Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tater Tot Casserole

My cousin Kimberly got married last year, the weekend before we did. While we were both in the wedding-planning stage, she sent me this yummy recipe. Good luck in Florida, Kim!

Tater Tot Casserole
1 lb ground beef
1 package frozen tater tots
1 block cheddar cheese
2-3 cans cream of celery soup
(to serve two, we used a little less than a pound of beef, about half of a package of tater tots, just enough cheese to cover the top of our 9*9 baking dish, and only one can of soup)
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Brown meat on the stovetop. Season to taste, using your preferred spices. Drain and place in the bottom of a square or rectangular baking dish.
  3. Layer tater tots over beef.
  4. Pour cream of celery soup over tater tots. We did not mix the layers at this point, but it might help to do so.
  5. Place shredded cheese on the very top. Bake for 45 minutes, or until tater tots are sufficiently heated and cheese has melted.

    Sunday, March 27, 2011

    Homemade Bran Muffins

    With two full days on campus each week for both of us, it gets challenging to try to come up with at least somewhat healthy food to take with us. Sandwiches get soggy; we do not have a spare moment to microwave leftovers. One food item that holds up pretty well, tastes good, and sustains us is the bran muffin.

    I found the following recipe online a while back and decided to try it. You can find it in its original form here.

    It was not as easy as I thought it would be to find wheat bran. Apparently they do not carry it at Walmart, which is where we do a lot of our shopping. We finally found some at Smith's, in the cereal aisle. I found it in a display with other "Bob's Mill" special mixes and cereals (which is where I was looking at Walmart, but to no avail). It is helpful to know that it looks like sawdust :o)

    Bran Muffins
    1 1/2 c wheat bran
    1 c buttermilk (or 1 c milk plus 1 Tbsp lemon juice or 1 3/4 Tbsp cream of tartar)
    1/3 c vegetable oil
    1 egg
    2/3 c brown sugar
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    1 c flour
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 c raisins (the next time I make these, I think I may try adding Craisins for a twist)
    1. Preheat oven to 375°F and prepare muffin tin by placing liners or greasing cups.
    2. Mix wheat bran and buttermilk (or substitution) and let stand 10 minutes.
    3. Mix wet ingredients in another bowl.
    4. Mix dry ingredients in a third bowl. Then, combine everything and add raisins.
    5. Pour into muffin tin, filling cups about 2/3 full. You should be able to fit all of the batter into 12 regular-sized muffin tin wells.
    6. Bake 15-20 minutes.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    Chop Suey

    Almost two years ago, when I met Thomas' sister Elizabeth and her family for the first time, she and her husband, Saki, prepared a meal of chop suey for us to enjoy. It was delicious! We tried the recipe they shared recently, and although I didn't make it as well as they did, it is worth sharing!

    Chop Suey
    meat (optional)
    various vegetables, sliced/shredded: shredded carrots, bok choy, mushrooms, peppers, celery, or broccoli slaw, for example. We also used zucchini.
    soy sauce
    rice, ramen noodles, or rice noodles (hard to find... but inexpensive at WinCo)
    1. Sautée some garlic and ginger in some oil. Add meat if using meat, and a bit of soy sauce.
    2. Add in vegetables and more soy sauce, oil, garlic, and ginger to taste.
    3. Cook until veggies are heated but still crunch.
    4. Serve with/over prepared rice, ramen noodles (sans seasoning), or rice noodles. The rice noodles we used were very thin and stringy; Elizabeth and Saki had some fatter-looking noodles that I liked better when we had them... Use what suits you!

      Wednesday, March 16, 2011

      "Swedish" weekend, pt. 3

      As the final installment of our Swedish recipes (for now, anyway), we would like to share with you "Swedish pancakes," another recipe from Sarah.

      Swedish pancakes have a very viscous batter, so when they are cooked they are very thin, like crêpes. Don't be broken-hearted if your first few do not turn out... that seems to be the rule with crêpes!

      Swedish pancakes
      2 1/2 dl (a little more than 1 cup) flour
      1/2 tsk (1/2 tsp) salt
      6 dl (2 1/2 cups) milk
      3 eggs
      3 msk (3 Tbsp) butter, melted
      1. Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Add half of the milk and mix until smooth.
      2. Add remaining milk, eggs, and butter. Continue to mix.
      3. Fry. It is easiest to ladle some batter into a heated pan and swirl it around until it coats the bottom of the pan. Let cook until you can loosen the sides of your pancake from the pan. Since it is so thin, you do not have to flip it, but you can if you want to.
      4. Serve with toppings such as powdered sugar, jam, or berries. You can roll these like crêpes.

      Sunday, March 13, 2011

      "Swedish" weekend, pt. 2

      The second Swedish recipe we tried was for "Kladdkaka," or, as Sarah explained, "some kind of Swedish brownie." We enjoyed it as dessert after our Swedish meatballs!

      Kladdkaka (Swedish brownies)
      100 g (about 1/2 cup) butter
      2 dl (a little less than 1 cup) flour
      2 eggs
      3 dl (about 1 1/4 cup) sugar
      1 tsk (1 tsp) vanilla
      3 msk (3 Tbsp) cocoa powder
      1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
      2. Melt butter and set aside.
      3. Mix sugar and eggs until fluffy.
        Add flour, vanilla, and cocoa. Mix.
      4. Add butter and mix.
      5. Pour mixture into a baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes. Our Kladdkaka was fragile and the top of it collapsed when we tested it with a toothpick... but it was delicious anyway!

        Wednesday, March 9, 2011

        "Swedish" weekend, pt. 1

        For our wedding last year, Thomas' cute cousin, Sarah, was able to travel to the States from Sweden to attend. She wrote out some Swedish recipes for us that we finally tried out recently! The recipes were originally written using metric measurements, which was fine for us because Sarah also gave us some special measuring cups. Most of our readers probably do not have access to them, though, so we will share the American measurements as well.

        The first in our 3-part series is a dish that a lot of people probably associate with Sweden: Swedish meatballs! These were so yummy, and although the recipe made a lot, we didn't have leftovers for very long!

        Swedish Meatballs
        500 g (1.1 lb) ground beef (or other meat of your choice)
        1 dl (about 6 3/4 Tbsp) breadcrumbs
        1 1/2 dl (about 2/3 cup) milk
        1 1/2 tsk (about 1 1/2 tsp) salt
        1 1/2 krm (about 1/4 tsp) pepper
        1 egg
        2 msk (about 2 Tbsp) chopped onions, caramelized
        1. Combine milk and breadcrumbs. Let soak 10 minutes.
        2. Add salt and meat, mixing carefully.
        3. Add pepper, egg, and caramelized onions. Mix until well combined. Do not over-mix, or your meatballs may have a rubbery texture.
        4. Form small (1 1/2") balls from the meat mixture. Fry at a medium low heat.

          Sunday, March 6, 2011

          Chocolate truffles

          Back in high school, I took several French classes. Occasionally, the French teachers would let us cook French food! I believe I got this recipe for chocolate truffles during one of these French cooking classes. I typically make them around Christmas because they make great gifts for friends.

          Chocolate Truffles
          1/2 c heavy cream
          1/3 c sugar
          6 T butter
          1 c chocolate chips
          1 t vanilla
          cocoa powder
          1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring just to a boil, then remove from heat. Immediately add chocolate chips.
          2. Stir until chocolate chips are melted; add vanilla.
          3. Pour into a bowl. Cool, stirring occasionally.
          4. Cover & chill concoction in the fridge for several hours, until it becomes more set but is still soft (you really don't want it to set completely - it makes it a challenge and a half to perform the next step, so only make this recipe if you know you will be able to get back to it within say 3 hours).
          5. Form mixture into small (1") balls. I find it is easiest to use two small spoons. Drop into a bowl of cocoa powder and coat well - for a twist, add cinnamon. You can also roll these in chopped nuts of your choice.
          6. Enjoy! They will remain relatively soft, so it is best to store them in the fridge. You can find small foil candy holders (see below) and gift boxes at your local craft store.

          (Like Thomas' plate? He made it as a young child. We're not sure if those are flowers or Ts...)