Tuesday, February 19

Cake Mix Cookies

In the cold winter months, I love to warm the house by bakin breads, bars, and cookies. Here for your own house-warmin enjoyment is one of the laziest cookie recipes I have ever tried. They're tasty, don't get me wrong, but for cryin out loud, how hard is it to measure out some flour, bakin soda, salt, and sugar?!

Essentially, this is just fixin up a box cake except you add a 2nd egg instead of water to thicken the batter, then spoon out cookies instead of spreadin the mixture into a pan. I wonder if someone got paid for this genius idea...


Ingredients:
1 box Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix (okay, Betty - I understand that you want to promote your brand, but there's no need to be a dictator here. You can use any brand or flavor of cake mix you damn well please. I have eaten these before where the baker used a Funfetti mix and they were just fine.)
2 eggs
1/3 c. oil
1 tsp. vanilla

How to:
Stir well until mixed all together (I feel a little mean sayin this, but I'll do it anyway: DUH). Add 1 c. chocolate chips (faux pas, Betty! you didn't list chips in the ingredients!) and mix well. Drop by teaspoonful onto cookie sheet. DO NOT OVERBAKE! (in my mind, that line is screamed at the top of my Mom's lungs). Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. (Some ovens are hotter than normal. Check cookies after 8 minutes.) (uh, excuse me Betty, but parenthetical asides are reserved for ME.)

Bonus:
At the bottom of the church cookbook page where I found this recipe is this aphorism: "Success comes from hard work and the help of the Lord". Guess I'll have to remember to ask for Jesus's help when I'm bustin the sod in my garden next Spring.

Verdict:
These cookies taste excellent, despite their ease and "semi-homemade" style. Noms!

Tuesday, February 12

Salty Nut Chews

For once in my life, I am absolutely snarkless (at least when it comes to these Salty Nut Chews). I spotted the recipe on the back of a cake mix box and remembered my Granny makin these for Easter when I was a kid. Considerin this fact, the recipe's Pillsbury Bake-off origins, and the ingredients list, I thought it would be a perfect post for Midwest Cookin. Boy, was I right!

First: unlike most of the recipes I post here, this one was actually complete, detailed, and made perfect sense. I didn't have to guess on any ingredients, amounts, temperatures, cook times, etc. It was also incredibly easy to make.

Second: ohmygod, these are deeeeelicioussssssssssss. Mr. McQuack says "Salty Nut Chews would be perfect for the zombie apocalypse because they have loads of calories and would be easy to transport". Friend of the blog Bara Creese enthuses, "Salty Nut Chews are better than Kmart candy!" (not sure what exactly that means, but I like it!)

You know you want to make some this weekend. DOOOO IT!

Ingredients:
Base -
1 package Yellow Cake Mix
1/3 c. margarine or butter, softened (use butter!!)
1 egg
3 c. miniature marshmallows (if you only have big campin marshmallows, cut them up - that's what I did)
Toppin -
2/3 c. corn syrup (this is both delicious and disgustin - a must for every respectable Midwest pantry)
1/3 c. margarine or butter (again, use butter! this is for the toppin)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 (10-oz.) package peanut butter chips
2 c. crisp rice cereal
2 c. salted peanuts (my grocery store charges more for salted than unsalted peanuts, and for some reason the salted ones look really gross and greasy - so I buy the unsalted ones, drizzle them with a little olive oil, shake on some kosher salt, and stir to coat. They taste WAY better than the pre-salted ones.)

How to:
1. (ooh, numbered steps) Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, combine cake mix, 1/3 c. butter and egg; beat at low speed until crumbly. Press in bottom of ungreased 13x9-inch pan (funny: 'ungreased' is comin up as a spellin error in my browser).
 2. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 18 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with marshmallows.

Return to oven; bake an additional 1 to 2 minutes or until marshmallows just begin to puff.
(Marshmallow Puff Porn)
Cool while preparin toppin.
3. In large saucepan, combine all toppin ingredients except cereal and peanuts. Heat just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth, stirrin constantly. Remove from heat; stir in cereal and peanuts (do the nuts first - once you add the cereal it gets pretty thick). Immediately spoon warm toppin over marshmallows; spread (gently!!!) to cover. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm (and you might want to let it cool a bit before puttin it in the fridge and droppin the fridge temperature several degrees). Cut into bars. Store in covered containers.

Verdict:
As stated above, these babies are awesome, and I am not alone in my sentiments. Check out the strata of cake, nuts, and marshmallow in this cross-section! MMMMMMMMMmmmmmarshmallows...

Tuesday, February 5

Delicious Corn

Corn. It's a staple of the American diet, especially when it comes to Midwest Cookin (even though I've heard our bodies aren't made to digest it). Have you ever had bad corn? Foul-tastin corn? No, I haven't either. That's why this recipe's title caught my eye when I was flippin through a Lutheran church cookbook this mornin. Corn is delicious by nature, so what the hell kind of crazy ingredient could possibly be added to make it more delicious - so delicious that the corn's deliciousness is assured by the title of the recipe itself?

Oh. Sugar. Of course.

Ingredients:
2 c. water
8 c. corn (doesn't say it has to be fresh...I am envisionin somebody makin this with canned corn)
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. salt

How to:
Combine ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes. (Congratulations...I think you've just made the beginnin of a batch of home-brewed High Fructose Corn Syrup! Yay diabeetus!) Cool and put in freezer. Ready to eat by just heatin. (...I'm strugglin with that last sentence there.)

Tuesday, January 29

Super Macaroni Salad

I went to the Hy-Vee today to get some groceries before SnowIcepocalypse 2013 hits, and one of the items on my list was pasta. As I stood in the aisle, contemplatin the many kinds of pastas displayed before me, I happened to notice that my neighborhood Hy-Vee carries about 30 different kinds of macaroni, despite often lackin the specific type of pasta called for in a recipe that I'm makin. I thought for awhile about why this might be, and then it dawned on me: macaroni is a staple of Midwest Cookin!

What would Hamburger Helper be without macaroni? Or goulash? Or (duh) macaroni n' cheese? I didn't know pasta salads could be made with any variety besides macaroni until I went to college.

And now, with that in mind, and in honor of what, last week, would have been the 60th birthday of my Dad (who would only eat two kinds of pasta: macaroni and spaghetti), I present to you what can surely be called the quintessential Midwest pehstuh sayahled (say that out loud, won't you?): Super Macaroni Salad!

Ingredients:
1 lb. uncooked macaroni (elbow style, cooked, drained, & cooled) (I dare you to use another pasta variety!)
1 large onion (diced) (woah - a whole raw LARGE diced onion? ugh, blecch, I can feel my breath gettin bad already)
1 large green pepper (diced) (the amount of raw vegetables in this is surprisin for a Midwest pasta salad - check it out:)
1 c. celery (diced)
5-6 carrots (grated)
1 c. vinegar (but what kind, Gladys?!?)
1/3 c. sugar
2 c. Miracle Whip (yay! it's been so long since I've posted a Miracle Whip recipe!)
1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk (very specific on the brand there - use Borden at your own peril)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

How to:
Mix well together (in a big-ass bowl, I'm guessin) addin macaroni last. Makes A hugh salad (uh...not sure what a hugh salad is there...sounds dirty and/or sadly reclusive; if the word HUGE was intended, then I'm callin this a straight-up Lutheran Potluck classic). It will keep for at least 10 days in the refrigerator. (mmm...week-and-a-half old pasta salad...)

Tuesday, January 15

Cedric

This recipe is by far one of the strangest I've unearthed in my time studyin mid-century Midwestern cookbooks. The ingredients are sad, the final product sounds disgustin, but that's standard for Midwest Cookin-worthy fare. However, there are two things about this that really make it stand out: the title, and the name of the person who submitted the recipe to the cookbook where I found it:

1) The recipe is actually titled Cedric. Nothin else, just Cedric. Why? Who is this Cedric? It can't possibly be referrin to The Entertainer because this is a 1973 Lutheran Church cookbook from Waterloo, Iowa, and while Waterlooeans (is that a word?) can lay claim to such famous former residents as John Wayne Gacy, Dan Gable, and Tracie Spencer, I am unaware of any time that Cedric the Entertainer spent in the 'Loo.

2) The original submission to the cookbook was not authored by Mrs. Joe Schmoe or Reverend J.C. Onthacross, as so many, many other Midwest cookbook recipes are. No, the author of this recipe is simply known as "Wally". Quotation marks and all. After readin the ingredients list, I have concluded that this is no one-word vanity name like "Cher" or "Prince" - this guy is in disguise. Obviously, a recipe so bad that the author doesn't even want to use his real name is a recipe that must be examined here on Midwest Cookin!

Ingredients:
Ground beef, lean (oh, good, keep it healthy)
Onions (how many? two? a dozen? - yeah, better make it a dozen)
Cabbage, shredded
Tomato Soup

Oven temp: 350 degrees

How to:
Brown meat and chop so that it is fine. (There's nothin fine about this, not to me at least.) Add onions, salt and pepper. Layer into buttered casserole (grrrrrr...vague dish size and exclusion of butter from the ingredients list...), cabbage, meat, cabbage, meat, etc. till all is used. Cover with soup and bake 1 hour. (Oh my god, this is hobo lasagna! That would be a far better name for this shit...er...dish. Maybe that's where the Cedric in the title comes from - named in honor of "Wally"'s dear train-hoppin hobo friend Cedric, who used to hang out near the kiddie carousel in front of the old Kmart on University Ave. Why is "Jimmy Crack Corn" playin nonstop in my head now?! AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!)

Thursday, January 10

Avocada Paste

No, that's not a misspellin. The recipe is for "Avocada Paste". Where on God's Green Earth, I ask, does one get an Avocada? (Maybe it's just a female Avocado? It sounds a little like a revolutionary movement too. ¡Viva las Avocadas!)

"Okay, okay, enough with the jokes", you're sayin. "This is just guacamole with a funny name, and the most un-Midwest Cookin recipe you've ever posted. You're slippin."

To that, I reply "GRRRRRRRRRRL PLEASE." Read on.

Ingredients:
(Well, what do you know? There is no separate ingredients list. There's your first indication that this is a recipe worthy of Midwest Cookin. You have to actually read the block of tiny text to know what goes in the paste besides Avocadas.)

How To:
This is a wonderful hors d'oeuvre and so easy to prepare. (Okay, so we've got assurances of both deliciousness and ease before we've even gotten to the instructions...)

Mash 1 RIPE AVOCADA (oh, I see - the ingredients are screamed at you to make them easier to discern) thru (sic) strainer into bowl which has been rubbed with garlic, add enough MAYONAISE (1, that's gross and 2, spellin error) so that resultin mixture will be of spreadin consistency. Add LIME or LEMON JUICE and SALT to taste. Arrange POTATO CHIPS (another clue to the Midwesternness - don't use tortilla chips for cryin out loud, that would make it <whispers> 'ethnic') on a large plate around small bowl (what if I want to use a large bowl and a small plate? I'll decide my own presentation and platin, thanks) of the paste you have just made (no, use the paste you made 3 weeks ago. DUH). Use as a dip for potato chips. (yeah, you already said that.)

(...and here's where things get truly, disgustinly, Midwest Cookin...) Canned minced clams may be finely chopped and added to the mixture for added delicacy. (Ugh. Blecch. Seriously though, if you are apt to make guacamole to take to potlucks and parties, what more hilarious surprise could be added to the usual mix than chopped clams? {Other than SPAM, of course.})

The Verdict:
I'll let you know once I've convinced Mr. McQuack to take this to his next work potluck.

Tuesday, January 8

Canned Fish / Tastes Like Salmon

Happy New Year! Since we're in the doldrums of winter, I started thinkin about all the folks who canned their garden produce last Fall, and feelin a little jealous because mine's all gone. (Well, relatively gone - I still have an enormous bag of zucchini stowed in the freezer. <SIGH>) Anyway, this got me thinkin about cannin, and I thought, well, maybe if I could find some good classic cannin recipes in the Midwest Cookin compendiums, maybe next Fall I'd try cannin again.

Then I came across this recipe.

I don't have a very strong stomach in the mornin, so I'm tryin not to imagine in too great of detail just what this would taste like (I'm not buyin the "Tastes Like Salmon" assurance in the recipe's title). Warnin to my readers with weak mornin tummies like me: save this one for after lunch, or if you need an excuse to get out of work/school.

I'm gonna try and write this now without pukin.

Ingredients:
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. butter (I wish it was oleo. :_()
1 Tbsp. catsup (Mmmm...butter and catsup. Honey Boo Boo would like this.)
Bullheads, or other fish, cut in pieces (The church cookbook where I found this recipe is pretty old, and at first glance I read it as "Buttheads". Now that would be a cool fish.)

How to:
Put in pint jars. (Okay, but do I have to do somethin with the ingredients first? Like, oh I dunno, mix them together or cook them?) Process 90 minutes at 15 pound pressure. (That's it?!? No further instructions? Ugh...I keep picturin the pinkish mess of this, jarred and sittin on a shelf. I bet it looks like somethin you'd find in a Biology classroom, like a fetal pig. Oh god I am about to hurl...) Serve with vinegar like salmon. (I don't know about you, but I haven't come across a whole lot of salmon served "with vinegar". Sure, I've had Japanese-style salmon served with a sake-rice vinegar mix, but this is Midwest Cookin, so I will assume, based on my studies, that the intended vinegar is one of the two kinds that grace the pantries and recipe cards of Midwest cooks: cider vinegar and white vinegar. Maybe the recipe means malt vinegar, like with fish n' chips? Regardless, yuck.)

The verdict:
No way am I makin this. You do it (and don't forget to send pics and taste test results to hamtasia(at)gmail(dot)com).