Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Now, I know I can't count this brilliant ingenuity as a new review, but it needed to be shared.

Here she is:  Mini-Loaf Cinnamon-swirl Oatmeal Bread French Toast.  I looked and tasted and said that it was good.  Can I get an "amen"?
And back to the realm of number counting...

71.  Nippy Garbanzo Spread, pg. 308

Every time I skimmed through this page, this recipe always jumped out.  "Nippy" is not a word I typically associate with food (aside from cheese, perhaps), so it always sounded a little funny.  I never really read the recipe, though, in those flip-throughs, and just assumed that it was a recipe for hummus.

Until today.

I had cooked up a bunch of garbanzos, thinking I would make hummus until I discovered that I was plumb (ha!) out of lemon juice.  And, then I remembered this recipe, and decided to give it a go.  The recipe itself puzzled me a little bit because I couldn't imagine how it was going to turn out.  I've never cooked a spread like this one calls for, let alone having to mix eggs in to bind it all together.  I was suspicious, but I was curious.

With a food processor, this recipe is a snap to make.  Dump in onion and a couple cloves of garlic and let them mince.  Scoop them out and start sauteing them while you process the garbanzos and eggs together.  Stirring until "dry" was a bit of a crapshoot.  I just let them go until they turned the approximate consistency of scrambled eggs.

As the mixture cooled, I added salt, pepper, cayenne, and about 3 T. of mayo.  And then I tried it.

It was okay.  Not super, but not as awful as I thought it might be.  If you're looking for hummus, this ain't gonna satisfy you one bit.  If you're looking for a new spread idea for persons with highly sensitive palettes (read: bland), this might be a good bet.

Overall:  2.6 out of 5  If you're looking for nippy, head straight to the freezer aisle and skip the process of making this.  If you're looking for something wet to put on sandwiches, and want to keep it "agreeable", you'll probably like it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

70.  Wheat Germ Griddle Cakes, pg. 74

Saturday morning came around and I had guests to feed.  Having pancakes in our house is a special treat, since it means that we (being the husband et moi) are eating breakfast together.  It is actually a rare occurrence in our house, since one of us is always getting up early for work on the day that the other one can sleep in...

So, having doubled the number of people in our house, I thought it was an excellent excuse to pull something together more elegant than granola for our morning meal.  I often look to MWL for pancake recipes (as I mentioned before here) and this one was chosen.

The batter is mixed up a little differently than normal pancakes, and there is less room for error in this recipe.  Mixing it well will not result in flat, dense cakes.  In fact, these cakes cooked high and light, leaving me in awe of the wonders of wheat germ.

Not only in looks were these pancakes a hit.  They were tasty as well, with subtle nutty flavors and just sweet enough that you didn't feel like you had to dump a jug full of Aunt Jemima on top.  (I don't really use Aunty's corn syrup abomination, but I'll try not to judge those who do...ahem...)

So, if you're looking for something pancake-like, but don't want the same old buttermilk deal, give these a try and you might have yourself a new favorite!  Or, at least, something to get your husband/wife/child/friend/etc. up for on Saturday mornings.  :)

Overall: 4.5 out of 5  Delightful plain, with chocolate chips, or dressed with butter and maple syrup.

Friday, March 26, 2010

68.  Six-Layer Dish, pg. 137

We had plans we had to work around on the night I decided to make this.  Therefore, this dish worked very nicely, as it sat in the oven for two hours while we did all our other stuff.  It's been a long time since I've made something that is along the lines of "fix it and forget it," and it was very nice to think about that the dish could be left to its own devices while I puttered away elsewhere.

On top of the lovely time factor, this dish can easily become a five-layer or seven-layer or whatever-you've-got kind of meal.  If you've got a food processor, the slicing and dicing goes super quick as well!

I used a 9x9 baking pan and didn't measure anything.  I went by looks and catered according to what we like most.  Two potatoes, a couple carrots, skipped the rice, a big onion, a can of black beans instead of meat, and a 15 oz. can of tomatoes. Ba-dah-bing.  Done.  (Mostly.)  I poured a little bit of oil over the top, nixed the brown sugar, covered it, and stuck it in the oven.  When there was about 20 minutes left (I estimated -- maybe an hour and a half into it, when a fork easily pierces the potatoes), I sprinkled a little bit of feta cheese on top.  I left the pan uncovered then, and set it to cook just a bit longer.  And that was all I wrote. (On this one.)

It was good and hearty.  An all-in-one kind of dish.  While I often turn up my nose at casseroles, this one might be a keeper!

Overall:  3.8 out of 5  Simple flavors, and simple to make.

69.  Basic Cooked Lentils, Curried, pg. 105

Now, I realise that I've technically made one of these recipes before, but I decided that I'm allowed to count another one since I'm reporting on it. :)

While I often enjoy making elaborate multi-course meals, especially when we're having friends over, after a long day at work, oftentimes I just want to do something straight-forward and easy.  When in those tight "what do we eat tonight?" spots, my mind occasionally wanders to having rice and lentils.  I appreciate their shorter cooking time, how nicely they pair with any kind of rice, and their nutty flavor.

Basically all I want to say about this recipe is that if you like curry, you will probably like this yumminess.

Overall:  4 out of 5  Spicy, lentily, and satisfyingly delicious.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

You may be wondering why I've not posted in a week (or maybe you don't care...), and let me assure you that I have not forgotten about my ambitions.  My time as of late has been very consumed with work and working on our kitchen.  In fact, we finally have put down our tile, and are waiting for the thinset to cure so that we can finish up with grout.  It's a process, and not one I want to do again anytime soon.  Aside from the fact that I've been tired from all the busyness, we've can't be in our kitchen, so I made only one recipe this week.

67.  Fresh Asparagus Soup, pg. 203

Growing up, I loathed the nights when asparagus was served.  Even the mandatory solo two-inch piece was a chore to choke down.  But, sometime since, I've grown to appreciate and even enjoy the veggie, and with spring on my mind, asparagus wasn't far behind.

Looking at the recipe, I was expecting more of a cream of asparagus soup, and I have to admit I was a bit disappointed.  I felt like there was very little taste of asparagus ... the tang of the sour cream seemed to be the dominant feature.  I probably could have used more asparagus to help it along, but didn't think of it at the time.  I added some garlic with the sauté, which I think gave a nice warmth to the soup, but generally speaking, I think I could find a better recipe to complement the earthy asparagus notes.

Overall:  2 out of 5  Not great, but still edible.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I have just counted all the recipes in More With Less.  I only counted those which had their own row of bold dots, for a total of exactly 550 (I think.  I only counted once.)  And, according to my calculations, it will take me another 5 years to finish, at the rate I'm going...  So...hang on for a fast and exciting ride...HA! :)  No, what this really means is that I'd REALLY like it if we make this into a community project.  I know a lot of you have a few recipes you repeatedly return to in MWL, and I know I haven't written about all of thosel.  If ever you make something and want to write about it, please let me know!  Otherwise, you'll have to listen to me for a very long time.  And that would be boring.

65.  Onion Cheese Loaf, pg. 82

While it's been many years since I last visited one, this recipe vaguely reminded me of the cheese biscuits served at Red Lobster.  A very savory loaf, this one is, and not your typical slice o' dough.

For the dry ingredients, I didn't have ground dry mustard, so I just put in a teaspoon of mustard seed.  I was pretty happy with the subtlety that they provided, and recommend it if you don't have ground mustard.  You might also add a teaspoon of "real" mustard (the kind you put on sandwiches).  I used pepper jack cheese instead of cheddar, which was very nice.  I omitted the Parmesan, since I didn't have it.  A sharp cheese would be very dramatic on its own, so accommodate to what you've got and what you like.

The onions and paprika on top make a lovely display, and I wish I would have taken a picture of the loaf before we ate it all...My loaf didn't rise very much, but feel like it probably shouldn't have anyways with all the (yummy) fat that is in it.  Baking for 1 hour made for a crunchy crust, so just keep an eye on your bread from 45 minutes.

Overall: 4.3 out of 5  Dangerously good and satisfying!

66.  Corn and Bean Chowder, pg. 202

I served this chowder along side of the Onion Cheese Loaf, and they made a lovely pair.
A fairly straight-forward recipe that doesn't take too long to prepare if your beans are cooked.

I've noticed a couple recipes now that pair corn soups with nutmeg, and I really like the combination.  It is not something that I would have thought of on my own, but, again the subtlety of the spice changes the direction of the soup.

Because I didn't get my corn out of the freezer soon enough for it to thaw, I added all the corn to the pot and once it had cooked a bit, I took out about a cup and a half and sent it through the food processor.  I didn't think it thickened the soup very much, but could have taken out more and I'm sure it would have been quite thick.

Instead of dry milk solids, I used a can of coconut milk, which was delightful!  If you don't have milk powder, you could also put in regular milk instead, but, of course, the soup will be thinner.  I also subbed black beans for kidney.

Overall: 4 out of 5  Very yummy and warm.  Filling.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

[[Thanks again to my momma for submitting a recipe review!!]]

64.  Coating Mix for Oven Fried Chicken, pg. 179
I was a little worried about all the salt so did go a little light on each of the salts.  I didn't have celery salt or poultry seasoning (which is optional) so used Lawrey's Seasoned Salt.  The directions say to mix the ingredients--but my question was "what about the oil"?  The directions imply that you'd mix that with the dry ingredients.  I chose to skip the oil--don't think it is needed.  I used Pam to grease the baking dish.  I did moisten the chicken with water before dipping.  The chicken was well-received at dinner!  Think I will also try this with fish which is listed as an option.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Recipe typo contest results:  So close, Jennifer, but, yes, Emily got it! 

62.  Ginger-Glazed Carrots, pg. 227

I rarely make side dishes of vegetables (other than salad) because more often than not, the main dish already includes a lot of veggies.  However, if you're a more meat-and-potato person, you'll probably like having this colorful, lightly spicy dish to complement your meal.

The sole thing that I changed was the amount of ginger -- I put in 1/2 t. instead of 1/4 t.  If you typically like ginger, go stronger on it.  If you've got picky eaters, put less on, by all means.  I let my carrots cook in the glaze about 7 minutes -- don't let them cook to mush!

Overall:  3 out of 5  Not a special recipe amongst glazed carrots, but I'd choose this over simple cooked carrots.

63.  Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes, pg. 73

When I need a pancake recipe, this is almost always the one I turn to.  In fact, on the morning of my wedding, we had a pancake breakfast for people who had camped out on the farm with us, and we used this recipe to serve the masses!  So, there are definitely some happy moments associated with these pancakes!

Since I almost never have buttermilk on hand, I always drop 1 T. lemon juice in my measuring cup and then fill the rest with regular milk and let it sit for about 5 minutes to make sour milk.  On occasion, I think I have tried using all whole-wheat flour, but of course, as you can probably imagine, that turns out a veritable brick of a pancake.  Keep it lighter by going 50-50.  I usually add 1 T. brown sugar in with the dry ingredients, because I feel like it can turn out bland and/or salty without it.

Add your favorite fillings, too, to spice them up.  We put anything from chocolate chips (of course!) to banana slices to almonds to ... (you get the picture!)

Most simply put:  this recipe rarely fails to deliver, and will stick to your ribs for the better part of the morning!

Overall: 4 out of 5  Not the fluffiest pancakes ever, but the flavors mingle so nicely!

Friday, March 5, 2010

61.  Caribbean Rice and Beans, pg. 103

So I found a typo in this recipe (at least in the original edition that I'm looking at right now).  Can you find it?  The person with the first correct answer (and living in the lower 48 states) may very well receive in the mail (or in person, if you live close enough) a dozen of the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I raved about here.  (I really hope this isn't too easy...I didn't catch it until just now...after having looked many times at this recipe while making it!)

Typos aside, beans and rice are such a lovely combination that when I make them, I always wish I would make them more often.  (So, I'm looking forward to the other recipes around this theme!)

To save time, use two cans of beans.  Drain them and use the extra brine, as written, as part of the liquid with the rice.  I followed the recipe pretty much the whole way through, otherwise, but subbed regular cooking onions for green, and used one cup of stewed tomatoes (using extra liquid again with the rice) instead of fresh.  I HIGHLY recommend using lime juice (or lemon juice if you don't have lime on hand) because it gives the dish a very fresh and lively kick.  Using cloves in a bean dish was a new idea for me, and the flavor was nice.  I tested the dish just before serving and decided to add more cloves and a dash of cumin.  When adding the rice, follow the cooking directions on the rice instead of blindly using 4 c. liquid automatically.  Using basmati, I needed only 3 c., and the result was perfect.

For an extra good time with this recipe, serve with fresh mango bits, cheese, and cayenne.

Overall:  3.3 out of 5 as written(ish), 4.4 with additions of mango, cheese, and spice!