Archive for August, 2008
One of my favorite comfort meals in the whole wide world is spaghetti. But not just any spaghetti. It has to be the recipe passed down to my mom from her mother. I’ve grown up eating her spaghetti, and now anything else just doesn’t measure up.
I’m a meat sauce girl. Always have been, always will be. Not meatballs, mind you, but rather many chunks of ground beef mixed into the thick sauce. The more meat, the better.
Making my mother’s spaghetti sauce recipe for the first time was a huge success for me, even more than usual. Not only did the sauce turn out tasting wonderful, which in itself was a great thing. This recipe turned out just like how mom makes it. Any person who has tried to replicate a parent’s recipes knows that is an awesome accomplishment. For some reason, nothing ever ends up tasting quite as good as mom’s. But when I made this sauce, for the first time ever I was able to make it just as tasty as how my mom makes it. That is a good feeling indeed.
- 1 family size can tomato soup
- 1 regular can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 small can tomato sauce
- 1 small pkg Lawry’s Spaghetti sauce mix
- 1 pinch Italian seasoning
- 1 lb hamburger meat
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 tbsp sugar
- salt, pepper, garlic salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 12 oz spaghetti
- parmesan cheese (optional)
- Fry onion with hamburger meat and season with salt, pepper and garlic salt.
- In large pan, combine soups and tomato sauce.
- Add water, Italian seasoning and spaghetti mix.
- Add meat and simmer 30 min.
- Boil water in a large pot.
- Salt water, then add the spaghetti to the water.
- Boil for 8-10 minutes, or until al dente.
- Serve spaghetti topped with the meat sauce, with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese if you prefer.
Carrot cake – my favorite use for carrots. Sure, it’s not the healthiest option, but most people would look at you oddly if you accused me of being a health freak. Although I don’t eat nearly as much sugar as I did when I was younger, I do still love my occasional desserts.
When I received a bunch of carrots in my CSA box (Community Supported Agriculture), my mind immediately went to carrot cake. A quick internet search turned up so many recipes, but which should I make? I narrowed my results down to a few that didn’t contain any ingredients that I didn’t have, and then to pick the one that I would ultimately make… eeny meeny miny mo. Yes, a very scientific method of picking a recipe. 😉
What did I end up with? The perfectly moist cake, the sweet cream cheese frosting… my only caveat is I must be sure not to make this too often. (I think eeny meeny miny mo turned up a very good result indeed!) In an effort not to allow myself to eat the entire cake, my family and Son’s co-workers all got some carrot cake. All of them loved it just as much as I did… now to find some healthier recipes to use up carrots next time!
Here is the recipe, adapted from Tammy Elliot’s recipe on AllRecipes
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 cups grated carrots
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.
- In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
- Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
- Stir in carrots.
- Pour into prepared pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
- To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
- Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Frost the cooled cake.
Crater Banana Bread
I’ve had a lifelong love affair with banana bread. I love it straight out of my mother’s bread maker, I love it toasted with butter, I love it warmed up with ice cream. I used to bring it to school to eat with lunch, or I would take it to ballet rehearsals as a more or less healthy snack to keep my energy up. But all my life, I’ve only ever had one banana bread recipe.
Of course, I couldn’t go on living my life like that. For one thing, I have no bread maker at my apartment. So making my mother’s recipe wasn’t an option. I’ve tried a few other recipes, but I just haven’t been able to find a recipe I liked just as much as the one I grew up on. Until I found this recipe. Now, I’ve made banana chocolate chip muffins before, so the combination of chocolate and banana is one I’m very familiar with. But to make it like coffee cake? A new, and very delicious concept to me. This is the perfect breakfast bread, absolutely divine with a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or tea (whichever you fancy). I can’t eat more than a little at a time because it is incredibly rich, but by no means is this a problem… that just means it will last a little longer! (Which doesn’t say much… I ate it for breakfast, snacks, and dessert.)
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 ripe bananas (mashed)
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
- tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1-1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
- Cream together butter and sugar.
- Add eggs and beat until smooth.
- Add vanilla and bananas.
- Mix well till smooth.
- Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda.
- Add to banana mixture alternately with sour cream, ending with dry ingredients.
- Pour half of the batter into 9 x 13-inch pan.
- Combine cinnamon and brown sugar.
- Sprinkle 1/2 of this mixture over batter in pan.
- Top with 1/2 of the chocolate chips.
- Repeat layers.
- Bake in 350F oven for 45 – 50 minutes.
Crater Banana Bread
Onion, Asparagus, and Imitation Crab Tempura
Vegetables. They’re the bane of every parent’s existence. How to get the picky child to eat them? I may not be a parent, but I was certainly a picky child who wouldn’t eat her veggies. My poor parents tried every method to get me to eat them. They would tell me I had to eat my vegetables before I could eat anything else for dinner; I couldn’t have dessert if I didn’t eat my veggies. Any adult that had to deal with me at mealtime knew that I wouldn’t touch vegetables.
Now that I’m older, I don’t have nearly the issue with veggies that I did when I was younger. In fact, my former Girl Scouts leader saw me eating a salad a few years ago and was astonished – she couldn’t believe picky little Allison was actually enjoying something green. Like most, my tastes have matured over the years to encompass a wide variety of foods (including vegetables). But I can’t help but wonder, what could my parents have done to get me to eat better when I was a child?
One thing I know I would have eaten is tempura vegetables. I’d had them a few times when I was younger, but my parents never made it at home. I can’t imagine why, because my mother tempura-frys all sorts of things now, and I recall loving them when I was younger. Sure, it’s a little less healthy than say, steamed vegetables. But I’d argue that fried vegetables are better than none at all! Another option for those picky kids is this macaroni and cheese. You can barely tell that there are vegetables in the dish, and certain parents who have tried it tell me their kids loved it.
- assorted ingredients to tempura fry (shrimp, onion, carrot, broccoli, banana, etc.)
- 1 cup ice cold water
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- cooking oil
- In a medium bowl, mix the water and the egg.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking soda.
- Stir the flour mix into the egg mix. It’s okay if the batter is a little lumpy.
- Stick the batter in the fridge while you prepare the other ingredients.
- If you are using shrimp, peel, de-vein, and wash it. Make some small cuts across the belly of the shrimp, to keep it from curling when you cook it.
- If you are using vegetables, clean them and cut them into your desired size. Try not to use very soft ingredients, as they will soften as they cook (softer ingredients tend to fall apart when you take them out of the oil).
- Heat the oil in a frying pan. The oil should be hot enough that when you drip batter in it, the drops come to the top immediately.
- Coat your ingredients in the batter. Place the coated ingredients in the hot oil, turning when the bottom side is browned.
- Place the fried ingredients on a paper towel to drain. Remove any skewers. Serve immediately.
Deviled eggs are a tradition for my family. Nearly as much as spinach dip, deviled eggs find their way to every family function I go to. Up until just over three years ago, I had never met someone who had never heard of deviled eggs.
That all changed when Son and I started dating. He had grown up in Vietnam, so many of the foods that we assume to be common in the United States were unfamiliar to him. His first encounter with deviled eggs was on the Fourth of July in 2005. We had invited him to join our family barbecue, and set off fireworks afterward. (In our city, it is legal to set off fireworks.) We had our usual barbecue fare – spinach dip, beef teriyaki, hamburgers, potato salad… and deviled eggs.
One bite and Son was in love. (Should I be jealous? Maybe…) In fact, he adores deviled eggs so much that my mom will sometimes make deviled eggs just for him. (Every woman likes a man who loves her cooking.) Every time we have them at a party, he’s the first person we tell.
And what’s not to love? (Ignoring the lack of health benefits, of course.) Deviled eggs are perfectly-sized, creamy, and slightly salty finger food – the perfect party appetizer. I haven’t yet found a person who doesn’t love them, and it’s a recipe that is very easy to scale up to feed many. Sure, they may be slightly high in fat and cholesterol, but who goes to a party expecting to eat healthy food? I certainly don’t.
I think you’ll love this recipe that my mom uses from a cookbook called “Picnics & Tailgate Parties”.
- 6 hard boiled eggs
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- salt and pepper
- Peel the eggs.
- Slice each egg in half lengthwise.
- Carefully remove egg yolks into a bowl; set egg whites aside.
- Mash egg yolks with mayonnaise, dijon mustard, and salt and pepper.
- Evenly fill egg whites with yolk mixture.
- Refrigerate until ready to eat.