Recipes for the reluctant cook

If I didn’t know that it was tournament time, I’d think that our resident bachelor beginning cook had gone into hiding. I haven’t seen sports editor Aaron — who has been the subject of recent efforts in this blog — for close to two weeks, even though his desk sits right next to mine.

He’s been occupied with busy sports schedules, taking a few well-deserved days off between events, so I haven’t been able to check in on his cooking status — or pass along any dating prospects. But the recipes, solicited on his behalf, for easy-to-make meals continue to trickle in, such as the following one that abides by the four-ingredient-or-less criteria initially established by co-worker Justine. (Aaron seems to think he can handle a few more ingredients.)

“This is a simple recipe that our daughter gave me,” noted Bernice Crompton of Slayton in an e-mail. “My husband and I use it quite often. We get two meals out of it. Our daughter doubles the recipe and cooks it in a Crockpot all day.”

Rotel Soup

In fry pan, brown and crumble ½ pound ground beef. In saucepan put in 1 can Progresso minestrone soup, 1 can (undrained) black beans and one 10-ounce can mild Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles. Add ground beef. (Bernice adds 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar, “which seems to mellow the flavors.”) Allow to simmer a while until the flavors meld, maybe 15 minutes or so.

Via regular mail comes a casserole recipe from Jean Ahlschlager of Iona.

“Couldn’t resist getting on the recipe wagon for Aaron,” she writes. “Those poor hard-working sports guys need to keep up their strength.”

Potato Beef Casserole

Brown 1 pound ground beef and 1 small onion, chopped (or onion flakes); add seasoning to taste (drain fat if necessary).

Drain 1 can whole cooked potatoes and cut into bite-sized pieces. Combine the beef and potatoes with 1 can cream of celery, chicken or mushroom soup and 1 can vegetable beef soup (both undiluted). Transfer to a sprayed or greased 2-quart baking dish.

Cover and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Not sure if she intended this as a suggestion for Aaron, but Kay Wolf of Windom e-mailed in this easy-to-make sweet treat idea, which she heard about at a World Day of Prayer event.

Crescent Treats

Take one can Pillsbury crescent rolls and spread dough flat on a cookie sheet. Spread jam on half the dough, then fold the other half on top. Cut along the dough’s perforated lines, and then cut in half again. Spread pieces apart on the cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes at 375 degrees. Drizzle with powdered sugar frosting or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

While we’re on the sweet side of things, I have to give endorsement to a recipe from DotMom’s “Mixing & Musing Cookbook.” I remember that Mom had raved about a hot fudge recipe that was given to her many years ago by my godmother, Beverly Lueth of Owatonna, but I had never tried making it myself. In need of a simple dessert recently, I whipped up a batch and was amazed by how easy it was — and how utterly delicious.

Blender Hot Fudge Sauce

Heat one 5½-ounce can evaporated milk (that’s the smallest can; NOT sweetened condensed) with ¼ cup butter, until butter has melted and mixture is steaming.

In a pint blender jar, put 2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate, 2/3 cup sugar, dash of salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla. When milk mixture is hot, add it to the pint jar and blend.

“Presto! — excellent hot fudge, which doesn’t become sugary even when reheated,” wrote DotMom in “Mixing and Musing.” “If your blender doesn’t have a pint container, use a pint fruit jar, then just cap the jar and store in refrigerator.”

I used my Magic Bullet blender, and it worked perfectly. Serve over ice cream, of course.

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