Friday, June 22, 2012

Mississippi Roast

I have a confession to make, I've never been much a crock pot fan.  Gasp!  I know.  I love the whole "roll up your sleeves and get dirty in the kitchen" aspect of cooking dinner.  Also, 90% of meals I've had out of a crock pot taste like nothing.  By nothing I mean it just tastes like mush, all the flavors combining into one non-existent flavor rather than having layers of differing yumminess.  Don't get me wrong, I love slow cooking things, but over all I've never been a gung ho crock pot slow cooker person.  My husband is from the mid-west and was raised on a crock pot.  My mother in law has some recipes that I've tried and thought were good.  One Mexican chicken thing I'll more than likely share on here at some point because it's pretty darn tasty.

Somehow my children's lives have taken over my schedule. How did that happen? I mean, they're only 3 and 4 for cryin' out loud. The Nugget still naps from 1:30-4 every afternoon and the Munchkin is required to have "quiet time" during that period as well.  So I usually start dinner about the time they wake up while they run in the yard, play together, fight, cry, whatever.  Ha!  Honestly, I spend about 15% of the time cooking and 85% of the time refereeing those two.  Which is why I have to start cooking so early in the evening.  Anyhoo... Because of the naps our "activity hours" are somewhat limited.  The Munhckin's ballet class was every Monday from 5:30-6:15 during the school year.  Home by 6:30 if we're lucky... dinner?  Yeah, right.  Now it's summer and we're spending out mornings at the pool.  In order to enjoy the pool the kids have to know how to swim, right? So now we're into swim lessons 2 nights a week, 5-5:30.  Twenty minutes to get home.  How can I possibly avoid a fast food drive through, start dinner and actually feed this crew before everyone (me and Hubs included) completely loses it from hunger? Crock pot.  Yes, I said it. 

Once again, I'll refer back to Pinterest.  Don't judge, it's a mild obsession for me.  Seriously, so many crock pot recipes to be found on there.  Including these geniuses who plan a whole month of freezer meals to be thrown into the crock pot or oven on a whim.  Say what?  It's true.  But that's not what I'm talking about today.  Today is about a roast.  A Mississippi roast.  Never heard of it? Neither had I.  But boy and I glad I stumbled upon it!! We've all had a pot roast at some point.  Dry onion soup mix, some water, some veggies, and some meat.  Tasty.  Nope.  Never again in this house.  Mississippi roast is the only one I'll ever serve again.  Flavor? Check.  Crunchy cooked outside? Check.  Fall apart tender inside? Check.  Healthy?  Ehhh... I'll worry about that later.  That stick of butter makes me nervous but it's not the end of the world.  So here it is, my pretties...

Grab your crock pot and throw in a roast.  I used a chuck roast because, I really don't know the difference and it was on sale at my grocery store.  This is about 4lbs.

Sprinkle on a packet of Ranch dressing dry mix.  The original recipe I found called for the dressing mix but I had the dip mix so I used it. How different can they be?  Maybe the dip has more cornstarch to thicken it up a bit more.

Then sprinkle on a packet of gravy mix.  I fudged it for convenience's sake again here.  The recipe called for an Au Jus mix but I had chicken gravy in my pantry.  I'm not a fan of spending an extra $2 if I've got a close substitute.

Ok friends... Now the yummy part.  Plop on a stick of butter and surround that puppy with some pepperoncini peppers right out of the jar. 

Looks good already, doesn't it? Pop the lid on and let it go on low for 8-10 hours.  No liquid necessary.  Come to think of it, that may be my problem with the crock pot in general... add too much liquid and the meat just boils.  No texture, no yummy brown bits.  You can see below (from the 2 bites that were leftover since my family got to eating before I could take a picture of the finished product) the brown goodness on top.  That is flavor right there, boys and girls!  Serve this up with some roasted broccoli and mashed potatoes and I guarantee you will have some happy tummies.

All kidding aside, we're gooing to have days that are packed to the gills.  And I know, as the littles get older the days will get fuller and I'll hit a period where cooking at "dinner" time will be nothing more than a day dream while sitting at a stop light between drop-offs.  Thank heavens for the crock pot for days like that. 

Mississippi Roast

1 chuck roast (4-5lbs)
1 packet ranch dressing/dip mix
1 packet gravy mix (chicken/brown/au jus)
1 stick butter
5-10 pepperoncini peppers

Put roast in crock pot.  Sprinkle ranch mix and gravy mix on top.  Add butter and place the peppers around it on top of the meat.  Cook on low 8-10 hours.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Peanut Butter Cup S'Mores Bars

Holy smokes have I got a treat today!  I came across these beauties on Pinterest and after a bit of tweaking have discovered my go to "special" dessert for summer nights.  Or spring nights.  Or fall afternoons.  Or midnight snacks.  Y'all, these are so dang good!!  And pretty easy to make.  Most of this is stuff I always have in my house... I'll admit, I'm a long time fan of the fluffer-nutter sandwich.  Don't care how old you are, that stuff is tasty.  This time the only item I needed from the store was the Reese's Peanut Butter cups.  Here's what you need to get these delights in your house.

Brown sugar, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, 1 egg, vanilla extract, Fluff, baking powder, salt, graham cracker crumbs,and flour.  Easy, right?

Just cream the butter and sugars with a maixer thill it's fluffy and grogeous.  Mix in the egg and vanilla.  Turn that badboy down to low and add the rest of the dry ingredients till combined.  Take a little more than half of the dough and press it into a prepared 8x8 baking dish.  I lined mine with aluminum foil and sparyed it with some non-stick spray, but parchment paper would work too.  Just line it with something to make sure you can get it out of the dish, that fluff will stick like glue to EVERYTHING! Except your hands, I've got a trick for that coming up in a minute.  GENTLY press the peanut butter cups into the dough.  I say gently becase I really tried to get one down in there and accidentally pushed all the peanut butter filling out the sides.  Ooops.  The upside of that little blunder? I had a "very good reason" to eat one without feeling bad about it.  Ha! Right, 'cause I would have totally done that anyway but I enjoy rationalizing things to myself.

Now comes the fun part... FLUFF! Man, I love this gooey, sticky, sweet stuff.  I'm not a big fan of plain marshmallows unless they're toasted, but Fluff I can wat with a spoon right out of the tub.  It's a little sweeter than your average marshmallow out of a bag and the texture is much silkier.  So.  Good.  Anyway, just dollop some of it on top of your peanut butter cups.  I'd say I used about a cup and a half but I didn't measure it.  Just be sure to use enough to cover the whole thing.

That delcious-ness (is that even a word?) is really sticky but lucky for me (and you, now) I watch a lot of The Food Network.  By "a lot" I mean it's on a tv in my house pretty much any time the Munchkin and the Nugget haven't commandeered it for Strawberry Shortcake or Thomas the Tank Engine.  I'm not neccessarily "watching" it all day, but I pick up little tidbits of info just listening while I'm coloring with the kiddoes or folding laundry or whatever elase it is I do to fill my days.  Thanks to Ina Garten, I have learned that if you wet your fingers most sticky stuff won't stick too badly.  So just run your fingers under some water and smoosh that Fluff out to each corner of the dish.  You may have to wet them a couple of times.  You'll still get some on you but at least it won't be too difficult to get off.

Then take the rest of the dough in your bowl and dump in onto a non-stick surface.  I used my Silpat, beacuse I'm borderline obsessed with it.  Not really, but I have 2 and they are used almost every day in my house.  Now press that dough into an 8x8 square, or as close as you can get it. My sweet Munchkin had just woken up from her nap at this point and wanted to supervise my skills... judging by that precious smile I think she approves of my dough-shaping.

So close, we're so close to putting this in the oven!! You've just got to put the top on.  I picked up the whole silpat and inverted it on top of the layer of Fluff in my dish.  The dough was pretty thin so I wasn't sure I'd be able to pick it up in one piece.  And now, in the oven it goes.  Preheated to 350* for 30 -35 minutes.  The smell is heavenly.  At the time it seemed like the longes 35 minutes of my life because I wanted to tear into them so badly. 

Here is the finished product... looks rather un-impressive doesn't it? Just you wait my friends, just you wait.  Dig deep within yourself to find the will-power to let this sit out for an hour or two so the chocolate can reset then slice away.  I'm sure this would be lovely cut into bars but that's not how we roll in this house.  We just cut and eat as we go.  But look, just LOOK and how awesome this is!!

I promise, you will not regret making these.  And niether will the rest of your family!!

Peanut Butter Cup S'Mores Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
9 peanut butter cups, regular size
1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff (give or take- just be sure to cover the peanut butter cups)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 baking dishing with parchment paper; coat lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl of the bowl of stand mixer, beat butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Scrape down the sides. With the mixer on low, stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, and graham cracker crumbs until mixed.
  3. Spread a little more than hlaf of the dough on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Lightly press the peanut butter cups into the dough, then spread marshmallow fluff on top. Press the remaining dough on a non-stick surface into the shape of an 8×8 square. Place the square on top of the fluff and press down lightly.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown. Allow to cool for at least two hours to give the bars a chance to set, then remove from the pan and cut into squares with a large, sharp knife.