Dec 1, 2009

A Foodie's New Year

by Ellen Wilson

MIX! dishes on foods that will give you the most luck in the New Year.

MIX! is opening the door to the New Year and we want some good luck in 2010. The following are dishes known throughout the world for their good fortune in health, wealth, and happiness:

Grapes: The Spanish eat a dozen grapes at midnight to predict their new year.  The sweet grapes represent good months while each sour grape is a not-so-lucky month.

Black-eyed Peas: In the South, eating black-eyed peas shows your humility and invites good fortune in for the New Year.

Lentils: For the Italians, lentils signify wealth because there are so many little seeds in each serving.

Circular foods (doughnuts, cake, fruits, etc): Circular foods bring good luck because they symbolize "coming full circle."

Lucky Coins: Some bake lucky coins into cakes or bread and good luck comes to whoever finds it in their piece.

Soba: The Japanese eat soba for the New Year because the long noodles symbolize longevity.
Cornbread: This golden bread represents gold in your future.

Cooked greens (cabbage, kale, collards, etc): Because their leaves look like folded money, eating lots of greens will bring you good fortune. And good health!

Pork: The pig symbolizes progress and because of its fat content, it also represents prosperity.

Fish: Because they swim forward, fish signify moving forward and also abundance because they swim in schools. There is also the parallel between eating fish and having a good catch in the New Year.

Pomegranate: These fruits are eaten for abundance and fertility.

And there are also two dishes known to be unlucky so we'll be avoiding both of these at the start of the year!

Lobster: Because they move backwards, a fancy lobster dish could actually lead to setbacks.

Chicken: The chicken scratches backwards, which could lead to a regretful focus on the past. 

Make-Your-Own Video

by Ellen Wilson

Make-Your-Own Video

For this date, you'll need a digital camera and a computer with a video-editing program. The goal is for each group to make a 15-second stop-motion video by the end of the night.  Keep your idea simple, because there will be a lot of work for just 15-seconds. If you can't think of an idea, we'll provide you with one; for our stop video, we have Onion and Pepper winking at each other and kissing.  First, we'll add googly eyes, lips, eyebrows, eyelids, and hair to our characters, an onion and a pepper. Organize your props and costuming so you're prepared for each step of the film.  Set your prop somewhere where the background won't be changing (outside can be difficult with wind and pedestrians and such). It's easiest to keep the same background and framing for each shot.  Do this with a tripod or by setting your camera on a firm surface where it won't move. For each picture (and there will be lots), move your object just slightly.  Making slight movements and taking pictures of each little movement is key for a stop-motion film. 

Download your images to the computer, and import into a movie editing program.  You'll need to set each photo with a very short viewing time so that you only see each photo for a split second.  Depending on your video program, you may want to look up some editing tutorials on the Internet if you haven't done much editing in the past.  Once you have all your photos in, add a title and credits and then it's viewing time!


By Ellen Wilson


A helpful tool for the kitchen is the thermometer. A thermometer is needed for perfectly cooked meat, which is a necessity for summer barbeques.  For the safety of your guests, checking the temperature will ensure that meat has reached the proper temperature. For bakers, a thermometer can also be used to check the internal temperature of breads.  Most breads are done with the middle is 185-190°.  Breads with harder crusts may go up to 205-215°. Not pictured is another good thermometer to have: the candy thermometer.  With a clip that attaches to the pan, candy thermometers are perfect for measuring the temperature of liquids.

Purchase a thermometer at any kitchen retail store.

French Toast Combo

Lunch of the MonthWhere: Scoreboard Grill

What: #4 French Toast Combo

Price: $5.49

One egg, meat of choice, two slices of French toast, medium drink

For those on campus in the early morning hours when the sun is just barely cresting Y mountain, there are only a few choices for breakfast. Located in the Cougareat, Scoreboard Grill begins serving breakfast at 8
am and doesn't stop until 10:30am. The French Toast Combo is a great jumpstart for your morning, whether you take it on the go or enjoy it in the Cougareat. Choose from bacon, ham or sausage for your choice of meat. Options for eggs are varied as well, ranging from scrambled to sunnyside up with every option in between. Next time you need an extra boost in the morning, jump in line at the Scoreboard Grill to get your own French Toast Combo.


Present Wreath

  • 15 small boxes of varying sizes
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • White computer paper
  • Silver accent paper
  • Teal cardstock
  • 8 yards of ribbon in varying shades and widths (silver, teal, blue)
  • Wreath base (12-inch diameter)
  • Hot glue and gun
  • 1-1/2 yards silver ribbon (1-1/2 inches thick)

  1. Wrap boxes with white computer paper.
  2. Add silver and teal paper as accents on the boxes.
  3. Tie ribbon in various designs around boxes.
  4. Arrange boxes around wreath form. If any gaps are showing, wrap silver paper around form.
  5. Glue down boxes and affix bow with glue gun. Let dry, then attach a hook on the back for displaying.
  6. If hanging outside, be sure to use weather-resistant spray.

Roasted Butternut and Gala Apple Soup

Farmers Market Recipe:
Roasted Butternut and Gala Apple Soup
5 Servings

4 cups butternut squash, chopped
3 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
2 tablespoons apple juice concentrate
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet butter
3 shallots, chopped
1/2 cups onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3 Gala apples, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon clove
2 teaspoon cinnamon

Peel and seed butternut squash and cut into large chunks. Toss in a large bowl. Add orange juice, dark brown sugar. Pour into roasting pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 1 hour or until tender.
In a heavy-bottom stock pot place sweet butter; chopped shallots; chopped onions; diced carrots; peeled, cored and chopped apples; and spices. Cook slowly over a medium flame, stirring frequently until very tender. Do not allow to color. Add 4 cups chicken stock or vegetable bouillon. Bring to a low boil. Add squash and juice. Cook for 5 minutes, add the heavy cream and simmer for 5 more minutes. Puree with a hand blender till very smooth.  If too thick, adjust consistency with chicken stock; adjust seasoning as needed.

Garnish with sour cream and Asiago cheese if desired.

Turkey Burger with Honey Crisp Apple and Cherry Chutney

Farmers Market Recipe:
Turkey Burger with Honey Crisp Apple
and Cherry Chutney

5 Servings

1 pound turkey breast white meat
6 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
1 cup small diced Honeycrisp apples
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
5 whole grain wheat buns
2 ounces Apple Cherry Chutney (recipe below)
Partially freeze white turkey breast meat. Grind the turkey in a meat grinder or use a food processor pulsing the meat until it is small chopped. Add olive oil, cilantro and apples to the turkey meat and combine until incorporated. Rest meat mixture for 2 to 4 hours to allow the flavors to meld together. Form into 4-ounce patties and place on medium-hot grill. Cook until internal temperature of 165 degrees. Serve on whole grain wheat bun with 2 ounces of Apple Cherry Chutney.

Apple Cherry Chutney
Makes 2 cups
3 Honeycrisp Apples, cored and chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
4 ounces dried cherries
4 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine olive oil and diced yellow onion into a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until onions are lightly caramelized. Combine the remaining ingredients in saucepan with the onions and cook on a low simmer until the liquid is reduced to a syrup consistency. Allow to cool to a lukewarm temperature for topping the burgers.

Nov 2, 2009

Stock Your Pantry

by Ellen Wilson

How many times have you opened the refrigerator and declared that there is absolutely nothing to eat in the house? Probably far too often.  MIX! has created a list of items to keep on hand that provide the basics for most recipes.  However, before you head to the store, make sure to take into account your own tastes; stock up on the items that you eat regularly and not just our favorites.  For each item, be sure to date it before storing and then restock when you're running low.

Grains are a part of almost every meal and keep for along time.  However, since they can go rancid, it's a good idea to store your grains in Mason jars or some other sort of tight container.  Good grains are various types of rice, pasta and beans. Try whole-wheat pasta and wild or brown rice for healthier, heartier options.  A great breakfast staple to keep on hand is oatmeal, which can also be used in baking.


At the top of our list is onions, preferably yellow onions.  Onions add flavor to any dish and can be used in stir-fries, fajitas, on sandwiches and with pasta.  Add potatoes (especially sweet potatoes) to your list for an easy meal of baked potatoes. Just be sure to store them in a cool, dark place and use before they sprout.  Canned vegetables are easy additions to meals, so stock up on the vegetables you prefer, such as tomatoes, black beans, artichoke hearts and corn.

Fresh fruit is your best choice but always try to have some canned or dried fruit as well for when you can't make it to the store.  Get fruits canned in water or juice to lower the sugar additives.  We stock up on pineapple, pears, peaches, mandarin oranges and applesauce.

Oils and Sauces:
Olive oil. "Always have olive oil," could be our kitchen mantra.  Use it for cooking, baking, frying and drizzling over salad or pasta.  Other liquids frequently used in recipes are vegetable oil and vinegar (white or balsamic).  For added flavors, have other sauces like an Asian sauce, pasta sauce or a marinating sauce.

Baking Supplies:
If you're not much of a baker, don't overstock these items. However, if you have these on hand, you'll always be ready for baking: flour, sugar (white and brown), baking soda, baking powder, chocolate chips, and vanilla extract.

Herbs and spices:
The must-haves, of course, are salt and pepper. We strongly suggest fresh ground pepper and either sea salt or kosher salt. Your typical table salt is great for baking, but for added flavor, try a coarser salt. Other basic herbs and spices that are good to have around are cinnamon, basil, rosemary, paprika, chili powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, and any others that you frequently use in your own cooking.
Add other quick and easy-to-use items like soup, peanut butter, and any item that you consume frequently.  Keep your pantry filled and you'll have no reason to say, "There's nothing to eat!"

Nov 1, 2009

Alternative Game Night

by Ellen Wilson

Alternative Game Night

A night of games is always a great date. Playing a game can be very telling of your date's personality; you can see whether or not they are competitive, communicative, sneaky, or subdued. However, some games can get a little old so MIX! is here to offer some alternative gaming ideas.
  • Dominoes. Set ‘em up and let ‘em fall. This one is simple but oh-so-much fun. Set up one huge Domino path or split into two for a race.  Use books for staircases of Dominoes or tie a string to one to make it leap Tarzan-style from the edge of the table. Just be sure to set them up carefully so not a single one is standing after that first push.

  • Take cards from a trivia game and host your own game show. Imitate TV personalities like Alex Trebek or Vanna White and set up your living room with desks, buzzers, or spinning wheels. Make sure to dramatically announce the prize for the winner prior to the start of your game.

  • Set up shop and use Monopoly money. Each person gets a certain amount of money, which they can then use to buy food, movies, or other activities for them and their date throughout the night.

  • If you have random pieces from old games, use them to create a new game. Make up rules, design the game board (if you need one), and play the night away.

Navajo Taco

Lunch of the Month 
Where: L&T Salad & Soup 

What: Navajo Taco Salad

Price: $5.29

Fry bread, chili, cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, ranch or sour cream
With the amount of time we as students spend on campus, we deserve to treat ourselves to something a little out of the norm. L&T Salad & Soup, located in the Cougareat of the Wilkinson Student Center, offers this one of a kind Navajo Taco Salad everyday for the inexpensive price of $5.29. Large portions and out of this world taste make this salad a student favorite. With all the freshest ingredients mixed together into one salad, the Navajo brings out a wild taste that is sure to keep you coming bac
k again and again. Next time you and your friends find yourselves hungry on campus, stop in the Cougareat and pick up your own L&T Navajo Taco Salad.

                                              *PRICES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Removing Stains

By Ellen Wilson

Removing Stains You just spilled your lunch all over your favorite shirt.  Although a Tide-to-go pen may work for the moment, some stains need more serious work.  Treat as soon as possible and you may have to repeat the process of stain removal.

Grease (oil, butter, mayonnaise) Treat stain with a dry solvent and then rinse with isopropyl alcohol. Let it dry and then spray area with diluted dishwashing-soap. Before washing, let it soak in an enzyme detergent.
Blood Spray with diluted dishwashing-soap and let it sit. Rinse in cool to lukewarm water. Treat with enzyme detergent and wash.
Fruit Juice Spray diluted dishwashing-soap on the stain and let it sit.  Rinse in tepid water and if stain remains, treat it with an enzyme detergent and wash.
Chocolate Scrape off excess chocolate and then spray area with diluted dishwashing-soup.  Let sit for about 15 minutes and then rinse thoroughly.
Gum Use ice to freeze gum and then scrape off as much as you can. Remove the residue with an oil solvent and rinse with isopropyl alcohol. Let it dry before treating with an enzyme detergent and washing.
Sauces (ketchup, barbecue) Treat stain with diluted dishwashing-soap before soaking in lukewarm water. Apply a small amount of white vinegar if stain still remains. Treat with an enzyme detergent before washing.
Ballpoint Ink Saturate the stain by spraying with a can of aerosol hair spray. Let it sit for a few minutes before washing.
Mud Scrape off as much mud as possible and then apply diluted dishwashing-soap. Soak. Before washing, treat with an enzyme detergent.
Mustard Rinse the area with white vinegar and wash with dishwashing detergent.

Chilled Peach Soup with Roasted Hazelnuts

Farmers Market Recipe:
Chilled Peach Soup with Roasted Hazelnuts
8 Servings

6 fresh peaches
1 cup plain Greek unsweetened yogurt
4 tablespoons honey
3 ounces passion orange guava juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
4 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts
4 mint leaves, thinly sliced

Peel and pit peaches. Add yogurt, honey, juice, cinnamon, fresh minced ginger and mix in a blender until smooth. Adjust sweetness with honey as needed to offset the sweetness of the fruit. Garnish with chopped hazelnuts and fresh mint.

Smoked Salmon with Pears, Wild Huckleberries and Hazelnut Balsamic Vinaigrette

Farmers Market Recipe:
Smoked Salmon with Pears, Wild Huckleberries and Hazelnut Balsamic Vinaigrette
6 Servings
8 ounces mixed greens or mesclun salad mix
3 fresh pears, peeled and thinly sliced
4 ounces fresh huckleberries or seasonal berries
3 ounces chopped hazelnuts
4 ounces smoked salmon

Vinaigrette Dressing
3 ounces extra virgin olive oil
1.5 ounces hazelnut oil
2.5 ounces balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine greens, sliced pears, huckleberries (or seasonal berries), hazelnuts and salmon in a stainless steel bowl. For dressing, add all ingredients into a container and whisk until combined. Adjust seasoning as needed. Add dressing to salad components and mix. Serve immediately.

Oct 1, 2009

By Ellen Wilson
Ground Beef Ground beef can be browned in just minutes and added to any dish for a good source of protein.  Incorporate this meat into your week with some of the following dishes:

Add taco seasoning and you've got a meal.  Just purchase taco shells, tomatoes and lettuce.
Save the extra meat to make taco salad for lunch the next day.
Spaghetti Sauce
Brown the ground beef, drain, and add to your favorite spaghetti sauce. A good idea is to make extra and freeze for future meals.
All you need is hamburger, buns, cheese, and your favorite toppings. We suggest a fried egg in addition to your ketchup and mustard.
American Goulash
Pasta, beef, onions, and cheese mixed with tomato soup. Find recipe under our Menu Planner.
Hamburger stroganoff
A creamy topping of sour cream, hamburger, and mushroom soup over noodles. Find recipe under our Menu Planner.
See our Easy Cheesy No-Boil Lasagna Recipe
Sloppy Joes
Mix your ground beef with onion, peppers, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, pepper and salt and slop onto a bun for a quick, messy meal.
Ground beef, onion, kidney beans, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and chili powder. Put in the crock pot for an even easier meal.
Mix ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, ketchup and seasonings for meatloaf, a warm, baked meal that is quickly mixed and thrown in the oven.
Roll ground beef, onion, green pepper, eggs, garlic, and whatever seasonings you'd like into balls for homemade meatballs. Serve on a sub or with spaghetti.
Shepherd's Pie
A filling casserole of beef, onion, carrots, peas, and corn covered in mashed potatoes. Made to keep you down in a windstorm.
When freezing meat, it's best to keep it in its original wrapping. If you plan on keeping it in the freezer for a long time, wrap the store wrapping with addition freezer wrap (such as plastic wrap or aluminum foil) or put inside a freezer bag. If you'd rather divide the original packages into smaller portions, store the portions in sturdy freezer bags.

Sep 1, 2009

Helaman Creamery

by Ellen Wilson

The new Helaman Creamery is located in The Cannon Center.
Opened in Fall 2009, the new Helaman Creamery brings all the Creamery benefits to the dorms at Helaman.  Located to the right of the entrance to The Commons, the Helaman Creamery has literally everything you need in its few small aisles. Need to celebrate someone's birthday? Not only do they have the ingredients (or mix) to make a cake, but they've also got the candles. Besides all the food (which does include Nutella, gummy snacks, Bagel Bites, cinnamon rolls, eggs, yogurt, granola and much more), they also have cleaning supplies, shampoos, printer paper, batteries, and hangers to outfit your apartment, dorm, or home. Instead of wandering down twelve items at the grocery store, you'll be in-and-out at the Helaman Creamery.

If you need a quick bite to eat, the Helaman Creamery Grill serves hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and French fries.  They also have BYU Creamery ice cream both at the grill area and in half gallons in the freezer. Take a date to get a scoop of ice cream after seeing a play on campus or just grab a burger on your way home from class.
The Creamery accepts meal plans with Dining Dollars.

Store Hours:

Monday - Thursday: 7 am - 11:30 pm
Friday: 7 am - midnight
Saturday: 10 am - 11:30 pm

Grill Hours:
Monday - Thursday & Saturday: 11 am - 11 pm
Friday: 11 am - 11:30 pm

Fall Fun

by Ellen Wilson

September and October are full of holidays, birthdays and other celebrations. Organize a date around one of the following:

National Piano Month:  If you are gifted enough to play the piano, share that with your date and learn a few duets together.

National Coupon Month
: Look at our previous Delicious Date coupon night for some good ideas on how to turn this one into a fun group date activity.

September 9 - Colonel Sanders' birthday: You'll never have a better excuse to take a date to KFC or order KFC for an outdoor dinner.

September 13 - Milton Hershey's birthday: Celebrate with a chocolate party or by making peanut butter cookies with Hershey's kisses on top.

September 13-September 19 - National Assisted Living Week: Organize a group service date and head over to an assisted living home to play cards, bingo, charades, or other games.

National Popcorn Popping Month: There are so many ways to pop popcorn. On the stove, in the microwave, over the fire: Incorporate popcorn into your date either by eating or by making popcorn strings to use for Halloween decorations.

Family History Month: Now here is a great date. You can either go to the BYU Family History Library for tours and classes or head up to Salt Lake City Family History Library.

National Pizza Month: Don't go the easy way out and just take your date out for pizza. Make some homemade pizza together or have a big group party where everyone brings different toppings. Go beyond pepperoni and make dessert pizza as well.

October 5-Ray Kroc's birthday: Not that we want to promote too much fast food, but on the founder's birthday, a fun trip to McDonald's is okay by us. Dress up as Ronald, the Hamburglar, and the other McDonald characters.

October 9-John Lennon's birthday: Trust us. Just spend your evening listening to "The Beatles" and it will be the best date you've ever had.

October 25-Pablo Picasso's birthday: Plan a date for today that includes a canvas and paints.

Nut Grinder

By Ellen Wilson

Nut Grinder
Since my favorite dessert is an oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips, craisins, and ground almonds, I've had plenty of experience with nuts skittering all over the kitchen. Instead of using a knife and cutting board, a simple nut grinder makes a difference for the baker who loves ground nuts but doesn't have a food processor. Instead of paying more for pre-ground nuts, buy whole nuts in bulk and grind when needed. Load the top section with whole nuts and turn the handle one way for a coarse grind or the other way for fine. The grinder featured is labeled so when you reach the amount you need, you can just unscrew the top and add the nuts to your recipe without having to measure again. Use the grinder when making cookies, granola, or just for when you want to sprinkle nuts over your ice cream sundae. You can also grind baking chocolate. 

Purchase a nut grinder at any kitchen retail store.

Easy Magnets

Easy Magnets
Throw out those free magnets from the phone book. It's time to make your magnets as pretty as the pictures they hold up, for a very minimal cost.

  • Clear, rounded glass marbles
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Craft glue like Elmer's or Mod Podge
  • Glue gun and glue
  • Round heavy-duty magnets

  1. Pick a marble and position it on the scrapbook paper flat side down where you would like the pattern to show through.
  2. Using a pencil, trace around the marble and cut out the circle. Hold it against the marble and trim any uneven edges.
  3. Place a dot of craft glue on the flat part of the marble. Attach the circle of paper to the marble with the pattern up. Press down until the glue covers the entire paper and the edges are sealed. The glue may look white at first but it will dry clear and the pattern will show through.
  4. Let dry for a few minutes and heat up the hot glue gun.
  5. Place a dot of hot glue on a magnet and attach to the flat part of the marble. Hold together until sealed.
  6. Place on a refrigerator or magnetic board and enjoy!

Rotisserie Chicken

By Ellen Wilson
How to Use Rotisserie Chicken When you need an extra ‘umph' in your main dish but don't want to take the time to prepare and cook any meat, a rotisserie chicken can add both protein and taste to your meal.  Here are a few dishes that work well with shredded chicken from a store-bought rotisserie and just a few other ingredients.

Add chicken on top of any salad combination to make it a complete dinner.  Items you might want to pick up:  lettuce, croutons, salad dressing (Caesar is always a good choice), tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese and any other fresh salad items.

Chicken casseroles:
There are many casserole dishes that call for shredded chicken. A good recipe to look for is Chicken Tetrazzini, which uses linguine, peas, chicken broth and mushrooms as its main ingredients.

Combine chicken with a crusty bread, honey or Dijon mustard, tomatoes, lettuce, and a sharp cheese. Or go Italian and add pesto, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and Parmesan.
Chicken potpie:
Shredded chicken is perfect for a potpie. Pick up a store-bought piecrust for an even simpler meal. Other items to grab: celery, carrots, green peas and chicken stock.

Simple and filling. Use pepper jack and cheddar for a more flavorful quesadilla and serve with salsa, guacamole and sour cream.

Chicken salad:
Make chicken salad by adding mayonnaise, celery, grapes, nuts, onion and seasonings.

Chicken with
mashed potatoes:

Just serve the rotisserie chicken with mashed potatoes and you have a meal. Make it simple by using instant mashed potatoes.
If you don't use the entire chicken in one night, here are some storing tips so your meat can stay fresh until used.
Refrigerator: Remove all meat and store in a shallow container so that the meat can cool quickly.  When cooled, refrigerate and use within 4 days.

Freezer: Make sure pieces are cooled and store in Ziploc bags. Chicken can be kept for up to four months but will dry out the longer it's in the freezer.

Aug 3, 2009

Multi-use Microwave

by Ellen Wilson

Use your microwave for more than TV dinners.

We all know that the microwave is great for reheating leftovers or making popcorn for a late night snack, but there are multiple ways your microwave can be used to decrease meal prep time. Just remember to always use microwaveable dishes. No metal or aluminum foil should ever be put in the microwave.

(All of the following suggestions are just general times. Your microwave will cook differently so you will need to do some trial and error to determine exact times. A good general rule is to check for doneness every 30 seconds to a minute, depending on the overall cook time.)
  • Use the microwave for any vegetable you would steam on the stove. Put the vegetable in a bowl with a bit of water (generally a few tablespoons). Cover and cook.

    • Fresh Vegetables:
      • Broccoli: 3-4 minutes on high
      • Asparagus: 2 minutes on high
      • Potatoes or beets: 4 minutes on high (be sure to prick several times with a fork)
      • Spinach: 1-2 on high
      • Cauliflower: 5 minutes on high

    • Frozen Vegetables: Follow directions on packaging.

  • Cooking squash is also much faster in the microwave.

    • Acorn squash: Cut squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Place cut-side down in a baking dish with a little water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave ten minutes. You can then turn the two sides back over, fill the middle with brown sugar and butter, cook for another 2 minutes and enjoy the delicious fall taste.

    • Spaghetti squash: Pierce with a knife in 5 places. Microwave on a paper towel for ten to twelve minutes. Be sure to rotate squash during this time. The squash will be done when the skin gives slightly when pressed. Cut squash in half lengthwise, discard seeds, and eat with Parmesan, olive oil, pepper, or spaghetti sauce.

  • For a quick breakfast, microwave some eggs in a bowl. Although not quite as good on the stove, it's fast and healthy. Add eggs, salt and pepper in a microwaveable bowl and cook for 30 second bursts and stir in between. Or if you don't stir, you get a great solid egg for breakfast sandwiches.

  • Decrystallize honey by nuking on medium power for 30 seconds to a minute.

  • To get more juice from lemons and limes, you can microwave for 20 seconds before squeezing.

  • Toasting nuts in the microwave can cut down loads of baking time. Spread nuts out on a plate in a single layer and heat on high for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every minute. They will continue to toast for about a minute after removal so don't bit into them too quickly.
  • Use the microwave to disinfect sponges.  Make sure they are damp because they are a fire hazard if dry.

  • The microwave can also disinfect plastic cutting boards. Cut a lemon in half; rub the board with the lemon and then heat for 1 minute.

Aug 1, 2009

Vented Pourer

By Ellen Wilson

Vented Pourer

If you're tired of screwing and unscrewing tops for your oil, salad dressing, vinegar, or even your dish soap, this Kitchen Gadget is an inexpensive solution. Made to fit most bottle spouts, you can attach a vented pourer to any liquid you use frequently.  Using a pourer can help reduce drips and spills.  Our favorite way to use it is on our olive oil bottle so we can control the stream of oil into the frying pan.  Or get creative; Fill an old-style glass soda bottle with dish soap, attach a pourer, and you have a stylish dispenser that won't leave soap-gunk all over the spout.
You can purchase pourers at any kitchen retail store.

The Skyroom Buffet

  Where: The Skyroom

What: The Skyroom Buffet

Price: $11.99

Entree and sides, sauces, soups, fresh rolls and butter, carved meat, full salad bar, prepared salads, fresh seasonal fruit, variety of desserts, soft drink

If you're looking for the most food for your money, The Skyroom is your dream come true. With all the food you can handle at your fingertips, this buffet will more than satisfy. The Skyroom is home to the freshest food around and the variety is unmatchable. The buffet menu changes daily so make sure to check the website for the most recent menu. Located on the sixth floor of the Wilkinson Center, the window-lined dining room provides the best view on campus. Come enjoy BYU's most gourmet meal in the elegant Skyroom Restaurant.


Cleaning Cookware

By Ellen Wilson

As the dishes pile up in the sink, it's tempting to just throw the entire mess into the dishwasher for a quick, easy clean-up. However, to maintain your cookware, hand washing is the best option. The harsh dishwasher detergents and hot heat can dull and damage the finish of your pans. Here are some hints on how to keep your pots and pans in good condition.
  • Nonstick pans should be washed with a soft sponge. If you have any troubles with burnt-on food, put the cooled pan into the freezer for about a half an hour and the food will be easy to remove afterwards.
  • For cast iron cooking pans, do not use soap. Wash with hot water and if there is food stuck in the pan, use coarse salt and vegetable oil to scrub with. After the food is removed, rinse with hot water.
  • For copper, or copper-bottomed pans, clean with soap and water. To remove tarnish, use a copper-polishing solution or, for a home remedy, rub the exterior of the pan with two lemon halves that have been dipped in salt. The acids will help to remove the tarnish.
  • To clean baked-on food off a glass pan or oven rack, use dishwashing soap, and a ball of aluminum foil in place of a steel-wool soap pad. The aluminum works just as well as the steel-wool pad and recycles your used pieces of aluminum.

Cinnamon Apple Mousse

Cinnamon Apple Mousse
8 Servings

1 ounce sugar
2 cups cream
4 ounces apple juice
2 ounces egg whites
3 ounces sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
2 ounces gelatin

Whip together the cream, cinnamon, and 1 ounce sugar and set aside. Prepare meringue by whipping together the egg whites and sugar. Melt the gelatin in the apple juice. Fold the whipped cream and meringue together, and then incorporate the apple gelatin.
Use your preferred individual molds. Coat with non-stick spray and dust with powdered sugar. Add mousse to molds and allow to setup overnight or 24 hours ahead. Unmold and serve with preferred sauce.

Summer Corn Chowder

Summer Corn Chowder
4 Servings

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 strip of bacon, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup diced celery
2 cups of fresh corn removed from the cob
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 medium Russet potato, peeled and diced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh minced basil
1/2 tablespoon fresh minced chives

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
Add diced bacon and fry until bacon is browned, about 6 minutes. Add onions, carrots and celery, and sauté for an additional 5 minutes. Add flour and cook for 5 minutes while stirring.

Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer with diced potato and fresh corn; allow to simmer until the vegetables and potatoes are tender.  Add cream and fresh basil and chives, and turn off heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Jul 1, 2009


by Ellen Wilson

Sometimes it's okay to cut corners.

We'd all like to get a little more for our money and put some aside for a rainy day. The key to successful budgeting is to make your goals realistic and simple. Don't expect your budget to be immediately effective. It will take planning and time to get into the habit of keeping track of where every penny goes.

Spend a few weeks gathering information on your spending habits. Save receipts and write down every time you swipe your card or write a check. From these, look at your actual expenses and divide them into categories. Once you have your money divided into categories such as rent, food, clothing, fun, school, etc., look at your spending patterns. Are you spending an exorbitant amount of money on food because of small daily snacks or meals? Fast food may seem cheap but eating it daily adds up quickly. For your food budget, try withdrawing the amount of money you'd like to spend per month in cash and only have that much in your wallet. If you just really have a hard time resisting your food cravings, an easy way to budget is the EZ Dining Meal Plan because you have a set amount of money each month. Also, you can save money on many of your food purchases across campus.

If you are spending too much on clothing or fun, take some time to think about what brings you the most satisfaction. If you feel like you'd die from not shopping, then don't leave shopping out of your budget. Just set a small amount aside for some bargain shopping because if you completely constrict yourself, you'll probably explode and go hog-wild on one huge shopping spree. A budget serves to promote good spending habits, so remember to make it realistic to your needs.

Once you have assessed your actual expenses, make a budget sheet that lists how much you'd like to spend in each category. You will need to limit your spending in a few areas because in addition to your other categories, there needs to be one for saving. Even if it's just a few dollars a month, get in the habit of saving.

If all this seems like a lot of work to you, there are some good online tools that use your online banking information to categorize your spending for you. Check out Mint or Quicken Online.
For more personalized advice, think of a few people you know who you admire for their diligence with regards to finance. Talk to them and ask for how they plan their finances and what to expect in the future.

Now, it wouldn't be fair to tell you to cut back your spending without giving you some easy money saving tips.  Just remember to take into account your goals every time you make a purchase and be aware of the worth of your spending.

Easy Money Saving Tips
  • Save on your electricity bill by unplugging your cell phone charger. Also unplug DVD players and TVS (or else plug them into a power strip you can switch off). Unplug or turn off your computer when it's not in use. Or switch to the power-saving sleep mode. All of these appliances suck up energy even when they are not in use.

  • Save on the water bill by turning off the water when you brush your teeth. Also, make sure you run full loads in the dishwasher. You can also save energy by selecting "air-drying" on your dishwasher.

  • When doing laundry, do several loads at once so you can capture the residual heat in the dryer.

  • Go to the library to check out books and movies & TV shows instead of purchasing or renting them. Or even better, borrow from friends. Just make sure you return them promptly.

  • Utilize bargain stores like DI or the dollar store for apartment purchases. You can find great plates, glasses or other cooking and decorating supplies for much lower prices.

  • Search online for coupons. There are plenty of sites that offer coupons for groceries or clothing. Because coupons sometimes justify needless purchases (because they are cheaper), try to only get coupons for the things you need.

  • Workout at home instead of paying for the gym or utilize BYU's gym, if able.

  • Cut down on the driving. Spend less on gas by walking to campus or to work. If you have a bicycle, use it.

Culinary Support Center (CSC)

by Nick Jordan

Dining Services' new central location for food preparation.
Opening in Fall 2009, BYU's Culinary Support Center (CSC) will become the heart of food preparation for Dining Services. From just one central location, the CSC will offer the freshest food possible to locations throughout campus. Before, dining locations would receive food from just a few kitchens located in various places around campus. The consolidation of buildings and machinery that the CSC will bring will help to achieve better efficiency within Dining Services. As efficiency will be the core of the new CSC, employees will focus on achieving zero waste within the facility. Everything from extra produce to cardboard boxes will be broken down into compost to ensure zero waste.

Located at the front doors to the CSC will be a Creamery Outlet Store, approximately the same size as the prior Creamery store. Anyone may come purchase many of the CSC's products, including produce and bakery items.  For those who are concerned about the world-famous Creamery ice cream, you will be comforted to know that production will begin once again with the opening of the CSC and will be sold in the same locations.

The staffing for the CSC will come from both full-time staff and part-time students being relocated from other areas on campus to the CSC. Despite the major changes the CSC will bring about, no job losses will occur.

Endless Summer

by Ellen Wilson

Save and store your fresh herbs for the winter months.

Keep the taste of summer. Before fresh herbs become a thing of the past, purchase some bundles from a booth at the farmer's market or gather the last of your garden for drying. Drying herbs can be done in a few different ways depending on which herbs you are drying. If drying isn't an option, freezing is another simple way to add flavor to the winter months.

Air Drying
Works best with oregano, thyme, sage and similar herbs.
  • Remove any dirt or withered leaves. If you need to rinse the leaves, be sure to dry them completely because wet leaves will mold.
  • Divide into small bunches and secure with string or a rubber band.
  • Hang upside down in a warm, dry, well-ventilated space with no sunlight. You may want to cover the bunches with a paper bag (punch a few holes in the bag). Just be sure to leave enough room in the bag for air to circulate.
  • Dry until the leaves crumble, between 1-4 weeks. You can then store in an airtight container for up to a year. For most herbs, it's a good idea to store them whole and crush just before using.
Oven Drying
Works best with oregano, thyme, sage and similar herbs.
  • Preheat oven to 150 degrees.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (metal can affect the flavor so this step is crucial) and spread herbs in one layer across the sheet.
  • Place in oven with door slightly ajar.
  • Remove when crumbly, between 1-4 hours. Check frequently. These may also be stored for up to one year in an airtight container.
Works best with leafy herbs, such as basil, cilantro, parsley, and tarragon.
  • For herb cubes: Chop herbs and then pack them tightly into an ice cube tray. Add a little water or broth for freezing. The ratio should be around 50/50 for herbs and liquid. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • For paste: Blend herbs and a little oil or water into a paste. Freeze in airtight bags or containers for up to 3 months.


by Ellen Wilson

Summer is the best time for dating. The key is to find something fun to do outside that you both enjoy. Yep, it's really that simple. Outdoor activities include kayaking or tubing down the Provo River, spending the afternoon at a driving range, playing a game of Frisbee Golf at Bicentennial Park, or, our favorite, taking a hike on one of Utah Valley's many trails. Bring along materials for plant and animal identification. Make it a scavenger hunt to see who can find the most animal tracks, mountain flowers, or different types of trees.
If you're having your date during the day, incorporate an afternoon dessert into the festivities by making ice cream sculptures. For this activity, you'll need a carton of ice cream, preferably square with easy-to-rip cardboard. Remove the ice cream from the box and place it on a plate or platter. Use spoons, forks, and other utensils to shape a sculpture of your choosing. Some ideas include turtles, Mount Rushmore, a pirate ship, or Raggedy Anne.
For an evening date, have a mock camp-out. Set up a tent by the fire and tell ghost stories involving dark and stormy nights. Cook s'mores, pigs in a blanket, hot dogs, Starbursts, and pretty much anything you like over the flames. When the stories die down, make sure you have your astronomy and Greek mythology books on hand; see who can find Andromeda and other constellations and share how they got their names.

SKOY Cleaning Cloth

By Ellen Wilson

SKOY Cleaning Cloth
This edition's kitchen gadget is the SKOY cleaning cloth.  Made of biodegradable and natural fibers, this multi-use cloth can be used in place of your sponge, washcloth or paper towels. Just a thin, 6.75-inch by 7.75-cloth, it can absorb up to fifteen times its own weight. Put them through the dishwasher (or washer and dryer) to clean them. The durable fabric will last for months, through multiple washings. One SKOY cloth is equivalent to using about fifteen rolls of paper towels in an average home. With the low cost of a couple dollars per cloth, this reusable cloth is a money-saver that's good for the environment.

The SKOY cloth is available in online shops, such as Simple Family Living , in multiple colors.

Buffalo Wings

  Where: Orville & Wilbur's

What: Buffalo Wings

Price: $2.99 (6 pieces), $4.79 (10 pieces), $9.99 (24 pieces),
$6.67 (Wing Meal)

Buffalo wings with option of side and drink

World famous Orville & Wilbur's, located in the Games Center on the first floor of the Wilkinson Student Center, is home to a little known campus secret. Smothered in a semi-spicy sauce, Orville & Wilbur's buffalo wings are a must have for everyone. Whether you are having a picnic, going skiing for the afternoon, or just grabbing a quick snack on your way to school, these buffalo wings will not only satisfy, they will keep you coming back for more. Choose from a variety of amounts of wings or just ask for the wing meal, which includes six wings, any side, and a drink, which you will need as these wings are fairly hot for the average person.


Party Planning

By Ellen Wilson

It's summer and everyone's schedule has relaxed a little. Now that you have some free evenings, it's time to invite over those friends you haven't seen all semester. Here are some helpful hints on how to prepare for, set-up, and execute a dinner party.

Look through coupons for foods that are on sale. Try to base your dishes on what you can buy inexpensively. Buy your groceries two days ahead and then check the day before to confirm you have everything you need. Plan the order of cooking dishes so you don't get halfway through the casserole and realize that the cake can't go in the oven at that temperature.

Be sure to run the dishwasher the morning of, unless you want to be doing dishes quickly beforehand. If you don't have matching plates-who cares? Set up an odd of assortment of flowered dishes with the big yellow one-match glasses with plates or do napkins/nametags that match. If the emphasis of your party planning is easy clean up, get some paper plates and either decorate the edges with markers or have markers on hand for your guests to create their own artwork.

Incorporate the theme of your party into your centerpiece. If there is no theme, keep it simple and inexpensive with flowers, photos, or candles. If you'd like to do a centerpiece that can double as your guests' dessert or take-home gift, arrange a group of large suckers or other types of candy. You can also use the centerpiece as a drink bucket, with a colorful assortment of sodas.

Give yourself some buffer time when preparing your meal. Don't start so early that you'll be struggling to keep your food warm but you want to be done before your guests start to arrive. Since it's summer, it's a good idea to do some cool dishes that don't require a lot of cooking. If you are using the stove and oven, be sure to open windows so that your dining area is cool and not sweltering. When planning, plan a dessert you can make ahead of time (tarts, cakes, cookies) or one that doesn't take any cooking (sundaes, pudding). Be sure to have smaller plates and extra forks or spoons set aside for dessert.

Try to clean as you go but if you can't, don't let your dishes sit around after your last guest leaves. Rinse and put dishes into the dishwasher, or crank up some music and just get down to cleaning. The faster you get it done, the faster you can relax and relish the success of your party!

Spicy Melon Salad with Fresh Basil and Citrus

Spicy Melon Salad with Fresh Basil and Citrus
6 Servings
3 cups honey dew melon, balled or cubed
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
4 basil leaves, minced
1 teaspoon jalapeño, minced

Segment melons, place in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine orange juice, honey, orange zest, basil and jalapeño. Mix well. Drizzle over melon. Serve.

MInted Tabouli

Minted Tabouli
6 Servings
1 cup bulgar wheat        
3 small Roma tomatoes, diced
1 small cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
3 tablespoons fresh mint leaf, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 tea
spoons black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Combine bulgar wheat with 1 quart of cold water and allow to stand for 1 hour. After the hour, drain water completely. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Allow Tabouli to marinate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Jun 1, 2009

Snack Smarter

by Ellen Wilson

Healthy eating options for on-the-go living.
Vending Machines. We hate to admit it, but breakfast, lunch or dinner often come from our pocketful of change or swiping our ID card.  Staring through the glass, options are plentiful but it can be hard to make your choice when nutritional facts aren't available until after purchase. With BYU Vending's new Snack Smarter labels, healthier decisions can be made with more information.

The labels designate items that have the following nutritional requirements:

• Less than 35% of total calories from fat
• Less than 10% of calories from saturated fat
• Less than 35% of total product weight from sugar

*nuts and seeds excluded

Items that are included are such things as Chex Mix, Wheat Thins, V8, pretzels, many granola bars, some chips, fruit snacks, trail mix, Smart Water, and a slew of others. Luckily, thanks to BYU Vending, a large percentage of the vending products fall under these requirements.
In addition to the Snack Smarter labels, Dining Services has combined with Vending to offer more information on how to live a healthy lifestyle. The new E.A.T. website contains nutrition and health information, such as daily portion sizes, how to relieve stress and which exercises burn the most calories.  Additional useful features are the health calculators; calculate your BMI, BMR, Daily Caloric Intake, Heart Rate and Activities.

Jamba Juice

by Ellen Wilson

With two locations on BYU campus, Jamba Juice has been serving students since 1999. With every fruit combination imaginable, Jamba Juice offers a healthier option for cooling yourself off in the hot summer heat. Jamba smoothies are made of 100% fruit and fruit juices and have no high-fructose corn syrup or trans fats, so you can enjoy your purchase without worrying about consuming a high amount of sugar. With boost options like Daily Vitamin, Energy, Fiber, Weight Burner, Soy Protein and others, your drink can be filled with even more natural nutrients. If you need something solid to eat, Jamba Juice does sell snacks, such as Pirate Booty, Cliff Bars, chips, fresh bananas, and their own Jamba baked goods: mini bread loaves, cookies, and pretzels made with natural ingredients. During the summer heat, you can head to either the location in the Wilkinson Student Center or, if you're working out in the Smith Field House, you can stop by the Student Athlete Building location to cool off. Visit their website for hours, locations, products, and services.

Provo's Farmers Market

by Ellen Wilson

It's a Saturday morning and instead of sleeping in, the crowds are crossing 500 West in Provo, Utah, headed to Provo's Farmers Market. Strolling along the sidewalks of Pioneer Park, you're greeted with fresh herbs, good music, and friendly vendors. While you can find fresh lettuce, herbs, vegetables and fruits (depending on the season), the market holds much more than a typical produce section. For food, there are fresh mini donuts, smoothies, sugar waffles, bread, cookies, cheese, and a banana stand. You can get a full meal at some booths and treats to take home from others.

While the food booths are tantalizing, with all sorts of goodies and new dishes to sample, the crafts hold many more surprises. You can find paper flowers, button earrings, baby clothes, headbands, tutus, and cheap voice lessons. Other booths have homemade products, like lotion made out of goat milk, soaps, and other natural skin care items. The Farmers Market is a family affair; kids can get their faces painted, mom can get tips and starter plants for her herb garden, and dad can try all the samples.

A few tips:

The best times to visit the market are early in the morning and late afternoon. The freshest produce can be found first thing in the morning, and you can sometimes find the best deals when you're around during closing time.

It's perfectly okay to ask a vendor if you may sample their fruits and/or vegetables.

Bring your own reusable grocery bag.

Join in the conversation. Meet and greet and hear the stories of each different vendor.
The market is open every Saturday from 9 to 2 until October.

For more information, or if you're interested in setting up a booth of your own, visit the Provo's Farmers Market blog.


By Ellen Wilson


A funnel may seem like an insignificant kitchen tool, but its uses go far beyond expectations. Its primary use is to channel liquid and a funnel is absolutely necessary if you're going to be making any homemade sauce, juice, or syrup. Without a funnel, you'd make a mess and waste a fair amount of your hard work. When a recipe calls for just egg whites, crack your egg into a funnel for an easy separation. The yolk will stay in while the white runs out. You can also use a funnel to drizzle syrups over desserts. And, to be honest, the main reason we're featuring the funnel is to remind you that summer is almost over and if you haven't had or made a funnel cake yet, it's time to get on it. Funnel cakes are the quintessential dish of summer nights and festivals and also the best possible use for your funnel. Buy funnels of various sizes at any kitchen supply store.

Western Burger

Where: Legends Grille

What: Western Burger

Price: $6.99

Grilled roast beef, bacon, cheddar and BBQ sauce on a homemade Kaiser bun.

Legends Grille is home to the heartiest burger on campus. Complete with the freshest toppings, the Western Burger has it all; lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and mayonnaise. It is typically served with fries, but those can be replaced with various other sides including mashed potatoes, green beans, mac and cheese, mixed fruit or pasta salad. So the next time your favorite sporting event is on TV, head on down to Legends and order the burger everyone is raving about; the Western Burger.


Make Your Own Apron

Make Your Own Apron
Why spend upward of $20 on an apron you could make yourself? Here's a simple craft that makes cooking a bit more enjoyable.

Dishtowel, bandana or piece of fabric with hemmed edges
Iron (optional)
Ironing board (optional)
Spray bottle with water (optional)
2 buttons
1-1/2 yards ribbon

  1. Remember to wash new fabric before using so the color doesn't bleed.
  2. If needed, iron out the fabric until smooth. Use a spray bottle to eliminate wrinkles.
  3. Sew one button on the top left corner, wrapping the thread around the button a few times to secure. Knot the thread and trim off extra pieces.
  4. Sew the other button on the top right corner.
  5. Cut the ribbon in half to get two equal pieces, measuring 3/4 yard each.
  6. Tie each ribbon around the button on either side, leaving about an inch-long tail. This will make the ribbons easier to detach when washing the apron.
  7. Place the apron around the waist and tie ribbons together in the back.

Additional Decorations:
Add lace or frilled fabric long enough to go around the sides and bottom of the apron. Hand stitch or use a sewing machine to attach the border to the underside of the apron.

Use another piece of fabric to make a pocket or two for the center of the apron. This can hold jewelry, kitchen tools or recipe cards.

Embroider a name, initial or cooking phrase to personalize the apron.

Use blue and red fabric to make a patriotic apron for summer festivities.

Chocolate and Cinnamon Spiced Pancakes

Chocolate and Cinnamon Spiced Pancakes
6 Servings
4 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanil
la extract
4 eggs
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup cinnamon chips

Wisk the dry ingredients together (flour through pumpkin pie spice). In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients (buttermilk through eggs). Combine the two together and mix. Do not over mix. Fold in chocolate and cinnamon chips. Cook on a warm griddle. Serve with your favorite syrup.

Cherry Chews

Cherry Chews
Cherry Chews
Yields ½ Sheet Pan
Combine and whip to a soft peak:
• 1 ½ cups egg whites (I used the whites from 13 large eggs)
• 1 ½ teaspoons salt
• 3 cups granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
Fold into the above taking care not to overmix:
• 2 ¾ cups cake flour (all purpose flour can be substituted)
Melt together in a microwave and fold into the above again taking care not to overmix:
• 2/3 cup margarine or butter
• 1 cup Crisco or other high quality shortening
(Note: margarine and shortening need to just barely be melted.  Don't get it hot)
Finally fold into the above:
• 1/3 cup cherry Fruit-o (this comes from BAKEMARK Baking Supply Corporation - Orson Gygi usually carries this product or can obtain it -if you can't obtain any cherry fruito, you can substitute 1/3 cup drained and pureed maraschino cherries with a teaspoon or two of cherry extract added to the puree.)
• 2 cups walnut pieces
• 2 cups red glace cherries (these are the ones used in fruit cakes; I have used drained maraschino halves as an alternate and they work just as well)
Note: a couple of drips red food coloring may be added as an option to make it a richer pink color.  If the cherry Fruit-o is used, it already has enough coloring and you won't need to add any more coloring.
Spray around the edges and bottom of a half sheet pan with baking release spray and spread the mixture evenly in the pan.
Bake in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes.  The Cherry Chew is done when the middle has risen and just collapses and the top a golden brown.
When it has cooled, cut into bars and serve.

May 1, 2009

Beach Date

by Ellen Wilson

Where's the beach? It's summer and when we're tired of hiking Mount Timpanogos, it's common to start craving a day in the sand and sun. For your next date, recreate childhood and treat your date to a day of castle building.

Purchase sand from a local quarry or a store such as Lowe's. While you're out, get some cheap buckets, molds, shovels, mini umbrellas, and colorful sunglasses. Other items you might want for decorating are rocks, leaves, colored toothpicks and any other small item you could add as embellishment. For your castle building, you'll want to put your sand in a low, wide bin or just create a square of wood to keep the sand in one place. Be sure to have access to water so that you can wet the sand and mold it into your castle. Work together on one large castle or have competitions for the coolest castle. For lunch, lemonade, sandwiches and popsicles are the classic beach picnic. After you're finished with your castles and lunch, stick to the theme and play Frisbee or bury your date with all the sand.

Silicon Pastry Brush

By Ellen Wilson

Silicon Pastry Brush

When baking a pastry, a pastry brush is needed for glazing or brushing the top with things like egg whites, melted butter, or milk. The brush helps to spread these liquids evenly over pastries or other baked goods that call for a glossy finish. With a silicon brush, the brush bristles will not lose their shape and the colors will not fade. It is also stain proof so you won't end up with a pink brush after using your brush with cherry syrup. A silicon brush is also more sanitary because it can easily be put through the dishwasher. Another benefit is that you can use your pastry brush as a basting brush as well. With the ability to wash silicon, it's not necessary to have two separate brushes for pastries and basting because the flavors will not be contaminated. For basting, the brush is used to spread juices over the meat during the cooking process for a crisper skin. A few other uses for your silicon brush are oiling or buttering waffle irons, griddles, or cleaning out a spice mill. Silicon brushes are available in many colors and sizes at any kitchen supply store.

Apr 6, 2009

Cookbooks vs. Cooking Blogs

by Ellen Wilson

Last time I stepped into the kitchen with a cookbook, I was at home with my mother, baking candy cane cookies for Christmas. On a daily basis, my recipe is generally coming from a bright laptop screen resting on the kitchen table, a safe distance from the counter covered with bowls of hardware-frying liquids. As laptops become a regular visitor to the kitchen, some have begun to wonder if cooking blogs are taking over cookbooks. For the college audience, cookbooks are another item to cram into an already overflowing apartment or condo. Blogs are no cost and you can find exactly what you need without flipping through hundreds of pages or searching the indexes. But swiping your finger over your mouse pad to keep your laptop from sleeping can not only make a mess of a fairly delicate machine but also doesn't hold the same thrill as turning the warped, stained pages of a old family cookbook.

When cooking with a blog, it's almost guaranteed that you'll have a picture to base your final product from. Most times, not only will you have a finished picture, but many bloggers post pictures of each step of the recipe. With the steps explained and demonstrated for you, it's simpler to follow a challenging recipe from beginning to end. However, if you discover a better technique or ingredient, it's difficult to make note of that on your computer screen. Unless you want to copy and past the article and then add notes to it in Microsoft Word or another word-processing program, you're stuck with just a web address and your memory. A partial solution for this is the comment section on the blog found on many blog or recipe sites. This user feedback offers helpful insights or alterations. A mediocre recipe can be altered and improved through the collective wisdom of the Internet community.

While your cookbook may only contain a few choice photos, it's your cookbook and the pages are open to doodles, notes, crossing out and altering. Not to mention that there is no risk of your recipe disappearing somewhere in the blogosphere. However, what you lose in flexibility, you gain in experience. Typically, a cookbook will contain the traditional recipes you and your family have been using for years. Or it might include recipes of a famous chef whom you can trust without having to check the ratings. You know your standard recipes and can flip to them easily. The overturned jar of rhubarb syrup won't cost you hundreds in repairs either. One avid baker, BYU student Eric Severson, sums up the debate with victories on both sides; "If I'm making an old favorite or a standard recipe, I'll use one of my books; I know where most of the recipes I want are, if I don't have them memorized by now. If I'm looking up something new, I probably use the internet to explore and get ideas." With all the benefits of each, there is no firm winner; blogs and books are best when used to supplement each other.

Some cooking blogs we suggest:

101 Cookbooks

Chocolate and Zucchini

The Crepes of Wrath

Dinner Tonight

I Shot the Chef

Kitchen Unplugged

The Kitchn

Nook and Pantry

Simply Recipes

Freeze It

by Ellen Wilson

Whether you're cooking for one and you always have leftovers spoiling in the fridge or if you're too busy to prepare a meal every night, learning how to properly freeze foods can save you both time and money. We've created an all-inclusive guide that takes you from general tips to freezing specific foods.

General Tips:
  • Organize your freezer so that you can use your space in the most efficient manner.
  • Use Ziploc bags to freeze liquids.
  • Clearly label everything you freeze with contents, amount, and date.
  • Filling the container can prevent freezer burn.
  • Freezing in serving-size portions is more convenient for cooking and the smaller portions thaw faster.
  • Dishes with milk and other dairy products do not freeze well. A good idea is to freeze just before you would add the dairy and add the dairy once you've defrosted your meal.
  • Frozen egg whites can be kept forever and are just as good thawed. Be sure to keep track of how many egg whites are in the container.
  • Caramelized onions can be frozen in ice cube trays or muffin tins and then put in a larger sealed container. That way you can take out smaller portions as needed. They will keep for several months unless they develop freezer burn.
  • When freezing bread, be sure it's in airtight wrapping or in a freezer bag with the air squeezed out. If moisture gets in the wrapping, the ice crystals may make your bread soggy when thawed.
  • Pre-cooked chicken can save a lot of time when cooking. Shredding the chicken before freezing helps decrease defrosting time later. Depending on your typical meals, freeze your chicken in various amounts in different containers so you always have the amount you need.
  • When freezing meat, it's best to keep it in its original wrapping, if possible. If you plan on keeping it in the freezer for a long time, wrap the store wrapping with addition freezer wrap (such as plastic wrap or aluminum foil) or put inside a freezer bag.
  • When freezing vegetables, choose vegetables at their peak flavor and texture. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly and trim away bad areas. Drain and chill food before packing into either freezer bags or freezer containers. Remove as much air as possible from the packaging. Most vegetables can be cooked with little or no thawing.
  • For cookies, you can freeze the dough in a container, individual balls, or a dough log. For cookie balls, roll the dough into balls and freeze on a cookie sheet until they are hard, or about an hour. You can then put all the balls into a freezer bag. For a dough log, roll the dough into a log, wrap tightly in plastic wrap or wax paper and freeze. When preparing, just cut slices of the log. Frozen dough can be cooked at the same temperature as fresh dough; just add a minute or two to the time.
  • For cakes, you can freeze baked cake rounds and thaw without detracting from taste or texture. Bake the cake as normal and let it cool completely. When completely cool, wrap in a double layer of plastic wrap and a thin layer of aluminum foil and store flat in the freezer. However, when defrosting, it's important to take the cake out the night before you want to use it and let it defrost slowly in the refrigerator. A cake left to defrost on the counter may end up mushy.
    Flavor may change when food is stored past the following time limits.
  • Raw steak or beef roast: 6-12 months
  • Raw pork chops or pork roast: 4-6 months
  • Raw chicken: 9 months
  • Cooked red meat: 2-3 months
  • Cooked chicken: 4 months
  • Chicken broth: 3 months
  • Lunch meats: 1-2 months
  • Raw fatty fish (salmon, tuna): 2-3 months
  • Raw lean fish (cod, bass): 6 months
  • Cooked fish: 4-6 months
  • Soup: 2-3 months
  • Pizza: 1-2 months
  • Hard cheeses (Parmesan, cheddar, etc): 6 months
  • Nuts: 2 months
  • Rice: 1 month
  • Tomato paste: 3 months
  • Unsalted butter: 6 months
  • Fruits and vegetables are good for up to one year, though taste and texture may start to deteriorate if freezer burnt.
  • The safest way to thaw food is in the refrigerator. Just remember to plan ahead because meat typically takes eight hours of refrigerated defrosting time per pound.
  • The microwave is the fasted method but because it starts the cooking process, it's necessary to begin cooking the food immediately after defrosting.
  • For meats or frozen soups, thawing in a bowl of water is also a method of defrosting. Seal the food in a watertight bag and immerse in a bowl of cold or lukewarm water. Change the water every 30 minutes but don't defrost for more than two hours or you might have bacterial growth on your food.

The Skyroom Restaurant

by Ellen Wilson

Located on the sixth floor of the Wilkinson Student Center, the Skyroom Restaurant offers the most visually stunning view on campus. With a lunch buffet served Monday-Friday, you can schedule lunch for a quick thirty minutes or a lingering hour and have the same gourmet food ready.

The buffet always includes one entrée and two pastas, or two entrées and one pasta, so there are always multiple main course options. In addition, the buffet includes two sauces, two soups, fresh rolls, carved meat, a full salad bar, prepared salads, seasonal fruit, and a variety of desserts. The buffet theme changes daily, so if you're craving Italian on Thursday, you can find several main Italian entrées, such as Chicken Parmesan, Fettuccine and other pasta options. Check their website to see the list of buffet menus.

If you're planning a wedding reception, schedule your meal at the Skyroom. Work with the Skyroom's wedding consultant to plan the meal, decorations, music and general atmosphere of your wedding reception or luncheon. See our feature article on Skyroom weddings for an example of what you could enjoy at your reception.

Apr 1, 2009

Spring Cleaning

by Ellen Wilson

The dust on your television is almost an inch think and you can't honestly remember what in is in that Tupperware staring at you from the back of the fridge: let's do some cleaning. Our opinion is that you should just tie back your hair in a bandana and roll up your sleeves in one, big heave-all but we recognize that you might not have an entire Saturday morning to dedicate to tidying up the place. We've divided your apartment, condo, or house into mini-cleaning groups that you can do one at a time or tackle all in one go.

General Tips:

  • Cut back on the clutter. If you haven't used it in months and it doesn't have any monetary or personal value, chuck it or donate it to charity.
  • Have an order of attack. Step back and look at the room and decide the process you'll take. It's a good idea to save vacuuming for after dusting and washing down the walls and baseboards. You might even want to start in a corner and work your way around the room.
The Refrigerator (yes, this gets it own group):
  • Empty each shelf and use disinfectant to wipe and clean the shelves.
  • Combine salsas, salad dressings, pasta sauce and similar condiments if you have multiple jars.
  • If you didn't make it yesterday or the day before, just throw it out.
  • Save jars and clean jars you've emptied. You can reuse these for leftovers, storing flour or sugar, or flower vases. However, don't save them if you don't have room. Take them to a recycle center instead.
  • Clear off the old wedding engagement photos and wipe down the outside and handle.
The Kitchen:
  • Replace your dirty, grey-tinted sponge with a new one. You might want to hang on to the old one to use in cleaning up the rest of the kitchen.
  • Clear off your counters and use bleach to wash them down.
  • Organize pans, lids, dishes, Tupperware, spices and other things that have turned into big, messy piles.
  • Wash all your dishtowels and potholders.
  • After you've finished cleaning all the counters and table, mop the floor.
The Living Room:
  • Dust. Dust everything. Get into the corners and on top of the shelves. Use cleaning products to clean and add a little shine after you've cleared off the filth.
  • Clean the windows and windowsills. See if you remember anything from your Biology course and identify a few of the bugs you're sure to find.
  • Clear off tables of clutter. Throw away or recycle old magazines and newspapers.
  • Vacuum. Pull out the future to get underneath and also be sure to remove cushions and vacuum under there. Collect all the change and buy yourself a popsicle afterwards.
The Bathroom:
  • Disinfect everything, even your toothbrush stand.
  • Empty drawers and check expiration dates on toiletries. Combine any multiples. Wash down the insides of drawers and cupboards.
  • Dust and clean around the lights and the mirror. Using cleaning supplies on the mirror and counter.
  • Tackle the shower. Take the curtain down and wash it if you can. Take the plastic liner outside to clean and disinfect it.
  • Clean and shine all the spouts and handles in your sink, shower, etc.
  • Sweep and mop the floor last.
The Bedroom:
  • Fold your clothes and make your bed.
  • Dust and clean the lights.
  • Clean off your desk and bookshelves. Dust and then use wood varnish to shine your furniture.
  • Vacuum. This includes moving the bed and all the stuff you have stowed underneath.
Enjoy the cleanliness! Your living space is sure to feel brighter and more comfortable. After the big clean, just do quick, 5 minute cleaning spurts to keep everything in order.