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Old 11-07-2014, 06:09 PM   #1
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Cook's Confessional - forgive me for I have...

Confession time! At one time or another most of us have taken a short cut, claimed a bakery item as homemade or fibbed about an ingredient list..
"is this banana bread healthy - it's just yummy..."
"well... I've added applesauce and reduced the butter. The flour is whole wheat the the bananas are organic ...have another slice" (not saying that you also added heavy cream and loads of nuts)
Last night I did the unthinkable and took major short cuts with cheapo ingredients when making mac and cheese. When my DH said he loved it and that it was the best ever and that it sure tasted like I used loads of expensive artisan cheese, but it was soo good he didn't even mind the additional cost, I kept my mouth shut. It's bad to keep secrets - they can haunt you, so here's mine Let me back up...

My DH has been out of town for a week and was due home today. Late yesterday he called and said he had finished early and was on his way home and would be there in an hour and could we have mac and cheese for dinner - he'd been thinking about it all day. Cool! He's coming home early.

Uh-oh - mac and cheese in an hour? I might not have all the ingredients and there's no time to shop. Hmm... ok I can do this. Maybe.

Turn on oven
Run tap water to get it HOT
Turn 2 burners on high
Get out 2 pots, 1 baking dish and fill one of the pots with hot water to boil elbows. Hit the fridge and cupboards for elbows, butter, flour, seasoning, milk, cheddar. Cheese - oh no. There is not enough; but I am not deterred; surely there must be more in the back of the cheese drawer. Maybe some nice aged gouda or manchego I could add or a little gruyere or some herbed chevre? There are always left over cheese bits in the fridge.
I'm sticking to my plan.

I made the white sauce while the noodles cooked and added all the cheddar I had and a small handful of shredded parm. Still not enough cheesey-ness. Back to the cheese drawer..and nothing! It's empty.

Next I got out yellow mustard and added some - it provided some nice snap and made the color look better but I know I have committed a culinary crime. Hotdog mustard in mac and cheese is just not right. Those ladies at the kitchen "arts" store will surely know and point and shake their heads when they see me ...

Another taste and I'm standing in front of the open fridge looking for inspiration I need more cheese! I root through the entire fridge and then I see it. ALL in the way in back, behind the lab cherries and capers, a small cheese ball! You know those hermetically sealed ones that come at Christmas time with the little sausages in a cardboard box packed in brown Easter basket grass? Yup - one of those. I yanked it out, checked the date (good for another two years - gasp), broke into the plastic encasement, chopped it up (nut crusting and all) and dumped it into my pot.

Oh melty goodness! I'm fairly certain that cheese ball is made of cheese-food-like "product" but it melted fast and made the sauce pretty good. But I have sinned again... mystery ingredients are in my sauce now. They came from exit 15 in New Jersey, were shrink wrapped for posterity and I am certain that no reasonable person would willingly eat them. But.. I have a DEADLINE and am not even a little reasonable.

Drain the elbows, dump them into the baking dish pour the sauce over the top and ram it into the oven. 19 minutes flat!

40 minutes later, there is a lovely rich bubbly dish of mac and cheese, cooked to perfection. It was wonderful and my DH went on and on about the texture and the seasoning and how clever I must be to have known he was coming home early and had this ready to go. So thoughtful. I smiled and nodded and was totally adorable as I contemplated being fitted for my scarlet scull and crossbones by the ladies at the kitchen "arts' store.

Menu:
Baked mac and cheese with hotdog mustard and cheddo ball bechamel
Steamed Broccoli with lemon wedges
Sliced tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar
Merlot

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Old 11-07-2014, 06:37 PM   #2
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Ah, but what happens when hubby says, "Honey, can you make that mac and cheese just like you did the last time? It was the best ever, don't change a thing!"
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Old 11-07-2014, 10:47 PM   #3
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I made homemade Hollandaise faithfully for years. One time I was rushed and picked up Knorr Hollandaise. I hid the packets in the bottom of the trash. Shrek thought it was better than the homemade I had made before. Took me several years to fess up and I still use Knorr...
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Old 11-07-2014, 10:56 PM   #4
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Though I don't like to cheat on a great recipe, because time is always at a premium, and I usually don't have the on-hand cash the day before payday to pick up the correct ingredients, I cheat all the time.

I believe that creativity, and the desire to make something taste great, under adverse conditions, is what makes a great cook great. It's easy to make great food from great ingredients. It's much harder to make great food from whatever you can find available, and at a moment's notice.

Janet, I tip my hat to you. Good job.

Seeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 11-07-2014, 11:22 PM   #5
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I keep a jar of inced garlic and minced ginger in the fridge for stir-fries and such.

Knorr Hollandaise and Bearnaise sauce mixes are great. I use them sometimes too.

I sometimes use Lipton's onion soup and dip mix to season red potatoes I roast in the oven or on the grill.
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Old 11-07-2014, 11:28 PM   #6
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Cooks Confessional - forgive me for I have...

PF turned me on to the Knorr hollandaise and bearnaise sauces several years ago. They're now a cupboard staple.

I cheat a bit with Better Than Boullion low sodium chicken stock, adding it to my chicken soup, or anything else that needs a hit of chicken goodness. The stuff is liquid gold.

McCormick's country style gravy mix is outstanding. I've used it as a soup base as well as gravy mix. Had some with sauteed chicken breast chunks, DH loved it so much I had to make some more. I did eventually show him the bottle.
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Old 11-08-2014, 12:12 AM   #7
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Top Ramen, it's usually my dinner these days. I eat my big meal in the middle of the day and the noodles are my night snack before bed.

Throw out the season packet and use Kikkoman Bastes and Marinades for tasty flavors.
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Old 11-08-2014, 09:30 AM   #8
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Rob loves hamburger helper cheeseburger macaroni. I made it from scratch a few times and then bought the Velveeta version, he loves it. I just had to get over my guilt, now I'm OK with it.

I don't like the taste of pillsbury ready rolled pie crust, but will use them once in a while for a quick quiche, Rob would rather have quiche with mediocre crust than no quiche at all.

The store brand spaghetti sauce in my store and Aldi (same sauce), is one of my favorites and it has been for over a decade, so it's always in my pantry, great for a quick dinner. I always make my own sauce for lasagna though.

I use half American process cheese (not the cheese food stuff) and half cheddar in my mac and cheese, the emulsified process cheese makes for a smooth and creamy sauce.
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Old 11-08-2014, 10:53 AM   #9
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Ssshh! I have been known to warm some mayonnaise straight from the jar mixed with a little milk and pass it off as 'Hollandaise sauce' over poached Salmon steaks and no-one so far has noticed.Too busy licking their lips.
I also drizzle rapeseed oil over oven chips, massage it in well and cook as usual except that now they come out nearly as good as 'proper' fries but without the deep fat fryer (which I don't have anyway)
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Old 11-08-2014, 11:39 AM   #10
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Last year I committed the ultimate BBQ sin. I boiled my ribs.
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Old 11-08-2014, 12:39 PM   #11
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Can't think of anything offhand right now, except when my children were small and thought they didn't like certain vegetables, I would hide them in assorted dishes.

For example, I often made lasagna using chopped spinach in the cheese layers. No one seemed to realize what it was and often thought it to be some form of Italian seasoning.

Then, it was ever so easy to stash zucchini in all manner of zucchini breads, etc. If they complained because they saw something green, it was no trouble to peel the zucchini the next time the dish was made. Ha! Ha! Joke's on them.
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Old 11-08-2014, 12:54 PM   #12
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I start all Italian dishes with a tomato based sauce with a jar of Bertolli Marinara sauce.

Canned Nalley's Chili with beans is always in the cupboard.

Lots of different shredded cheeses in the fridge.
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Old 11-08-2014, 01:26 PM   #13
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Keeping milk in my home is just one step above possible. Maybe. Even today.

So knowing that one can of evaporated milk and one can of water can more or less become equal to whole milk, I always have a couple of cans in the pantry. My kids have always been very adamant about how nasty tasting evaporated milk is. I have been instructed on more than even several occasion to never put that in their food. By all the kids. So when it comes to béchamel sauce if I run out of whole milk, out comes the can. My very best béchamel sauce. They can't get enough of it. For mac and cheese, as a dipping sauce for French Fries, S.O.S on toast, etc. They are not so sure what I use it for, but I see them make a very ugly face when they see the can in the trash.
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Old 11-08-2014, 01:38 PM   #14
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I have one big secret.

When my wife and I first began dating, I wanted to her over for a home cooked meal. As I do with everyone, I asked if there was anything she couldn't or wouldn't eat. She told me that she was allergic to mushrooms, and gets severe stomach cramps (and worse) if there is even a single mushroom in her food. She claimed it runs in her family because her dad is allergic, too.

Bummer, because mushrooms are one of my favorite foods.

We eventually got married and several years went by. In that time, I never cooked anything for her (or her dad) that had mushrooms in it. If I wanted to enjoy my favorite fungus, I would simply saute them up in a separate pan and serve on the side.

One night we went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. I don't recall what I ordered that night, but I do know that she ordered veggie burritos. She said it was one of the best Mexican things she had ever eaten. We loved that restaurant and made a number of return trips, where she always ordered the same thing. On one such trip, I was perusing the menu, and happened to read the description for the veggie burritos that she loved.

Buried down in the list of ingredients: mushrooms!

We had eaten there many times and never once had she suffered from the tummy distress that she claimed was caused by those despicable mushrooms. I didn't say a word.

Over the years, I have snuck mushrooms into a few things, albeit in a well disguised format. For example, I made meatloaf a couple of nights ago. She loves my meatloaf. Little does she know that one of my secret ingredients is portobello mushrooms that have been chopped fine in the food processor and then sauteed.

Truth be told, she's been eating mushrooms in my cooking for about 10 years now, and is none the wiser.

Now here's the funniest part. My father-in-law claims he also gets violently ill if he encounters them. So one day I was talking to MIL and happened to spill my dirty secret. I asked, "Did you know that Kellie's not really allergic to mushrooms?" And she looked at me and said, "Yeah, her dad isn't, either. I've been secretly slipping mushrooms into our food for 40 years, and he's never had any problem with it. I think the truth is that he just doesn't know how much he like mushrooms, because if I leave them out of something, he says the meal doesn't taste as good that night."
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Old 11-08-2014, 03:34 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by menumaker View Post
Ssshh! I have been known to warm some mayonnaise straight from the jar mixed with a little milk and pass it off as 'Hollandaise sauce' over poached Salmon steaks and no-one so far has noticed.Too busy licking their lips.
I also drizzle rapeseed oil over oven chips, massage it in well and cook as usual except that now they come out nearly as good as 'proper' fries but without the deep fat fryer (which I don't have anyway)
I used a mock hollaindaise recipe from Campbells that just used cream of soup (I preferred asparagus), mayonaise and lemon juice. Sorry, I don't remember the quantities any more, but I'm sure I could fake it if I had too.

I'm a fan of packaged sauces/gravies, simply because I like the particular flavor and enjoy that I get consistent results. I use unsalted stock/broth instead of water for that extra flavor punch.
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Old 11-08-2014, 03:56 PM   #16
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Steve, I loved your story!

The first thing that came to mind when I opened this thread is Imitation 'Krab'. I've used it often in dips, spreads, and salads...it's all good, IMO.

One time a few years ago I had to throw together a quick side for a last minute luncheon, so I made a Krab salad spread and brought some wheat crackers. One of the ladies there commented how good it was, and that she could tell it was 'real crab' - she said she can always tell the difference. LOL I just smiled and said 'thank you'.
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Old 11-09-2014, 01:10 AM   #17
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Great story Steve.

My second husband couldn't understand how could I eat fish and not shell fish such as scallops. I don't have a life threatening reaction, but I sure get sick. So one night he brought home some very large scallops still in the shell. I cooked them up for him while the rest of us had Haddock in a cooked in a separate pan. He insisted I eat just one. Okay, but he became a believer. He spend the night taking care of me. Even wanted to call an ambulance. Fortunately, I only ate half of it before I began to have a reaction.

Unfortunately, scallops just happen to be my favorite shell fish food. Or used to be. It is the iodine in them that I am allergic to. The other's don't have the iodine as a rule. But I can immediately taste it in that first bite. Sorry, if you are at the table when that happens, I have to spit it out immediately. So when I am in mixed company at a restaurant, I order fish just to be on the safe side. A lot of people outgrow their food allergies. I don't know if I have or not. I don't want to test the waters again.
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Old 11-09-2014, 01:12 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Cheryl J View Post
Steve, I loved your story!

The first thing that came to mind when I opened this thread is Imitation 'Krab'. I've used it often in dips, spreads, and salads...it's all good, IMO.

One time a few years ago I had to throw together a quick side for a last minute luncheon, so I made a Krab salad spread and brought some wheat crackers. One of the ladies there commented how good it was, and that she could tell it was 'real crab' - she said she can always tell the difference. LOL I just smiled and said 'thank you'.
I love crab. Will have to look for the Krab in a can. The real ones are up there with scallops for me.
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Old 11-09-2014, 11:58 AM   #19
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I find the krab in the seafood section. I usually have some on hand, but must always add a few drops of soy or teriyaki sauce to counter the overly sweet taste.

To me it tastes nothing like real crab, but is tasty in it's own way.
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Old 11-09-2014, 12:30 PM   #20
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I find the krab in the seafood section. I usually have some on hand, but must always add a few drops of soy or teriyaki sauce to counter the overly sweet taste.

To me it tastes nothing like real crab, but is tasty in it's own way.
Sometimes (if they are available or on sale) I will buy a couple of logastino legs. Not too much meat in them, but just enough for a crab salad for one. And there is not enough iodine in them to affect me.
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