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Stay Soft Rice Krispie Square Demonstration

I’m seriously hoping not to get sued for this recipe.  This is just a demonstration Kellogg’s!  Honestly, they should just be happy I used the name brand cereal today.

Surprisingly, one of the most frequently asked questions from my friends is how do I make Rice Krispie Squares that stay soft and gooey instead of turning into bricks the next day.  The answer is simple: it’s the marshmallows that go hard, so decrease the marshmallows and/or increase the butter and Rice Krispies and your squares will stay softer longer, up to a week if covered with plastic wrap.

Another good tip is to make the squares in a large glass bowl using the microwave.  The glass bowl is easy to clean with just hot water and the entire recipe only takes about 3 minutes to make using the microwave (not including optional setting time).

Ingredients:

1/3 cup of butter (original recipe calls for 1/4 cup).

5 cups of small marshmallows, broken down into 4 cups for melting and 1 cup for adding later.

Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla.

8 cups Rice Krispies cereal (original recipe calls for 6 cups).

Melt 1/3 cup of butter in a large glass bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds.  The butter does not have to be entirely melted, it’s going back in!

Stir four cups of marshmallows into the butter and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.  The marshmallows will puff up in the microwave.  Stir them and watch them deflate into a smooth creamy consistency.  If you are including vanilla extract, stir it in at this point.

Stir in all 8 cups of Rice Krispies.  Then stir in the last 1 cup of small marshmallows.  This gives you fun pockets of marshmallowy goodness throughout the squares and looks pleasing too!

Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with plastic wrap.  You will thank yourself for this step later!

Press the Rice Krispie mixture into the pan.  I do this by scooping the mixture into the pan, placing a piece of plastic wrap over the entire dish and pressing everything down with my hands.

All done!  Nothing is better than creating a sweet snack in 3 minutes flat!

Of course, you should allow a little bit of time for everything to set.  An hour is ideal, but honestly I always sneak one out of the pan right away.  That first square kind of falls apart, but it reaches the tummy anyway!

Now for the softness test: did your squares stick around for a whole week? Jump up.

A Stick-To-Your-Bones Beef Sandwich With Bite

A hearty sandwich can be a meal in itself.  This one is similar to a Philly cheese steak sandwich, without the cheese.  Yes, it tastes so good, you don’t even need cheese.

The only trick to this sandwich is taking a few simple steps to make the meat as tender as possible.  This involves cutting against the grain of the meat and cooking it with vinegar, a natural tenderizer.

Ingredients:

Fast-fry minute beef: sometimes called fast-fry sandwich beef, just make sure it looks like it has been hammered with a mallet and about to fall apart.

Balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar): one or two tablespoons.

Tabasco sauce: few drops to one teaspoon, depending on how much bite you like!

Butter: for frying.

Good quality bread, sliced thickly.

Optional: onions, red pepper, mushrooms, pepper (sorry the vegetables didn’t seem to make it into the photo).

Slice your vegetables thinly.

Find the “grain” of the meat.  One side will show this directionality better than the other.  In this case, on the underside of my meat, you can see the grain goes up and down, so I am going to slice the meat across to cut against the grain.

Slicing across the grain will ensure the meat ends up more tender, easier to chew and also digest.

Throw your onions into a frying pan on medium heat with some butter.  Always start with the onions because they take the longest to soften.

When the onions look sort of clear, they are soft enough and you can throw in the mushrooms and red peppers.

When the vegetables look soft and cooked (this should just take about two minutes) remove them from the pan and toss the beef in.  The beef will start cooking immediately!

Since the meat cooks in just a few short minutes, quickly add the balsamic vinegar, tabasco sauce and pepper.  The vinegar will work to further tenderize the meat.

When the beef is browned, add the vegetables back into the pan to allow them to soak up some of the delicious juices.

Remove everything from the frying pan and now add your thick bread slices.  No need to butter them!

They should toast up nicely and soak up the last bits of flavour left in the pan.

Place the beef and vegetables on the toast.  Sit back, relax and fill up!

I guarantee you will continue to get requests for this one!  Jump up.

Easygoing Enchilada Extravaganza

Enchiladas are similar to burritos except they are generally topped with sauce and baked.  In order to withstand baking, it is preferable to use sturdier corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas and I won’t lie, even in the capital of Canada, it can be hard to find corn tortillas.  If your local grocery store offers them, they are more likely to be found in the bread and pita section than the tortilla and taco section.

I make the enchilada filling with a mixture of rice, pulled beef, back beans and vegetables but this recipe is definitely adaptable.  The vegetables end up inconspicuous, both in sight and taste, so I would be surprised if even the finickiest family members notice them.  They blend right in and are important not only for nutrition, but also to make the enchilada filling lighter.

Ingredients:

1 cup dry rice

1 can black beans

1/2 jar of salsa of your choosing (I used tomatillo green salsa).

12 corn tortillas

2 cans enchilada sauce

Vegetables such as onion, red pepper and zucchini.

Optional: 500 grams of ground meat (or slow cooked roast beef) cooked in enchilada seasoning or taco sauce.

Optional: 1/2 cup of grated cheese to top (completely unnecessary addition, but it covers up mistakes and broken tortillas nicely!)

If you choose to include meat, you can cook up some ground beef, chicken or pork in some taco or burrito seasoning.  I like to go the distance and make pulled beef for this recipe.  I generally cook the pulled beef the night before because it takes five hours to slow cook in the oven.  Aside from the time though, I promise pulled beef is just as easy to make as ground meat and the difference is extraordinary.  Your guests will love you forever!

Follow the same steps as in my Pulled Beef Tugs My Heart Strings recipe, exchanging the BBQ sauce for taco sauce and possibly omitting the celery.

Start the rice first as it will take the longest.  Place 1 cup of dry rice into a pot.  Cover with 2 cups of water.  Cook on high until boiling, then reduce to low until all of the water is absorbed, about 20-30 minutes.

Or double it if you want leftovers for Rice Pudding for dessert or tomorrow’s breakfast!  I often make the rice the night before for this recipe while slow cooking the beef.

Chop up your vegetables.

Add the chopped vegetables to the meat to make stuffing the Enchiladas easier later (or just place them in a bowl on their own if you aren’t including meat in the dish).

Once your rice is ready, mix with the black beans.  Again, this is just to make stuffing the enchiladas a bit easier.  It is nice to just grab from two bowls for stuffing instead of many.

Get yourself set up for the enchilada stuffing experience!  Place a 9×13 baking dish, the corn tortillas, salsa, meat and/or vegetables and rice plus bean combo within reach.

Throw a spoonful of the meat, rice and salsa into a tortilla, roll and place into the baking dish.  Repeat 11 more times.

Cover with both cans of enchilada sauce, and possibly a bit of grated cheese to cover up any mistakes.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Let sit 5 or 10 minutes before serving if you can bear it!

That’s one adorable enchilada!

The best part is every food group (and almost no fat) is hidden in that deceivingly delicious package.  Well, there isn’t much dairy, but that’s the way I like it and you could easily fix that if it was important to you.

Get ready for some very happy tummies!  Jump up.

The Essential Crepe, Sweet or Savory

Crepes are so easy to make and so versatile, they are an essential addition to the recipe box of any beginner cook.  In fact, they are so easy, you might not have to write the recipe down!

These crepes have no sweeteners, so they can be used for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert whether you want a little something sweet or savory.  I like to spread them with peanut butter and wrap around a banana for a breakfast I can walk out the door with.  You can top them with ham and cheese for lunch if you don’t have any bread in the house.  The Italian dish Manicotti is made by filling crepes with a tomato, spinach and ricotta cheese mixture.  Or for a sweet treat, top with strawberries and syrup for dessert.

Crepes are also ideal for individuals who are cooking for themselves because the basic recipe makes 3 plate – sized crepes, perfect for one person, just multiply the basic amounts if you want to make more!

 Ingredients:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

Tiny dab of butter for frying (less than a teaspoon).

Beat your egg and milk together with a fork, then beat in the flour until smooth.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Add another teaspoon of milk if the batter seems too thick like pancake batter.  The batter should be quite liquidy so it can be poured out nice and thin into the frying pan.

Heat up your frying pan on medium.  After a few minutes, add a tiny little dab of butter and let it melt (but don’t let it burn, that’s why we don’t add it to the pan right away).

You should end up with about 1 1/2 cups of batter.  Pour about 1/2 a cup of the batter into your frying pan and quickly tilt your frying pan in a circle a few times to spread the batter out into the largest circle possible.  You should be able to make your crepe about the size of a plate if you roll the pan around quickly enough.

The crepes only take about 2 or 3 minutes to cook on the bottom.  Don’t flip the crepes to check!  Just look at the edges and as soon as you see them start to brown like in the photo below, they are ready on the bottom.  Now flip the crepe and cook for another 1 or 2 minutes on the other side.  Done!

Top or roll with absolutely anything you wish.  Let your imagination do the rest!

Quick enough for anytime, fancy enough for special times.  Jump up.

Egg Tarts Perfect For Hectic Mornings

These simple egg tarts make a great grab-and-go breakfast.  They only take a few minutes to throw together, they keep in the fridge for nearly a week and can be enjoyed hot or cold.  I often make a dozen on Sunday night and eat three each morning on the bus ride to work from Monday til Thursday.

Ingredients:

3 eggs for a dozen tarts (1 egg = about 4 tarts, but this depends greatly on what else you add)

3 tablespoons milk or cream (or about 1 tablespoon per egg if you want to make more or less tarts)

Tart shells, I use ready made no name tart shells.

Additions: add anything you would add to an omelet!  Or go the route I did and add whatever you have in your fridge.  I had celery, red pepper and old white cheddar cheese, not bad for the day before grocery shopping, smile.

Beat together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of milk or cream for every 4 tarts you want to make.  I made 12 tarts, so I used 3 eggs and 3 tablespoons of cream.

Dice up your vegetables, cheese or other additions nice and small.  The tarts are tiny, so you want everything to be tiny.

Mix the eggs and additions together.

Alternatively, you can leave your vegetables and cheese and whatnot in big hunks and just add one big hunk of each item into each tart and pour the egg mixture on top, but I find it’s quicker to just chop everything up small instead of divvying up the individual ingredients.

Pour the egg mixture evenly into the tarts.  You can fill the tart shells right to the brim.

Bake for about 25 minutes at 375 degrees until golden.

Eat immediately or refrigerate until ready to grab-and-go!  Just to warn you, the tarts don’t look quite as pretty the next day because the egg mixture shrinks a bit and pulls away from the tarts around the edges, but they still taste great.  I usually eat them cold after the first day, but I bet a quick toast in a toaster oven would be awesome if you had one.  I don’t, it’s on the wish list, grin. Jump up.