Saturday Seven - My Favorite Recipes

I know cooking doesn't exactly fall under crafting, but since the holidays are upon us and we'll all be doing quite a bit of cooking, I figure it works.

I've personally made all of these recipes. And I'm not so gifted in the kitchen, so if I can do it, you can too! Also, I'm really picky so chances are you're kids will eat this stuff, too.

1. Chef Joe's Mac & Cheese - I found this one on the Food Network site and let me tell you, I am so happy I did. It's delicious. The paprika and cayenne pepper add an unexpected (but not too exotic) punch.

2. Hash brown Casserole - This comes from my church cookbook. It doesn't have onions, but it does have cheese. Lots and lots of it!

30 oz bag shredded frozen hash browns
2 C shredded cheddar cheese (I've also used the casserole blend, which is really good)
8 oz sour cream
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 can cream of chicken soup (use cream of mushroom for a vegetarian casserole)
1 stick butter
approximately 1 C crushed corn flakes

Mix first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add melted butter. Spread into 9x13 dish. Top with crushed corn flakes. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

*For best results, use Campbell's brand soups. Seriously. They're much better than the store brand. And for heaven's sakes, people, don't use fat free, low sodium or fake butter. It's much better to have a smaller serving of something fantastic than a regular serving of a so-so dish.

3. Great Pumpkin Cookies - My mom always made these for us in the fall. She'd make them really big. I think they count as a vegetable serving, personally.

2 C flour
1 C uncooked oats (quick or old fashioned)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 C softened butter
1 C packed brown sugar
1 C sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 C solid pack (canned) pumpkin
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine first 5 ingredients. Cream butter & sugars in a large bowl, beating until light & fluffy. Add egg & vanilla; mix well. Alternate additions of dry ingredient mixture and pumpkin, mixing well after each addition. Stir in morsels. Drop onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

4. Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball - I have my sister-in-law, Julie, to thank for this one!

1 8 oz package cream cheese
1/2 C butter (one stick)
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs brown sugar
3/4 C confectioners sugar
3/4 C mini chocolate chips
3/4 C finely chopped pecans (or more chocolate chips)

various crackers/cookies for dipping*

Beat softened cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until creamy. Slowly add sugars until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Place mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a ball. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Roll ball in pecans (or chocolate chips). Serve with graham crackers.

*I like to use graham cracker sticks in honey and chocolate flavors. If you have other ideas, I'd love to hear them!

5. Cheese Fondue - I love this stuff. I will dip anything I can find in this cheese fondue.

1 C half & half
1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
3 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 Tbsp flour

Heat half & half, Worcestershire sauce and dry mustard. Toss cheese with flour. Gradually add cheese, stirring until melted between additions.

*I love french bread with this, but fresh veggies and apples are a healthier (and also awesome) option!

6. Really Super Cheesy Potato Soup - This is one of my only recipes that I can truly claim as my own. I just kind of threw it together and used whatever ingredients and techniques that seemed like a good idea at the time. And it actually turned out really good! My husband likes it, but hates when I make it. He swears I get cheesy potato soup into every crevice of the kitchen.

6 cups diced & peeled potatoes
5 cups chicken broth (I use 5 cups water + 5 tsp chicken bullion granules)
dash of onion salt
dash of garlic salt
dash of kosher salt
dash of fresh ground black pepper
1 can cheddar cheese soup
2 C shredded cheese (use any you want - I usually use cheddar, but I've also used shredded Velveeta) plus a little extra for garnish
Whole milk to taste
Cooked crispy bacon

In a crock pot, add potatoes, chicken broth, onion salt, garlic salt, pepper & salt. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or until potatoes are tender. To speed up the process, sometimes I'll put the diced potatoes in the microwave for 5-7 minutes before adding to the crock pot.

Start this next step no more than an hour before you're ready to eat.

Remove 1-2 cups of the diced potatoes. Here's where the fun begins! Add the cheddar cheese soup and get out your immersion blender (hand mixer). If you don't have one of those, I supposed you could use a wire whisk. Blend until smooth. Add in shredded cheese and stir until melted. Add milk until you've reached your desired consistency.

Serve each bowl topped with crispy bacon crumbles and shredded cheese and along with some warm crusty bread. If you stir the bacon in too long before serving, it gets (for lack of a better word) soggy. Which is gross. So don't do that.

To reheat, just turn the crock pot back on or nuke it in the microwave. Add milk to thin it out.

7. Scotcheroos - My grandma used to make these and send them to me in are packages in college. Once, my Aunt Janet caught the stove on fire making these. I'm apparently the only one who remembers that, though, so it may have just been the overactive imagination of a 6 year old.

1 C granulated sugar
1 C light corn syrup
1 C peanut butter (I like Skippy for this recipe. I don't know why.)
6 C Rice Krispies

Butter a 13x9 pan, set it aside. Measure Rice Krispies, set aside. Combine sugar and corn syrup into a medium size saucepan and heat on stove till mixture bubbles. Take pan off heat and stir in the peanut butter; when mixed well, add the measured rice krispies. Stir till all rice is evenly coated. Press into buttered pan with a spatula or wet hands when mixture has cooled slightly.

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