Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Yummy Belly Dancing

This Christmas I made cookbooks for gifts. It was a very odd choice of projects since I never use recipes myself.

Cookbooks give me the creeps.

I’m not kidding.

Normally when I see them, I run away. If one is open on someone’s counter at their house, and my gaze happens to jump onto the pages before I realize what is happening, I quickly reach out my hand and yank my gaze right back off the page. Then, I give my gaze a good talking to. "You can't just go anywhere you choose. Oh no. See what happens? See? When you aren't careful, when you aren't paying attention, you end up looking at cookbook pages."

Gazes. What do you do with them?

Seeing an open cook book on a friend’s counter makes me react the same way I would if I saw a Ouija board sitting there, or a book of incantations or a picture of that friend giving birth.

I turn my head abruptly, grimace, shudder and then quickly move my body in the direction of my whip lashed head.

I know. I really need to find a balance.

I know not everyone feels this way about cookbooks.

I know my brother doesn’t. During Christmas, we were all upstairs when someone happened to say, “Where’s Jason?” Then someone else said, “He’s downstairs reading.” I shot out of my seat. I went straight downstairs. To most people, an answer like, “He’s downstairs reading” doesn’t mean anything. It’s a common phrase. It’s something perfectly normal and ok for someone else to be downstairs reading.

Shooting off the couch and galloping down a bunch of stairs was not the reaction people were expecting, I’m sure. But, when someone casually says to me, “Jason is downstairs reading” they may as well have said, “Jason is downstairs putting on a belly dancing demonstration.”

I ran downstairs, expecting to find my brother in the living room with a dot on his head and noisy things on his fingers, or to find an alien had put on a Jason suit, or farm animals to be flying around the room, or the world to be coming to an end, or to find him drunk because he unknowingly drank some spiked apple cider out of his suitcase of summer sausage, or for sure pretending to read to be funny…you know, kind of like a little joke.

Jason brags that the only book he's read is My Side of the Mountain. On the way down the stairs, I thought to myself, "Does he pack his one book and take it on trips?"

Nope. He WAS reading. And it wasn't My Side of the Mountain. It was a cookbook!

I shuddered and went straight back upstairs, shaking my head.

Back to my point...

I’ve made several things in the cookbook so far.

They have all been good, so I thought I would pass them along to fellow cult members. You really should break out your math manipulatives wrapped around a janitor's key chain and make these things:

Pepsi Pot Roast

This one was from cute Kirby who’s about to be done being a human crock pot. I CAN’T WAIT!!

You need…

20 oz. of Pepsi
1 large can of cream of mushroom soup
Lipton onion soup mix
Package of baby carrots

I doubled this recipe because I only cook for 95 people. I did this before we even had kids. There's something wrong with me. I’m sure God is getting me ready for when all these little boys turn into big boys.

I browned two roasts and covered them with Grill Mates seasoning. Then I put them in the crock-pot. I poured in two packages of Lipton Onion Soup Mix. THEN, I poured almost all of a 2 liter Pepsi on top.

This was the biggest fun I’ve had in the kitchen in a long time. Pouring Pepsi over a pot roast…there are not words to describe it. I felt like I should be in trouble, but then I drank some of the left over Pepsi, and I was so happy.

I let it cook on high for 4 hours. Then, I added the carrots for the last two hours. Then, I took the can of mushroom soup, put it in a big skillet and heated it. I then added juice from the crock-pot until it turned into yummy gravy.

Cream Cheese Potatoes

We also ate mashed potatoes that were made like this…

Boil peeled, diced potatoes. Drain them. Pour hot potatoes onto a stick of butter and a block of cream cheese. Yes, I know. This is NOT for someone trying to fit in their jeans from last year. Sorry. Salt and pepper the potatoes. Then, use a mixer to blend until everything is real fluffy and smooth. THEN, add whipping cream until the potatoes are creamy.

Pour gravy all over the meat and potatoes and serve with Rhodes Dinner Rolls. Yum.

I also made Skillet Broccoli with
Toasted Garlic Lemon.

This one was from Kendra Duty.

You need:
1 bunch of broccoli
½ c water
2 T. olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 T lemon juice
salt and pepper

I didn’t have fresh broccoli, so I just used a bag of frozen broccoli florets. I cooked them in the skillet with some water. Then, when water is gone, you clear the center of the pan and add the oil, red pepper and garlic (and um, I didn’t have garlic cloves, so I just sprinkled everything with garlic powder). Then you remove from heat. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper…and it’s all yum. I didn’t measure the lemon juice, so I just squeezed a couple lemons on the broccoli.

We ate the roast, carrots, mashed potatoes, rolls and broccoli for dinner with Aaron’s parents. Hayden kept screaming, “I like ALL this food mom!” Wow!

We ate Michele’s Banana Pudding for dessert.

It’s the best banana pudding I’ve ever eaten and it takes like 4 minutes to make.

You need:

12 oz. cool whip (no measuring necessary, you can just buy a 12 oz. container, yet another reason why we should eat this stuff more)
1 can Eagle Brand Milk, chilled
1 large box of instant vanilla pudding
2 ½ cups milk
Vanilla Wafers

Mix cool whip, Eagle Brand Milk, Vanilla Pudding and Milk together. I always have to stick the Eagle Brand Milk in the refrigerator and pull out the cool whip from the freezer. Then, I dump the cool whip out in a bowl and let it thaw out while the Eagle Brand milk is chilling.

This dynamic makes me think long, complex thoughts about life. Making banana pudding is a spiritual experience for me. After I’ve finished thinking about seasons in life, I then add the bananas and stir some more. Then, I take vanilla wafers and lay them out on the bottom of a deep square casserole pan. Then, I pour half the pudding mix inside, add another layer of vanilla wafers on top AND around the sides of the pan, then dump in the remaining pudding. Then, since there are a few Vanilla Wafers left in the box, I take them out and let the kids smash them to bits and bits. Then, we pour them on top of the pudding. They look cool. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Tonight, I made Jenn’s Cranberry Chicken.

You need:

1 can of whole cranberry sauce (not jellied)
2 T soy sauce
1 ½ T lemon juice
1/2 cup butter
salt and pepper

Salt and pepper 4-6 Chicken breasts. I didn’t have boneless chicken breasts, so I boiled some bone-in chicken breast. Then, I pulled the meat off, salt and peppered it and put it in the casserole dish. In a saucepan combine can of cranberry stuff, soy sauce, lemon juice and ½ stick of butter. Bring to a boil, then pour over chicken. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes on one side, then flip chicken over and cook 20 minutes on the other side. Since I couldn’t flip chicken chunks, I just stirred them. Serve all this over rice.

This was super yum, but next time, I will double the liquid part of the recipe. The juicy stuff is so good. My kids would have eaten that goo over rice all by itself. Also, if you’re a vegetarian, I think this would be good substituting the meat for vegetables. The sauce is so delicious. Hayden kept saying, “I love this stuff, mom.” Aaron said, “This is weird, but it’s really good. I wish there were a way to make the rice taste more like the sauce.” This just means, I need more sauce next time. He wanted the rice smothered in the liquidy yum.

So, I’ve tried the cookbook thing. I’m still not a big fan, but it’s been fun to try some of the favorite foods from some of the sweetest people I know.

Now I need to go to the gym and work off some of this yum. Oh...and speaking of yummy, and belly dancing...and the gym...when are we going to take belly dancing ladies?


Jennifer Bacak said...

You're insane. Recipes are my best friends, and you know I read cookbooks like novels. I read your whole cookbook start to finish the night I got it. It was my favorite pass-time before I had 100 kids and I actually had pass-times. Cranberry Chicken is one of my favorites, and I often time just don't eat the chicken and just do the sauce and rice.
And I'm totally down with the belly dancing class. It could not be more humiliating than Body Jam was.

Jiffy News said...

I, too, am a cookbook reader. I read your cookbook the same day I got it...just like Jenn!

Anonymous said...

I still need to get your white chili recipe. That was sooooooo delicious. I am glad you posted these recipes to your blog. I am always looking for new recipes. I get so bored doing the same ones over and over.
Amanda G.

LD said...

Ok after reading some of these recipes I totally want this alleged cookbook. I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around the idea of YOU making a cookbook, but I want it if it does indeed exist. How do I get my hands on a copy of this craziness?

Kathryn Berilla said...

I am up for belly dancing...Jenn is right, it could not be any more humiliating than Body Jam and I don't think our feet ever leave the ground, so it may be less dangerous!!!