Monday, May 3, 2010

Salmon Noodles Romanoff on Eat in Albany

A little while ago my friend Elizabeth asked if she could join in the Green Box fun. She made some Salmon Noodles Romanoff in order to continue the beige fun of cooking with Betty.

She did a really great job with her blog post- and if we ever create a Green Box collective she will totally be getting one of the first invites.

Click here to see the results of her adventure.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cheese Caraway Batter Bread

This weekend's selection from the Green Box came from the "Seasonal Favorites" section. I thought that the springtime weather deserved something special. Betty's suggestion? A cheese caraway batter bread. Yup. Apparently this is a spring food. Don't ask me what is springlike about a pretty dense bread, but I'm not the one with decades of baking experience like Betty.

This time I was lucky to have the help of both Nicole who has joined me on most of my Green Box exploits as well as our friend Elizabeth.

This mostly involved ingredients that I had on hand, which is always nice. Besides buying yeast, caraway seeds, and some sharp Cheddar cheese (I had mild in the fridge, oh well), it was just water, sugar, salt, flower, and butter. Oh and SHORTENING!!! You don't get to make many things these days that call for Crisco, but Betty knows how to deliver. OK, so maybe I didn't have most things on hand - my Crisco apparently expired two years ago, so I had to pick up a new one. Whoops.

Betty told us to put the yeast in 105-115 degree water. That sounded a lot to us like just using hot water out of the tap. Not really having a thermometer, that's what we did, and then mixed in the yeast.

Then pretty much all of the other ingredients got thrown in immediately. There was no waiting for the yeast to do it's thing before combining it with cheese and caraway seeds.

At this point we had a bread batter as it were. Honestly, this was incredibly easy, and now it was time to let it sit. For a half hour.

At which time we went out for BBQ at Capital Q. That was a great choice.

Came back, looked at the batter. It was supposed to double. Did it? Honestly, I have no idea. It kinda looked like it did, but how does one measure such a thing? After 30 minutes which involved a break for pulled chicken and macaroni and cheese I didn't really remember how much batter there was before.

So, I went with it. Next was just taking the batter and spreading it into the baking pan. Then, more waiting. Betty said 40 minutes for the batter to double. This time I gave it a little extra time since it really wasn't warm enough in my apartment for it to rise that quickly. Again, did it double? I don't know, but putting it in the oven at this point seemed like a good idea, so I did.

Once it was done baking for 45 minutes I took it out of the oven. Betty next wanted me to spread melted butter on the top of the bread. How much? She didn't say. I went with two tablespoons. Heck, it was 1971, I figured that's what she would have wanted.

So, how did it taste? Really good, actually. It was one tasty bread. While the cheese definitely added something to the taste it was not necessarily a distinct cheesiness to the bread. Nicole could have gone without the caraway seeds, but I would definitely say that out of all of all of the Green Box experiments, this was far and away the most successful in terms of tasting good.

After we finished tasting some bread there wasn't much else to do, so we decided chatroulette with the bread being what was on camera would be fun (if you have not done chatroulette, I really wouldn't recommend it. Way too many people just being gross. This means you Mom and Dad. Really). It was actually pretty entertaining. We tried to get the person on the other end to pretend to eat the bread, and a lot of the time they did. Here are a few pics:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Peanutty Cookies

More often than I would expect I am faced with this question: when invited to Sunday brunch, what should I bring?

Lucky for me that Betty's Green Box has the answer in the form of a "Family Breakfast Brightener" (it said so, right on the card). Peanut Butter Chews. There were two attractions for me. The first is that the main ingredient was four cups of Wheaties. That's right, the main ingredient in a cookie is a cereal, and not even rice krispies or cookie crisps or something. Nope. The main ingredient for this cookie would be flakes of vitamin fortified wheat. Well played General Mills, getting me to buy another one of your breakfast cereals

The second is that the recipe called for using four egg whites- and I love taking any excuse I can get to use my neon green egg separator.

This recipe was the easiest yet, and only required four ingredients, of which I had 3 on hand. Sugar (done), peanut butter (also done), eggs (yup), and Wheaties (no way no how do I eat these for breakfast, although as far as I can tell, if I did I would now be an Olympic athlete. Bygones).

All that was required for this was beating the egg whites, adding the sugar, mixing more, then folding in the Wheaties and the peanut butter. All done in about 10 minutes, maybe even less.

The hardest part was trying to get the peanut butter and the Wheaties to mix without pulverizing the Wheaties.

Then I just dropped the egg coated Wheaties mixture onto baking sheets and baked them at 375 for 14 minutes, and viola. Vitamin fortified peanut buttery cookies. Weird.

So, they cookies actually tasted pretty good. Not great, but good. They were very peanut buttery and incredibly chewy. I thought too chewy, but other people disagreed. Which reminds me- this was the first time I've subjected anyone but Nicole (who cooked all of the other recipes with me) to the end product of a Green Box creation. People were eating the cookies and gave them generally positive reviews.

So, would I make these again? Not really. For a brunch I'll stick to bringing a carton of orange juice and some champagne. For cookies I'll stick to chocolate chip or just a regular peanut butter cookie, but for a lark, these were pretty good. And vitamin infused.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beef With Chinese Vegitables

This time Nicole and I decided to try out the Beef With Chinese Vegetables recipe from the Green Box. The key attraction for making this recipe is that it involved using Hamburger Helper. Right there on the card- "1 package Hamburger Helper beef noodle dinner." Yup. Apparently buying noodles and beef broth would have been too complicated. Also too complicated, would be making the noodles separate and mixing in the beef. Personally, I have never had Hamburger Helper before, so this was all new territory for me.

This whole deal was really simple. It involved a pound of beef, a can of Chinese vegetables, a can of water chestnuts, and some onion. Really, this was gussied up Hamburger Helper for when you have gotten bored of just eating the Hamburger Helper straight up.

Unlike the tuna ring, this was fairly simple. Chop up some onions, brown the beef, dump everything else together, throw in some water and let it boil for 10-15 minutes. Easy enough, right?

Here's everything mixed together. The only issue was that the water just did not seem to be boiling. In fact nothing was really hot at all.

Because I turned off the burner.

I am a genius.

Here it is back on.

Within a minute of turning the burner back on things were boiling. The directions said to boil for 10-15 minutes, but it was still really watery, so we let it go for twenty. Even though it was still watery we decided it was time to serve it. As on the card, I had snap peas on the side. The card also showed it being served with melon balls, but I substituted dark chocolate Easter M&M's with peanuts. Delicious.

So how was it? First of all, the color was kind of disturbing. It was just very brown and boring. There was no color whatsoever.

That is exactly how it tasted. There was almost no taste. The texture was also pretty unpleasant. It was like eating bland dog food. Strangely enough, we were eating a processed food that actually needed a little bit more salt. Very disturbing. Then, it just tasted like dog food with salt. Yum. I feel bad for the early 1970's family that was served this. I think that if I had tried to feed this to my family for dinner the night it would have been a pizza night.

So, I rate this recipe a big fat FAIL.

This will most likely be the end of my time with Hamburger Helper. Sorry, Betty.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tuna Ring With Cheese Sauce

Sunday my friend Nicole and I decided to finally make a recipe from the avocado green Betty Crocker recipe box that I bought at a library book sale in Williamstown, Mass a little over a year ago. We chose the Tuna Ring with Cheese Sauce mostly because the recipe involved cutting food with scissors. Let me repeat that: we would be cutting food with scissors. Sounded like instant fun to me.

We started by making the filling, which really wasn't all that difficult, just mixing some tuna, onion, parsley, egg, and cheese together. The most complicated part of the filing is that the recipe called for using two 7 ounce cans of tuna, which might have existed in 1956, but now apparently tuna comes in five ounce cans. Who knew?

Here's the tuna mixture:

Next came the Bisquick crust. That's right- the recipe called for straight up Bisquick, which Nicole somehow was able to manipulate into the correct form to put the tuna onto.

Then we rolled the sucker up like a jelly roll.

And now the magic- Betty wanted us to cut the thing open, exposing the tunaee goodness to world.

We popped that sucker in the oven at 375, and started on our next task. Betty wanted us to make a cheese sauce, and who are we to mess with Betty? The sauce was milk, butter, a cup of cheddar (or a half cup of blue cheese, because you often substitute one for the other) and..... More Bisquick!!! Honestly, it looked and tasted a heck of a lot like homemade cheesewiz. Really.

so the tuna ring came out of the oven, and it actually looked.... kinda nice. We decided that in order to eat this, we needed two vegetables on side to cut through whatever would be going on with the tuna ring.

The fact is, this actually tasted kinda good. Would I do this again? Not soon. Would I serve it to guests? Not if I really liked them. Was it fun? Tons. Do I still feel the tuna ring at the bottom of my stomach? You bet!