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Homemade Baked Beans

Baked Beans are a wonderful thing. They’re easy to make. They’re delicious. They travel well so you can bring them to parties, picnics, or events. Kids and adults alike will eat them as a side. And, my favorite part, the crock pot does almost all of the cooking work.

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Homemade Baked Beans
Ingredients:

2 cups Navy Beans
1/2 lb Bacon
3 TBSP Molasses
2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Dry Mustard
1/2 cup Ketchup
1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup Brown Sugar

Directions:
1. Soak your beans overnight in water, covered.
2. Drain the beans and transfer into a pot and fill with enough fresh water to cover the beans. Simmer until tender – approximately an hour and a half to two hours. Drain the beans and **reserve the water**.
3. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees if you are planning to bake the beans in the oven. If you are using your crock pot instead, you can just pull out your crock.  😉
4. In a sauce pan, combine the molasses, salt, pepper, dry mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire, and brown sugar. Mix to combine and bring to a boil.
5. While that is heating, pour your beans into either a 1/2 sized casserole dish or into your crock pot – whichever you will be using. Chop up your raw bacon into small bites and mix into the beans.
6. Once your sauce pan mixture reaches its boil, pour over the beans and bacon mixture and add just enough of the reserved bean juices to cover the beans.
7. If you’re baking in the oven, cover the casserole dish with foil and bake 3-4 hours until tender and add a little more of the reserved bean liquid half way through cooking if needed. I
If you’re using your crock pot, put the lid on your crock and cook for 6-7 hours on high or 10-12 hours on low. You might need to add some of the reserved bean water mid-way through the cooking.

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Puppy Chow

I still remember the person who first told me about Puppy Chow. She was an older girl in my high school. We were in an after school activity together and I was the naive freshman. I thought, “Puppy Chow? Dog food? What is this girl talking about!?”. Little did I realize that Puppy Chow would be the mainstay of my high school sleepovers and celebrations. I’ve heard some people call them ‘Muddy Buddies’ and I’m sure there’s other regional names for it too. Basically it’s a chocolate and powdered sugar covered snack that teenage girls go crazy over 🙂  .

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I mean, who knew that four so simple, basic, ingredients could combine to become such and addictive, tasty, and coveted snack!?

This recipe is my version of Puppy Chow. To be honest, I don’t remember the exact recipe that was shared with me. I’ve made my own many, many times since though – and this is how I make it.

Ingredients:
1 cereal box of chex cereal. Rice chex, corn chex, whatever is on sale will work fine.
2 bags of Chocolate Chips (6oz each)
2 large dollups of Creamy Peanut Butter (more about that later….)
2 cups Powdered Sugar. You eyeball it, but it comes to roughly half a 1lb bag.

This is very, very far from being an exact science. This recipe is cooking on a teenage level. Where things are dumped into a bowl and considered “good enough”. I tried to narrow down the exact needs as best as possible, but I have to admit I still revert back to teenage girlie-ness when trying to figure how exactly what was needed.

Directions:
1. First up is the chocolate chips and peanut butter. Dump all of your chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and scoop your two large dollops of peanut butter on top. (If you want to know what a large dollop is, see the picture below.)  Microwave on 30 second increments – stirring at each break – until fully melted. You have to be careful here and not rush things, chocolate can do weird things if microwaved and not stirred properly. In another LARGE bowl, pour your entire box of cereal in and get ready for the melted chocolate mixture. The chocolate will turn hard again if you let it cool, so the idea is to melt it, mix it, and dump it over the cereal as soon as its ready. Now, I know that True Cooks and Chefs will immedietly chastise me for microwaving chocolate….but remember this is a simple, teenager recipe – feel free to pull out the double boiler if it makes you feel better!

DSCF0005(a large dollop of peanut butter)

2. You should have a LARGE bowl of cereal with a melted mixture of chocolate and peanut butter poured over it at this point. Make sure you get a spoon and mix and turn and mix the heck out of the cereal. You are aiming for a decently even coating of the chocolate over all of the cereal. Just keep spooning it up from the bottom of the bowl and over the cereal again and again. Eventually you will get it all over all of the cereal squares – hopefully before the chocolate has cooled and started to harden again and also before you managed to break up and crush too many of the squares 😉
3. After your cereal is well coated in chocolate, start pouring in some powdered sugar, about half a cup at a time, and keep mixing. This time you’re aiming to evenly coat the chocolate cereal with a layer of white powdery sugar. Some of it will be absorbed into the chocolate, that’s ok. And you’ll have some clusters of cereal where several squares want to stick together – break those up into single squares if possible. Just keep adding in sugar and mixing it all up until the batch looks as well coated as you can get.
4. At this point, the LARGE bowl you’ve been doing all the mixing in is probably pretty messy. Your spoon is probably sticky and your fingers are a mess. That is all normal. If you want a prettier presentation, poor the Puppy Chow into another bowl or container for storage (or serving) instead of using the initial mixing bowl. Just make sure it is stored air tight with a lid or foil crimped over the top of the bowl. It should hold for a few days, but don’t worry….you’ll eat it before then!

 
 

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Asparagus Spring Rolls

I look forward to Asparagus every summer. I love it as a veggie, sure, but I love it mostly in this particular dish. It is an amazing appetizer, party finger food, or even for a a “guys night” type drinking party. It’s ultra easy to make, just four ingredients and two real steps – and it even travels really well if you prep it up and then finish the baking at the party.

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Ingredients:
(Quantities given are for four wraps, but you can make as many or as few as you like)
16 stalks Fresh Asparagus (4 per wrap, though more or less depending on how thick your stalks are)
12 slices of Prosciutto – 3 slices per wrap
10 slices of Provolone Cheese – 2.5 slices per wrap
4 burrito sized Flour Tortillas
Some Extra Virgin Olive Oil for coating

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375
2. Steam the fresh asparagus until fork tender – roughly 7-8 minutes depending on thickness.
3. On a cutting board or clean surface, lay out the first tortilla and “paint” it with EVOO. Flip it over and build your wrap. First spread out your three slices of prosciutto, then your two and a half slices of provolone. Place your cooked asparagus stalks in the middle and start rolling up the wrap like a pinwheel.
4. Place the wraps, seam side down, on a greased cookie sheet and bake uncovered for about 10 minutes.
5. You can slice them in half and serve them as a side dish, or slice them into finger food sized pieces and stand them on their ends and pass them around at a poker party. Either way you will have a happy audience!
6. Enjoy!

 

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