Friday, December 28, 2018

Hamburger Seasoning

This is a slightly altered version of Emeril's Burger Seasoning.  I used half the amount of cayenne (you could double it if you want it spicier) and substituted some of the regular paprika for smoked paprika to give it a little something extra.  You can use this seasoning in any burger recipe- beef, turkey, or veggie.  Use a tablespoon per pound of meat.
Hamburger Seasoning
2 Tbsp table salt
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
2 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Place everything into a jar, put on lid, and shake to combine.  Use 1 tablespoon of seasoning mixture per pound of meat.  Just mix it into the meat and prepare the burgers however you usually do.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Candy Cane Crunch

You have to try these if you like Rice Krispie treats and peppermint!  The base recipe for this is from Buns In My Oven.  I saw it last summer and thought it looked so pretty, but thought it could really use some peppermint!  Because I added candy canes, I changed the name to Candy Cane Crunch.  I also added vanilla extract to the marshmallow mixture (something I always do with Rice Krispie treats) and a slightly larger pan so they wouldn't be so incredibly thick.
They turned out really nicely.  My husband is not a huge peppermint fan, but he liked them anyway.  These are a great little break from all the cookies at Christmastime.  I made them for the first time last year, but I'm sure we will have them again many times in the future.
If you want them super pepperminty, buy mint M&Ms.  That's what I used this time and they were really good, but I think next time I will try plain Christmas colored ones.  You could even add 1/2 tsp or so of peppermint extract to the marshmallow mixture and use mint M&Ms if you really want a peppermint blast, but I thought my beloved would complain about eating toothpaste if I did that.  As is, it was really nice having the mintyness offset by the vanilla and cereal flavors.
Quick Note: Chop the candy canes roughly.  They don't need to be obliterated into candy cane dust, but you don't want giant chunks that will be unpleasant to bite into.
Candy Cane Crunch
1/4 C salted butter
10 oz mini marshmallows
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 C Rice Chex
3/4 C Christmas colored M&Ms, divided
8 crushed mini candy canes, divided
2 Tbsp Christmas colored round sprinkles, divided
Line a 7 by 11 pan with parchment paper.  Get your cereal, candies, and sprinkles measured out.
Place butter in a large pot and heat over medium-low until melted.  Add marshmallows and stir constantly until they're completely melted.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, then stir in the cereal until it's well coated.  Add 1/2 C of the M&Ms, 3/4 of the crushed candy cane, and 1 Tbsp of the sprinkles.  Stir until the candy and sprinkles is evenly distributed.  Immediately press the cereal mixture into the parchment paper lined pan.  Sprinkle with the reserved candy and sprinkles, then press the toppings down firmly with your hands, keeping a layer of parchment paper between the bars and your hands so it doesn't stick.
Let the bars sit for 2 hours before cutting them into bars.
Yield: About 20 bars

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Slow Cooker Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup aka Christmas Soup

This is one of our favorite soups and I've made it several times, usually 2-3 times a year, which is a lot for me.  We call it Christmas Soup in December because of the colors and my fondness for holiday themed everything, but we love eating it the rest of the year, too.  The soup is rich and delicious, easy to make, and makes a ton!  It is originally from Cooking Classy, but I've changed it some by leaving out the sugar, increasing the amount of cream slightly (what am I going to do with 1/4 C leftover cream?), and using beef broth because that tastes better.  Feel free to use vegetable broth if you're a vegetarian, though.  I also choose to cook the tortellini separately so they don't get soggy when you have the leftovers. You can also toss in a parmesan rind if you have one (remove it before blending!) and garnish the individual bowls of soup with grated parmesan.
If you're really in a hurry, you could use baby carrots, a quartered onion, whole peeled garlic cloves, and skip the step where you saute the vegetables.  You could also use 2 or 3 tsp dried basil added at the beginning instead of fresh at the end, but of course the fresh basil is pretty tasty. 
I have frozen it quite successfully as well, just add the tortellini right before the individual bowls go into the freezer.
Slow Cooker Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup 
2 Tbsp butter
2 C peeled, roughly chopped carrots
1 onion, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 28 oz cans whole tomatoes, undrained
1 quart beef broth
1 tsp pepper
4 bay leaves
parmesan rind (optional)
salt to taste (I didn't have to add any)
1 C cream
1 lb refrigerated tortellini
1 bunch fresh basil, cut chiffonade
Melt butter in a skillet.  Add carrots and onion, and saute for a few minutes until they start getting a little golden.  Add garlic and saute another minute or two, don't let the garlic change color. Transfer the vegetable mixture to your slow cooker. Add tomatoes, beef broth, pepper, and bay leaves.Cover and slow about 7 hours, until vegetables are tender.  This isn't really a recipe that can be overcooked, so let it just keep doing its thing until you're ready to eat if the vegetables get soft before you expect!
When it's dinner time, remove bay leaves (and parmesan rind if you added on) and puree soup with immersion blender.  Stir in cream.  Taste and add salt if necessary.  Let it continue to cook while you prepare the tortellini.
In a separate pot, cook the tortellini according to the package directions.  Drain them and return them to the pot.  Do not mix them into the soup!
When ready to serve, ladle soup into individual bowls, and top with a few tortellini and a sprinkle of basil.
Yield:  About 10 large servings