Saturday, March 30, 2013

When the Dead Come Knocking (part 2): Trail Mix Bars

As the Group prepares supplies, Rick shares a heartfelt goodbye with Carl. Carl confides that Daryl has been calling the baby "Little Ass-Kicker." Rick smiles and asks Carl what he thinks her real name should be. Carl chooses the first name of his third grade teacher...Judith.

A heartbroken Hershel urges Rick to bring Maggie and Glenn back safely.

Rather than say a goodbye, Daryl approaches Carol alone to tell her to stay safe and the rescue party finally departs for Woodbury. They leave knowing they may never see each other again. 

Along with flash-bangs, tear gas and weapons, the rescue party would have taken at least a few provisions. Trail Mix Bars are easy to transport as well as high in calories. Having only 7 ingredients, they are easy to prepare and flavorful. They would have been packed carefully; perhaps knowing that food may be as critical for their survival as the weapons themselves.

And when the dead rise; let the ex-cons do the dirty work.

Trail Mix Bars

3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 rolled oats (instant or regular)
1/2 to 1 cup oat bran
1 cup shredded coconut
1 1/2 to 2 cups trail mix (any brand or flavor). Any large pieces of dried fruit/nuts should be chopped or diced

Melt honey and peanut butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat or medium coals over a campfire. Stir in rolled oats, coconut, and 1/2 cup of the oat bran and mix well over heat. 

Stir in vanilla extract and trail mix. Mixture should be very stiff and not appear too moist. If needed, stir in additional oat bran (a few tablespoons at a time) until mixture is the desired consistency.

Spread into a greased 9 inch square baking pan. Smooth the surface with a spatula or spoon and allow to come to room temperature. Slice into bars and wrap well in plastic wrap. Makes about 10 bars.

Friday, March 22, 2013

When the Dead Come Knocking: Ratatouille Pancakes with Chili Tomato Dipping Sauce

Rick and Carl stare transfixed by the young woman at the fence. While the Walkers initially ignore her, the smell of blood from her injury is enough to attract their attention. After she collapses from exhaustion, Rick and Carl have no choice but to intervene and bring her inside the prison.

Daryl interrupts and insists that Rick accompany him back to C-Block. Entering one of the cells, Rick is overwhelmed to see Carol alive. Their happiness is short-lived however. They learn that the young woman named Michonne witnessed the capture of Glenn and Maggie. 

The unanimous decision is made to go to the town of Woodbury to rescue them. While everyone volunteers to go, Rick decides that only Daryl and Oscar will go on the raid with Michonne to lead them in.

The Group would have very little time to prepare for the raid so their afternoon meal would have to be hasty. Ratatouille Pancakes would be fast and flavorful. Light, yet satisfying, these vegetable pancakes are made even better with the addition of a spicy chili and tomato dipping sauce.

And when the dead rise; if somebody shows up with a Samurai sword and a grocery basket of supplies… LET THEM IN!

Ratatouille Pancakes

1 (8 to 10 oz) jar Eggplant Caponata mix OR Tapenade OR Bruschetta
(6 to 8 oz) small jar Roasted Red Peppers, drained and chopped
1-2 Tbsp. Dried Chives
1 cup Bisquick Heart Smart Baking Mix
Powdered Eggs to equal 2 fresh eggs

In a large bowl, combine the baking mix, powdered eggs (to equal 2 fresh eggs), small jar (drained and chopped) roasted red peppers, and 3/4 cup of the eggplant caponata (or tapenade or bruschetta mix). Stir in 1-2 Tbsp of the dried chives.

The mixture should resemble traditional pancake batter (with lumps). This recipe is very forgiving, so if the mixture appears too dry, feel free to add additional caponata, tapenade or bruschetta (2 Tbsp at a time) to achieve the proper consistency. If it appears too moist, you may stir in additional baking mix (also 2 Tbsp at a time).

Heat 1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat or medium coals. Using a 1/4 cup measure, carefully drop batter into heated skillet. Cook 2-4 pancakes at a time. Use a spatula to flatten mixture if needed (it will not cook if it does not spread out enough like traditional pancake batter). Cook each pancake approximately 2 minutes on each side; or until golden brown. Add extra oil to skillet if needed for each batch of pancakes.

Serve with Chili Tomato Dipping Sauce.

Chili Tomato Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup Spicy Thai Chili Sauce
1 can Tomato Paste

In a small bowl, combine spicy Thai chili sauce with tomato paste. Mix well and serve with hot Ratatouille pancakes.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hounded (part 2): U.S. Senate Bean Soup

Daryl leads Oscar and Carl into the tombs to clear Walkers. Daryl confesses to Carl how his own mother's death came about. She had been drinking and smoking in bed. The resulting fire took her life and burned his family home to the ground. Carl shares that after Lori's death, he was the one to put her down. They both apologize to each other over their losses and continue their work in the tombs. 

Later, Daryl continues clearing the lower levels on his own. Still grieving Carol's loss, he takes out his frustrations on the prison walls when he hears banging on one of the metal doors. He yanks the door open, preparing to pummel the Walker causing it, when he sees Carol sitting on the floor.

Dehydrated and weak, she'd managed to keep banging on the door to alert the others. He scoops her up and carries her back to C-Block.

Rick finally approaches Hershel as the older man holds the baby. He takes her gently in his arms and smiles. Rick leads Carl, Beth and Hershel out into the sunshine of the prison yard as he holds his daughter for the first time. He tells Carl how much the tiny girl looks like him when something catches his eye.

A young black woman carrying a sword and a red grocery basket has approached the prison fence. She has a terrible limp and Rick can see she's covered in blood and has a leg injury.

It's a good thing the Group had already eaten lunch. With the continuing chaos of the day, they would need all their strength. Beth would have taken a turn in the makeshift kitchen.

U.S. Senate Bean Soup has been served in the Senate cafeteria since 1901. While the U.S. Senate is no more; their culinary legacy lives on in this classic recipe. This all-American soup has been reimagined to include only pantry ingredients. Your Group will find this soup to be memorable and comforting.

And when the dead rise; and one of your Group goes missing…and you hear banging on one of the doors…for God's sake just open it!!!!

U.S. Senate Bean Soup

1 pound dried navy beans (soak overnight in enough water to cover)
1 can SPAM, diced 
1 (14 oz) can carrots, drained
1 (14 oz) can potatoes, drained (and cubed if they are whole potatoes)
6 cups of water, stock or broth
2 Bay Leaves
2-3 Tbsp. dried Minced Onion
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp. dried Parsley
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Soaking Directions: In a large bowl, combine dried beans with 5-6 cups of water (enough to cover by 2 inches). Soak overnight. This step is very important as it reduces the required cooking time.

The next morning, drain the beans. In a large soup pot (over medium heat or hot coals) combine the pre-soaked beans, the diced SPAM, 6 cups of water (or stock or broth), bay leaves, minced onion and garlic powder.

Bring to a boil and cover with a  lid. Allow to boil for 1 hour and 15 minutes (stirring occasionally so beans don't stick). Add carrots and potatoes. Cook for an additional 15-30 minutes, or until beans are soft and creamy textured. If the soup becomes too thick while cooking, feel free to add additional stock or water (1/4 cup at a time) until the desired consistency is reached.

At this point, remove from heat and stir in Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste. The salt from the SPAM might be enough, so add Kosher Salt only a pinch at a time until you are satisfied with the flavor. Stir in dried parsley and serve immediately.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hounded: Caramel Apple Cobbler

The death of his wife has taken a terrible toll on Rick Grimes. While clearing Walker bodies from the boiler block on his own, he begins to hear the telephone ring. 

Upon answering it, he hears a woman's voice, describing a safe zone. She refuses to tell him where, but promises to call back in two hours. He cleans himself up and returns to the Group to check on Carl. Daryl explains that Axel was attempting to repair one of the generators. 

As the Group eats together, Glenn assures Rick that he and Maggie will be making a supply run for baby formula and ammunition. Rick returns to the boiler block to await the next phone call, leaving the Group to their breakfast. The looks they exchange when Rick leaves, makes it clear that they are all worried about his fragile mental state. 

Before Daryl would have allowed Axel to run off unsupervised and tinker with the remaining generator, he no doubt would have strongly suggested to the ex-con that he prepare breakfast for the Group. Searching through the prison pantry, Axel would have found biscuit baking mix and the giant cans of inexpensive sweetened fruit that any government-run facility would have on hand.

Combining the two, along with spices would result in the comforting Caramel Apple Cobbler. With only six ingredients, this simple recipe can do double duty as a dessert or a breakfast. Your Group will love it no matter when you serve it. 

And when the dead rise (and Governments fall and communications go down), and the phone rings.....don't answer it!

Caramel Apple Cobbler

1 3/4 Heart-Smart Bisquick Baking Mix
3/4 to 1 cup Almond, Soy or Dairy Milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cans Apple Pie Filling
1 jar Caramel Ice Cream topping

Preheat oven to 375°F or alternately, heat coals till red hot and allow to turn to white ash. 

In a large bowl, combine baking mix, sugar, cinnamon and milk. Mix until blended.

Open both cans of apple pie filling. Pour into a large Dutch oven or a cast iron skillet. Spread around so filling covers the bottom. Open jar of caramel topping and pour over apples, spreading around to cover all of the fruit.

Pour cobbler mixture over the apples and caramel. Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes or until a knife or metal skewer inserted in the cobbler comes out clean. 

If cooking over a campfire; place Dutch oven over coals and cover with a baking sheet, a tight fitting lid, or several layers of aluminum foil. Using tongs, top the baking sheet, lid or aluminum foil with 10-12 hot coals and allow to "bake" over the fire for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Rotate if necessary to allow even cooking. Check using a knife or metal skewer inserted in the cobbler topping. When it comes out clean, the cobbler is done.