Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cheap Eats Part II: White Beans & Smoked Sausage

When I calculated the cost per serving in this dish, I almost fainted. I could not believe that a little over $8.00 could feed at least six people (or two people thrice) and still taste pretty darned good - kiss it, Dollar Menu! This recipe was born from a contemplative look in the pantry and fridge and a strong desire to put off going to the grocery store for just one more day.

Here's what I saw sitting around:

a couple of cans of Great Northern white beans
a can of diced tomatoes
one pound of smoked sausage
white rice

Here's how I put it together:

1 lb smoked sausage, sliced into thin rounds
1/2 cup of diced onions (you could also add diced green bell peppers)
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 (14 oz) can of diced tomatoes
2 cans white beans (Navy/Great Northern)
1 tbsp chopped Italian parsley (optional)
1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)

In a large pot, cook the sausage over med-high heat till browned. Add onions, lower heat to medium, and cook till translucent.
Add minced garlic and cook for a couple of minutes (taking care not to burn it).
Add the beans and tomatoes and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Just before serving, mix in the parsley and sprinkle with a little lemon juice. These two ingredients add freshness and brighten up the dish.
Serve over rice.

This is what I would spend if I went out today and bought all the necessary ingredients:
sausage, $2.50 (it's even cheaper if you use smoked turkey sausage)
2 cans of beans, $1.16 (if you cooked your own beans, you'd spend less money but it might take a bit longer)
1 can of tomatoes, $.63
1 onion, $.79
1 head of garlic, $.99
1 bunch Italian parsley, $.79
1 lemon, $.30
1 lb rice, $.98

$8.14 total ($1.36/serving), and you'd still have ingredients left over for your next cheap eats recipe.
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fruit & Nut Bark

Pretty much everything I did today was for my Secret Santa gifts. I went to Central Market and the Botanical Gardens to prepare...I've already decided (and I hope she doesn't yet know about my blog, otherwise the secret is blown!) what I'm going to do for her three gifts.

The first gift is a vase with pebbles and paperwhite bulbs. The hint in this gift is that my dad was a botanist, though the green thumb seems to have skipped a generation.

The second is going to be a print of a picture I took at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens today. The hint in this gift is that I like to take pictures. This isn't going to be a very good hint since we're doing our Secret Santa with the Photography team (haha!)

The last gift will be this fruit and nut chocolate bark. The hint here is that I like making food. I'd originally considered doing peppermint bark but then I wouldn't have had an excuse to go to Central Market today.

At Central Market, I headed right for the bulk foods section. (Have I mentioned before this is my favorite part of the store!? The cheese and bread section are tied for second place.) I picked up dried apricots, dried cranberries, raisins, and whole almonds.

I got this fruit and nut bark idea from an episode of Barefoot Contessa. Ina Garten used white chocolate. I'm not a big fan of white chocolate. First, it's not really chocolate. Second, it's way too sweet. Instead, I used a combination of milk chocolate and dark chocolate chips. About a 1:1 ratio. I put these in a ceramic bowl and microwaved for 30 seconds, stirring, and microwaving another 30 seconds, and so on until the chocolate was just about melted.

I spread out the chocolate on parchment paper, and (oops, I forgot to tell you that I chopped up the dried fruit and nuts) sprinkled the fruits and nuts on top. I sort of patted them down so that they would set in the chocolate when the chocolate hardened.

This big chunk of chocolate went into the fridge for about 45 minutes. After the chocolate hardened, I cut irregular chunks using a big hefty knife to make it look like bark.

I guess the beauty of this treat is that you can't feel too guilty about eating it. Dark chocolate is good for you and your mood. Almonds are good for lowering cholesterol. Cranberries are full of antioxidants and can cut bad cholesterol. Apricots have betacarotene and lots of fiber. Raisins also contain some antioxidants as well. Basically, if you eat this treat, you will feel happy and antioxidated!

Note: Try all sorts of combinations of dried fruits and nuts when you make yours!

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Cranberry Bread

For Thanksgiving this year, we had a pretty traditional menu: roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing, caramelized carrots, and green bean casserole.

We invited Garth's mom over for dinner, and when she asked if she could bring anything, I asked if she would bring cranberry sauce and maybe dessert.

She brought both, and the dessert she brought over was this cranberry bread which was delicious! When she left us that night, we had nearly a whole loaf of it. It lasted only two days.

I asked her for the recipe; she told me it was on the back of the bag of cranberries. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Cranberry Bread

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
2 TBSP oil
1 TBSP grated orange peel
1 egg, well beaten
1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries - coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease 9 X 5 loaf pan.
Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, & baking soda in a medium mixing bowl.
Stir in orange juice, oil, orange peel and egg. Mix until well blended.
Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spread evenly into loaf plan.
Bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool on rack for 15 minutes.
Remove from pan and completely cool.
Makes 1 loaf.

*Doris (Garth's mom) also left us with some cream cheese to spread on top of the bread. That made for a great quick breakfast.
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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cheap Eats Part I: Beef Stew

Frugality, for me, is always a hobby and sometimes a necessity. While I do like to experiment with fancy foods and exotic ingredients, my base recipes (those I make on a regular basis) are almost always cheap eats. Consider this your first installment in a series dedicated to recipes that cost very little per serving yet satisfy our need to have delicious nourishment.

Now you may not think that "beef" and "cheap" belong in the same sentence, but this is not the case in beef stew. Let's check it out:

Beef & Vegetable Stew

1 lb stew meat ($3.25 or less)
2 tbsp AP flour (I'm not counting this - you should have this on hand)
1 tbsp canola oil
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes ($1.25)
1 16-oz carton beef broth ($1.50)
1 16-oz bag frozen mixed vegetables ($1.50)
1/2 an 8-oz package of dried tortellini ($2.00 for the whole bag)
1 cup water
Salt (or soy sauce) & pepper to taste

Toss the cubed stew meat in flour and shake off the excess - add a little salt and pepper to season. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot. Brown the beef on all sides.
Add diced tomatoes, beef broth, and vegetables. Season with salt (or soy sauce) and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about an hour. Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Add one cup of water, bring back to a boil, and add the dried tortellini. Cook for about 15-17 more minutes. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Serves 4-6.

So that's $9.50 for the whole meal to serve at least 4 people ($2.38 or less per serving). And yes, you can leave out the tortellini and add navy beans instead ($.60 a can) and save $1.40. You can even leave out the beef altogether and save yourself another $3.25.

If that isn't cheap eats, I challenge you to show me what is. Except ramen. Because you can't beat the price of ramen.
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Apple Pie

So simple, yet so delicious is apple pie that I couldn't resist posting this recipe I used for my apple pie project a few weekends ago. I really have to admire Ina Garten and her simple and classic recipes. I used her recipe (slightly modified) and prepared pie crust instead of making my own (too lazy).

Apple Pie

3 lbs Granny Smith applies, peeled, quartered, and cored
1 lemon, zested
1 orange, zested
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp water for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each apple quarter in thirds crosswise and combine in a bowl with the zests, juices, 1/2 cup sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Roll out half the pie dough and drape it over a 9- or 10-inch pie pan to extend about 1/2-inch over the rim. Don't stretch the dough; if it's too small, just put it back on the board and re-roll it.

Fill the pie with the apple mixture. Brush the edge of the bottom pie crust with the egg wash so the top crust will adhere. Top with the second crust and trim the edges to about 1-inch over the rim. Tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and crimp the 2 together with your fingers or a fork. Brush the entire top crust with the egg wash, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar, and cut 4 or 5 slits.

Place the pie on a sheet pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the crust is browned and the juices begin to bubble out. Serve warm.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Southern Sausage Roll

Boneda's mom served this at Brecken's pre-wedding photography session at the lodge, and I almost passed out because it was so good. I asked for the recipe, but Southern women have a tendency to let recipe requests slip their minds. That wasn't going to deter me.

Maybe my version isn't exact, but the result was still delicious. And you can't beat a recipe that involves three ingredients and still gets rave reviews. So it isn't the fanciest thing you'll ever eat, but fancy doesn't always mean delicious.

Since there is already a UK/Australian version of the sausage roll which is a little different from this one, we'll call this a Southern Sausage Roll.

Southern Sausage Roll

1 lb breakfast sausage
2 tubes/cans refrigerated croissant dough
1 lb cream cheese or neufchatel cheese

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cook the sausage into crumbles until it is no longer pink. Over medium heat, incorporate the cream cheese. Take off the heat and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into two long rectangles (one per can). Spoon the sausage and cheese mixture onto the middle of each "crust" and fold the two sides over.

Bake, seam side down, for 11-13 minutes. Allow the roll to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Notes: If you're looking for a lighter version, use turkey sausage and add a teaspoon of crushed red pepper. Neufchatel is lower in fat than cream cheese but it is equally creamy. It is a really good alternative for cream cheese.
The Aussie version includes chopped onions, herbs and garlic, and is wrapped in puff pastry instead of croissant dough.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blueberry Crumb Cake

I love cake! I really do.
Cake is not something I get to eat very often, so when it's time to eat cake, it has to be special and delicious. I don't get tempted by the cakes in the bakery section at the grocery store. My weakness is the real stuff. The stuff you find in independent bakeries at the corner of some shopping plaza or, better yet, the stuff you make at home.

I watched Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) make this blueberry crumb cake, and I resolved to make that cake one day. I did, and the results were fantastic.

Here's the recipe:

For the streusel:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

For the cake:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fresh blueberries (I used frozen which turned out great)
Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.

For the streusel:
Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. Mix well and set aside.

For the cake:
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a knife. With your fingers, crumble the topping evenly over the batter.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and serve sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.

Notes: I said I love cake. That doesn't mean I love for everything to be sugary-sweet. I followed the recipe for the streusel topping but only ended up using about half. It worked perfect for my taste, so adjust the amount according to your personal need for extra sweetness.
As I mentioned, I used frozen blueberries. There is no difference in taste between fresh and frozen in this recipe. Save yourself the extra bucks and go for frozen unless you just went blueberry picking last weekend.
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Monday, September 1, 2008

Homemade Bread

Homemade bread is something I've always been afraid to try, mostly because I'm worried that I'll end up with something that resembles a brick (in weight and texture). Maybe it was the long weekend that got me relaxed and easy going, but I thought I'd give it a try today.
The recipe I used was the one I found on the package of Red Star Quick-Rise Yeast. As you can see from the picture, the end result looked great. And it tasted good too. The inside was still warm and dense and soft while the outside was crusty.

Making this bread today reminded me of when I was young and my mom would take my sister and me to the grocery store with her. The last stop before coming home was the local baker where she would pick up a couple of baguettes. I would sit in the back seat of our white Datsun station wagon and break off the end of the baguette and dig in. By the time we got home, the baguette was hollow and my sister was fuming! Ha! I can still remember how mad she would get.

Anyway, the recipe was simple:

White Bread

6.5 to 7 cups AP flour
2 pkgs quick-rise yeast
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Combine 3 cups of flour, yeast, sugar and salt and mix well.
Blend at low speed until moistened (I used a large plastic mixing spoon), beat for 3 minutes (again, I used the spoon).
Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a firm dough.
Knead on floured surgace till smooth and elastic (5-8 minutes; I did 8 minutes).
Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place till almost doubled (30 min).
Punch down and divide dough into two parts.
On a lightly floured surface, roll each half into a rectangle (recipe suggests 14" x 7"; I didn't get out my tape measure).
Roll up tightly (starting with shorter side) and pinch the edges and ends to seal.
Place each roll into a greased loaf pan.
Cover and let rise for about 20 minutes, or until an indentation remains after lightly touching the side of the loaf.
Preheat oven to 400F and bake for about 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the pan as soon as you take it out of the oven. Cool.

Since I just baked this today, I'm not really sure how long the bread will keep well, but I'm going to venture to say it will keep for about 3-4 days out on the counter. If I'm wrong, I'll update this post.

Next homemade bread experiment will involve cinnamon and raisin; the one following that will involve wheat flour mixed in and possibly some nuts and grains too.

I hope you give this a try too. It was worth it and not near as hard as I thought it would be. Yeah, it's a little time consuming (rising, baking, kneading), but the taste is worth the time.
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Brecken & Brooks' Wedding

I was recruited this weekend to help cook for a wedding reception in Brandon, MS. Considering the occasion, I was happy to oblige.

The happy couple?
Brecken & Brooks.

Brecken is Garth's younger sister, and Brooks is a guy she met at church. They also happen to teach at the same school in Starkville.

We (Howard, Boneda and I) had to smoke about 40 pounds of pork tenderloin and 40 pounds of chicken wings. We used the same Ol' Hickory Pits Smoker as last time, and the whole production took about 2 1/2 hours. Easy as pie.

The verdict from the wedding guests? Delicious!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

I'm no stranger to stews, but soups, well, they can be a little intimidating.
Stews can be chunky, and you can just throw stuff in the pot and let it simmer long enough so that all the flavors blend. But in general, soup should be silky and smooth and have no chunks.

The first time I made tomato basil soup, I didn't strain out the tomato chunks and I was sorry for it. This time, I had learned my lesson and the result was a creamy, silky smooth soup with lots of flavor (and no chunks!).

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 can diced or crushed tomato (28 oz)
2 cups chicken broth
2-3 tbsp chopped basil
1/2 cup heavy cream or half&half
salt to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil.
Add the tomato and basil and simmer for a few minutes.
Add the chicken broth and simmer for another 5-6 minutes.
Remove from heat, and strain the soup through a sieve.
Add cream to strained soup and season with salt to taste.
Serve with basil garnish.

Note: don't throw away that tomato left in your strainer. You can use it as a sauce for pasta or as a dip for calzones.
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Reese's Pieces Cookies

What a big difference there is in taste between homemade cookies and store-bought refrigerated cookie dough! I am guilty of buying pre-made dough for convenience, but you can't beat the taste of homemade cookies (when you don't confuse baking powder for baking soda in the recipe - I am also guilty of this).

This is a quick and easy recipe for homemade cookies. You can certainly substitute chocolate chips, M&Ms or whatever else your heart may desire, but I used Mini Reese's Pieces this time.

Basic Cookie Dough

1/2 cup butter
1/4 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/4 c AP flour (you could use half AP flour and half whole wheat pastry flour if you want to feel just a little better about eating cookies)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cream butter and sugar with a mixer till fluffy.
Add egg and vanilla extract and mix well.
In another bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.
Mix flour mixture into butter mixture.
Add 1 cup chocolate chips, crumbled toffee, M&Ms, or whatever else you want.
Bake 10-12 minutes.
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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chili Covered Watermelon Mexican Lollipop

I was out picking up parts at a warehouse today, and one of the counter guys, Eric, gave me a lollipop. So nice of him! Anyway, I wasn't quite ready to eat it yet so I popped it in my pocket and saved it for later.

A little later, I pulled the lollipop out of my pocket and was about to take off the wrapper to enjoy the sweet taste of fake watermelon flavor when I discovered that the lollipop was covered in spices. Errr...huh? Now I am familiar with mixing sweet with salty and spicy, but this was just kind of weird. It looked like chili powder and finely-ground oregano. So I set down the lollipop and walked away for awhile.

I came back, took a look at the label (it said Rebanaditas), took off the wrapper and stuck the candy in my mouth. And then took it right back out. I'm not going to say it was gross. But I will say that I threw it away.

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Rival Seal-a-Meal™

My friend, Ange, gave me this Rival Seal-a-Meal vacuum food sealer as a gift last week, and I was really excited to try it out. I think within 3 minutes of her leaving my house I was hunting down something to seal. I'd never had a vacuum sealer before, so I was curious to find out how easy or hard, how useful or worthless this gadget would be.

The set-up is pretty easy. The Seal-a-Meal comes with a starter roll of bags. I cut the bag to my desired size (the instructions recommend cutting it large enough so that you have at least three inches between where your food will stop and where you will be sealing) and then I formed the end seal. This was done by closing the machine over the bag and pressing down until the machine heated and sealed the end.

Once the bag had an end, I put in my food. I'd bought a "value pack" of beef for pot roast and it seemed like the perfect candidate for vacuum-sealing. Leaving plenty of room on the unsealed end, I put the bag in (unsealed side) the machine and pressed down on both sides. It started vacuuming out air and the bag started shrinking a little. I could definitely see the thing working. It sucked out a little beef juice (or blood, if you want to be technical about it), but there's a removable drip tray where the blood collected. Within about a minute and a half, the food was vacuum-sealed. I was pretty impressed! There were a few air pockets, but I've decided that this happens when your bag is big.

I've experimented with lots of different types of food, and it seems like the more you fill your bag or the lumpier it is, the more air pockets you'll have. All in all, this is a pretty handy gadget. I've been using it to seal prepared meals so that they keep for several days. You might call me a sealing fool. I cut up uncooked potatoes into small cubes, sealed them and froze them for my potato hash. I made a mixed grill over the weekend and sealed that too. I even thought about vacuum-sealing a bag of ice for the cooler, but the ice tray was empty...

I also found out that the bags are reusable. To reuse a bag, cut both sealed ends and wash the bag out thoroughly. Then just reseal one end, put your food in, vacuum, and seal.

My only complaint, and it's more of a suggestion than a complaint, is that the Seal-a-Meal website doesn't have any information on reheating. The site has recipes for foods you could prepare and seal, but that's where the information stops. If it were up to me, I would have instructions on how to reheat prepared meals. For example, if you vacuum-seal cooked rice, could you drop the bag in boiling water to reheat? Or if you have sealed grilled meat (which I did), can you put the whole thing in the microwave (plastic and all), or do you need to puncture the bag? I guess I will have to conduct my own experiments. I have a tendency to buy in bulk to save money, and then I end up throwing a lot of stuff away. I have a feeling I'll be wasting a lot less food now.

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Mixed Grill

I found a great recipe for a marinade to make a mixed grill.

I marinated chicken breast, bell peppers, and corn in this marinade. I grilled the sausage as is because smoked sausage is delicious as it is.

Juice of 5 lemons
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 garlic cloves
crushed red pepper flakes

I marinated the chicken in a bag separate from the vegetables and marinated them for about an hour. Grill till cooked, allow to rest, slice and serve!

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Chinese Sticky Rice (Nuo mi fan)

This is a dish that I can't remember having for the first time. If you asked my sister or me to make this for you, we wouldn't have to break out the recipe book (although I did cheat and call my mom to ask her how much water to use). Sticky rice is something that was always around when our grandparents in Taiwan would have people over. And even after we moved here, my mom would always make this for any special occasions. Today wasn't a special occasion, but I think my spirits needed a little pick-me-up. Nostalgia and food did the trick.

A couple of ingredients in this dish that you may not have on hand: dried shiitake mushrooms and sweet rice. No, you can't substitute regular rice. It won't be sticky! You can find it in any Asian market. Same with the shiitake mushrooms.

The recipe:
4-5 dried shiitake mushrooms (rehydrated in warm water for at least 30 minutes)
2 tbsp canola oil (or vegetable oil)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
4-6 oz thinly sliced pork (a pork chop would do)
2 cups sweet rice
2 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce

In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the pork and cook for about 2-3 minutes (or till cooked through). Slice the rehydrated mushrooms and add them to the pan. Reserve the water.
Add the rice to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.
Add about 1/2 cup of water to the pan and stir till the rice has soaked in the water.
Continue to add 1/2 cup of water till you've used up all 2 cups.
Add in the soy sauce and stir through.

Now here is where my method differs from my mom's; mostly from necessity:

Transfer the rice mixture to a pot and stir in 1 cup of the mushroom water. Turn heat down to med-low and cook until the rice has cooked through (about 20 minutes).

Normally, I would have put this into the rice cooker after I incorporated the two cups of water, but my B&D rice cooker wanted to tell me it was done cooking long before the rice was cooked.

Serve with soy sauce and garnish with chopped green onions, if you like.

Note: As I was making this, I thought about how similar this dish is to Italian risotto. The method is similar, and even the traditional pairing of the rice with mushroom is similar. The Italians have a lot to thank the Chinese for.
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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Double-Berry Cooler

I found this recipe in my BHG 2005 Annual Recipes book.

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 c sugar
4 cups ginger ale
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups blueberries (or blackberries)
2 cups small whole strawberries (halved)

In a medium saucepan, stir together gelatin and sugar. Add 1 cup of ginger ale.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes or till gelatin dissolves.
Remove from heat. Slowly stir in remaining ginger ale.
Spoon blueberries into a 2-qt glass bowl or straight-sided container (I used small glasses).
Add half the gelatin mixture. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until set.
After an hour of chilling, in a medium bowl stir together strawberries and remaining gelatin-juice mixture.
Cover and chill one hour or just till partially set.
Spoon strawberry mixture on set blueberry mixture. Cover and refrigerate 3-4 hours or until set.
Makes 8-10 servings.

I halved the recipe. And I forgot to cut the strawberries (which was no big deal).

Instead of waiting and layering, I just mixed the berries together and added the gelatin mixture which is why my fruits floated. I'm pretty sure this did not affect the flavor though it isn't as impressive as layers.

I thought this recipe was a little too sweet. It needed more acidity. If I were going to make this again, I would use blackberries and less sugar.

My fatal flaw: I wasn't patient and I didn't cook the gelatin mixture for the full 5 minutes, so the result was grainy gelatin. The lesson learned here: be patient and thoroughly dissolve the gelatin.
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