Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Summer Salad!

The Joys of Jell-O, p. 52
I'm assuming most of you live in America, and thus have been suffering under cruelly cold weather - I live in a nearly 200-year old house as well, which soaks up the cold and makes it frigid even on the off days that the thermometer is above freezing. So, I thought I'd bring a little summer into all of our lives, with this delight from the Joys of Jell-O cookbook circa 1963. A delicious, lovely salad that displays the bounty of the season, the book says. Because nothing says summer like rough-cut vegetables suspended in gelatin!

Summer Salad holds pride of place as the back cover illustration for 1963's Joys of Jell-O:
Based on that illustration alone, I didn't hold out much hope for this entry, never mind the version I ended up with on my own. But a wish gastronomic friend saw a preview of today's post and, unprompted, remarked "...it looks like fresh tomatoes, celery, green pepper, and cucumbers in a simple gelatin. If it is favored with a vinegar and garlic base, it could be quite wonderful." I'll be damned if he wasn't right.

Vinegar, yes, but no garlic - lemon Jell-O is the base, and we all know that's the key to success when adding vegetables or meat. Sour it up with vinegar and salt so the sweetness doesn't overpower, until such time as my humble efforts prompt a resurgence of Jell-O mania and they bring back celery and Italian dressing flavors. Here's the recipe:

1 package (3 oz.) lemon Jell-O gelatin
1/2 teaspoon salt or onion salt
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 small tomato, cut into thin wedges
1/4 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup sliced quartered cucumber
few slivers green pepper
dash of oregano (optional)

Dissolve Jell-O Gelatin and salt in boiling water. Add cold water and vinegar. Chill until very thick. Fold in remaining ingredients. Pour into a 3-cup or 1-quart mold. Chill until firm. Unmold on crisp greens. Garnish with more tomato, if desired. Makes about 3 cups, or 6 side salads. 
NOTE: If desired, substitute 1/2 cup sliced radishes for tomato or 1/2 cup chopped cauliflower for cucumber.

No substitutions here (and no oregano either, if you were keeping track). What did my discriminating guests think?
Our Rating: Zero Screaming Husbands!
(all dishes are rated from one to five Screaming Husbands. One Screaming Husband equals a happy home where all problems are solved during cocktail hour. Five Screaming Husbands signals the beginning of divorce proceedings.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Anniversary Chicken!

Today Dr. Husband and I celebrate 22 years of wedded bliss (well, not technically wedded all that time, because of some ugly business about not letting us get married...but that's all behind us now, isn't it Alabama?) If you're good at adding and subtracting in your head, you'll realize that it means we've been together since college high school middle school.

I thought I'd make something not at all disgusting to mark the occasion, but in keeping with the spirit of things, it's still a bunch of disparate ingredients glopped onto some raw meat and then smothered in cheese.  A one-dish meal that provides your entire week's worth of sodium!

The recipe is everywhere on the internets; just Google "anniversary recipes" and you're certain to stumble upon it. Or just keep reading.

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup teriyaki basting sauce
1/2 cup Ranch-style salad dressing
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 (3 ounce) can bacon bits
1 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
3. Add chicken breasts, and saute 4 to 5 minutes each side, until lightly browned.
4. Place browned chicken breasts in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Brush with teriyaki sauce, then spoon on salad dressing.
5. Sprinkle with cheese, green onions and bacon bits.
6. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Garnish with parsley and serve.

It's a real man-pleaser, ladies, and easy to throw together if you're in a rush. I imagine you could even skip the browning if you're really pressed for time. And is it good? YOU BET!
 Our Rating:  Zero Screaming Husbands!
(all dishes are rated from one to five Screaming Husbands. One Screaming Husband equals a happy home where all problems are solved during cocktail hour. Five Screaming Husbands signals the beginning of divorce proceedings.)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

SPAM-Fruit Cocktail Buffet Party Loaf!

contributed by DelMonte Co., via the internets
Newer readers of the blog (lots of new Facebook likes lately, keep 'em coming!) may be surprised to learn that, despite lots of flirtation with similar products, I've only ever made one recipe using America's favorite potted meat product, SPAM™.  The chief reason being that Dr. Husband has essentially forbidden its presence in our home, so I can only sneak it in when he's not looking. (He's also not fond of Miracle Whip, but I have to put my foot down about the really important things.)

SPAM™ has been in production for over 75 years, and recently (2007) sold its seven BILLIONTH can, so those like Dr. Husband hoping for its quick departure will have a bit longer to wait.  If you're able to just accept SPAM's supremacy forevermore, I'm sorry to report that the SPAM Museum is temporarily closed...but you can head on over to SPAM central and see all the remarkable things you can do with it while you wait for the grand reopening!

For all its versatility, this recipe came not from SPAM™ but from Del Monte brand fruit cocktail, "the fruit cocktail with character".  The colorful advertisement below proudly features a recipe that is "really different!  Ham and salad molded in one loaf!"
 The print is hard to make out, so I'll do the honors:

1 (15-ounce) can Del Monte fruit cocktail, drained (reserve syrup)
2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 (12-ounce) cans Spam luncheon meat, very finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, very finely chopped
1/4 cup green olives, very finely chopped
1/2 cup Miracle Whip
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 lemons
Additional Miracle Whip

Arrange drained fruit cocktail in 9-by-5-by-3 inch loaf pan. In top of double boiler, mix reserved syrup with gelatin, vinegar, cinnamon, and cloves. Place over hot water and stir until gelatin dissolves. Carefully pour 1/2 cup of gelatin mixture over fruit cocktail. Place in pan in refrigerator and chill until gelatin has thickened but is not set.

Mix Spam with celery and olives. Mix Miracle Whip with mustard, salt, and remaining gelatin mixture. Add Spam mixture to Miracle Whip mixture and blend well. Spread over fruit cocktail. Chill until firm, at least 4 hours.

For garnish, make lemon cups by halving lemons, slicing off ends (so lemons will stand up), and scooping out pulp. Dip cut edges of lemons in paprika. Fill cups with Miracle Whip and sprinkle lightly with additional paprika.

To serve, unmold loaf onto large platter and surround with lemon cups. Makes 8 to 10 servings

This went together fairly quickly, the most time-consuming part is chopping the SPAM™. (I suppose I could have used the food processor, but I was afraid it would dissolve into a gelatinous goop or pink slime or somesuch.)

I went offsite for the tasting, so there would be others around to protect me from Dr. Husband's pork-like food product-induced wrath:
 Our Rating:  Three Screaming Husbands!
(all dishes are rated from one to five Screaming Husbands. One Screaming Husband equals a happy home where all problems are solved during cocktail hour. Five Screaming Husbands signals the beginning of divorce proceedings.)