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Good morning, readers. We have some long-lost recipes and are still hot on the trail of arugula salads, cabbage rolls in bread dough, salad wraps and do-ahead ideas for the family when the cook will be out of town.
All but the last request are recycled ones. Yeast of the Ridge must leave town for a few days, leaving a husband with two culinary specialties: red beans and rice and popcorn. "He has asked for some healthy things prepared ahead, food that he won't have to assemble," she says. And here's proof that a Fare Exchange question is answered before it is asked: the Mason jar salad discussed below sound ideal for the task.
From the most recent Linda Leake collection, here is a batch of peanut butter cookies.
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups dry roasted peanuts
Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, cream shortening, butter and peanut butter, gradually adding sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Sift flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture and blend well. Stir in peanuts. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Here's a cake from the collection "Fork, Knife, Spoon," fit for a spring day. The recipe calls for fresh peaches, but we can speculate that canned or frozen would also work well, or any fresh sliced fruit.
1 prepared angel food cake
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 cup cold water
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 (4-serving) package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups Cool Whip
4 cups sliced fresh peaches, sliced into lemon water or fresh fruit juice to prevent browning, and drained well.
Cut cake into 1/4-inch slices; arrange half the slices on bottom of a 13-by-9-inch pan. In a large mixer bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, water and extract; mix well. Add pudding mix; beat well. Chill 5 minutes. Fold in Cool Whip.
Pour half of the cream mixture over cake slices; arrange half the peach slices on top.
Repeat layers ending with peach slices. Chill 4 hours or until set. Cut into squares to serve. Refrigerate leftovers.
Last week's Just a Dash raised the topic of Mason jar salads. This week an anonymous reader passed on the general information needed for creating a variety of salads to be stored for up to five days in Mason jars. (One more trendy way to use canning jars ...)
Canning jars are good for everything from storing grains in the pantry to shaking cocktails in the park. But by far one of our most favorite ways to use our pint- and quart-sized canning jars is to pack them with salads, leafy green salads. Dressing goes on the bottom, veggies and other salad goodies get piled on top. Everything stays separate and dressing-free until you toss the salad together in the bowl. You'll never eat another soggy lunch salad. Even better, these salads last for days in the fridge so we can make a week's worth of lunches ahead of time.
How do the greens not get soggy? The basic idea when packing salads in jars is to start with the heaviest and most non-absorbent ingredients, with the dressing on the bottom of the jar and work your way up through the lighter ingredients until you end up with the salad greens themselves. As long as your jar doesn't accidentally tip over you in your bag, the delicate greens will be well-protected from the dressing until you're ready to eat.
How does everything get mixed together? When you're ready to eat your salad, just unscrew the cap and shake it into a bowl. Everything gets pretty compacted in the jar, so some vigorous shaking may be needed. This shaking also helps to toss the salad ingredients with the dressing. Once the salad is in the bowl, you can toss it some more with your fork to make sure everything is evenly coated.
What's the best jar to use? Any canning jar can be used, but wide-mouthed jars are the easiest for both packing the salad into the jars and shaking them out again. Pint-sized jars are great for individual side-salads of mostly greens with just a few extra salad toppings. Use quart-sized jars for larger lunch and dinner salads that have a lot of extra veggies and salad goodies. Two-quart jars and larger are great if you're taking the salad to a potluck or cookout.
How long will jars of salad keep in the fridge? With the lid sealed tightly, these salads can last for several days in the fridge, up to five days or so. If you're making salads with soft ingredients or perishable proteins such as avocados, tomatoes, hardboiled eggs or cooked chicken breast, wait to add those ingredients until the day that you plan to eat the salad. Also, if you have a vacuum-sealer attachment for your canning jars, vacuum-sealing the salads right after assembling them will keep your greens and veggies even crisper and fresher.
Dixie Pearce recommends this simple dinner when there is no time or inclination: "A big bowl of yogurt with bananas and raisins and nuts, and any other ingredients on hand, like granola. Though typically it's a breakfast meal, it works great for dinner, too."
How about more ideas, as April turns to May, for other cold dinners? Easy or difficult, all will be welcome. Next week?