Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quick Angelic Dessert

This recipe takes advantage of some pre-prepared items, and so can be thrown together very quickly.
  • 1 Angel Food cupcake (from 4-count package*)
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar 'n Spice Fruit Dip
  • approximately 15 raspberries
  • 2 tsp powdered sugar OR whipped cream (optional)
1. Cut cupcake in half horizontally:

2. Spread 1 Tbsp of dip on cut side of each half. Arrange raspberries on top of dip. If desired, dust with powdered sugar or top with spoonful of whipped cream.

Robyn's notes: *Angel Food cupcakes are available in the bakery section of my grocery store. Each cupcake is approximately 4 inches in diameter.
This is a nice way to have a sweet dessert without going overboard if you're counting calories. I can't do an exact nutritional analysis, because there were no nutrition facts on the angel food cake packaging, but each half of this should be somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 calories.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Gluten-Free

  • 1/4 C vegetable shortening (not butter or margarine)
  • 1/4 C granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp egg substitute OR 2 Tbsp of beaten egg
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C + 1 1/2 tsp Brown Rice Flour Mix
  • 3/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C chocolate chips (about 3oz)
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Combine shortening and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until fluffy.
3. Add flour, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt; mix until well blended. Mix in chocolate chips.
4. Drop heaping teaspoons of dough onto cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake in center of oven for 8-10 minutes until light golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Yield: 18 cookies

Robyn's notes: this recipe has been reduced heavily, the original recipe made 70 cookies. The original recipe said to grease the cookie sheet with cooking spray, which I did for the first batch that went into the oven. The cookies came out with a strange spreading:

and though they tasted ok, they were very greasy and the scallopy edge was sharp, crunchy, and not pleasant. I pulled out a fresh cookie sheet for the last few cookies, and did not spray it with cooking spray. The cookies came out without that spread (see photo at top of recipe), but they were very difficult to get off the pan and were still quite greasy (I had to wash my hands after picking one up). Next time I attempt this recipe, I'll try using parchment paper, see if that helps. This recipe does not keep you from ever baking any cookies because you've eaten the raw dough too fast, but the dough is ok. I ate a spoonful of it and it was similar to standard cookie dough, just a little less developed, likely due to the lack of butter. The cookies did not seem at all grainy to me, so in this instance, the use of Bob's Red Mill brand brown rice flour in the flour mix was acceptable.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Friday, August 5, 2011

Gluten-Free Brown Rice Flour Mix

In measurements:
  • 2 C brown rice flour (extra finely ground)
  • 2/3 C potato starch (not potato flour)
  • 1/3 C tapioca flour
For a larger batch:
  • 6 C brown rice flour (extra finely ground)
  • 2 C potato starch (not potato flour)
  • 1 C tapioca flour
1. Combine all ingredients, based on the measurements for the batch size you're making. Store in airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Robyn's notes: this recipe comes from a book by the Food Philosopher. She stresses that it's very important to use an extra finely ground brown rice flour (not just any grind), or the baked goods will be gritty, heavy, and/or crumbly. She recommends Authentic Foods brand, and mentions that they now make this entire recipe already prepared under the name of GF Classical Blend. It can be purchased online, and the price looks reasonable, but part of my focus here was to make and test the recipe based on what was available at my local chain grocery store (I didn't even go to the Trader Joe's in town or the nearest Whole Foods, because I know they're not available to everybody). So I'm using Bob's Red Mill brown rice flour, which I bought for just over $3 at Nob Hill (Raley's). It's true that I can feel a bit of grittiness between my fingers, but that may be partly because I was forewarned. Once I've cooked with it, I'll add my notes to this entry and give this flour a star rating.

Remember that when measuring flour, especially gluten-free flours, not to dip the measuring cup directly into the flour. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup, shake it gently, and use the flat part of a table knife to level it off.

Xanthan Gum

A white powdery flour, produced from the fermentation of corn sugar, which is used as a thickener or binding agent for dressings, gravies, and sauces. It's an ideal substitute for gluten in gluten-free baking.

Unlike other gums, it is stable under a wide range of temperatures. Most recipes call for very small amounts, which allows a small bag of xanthan gum to go a long way.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Tapioca Flour

Derived from the root of the cassava plant, this flour is very light, powdery, smooth, and tasteless. It can be used as a thickening agent, as well as combined with other gluten-free flours to make delicious baked goods. It thickens quickly and at a relatively low temperature, which makes it a good choice for correcting a sauce just before serving it.

Tapioca flour and tapioca starch are two names for the same product.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Potato Starch

A flour derived from cooked potatoes that are crushed and washed until just the starch remains. The starch is then dried to a powder.

Potato Starch is used as a thickener for sauces, soups, and stews. Potato starch tolerates higher temperatures than cornstarch when used as a thickener. It's a natural way to add moistness to many baked goods.

Unlike cornstarch or other grain-based foods, it is permitted for use during Passover.

Potato starch and potato flour are not interchangeable.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Rice Flour

Polished rice, with the hulls removed and the raw rice ground very finely, becomes rice flour. It can be made from either white rice or brown rice. Rice flour has a similar texture to cornflour and can be used as a thickening agent, mixed with a little water, milk, or stock according to the recipe, and added while the dish is still hot and still cooking. It is a particularly good substitute for people who are intolerant of wheat.

In Asia, it is widely used for making rice papers and the dough for dumplings. It is often used to make sticky Asian cakes and sweets. Rice flour can be combined with wheat flour to make bread, but this produces a crumbly loaf.

Glutinous rice flour is a separate product and is usually labelled rice powder. It is made from finely ground glutinous rice, or "sweet rice" and is principally starch, plus a small amount of protein. The starch is waxy and makes an excellent gel.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Raspberry Mini Cupcakes

The original recipe this was based on was Chloe's Vegan Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes, by Chloe Coscarelli. I had never heard of Coscarelli, or her experience winning Food Network's Cupcake Wars...or, for that matter, the show. I learned of both when I recently flipped through an issue of Sunset magazine that included Chloe's recipe. Or did it? The recipe on Coscarelli's site is not the same as the recipe in Sunset magazine. Both are credited as being "the first vegan recipe to win on Food Network!". Regardless, I'm not fussed about which version was actually the filmed recipe, as I've never watched the show. I reduced the Sunset version twice, changed the cupcake size, an ingredient, the cooking time, and the assembly process to come up with what I bring you today.

  • 1/4 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C water
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Frosting & finishing
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • 2/3 C sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp nondairy milk, such as soy, almond, or rice
  • 1 to 2 dozen raspberries, rinsed and drained (See note, below)
  • 1 tsp additional sifted powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 12-cup mini muffin pan.
2. Make cupcakes: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and whisk until just combined.
3. Divide batter among cupcake cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean, 9 to 12 minutes. Let cupcakes cool completely in pan.
4. Make frosting: Using an electric mixer, beat shortening, 2/3 cups powdered sugar, and the vanilla together to mix. Beat in nondairy milk until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
5. Run knife edge gently around cupcakes to loosen and remove from pan. Smooth about 1 Tbsp frosting onto each cupcake and cover with one or two raspberries Put remaining 1 tsp powdered sugar in a fine-mesh strainer and dust cupcakes with sugar.

Yield: 12 mini cupcakes

Robyn's notes: The amount of raspberries is not exact because it depends on your preferences and the size of your raspberries. I put only one raspberry on some, and two on others, large raspberries meant only one would really fit, smaller ones meant I could fit two. I found the cupcake batter to be alarmingly thin, but it baked up well. The cupcakes did not rise practically at all during baking, so filling the pan nearly full is fine. Mini cupcakes bake quickly and can go from "almost ready" to "overcooked" alarmingly fast, so start checking them at 9 minutes and if they're not yet ready check them regularly until they are. Although it may seem a waste of time and cleaning energy to use an electric mixer for such a small amount of frosting, it's worth it because it gets the right amount of air into the frosting. I used regular Crisco shortening because it was what I had on hand, and I checked the local grocery to find that they had exactly two shortening options: Crisco, and Crisco butter-flavoured. Both are hydrogenated. It did not seem to make any difference in the recipe. I used Silk brand soymilk, plain flavour (not vanilla), because it's the type of soymilk I always have in the house. Do not be fooled into thinking that because this is a vegan recipe that makes it healthy. Going off of the nutritional facts provided in Sunset, a single one of my mini cupcakes will be somewhere around 100calories and one is not nearly enough! Assuming that you're not going to eat all 12 in a single sitting, I suggest only frosting the cupcakes you plan to eat, then refrigerating the remaining frosting and raspberries and storing the remaining cupcakes in a sealed container to be frosted and finished when you're ready to eat them.

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cheddar Cheese Bread

  • 1oz Parmesan cheese, shredded on large holes of box grater (about 1/3 C; see note)
  • 3/4 C plus 2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch pepper
  • 2oz extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1/2 C)
  • 1/4 C whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 1 large egg
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 5-1/2 by 3 inch loaf pan, then sprinkle 2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp Parmesan cheese evenly over bottom of pan.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne, and pepper together in medium bowl. Fold in cheddar, breaking up clumps, until it is coated with flour mixture. In separate bowl, whisk milk, sour cream, melted butter, and egg together until smooth. Gently fold milk mixture into flour mixture with rubber spatula until just combined (do not overmix). Batter will be heavy and thick.
3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Sprinkle remaining 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese evenly over top of batter. Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 30 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.
4. Let bread cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto wire rack and let cool for 1 hour before serving.

Robyn's notes: this is an America's Test Kitchen recipe, which means it's very specific and has several notes. These are theirs: Shredding the Parmesan on the large holes of a box grater and sprinkling it over the top of this bread adds a nice texture and helps prevent the cheese from burning; do not grate it fine or use pre-grated Parmesan. The texture of the bread improves as it cools, so resist the urge to slice the loaf while it is piping hot. The bread can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. These notes are mine: I did grate the Parmesan myself, and I measured both cheeses by weight, not cup measurement. Cutting the cheddar into quarter-inch cubes probably took me about as long as the rest of the preparation. The first loaf I made was cooked through (clean toothpick) after 30 minutes, but the top wasn't at all golden. I took it out and let it cool anyway, so that the inside wouldn't get too dry. It was tasty and moist but a bit dense. I'm making two more mini-loaves as gifts, so I will likely let them cook a bit longer to see how they do. The Parmesan top and bottom was a great touch.

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sugar 'n Spice Fruit Dip

  • 1/2 Tbsp packed brown sugar or honey
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 container (6 oz) Yoplait® Thick & Creamy vanilla yogurt
  • 1 C red raspberries
  • 1 1/4 C cubed honeydew melon, apple, or pear
1. In small bowl, mix brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in yogurt.
2. Spoon yogurt mixture into small serving bowl. Sprinkle with additional ground cinnamon. Serve with fruit.

Yield: 5 servings (2 tablespoons dip, 3 pieces cubed fruit and 5 raspberries each)

Robyn's notes: this is half of the original recipe, but still makes quite a bit of dip. It will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for a couple days if necessary.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Nutritional Information: 1 Serving (1 Serving) Calories 70 (Calories from Fat 5); Total Fat 1/2g (Saturated Fat 0g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 30mg; Total Carbohydrate 13g (Dietary Fiber 2g, Sugars 10g); Protein 2g

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Homestyle Mac n Cheese With a Kick

  • 1 C elbow macaroni (4 oz)
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 -1/2 C whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground white or black pepper
  • 1 -1/2 C grated sharp Cheddar, divided (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/2 C crushed Hot 'n Spicy Cheez-It crackers
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Cook macaroni according to package instructions, drain, set aside.
3. Spray 1-1/2 quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray, set aside.
4. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until well combined (up to 90 seconds). Do not allow the flour to brown. Using a whisk, add the milk slowly and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add salt, pepper, 1 C of the cheese, and stir well.
5. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 C of cheese with the crushed Cheez-Its.
6. Add the macaroni to the pot with the milk and cheese. Stir to combine well, then pour the mixture into casserole dish. Top with the cheez-it mixture. Bake until golden brown and bubbly at the edges, about 20-25 minutes.
7. Remove the dish from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 3 servings

Tips: Once the flour and butter have been incorporated, spoon some of that mixture into the measuring cup full of milk. This will help the milk start to warm up to the temperature of the flour and butter, so that when the milk is poured into the pan it doesn't curdle. The less fat there is in the milk, the higher the likelihood of curdling, so using whole milk you're unlikely to have this problem, but this is a useful trick to have in your arsenal.
When I had finished whisking in the milk, the sauce seemed quite thin to me, but it thickened up a lot during baking, so don't worry too much if it appears thin to you.
If you have a food processor, you can crush the crackers with it, otherwise use the method I usually use (I don't enjoy cleaning my food processor, so I don't use it often): bag the crackers in a zip-loc bag (double bag if not using heavy-duty freezer bags), then crush with a rolling pin. 1 C of whole crackers will crush to a bit over 1/2 C.

Robyn's notes: I wrote this recipe after my friend Patience Ann mentioned that her mom had used Cheez-Its for her macaroni and cheese topping when cooking for a Scouting event recently. I immediately started thinking about the various Cheez-It varieties and how each of them could be used to make a different kind of mac n cheese. My taste-testers really enjoyed this (as did I), and I'm quite proud of it. I made this in individual casserole dishes, instead of the one large one I've written the recipe for. There was exactly enough for three servings.

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hard-Boiled Eggs

also known as Hard-Cooked Eggs
  • 6 large eggs
  • Cold water
1. Place eggs in a single layer in a large saucepan (do not stack eggs). Add enough cold water to cover the eggs by 1 inch. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat (water will have large rapidly breaking bubbles). Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes; drain.
2. Run cold water over the eggs or place them in ice water until cool enough to handle; drain.
3. To peel eggs, gently tap each egg on the countertop. Roll the egg between the palms of your hands. Peel off eggshell, starting at the large end.

Yield: 6 hard-boiled eggs

If you have extra-large eggs, let eggs stand in the boiled water for 18 minutes.

Robyn's notes: this is the method I use to hard-boil eggs. It seems basically every household has their own preferred method. My family's one addition to this is to poke a small hole in the base (rounded end) of each egg with a pin. It helps keep the eggs from cracking during cooking.

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Nutrition Facts: Calories 78; Total Fat 5g; Saturated Fat 2g; Monounsaturated Fat 2g; Polyunsaturated Fat 1g; Cholesterol 212mg; Sodium 62mg; Carbohydrate 1g; Total Sugar 0g; Fiber 0g; Protein 6g; Vitamin A 0%DV; Vitamin C 0%DV; Calcium 3%DV; Iron 3%DV; Medium-fat Meat 1(d.e.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Oatmeal Scotchies

Check yield, this makes a lot of cookies
Update: I have written a small-batch version of this recipe, found here.
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated peel of 1 orange
  • 3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 1-2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Butterscotch Flavored Morsels
1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
3. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield: 48 cookies

Robyn's notes: I make these in a slightly different order in order to minimize the dishes to be washed. I start by creaming the butter, sugars, and vanilla extract. Then beat in the eggs. I drop the flour on top of the wet mixture, and carefully drop the soda, salt, and cinnamon on top of the flour, stirring the dry ingredients together without incorporating the wet. Once the dry ingredients are fairly well combined, then I stir the whole thing together. Add oats, stir, then morsels, stir. I prefer these chewy, so I cook for the shorter time range.

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rigatoni and Ham Bake

  • 1 1/2 C Rigatoni or 3/4 C elbow macaroni
  • 1 C diced cooked ham
  • 3oz (3/4 C) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 1/4 C milk
  • 1/3 C crushed potato chips
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain.
2. In large bowl, combine cooked pasta, ham, and 1/2 Cup cheese.
3. In medium saucepan, melt butter. Blend in flour, salt, and mustard. Add milk all at once. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Combine sauce with pasta mixture. Turn into individual 2-cup casserole dishes. Toss remaining 1/4 Cup cheddar cheese with potato chips; sprinkle over top. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes.

Robyn's notes: We've been making this recipe in my family since 1981. It's one of those very typical late-70s/early-80s casseroles, but we love it all the same.  My family always uses more cheese than is called for in practically any recipe, so feel free to go a little overboard on cheese.

***** 5 Stars: Excellent. A favourite for both of us, I will make this repeatedly

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chicken and Citrus Couscous Salad

  • 1 C orange juice
  • 2 tsp olive oil or butter
  • 3/4 C plain couscous
  • 6oz cubed fully cooked chicken breast (approximately 3/4 C)
  • 1/4 C dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 C mandarin orange segments, drained (or one "fruit cup" size)
1. In medium saucepan, bring orange juice and olive oil just to a boil. Stir in couscous. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit 5 minutes. Fluff with fork, transfer to a covered dish, and refrigerate.
2. In 10-inch skillet, heat chicken and peanuts for 4-6 minutes, or until chicken is browned.
3. Add chicken and peanuts to cooled couscous, top with mandarin orange segments.

Robyn's notes: the couscous does not need to be cold, just cooled. This is meant to be a quick dish for a warm day, and if the couscous is hot it makes the orange segments seem kind of gummy. I served this on a bed of baby spinach.**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Sunday, May 22, 2011


  • 4 C fresh spinach, stemmed and lightly packed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 C coarsely grated zucchini
  • 1/2 C thinly sliced green peppers
  • 1/2 C thinly sliced onions
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1. Wash the spinach in cold water to remove any sand and grit. Shake off the excess water but don't dry the spinach.
2. Place the spinach in a heavy 10" nonstick skillet with just the water left clinging to the leaves. Cook over medium heat until just wilted. Coarsely chop the spinach and set it aside.
3. Dry the skillet with a paper towel and place over medium heat for a minute or two. Add the oil, then stir in the zucchini, green peppers, and onions. Cook the vegetables, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until the liquid released from the zucchini has evaporated and the vegetables have cooked down to about half their original volume. Stir in the spinach and remove the skillet from the heat.
4. In a small mixing bowl, beat the eggs, salt and pepper until foamy. Return the skillet to the heat and pour the eggs evenly over the vegetables. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the eggs are set.
5. Run a knife around the edge of the frittata to loosen it; then carefully invert it onto a plate. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Cut into wedges and serve.

Robyn's notes: this is not something I can eat, but my sweetheart loves when I make frittatas. I like them as a way to use up leftover vegetables before they go bad. My general rule of thumb is about 1/2 cup cooked vegetables for every egg, and I briefly blanch raw veggies (except tomatoes and onions). One that I made that went over particularly well was mostly asparagus pieces, with extra Parmesan. Even though I can't eat them due to my dietary restrictions, I really like frittata nights because they're quick to make and I can make myself a fast omelet at the same time.

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chocolate Cherry Bars

Check yield, this is a full-size dessert, not scaled down for two
  • 1 pkg Pillsbury Fudge Cake Mix
  • 21-oz can cherry fruit filling (pie filling)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 C sugar
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 C milk
  • 6-oz pkg (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Using solid shortening or margarine (not oil), grease and flour 13x9inch pan.
2. In large bowl, combine first four ingredients. By hand, stir until well mixed. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
3. While bars cool, prepare frosting. In small saucepan, combine sugar, butter, and milk. Boil, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in chocolate pieces until smooth. Pour over partially cooled bars.

Yield: About 3 dozen bars.

Robyn's notes: this has been a family favourite for decades, because it's so easy but comes out so good every time. It's moist and the cherry isn't overpowering. This was a Pillsbury Bake-off recipe winner in 1974, and Pillsbury does sometimes change the name of their boxed mixes. I don't know if they currently use the words "fudge cake mix", but any basic chocolate cake mix works. Just be sure it's a cake mix, not brownies, and that there isn't anything additional (such as chunks of chocolate). When making this last night, we had a Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate Cake Mix in the house, and that's what we used.

***** 5 Stars: Excellent. A favourite for both of us, I will make this repeatedly

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stir-Fried Chicken with Toasted Sesame Seeds

  • 2 Tbsp hot water
  • 3 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 C soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 Tbsp canola or peanut oil
  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • pepper to taste
1. Place sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium-high heat and cook briefly until nicely brown and fragrant. Place seeds in a small bowl.
2. Whisk the water, dry mustard, soy sauce, 2 Tbsp sesame seeds and garlic in a small bowl.
3. Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add chicken cubes and stir-fry 5-8 minutes until lightly brown and opaque. Sprinkle with pepper, lemon juice and remaining sesame seeds. Cook for 2-3 more minutes until heated through. Serve with mustard sauce as a dipping sauce.

Robyn's notes: this was seriously painful to eat. It has potential, but would need some changes. For me it was especially difficult because I'm not allowed to eat sesame seeds, but I felt that the toasted flavor they'd impart was probably necessary to make the recipe "go", so I didn't leave them out, which meant lots of scraping my food before I could eat it. For me, if I were to make it again, I'd strain part of the sauce and set it aside for my own use. In addition, I'd definitely reduce the amount of mustard and probably be more sparing with the lemon juice. Every time I put a piece of chicken in my mouth, my tongue seized up. I served this with white rice and glazed carrots.

** 2 Stars: Acceptable. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, if I make changes

I did not take the below picture, forgive the poor angle

Friday, May 6, 2011

Skillet Spaghetti with Hot Dogs

  • 1 1/4 C elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 lb hot dogs, sliced into coins
  • 2 Tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2oz (1/2 C) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1/2 C condensed tomato soup (half of a 10.75oz can)
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain.
2. In large skillet, fry hot dogs with onion and butter over medium heat. Add cheese, water, and soup. Cook until cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Stir in cooked pasta and cook until heated through.

Robyn's notes: this is purely comfort food, I do not claim this as a healthy recipe. Ever since 1981, my family has used this as a go-to meal when everybody is tired or stressed and needs something quick and filling.  See "Using Up Ingredients" at the top of the page for suggestions for using the other half of the can of soup. Originally this recipe called for "sp-o-ghetti rings™" which I've never seen in stores (like the pasta in spaghetti-o's), we really just use whatever small pasta we have on hand. 

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lazy Meaty Lasagna

This is based on the recipe for Lazy Lasagna, which was vegetarian. I was cooking this for people who prefer to have meat with every meal, so I added the ground turkey. Follow the above link for the meatless version.
  • 1 1/2 C wide noodles
  • 1/2 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 C spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 C cottage cheese
  • 3/4 C shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, crumble turkey into a large skillet. Cook over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the spaghetti sauce, cottage cheese and mozzarella. Fold in the noodles. Pour into two greased 2-cup casserole dishes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
2. Bake, uncovered, at 375°F for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Robyn's notes: very simple recipe. I had shredded Parmesan in the house, so used that instead of the grated and I think it was better. As far as "greasing" the casserole dishes, I sprayed them with Pam cooking spray. I've made the meatless version in the past using lasagna noodles that I broke in half before cooking. Made this again, for my sister, June 14, 2011, using ground beef instead of turkey. Came out very well.

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently