6.26.2012

Sour Cream Cucumber Salad

My sister Charlene emailed the other day.  She wanted my mom's Sour Cream Cucumber Salad recipe.   Its not the first time someone has been asking for that salad lately.  Almost all the kids are home right now and everyone has put in their order for the good stuff!  So, nature is hinting that its a must on the menu tonight or tomorrow (along with a special strawberry cake for a special girl - which we will post as well).

Its interesting to me that at times of stress or anxiousness, we long for the things that bring us a sense of home and family - peace and comfort.  I mean it's a duh - that's why they call it comfort food.  It's security, familiarity, all of that.  They also make us feel special.  When someone goes out of their way to make us something that is comforting a a taste of home, it brings us a feeling of being important.    I know that's what cooking with my mother Arlene brought to me.  The kitchen was a place where I could set aside the differences and tensions of our mother-daughter relationship.  We had a common ground and a place to relate that helped me to see her in a different light.  Her love of food was not about eating - it was about helping those around her feel comfortable and at home.  It was her way of showing love. 

My sister Charlene will be sharing this recipe and others from her home, garden and heart, on Thursday,
June 28th, Coulee  Region radio WIZM La Crosse, Wisconsin at 10:00 AM.   If you are in earshot - take a listen. 

Here is the recipe:


Arlene's Sour Cream Cucumber Salad


4 med cucumbers
1 sweet Vidalia onion (small to medium)
1 -2 T salt (Rock or Sea Salt – Coarse)
½ c sour cream
3 T white vinegar
1 T sugar

Slice the cucumbers about ¼ inch thick.  Put into a bowl.   Slice onions in thin ½ rings.  Put into bowl with cucumbers.  Sprinkle onions/cucumbers with salt.  Add 1-2 c of ice to the cucumber/onion mix. 
Weight the cucumber mix down with plate, so that the cucumbers and onions are compact under the plate. 

Place in fridge for at least two hours, overnight is even better.  As the ice melts, the cucumbers will lose the retained water.  The ice will keep the cucumbers crisp.  Occasionally drain the water from the bowl to avoid the cucumbers and onions soaking in the liquid.  

Remove the cucumbers from the fridge.  Drain any remaining water and remove any remaining ice cubes.  

Mix the sour cream, vinegar and sugar in a separate bowl.  Use this ratio of cream to vinegar to sugar for additional dressing. 

Pour the dressing into the cucumber/onion mix.  Mix thoroughly. 

HINTS: 

I sometimes use red onion instead of the Vidalia onion or when a sweet onion is not available.  It adds color to the dish.  Make sure the water and ice are completely drained. 

Leaving extra water or just one ice cube, can make the dressing become runny and thin. 

Add some fresh dill for added flavor.  2-3 T, depending on your preference

ARLENE'S SOUR CREAM CUCUMBER SALAD PRINTABLE RECIPE

6.25.2012

S'Mores Bars

So again, I love Pinterest!  I get the greatest ideas and especially reminders of foods eaten and enjoyed throughout my formative (and non-formative ha ha) years.  I mean really - its rare these days to find someone who has not had S'Mores!   Call me crazy - but in the middle of summer a real S'More is the best.  Fire pit in the backyard or over a camp fire while camping with family, friends, scout troop, church group, whomever.  Charcoal fire crisped marshmallows sandwiched between chocolate and graham crackers.  Upscale all you want - nothing beats the original.

HOWEVER, I was COMPLETELY intrigued by the recipe being passed around Pinterest for a S'Mores bar.  Again, call me crazy - but baking a S'Mores bar in the middle of the summer and on one of the hottest days - crazy, but we had to try it.  I had a houseful of upper teens to mid-20 somethings and of course - my rationalizing that heating up the house wasn't a smart idea.  They suggested then that we make them at 9pm at night - so we did.

These bars are the best.   I have a few tips though for all of you who want to try this.

FIRST - I have made the recipe fit into a 9 x 13 pan, cause the 8 x 8 pan just is not big enough.  For a small family, just cut everything in half.   For the rest of us - we need something a little bigger to feed all the folk who will want to eat these.

SECOND - Make sure your layer of Marshmallow cream is thick.  DO NOT be hesitant about how much the recipe calls for.  I thought AN ENTIRE JAR????(that was for the 8 x 8 version!) and subsequently skimped.  Wrong!!!  It needs the whole jar.  Remember - you don't make a real S'More with mini-marshmellows.  You make them with the big ones or even now a days - the GIGANTIC - Look at me, I am the Supreme Marshmallow made just right to fit between a square of graham crackers!

THIRD - really watch the baking time.  This will vary on your oven, but you really want it bubbly and crisp, but not burnt.  The edges are the BEST, cause the marshmallow combines with the graham cracker cookie batter and oh my word....its just so delicious and crispy and sweet.

Have fun with this.  The kiddos, no matter what the age, will love to make this.

S'Mores Bars

1 c butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar

2 large eggs
2 t vanilla
2-2/3 c flour
dash of salt
1-1/2 c graham cracker crumbs - this is about two packages of crumbs from a box.  I used the already crumbled cracker crumbs.
2 t baking powder
4 to 5 large (5 ox) Hersheys Chocolate - you can also use ANY kind of chocolate you wish, a nice ghiradelli dark or milk chocolate.  I had some Cadbury bars with nuts that I had brought back from England still around and used those.
2 containers of Marshmallow creme or fluff.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare ( I used butter) the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.  I recommend a glass cake pan.  It helped to crisp up the crust to a nice crunch.

In one bowl, cream together the butter and sugars.  The should be light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  It will look like the beginning of chocolate chip cookie dough.

In a separate bowl, add the flour, cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt.  Whisk till completely combined.  Add the butter mix to the flour/cracker mix, low speed and until just combined.

Divide your dough in half.  Put the first half in the bottom of your prepared pan and press down firm with the back of your spoon, making sure that the dough is evenly distributed across the pan.

Unwrap the Hershey bars and lay them on top of the dough, in a single layer.  Break them up as needed, to cover the pan completely.  DO NOT Double up - I guess you could if you really want a gooey chocolate bar - but you would need more bars then!  :-)

Now spread ALL of the marshmallow fluff/creme over the top of the chocolate, again, making sure that you have a nice even layer.  Don't be surprised by the thickness of the layer.  You don't want a thin layer.  Its basically sugar and some will be absorbed into the dough.

Take the second half of the dough and place it on top of a piece of wax paper, the size of the 9 x 13 pan.  Place another piece of wax paper, the same size, over the top of the dough.  (You can spray the wax paper with Pam if you like.  It will help keep the dough from not sticking).  Take your rolling pin and roll the dough out into a rectangle, the size of the pan, making sure it is an even layer of dough.  Take the top piece of wax paper off,  then place the dough, raw dough side down, onto the layer of marshmallow creme.  Peel off the bottom layer of wax paper.  Voila.   I did not do this the first time I made them and it was so much easier than trying to press the dough evenly on top of the marshmallow creme!

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until brown and bubbly.

Now here is the area of preference - you can dish it up right away, only allowing for a few minutes of cooling - its all gooey, both the chocolate and the marshmallow.  OR you can wait and let it cool completely.  The chocolate is more firm and the mallow is as well.  We preferred warm and gooey - but is a personal choice.

ENJOY!  We sure did!


S'MORES BARS PRINTABLE RECIPE