Monday, May 30, 2011

Tasty Marshmallow Treats

This actually documents the first time I made marshmallow treats at home, which is curious because I've always been of the opinion that homemade treats blow the boxed ones out of the water. The recipe I used I found here, and is really easy to prepare.

Stuff you should obtain:
1/2 bag of tiny marshmallows (technically I used 4.75 ounces, not like I weighed it or anything)
2.5 cups of cereal
2 tablespoons of margarine

Note about ingredients: I only had half a bag of marshmallows, so I scaled the ingredients in the recipe accordingly. I used margarine instead of butter - I don't think it really caused a difference. You can use whatever cereal you have laying around - I used Frosted Cheerios, which turned out nicely, but I'm sure there are lots of kinds that can make it tasty.

What you should do:

Before you begin:
I really recommend speed with this recipe. The marshmallow mix gets obnoxiously sticky real fast, and I'm not sure how successful you would be with mixing the cereal if you waited at all after taking it out of the microwave. So my tip? Make sure to measure out the cereal and be ready to mix. Also, make sure to grease the pan that you are putting the treats in - I would not want to try to carve out the food if you didn't.

1) Mix the butter and marshmallows!
Pretty obvious step here. Just be sure to choose a big enough bowl to fit the cereal that you'll mix in later.

2) Nuke it!
The recipe says to microwave the mixture 1-2 minutes, stirring every thirty seconds. I ended up cooking it for 1.5 minutes, taking it out when the marshmallow fluff was bubbling and thoroughly mixed. I have no idea if you can overcook this, I wouldn't want to find out.

3) Mix the cereal!
Upon taking out the bowl of marshmallow fluff, immediately stir in the cereal. Mine got really sticky really fast, so be prepared to have your hands stick to everything. I stopped mixing once it looked like the marshmallow covered everything decently, and I didn't feel like struggling to stir any more.

4) Place in the pan!
Just dump the cereal mixture in the pan. The recipe says to pack the mixture in with "the back of a buttered spoon", and I will tell you that that is great advice. Without it I definitely would have struggled to not have cereal pieces attached to everything except the pan at the end.

5) Refrigerate!
Place the pan in the fridge to set the marshmallow. I left it in for about 3 hours or so.

Cut into pieces and eat!
After the marshmallow has cooled and set, take the pan out and use a butter knife to cut into square pieces.

Now you're ready to eat and enjoy!

Leftover Capability:
This isn't really a meal, so you can't really have leftovers, but I got 6 good sized treats out of the half-recipe. You can probably get more if you do the full recipe and use a bigger pan/make thinner treats.

But What About My Money?:
Frosted Cheerios$3.41
Margarine (4 sticks)$1.89

I actually have no idea how much the marshmallows cost - they're leftovers from something else that my mom gave me. Considering how little cereal and margarine were used, I'd say that this recipe comes out to pretty cheap, especially considering the improved taste.

Final Grade: A
This was a great thing to slap together - I got rid of a bag of marshmallows that would probably have gone stale, and it didn't take much work at all. Not to mention, they taste really good and the recipe is easy to change - just insert whatever cereal you have laying around and you're off! I know I'm definitely going to make this one again.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Yumtastic Burritos

Starving? Of course you are. Want an easy meal? Of course you do. Craving Mexican? Great, because I've got a great recipe for simple tasty burritos.

Stuff you should obtain:

1 package ground beef (80% lean)
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream
1 green bell pepper
1 package taco mix
Burrito-size tortillas

Notes about ingredients: The best thing about burritos is that you can put whatever sort of toppings you want on the tortilla to personalize your meal. Other options than the ones listed could be shredded lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, etc.

What you should do:

1) Cut the bell pepper!
Unsure of what to do with it? Click here for nice pictures. I didn't quite cut it so thin as in those pictures, instead opting for more wider, squarish rectangles.

2) Cook the meat!
There are a few ways to cook the ground beef, I chose to do it in a frying pan. Essentially I just dumped the entire hunk of ground beef in the pan, which probably wasn't that great of an idea because the beef wasn't entirely thawed out. So essentially I spent my first few minutes cooking trying to hack at the semi-frozen meat with the stirring spoon to break it up so it could be cooked fully. I would advise ensuring that your meat is thawed. Or just being lazy and browning it in the microwave.

3) Prepare the taco mix!
After you get the beef browning appropriately (be sure to stir it around, making sure that all the pink meat gets against the hot pan at some point), follow the directions on the back of the taco mix - essentially just mix the packet with the right amount of water.

4) Drain the meat!
This step is important! I would know, I didn't do it and it made clean up a pain in the behind. See, if you don't drain the meat, the taco mix gets all gunky after you turn the burner off and it's a pain to clean off of the pan. And it also means there's going to be a lot of taco meat juice when you actually put the meat into the tortilla - a little too greasy.

5) Add the bell pepper and taco mix!
Adding the bell pepper now means that it gets the flavor of the taco mix and that it doesn't get really soggy. If you don't like your bell pepper on the crispy side, you could probably put it in earlier or simmer the meat for longer in the taco mix.

6) Prepare your tortilla!
As the meat simmers, you can get started on preparing your burrito. Fancy type people can put the tortilla on a plate and preheat it in the oven, so it's nice and warm.
I always put the sour cream on first, slathering it all over the tortilla. I think it makes it really nice and even, getting rid of that one bite of pure sour cream that you get if you put it on in a dollop.

7) Add the meat!
After the meat has simmered appropriately, turn off the burner (don't want to burn down the house, you know), and begin to spoon out the meat/pepper mix onto the burrito. Cover with cheese immediately so it gets melty with the warm meat.

8) Eat!
Om nom nom nom! Congratulations, you've made some tasty tasty burritos!

Leftover Capability:

I ate one burrito with this recipe, and probably will have enough meat for two more - that's three meals out of one evening of cooking! Of course, your leftover capability may vary, depending on how much beef you cooked, and how much you actually put on the tortilla.

But What About My Money?:
The following is the cost for each of the items I used in this meal (priced at a Martin's in West Virginia):
1 package ground beef 80% lean - 1.48 lb$4.87
8 oz pre-shredded cheddar cheese$3.25
16 oz light sour cream$1.19
Taco Mix$.89
Burrito-size tortillas (package of 8)$2.09
1 smallish green pepper$.69
With two leftover meals, that comes out to about $4.33 per meal. Of course, unless you really go to town, you probably won't use the entire container of sour cream or cheddar cheese, so it's probably a little cheaper than that. Getting regular cheese and then shredding it yourself may also be getting more bang for your buck.

Final Grade: A-
Minus some small glitches, this meal went pretty well and tasted excellent. Definitely something I'm going to do again.