Peas in Cheese Sauce

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This year for Christmas I asked everyone what dish they would like me to cook for Christmas dinner.  My youngest said macaroni and cheese.  I figured it would be too many carbs for dinner since I was already making mashed potatoes and gravy.  So I changed his request up a little bit to get some green vegetables in the meal.

Peas in Cheese Sauce

4 1/2 teaspoons butter
4 1/2 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup cubed Velveeta
2 packages (10 oz. each) frozen peas, thawed

In a large pan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add cheese, stir until melted. Stir in peas, cook 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through.

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Slow Cooker Mexican Red Beans

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I have been quite remiss in posting lately.  Let me just say that the holiday season left me very very busy.  I should have posted this recipe long before now.  This is one of the family’s favorites and a recipe I make quite frequently.  On Christmas Eve in West Texas especially along the border, it is traditional to have tamales and beans.    After we ate we would go for a drive to look at all the luminarias.  Entire neighborhoods were lined in luminarias and they were so beautiful.  This year we had tamales and beans but I unfortunately did not see any luminarias as they are not a common thing to see in this area.

Mexican Red Beans

1 pound dried pinto beans (soak overnight)
4 cups cold water
1 large onion, chopped
1 14.5 oz can tomatoes (I get the diced)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or 2 teaspoons chili powder (I use the chili powder)
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 pound salt pork or bacon, chopped (I use bacon)

Put soaked and drained beans into slow cookers. Add water and all remaining ingredients. Cook and cover on High 2 hours, then turn to Low for 8 hours.

I also like to serve this with cornbread.

Sweet Potato Rum Casserole

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This is a recipe that I have had for a long long time.  I don’t remember where I originally got the recipe but I always fix it for Thanksgiving.  I made the recipe below except I didn’t bake it. The casserole mixture was frozen.   The day before Thanksgiving I will thaw this in the refrigerator and then bake it on Thanksgiving.  Marshmallows are added the last 5-10 minutes of baking.

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
¼ cup and 2 tablespoons of butter, melted
½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ cup flaked coconut
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
¼ cup dark rum
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract (use the real stuff, not imitation)
Mini-marshmallows

Combine first 7 ingredients, mixing well.  Spoon into lightly greased 1 1/2 quart casserole.   Bake uncovered at 325 degrees F for 45 minutes.  Arrange marshmallows on top and continue baking until marshmallows are lightly brown.

Freezable Mashed Potatoes

I hope to have most of the Thanksgiving meal fixed ahead of time.  I want to spend my time visiting with company instead of cooking in the kitchen.  I am going to cook the turkey on Thanksgiving day.  There is just something to be said about the wonderful smell of turkey that goes through the house.  If you want to follow along, I will be cooking other dishes for Thanksgiving and freezing them.  After Thanksgiving I will be preparing for Christmas and cooking freezable goodies.

The first thing I am cooking and freezing ahead of time is mashed potatoes.  I have never tried this recipe but it seems like it would work.  I froze all the mashed potatoes together because I am having quite a few people for Thanksgiving but you can freeze this in smaller containers that is more meal sized for your family.

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5 pounds of potatoes
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 pinch of paprika

Peel potatoes. Boil in water until soft. Drain. In a large bowl combine potatoes, egg, garlic powder, salt, cream cheese and milk. Mash by hand or with an electric mixer. Freeze potatoes at this point. I put mine in a ziplock freezer bag. May put potatoes into smaller freezer bags.

Cooking directions: Thaw potatoes. Place in a 3 qt. buttered casserole dish. Drizzle butter over top of potatoes and sprinkle paprika on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until top is golden.

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater

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I got this pumpkin for free the day before Thanksgiving.  I was going to use it as a table centerpiece for our Thanksgiving dinner but I used some beautiful roses instead.  I ended up putting the pumpkin by the door.  After Thanksgiving was over I began to think about what to do with it.  I have no idea what kind of pumpkin it is but I figured it could be eaten since I got it at a grocery store.

pumpkin chunks

So I cut it up into chunks and took out the pulp and seeds.  The inside was a light orange color and it smelled kind of like watermelon.  I roasted the pumpkin in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.  I let it cool off and I put the meat of the pumpkin in the food processor and processed it in to puree.

pumpkin puree

Then I bagged it up in freezer bags so I could put it in the freezer.  There is 2 cups of puree in each bag which is enough to make 4 pumpkin pies!!  Or pumpkin bread. Or pumpkin soup.  Or whatever your heart desires to make with it!!

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Then I rinse the pumpkin seeds and got all the pulp off and placed them on a cookie sheet to dry overnight.  Add about 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil and some salt to the seeds.  Roast them at 250 degrees for 1 hour and you will have a wonderful snack too!!

Pressure Cooker Pinto Beans

I made some of the best beans the other day in the pressure cooker.  I didn’t have to pre-soak the beans which made it so easy.  I put this in a 4.4 qt. pressure cooker.

1 pound rinsed and picked over pinto beans
6 cups water
1 can Rotel
4 teaspoons of garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon oil
Cook on high for 50 minutes. I added about 1 teaspoon of salt after the cooking. Could add chopped onions and bacon to this also.

Stewed Okra with Tomatoes and Onion

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (or Bacon Grease, If You Have It!)
1 whole Vidalia Onion, Diced
1 pound Okra, Sliced Into Rounds
1 clove Garlic, Minced
4 whole Medium Tomatoes, Peeled & Chopped
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon Pepper
3 dashes Tabasco Pepper Sauce

Heat oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, then add onions, garlic and okra. Stir frequently until the vegetables are soft (about 5 minutes). Okra produces a nasty slime while it cooks, don’t be alarmed, it will go away as the dish cooks. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and a few dashes of Tabasco and stir until most of the okra slime is gone. Reduce heat to low (simmer) and cook about 10-15 minutes until tomatoes are cooked down!

Fried Okra

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Here is a picture of the fried okra from last night.  It was wonderful and so easy to cook.  All I did was slice the okra, salt and pepper it and then toss it with some corn meal.  Pour some oil in a skillet and pour the okra in.  Cook the okra until it turn a little brown.  Make sure you don’t burn it.  Stir frequently until the okra is tender.  Okra is in season right now, and so delicious!!  I love summer!!

Roasted Asparagus

To me spring says fresh asparagus.  I love fresh asparagus and one of my favorite ways of cooking it is roasting.

Wash the asparagus and cut of the tough end of the asparagus.  Arrange the spears in a baking dish.  Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the asparagus.  Make sure the olive oil coats all of the spears.

Sprinkle some Kosher salt on the asparagus.

Sprinkle some pepper on the asparagus.

Sprinkle 2 minced garlic cloves on the asparagus.

Squeeze 1/2 lemon on the asparagus.  Cook at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until done.

Fresh roasted asparagus, a springtime treat.  This is so quick and easy to do.  It is so much better than the canned stuff!!

Pressure Cooker Green Beans

I just don’t like canned green beans.  I prefer fresh green beans any day of the week.  Cooking them in a pressure cooker makes it fast and easy.  I do like to cook my green beans until they are soft.  I do not like crunchy green beans.

Buy one of these bags.  The beans are already washed and trimmed.  It saves so much time.  If you want to you can steam it right in the bag but then I like my green beans soft so I pour the bag into a pressure cooker.

Add 1 cup of water.  Salt and pepper the green beans.

Put a slice of bacon on top of the green beans.  Set the pressure cooker to cook for 15 minutes.  Let the pressure release naturally.

And here are the green beans, finished to perfection.  So much better than canned green beans.