Thursday, December 30, 2010

Meat substitutes

We've picked up the Morningstar Farms meat-substitute crumbles a few times now.  They are good and add a depth to chili or meat sauce that is otherwise missing and can't really be met with veggies.  I'm not a huge advocate for using "fake meat" and I have this discussion with friends on a regular basis.  One friend argued that if he was going to make something vegetarian on the grill, he would rather put on portabella mushrooms or something that looks like a vegetable.  The problem with that is that mushrooms have no protein, and veggie burgers do.  I would also say that most veggie burgers taste nothing like meat, and they aren't trying to be something they're not.  There is something to be said for having protein and vegetables in a convenient grillable format - and for vegetarians not feeling left out at the barbecues.  

But with the veggie crumbles and the Chick'n patties that I sometimes like to eat, there is no getting around it - they are fake meat.  They are vegetables in meat clothing.  Actually, I don't know if the veggie crumbles taste anything like meat - I haven't had ground beef in 10 years.  I went vegetarian and it was no great loss because I don't like meat very much, so I don't miss it.  I don't eat crumbles because I miss meat, but because chili with ground meat substitute tastes very different from chili that is made with beans, and it's pretty good.  I like the chik'n patties because they taste different than a standard veggie burger - even if they don't taste much like chicken, they do taste like breaded deliciousness.  Variety is important, and having quick, healthy, easy to make meals is also important.  One of my usual go-tos is tacos, but I suspect that spaghetti with meat sauce and frozen vegetables will also become a go-to.  I also want to try hamburger helper with crumbles, because my college roommates used to make hamburger helper and it looks really good.  In that "a cat just vomited this up" kind of way.  

Any suggestions for things I can do with veggie crumbles?  How do you feel about fake meat?  And are those breakfast sausage patties any good?  I kind of want to try one, but I've never liked sausage.  But it's been 10 years and maybe I should give it a chance?  

Saturday, December 25, 2010


So you say, I had a very merry Christmas.  But I'm sick of holiday foods.  I'm not ready to start dieting just yet, but I want something simple, delicious, and that is going to use up that bag of sweet potatoes I bought at Costco.

Look no further.  These are amazing.  Mr. Barefoot loved them with the blue cheese, I loved them with sharp cheddar cheese.  I highly recommend them as a leftover meal.  Or, if like us, you are doing second Christmas tomorrow, do them for Christmas tomorrow.

Friday, December 24, 2010


My sister brought us this awhile ago. I mean, two years ago. We thought we would save it and use it for something really special. But recently, I've been helping my hoarder parents clean out their house. And I realized I wanted to use the chocolate, even if it wasn't for something special, for something now, rather than letting it go bad. So, for my husband, I made chocolate dipped shortbread stars.

Then I ate a bunch of them. They were amazing - and I don't like shortbread.

Recipe here - I halved it to get a workable amount of dough, and since it was just the two of us. I was pleased by how easy they were to cookie-cutter - I used tiny stars from the Creative Cutters set and the tiny size is probably key.

I burned one batch. Use an air-bake pan and the oven timer.
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Monday, December 20, 2010


My husband and I are thieves.  Sometime in our lives, we stole from a roommate a Betty Crocker cookbook.  I'm pretty sure it was him that did the actual thieving when he moved from one apartment to the other, but because he thought it was mine.  Once upon a time, we didn't live together and I kept a few cookbooks at his place.  (And a toothbrush, but the cookbooks moved in first.)  It was actually this relationship dynamic that led to this blog (since I never knew where my recipes were).  Anyway, we stole the cookbook.

I've made a few things from it - lemon bars, and pineapple upside down cake.  Both are really good, really easy, really solid recipes.  I suppose there is a reason this cookbook is on it's 10th edition, but everyone still makes fun of Betty Crocker.  Go figure.

I needed to make gingersnaps for the thanksgiving cheesecake recipe and I turned again to this book.  The dough was delicious, and the cookies are too.  I modified the recipe a bit to get softer gingersnaps.

1 cup packed brown sugar (I used light)
3/4 cup shortening (I used 1 stick of butter and 1/4 cup oil)
1/4 cup molasses (spray the measuring cup with pam first and the molasses slides right out)
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt

Cream brown sugar, shortening, molasses, and egg with electric mixer on medium speed.

Add in everything else.  Mix until it looks like cookie dough.

Chill overnight in refrigerator (you don't have to do this, but I did, so let me know how they turn out).

Lick beater and bowl.  Avoid eating batter with spoon, it's unseemly.

Then put on ungreased cookie sheets 2 inches apart and bake at 375.  (I baked mine at 350 and they came out delightfully soft and gingerbready.)

Even the softer gingersnaps crushed right up in the food processor for gingersnap crusts.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

I went to make butternut squash pizza tonight and realized we didn't have any pizza crust on hand.  We did have macaroni, evaporated milk, and cheddar cheese, so I whipped up this macaroni and cheese.
You will need:
1 small butternut squash, sliced and diced into small pieces
1 onion, chopped
1/2 box macaroni
1 shallot
3 cloves garlic
Olive Oil
1 can evaporated milk
2 cups cheese

1. Cook butternut squash and onion in oven on 400 degrees until soft, about 30 minutes.  Chop into additional pieces if necessary (the mixture should be a somewhat soft mash).
2. Boil water, cook pasta until al dente.
3. In a separate pan, saute shallot and garlic in olive oil.
4. Add flour and allow to cook for a minute in the oil.  Add evaporated milk.  Allow to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring.
5. Add butternut squash and onion to milk.  Add cheese.  Add pasta.  Add salt, pepper, spices to taste.  Top with breadcrumbs.
6. Bake pasta on 350 until bubbles - about 10 minutes.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

More bread? More bread!

I made bread from scratch today.  Like, made up my own recipe.  I based it off the Simple Dollar bread recipe, but swapped out a few quantities and ingredients.  I was pleased that a bread with milk in it finally didn't  I made two loaves of wonderfully chewy sandwich bread.  I cooked them a smidgen too long, but just shy of burning them, so they are still edible.
2 tbsp yeast
2 tbsp honey (or more. just pour a generous amount in)
2 cups water
several pinches salt
olive oil (around 3ish tablespoons, just pour)
1/2 cup milk (I used skim. Anything that tells you to use whole milk in baking is usually wrong. Skim is fine.)
a lot of flour (I think it will come out to around 6 cups)

Pour water, yeast, honey together.  Wait until bubbly.  Add milk, salt, oil and mix.  Add in flour by the cup until you have an actual dough and it is somewhat handleable (but still very sticky).
Put in an oiled bowl, let rise for an hour. Divide, put in two loaf pans.
Let rise for another hour. Preheat oven to 400.  Cook for 30 minutes.