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!

Kitchen Tips from BeThisWay

If you’re melting two cubes of semi-sweet baking chocolate for a recipe, and it took you two minutes in fifteen to twenty second increments to melt the first batch to perfection, please do not assume that you can just put the next batch in for two minutes straight.

If you do you will have some very burnt chocolate, which smells just like you’d  think it would.

And, when you put the glass dish you melted it in into the sink, make sure the cold water isn’t flowing.  Unless you really hate the glass dish and don’t mind tossing the now-cracked bowl in the trash.

And if you toss the now-cracked bowl in the trash, you may want to put the pieces in a paper bag to prevent  serious injury.

Just saying.

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!

Dollar Tree Has a Few Less Leaves…

You’d think I wouldn’t run screaming from the thought of a second post about aluminum foil, but apparently I’m a glutton…

They’re not even trying to be sly about it anymore.

Today Son and I went to the Dollar Tree, my favorite dollar store. My local store sometimes carries the bread we use, at less than 1/2 the price I pay at Costco. Sure, it’s at the end of it’s freshness, but I just pop it into the freezer and take it out when we need more. It’s fine! So, whenever I am in the area I stop by and buy 2 or three loaves.

Today they didn’t have our bread, but of course I cannot enter without browsing. After all, Christmas is only 113 days away.

I went to check out their aluminum foil. I don’t typically buy aluminum foil there anymore. Their supplier evidently changed, and the new stuff is more like cellophane than aluminum foil. It is awful. That said, I sometimes buy their heavy duty, as sometimes I need the wider sheets. It’s not as good as your normal heavy duty foil, but it is almost as good as regular foil. Which is about as much as I could hope for.

I approach the shelf, and this is what I see…

Hmmmm. Which one should I choose?

Hmmmm. Which one should I choose?

Hmmm. 27 feet for $1? Or 30 feet for $1? Which should I choose….?

Gee, Dollar Tree. You’re not even trying to pretend we’re getting as much as we were before (Psst! Next time get rid of all the non-shrinkrayed product before putting out the new, better, lesser stuff!).

Really, I get it, Dollar Tree. Less product makes sense for you. Otherwise you’d have to rename yourself to Dollar-or-so Tree, or Dollar-and-a-half Tree, or More Than a Dollar Tree…

Well, it wasn’t a total loss. I bought the most wonderful fuzzy socks for all my gal friends for Christmas. Seriously , if you’ve not felt the fuzziness against your feet you are missing out…

Imperfect Pancakes

There wasn’t a lot of cooking going on in my house growing up. My Mom offered a very limited menu of chicken, hamburgers, chicken, meatloaf, chicken, pork chops, chicken and takeout. Breakfast was almost always cereal, with French Toast a favorite for holidays, and Matzoh Brie (basically French Toast made with matzoh instead of bread) for birthdays. I think I recall her making pancakes once, and that was from a box mix. My mother never cooked from scratch if there was a pre-packaged alternative. This was the late sixties and early seventies, so the choices did not abound as they do today.

Somehow my sister emerged from this culinary wasteland and found her way to becoming an excellent cook. She offers her family a varied and eclectic menu, from the most simple dishes to gourmet delights. This while working full time and raising two kids and running her household. I remain puzzled as to how she broke the mold, while I flounder having kept my mother’s tradition going.

Yes, I am not a confident, skilled cook. True that I am hampered by familial finickiness, but it’s also because I just don’t branch out and try new recipes often. So while my prowess at making banana bread and cool cakes is well known in my family, and I make a mean corn casserole and pineapple souffle, each new recipe I try is stressful.

And that’s just silly.

So, this morning Husband woke up and said he wanted pancakes for breakfast and asked me to make them. Just last week I had seen a recipe for supposedly wonderful pancakes, so I gave it a shot.

They’re pretty ugly. I think there were only two nicely round, evenly browned pancakes. But they were warm and fluffy and tasted perfectly scrumptious.

Restaurant pancakes may be pretty and perfect, but you can’t eat at a restaurant in your underwear. And instead of thanking a waitress while spending $30 on breakfast, I got a thank you kiss from Husband, and a sticky hug from Son, and spent about a dollar.

I think I’ll make chocolate chip pancakes next time…

Hey Publix! You can’t foil me!

Read this and enjoy my folly.  This post  wasn’t up ten minutes before someone less stupid than I noticed why it was priced higher…

There’s a good chance we’ll get some nasty weather due to Tropical Storm Fay, so today Son and I went to Publix to pick up some hurricane supplies. We’ve already got water and batteries galore, so we did what most hurricane-experienced South Floridians really stock up on when a storm’s a’coming: comfort food.

During Tropical Storm or Hurricane Fay we’ll be feasting on homemade banana bread and cinnamon rolls,chips and dip, sandwiches and veggie platters. Mmmmmm….

While at Publix I realized I was nearly out of aluminum foil. I used to buy aluminum foil at the dollar store, but suddenly their foil is more like mylar than aluminum foil. Wassup with that? No I usually buy something on sale and with a coupon to get the best bang for decent foil.

So after getting Son his free cookie we walked to the foil aisle and I perused the choices. This is what I saw:

So Not a Deal
Publix’s Generic Aluminum Foil

Hmmm. Tweenty-five feet is $.99. Not bad! Better than the dollar store. So I checked out the fifty-feet roll and it’s…

$2.69.

So, I get to pay and additional $.70 to get 1 roll instead of two? Not likely.

I snapped the photo (blame the quality on Blackberry) and am sending it along with this note to Publix:

Dear Publix,

I was in your store today and couldn’t help but notice that your fifty foot roll of generic aluminum foil at $2.69 is $.71 more than the cost of two twenty-five foot rolls ($1.98). What possible excuse can you have for this type of pricing? It seems an overt (or perhaps covert?) attempt to take advantage of uninformed or too-hurried/harried consumers. I await your reply, and so do my readers…

Be This Way

I’ll let you know what happens…

Bigger Packages Are Not Always A Better Value

They must think we’re stupid. Or too busy to notice. Or so entrenched in the “bigger is better” mentality that we won’t care that we’re wasting money.

Well, I’m not too stupid, too busy, or too entrenched. I notice.

I’ve just been noticing it a lot more lately.

I’ll be at the grocery store, or Target, or Walmart, and I’ll reach for the bigger package of cereal, or dryer sheets, or sausages.

And then I’ll compare the smaller package’s price per unit to the larger package’s, and the smaller package is a better deal.

Just today I was at Publix and wanted to take advantage of a sale on breakfast sausages. I can buy a box of 15 links (which, by the way, looks twice the size of the smaller box) at 2 for $5.00, or I can buy a box of 10 links at 5 for $5.00. Needless to say I stocked up with the smaller boxes.

Yesterday I was at Target and their Target brand 24 double roll toilet tissue was on sale for $11.99. Their 12 double roll pack was $5.87…

What do you think of the practice? It feels dishonest, but it really isn’t. They do give us the information, even if it’s not always easy to figure out in three seconds or less. If we take the time to do the math we can figure out the best deal. After all, it’s not their fault we aren’t paying attention.

Yes, it sure is happening more and more lately. Like shrinking package sizes and buy one, get one free deals that aren’t what they’re cracked up to be, I am forced to be ever more vigilant while shopping.

The moral of the story: even if it says “On Sale” or “Value Size” or “Family Size” or “Buy More, Save More” on the package, please do the math.

It just seems unfair to have to, doesn’t it?

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.

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