THE best shredded cheese

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I’ve realized a lot of the recipes I prepare include cheese. This really shouldn’t be surprising as it’s one of my most favorite things on the planet. We’ve always got cheese in one or five different forms in the fridge. One of our usual staples was always grated cheddar – usually sharp cheddar because we’re all about loads of flavor.

A few months ago I read on Pioneer Woman to please grate your own cheese and don’t use the pregrated stuff from the grocery. I scoffed a little and wondered how much better could it really be? Cheese is pretty darn good as it is! I also had to consider the pain in the rear end that using a box grater is. Who wants to stand there and do that???

Well, enter the Barefoot Contessa – Ina Garten. On her show, she mentioned using the food processor to grate cheese as needed.

Well, this was something I could get behind! The lovely freshness of grating your own cheese mixed with the laziness of just pushing a button to accomplish it?  This has my name written all over it!  Here’s how it’s done:

First determine how much cheese you want to grate. If you need a specific amount, you can use a kitchen scale like this:

For my recipe I needed 8 ounces so I got out exactly what I needed.

Then, find the grater blade for the food processor. It will look like this:

Cut the cheese in chunks large enough to fit in the shoot but keep them as big as you can to make sure you are able to grate all the cheese. Shove it down the shoot and use the block press to smush it down to the blade while holding the pulse button, like this:

After about 15 seconds, you will end up with a lovely bowl of cheesy goodness:

YUMMY!!!  Now, we only buy block cheese which is WAY less expensive per pound than the pregrated stuff. And, Pioneer Woman was right. The texture is much more creamy and doesn’t have that “chalky” residue like pregrated stuff and the flavor is much more intense. I bet if you tried it you’ll never go back 🙂

Jennifer

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Creamy Mac & Beef Recipe

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This one should probably be called “Homemade Hamburger Helper” because that’s basically what it is. However, the taste of this creation is far and away better than anything you can get in a box so I’m sticking with the “Creamy Mac & Beef” name.  I didn’t make this recipe up but got it from Kraft.com but here it is, along with my revisions because you know I can’t just follow a recipe exactly:

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb ground beef
2 (14.5 oz) cans beef broth
1 cup water
8 oz elbow macaroni (2 cups)
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1/4 cup Cheez-Whiz
8 oz Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Note, the original recipe called for only one can of beef broth but after about 4 minutes my noodles had absorbed all the liquid and it’s pretty hard to boil noodles if you ain’t got not liquid. I only had chicken stock so I added about one additional cup of that and it worked out fine but next time I’ll just start with 2 cans and make it easier on myself.

STEPS:

Preheat large sauté pan (or electric skillet) on medium-high 2–3 minutes.

Place ground beef in pan & cook 5–7 minutes, stirring to crumble meat until beef is brown and no pink remains.

Stir in broth, water, and macaroni

Bring to a boil

Cook 10–12 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until liquid is mostly absorbed and macaroni is soft and tender.

Stir evaporated milk into pasta and add salt & pepper to taste

Remove from heat (or turn heat off). Add grated cheese

Add Cheeze-Whiz

Stir until creamy

Note – it will look “soupy”. Let it set while you’re setting the dinner table – about 5 to 10 minutes and it will thicken up nicely until it looks like this:

Very easy, pretty simple dinner for a busy week night.  Hubby and I had left-overs for lunch the next day and it was even better than the night I cooked it.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, no – not all my recipes include Cheeze-Whiz. Actually only two things I cook have it in them, I just happened to post both of those recipes.

Jennifer

Who Cares?

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Am I the only person who simply doesn’t give a hoot about Charlie Sheen? I don’t watch the show Two and a Half Men and I find Charlie to be a poor example of what an adult male should be. Yes, he’s gone off the deep end. Is anyone really surprised about this? He’s been on drugs for decades. Was there anyone out there who thought he wouldn’t go off the deep end eventually?

I have avoided reading the many, many, many headlines about his stunts and rants. I just don’t care what he has to say and have no interest in reading any of it. I wonder how the producers of his show thought they could actually avoid this happening eventually. When you hire someone who’s a known rake you get what you get.

Also, on the list of people I don’t care to see, hear or read about:

  • Lady Gaga
  • Britney Spears
  • Jude Law
  • Madonna
  • Alex Rodriguez
  • Megan Fox
  • Tom Cruise
  • Christian Bale

It’s not that I wish them harm – I really don’t.   I just don’t care to hear about their latest antic every single time I turn on the tv, open a magazine or get on the web.

Am I alone?

 

A new post…

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Laundry Post

Yes, there really is a new post. It’s just not on this blog. Well, technically this is a new post but since I’m just directing you to another blog I don’t think it really counts all that much.

However, if you’ve ever hated laundry and felt like it was stalking you and trying to make you crazy, I invite you to click on that little ol’ link above to read a “highlarious” post from one of my favorite bloggers, April the chicken doctor.

You’re welcome 🙂

Jennifer

 

New Recipe (for the dogs)

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This may look like the beginning of another recipe post. There are ingredients above with which you are likely very familiar – KFC gravy and lunch meat for example. Looking past those – things may appear to diverge into the weird with things like fish oil and jack mackerel.

What you are seeing is not something I’m preparing for my lunch. It is for dinner, however. It’s the hullabaloo we have to go through to feed our three dogs. Each of them need something slightly different – “real meat” frozen kibble for the little one (in the small reusable container on the left), prescription intestinal diet canned dog food for the big one and puppy chow kibble for the middle dog. The big one also gets the fish oil (for her joints), the arthritis medication and the pain medication (which helps her get around in the winter).

You would think all of the above would be enticing to the dogs and they would come running to eat. On the contrary, apparently our dogs get bored and we have to change things up in order to keep their interest. That’s where the gravy and the canned fish come into play. If you’ve never had the pleasure (blech) of being confronted with jack mackerel in person, let me explain what it’s like. It’s sort of like tuna but funkier. They leave the fish in large chunks with part of the skin still on and the odor – oh my the odor! It will permeate the entire room and the refrigerator and anything else with which it may come into contact. The dogs LOVE it. However, they will eventually get bored with this combination as well. Therefore, we will often mix things up with eggs (raw and cooked), canned pumpkin (for the fiber), baby food and various left over meats that I bring home if we eat dinner out some place.

Doesn’t this look yummy?

 

Beer Cheese Soup

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There used to be a restaurant near me that served beer cheese soup in these little pewter bowls with handles. That soup was amazing. The place is closed now and I hadn’t had it in a couple years so I decided to alter my mom’s potato cheese soup recipe and see if I could make it just like 101st Airborne used to make it. I’ll take a bow now because I DID IT!!! If you ever  had the pleasure to eat their version and have missed it, I invite you to try mine and compare:

First assemble your ingredients:

* 1 stick real butter
* 2 cans chicken broth or 1 small box
* 1 small or 1/2 large sweet onion (only cut in half)
* 1 cup milk
* 3 tbs cornstarch
* 1 regular jar Cheez Whiz (yes really) (not the tiny or the tall one)
* 1/2 bottle pale beer (I like Heineken)
* salt & pepper

One thing about the Cheez Whiz. You may be tempted to get all fancy and use actual real cheese. DON’T! The Cheez Whiz melts nicely and adds a tangy zing (not “zip” – this ain’t no miracle whip commercial!) that really adds to the soup. Try it the way it’s written first and then you can change it up if you feel so inclined. But you’re a noodle head if you mess with this recipe so you’re forwarned!
Directions:

First, resist the urge to just drink the beer straight out of the bottle. You really do need it for the soup 🙂

In large stock pot (I use an enamel covered dutch oven), melt butter and add onion. Leave onion whole as you will remove it later. You can finely dice the onion and leave it in there but I don’t like the texture. Don’t skip the onion though as it adds a dimension of flavor that’s needed.

Once onion starts becoming translucent remove it and add chicken broth.

Next add the corn starch.

Make sure to whisk the cornstarch in well. Bring to a boil. This mixture will become thick.

Once thickened, add entire jar of Cheez whiz, milk and beer. Mix thoroughly. Pepper liberally – taste before adding any salt I don’t add much if any at all most times.

Simmer for 15 minutes.

Enjoy with a panini pressed sandwich and the rest of the beer 🙂

You can change this recipe slightly and turn it into Potato Bacon soup easily by decreasing the butter to 2 tbsp, finely dice the onion, add 4 medium potatoes peeled and diced small and add 2 oz. bacon pieces or 2 slices bacon.

Saute’ onion and bacon in butter. Add potatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in milk, Cheez Whiz and pepper. Simmer over low heat until soup is melted completely.

This is really a lovely easy dinner for a cold winter’s day. enjoy!

Stupid Dog Shoes

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No, this post isn’t about dogs so stupid that they require shoes.  It is about stupid looking dog shoes. Upon further thought, is there a possibility of a dog shoe that doesn’t look stupid? I digress…

We have a very old Golden Retriever. She has arthritis and has a hard time getting around on the floors in our house because they are slick and we have no carpet.  We really struggled with what to do about it until we found these gems:

 

They’re actually made for dogs to wear in the snow to protect the pads of their feet from de-icing agents and from snow getting packed into their paws. They’re made of this stuff that’s sort of like a wetsuit.

This is our dog wearing them and wondering why I’m taking her picture. They work GREAT! They give her traction on the floor to prevent falling and they enable her to get up from a laying position without help. Oh, and one more thing…

they look really stupid.