Cali in the Kitchen

Toasted Tuna & Bacon
Serves 8, 20 minutes prep time
from a Walmart advertisement

1 cup mayonnaise
2 cans (12 oz. each) tuna, drained and flaked
1 cup chopped celery or gherkin pickles
16 slices of bread, toasted
8 slices American cheese
8 slices bacon or turkey bacon, halved and cooked

1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. Combine mayonnaise, tuna, and celery or gherkin pickles in medium bowl.
3. Evenly spread tuna mixture on bread slices, then top with cheese and bacon.
4. Arrange bread on cookie sheet and bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Top with an additional slice of toast.


What I did:

I used pickle relish instead of doing any chopping, which made the mixture pretty soup-like, so I added another can of tuna—the mixture still wasn’t the consistency of normal tuna salad, but it was better.

Since there’s only one of me, I didn’t prep all the sandwiches at once, and thus decided to skip doing anything with the oven. I just put the cheese on the bread as soon as it came out of the toaster and got it a little melty that way. I also used Monterey Jack cheese rather than American.

I think I ended up getting 6 meals out of this rather than 8.


Comments:

I loved the idea of adding bacon to tuna salad, and I think I’m going to do that even with normal tuna salad now.

Also, the tuna mixture is pretty tasty when eaten as a dip with sliced fresh mushrooms.

Muddy Buddies (also known as Puppy Chow)

9 c. Chex cereal (or generic equivalent)
1 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. margarine or butter
1 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

variant:

3/4 c. peanut butter
1 stick margarine or butter
12 oz. chocolate chips
12 oz. box Crispix or Chex cereal
3 c. powdered sugar

Pour cereal into large bowl and set aside. Mix chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter and microwave on high 1 to 1.5 minutes or until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal, stirring until all pieces are evenly coated. Pour mixture into large ziploc bag with powdered sugar and shake until all pieces are well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool.


What I do:

Well, for the most recent batches, I managed to do a mixture of the two recipes, so the chocolate mixture ended up being 1 stick butter, 1 c. chocolate chips, and 1/2 c. peanut butter. That actually worked pretty well for coating 9 cups of cereal evenly without forming clumps. (If you’re a fan of the clumps when the cereal sticks together—as my sister and I both prefer—do more chocolate and less butter.)

My family usually doesn’t use the vanilla. We also don’t measure the powdered sugar. I put some in the bag, put the coated cereal in, then pour more on top, and shake. After a while I open it, check on how it’s doing, add more sugar if it’s still looking grey/brown, and shake some more. So the pictures do not necessarily represent what you’ll get if you measure out the sugar!


Comments:

This has been a favorite in my family since my childhood and I can’t believe I hadn’t posted it before! Total sugar rush, of course, but very tasty. :-)

Crock Pot Apple Oatmeal
found via facebook

throw 2 sliced apples, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon in the bottom of the crock pot. Pour 2 cups of oatmeal and 4 cups of water on top. Do NOT stir. Cook overnight for 8 – 9 hours on low.


Comments:

It was a little thinner than I like the first time around, but the leftovers thickened up nicely.

I think I ended up cooking it for 9 hours, and I think it would’ve been fine with less. The apples fell apart, but that’s not really a surprise.

A fair bit of the oatmeal ended up stuck to the sides of my crock. I’m not sure using nonstick spray at the beginning would help. If you’ve got those crock pot liners, that might be a good way to go.

Peppermint Pattie Brownies
(also found on the back of the York Patties bag)

    1 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    5 eggs
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    3 cups sugar
    24 YORK Peppermint Patties
    1-1/2 cups butter or margarine

1. Heat oven to 350°F.(325°F. for glass baking dish). Remove wrappers from peppermint patties. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. Stir together butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl. Add eggs; beat until well blended. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; blend well. Reserve 2 cups batter. Spread remaining batter in prepared pan. Arrange peppermint patties about 1/2 inch apart in single layer over batter. Spread reserved 2 cups batter over patties.

3. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack; cut into squares. Makes 24 to 36 brownies.


Comments:

The bag of York patties I had was three short of 24, so I had to substitute a couple generic patties that weren’t quite identical—in the end result, I’m not sure you could tell which ones were which.

I undercooked them at first and had to put them back in the oven for a little while to firm up the dough; I took it out because it smelled like it was getting overdone, but I guess not. :)

Cutting it into 24 makes rather large brownies, considering the depth and the fact that there’s a patty inside. I’d definitely cut them a tad smaller next time.

All Day Simple Chicken        8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves    4 potatoes, cubed    1 package of green beans, fresh or frozen    1 can (10.75-ounces) condensed cream of chicken or mushroom    1 can (10.75-ounces) milk    1 tablespoon cornstarch    1 ounce package of dry onion soup mix
Put the chicken pieces, potatoes and green beans into a slow cooker. Combine the soup, milk, cornstarch and dry soup mix and pour over the chicken and potatoes.     Cook for 8 to 10 hours on low. Serve.
Comments:
I did this for 10 hours the first time and the chicken was a bit overcooked. Otherwise, it was quite tasty and I’ve already made it a couple of times. :)

All Day Simple Chicken   
    8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
    4 potatoes, cubed
    1 package of green beans, fresh or frozen
    1 can (10.75-ounces) condensed cream of chicken or mushroom
    1 can (10.75-ounces) milk
    1 tablespoon cornstarch
    1 ounce package of dry onion soup mix

Put the chicken pieces, potatoes and green beans into a slow cooker. Combine the soup, milk, cornstarch and dry soup mix and pour over the chicken and potatoes.
    
Cook for 8 to 10 hours on low. Serve.


Comments:

I did this for 10 hours the first time and the chicken was a bit overcooked. Otherwise, it was quite tasty and I’ve already made it a couple of times. :)

Peanut Butter Blossoms
Peanut butter cookie mix and its necessary ingredientsunwrapped Hershey’s kisses (48 or so, I think)
I followed the directions to make the cookies, then stuck the kisses on the cookies immediately after taking them out of the oven.
Comments:
I didn’t follow any specific recipe, just checked online about when to put the chocolate on the cookies. I think I cooked the cookies a tad too long; some of them were a bit dry and cracked.
I used dark chocolate kisses or this, and that was delicious. :)
For a first go at these, it worked pretty well.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Peanut butter cookie mix and its necessary ingredients
unwrapped Hershey’s kisses (48 or so, I think)

I followed the directions to make the cookies, then stuck the kisses on the cookies immediately after taking them out of the oven.


Comments:

I didn’t follow any specific recipe, just checked online about when to put the chocolate on the cookies. I think I cooked the cookies a tad too long; some of them were a bit dry and cracked.

I used dark chocolate kisses or this, and that was delicious. :)

For a first go at these, it worked pretty well.

For the Christmas season: Fudge cutting tip

Spray the knife with nonstick spray before you start cutting your pan of fudge. This will prevent the majority of the normal fudge buildup on the knife—it’s like magic. :)

Pork Chops with Apple Pie Filling and Stuffing

I’m afraid I have misplaced the recipe I was working from when I made this. There are plenty of variations available online, but the version I was using only called for an 8x8 pan and 3 thick pork chops (though as you can see, I used four because that’s how many were in the package :) ). So the recipe as I remember it is as follows:

3 (or 4) pork chops
1 can apple pie filling
1 box stuffing (I used the pork-flavored kind)

Sear the pork chops on both sides. (I think they’re supposed to be a little browner than mine are—I hadn’t cooked pork before so I didn’t want to burn them.)
Make the stuffing according to the directions on the box.
In a greased 8x8” pan, layer the apple pie filling, the pork chops, and the prepared stuffing. Cover with foil (I think?).
Bake in a 350F oven for 20-30 (?) minutes. Remove the foil and bake for additional time until the meat is 160F in the middle.


I did manage to overcook the pork a bit in zealously trying to make sure it got to 160F (again, this was my first time ever cooking pork, and my chops were on the thin side to start with). But having the stuffing and apples with it covered that flaw quite nicely. :)

Beggar’s American Goulash
from Recipe Lion
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 (7-ounces) package of macaroni
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup Mozzarella or Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon chili powder
1. Brown ground beef in large heavy pan. Add onion, cook until transparent.
2. Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.
3. Add to ground beef mixture. Stir in remaining ingredients. Simmer, covered, until cheese is melted.
Comments:
I used dried onion rather than messing with a fresh one, and I’m sure I ended up with more than 7 oz. of noodles (I used about half of a 16 oz. box).
This came out looking a lot like Hamburger Helper, lol. Definitely not quite the same as the goulash my grandma made, but certainly edible.

Beggar’s American Goulash
from Recipe Lion

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 (7-ounces) package of macaroni
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup Mozzarella or Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon chili powder

1. Brown ground beef in large heavy pan. Add onion, cook until transparent.
2. Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.
3. Add to ground beef mixture. Stir in remaining ingredients. Simmer, covered, until cheese is melted.

Comments:

I used dried onion rather than messing with a fresh one, and I’m sure I ended up with more than 7 oz. of noodles (I used about half of a 16 oz. box).

This came out looking a lot like Hamburger Helper, lol. Definitely not quite the same as the goulash my grandma made, but certainly edible.

Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole [Slow Cooker]from Country Cook blog
1 (32 oz.) bag frozen tater tots1 (3 oz.) bag bacon pieces1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced2 cups shredded cheddar cheese3/4 cup milksalt & pepper, to taste
Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.Layer half of the frozen tater tots on the bottom of the slow cooker.Sprinkle with 1/3 of the bacon pieces.Now top with 1/3 of the shredded cheese.Add diced chicken on top.  Season with salt & pepper.Now add 1/3 of the bacon pieces and another 1/3 of shredded cheese.Put the rest of the frozen tater tots on top.Finish with the remaining 1/3 cheddar cheese and remaining 1/3 of bacon pieces.Pour 3/4 cup milk all over the top.Cover and cook on low about 4-6 hours.
Please note: Some slow cookers run at different temperatures. If you are using an older slow cooker (older than about 6 years old), your cooking time may take longer. Newer models run a bit hotter so keep an eye on this around the 4 hour mark.  You want to make sure the chicken is cooked thoroughly (to 165F degrees).
Comments:
I used extra bacon because I like bacon (I cooked up a bunch and crumbled it rather than buying the pieces), and also extra cheese.
This came out very nicely and was very yummy. It’s definitely something I’d make again. Not much else I can say, really. :)

Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole [Slow Cooker]
from Country Cook blog

1 (32 oz.) bag frozen tater tots
1 (3 oz.) bag bacon pieces
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
salt & pepper, to taste

Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
Layer half of the frozen tater tots on the bottom of the slow cooker.
Sprinkle with 1/3 of the bacon pieces.
Now top with 1/3 of the shredded cheese.
Add diced chicken on top.  Season with salt & pepper.
Now add 1/3 of the bacon pieces and another 1/3 of shredded cheese.
Put the rest of the frozen tater tots on top.
Finish with the remaining 1/3 cheddar cheese and remaining 1/3 of bacon pieces.
Pour 3/4 cup milk all over the top.
Cover and cook on low about 4-6 hours.

Please note: Some slow cookers run at different temperatures. If you are using an older slow cooker (older than about 6 years old), your cooking time may take longer. Newer models run a bit hotter so keep an eye on this around the 4 hour mark.  You want to make sure the chicken is cooked thoroughly (to 165F degrees).


Comments:

I used extra bacon because I like bacon (I cooked up a bunch and crumbled it rather than buying the pieces), and also extra cheese.

This came out very nicely and was very yummy. It’s definitely something I’d make again. Not much else I can say, really. :)