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Monday, April 15, 2024

Product Review: Giovanni Rana Fettucine Mushroom Sauce with Mild Italian Sausage Meal Kit

Saw this in Walmart’s fresh food section the other day and it sounded good, so I picked up a package. By the heft of it, I thought it would abundantly feed the two of us, so the eight bucks plus sticker price wasn’t too outlandish.

When I opened the outer wrap to prepare dinner, I found a very large microwaveable container, a package of fresh pasta, and a package of sauce. Fresh pasta, eh? That did make the sticker price sound better.

I spread the pasta out in the dish as instructed and shook up the sauce package, then poured it over. Looked and smelled like Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, but I like Campbells. The dish, however, wasn’t even half full. I started to have doubts as to whether it would feed both of us. Maybe it would expand on cooking? Nope.

Did cook perfectly fine in the microwave, however (I did it for 6 minutes since I’m not fond of al dente). Tasted quite good, too, more like something you’d get in a restaurant. As for servings, while the website claims the package makes 2.5 portions, I’d say 2 would be more realistic, and then only if you were serving it as a side dish, with perhaps bread and salad. And dessert, of course. Or wiener schnitzel. It would be awesome with that.

I was disappointed that other than the microwaveable container, none of the packaging was recyclable. That seems to be more and more common these days and I don't understand why.

 

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Coconut Sour Cream Drop Cookies

Here’s another variant on the Sour Cream Drop Cookie recipe from the Betty Crocker Picture Cooky Book. I actually made it several weeks ago, but life got in the way.

Just for fun, I made it with banana yogurt rather than sour cream, thinking banana would go well with coconut. However, you could only taste the banana if you already knew it was there. Not a wasted experiment, though, as I now know yogurt can be substituted for sour cream, if that’s what you’ve got in the house.


½ cup shortening

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream* (half a 500 ml tub)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup shredded coconut

2 ¾ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

 

Cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. Stir in coconut.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir into shortening mixture. Chill at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 425⁰F. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until delicately brown.

Makes about 5 dozen.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Granola

With the price of everything, including breakfast cereal, sky high these days, I decided to pull out my old recipe for homemade granola. Making your own is easy, cheaper than store-bought, and you know what’s in it. Don’t like raisins? Allergic to nuts? No problem. Use your own add-ins. I like dark chocolate curls and banana chips.

 

6 cups quick cook oats

6 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

3 ounces vegetable oil (coconut gives a nice flavour if you happen to have any on hand)

2/3 cup water

Add-ins (optional) such as raisins, almonds, dried pineapple…


Combine oatmeal, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in vegetable oil and water. Spread thinly on one or two cookie sheets (the ones with sides, not the flat ones) and dry in a 225⁰F oven for two hours. Stir in desired add-ins.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Sportsmanlike Conduct

The winter I was eight, we must have had a lot of snowstorms followed by thaws. There was a small paved patch near our house, and that year it got covered with a layer of ice, turning it into a mini rink. While it was small, it was much more convenient than going to the official rink a few blocks away, which was also outdoors. This was especially so since we always had to walk to the rink wearing our skates (with guards on the blades, of course).

I was out on the mini rink by myself one morning, skating slowly around, when I saw a group of boys headed my direction and carrying hockey sticks. Since the ice wasn’t big enough for them to play on and me to skate on, I started moving faster, determined to enjoy the last few seconds before they kicked me off. After all, I was a girl and I was alone. I understood the laws of the playground.

The boys arrived, and we eyed each other warily. Though they must have been from the neighborhood, I didn’t know any of them, not surprisingly since they were a little older than me and we hadn’t been living there that long.

Finally, one of them spoke. “Do you know how to play hockey?”

I shook my head. I barely knew how to skate.

They looked at each other. Here it comes, I thought. “Okay, why don’t you play goalie?” he said. And so I did. They marked off a goal at one end with piles of clothing, and I stood in front of it, while they skated around and took shots. I even managed to stop a few. I felt pretty good about it as I walked back to the house.

Looking back, I realized the boys were probably happy to have someone else in net—that gave them all the chance to try and score goals. It was still very generous of them to share the ice with me (even though I was there first). Their willingness to share the game they loved, even with a girl, has left me with a fond spot for hockey in my heart ever since.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Burnt Butter Icing

Here’s the icing from the Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book to go with the Butterscotch Drop Cookies. It only makes enough to cover 30 so you’ll need to do a double batch if you want to ice all of them.

 

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup icing sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

hot water


Melt butter until golden brown. Blend in icing sugar and vanilla. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons hot water until icing spreads smoothly.

Note: Since the cookies are rather craggy, there is no way the icing is going to spread smoothly. Get it to a good modelling consistency and, once cool enough to handle, take a small quantity and smoosh it over the top of each cookie.

I haven’t tried this on anything else yet, but am thinking it would be good on cake or thinned down to a glaze for doughnuts.

 

https://www.katesvirtualkitchen.com/2024/02/butterscotch-drop-cookies.html

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Butterscotch Drop Cookies

Here’s the first variant on the Sour Cream Drop Cookie recipe from my last post. They tell you to just substitute brown sugar for white and add nuts, but rather than make you go back and look, I’ve typed it out below.

I’ve been on a quest for a cookie that actually tastes like butterscotch for years, only to be disappointed every time. Even using butterscotch pudding mix or butter pecan cake mix didn’t work. So I didn’t think a simple swap of brown sugar for white would magically produce butterscotch. It didn’t, though it’s a good cookie, but the icing! That does taste like butterscotch. I may have to try using brown butter in some of my cookie recipes to see if that’s the answer I’ve been looking for.


½ cup shortening

1 ½ cups brown sugar

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream (half a 500 ml tub)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 ¾ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2/3 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans zapped in my coffee grinder until coarse)

 

Cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs. Stir in sour cream and vanilla.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir into shortening mixture. Stir in nuts. Chill at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 425⁰F. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until delicately brown.

Cool. Ice with burnt butter icing.

Makes about 5 dozen.

 

https://www.katesvirtualkitchen.com/2024/02/old-fashioned-sour-cream-drop-cookies.html

https://www.katesvirtualkitchen.com/2024/02/burnt-butter-icing.html

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Drop Cookies

Sometime before Christmas, I came across the Betty Crocker Picture Cooky Book on Project Gutenberg. There were lots of interesting recipes in it, but my Christmas baking list was finalized, so I had to wait until everything had been baked AND eaten before trying something new.

This particular recipe is a “key” recipe, a basic recipe followed by several variations. While it was easy to work with and the cookies came out light and puffy, they were rather plain. I was a bit disappointed, as the combination of sour cream and vanilla in the dough made it smell like cheesecake, but the aroma didn’t survive the oven. However, they’d be easy enough to spice up, either with one of the given variations or your own add-ins. In fact, I’ve already tried variation two, and it was delicious.

 

½ cup shortening

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream* (half a 500 ml tub)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 ¾ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt


Cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs. Stir in sour cream and vanilla.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir into shortening mixture. Chill at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 425⁰F. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until delicately brown.

Makes about 5 dozen.

 

*The recipe called for “thick” sour cream but the 5% I used worked just fine.


https://www.katesvirtualkitchen.com/2024/02/butterscotch-drop-cookies.html

https://www.katesvirtualkitchen.com/2024/02/burnt-butter-icing.html

https://www.katesvirtualkitchen.com/2024/04/coconut-sour-cream-drop-cookies.html

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Product Review: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookie Dough

The last time I put a grocery order in, I noticed they had Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookie Dough available (it’s in with the other Pillsbury cookies). I wasn’t really expecting too much, but we needed cookies, having finally run out of Christmas baking, and I was short on time so figured they were worth a try.

The package makes two dozen cookies. When I took off the outer wrap, I found a cardboard tray with 24 little cubes sitting on it. All I had to do was plunk them on a cookie sheet, squash them down with a fork, and bake them. Can’t get any easier than that.

They were really good. Better than most “boughten” cookies. They actually tasted like homemade, and the price and quantity was comparable to a regular package of cookies. If you need cookies in a hurry, they’re a good option.

The package also claims you can eat the dough without actually baking it first, that they’re, “Safe to eat raw.” I didn’t try it, but given the cooked flavour, I imagine they’d be great.

If you’re (sshhh!) trying to pass these off as your own baking, you might want to roll the cubes in your hands until they’re round before placing them on the sheet and flattening them. Otherwise, the cookies come out looking a little square.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Found and Tested: Peppermint Mocha Scones

 

I always like to try at least one new recipe each Christmas. This past year I was looking for breakfast items as I have more than enough cookie recipes already. I came across this recipe for Peppermint Mocha Scones. I like peppermint, I like mocha, I like scones. Seemed worth a try.

It actually came out fairly well, though despite similar ingredients and technique, nothing like scones. More like a cake, really, though not overly sweet. Would I make it again? Yes, definitely.

First things first. You can actually buy pre-crushed candy canes, and the fact that I had a bag on hand probably gave me a push towards trying this recipe. I bought mine at Yupik, but I don’t think they exist outside of Montreal. I’ve heard they can sometimes be found at Walmart or The Bulk Barn. Anyway, what you need to know is that six crushed candy canes is roughly ¾ cup.

The amount of peppermint called for was perfect. Enough, but not overpowering. And the remaining ¼ cup of candy cane dust sprinkled over the top gives it that festive look.

I’d probably leave out the optional coffee powder next time. The one I used (an espresso powder), even though I used less, was too strong, masking the cocoa.

Rather than patting the dough into a nine-inch pan and then dumping it out on the counter to be cut into wedges, I formed it into a roll, cut it into six slices and baked it in a hamburger bun mould. That gave me rather large servings; we generally cut them half and made them serve two.