Thursday, January 30, 2014

Crockpot Caramelized Onions



Today was a snow day! And while I've been begging for a snow day since the last one we had (aka, last winter), this really wasn't the week I had in mind. My work schedule is so crammed that just missing one day threw things completely for a loop! It was beautiful to look at, though, and I appreciated the opportunity to stay in my PJ pants most of the day :)

The downside of a snow day is that I want to EAT ALL THE THINGS. And what I'm not eating, I'm cooking. And cooking leads to more eating... it's like a terrible merry-go-round that results in a larger pant size before I know it. Do y'all get the itch to cook and eat when you're ice bound to your house?

Schools are closed again tomorrow but my rear will be trekking to work, ice or not!

But enough about snow - let's talk onions. I hate hate hate 99% of onions but LOVE caramelized onions. Unfortunately, I never even gave them a chance until recent years! It's amazing how crunchy, bitter, yucky raw onions can become something so sweet, soft, and rich in flavor. On the stove, they are simple to make but take time and patience. Not weeknight friendly! And on top of all of that, they dirty a skillet you'll have to hand wash later.

But these? In the crockpot? LIFE CHANGING.

And when you throw them in on your way to bed, the aroma fills the entire house and it's so amazing that when you get up to use the bathroom at 3am you can't help but sneak a bite before returning to bed.

Or maybe that's just me.

This recipe is so easy I'm almost embarrassed to post it. But it's so good, and so simple, that it simply must be shared with more people.

Make a big batch, use what you need, and freeze the rest in small portions for later. Remember that onions cook way down so slice more than you think you'll need. You'll thank me later!

Be sure your crockpot is 1/2 - 3/4 full of onions - 5 large onions seemed to be the perfect amount for my 6.5 quart crockpot. 


Crockpot Caramelized Onions
4-5 large yellow onions
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Thinly slice all the onions and add the slices to the crockpot. Be sure it's at least 1/2 full but not more than 3/4 full.

Drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle salt over top; gently toss so each onion is lightly coated. 

Cover and cook on low for 10 hours. If you're home/awake, stir them every few hours to help them cook more evenly. If you aren't home, don't worry - they'll still be fine.

Check at the 10 hour point and see if they are the color and consistency you prefer. At this point, you can either remove them or let them cook awhile longer until your desired doneness. 

They can stay refrigerated for 1 week or frozen for 3 months.

Source: The Kitchn 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sausage Rigatoni in Spicy Vodka Sauce



Oh, do I love a 30 minute meal - especially one that results in a bowl of cheesy, tomatoey, slightly spicy pasta! Is there anything more comforting than a big bowl of pasta?

This is one of those dishes that would please even the pickiest of eaters. As written, the spice is very subtle but if you're serving young children, or people who are very sensitive to spice, just ditch the jalapeno and hot paprika. On the other hand, if you love your mouth on fire when you eat (I know some of you do!), leave the ribs/seeds in the jalapeno and up the hot paprika.

While this is total weeknight comfort food, it'd also be perfect to take someone or serve to guests. It makes a large portion and reheats beautifully!

I previously blogged this recipe three years ago and it deserved a revisit! 



Sausage Rigatoni in Spicy Vodka Sauce
1 pound rigatoni
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sausage, casings removed (I use chicken sausage!)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Hungarian hot paprika
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil
1/3 cup vodka
1 cup half & half
1 cup grated Asiago cheese
3 tablespoons chopped parsley 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni and cook until al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the sauce and brown, 3-4 minutes, breaking up large pieces with a wooden spoon. Add the onions, jalapenos, and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper (to taste) and cook 3 minutes more.

Add the diced tomatoes and simmer about 10 minutes. Add the vodka and half & half and cook a few minutes more. Toss in the cheese and chopped parsley. 

Add the drained pasta to the sauce and mix until the pasta is well coated.

Serve hot. 

Source: adapted from Sunny Anderson

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Disney Recipe Round-Up!



Don't miss any of the Disney recipes I featured over the last few weeks! Just click the picture to be taken directly to the recipe.










I've previously blogged these other great Disney recipes!



Saturday, January 25, 2014

"The Grey Stuff" from Disney's Be Our Guest Restaurant



Are y'all bundled up inside thanks to this bitter cold weather plaguing so much of the country? Our home state of Texas has had ice, sleet, and snow a couple of times this year but here in Charlotte, just a couple hours from the ski resorts, we've had nothing more than frigid days. Some might think that's a good thing, but I could go for a snow day!

My week ran away from me so my last Recipes of Disney is super late. Apologies. On the upside, it's one worth the wait!

Remember in Beauty and the Beast, the song "Be Our Guest" has a line that says "Try the grey stuff, it's delicious! Don't believe me, ask the dishes!" Well, when Walt Disney World recently opened the new Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant, Be Our Guest, in the expansion of Fantasyland, people immediately asked where the grey stuff was. It wasn't even considered when the menu was planned (do these Imagineers not watch their movies a bajillon times like we do?) but so many guests asked about it, they got in the kitchen and created The Grey Stuff!

It's so popular that you can now even buy a cupcake topped with the delicious concoction. Which is what I plan to make with my leftover Grey Stuff :)

I think the latest presentation of it at dinner is a dollop on a plate topped with edible pearls so that's how I plated mine below. The taste is similar to cookies and cream pudding - it's really, really good. And super simple to make!

This would be fun to serve at a princess birthday party or for the Beauty and the Beast fanatic in your life. Or, on cupcakes just because.


"The Grey Stuff"
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
1.5 cups whole or 2% milk
15 Oreos (not double stuff)
1 (8 ounce) tub whipped topping
3 tablespoons instant chocolate pudding mix
edible pearl sprinkles

In large mixing bowl, whisk together the vanilla pudding mix and milk. Let is cool in the fridge for 5-10 minutes.

In your food processor, blend the Oreos until they are a crumb consistency. 

Remove the pudding from the fridge and mix in the crushed Oreos. Fold in the tub of whipped topping and blend well. Mix in the 3 tablespoons of chocolate pudding mix and stir well. It should now be a grey color! 

Place in the fridge to chill at least another hour before serving topped with the edible pearls.

{to get the look that Disney uses, you need a cake decorating bag fitted with a star tip - Wilton 1M}


Did you see the other Disney recipes already featured?







Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake from Disney's Liberty Tree Tavern



Liberty Tree Tavern is a table service restaurant inside the Magic Kingdom. The 1800's themed colonial restaurant is decorated in American history memorabilia and fits in nicely among the other shops, restaurants, and rides in Liberty Square. While lunch offers a variety of menu items, dinner is Thanksgiving - all year round! What's more American than Thanksgiving dinner?

When you finish polishing off a plate of turkey, stuffing, mac and cheese, and more, you should make room for this cake. Because it's AMAZING.

But for those of us not dining at the Liberty Tree Tavern on a regular basis, we can just make our own! and it's so easy!

The exterior is slightly crispy and the inside is, well, gooey! It's very sweet so of course you have to throw in some toffee bits and chocolate chips... The result is a rich and addictive treat that's begging for a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This recipe makes a 9x13 pan; Disney serves theirs in individual portions but I don't own a jumbo muffin tin. If you really want to replicate the Disney version, bake yours in a jumbo muffin tin and just adjust the cooking times.


Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake
For the bottom layer:
1 box yellow cake mix
1 large egg
1 stick butter, melted

For the top layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup Heath bar pieces

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly spray a 9x13 pan. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, 1 egg, and 1 stick melted butter. Mix until well combined and press into bottom of prepared pan. 

In the same bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, beating to make sure it's well combined. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter. Fold in the chocolate chips and Heath bar pieces. 

Pour over the cake base and spread evenly. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the middle is gooey but not liquid. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting into bars. 

Source: adapted from Disney Food Blog & Paula Deen

Check back Tuesday for my last WDW recipe!

Did you see the other Disney recipes already featured?









Thursday, January 16, 2014

Shrimp and Prosciutto Pasta from Disney's Grand Floridian Cafe



The swankiest of all Walt Disney World resorts is the Grand Floridian. I've never forked over the $500+ a night to stay there but have dined or visited many times. It's Victoria in style so a bit frilly and frou frou with lots of floral prints. This is the hotel that offers afternoon tea, the gorgeous wedding chapel, and three high end restaurants.

Nestled there in the hotel is a hidden gem in dining, one I only discovered a few trips ago. The Grand Floridian Cafe is open all three meals of the day with a basic American fare menu at decent (relatively speaking!) prices. The restaurant itself is really bright and airy, the service has always been excellent, and we've loved the food there. For those that aren't interested in staying in the park from morning to night, the Grand Floridian Cafe is just a short monorail ride from the Magic Kingdom and a great break from the crowds.

This pasta is from their menu and is a quick, easy, and tasty pasta dish. You can whip it up in the time it takes to boil the pasta! I love a 15 minute meal, especially one loaded with shrimp & prosciutto!


Shrimp & Prosciutto Pasta
1 lb pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup chopped prosciutto
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup diced fresh tomatoes

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain well.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garilc, shrimp, and prosciutto and saute for about 3 minutes, until shrimp are pink, firm, and slightly opaque. 

Add the white wine and simmer for 1 minute.

Stir in the cream and cheese. Gently fold in the cooked pasta. 

Garnish with basil and tomatoes.


Check back this weekend for another WDW recipe!

Did you see the other Disney recipes already featured?




Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cornbread from Disney's Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue



One of the dinner shows at Walt Disney World is The Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue. It's actually one of the longest running shows at Disney and the show has changed very little (if at all!) since it started. My first time attending was as a preschooler, actually, and I've gone several times since.

The show is purposely corny and full of old fashioned jokes, skits, and songs - and lots of audience involvement. On our last visit, Jason even got pulled on stage to participate! The atmosphere is that of an old dance hall set in the wild west so the (all you can eat) menu reflects that. Fried chicken, ribs, mashed potatoes, beans, veggies, and - of course! - cornbread are all served family style while you enjoy the show.

We don't eat cornbread near enough at our house but a big bowl of chili just begs it. Sweet cornbread is our favorite - especially alongside a pot of spicy chili - and this recipe definitely qualifies as that! This cornbread is so moist that I wasn't even tempted to slather on any butter. And I'm a fan of butter. It's SO good. Like, grab a piece every time you wander into the kitchen good.

Yeah, a box of Jiffy is easiest but this recipe is just one step beyond it - and light years away in taste! I promise it'll be worth the {minimal} extra effort!


Cornbread
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375 and lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix the flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and oil until well blended.

Using a hand mixer, slowly add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, making sure to spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Source: Disney Food Blog

Check back Thursday for another WDW recipe!

Did you see the other Disney recipes already featured?




Sunday, January 12, 2014

Guinness Stew from Epcot's Rose & Crown



For a foodie who's also a Disney World fan, Epcot is usually the best part of the entire trip. Even when it's not Food & Wine Fest (which I blogged about recently), there are plenty of good eats, drinks, and treats throughout World Showcase.

If you've never been before, you should know that Epcot is divided into two sections: Future World & World Showcase. The World Showcase features 11 countries, each with their own food, drinks, shops, entertainment, etc.

The United Kingdom is one of my favorite countries to stop in because their shops are some of the best. And Mary Poppins is often there in the English Gardens! Last trip, we sat and watched the British Revolution band that covered (very well, I might add) favorite songs from British rock bands.

The Rose & Crown is the full service restaurant there in the United Kingdom pavilion and it's theming represents a traditional British pub. Their menu has typical British fare like fish & chips, bangers & mash, and - in the past - this Guinness Stew. Though I don't think it's appearing on the menu right now, which is a huge shame. Because it's darn tasty. REALLY tasty.

Guinness is a very dry stout beer that is amazing slow cooked alongside beef. This recipe is very easy, relatively fast, and will give you a big hearty pot of tender beef. Best served alongside hot fresh bread!

Did you know it's nearly impossible to make beef stew appear appetizing? Ignore the picture, jump right to the recipe, and make this soon! It's PERFECT for cold winter days!



Guinness Stew
2 pounds sirloin steak, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 cup Guinness Stout
salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups beef broth

Place the steak and flour in a plastic zip-top bag; seal and shake to coat.

Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed stockpot; add the steak and cook over medium-high heat until browned, stirring occasionally. Reserve the remaining flour in the zip-top bag.

Add the bay leaves, garlic, onions, and carrots and cook about 5 minutes, until tender. Sprinkle in the remaining flour from the bag and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the thyme, rosemary, and chili flakes.

Slowly stir in the Guinness while scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned bits. Stir until smooth, thickened, and bubbly. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

Slowly stir in the beef broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. The stew will thicken and reduce by at least 1/3. Discard the bay leaves before serving.

Source: Delicious Disney

Check Back Tuesday for another WDW recipe!

Did you see the other Disney recipes already featured?





Friday, January 10, 2014

French Toast Loaf from Magic Kingdom's Main St Bakery



If you're a regular Disney park guest, it's pretty likely that you have a favorite (or more!) treats that you just HAVE to have each trip. Typically, it's an item that's unique to Disney or has some sort of memory attached to it. For many of us, a stop at the Main St Bakery on your way towards the castle that first morning at the Magic Kingdom was always a tradition. And several of their goodies were probably on your favorites list! I'm looking at you, giant gooey cinnamon rolls.

This French Toast Loaf is right up there with the cinnamon rolls. Except it disappeared from the bakery a few years ago. And now, with Starbucks moved into the bakery space and bringing it's own baked goods, all the other formerly favorite treats disappeared from Main St.

Thanks to the magic of the internet and Disney cookbooks, you can recreate some of your favorites at home - and none could be as easy as this French Toast Loaf!

Essentially, you layer bread slices with butter and brown sugar, squish it all down, and pour a custard sauce over top and throughout each layer. What you get is a loaf that tastes like french toast - but might I say it's even better? It's absolutely delicious served warm with or without powdered sugar. No wonder it's a fan favorite!

If you close your eyes, and concentrate really hard, you can transport yourself to Main St, watching the parade go, by while you enjoy a slice. Or three.

It's a bit tricky to get the sauce well distributed into all the layers once it's put together; don't hesitate to grab a couple of forks and really lift up each layer.


French Toast Loaf
12 slices homestyle white bread (not thin sandwich bread)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, chilled until ready to use
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Let the bread slices either air dry for 3-4 hours or lightly toast under the broiler.

Slice the sticks of butter into thin slices and divide them into three equal portions. Keep them chilled until ready to use.

Mix together the brown sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Set aside.

Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Place 3 slices of bread in the bottom; sprinkle 1/3 of the brown sugar mixture over the bread slices and then layer 1/3 of the chilled butter slices. Repeat this step 2 more times and then top with the 3 remaining slices of bread. Squish it all down with the palm of your hand so the bread is not extending above the rim of the pan. 

Whisk the eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Add the heavy cream and whisk well. Whisk in the vanilla and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Slowly pour this mixture over the loaf a little at a time, making sure it is seeping down in between the layers and soaking into the bread. Use a fork to carefully lift up the bread layers to get it well distributed throughout. 

Cover the loaf first with plastic wrap and then with foil. Place in the fridge to chill overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325. Remove the foil and discard the plastic wrap. Replace the foil and secure it well. Place it on a baking sheet (to catch any spillage) and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes. 

Remove and let cool completely. Slice and serve sprinkled with powdered sugar. 

Source: slightly adapted from The Disney Diner 

Check back Sunday for another WDW recipe!

Did you see the other Disney recipes already featured?




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