Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Microwave Warnings

I decided that I would include a few of my failures in cooking just so no one would think I was perfect or anything of the sort.

Just so you know when trying to bake cookies in the microwave, 4 minutes is WAY to long.

The other day I was baking cookies. It got to the last bit of dough and there was enough for maybe 4 cookies. I decided that I would experiment and cook them in the microwave. I put them on a glass plate, and set the cooking time for 5 minutes. I checked the cookies after 2 1/2 minutes, and thought they would take a little longer. So I left the room for just a second. A minute later I smelled them burning. So I ran in the kitchen to stop them. Only to find smoke pouring out of my microwave. I quickly pulled the plate out and ran it outside to cool off. It took a while to air out our house.

It smelled very similar to popcorn burned in the microwave (which I have done also), but nothing like burned cracked wheat. (Which by the way cooks much better when you add water. That smell was horrible. I guess I don't know if it was the burning wheat that smelled so bad, or the plastic Pampered Chef Microwave bowl that melted at the time. I was making Marlin his breakfast, and was in such a hurry that I forgot the water. I think he ate granola that morning.) I guess, because of the sugar, it smelled similar to when Andrew put a bowl of fondant (for cakes) in the microwave for 50 minutes. We found that after about 5. It smelled kind of like burning marshmallow.

So for the most part I learned
1) to pay attention when you bake in the microwave - I think they would have been ok had I taken them out at 2 1/2 minutes.
2) I am prone to stupidity.
3) I will still focus my microwave use on reheating and defrosting. It doesn't smell nearly as bad.

Have fun cooking. I hope you learn from my mistakes, and don't have to put your nose through the trauma of burning food in the microwave.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cobb Salad w/ Chili-Lime Dressing

I love this salad because everyone in our family will eat it and likes it. I must admit that I scale back on the avocado if it is just us because it is not a favorite in the salad but in small doses, they will eat it.

I've found as we've lived around the country that cobb salads are different every where. There are some basic parts that are standard (i.e., chicken, tomato, bacon & avocado) and the rest is up to the chef.


10 oz. Romaine lettuce
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
1C shredded cheese (I use Monterey/Colby mix)
1C chopped tomatoes
1/2 lb. chicken, cooked and cubed
1 avocado, peeled and cubed
1/2C chopped red onion
1/3C bacon, crumbled or chopped


1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies, undrained
2/3C sour cream
1/4C cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
2T lime juice
1/2t pepper
1/3t hot sauce
1/4t salt

For salad, place lettuce in serving bowl. Make columns with remaining ingredients.

For dressing, place ingredients in food processor; blend. Chill until serving.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

This is one of those quick dinners that is great to fall back on when you have a busy day and need to get dinner on the table. This is super easy with the water for the rice boiling and the rice cooking while the meatballs are simmering and they finish about the same time. My family likes it with egg noodles too.

I used to make the meatballs from scratch but things got busy for a while and I've been using the meatballs from the freezer section.

1 can (20 oz.) pineapple chunks
1/3C water
3T vinegar
1T soy sauce
1/2C brown sugar
3T cornstarch
1 batch of 30 meatballs
1 lg. green pepper, cut into 1" pieces
Hot, cooked rice

Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Add water to juice to measure 1 cup; pour into a large skillet. Add water, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar and cornstarch; stir until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Add pineapple chunks, meatballs and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes or until heated through. Serve over rice.

I like a little more sauce so I usually add water to bring it to 2C and double the vinegar, soy sauce and brown sugar. I use 5T of cornstarch because I don't like it as thick. I leave it with one can of pineapple and one pepper because not all of my kids are fans of those items and I toss in more meatballs so there will be something left over for my husband to take for lunch the next day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Yummy Breadsticks!

These breadsticks are a favorite at my house, and they are fairly simple. I have to do a double batch every time just so no one feels like they didn't get enough. I guess the best thing is when I make these, I have to make less of everything else :-).

The recipe was given to me from a friend, and they are a welcome addition to any Italian meal.

2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp yeast
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp butter or margarine
garlic powder, dried parsley, parmesan cheese

Mix warm water, sugar and yeast in a measuring cup to activate yeast (this step is unnecessary if using instant yeast, just add to flour). Mix flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add liquid mixture and mix for 5-8 minutes or so with the dough hook. The dough is soft, but it shouldn't be sticky. Let rise until double (when I am in a hurry I also just let it rise for 5 to 10 minutes). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place butter in 9x13 baking dish and melt in oven, don't let it burn. Roll into a rectangle on to lightly floured surface. Cut into strips ( I use my pizza cutter and I cut the strips in half to make them shorter, to have "more" breadsticks for everyone to eat.) Twist each strip of dough by folding in half and wrapping around itself. Dip in butter and arrange in the hot baking dish. After all are in the dish, sprinkle on desired toppings. I use garlic powder, and dried parsley all the time, and occasionally I add parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom.

It is much easier to make than my instructions sound. Maybe I will try to make a video sometime to post. Enjoy.