Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Variations on a theme

Crazy Holidays. I wonder, if we didn't manage to find time to post while the holidays were not in full swing then how will we ever post stuff during the month of december?

Not to mention that we already posted all the beloved standards last year...

But lets make a quick musical analogy. What do great composers do when they get bored or run into a creative block? What always brings a smile to the audience when 21st century composition is just too much effort (both to write and hear) and yet we've all heard Beethoven's 9th a few to many times to be really thrilled by it (unless Osmo Vanska is conducting, of course)? It's easy. Take a familiar tune and warp it just a little. Elaborate here, throw a disney tune mash up there, make Mozart sound like Rachmaninoff for the rest of it, and voila! The musically discerning audience is thrilled with your cleverness and their own ability to appreciate it! They leave the concert saying pridefully pompous things like "the baroque flavor in that exposition reminded me of Whitacre's Cloudburst as if set by Jean-Baptiste Lully!", and "I felt that the coda in the style of Brahms was the perfect commentary on the Schubert-style quartet, especially considering Clara!" Yes, Variations on a theme are always a crowd pleaser.

I submit to you all that baking is not so different than music. Just consider Mom the Osmo Vanska, who recreates the classics with perfection. And the rest of us could become the discerning audience, who whines unless Osmo is conducting, or we could create our own variations on the theme.

So post some ideas you have and let's see if we can work through them. Or post the whole recipe and we'll applaud wholeheartedly. I've recently begun to love lime flavored things, do you think lemon bread could become key lime bread? This summer I made quite a few trifles, and now that fresh fruit is hard to come by, I wonder if I could pull one off using brownies and coconut. Emma and I were discussing oreo truffles the other day and I realized that I could quickly alter a cookie dough recipe to create cookie dough truffles, dip them in brown chocolate, and mix them in with the oreo truffles for variety in gift giving.

This is more of a quest for creativity than it is a challenge in the kitchen. Let's see what we can come up with!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chicken Nuggets

go to the freezer section.

buy a bag of frozen chicken nuggets. (I personally prefer the dino shaped ones)

follow the directions on the back.

So, this recipe is AMAZING! And it is super easy. Me and me roommates eat dinner together on sundays, and my roommate Megan offered to do it this past week. We were all a little skeptical because her idea of domestic is slapping some pre-made cookie dough on cookie sheets, and waiting for someone (usually me) to remind her that they are done, and making an incredibly large mess in the process. How you do that with pre-packaged cookie dough, I don't really know. But it happens. Bless her heart. :)

It turned out to be one of the BEST dinners ever! And you cannot just skip the honey mustard sauce with these. In fact, if your going to choose between the nuggets and the sauce, pick the sauce. It makes the whole recipe worth while.

AND its gluten free. thats important in my apartment :)

All thanks and compliments go to our dear southern friend, Paula Deen.


  • 2 cups crushed sour-cream-and-onion-flavored potato chips
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 6 chicken breast fillets, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • Honey Mustard, recipe follows


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the crushed potato chips in a shallow dish. Beat together the egg and milk in a shallow bowl. Dip the chicken cubes into the egg mixture and then dredge them in the chips. Place the chicken nuggets on a baking sheet and drizzle with melted butter. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown. The chicken nuggets can be frozen after baking. Serve with your favorite sauce, such as honey mustard or ranch dressing.

Honey Mustard:

3/4 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice or juice from 1/2 lemon

Horseradish, to taste (We didn't put this in, because we all think its gross)

2 tablespoons orange juice (more or less as needed)

Combine all ingredients except orange juice; stir well. Thin to pouring consistency for dressing or dipping consistency for dips with orange juice. Cover and chill for 2 or 3 hours.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: None

Ease of preparation: Easy

6 girls and 1 guy finished them all off, with more room to spare, although we all had a sufficient amount to eat.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Layer dip

I had requested spider recipes, and Amy called and gave me a few suggestions, ( I think this was at the point when she couldn't post because she had forgotten her password or something....) Anyways, she suggested layer dip with olive spiders, and I decided to give it a try. I piped on sour cream to make the web and cut up jumbo black olives to look like the spiders. I think it turned out pretty awesome.

Aaand, lets get a close up of my creepy friend in the middle there....

Friday, October 30, 2009

Aaron's Chili

This is a good chili… a nice gentle burn that sets in slowly, and a definite deep flavor to it.

2 Yellow Onions Sauteed in Olive Oil
2 Lbs Ground Meat (Pork & Beef combined, coarse grind is best) Browned

28 Oz Crushed Tomatoes
28 Oz Tomato Sauce
12 Oz Tomato Paste
15 Oz Beef Broth

4 x 15 OZ Dark Red Kidney Beans

Heaped TBSP Each of
Cocoa Powder (Unsweetened)
Ground Cumin
Cayenne (Red Pepper)
Garlic Powder

Cumin and and Red Pepper are of course a critical constituent of any chili. The Beef Broth and the Cocoa are the 'secret' ingredients. Cocoa sets off the Cayenne nicely. It does not make the chili ‘chocolatey’, although if you know it is there you can detect it.

The balance isn’t perfect yet, it didn’t win the office competition, but I had three bowls of it myself, and my coworkers had kind things to say about it (even the ones who don’t report to me directly)…

Thursday, October 15, 2009

French Dip

I decided to use Melissa's French Dip recipe a couple of weeks ago, in response to her challenge (2 points). I just didn't upload pictures from my camera until now.

I have never made French Dips before (5 points). And this is not a dessert (1 point). I did make a few changes to the recipe, basically because I had a roast in the freezer (from a quarter beef we bought a few months ago - food storage - 1 point) and I didn't want to buy au jus in a packet, for digestive reasons I'd prefer not to get into. For starters, I put sliced onions and chopped garlic in the crock pot,

threw the roast on top of it, added a little water, salt and pepper,
and let it go all day. So, it wasn't exactly sliced roast beef - more like shredded, but it was fabulous. I'll mention here that the onions were some transplants from Amy's Worthington house's garden that I grew in my garden this year (1 point). They are terrific in a roast. The garlic was also grown in my garden (1 point).

The second great part of this plan was that I didn't have to buy a packet of au jus. It was a natural by-product of making the roast myself.

The hoagies were store-bought. I had originally thought to make my own, but didn't get to it that day. Next time, I'll make them myself. They cost a fortune at the grocery store.

We melted mozarella on them (from our deep freezer - food storage - 1 point). They were really good. It is funny how a meal this good could have escaped my brain for so long. I think this will be at least a monthly dinner item in our household. Yum!

And if I can claim 12 points when I didn't really follow her recipe all the way, I'll take it!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chris's Salsa

By request:

5 qts tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 lg green tomatoes, chopped
10 jalepeno peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
6 onions, chopped
2 cups celery (about 1/2 stalk), chopped
1/4 cup saltscant
1/4 cup honey (it says 3 Tbls, but I just usually dump in about 1/4 cup)
2 green peppers, chopped
1-2 cans tomato paste to thicken it up, if desired (I add 1 or 2, and it's still pretty thin.)

Tomatoes- wash them, and then put them in a pot of boiling water until the skins crack a little. Take them out, let them cool a minute and then peel the skin off, and cut the stem out, and cut any bad spots out. Throw them in the food processor. I do the tomatoes first because it gives me how many batches I'm gonna make. One 5 gallon pail of tomatoes makes about 2 batches, give or take. All of the veggies get chopped up in the food processor. Do the jalepenos last, because it's just easier to get everything else done, in the pots, and then do those. Be sure you wear gloves and don't touch your face!!! After you have everything in a pot, bring it to a boil. Let it simmer for at least 15 mins (but you can let it go all day, too, just don't let it burn. Stir it!) Here, you can play with it to adjust heat and flavor. This recipe, as is, is pretty spicy. I water bath can them. Quarts need 50 mins, pints need 40. One batch makes 8ish quarts, depending on how long you let it boil down.

Taco Dip

Every Christmas, growing up, we enjoyed this wonderful taco dip on Christmas Eve. My aunt, Teri Kukachka, made it, and she spread it in a Santa-shaped platter. I don't have a Santa-shaped platter, so I put it in a Christmas tree-shaped platter. I'd say it is about a 12"x8" size.

8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz sour cream
8 oz guacamole or avacado dip (use store-bought or make your own)
Lowry's Seasoning (garlic, salt & pepper)

Cream these ingredients and spread on platter.

taco sauce or salsa (I use Pace Mild Picante Sauce)
shredded lettuce
shredded cheddar cheese
sliced green olives
chopped onions (omit if you don't like crunchy little onions in your dip - I leave them out)
diced tomatoes

Spread a thin layer of taco sauce or salsa on top. Add a layer of each of the other ingredients on top of each other, in order. It looks quite festive, as well as being tasty.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Spider Web Dip

I saw this in Taste of Home. Disclaimer, I have not tried it. But, I do know the recipe portion of it quite well. This is really just a creative idea to do with the recipe. I figured Nancy could maybe use it.

Make guacamole. (We all know mom's, right? Is it on here somewhere?)

Put it in a round pan or plate.

Put some sour cream in a plastic bag, cut the corner, and pipe circles around the guacamole. Run a toothpick from the center out, to give it a web design.

Take some colossal olives. Pipe two small dots on half for eyes. Place two next to each other on the web. (Repeat for as many spiders you want on there.) Add black food coloring (like, the real stuff, because that's the only way to actually get black), and draw legs on the spiders.

My other thought was, you could take the method of making lots of things with raisins in it. And, at random points during the evening yelling "ugh, I just ate a dead spider. It was in my cookie!" That would make everything with a raisin, also a spider-themed food. For added effect, have one or two guests also participate.

Bisquick Mix

I promised Tom chicken and dumplings for dinner tonight, and found myself without Bisquick. I remembered seeing a recipe for my own mix on hillbillyhousewife. I decided to give it a try. It passed. The texture of the dumplings were slightly smoother, which I liked better. And, they did cook a few minutes faster than usual. No biggie, there. Considering what we saved on with this recipe, it's a keeper. (She has a bunch of other convenience food recipe, which I haven't tried, but probably will now.)

White Flour Biscuit Mix

9 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1/4 cup baking powder
2 cups solid vegetable shortening

(Or, you can do 10 cups of self-rising flour and the shortening instead)

Mix the first three ingredients. Add in the shortening. Mix together with your hands until it resembles lumpy cornmeal.

Store in a tightly sealed container. It makes 11-12 cups. You can use it anywhere you see Bisquick or Bixcuit Mix called for.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Spiced Banana Walnut Muffins

Grandma Burnham is now on. I put on her first post. I made these yesterday and they are wonderful. - Mom

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t cinnamon

1/2 t nutmeg

1/4 salt

1/2 c brown sugar

1/4 c softened butter or veg. oil

1 c (2-3 whole) mashed bananas

1/4 c unsweetened applesauce

1/2 tsp orange zest (or more)

1/2 t vanilla

1 egg

1/4 chopped walnuts

Prepare as ususal.

Bake 25 min at 350.

Fake Oreos, Fake Spiders

Okay, so you know the recipe for fake oreos. Make those.

Then dye your frosting red. Use it to draw little black widow markings on your sandwich cookies. Chocolate chips for the eyes, and chocolate dipped pretzel sticks for the legs. Or you could use black licorice if you wanted to ruin perfectly good cookies.

Chocolate Spiders

alright, I am enjoying the recipes people are coming up with, and getting all sorts of ideas for fun and exciting challenges (how about : only recipes you invent yourself, imagine the possibilities!) But Halloween is approaching, and other more significant celebrations that follow shortly after.
So there is this party coming up, Halloween themed and with a circle of friends that have a whole lot of inside jokes. What I need are dishes (healthy and not) involving spiders. Spider looking, spider web looking, even perhaps spider leg looking. Whatever. I know I could take a ritz cracker, stick 8 pretzel sticks to it with peanut butter, then dip the whole thing in chocolate, but I would like to branch out a little more, and come up with perhaps an entire meal of spider foods.

Ready, set, brainstorm.

Brotschnitte und Eier

This is a German breakfast that my roommate Tia used to make for us in the German house. Its pretty simple-but for some reason, tasted amazing.

You take a couple pieces of bread (preferably wheat) and cut them into 1 inch squares. In a fry pan, heat up a little bit of olive oil. Add some pepper to it, and then throw in the bread. Pan fry it until the bread is toasted.

In another pan, at the same time, make scrambled eggs.

Serve both hot, with ketchup and orange juice. I know it sounds weird, but its really really good.

Mubba's Green Bean Casserole

I know Nancy posted our usual recipe for this, but I learned a trick in college from my roommate Kim. This makes green bean casserole absolutely amazing- even Brody will eat it this way. I made it the other night and there were no leftovers.

Here's my secret:

Use the same recipe that Nancy posted, but add 1 dollop of miracle whip and 2-3 dollops of sour cream to the cream of soup before you mix it with the green beans. Thats for one of mom's oval casserole dishes, so for a 13x9, I'd at least double it.

It does make it incredibly less healthy. In fact, health wise, you'd probably be better off eating that cheesecake that Aaron posted earlier.

Friday, September 25, 2009

(Nearly) Vegan Mexican Goolash

Here it goes:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 jar salsa
1 can rotel
1 can shoestring corn
1 can yello corn
2 cans black beans
1 can olives

Spray your crockpot with PAM first, trust me. Then put the chicken breasts in and cover with the jar of salsa and can of Rotel (undrained). Cook for 2 hours on high if not frozen, 4 hours if they are still frozen. After they're done cooking, remove and shred. To the crockpot add the corn and beans (drained and rinsed) and the can of olives (drained). Add the chicken and stir. Cook on low for a little longer, until heated through.

If you want to, serve it with some cheese and sour cream. Its really not necessary though, and it adds extra fat and makes it non-nearly vegan. This is also really good cold as leftovers. Mmm...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chocolate Marble Cheesecake

The ingredients and steps are simple. But getting it just right... a little trickier.

2 Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
5 Tablespoons Melted Butter

Make the crust, press it in a 9" springform pan.

3 8z Pkgs Cream Cheese
1 C White Sugar
5 Eggs

Best if you beat these together with a paddle not a beater, because air is bad (makes cracks). Also, don't go adding a lot of the liquid (in this case the eggs) until you have the cheese beat smooth. It's almost impossible to get lumps out of anything once you have too much liquid.

Pour half or so of the mixture in to the pan, then melt 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and mix it in to the rest. Pour it in the pan in a swirly pattern or cut it in with a knife (careful not to disturb the graham crackers).

Bake at 3o0 degrees until the top isn't too jiggly. It's supposed to take 50 minutes, I find it is more like 75 minutes.

By the way, cheesecake is the only cake that should NOT be eaten warm. No matter how badly you want to. It isn't worth it. Let it be. Cool it to room temp, then put it in the fridge for a couple of hours. Lock the fridge.

I'm told a good frosting for this is 3/4 cup of melted chocolate mixed with 1/2 cup sour cream. But who frosts cheesecake? At some point doesn't it just become ridiculous?

BLT Pizza

This is an invention of yours truly, with a little help from mom. This summer, I did the linger longer food every week for the singles branch. I wanted to make this salad stuff I had at some random baby shower in Worthington, but it was in cute little pastry cups, which i could not afford for the linger longer. so it got all twisted around and made into BLT Pizza!!

You need:
Cresecent Rolls
Sour Cream
Cream Cheese

Okay, its like vegetable pizza, where you take pillsbury crescent rolls (You know, the little tubes that *POP* when you squeeze em) and bake them flat on a cookie sheet. Then you make an amazingly unhealthy spread with cream cheese and sour cream.

Then you pile lettuce on top ( I liked using romaine, because its pretty :) ) and some tomatoes, and some bacon pieces and VOILA! bacon lettuce tomato pizza. Its amazing.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Raspberry or Strawberry Salad

I made a most lovely salad this summer for movie night at my friend Becca's house. It was the first original recipe I have made, I think. I used Merle's salad with the mandarin oranges and almonds as a basis for thinking of the ingredients, and then found my own combination. It was extremely easy, and I got so many compliments, I have made it a few times now.

Spring Greens bagged lettuce (no, not iceburg - this texture is important to the berries, plus it is healthier by far)
1 Pint Raspberries or Sliced Strawberries, whichever is in season
1 Cucumber, peeled and sliced
Butter Toffee Glazed Almonds (found in the salad toppings area near the produce section)
Ken's Steakhouse Raspberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing (this is a fabulous brand - it makes the salad, so I won't guarantee your results unless you buy this brand).

Rinse and dry lettuce. Add berries and cucumber slices. Sprinkle on almonds - I normally use about 1/3 of the bag. Add the vinaigrette just before serving.

Cookie Salad

Nancy's salad post reminded me that nobody has posted Cookie Salad yet. This isn't dessert, no way! It has been served on the table with the meal every time I have eaten it, so it can't be dessert. Besides, it has fruit in it, so it is healthy.

Instant Pudding
Whipped Cream
Mandarin Oranges (optional)
Keebler Fudge-Striped Cookies
Mini Marshmallows (optional)

To start, make some instant pudding. I like vanilla. Do as many servings as you have people who are going to eat it.

Stir in a container of whipped cream.

Cut up some bananas into slices. Add them to the pudding. Some people like some drained mandarin oranges, too, but others don't. Just make sure they are really well drained, or they will water down the salad, and we don't want that!

Just before serving, break up some Keebler Fudge-Striped Cookies and mix them in, but save enough whole cookies to decorate the top of the salad. Don't ever try adding these more than an hour in advance of serving, or they will be soggy. However, I have been known to enjoy a bowl of leftover cookie salad for as many as three days after making it. I just wouldn't serve it to guests that way.

Mini Marshmallows could also be added at this time. I haven't had it that way more than once, and I could take them or leave them.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The vinaigrette

In a shameless attempt at garnering more points and further procrastinating my paper, I am posting the vinaigrette for the preceeding salad as a seperate recipe.

In my defense, lest you judge to harshly, it applies to much more than this salad, and has so many possible variations that it was a cumbersome addition to the salad post.

You really need to know one major principle in the making of any vinaigrette. Are you ready? Its a ratio. 2:1.

Tough, right?

That's 2 parts oil for one part vinegar. This is your base.

You can use whatever kind of oil you want, although olive oil is both traditional and healthy, peanut oil can make for a nice flavor, and canola oil works if you are a poor starving student forced to improvise on a crappy budget or on the leftovers people have in the cupboards.

And, while the options for the vineagar are infinite, I must warn you to not eliminate the possibility of using just plain white vineagar. It has its benefits, and it depends on the salad.

Next you need to think about the essence of your vinaigrette. Do you need a citrus feel to it? Add some lemon juice. Are there crasins in your salad? Try a little orange juice in your dressing. Is the salad mostly made up of tart or bitter ingredients? Put mustard in the dressing. (Weird logic? not really. Mustard is very good at drawing out sweet flavors, especially if you are just putting that yellow "French's" stuff into it. Which I give you permission to do, as long as you tell NO ONE.) The rule for any of these additions is that however many you use, one or 5, the amount should equal your vinegar.

(Incidentally, if you insist on making the vinaigrette without adding these flavors, you should increase the vinegar to equal the oil, making it a 1:1 ratio.

But thats not all! Simply mixing oil and vineagar will never impress anyone, so start thinking spices. Salt and pepper, yes, but you know that spice rack you got as a wedding present that you never really touched except for the cinnamon which is now empty? Yeah, open that up and start smelling things. If you like the smell, throw it in. It only takes a couple of tries before you find a combination that really expresses your flavor. Or, if you don't have a spice rack at your disposal, start digging through the cupboards and discover the random spices you have accumulated over the years.

Make the dressing a few times and put it on the side, pretty soon you will find the simplicity of mixing it as easy as grabbing a bottle out of the fridge, and you might even start preferring it so much, you stop buying dressings altogether.

Tomato Mozzarella salad

I am avoiding a paper, and by doing such, noticed that other's neglect gives me ample opportunity to win this particular challenge.

So let's talk salad for a moment. An important pronciple I learned from the French is that salad does not always mean lettuce and dressing. In fact, since salad really just refers to the blending of various fresh things, it doesn't even necesarily have to refer to vegetables at all, meaning fruit salad could simply be referred to as salad, and if you wanted to, say, create a salad using pudding and cookies, it could simply be referred to as a salad as well. Although I don't know anyone who would do such a thing, and if they did, there would be GREAT debates as to whether it counted as a salad or as a dessert.

But I digress. My favorite salad from France is one I had my very first week there, and many many times after.

You will need:
Tomatoes (Roma work really well for this)
Mozzarella (I like to get the fresh kind, packed in water, for this, since its more of a feature of the dish than just grating it over the top)
A vinaigrette. You can use a pre-mixed kind, but if you want to make a really nice one, I will give you the recipe for that as well.
You can add fresh basil as well. It brings the flavors together quite nicely.

Slice the tomatoes and the mozzarella so that the slices are basically the same size (and if you got the fresh mozzarella in the round packages, then they are nice and uniform!) Layer them out on a plate, in a pretty pattern, alternating between the tomato and mozzarella. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and the chopped fresh basil and some salt and pepper.

Yup, thats all there is to a marvelous salad. I might add that if you are particularly wealthy or trying to impress someone, Havarti cheese works well too.

And, I might add again, that its in our blood, in our own heritage to love this salad. After all, how many times did we have tomatoes and cheese for lunch at Grandma and Grandpa Pratt's house? Remember how you could just pick a tomato and eat it like an apple, catching the juice dribbles with that unreasonably large hunk of yellow cheese that Grandma would cut for you? This is simply less portable and less messy.

Pumpkin Bread the Easy Way

Another one shamelessly stolen from John Kline. I hope he doesn't mind me using his recipes here, but I justify it thusly: 1. I've credited him with them. 2. I've voted for him.

This is the quick way to make pumpkin bread: Mix 1 can of canned pumpkin, 1 tsp of Allspice, 2 eggs, 1/3 cup of milk, and a package of pound cake mix from the store. Bake 1 hour in a loaf pan (greased/floured) at 350 degrees.

I've only tried it with pumpkin, but I bet it would work with banana too. Although I would leave out the allspice for that.

Someone should really post mom's pumpkin bread recipe though - the easy way out will never be as good. By the way, if you tell someone how it is made, they are more likely to think it tastes like pound cake mixed with pumpkin. So let's keep the secrets to the magic to ourselves.

I'm labeling this one 'bread' so I don't get docked points for posting another dessert. But I was just thinking, a little cream cheese frosting would put this one over the edge...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Nancy's Boeuf Bourgingnon

So in response to my own challenge, I offer this new recipe that I created all by myself, based in principles I learned from a woman named Solange and a cookbook I received from a very attractive man named Jean-Charles. (Note here, I listened to these people particularly, because French women frighten me just a little and because attractive French men are a rarity to be savored. I'm just sayin'.)

The recipe came up because I was in need of an accompaniment cd, so I cohersed my very busy friend Bryan to spend part of his saturday afternoon playing for me, and in exchange he and his wife requested that I cook a real French meal for them. (I offered to pay them, but they wanted services for services, and I obliged, since cooking for people isn't something I get to do very often.) I had short notice and no access to a real recipe book, so I went to the grocery store on a blank slate ans simply started wandering the aisles.

You have heard that necessity is the mother of invention? Well, I like to think that this was sort of this, but more of a love and service beget creation, you know, like Elder Uchtdorff's talk last year in the RS session. Which everyone should read/listen to/ download to their ipod, or whatever it is you do these day.

But I am rambling, so onward to the recipe!

You will need:
Some cuts of Beef, not ground. a cut for each person, whichever style you like, although cheap and thing work really well, because no matter what you do, the recipe will turn out tender.

Kite string (or cooking twine, whatever. I like kite string, its cheap and everyone has several spools laying around)

Beef bouillon or beef stock or beef soup base. Get the kind in the pourable box, you will want a lot of it!

Bacon, one slice for each cut of beef

Fresh Basil

Various spices, although the best are italian, pepper, mustard seed, caraway seed, celery salt, and garlic

or if you are feeling lazy, you could try it with the lipton onion soup mix. haven't done that yet, but the blend would work in this.

Now, you are finally going to get to use that meat tenderizer that just sits in your knife rack or utensil drawer, lonely and waiting for you to cook something real! (Of course, if your lonely meat tenderizer has given up and run away, then cover your rolling pin with saran wrap.) Smash (smoosh?) that meat so it is flat and malleable.

put your spices on it (except for the fresh basil and mustard seeds, those need to wait) and then lay a slice of bacon across on side of it. Fold it over so it sandwiches the bacon, and then roll it up and tie it into a little ball with the kite string.

Put your beef bouillon/stock in a stock pot or pan big enough to hold all your servings with a little wiggle room. (I used 1 box of stock in a saucepan with 3 servings, anything more and you will have to move to a bigger pan and perhaps more bouillon)

put some mustard seeds and chopped fresh basil and whatever other spices you like into the stock as well, and then drop the beef in.

Let it boil and simmer for about 20 minutes (depending, of course, on size and thickness of meat) Even if you go too long, you are cooking the meat by boiling it, so it won't get dry. And you are cooking it by boiling it in its own juices, so it won't get slimy.

Serve it hot, and its a really great idea to put a little ramekin of the extra au jus (that's fancy for spicy bouillon) on the side of each serving, so that the meat can be dipped in it and drizzeled with it.


Oh yes, if you have small children eating this, you probably want to cut the kite string off before you serve it.

And it goes really well with a nice tomato mozzarella salad (which I suppose I will have to post as a seperate thing.... someday, when I have time)

A little balance...

I was just noticing in the tags that we seem to have a weight issue, and I mean that on so many levels. Go ahead, look at it, and see if you can notice the problem...



That's right, there are 44 desserts, and the other sections barely even acheive half that.

Unbalanced, for sure.

Now, to be fair, I have, I am sure, contributed to the problem, and in addition, it seems like a reasonable thing to have more recipes for the things we like to eat and create.

But why don't we see if we can't step it up a little in the other areas. Perhaps Aaron could do some more point tallying this time notfying us in advance of the rule that a dessert post is a negative point. This means, if you are going to post a dessert, it would be wise to post a non dessert as well.

(Not that the fat content will be any less, since we all know that brussel sprouts taste better when broiled in bacon fat)

Air Freshener

For when you need an air freshener... Not really a recipe, but sort of like Febreze.

1 Tbsp Baking Soda
2 C Warm Water
1/4 C Liquid Arm & Hammer Fabric Softener

Dispense in Spray Bottle.
Clean Sprayer by pumping water through after each use.

Nauvoo Bread

Picked this one up when we went to Nauvoo for the big family reunion. It's from Sister Prince, I believe she was one of the missionaries there. Everyone loved the fresh bread at the family living center. But I haven't tried recreating it yet.

5 Cups Hot Water
1/2 Cup Potato Flakes
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Powdered Milk
1 1/2 T. Salt
1/2 C Oil or Shortening
2 T Yeast
10-14 Cups Flour

Combine hot water, shortening, potato flakes, powdered milk, and sugar. Stir to dissolve shortening. WHen temperature is tepid, add yeast. Mix in 5 cups of flour an dthe salt. Stir to a smooth sponge. Add flour to make a smooth and elastic dough. Let rise until double, about 45 minutes, punch down and let rise again. Shape into loaves, let rise. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes.

Parmesan Picnic Bread

We all liked this one. Also from Congressman Kline:

1 Loaf French Bread, sliced in half lengthwaise.

1/2 C Refrigerated Creamy Caeser Dressing
1/3 C Grated Parmesan Cheese
3 T Finely Chopped Onion
Spread on bread halves. Brown 4 inches under oven broiler.

Oven Fried Chicken

Okay, this doesn't really taste fried to me. But I like the parmesan/italian breading, and it keeps chicken breasts moist if you want to bake them. We have to double the recipe. It comes from our U.S. Congressman, John Kline. I've worked on his campaigns, and he used to hand out these recipes to his constituents, as sort of calling cards.

6 Chicken Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, Patted Dry

Mix together
2/3 C Dry Breadcrumbs
1/3 C Parmesan Cheese
1/2 T Garlic Salt
Pour 1/4 C Italian dressing in a separate bowl.

Dip chicken breasts in dressing first, then in crumbs. Bake 50 minutes at 350 degrees.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Alright, Mubba. Here's my contribution to your chocolate cult meeting. One of the boys discovered this recipe a couple of weeks ago, and I'm afraid I made a decent contribution to the consumption of them.

2 C Butter
3 C White Sugar
4 Eggs
1 Tbsp +1 Tsp Vanilla

4 C Flour
1-1/3 C Cocoa Powder
1-1/2 Tsp Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
4 C Chocolate Chips

Cookie mixing is standard procedure. Baking is too - 8-10 min @ 375.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Walking Tacos

Several Small Bags of Nacho Cheese Doritos (1 for each person)
Shredded lettuce
taco meat
sour cream
shredded cheese

Crunch the doritos inside the bag and then open it. Add which ever of the other ingredients that suits your fancy. Eat with a fork (or spoon if you enjoy a challenge) straight out of the bag.

These are great for big groups because they don't make much mess- you don't have to worry about balancing a plate and the what not.

I hadn't ever tried these until this summer. Occasionally Valleyfair treats their staff to these and we visit Matt at the park and I eat all of his. We made them for dinner here, and the kids really enjoyed them. Just a piece of advice though- don't eat one of these and then go on the Octopus.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Edible Modeling Dough

Dug this one up for family home evening. Sicky-sweet and peanut butter, only a child could like it.

1-1/4 Cups Powdered Sugar
1-1/4 Cups Powdered Milk
1 Cup Corn Syrup
1 Cup Peanut Butter.


Vaguely reminiscent of actual peanut butter cookie dough, just similar enough to be disappointing when you realize that it is realy just peanut-butter-flavored-diabetes-in-a-bowl.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

onion dip

Personally, I think the new year doesn't happen until you actually consume an entire container of french onion dip and ruffles potatoe chips.

And you have to get the ruffles with ridges. Because the ridges hold more of the onion dip goodness and stay crunchy. If you get the non ridgy kind then the chips get soggy between the dip and your mouth.

Its easy.

1 container of sour cream

1 packet of lipton french onion soup

mix it up. well. don't let any pockets of spice collect up, and make sure to scrape the bottom so that it mixes up entirely.

Grean Bean Casserole

Ah the Thanksgiving staple. I'm surprised you requested this, aren't you the one that refuses to allow it on the table? It was always my job to get this one going, probably because I would generally be the one to consume half the pan. Between this and mashed potatoes, I didn't eat a whole lot else on thanksgiving.

For the record, the green beans really should be the french cut ones. The others work, but they don't quite bake into the sauce the same way.

four normal sized cans of french cut green beans
2 cans campbells cream of soup. (you know the routine, chicken or mushroom. the recipe calls for mushroom, but SOME people won't eat the mushroom stuff, so you have to consider who you are serving this to)
Frenchs fried onions
salt and pepper

drain the beans, mix them with the soup and some milk and about half the can of onions, salt an pepper to taste. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then scatter the rest of the onions on top so they get crispy during the last 5 minutes of bake time.

Reeses Peanut Butter Bars

Seriously, you didn't know this one by heart? Come on, I remember a time in Warroad when Aaron made these at least weekly. And then I made them for the seminary open house last year, and again they were a hit. There was a time we could whip these up in less time than it took for the toyota to drive from the library to 306 virginia street....

But you do need a food processor... (Ok, remember the Christmas of the food processor? I know you all have one. Well, Emma and I don't, but that just means you have to make them for us and mail them to us. Whatever happened to care packages?)

I'm posting the 13x9 recipe, because there is no point to making any less...

2 1/2 cups of graham craker crumbs (remember that food processor?)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup margarine
1 cup peanut butter

mix it all up and press into the bottom of the 13x9.

Melt 2 TBsp of peanut butter with
6 oz chocolate chips (thats 1/2 package)

Boom Baby

The bestest homemade syrup I have ever tasted in my whole entire life...

Seriously, you know how at a restaurant the butter and the syrup sort of melt together and there is this hint of melty goodness that sits on top and you wish all of your syrup could taste like that first bite?

This is that syrup.

1 cube butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup sugar

Boil it together, then once it boils, remove it from the heat. Add:

1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda


Nancy's very own Mac and Cheese

I have been working on this for a few weeks now. It started with an Alton Brown episode, and then a Paula Dean Recipe, and I just started to manipulate it to be all my own! (I'm very proud of this, and frankly, its really good.)

Noodles (I prefer stuff called campagnolle, it sticks to the cheese nicely. Shells work pretty well too, but its not as much fun to say as campagnolle. Come on, you know you want to say it out loud. Campagnolle!)

Onion, cut up tiny
Milk (or cream if you feel gourmet)
as many different kinds of cheese as you want, shredded. I like to use mozarella and cheddar.
Garlic/ seasonings

Boil the noodles, put them in a collinder, put some butter in the pan and sautee the onions. cook them up until they are a little beyond clear, but not brown. Add the spices while you are doing this. Garlic is the best thing, and then it is up to you to branch out from there.

Add a splash of milk and some flour, stir it up and while it is still liquidy add the noodles back in. the flour will start to thicken up, so continue to add a little more milk to keep it stirable. Start to add the cheese in and keep stirring it while you watch the cheese get all lovely and melting.

Serve it hot!

Grandpa and Nancy's Stir Fry Stuff

This is one I came up with for our Sunday Night Scrabble games. It is cheap and fast and conforms to most thing I always have around the house.

Frozen Mixed Veggies
Ramen Noodles

I'm poor, so I don't often actually use chicken, but if you have to feed protein to children, or to grandpa, then cut up a few chicken breasts into bite size chunks and cook them up in olive oil. Leave them and their grease in the pan while you continue to the next steps.

Start with the veggies and some water in a frying pan (I suppose a wok if you have one...) start them thawing/steaming which may take longer depending on how freezer burned the veggies are. If they are leftover from the last roommate that you lived with, it could take up to ten minutes. Once the veggies are reasonably frostless, add two cups of water per package of Ramen noodles, and add the ramen noodles as well. Continue to stir them around (that's why its called stir fry) until the noodles are soft, then toss in the ramen noodle spice packets. let the water reduce a bit while you stir it around, then crack some eggs in and continue to stir it around. I suppose the eggs are optional, but they give a little more protein to the whole experience, as well as kind of bind it together.

Once the eggs are done, then so is your stir fry!

For the Record...

I did make the bacon wrapped chicken. And let me tell you, it was good. So thats another point.

Mississippi Mud Bars

Make a pan of 13x9 brownies. Just before they're done, sprinkle marshmallows on top and continue baking until the marshmallows are toasty brown. Let them cool (mostly) and frost with chocolate icing.

Here's the stories:

I remember when we were bringing these to a ward/branch function and the pan was sitting uncovered on the padded console between the front seats in the Toyota. Dad was getting overly excited as he was driving and put his elbow into the pan of them. We got to eat them all ourselves, since we couldn't really serve them after that.

I brought some to school one day and someone (Justin Solie) asked me what they were. I told him it was Mississippi Mud. He said it was impossible that it was from the Mississippi and I told him it was. Then I convinced everyone at the lunch table that Dad had flown down there the day before (which he probably had) just to get some mud from the river so my mom could make them (which, as we all know, he didn't. I'm just dishonest. I got it from my brother who adjusted the score from last month...).

Salami, Pickles & Cream Cheese Appetizer

Aaron requested this recipe be put up, so here it is. It is a favorite holiday appetizer, as long as it is made right. An example of making it wrong is making it with Oscar Meyer salami instead of deli salami. We learned by experience that this does not work. So, when the grocery store is out of deli salami, find another grocery store.


Salami or Cotto Salami circles
Small pickles or pickle spears, the same length as the diameter of the salami
Cream Cheese

Slather cream cheese on a piece of salami. Place a pickle on it and roll it up. Secure with a toothpick. Done!

A few we're missing...

In the interest of closing last month's little competition, I declare myself the winner.

Okay, in fairness Jessica posted 12 recipes, and I only posted 11. But one of Jessica's is a repeat from earlier (Divinity).

Melissa posted seven, but I disqualify two because she hasn't made them (this is me making up the rules after the fact, a process you should all be well acquainted with by now given our shared childhood experience). However, I added two points because she did post two pictures.

Then, just to be fair, I had to give myself a point for my picture posted, which brings me back to my original point: I win. Not by a landslide, but if it takes adjusting the rules to suit me, I'm not above that.

Now, I expect Emma Jane and Nancy and Amy to step up to the plate (PUN!) this month. Of course, Amy has had nothing interesting take her focus off Pratt Family Cooking in the past month, so I can't imagine why she has been so neglectful (other than that whole job change/moving her family across the state thing, which is a pathetic excuse).

This month's challenge: Who can post each of these critical missing recipes first. Of course, since these each form an integral part of our upbringing, the recipe is not complete without some form of explanatory note.

You may begin.

Mississippi Mud
Peanut Butter Cup Bars
Green Bean Casserole
Fruit Shakes
Daddy Pratt Hamburgers
‘Kentucky Fried’ Chicken (8 of the 11 spices are salt…)
Mom’s bread
Stef’s pickles/creamcheese/summersausage
Sunday Roast
Onion Dip
Bouche de Noel

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Birthday Cake, the Ice Cream lover's way

This is how Tom prefers his birthday cake, and I suspect it is how Aaron would like one, too.

Springform pan
Two kinds of ice cream that work together
chocolate sauce (or, another kind if chocolate doesn't work with the ice cream)

Soften one kind of ice cream. Line the springform pan with plastic wrap. Fill the bottom of the pan with ice cream. Be sure you push it into the edges. Freeze again.

Crush the cookies. Soften the next thing of ice cream. Take the cake out and put a layer of crushed cookies in. Drizzle with chocolate sauce. Put the next kind of ice cream in.

Freeze solid.

Take it out, pop the edge off, and put it on a plate. "Frost" it with the cool-whip. You can color the cool-whip with food coloring, and use a plastic bag with the corner snipped to decorate the cake. It looks like a real birthday cake, but it is just ice cream.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Yeah, right, like I can actually make this like Mom's. I can put the recipe here, but I have yet to meet anyone who can duplicate it just right.

2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla

In 2 quart saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 cup water. Cook to hard ball stage (260 degrees) stirring only till sugar dissolves. Meanwhile, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Gradually pour syrup over egg whites, beating at high speed on electric mixer. Add vanilla and beat till candy holds its shape, 4-5 mins. Quickly drop from a teaspoon onto waxed paper. Makes about 40 pieces.

Salt Water Taffy

No one story would work for this one.

2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oil of peppermint
7 drops green food coloring

Combine sugar, syrup, salt, and 1 1/2 cups water in 2 quart saucepan. Cook slowly, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook to hard ball stage (260 degrees) without stirring. Remove from heat; stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into buttered pan. Cook till comfortable to handle. Butter hands; gather taffy into a ball and pull. When candy is light in color and gets hard to pull, cut into fourthes. Pul each piece into long strands about 1/2 in thick. With buttered scissors, quickly snip into bite sized pieces. Wrap each piece in wax paper.

Aunt Julia's No Bake Cookies

Mix together:
3 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup coconumt
1/2 cup nuts
6 tablespoons cocoa
1 tsp Vanilla

Heat over stove:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup evap. milk
1/2 cup margarine

Stir together; drop by tsp on waxed paper. Let age one day.

Middlebro Manitoba Shepherd's Pie

Middlebro is a little town in southern Manitoba, not far across the border on hway 12 (312 in the US) from Warroad, Minnesota. To people in southern climates, like Fargo or Minneapolis or Denver, the US/Canada border is something real and political. To natives of Warroad and Middlebro, the border station is an inconvenient annoyance; a place you have to stop on the way to visit relatives because some city yokel in Washington DC (or Ottawa) decreed it. Middlebro has a church, a couple of businesses, and a population of 317 people, some of whom work at Marvin Windows. Residents of Middlebro use the Warroad Library, and one of them donated a brand new copy of the Middlebro community cookbook. Reo was in the Library browsing and knowing tha the had to do dinner that night because the Librarian was working late, idly flipped though the cookbook looking for ideas, and saw this, or its approximation. It quickly became a family favorite.

6 to 20 potatoes
2 to 4 lbs cheap round steak
1 hot pepper
1 to 3 onions
1 or 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 can creamed corn
1 to 2 lbs mild cheddar or colby cheese

Slice the meat into stroganoff strips, and start browning them in a fry pan (like the good Revereware pan Aunt Nancy gave Reo for Christmas) while you dice onions and pepper. Brown everything together (in olive oil) while you peel and cut potatoes. Let the meat and seasons (pepper, onions, and a little something from your spice cupboard) simmer together for as long as you have. The meat could be hamburger if you are in a hurry, or venison if you don't tell Melissa, but it needs to simmer in a covered pan fo ra good half hour if it's cheap round stake, which we buy here for less than hamburger. The number of potatoes depends (notice I spell POTATO like a democrat, which is not capitalized) upon th esize of the pyrex pan and the number of people and the size of the potatoes. Whip or mash the potatoes like you would for mashed potatoes and spread them in the (13x9 or bigger) cake pan. Stire the canned soup into the simmering meat, layer the creamed corn on top of the potatoes and spread the meat and soup on top. Layer the cheese on top and bake for 15 to 20 mins at 300 to melt the cheese. The whole thing can be refridgerated or frozen like lasanga and used the next week or month. Obviously, if it is frozen or refridgerated it would have to bake longer. The hot pepper came from the garden behind the hanger at the airport in Dyersburg, Tennessee.

Oh yeah, the reason the residents of Middlebro come to Warroad to the Library, instead of Roseau, is that they think the assistant librarian in Warroad is so nice and helps them find good things to read.

(as written by Reo Pratt)

Pizza Dough

This is the best pizza dough recipe I've found.

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose four
1 Tablespoon cornmeal

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add salt, olive oill and 2 1/2 cups flour. Mix together. Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until it clings to the side of the bowl. Knead.

Cover and let rise for about 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.

Push down. Brush 14 inch pan with oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Press dough into pan. Top as desired.

Bake at 450 for 15-20 mins.

Cinnamon chips

flour tortillas
cooking spray
cinnamon and sugar mixture

Preheat oven to 425. Spray the tortillas with spray. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon and sugar. Cut into wedges. Bake in the oven until crisp. These make a good after school snack. The place I got them from suggested using chopped up fruit as a "salsa" for them. I haven't done that yet, but sounds good.

Crockpot Apples

Baking apples
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup brown sugar

Slice and peel the apples, and put them in a crockpot. Slice the butter on top. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook on low for 8ish hours, or high for less than that. You do have to stir this! The apples will get all mushy and yummy and will produce a lot of juice. They taste a lot like Mom's baked apples.

Put on top of vanilla ice cream with a dollop of cool whip. Or, serve it however you want, but that is what we make it for.

I believe that would put me at...

11 recipes, one picture. We'll work on the pictures thing. But you's'all gonna hafta run t'catch up.

By the way, I also spent some time putting labels on our recipes as per (Jessica's) suggestion, and I added a label gadget on the right so you can now see our recipes by category, hopefully making our site more useable -

Muddy Buddies

These are a favorite. We often make them for school teachers as a thank-you at the end of the year.

9 cups Chex
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
1/4 Cup Butter
1 Tsp Vanilla
1-1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar

Stir together Choc Chips, Peanut Butter and Butter and microwave on high 1 minute. Stir, microwave and stir in 30 second intervals until smooth. Stir in vanilla, pour over cereal and try to stir without crushing. Pour mix in to 2-gallon ziploc. Put powdered sugar in ziploc and shake. Spread out on waxed paper to cool, then store in tupperware in fridge.


We love these in our house - in fact, Tristin went so far as to figure out how to make Wonton Wrappers from scratch one day so that we could have these:

40 Wonton Wrappers
2/3 Lb Ground Pork
1 Cup Chinese Cabbage - Minced
2 Green Onions - Minced
1 Egg
1 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
Dash of Salt
Hot Chili Oil (to taste)
1/2 Cup Peanut Oil
1 Cup Water

Combine Pork, Cabbage, onion, egg, soy sauce, chili oil in large bowl, mix well.

Lay out won ton skins on dry surface, put 1 tsp filling on each. wet outer edge of won ton skins with water for seal. pinch together in semicircles.

Place 2 heavy fry pans on low heat, add half of oil to each. arrange potstickers so that they are close together, then raise heat to medium high.

Cook uncovered until bottoms are golden brown - it takes a couple of minutes, then steam by dumping 1/2 cup of water in each pan and covering immediately. Let steam until wonton wrappers are semi-transparent, then take cover off and cook until bottoms are crisp and brown.

The Standard for Sugar Cookies

We got these ideas from a cooking shows, and it has become a regular standard in my house. My office at work has pictures of each of my children making them. They're very simple:

2 sticks of butter
1 Cup of Sugar
Cream together well

Add 1 Tbsp Milk, 1 egg, mix

Mix together:
3 Cups of Flour
1/4 Tsp Salt
3/4 Tsp Baking Powder.
Add slowly to wet ingredients


Use a sifter to sprinkle powdered sugar on your rolling surface, then roll out the dough. Using powdered sugar instead of flour for rolling means not only do you eliminate the floury dust on sugar cookies, but it bakes over in a very subtle, sweet glaze-like finish in the oven.

Roll out 1/4 inch deep, cut with cookie cutters.

Bake for 8 minutes at 375, rotate half way through.

Grandma Burnham's Butter Cream Frosting

Grandma Burnham's wedding cake decorating capabilities are nationally known. She creates the finest wedding cakes using all kinds of tricks (a couple that I can remember are that she sifts the cake mixes themselves if she is working from a mix, and she uses jams to hold layers together, combining interesting flavors like raspberry jam with chocolate cakes, apricot with vanilla, etc.). She freezes her cakes to make them easier to frost. Then the artist goes to work with the frosting:

1 Tsp Clear Vanilla
2 Tablespoons Cream, Milk, or Water
1/2 C Solid Vegetable Shortening (Crisco)
1/2 C Butter or Margarine, softened
1 Lb Confectioners' sugar

Sift the sugar into large bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Blend until creamy. Do not over beat.

Thin with white syrup to do writing or do string work, also to make frosting easier on a cake which is not frozen or has crumbs.

For a pure white frosting substitute 1/2 C Solid Vegetable Shortening and powdered cream for the butter or margarine. A dash of salt will improve the flavor. 1/4 Tsp Butter flavor can also be added.

Mom's Spinach Dip

A necessary addition to the family cookbook, this was a standard when Mom and Dad went to a fancy party when we were kids. We got the leftovers, which was often best because we got to tear up the bread bowl.

1 - 10 oz package Frozen Spinach
1/2 Pint Sour Cream (approx.)
3/4 Tsp Salt
1/8 Tsp White Pepper
1/8 Tsp Finely Chopped Onion
1/8 Tsp Worcestershiire Sauce
4 drops hot sauce (optinoal)

Cook spinach according to directions. Drain, the cool by running cold water over it in a colander (makes the color stay green). Dry by squeezing or mashing.

Put spinach in blender to chop. Add enough sour cream to moisten until it is the right thickness of a dip. Then add other ingredients and blend until combined. Chill.

Big Sourdough rounds turned in to bread bowls are best for serving - cut off the top, scoop out the insides, cube the insides and place on a plate, then fill the bowl with the dip and replace the top. Some additional rye bread cubed is tasty and adds color variation (especially since you can't tear apart the bowl until some of the dip has been consumed.

Chocolate-Cherry Something

From my childhood, this dessert was a favorite. I picked it up out of a kids' cookbook, and have made it many times.

26 Chocolate Wafers (or Oreo Crumbs, no filling)
1/4 Cup Butter/Margarine
8 ozs Sour Cream
1 Package (4-serving) instant chocolate pudding
1-1/4 Cups of Milk
21 Oz Cherry Pie Filling

Crush the wafers and reserve 2 Tablespoons

Mix the rest of the wafers with the melted butter
Spread the crushed buttered wafers in an 8x8 pan

Mix the sour cream, pudding mix, and milk. Use a mixer. Spread it on to the chocolate crust.

Spread the cherry pie filling on top, then sprinke the reserved chocolate crumbs.

Refrigerate for a few hours. If you need it quick, you can freeze it for one hour. (Actually, you can serve it right away, but it serves best when set up by chilling).

Cheesy Hash Browns

We have always believed in accepting truth regardless of its source, and one of the enormous benefits I have had by my association with Minnesota Lutherans has come in the form of food. When called upon to provide a side dish for a ward dinner, I went straight to the House of Hope cookbook for a recipe. This one has become (with some small alterations) a standard for Easter in my house.

2 Cans Cream of Chicken Soup
4 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
24 Ozs Sour Cream
2 Tsp Salt
1 Cup Melted Margarine
4 Lbs Frozen Hash browns.

Mix all the ingredients together except half the butter and the hash browns first, then add the hash browns in. Pour the remainder of the butter on top after putting it in the crock pot. It's supposed to bake for about an hour in the oven in two 13x9 pans, the nice thing is this can be kept warm for ever in the crock pot, so start it early and let it be. We do it in the crock pot because it goes well with ham, which takes up the whole oven.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Who wants to step up?

7 recipes and 2 pictures. Boo-ya.

Apricot Honey Chicken


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (5 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 4 teaspoons honey


In a large skillet, cook chicken in oil over medium heat for 7-9 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 170°. Combine the preserves, orange juice and honey; pour over chicken. Cook for 2 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 4 servings.

See disclaimer on post below.

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken


  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
  • 1 carton (8 ounces) spreadable chive and onion cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 bacon strips


Flatten chicken to 1/2-in. thickness. Spread 3 tablespoons cream cheese over each. Dot with butter and sprinkle with salt; roll up. Wrap each with bacon strip.
Place, seam side down in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 35-40 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170°. Broil 6 in. from the heat for 5 minutes or until bacon is crisp. Yield: 6 servings.

Truth be told, I took this from Taste of Home. But I'm totally going to try it by the end of the month. It looks delectable.

Another Favorite Salad Combination

Baby greens- meaning spinach, red leaf lettuce, etc.
Chopped broccoli and cauliflower- chop it really small
sunflower seeds
chunked deli turkey (about a 1/4 inch slice)
Kraft Asian toasted sesame dressing

The raw cauliflower and broccoli sound a little weird- but with the dressing, they're quite good. Don't mix the dressing in with the salad- the salad keeps really well for a day or two, but not if you've already added the dressing.

Mother In Law's Monster Cookies

1/2 cup margarine
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup 2 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp vanilla
3 eggs

4 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 m and ms (I really love using dark peanut m and ms, but whatever floats your boat)

Cream together all of the ingredients in the top section. Then add the flour. Then add the oats. Then the chocolate stuffs. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. These freeze really really well.

And a doubled recipe of this does not fit in my kitchen aid, just to let you know.

Easy Fried Chicken

Lots of Chicken Tenders or cut up boneless skinless chicken
Storehouse potato flakes
a couple of eggs, depending on how much you want to make
a good frying pan
oil, and/or fresh bacon grease

Heat up oil in the pan, on medium high. Set up a cookie sheet with paper towels on one counter. On another counter, next to the pan, line up bowls with potato flakes and eggs. Beat the eggs. I used four eggs when I did a whole huge bag of chicken, just to give you an idea. Cover each piece of chicken in the eggs, then coat in potato flakes. Put into the hot oil. Fry for a few minutes- you'll know to flip it when the edges of the top of the piece are turning golden. Flip it. Fry it for about 2 more minutes, depending on how big the piece of chicken is. Remove from pan to cookie sheet. You probably want to use different tongs (you're welcome) to flip and to remove just to keep from cross contamination.

Especially if you use bacon grease, you probably won't need a lot of seasoning for these. Really, they would be best with honey mustard sauce, but they're pretty good on their own.

Green Rice

This is a variation on standard chicken and rice. Add finely chopped brocolli (HOW DO YOU SPELL THAT WORD ANYWAY?) to the rice. Tell your kids its just green rice instead of white rice. Prepare as you would standard chicken and rice. Chris used to do this to get her kids eat their vegetables.

Perogie Casserole

1 box Lasagna Noodles
Mashed potatoes
1 Onion

If you have left over mashed potatoes, that will work fine. If you plan on making the mashed potatoes for this, make sure to throw a few cloves of garlic into the boiling potatoes and add sour cream, cream cheese and butter to the potatoes as you're mashing them.

Boil lasagna noodles. Spray casserole pan. Sautee the onion in a little bit of olive oil. Layer noodles, mashed potatoes, onion and cheese. Try to do this twice. Then cover it all in cheese, sprinkle bacon on top "as a garnish." Bake at 350 for probably 20 minutes or so, depending on if the potatoes were cold when you layered them. Probably add salt and pepper or tony's for taste.

It doesn't get much more Minnesotan that this, folks.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

(what should we call these?)

We made these today for the Fourth of July celebration. Mom asked Jesse what we should call them, and he said "ice cream cone brownies with ice cream and sprinkles". I'm thinking we could come up with something a bit shorter.

They were a big hit. I wish I had taken a picture of a completed one. They are pretty, too.

ice cream cones (the ones with flat bottoms. What are they called???)
brownie mix (plus whatever you need to make brownie mix)
chocolate ice cream

Mix brownies according to directions. Set up cones on a cookie sheet. Fill each cone about 1/2 full with brownie mix. You don't want the brownie to come all the way to the top when baked. Bake until the house fills with yummy brownie aroma. Allow to cool.

Later, after bribing the kids to eat their vegetables with these, put a scoop of ice cream on the top. This is why you want the brownie to be slightly below the top of the cone. You want the ice cream to be able to be a little bit in the cone. Top with sprinkles. I believe that sprinkles should be required and, in no way, negotiable for this.

Yum! The ice cream seeps into the brownie just like it does in a brownie sundae, except it is in a nice, portable cone.

Friday, July 3, 2009

No pictures, but I think I can argue 5 recipes, considering you can use the bread of the cinnamon rolls for amazing dinner rolls, and it includes an orange roll recipe.


Not an edible recipe, but, it is scribbled on a piece of paper, and I need to get it recorded somewhere else so I don't lose it.

1/2 cup liquid starch
3/4 cup glue (ie- elmer's white glue)

Mix the glue into the starch, first in a cup, then finish mixing it in on wax paper. Let sit for 20 mins.

This is fun for kids to play with, and surprisingly not messy. It will stain if you color it and let is sit on a fabric, though. It reminds me of sitting on Grandma Earl's swing and playing with magic sand with Amy. It's not magic sand, but it has that same fascination for children. It's solid with pressure (squeezing it) but turns liquid.

Really, it is an easy clean-up.

Cinnamon rolls

You may think that tractors is Tom's greatest love (well, besides me). But, no, this one tops even that.

First of all- the bread recipe:

1 C scalded milk
1/4 c wesson oil
1 T yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 t salt
1 egg
flour (you know, enough to make it right)
1 T gluten (it says optional, but this is what really makes the dough nice and chewy)

Combine water, sugar, and yeast. Let stand while you heat milk for 1 min in microwave or over stove. In a seperate bowl, stir egg, oil, and salt goether. Mix this wilth the milk after it has cooled. (Baby bottle temperature is how I think of it) Pour warm mixture into sugar and yeat. Add gluten and flour. If you can't handle this part, learn to make bread before attempting this recipe.

Roll out dough into rectangle. Soften 1 cube butter and spread over dough. Sprinkly 1/4 c cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar (mixed together) over that. (You can add raisins, if you are fan of the dead fly look). Roll and cut (use a thread, in case you didn't know that trick). Bast at 400 degrees.

Now, the frosting. The best part:
1 cube butter
1 lb of powdered sugar
1/4 c milk
(yeah, seems normal so far, oh but wait...)
French vanilla coffee creamer. (Yeah, wipe that drool off your face)

Pour this over just as they come out of the oven to really make is soak in and saturate the dough with ooey-sticky goodness.

By adding orange zest and juice to filling and frosting, you can make orange rolls. I'm a fan of orange rolls, but I like this one better as cinnamon rolls.

If you don't want to do all this work, take a trip down to the Waseca Farmer's Market. The women in our branch who gave me this recipe bakes them and sells them there. You have to get there early, though. They sell out by 7 am.

Easy "Quiche"

1 pre-made pie crust (or, you can make your own, but I find that the roll-outs work well in this kind of dish where the crust isn't the main event)
1 C fresh spinach
1 C cooked and diced/shredded chicken
1 C parmesan cheese
1 C Swiss cheese
1 C diced ham
1/4 c yellow onion

Bake pie crust at 350 for 10 mins. Remove and allow to cool. Mix spinach, chicken, cheese, ham and onion together and put in crust.

Whip together: 2 eggs, 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup milk.
Pour over ingredients in crust. (It will be very full). Bake at 375 for 50 mins.

Chris's Apple Turnovers

When Chris shows up with these, crowds go wild. She always saves a few for Tom and I, because we are so busy chasing kids, or not there. Sometimes, they'll have a get together on a Saturday, and Tom will be working, so we don't go. We'll go on Sunday, and there is a little plate of turnovers set aside for us. Now, that's love. They do produce the filling in mass in the fall and freeze it. Then, you just have to whip out the crust and enjoy year round.

5 C sliced apples
1 C white sugar
1/3 C water (if your apples aren't juicy. If they are freshed pick, and the kind that juice runs down your chin as you eat them, you can skip this.)

Slowly steam on low heat for about 10 mins until done. Apples need to be firm, and not mushy. Add 2 T sugar mixed in 1/4 C flour. Sprinkle over apples as you lightly stir. After it thickens, remove from heat and add 3 T butter, 1/2 tes. salt and 1 teas. vanilla. Let stand at room temp until cool.

3 C flour
1 t salt
1-2 T butter
Up to 1/2 cup of water
Mix flour and salt. Cut in butter; add water as needed. This is a basic pie crust recipe. You can use anyone you want, really.

Form walnut size pieces of dough and roll into round patties. Put apple filling on half, fold over and pinch together with the edge of a fork. Bake as you would a pie. Glas with powdered sugar glaze (powdered sugar, milk, and a tinsy bit of vanilla).
The gauntlet is thrown.

Four recipes (okay, 3-1/2 by weight) have been posted this month by the Aaron. One with a picture.

Who will meet the challenge?

Szechuan Chicken

Also from the Baks, I don't think (after my experiences in China) that this is really 'Szechuan'. Most of the Szechuan food was laden with very hot peppers and dark sauces.

But it is good.

Chicken Breast, Cubed
Fry with Hawaiian Teriyaki Sauce (from previous post) and a tiny bit of sesamee oil

Carrots, sliced
Red Pepper, little strips
Onion, little strips
Green Onion
Zucchini or Broccoli

Hawaiian Teriyaki Sauce
Sesamee Oil
Corn Starch
Chicken Broth

Cook Chicken with Hawaiian Teriyaki Sauce. Remove from pan.
Cook carrots, red pepper, onion, and celery with Hawaiian Teriyaki Sauce. Add a tiny bit of sesamee oil.

As carrot mixture begins to become transparent, add in zucchini (or broccoli, or pea pods).

Make a liberal mixture of Cornstarch and Chicken Broth.

Add to vegetables with Chicken.

Add the rest of the Hawaiian Teriyaki Sauce.

Egg Rolls

We have some friends, Debbie and Scott Bak, who served in the Lao Branch here in the Twin Cities. The Lao Branch is known for its annual egg roll fundraiser. Scott invited me over to learn to make them one day:

Package of Spring Home TYJ Spring Roll Pastry (This is the brand they use)

Cellophane Noodles - Prepare according to Package
Ground Pork, Browned and Drained
White & Purple Onions, chopped
Carrots, Chopped
Cabbage, Chopped
Hawaiian Teriyaki Sauce (See previous recipe)
Pepper (Ground)

Beaten Egg (to seal egg roll wraps

325 for Ten Minutes to bake. Spray them with Pam (cooking spray) first.

Hawaiian Teriyaki Sauce

This is a tough one:

1c. Soy Sauce
3/4 C. Brown Sugar

Boil in small saucepan.

This is to use in the Egg Roll Recipe and in the Szechuan Chicken recipe that are forthcoming...

Grandma and Grandpa Pratt's Buckwheat Pancakes

Better than a picture of the food - this is a copy of Grandma Pratt's handwritten recipe. On Grandpa Pratt's Suzy's Zoo Recipe Cards. I had them write this down for me when I was very young, laminated it with contact paper, and somehow it has survived many years. If I remember right, at least one of the two versions (it has a medium and a large) doesn't work well, so I welcome comments to tweak it... Asking them to write it down was a major task since I don't think they had ever measured ingredients. Alton Brown would tell us to convert it to weights.

You'll notice some odd incongruencies. Keep these things in mind:

Water and Egg whites are in the directions but not in the ingredients.

I assume that the 'large recipe' should be brown sugar just like the 'medium recipe'.


Dry Ingredients:

2 c. Flour
1/2 Tsp. Soda
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
Wet Ingredients:
1 Egg Yolk
1-1/2 c. Buttermilk
1 Tbsp. Oil

Water as needed

Mix together & then add whipped whites.


Dry Ingredients:
4 c. Flour
3/4 tsp. Soda
2 Tbsp sugar
Wet Ingredients:
2 Egg Yolks
2 C. Buttermilk
2 Tbsp Oil
Later on, after I was married, I got more detailed instructions over the phone one day; here they are:

1 Heaped Vienna Sausage Can (5-1/2 ozs +) of Flour
1 Heaped Tablespoon of Brown Sugar
1/4 Tsp. Soda (Not powder! Powder is Soda plus an acid, the buttermilk has acid in it)
Tiny bit of oil if the griddle is well tempered. A little more than a teaspoon if it's not a well-tempered griddle
1 egg, separated, even if the recipe is doubled
Put the yolk in the Buttermilk (1 cup?)
Beat the white until stiff
Add the beaten white after the rest of the fluid has been added to dry ingredients
After the first side bubbles, the second side should cook 1 or 1-1/2 minutes. Time it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Layers (two recipes)

Sorry, no pictures. I thought about it, but then these got gobbled up, so it didn't happen.

Layer Cake:

Very basic, but a fun spin on plain old cake.

Cake mix (plus whatever is needed to make said cake)
Chocolate pudding
Topping of choice

Make the cake and cool it completely. Frost the cake with pudding. Top with fruit, chopped up candy bars, nuts, cool whip, etc. Last time, we did yellow cake, chocolate pudding, and strawberries. Pat Horton is the one who introduced me to frosting a cake with pudding, and it is very good, and easy.

Layer Taco Dip:

sour cream
taco seasoning
whatever other taco toppings you want

Mix sour cream and taco seasoning. Finely chop onions and mix those in. Spread mixture on pizza pan, cookie sheet, or serving tray. Top with layers of other taco toppings. Serve with chips. I did serve this for dinner the other day, and put seasoned hamburger meat on the side.

Yeah, I know, I'm not that fancy. But, hey, these are good, easy, not too hot food.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Feast for your eyes

June starts tomorrow!

Ok folks, we're losing it again. I am the first culprit, since I haven't posted a recipe in quite a long time. But here comes another month, and with it a chance to revive our statistics! So I propose a bit of a challenge. let's make June a photo blog month. Instead of posting the actual recipe, post a photo of your dinner. Heck, even if its a photo of a dinner you ordered at a restaurant, or even if it's one that your child created/invented. Maybe you could even post a pic of a meal you want to make that you found online or in a recipe book somewhere. Post the photo and a few key ingredients, whether they are obvious in the photo or not. Then we, in the comments section will have the opportunity to vote yea or nay as to whether we want the recipe. It can be sort of like a non-competitive contest. With validation as the prize! Sure, it's not the most emotionally healthy way to go, but I'm betting that the recipes won't exactly be healthy either, so why not make sport of it?

On your mark, Get set, POST!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Yummy Marinade and green beans side

This one doesn't belong in this theme, but hey, it's yummy. I meant to post it last month, but didn't get the recipe.

Equal parts:
soy sauce
vegetable/corn oil

Mix together and pour over meat. (Turkey roast sliced up is really good, as is chicken.)

Let sit in the fridge overnight, or as long as you can. (It is best overnight, but it's okay if you get it marinading in the morning, too.)


It's really good served with garlic green beans:

fresh green beans
olive oil
several garlic cloves, minced

Saute green beans in olive oil and garlic. Keep them crisp, though. That's the key to this, is to not cook the green beans into soggy grossness. How much garlic, oil, and beans you need depends on how many you want to eat, and how garlic-y you want it. Hey, and it repels Twilight fans, too.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hay Stacks

I had never even heard of Hay Stacks before I joined the family. In fact, I thought it sounded really wierd when they were first described to me. However, they proved to be a terrific large-group meal, and very tasty.

I'm not sure there is an absolute ratio for ingredients here - just make enough for the group you are cooking for.

Chicken, cubed and sauted in vegetable oil
Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
Milk (but not so much that it makes it runny)

Combine the above ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through.

Rice - cook per package directions

Bananas, sliced into rounds
Pineapple Chunks
Black Olives
Sunflower Seeds
Chopped Tomatos
Chinese Noodles - the crunchy topping kind - is this what they are called?
I'm sure there are more toppings we add - add them to the comments!

To Serve:

Definitely buffet-style. Put a generous scoop of rice on your plate, cover with some chicken gravy, and then add your own toppings. Yummy!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Merle's French Silk

Can't start this one without reminding you (as Dad would) that this was Beehtoven's favorite dessert.

Cream together:
1 cup margarine
1-1/2 cup sugar

Beat in to butter mixture:
2 Squares unsweetened chocolate
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, 5 minutes between each egg

Pour into 9" pie pan with Graham Cracker crumb crust.
Double recipe to make it in a 13x9 pan, which is how Mom usually does it.

The May Challenge

In Honor of Mother's Day, this is the month we archive all of Mom's (Merle's) recipes. Dig out your books, look at what everyone else has posted, then get to work! Our family's ability to make something out of nothing (and make it taste good) is wholly attributable to Mom. Time to preserve the traditional favorites for posterity...

Chinese Almond Cookies

These date back to 'cultures day' at Shawnee Park Elementary School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The ingredients are mostly a standard sugar cookie, but make sure you have enough almond extract and almonds on hand when you start.

Stir together:
2-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cut in 1 cup crisco like you would for a pie crust.

Mix seapartely
1 egg
2 tablespoons mild
1 teaspoon almond extract

Add to flour mixture. Mix well.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press a blanched almond half on to each cookie, press down to flatten slightly.

Bake in 325 degree oven, 16 minutes

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Roasted Garlic

This is healthy and yummy. Especially if you like lots of garlic (which I do). It was inspired by Melissa's curry recipe. Why, you ask? Because garlic and curry are the two things I eat a ton of when I travel. Since I smell like garlic or curry (even my skin, my hair, my toenails.. okay, too much information) for days afterward, I save those foods for travel when my wife doesn't have to smell it.

Roasted Garlic is good spread on bread (baguettes?) or mixed with butter and noodles (especially fettucine). This year I'm going to try it on barbecued meats, which is how it makes the "April Summer Foods" month feature.

By way of useful information (I'm no Alton Brown, but...) it has been scientfically proven that garlic not only keeps away vampires but also repels rabid fans of the 'Twilight' series.

Preheat oven to 375

Line bread pan with aluminimunium foil

Halve two or three cloves of garlic (across the equator, not top to bottom)

Set them in the pan and pour 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over each.

Put in oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. It's done when the cloves are slightly browned, soft, and spreadable.

After they've cooled a few minutes, you can pick them up (maybe with a hot pad) and squeeze the cloves right out into a dish. It's kind of fun.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Musaman Curry

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 can (19 oz) coconut milk (Mae Ploy brand is my favorite)
3 tbsp fish sauce
3 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup roasted peanuts or cashews
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp masaman curry paste
1 lb chicken cut into stew pieces
2 tbsp tamarind liquid
3-4 medium size gold potatoes chunked

1. On medium heat, put begetables oil in a pot, then add masaman curry paste. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add 1/3 can of coconut milk, stir fry for 4-5 minutes, until it bubbles red.
3. Add chicken, stir fry for 5-8 minutes
4. Add rest of coconut milk, and 3/4 can of water.
5. Add potatoes and carrots now.
6. Add fish sauce, sugar, tamarind liquid and peanuts.
7. Simmer 30 minutes. If its too thick, add some water. If its too thin, simmer longer.
8. Remove from heat.

Serve over sticky rice. I'll post that recipe soon. I also like to add sliced onions when I add the potatoes and carrots. This is my favorite thing ever.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chocolate Trifle

William and I made this tonight for our FHE tomorrow (Aaron is in Chicago tonight).  It is very easy, and really yummy - although all we did was lick the bowls and utensils when we were done.  


  • 1 (19.8 ounce) package brownie mix
  • 1 (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (1.5 ounce) bar chocolate candy


  1. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions and cool completely. Cut into 1 inch squares.
  2. In a large bowl, combine pudding mix, water and sweetened condensed milk. Mix until smooth, then fold in 8 ounces whipped topping until no streaks remain.
  3. In a trifle bowl or glass serving dish, place half of the brownies, half of the pudding mixture and half of the 12 ounce container of whipped topping. Repeat layers. Shave chocolate onto top layer for garnish. Refrigerate 8 hours before serving.

Comfort Food: Pasta Salad

I have to explain why this is a comfort food. I have decided pretty early in my mom-days, that dinner is the most important thing I can do in a day. If nothing else goes right, I want to be able to sit down with my family for dinner. Because of that, I've gotten into the habit of making most of my meals, as much as possible, in the morning. I use my crockpot a lot, make casseroles and stick them in the fridge, etc. This meal is my favorite because I can get it totally and completely done in the morning. There is no last minute prep stuff for it, like there is for a lot of my other meals. It makes me happy to know that dinner is ready. And, my kids absolutely love this one. There is something in it that everyone will eat.

So, the recipe. We like to use shells, but you can pick any fun pasta you want. Boil it, strain it, and then immediately cool it with cold water. Dump a little ranch dressing in, just enough to coat the noodles. Then, stick it in the fridge to finish cooling. (You coat the noodles so that they don't stick to each other.)

While that cools, chop up whatever you want to put in it. We do a meat (chicken, ham, or deli meats), veggies (tomatos, cucumbers, celery, carrots), cubed cheese, olives, whatever else sounds good. This is the nice part, because if kids interupt you, you can stop, attend to them, and come back to it. There is no time limit on this step.

Dump stuff into the noodles. Add more ranch, and then, add some italian salad dressing. Trust me, it gives it the perfect zing. I'd say mine end up with about 2 parts ranch to 1 part italian, but there is no measurements.

If your in my house, the last step is to make sure Seth doesn't keep snitching from the bowl throughout the day.

These make great leftovers, too. When we are going to have a few days of back to back craziness, or if I just don't know how many people I'll be feeding, when, I make this up, and then it is there, ready for whoever needs to eat whenever.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

April Proposal

Comfort food month seems to be a success. Therefore, I am proposing a theme for next month. I propose that April be "Summer food" month- salads, grill recipes, fruit, etc.

I don't think that every recipe has to be with the theme, but it did help me think of recipes to post, so I say we do it again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Comfort Food: Warm Pudding

1 package, any flavor, cook and serve pudding

Make the pudding according to directions. Take it seriously when it says to stir constantly. And make sure to keep the bottom of the pan scraped. When it is done, pour immediately into mugs and serve.

Matt introduced me to this when we were engaged. I was very dubious at first, but now its a standard in our house. By far, the best flavor is butterscotch, but be aware that its very rich. We usually just do chocolate. Vanilla is all right, but not the best.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Comfort Foods: Beans and Bread

Okay, I have no good title for this one. It is an homage to Grandma and Grandpa Pratt.

Admittedly, one of the first tests of my marriage was introducing Stef to Grandma Pratt's cooking. Stef barely survived the experience. It's not that Grandma Pratt didn't know how to cook, it's that she wasn't willing to spend any money on ingredients. So if she had leftover piecrust, green beans, and canned beef, well, she'd make it work. Or at least try.

But there was one time they devised something that was truly great out of leftovers:

Grill a slice of homemade bread.
Pour baked beans (from a can, hormel or van camp's work just fine) on top.
Put a slice of fresh tomato on top of that.
Then melt a slice of mozarella cheese on top of that.

After the Whole-Wheat Griddle cakes with Santa Barbara Plum Jam, this has to be my favorite Pratt recipe. The Burnham side is another story - my mom and grandma and great-grandma have 'the gift' with cooking - but the Pratt side produced just two great recipes.

By the way, if anyone manages to perfect a recipe for the griddle cakes(it was made 'off-the-cuff'), be warned of the following:

As I understand chemistry (which is very little at all), when you combine elements, the new compound has properties that are unrelated to the properties of the original elements, e.g. flammable hydrogen plus fire-feeding oxygen = water, an extinguisher. The only exception to this rule is mass: You cannot create mass by combining elements. The mass of the new compound is the sum of the masses of the elements. Properties different. Mass same. There is only one exception to this law:

Pratt Whole-Wheat Griddle Cakes defy all of the laws of chemistry, physics, and gravity. Their atomic weight is greater than gold. If you can eat more than one, and they're good enough to make you want two, you need to be prepared for the fact that you've just swallowed fiber with a density that defies the law of physics - even light can't escape. Astronomers wondered for decades why their black hole studies consistently become erratic at 5:30 AM pacific time. It's because that's when Grandma got back from her morning walk and fired up the griddle and started mixing the Sprite and Buttermilk.