The Mess Hall

Rants and ramblings on all things edible, wearable, doable, or usable with a focus on Home and Health. Home is fun, easy on the wallet, and “gool” for the greatest game of tag ever (Life). Welcome to my home, the Mess Hall. Get in the Mess!

27 Feb

Cardamom Butter Cookies

Posted in General on 27.02.11 by Octopi

Cardamom is a spice I will always associate with my Grandma Anne and my Mom. It’s the key ingredient in a favorite family recipe for bread. Regardless of which of those two would make the bread, the smell of that spice permeating the house is unforgettable. Here’s a great cookie recipe using cardamom. It doesn’t hurt that the recipe uses two sticks of butter so that, when combined with two tablespoons (and a little goes a long way) of cardamom, there is just no turning down of these cookies. You WILL eat them!

Cardomom Butter Cookies



  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbl ground cardamom (oh yeah!)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice


Makin it Happen

  • Cream butter and sugar til light and fluffy
  • Add eggs and vanilla and beat well
  • Sift together remaining ingredients (or dump in like I do, which may give certain family members apoplexy)
  • Mix er up good
  • You can do a couple things in actually making the cookies. You could:
      A) chill the dough, roll it out and use cookie cutters
      B) shape the dough into rolls, chill those, them slice them into thin roundish/ovalish cookies. This is how I  made them this time around. I made three rolls, but froze one to make at a later date.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes (until just brown on the underside). Depending on how thick the cookies actually are, you may need more or less time in the oven. Just keep an eye on them.
  • Makes several dozen (or more) cookies, depending on how thick you cut them.

Nutritional Content: These cookies will give you superpowers. Just eat them.  Then maybe run afterwards.  But you’ll run really fast.  Because of the superpowers.

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23 Feb

Poor Man’s Pizza

Posted in General on 23.02.11 by Octopi

Hi guys,

I was starvin Marvin the other day.  After a quick assessment of inventory I decided to make some “poor man’s pizza.”  Using pita bread for a base, I sauteed up some mushrooms with garlic in olive oil and threw them on the pita breads.  Next, I placed some shredded cheese on top (pita bread on a cookie sheet) and dropped it in the oven at 350 degrees.  I already had something in the oven at 350, but if I was doing this right I’d probably bump it up to more like 400 and keep it in for a shorter time (5-7 min?). Criteria met?  Fast, easy, tasted good, and in my belly.

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20 Feb

Rosemary Turkey Meatloaf

Posted in Makin' Food on 20.02.11 by Octopi

Got this one from a work colleague.  Yum!  Thanks T!


  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 cups dry bread crumbs
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (or dried, whatever)
  • fresh parsley, about 1/4 cup
  • 1 cup canned tomato sauce (or ketchup)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Makin it Happen

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together the ground turkey, bread crumbs, onion, egg and milk.
  • Season with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and rosemary.
  • Press into the prepared pan.
  • Blend together the tomato sauce, brown sugar and mustard; pour evenly over the top of the loaf.
  • Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until juices run clear when pricked with a knife.


Tips and Tricks

  • I baked some of the meatloaf in individual-sized pyrex containers for easy freezing for lunches. 
  • The sauce was pretty sweet.  Next time I’ll probably cut down on the brown sugar a bit and up the mustard for a bit more of a kick.

tags: ,

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14 Feb

Maple Almond Butter Cookies

Posted in General on 14.02.11 by Octopi

Want some sweets for your sweetie?  Make these.  Found this at a cool looking blog called sweet + natural that focuses on making sweets with all natural ingredients.  The following represents a double batch off the original recipe because when I make cookies I like to make a bunch to share.


  • 1 cup natural almond butter
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped almonds


Makin it Happen 

  • Preheat the oven to 350*F. In a large bowl, combine natural almond butter, maple syrup, oil and vanilla extract until well blended. 
  • In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, along with chopped almonds, and stir until just combined.  Let sit for five minutes. 
  • Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls, flatten to about 1/3 of an inch and place onto cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Let them sit on the sheet for five minutes to cool before transferring to a cooling rack.  Don’t wait too much longer than that though or it’ll be harder to get them off the sheet.  Makes about three dozen cookies. 

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13 Feb

Onion Beer Soup

Posted in General on 13.02.11 by Octopi

In case you have onions in your heart this Valentine’s, I wanted to make sure there’s a recipe for everybody.  Enjoy!

As I was sitting on the couch doing my taxes (bleh) I had the tv on the Live Well network and a cooking show on with this dude making some tasty meals with beer as an ingredient.   The tax-doing had me craving for a beer (or anything to take the pain away) so this recipe looked extra tasty.


  • 6 strips bacon, diced or cut into thin strips (I used turkey bacon from the Amish food store – awesome)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3-4 jumbo onions, sliced thinly (ultimately about 9 cups, I used a combo of Spanish and red onions)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bottle (12 oz) brown ale (if you haven’t tried the Bell’s Best Brown Ale, it’s pretty tasty!)
  • 8 cups beef stock of low sodium beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • slices of French bread, preferable stale
  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half
  • 2 oz. grated cheese (I rocked it out with manchego and did not regret)


Makin it Happen

  • In a large sauce pot, cook up the bacon over moderate heat.
  • Add onion and oil and saute until the onions are translucent and caramelized (a good 20 minutes or so, stirring frequently).
  • Add most of the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Add ale, and stock, thyme, and bay leaf, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and salt.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Rub each slice of bread once with cut surface of garlic clove. Top each slice with grated cheese and place on a cookie sheet.  Brown in a 350 degree oven.
  • Remove bay leaf from soup, and serve with bread/croutons, float the pieces on top of the soup.

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04 Feb

Who you callin shrimp?

Posted in Makin' Food on 04.02.11 by Octopi

Many years ago I found a recipe for cooking shrimp on recipezaar (now I loved it but it was such a pain in the ass to make because I had to dig out my entire seasonings cabinet to make it happen.

Then I had an “aha!” moment that turned this recipe into one of the fastest recipes to make.

I simply super-sized the seasonings mixture – sextuple or decuple (word of the day = 10 times!) and store it in an old seasoning container.

So here it is. It’s supposedly modeled off a recipe from Chile’s but I’ve never had it at Chile’s so don’t have a comparison.  Also, I was pretty lazy when making it this last time, so I’ll note what I DIDN’T include that is typically included in the recipe.

Spicy Garlic & Lime Shrimp


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed (didn’t include)
  • 24 fresh large shrimp,  peeled (about 1 pound)
  • 1 lime (didn’t include)


Seasonings (Single Batch, if you just want to try it out)

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder


Seasonings (6X, if you’re ready to whip up a batch for future use)

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder


Makin it Happen

  • Melt butter in pan
  • Add garlic and shrimp
  • Squeeze lime juice over the pan
  • Sautee for 5-8 minutes or until shrimpies are all pink
  • Cook both sides of the shrimp!


I like to serve this over pasta.


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