Cookin’ When It’s Hot?

Where I live you never know what type of weather you’re gonna get. 

At the beginning of this week we woke up with goose bumps.  It was 60 degrees in the house, the wind so refreshing and cool was blowing briskly through the windows and all my curtains were billowing out.  It was beautiful!  But, our summer weathered bodies weren’t used to it. We were scrambling for our sweatshirts.

Today it is supposed to be  100 degrees… hot, hot, hot for were we live. And when these hot days are upon me I always scratch my head for what to feed my family.  Cuz, in this frugal household we don’t turn on the AC until we can’t stand it and then there is this understanding that you don’t heat up the house by using the oven.  And on top of that the man can only eat so much pasta salad and such before he is needing a meat and potatoes type meal.

Enter center stage my crock pot. Which in itself can put off a considerable amount of heat, but I have a way around that.

I get my meal all prepared and then stick it in one of two places.  1) Out in the mudroom which I can close off from the rest of the house by shutting the door  OR 2) Outside under the awning on our deck.

 

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If you have outside outlets, I highly suggest this!  I just always make sure I put it either on the north side of my house of under shade of some sort.

The other day was just such a day.  We all had had enough of pasta salads and quick stove top meals.  It was definitely time for something substantial to fill my hungry boy’s bellies!  So Scalloped Potatoes and Ham was on tap for  dinner.

 

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes ( this feeds my family of 6 with left overs. It can definitely be cut to fit any size family.  Also I used my 5 qt. crock pot for this.)

9-12 medium potatoes peeled and sliced thin

3/4 cup chopped onion

White Sauce:

6 Tablespoons butter

6 Tablespoons flour

3  3/4 cups milk

1   teaspoons salt

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon pepper

2  1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

 

For sauce cook onion in butter until tender.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper.  Add milk all at once.  Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly.  Add cheese and stir till melted.  Remove from heat.  Grease crock pot with butter.  Place small amount of sauce in the bottom of your crock pot, then layer potatoes on top.  Continue with layers, ending with sauce on top.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

 

I happened to have a ham steak on had so I fried that up and placed chunks of ham in with the potatoes. Meat is often a must with my guys.  What I love about this recipe is that it is also good with hamburger or ground sausage with this recipe (just cook and drain the meat first before you add it to the potatoes).

 

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If you have a helper when you make this recipe then you are in luck, because they will do a fantastic job of cleaning up for you. Done to the very. last. drop!

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Once you have your crock pot filled and cooking away all you have to do is make up a yummy simple salad.  We were enjoying lots of Romaine lettuce out of the garden until heat and drought conditions made it bitter.  I loved that I could pick bunches of it and just serve it with a simple dressing.  Super easy and amazingly yummy.

 

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Raspberry Balsamic Dressing

1/2- 3/4 cups sugar (start out with 1/2 and adjust to taste)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup Raspberry Balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

 

Combine and refrigerate.

 

So, if its hot where you are break out that crock pot, fill it, then sit back with a cold ice tea….that is after you hang up the laundry, pick up the house, scrub the tub, make that phone call, feed your children, vacuum the floor…again, etc, etc, etc.

 

Stay cool!

Blackberry Muffins

 

(altered from Simply Recipes)

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Oh goodness these are SO good!  Last summer we had a bumper crop of wild Blackberries growing out in my dad’s CRP fields.  They were huge and they were ABUNDANT.  Sadly he had to mow those fields and so this year I will be forced to forage in the fence rows for these black beauties.  I am so thankful for the bags and bags of these that I was able to put into the freezer.  Another freezer blessing!  It seems this time of year when fresh fruit seems so scarce and if it is available it is yucky,  is when my meals are majorly supplemented by what I was able to can or freeze from the previous growing season.

2  1/2 cups flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 t salt

1/2 t cinnamon

2 large eggs

1 cup sour cream or vanilla yogurt (just make sure if you use the yogurt to reduce the amount of sugar)

1 cup sugar (You can definitely use less.  I do!)

4 Tablespoons melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 Tablespoons milk

1  1/2 cups blackberries

Combine dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl whisk eggs.  Add sour cream, sugar, butter, vanilla, and milk.  Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix together with a few light strokes, just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the berries. (If you are using frozen berries, defrost them first, then drain the excess liquid, then coat them lightly in flour.) (I personally put mine in frozen…works for me, but you may want to follow the directions on defrosting and coating with flour) Do not over mix! Over mixing will cause the muffins to be dense, not fluffy. The batter should not be smooth.Add the wet ingredients to the dry. 

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake in 400 degree oven until a toothpick inserted into the middle of 1 or 2 of the muffins comes out clean, 17-20 minutes (or longer). Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before removing from the pan. If not serving hot, let cool on a rack.

Yield: Makes about 18 muffins.

And that girlfriends is all I have for now! I’ve got to get the veges put in with the roast and pull the bread out of the oven!  Have a great evening!