Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baked Cheesy Pinto Bean Casserole

Oh my gosh! Is this good! If you like pinto beans you will like this for a change of pace. This makes an excellent side dish or a great casserole to take to pot lucks. It is one of those recipes that can be modified to fit your own likes and dislikes. It is simple and delicious. I got this from another site and modified it to make it my own. I hope you enjoy these.

In summer when it is too hot to cook, you can put these on the grill to bake while you are grilling burgers and steaks. I believe you will get raves for these.

Baked Cheesy Pinto Bean Casserole

                                                                                               Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbls. butter or bacon grease
2-4 pieces bacon, fried, drained, and crumbled (optional)
2-15 ounce cans pinto beans (or equivalent of freshly made), drained, but not rinsed
1/2 cup chunky salsa (mild, medium, or hot, your choice!)
1 cup  Cheddar cheese, divided*

Saute' onion, green peppers, chili powder, cumin, and garlic in butter in a small skillet till onions are opaque, being careful not to burn the garlic.
Combine cooked vegetable mixture with bacon, if used,  beans and salsa. Pour into a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes; stir in half cup of cheese, bake another 15 minutes, sprinkle top with remainder of cheese and bake another 5 minutes to melt. Makes 4-6 servings.

*If you don't like this much cheese, do not add cheese halfway through baking and just add 1/2 cup of cheese to top during last 5 minutes of baking.
* You can use any kind of cheese you'd like such as Co-Jack or Blanco Queso, but my favorite is Cheddar.

7up Pound Cake

YUM!!!This is a delicious and moist pound cake that is so easy to make!!! I've made several of these this past winter as they will last for days, staying moist, and add a nice refreshing dessert following dinner. Bob realy likes this cake, and I love anything lemon!

I know the 8 minute beating of butter and sugar sounds extreme, but I got lazy and did not do this one time (years ago!) and ended up with a flatter cake that did not rise as much, and a more dense cake. It was not as good as when I beat it for the desired amount of time. Take that extra time; it is worth it.

I used to use 7Up in my recipe, but no more. 7Up is made with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is not used in our home for all of its dangerous health issues pertaining to the pancreas, heart, liver, and blood. I know sugar is a poison to most people, too, but sugar is much better for you than HFCS. Sierra Mist works just as well with tasty results and it is made with table sugar.

I try to use farm eggs whenever I can, which may give you a more yellow cake. The picture above was made with store-bought eggs as I was unable to get farm eggs when I made this cake.

This is so delicious and easy to make!!! If you like lemon, you will like this cake. It is so refreshing. As a pound cake, it is a heavy cake, but this one, though dense, is very moist and appealing.

7up Pound Cake
1lb unsalted butter(4 sticks)
2 cups sugar
3 cups cake flour*
6 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract (I use 2 tsps extract for a more pronounced lemon flavor)
3/4 cup 7up soda (I use Sierra Mist)*


1 cup powdered sugat
enough soda to make an icing
1 drop lemon extract

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees
Cream butter and sugar together and allow to beat for 8 minutes. If you have a stand alone mixer, all the better. This aerates the butter and makes sure the sugar is well combined.
Add one egg at a time; beat well.
Add vanilla and lemon extracts
Add one cup cake flour at a time (Important: see note below if using regular flour)*
Pour in soda, blend well.*
Pour into greased nonstick Bundt pan and even the top.
Bake at 325 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
Allow to cool in pan for 20 minutes, invert onto cooling rack or serving plate.
Cool completely, then ice. Cover well and store.

To make Icing~ Add powdered sugar to a bowl, add a bit of soda and blend well. Add in 1 drop of lemon extract. If too thin, add more sugar to get desired consistency. If too thick, add small amount of soda till you get desired consistency. With a regular tablespoon pour on and drizzle icing over top of cake, allowing it to flow down sides.

*I do not buy cake flour because of the price. Cake flour will give you a more delicate cake, but I've always used unbleached flour with great results.
Important: Cake flour and regular flour are NOT interchangeable! If using regular flour, remove 2 Tbls of flour from each measured cup, otherwise your cake will be too dense.

*I do not use 7UP, but you can, if so desired.

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers

I made 132 of these last summer, and trust me, that was no easy task!If you've ever worked with hot peppers, you know how these can burn even through rubber gloves! Whatever you do, do NOT try to cut up jalapeno peppers (or ANY hot pepper!!) without rubber gloves!!! The picture above shows them already made, individually frozen, in a freezer bag, and ready to cook or go back into the freezer.

We happened to have a bumper crop of all peppers last year~ cayenne, jalapeno, serrano, and various shades of bell peppers. I cut, chopped, froze, pickled, and stuffed my way through a myriad of peppers last summer and fall. With one large bucket of jalapenos staring me in the face, I decided to make Jalapeno Poppers for Bob as he loves them. It turns out that my grandson Steven also loves them!

These are not for the faint of heart. These are time-consuming as they took me 5 hours to make. There are multiple steps involved, but if you want to customize your own poppers, want to eat organic on the cheap (we try to grow all our foods organically), and want to know the quality of the foods you are eating, then homemade is the way to go. These are well worth the effort.

I went to several sites to compare recipes so I could customize my own poppers. The 'favorite' recipe I came across used unseasoned bread crumbs, but I used Italian seasoned for more flavor. All used Bacon Bits (yuck!), I used real fried and crumbled bacon. I wanted some onion flavor so I chopped some chives from my yard. I added way more Cheddar than most recipes called for, and I made these the way I wanted them. I am going to give a basic recipe, with some modifications, and then you can go on your own gastronomic trip with your own modifications to fit your own tastes. I did use the 12 ounces of cream cheese as a base, but then I dumped some of this and some of that as I wanted to add it to the pot. These are just basic measurements from modified recipes so don't be afraid to go a bit wild and add your own touch to these.
Remember~USE RUBBER GLOVES when seeding peppers!!!!!!!

Jalapeno Poppers
                                                                                                                        Makes 32
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces grated Cheddar cheese (you can use mild, medium, or sharp)
1 Tbls Bacon Bits (No! No!No! fry your own bacon, crumble it and add waaaaayyy more!!!)
12 ounces (about 16) jalapenos, seeded and cut in half
1 cup milk (Whole milk works best, and raw best of all)
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup dry bread crumbs (Italian seasoned are best, and you can make your own!)
1-2 Tbls. chopped fresh chives (optional, my own addition)
2 quarts oil for frying (I used organic palm oil for best results, or you can use high quality tallow or lard)

Combine cheeses, bacon, and chives. Parsley can be added, too, if desired.
Spoon into pepper halves.
Place milk in a bowl.
Place flour in a bowl.
Place bread crumbs in a bowl.
Dip each pepper in milk, then flour. Let dry for about 10 minutes.
Dip in milk then bread crumbs. Allow to dry for 10 minutes.
Repeat process and make sure all pepper is coated.
If eating right away proceed to how to fry. If storing for later use, then place each pepper on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet and place in freezer for about 1 hour. Then place peppers in a freezer bag and then in a container to help keep them fresh for up to 1 year. Keep frozen till ready to use.
For frying: heat oil to 365 degrees. Deep fry a few at a time for 2-3 minutes each till golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain before serving.

Tips:Use high quality ingredients for best taste.
        Use a good smoky bacon, cook well and crumble before assembling peppers.
        If you don't make your own bread crumbs, then use a brand that has no high fructose corn syrup
        in them. Giant Eagle makes their own Market brand that is okay.
        Grate your own Cheddar if you want better taste.
        Parsley and chives are good in this recipe.
        Don't be afraid to experiment!