Mom’s Cuba Dip: A 2 Cats Recipe

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Mom’s Cuba Dip

 

I hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday last week. My fiancée and I made the nine hour drive to my hometown in South Georgia to spend Christmas with my parents. Because of the distance we decided to leave our kitties in North Carolina in the care of a sitter. Luckily, we were not completely devoid of feline attention; we had Merlin.

Merlin

Merlin

Merlin has been my parent’s cat for the last five years in which time he’s become super spoiled. You should’ve seen the size of his stocking! In the mornings Merlin loves to cuddle. He’s very demanding about his snuggles, head-butting you if you stop scratching him before he’s ready. Merlin makes being away from Tchai and Roz a little more tolerable.

Cuddling/Annoying Merlin

Cuddling/Annoying Merlin

My mom and I at my godmother's home in Georgia before a UGA game

My mom and I at my godmother’s home in                    Georgia before a UGA game

Since I was home I thought it was a perfect opportunity to cook something with my mother for the blog. Mom is a fabulous cook though she calls herself a “good recipe follower”. I didn’t actually get to cook with her that often as a child or teenager because Mom is very particular about her kitchen and doesn’t like too many people in it. Her kitchen is the place where my mom destress and she passed those qualities on to me.

Cooking Separate, but together

Cooking Separate, but together

 I’ve chosen one of her signature recipes; something my Mom does better than anyone else. Whether it’s tailgating in Athens or watching the Dawgs in front of the T.V., my Mom’s famous Cuba dip is a Phillips family football staple. Mom has made this dip for every UGA football game that I can remember. I’m not sure why it’s called Cuba dip and Mom isn’t either. Unfortunately we believe the cookbook with the original recipe was donated, so I guess we’ll never know.

browning meat and onions for the dip

browning meat and onions for the dip

This recipe is usually made in the crock pot but this time mom pulled out her dutch oven to speed the process along. Both methods are great and the ingredient list is the same for either. The crockpot takes around 2 hours while the stovetop takes 20-30 minutes. I prefer the crock pot, because of tradition, but if you’re short on time the stovetop method works just as well. The ingredients for this dip…. well aren’t exactly found on any clean eating lists, but as mom says “there is no substitute for Velveeta”.

Velveeta, no other words needed

Velveeta, no other words                           needed

melty Cheeeeeese

melty Cheeeeeese

Once the dip is all melted together it’s addictive. For some reason as a teenager, I didn’t like the ground beef/sausage version and Mom graciously made a veggie version for me and my godmother, Joye. Now I can’t believe what I was missing! The meat counterbalances the nuclear yellow cheese product and makes this dip super hearty. Mom always uses the mild Rotel but you can use any heat/spice level you want.  Make sure you have lots of tortilla chips handy you’ll be surprised at how quickly this dip goes.

mixing the beef and cheese together

mixing the beef and cheese together

Almost done, just missing the sausage.

Almost done, just missing the sausage.

At the beginning of football season Mom makes a double batch of Cuba dip, portions it into containers, freezes it, and pulls out a container whenever she needs. The double batch makes it through most of the college football season and it’s just as good each game.  I’m planning on whipping up a batch for Super Bowl Sunday to continue the family tradition of having a perfect dip.

dipping

Mom’s Cuba Dip

The ingredients minus the beef and sausage

The ingredients minus the beef and sausage

1 ½ lbs. Ground Beef

1 lb. Breakfast Sausage

½ Large Yellow or Vidalia Onion, diced

2 lbs. Velveeta, cubed

1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

1 can Rotel Tomatoes w/ chilies

½ teaspoon Garlic Powder

Brown the ground beef with the chopped onions and drain in a colander when cooked. Brown the sausage in the same pan and drain. Add the cooked meats into the crock pot. Add the Velveeta, mushroom soup, Rotel, and garlic powder into the crockpot. Turn the crockpot on high until all the ingredients are melted together. Once melted, turn the dip to low and serve with chips.

 

**For the stovetop, melt the Velveeta while you’re browning the meat. Then add the browned meat and remaining ingredients to the melting cheese.  

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Recipe Review: Clementine Ricotta Cookies

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Clementine Ricotta Cookies

Recipe from Yummy Addiction

It’s that time of year again; there’s a gingerbread man wreath on our front door, the house is decorated with tinsel and twinkle lights, the Nutcrackers are on the mantle instead of the cats, and the stereo alternates between Handel, Bing Crosby, and Thurl Ravenscroft. Christmas is almost upon us, which means it’s also time for the joys of holiday baking and Christmas cookies.

the set up...with upside down butter

the set up…with upside down butter

I’ve had a recipe for ricotta cookies with orange and poppy seeds that I’ve wanted to try for a while. I bought a container of ricotta for a party earlier this month but ended up not using it. These cookies seemed like the perfect way to not let the cheese go to waste. I know ricotta seems like it’s more suited to pasta than pastry but that mild, fluffy texture is just right for baked goods…

Butter in my man made force field

Butter in my man made force field

While we’re on the subject of baked goods, let me share a quick story. Our dearest Rosalind has a deep abiding love for butter. Anytime I set a stick on the counter for a few hours to come to room temperature I return to find a rather long tongue shaped divot in one end of the butter and a kitty not too far from the scene of the crime. Now, I have to put the sticks of butter under the glass cake dome to keep it safe from our little fur ball. I sometimes worry about her kitty cholesterol.

look at the pretty poppy seeds peaking through the flour

look at the pretty poppy seeds peaking through the flour

,          All the ingredients mixed together.

The batter only requires the use of a hand mixer and is a snap to put together. The recipe calls for oranges but I had just purchased a box of clementines the day before so I decided to use those instead. It took the zest of three clementines and the juice of one to equal the orange zest and juice specified in the recipe. The clementine zest makes the batter smell citrusy and delicious. The poppy seeds add lovely grey-blue specks throughout the batter and give the cookies great texture.

The little cookie/biscuits/cakes/scones out of the oven

The little cookie/biscuits/cakes/scones out of the oven

  Actually, the term cookie is kind of up for debate. I thought the puffs of yellow and blue flecked dough looked like miniature biscuits as they came out of the oven. Because of their light, fluffy consistency Chris called them “cookie shaped cakes”, while my boss’s wife referred to them as scones. However you want to classify them, they are delicious pillows of citrus and poppy seed goodness.

my clementime icing. Dont worry, the seeds were taken out

my clementime icing. Don’t worry, the seeds were taken out

Once the cookies are cool, they’re topped with a quick powdered sugar icing. I used the juice of one and a half clementines to make the icing the right consistency for glazing. Speaking of that, I tried to make that sophisticated crisscross line pattern with the icing…but it didn’t really work. I used the tip of a spoon (which was not the best tool) and the icing sort of splattered around into these weird misshapen zebra stripes. I eventually gave up and just spooned the icing onto the three dozen cookies and called it a night.

Yeah....glazing didn't go as I'd hoped :-(

Yeah….glazing didn’t go as I’d hoped 😦

Since the glaze is the only super sweet part, I think these cookies are good at any time of day. I had one along with my coffee for breakfast one morning (as well as later that night for a bed time treat  J ). Every person who ate the cookies seemed to enjoy them. A few of my students went back for seconds (and attempted thirds!).  I think these ricotta clementine and poppy seed cookies may be a new Christmas tradition.

glazedcookies

PS. My next post should be Wednesday, December 30th, so a Happy Christmas to you and yours from the 2 Cats family.

a Christmas Wrapped Tchai

a Christmas Wrapped Tchai

Rosalind says "I can bea Nutcracker too Mom"

Rosalind says “I can be a Nutcracker too Mom”

Recipe Review: Pumpkin & Black Bean Chili

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Pumpkin and Black Bean Chili

Recipe can be found at Unconventional Cooking

                It’s been six months since I’ve completed a blog post and a lot has happened in that time. I’ve got a new day job, my voice studio has grown, I made my directorial debut in the fall, and to top it all off I’m engaged!

The moment after I said Yes (and called my parents of course!)

The moment after I said Yes!!! (and called my parents of course!)

I haven’t really been cooking many new recipes because I’ve been so busy…and when I have made something new, I’ve forgotten to take notes and/or shoot pictures. 😦 But now the dust has settled (well, as much as it can) and I’m trying to get back on the horse so to speak.   I decided to use one of my favorite foods to get me back into the groove of recipe testing and blogging, soup.

The ingredient line up

The ingredient line up

I chose a pumpkin and black bean chili that I found on Pinterest (surprise, surprise). I’ve seen several recipes and restaurant dishes that use the pumpkin\ black bean combo and I thought it sounded intriguing and potentially very tasty. Chris was hesitant at first (he’s not a huge pumpkin fan) but said he’d at least give it a try. So one night after teaching a few lessons, I pulled out my small soup pot and gave the chili a whirl.

Mmmmm toasted onion and spices....

Mmmmm toasted onion and spices….

On the outset I made a few adjustments to the recipe. I chose not to use red bell pepper as I didn’t really think it would add anything to the dish. I also substituted granulated garlic for fresh because the bulb I had was really old.  The recipe says to take the time and toast the spices.  I think this step is vital in the success of the meal. In addition to making the house smell like scrumptious cumin, it really makes the flavors bloom and adds more depth to the quick cooking chili. The recipe says to add salt, but doesn’t say exactly how much. I found that the soup needed at least two or three pinches of salt to balance everything out.

Once the 30 minutes of bubbling is complete and the chili is ready, it’s really quite fantastic. It’s got a toasted smoky flavor with a little bit of heat from the cumin and red chili flakes. The canned pumpkin puree makes the chili hearty and filling without being too sweet or “gourd-like”.  Much to my surprise, Chris liked it even though it was a vegetarian meal!

The Chili after 30 minutes of simmering.

The Chili after 30 minutes of simmering.

The recipe makes several topping suggestions for the chili. Chris and I both used some shredded cheddar cheese which added a nice depth of flavor to the bowl. I also put a dollop of sour cream on mine; I thought the chili would benefit from the added tang.  Chris thought the chili was too mushy on day two, but I disagreed, it was even better the second day with the addition of a little greek yogurt on top.

A warm bowl of the good stuff

A warm bowl of the good stuff, pre-toppings

                I may fiddle with a few things here or there, but overall I think this is a very good recipe. I’m super excited that my darling carnivore liked the chili without any animal products.  I might try adding some ground turkey or chicken to a batch at some point for him, but for now I’m just glad he ate a whole bowl of vegetarian chili. This is a great meal for a chilly (wonk wonk) weeknight when you want a hearty dish but don’t have a lot of time.