Welcome!

Welcome to Simple Fare, Fairly Simple. This is a place for me to post recipes of all kinds...along with other miscellaneous fodder from my so-called life here in the south. Who knows what you will find here. Could be anything from my husband...known as IT Guy...to my kids and beautiful grandbabies that are growing up way too fast right before my eyes. But...mostly this will be a place for food. I hope you'll see something you like and if you decide to try something from the list...leave me a comment and let me know!



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Praline Pecan Cheesecake

This cheesecake is decadent and scrumptious. Your life will never be the same once you've tried it.

Crust:

2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted

In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the crumbs into the pan and pat down into the base and 1-inch up the sides.

Sprinkle with ½ cup praline pecan pieces. (Recipe follows)

Praline Pecans

1 cup pecan pieces
½ cup powdered sugar
Few drops water

Place pecan pieces on a lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and toss. Sprinkle with a few drops of water and toss until coated and pecans are sticky. Bake in 325 degree oven for 5 – 8 minutes. Let cool and break into pieces.

After sprinkling crust with praline pecans, drizzle crust with ¼ cup (or more to your liking) of caramel ice cream topping. (I prefer Mrs. Richardson's...so good.)

Place finished crust in refrigerator while assembling cheesecake filling.

Filling:

2 8-ounce blocks cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
dash vanilla

¼ cup Butterscotch-Caramel topping for drizzling

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs one at a time and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add the sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 – 2 minutes.

Add the sour cream and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. The batter should be well mixed but not overbeaten. Pour the filling into the chilled crust-lined pan and smooth top with a spatula. Drizzle Butterscotch-Caramel topping over filling and swirl with a knife.

Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep water from seeping into the cheesecake. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. The cheesecake should jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. Let cool in roasting pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours or overnight. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Slice into 16 servings with a thin, non-serrated knife that has been dipped in hot water. Wipe dry after each cut. Sprinkle cheesecake with remaining ½ cup praline pecans and drizzle with more Butterscotch-Caramel topping.

Serve and enjoy!

The ingredients for the praline pecans...make this first...you'll need them right away.
Give the pecans a rough chop...you want some good chunkage...
And then dust them liberally with powdered sugar
Then with some water...not too much...get them all sticky-like
This is how they look after you bake them for a few minutes
Everything for a nummy cheesecake
The crust ready to be filled...
Oh my...look at all that swirly goodness
Out of the oven....
Don't you just want to sit in this???

"It's Because People Like to Say Saaal-za" Salsa

Since moving to the south, finding a good salsa has been an issue. Every restaurant here serves the same “out of the jar” stuff they CALL salsa. It is NOT salsa. So…I made my own. Again…I found a recipe that sounded good-ish then modified it. My family loves it and we go through tons of it. This recipe makes quite a bit so if you don’t “drink” it like we do, you can make the batch then freeze part of it for later. It’s got a smoky kick to it and is not HOT…but is very flavorful. I really hope you think it’s as tasty as we do.

"It's Because People Like to Say Saaalza" Salsa

Ingredients

4 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes (If you can find Hunt’s Fire Roasted USE THEM!!)
1 12-ounce can whole jalapeƱos…tops cut off, sliced and seeded
1 medium onion – rough chopped
2 – 3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons Liquid Smoke
2 tablespoons dried cilantro
2 teaspoons salt

In a food processor, put the jalapenos, onion, garlic, vinegar, Liquid Smoke, cilantro, salt and two cans of the tomatoes. Pulse until all ingredients are well chopped and blended. Pour into a large bowl. Place remaining two cans of tomatoes in food processor and pulse them until well chopped then add them to the bowl with the first batch. Mix well with a large spoon. You can eat it right away but it’s better if it sits overnight in the fridge.

Now...the reason I mix it in two parts is because my food processor will not hold everything. If you have a large food processor then you are in luck, my friend!!

All of these little goodies.....
....make THIS!!
Cute, huh?

White Chocolate Cashew Clusters

Does anybody know what time it is????????? It’s candy time!! That’s right….candy!! And one of THE best candy recipes I’ve ever come across is this little number. I can’t even remember where I got it, it’s been so long but I’ve been making it for years! On a scale of 1 – 10 in the ease of prep category…I’d say this is probably a 4 or a 5 for a first time candy maker but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy-peasy!

White Chocolate Cashew Clusters

1 cup cashews
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
6 ounces white chocolate

Toast cashews for 5 minutes in 350 degree oven. Reduce heat to 200 degrees to keep cashews warm. Place sugar in a small skillet and cook over medium heat until sugar begins to melt and turns golden and caramel-y….stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter and stir, then dump in the cashews, stirring quickly. Working very quickly, form cashew clusters with 4 – 5 nuts, using a small greased spoon and fork. Cool completely then dip clusters in melted white chocolate. Let set until firm.

Makes 12 – 15 small clusters

* The reason the ingredient amounts are so small is because of the sugar. Once the sugar has caramelized, it sets up very quickly and becomes brittle, making it difficult…almost impossible to form the clusters. I’ve doubled this recipe but have had a second person working with me to make the clusters.


Starting to melt the sugar....
I'm melting, melting.....
Ahhh....perfect!
Our little stack of cashews dipped in the caramalized sugar....which is now brittle
Our little clusters all enrobed in white chocolate
You won't believe how good these are!! You won't!!

Spinach Artichoke Dip

If you gave me a bowl of spinach or a big helping of artichoke, I doubt I could eat more than a couple of bites of either one. But when you add some cream cheese, a little parmesan cheese and a few other ingredients, then it becomes something delicious. I’ve been making this dip for quite a few years and it's always a hit with the crowd. Serve it with warm tortilla chips or better yet…some toasted baguette slices.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 6 ½ - ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (You can use 1 14-ounce can of artichoke as well.)
1 ½ 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
2 – 3 large garlic cloves, pressed
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ½ cups French breadcrumbs (homemade…recipe follows)
2 tablespoon butter, melted

Drain spinach and press between paper towels to remove moisture.
Combine spinach, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, mayo, garlic and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Spoon into lightly greased 11x7 inch baking pan. Combine breadcrumbs and butter and sprinkle over spinach mixture.
Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbling and hot. Serve with tortillas chips, toasted baguette slices or crackers.

French breadcrumbs:

Tear off a large piece of French bread and pulse in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Measure crumbs and repeat until you have 1 ½ cups. Mix crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle over spinach mixture.

All the fixin's.....
Mmmm.....

Really...chicken and rice can’t get much easier than this. My SIL gave me this recipe a while back and when I’m in a hurry…or don’t feel like “gettin’ my gourmet” on, I pull out the ingredients for this homey dish. It’s a little bit like Sour Cream Enchiladas if you’ve ever had those…but without the tortillas. Comfort food at its best. Anyway…here ya’ go…for what it’s worth.

Chicken ‘N Rice…the Easy Way

6 – 8 FROZEN boneless skinless chicken breasts (the ones from WalMart, Sam’s, etc work GREAT for this dish)
1 LARGE can (1 pound can) cream of chicken soup
1 large (or two if you enjoy green chilies) can diced green chilies
Salt and pepper to taste

Set your crock pot to low and place chicken breasts inside. (I spray the inside of my crock pot with Pam…easier clean up)
In a separate bowl, mix cream of chicken soup, green chilies and salt and pepper together then pour mixture over chicken.

Let cook on low for about 8 hours or so. With two sharp knives, cut or shred chicken in a criss-cross manner while it’s still in the crock pot. Stir in about 1 cup of sour cream. Serve over rice.

The stuff....that small bag on the crock pot? 
Fresh green chilies, baby!!
Sooooo good. And so easy!!!



Pizza Soup & Easy Cheesy French Bread

When I first heard of "Pizza Soup" I thought it sounded gross. Who would want to eat soggy pizza? Well, this is FAR from THAT. I stumbled across this recipe a few years ago and after looking over the ingredients list, I thought it sounded pretty promising. Was I right? Oh yes. I was right.


Pizza Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage
1/4 pound piece stick pepperoni, diced (I use the already sliced kind and cut into quarters)
1 ham steak, diced (about 1/2 to 3/4 pound)
1 green bell pepper, seeded, quartered and sliced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, quartered and sliced
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 lb short-cut pasta (I use Fiori - the little round flower-shaped kind but any kind will do)
Directions:

Place a soup pot or deep sided skillet on the stove top and preheat to medium high heat. Add olive oil and the sausage. Brown and crumble the sausage, drain off excess fat if necessary then add the ham and pepperoni. Cook meats together 2 minutes then add peppers and onions and cook 2 or 3 minutes more. Add diced tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock, red pepper flakes and oregano and bring to a boil. Stir in pasta and cook for 8 minutes. Top with freshly grated parmesan, if desired.

And because I'm feeling extra generous today...here's a french bread recipe that works great with the soup.

Easy-Cheesy French Bread

Heat oven to 375 degrees

3 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 pound bacon - cooked crisp and crumbled (please, please please...NO BACON BITS!!)
1 - 2 cups mayo
1/2 small red sweet onion - finely chopped (optional...but oh so good.)
If you're really feeling crazy....add about 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 16-ounce loaf french bread - split horizontally

Combine cheese, bacon, mayo and optional onion in a bowl. Spread onto split french bread and cook in 375 oven until hot and bubbly...maybe 20 - 30 minutes. Let cool and slice diagonally and serve with Pizza Soup.





Here's what ya need for the soup...

...and here's what ya need for the bread...

..and here's something so good you'll want to sit down and cry.