Quick and Easy No-Bake St. Patrick’s Day Rice Krispies Treats

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Son’s class is having a St. Patrick’s Day shindig tomorrow, so I stole my friend’s idea and decided to make green, shamrock-shaped Rice Krispies treats.   This is a great recipe for little helpers.  Son really did most of it himself.

The recipe is right off the Rice Krispies box, but you don’t have to use the name brands.  I used real Rice Krispies (they were on sale) and Great Value marshmallows.

You start with 3 tablespoons of butter, which you melt in a large saucepan (next time I’m going to use my pasta pot).

The recipe calls for a 10 oz. package of large marshmallows (approximately 40) or 4 cups of mini-marshmallows.  I had a 16 oz bag, so Son counted out exactly 40 large marshmallows (next time I’ll use more, as we barely had  enough goo) and poured them into the melted butter.

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I’m not a Rice Krispies treats fan, so Son has never had them before, either.  He didn’t really understand what we were doing, and why we were going to “boil” the marshmallows.  Still, he stirred…

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When the marshmallows began melting we added plenty of green food coloring.  Son didn’t have any idea what St. Patrick’s Day is, so he wanted to add red food coloring, too.  Grabbed his hand Just. In. Time.

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You keep stirring until the marshmallows are completely melted, then remove it from the heat and slowly add the Rice Krispies to the mixture.

When it’s completely mixed spread the mixture onto a large baking pan.  Normal Rice Krispies treats are thicker than what I wanted to do for these, so instead of a 13×9 pan I used a larger one.  The box says to use waxed  paper or a buttered spatula to spread out the mixture, but I found it much easier to wet my clean hands and press without an implement.

We waited for it to cool (really only a few minutes), then started to cut out the shapes.  It wasn’t easy – Son had to use his muscle to make the cutouts.  And I had to help a little…

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He kept pretending to lick them all. But he didn’t. Pinky swear.

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We both had a fun time  making them, and created another wonderful memory.

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I hope you enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day, even if it’s just another Tuesday to you!

Be This Way Saves Time in the Kitchen

I’m pretty lazy.  I cook, and sometimes I even enjoy it.  But I’m all about making things as easy and inexpensive as I can, and with the least amount of effort.

So, this is how I do hamburger.

I go to Costco and buy it in bulk.  Costco’s meat is far better than the meat from the grocery store, and their regular price is less expensive than Publix’s sale price, at least most of the time.  I also make sure to buy the least expensive package they have out because I’ll likely have the same number of patties either way, albeit fractionally smaller.

When I get home I go ahead and season the meat.  I’m not very creative in the kitchen, so I season it the same way every time, more or less:

  • Garlic powder (occasionally fresh garlic)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • A splash of teryaki (my secret ingredient!)
  • Onion flakes
  • Lawry’s Salt
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Whatever else I feel like throwing in

Then I immediately form hamburger patties.  This package was $14.18, and I was able to make nineteen patties, bout 75 cents apiece.

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I then package them in groups of three, two or one so that I can use only what I need for each meal.  There are three of us and Husband eats two burgers, so I need four if we’re having hamburgers.  If  I’m using it to make meat sauce or homemade Hamburger Helper I need two patties. You get the  idea.

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Then I stick them in a bag in the freezer.  This saves me so much time, and on a day like today when 5:15 pm rolls around and I have no idea what I’m making for dinner, all I need to do is pull out two patties, make some spaghetti and once I plate the leftover salad I have dinner in twenty minutes with minimal effort.

Just the way I like it.

Easy Recipe Helps Fill Son’s Sick Day

Son has a bit of a cold, and his nose is way too overactive to permit school attendance.  That left us looking for things to keep us happy and occupied in between breathing treatments.

Alison at This Wasn’t In The Plan posted a link to a fun recipe for Cheddar Cobwebs last week, and this was a perfect activity for us to tackle today.  This is seriously one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever prepared, making it something that Son could do all by himself.  Which I’ll let him do next time (except for some of the cheese grating when the pieces get small).

I doubled the recipe and modified it a little.  I combined cheddar and an Italian cheese blend, and I’ll tell you that the really small shreds didn’t do as well as the larger.  I also substituted garlic powder for paprika, as I don’t have any paprika in the house.

Also, instead of transferring them to a cooling plate I just slid the baking paper off the cookie sheet, slipped the spatula underneath to make sure they weren’t sticking and set them on the counter to cool.  Since I made a double batch I knew I’d have leftovers to store, and this made it easier.

And they’re not just a Halloween recipe.  You could also call them White Cheddar Snowflakes, or Blue Cheese Stars and Stripes,  Queen Anne’s Lace

To me they were yummiest when still slightly warm.  They make a great snack, but I also think they’d be terrific on a cold day, as a complement to tomato soup.

Let your imagination take you where it may.

Cheddar Cobwebs

Cheddar Cobwebs - Martha's, not mine

That’s Good Chicken

I’m proud of my roast chicken.

In my meager repertoire of fraught cuisine, my chicken is really good. Always moist, always full of flavor, always a family favorite.

Husband says I make the second best roast chicken in the world. The first he ate as a pre-teen at a roadside stand in Puerto Rico. I contend that time and memory has enhanced the good flavor of that chicken, and my guess is that if placed side by side with my chicken he would reconsider. The availability of my chicken, which he can eat on a regular basis, should also make my chicken edge out Puerto Rico. But whatever.

The other night my family got together to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, and my contribution to the meal was a roast chicken. That meant it had to be cooked, transported to my brother’s house and reheated. The travel and reheating made me nervous – would my flagship dish stay juicy, or would the travel and reheating make it just another rubbery chicken?

My worry was for naught. It was juicy, it was tender, it was delicious. Everyone commented on how good it was, and you could tell they weren’t just giving lip service. I was so proud.

What’s the secret of my juicy chicken? Well, it’s not heart-healthy. And it’s messy. Very messy. I wash my hands about twelve times while prepping a chicken, and I use a clean towel which goes directly into the wash afterwards. But it really works to keep those juices in.

I like to use a whole chicken, and I use the fryers from Costco. I buy a package of two for about $7, and one is enough to feed my family of three and leave leftovers.

First I wash the raw chicken, and pat it dry. Then my secret: I rub butter all over the skin, inside and out (you can use wax paper or plastic wrap). Then I pour salt onto my fingertips, and rub salt all over the skin, inside and out.

I know. But it’s sooooooo good.

After that it’s just a matter of adding your favorite spices. I use Lawry’s salt (you can never have too much, can you?), garlic powder (I can’t ever have too much garlic, either) and Italian seasonings.

90 minutes at 350° (no, I don’t preheat!) and it’s perfect. The juice runoff helps make a terrific tasting gravy, too!

Sometimes I’ll cut up some red potatoes, spice them up and throw them in the pan, too. Other times I bake potatoes, or you can do rice as a side dish. Add some veggies and a salad and I’ve fed my family a great meal for under $6.

What’s your flagship dish, one that’s easy and delicious and makes you feel really good to set on your table? Please share it with us!

Shrinking Package Sizes Screw up My Recipes

I am not an off-the-cuff cook. I’m not one to experiment, to add a dash of this and a pinch of that.

I need recipes. I never really cooked much more than fried matzoh and baked chicken until I got married. I don’t have a spohisticated palate, so deciding which tastes go well together or creating my own dishes just doesn’t happen. It’s never going to. I need someone to tell me exactly how much of each ingredient to add and, as I found out during one unfortunate baking disaster, in which order to add them together.

That was all fine and dandy, as there are plenty of recipes around. I love my Betty Crocker cookbook, though I do covet and hope to find an old copy of the Joy of Cooking. So I was humming along merrily, cooking to recipe, until things started getting complicated.

Why did things get complicated?

Because manufacturers are afraid to raise prices, so instead they’re screwing up my recipes.

Have you noticed it? Did you realize that your toilet paper has less sheets than it used to (no, I don’t cook with it!), or that your canned corn has fifteen ounces instead of sixteen?

Does your cereal now only last you twelve days instead of fourteen?

Manufacturers are shrinking the amount of food we get per package, and they’re certainly not reducing prices. They don’t want us to think about whether or not we still want to buy something now that the price has increased, like so many of us are doing now as we see grocery prices rise. They want us to just keep buying, and hope we don’t notice.

But I notice. You know, I don’t have one single recipe that calls for a 15 ounce can of corn. My corn casserole, a Thanksgiving (and Easter) staple, calls for a sixteen ounce can of creamed corn, and a sixteen ounce can of sweet corn. Sixteen, not fifteen. So, either I buy extra cans or my recipe suffers. I HATE that.

I hate that I have to think about making adjustments, no matter how minor, to my recipes. I hate thinking about whether adding something else will make it thick enough, or cake-like enough. I don’t know the answers!

So thanks, manufacturers. Thanks for screwing up my recipes. I’d rather pay a few cents more (well, I’d really rather not) so that my recipes don’t suffer.

Let’s organize a protest. Let’s all meet at the Del Monte offices and throw stewed tomatoes at them. From the fifteen ounce cans.

They’ll have one less ounce to clean up.

Amazing Maize

If you’ve never experienced the delectability that is corn roasted on the barbecue, please, for the sake of your taste buds, remedy the situation as soon as possible.

If possible, purchase the corn from your local farmer’s market. It’s my experience that no only is the produce much better, it’s also much less expensive. And it has the added benefit of helping the food growers directly.

It is imperative that you cook it in the husk, and more than imperative that you soak the ears in a pot, tub or pail of water for as many hours as possible before you even light the grill.

Do not even think of wrapping the ears in aluminum foil.

I’ve know some people that have buttered the corn ahead of time, but I think that’s an unnecessary step. The corn I’ve enjoyed twice this week is so sweet, so full of flavor, so touch-yourself good that no butter is needed. It would, in my opinion, mask the natural flavor of the most delicious vegetable in G-d’s garden.

Thirty to forty-five minutes is all it takes, and trust me that after tasting it once you will, like me,  ignore the mouth-watering allure of the steak, the steamed clams and the roasted potatoes to once again savor that amazing maize.

Trust me.

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