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Banana Pudding

Does anyone remember the "Shake a Puddin'" that was introduced in the 1970's? It was advertised on TV frequently and I begged my mother to buy it. It was a plastic cocktail shaker type thing. You poured in a measured amount of instant pudding mix, added milk to the correct fill line, covered the top and shook the hell out of it until it thickened.

My mother warned me. She said "I don't think you're going to like the taste of instant pudding", but I was relentless and finally she bought the thing (probably just to shut me up).

I used it exactly ONCE. One taste of the instant pudding was enough to swear me off instant pudding forever. I couldn't stand the nasty, distinctly chemical aftertaste.

I just came across this recipe, and I can't believe it calls for boxed instant pudding mix. YUCK. Even if you don't want to make pudding from scratch, the cooked boxed mix version, while not as good as pudding made from scratch, doesn't have that nasty, chemically, aftertaste the instant pudding mixes do.

You can make cooked boxed pudding mix in the microwave in about 6 minutes (stir with a whisk after 2 and 4 minutes of cooking). Is that really more difficult than pulling out your hand mixer to make the instant? Oh, and adding a teaspoon of vanilla paste (or vanilla extract) to the cooked, boxed vanilla (or chocolate) pudding mix improves it's taste considerably (IMO there's nothing you can do to improve the taste of instant pudding).

The Best Roast Chicken Recipe? Who Wants to Try It With Me?

I realize this is a very, very old post, but I'm hoping someone will comment on a couple of questions I have. I'm making the chicken and bread salad today.

I purchased my chicken a couple of days ago, and before beginning the actual prepping, I read through that part of the recipe and went to work. Then, today, I pulled out the recipe to proceed, and realized I had made a couple of "mistakes" in my chicken prepping.

Here's the thing. Judy makes clear how important it is for the skin of the chicken to be dry, dry, dry. It's mentioned several times, and the chicken prep is meant to achieve this.

So, after I washed and dried the chicken REALLY well, and created the pockets for the herb sprigs, I proceeded to rub the salt UNDER THE SKIN, dispersing it well over the surface of the meat itself. I did this because to me that is the logical way to do it; salt won't stick well to dry skin - most of it bounces right off! In rereading the recipe today, I was astonished to learn that wasn't what I was "supposed" to do.

The other thing is the recipe directs the seasoned chicken be put on a plate covered loosely and put in the fridge. That means as is exudes juices, the back of the bird is gonna sit in those juices and that skin will NOT dry out sufficiently. Why aren't we directed to place the bird on a rack over a plate? That just seems odd to me, especially since the point is made "drying the bird and preheating the pan should keep the bird from sticking." If the back has been sitting in chicken juice for a couple days, it's not gonna be dry and it most likely will stick.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts. I'm mostly surprised, because it seems Judy was a real stickler for details (note the length of the recipe!), so why these two pretty obvious things slipped past her is a mystery.

The Real Rules of Making Polenta (Hint: They're Not What Everyone Says)

Note: I forgot to mention I do use the stone-ground cornmeal when I make my polenta in the microwave. There are no undercooked bits when the polenta is done. Using a covered microwave rice cooker (available on Amazon for about $10.00) prevents the polenta from overflowing (as was mentioned in the article in the reference to the CI microwave polenta recipe).

The Real Rules of Making Polenta (Hint: They're Not What Everyone Says)

I have a unique problem. I am short statured and use a wheelchair for mobility. My kitchen counters are level with the top of my shoulders. This makes cooking anything that requires frequent or constant stirring very difficult. (Not to mention, when I cook I can't see into the pots!)

Several years ago, I developed a method for making polenta in my microwave, and it works wonderfully. I use a microwave rice cooker. Depending upon how thick I want the polenta, I add 1 cup cornmeal and either three or four cups cold liquid (which can be water, broth, milk, etc), salt, and either a tablespoon of butter or olive oil to the microwave rice cooker.

I put the lid on the cooker, and cook it in the microwave at high power for 5 minutes. I take it out, remove the top, and stir with a whisk. Then, I replace the top, put it back in the microwave, and cook for 4 minutes. Remove, stir with whisk, replace top, cook for 3 minutes. The next round I cook for 2 minutes, and the last, 1 minute.

(I call this my 5-4-3-2-1 Polenta). This works extremely well for me. I don't have a problem with lumps, and I can still add "stir-ins" at the end (such as grated Parmesan Reggiano or anything else I fancy). 15 minutes, and it's done!

Maybe I'm a "renegade" for using my microwave to make polenta, but it's a far superior product to either the "quick cooking" or "ready made" polenta I've seen in the store. I've served it to friends, and nobody has been able to tell I cooked it in the microwave instead of on top of the stove.

The Comfort Food Diaries: There's No Shame in Chipped Beef

This is STILL one of my favorite comfort foods, but made with Hormel Dried Beef (comes in a jar, usually found in the same section with the tuna and other canned meats). I rinse the slices briefly under cold water (to remove some of the salt), saute in the skillet with butter, sprinkle on some flour, cook a minute or two, then slowly pour in milk to make a b├ęchamel. Lastly I throw in some frozen peas, and when they're thawed and the whole thing is hot, add some freshly ground black pepper and serve over toast. Since I'm cooking for one, now, and my market only carries the larger jars of dried beef, I only use about 1/2 a jar at a time. I've found if I snap the lid back on the jar of leftover beef and stick it in the freezer, it's good to go for a couple of months.

I've never heard of using sour cream and artichokes; I'll have to give it a try!

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

These. cookies. are. delicious.
My advice?
Make them. NOW.
Eat them. Right after.
You're welcome!

Lemon-Marinated Tuscan-Jewish Fried Chicken

@dalva57 and Daniel, I'm curious about this as well! Is this a misprint? I can't imagine adding egg-coated chicken to hot oil!

Ham and Swiss Quiche

As much as I love Serious Eats, a continuing issue with many of the recipes here is the omission of the correct pan size needed for the recipe. I've seen pan size omitted with recipes for baked goods, and with pies. The amount of filling needed for this recipe is going to vary whether you use an 8", 9", or 10" pie pan and what the depth of that pan is (regular or deep dish). It's pretty difficult to make the proper adjustments if you don't know the size pan the recipe was originally written FOR. Please, Serious Eats, include pan size information with your recipes!

Roman Semolina Gnocchi (Gnocchi alla Romana)

Rimmed baking sheets are sold in many different sizes. What is the best size to use to create a 1/2" layer of dough in the pan?

Juicy and Tender Italian-American Meatballs in Red Sauce

Is there a way I can brown these in the oven itself, as opposed to using the broiler? I have a drawer broiler (which I hate, because it is almost impossible for me to adjust the height of the broiler tray [I use a wheelchair] AND because the drawer must remained closed during broiling, I can't keep my eyes on the food...not to mention, it only heats to 525┬░). If I can brown these in the oven, would you please provide me with the best oven temp and approximate timing? Thank you - I'd love to try this recipe!

Rustic Chicken Stew with Tomatoes, Olives, and Red Wine

This is not only easy, but absolutely delicious made exactly as the recipe directs. I have made this several times, and it's even good when I use cheap canned supermarket green and black olives.

Lazy Day Slow-Cooker Mushroom Soup

I, too, am waiting for the ingredients list to be updated to include the amount of heavy cream....

The Pickled Cucumbers I Take Everywhere From 'Marcus Off Duty'

Correction to the above: A photo DOES appear on the recipe webpage when viewed using Firefox (although it is the meatballs recipe photo as I, and others, have noted). But when the recipes are viewed using IE, no photo appears (at least not for me).

The Pickled Cucumbers I Take Everywhere From 'Marcus Off Duty'

Yes....I'm wondering why the daily newsletter is attaching the wrong picture to the wrong recipe, and why the photos of the recipes no longer appear HERE with the recipe (The cucumber recipe in the newsletter was shown with the picture of the "Helga's Meatballs and Gravy With Carrot-Apple Mashed Potatoes From 'Marcus Off Duty'" recipe). I believe this is the second time the wrong photo has been attached to a recipe in the newsletter in the past week or so.....

Crispy Pork and Cabbage Egg Rolls

I've been making homemade egg rolls for quite a number of years using store-bought wrappers, and discovered that if you freeze the filled but un-fried egg rolls, the wrapper doesn't "puff up" and get as bubbly and crisp as freshly-made egg rolls do. Actually, I've noticed the wrapper is a bit chewy when I've fried frozen homemade egg rolls.

So, the last couple of times I've made egg rolls, I have frozen them *after* frying. It just takes 15 minutes or so to heat them up in a hot oven direct from the freezer, and I think it preserves the texture of the wrapper much better.

The Best Pesto

Can Pecorino Toscano be substituted for the Pecorino Fiore Sardo? If so, should I use the same amount as if I were using the Pecorino Fiore Sardo, or the amount called for if substitutuing Pecorino Romano?

Italian Sausage, Garlic, and Red Pepper Stromboli

I'm planning to cut his recipe in half and make two stombolis instead of four, however....

Would someone PLEASE tell me what the dimensions & thickness of the dough should be when it's rolled out, and the approximate length of each stromboli after rolling/baking?

Jeni Britton Bauer's Blueberry Cobbler

Any ideas for the leftover half of dough/batter?

Steakhouse Kebabs

Would you please include instructions for gas grilling? I have a 3 burner gas grill.

Ginger-Teriyaki Beef Kebabs

Would you please include instructions for gas grilling with this recipe? I have a 3 burner gas grill.

Manner Matters: How To Dine Out With Kids

With my daughter (who will be turning 18 two weeks from today), every time we went somewhere (restaurants, supermarkets, library, museums, etc), once I'd parked the car I took a few minutes to explain where we were going and why, and what specific behaviors I expected of her while we were there.

I began doing this the very first time we went out after she was born (not that she understood what I was saying at a week old, but I wanted to get myself in the habit of doing it).

As an example, for a restaurant, I would tell her we were going inside to get something to eat. I explained to her after we chose the food we wanted to eat, we'd have to wait a bit for the food to be prepared. That while we were in the restaurant she must remain in her seat, and use her quiet voice. If she needed to use the restroom, she was to ask me quietly to take her. I told her a nice man or woman would be bringing our food, and she must use "Please" and "Thank You" when speaking with that person. I explained she was not allowed to play with her silverware, her food, or anything else on the table. I also told her if she were to break any of these rules, we'd immediately leave the restaurant, and if we had to do that, we wouldn't get to eat.

Because I did that every single time we went out (even when going to a public place we'd been to many times before), she always knew exactly what was expected of her in terms of specific behaviors that were/were not allowed, not once did she "act up."

So many times I've heard a parent angrily say to a child "Behave yourself!", but "behave yourself" doesn't mean anything to a young child. Learning what is and what is not proper behavior for different venues/situations develops over time and through exposure. When we, as adults, are thrown into an unfamiliar situation, we know to look to those around us for cues as to what is appropriate. Children don't have the maturity to do that.

When children know what to expect, and what specifically is expected of them, they are much more likely to behave correctly.

Just my .02!

Slow-Cooker Ropa Vieja With Black Beans and Rice

I don't have a slow cooker. If I wanted to cook this in my oven, what temp should I use (my oven can be set as low as 170F). Any suggestions on temp and time?

Banana-Chocolate "Faux-ssants"

I'm really confused as to how to cut the bananas. I thought "crosswise" and "horizontally" were the same thing. Yet, if I assume the first cut is made lengthwise instead of crosswise, I'm still not going to end up with two 3" slices (unless I've got really tiny bananas). Please clarify the cutting instructions!

Dulce de Leche Pudding

Having never made Dulce de Leche, how do you decide whether to simmer the cans for 3 hours or up to 5 hours? (Since the cans are unopened, one cannot observe changes as they simmer). How is milk simmered for 5 hours different than milk simmered for 3 hours?

Sweet Story Valentine Cake

I clicked on the highlighted Chocoholic, Chicken Dinners, Singapore Stories, and Let Them Eat Cake columns linked in the intro to the recipe, above, and each time received a "No Results Found" response. Will you please link those to the correct pages?


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