strawberry shortcake.

I have a slight obsession.

I LOVE making recipes I find on the back of boxes or under product lids.

I figure that if the manufacturer is taking the time to print a recipe on millions (probably billions and gazillions) of boxes of baker’s chocolate or under the lid of a container of oatmeal, it must be worth trying. I’m obviously already buying their product, so why not get some pointers straight from the manufacturers about how to use it?

Maybe you’re feeling a little skeptical about how good some of these recipes are. I mean, everyone loves mom’s chocolate chip cookies from the secret recipe she keeps stashed in the back of her recipe tin that she thought no one would find. But let me tell you, one time I looked on the back of a bag of Nestle’s chocolate chips and discovered that “mom’s secret chocolate chip cookie recipe” was printed right there in black and yellow for all to see.  So let me challenge you to check the labels of the canned goods in your cabinet or on the back of your canister of Hershey’s baking cocoa and try one of the recipes you find. (Warning: do not try the chocolate chip cookie recipe found on the back of the bag of Aldi brand flour…. they taste pretty awful.)

However, here is one recipe you’re not going to want to miss out on. My all time favorite “from the box” recipe:

 

strawberry shortcake.

Located on the left side of your average box of Bisquick, you will find one of the simplest and most delicious recipes for Strawberry Shortcake you have ever tasted.

4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 c. sugar
2 1/3 c. Original Bisquick mix
2/3 c. milk
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1 container (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed

1) MIX strawberries and 1/2 c. sugar’ set aside. Heat oven to 425 F.

2) STIR Bisquick mix, milk, 3 Tsbp sugar and the butter until soft dough forms. Drop by 6 spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.

3) BAKE 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Split warm shortcakes; fill and top with strawberries and whipped topping.

Don’t worry about writing this one down or printing it out. Just go buy yourself a box of Bisquick and check the left side. However, if your recipe box is actually organized (please come to my house and help me organize mine) feel free to do what you need to keep up with the organization, as I’m sure a Bisquick box won’t fit in your recipe holder.
Anyone have any great “back of the box” recipes that we need to know about? I’ll do my next recipe post about it!

Try something new today! (Like strawberry shortcake from the Bisquick box!)

Love,
janine

toffee apple dip.

Tis the season for Christmas parties and cookie swaps and ornament exchanges and elastic waistbands! Christmas is one of my most favorite times of year because I love the music the movies the food and the time spent with family and friends that all comes around in December. So much fun!

I have already been to several Christmas parties and ornament exchanges with more on the schedule  and I just can’t wait! But I wanted to let you in on a secret recipe. It’s not exactly going to be a secret anymore I guess. So, I went to a Christmas dinner party on November 30th this year with about 70 women in attendance (maybe more) and we were all instructed to bring something to share. It was a potluck! (Another one of my favorite things in life). Well, at the very very end of the long table set up with the food spread that evening was a dish of beautifully sliced apples and some nutty-looking dip in the middle. Have you ever noticed that by the time you get to the end of the table at a potluck it always seems like you hardly have any room left on your plate? Well tonight was one of those nights where we should have all stopped worrying about looking cute in our new sweaters and carried around a second plate for food piling. So, since the beautiful apples were at the very end of the table, I know that most of us got to that apple dip and maybe only took one apple slice or decided that there were other goodies we would rather have instead of apples.

What a mistake.

That dip had to be loaded with drugs or something! We were like moths to a flame, ants to a picnic, vultures to a carcass! One tiny little apple with a smidge of dip was not enough. And for those of us who weren’t smart enough to get any at all and just saw everyone rushing to the table with foamy drool dripping from our lips should have realized sooner that we needed that separate plate that night for the piling of apple slices and dip. The dip was good. So good that when the apples ran out we were eating it with our fingers.

So, I bet you’re wondering what was in it.

I’ll tell you.

beautiful apples and crack-toffee apple dip

1 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. white sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese (softened)

1 pkg. heath toffee bits

See those ingredients? Just put them all in a bowl together and stir it up. No joke. That’s it.

I didn’t make the apple dip for that potluck. One of the girls made it from a recipe she got from someone else who made it and she stood up and shared it with us because we were all acting like cannibals. BUT the apples and dip in the picture above are from a Christmas Party I went to the other night with my friends and the reaction was about the same!

A sidenote: I struggle with trying to keep apple slices from turning brown whenever I take them to a get together so I did a bunch of looking around online to figure out what other people do. I found various suggestions like putting them in orange juice or pouring sprite on them (that sounded gross) or putting them in water with lemon or lime juice. I tried putting them all in a bowl of very chilled lemon water. It seemed to work, but I noticed that Granny Smith Apples did a lot better than the Pink Ladies I sliced up. P.S. I used an apple slicer. If you don’t have one of these wonderful gadgets, I highly recommend it. Just make sure the blades aren’t dull or you’ll end up cracking your knuckles on the countertop as you force your entire body weight onto the apple slicer. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience. Also something I learned. Putting your hands in lemon water is a really great way to find where your paper cuts and cracks from having dry winter handskin are.

When life gives you lemons, squeeze the juice into a big bowl of apples floating in water and make this yummy dip!

Love,
janine

cooking novice.

I was fortunate enough to grow up with a mom who was a great cook. And she was fortunate enough to grow up with a mother who was a really great cook. And I think I’m correct in assuming that for many generations and centuries and eons and wow… for a really long, long time, there were great cooks in my family passing down their secrets. — I’m starting to crave chicken and dumplings right now…

Then there was me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a horrible cook. At least I’ve been told that I’m not a time or two. I make a mean meat loaf and I think I have finally perfected the chocolate chip cookie recipe on the back of the toll house semi-sweet chocolate chip bag because my husband LOVES them and I like to make him happy. But I’m certainly not a great cook like my mother and grandmother who can whip up corn bread, fried okra, crab legs, beef stew, pork chops, apple pie, whatever you want, whenever you want, without sweating and it’s always amazing.

Well, when Andy and I started dating, I started cooking. I had a few tricks up my sleeve before then, but it wasn’t until I started falling for him that I knew I better start learning to cook more than meat loaf or Kraft mac ‘n cheese if I wanted to keep him around. Not that he particularly required this of me, but for some reason my domestication switch was flipped at that point and I was determined that I was going to be a good cook like my mom. (By the way, mom since we weren’t able to spend Thanksgiving together, I made gravy for our Crum Family Thanksgiving dinner this year the way you told me to and it turned out great!) So, I started cooking things like this:

2 chicken breasts cooked and cubed, mixed greens, strawberries, almonds, and mandarin oranges

It’s a salad. Down there in the bottom right hand corner. It was a good salad, but it’s just a salad.  I wanted to do better than that. No one has ever inspired me to cook other than Andy. I needed to do better than that. I had to.

So I started reading books and asking for recipes and researching how to put together meal plans. (I’m still working on that last one.) And I now have spurts of kitchen joy and kitchen frustration. Kitchen joy for those times where I am just really really excited about cooking and grocery shopping and meal planning and when I’ve found a great recipe that I like and that Andy asks me to make again. And kitchen frustrations like the time Andy asked me to make jerk chicken and coconut rice for him like we ate in Jamaica on our honeymoon and it turned out like dry, dark, pasty, mystery meat on a mountain of too sweet to eat undercooked rice. It was that bad, I promise. Andy ate it…. I couldn’t make myself do it. Makes me want to just throw in the towel. (sometimes it’s more appetizing)

But I keep cooking because well… we have to eat and I can’t consume the volume of frozen corn dogs that my husband is okay with consuming on a weekly basis. Frozen pizza… that is a different story, but I wouldn’t dare make Andy eat it as much as I want to… which is usually about once a day.

So, in all of this research and asking around for recipes and trying to cook new food I came across this really delicious recipe for pulled BBQ chicken that is just yum yum yummy. It’s made in a crock pot, one of the seven wonders of the world, where you just toss everything in on your lunch break and turn it on and it’s ready to eat at 6 when you come home from work! It’s a miracle.

So, I would like to share the recipe with you because I think you will love it. If you don’t eat meat or something I apologize… but only a little because I think you would really like this BBQ chicken if you ate it and pretended it was just tofu.

Ingredients:
4.5 lbs. chicken breast halves
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 (18 oz.) bottle honey barbecue sauce
-being born and raised in Cincinnati, OH I prefer Montgomery Inn barbecue sauce to any other-
1 c. italian salad dressing
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. cider vinegar
1/4 c. worcestershire sauce (we called it worshiper sauce growing up because we didn’t know how to pronounce it)

Place chicken in a greased 5-6 qt. slow cooker (that’s fancy talk for crock pot) and sprinkle with garlic powder. Combine the barbecue sauce, salad dressing, vinegar, worcestershire sauce; pour over chicken. The first time I made this, I just dumped it all in the crock pot without messing around because I was in a hurry and I didn’t want to dirty another bowl and it turned out just fine.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until chicken is tender. When cool enough to handle, remove chicken, shred meat, and return to slow cooker; cook through.

(This is modified from a recipe found in Taste of Home August/September 2010 issue where they suggest serving the chicken over baked potatoes with bleu cheese and green onions… sounds good if you like bleu cheese and green onions, but I don’t)

Here’s what it looks like. Pure deliciousness:

served on slices of wheat bread because we didn't have buns...

Try it out and tell me what you think! Just don’t use too much cider vinegar… I did that once and it was awful.

Feed someone who’s hungry just to see the smile on their face
Love,
janine