Saturday, April 28, 2012

Jello Cookies

On a whim, I tried a recipe for "Jello Cookies", found in The Sensible Cook's 52 Weeks of Healthy Cooking.  Well, not really on a whim...I had a wayward box of blueberry jello hidden in the back of my pantry that really needed to be used.

...and was I super-surprised!  Easy and tasty.  I've made them several times since, experimenting with different flavors of Jell-O (think about how many batches are possible!).  My eleven-year-old daughter can actually make these by herself, without any assistance from me.  Now, that's a testament!

2/3 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 pkg (3 oz) of sugar-free Jell-O mix
1 egg white
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Beat butter and sugar until well-blended.  Stir in baking powder, jello, egg white, and vanilla.  Gradually add in flour until blended.  Dough will be soft.

Shape dough into a two-inch balls (I use a small cookie scoop), and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are just starting to brown.  Remove to a cooling rack.

These little guys right here are Cherry-Lemonade flavored!

Monday, April 23, 2012

No Side Dish Needed?

No kidding!

There are days when I dream of preparing a lavishly laid out table...several colorful foods crowding the table, tendrils of steam rising from the tureens and crocks, succulent platters of savory meats, tender-crisp vegetables, and not to mention a wonderful variety of breads and sweets.

And then there's reality.  And that's when I make dishes like this:


Let me describe what you're looking at.  Mixed vegetables and canned vegetarian chili atop a dense cornbread bottom.  If you make this dish, know what else you'll be looking at?  An empty dinner table!  An empty dishwasher!  Because you've got everything you need in one casserole!

Cornbread-Chili Bake

1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups boiling water
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 cans (15 oz) fat-free vegetarian chili
1 pkg (16 oz) frozen mixed veg, thawed and drained

Preheat oven to 350.  Bring water to a boil, then gradually whisk in cornmeal and salt.  Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until mixture is thick.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 c. of the cheese.  Spread cornmeal into a sprayed 13 x 9 baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes.

Top the baked cornbread layer with vegetables, then chili, then cheese.  Bake another 15 minutes until cheese is melted.  Let casserole sit about 5-10 minutes before serving.

And, then, yeah.  Just place it on the table, and let people dig in.  You'll feel odd for several minutes...the feeling that you're forgetting something.  It will pass.  Eventually, you'll feel a great relief because you've just made a one-stop-shop dish that your family actually likes!  Save the laden-table dream for tomorrow.

Note: There's opportunity for real variety here.  Mix in some Parmesan, ground beef/turkey, spaghetti sauce for a lasagna-ish feel.  Use meat chili, leftover beef stew (as long as it's thick).  Leave off the cheese.  Use Jiffy boxed mix instead of cornmeal (although skip the eggs in the prep - big and fluffy is not desirable for this ensemble).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Go Pink or Go Home

Just a little change of scenery here at "Be Food".  Pink is an especially favorite color of mine.  And it makes me think of frosting and cakes and watermelon and jelly beans.

Not good things, I know...but still...

Monday, April 16, 2012

And...I Outsmart the Expiration Date

April 18.  Supposedly, that's when the vanilla yogurt in my refrigerator "expires".

Yogurt, being a versatile dairy product, makes a great addition to muffins.  And nothing goes with vanilla yogurt better than blueberries, right?

That's what I thought too!


So, courtesy of www.joyofbaking.com, I give you Blueberry Muffins.  Way easy and delicious.  I look forward to reporting on how they taste in the morning.

Blueberry Muffins:

1 cup yogurt (regular or low fat)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup canola or corn oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
*Note: If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw before adding them to the batter.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Position rack in center of oven. Butter or line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. 
 
In a large measuring cup or bowl whisk together the yogurt, lightly beaten egg, oil, and vanilla extract. 

In another large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Remove 1 tablespoon of the dry ingredients and toss it with the blueberries. With a rubber spatula fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are combined. Gently stir in the blueberries. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result. (I sprinkled the tops with a cinnamon/sugar combination).

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. Place in the oven and bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan. 

Makes 12 muffins.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Sourdough: More Than Bread

Okay, so I've been chipping around with a new bread recipe, which you can find at Jenn's Eat Cake For Dinner (Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat Bread).  This bread does not call for sourdough...so that begs the question: to keep my sourdough from getting old, what other recipes can I use it in?

Chocolate cake.  Of course.  When I think of one, I naturally think of the other.

Enter this recipe from (where else?) www.allrecipes.com: Sourdough Chocolate Cake.  It was a decent enough jumping-off place.  The end result was a bit dry, and reading through the comments included with the recipe, I discovered certain substitutions that would render a moister cake...I sure wish I'd read the reviews before baking.

But, then, it occurs to me, I have a perfectly good chocolate cake recipe.  An awesome one, in fact.  I found it on the back of a container of Hershey's baking cocoa (but for you, it's here).  The only thing missing is sourdough...but why couldn't I substitute the sourdough for the 1 cup of milk?

Provocative question indeed.  As soon as the dry cake is eaten, I'll experiment!

Despite being on the dry side, cake is cake...and therefore will get eaten at our house!


You'll notice I don't overdo the frosting.  A thin layer is good enough for me.  A wonderful chocolate frosting recipe exists on the same page as the Hershey's cake recipe.

Alternate uses for sourdough starter shall continue!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Toasting Nuts = Not Hard

I really had no intention of doing anything special, food-wise, for today's holiday.  However, after an excellent night of sleep and two hours of invigorating yard work, I was suddenly compelled to whip up an Easter feast.

The 2.5 lb ham was at attention, defrosted, in my fridge.  An allrecipes.com recipe for "Apricot Brown Sugar Ham" saluted me from in my inbox this morning.  Two elderly, valorous zucchini cried out to be used.  A bag of frozen green beans waited at the ready to march into culinary battle.

Okay, enough with the military metaphor.  You get it.  I was able to piece together the following meal:

Apricot Brown Sugar Ham
Green Beans Amandine
Mashed Potatoes
Zucchini Cake with Vanilla Glaze

I confess, the potatoes were instant.  I don't feel guilty - everything else was from scratch.

For the green beans, the almonds were to be toasted.  Now, I've never toasted nuts.  It daunted me.  What if I toasted them...wrong?  Burned them?  Here's the thing I learned today: toasted nuts are like high school freshmen - you never really should turn your attention away from them, even for a moment.   When you turn your back on twenty-some fifteen-year-olds, it's just a matter of time before someone is punched in the nuts.  And, when I stepped away from my dry, medium-heated skillet for a minute, my almonds were quite toasty (not burnt, tho).  When the recipe says 'stir constantly,' I'm here to tell you, they quite mean it!

And after toasting a pan full of nuts, chucking in a pound of cooked green beans, salt, pepper, butter, and lemon juice was a cakewalk.  Green Beans Amandine.  Pretty simple dish, but sounds REALLY FANCY!

Oh, and on the topic of cake, tonight's dessert was a Zucchini Cake.  Because it's been a zany kind of day, I opted to use a Bundt pan.  And when I use a Bundt pan, I am inclined to drizzle or sprinkle or spread something over the cake, if only to watch the icing et al. stream gracefully down the side of the perfectly rounded confection.  However, I wasn't feeling like plain powdered sugar and I certainly wasn't going to go buy frosting.  So I found this gem at (where else, natch?) allrecipes.com: Vanilla Glaze.  Had I not cut down the recipe, my final product would have resembled this:

Photo courtesy of Normailed at allrecipes.com
Instead, my glazed cake came out like This (pic down near bottom of today's entry).  While the cake was delicious, it did not have the beauteous rolling lines of icing this cake here has.  Thus, my second lesson of the day: when it comes to icing, make the full amount the recipe specifies.

There are certain things I simply do not question anymore:

1. Halloween candy is available in stores right around the first day of school.

2. Home-baked bread is always better.

3.  Shake your nuts constantly.  When toasting them, that is.

4. Full icing measurements are meant to be followed...to the number.