Beanchilada Dip

ENTRY #11
1107.09

Every once in a while, a recipe comes to me, and I have absolutely no idea what thought processes led to its creation. This is one of those recipes.

I love using refried beans as a dip, and I usually have a couple of cans in my kitchen in case I get a severe case of the munchies, or even the occasional use in a recipe. I think — repeat, think — that the recipe came to me because I wanted to make it just a little spicier. The reason I’m not completely certain is that it sprang forth fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus. In any event, once I had the idea, I picked up a can of enchilada sauce the next time I was at Kroger.

And this is the point where I should just stop my musing and give you the recipe:

BEANCHILADA DIP

Ingredients:

1 can (16 oz) Refried Beans
1 can (10 oz) Enchilada Sauce

Procedure:

1. Dump the refried beans in a microwave-safe bowl.

2. Add the enchilada sauce. Stir until well blended.

3. Microwave at high power for 60 seconds. Stir, then return to the microwave if necessary for another 60 seconds, until the dip is warm.

Serve with your favorite chips or other dippers.

I called my first attempt at this dip “Green Lantern Dip,” because I used green enchilada sauce and refried black beans — the colors of Green Lantern’s uniform. (Although once the black beans are all mashed up, they have more of a dark brown color to them than black. They are quite a bit darker than refried pinto beans, though.) I suppose if I were really going to go all out, such as serving it at a party, I could added a swirl of sour cream; maybe even in the shape of GL’s insignia.

So far, I have only used green enchilada sauce in making this dip. I don’t know how the red sauce would taste, but I’m thinking that it would work just as well.

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Why Engineers Don’t Write Recipe Books

ENTRY #10
1106.30

Not too long ago, I stumbled across an email that I had printed several years ago. It was something that was posted to an email list to which I belong. As for why I made a hardcopy of this particular email, well, I think that will become quite clear by the time you finish reading this.

I think this is one of those things that has made more than a few rounds of the Internet. I have no idea who originally wrote this, and I suspect no one else does, either.

Instructions: Sit back, read, and enjoy.

Why Engineers Don’t Write Recipe Books

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients:

1. 532.35 cm3 Gluten
2. 4.9 cm3 NaHCO3
3. 4.9 cm3 Refined Halite
4. 236.6 cm3 Partially Hydrogenated Tallow Triglyceride
5. 177.45 cm3 Crystalline C12H22O11
6. 177.45 cm3 Unrefined C12H22O11
7. 4.9 cm3 Methyl Ether Of Protocatechuic Aldehyde
8. 2 Calcium Carbonate-Encapsulated Avian Albumen-Coated Protein
9. 473.2 cm3 Theobroma Cacao
10. 236.6 cm3 De-Encapsulated Legume Meats (sieve size #10)

Procedure:

1. To a 2-liter jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor #1) with an overall heat transfer coefficient of about 100 BTU/F-ft2-hr, add ingredients 1, 2, and 3 with constant agitation.

2. In a second 2-liter reactor vessel (reactor #2) with a radial flow impeller operating at 100 rpm, add ingredients 4, 5, 6, and 7 until the mixture is homogenous.

3. De-encapsulate ingredient 8, and add to reactor #2, followed by three equal volumes of the homogeneous mixture in reactor #1. Additionally, add ingredients 9 and 10 slowly, with constant agitation. Care must be taken at this point in the reaction to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction.

4. Using a screw extrude attached to a #4 nodulizer, place the mixture piecemeal on a 316SS sheet (300 x 600 mm). Heat in a 460K oven for a period of time that is in agreement with Frank & Johnston’s first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21,55), or until golden brown.

5. Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 25C heat transfer table, allowing the product to come to equilibrium.

In all fairness, I should state that my dad is a retired engineer, and I have never — repeat, NEVER — known him to transcribe a recipe in this fashion. I should also state that I made a slight modification to the recipe, in step #3. As it originally appeared in the email, ingredient 8 was not removed from its calcium carbonate encapsulation, and I realized that any engineer worth his slide rule would be certain to specify that ingredient 8 be de-encapsulated prior to adding to reactor #2.

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Chocolate Oatmeal

ENTRY #9
1105.22

While I don’t have any one particular favorite breakfast, I do enjoy a nice hot bowl of oatmeal. When I was younger, one way I liked to eat my oatmeal was to take a handful of chocolate chips and stir them into the oatmeal. The heat from the oatmeal melted the chocolate chips, turning the cereal chocolate. (Come to think of it, I still enjoy eating oatmeal this way.)

Not too long ago, I was in the mood for some chocolate oatmeal. There was just one little problem — I didn’t have any chocolate chips. Fortunately, I did have some cocoa in the pantry, so I started using my ability to mentally visualize recipes (or as I call it, my Visualization Of The Cosmic All) to create a new version of my chocolate oatmeal.

If you take a look at most cartons of oats (whether Quaker or a store brand), you’ll notice that, for a single serving, it calls for a half cup of oats, and one cup of either water or milk. Most of the time, I make my oatmeal with water, but this time, I decided to use milk, thinking it would give a better taste to the final product. (At some point, I will have to try this with water to see if there is any difference in how it tastes.)

I also found myself deciding what cocoa to use. I had containers of both Hershey’s original cocoa, and their Special Dark cocoa. I finally decided to try three different variations on three different days. (Hey, I like oatmeal, but there is a limit to how much one can eat in a single sitting.) The first day, I tried the Special Dark cocoa. The second day, I used the original cocoa. And on the third day, I used half of each. I would say that using the Special Dark cocoa comes closest to matching using chocolate chips, but all three versions taste good.

And without any further ado, here is the recipe:

CHOCOLATE OATMEAL

Ingredients:

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 T. cocoa powder
1 cup milk or water

Procedure:

1. In a microwave-safe bowl, stir together the oats and cocoa powder. Add the milk or water, and stir until blended.

2. Microwave on high power for 90 seconds.

3. Stir, then microwave on high for another 90 seconds. Stir again before serving.

NOTE: You will need to add some sort of sweetener before eating. If you ever bit into a chunk of unsweetened baking chocolate when you were younger, this will taste quite a bit like that if you don’t add some honey, or sugar, or whatever other sweetener strikes your fancy. Trust me on this one. I suspected this would be the case, and I did a quick taste test before adding some honey to confirm my suspicions.

NOTE: You might also try adding 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to the oatmeal before adding the milk or water.

Add whatever you normally like on your oatmeal, and enjoy.

YIELD: One serving

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Buffalo Chicken Dip: My Own Take

ENTRY #8
1104.30

When my entry on my Spicy Quesofrijole Dip recipe was featured on the main page of IreallyLikeFood not too long ago, one of the commenters was Ali Conklin. She asked if I had seen the entry she posted with a recipe for Buffalo Chicken Dip, and very thoughtfully left a link to the entry in question. Here it is, for your own reference:

http://www.ireallylikefood.com/741100390/your-next-addiction-buffalo-chicken-dip/

As a matter of fact, I had seen the entry, and I was seriously contemplating making the dip. The only reason I didn’t make it right away when I first saw it was that I didn’t have all of the ingredients at home. In fact, I was missing two major ingredients in particular.

The first of these was the ranch dressing. Now, I am not a salad dressing person. If I eat a salad, I don’t put any kind of dressing on it. No Italian, no thousand island, no bleu cheese, no ranch. I want to taste the vegetables, not some goop glopped all over them. But I happened to be walking through a local supermarket on a week when they had their store brand salad dressings on sale. I looked over the available varieties, and I decided to try a bottle of both the Three-Cheese Ranch and the Bacon Ranch dressings. (If you haven’t noticed it yet, I like to experiment just a little.)

The other ingredient I didn’t have was the chicken. I had a pretty good idea that a rotisserie chicken would more than likely yield far more chicken than is called for in the recipe. And since I’m single, live alone, and for the most part eat alone, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to eat all of the remaining chicken before it went bad. But on another supermarket trip, I found myself contemplating a 12.5-ounce can of chicken breast meat. I did a little calculating, and concluded that this would be just the right amount of chicken needed for the dip, and so I acquired the final ingredient needed for the dip.

I have a Corning Ware dish that is, as Goldilocks would say, just the right size for the dip. I decided to mix everything in that, and reduce the amount of dirty dishes produced. (Always something to consider when cooking.) I put the two packages of cream cheese in the dish, and softened the cheese in the microwave at 30-second intervals. After about two minutes, the cheese was soft enough to beat until smooth. I added a couple of dollops of sour cream, because I tend to think it gives the cream cheese a slightly smoother consistency.

As I recall, the first bottle I saw on the shelf was that of the Three-Cheese Ranch dressing, so that was the one I used this time. I poured out a cup of the stuff, then poured it into the dish with the cream cheese, and stirred until it looked like everything was well blended.

Here is where I have the greatest deviation from Ali’s recipe. The recipe called for a half cup of hot sauce. Now, I like things spicy. I even like a little bit of heat. But I also like having fully functional tastebuds after eating something spicy, and that half cup sounded like just a little too much to me. In fact, it sounded as though it would leave my tastebuds whimpering in pain, and that was the last thing I wanted. I mean, have you ever heard whimpering tastebuds? Trust me, it isn’t a pleasant sound.

Instead of a half cup, I decided to start with a quarter cup of hot sauce. I could always add more if I thought it needed more spice. If I used the half cup and it was too much, there wouldn’t be a whole lot I could do about it.

Ali told me that I should just use the cheapest hot sauce I could find, but for me, hot sauce means only one brand — Tabasco. I actually used a blend of three Tabasco sauces; the original sauce, the jalapeno sauce (the green variety), and the chipotle sauce. I poured more or less equal amounts in to a 1/4 cup measuring cup, then poured that into the dish. I stirred well, then gave it a taste. Oh yeah, I was right to use only a quarter cup. Maybe it does take a half cup of the cheap stuff to get the right amount of spice, but if you’re using Tabasco, you don’t need as much.

The recipe called for 1/3 cup of shredded cheddar cheese mixed in with the dip, but I think I used closer to 1/2 cup of cheese. Plus, I threw in a little bit of shredded mozzarella as well. (Again, if you haven’t noticed it yet, I kind of like cheese.)

I opened the can of chicken, and I drained most of the liquid. (I may keep some of the liquid the next time I make this, and see if it adds a little flavor.) Inside, the chicken was in chunks, so one by one, I took the chunks, and rubbed them between my fingers to turn them into shreds of chicken. Once I had all the chunks of chicken reduced to shreds, I gave everything a final stir to make certain that everything was thoroughly blended.

I gave the dip a taste, and I could see why Ali called this an addiction. I could have easily devoured the entire dish right then and there, and I wasn’t finished yet. Fortunately, the self-control kicked in, and I stopped before I could decimate the dip. I smoothed the top of the dip, added a good layer of cheese, then put the dish into the oven for a few minutes. Once it looked like everything was nice and melty, I took it out.

I didn’t have any chips; I was using crackers instead. As was the case a few minutes earlier, I could have easily scarfed down the entire dish — and probably given myself a case of indigestion in the process. I managed to exercise a little bit of self-control, and the dip lasted for about three or four days before I finally finished it off.

During that time, I tried the dip on some other stuff besides the crackers. I toasted a couple of slices of bread, and spread some of the dip between them. It makes an interesting sandwich spread. I’ll bet it would taste pretty good with celery sticks as well; that will have to be something to try the next time I make this dip.

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Rolled Oat Pancakes

ENTRY #7
1104.23

A few entries back, I mentioned stumbling across a binder containing some recipes that I had typed up. I was particularly glad to see this recipe, because I thought it had been lost for good.

First, though, I need to give you a little background information. When I was in seventh grade, I took a class called “Boys Home Ec.” As I recall, about the only thing that was ever covered in the class was cooking, but I enjoyed it.

One of the recipes we made during the class was called “Rolled Wheat Pancakes,” although we substituted rolled oats when we made them. This was probably my favorite of all the recipes we made during that 12-week class. I know that it was one that I tried to make as often as possible throughout high school and college, usually on the weekends. While the rest of my family liked it, they never shared my enthusiasm for the recipe.

When I was taking the class, I remember writing the recipe on a 3×5 index card. (As I remember, I did that with most if not all of the recipes we made in class.) I put the card in a recipe card file of my mom’s, and there it stayed — even when I moved out.

About a month or two ago, I saw or read something online that brought these pancakes back to mind, and the desire to make them again. So I emailed my dad, and asked him to dig out the card and email the recipe to me. Easy, right?

Let’s put it this way: If it had been that easy, you would already be reading the recipe. Dad had gone through the card file more than once, and the card was not to be found. (And it would have been hard to miss, given that I remember writing the recipe in purple ink.) I may have to take a look for myself the next time I visit my parents, but I find it hard to believe that he would have overlooked the card.

To be honest, I was just a tiny bit devastated at the news. I loved the recipe, and I had been looking forward to making it again. I began to wonder if I had brought the recipe with me when I moved out, but having no idea where I might have put the card made the chances of finding it somewhere along the lines of finding the proverbial needle in the proverbial haystack. I probably wasn’t going to find it without the assistance of a very large neodymium magnet.

Then, as I said a few entries back, I pulled the binder from the bookshelf, and was trying to remember what I put in that binder. When I opened it, the very first recipe to meet my gaze was the Rolled Oat Pancakes recipe that I had thought was lost. Somewhere along the line, I had typed up a copy, probably thinking that I was more than likely to leave the recipe card behind when I eventually moved out.

I haven’t had a chance to make these just yet. I keep forgetting to get the dry milk powder every time I’m at Kroger, and I need to pick up some syrup as well. But just knowing that I haven’t lost the recipe makes me feel considerably better. And here is the recipe, for your own enjoyment:

ROLLED OAT PANCAKES

Ingredients:

1-1/2 Cups Water
1/ 2 Cup Rolled Oats
1/4 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Cold Water
1/4 Cup Dry Milk Powder
1/ 2 Cup Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 Eggs

Procedure:

1. In a saucepan, bring the 1-1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add the rolled oats, and boil for three minutes.

2. Add the butter. Cool and add the cold water.

3. While the oat mixture is cooling, stir together the dry milk powder, flour, and baking powder.

4. Add the flour mixture to the oat mixture. Add the eggs and stir to blend.

5. Drop by spoonfuls on a hot griddle, turning when the surface bubbles. Cook until brown.

6. Serve with butter and syrup.

VARIATION: Substitute rolled wheat for the rolled oats.

As I said, it has been a long time since I made these, so I’m not completely certain how many pancakes this recipe makes. It was usually enough to serve four.

I do remember that this recipe works better if you make smaller pancakes — what used to be called “silver dollar” pancakes.

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I Have PART Of A Recipe . . .

ENTRY #6 1104.21

I hope that by now there are at least a few people reading this, because I could use just a little bit of inspiration here.

I’m not completely certain how this started, although I have a feeling that reading something here on IReallyLikeFood was the cause.  Whatever the cause, an idea popped in my head for a dessert.  Uh, make that a partial idea for a dessert.

I got the idea to come up with a dessert that uses pineapple and coconut.  I’m sure I was at least partially inspired by pina coladas, because I really do like that drink.  (Getting caught in the rain is another matter.)  As I was turning the idea over in my head, I came up with the idea of combining flaked coconut, crushed pineapple, and sweetened condensed milk . . .

 . . . And that’s when everything came to a screeching halt.  For once, my ability to construct a recipe in my head is failing me.  I know that this coconut/pineapple/condensed milk blend is only part of a recipe.  At the moment, though, the rest of that recipe isn’t manifesting itself in my Visualization Of The Cosmic All.  (Also known as, “Some days, you just can’t think up of a recipe!”)

So now I lay the matter before anyone reading this.  Does anyone have an idea of what to do with these three ingredients?

Help me, IReallyLikeFood Kenobi.  You’re my only hope.

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Garlic Butter

ENTRY #5
1104.11

I recently read an entry here on IReallyLikeFood that mentioned that April is National Garlic Month.  Naturally, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share my recipe for garlic butter.

This recipe came to me by way of one of Justin Wilson’s cooking shows from many, many years ago.  I suspect that I’ve changed the proportions of the ingredients somewhat over the years.  Most of the time, I tend to make it with no particular regard to how much of anything is used, other than perhaps starting with either one or two sticks of butter.  As you might guess, this is one of those recipes that is quite forgiving in its flexibility.  (Now that I think about it, this is the first time in a long while that I have paid attention to specific amounts.)

Once I make the garlic butter, of course, I use it to make garlic bread.  And for that, you can use almost any bread you like, but I do have a couple of favorites.  One favorite is the loaves of bread cut thick for making Texas toast.  Another favorite is the bread from the Jimmy John’s sandwich shop chain.  Most of the time, Jimmy John’s will have day-old loaves of their French bread available for 50 cents a loaf.  It makes some of the best garlic bread I have ever made.

But you’re wanting the garlic butter recipe, aren’t you?  Well, here it is:

GARLIC BUTTER

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) Butter
1/3 to 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Garlic

Procedure:

1.  If you’ve just taken the butter out of the refrigerator, place in a microwave-safe container, and zap in the microwave for 20 seconds.  You don’t want to melt the butter, just soften it.

2.  Add the cheese to the butter, and stir until blended.  You might want to start with 1/3 cup, and add more later if you feel the need.  (This comes during the tasting phase.)

3.  Add the garlic.  You’ll notice that I didn’t list a specific amount.  That kind of depends on whether you are using minced garlic or garlic powder.  Or if you’re like me, you use both.  I probably use about 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, which if I’m not mistaken, comes to about two or three cloves.  I then hit it with a healthy sprinkling of either garlic powder or granulated garlic.  (Did I mention that I really like garlic?)  Stir to blend everything.

4.  Taste, and add more garlic and/or cheese if desired.

5.  Refrigerate if not using right away.  Use with your favorite bread to make garlic bread.

YIELD:  About 1 cup

Now, if for some strange reason you prefer garlic spread to garlic butter, you can substitute two sticks of margarine for the butter.

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Ice, Frost, And Glaze

ENTRY #4
1104.07

I have a question this time.  It’s a very simple, very easy question.  For some reason, though, I have never been able to get an answer that makes any sense, and I am really hoping that someone reading this will either have an answer, or can pass the question on to someone who does.

Here’s the question:  When we talk about cakes, what is the difference between frosting and icing?

We talk about something being “the icing on the cake,” yet cakes from a bakery are topped with buttercream frosting.  Are there distinctive differences between an icing and a frosting?  Or are they the same thing, with whether the word one uses being a cultural, regional, or personal preference?

Now, I know that a glaze is different from either an icing or a frosting.  That is powdered sugar that is added to water, milk, or perhaps a fruit juice.  It has a fairly liquid consistency, and is usually poured or drizzled over a cake.  Icings and/or frostings have a much more stiffer consistency.

Is there a difference between the two?  And if there is, could someone please explain what that difference might be?

Thanks.

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Milky Way Sauce

ENTRY #3
1104.06

Not too long ago, I pulled a binder from one of my (many) bookshelves, trying to remember what was inside.  When I opened it, I found a number of recipes that I had typed up years ago.  I vaguely remember having the idea of using the binder as a way of creating my own personal cookbook.

This recipe is the easiest recipe in the binder.  It has been so long that I no longer remember the reason why, but I came up with the idea of making a dessert sauce using a Milky Way bar.  (Best guess — I was probably out of chocolate syrup, and wanted something on my ice cream.)  And while I’m pretty certain that I created this for ice cream, but it could be used on other desserts as well:

MILKY WAY SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 Milky Way bar
3 to 4 T. Heavy Cream

Procedure:

1.  In a small microwave-safe bowl, heat the cream for 20 to 30 seconds in a microwave oven.

2.  Unwrap and slice the Milky Way bar into thin slices.

3.  Add the slices to the cream and return to the microwave for another 20 to 30 seconds.

4.  Stir until smooth, returning to the microwave for brief intervals if necessary.

Pour over ice cream or dessert of your choice.

YIELD:  1 serving

This makes just one serving, but can easily be increased.

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Spicy Quesofrijole Dip

ENTRY #2
1104.03

For my first recipe, I thought I would go with something relatively easy.  I think I can usually make it in about 20 minutes or so, plus chilling time.

As I at least hinted in my previous entry, I love using my kitchen as a mad scientist’s laboratory.  I enjoy getting the idea of a recipe, then seeing if I can bring that idea to life.  Fortunately for me, those ideas have favorable results most of the time.

I think this recipe is one of my better creations.  It has its origins in a taco dip recipe that someone gave my parents many years ago.  It was a layered dip that was served spread out on a large platter, and I was wanting something with a similar flavor that didn’t take up as much space in the refrigerator.  I started deconstructing the recipe in my head, and after much experimentation, the results are to follow.

I think I have at least one fan of the dip.  That would be urban fantasy author (her words) Jennifer Estep.  A few years ago, I wrote a review of her first novel, Karma Girl.  I made a stop by her website after writing the review, and when I did, I signed up for her monthly email newsletter.

Now, one thing that Estep includes in each newsletter is a recipe of some kind.  This is not too surprising, considering that the heroine of her “Elemental Assassin” series, Gin Blanco, runs a barbecue joint when she isn’t carrying out her current hit.  (And Gin is more or less retired by the end of the first book.)  I thought that Estep might enjoy getting a recipe in return, so I emailed her the recipe.

Much to my surprise, when I found the March newsletter in my inbox, I also found myself staring at my recipe (and receiving credit for it).  I think she likes it.

When I sent her the recipe, I called it “Spicy Cheese/Bean Dip.”  After I saw the newsletter, I decided that name really wasn’t that good, and that something better was needed.  It probably took all of a minute to come up with the current name.  So without further ado, I present:

SPICY QUESOFRIJOLE DIP

Ingredients:

2 packages (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
1 package Taco Seasoning Mix
1 can (16 oz.) Refried Beans

Optional:  Sour Cream, additional spices (see below)

Procedure:

1.  Place the cream cheese in a microwave-safe bowl.  If it isn’t already softened, zap it in the microwave for 20 to 30 second intervals, beating until smooth.  If desired, add a few tablespoons of sour cream to bring the cheese to the right consistency.

2.  Add the taco seasoning mix, and stir until blended.  At this point, the cheese should be a light orange color, with no streaks of white remaining.

3.  Add the refried beans, and stir until thoroughly blended.  (Putting the bowl in the microwave for another 20 to 30 seconds may make it a little easier to blend everything.)

4.  At this point, taste.  If you feel that it isn’t spicy enough for your taste, add whatever additional spices you like to suit your taste.  (I usually add some chili powder, garlic powder, and maybe just a dash or two of Tabasco sauce.)

5.  Once the dip is to your taste, refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes to let the flavors blend together.

Serve with crackers or chips.

YIELD:  About 1 quart

Now, I call this a dip, but it’s actually somewhere between a dip and a spread.  Besides using it as a dip, I also spread it on crackers, and use it in sandwiches.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

I usually store this in a 1-quart plastic container after making it, and it fills the container.

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