Saturday, December 31, 2011

Clam Dip

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day. (We're almost done... stay tuned; I'll have a full report come Monday.)


Just grabbing a few minutes.

This is a Pace family tradition. It happens to be a Thanksgiving tradition (which always seems funny to me, but actually makes perfect sense because you're kind of hungry at lunch time, but the big meal won't be ready for a couple hours still; the Paces eat this to solve that dilemma). But that's not the point; they point is that it'd work well for the new year too.

I must warn you, however, that's it's mostly a throw this in and throw that in kind of a gig. Don't worry; you can do it.

Clam Dip
Makes a bowl full (how's that for precise? wait till you see the recipe)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cost: $2.00
(cream cheese: .99, clams: 1.00?)

1 block cream cheese softened
1 can clams (chopped or minced), drain the juice but reserve some of it
lemon juice
garlic salt
Worcestershire sauce

Beat cream cheese till smooth and creamy. Add chopped or minced clams and mix those in. Now you're going to splash in a bit of the clam juice--let's start with 1/2 Tbsp and see how it goes for you.

Then splash in some lemon juice (try another 1/2 Tbsp). Then put in a bit of garlic salt (start with 1/4-1/2 tsp of that).

Then splash in some Worcestershire sauce. Go for 1/2 Tbsp of that to begin with too.

Now taste your dip. Does it need more fishy, lemony kick or more savory Worcestershire or a bit of garlic or salt. Adjust your seasonings and use it as a dip for crackers or veggies tonight.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Friday, December 30, 2011

Three Ginger Cookies: a tease

My sister's in town for a couple of days and my dad will be here tomorrow too.

We've been making cookies. Ginger cookies. Yum.



Here's a link for one and another. The final recipe (and the one we liked the best) will have to wait to be posted because a girl only has so long to hang out with her out-of-state sister.

Happy New Year if we don't get here tomorrow--though I also have a clam dip waiting to be posted...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Coconut Red Lentil Dal

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.




So, dal and I are, like, officially on now that the flirtations and flings of the wintery Christmas parties have ended. And not a moment too soon. I know that January is supposed to be an austere and dreary time of year and I suppose that in certain respects it could be. Yet, lately the indulgences of Christmas have started to seem so over-the-top to me that I sort of welcome January with it's shut-in, cup-o-soup sort of way. (Yes, I am an old lady in a somewhat younger body.) And if you're going to be shut in with a cup of soup, this is certainly the way to go.

That said, you can eat this as a soup. Or you can let it cook a little longer and get it thicker and much more like a dal. This is what I recommend. It heightens the flavors of the mixture and just does something. Something wonderful. Slow and steady, she always wins the race.

If you've got some Farro around (as recommended in 101 Cookbooks from whence this comes), this is like a dream come true, served over it. Yes, I did just say 'dream come true' in reference to a bunch of mushy lentils (stewed in coconut milk my friends; coconut is sexy, right?) and a whole grain. Told you I was an old woman trapped in a somewhat younger body. What I didn't tell you is that being old in a somewhat younger body is totally the way to go.

Coconut Red Lentil Dal
adapted from 101 Cookbooks (her ingredient list is perfect; her instructions a little fussy to my mind)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Cost: $2.55
peas/lentils: .20, carrot: .10, fresh ginger: .02, butter: .02, green onions: .36, raisins: .10, coconut milk: 1.30, tomato paste: .20) cilantro: .25)

1 C yellow split peas (I didn't have so subbed in regular old lentils--the greenish kind you find at Walmart)
1 C red lentils
7 C water (I wasn't sure I should trust this and almost used chicken stock instead, but 101 Cookbooks came through for me and the water worked fine)
1 medium carrot, diced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 Tbsp curry powder
2 Tbsp butter (or olive oil for a vegan option)
8 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 C raisins (again, I hesitated here, but went ahead with it--totally awesome. You have to add the raisins. They cook so that they kind of mush into everything else, but add a nice earthy pop of sweetness to the brew)
1/3 C tomato paste
1 14-oz can coconut milk
2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 small handful cilantro, chopped (this could be optional, but I do love me some cilantro)

Rinse peas and lentils until they no longer put off a murky water. This took more rinses than I expected. I'm not sure it's worth it, but I expect it might lower the gasaciousness of the legumes. Place them in a big pot and cover them in the water. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer. Add carrot and 1/2 Tbsp of ginger. Cover and simmer 30 minutes or until peas are soft.

In the meantime, melt your butter in a small skillet. Add curry, ginger, half the green onions, and the raisins (seriously, don't skip them, even if you hate raisins). Saute for a couple minutes (you should start smelling the seasonings) and then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute.

Add this to the simmering soup (add it after the first 30 minutes). Add coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered for 20 more minutes. It will thicken up and you should give it a stir here and there to be sure it's not sticking to the bottom of your pan (if it is, turn down the heat or stir it more frequently or both). I liked it nice and thick. (How thick you may ask, especially if you're not used to making dal? Well, I hate to use the word pasty here because it's not a word we usually use with food to mean good things, but you'll want to get it less soupy and more pasty. Not so pasty you could make a pinata out of it or anything, but definitely on the pasty spectrum. Hope that helps.)

And I really liked it with some cooked farro thrown in.

Serve garnished with remaining green onions and cilantro.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Very Banana Breakfast Cookies

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.


You don't get a breakfast cookie or pretty much any breakfast much more healthy than this. Though I must warn you that these are very very banana-y. If you don't like bananas, you won't like these. If you do like bananas, but don't like concoctions that taste like banana, you won't like these. My oldest 2 kids don't like these. I like them, but I don't much like them warm. Now, cold, cold is another matter--not room temperature, but nice and chilled.

The chocolate chips are optional, but not in this joint.

Very Banana Breakfast Cookies
adapted from allrecipes
Makes 24 cookies (I think)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 12-15 minutes
Cost: $.95
(bananas: .40, oats: .20, sugar: .05, oil: .05, chocolate chips: .25)

Note: The original recipe calls for 1 cup of dates in lieu of the chocolate chips. I think this would be just awesome and would serve to naturally sweeten the recipe, but know it wouldn't go over with anyone else in this family. If you are better people than us, go for it. Otherwise, there's always chocolate.

3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
2 C oats (I use quick)
1/4 C honey or sugar
1/3 C vegetable oil (I usually reduce this a smidge)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4-1/2 C chocolate chips, optional

Combine all ingredients. If you've got 10 minutes, let this sit for 10 minutes, which will make it easier to put these on a baking sheet. If you haven't got 10 minutes, that's okay too, but the batter will be looser.

Plop onto cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges have browned a bit.

Allow to cool before eating. If you're me, give them some time in the refrigerator.

If everyone in the family doesn't love these, but a few do, these keep very well in the freezer, but not so well sitting out.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fresh Ginger: A Tip

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.


We've been doing a lot of work, cleaning, project finishing around here (and a little less cooking due to the enormous amount of leftovers in the fridge).

If you happen to have some leftover ginger root from those batches of gourmet ginger cookies you were making... Or perhaps from the soup you made in order to heal yourself from the batches of gourmet cookies you made...And you're not quite sure what to do with it except to let it sit there and rot in a baggy in your fridge, at which point, you'll get an intense urge for more cookies and/or soup and have to run out and buy another ginger root from the Asian store, which we all know means an extra errand, which we all means know means your kid will try to shop lift some Asian candy at the check out and then we may also know that you just might not have cash and that the Asian store won't take a card for your $.30 of ginger root, which we all know means you'll have to give up or wander around looking for $10 (plus or minus the not-quite-shoplifted candy your kid is whining for even though you know she'll hate it) of stuff to buy so you can use your card , and then you'll finally get out of there, but by then you'll be way too tired to make soup or cookies and will end up using a bit of the ginger over a hot compress on your eyes, and--frankly--I have no idea what that will do, but hopefully it will help.

Or you could just take your leftover ginger root out of the fridge and chop it up nice and small and put it in a freezer bag for later and then when you need a tablespoon of it at some random time, why, you'll just whip it out and it will be done and all will be well and right with the world--no hot compress needed.

Peel it, chop it small, freezer bag, label, freeze. Done.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Cookie Party

Today I'm cleaning house, both literally and within this darn computer.

If, however, you're still strumming along in a cookied haze, have a look at Secret Recipe Club's Cookie Party. You can get all the great cookie recipes you'll probably ever need. And you can add some of your own if you wish.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons: Just One More Cookie, and It's an Easy One

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.


Just thought there might be time for one more.

These cookies take maybe 5 minutes to assemble. And then another 13-15 to bake. If you want to dip them, there's another 10 minutes, unless you employ your "helpers," which will make it go either much faster or much slower.

But even if you don't have time today, it's worth making time another day because these are tasty, easy, and--for a cookie (and they are, my friends, a cookie)--kind of sort of on the more virtuous side--by which I mean that they do employ a lot of coconut, which at least is better for you than, say, white sugar and white flour in combination. They're also wonderfully forgiving, meaning they can handle a few, er, adaptations and all will still be well.

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons
adapted from The Best Recipe Cookbook (Cook's Illustrated)
prep time: 5 minutes
Bake time: 13-15
Cost:

Note: This does call for one somewhat odd ingredient: cream of coconut. This is sweetened coconut juice (and is pretty much the best tasting stuff on the planet--kind of like sweetened condensed milk, only coconut style). It has no alcohol, but you'll likely find it in the liquor aisle at the store since it is commonly used in pina coladas.

Another note: Cook's Illustrated recommends 1 C cream of coconut, 2 Tbsp light corn syrup, 4 large egg whites, 2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp salt, and 3 C unsweetened shredded coconut and 3 C sweetened flaked coconut. However, they offer the below alternative for those who have trouble finding unsweetened coconut (we can find it here, but it takes another errand, which doesn't always happen for me).

1/2 C cream of coconut
4 large egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp flour
6 C sweetened shredded coconut

Put oven rack in middle. Heat oven to 375. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper (don't skip; these babies will stick).

Whisk together cream of coconut, egg whites, vanilla, and salt.

Toss together coconut and flour, breaking up any large clumps in coconut.

Add wet mix to coconut and mix.

Mound into haystacks on parchment and bake for 13-16 minutes or until brown on top and at edges.

They're some kind of wonderful just alone, but we like to dip ours in chocolate to feed our gluttonous tendencies. I use 60% chocolate.

For dipping:

1 bag 60% dark chocolate chips (I usually use Ghiradelli)

To melt the chocolate, put chips in microwave at 30 second intervals, mixing in between, until almost entirely melted. When just a few lumps remain, mix it up until those lumps melt.

When macaroons are at room temperature, you can dip the bottoms of the macaroons in chocolate. 

You can dip them by actually dipping the bottoms in. We did this with several of ours, and it's how all my kids did it (if you get a macaroon my kids dipped, lucky you, because they did not skimp on the chocolate). However, I found that the tops of the haystacks were sometimes delicate and occasionally broke off with dipping; therefore I preferred to sort of hold mine and paint the chocolate on the bottoms. I only had a child around to take a picture of this, so it's a bit fuzzy, but you get the idea.


When you're done, place them on parchment paper. I couldn't remember if we usually placed them bottoms down or tops down, so I tried some of each. They both worked.


Let the chocolate set and you're good to go.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a date with some push-ups and crunches. Or a nap. Preferably both.

Merry Christmas!!!

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Linked to Secret Recipe Club's Cookie Party

Friday, December 23, 2011

Big Easy Ball o' Cheese and Ham

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.


You know what I like about this recipe. Well, a lot. It's easy. It's quick. It's really really good. Plus, it will work for the casual Christmas party you're throwing tonight for a few friends, or the New Year's Eve get-together next week when you don't want to go all out. And if you're one to eat a ham for Christmas dinner, this is an awesome way to use up some of your leftovers.

All that I ask is that you don't underestimate it for its simplicity. These few ingredients pack a mighty tasty punch. You can make it with deli ham, but if you've got that leftover whole ham, that will really take this up a notch.

Big Easy Ball o' Cheese and Ham
Makes 1 big ball
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cost: $3.50-ish
(cream cheese: 2.00, mayo: .15, nuts: .50?, ham: 1.00?--okay, I'm a little sketchy on the costs here, since I used leftover ham and may or may not have forgotten to measure my nuts)

16 oz. cream cheese
1/4 C mayo or Miracle Whip (I used mayo)
1/4 C onion (it gets pureed if you're not into onion-y texture, but if it's the taste that really bothers you, I must warn you, the onion taste is detectable--not overpowering, but yes, it's there)
5 oz. ham
1 C chopped pecans (or walnuts if you happened to be the unprepared type who has no pecans lying around and is not willing to go to the store on Dec. 23rd)

If you're pecans/walnuts are not pre-chopped, put them in a food processor and give them a go until they're good and fine.


Take them out and put them in a different bowl. Wipe or rinse out your processor.

Now put in your cream cheese, mayonnaise, and the onion. Blend until it's smooth and creamy.

Add the ham and pulse or run it on low until the ham is in small bits, but not pureed. This is the part that kind of makes this cheese ball for me. If you get the ham nice and small, the taste and flavors it has are distributed beautifully throughout the cheese ball, but there's enough texture left that nobody feels like they're dipping their crackers in ham-flavored baby food.

Shape your cheese ball. (Confession: I'd never done this before and was a little nervous. It was easy. You just begin plopping it on your serving vessel and shape it into a ball with a spatula.) Sprinkle/pat nuts on until the entire ball is covered.

Serve or cover and refrigerate for later.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

And Merry Christmas from Snowbeard the Pirate here:
Clearly my sense of the aesthetic is defunct.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On Farro and Feelin' the Love

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on $10/day.


You know all those really lame articles that show up on Yahoo and the like about what to buy--or what not to buy--for so and "important" person who you clearly must not know well or care about much because you're reading a Yahoo article about what to buy them. Yeah, you know the ones. And how they're always either eliminating every generic or potential gift you could possibly think to give someone (no jewelry, no kitchen appliances, no perfume, no sweaters, etc.) or suggesting these super ridiculous things like really really expensive marshmallows or scarves or diamond earrings, or, well gift cards or something (or maybe that one was on the 'don't buy' list--oh, I do get so confused by it all). 

Anyway, this season I have a tip of my own to share. Farro. Wikipedia defines it as a specific species of wheat in whole form. You can't buy it in Evansville. I'd never even heard of it until my sister sent me a recipe she and her family love, only I had to sub in barley because farro was not to be found. And then the last time we visited her, she gave me this big old bag. Well, this month I finally got around to using it and I realized what's been missing all my life. It's so good. It's better than barley and better than wheat and, like, 800 times better than brown rice. It's a toothsome and kind of sweet and--this is going to sound weird--almost creamy--at any rate, it has a rich, lovely mouth feel and taste. It cooks up in 15 minutes (at least the type she gave me does). I LOVE it. And you will too if you love grains at all. Also, it is a whole food. And a traditional food. And sometimes an Italian food. And I think we all know that that makes it automatically cool.  

Not to sound bossy or anything, but seriously buy some. For yourself and those you love and those you barely know, but have to get a Christmas gift for anyway, because there are rules about these things apparently:

(P.S. Although it looks and sounds lovely and classy, I should let you know I haven't tried this actual brand of Farro because--did you miss the part about my sister giving me a bag?--but I intend to after my bag runs out because--did you miss the part about it being unavailable in Evansville?--yeah, that's why.)

This type, which my sister got me at Costco (or somewhere surprisingly everyday-ish like that), I know is awesomely good. It's not yet for sale on Amazon, but we should all go request that it become available:




And if you think I'm nuts and you're totally going to go out and buy a sweater or some expensive marshmallows for your boss, okay whatever, but maybe you should check out Dave Barry's suggestions for the year. I'm quite sure that's what I'll be doing tonight instead of wrapping gifts or practicing the songs I'm supposed to play for church on Sunday or any of a number of things I ought to be doing instead. (I love you, Dave, and I'm totally voting for you for the Republican nominee.)

You might like this one too. (P.S. Do you think Dave would be offended if I named a chicken after him this spring? I'd like to pay tribute and I'm out of sons.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Croissants

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.


Let's start out with me saying several contradictory things

1. I'm not making these for Christmas; I made them for Thanksgiving, but for the bustle of Christmas, they seem too stressful for me

2. That said, they're actually really really easy to make

3. The problem is that you have to start 3 days in advance. Which seems a little fussy...

4. ...but really it's not because, essentially, you do 3 easy things for 3 days and then you have a super dreamy homemade bread, perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

In short:  If you're already running around like a headless chicken, this might not be the exact week that you should attempt this. However, if you're ready for Christmas, or quite organized, or looking for something that seems fancy and grown up, but is actually fairly simple to put together, this might be just the thing. I'll leave the choice up to you. 

I got this recipe from French Women Don't Get Fat. The recipe itself is completely perfect. The instructions, as she writes them, are a little mind-blowing. I have to read them, like, 3 times every time I make these. Lucky you. I'm going to simplify the instructions and add pictures (except for 1 or 2 steps when I forgot a picture; sorry about that). 

Croissants
Makes 12
Prep time:
Bake time: 15 minutes
Cost: about $1.00
(milk: .15, yeast: .15, flour: .25, sugar: .02, butter: .45)

Day 1:

Step 1:
1/4 C milk, warmed to lukewarm (about 110 degrees)
2 Tbsp flour
2 tsp yeast

In a large bowl (you'll need it to be large for later), dissolve yeast in milk. Stir in flour and whisk until there are no lumps. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temp until doubled in volume (about 20 minutes)

Step 2:
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/8 C flour

While your yeasty paste is sitting there doubling, combine these dry ingredients together. 

Step 3: 
3/4 C lukewarm milk

When the yeasty paste has doubled, heat the 3/4 C milk to lukewarm. Add the milk to your yeasty paste. You can mix it in a mixer or just go at it with a wooden spoon. Now, a little at a time, add the dry mixture from step two, mixing as you go until the dough is sticky soft. 

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (See, not so bad is it?)

Day 2 (morning):

Ingredients:
12 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbs flour

Step 1:

Bring the butter to room temperature. Work the 3 Tbsp flour into it until smooth. 


Step 2:

Now sprinkle your work surface with flour (generously) and take your dough out of the refrigerator. It's going to look kind of like this:



Form the cold dough into a 6x15 inch rectangle. You're going to have the short side at the top, like a letter (see pic below).

Step 3:

Spread the butter on the upper 2/3 of the rectangle, leaving 1/2 inch border around the sides and top. 


Step 4:

Fold the dough into thirds (kind of like you would a letter, bringing the bottom (unbuttered) part up first and then folding the top part down). 


(In this pic, it kind of looks like the butter's on the outside; it's not; the butter's folded onto the inside. It's just some funny lighting.)

Step 5:

Turn the dough so that it looks like a notebook you'd open with the flap on your right. 



Step 6:

Then roll it out again into a 6x15 inch rectangle and fold it into thirds just like you did before.



Transfer it onto a baking pan (I put parchment paper under mine) and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 6 hours. 


Day 2 (afternoon):

Roll out the dough 2 more times (as in roll, fold, roll, fold), wrap, and refrigerate overnight. 

Day 3:

Step 1: 

About 1 1/2 hours before baking time, remove dough from the refrigerator and sprinkle flour on your work surface. Roll the dough into a 16-inch circle (the size of a large pizza). Don't worry, you'll get that rectangle into a circle without too much work (and here I dropped the ball and forgot my picture, but making circles is easier than letter-folding, right). 

Cut the dough into 12 even-ish pieces (I find it easiest to cut it into quarters and then to cut those into thirds.)

Step 2:

Lightly grease a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Step 3:

Starting with the outside (fat) end of the triangle, roll it up. You'll end at the tip. It should look like a croissant. Transfer these to a baking sheet. If you wish, brush the croissants with 1 Tbsp of milk mixed with 1 egg yolk (yes, I do it; I've come this far after all). Let sit at room temperature until they've risen a bit. She says this takes about 45 minutes and maybe it's true. I'm always in a hurry by this point, so I give them 15 or 20 minutes and then give up and pop them in the oven. All is always well. 

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until the croissants are lovely and golden. 

Eat 'em hot. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rambling Christmas Thoughts with a Couple of Links for Good Food

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.



Last night, I was moving fast on the train to Christmas burn-out (must have missed the Polar Express). Fortunately for me, I had to take my son's friend home to his parents, who are good friends of ours as well. They asked how I was doing and got an earful (sorry guys) and they're not even the first friends I've cornered this month with my grumpiness (sorry other friends). Truth is, I've definitely been a little off this season--angry at too much traffic and too many sweets and too little something else, but what exactly it was I couldn't have told you. The nice thing about last night is that I put my finger on a few things--both those missing and those in over-abundance.

I'll spare you the full essay. Suffice it to say that one of the things missing this year has been time alone with my family or even time alone with my thoughts. Also, we've had too many sweets.

Which is part of the reason today I give you just a couple of links. Take them if you need them, leave them if you don't. I'll be sitting on the couch, reading a bit of the Christmas story.

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix from Hezzi-D:

For those of you who aren't yet sweeted out, this is an AWESOME homemade mix. Also, even if you personally are sweeted out, this makes a great gift. It's nice because even if those you love might be sweeted out (you never know who will be and who's bummed nobody's brought anything by yet this year), they can get to this later.

One note: I made this with chocolate chips. You should use a real block of chocolate if you can because it melts better into the milk. Chips are supposedly made to hold their shape a bit better so they hold up in cookies and the like. If all you've got are chocolate chips, don't despair. When you make the actual hot chocolate, heat until boiling--oh not crazy boiling or anything, but watch for a few bubbles to break the surface (as you stir). In this way, it gets hot enough to break down those chocolate chips and your drink will be creamy and good. Darn good. 

101 Cookbook's Coconut Red Lentil Soup

Let's hear it for the vegans, shall we? This is really really good. And good for you. And did I mention really really good. I like it in a nice thick, simmered down, dal-like form. And if you do have farro to pour it over, well, that's just something else. I simplified the instructions a wee bit and may get that adaptation posted later this week. We'll see.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Roasted Broccoli

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.


Welcome to my new favorite thing: roasted broccoli. It's just so good (and I am not, in general, a broccoli lover). And yet somehow I've managed to make it through my life up to this point without it; I've had it boiled and steamed and raw, in casseroles, soups, and stir-fries. But this, this is different.

Roasting it isn't hard to do and it sweetens the broccoli just a bit. I especially love the little crispy bits at the edges. Yum. And it's a nice thing to eat at this time of year when it seems we're constantly bombarded with sweet.

Roasted Broccoli
Serves 1-2
Prep time: 3 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Cost: $.50

Yeah, are you ready for this, um, recipe?

 1 head broccoli, chopped into bite sized pieces
drizzle olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle olive oil on your broccoli, toss it. Salt it generously, and add pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until edges are just starting to brown. (If you've chopped your bits kind of small, be sure to cut down on cooking time. Broccoli isn't as forgiving as, say, roast potatoes. Once they're burned, they're definitely burned.)

Eat 'em hot (and, yes, you can throw some other veggies into the mix as you see above. Cauliflower is similar in cooking times and instructions. Baby carrots will come out a bit crispy unless you cut them smaller, but I didn't mind).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Melted Sugar Gingerbread Houses (No Royal Frosting Necessary)

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.

Remember these?


They're "gingerbread" houses stuck together with melted sugar.


It's so much easier and faster than using royal frosting. It sets up almost immediately and it sets up hard.

The only thing you've got to do is melt the sugar. Which sounds a little scary. But is super easy. Especially since it doesn't matter too much if your sugar gets burned. P.S. Since it doesn't matter if your sugar burns a little, you're sure to make it perfectly amber every time. For caramel, I pretty much always burn my melted sugar unless I use my fail-proof caramel. However, when I make these, I have never burned the sugar. Ever. It's a little ridiculous.

Have a look here for the original post.

Or...

Here's the briefer version of what you do.

1. Throw some sugar in a pan and turn the heat to medium. I wasn't too concerned about burning and was in a hurry so I turned it a little higher than medium.





2. Stir the sugar around with a spatula that will not melt (wood, silicone, metal if your pan won't get scratched). Don't mix it like crazy. Just give it stir every 20 seconds or so until you start to notice the sugar crystals on the bottom becoming liquid-y.



3. Keep stirring and it will turn brown and clumpyTurn the heat down a bit to medium to medium low.

4. Don't freak out. Just keep stirring. Remember if it burns, you don't have much to lose. This isn't caramel; it's just gingerbread house, which will is mostly about looks. It'll start to get melty and golden.




5. It will be melted and ready to have the sides of your houses dipped in. This has a few lumps left, which wouldn't have worked for caramel sauce, but didn't matter here. By the way, even if you're using real gingerbread, this will work great.



6. Take it off the heat.

7. Dip the edges of your graham crackers or gingerbread in.



8. And stick the sides together. Remember, watch your fingers. This stuff is hot. Also, have a plate or whatever you're going to set it on nearby so you don't put it on the counter and have to pry it off.

9. You'll need to work a little quickly, but don't stress out because if the sugar in the pan starts to harden, you can just heat it again and it will liquidify again. 

10. Now for the candy, you'll probably want to use a pretty white frosting. Because it looks like snow. I was about to whip up a batch or royal frosting. But Kip hates it so he told me to just make some regular frosting really thick. I didn't think it'd work, but sure enough it did.

I used 1 T butter, with 2 C powdered sugar and then added milk by the 1/2 tsp until it was good and thick. Ours was thick enough to roll into balls.



I think you could get away with it a little thinner that that too, but it can't be normal frosting consistency or the candy will just drip off the houses. We globbed ours on with our fingers and it worked fine. You will have to use this frosting soon because as it sits it will dry out and things will adhere to it less and less. However, if it still starts getting too dry and things aren't sticking, give it a go in the microwave for 8 seconds or so; or add a few drops of water or milk. (Ours doesn't look very pretty on the houses, but that's because of our decorating skills, not a failing of the actual frosting.) 

11. Then we let the kids have at it and decorate them. (And if you notice that your kids are filling their houses to the brim with candy, just look away; it's better not to know.)

PRINTABLE INSTRUCTIONS here


This is linked to Sweets for a Saturday.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Smooth and Creamy Pumpkin Pie

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.



Way way back in November, I heard a women at the checkout comment  to the checker that she wanted to make a pumpkin pie, but she didn't feel like she was ready for it yet.

You know you're a devoted food-lover, or just a highly obnoxious person, when you desperately want to interrupt conversations like this and explain how easy making pumpkin pie is and that she really must give it a try because it really is so much better, yada yada yada, weird stares from strangers.

I managed through sheer force of iron will (what will I be wanting to do next--tell people what their best color is or how to fix their hair or that their children's feet must be freezing in those shoes--let's hope not) to keep my big mouth shut.

But now, since this is my blog, I don't have to anymore. Pumpkin pie is easy. It can be really really easy. If it's the crust scaring you, start with a store bought one (or skip it altogether) and just do the custard-y part of the pie from scratch. For years, I've made the very pumpkin pie recipe that comes to you on the Libby's cans of 100% pumpkin and it's always been delicious--so much more delicious than a store-bought pie that it could make you weep. I highly highly recommend it if this is your first experience with pumpkin pie because it is almost too easy to mess up. You take the ingredients, you dump them in a bowl, you beat them for a minute, you dump them in your crust (you might have a little left over; it seems like I always did--put it in ramekins and bake up little custards if you don't wish to waste it), and you bake it just like they tell you to.

And then 2 years back, I decided to try the much fussier version in The New Best Recipe Cookbook

(America's Test Kitchen). I de-fussied it a bit because it really was just over the top in fuss (you warm and/or cook all the ingredients first and then pour them into a hot crust; you food process the pumpkin beforehand, etc.) and I did already have a version of pumpkin pie I was very happy with so I wasn't willing to expend a whole lot of fussy. However, even with my small changes and their recipe, I have to say, it came out even better than the Libby's. Creamy, smooth, and wonderful. I made it again this year and did a few more of the fussy things and found it to be...just the same.  Moral of the story: more fuss does not always (usually) equal better. The best news, however, is that I feel that I discovered the one trick that makes it truly better (well, maybe two, but one of more importance), which is that you must take it out of the oven when the center is still a bit jiggly (jiggly like Jello, not sloshy like eggnog) and your husband thinks you're nuts for removing it. But you'll know you're not nuts because you'll use your instant read thermometer and know you're between 165 and 175 (or 180 if you're just not sure) degrees. Totally safe, and it really will set up. It might even crack a bit (sorry, mine did), but it will be super creamy and smooth nevertheless.  

The other tip I have is to heat the pumpkin with the sugar until the sugar has melted. I did this in the microwave and it only took a minute or two, so I consider it a bit of fuss worth giving a try. But even if you don't. Even if you completely ignore the  following recipe and make the perfectly delightful Libby's version, do yourself a favor and take it out when the center is a bit jiggly. Take it's temperature (right in the middle). Shoot for something between 165 and 175. And then have a little faith. It will continue to cook a bit out of the oven and will set up beautifully. 


Smooth and Creamy Pumpkin Pie
adapted from The New Best Recipe Cookbook
makes 1 9-inch pie
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Cost: $2.40
(pumpkin: .99, sugar: .30, milk: .10, cream: .60, eggs: .40)

1 pie crust, uncooked
2 C plain canned pumpkin puree (Test Kitchen calls for 16 oz, which is 1 oz more than the standard cans, which is classic over-fussy that drives me bonkers; just use a can if you've got a can)
1 C packed brown sugar (I used light)
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 C heavy cream
2/3 C milk
4 large eggs

Combine pumpkin, sugar, spices, and salt in microwave safe bowl. Microwave at 45 second intervals (mixing in between) until the sugar is melted and it's thick, shiny, and fragrant. This took me a couple minutes.

Beat in cream and milk (which should cool your pumpkin enough for the eggs). Beating constantly, add the eggs. (Alternately you can pour it all in a food processor and do it that way, bit I didn't find it necessary.) This mixture should be somewhat warm, but not super hot.

Pour into pie crust. It's gonna be nice and full. That's okay.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes and then turn oven down to 350 and bake for another 20-25 minutes. The filling will be puffed, slightly cracked at the edges, and the center should wiggle like gelatin (not slosh about like eggnog, mind you). Insert instant read thermometer and if it's between 165 and 180, go ahead and take it out.

Let cool and serve with whipped cream. Yum.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Linked up with Sweets for a Saturday.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jamie Oliver's Roast Chicken



I don't do a turkey or ham for Christmas. Why not, you say. Seriously. Are you even asking that? (Of course, you're not; I'm asking it and pretending to be you. Hopefully, this isn't offensive.) Well, I'll answer you/me anyway. It's because I'm so dang tired by then, that's why, but not quite tired enough to want another chocolate Santa for dinner.  Thus, I do a crock pot meal. The kind of crock pot meal where everything gets thrown into the crock pot so that, come dinner, there's really nothing for me to do if I don't want to. Because this is Christmas, baby, this is Christmas. Now pass me some of that non-alcoholic eggnog. Uh-huh.

Jamie Oliver's Roast Chicken
Adapted from Jamie Oliver and Mostly Food and Crafts
Makes 1 three-four pound bird
Prep time:
Cook time:
Cost: $8.10
(humanely raised chicken: 6.00, herbs: free for me so I'm not sure, but fresh they'll cost a bit; onions: .30, potatoes: .50, squash: 1.30)

Confessional Note: I made this over a month ago. I remembered it as a crock pot meal. It was actually a Dutch oven meal. (I mean how could I possibly be expected to remember something clearly that happened over a month ago.) I bet it would still make a great crock pot meal and intend to prove it come Christmas Day. For now, I'll give you instructions for both options. P.S. The Dutch oven method is pretty darn easy itself, though it is a little more lacking in the fix it and forget it ideology.

1 three-four lb chicken, thawed
salt and ground pepper (about 1 1/2-t tsp salt--sounds like a lot)
3 handfuls fresh herbs (I used basil and oregano when I made it over a month ago. Now I'd use, rosemary, sage, and maybe some oregano)
1/4 C olive oil
1 lemon, halved
4 bay leaves
2 springs fresh rosemary
2 onions, diced
8 small potatoes, chunked
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chunked

To roast:

Preheat oven and roasting vessel (I used a Dutch oven) to 425. Rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Rub cavity with salt.

Separate skin from breast meat and salt. Combine those handfuls of herbs (I gave them a rough chop) with a bit of the olive oil and stuff into that place you've made between the breast meat and breast skin (leave a little bit for the legs). It's a grody job, but you'll thank yourself later.

Stuff bird with lemon, bay leaves, and rosemary sprigs.

Slash each thigh 2-3 times and rub with remaining herbs.

Over entire chicken, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Remove Dutch oven from oven, drizzle pan with a bit of olive oil (don't skip that), and lay chicken breast side down, and cook for 10 minutes.

Take Dutch oven out. Flip the chicken (add a bit more olive oil to pan first if necessary). Add onions, potatoes, and squash to pan. Give a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and olive oil to the lot. Cook for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until breast is at 165 and thighs are higher than that--hopefully 175, though mine were higher and I kind of like them like that.

Tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes.

Now, for the yet-untried crock pot method:

Pat chicken dry, and follow directions above. Only go ahead and put it in breast side up and then surround it with vegetables right from the get go. You shouldn't need water. Also, you can skip drizzling the olive oil and salt over the whole thing, or at least drizzle/salt less. Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours or until 165 is reached in breast, 175 in the thigh. It most likely won't have a perfect crispy skin like your roast bird will, but otherwise should be just as good. Plenty of water and juices should have leaked into the crock pot as well, so you can still have a gravy if that's your thing.

Not eager to try a yet-untried method on Christmas Day, have a look at this crock pot chicken which I have made and which is great.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How to Save Yourself from Your Christmas Cookies and Have Some Left to Give

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.


This time of year, I like to bake a lot of cookies. I'm not even opposed to eating a couple. The problem is that we have way more than a couple hanging around.

Additionally, I want to have enough leftover to give away. That's over half the reason (did you hear that, friends, over half the reason--wow, you should feel very special) I'm baking them. But I don't want to be running out each day to give a batch to so and then the next day to so and other so. I want to go as a family on a (somewhat) convenient day with plates of different varieties of cookies.

How to save yourself from your Christmas cookies and have some leftover to give?

1. The day you bake them, let them cool, have one or two if you wish. Then, cut them and bag them up in Ziploc baggies.

2. Take your bags and label them if your cookies are different, but look similar. Then put them in the freezer.

3. Don't panic, you can still eat one if you have an absolute hankering. They're just in your freezer. But what won't happen is that you won't end up eating them just because, gee, there are 17 varieties of cookie sitting on your counter. Happy breakfast to you. Furthermore, by freezing them up nice and tight the first day, you'll keep them surprisingly fresh.

4. When cookie giving day comes, you can pack up plates with different kinds of all the cookies you bake. I just love this. That way I get the fun of making and tasting the different kinds of cookies. And the receiver gets the fun of not making and tasting the different kinds of cookies.

5. As a bonus tip, I like to put the cookies on a plate tightly wrapped with foil or cellophane. And then I like to put that in a gallon sized Ziploc freezer bag. It's not the prettiest presentation in the universe (you guys should know by now that that isn't my strongest suite). But it is incredibly practical. This way if your friends are completely cookied out by the time you get to them (and let's face it, cookie overload can happen), they can just throw your plate of cookies in the freezer and enjoy them later when they're ready, like some dreary day in January. The cookies are not exactly vacuum-packed like this, but they will keep well for a couple of months in someone's freezer. Want to go even further? Individually wrap each cookie in cellophane and then put them in the Ziploc bag for further freezer protection. That way any cookie-saturated friends can take one out of the bag when the whim arises and the rest will stay fresh even longer.

Happy baking.
Happy giving.
Happy not weighing 17 trillion pounds.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What to Do When Good Cookies Go Wrong

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.

(This is a not a picture of the cookies gone wrong. It's a shot of the beauties created from the cookies gone wrong. Now, how can a person scoff at atonement?) 

Maybe it's just the sheer volume of cookies baked at this time of year, but we generally have a batch (or few) that get messed up: overdone, or weirdly flat (about that baking soda...), or missing a vital ingredients (like the gingersnaps without the ginger). It's not the end of the world, especially if the cookies are intended for a class of 3-year-olds or something. But it is annoying. It's really annoying when you're planning to give cookies to your dearest friends as gifts.

"Dear Dearest Friend,

Here is a batch of some of my favorite spice cookies. I overbaked them and forgot the ginger, and heck, you don't really want more cookies at this time of year anyway, but I hope you enjoy this gift as a symbol of our friendship.

Love,
Me"

Yeah, I'm just not feeling it. So when I screw up my Christmas cookies, I generally just make another batch.

But what to do about that edible, but imperfect pan of cookies sitting there on your counter.

Well, friends, when life hands you edible, but imperfect cookies, you make a wicked good pie (or cheesecake) crust, that's what you do.

Here's how:

1. Let your cookies dry out a bit (unless of course, they're fatal flaw was overbaking, in which case you should be good).

2. Put them in a blender or food processor (I found that for still slightly moist cookies, the food processor worked best) and blend them into crumbs, just like you could do with graham crackers for a graham cracker crust.

3. Make something with them this moment. Or put them in a Ziploc bag and freeze them until you need them. (Do yourself a favor and label them lest you forget what they are and end up thinking they're bread crumbs and use them on your next crusted chicken breast or casserole or stuffing).



4. And how exactly do you use them? Use them as you would graham cracker crumbs in a graham cracker crust.
a. A typical crust uses 1 packet or about 10 graham crackers. This comes out to 1 1/4 C crumbs. So if you want to sub in your cookie crumbs, sub in 1 1/4 Cto 1 1/2 C cookie crumbs.
b. Add in half the butter you would for a graham cracker crust and then add more butter if necessary. (You do this because your cookie crumbs tend to have more fat and moisture than graham crackers, so using as much melted butter as you normally would in a graham cracker crust would yield too wet of a crust.)

This year, I made a rather too dry batch of speculaas. It saddened me deeply, as speculaas is already a risky and misunderstood cookie in that people look at it and see a) a cookie they don't recognize as normal Christmas fare and b) a cookie sans chocolate.

Last night we made Seven Layer Cookies/Magic Cookie Bars. We used the standard graham cracker crust for some, but for another batch, we used the speculaas. I thought it came out pretty awesome. I'm thinking to use the rest as a crust for cheesecake. It would be especially delightful for a pumpkin cheesecake. Oh, yes, it would.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.



It's time again for the Secret Recipe Club. This month I was assigned Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks. I also love books and cooking so Hezzi-D (Heather) and I were a good match. We also, it appear, enjoy pumpkin. Which is just where I was drawn. Festive, but not necessarily loaded with sugar. I really really wanted to make the Pumpkin ravioli, which is wrapped in wonton wrappers--a move of brilliance so supreme that I cannot thank her enough for the idea. But the Asian store has not yet made my rounds so that one would have to wait.

Her Skinny Pumpkin Spice Latte caught my eye both because she used a bit of actual pumpkin instead of just the pumpkin pie spice, and also because I don't get the whole Starbucks craze and thought this might bring me closer to understanding. The only problem is that I'm not a coffee drinker (thus my issues with the Starbucks craze), so I decided to make it with chocolate instead. Which took a little experimenting (it was torture I assure you). In my first attempt, I just skipped the coffee and added a packet of hot chocolate mix into the milk. This was good. Oh, yes, it was. It was dessert in a cup--thick, creamy, and very rich and intense--the perfect thing for people who soundly declare, "Don't drink your calories, smink your calories." And then have another cup. I'm not opposed to liquid desserts, but wanted something more like Hezzi-D's original concept.

My next idea was to go lazy style and just add water to my dessert in a cup mixture. This worked and I had a less intense, still delicious spiced hot chocolate. Yet, I still felt that it was missing that slightly bitter undertone that something like coffee would give a drink like this to keep it from being so cloying.

Hmm, I thought, what has to do with chocolate and is bitter? Since I only have about 3 brain cells, it took a couple minutes to dawn on me. Uh, yeah, maybe, like cocoa. Out went the packet of hot chocolate mix, in went caramel, cocoa, milk, and, well, still the whipped cream of course. Cloying, after all, she has her place. I was very pleased with the result. A solid, not too sweet hot chocolate with tones of caramel, pumpkin pie spice, and even pumpkin. Thanks Hezzi-D. Starbucks and I can now be at peace.

Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate
adapted from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks 
Makes 1 C
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cost: $.40 (now, that can sure compete with Starbucks)
(caramel sauce: .15, milk: .10, whipped cream: .05, cocoa: .10)

3 tsp caramel sauce (make your own or use some from a jar)
3 tsp cocoa
pinch pumpkin pie spice
3/4 C milk (I used 2%)
1 tsp pumpkin
whipped cream (try homemade for sheer awesomeness)
another pinch pumpkin pie spice for garnish

Mix/whisk caramel sauce, cocoa, and pumpkin pie spice in a small saucepan. This helps make the cocoa so it's not grainy in your end product. When it's smooth, add just a bit of milk. Whisk until the substance is warm enough that the chocolate and caramel mixture is one with the milk. Then add the remaining milk.

Heat until steaming (not boiling). Remove from heat and whisk in your pumpkin.

Garnish with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice. Drink.

Note: For those interested in dessert in a cup, here's the original, very rich and caloric first experiment:

3/4 C milk (2%)
3 tsp caramel sauce
pinch pumpkin pie spice
1 packet of your favorite hot chocolate mix
1 tsp canned pumpkin
whipped cream
pumpkin pie spice

Heat caramel sauce, milk, and pumpkin pie spice until milk is steaming. Remove from heat and whisk in pumpkin and packet of hot chocolate mix.

Garnish with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice. Drink it slowly my friends.

Too rich for you? Add 1/2 C hot water to the mix. Don't worry, it doesn't water it down, just tones it down a bit.

PRINTABLE RECIPES

Linked up to Sweets for a Saturday.



Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins (with optional cream cheese filling)

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.


Because at this time of year, you totally need sugar for breakfast too. Okay, well, probably not. But these are very good. They might have even ousted my favorite, but I'd have to eat them side-by-side to be sure. So add them to your plate of treats and eat them thusly.

Pumpkin Muffins (with an optional cream cheese filling)
adapted from food.com
Makes 24-30
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Cost: $2.40 (without cream cheese. That'll cost you another .40 if you can find it on sale--thanks, Aldi)
(flour: .30, eggs: .40, sugar: .35, pumpkin: .99, oil: .20, spices: .16)

3 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 pinch cardamom (you can skip if you don't have)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 eggs
2 C sugar
2 C pumpkin (about a 15 oz can)
1 1/4 C vegetable oil

Optional filling:
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp sugar
dash pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix all ingredients (besides optional filling) together. Don't you just love instructions like that. They make my holiday bright.

Beat or mix cream cheese. Add sugar. Add spice.

Plop 1/2-1 tsp into center of each muffin and push it down. Yes, you do want to push it down. I thought it'd just sink in during baking, but they kind of just stay there like a great white peak, so push them down so you've got the top of your plop of cream cheese flush with your pumpkin batter.

Note: You don't have to do the cream cheese thing, but I was surprised at how much I liked it. It adds a little something special and takes the edge off any too-sweetness.

Bake muffins at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick (fork, knife, whatever) inserted comes out clean or with a few (very few) moist crumbs.

Allow to cool. These are good warm or cool, but I did favor the cool ones just slightly.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Friday, December 9, 2011

Chewy Chocolate Rice Krispy Treats

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.


I love baking cookies at this time of year, but I know--as you surely do as well--that there are times at this time of year when we're expected to show up at a party or our kid's classroom or the church social with something tasty and we're ready to weep or beat ourselves with a mixing spoon or both because we Just. Don't. Have. The. Time. to make anything else or do anything else or spend a whole lot more money.

Enter an old classic. And my mother-in-law. And the marshmallows that have been languishing in my pantry since those winsome late summer roasting days. And chocolate of course. Chocolate always enters in our times of greatest need, right?

These can be made in 2 minutes. Do you understand me? Two. Minutes.

By the time you get where you're going or are done greeting your guests, they'll be set up.

That's pretty good. But they're also amazingly tasty: chewy, soft, and chocolate. My mother-in-law brought a few to give to the kids when she came for Thanksgiving. They were awesome. I've made chocolate Rice Crispy Treats before and they've been good, but these were better. With mine I've always thrown the chocolate in at the end so I end up with some chocolate chunks, or I try to. What I usually end up with are lots of chocolate streaks that make cutting the treats difficult and eating them sometimes kind of difficult too (don't you hate it when they cut your mouth). These are chewy and just plain good while still being delightfully chocolate-y. And did I mention the 2 minute thing.

Oh, and they use a lot less butter because they use melted chocolate instead, which has anti-oxidants, so I'm sure they're like, totally a health food too.

Chocolate Rice Krispy Treats
from my mother-in-law who is also named Jeanie
Makes 8x8 inch pan and can easily be doubled
Prep time: 2 minutes
Set time: 10 minutes
Cost: $1.30
marshmallows: .50, chocolate chips: .45, butter: .05, Rice Krispies--generic: .25)

5 oz or 1/2 bag marshmallows (I used the big ones because that's what I had hanging around
1/2 C chocolate chips
1/2 Tbsp butter
3 C Rice Crispies (I used generic, which worked fine, but--though I hate to admit this--weren't quite as good as the original kind)

Put marshmallows, chocolate, and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for about 30 seconds or until the marshmallows are poofing their little marshmallow hearts out. So watch them because how they look is more important than how long you go. When they're nice and poofy, take them out and stir the mixture up. If it's all smooth, great. If it needs another 20-30 seconds, put it in the microwave a little longer. Mix until smooth.

Add Rice Krispies and stir until incorporated. Try not to eat it all out of the bowl before you get it to your pan as I may or may not have memories of certain roommates at BYU doing. Hopefully none of them ever runs for public office; what would the media make of such an event? (BYU may not be known for its excessive drinking issues, but I hear they're been fretting over the obsessive Krispie treat consumption. Okay, I don't really hear that. It's not true. But perhaps someone should do something about this risky behavior among today's youth. I'll have to get right on that. Yeah, right on it. Just after I lick off this spoon.)

Ahem, where was I? Oh yes, into the 8x8 inch pan. Press it down. Smear a little butter on your fingers to do this and it will be easier (a lot easier) and you'll have less excuse to lick them off.

Let cool/set and then cut into squares. Arrive on time and not in tears (unless you ate the whole bowl of stuff) to your party.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


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