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.