BLT Salad

In which I attempt to hold onto summer for a minute longer.

I still have a few tomatoes clinging to the vines in my garden.  There are plenty of green tomatoes that I should pick and use to make Green Tomato Mincemeat or Fried Green Tomatoes.  That might come later.  I’m clinging to the skirts of summer, pulling on the hems, begging it not to leave quite yet.  There is so much preparation that has to happen before winter and so little daylight to do it all. DSCN2914Rather than dwelling on the melancholy of passing time, I’m going to grab another ripe tomato and make this salad again.

 

There is a movement going on right now called “Will It Waffle?”.  In his book Daniel Shumski answers this question over and over to delicious ends. DSCN2916

I believe this salad was created with a similar thought in mind, and probably before Mr. Shumski was even thinking about waffles.  Everyone has had BLTs.  There is that pleasure of biting into the crispy toast and having the tomato juice combine with the mayo as it drips down your hands.  Saladizing the classic sandwich gives it a bit of elegance.  You can serve it in a bowl, eat it with a knife and fork.  It instantly becomes fancy food.  It’s not just a salad, it’s a Panzanella.

Take one last bite out of summer.  Find that last red tomato and make this salad.  Fancy it up with a good loaf of Italian or French bread.  Use your favorite bacon.  Get out your fancy dishes and eat this salad.

DSCN2917BLT Salad

 

Frosty Lime Salad

In which I try (and somewhat fail) to impress old friends.

Another post with bad pictures, but I have to get rid of the backlog and I’m really not going to remake some of these so I can have better pictures. 

The kids and I went to the grocery store and got a bunch of packets of Jello knowing that I would eventually need them.  I had read through recipes and just got the things that I knew were popular flavors or things that I had seen.  So in the cart went Cherry, Orange, and Lemon.

We can start to enumerate my mistakes here:

  1. Going to the grocery store with 3 children
  2. Not having a good list.
  3. Buying things because I would probably need them someday.
  4. Not menu planning properly.
  5. Not realizing that when the old recipes call for packets of Jello, they mean the small packages and not the big ones.

DSCN2708

All of this is preparation for what happened next.  I had my old camp friend and her family coming over for dinner.  It was the first time she was seeing our new house, I had just started the idea for my blog and was excited about all of that.  And so I planned a menu that involved only recipes from my collection.  And what could be more representative of what I was trying to do than to make a Jell-O salad?

 

Looking through the ingredients I had in the house, I decided that Frosty Lime Salad sounded about perfect.  Except I didn’t have lime Jell-O.  I figured it wouldn’t matter that much if I substituted lemon.  But then I made the mistake of mentioning that I made the substitution after talking about my intention was to follow the recipes exactly as written.  And because I only had huge boxes of Jell-O, the recipe was doubled.  I might have gotten teased a bit.DSCN2719Frosty Lemon Salad is refreshing in a way you wouldn’t normally think of.  Cucumbers fresh from our garden, and celery make a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the pineapple.  I did not serve with lettuce and cherries.  The creamy layer was a bit loose, as you can see.  No one complained that this was gross, so it must’ve been ok. (Mom just told me that it was Martin VanBuren and his set that coined the term O.K., who knew?)DSCN2722Frosty Lime Salad

 

Easy Bars

I am going to apologize upfront for my pictures with this recipe.  They are very yellow.  I took them a while back before I had figured some things out about my camera.  We have Edison bulbs in the light fixture above our stove and I didn’t make the proper adjustments to compensate for that.  DSCN2621My husband is a chocolate peanut butter freak.  When we go out for milkshakes, it is almost certain that his will be chocolate peanut butter.  I used to be crazy about peanut butter, but hate the smell of wet peanut butter, so I hesitate to ever use it because I don’t want to smell the peanut butter as the dishes are being cleaned. When I saw the recipe for Easy Bars, I knew that making these bars would make up for some of my past cooking missteps.  DSCN2636First of all, I substituted wheat flakes for oats because I am allergic to oats, however Easy Bars should be made with oats.  Wheat flakes are a sub par substitute.  It’s not that the recipe failed or that they were bad or anything, but the wheat flakes I had were thicker than oats would’ve been, so they didn’t hold their shape as well as I would’ve liked.  I am sure that I could figure out some adjustments if I were to make these again, but since the recipe calls for oats, use those.  If someone knows of a great substitution, let me know.  DSCN2637Easy bars are easy.  They require very little work and yield delicious results. Easy Bars

Easy Bar

4 cups oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oleo (margarine) melted

Mix together and bake at 425 for 10 minutes.
Melt 6 oz chocolate chips and 1/2 cup peanut butter and spread over baked mixture.

 

 

 

 

Unbaked Cookies

In which I exhibit some garden art.

For a long time I sucked at making Rice Krispie Treats.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t melt the marshmallows and butter, it wasn’t that I couldn’t stir everything together, it was always putting those suckers in the pan that defeated me.  I felt incompetent in a way that was ridiculous.  I could make gorgeous loaves of bread, I could cook gourmet meals, but the humble Rice Krispie Treat defeated me.  And, yeah, I could go buy a box of them, but they just don’t really taste the same, do they?  And then the variations, the Scotcheroos, the cornflake treats that we would get on our platters of Christmas cookies…I loved them all, but I sucked at making them.DSCN2797I finally figured a few things out and got better at making them, but the stupid green cornflake wreaths still defeat me.  I usually just make those into bars and then add a ton of sprinkles.  They are delicious, even if they aren’t what I originally intended to make.

 

Anyway, all of this is to say that when approaching a recipe involving Rice Krispies, I get still get a bit of the old anxiety.  It’s stupid and I know it.  DSCN2799

The recipe is a little unclear as to what is supposed to happen with these cookies after everything is mixed together.  I decided to make balls, it wasn’t a great choice because when they were cold, they were hard to bite into.  I think we all had damage to the roofs of our mouths because of them.  That didn’t deter us from eating them or even making a variation of the recipe soon after.  The variation just got pressed into a pan and cut into squares.  DSCN2803

 

Ah, so now you are wondering what sort of variation I did.  Of course.  I used pretzels instead of the cereal.  I added toffee pieces.  It was exactly the sort of snack I needed and I may not have done a lot of sharing.  DSCN2802

Because this recipe just looks like a ball of beige, I decided to take some outdoor pictures featuring some of my garden art.  Enjoy.  Unbaked Cookies

Skillet Potatoes Au Gratin

When I was young, the idea of potatoes au gratin really appealed to me. They just sounded so special and fancy.  Scalloped potatoes were a regular thing at our house and there were au gratin potato chips, but I don’t recall them being a regular part of our menu.  They may have been, but I don’t remember it.  (Sorry, mom.)

Potatoes and cheese are classic.  Switzerland has raclette (which I have eaten in Switzerland).  Canada has poutine (which I have not eaten in Canada, but I assume I will at some point.)  Sports bars have potato skins.  Diners offer cheese with hashbrowns. One time I made chipotle potatoes au gratin and they were amazing.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had a potato and cheese combination that I didn’t like. These Skillet Potatoes were no exception.  DSCN2768

Maybe these potatoes were so ooey-gooey delicious because we use Weyauwega cheese almost exclusively.  Seriously, there is nothing better.  It’s the cheese I grew up eating, so maybe that’s part of it, but it is really good cheese.  They are even distributing cheese curds to Texas now.  My friend called to ask if they were legit.  Yep.  They are the real thing. (This makes it sounds like an advertisement.  It’s not, I just really love Weyauwega cheese.)

DSCN2769Boiling the potatoes with the onions mellows the onions and just leaves the flavor.  The small amount of water used to boil the potatoes means the potatoes don’t need to be drained and the starch from them helps to thicken the cheesy sauce.  These are not the best au gratin potatoes I’ve ever had in my life.  They aren’t steakhouse worthy, but you know, for something that is ready in 30 minutes or less, it’s a pretty decent side dish for any night of the week.

Skillet Potatoes Au Gratin

Peach Cottage Cheese Loaf

In which I compare cottage cheese to the Captain and Tennille.

Last night as I was driving home in the rain, Casey Kasem was counting down the top 40 hits from 1976.  I can sing along with most of Saturday at the 70’s, but there are songs that baffle me as to how they even got popular.  As I was pulling up to the house, Captain and Tennille started crooning “Muskrat Love“.  How did that become a hit?  It’s worse than “Angie Baby“. I guess some things just make sense at the time, even if they lose relevance as the years go past.  Kind of like Peach Cottage Cheese Loaf.DSCN2838Now you have to understand, there is only one person at my house that likes cottage cheese, so we were already prejudiced against this recipe.  Then we are going to add in some mayonnaise and gelatin…How could this not be a winning dish?DSCN2840I had to look up what “creamed cottage cheese” was.  Basically, it’s the cottage cheese anyone can get at any grocery store in the US.  It has liquid in it as opposed to being dry.  It’s so common, they don’t label it that way and you’d probably have to go to a specialty store to find non-creamed cottage cheese.  (Or make it yourself).

 

This recipe did not “loaf”.  I don’t know where I went wrong in following the directions, but the gelatin did not hold this recipe into a discernible loaf.  I managed to get it to hold together long enough for pictures, but the neat slices I imagined didn’t happen.  The whole thing got scraped into a bowl and served that way.DSCN2856Everyone was required to take a taste of the vomit-like concoction because that’s the way we do things.  We try ingredients we don’t like in a variety of ways in case there is a way that we do like that ingredient.  It worked with beets, mustard, brussel sprouts, and other things.  The rule at our house is if you say you don’t like it without trying it, you need to eat twice as much as I would normally expect you to eat to try something.  We aren’t talking huge amounts here.  It’s not like I make anyone eat a double full portion, it’s more like 2 teaspoons full instead of 1 teaspoon full.  The kids prefer to have control over their serving sizes, so they agree to the terms.  It works for us and lessens the amount of whining at the table.

 

 

As we expected before we started the meal.  No one really cared for this marvelous creation.  Even the person that “liked” it couldn’t really eat more than a couple of servings over the course of a week.

This recipe, like “Muskrat Love”, should probably stay back in the time period from whence it came.  It’s sometimes better to just leave things in the past.  But if you insist on doing things your own way, maybe you should try the pineapple variation.Peach Cottage Cheese Loaf