Crockpot Swiss Steak

Crockpot Swiss steak

I love my crock pot.  I like that I can put ingredients into it when I leave for work in the morning and come home to a houseful of wonderful smells and just set the table and dinner is served.  Not that I don’t enjoy cooking, but when you know that you are going to have one of those hectic days, this just makes it easier.  Swiss steak is a recipe that my family loves and they like the meat so tender that it is falling apart.  This recipe does just that.  This is comfort food.  This is the recipe I grew up with and I just made some simple changes to make it even better.  My mother didn’t really like to cook, so she made things that were pretty simple.  She would take round steak and pour a couple of cans of stewed tomatoes and a package of dry onion soup over it in the crock pot and turn it on and serve it over instant rice.  Many of your moms probably used the same recipe.  I think it was in the recipe book that came with the crock pot.  When I was about 10 I started cooking and soon took over cooking the meals for my family.  I loved the flavor of this dish, but I’m not a person who likes to use prepackaged, processed foods.  When I started having children of my own, I started worrying about preservatives and other chemicals that were added to these food products and started experimenting with recipes.  Nothing prepackaged in this dish. 

2 1/2 pounds round stead, cut into large one inch sized pieces

1 8 ounce package mushrooms, sliced

1 cup sliced onion

1 cup sliced celery

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 green pepper, chopped

1 14.5 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (if you can’t find these, regular diced tomatoes are fine)

1 8 ounce can tomato sauce

1/2 cup beef broth

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

In a 4-6 quart crock pot, combine steak, mushrooms, onion, celery, garlic and green pepper.  In a bowl combine tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.  Pour over steak mixture.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.  Serves 6

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Porkchops with Mustard Cream Sauce

Porkchops with Mustard cream sauce

As I have said before in my blog, I can’t leave recipes alone.  If I find one that I like the flavor of the food, but it doesn’t make enough or I feel the sauce is too thick or thin, or it had extra steps and I feel I can make it easier, I just have to play with it until I am happy with it.  This is one of those.  This is one of one of my family’s favorites, but it just had too many steps and it made too little sauce and I felt it just needed a little more in the flavor department, so off I went.  This is the end result.  You can make this pretty quickly on a busy week day night and it’s a recipe that your family will ask you to make again and again.  My daughter, who normally will not eat pork chops, even likes this recipe.  You can serve it any way you want, with mashed potatoes or rice, or like I do, with buttered noodles.

2 1/2 pounds of thin cut, boneless pork chops

3 tsp. salt

3 tsp. ground pepper

1 stick butter, divided into 3 portions

2 shallots, thinly sliced

1 cup white wine

2 tsp. minced fresh sage

3 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons coarse-grained Dijon mustard

garnish – Fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced

Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper, be sure to do both sides.  In a large skillet melt 1/3 of the butter over med heat.  Add half the pork chops and cook for 3-4 minutes per side until browned.  Remove from skillet and keep warm.  Add 1/3 of the butter and cook the second half of the pork chops 3-4 minutes per side until browned.  Add to the other pork chops and over to keep warm.  In the skillet add the last 1/3 of the butter and add the shallot and cook stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.  Slowly add the wine and the minced sage and using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.  Cook until the wine is reduced by half.  Stir in the cream and simmer for 4-5 minutes until sauce is thickened.  Stir in mustard.  Serve over pork chops.  Garnish with thin slices of fresh sage.  Serves 4-6 with good-sized servings.

Sour Cream Rice

Sour cream rice

This is a side that goes well with just about anything.  Very easy to throw together and who ever you serve it to, thinks you put a lot of effort into it.

3 – 4 ounce cans of chopped green chilies

3 cups sour cream

1 can large pitted black olives, sliced

6 cups cooked rice

1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, cut into cubes

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Paprika (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Add chilies to sour cream, add the black olives and the cubes of Monterey Jack cheese.  Mix with the hot rice.  Pour into a buttered baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.  Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese and allow cheese to slightly melt.  Sprinkle with paprika if you choose.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla soup is a staple in Texas.  Everyone has their own recipe.  Some recipes are complicated, right down to cutting the tortillas into strips and frying them.  This is one of my easy recipes.  Not many ingredients and very easy to make.  As for the tortillas, yes when I have time, I will slice tortillas into strips and fry them myself.  But this recipe, you can just use the smaller pieces of tortilla chips from your bag of store-bought chips.

4 quarts of chicken broth(this is the one place I do not cut corners.  I use my homemade broth, but you can use store-bought if you prefer)

6 chicken breasts (you can use a mixture of white and dark.  I just prefer white meat in this soup)

3 cans Rotel Chilies and Tomatoes

2 cups chopped onions

3 tablespoon chopped cilantro

3 tablespoons chili powder

3 tablespoons cumin

3 tablespoons garlic powder

In a pot place chicken breast and cover with chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about one hour.  Chicken should be pretty tender.  Add Rotel tomatoes, onions, cilantro, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder.  Cook for an additional hour.  Shred chicken.  Serve with crumbled tortilla chips, green onions, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, Avocado pieces, sour cream and lime wedges.

Baked Pumpkin Custard with Brown sugar topping

pumpkin custard

Fall brings to mind pumpkins.  Besides pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and pumpkin butter, one of my favorite uses for pumpkin is this custard.  The crackle of the caramelized sugar gives it an interesting texture when eating the custard.  Such an easy way to get your fall pumpkin fix.

16 ounces pumpkin

6 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

4 cups half and half

1/2 cup brown sugar

Mix pumpkin, eggs, white sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.  Stir in half and half.  Pour into custard cups (depending on what size cups you use, this can make 6 medium-sized cups or 12 regular cups.  Since I love this custard, I tend to make the larger size.  These take a little longer to cook).  You could also make this in a 2 quart baking dish. Place cups in a larger baking pan on the middle shelf of a preheated 325 degree oven.  Pour boiling water into the baking pan to come halfway up the sides of the custard cups.  Bake about 30 minutes (for the regular custard cups) or longer, about 45 minutes (for the larger custard cups).  You can test if they are done by sticking a knife in the center of one of the cups.  When it comes out clean, they are done.  Remove pan from oven and remove cups from pan.  Allow to cool.  Just before serving, turn on broiler and crumble brown sugar over the top of each cup.  Broil 2 inches from the heat, about 1-2 minutes until the sugar caramelizes.  Serve immediately with a little whipped cream dusted with cinnamon.

Fresh Apple cake

apple cake

Fall always brings memories of apples.  Lots of apples.  We would have fresh cider and would make applesauce and apple butter.  I would can jars and jars of spiced apples and make tons of apple pies and apple cakes.  Here is my favorite fresh apple cake recipe.

1 cup oil

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3 cups flour

2 tsp. cinnamon

3 cups chopped apples

1 cup nuts ( any type you want.  I use either walnuts or pecans)

Blend oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla.  Then add baking soda, salt, flour, cinnamon and fold in apples and nuts.  Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch pan.  Bake at 300 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Remove and set to the side. Make the icing.

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup evaporated milk

1 stick butter

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and boil for 3-5 minutes.  Pour over top of hot cake.  Allow to cool before cutting and serving cake. I like to serve this with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or cinnamon ice cream.

Applesauce cake with Grand Marnier Frosting

Applesauce cake

Fall is coming.  It is one of my favorite seasons.  We don’t really have a Fall season here in Texas, but I fondly remember the falls of home, leaves changing colors, the smell of smoke in the air, apples, pumpkins, the chilly evenings.  When I think of Fall, I think of all the Fall dishes that I love.  One of these is applesauce cake.  I pair my applesauce cake with a frosting that has Grand Marnier in it as a flavoring.  The slight orange flavor of the Grand Marnier just seems to make the apple flavor pop.  I bake mine in a 13 x9 in cake pan, but you can bake it in two round 8 inch pans and frost the sides and in between the layers if you wish.  I think once you try this cake, it will become one of your favorites.

3 cups flour

2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

1 tablespoon of baking powder

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. cloves

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups sugar

2/3 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

2 cups applesauce (I use my homemade applesauce that I make from tart apples)

1 cup raisins (I use the golden raisins, but you can use regular if you want)

1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans, your choice. I like black walnuts when I can find them)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 13 x 9 inch cake pan.  Line bottom with parchment paper and butter the paper.  Sift first 8 ingredients.  Beat sugar and butter till fluffy.  Beat in eggs.  Beat in flour mixture and applesauce.  Stir in raisins and nuts.  Bake 25-30 minutes.  Cool in pan for about 15 minutes (This step is if you are making the round layers and want to create a layered cake)  Cool completely before frosting.  Frost with Grand Marnier Frosting.

Grand Marnier Frosting

1 1/2 cups butter, softened

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier

1/4 tsp. vanilla

Beat butter till smooth.  Beat in cream and powdered sugar.  Add Grand Marnier and vanilla.  Spread frosting over the top of cake.  If making a layered cake spread frosting in between layers, then frost the sides and top.  You can leave plain or sprinkle with chopped nuts.