A unique twist on tacos…..

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A unique twist on tacos…..

My friend Heather tried a different way of eating tacos last week – she made the shells out of cheese:

cheese taco shells (2)

She made cheese crisps not too long ago, so I think she wanted to expand her creativity.  Plus, she loves Mexican food, as I do.  Here are the super easy directions:

1/2 cup cheddar cheese in circles on parchment paper.  Bake at 425 for 5-7 minutes.  Let cool slightly, then hang them over a spatula or utensil handle to form as shells.

Her filling was super easy as well – cooked chicken in the crockpot with Rotel tomatoes & green chiles, and threw in some taco seasoning.  Shredded and offered lettuce, avocado, salsa and more cheese.  She also made a lime sour cream (YUM) which was just sour cream, fresh lime juice, lime zest, salt and garlic powder.

Heather has two daughters who keep her super busy on competitive sports teams, so an easy crockpot meal is just the ticket.  Thanks for sharing my good friend, and thank you to all of my followers for stopping by!

~Connie Kaye

 

 

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Beer can cauliflower????

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Beer can cauliflower????

Yep folks, that what I said.  Not chicken.  I ran across this recipe and adapted it to fit what I thought we would like.   Gotta be honest though, not really sure on the purpose of the beer can except to keep it elevated off of the grill.  But hey, it looks really redneck and impressive, and you have to drink 1/4 of it prior to mounting the cauliflower, so we’ll call it good.

You will notice I’m not posting a final pic because my cauliflower took a tumble or two off the can and got a little charred – I don’t think I cut the stem end even enough, and didn’t pick the most even one at the store.  But anyway, I can tell you for sure that we’ll do this again.  Delish.  I have tried the mashed potatoes out of cauliflower game, and I am not a fan.  But this is really good, and you can adjust it with the amount of hot sauce that you like.  Also, you would typically put in shaved or minced garlic, but I figured I would try my hand at roasting garlic.  I cut the top off, rolled it around in some olive oil, salt and pepper, put in foil and on the grill it went.  WOW  That will be on garlic bread in the near future!  Anyway, I used the roasted garlic in this dish and it was super.

Quick, super easy and healthy!  Enjoy!

~Connie Kaye

Beer Can Cauliflower

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Ingredients:

Identify beer of choice, open and consume 1/3 of the can (or dump it out).  Preheat grill to medium to medium high.

Trim the base of the cauliflower so it will be flat and sit on top of said beer can, but be careful that all florets are still intact.  Melt butter and add salt, liberally brushing cauliflower.  Place beer can on grill and Mr. Cauliflower on top of it.  Grill for about an hour, checking to make sure that he didn’t hop off of the beer can.   You want it to be tender and golden brown.

Melt additional butter, add hot sauce to taste along with grated garlic.  Brush cauliflower and place back on grill for about 15 minutes.    Remove from grill and brush with additional butter and salt.  Serve with blue cheese for a dip.

Like carrot cake (& cream cheese)? This is the best!

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Like carrot cake (& cream cheese)?  This is the best!

The tradition at my place of employment is sorta strange — the person having the birthday brings the treats for everyone else.  Weird, huh?  Well, anyway, my big day is Tuesday, and I’ll be traveling to D.C. for work.  So, I’m thinking better brew up something for tomorrow, AND I realized I had never shared this amazing recipe.  This won’t feed the everyone, but my team is going to be in cream cheese heaven!

Some might say that the frosting is what it’s all about.  Frankly, I’m not sure, but it’s easy peasy, quick and delish!

Also, my Easter Sunday has involved changing out all the batteries in our smoke detectors – I encourage you to do the same!

Enjoy!

~Connie Kaye

Easy Carrot Cake

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Ingredients:

3 cups shredded carrots
1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, well drained
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon

Frosting
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened(
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
3 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar

  1.  In a large bowl, beat the first 5 ingredients until well blended.  In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and cinnamon; gradually beat into carrot mixture.
  2. Spoon batter into a greased 13 x 9 baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan completely in wire rack
  3. Frosting:  Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a large bowl until blended.  Gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar until smooth.  Spread on cake, and refrigerate any leftovers.

Perfect snack — lunch or dinner….

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Perfect snack — lunch or dinner….

As I watch it raining ice/snowing outside, it makes me sad to think of all the children who anticipated hunting for Easter eggs today, and all the people who devote so much time and effort to organize those events.

We are trying something on the smoker today — smoking a chuck roast that will turn into burnt ends.  I found on the WWW that it has several names, one being Poor Mans Burnt Ends.  However, there is nothing cheap about buying beef chuck roast.  Anyway, we’ll see how this turns out, and will let you know (and share the recipe, if it works out).  However, in the meantime, I wanted to try something that I thought my roommate would like for lunch.  Here in the midwest, we love everything with gravy, and one delish meat item that goes with gravy is chicken fried steak.  I made steak strips or fingers using beef cube steak, and whipped up some quick homemade gravy to dunk them in.  Well, it was a hit, and I’ll be doing this again.

Note that the flour is really seasoned which is key, and I actually cut the steak into strips before it was completely thawed which made it a little easier.

Hope you have a wonderful Easter, and thanks for spending some of your Sunday with me!

~Connie Kaye

Chicken Fried Steak Fingers

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients:

Ingredients for for steak fingers:

  • 1 1/4 lb. cube steak
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. each garlic and onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt (make sure you get enough)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Ingredients for gravy:

  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

 

  1. Slice steak into thin long strips about 1/3 – 1/2” thick.
  2. Set up a dredging station: In a bowl, combine flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cayenne, and season with salt and pepper. In a shallow bowl, whisk together milk and eggs. Season steak strips with salt and pepper. Dredge the steak strips in the flour mixture then add them to the egg mixture and turn the pieces to coat. Return steak to the flour and dredge once more.
  3. In a deep skillet or dutch oven, add about 1” of vegetable oil and heat over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering and about 350°, place the steak strips, one by one, into the oil .  (Do in batches)  Cook until golden all over, about 2 minutes per side. Place them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain off any excess grease.
  4. Make gravy: In a small skillet over medium heat, melt butter. When the butter is foamy, whisk in flour and cook mixture until the flour is golden, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to gently simmer the gravy until thickened.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Enjoy!

 

 

 

So where’s spring?

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So where’s spring?

Apparently we’re getting snow and ice tomorrow, and that is no April Fool’s joke!  In anticipation of that cold weather, I rounded up the stuff to make Vegetable Beef Soup.  I use hamburger and frozen veggies, so it’s super easy!

If you check out my Recipe Box, you’ll also find another good soup recipe that my daughter Brandi gave me — Lasagna Soup.

So here’s to getting through hopefully the last bit of winter!

~Connie Kaye

You have a ham bone, now what??

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You have a ham bone, now what??

How many of you plan to cook a ham for Easter?  Ooohh, I can see your hands in the air!  The dilemma is solved, my friends, with what to do with that dang ham bone, in this post.  Bottom line, do not throw it away — that Easter ham is the gift that keeps on giving!

I cooked a ham after Christmas, and froze the bone.  Since we have had all four seasons in one week, today being foggy, chilly, and rainy, I thought ham and beans might just fit the ticket, plus it can cook away all day in the slow cooker.   If you have read other posts of mine, you might have seen that I’m a fan of Southern Living magazine.  I’m a midwest girl, but that magazine will give you some of the best recipes and ideas ever!

I grabbed this recipe out of the drawer, and voila, Spring Ham and Bean Soup was ready when we arrived home.  I prepped everything the night before and threw it all in before heading out the door.  The recipe actually calls for a 6 hour jaunt on high in the slow cooker, but since I was gone all day, I cooked it on low for about 11 hours.  PERFECT!!!!  You can find the recipe here but I’m adding it below for your convenience.

So, if you are one of the lucky ones eating Easter ham, save the bone and take advantage of an easy peasy meal!  Happy Easter, and thanks for stopping by!

~Connie Kaye

Ham and Bean Soup

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Ingredients:

  • 6 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, sorted of debris and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (dried works as well)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped (about 1 Tbsp.)
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large, meaty ham bone

Stir together chicken stock, Great Northern beans, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic, celery, carrots, and onion in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Place ham bone in the center of mixture; cover and cook on HIGH until beans are tender, about 6 hours, or low until you get home from work. Remove ham bone; let stand until cool enough to handle. Remove meat from bone; discard fat, gristle, and bone. Shred meat, and stir into soup.

 

Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes???

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Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes???

I am a fan of Boston Creme Pie, although I don’t eat a lot of sweets.  However, I am not a baker (even though that’s my maiden name).  I cannot even make decent chocolate chip cookies, but my roommate (a.k.a. Mike) kicks it to the moon with his!  I ran across this recipe posted by Life, Love & Sugar, and thought I’d give it a whirl.

I actually made everything from scratch, although while I had the hubs whisking for a second, he (possibly sarcastically) said, you know, you could just use a yellow cake mix.  Yep, I had already thought of that, and actually looked at the options in my cupboard.  But I figured I was going to do this the recommended way.  I did read some of the comments, and one person suggested that instead of making the filling, use a 50/50 ratio of whipped cream and vanilla pudding.  I figured it was just as much trouble to make the pudding as it is to make the filling, so what the heck, just go for it!  As far as the cake mix idea, you could certainly use the shortcut of a butter yellow cake mix.

The only other recommendation that I have would be on the ganache frosting — make it FIRST!  I was doing all of this in anticipation of watching the KSU Wildcats play (eek out a win, and make it to the Elite 8) and I got to the last step which is the ganache frosting and it has to chill for an hour or two.  Therefore, I ended up hurrying around to get the cupcakes iced.  I admit that I tried to use my pastry bag to pipe the icing, but remember, I’m NOT a baker, and I ended up with ganache on anything within reach on my kitchen counter (even my salt shaker).  Therefore, I iced the little devils!  Took them to work, and wow, what a great way to start a Friday.

So, if you like Boston Creme Pie, I encourage you to make these, and if you have tips or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!  Happy Weekend!

~Connie Kaye

Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes

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Ingredients:

Vanilla Cupcakes
6 tbsp, unsalted butter
3/4 cups sugar
6 tbsp sour cream, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
6 tbsp milk
2 tbsp water

Pastry Creme Filling
2 egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup + 2 tbsp  milk
1 tbsp salted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache
12 oz  semi sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp light corn syrup
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream

Let’s Do This

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare cupcake pan with liners
  2. Make ganache:   Put the chocolate chips and corn syrup in a large bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil, then pour over the chocolate chips. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Place the chocolate ganache in the fridge until completely cool and firm, 1-2 hours.
  3. Make cupcakes:  In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the amount of creaming time.  Add sour cream and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.  Add egg whites in two batches, mixing until well combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then combine the milk and water in a small measuring cup.
    Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until well combined. Add the milk mixture and mix until well combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  4. Fill the cupcake liners about halfway. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs.
  5. Make filling:  Put the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl and gently beat them together. Set aside.  Add the sugar, cornstarch and milk to a large saucepan and mix until smooth.  Cook, stirring continuously, over medium-high heat until mixture begins to thicken and bubble.   Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.   Add a little bit of milk mixture to the egg yolks and whisk together, then add egg mixture to milk mixture. This process ensures that you don’t cook the egg yolks.  Place the pan back on the heat and bring to a light boil. Allow to boil for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.   Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth, then set aside to cool to room temperature.
  6. Once everything is cooled and ready, cut out the centers of the cupcakes. I used an empty pill bottle, but apparently there’s a cupcake corer on the market; you could also use a knife.
  7. Divide the pastry cream between the cupcakes and fill in the centers.
  8. Frosting  If you want to get fancy, pipe it on (once it’s hung out and chilled), or just ice as usual.  Either way, delish!
  9. Store in fridge, and are good for 2-3 days.  Be sure to cover so as not to dry out!