Another Slow Cooker Dip Trio – in two parts

This past weekend, we had our housewarming party – finally. Mostly because we finally had enough furniture for people to sit on. And also because it’s hard to warm a house in the middle of the winter. This way, we could use the barbecue.

Dip Trio 1

The Pie wanted to make use of our three-pot mini slow cookers and prepare some dips for our guests, so here are two of the ones we came up with. The final one involved a bit of extra prep so it’s a post on its own. The two posted today were made significantly smaller so they’d fit in our tiny pots.

Dip Trio 4

This first one, a garlic white bean dip, doesn’t really require a slow cooker, unless you want it to be served warm (which we did). I also took out some of the prep steps to make the whole thing a one-shot process. Start by glugging 1/4 cup olive oil into a small saucepan, and add in the equivalent of 6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced. Cook that on low for about 5 minutes, until garlic smells start to fill your whole kitchen.

Dip Trio 3

Grate up about 3/4 cup parmesan cheese and the zest from 1 lemon.

Dip Trio 6

Then, grab your food processor and chuck in 2 cans of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed. I used one can white beans and one can of white navy beans. Tip in as well 1/3 cup water, 1 cup ricotta cheese, your garlic and oil stuff, the parmesan and lemon zest, 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, and a generous helping of salt and ground black pepper.

Dip Trio 5

Give that a good whaz until it’s all smooth. Add a bit more olive oil if you think it looks dry (and if you’re going to keep it in the slow cooker all day, add a bit more as it has a tendency to dry out).

Dip Trio 7

Plop that in the slow cooker and leave it on low for about 2 hours to warm through. Enjoy!

Dip Trio 23

This next one is pretty good, but we actually found it a little bland and might spice it up some more next time. It’s a corn and cheese dip with bacon and pale ale and I think it has plenty of potential for enhancement. Start by tipping 3 1/2 cups frozen corn into your slow cooker. Top that with 2 minced cloves of garlic and 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (we used an extra-old cheddar).

Dip Trio 8

Dice up a red bell pepper and a de-seeded jalapeno.

Dip Trio 9

Chuck those in the pot with 3/4 cup sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste.

Dip Trio 13

Grab a pale ale as well and tip in about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of it. I think next time I’d use something with a bit more flavour, as neither the Pie nor myself are IPA fans (not that I’m drinking these days anyway).

Dip Trio 12

Give that a good stirring to mix things up. Then grab a package of plain cream cheese and break it up into chunks, which you can then spread over the top of the thing. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.

Dip Trio 14

While that’s on the go, cook up about 4 slices of bacon until it’s crispy enough to crumble and let it cool (so you can crumble it). Harvest some fresh chives from your garden (it’s the only thing growing right now). Cut those up in a wee bowl and set the bacon and chives aside until the dip is ready.

Dip Trio 15

When the dip is hot, stir well to incorporate the cream cheese and then garnish with the chives and bacon. Eat!

Dip Trio 21

Now We Can Have Nice Things?

China Cabinet 14

A couple weeks ago, we did a very old-person kind of thing: we picked up Trav and took him to Almonte for brunch at Heirloom (would highly recommend). Then we toodled across the street to the Almonte Antique Market and BOUGHT A CHINA CABINET. Because apparently this is what grown-ups do on weekends. We managed to get a remarkably fantastic deal on this puppy, no thanks in small part to the fact that Trav’s mother is one of the vendors at the market and hooked us up big time. And then we got unreasonably excited about it. Because we’ve been looking for a china cabinet for years (were we always old?).

China Cabinet 2

Seriously. Years. When we moved in together about ten years ago, at the tender age of 24, each one of us came with our own complete set of china and a silver tea set. HOW WEIRD IS THAT? In our first apartment there was a built-in display cabinet where we had it all laid out, but when we moved to Newfoundland, it all went into storage, where it has stayed for the past eight or so years.

China Cabinet 3

After giving the cabinet a thorough cleaning, I then unpacked all our boxes, starting with the silver. The definite plus of this was getting to see it all after eight years. The definite downside was that it hadn’t been polished in eight years …

China Cabinet 5

… several hours later, the tea sets were looking sparkly and badass on the bottom shelf (they’re on the bottom because I figure it’s harder for small children to break silverware – but I’m sure one of them will prove me wrong).

China Cabinet 13

China Cabinet 12

Then I started unpacking the china. And then I remembered that not only did *I* have a set and *the Pie* had a set, but that we had also inherited YET ANOTHER set from my grandmother. So we actually have three sets of china. Let that be a lesson to you folks: if you leave china alone for eight years it multiplies.

China Cabinet 10
His …
China Cabinet 9
… hers …
China Cabinet 15
… ours?

I’m still moving things around in there as the mood strikes. And once we find a sideboard I’ll probably move some of the less showy pieces into that instead. But for now we’re really happy with it!

China Cabinet 7

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 24

After my disastrous start with melt-and-pour soap, I’ve been leery of trying it again. It was way more of an accomplishment for me to learn how to make soap entirely from scratch, though nobody will let me near the chemicals these days. And with melt-and-pour soaps, you already know the chemical reaction is going to work, so newbies like me have much more freedom to experiment with the add-in ingredients. And this mixture from A Beautiful Mess has been haunting me for ages with its deliciousness. I had to do it.

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 23

The simplicity of the ingredients is a definite bonus, and the fact that it’s so quick and easy to put together and then you can ignore it for a while is also a plus. I made this while painting two sets of lawn furniture so obviously my attention was divided. All you need is 1 grapefruit, 3 tablespoons poppy seeds, peppermint essential oil, grapefruit essential oil, and 2lb goat’s milk melt-and-pour soap base (which you can buy in craft stores and from Amazon). You also need something to pour your soap into to harden – I used the silicone trays I bought for making my jelly fish mobile.

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 1

Grab your soap base. Apparently you can melt it in the container provided in your microwave but I decided that was unwise.

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 2

Chop it into cubes.

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 3

Plop those cubes in the top of a double-boiler and let that sucker melt for a while.

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 4

You’ll find a skin develops as it melts. Just stir that back in.

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 7

While that’s a-meltin’, go ahead and zest the entire grapefruit. Mmm, lovely.

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 9

Then eat your grapefruit. It’s good for you.

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 6

Gather your poppy seeds as well, about 3 tablespoons.

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 11

Once the soap has fully melted, remove it from the heat and tip in your grapefruit zest and poppy seeds. Shake in about 12 drops peppermint essential oil, and about 30 drops grapefruit essential oil, and stir that in quite well.

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 14

Pour the melted soap into your moulds to harden. You can use individual moulds if you like but mine was a big block rectangle – the soap is soft enough to cut afterwards so you can chop the soap bars down to size when they’re ready.

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 16

The soap will harden in a couple of hours, but if it’s hot or humid where you are I would recommend leaving it for a few more hours just to be on the safe side. When I tipped out my soap I did find I had quite a bit of settling with the poppy seeds, but that’s okay. It means my soap will have an exfoliating side to it. I suppose I could have stirred it a bit while it was cooling, but I was painting furniture, so …

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 17

I chopped it up into regular rectangles.

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 18

The rounded corner bits I re-melted and poured into the same mould but with the corners blocked off so they had sharper edges.

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 19

These make great gifts!

Grapefruit Poppyseed Soap 20

Mocha Latte Fudge

Mocha Latte Fudge 19

This recipe from Real Simple is not your typical fudge, but it’s relatively easy to concoct and would make a nice gift to your favourite coffeephile. You don’t even need a candy thermometer to make it, which is handy for those of you who aren’t familiar with making candy.

Mocha Latte Fudge 21

Do keep a close eye on it, however, as I burnt the bottom of one of my pots quite badly the first time I made it.

Mocha Latte Fudge 10

Start by lining an 8″ square pan with parchment paper and spraying it with cooking spray. I had neither a square pan nor cooking spray at the time so I used this 6″ x 10″ pan and I buttered it instead. You do you.

Mocha Latte Fudge 1

Set that aside for a spell and grab a large pot. Dump in 1/2-lb butter, 2 cups brown sugar, and 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk.

Mocha Latte Fudge 2

Stir that frequently over medium-low heat until it’s all melted and starts to boil.

Mocha Latte Fudge 4

Then tip in 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon espresso powder. Once that’s mixed in, stop stirring and leave the whole thing to boil (but not burn!) for 8 minutes.

Mocha Latte Fudge 6

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon vanilla. Remember, it’s gonna fizz.

Mocha Latte Fudge 9

Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes; then grab an electric mixer and beat the crap out of it for about 5 minutes, until it looks and feels like almost-melted peanut butter.

Mocha Latte Fudge 14

Spill that into the prepared pan and smooth it down. Shove it in the fridge for 4 hours, until it’s all firm. Run a knife around the outside edge and use the parchment to pull the whole thing out of the pan. Cut it into cubes.

Mocha Latte Fudge 18

EAT. (Store leftovers sealed in the fridge. PAH. Like there will be leftovers.)

Mocha Latte Fudge 22

This is Not the Post You’re Looking for.

So. Things are getting mighty busy here at Ali Does It.

We’re trying our best to get the house in a slightly-less-than-chaotic state. We actually have a housewarming party on the books for the end of the month … if we can organize ourselves to get invitations out on time.

Yard Work 5
We created that much yard waste in just under two hours. We are very pleased with ourselves.

We’ve been super busy now that it has finally stopped snowing. I managed to fight through a bad cold and cut down several of the horrid hedges in the front yard (with several more to go), and now my view of the front yard no longer includes that super depressing child swing.

Yard Work 2
Hurray no more horrid hedge and suicide swing!

Not to mention the Impending Kid. Who never stops kicking. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t lacking sleep. Or didn’t need to pee.

2016-04-19_11-58-28
Gren no longer fits on my lap (not that he ever really did), and so now he sulks/keeps an eye on possible zombie invaders out the window.

The point of it all is that I’m getting super tired these days, and with both of us working full time it’s getting tricky to get new *quality* content to you folks on the internet three days a week.

So I’m just letting you know now that I’m aiming for two days a week, and at least once a week for sure, even post-kid. I’m not abandoning you – I’m just occupied with other things. I am trying to create a backlog of posts that I can rely upon when my life becomes concentrated between feedings and diaper changes (because you don’t really need to hear about those sorts of things).

That’s the plan at least. I’m also going to try to beef up my Instagram contributions as filler in the interim and post them here, too (search for #alidoesit or follow me: alidoesit.herself). I’ll keep you posted – just not as regularly as before.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 14

This recipe from the kitchn came with so many caveats about how these are not your ordinary baked enchiladas, and how they end up being a gooey mess but they’re still good, that it was almost worth making them just to see if they lived up to all the anti-hype. They’re easy, they’re tasty – they’re messy and not crispy at all. And still good. So give them a try.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 2

They are a great way to use up weird leftover bits of things. This is what tofu does when you freeze it. People like to freeze it because it goes crumbly, so we tried it as an experiment after making stir fry one night.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 1

Start by chopping up 1 small onion. Dice up 1 red bell pepper. Drain and rinse 1 16oz can of black beans. Divvy out 1 cup frozen corn. Mix all those together in a bowl. Grate up 1-2 cups good melting cheese, and add in 1/2 cup of that cheese to the bowl.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 3

Mix together as well some spices: 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. I find often that this sort of food genre is benefitted by adding in 1 teaspoon cinnamon as well.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 4

Tip that into the mixed veg.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 5

Add in any leftover ground meat or chicken you have, if you have any, or this weird crumbled spongy thawed tofu. I really felt like I was breaking up a sponge. Later, I felt like I was EATING a sponge.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 6

In the bottom of a 4-6 quart slow cooker, spread enough of a 30oz jar of salsa to coat the bottom. You’ll note here that we have a very bowl-shaped slow-cooker. This probably works a bit better in a more flat-bottomed version.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 7
Ker-SPLAT.

Grab a package of flour tortillas (ours were the small size, pack of 10). Scoop about 1/3 cup of that vegetable filling into each tortilla, roll it up, and lay it seam-side-down in the slow cooker.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 8

Once you’ve got a layer (with our shape of bowl, that didn’t take long), sprinkle with more salsa and some more of the cheese.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 9

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 10

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You should probably end up with only two layers but because of the shape of our bowl we had three, so it was a good thing I grated more cheese. Any extra filling can be piled on top.

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Then add in the rest of the jar of salsa. Resist adding on the rest of the cheese – keep about 1/2 cup of it back for the end bit.

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Cook on high for 2-4 hours (or on low for 8 hours if you’re prepared for extra mushy enchiladas). In the last 15 minutes of cooking, take the last 1/2 cup of cheese and sprinkle that over top, close the lid, and let it melt.

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 15

Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and cilantro, or whatever else floats your enchilada boat!

Slow cooker black bean enchiladas 16

(More) Meals en Masse: Beef Stroganoff

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 14

I know, it seems like this is all I’m doing these days. Well it’s kind of all I have time for in the evenings now, and I kind of want to get as much of it done as I can before I start to get REALLY tired. This Martha Stewart Stroganoff (adapted for lazy busy people) is almost as good as it would be if you made it by searing the meat and cooking it in a Dutch oven, and it takes way less time to put together. The amounts below will make a meal that serves six; I doubled the recipe and then divided it into three, cooking one and freezing two, and it perfectly sated the Pie and myself for dinner and provided a hefty lunch for us both the next day.

Start by chopping up 1 large onion. Chop it as coarsely or finely as you prefer. This is your jam, man.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 1

Grab as well 1 lb white mushrooms. You can cut them in half if you like but I was extra lazy and bought the pre-sliced mushrooms. Because I’m an adult and this is my house and I totally can do whatever I want (the novelty has not worn off yet – I don’t think it ever will).

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 2

Grab yourself 2lbs good quality stewing beef. Mmm beef. The original recipe calls for you to take 2lbs chuck and slice it 1/2″ thick and 3″ long but who got time for that?

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 3

Pitch all that into a 5-6 quart slow-cooker pot and dust liberally with coarse salt and black pepper.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 5

The other batches I chucked in freezer bags and I’m hoping the mushrooms will come out of it okay. Fingers crossed. If it doesn’t work out I’m sure that the Pie and I will be too sleep-deprived to notice.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 4

Cook your beef for 8 hours on low (or 6 hours on high), until everything is nice and brown and you have all this awesome juice. Scoop out about 1 cup of that awesome juice and pour it into a wee pot on your stove.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 6

Grab 2 tablespoons cornstarch and blend it with 2 tablespoons water.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 7

Pour that cornstarch mixture into the cooking juice and bring that to a boil.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 8

Let it cook for a few minutes until it gets nice and thick.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 9

While that’s going on, cook up a batch of egg noodles. I feel like this particular dish is what egg noodles were made for. If you wanna go gluten-free on this one, you may have to find alternative noodles.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 11

Turn the slow-cooker off (or leave it on warm) and return the thickened juice to the pot. Tip in as well 1/2 cup sour cream and 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (this version I use has tarragon in it and it’s AMAZING). Give that a solid stirring.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 10

Serve over your cooked egg noodles with fresh dill, if you have it (I didn’t).

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 12

A hunk of nice bread to sop up the extra sauce won’t go amiss, either.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 15

adventures in grown-up living

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