January 30, 2007

Pre-Peeled Plantains--What Next?

I started writing this blog with the intention of writing only about the old recipe books. However, the daily additions to my collection with newer booklets and pamphlets continues to grow at an alarming pace. I write about them sometimes because some of you out there might be interested in these current booklets. After all, the old ones were current at one time, were they not?

Today's entry is another one about a current pamphlet and where I found it.

At one of the H-E-B grocery stores in the suburbs where I shop they have plenty of in-store demonstrations, particularly on the weekends. A couple of weeks ago I went in for a few minutes to look around while my companions were in the Verizon store. I find browsing the aisles of the supermarket infinitely more interesting than looking at displays of cell phones (for the fifth time this month).

On this particular morning a young Latina girl was frying plantains and handing out samples in the Produce Department. I was offered a crispy, steaming hot slice of fried plantain with a choice of either a dab of Guacamole or Pico de Gallo on top. While I was contemplating the taste, she, of course, was showing me the product that was being demonstrated.

The product was ready-to-eat La PlantaciĆ³n Peeled Plantains from Falcon-Foods.

I occasionally eat plantains at a Cuban restaurant I like, but don't generally cook them at home. Mostly because nobody else cares for them. So I really don't know all the nuances of buying and preparing plaintains.

These were peeled, each of the three in the package individually vacuum packed. According to the website, they are of the Dominico Harton variety.

Since I can't imagine being so pressed for time that I can't afford to lose any by taking a few seconds to peel a banana, the attraction of these over fresh ones must be the shelf life, although the packaging does promote them as being Time Savers. They are stored in the refrigerator and will stay fresh for 30 days. The expiration dates on these packages were about three weeks out.

The sample was quite tasty.

Since I don't cook plantains and still had no intention of starting any time soon, I might have simply thanked the girl and walked away.

But.... I noticed that inside the package she showed me was a small recipe pamphlet. That changed things entirely. I took the package offered and went off to pay for it. Who knows when I might ever see that pamphlet again, if ever, if I didn't get it then.

La PlantaciĆ³n Peeled Plantains Recipe Ideas (not dated, 6 pp.) turned out to be a small tri-fold pamphlet printed on some type of laminated glossy paper (that would keep it unharmed even under refrigerated conditions). It contains four recipes plus the contact information for the company.

Each of the four recipes has a small color photo of the completed dish. The recipes are:

  • Mofongo
  • Cream of Plantain Soup
  • Mexican Toston
  • Green Fried Plantain

On the rear page of the pamphlet, the company invites you to send in your own recipes.

I did fix some fried plantains, though not using any of the recipes in this package insert. I used a recipe from my current issue of Comida y Familia that had a sweet dipping sauce that wanted to try.

The sauce was good and the fried plantains tasted good as well. I couldn't really tell any difference from the taste of the fresh plantains that I've had in restaurants.

Since I like to cook appetizers and serve them as snacks this product might work out well for me in the future. I can prepare fried plantains as a snack for myself while I'm serving Nachos or something for somebody else. The shelf life would allow me to easily hold them in the refrigerator until the need for them came up. I'll try some of the recipes in the pamphlet later on down the road.

In this case, the enclosure of the recipe pamphlet inside the product packaging paid off for the food manufacturer. It induced this consumer to try a product that she normally wouldn't have. Which also provided a little word-of-mouth advertising by way of this blog entry.

I'd be interested in hearing opinions on this product from some of those who cook with plantains on a more regular basis than I do.

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January 22, 2007

Bisquick Velvet Crumb Cake

The Food Companies often include recipes on their product packaging. That's where some of the best recipes come from. On some produts these recipes stay the same and on others they're rotated fairly frequently.

The Campbell's red and white soup cans always have recipes on the labels and they're examples of package recipes that rotate quite often. Don't take them for granted. Sometimes you never see them again!

I can remember my mother preparing a skillet dish called Meatballs and Rice off the back of the Campbell's Onion Soup label when I was in the fifth grade. (I remember that I was in the fifth grade because that was the year we had a house fire and my fishnet stockings burned up AND I had a broken arm from roller skating. A traumatic time that was, losing all my fishnet stockings like that.)

Anyway, I remember my mother cooking this at the loaner apartment--and, coincidentally it's also the first time I noticed her using a recipe off the can (did her cookbooks burn up along with the stockings?). So time goes by and I'm cooking for myself, and I'm searching for that recipe. To this day, I have never been able to find that recipe that was on the can in 1968, not anywhere.

The Bisquick box is an example of one whose recipes mostly stay the same (thank goodness!) The boxes always have the recipes for pancakes, waffles, strawberry shortcake, biscuits and dumplings. If they ever took the dumpling recipe off the box I wouldn't be able to make Chicken and Dumplings. (That's stretching it--I did clip the recipe many years ago, but it's easier to just look on the box.) I know it's simple, but it's always THERE so I don't have to remember it or look for it anywhere else. They do sometimes feature other recipes, which is okay as long as they leave the old regulars on there along with the new ones.

I had an inquiry tonight from someone looking for the Bisquick Velvet Crumb Cake recipe. That one used to be on the box too, but I guess they finally took it off.

She had clipped hers, but had lost the clipping. So I found it for her in the So Quick with New Bisquick (1967, 2nd Edition, 120 pp) cookbook.

Notice that this particular recipe calls for New Bisquick (they reformulated it in the 1960s), but I just use the Original Bisquick now. Later printings of the recipe just call for plain old Bisquick.


1-1/2 cups New Bisquick
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup cold water or milk
2 tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a square pan, 8x8x2 inches, or a round layer pan, 9x1-1/2 inches. In large mixer bowl, blend all ingredients on low speed 1/2 minute, scraping side and bottom of bowl frequently. Beat 4 minutes on medium speed. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly. If desired, while warm spread cake with Broiled Topping (below) or other topping.


Mix 3 tbsp. soft butter, 1/3 cup brown sugar (packed), 2 tbsp. light cream, 1/2 cup coconut and 1/4 cup chopped nuts. Set oven control at broil and/or 550 degrees. Place cake about 3 inches from heat; broil about 3 minutes until mixture is nicely browned.

Note: 9-inch square pan can be used. Bake cake 25 to 30 minutes.



Prepare Velvet Crumb Cake from basic recipe. While warm, spread cake with Peanut Butter Topping (below). Set oven control at broil and/or 550 degrees. Place cake about 3 inches from heat; broil about 3 minutes or until mixture is nicely browned.


In small bowl mix thoroughly 2 tbsp. soft butter, 1/3 cup brown sugar (packed), 2 tbsp. milk or light cream, 1/2 cup chopped peanuts and 2 tbsp. peanut butter.


Prepare Velvet Crumb Cake from Basic Recipe. While warm, spread with 1/2 cup apricot or peach jam. Serve warm.

If you're one of those people who fix Green Bean Casserole off the Cream of Mushroom Soup can--better go clipthe recipe now. You never know when it will disappear.

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January 13, 2007

New Boar's Head Booklet

I 'm not too excited about the selection of food stores in the small town I live in. Among a myriad of other issues, I just noticed yesterday that one of the places has been selling us bags of ice marked as 10 lbs. that actually only weigh 5 lbs. The bags kept getting lighter and lighter until I finally weighed one. When confronted about it, the owner of the store didn't seem concerned that I might feel a bit cheated, only somewhat irritated that I called her on it.

The new Wal-Mart SuperCenter coming to town is a good thing. I'm sure they, at least, have consistency, quality control and standards to adhere to

Fortunately, I'm not adverse to driving into the city (suburbs, actually) to do my grocery shopping.

One store has already moved and revamped in anticiaption of the coming competition. This resulted in the introduction of the Boar's Head brands into their store. Yesterday while I was in there picking up a basic necessity, I noticed that Boar's Head has a new recipe book out called Now You're Cooking (2006, 52 pages). You can almost always find the Boar's Head cookbooks displayed near the deli case.

There have been several Boar's Head recipe books published in the past but this new one is almost 20 pages longer than the others and has a bright, white cover. For some reason, I like the recipes in this edition better than in those of the past. Perhaps because there are more of them.

The booklet contains recipes for Appetizers, Salads, Main Courses, Sandwiches, Sides and Fun Foods. There are a few color photos of the prepared dishes, though since I'm such a visual person, I wish there were more. However, the booklet is certainly enough to whet the appetite even without a lot of pictures.

Besides the meat and cheese products a few of the recipes also call for other Boar's Head brand items: Jalapeno Pepper Sauce, Pub Style Horseradish Sauce, Delicatessen Style Mustard, Sweet and Mild Gourmet Barbecue Sauce, Sweet Vidalia Onions in Sauce and Kosher Dill Pickles.

Their entire line of meat and cheese products has expanded in the last few years and this recipe book reflects the changes with the tasty varieties of deli meat and cheeses used in the recipes.

There are 56 recipes in all. The nutritional information isn't given for the recipes, but Boar's Head does have another booklet that contains nothing but the nutrional information about their products. You can ususally find that at the deli counter too.

Some of the recipes I plan to try right away are:
  • Salami Coronet (an appetizer)
  • Horseradish Ham Spread Tropicale (an appetizer)
  • Spicy Potato Skins (an appetizer)
  • Queso Blanco Marinated in Fresh Herbs (another appetizer)
  • Mimosa Salad with Spicy Orange Honey Mustard Dressing (salad)
  • Pineapple Rice Salad with Ham (salad)
  • Chicken Avocado Salad (salad)
  • Gorgonzola Dressing (salad dressing)
  • Ham and Mushroom Broth (main dish)
  • Pesto Parmesan Ham Breakfast Wrap (main dish)
  • Aroastica Penne (main dish)
  • Cheesy Meatloaf (main dish)
  • Rancher Beef Pita (sandwich)
  • The Mediterranean (sandwich)
  • Aroastica Chicken Wrap (sandwich)
  • Not Your Daddy's BLT (sandwich)
  • Hot & Sweet Sausage Sandwich (sandwich)
  • Butterkase Mashed Potatoes (side)

None of these recipes call for particularly unusual ingredients, but many of them simply aren't found around this town. Although I can probably find a can of Mandarin oranges, portobello mushrooms or mixed field greens might be a stretch.

Looks like a trip into the city for me. Also, please pardon my small rant about the local grocery stores--sometimes I just get frustrated about the situation. I definitely take my groceries seriously.

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      January 12, 2007

      State Fair Recipes

      Some folks collect state fair recipes and cookbooks, either from their own state or those from all fifty states.

      You can find hardcover state fair cookbooks published by mainstream publishers and also smaller printed publications, sometimes published by the various state governmental agencies. Recipes from state fairs are often printed in local newspapers in the food section.

      The Senior Citizens Cookie Recipes Book (1976, 24 pages) is one example of the smaller publications that can be found. It's a small cookbook with a stapled binding and was published by the State of Indiana Commission on the Aging and Aged. It was available at the 1976 Bicentennial Indiana State Fair. The Cookie Bake-Offs were held in the Senior Citizens Building and open to male or female Indiana residents who were 60 years of age or older.

      The cookbook contains recipes from the 1975 Senior Citizens Cookie Bake-Off Contest held the previous year. Notice the Bicentennial colors on the cover. An entry form for the 1976 contest is in front of book. Name and location given for winners next to their recipes. Two pages in the center of the book contain photo Highlights from the Senor Citizens Building that were taken in 1975, with captions for the photos.

      Some of the recipes called for name brand ingredients. Cocoa Puff Krispie Cookies was the Third Grand Prize Winner in the Final Bake-Off. It was submitted by Pearl Lee Mauck of Corydon, Indiana.


      1 stick of Margarine
      6 oz. package of dates
      1 cup light brown sugar
      1 cup chopped pecans
      1/2 cup coconut
      2 cups Coco-puffs
      Powdered sugar or coconut

      Cook margarine, dates and sugar over low heat until dates are melted (about 10 minutes), stirring all the time. Remove from heat. Add nuts, coconut, and coco-puffs.

      Stir well and roll into small balls. Flatten and shape.

      Roll in powdered sugar or coconut. Makes about twenty-five, or according to the size you roll.

      There are 28 prize-winning recipes in all. The next recipe below was submitted by Mary Kinchlow of Indianapolis, Indiana. Although I've shown the recipe as it was printed, please note the addition of the cup of pecans at the very end of the recipe rather than higher up in the instructions.


      1 cup shortening
      1 cup sugar
      1 egg yolk
      2 tsp. cinnamon
      2-1/2 cups cake flour
      1 tblsp. sugar
      1 egg white, beaten stiff
      1 cup chopped pecans

      Cream shortening and 1 cup sugar together. Add egg yolk, cinnamon and flour. Mix. Spread 1/4 inch thick in a well-greased 10 x 15 inch pan. Add tablespoonful of sugar to beaten egg white and brush over top of dough. Cover with thick layer of pecans and press into dough. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes (75) 1 x 2 inch sticks. Add the cup of pecans to dough and sprinkle additional nuts on top.

      You can look here to get an idea of some of the state fair recipes booklets that periodically become available. Most of the smaller booklets have been saved as part of someone's recipe or cookbook collection.

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      January 11, 2007

      Free Recipes Magazine

      If you're reading this blog I would assume that you're interested in brand name recipes and promotional recipe books.

      One of the nicest sources of recipes that fit into this category is available FREE and it's delivered right to your mailbox.

      I am referring to Kraft Food & Family Magazine. You can go online to subscribe. (Look for the link that says sign up.) It'll only take a minute and you'll be glad you did when you see how nice it is. Each issue has recipes with great directions and beautiful color photos. I think you'll find that it's as good as some of those $5 magazines on the newsstand.

      If you speak Spanish there is also a Spanish language version, Comida y Familia. You'll find many of the same recipes but in addition, there are others more oriented to the Latino culture. If you're learning to speak Spanish it's a great tool. We actually subscribe to both and get a lot out of each of the issues. You can go to Comida Kraft to subscribe.

      Go ahead, it's easy, it's FREE and I think you'll be glad you did.

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      January 10, 2007

      Rachael Ray Cookbook Offer

      Just before I tossed the empty Nabisco Premium Saltine Cracker box into the trash, I happened to notice a Rachael Ray cookbook offer on the back.

      The offer is for a copy of Express Lane Meals: What to Keep on Hand, What to Buy Fresh for the Easiest-Ever 30-Minute Meals by Rachael Ray for only $4.99 plus six Cookbook Points. That amount includes shipping and handling. Specially marked boxes of Nabisco Crackers have the Cookbook Points on them (my 1-lb package was worth 1 point).

      Although the offer on the box doesn't require an order form, you can download one at NabiscoWorld. The offer expires March 31, 2007.

      Although this isn't really an advertising cookbook, I feel like it fits in with the other promotional cookbooks because Rachael Ray is pretty much a brand name now with her line of cookware, knives and kitchen tools and gadgets.

      If you're a fan, you can check out all of Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Cookbooks and other kitchen items.

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      January 09, 2007

      Del Monte Meat and Tomatoes

      When Del Monte published Meat & Tomatoes Main Dish Recipes with Del Monte Stewed Tomatoes (1991, 34 pp) they offered a choice of six different stewed tomato varieties: Original, No-Salt Added, Italian, Mexican, Chunky Pasta Style and Cajun.

      The booklet contains 78 recipes for the busy cook. The recipes are divided into the following categories: Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Pork, Ham, Sausage, Lamb and Seafood.

      "Most recipes contain fewer than eight ingredients and can be prepared in 30 to 40 minutes. The recipes range from popular international dishes to American regional favorites. Each recipe uses Del Monte Stewed Tomatoes to season ordinary meat, poultry and seafood to create a delicious main dish.

      In addition, you'll find interesting recipes for leftover meats, tasty low-sodium, low-fat recipes, valuable money savings coupons, helpful hints for the kitchen, and guidelines for proper storage of meat."

      Of course, the manufacturer coupons have long since expired (too bad, though often these recipe booklets contain coupons with no expiration date).

      The recipes are presented in recipe card format with three recipes per page (i.e six recipes front and back). Cutting lines are shown so that you can cut them out and store them in your recipe box.

      Each recipe shows a color photo of the finished dish, number of servings, preparation time and cook time.

      Today, Del Monte offers only five styles of stewed tomatoes, having dropped the Chunky Pasta Style from the stewed line. You could probably substitute Chunky Diced Tomatoes - Pasta Style in the original recipes.

      Get your own copy of Del Monte Meat & Tomatoes.

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