I attended a dinner and style show hosted by the women's club I belong to last week. The caterer provided a variety of salads, along with some wonderful herbed crackers that had a bit of a bite to them. I got the recipe and urge you to try it. Don't be put off by the amounts, especially the oil; the crackers will not turn out soggy.
This recipe can be halved.
One box of saltine crackers
1 1/3 C canola oil
1 - 1 oz pkg ranch dressing mix
4 TB red pepper flakes
3 TB dill weed
2 TB garlic powder
Put half your crackers (two paper tubes) in a gallon size zip-lock bag, the other half in another bag.
Whisk together your remaining ingredients. Pour half of mixture in one bag. Seal and gently agitate the bag to coat the crackers. When the first batch is thoroughly coated, pour remaining mixture into the second bag, seal and agitate. Keep crackers in the bags, turning them gently every 15 minutes or so for about an hour. (You could probably substitute a very large mixing bowl for the plastic bags, and use your hands to fold the crackers into the oil mixture.)
To store, place crackers in an air-tight container.
If you'd like to cut down on the sodium, try this with low-salt or salt-free saltines (is that an oxymoron?).
Great for snacking, or serve with soups or salads.
If there is one thing I hate worse than the general clean-up that comes after cooking, it's cleaning mushrooms. However, this soup is so darn good, that it's worth standing there for 20 minutes wiping the little suckers. If you like mushrooms, you need to try this soup, and you don't need to wait for your next fancy dinner party; make a pot and pair it with a rustic bread for a simple meal.
This recipe will serve four people as a first course, two for a meal.
2 TB olive oil
2 TB butter
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 C fresh mushrooms (I used crimini and white button) cleaned, half roughly chopped and the other half sliced
2 TB minced fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
3 bay leaves
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 C chicken broth
2 TB flour mixed in 2 TB water
1 C heavy cream
1 C milk
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil and butter over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Saute garlic until tender, but not browned.
Add mushrooms, thyme, bay leaves and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over medium heat until all but a little bit of the mushroom liquid has evaporated. Your mushrooms will cook way down.
Add chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the flour/water paste and stir constantly until the mixture thickens.
Add milk and cream and bring to a simmer. Remove bay leaves. Taste and add nutmeg, salt and pepper to your liking.
I first glommed onto this salad (or is it a dessert?) at a tearoom near my home called the Chocolate Angel. It is a wonderful combination of sweet and savory in three layers: a pretzel crust, a cream cheese/Cool Whip middle, and a strawberry Jello topping. It's easy-peasy to make, but a bit time consuming because you have to wait for the Jello to partially set. I prefer to make this in individual serving-sized Pyrex bowls. The ones shown are 10 oz. ovals. Please forgive the lousy photography:
First, the bottom pretzel layer. For these bowls, a level 1/3 C of the crushed pretzel mix is perfect. I used a small round-bottomed glass, like a shot glass, to tamp the mixture down and level it.
Here's an aerial view of the second layer. Be sure your pretzel layer is completely cool before starting this step. It is very important that you spread the cream cheese mixture all the way to the sides to make a tight seal. If you have any holes, your Jello may leak and cause your crust to get soggy. These are ready to go into the fridge to chill.
The Jello is still at the jiggly stage, but you can see what the finished product looks like. The recipe is below:
STRAWBERRY PRETZEL SALAD
This recipe will make nine single serving portions.
2 C crushed pretzels (take 'em for a ride in your food processor)
3/4 C melted butter
3/4 C sugar and 3 TB sugar, divided use
1 - 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 - 8 oz container Cool Whip, thawed
1 - 3 oz pkg strawberry Jello, prepared according to package directions
1 - 10 oz pkg frozen sweetened and sliced strawberries, thawed and drained
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine crushed pretzels, butter and 3 TB sugar. Portion into nine oven-proof single serving dishes. Tamp down firmly and bake for seven minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely.
Mix softened cream cheese with remaining sugar. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread mixture over cooled pretzel layers. (You will probably have left over cream cheese mixture.) Cover lightly and chill.
While your layers are chilling, prepare your strawberry Jello. Cover and chill until partially set. Drain your strawberries and stir into the Jello. Portion the Jello on top of the cream cheese mixture. Cover again and allow to chill until the Jello is completely set.
"I am not
a glutton; I am an explorer of food." How I miss Erma Bombeck!