Friday, October 11, 2013

The Gilgamesh {Bob's Red Mill Giveaway}

I recently saw a blog post from Bob's Red Mill that was life-changing.  I haven't always been a huge fan of oatmeal, I'm more a cream of wheat kind of girl.  This year, however, I started making steel cut oats and have seen the light.  Oatmeal is a great, filling breakfast, and it is especially perfect coming in to the fall and winter months, when you need something to warm you up in the morning before you face your day.  

A couple of days ago, Bob's Red Mill posted an article (is that what you call a blog post?  An article?  I'm not totally "hip" on the lingo.) about all the ways you can top oats, titled 20 Stellar Ways to Top Your Oatmeal.  They charged people to "Forget what you know about oatmeal and think about oats as a canvas for all types of flavors."  There are pictures and ingredients for delicious-looking toppings; anything from "The Old School" which tops oats with what I consider to be the classic brown sugar, pat of butter and sprinkle of salt; to "Carrot Cake" featuring shredded carrots, walnuts, raisins, brown sugar and a scoop of cream cheese frosting; to "The Texan" with crumbled chorizo, black beans, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, a drizzle of BBQ sauce, topped off with a fried egg.

I decided to make "The Gilgamesh" this morning, mostly because it was quick and easy and used things I already had on hand.  I was out of steel cut oats that I really like, so I had to make quick-cooking rolled oats instead.  I also didn't feel like dirtying extra dishes, so made it in the microwave (gasp!).  In a stroke of brilliance, I looked at the bowl at the precise second necessary before the whole thing boiled over in my microwave.  For anyone keeping track, it takes exactly one minute, fifty-three seconds to cook 1/2 cup of quick-cooking oats in 1 cup of warm water in a 19 oz. medium Fiestaware bowl.  Once I pulled the oatmeal from the microwave, I topped it with chopped dates, roasted and salted pistachios, a drizzle of honey, a splash of milk, and a few dashes of cinnamon.  The initial idea was to use cardamom instead, but I have about a thousand spices is my cabinet and didn't feel like taking them all out to find the cardamom when my little jar of Penzey's cinnamon was staring me in the face.

Now, for the {GIVEAWAY} - there is a top secret giveaway going on over at Bob's Red Mill.  As of the time I write this post, there are only 248 entries, and there will be five winners!  Not bad in the "odds" department, if you ask me.  All you have to do is go to the Bob's Red Mill Blog, check out the awesome ideas they have for oatmeal toppings, and then follow the prompts to enter.  They will then select five winners at random from all who enter by 11:59 pm on 10/14/13.  What will you win, why a selection of Bob's Red Mill products of course (Oat Bran, Extra Thick Rolled Oats, Scottish Oats, Quick Cooking Rolled Oats & Quick Cooking Steel Cut Oats)!

In the meantime, tell me:  How do you top your oats?  What is the first Bob's Red Mill idea you're willing to try?

The Gilgamesh
Printable Recipe

1 serving oatmeal, prepared without salt
4 pitted dates, chopped
3 Tblsp. pistachios, shelled, salted and roasted
1 Tblsp. honey
2 Tblsp. whole milk or cream
1/4 tsp. cinnamon or cardamom

Top warm oatmeal with dates and pistachios.  Drizzle with honey.  Pour milk or cream over the top.  Sprinkle with cinnamon or cardamom.

Dig in and enjoy!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Comfort Classic: Rice Pudding

There are at least two predicaments we commonly run into in our kitchen.  One, we have Chinese takeout and end up with a big container of rice that sits in the refrigerator until it is as hard as a rock and we end up throwing it away a week later.  Two, we have a serious dessert craving.  We want something sweet, but have neither the ingredients nor the energy to start a labor-intensive process that will end in exhaustion and a destroyed kitchen.  When these two predicaments coincide, it brings forth opportunity -- in the form of luscious, decadent, creamy rice pudding.

Rice pudding is one of those things that takes me straight back to my childhood the minute I take a bite.  I don't remember the first time my mom made rice pudding, but I can definitely visualize her standing over the stove, stirring and dashing cinnamon into a pot that smelled absolutely heavenly.  To me, rice pudding smells like love.  It warms you from the inside out.  Yeah, some people like it cold, but they're wrong.  Warm is the way to go!  There are varieties that are baked and have eggs in the mix to make the pudding more custardy, but I just love the stove-top version because that is what I always had growing up (Thanks Mom!).  Plus, it is super simple and makes far fewer dishes than the oven-baked variety.  While my mom usually started with uncooked rice, I like to take the shortcut of using cooked rice, because, well, I'm impatient.  With cooked rice, this becomes a wonder dessert that is ready in less than 15 minutes.  Go forth - make it.  You won't be sorry.

15-Minute Rice Pudding
Printable Recipe

3 c. white rice, cooked
1 c. almond milk
2 c. whole milk
2/3 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
3/4 c. raisins
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
3/4 tsp. cinnamon

In a large sauce pot or dutch oven, combine rice, almond milk, whole milk, sugar and butter.  Add raisins, vanilla and almond extract.  Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Turn heat down to medium-low and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.  Stir in cinnamon.

Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.  However, if you serve it chilled, we are no longer friends ;-)  Enjoy!

Friday, August 30, 2013

End of Summer BBQ

Is it just me or has time been speeding up exponentially with every passing day? I feel like I blinked and summer is "over" with Labor Day just a few days away.  I look at my daughter and think, "Wasn't I just holding you in the hospital after you were born? Now you're a do-it-yourself-get-into-everything toddler, forming sentences, asking questions and throwing (occasional) tantrums.  How are you growing up so fast?!?!?"  It is true that time flies when you're having fun. And life couldn't be more fun for me right now. I love my life and wouldn't trade it for anything. I have an amazing and supportive husband, a crazy awesome daughter, an unbeatable extended family, in-laws and friends, a roof over my head, and good food in my tummy.

Speaking of good food in my tummy (and Labor Day for that matter), I couldn't resist sharing this group of recipes with you.  They are some of my favorite things I have made not only this summer, but during the past few years.  They have quickly become some or favorite family dishes.  Throw one of these awesome items on your Labor Day BBQ or picnic menu and you will have no problem extending summer by at least one more weekend! 

Mama's Dry-Rubbed Ribs (printable recipe)
(adapted from Dave Leiberman)

So, I had a great paragraph here raving about these ribs and even educating everyone about the different styles of BBQ, and then I made a critical blogging error in which I cut the paragraph to paste it below the photo, but then got distracted and didn't actually paste it.  By the time I realized, I had already copied something else and Blogger had already auto-saved the post.  Undo wasn't an option anymore.  In my head came my best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation as I said "Daaaaaaamn!"  Ooops, you live and learn.  I now have auto-save turned off, but I am just too lazy to try to remember ever last word of my brilliance :-)

Anyway, these are called "Mama's Dry-Rubbed Ribs" because my mom was the first person to make them in our family, and now I'm a mom and I make them.  Plus, you can just tell they're made with love, which is truly a meal from Mama.  I like these ribs because they are foolproof, easy to make, really flavorful and juicy, and are fall-off-the-bone tender.  I like to think of these as a "clean eating" rib.  As in, your face is clean.  As a Memphis-style dry-rubbed rib, sauce is usually served on the side with these, which means you don't have to end up with a face full or BBQ sauce if you don't want to.  So go ahead, come to Mama.

These ribs were cooked in the oven, then basted with BBQ sauce and thrown on the grill to get some char.  In this case, a messy face is mandatory.

2 lbs. baby back ribs
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. dry oregano
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
3 T. vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Combine everything except for ribs and oil in a small bowl.
Remove the membrane from the bone side of the ribs.  If you have an awesome butcher, just have him/her do it for you.  Otherwise, it is really easy:  just grab one end of the membrane with a paper towel and rip the silver skin off.

Rub the ribs with the vegetable oil and then sprinkle with the reserved rub mixture evenly on both sides.  Give your ribs a massage (they deserve it), and work the rub into them.  Put the ribs on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Bake until they have reached tender perfection on the inside, but are getting crispy on the outside.  This will take from 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

After the ribs are cooked, you have several options.  These babies are multi-purpose!  In the past, we have made them an hour or two ahead and just covered them loosely with foil while we prepared the rest of the meal.  We have also prepared them a day or two ahead, then dumped the individual rib pieces into a huge electric roaster that had been fitted with a rack in the bottom and a little bit of water underneath to keep them warm for an all-day party type buffet.  We always have BBQ sauce on the side.  We just haven't been able to totally crack the case on our favorite sauce recipe, so for now, let's just say you better have Sweet Baby Ray's on the table.  We have also basted the ribs with BBQ sauce and put them on a charcoal grill just to get that flavor and char we all love (see photo above).

Roasted Potato Salad (printable recipe)
(adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe)

This photo really doesn't do justice to this potato salad.  After I wrote the post, I realized I had only one picture ever taken of this salad, even though I've made it about a dozen times since.

Besides the fact that I am not a huge fan of traditional potato salad, there is one major problem with taking potato salad to cookout or picnic: it has to be kept cold.  Depending on your party location, this may not be the easiest task.  This recipe aims to solve that problem in delicious fashion.  I have never really like mayonnaise (gasp!), so traditional mayonnaise-based potato salad always turned me off regardless of its temperature.  I set out to find a way to start making a version of potato salad that I could live with, and that I wouldn't have to worry about refrigerating come party-time.  I found one on that seemed like a good place to start.  I made some tweaks and came up with perfect combination of crisp, silky, sweet, tangy and bacony deliciousness that is my roasted potato salad.  Give it a try and I promise, you'll be happy you veered from your run-of-the-mill potato mush.
1 lb. red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 lb. sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
9 T. plus 2 T. olive oil
3 T. white wine vinegar
2 1/2 T. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 T. honey
1/2 tsp. tabasco
9 T. olive oil
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
4 cups arugula or other favorite green, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine potatoes and sweet potatoes with 2 T. olive oil on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Throw that bad boy in the oven and let 'em roast for about 15 minutes.  Give 'em a shimmy shake (i.e. turn them over) and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes have reached crispy perfection.  Note:  If you don't want to turn you oven to 400 because say, it's 90 degrees out or something, you could just cut the potatoes in half/quarters, brush them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill them until they are tender, then cut them into smaller pieces.  You could also peel, cut and boil them until tender, but then that just feels a little too old-fashioned doesn't it?

Whisk together the white wine vinegar, mustard, honey and Tabasco in a small bowl.  Gradually whisk in the 9 T. olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine potatoes, sweet potatoes, bacon and arugula (sometimes I use mustard greens, sometimes spinach, sometimes kale, just use whatever you have on hand or what is cheapest at the grocery store - they're all good!).  Toss salad with enough dressing to coat.  I usually just dump it all in, but that's just how I roll.  Taste for seasonings and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

This dish can be made up to 2 hours ahead.  Just cover it and let it stand at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Summer Vegetable Gratin (printable recipe)
(adapted from America's Test Kitchen) 

Yeah, yeah, I know...yet another recipe from America's Test Kitchen.  I can't help it.  I have an addiction.  To things that taste good.  Get over it.  This recipe is definitely on the tedious end of the spectrum, but it is so worth it in the end.  I started making this recipe a couple of years ago, mainly because there is an awesome "tomato guy" at the Brookfield Farmer's Market.  I don't like raw tomatoes, but his varieties of hydroponically grown fruit just look too good to pass up.  They're so pretty, I wanted to showcase them, instead of chopping them up in a salsa or cooking them into a soup or marinara where their beauty would be unrecognizable.  This is the perfect dish to highlight summer vegetables and is pretty much one of the most delicious vegetable side dishes that will ever cross your lips.

Again, an old picture which really doesn't do this dish justice.  It is seriously delicious and is so much prettier than this photo would suggest.

6 T. extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb. zucchini
1 lb. yellow squash
2 tsp. table salt
1 1/2 lb. ripe tomatoes (3 to 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 med. onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thin, pole to pole
3/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. fresh thyme, minced
1 slice high-quality white bread (think bakery style bread, not Wonder loaf)
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 med. shallots, minced

Start by taking the ends off your zucchini and squash, then slice them into 1/4 inch slices.  For best results, try getting zucchini and squash that are relatively similar in diameter.  Toss the slices with 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl, transfer to a colander and set it back over the bowl.  Let stand until about 3 tablespoons of liquid have been released, about 45 minutes.  Arrange the slices over a triple layer of paper towels, then cover with another triple layer of paper towels.  Press each slice firmly to remove as much liquid as possible.

Place tomato slices in a single layer over a double layer of paper towel.  Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 tsp. salt and let stand for 30 minutes.  Place another double layer of paper towel over the tomatoes and press firmly to dry them.  (I did mention this recipe was tedious, right?)

While you are waiting for the zucchini, squash and tomatoes to release their liquid, you can work on the onions.  Heat 1 T. oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  When it starts to shimmer, add the onions, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and dark golden brown, which will take about 20 to 25 minutes.  Set onions aside.

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat to 400 degrees.  Brush a 9x13 baking dish with 1 T. oil and set it aside.

Combine garlic, 3 T. oil, remaining 1/2 tsp. pepper and thyme in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, toss the de-liquified zucchini and squash with half the oil mixture, then arrange in the prepared baking dish.  By arrange, I mean dump it in and push the slices around so they're in an even layer.  Arrange the carmelized onions in an even layer over the squash.  Place tomato slices slightly overlapped in a single layer on top of the onions (this is where you want to make it look pretty).  Spoon the remaining garlic-oil mixture evenly over the tomatoes.  Bake until vegetables are tender and tomatoes are starting to brown on edges, 40 to 45 minutes. 

Are you still with me?  Hang in there!  We're almost done!  Just when you think you can take a break, it's time to make the crumb topping that will get sprinkled on top of your masterpiece in a few minutes.  Process the bread, torn into quarters, in a food processor until coarsely ground.  You should have about 1 cup of crumbs.  Combine the bread crumbs, remaining 1 T. oil, Parmesan and shallots in a medium bowl.  Set aside until your little beauty is ready to come out of the oven.
Pull the baking dish from the oven - careful now, it's hot!  Increase your oven to 450 degrees.  Sprinkle the bread-crumb mixture evenly on top of the tomatoes.  Put it back in the oven and bake until it is bubbling and the crumb topping is lightly browned, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove the deliciousness from the oven and let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.
Dig in!  It's been a long day :-)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I awoke with joy this bright and crisp winter morning as I realized St. Patrick's Day was upon us.  I use any excuse I can to play my U2 albums with the volume turned up to 11.  Bono belted out "Sunday Bloody Sunday,"  and I danced around the kitchen like a Leprechaun.  What a great start to the day...but it could only get better.  On a holiday like this, I feel the need to take a detour from my diet and indulge.  I decided to make a couple of things that would be the perfect start and finish to a fantastic St. Patrick's Day.  No luck of the Irish necessary, these recipes are pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Breakfast:  Guinness Waffles (printable recipe)
After making these waffles, I don't know if I will ever make another recipe again.  They were perfectly crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, with just a little bit of chew.  I hate when waffles fall apart the second the syrup hits them, and these held up beautifully.  The flavor was out of this world.  Like a lot of recipes that use Guinness, or any similar style beer for that matter, you don't end up with a waffle that tastes like beer.  Sorry if that disappoints you.  Instead, you get a final product that just seems more rich and sumptuous than the version without it.  Topped with some butter and pure maple syrup, with a side of poached eggs and a pint of Guinness, you're on your way to the best St. Patrick's Day ever.  Guinness. It's what's for breakfast.

3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. sugar
1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. Guinness Draught
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
3/4 t. vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  Add wet mixture to dry mixture and whisk until smooth.  Follow your waffle iron's instructions for cooking.  You don't need to spray the iron with non-stick cooking spray, because the oil in the recipe will allow them to release easily.  Keep them warm in a low oven while you cook up the rest (250 degrees works for me).  Enjoy!

Dessert:  Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Minty Ganache Filling (printable recipe)

We had a perfect start to St. Patrick's Day and is there a better way to end it than to indulge in some minty chocolaty goodness (and maybe another pint of Guinness)?  That is where these cupcakes come in.  When America's Test Kitchen posted their recipe for Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling as an idea for Valentine's Day dessert, I could only hold out for so long.  I know, you're completely shocked that I trusted America's Test Kitchen once again, since I only reference them in pretty much every blog post I write.  You might be thinking "if you've seen one chocolate cupcake, you've seen them all."  Umm, no.  All chocolate cupcakes are not created equal. 

There were a few tricks up the sleeves of the folks at America's Test Kitchen. Fresh brewed coffee bittersweet chocolate and dutch-processed cocoa give these cupcakes a rich chocolate flavor, and the use of bread flour instead of cake or all-purpose flour gives them a heartier dense crumb that makes them feel even more decadent when you sink your teeth in.   Add that to the fact that they are filled with chocolate ganache that leaves the center just slightly gooey, and you truly have the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake.

I modified the original recipe a bit, because I think it is a St. Patrick's Day law that you have to make something green or mint flavored.  I added Creme de Menthe to the ganache filling and a little green food coloring and mint extract to my basic buttercream.  That still didn't seem themed enough, so I decided to attempt the marble trick to make clover shaped cupcakes.  I was a little worried I was going to end up with a total cupcake fail, but maybe I did have a little luck of the Irish on my side, because they turned out just fine.  I didn't have marbles, so I used pie weights instead.  I think marbles would have worked better to get a bigger indent to separate the leaves, but these will do.  If you have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, take a peak here, and you'll quickly be "in the know":

Ganache Filling
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
3 T. heavy cream
1 T. creme de menthe
1 T. powdered sugar

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 c. Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 c. hot coffee
3/4 c. bread flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
6 t. vegetable oil
2 lg. eggs
2 t. white vinegar
1 t. vanilla extract

1 c. butter (2 sticks)
4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. peppermint extract
1-2 T. heavy cream or milk
Green food coloring

Ganache Filling
Place chocolate, cream, and powdered sugar in a medium microwave-safe bowl.  Heat on high power in microwave until the mixture is warm to the touch, 20 to 30 seconds.  Whisk until smooth and stir in creme de menthe.  Transfer bowl to refrigerator and let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line standard-size muffin pan with paper baking cups.  If you're doing the clover shaped version, this is when you put your marbles in place.
Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl.  Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes.  Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl and set aside.  Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, then drop one slightly rounded teaspoon of ganache filling on top of each cupcake.  It will sort of sink in.  Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.
Place butter in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until fluffy.  Add peppermint extract and 1 T. cream or milk.  Add powdered sugar, mixing on low speed until fully incorporated, then kick it up to high and whip it.  Whip it good - until light and fluffy.  You can add a little more cream/milk or peppermint extract to suit your tastes and the consistency you're looking for.  Put frosting in piping bag and pipe on cupcakes, or just drop a few tablespoons on the cupcake and spread it around - whatever suits your fancy.
Mmmmm...the perfect end to the perfect St. Patrick's Day.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cook like it's 1983

When I saw the Cooking Through the Decades challenges posted on America's Test Kitchen's "The Feed" website, I was stoked and thought it was a great idea - a good way to challenge myself to try different recipes.  One recipe a week proved to be a little too difficult to fit into our lives at the time.  If it was anyone but America's Test Kitchen providing the recipe, I probably could have done it, but though their recipes are always fantastic, they can often be labor intensive and time consuming.  I couldn't resist making time to try the recipe they posted for 1983 - Chicken Nuggets!  We all love them...if you don't, you're lying to yourself.

I have tried making chicken nuggets at home before, without much success.  Some pieces always end up overcooked and dry, while others are barely cooked through.  I have tried both frying and baking them, both to the same end.  These chicken nuggets were perfectly cooked, beautifully golden, crispy and delicious.

 The secrets that make this recipe successful were like little "A-Ha" moments one right after the other.  The first secret starts with cutting the chicken.  It is cut diagonally into thirds on the bias, then the largest piece is sliced into 1/2-inch thick pieces.  The two smaller pieces are then cut with the knife almost parallel to the cutting board into 1/2-inch thick pieces (kind of like how you would slice a flank steak to get a nice thin piece of tender meat).  The resulting pieces are perfectly shaped, evenly-sized nuggets.  "A-Ha!"  The nuggets are then brined for a short period of time, which keeps them moist through the cooking process.  "A-Ha!"  The brined chicken pieces are then coated in a mixture of flour and panko breadcrumbs with some seasonings.  But here comes the final "A-Ha!" moment - after coating all of the chicken once, the pieces sit for a few minutes and then get a second coating.  That's when the nuggets pick up all the little clumpy bits in the flour mixture, which results in crunchy little treasures clinging to every nugget once they're fried up.

After whipping up a little honey mustard dipping sauce (equal parts of honey and dijon mustard - really tough recipe), we devoured these nuggets.  They weren't just good, they were addictive. 

If you want to throw on your bangle bracelets, leg warmers and hypercolor t-shirt and transport yourself back to the 80s with this Chicken Nugget recipe, you won't be disappointed.  If you can't access the recipe, post a comment or send an e-mail to, and I'll send you a copy.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cook like it's 1945

I'm the world's best blogger.  Said me, never.  I have had great intentions of posting something new at least once a week on this blog and of doing series of dishes and meals so the blog isn't just a random compilation of recipes.  I had intended to and promised my faithful handful of followers I would follow along with America's Test Kitchen's "The Feed" and complete all of the "Cooking through the Decades" challenges in order as they came.  I didn't.  Once I saw the recipe from 1933 for Chicken in  Pot, I hit a wall.  I just couldn't bring myself to prepare a chicken that looked as anemic and bland as the one in the picture.  So, I skipped it.  Also, five months into motherhood, I just wasn't quite getting the hang of doing it all like so many super-moms somehow manage to.  With the title of 1945's challenge being "Wacky Cake," it just seemed to fit my life at the time, so I went ahead and made it.

If you ever did one of those volcano experiments as a kid, you'll understand the science behind Wacky Cake.  You mix all of the dry ingredients together in the pan and then make three holes where you pour the oil, vinegar and water.  When you mix it up, the vinegar combines with the levener in the recipe, which causes the cake to rise.  The recipe originated in wartime America, when rationing was at its high point.  Thus, the cake has no eggs or butter.  That makes it completely healthy, right?


In the end, I thought this cake was pretty good.  It didn't have intense chocolate flavor, but it was a great quick and easy cake to put together, and it is all mixed right in the pan you bake it in, so you save yourself from having to do extra dishes.  Score!  Despite the fact that the cake is lacking eggs and butter, it was moist and fluffy.  I might just turn to Wacky Cake when I need a quick dessert in the future.  It would be great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

If you're pinching your pennies, avoiding eggs and butter, or have a chocolate cake craving, give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.  If you can't access the recipe, leave a comment or send an e-mail to and I'll send you a copy.

Next stop:  1983 - Chicken Nuggets

I know, I skipped the 50s, 60s and 70s.  The recipes all looked great, but I didn't get to them in time and didn't feel compelled to go back and make them.  I had some extra time on my hands (how the heck did that happen?) when the 80s challenge rolled around, which was great because who can resist chicken nuggets?  I also skipped the 90s if anyone is keeping track.  I'm hoping 2013 will find me being a better or at least more consistent blogger.

If you want to complete the challenges yourself, you can access them on "The Feed":
1933 - Chicken in a Pot
1956 - Grasshopper Pie
1968 - Cheese Fondue  
1977 - Herbed Baked Goat Cheese Salad
1999 - Thai Shrimp Scampi Sauce