Easy Recipes For The Journey

1. Invest in a slow cooker. I have several in multiple sizes and consider them to be invaluable. I use them at home to put something on to cook before I am going out for the day. They are great on cold winter days. But, they are also wonderful to use if you have to do any group cooking. I help cook for a couple of different ministry programs at the church we are involved in and find them to be an easy way to do small quantity cooking. 

2. Always keep a few standby ingredients to put unexpected dishes together on short notice. Think about your recipes and what is easy and you enjoy cooking without effort. That way, you will never be unprepared when you need to take a covered dish to a funeral dinner or have unexpected company for dinner. 
Easy Dessert To "Take Somewhere"
Out here in the middle of nowhere, where we live, I am always needing to make a "covered dish to take somewhere". Maybe it's an Oklahoma thing, but we seem to eat wherever we go, which means someone is always cooking food to take somewhere. It seems like these food sharing opportunities come at some fairly inopportune and inconvenient moments. Hence, the need for an arsenal of easy recipes saved for these moments of life, because some days, you just need to be off doing other more valuable things for society, or your own mental health. In order to pull this off, keep a cabinet area dedicated to easy pull together covered dish items, so you can just look in that one place when you're organizing yourself to go shopping, so you can add to that shelf so you'll be prepared the next time you have short notice you need a covered dish. I am definitely adding a box of saltines and package of chocolate chips to that shelf so I can make this recipe again soon. 

Last week I was bored out of my mind learning to recover from major surgery. I survived this quite simply: TV and reading. Since then I've been on a real binge of cooking magazines, decorating magazines, murder mysteries, and true crime books, I ran across a simple recipe that turned saltine crackers into a cracker jack candy recipe. No, it didn't turn it into cracker jacks, that's made with popcorn. I just meant, it was really touted as a fantastic recipe. My mother and I made a batch and they turned out pretty darn good. Only thing is, she called me this week and said she had lost the recipe. You know what that means in this day and age...can we say internet? Yes, I did an internet search and of course, there were 50 gazillion recipes for saltine cracker candies. No, actually, it turns out there were only 35,800 and although I did not check all of them out, you know, after awhile, you discover there are some pretty crazy things that turn up as part of that 35,800 items which are totally unrelated to candy, food, saltines, ect. One thing I did discover is that there is no need to create another saltine candy recipe on the internet. However, since this recipe concept is right up there with the Kool Aid Pie, Wacky Cake, and Supid Easy Fudge, I don't see how this page will be complete without Saltine Candy, which we are forever going to know as Easy Candy Bark. 

Line a 10"x15" jelly roll pan with foil, let a little hang over each side. This will make the final process easier to get candy out of the pan. Line 40+ crackers up on the pan in rows. If you wish, you can finish filling in the other spaces with a few extra crackers. We had plenty of toffee sauce to cover a few more crackers. 

Make the toffee sauce by bringing 1 cup butter (2 sticks) and 1 cup sugar to a boil. Boil 3 minutes. You can use white or brown sugar, or a mixture of both, depending on your taste preference.  Pour the toffee sugar sauce over the crackers and spread around. 
Put in a 350 degree oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove the baked cracker pan from the oven and immediately sprinkle about 1/2 pkg. of chocolate chips across the hot crackers. As the chips melt, spread them across the crackers. If necessary, return pan to the oven briefly to help melt the chips. Then sprinkle toffee chips across the top of the chocolate.  The possibilities are endless in creating additional flavor combos. We had part of a package of Andes Mints chips left from Christmas, which we substituted for the toffee chips. I thought they were mighty fine. I think a layer of chopped pecans would be good. 

If you like to make a cookie and candy assortment for holidays, these would be SO simple to make as part of the grouping. I work with Senior Adults at church and we like to do little holiday sacks for the major holidays.  I am definitely doing something with this for one of our holiday celebrations this coming year. Plus, how often do you have some saltines in danger of going stale...no more stale crackers at this house. Of course, these don't fit in with the low fat lifestyle. So, I don't plan to get too carried away with them. 
Stupid Easy Fudge  
I have found an even easier recipe to replace the all time easiest recipe to replace Kool Aid Pie.  I can't believe this even works. I found it at Crockin Girls on Facebook.

In a small slow cooker, add the frosting from a 16 oz. container of ready made frosting and 1 package of chocolate chips. Put on lid, turn slow cooker on low. Leave just long enough to melt the chips. Crockin Girls has a whole bunch of flavor combinations, but for traditional fudge, use chocolate frosting with chocolate chips. 

I told my mother about this recipe and she said my Aunt Joy's minister's wife has used this recipe for years. It's almost foolproof...if you don't turn the slow cooker up too high, leave it too long. Oh, and don't try to use the chocolate chips that got too hot in the cabinet last summer when it was 105 degrees. I did all those with my first try and it was not the best fudge I ever made, although young children would eat it.  Check out Crockin Girls here: https://www.facebook.com/happycrockin.

Does this not sound like one of the easiest dessert recipes in the history of the world? Although, to be honest, I could not make this without throwing in some fruit to make it at least a little bit healthy. But, how hard is it to slice a banana or a couple of fresh peaches or drain some crushed pineapple?

1 graham cracker crust
1 (8 oz.) Cool Whip
1 pkg. of any flavor Kool Aid
1 can Eagle Brand condensed milk
Mix Cool Whip, Kool Aid, and condensed milk and whip very good. Then pour into pie shell and chill for 15 minutes. Ready to eat and serves 8.
This is my favorite recipe of all time: no bowl or mixer beaters to wash. You make it in the pan you mix it in. It's moist and tastes good.

Into a 9"x9"x2" cake pan sift 1 1/2 c. flour, add 3 TBSP. cocoa powder, 1 tsp. soda, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 cup sugar. (I think it stirs together easier if cocoa powder is sifted w/ flour.) Make 3 holes in the flour mixture. Into 1st hole put 5 TBSP. cooking oil, 2nd hole - 1 tsp. vanilla, 3rd hole - 1 TBSP. white vinegar. Over the entire mixture pour 1 cup cold water. Stir like crazy with a spoon until all the mixture is stirred and smooth w/ no flour showing. Bake @ 350 degrees for 30 min. or till tooth
pick comes out clean. 

This has also been known as Crazy Cake and Cockeyed Cake, and probably some other names. Peg Bracken, my original favorite food writer of all times, said in her I Hate To Cook cookbook that it was a famous recipe that swept the country and she didn't know where it originally came from. But, it works and tastes good. I just wish it came in different flavors, you can't hardly beat that no bowl business.
Frost with your favorite frosting for chocolate cake or an easy no-cook alternative solution to frosting is to sift powdered sugar over the top after the cake is cooled. For a decorative topping, lay a paper doily over the top before sifting. 

An easy cooked frosting can be made by melting a half dozen large marshmallows with 1/2 cup chocolate chips over low heat with a tablespoon of butter. When melted, gradually stir in about a cup of sifted powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp. of vanilla. Adjust consistency with a dash of milk or more powdered sugar. Wait until cake is cooled to frost in the pan. 
This soup could not be easier or faster!
Combine a can each of your favorite canned chili and pork and beans. Add about 1/2 can of water and stir. Heat until bubbly. Serve with toppings of corn chips, grated chedder, and sour cream dollops, if your crowd goes for sour cream dollops. A complete meal when you add an easy salad or vegetable. 
Tomato Mushroom Pork Chops
Just made this up last night when I was in a hurry...and it worked. So, thought I better write it down somewhere before I forgot about it. 

Put 1/2 can chopped canned tomatoes (drain juice and save for another recipe if you want a thicker gravy) and 1/2 can cream of mushroom soup in the bottom of a crockpot. Sprinkle half of a package of dry onion soup mix over the tomato/mushroom soup mixture.  (Low fat update: I've converted to using the low fat canned cream soups and I really can't tell any difference, plus, BONUS: it's low fat!)
Lay 4 to 6 pork chops (thawed) on top of this mixture. Top the pork chops with the rest of the tomatoes, mushroom soup and dry onion soup mix. Put lid on slow cooker. Cook on high for about 2 hours. My pork chops were thicker, butterfly cuts. A thinner cut of meat would probably cook in a shorter amount of time. The beauty of this recipe is not that it could be cooking all day, the pork chops would be cooked to death, but that you can still fix a nice, simple meal if you forgot to put a slow cooker on for a meal.  
You can also cook this for 4 hours on low instead of 2 hours on high. 
If you have time and think you need something in the carbohydrate/starch family, rice would be good with this. 
If you don't eat pork, this would be good with round steak or chicken. I suppose you could fix some little tofu cutlets too, but since I haven't gotten that adventurous yet, I really can't tell you how the tofu would taste. 

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