Frozen Salad

Growing up, we had these great neighbors with whom we always had fantastic potlucks.  Our neighborhood was really a fantastic place.  The 4th of July picnic involved an all-neighborhood water fight and blocking off the street.  A writer I knew even wrote about it.  I’m not sure if it’s in his published works or not, but I intend to read his books to find out.

As much fun as July 4th was, it was Thanksgivings that stick in my mind.  There were green salads with chickpeas in them.  It seemed exotic to me at the time.  (Note to self:  start doing that more again).  My mom would make sweet potato rolls.  There was enough variations of the traditional foods that it seemed like passing the food almost took longer than eating it.  The crown jewel of the meal, the thing that seemed the most impressive in that whole meal was the frozen fruit salad.  It was always done in a ring mold and had canned fruit cocktail and bananas and whipped cream and marshmallows. DSCN2425At the time, I had no idea that this version of frozen salad existed. For some reason I associate butter mints and salted peanuts with old ladies (or ladies that seemed very old when I was very young).  The addition of canned pineapple and marshmallows combined into a creamy frozen Jell-O salad solidifies that feeling.  It’s both disgusting and wonderful all at the same time.  One of those guilty pleasures.  The nuts add a bit of crunch and texture.  The mints kind of bring everything together and make it really refreshing in an unexpected way.

 

When I made the salad, I realized partway through my freezing that I had forgotten to add the mints.  I ran downstairs to the freezer expecting that the salad would be frozen solid and there would and I was going to have to figure out a workaround, but it turned out that when we moved the freezer, someone had plugged it back into the wrong outlet and the power strip had tripped.  This meant my salad could easily be saved.  (It hadn’t been very long, so everything else in the freezer was saved also.  Not like that other time when I suddenly had to cook 3 pounds of ground beef, some ribs and some chicken.)

 

When you look at the recipe, there is something written next to the word “Jell-O”.  It looks like “clay”, but is probably “cherry”, but I didn’t know, so we used lemon Jell-O.

Sorry for the lack of pictures on this post.

A word of caution, this is a dessert salad.  You can serve it along with your regular meal, but it is very sweet.

Frozen Salad

Frozen Salad

1 large pack small marshmallows
1 pack Jell-O (the small box)
1 large can crushed pineapple

mix and refrigerate overnight.
Crush 1 pack butter mints.  Mix with 1 cup cream whipped.  Add nuts.  Mix with Jell-O and freeze.

 

Fruit Flavored Pound Cake

In which I speak in monotone.

Occasionally there is a recipe that I’ve made that I just have no passion for.  It’s not that it’s not a perfectly fine recipe, it’s more that it is just not my thing.

I let my son pick out the Jell-O and the cake mix for this recipe.  We used lemon cake and lime Jell-O.  Technically there was nothing wrong with this recipe.  It was fine, it made a cake.  I am sure I could’ve done something fabulous with icing or frosting or decoration to make this into more than it was, but I honestly just did not care enough to bother. DSCN2437The cake stuck to the pan and broke.  It didn’t look pretty any more.  I had enough stuff going on that I just didn’t bother to try to make this into something better.  I’m sure that part of this was that I had just gotten laid off from my job and didn’t have any specific prospects lined up.  Had I been my normal self, I would’ve rallied and taken the broken cake and some whipped cream or pudding and turned it into some sort of wonderful trifle like I did with the pistachio cake and fig jam, but I just wasn’t there.

Make this recipe or don’t.  Use whatever combination of Jell-O and cake mix you want.  The number of possible combinations is staggering.  Have better luck with it than I did.

I do think this may have inspired a different idea that I have, but haven’t tried out yet.  Fruit Flavor Pound Cake

 

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

Groovy Teen Bars

In which I channel Shaggy (from Scooby Doo, not the other guy)

Are you concerned that your teen or preteen is just not groovy enough?  Do they seem a bit down in the dumps?  Maybe your son wears his polo shirt buttoned all the way up to the top button.  Perhaps he has no idea how to roll up his sleeves or loosen his tie. Maybe your daughter can’t see past her very proper twin set and pearls.  Perhaps it’s time to turn off the Pat Boone and put on some Janis Joplin and serve your teen a plate of these groovy treats (while wearing a tie-dyed apron, of course).DSCN2676

This was one of those recipes that I knew I had to make.  When we were kids my mom served us something called a “Teen burger.”  This is a fabulous creation that is like a hamburger and a sundae all at once.  Literally a scoop of ice cream on top of a burger with all the fixings.  Our introduction to this recipe used chocolate marshmallow swirl ice cream, but mom said the proper way to do it was really vanilla with chocolate syrup.  My sister has continued the tradition in some of the exotic places she has lived and for some reason, I have never made that for my very groovy kids.

However they did get to eat an entire pan full of these bars.  I can’t remember who was coming to visit when we made them.  If it was you, please comment and let me know.

Ok, so what do you need to know about these bars? (I just re-read the recipe and realized that they are only for boys.  Maybe no one wants groovy girls?)  They are pretty good.  The fudge, egg white, nuts,and coconut topping was a little weird to make.  The crust was super easy. DSCN2684

I found another recipe in the archives that must be for the girls.  It’s called “teen bars”.

So if you want your boys to be groovy or just make some bars especially for teens, put on the lava lamp, burn some incense, and get super hip to this recipe.  Let your hair hang down and…who am I kidding?  I’m not even slightly groovy, even after eating these bars.Groovy Teen BarsTeen Bars

Mystery Recipe?

In which I ask a procedural question.

This recipe looks delicious, or would if I had any idea how to make it.  Normally, the recipes that are lists of ingredients don’t bother me.  I know how to make a cake, I know how to make cookies.  These?  I don’t know if I am supposed to combine the peanut butter and condensed milk?  Do I make balls and dip them in the chocolate?  Do I combine all of the ingredients and it’s supposed to be like fudge?  Anyone?  Bueller?Scan_0073 (3)

Apple Butter Cake with Caramel Icing

It’s part of your American Heritage

I have this friend that has become quite the cook since I first started talking to him.  He takes trips to Italy and Morocco to learn about cuisine and comes home and replicates it in his kitchen.  He started baking bread a few years back and makes gorgeous loaves.  When the Great British Baking Show started being aired and he mentioned watching it, I knew it was a matter of time before he started to foray into cakes.  I think he made a game pie before he made his first cake.  I got pictures from him every step of the way.

I had a conversation with my neighbor the other day about baking cakes from scratch.  We usually talk with a fence between us.  It reminds me of the show Home Improvement.  We discussed how people just don’t make a lot of cakes from scratch any more, “But it’s not that hard” one of us said.  “And the cake is so much better.”  “You know everything that goes into it and it really doesn’t take that long.”  When I made this cake, I knew that we had to take her a piece.

This is not one of the sort of cakes you see on the Great British Baking Show, it’s not a delicate Angel Food cake full of air.  With every bite of this cake, you can taste your American heritage.  It’s a cake that just feels like it was developed on the prairies.  Something that, could they have afforded it, Ma Ingalls would’ve made for Pa, Laura, Mary, Carrie, and Grace for a special occasion.  Definitely something Laura would’ve made in her later years in Missouri. DSCN2864For this cake, I used my homemade apple butter.  If you don’t have homemade, just use whatever sort of apple butter you like or have access to.  (Apple butter is super easy in the crockpot, though, so you may want to try).

 

The Apple Butter cake is a butter cake.  There are a few types of cakes, and knowing which type of cake yours is can help determine what method to use while making it, even when just given a list of ingredients.  I used a 9×13 pan.

Ok, so after the cake was made and cooling on the counter, I knew it needed frosting.  But deciding which frosting is always a challenge.  I baked a jam cake in July and tempered the sweetness with some cream cheese frosting, but that didn’t seem right for this.  I dug around in the cookbook I made of my great-grandma’s recipes to find something suitable.  Caramel icing seemed perfect.  Making the caramel icing was not quite as easy as making the cake.  First of all, there is a HUGE typo in the recipe.  I verified on the original card to be sure.  Softball stage is 225, not 325.  I didn’t make the error, but felt necessary to call it out just in case.  Don’t skip the cooling down stage. And remember that frosting should take about 7 minutes to get really creamy and wonderful (it’s why there is a thing called 7 minute frosting).

 

I topped mine with pecans because I like a little crunch.  Leave them off if you don’t like them

DSCN2868No one complained about eating this cake for dessert 3 days in a row and they were a little sad there was none left on the 4th day.

Apple Butter Cake

Caramel Frosting

1 cup white sugar
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 TB butter

Combine sugar (white and brown), salt and milk, cook until syrup forms a soft ball (325° F) in cold water.  Remove from heat, add butter, and let cool.  Beat until cool and good spreading consistency.