ldyjocelyn

The Cook's Corner

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There's been some fantastic recipes posted on the main thread lately, and I think they should be collected here.

Here's one, from gbmifan:

Pumpkin Pie Cake

Crust:

1(2 layer size) box yellow cake mix(reserve 1 cup)

1/2 cup (1stick) margarine - very soft

1 egg

Filling:

1 large can pumpkin

3 eggs

2/3 c evaporated milk

2tsp cinnamon

1 cup sugar

Topping:

1 cup reserved cake mix

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup margarine, softened

1 cup chopped pecans

Mix crust ingredients and press into 13x9 inch baking pan. Mix filling ingredients and pour over crusts. Mix cake mix, sugar, and margarine together until crumble; sprinkle over filling. Sprinkle pecans on top. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Serve warm with whipp topping.

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Sugar Cookies

2 Cups Sugar

1 Cup Shortening

2 Eggs

1 Cup Milk

2 Teaspoons Cream of Tarter

2 Teaspoons Baking Soda

2 Teaspoons Vanilla

7 Cups Flour

Cream sugar and shortening; add eggs, milk and vanilla. Combine flour, soda and cream of tarter and add to sugar mixture. This makes a very stiff dough. Chill dough before rolling out. Roll thin, cut into various shapes and bake at 375 until just brown around the edges. Frost and decorate when cooled.

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Christmas Crescent Cookies

1/2 pound butter

2 cups flour

2 cups chopped pecans

7 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 tablespoon water

1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and add sugar, vanilla and water. Sift flour and salt together and stir into mixture. Add pecans and miz thoroughly.

Using portions the size of a small walnut; roll into crescent shaped cookies. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 325 degrees. While still warm, roll in powder sugar.

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QUICK PASTA AND BEAN SOUP

1 cup uncooked ditalini pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small zucchini cut into 1/2 inch or smaller dice

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 1-pound cans cannellini beans (can use 1 can cannellini and one can chick peas)

14-ounce can crushed or pureed tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt-free herb and spice seasoning blend

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning blend

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1) Cook pasta according to package direction until al dente. Drain

2) In the meantime, heat oil in a soup pot. Ad the zucchini and garlic and cook over moderate heat, covered, about 2 minutes.

3) Ad the remaining ingredients except the parsley along with 3 cups of water. Turn the heat up and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat back down to moderate and simmer gently but steadily for 10 minutes, covered.

4) Add pasta and parsley to the soup. Adjust consistency with water if too dense.

********

Now I am not one to follow directions exactly so these are the variations I made. I added my own selection of seasonings instead of the herb blend and paprika (because I didn't have any). I added about a teaspoon of basil, a half teaspoon of both oregano and thyme, a bay leaf and lots of freshly ground pepper. Also, I used a 28-ounce can of crushed organic fire-roasted tomatoes and then used 2-1/2 cups of vegetable broth instead of water. The fire roasted tomatoes add a wonderful flavor and the vegetable broth also makes it more flavorful. If you buy vegetable broth, beware of the sodium content. Some have waaaaay too much salt for my taste. I had no fresh parsley and was going to put in dried parsley flakes, but forgot and I also simmered it uncovered because I didn't notice that it was supposed to be covered.

The soup was very filling and thick and yummy. Add a salad and if you want some good crusty bread and a glass (or more!) of wine and you have a great, healthy meal for a winter's evening.

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OK, all the squash talk made me dig out this recipe. I made it for our Canadian Thanksgiving in October, just for a change, and it was a hit with the squash lovers!

Trinidadian Pumpkin

3 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, finely crushed

1 fresh hot green chile, sliced into very thin rings

1 tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

2 lbs butternut or hubbard squash flesh (from a 3 lb segment) cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar

Put the oil in a large, wide, preferably nonstick pan and set over medium high heat. When very hot, put in the onion. Stir and fry until the onion is lightly browned. Put in the garlic, chile, thyme, and cilantro. Stir for a few seconds until the garlic is golden and put in the pumpkin or squash. Stir for a minute. Add 3 tbsp of water, cover, turn the heat to low and cook for 40 to 45 minutes or until just tender, stirring now and then and replacing the cover each time. Uncover and add the salt and sugar. Stir gently, mashing the pumpkin lightly so that you retain some texture. Serve hot.

Serves 4 to 6.

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I had a request to post this recipe. I have no idea where it originated, but I used to go to my Aunt Ruth's house every Christmas when I was little, and she always made these. Never had them anywhere else, but I made sure to get the recipe (pretty quick thinker for a 10 year old, huh?)

Aunt Ruth's No-Cook Cherry Balls

1 cup softened butter (you can use margarine but they are really not as good)

3 cups icing sugar

3 cups unsweetened, dessicated coconut

2 tbsp milk

2 tsp pure almond extract

2 jars maraschino cherries

Graham cracker crumbs

Drain cherries well. Cream butter, sugar, coconut, milk, and almond extract. Wrap dough around each cherry, then roll each in graham cracker crumbs. Place in refrigerator. Makes 60 -70 balls (depending how sparingly you manage to wrap each cherry!)

These will keep for weeks and weeks, so they are great to make in advance of Christmas. For those interested, I recreated this recipe on TheDailyPlate.com and it tells me each cherry ball has approx 121 calories with 6 g of fat. :)

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Oh, yum, I'm so glad you posed the cherry ball recipe.

I have a simple recipe, am not much of a cook although I love buying cookbooks, especially the ones put out by people in the community.

Anyway, I hesitate to post because it is so simple, but this is great if you need something easy to take to a party. The recipe makes two large cheese balls, so adjust accordingly.

2 lbs cream cheese

3 pkgs Carl Budding pastrami chopped in small pieces

1 bunch green onions, chopped

Pecans, finely chopped for rolling cheese balls in

Mix first 3 ingredients together shape into 2 balls, roll in chopped pecans. Wrap in Saran Wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. It is best made a day or two ahead of time.

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Oh, yum, I'm so glad you posed the cherry ball recipe.

I have a simple recipe, am not much of a cook although I love buying cookbooks, especially the ones put out by people in the community.

Anyway, I hesitate to post because it is so simple, but this is great if you need something easy to take to a party. The recipe makes two large cheese balls, so adjust accordingly.

2 lbs cream cheese

3 pkgs Carl Budding pastrami chopped in small pieces

1 bunch green onions, chopped

Pecans, finely chopped for rolling cheese balls in

Mix first 3 ingredients together shape into 2 balls, roll in chopped pecans. Wrap in Saran Wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. It is best made a day or two ahead of time.

What do you call those things??

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I've been reading up on the anit-inflamatory properties of foods (thanks, YSRN!) and saw that cherries & berries are among the best fruits. I also have a bottle of good Marsala wine that I need to be using up, so I made this tonight for dinner. Served it with brown rice & oven roasted aparagus - yum!

Grilled Chicken with Cherries

serves 4

1/2 c. Marsala wine

1/2 c. chicken stock (I used reduced sodium)

1 c. fresh cherries, pitted (I used frozen, thawed on the counter top for 15-20 minutes)

1 sm. shallot, finely chopped

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. honey

2 Tbs. butter (I used 1 Tbs. lt. butter w/canola oil + 1 Tbs. olive oil)

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs (usually use breasts, this time used thighs)

salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder to taste

Add butter/oil and shallot to small saucepan over med. to med. high heat; saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add wine, stock, cherries, vinegar and honey and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer until cherries soften, about 7-8 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, season chicken with salt, pepper, garlic & onion powder and grill until done. I used a heavy, non-stick grill pan. You could also bake the chicken if you prefer.

To serve, spoon a little glaze onto the plate, place chicken in middle and then top with more glaze and a few cherries.

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Wow, annabear, that sounds yummy. But as a non-drinker, I have no idea what Marsala wine is.....do you think I could substitute something else?

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You could sub all chicken stock in place of the wine. Maybe add a little cherry preserves, or up the honey just a bit to even out the sweet, fruitiness that the wine adds to the recipe. I had it again last night & it was even better left over!

Here's some info on Marsala wine - Marsala Wine Wiki

In cooking

Marsala wine is frequently used in cooking, and is especially prevalent in Italian restaurants in the United States. A typical Marsala sauce, for example, involves reducing the wine almost to a syrup with onions or shallots, then adding mushrooms and herbs. One of the most popular Marsala recipe is Chicken Marsala, in which flour-coated pounded chicken breast halves are braised in a mixture of Marsala, butter, olive oil, mushrooms, and spices.[8] Marsala is also used in some risotto recipes, and is used to produce rich Italian desserts such as zabaglione and shortcake.[9]

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http://www.4ingredients.com.au/

Two Australian women (mothers of young children) created a cookbook with a bunch of recipes that have only 4 ingredients or less.

It has become a huge hit because of the ease and simplicity of putting together a meal, and they now have their own TV show.

I thought some of you may be interested..... I am NOT recommending that you buy the book, but you can sign up for the free recipe. I was going to check the library to see if they have the book, but after I saw a few of the free recipes last year, I wasn't that impressed but that's just me being boring. Their cookbook was the biggest selling book of 2007, apparently.

4 ingredients Quick Mango Fish

Serves 4

* 4 pieces of fresh, boned and cleaned swordfish/mahi mahi or marlin

* ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (or Macadamia Nut Oil)

* 2 fresh mangoes (Rachael slices mango up and freezes it so she can still cook this recipe up during the winter months on the barbe with sliced potato - yum!)

* Cracked pepper

Coat fish liberally with extra virgin olive oil and cracked pepper. Cook on a medium heated BBQ surface or flat fry pan. Cook fish till you can see the flesh turning white up to half way through, and then grind some more cracked pepper onto the exposed non-cooked surface before flipping over. Add Mango to the pan/barbeque and serve!

Rum Balls

Makes 15. An absolute treasure from Anthony ‘Spud’ Moore, Rachael's brother who is a very talented chef.

* 500g moist Christmas cake or heavy fruit cake

* ½ cup dark rum

* 1 block of dark chocolate (250 grams)

* 1 cup desiccated coconut

Place Christmas cake and rum in a food processor and blend until combined. Allow to stand for 30 minutes in fridge. Melt chocolate. Roll cake mix into balls, smother with chocolate and roll in coconut. Place on a tray and chill before serving. Enjoy!!!! You can also make them now and freeze them too!

Strawberry Sweet & Sour

* 1 punnet strawberries, washed

* ¼ cup brown sugar

* ½ cup of lite sour cream

Place brown sugar and sour cream in separate ramekins, dip a strawberry into sour cream and then into the sugar … Savour the Flavour!

AND if you really want to celebrate, add the 4th ingredient which we recommend - a glass of bubbles!

The Flourless Chocolate Cake

* 4 eggs

* 200g butter

* 200g dark chocolate

* 1 cup caster sugar

Preheat oven 180C. Separate eggs; add ½ the sugar to the yolks and beat well with a mixer. Beat egg whites until fluffy then add remaining sugar, gradually beating until stiff peaks form. Melt butter and chocolate over hot water stirring regularly. Pour into egg yolk mixture and fold. Once combined fold in egg whites. Line a cake tin with greaseproof paper and pour in mixture. Bake for 40 minutes in the lower third of your oven. NB: This cake will collapse, as it has no flour to sustain the rise.

Optional: Can be served warm or cold and is delicious with fresh whipped cream

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PEANUT BUTTER PIE

8 oz cream cheese....softened

2 c conf. sugar

cream together until fluffy....add

1 c milk

2/3 c peanut butter (crunchy or creamy...your choice)

beat until smooth.....then fold in

16 oz Cool Whip, thawed

Poor into 2 9" or 3-8" graham cracker crusts. Freeze

We just top ours with drizzled hot fudge and chopped peanuts.

Well..at the risk of being annoying...here is one we really like on hot summer days....

ORANGE PIE

2 8 ounce cream cheese-softened

2 c conf sugar

1 sm orange jello

1 can mandarin oranges-drained

1 T orange peel

1/4 c orange juice

1/2 t lemon juice

1 8 ounce container of Cool Whip (can use more)

Combine dry ingredients, add juices. Blend into cream cheese.

Fold in oranges and cool whip.

Pour into 2 graham cracker crusts. Freeze

In both recipes I have used the light version of cream cheese and cool whip and whatever else I can find.

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I got this in an email today and it brought back memories of how I almost burnt down the kitchen when I was 15. I was cooking fries when the oil caught on fire. In MY 15 year old mind ..water puts out fire ... so I instinctively poured water over the pan and you can see the result I had from the video below. Maybe I was a dumb kid but that's what happened. I don't know what they teach in school these days but one of the things they SHOULD teach as a proper subject is something I call "Living Skills", which would include everything from CPR to sex. (I know these would/should be considered the parents' responsibility but how many of us were properly educated by our parents on matters that fall under the category of living skills, beyond dialling 911 and 'stranger-danger?) Twenty-years ago, I did a First Aid course at work and was amazed at how much I didn't know about the basics in techniques that could save a life.

I never realized that a wet dishcloth can be a one-size-fits-all lid to cover a fire in a pan!

This is a dramatic video (34-second, very short) about how to deal with a common kitchen fire ...... oil in a frying pan.

Read the following introduction, then watch the show .... It's a real eye-opener!!

At the Fire Fighting Training school they would demonstrate this with a deep fat fryer set on the fire field. An instructor would don a fire suit and using an 8 oz cup at the end of a 10 foot pole toss water onto the grease fire. The results got the attention of the students.

The water, being heavier than oil, sinks to the bottom where it instantly becomes superheated. The explosive force of the steam blows the burning oil up and out. On the open field, it became a thirty foot high fireball that resembled a nuclear blast. Inside the confines of a kitchen, the fire ball hits the ceiling and fills the entire room.

Also, do not throw sugar or flour on a grease fire. One cup creates the explosive force of two sticks of dynamite.

This is a powerful message----watch the video and don't forget what you see.

Tell your whole family about this video. Or better yet, send this to them.

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Besides tasting good, this recipe is also very pretty with the creaminess of the cheese, deep green zucchini & yellow summer squash, bright green dill, pale yellow lemon zest and lavender of the shallots. The only alteration I made was to not add the goat cheese for the last 20-30 minutes of baking - instead I sprinkled a little more Parmesan on top. I managed to get all of the veggies & herbs from farmer's markets, so they were nice & fresh. It was absolutely DELICIOUS!

This is the second recipe I've tried recently from Heidi Swanson and her 101 Cookbooks blog. Most of her recipes are fairly healthy and mainly vegetarian. There are many more I'll be trying, especially once the weather cools down, as I love cooking in the fall & winter.

Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake

To shred the zucchini use a box grater - most micro planes are too fine, you want shredded zucchini, not mush. Feel free to play around with the "add-in" ingredients - for example, use whatever chopped herbs you like. I had dill on hand, and I like how it tastes with summer squash, so dill it was. I suspect anything from chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or chives, to spices, chopped spinach, or corn could work here. Also, when I have the time and inclination I'll drain the ricotta through cheesecloth to get even more moisture out of the cake, but to be honest, most times I won't bother. Lastly, I use a spring form pan here, but you could use an equivalent baking dish or deep tart pan as well.

2 cups zucchini, unpeeled & grated

1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese

1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

2 shallots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

zest of one lemon

2 large eggs, well beaten

1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled

drizzle of olive oil

Preheat oven to 325F degrees, racks the middle. Butter/oil a 7-inch spring form pan.

In a strainer, toss the shredded zucchini with the salt and let sit for ten minutes. Now aggressively squeeze and press out as much moisture as you can. Set aside.

In the meantime, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, shallots, garlic, dill and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Stir in the eggs and continue mixing until well combined. Now stir in the shredded zucchini. Fill the spring form pan with the ricotta mixture and place on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for sixty minutes. If there is any moisture left on top of the cake at this point, carefully use a bit of paper towel to dab it off. Now sprinkle with the goat cheese and return to the oven for another 20 -30 minutes or until the goat cheese is melted and the cake barely jiggles in the center (it will set up more as it cools).

At this point, if the cake is baked and set, but the top isn't quite golden, I'll zap it with the broiler (just about a minute) to get a bit more color on top. Remove from the oven and let cool five minutes, then release the cake from its pan. Cool completely, serve at room temperature drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a few sprigs of dill.

Serves 8.

I served this at room temp, on a bed of mixed baby lettuces & baby tomatoes with the drizzle of olive oil she recommends. My guests loved it!

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I got this list in an email. Some of the hints are already well-know but the one right at the end was a surprise to me. DON'T MISS IT!

DID YOU KNOW?

1. BANANAS

Peel a banana from the bottom and you won't have to pick the little 'stringy things' off of it. That's how the primates do it.

Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.

2. CHEESE

Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!

3. PEPPERS

Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating.

Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.

4. GROUND BEEF

Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef.

It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.

5. SCRAMBLED EGGS

To really make scrambled eggs or omelettes rich add a couple of

Spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.

6. BROWNIES

For a cool brownie treat, make brownies as directed. Melt chocolate mint patties

In double broiler and pour over warm brownies. Let set for a wonderful minty frosting.

7. GARLIC

Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic.

Add garlic at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic.

8. SNICKERS

Leftover snickers bars from Halloween make a delicious dessert. Simply chop them up with the food chopper. Peel, core and slice a few apples.. Place them in a baking dish and sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes!!! Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream. Yummm!

9. REHEATING PIZZA

Heat up leftover pizza in a non stick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm.

This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza. I saw this on the cooking channel and it really works.

10. EASY DEVILLE EGGS

Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done easy clean up.

11. EXPANDING FROSTING

When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.

12. NO MORE MOSQUITOES

Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the mosquitoes away.

13. FLEXIBLE VACUUM HOSE

To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.

14. REDUCING STATIC CLING

Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and... At DA!... Static is gone.

15. GET RID OF ANTS

Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants.. They eat it, take it 'home,' can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!

16. IMPORTANT INFO ABOUT CLOTHES DRYERS

The heating unit went out on my dryer! The gentleman that fixes things around the house for us told us that he wanted to show us something and he went over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load clothes.) He told us that he wanted to show us something; he took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it. The lint filter is made of a mesh material... I'm sure you know what your dryer's lint filter looks like. Well ...the hot water just sat on top of the mesh! It didn't go through it at all!
He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh that's what burns out the heating unit.
You can't SEE the film, but it's there. It's what is in the dryer sheets to make your clothes soft and static free... that nice fragrance too. You know how they can feel waxy when you take them out of the box ..well this stuff builds up on your clothe sand on your lint screen.
This is also what causes dryer units to potentially burn your house down
with it!
He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very longtime (and to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush (or other brush) at least every six months.
He said that makes the life of the dryer at least twice as long!

Note: I went to my dryer and tested my screen by running water on it. The water ran through a little bit but mostly collected all the water in the mesh screen. I washed it with warm soapy water and a nylon brush and I had it done in 30 seconds. Then when I rinsed it... the water ran right through the screen! There wasn't any puddling at all! That repairman knew what he was talking about!

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Heh, forget the filter, the tube to the outside is where most of the fire tart. disconnect that sucker and vacuum it clean every 6 months or so. I don't use dryer sheets unless i have a lot of lint, but there is always lint build up in the tube. Actually, I always have a lot of lint and that probably keeps my filter clean, the little dog hairs that prick through the mesh.

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Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Batter:

Cream together ½ cup butter, 1 cup sugar, and 2 eggs. Add 1 cup sour cream and ½ teaspoon vanilla.

Add dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking power, ½ teaspoon salt. Mix thoroughly.

Streusel:

Mix 6-7 heaping tablespoons flour, 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon, ¾ cup white sugar, ½ cup brown sugar and enough melted butter (about 5-7 tablespoons) to get the right consistency for streusel. Add ½ cup chopped walnuts if desired. (Caution: too much butter causes the streusel to be crunchy after baking. It should not be “wet”, but rather, crumbly after mixing with butter.)

In greased 13 x 9 pan, spread ½ batter. (Batter will be very thick and is a little tricky to spread.) Sprinkle on a little less than ½ of the streusel. Add some chocolate chips and “lightly” pat down. (Makes it easier to spread remaining batter.) Spread remaining batter, add streusel and chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes (check at 30 minutes, depending on oven – you know how temperamental they can be.)

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5 MINUTE CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE

4 tablespoons cake flour(that’s plain flour, not self-raising)

4 tablespoons sugar I use 3T

2 tablespoons baking cocoa dark dutch cocoa

1 egg

3 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons oil I use 2 T

3 tablespoons chocolate chips(optional)

a small splash of vanilla essence

1 coffee mug

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well

Add the egg and mix thoroughly.

Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.

Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla essence, and mix again.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. ( 800 watts works).

The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed!

Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.

(I also add a few grains of salt and I have read that chopped nuts are good in it)

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Although cooking isn't my favourite thing to do, it is something I have tried really hard at on a regular basis, for health reasons. My health improved dramatically when I found a doctor who practiced nutritional medicine. I am not a health fanatic but I only have 'treat' type foods in moderation. Fortunately for me, I love vegetables and used to be a vegetarian, but my doctor wanted me to have a more balanced diet, so I now eat some meat. (I avoid pork, I still remember science class and what the teacher told us about pork, but lots of people who do eat it are walking around so that's just one of my mind-over-matter quirks. However, in social situations, I have learned just to eat what someone else has taken the trouble to cook, as long as it isn't offal because that would make me gag.)

I don't like cold weather but the one thing about winter I look forward to is cooking in bulk the kinds of healthy meals that can be easily frozen into meal portions. I have been desperate enough to buy those supermarket frozen meals but I'd eat it wondering what I was really eating ...!!

One of the best tips I have come across is to make creamy soup without any cream or water. The tip is to juice your vegetable, and use that liquid to make your broth, using fresh bones. For example, if you put fresh corn through a juicer, and then cook chicken bones in the corn juice, the flavor is amazing. Just add your preferences for additional flavor, such as sea salt, cilantro etc. When serving the soup, I like to add some fresh crunchy garnish, such as green shallots, Chinese coriander (cilantro) or finely chopped raw red onion.

I have at least a dozen garden pots producing fresh Italian parsley, curly parsley, shallots, chili, cilantro, lemon grass, basil, regular mint, Vietnamese mint, "perpetual" celery, "perpetual" lettuce, and a few other fresh herbs that I can't pronounce, let alone spell! Cilantro is probably the easiest thing to grow, i.e. the Mexican one with jagged leaves, not Chinese coriander which is totally impossible to grow even though it is a great garnish, so it is one of the few fresh herbs that I buy. Nothing beats fresh, organically grown herbs, snipped just minutes before being added to your food.

One thing I notice about Americans is that you guys love your cookies! (We call them biscuits or bikkies) I have never made them and I can't remember when I last bought a packet, but I do remember what kind they were - TIM TAMS!!! Anyone who is coming here, don't leave this country without sampling them! If you have an Australian coming to see you, make sure they have packed some Tim Tams for you! When Hugh Jackson was on an American talk show (promoting the movie "Australia"), he took along enough Tim Tams for the entire audience!

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Oh, YUM, claytonic!

Tim Tams are a chocolate biscuit made by Arnott's Biscuits, Australia. A Tim Tam is composed of two layers of chocolate malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate cream filling, and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate.

You're right about the flavor you get in soups, stews, etc. when you use meat on the bone. I haven't made any soups this winter, with moving and all. I've missed them. Canned versions, no matter how supposedly healthy, blah, blah, blah, just don't cut it. Maybe I'll make some butternut squash soup this weekend... :ready6:

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I was asked to give my brocolli soup recipe so here goes.....this is an approximation since I was just experimenting, but was really happy with the results.

I chopped up half a cooking onion, about 3 green onions, a clove of garlic, and a small piece of a really hot yellow pepper (no idea what kind it was, my SIL left it when she went back to Taiwan but warned me it was HOT :cryingwlaughter: ). I threw about a cup of baby carrots into an electric chopper because I was too lazy to chop them. I chopped up a large head of brocolli (stems and all), saving about half a cup of the small florets aside for later.

In a large sauce pan I put 1 tbsp olive oil, then all the veggies to fry around for a few minutes. I covered them with about 3 or 4 cups of vegetable stock (from a carton). I let them simmer, covered, for about 10-15 minutes. I grated a small potato into the pot after that to thicken it, and added some 1% milk (maybe a cup and a half or so). I brought that to the boil, added some salt and pepper, and let that simmer for another 10 minutes. Then, I took about 2/3 of the soup and put it in the blender to puree. I added it back to the pot, added the remaining brocolli florets and simmered for another 5 minutes.

I always used to thicken creamed soups by doing the butter, flour, milk thing, but I saw this trick about the grated potato on Food TV and it really is a lot simpler (and I think it tastes better, too). Anyways I was really pleased with the way this soup turned out! It didn't even need cheese, and the yellow hot pepper gave it a bit of a zing, but not the kind that burns your lips off when you eat it. ;)

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That soup sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing your recipe! I will try the potato thingy, but I adore butter and cream immoderately. Great touch with the pepper.

I'm so lazy nowadays, my only soup "recipe" is to put vanilla in Lobster Bisque. That occasion doesn't happen very often. :-(

Madeline Kamman has a newly updated version of her "The Making of a Cook" - it is not recipes so much as an almost scientific explanation of cooking techniques. I felt like I could cook anything I saw on a menu, if only I could afford all the ingredients! Anyway, it is a wonderful book. IMO.

Making of a Cook

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Thanks very much for the recipe, luckiest, and the book recommendation, djs. :thankyou:

I'm not ready to try a new recipe just yet but I'll keep all the tricks in mind for next time!

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