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Cooking can be a challenge

July 11, 2012
By Pat Jensen , Marshall Independent

There are a number of programs on television that focus on the preparation of food. One of the programs I enjoy watching is called "Chopped."

Although I find it interesting, you could not pay me enough money to take part in that competition. There are unusual combinations of ingredients that must be combined to produce a tasty appetizer, main course and dessert. The concoctions are also judged on creativity and presentation.

Imagine the pressure - the time frame is short and the ingredients are often less than desirable. How would you create an appetizer featuring duck livers, sour lemon candies, papaya and gorgonzola cheese? Could you whip up a dessert using eggplant, Chinese sausage, gooseberries and egg roll wrappers?

I'm not so sure I'd even want to be a judge ... some of the dishes the chefs come up with are unique, to say the least.

I prefer to remain in my own little kitchen, choose the ingredients, and cook at my own pace; I don't like to be rushed.

Since I'm often experimenting with recipes, I can't avoid the "judging." Not that long ago I tried a new casserole recipe. My husband had two large servings. When I asked him to rate it on a scale from one to 10, he gave it a seven. Had he been a little hungrier, it might have received an eight or nine!

My dear hubby never hesitates to let me know if he doesn't care for something, but unlike the television show, there's no chance of being "chopped." I'm expected to come up with meals close to 365 days out of the year. Not always an easy task but never fail to put something on the table.

No pressure. Switch on the pot ... and go!


4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-in. cubes

1-1/2 lbs. boneless beef round steak

1 can (10-3/4 oz.) cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1 envelope onion soup mix

1/2 cup water

Pepper and garlic powder to taste

Place the potatoes in a slow cooker. Cut beef into four pieces; place over potatoes. In a bowl, combine the mushroom soup, onion soup mix, water and seasonings. Pour mixture over the beef. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until meat and spuds are tender.

The dressing makes this salad unusual


1 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup crushed pineapple, partially drained

1 T. milk

1 T. ketchup

1 tsp. sugar

1 scant tsp. poppy seeds

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

8 to 10 cups shredded cabbage (green and red)

In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, pineapple, milk, ketchup, sugar, poppy seeds and Worcestershire sauce. Place shredded cabbage in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Note: May use bagged coleslaw mix.

Light in texture


1 cup self-rising flour

1/2 cup 2 percent milk

2 T. mayonnaise (no substitutes)

1/2 tsp. sugar

Combine, mixing with spoon until blended. Do not over-mix. Spoon batter into 6 muffin cups coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 450 for 8 to 10 min. or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 3 to 4 min. Remove from pan to wire rack. Serve warm. Yield: 6 rolls.

Note: To make your own self-rising flour ... This version calls for 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder and a scant 1/2 tsp. salt to be placed in a measuring cup (1 cup size) . Spoon in all purpose flour to measure 1 cup. Be sure to mix these ingredients in a bowl before adding the milk, etc.

From an old recipe book


3/4 cup margarine

2 cups oatmeal (quick)

1-1/4 cups flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. almond extract

1/3 cup honey

Mix all ingredients together. Press into a lightly greased 9x13-in. pan. Bake at 375 for 20-25 min. Do not over- bake; it should be fairly soft. Cool and then frost.


2 T. margarine

3/4 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter

Melt over very low heat or may use microwave. Watch carefully, stirring often. Spread frosting over cooled bars. Let stand until firm before cutting into small squares.

Food for Thought: The longer the shopping list the more likely it will be left at home.



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