Miss Murder’s Easy Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese

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You guys know me: if it isn’t easy, I most likely won’t do it. But I’ve fallen madly in love with my pressure cooker (I named it Sachiko after the friend who introduced me to it) and one of my favorite things is easy Macaroni and Cheese. You throw everything in one pot, it takes four minutes once it comes to pressure, and it’s a great way to sneak some spinach in there. Yeah, I said it: spinach mac and cheese. And my kiddos still eat it!

I have a Cusinart pressure cooker, but you can make this recipe with any cooker.

Ingredients: 

16 oz small pasta shells

4 cups chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon mustard

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 cups cream

3 cups chopped spinach

2 cups shredded cheese, any type. (I usually use cheddar)

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  1. Mix pasta, broth, mustard, paprika, chopped spinach, and pepper in the pressure cooker. Lock the lid, put it on high pressure, and set the timer for four minutes.
  2. After the timer dings, release the pressure manually.
  3. Stir in cream and cheese. Salt and paper to taste. Voila, you have dinner and there’s even a vegetable in there. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Enjoy!

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Easy Homemade Apple Pie Filling

My parents brought me a box of apples from our tree back home. I remember climbing this tree as a kid and throwing apples to people walking down our street. There’s something so honest and homey about feeding people, and I like it to this day.

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I washed, peeled, and cored the apples, and then used this recipe to make a simple, pie filling. The house smells divine, and the best part is that it’s freezable. Simply stick it in a freezer bag and you can pull it out at any time.

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I hope you feel inspired to make your own filling. There’s something warm and inviting about a homemade apple pie. Have a wonderful day!

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Miss Murder’s Easy Finnish Cake Recipe

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Boys and Girls, today I am going to impart the wisdom that Sister Kaameriinaan taught me in Finland! (Yes, I’m nostalgic for Finland. We lived there briefly ten years ago.) She invited Niko and I over for a day of baking and drinking Pepsi Light in order to keep us out of Luke’s hair while he studied for his finals.
STEP ONE:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take three identical drinking glasses and fill the first one with six eggs. Next, fill the second glass with flour, up to the same level as the eggs. And fill the third glass with sugar, also to the same level as the eggs and flour. Got that? Three equal parts eggs, flour, and sugar.
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STEP TWO: Now toss one teaspoon of baking powder in with the flour, and mix the eggs, flour, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl. If you’re really doing this the Finnish way, you’d use your hands instead of a spoon, but whatever floats your boat.
STEP THREE: Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. That is VERY important, otherwise this whole experiment is all for naught! Then pour the batter onto the baking sheet. Use a spatula and spread it so that it fills the entire sheet. Yeah, I didn’t do that, and paid dearly, so heed my words, O children. Bake it for anywhere from 7 to 20 minutes, peeking in on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. It’ll cook quickly, because it’s so thin.
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STEP FOUR: (Also Picture 2) Hooray, it’s cooked! Pull it out, let it cool for a bit, and then slather the entire top of the cake with something sweet. What, you ask? Who knows?! Hence the adventure! I used orange marmalade, because I’m nuts about the stuff, but you can use any type of jam, or chocolate syrup, whipped cream or crushed nuts…you get the picture. Knock yourself out!
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STEP FIVE:  Carefully (carefully carefully!) peel the cake off of the paper as you go, and roll it up into a tube. Make sure it’s cool enough that the cake doesn’t just fall apart, but not so cool that it becomes a permanent part of the parchment paper.
STEP SIX: Decorate! This is the fun part! I used whipped cream as frosting, but you can use real frosting, or anything else that you want! Frost it, don’t frost it, use sprinkles or again, chocolate syrup or edible flowers…after the whipped cream, I grate some chocolate on top or sprinkle on some cocoa powder.
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This cake is totally a freezer cake, so you can toss it in there and forget about it until you’re ready to wow company. Or the spouse. Or the UPS man, bless his brown-shorts-covered soul. It’s also pretty when you slice it, and that’s very important. Because pretty things make the world go round.

Miss Murder’s Easy Zuppa Toscana Recipe

I know. “Easy” and “Zuppa Toscana” don’t seem like they should go hand-in-hand, but they do. This is our weekly Sunday dinner because it’s delicious, simple to throw into the crockpot, and nourishes the soul as well as the belly.

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Ingredients

1 pound ground spicy Italian sausage

4-6 potatoes, chopped (I prefer golden for the mellow flavor)

1 chopped onion

2 TBLS minced garlic

1/2 pound bacon

32 oz chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup kale

3 TBLS flour

Brown sausage. Cook and chop bacon. Add sausage, bacon, chopped potatoes, garlic, broth, and onion to crockpot. Add water to cover vegetables, then cook on HIGH 3-4 hours or LOW 5-6 hours or until potatoes are soft.

30 minutes serving, mix flour and heavy cream together until smooth. Add cream mixture and kale to the crockpot, stir, and let cook for 30 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

I hope you enjoy one of our favorite recipes! This is amazing with bread, breadsticks, or rolls, and it’s easier than you’d think. Have a wonderful day!

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Miss Murder’s Black Forest Trifle

How about a fairly simple and gorgeous Valentine’s Day dessert?

1 jar maraschino cherries

½ cup sugar

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tbsp vanilla extract

1 pound chocolate cake

Chocolate shavings

Drain the cherries, reserving the liquid. Mix the liquid in a small sauce pan with ½ cup of sugar. Simmer until the liquid becomes thick and reduces to about half. Don’t reduce too much or the liquid will harden later. Let it cool and then mix the cherries back in.

Whip the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until it forms stiff peaks. The whipped cream will turn dark in color, but it’s absolutely delicious and still looks beautiful.

Layer the trifle with the cake, cherries, and whipped cream, and then repeat, topping with the whipped cream. Grate chocolate shavings on the top, and top with a remaining cherry, if you’d like.

Enjoy!

Easy Stuff To Make: Fry Bread

I grew up making this absolutely amazing, extremely inexpensive, divine and EASY fry bread. It reminds me of county fairs and my best friend before she passed away. Whenever I get a little homesick, it’s just the thing to cheer me up.  And hopefully it will do the same for you. It’s delicious, sweet or savory, and gets the home fires burning.

You will need:

4 1/2 cups of flour (save half a cup for later)

2 Tablespoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoons salt

2 cups milk

1 Tablespoon melted butter

Heat a pan of oil (your choice) on medium heat. You won’t need a lot, but enough to cover the bottom of the pan for frying.

Then mix 4 cups of flour (reserving that half a cup for later. No D’oh! moments here) with the baking powder and salt. Then stir it, using your hands. No utensils. Like I told a friend today, if you have a spoon, smack yourself with it and then throw it in the sink.

This is hands only thing, for a couple of reasons. One, they’ve proven that different utensils can do stuff to your dough, etc. etc.

But the real reason? You’re cooking. Slow down and enjoy. Put your hands in that flour. Find contentment for a minute.

Then melt your butter, add your milk, pour it in, and stir. Yes, with your hands. Still.ImageYou’ll end up with a sticky dough that looks like this.

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Dust the counter with your half a cup of flour and work as much in as necessary to get a nice, firm dough. You’ll know when it’s ready because it will become silky smooth and you’ll find yourself running your hands over it. You’ll practically want to diaper this thing because it will be soft like a baby’s bottom. No joke. Then it’s ready.

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Pinch off a test piece and toss it into the oil. If it starts bubbling, then it’s ready for frying. If there aren’t any bubbles, wait for your oil to heat.

Pull off a section, pat it out, and toss it in the frying pan. You want to avoid using a rolling pin, if you can. Stretch it with your fingers. Fun with dough, kids! Whee!

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They’re called Navajo Tacos where I’m from. They’re divine with refried beans, lettuce, cheese, olives, sour cream, salsa…you name it. My Angry Ginger wants to make these and then put pizza toppings on them, which would also be great. For me, personally? The first one out of the pan is always smeared with butter and honey. It’s tradition.

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They’re an extremely easy treat and little ones love to help, as long as an adult handles the cooking. I hope you dig ’em like I do. Enjoy!