Join me in the sweet embrace of major corporations

As it turns out, Brand Name Recipes are terrifically comforting when everything that was already terrible becomes more terrible and then suddenly your favorite kolaches are involved and writing your goofy blog post seems even stupider than usual. Not least because they tend to run about 90% carbohydrate. But seriously, think about it, the Campbell Soup Company was founded in 1869. It's so old! And American! You don't even have to click on the picture of Cookbook #38: Campbell's Collection (Publications International, 2000) to visualize the white script on a red background! It's like a protective cocoon of branding.

Not to mention the resulting protective cocoon of sodium-bloat.

Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Recipe: Santa Fe Chicken with a side of Nacho Cheese Pasta and a serving of Responsibility Broccoli. I don't normally bother recreating recipes for you here, but in the case of Nacho Cheese Pasta I'm going to put forth the effort and tell you that it's a can of Nacho Cheese soup poured over pasta. Before anybody gets snobby about it, let us recall that Fannie condoned counting this dish as a vegetable. I actually really liked the chicken, as it had a tangy processed-tomato flavor that I found pleasant. (I think it's the BPA, which by the way I am now free to enjoy because my toxicologist says so.)

Verdict: I wouldn't cook out of it daily or anything, but I was impressed with the flavor and it was as quick/easy/inexpensive as you would hope. I think I've spent so much time on Pinterest seeing "HOW TO AVOID USING CANNED SOUP IN RECIPES" that I forgot that USING CANNED SOUP IN RECIPES IS KIND OF GREAT. Point to Campbell's.

Cookbook #39: Land O'Lakes Simply Delicious Cookies (Creative Publishing, 1999.) Hee, "Creative Publishing." Oookay. Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Ways to use butter: always welcome in this home.

The recipe I picked was Favorite Butter Cookies, because it is a butter-sponsored cookie collection and that seems fair.

Show me what you've got, L O'L.

I know they're not very professional looking, but all that matters is how delighted Anna was to be decorating them.

Okay, fine, I did have to bring in a supervisor to make sure she stayed on track.

Verdict: these tasted like butter cookies. So now I am rethinking my strategy and wondering if I should have tried one of the more unusual ways to use butter, such as...Buttery...Jam Tarts...okay, I guess this is a competent but somewhat boring book.

Cookbook #40: Betty Crocker's Bisquick Cookbook (Betty Crocker, 2000). Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. The last time I bought a box of Bisquick: college.

Recipe: California Pizza, which reminds me--I don't know if you've noticed, but this week's dinners have a SECONDARY THEME of "hailing from exotic locales." Please keep in mind that I am a theme professional and I do not recommend attempting this type of double-up at home.

I don't want anyone getting hurt.

So, Bisquick as pizza crust turned out a lot better than I was expecting. (Exceeding very low expectations: Theme #3.) I mean, it isn't like real crust at all, but eating pizza topping off of a thin biscuit isn't the worst. What is possibly the worst? It kinda has a slew of trans fats. (Susie, it would really help if you would jump in and exonerate trans fats for me. Because I assume you are also a nutritionist. And use a lot of beakers. I don't know that much about science.)

Verdict: uh, pending any new information I am pretty wary of ingesting partially hydrogenated things. But if you don't mind throwing caution to the wind, this was very fast and pretty tasty. Solution: ignore what the recipe says, buy the "Heart Smart" version instead of "Original," and go forth with your short-cutting.

Cookbook #41: Hershey's Easy Baking (The Hershey Company, 2007). Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. How you can tell they're not messing around with this "Easy" business: it's in board-book form as though it is intended for toddlers.

Recipe: Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake. Reason: obvious. Secondary reason: Jen requested cake this week and I live to serve you people, honestly. Also she kind of threatened me and/or referenced Eddie Izzard. I respond to both.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, Anna Is Forced to Frost A Chocolate Cake.

This is the exact same face I made when I chopped up that lobster.

To be fair, she had barely recovered from decorating the cookies.
Verdict: I feel comfortable saying that this is in fact a great chocolate cake because I just ate an extra research piece to make sure. Usually I have a problem with my homemade cakes being too dry, but this one is nice and springy. I think Hershey's has really hit on something here, unless the ingredient I've been missing all along is reluctant child participation.

Cookbook #42: 365 Favorite Brand Name Casseroles and One-Dish Meals (Publications International, 1996). Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Carbs: ooof.

Lest you think Domino's invented the concept of serving pasta and cheese inside a shell of bread, let me introduce you to a little recipe called "Wisconsin Swiss Linguine Tart" from the good people at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

Recipe: one bag of flour, one tomato.
Verdict: this seems like food that depressed people would eat. I'm not opposed. Anna, of course, loved it.

Can't get enough of that pasta sandwich.