from underneath the lid and I had to let it cook with the lid off for a while. 
  • This recipe takes a while to cook (10 hours!), so plan accordingly. See if you can set up your slow cooker on a table in the garage like we did.  Spaghetti smells amazing while cooking, but not when it lingers for an eternity after your meal.  Don't know about you, but I can't sleep when I can still smell food :)
  • Lizzy uses both crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes, then purees the sauce for the smoother texture her children prefer.  I skipped this step, but next time I make this I will probably skip the diced tomatoes and use all crushed tomatoes.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce
Slightly modified from The Lizzy Pad
Yield: 6 generous quarts

2 Tbl. oilve oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. cooked meatballs, thawed if frozen
1 lb. pepperoni, cut into chunks
2 cans (28 oz. each) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (28 oz. each) crushed tomatoes
1 can (12 oz.) tomato paste
1 Tbl. dried parsley
2 Tbl. dried basil
2 Tbl. dried oregano
1/4 cup sugar

Optional additions:
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
8 oz. can mushroom pieces, drained 

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic.  Sauté vegetables over medium-high heat until tender and golden, stirring frequently.  Transfer to slow cooker.  Brown meatballs in skillet, then transfer to slow cooker.  Add remaining 8 ingredients to slow cooker and stir gently to combine.  (Don't smash those meatballs!)  Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours. 

After sauce has cooked for 4 hours, skim off any fat that has accumulated from the meatballs and pepperoni.  Stir sauce and check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed.  Add crushed red pepper flakes if using.  Continue cooking for another 6 hours on LOW, stirring in mushroom pieces during the final hour (if using).  Skim fat again if needed.  Let cool slightly and serve over cooked spaghetti. 


Hungry for more? 
Be sure to check out all the other entries in this month's Crazy Cooking Challenge! 
Don't forget to click on my entry in the Linky party below :)