Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ohio Proud

I wanted to share an interesting recipe web site I just found. I haven't made any of the recipes yet but it looks like a good source, and the recipes are supposed to "highlight Ohio's diverse agricultural and food products." Here is the link: http://www.ohioproud.org/_Apps/Search/Recipes.aspx

On a somewhat related note, I was thinking the other day about how I own so many cookbooks, yet most of the recipes I cook are ones I have found online or from some other source like the newspaper. I think I will make it a point to try to start using my cookbooks, and then I can review the book as well as the recipe itself. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Man, I am on a posting spree right now! Five in one day; that's some kind of record. I just said to Jason, "wow, I have been blogging for an hour and a half!" His response: "Um, I KNOW." Poor guy kept trying to talk to me about Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy, and now the Blue Jackets Game, and I'm just not paying attention to any of them. I had this cache of photos and recipes built up that I had been wanting to post about but just hadn't felt like I had a chance to do so. Unfortunately that means the posts have been few and far between lately... almost three weeks since the last one. I hope there are still some readers around.

I wanted to post my all time favorite recipe for brownies. For so long I had been making brownies from a mix. I can't remember when or why I decided to make a batch from scratch, but I found this recipe at allrecipes.com. It's pretty obvious that a lot of my recipes come from allrecipes.com or recipezaar.com. One of the reasons I love those websites for finding recipes, rather than going to a cookbook, is that they have great search features. You can enter the ingredients you want to use and search for a recipe that uses them. You can even specify which ingredients you don't want. You could search by course, and then sort by rating so that the highest-reviewed recipes are listed first. This is a great way to browse. I have found allrecipes.com to be rather aggravating though, because you will see that a recipe has really high ratings, but then when you read the reviews people will say things like "this recipe was great! here's how I altered it" and then they will list about five things they did differently from what the recipe says. That problem seems to be more rampant on allrecipes.com than it is on recipezaar.com. But sometimes that can come in really handy, if a majority of reviewers are in agreement about how a recipe should be altered.
Anyway, here is the recipe. It's easy and so delicious. And these brownies have a unique texture that I haven't gotten from a boxed mix. They are slightly gritty at first bite and then they just melt in your mouth.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9 baking pan.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; gradually stir into egg mixture until well blended. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the brownie begins to pull away from the edges of the pan. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

Spinach Dip

On Saturday evening, I went to my friend Kate's house for a Broad Street Presbyterian Church "young adults" get-together. I have only known Kate for a short time (since we both were ordained as new deacons last spring) but have quickly come to consider her a friend, and I hope to continue to become better friends with her in the future. Kate and I have a lot in common, including 1) being really active at church yet having a husband who stays as far away from church as possible, and 2) having big hips. We understand each other. =)
Anyway, there was a group of about ten of us who gathered at Kate's house to drink wine, eat some food, and enjoy each other's company. It was a really diverse group that showed up: single people, married couples, married people who were alone (Jason stayed home... was too afraid we would end up talking about Jesus? We didn't.); different races, coming from different parts of town; some knew each other well and some were brand new. We had some great conversation and now will have a few more friendly faces to look for on Sunday mornings. I think it was everything you could want from that type of gathering.
I showed up with Carolyn and brought a bottle of my current favorite wine (Alamos Malbec, pictured above) and an appetizer: a new spinch dip recipe I had gotten from recipezaar.com (where else?) and some tortilla chips. The wine was a hit and the spinach dip was too.
I am usually reluctant to take photos of my food, because I know they end up coming out so bad, but this was one time I was really disappointed to not have my camera with me. I would have liked to visually document this delicious appetizer, as well as a fantastic time spent with new friends.
Here is the recipe. As I told my mom and sisters today, I think this has knocked our old standard Spinach-and-Artichoke Dip out of the top spot.
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, split into 2-1/2 cup portions
1 (8 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
1. Defrost the spinach.
2. Place it in a colander and press until as much moisture as possible is removed.
3. Mix all ingredients (using only 1/2 of the cheddar) and blend well.
4. Put it in a shallow baking dish in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
5. Remove from oven.
6. While still hot top it with remaining cheese, heat in oven again for 5 minutes.
7. Remove and cool slightly before serving with tortilla chips.
When assembling this I started trying to mix it by hand with a wooden spoon, but then decided to mix it in the KitchenAid mixer instead. That ended up working really well. You could probably also mix it in a food processor but that would end up really chopping up the spinach.


Mmm, chili. As some of my coworkers know because they see me bringing it to my desk often, I love chili! When my sisters and I were kids, our mom would make a chili recipe that didn't have tomatoes in it because we were picky and didn't like to have chunks of tomato in our food. I think the base of hers was tomato juice and tomato paste. So for a long time I have used the chili recipe off of the can of tomato juice, but decided recently that I'd like to try to find a different recipe that is more like what they serve at the cafeteria at work. It's thicker and chunkier... less soupy. This was a recipe I found on recipezaar.com (my new favorite recipe site) and it was really tasty. The flavor was actually really similar to my mom's chili.
(By the way, if the measurements seem a little strange (such as "1/2 can") it's because I scaled it down to have fewer servings than what was originally called for.)
1 pound ground beef
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 can tomato paste
1/2 (15 ounce) can tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 can chili beans
1. Saute meat, onions and garlic until done.
2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 2 hours.
I also made a quick bread that you can see in the picture but it was nothing spectacular.
When I was searching for the chili recipe, I found another one that I'd also really like to try someday. It had some unconventional ingredients (coffee? brown sugar?) but got a lot of rave reviews. I decided to go with that first recipe instead because it seemed like a safer bet. I also someday would like to try Bruin's chili recipe, which Sue gave me after I tasted it at their Halloween party, but since that one makes enough to feed an army I'm saving it for a special occasion, I guess.
Here is that second recipe:
1 teaspoon oil
1 onion, chopped
1-1/2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound lean ground beef
3/8 pound beef sirloin, cubed
1/2 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 can dark beer
1/2 cup strong coffee
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 can beef broth
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-3/4 tablespoons chili sauce
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon cocoa
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans
2 chili peppers, chopped
1. Heat oil.
2. Cook onions, garlic and meat until brown.
3. Add tomatoes, beer, coffee, tomato paste and beef broth.
4. Add spices. Stir in 1 can of kidney beans and peppers.
5. Reduce heat and simmer for 1-1/2 hours.
6. Add remaining can of kidney beans and simmer for another 3o minutes.

Tortilla Soup

I don't have a photo to go with this recipe, or any story to tell about it. I'm mostly posting it here to save it for my reference.

Another recipe that's easy and delicious but not the healthiest.

1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can condensed chicken with rice soup plus 1 can water
1 (10 ounce) can chunk chicken
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers
1/2 packet taco seasoning

Pour everything into a large saucepan and simmer over medium heat until chicken is heated through (about 20 minutes).

I like to serve this with sour cream, tortilla chips and shredded cheese.

Blackened Chicken and Beans

This was a recipe I just happened to stumble upon while I was looking for a recipe for something else at recipezaar.com. It was easy and delicious!

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinse and drained

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1 cup chunky salsa

1. Combine the chili powder, salt and pepper; rub on both sides of chicken.

2. In a large skillet, cook chicken in oil 4-5 minutes each side, until juices run clear. Remove and keep warm.

3. Add beans, corn and salsa to skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 2-3 minutes, until heated through.

4. Put bean mixture on a serving dish; top with chicken.

Jason didn't like the beans but that didn't surprise me. Also I thought the dish was a bit spicy overall... I used medium salsa which I normally like because it has a little kick to it, but when it was combined with the chili powder it ended up being really spicy. Next time I would use mild salsa instead. The rice is a saffron rice made from a prepackaged mix... I forget the brand name but it comes in a yellow package.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Oatmeal Carmelitas

That is not my photograph (no surprise there). I forgot to take any photos of my cookie bars, so I borrowed this photo from www.solomonscookies.com, where you can buy Oatmeal Carmelitas at $19.95 for a box of 12. Holy mackeral. They do look spectacular. Mine were not that pretty, but they were really tasty!

I made these cookie bars to take to work on Wednesday, because we were having a dessert potluck in honor of Vicky's last day. You might remember that I made the pralines a few weeks ago in honor of Vicky returning to work from maternity leave... I knew at that time that we would not have her with us much longer. Someday within a few years I hope to follow in her footsteps.

This was a recipe I had clipped from a Smuckers coupon awhile ago. I would highly recommend it! The bars were easy, different, and delicious. Here's a tip: when I was adding the filling, I spread out the caramel topping evenly to all the edges of the pan. The next time I make this recipe, I won't do that and instead will just drizzle the caramel over the base without spreading it. The reason is that as the bars cooked, the caramel spread out and started to climb up the edges of the pan. Then when they cooled, the caramel got really hard at those edges and made it difficult to cut. I figure that if I don't spread the caramel it will still spread out on its own but without making a mess.


2 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour

2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats

1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups butter or margarine, softened


1 jar Smucker's® Caramel Spoonable Ice Cream Topping

3 tablespoons Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour

1 package (6-oz.) (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped nuts
Heat oven to 350° F. Grease 13x9-inch pan. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In large bowl, combine all crust ingredients; mix at low speed until crumbly. Reserve half of crumb mixture (about 3 cups) for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture in bottom of greased pan. Bake at 350° F. for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine caramel topping and 3 tablespoons flour; blend well.
Remove partially baked crust from oven. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts. Drizzle evenly with caramel mixture. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.
Return to oven; bake an additional 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set. Cut into bars.