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Anything is good, in moderation. I cook because I love to and because I can share with those around me. I crochet for the same reason.

Do what you want to do, enjoy what you do and use it to touch those around you.

Feb 3, 2017

Slow Cooker Tuscan Soup

Spinach, Garlic Potatoes, a little spice...all whipped up in a slow cooker.



32 Ounce Chicken Stock
24 Ounces Hot Italian Sausage, cooked and crumbled3 Cups Water
4 Cups russed potatoes cut in 1/4 inch cubes
2 Tbl Onion, minced
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbl Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
2 C Spinach, chopped
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
8 Slices Bacon, cooked and crumbled
Pepper to taste

Place Stock, 1/2 the sausage, water, potatoes, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes in a slow cooker.  Cook on high for 3.5 or low for 7 hours - potatoes should be tender.  Stir in remaining sausage and kale - let cook for another 30 minutes.  Stir in heavy cream and cook for 10 minutes.  Stir in bacon, add pepper to taste and serve.

Feb 2, 2017

Butter Pecan Cheesecake

With a sugar cookie crust and topped with fresh whipped cream, this was a wonderful Christmas dessert.



Crust:
1 1/4 Cup Cake Flour
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter cut into pieces

2 Cups Pecan Pieces
2 Tbl Butter
3 Tbl Sugar
16 Ounces Cream Cheese
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
2 Tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Heavy Cream

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the crust ingredients and mix with a pastry blender OR pulse in a small food processor until thoroughly combined.  Will be crumbly, but should hold together when pressed in pan.  Press into the bottom and part way up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan.

Bake about 25 minutes - should be lightly browned.  Set aside to cool completely.

Melt the 2 Tbl butter in a large pan over medium heat, stir in sugar.  Stir pecans in the mixture and continue cooking (stir often) over medium heat until the pecans are toasted and the sugar sticks.  Set aside to cool.  When cool, lightly chop about half the pecans.

Put the cream cheese, remaining sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl.  Mix with an electric mixer until smooth.  In a separate bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form.  Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture 1/3 at a time.  Stir in the pecans.  Spread the mixture in the cooled crust.  Refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving.

Feb 1, 2017

Chocolate Cherry Cake

Hubby is a champ - this is the cake I asked him to make for my birthday.  It was WONDERFUL - and not too sweet.  However, make sure you have room to store any leftovers in your refrigerator.  If you will not have room - layer the cake and cherries only.  Put whipped cream on each individual piece as cut.



1 Cup Whole Milk
3 Large Room Temperature Eggs
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
3 Tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Cups Cake Flour
2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Dutch Cocoa
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
3/4 Tsp Baking Soda
3/4 Tsp Salt

29 Ounces Pitted Tart Cherries
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Cornstarch
3 Tbl Grenadine

3 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1/3 Cup Confectioner's Sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9 x 3 cake pans, set aside.

In a large bowl, beat milk, eggs, oil and vanilla until well blended.  Blend in sugar.  In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder baking soda and salt.  Gradually beat into milk mixture.

Transfer to prepared pans.  Bake about 35 minutes - a toothpick inserted in center should come out clean.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes then remove to a rack.  Cool Completely.

Drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice.  In a small saucepan, whisk sugar, son starch and reserved juice.  Add cherries.  Cook and stir until thick and bubbly (about 15 minutes).  Cool Completely.

In a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken.  Add confectioner's sugar;  beat until stiff peaks form.

Use a long serrated knife to cut both cakes in half.  Place one cake layer on a serving plate.  Top with 1 1/2 cups whipped cream and 1/3 cherries - stop within 1 inch of edge.  Repeat twice.  Top with remaining cake layer.  Frost sides and top of cake with remaining whipped cream.  

Jan 31, 2017

Southwest Chicken and Rice

This is a great meal for two - and it is easy, to boot.  You pick whatever color(s) of pepper you like.  I like to use the 90 second rice - either brown or a wild and brown mix.



1 Chicken Breast - big enough for two people
2 Bell Peppers cut in strips
1 Packet Taco OR Fajita Seasoning
1 Pouch Microwave Rice
Oil

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Pull off a large piece of parchment paper and fold in half.  Spray both halves with oil.  Place peppers on half the parchment, sprinkle with a little seasoning.  Place chicken on top of peppers, sprinkle with a little more seasoning (you should have about half remaining).  Fold parchment over and seal all sides.  Bake for 30 to 45 minutes until chicken is 165 degrees.

Remove from oven.  Let stand while you microwave the rice.  Put the rice in a large bowl and stir in remaining seasoning.   Cut up the chicken.  Stir the chicken, peppers and any liquid from the parchment into the rice.  Serve and Enjoy.

Jan 28, 2017

Slow Cooker Barbecue Baked Beans

If I want to have baked beans but don't want to wait for dried beans, I make this.



1/2 Pound Ground Chuck
2 Tbl Minced Onion
1 1/2 Cup Barbecue Sauce
1/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Water
15 Ounces Kidney Beans, Drained
15.5 Ounce Butter Beans, Drained
16 Ounces Pork and Beans, Not Drained
1/2 Cup Crumbled Cooked Bacon.

Combine all ingredients except bacon in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or hight for three hours.  Stir in bacon and serve immediately.


Jan 27, 2017

Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup

Sweet Potatoes or Yams can be used for this soup - just get whatever is at your local market.



1 Tbl Olive oil
2 Tbl White Onion, Minced
8 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 Cup Carrots, Chopped
2 Cups Sweet Potatoes, Peeled and Cubed
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Cumin
1 Tsp Thyme
1 Tsp Hot Hungarian Paprika
1/2 Tsp Tumeric
1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Hot Sauce
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
15 Ounces Petit Diced Tomatoes
48 Ounces Vegetable Broth
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter

Place a large pot over medium heat.  Add the oil, onion, garlic and spices.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add the carrots and sweet potatoes, stir throgoulth.  Add a little broth - just enough to prevent sticking, cook for 5 minutes.  Increase heat to medium high and stir in tomatoes and remaining broth.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.  Use an immersion blender to break up potatoes and make it smooth.  Increase heat to medium and stir in peanut butter.  Cook for 5 more minutes and serve.

Jan 26, 2017

Tortellini Soup

A wonderful, warm soup for those cold winter days.



1 Tsp Canola Oil
3 Garlic Cloves
2 Tsp Oregano
1/2 Tsp Thyme
1/2 Tsp Rosemary
14 1/2 Ounce Petite Diced Tomatoes, undrained
32 Ounces Vegetable Broth
9 Ounces Refrigerated Tortellini - your choice of flavor
4 Cups Fresh Baby Spinacy
Parmesan

In a large saucepan, heat oil and add garlic, oregano, thyme and rosemary.  Cook and stir 1 minute.  Stir in tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil and add tortellini.  Cook tortellini to package directions.  Stir in spinach.  Serve and sprinkle with cheese.

Jan 25, 2017

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

I made this cake for the holidays and everybody loved it!  If you do not have 9 x 3 cake pans, you can use 9 x 2, but you will need to cut the cakes down so they are even.



1 Chocolate Cake Mix
8 Ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
3 Tbl Creamy Jif
2 Tbl Ligh Corn Syrup
1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
3/4 Cup Butter, Softened
1 1/2 Cup Creamy Jif
6 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/2 to 2/3 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream


Prepare cake mix according to package directions.  Bake in 2 - 9 x 3 cake pans according to package directions.  Cool Completely.

In a double boiler set over simmering water, melt Chocolate Chips, 3 Tbl Jif and corn syrup.  When melted, remove from heat and whisk in cream util it is smooth.  Set back on double boiler with heat off.

Cream together butter and 1 1/2 cups Peanut Butter until light and fluffy.  Add 3 Cups powdered sugar and 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream.  Mix well.  Add remaining sugar and continue mixing until well combined.  Beat in the remaining cream, a little at a time, until you have the desired consistancy.

Place one cake on a cake plate.  Top with 1/4 cup glaze.  Spread about 1/4 of the frosting on top of the glaze, top with remaining cake.  Top with 1/4 cup glaze.  Frost the remainder of the cake.  Pour remaining glaze over the top.  Refrigerate.


Jan 24, 2017

Cheesy Pesto Rolls

These rolls made a great side with our Christmas Ham - and sandwiches after.



2 1/4 Tsp Yeast
1/2 Cup Water - 110 to 115 degrees
1/2 Cup Milk - 110 to 115 degrees
1/4 Cup Pesto
2 Tbl Sugar
3 Tbl Olive Oil
1 Tsp Salt
1 Large Egg
3 1/4 Cup AP Flour
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan
1/2 Ounces Shredded Asiago

Combine yeast and water in a large mixer bowl, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, pesto, sugar, 1 Tbl Olive Oil and Egg until combined.  Add pesto mixture to yeast.  Add Parmesan to the bowl, stir a couple of times.  Add 3 Cups flour and stir until dough forms.  Use a dough hook on low to knead 8 to 10 minutes, adding flour 1 Tbl at a time until smooth, soft and slightly sticky dough forms.  No dough hook?  Knead by hand until dough no longer sticks to hands.

Shape dough into a ball and place in the large bowl.  Cover and let rise until doubled.

Brush bottom and sides of a 10 inch pan with 2 Tbl Olive Oil. When doubled, divide dough into 12 equal balls and place in pan.  Sprinkle with Asiago cheese and let rise about 30 minutes.

While rising, heat oven to 350 degrees.  When 30 minutes are over, bake rolls for 30 minutes or tops of rolls are golden brown.

Jan 23, 2017

Slow Cooker Garbanzo Bean Stew

You can use dried or canned garbanzo beans for this stew.  If you use dried, soak them overnight (at least 8 hours).  I like to use concentrated vegetable stock - I use the water from the beans to make my stock.  If you use canned stock, save the bean water for adding as necessary as follows:  when cooking, watch the slow cooker to ensure that the water level stays over the top of the stew.  Add hot water or hot broth as necessary to maintain level.



45 Ounces Canned Garbanzo Beans OR 1 Lb Dried Garbanzo Beans
1 Lb Red Skinned Potatoes, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
14.5 Ounce Petit Diced Tomatoes
3/4 Cup Chopped Pepper - any color
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbl Cumin
1/2 Tsp Hot Hungarian Paprika
1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
28 Ounces Vegetable Broth

Put all ingredients, in order, in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 9 to 10 hours or hight for 4.5 to 5 hours.  Enjoy!

Jan 21, 2017

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate

A cold, blustery day for book club meant hot chocolate.  Even better?  Put everything in the slow cooker and have it ready for the entire time.  Top with marshmallows - even make your own (http://tryandlike.blogspot.com/2012/07/marshmallows-dorothy-thomas.html )



You'll need a 4 quart slow cooker or larger and I do not recommend a slow cooker liner for this recipe.

4 Ounces Unsweetened Chocolate, Grated
1 Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips, Chopped
14 Ounce Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Half Gallon Milk
1 Tbl Vanilla
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

Turn slow cooker on low.  Combined chocolates and sweetened condensed milk in slow cooker - whisk to combine.  Cover, turn slow cooker to high, cook for 30 minutes.  Stir every 5 to 10 minutes to prevent sticking and combine.  When chocolate is melted, whisk in about 2 cups milk until smooth.    Whisk in vanilla and cinnamon.  Gradually stir in remaining milk.  Cover again, cook for an additional 2 hours.  Stir with whisk before serving, turn to warm or low if keeping slow cooker on for a long time.

Jan 19, 2017

Chickpea Poppers

While knitting at Little Owl's Knit shop, my friend mentioned making Chickpea Poppers for a camping trip and they sounded wonderful - so I tried making them and they were as wonderful as they sounded.



30 Ounces Chickpeas
2 Tbl Olive Oil
1 Tsp Salt

Spicy Spice Mix:
3/4 Tsp Chili Powder
3/4 Tsp Cumin

Italian Spice Mix:
1 Tsp Italian Seasoning
1 Tsp Garlic Powder

Rinse and drain chickpeas - set aside until oven is heated.

Heat oven to 375 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil.

Toss the chickpeas with the olive oil, salt and ONE of the spice mixtures suggested above.  Spread on baking pan.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.  Remove to a paper towel lined bowl to remove some excess oil.  They will harden slightly and crisp up as they cool.  If they don't, return them to the baking sheet and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes.

If you want to make two pans, you can.  Put on two different baking racks in your oven - bake 30 minutes.  Switch racks.  Bake another 30 minutes.

Jan 18, 2017

Peppermint Patties


These are a wonderful mint - not too sweet, good flavor and a nice size.



1/4 Cup Butter, Softened
1/3 Cup Light Corn Syrup
2 Tsp Peppermint Extract
3 Cup Powdered Sugar
Dark Dipping Chocolate

Combine all ingredients except chocolate in a mixer bowl.  Mix until a ball is formed - ingredients will be well blended and held together.  Use a 1 tablespoon scoop an form balls.  Press with the bottom of a glass.  Layer on a plate with waxed paper between layers.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.  

Melt chocolate over a double boiler.  Remove mints from refrigerator and dip in chocolate.  Cool on parchment, silicone mats or plastic, flexible cutting boards.

Jan 17, 2017

Apple Butter Bread

I was not a fan of apple butter until we started making it with friends.  Now, I find multiple ways to use it.  



2 Cups Flour
1 Tbl Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
2 Large Eggs - Room Temperature
4 Tbl Melted Butter
6 Ounces Vanilla Yogurt
3/4 Cup Apple Butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour the bottom of a 9 inch loaf pan, set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cinnamon - set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine eggs, butter, yogurt and apple butter and beat well.  Mix in dry ingredients until smooth.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 70 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Jan 16, 2017

Individual Cheese Balls

Serve with your favorite pretzels or crackers. I initially put pretzel rods in the middle, but the pretzels got mushy.



16 Ounces Cream Cheese, Softened
2 Cups Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
2 Tsp Garlic Powder
2 Tsp Hot Hungarian Paprika
12 Slices Bacon, Cooked Extra Crispy and Crumbled
1/2 Cup Pecans, Finely Chopped

Mix together cheeses and spices, set aside.

Mix together bacon and pecans in shallow bowl.

Use a 1 or 2 tablespoon scoop and roll cheese  into balls then roll in bacon mixture.  Put on plate.  When all rolled, refrigerate for at least an hour to firm up.

Jan 15, 2017

Caramel Snickerdoodles

Getting together to discuss books requires  snacks, right?  The next few days will feature recipes tested on our book club.  This week - Caramel Snickerdoodles.  This process takes two days - so plan ahead!  You can use one or two cans of Sweetened Condensed Milk - two cans makes the caramel as thick as the cookie layer.



14 Ounces Sweetened Condensed Milk - 1 or 2 cans, depending on taste (see above)
1 Cup Butter, Softened
2 Cups Packed Light Brown Sugar
2 Large Eggs (Room Temperature)
2 Tsp Vanilla
2 1/2 Cups Flour
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Tbl Ground Cinnamon

Day 1:  

Remove label(s) from sweetened condensed milk.  Place on its side in an extra large pot and fill with water.   You need to cover it with at least two inches of water.  Put on stove and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 2.5 hours.  Check every thirty minutes and add more boiling water as necessary to keep at least one inch of water above can.  At end of cooking time, use tongs to place on a cooling rack.  DO NOT try and open before completely cool.

Day 2:

Heat oven to 350.  

Line a 9 X 13 plan with parchment paper - make sure it overhangs the two long edges.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Add flour, baking powder and salt until combined.  Spread in bottom of prepared pan.

In a small bowl, combine Sugar and Cinnamon.  Sprinkle 2.5 tablespoons over the batter in the pan.  Bake 30 minutes (edges should be light brown.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

When cool, open sweetened condensed milk and spread evenly over top of cookie crust.  Sprinkle with remaining sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Refrigerate at least one hour.  Remove from pan and cut.  Keep leftovers in refrigerator.