The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly ~ February Edition

I hope this will be a regular monthly feature, but you never know with me. You never know.

I will highlight a few of the recipes I tried from around the web (usually things I’ve pinned) and include the highs and lows.

The Good

1. Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce

I had to change this one up a bit. Just a bit. Everything within me said that the onion and garlic needed sauteed with a bit of olive oil before dumping it all in the slow cooker. I don’t know if this made a difference or not. If you’re in a hurry, just do what she says. I’m {pretty} sure you’ll like it.

Also, I don’t buy crushed tomatoes. I buy diced. So once the garlic and onion were ready, I threw it all (diced tomatoes, onion, garlic) in the blender and let it puree until it looked like crushed tomatoes. This made my oldest son very happy. He hates hunks of onions. He hates hunks of anything, actually.

Yummy, easy, and makes two batches — a keeper!

2. Homemade Wheat Thins

This was my first ever attempt at homemade crackers. We eat crackers frequently with our lunches, and I haven’t really found any on that market that make my heart go pitter-patter. They usually have some kind of funky oil or preservative in them. Most crackers have multiple offenders.

My sons both liked this recipe.  And while I liked them, I was a bit miffed that they are called “Wheat Thins.” Don’t be deceived. They are good crackers, but they aren’t Wheat Thins.

Since rolling dough 1/16th inch thick isn’t my super power, I used a pasta rolling machine to get the job done.

It takes a bit to get the crackers cut up. I think I’m going to teach my older son how to do this and let him become the official cracker maker for our family, or I might just keep searching for an easier recipe.  My favorite thing about these is the price . . . probably about .70/batch (9 ounces).

I’ve made these twice. So far, so good.

The Bad

We’ll probably skip this category each month and go straight for ugly. It’s usually one extreme or the other.

The Ugly

I found this “homemade condensed cream of chicken soup” recipe on Pinterest. I decided I would try to make a broccoli-rice-cheese casserole with this homemade cream soup replacement. I made this decision before ever trying the homemade condensed cream of chicken soup recipe. Hmm . . .

It tasted like hot flour soup. If that sounds appetizing to you, I don’t think we can be friends.

Once I sampled the hot-flour-soup, I had a fleeting thought — STOP now. Find a different side dish. Do NOT go any further.

But I thought the cheese could overcome, so I proceeded. I cooked the brown rice. Then I mixed the “cream soup” with the rice, broccoli, and cheese. Put it in the oven to let it work itself out.

The good news is that I didn’t burn it.
The bad news is that I didn’t burn it!

And that concludes our good-bad-ugly feature for February. I’m totally skipping the story in which Ami ruins her Vitamix by trying to blend a metal spoon.

Hoping for great cooking adventures in March!

11 Responses to “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly ~ February Edition”

  • Kyla:

    A goal of mine is to start making marinara sauce homemade..and can it. I just haven’t had the guts! I love this feature idea! I have tried probably 8 recipes from Pinterest and mine never taste as good as the picture looks! So sorry to hear about the Vitamix!!
    Kyla recently posted..All About Reading Pre-1My Profile

    • ami:

      I’ve tried to make it from fresh tomatoes three times. Fail, fail, and . . . fail. I’ll just stick with this new one. :)

      Oh and not to discourage you from canning your own! I have lots of friends who do. I bet you could even post on the HSS forum and get some good recipes. :)

    • Joy:

      I’ve heard that adding sun dried tomatoes is the secret….

  • Tara:

    I have just given up altogether on any recipes involving cream-of-something soup. If you find a perfect one, Ami, I might have to give it another try:-)

    BTW, I don’t know if this is available everywhere, but we really like Muir Glen’s Organic pizza sauce. It’s available at Meijer and the price isn’t too bad.
    Tara recently posted..How to Enjoy a Kitchen Free Weekend!My Profile

  • Here is a Cream-of-something recipe:

    With Dairy:
    1 Cup of Milk (Cream tastes MUCH better)
    1/2 Cup of Chicken broth – or two spoonfuls of bullion if you eat it.
    2-4 TBS of REAL butter. :)

    Let it simmer with a lid on medium – don’t let it bubble. Stir on occasion. Normally, I’ll put this on to slowly cook while I am dicing veggies or something, and when I’m done it’s normally done. The trick is to let it slowly cook for about 20 – 40 minutes. It’s like spaghetti sauce. The longer you go the better it tastes.

    When it looks like everything is blended and the time has gone by, add 3 – 6 TBS of cornstarch or if you are corn free, arrowroot powder. Mix the starch/powder with double the water before adding it, then stir quickly. So 3 TBS of starch would be 6 TBS of water mixed together, then added to the soup.

    You can turn the heat up a bit, but remember if you turn it up to much you will scald your milk. I normally turn it up to medium high and then stir like mad until it is as thick as I want. Remove from heat. At this point I add salt. about 1/4 TSP to start, stir, taste, and add more if it needs it. I use a large amount of salt, but we eat sea salt and I love the taste

    After this point you can add garlic if you want, or cheese and make a good Alfredo sauce. The longer it simmers the better it tastes.

    To make it without Dairy, so the same except use almond milk and some coconut oil.

    I also use a cream sauce from The Spunky Coconut (http://www.thespunkycoconut.com/2011/05/5-minute-cashew-mac-n-cheese-book.html). This recipe calls for Herbamare.

    I use Herbamare Salt in everything and it is good. Very good. Especially on oven baked potatos. You cut the potatos in wedges and drench in olive oil and sprinkle Herbamare on them and roast them in the oven on 450. Very good. I buy it here (http://www.jonesandbones.com/index.php?action=item&substart=&id=285). This type is made differently than the ones that Amazon offers. Any way, hopefully that will help!
    Sarah recently posted.."I didn’t see you"My Profile

  • Sara Haines:

    I made my own sauce a year and a half ago with organic romas. I bought 2 50lb boxes & just started…dove in! I canned it all & it was a huge process, but we have been enjoying every yummy bite since then! I have my own recipe to make from so the challenge was the sheer volume of it all! I’m about out & sadly it’s not tomato season! :(

    • ami:

      Sara,

      At first I thought this said 250 pounds!!! WOW. :) Still, 100 pounds is nothing to sneeze at. Hoping you find some great deal on tomatoes this summer! :)

  • fwiw, if you’re cooking the marinara in the slow cooker for 8 hours, you wouldn’t need to saute the onions and garlic first. they’ll cook well. you could also use a submersion blender inside the crock pot after it’s cooked to puree. that’s what I usually do. less clean up than putting it a vitamix or other blender.

    I’m impressed with the crackers. I can’t imagine trying those.
    Marcy @ Ben and Me recently posted..Memoirs in March ~ Week OneMy Profile

  • Michele:

    Ami,
    You have some serious humor going on in your words. Loving it!

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