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Kraft's Striped Delight (Sorry, I didn't snap my own picture...we ate it too fast!)

I love Striped Delight.  Ever since Mom discovered the recipe on the side of a Cool Whip container decades ago, it has pretty much been my favorite dessert.  I’ve been wanting to try taking it to the next level by making the various components from scratch, and finally did it Sunday for our Mother’s Day dessert.  It was awesome.  The chocolate pudding had a deep, rich chocolate flavor that Jell-O instant pudding can’t come close to, and the real whipped cream was heavenly.

The idea of doing Striped Delight from scratch came when I was making a filling for Amie and Aubrey’s birthday cakes, and realized that it was essentially the same as the bottom layer of Striped Delight, except that I used real whipped cream instead of Cool Whip.  We had started using real whipped cream recently, when Amie had made a fresh strawberry pie, and we had no Cool Whip on hand but did have some leftover cream from something else Amie had made.  Real whipped cream is sooooo much better than Cool Whip.  The superior taste and texture of real whipped cream was compounded by a question that had been nagging me: we know what Cool Whip isn’t (non-dairy), but what exactly is it?  The answer I found was somewhat disturbing, and since the article pointed out that you can whip real cream yourself for about half the price of Cool Whip, there’s no looking back for us.  Maybe it’s a bit disloyal to cut out Cool Whip when they were the source of the original recipe, and I am certainly grateful for the concept, but the benefits of making it with real ingredients are more than worth it.  Sorry, Kraft. Read the rest of this entry »

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Roast chicken on a bed of root vegetables

I made this for Mother’s Day dinner on Sunday night, and it turned out great.  I must confess that this is not my picture–I pilfered it from the blog site where I got the recipe.  But ours looked pretty much the same, except that it was in our 9×13 Pampered Chef pan instead of a cast iron pan as pictured above.  The recipe is from famed chef Thomas Keller, known mostly for his restaurant The French Laundry.  He has another newer restaurant called ad hoc, which serves simple but very good dishes, as opposed to the notoriously intricate and extravagant preparations at The French Laundry.  The dish comes from Keller’s cookbook ad hoc at home, by way of one of my favorite food blogs, Simply Recipes.

This is roast chicken on a bed of root vegetables (click for the recipe), and that’s about all there is to it.  You cut up the vegetables and spread them in the pan, tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Then set the chicken on top, also seasoned liberally with olive oil, salt and pepper, with some garlic cloves and thyme sprigs in the cavity, and roast it in the oven.  That’s it.  It’s pretty simple, but turns out great.  The chicken was moist and tender, and the vegetables were great.  A couple of notes from my experience with it: Read the rest of this entry »

Biscuits and gravy were always a favorite breakfast at Mitchell Hall during my Air Force Academy days (maybe during Dad’s as well?).  I made this version of the southern breakfast classic as part of a Mother’s day breakfast, and it was much better than the Mitchell Hall version.  Okay, that’s not saying too much, but this really was good.  Maybe not the most healthful meal we’ve had, but it was good for the soul if not the arteries (sorry I didn’t take any pictures). Read the rest of this entry »

We had some celery in the fridge that is nearing the end of its useful life, so for breakfast this morning I decided to try something I had seen awhile ago in a blog entry from Mark Bittman.  It’s a savory oatmeal cooked with celery, and flavored with soy sauce and sesame oil.  You might (not unreasonably) think that sounds gross, but don’t knock it until you try it!  I liked it quite a bit.  Celery actually has more flavor than people realize, especially when cooked in something that allows its flavor to seep out into the dish.  It’s in fact part of the “holy trinity” of French cuisine (celery, carrots, and onions; or celery, bell peppers and onions in Cajun cooking)–used to provide a flavor base for myriad foods.  I thought the combination of the crunchy celery and creamy oatmeal was really nice (and it felt good to be eating vegetables for breakfast :)).

I’ll post the recipe below as I made it this morning (with some twists on the description from Mark Bittman), but I’ll probably change a few things next time.  First, I’d use more vegetables–I think green onions, and a handful of frozen sweet peas would be nice.  Some little pieces of ham might be nice, too.  Second, I’d like to try using different grains as well.  I think bulgur wheat would be good, or wheat berries (pre-cooked, unless you want to get up 2 hours early to start breakfast), or of course brown rice.  Third, I’ll make a little smaller portion, and top it with an over-easy egg.  Awesome. Read the rest of this entry »

Sorry for the lack of pictures.  We’re having camera problems that we’ll hopefully resolve soon.

Aubrey, who always turned up her nose at biscuits in the past, has been requesting them after trying some at a friend’s house recently.  Since my sourdough starter was feeling neglected, I thought I’d look for a sourdough biscuit recipe and try making some.  I found a recipe that was simple and had good-looking pictures (here), and made my own modifications, increasing the amount of starter (mostly because I decided to halve the recipe after I prepared the starter), and substituting milk for the water and melted butter for the oil.  The original recipe made 12-15, but I cut in half to get an amount we would eat in one sitting, since biscuits are best warm out of the oven.

These turned out really good!  They were soft and light, almost as much like a dinner roll as a trasitional biscuit, with a really nice (but not too strong) flavor from the sourdough.  These were easy to make, delicious, and actually healthy (or at least not too unhealthy).  They are mostly just flour and water/milk, no sugar, and only a tablespoon of butter, less than your typical biscuit.  So yeah, we’ll be making these again. Read the rest of this entry »