ATTN ALL ILX COOKS, I NEED YOUR HELP - prison commissary test kitchen challenge!

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ok guys. in honor of a family member who will be in lock up over the holidays (and for many holidays to come) i am helping to put together a book of recipes. while the cafeteria food in prison is apparently not so good, he is able to buy some foodstuffs at the commissary, and does this for most of his meals. i am asking for your help coming up with interesting, healthy meals from a limited list of ingredients, to be cooking using only a microwave.
this didnt scan so well but i can list out the ineligible sections from my copy. also - he can sometimes get fresh veggies - peppers, onions, broccoli, tomato, etc. - but his access to these will be limited in the winter.

bell_labs, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:05 (sixteen years ago) link

ok the meat & fish snacks section is:
Salmon Flakes
Kippered Snacks
Fish Steak in Hot Sauce
Spam Singles
Vienna Sausages
Pepperoni Slices
Beef Summer Sausage
Beef & Cheese PK
Turkey Sausage
Garlic & Herb Chicken Breast

bell_labs, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:08 (sixteen years ago) link

only a microwave? HG Wells couldn't write it! mackerel can be good cooked between two plates, but i'm not sure about the rest..

darraghmac, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:09 (sixteen years ago) link

Lemon Juice
Fresh Garlic

Assorted Pastries:
8-Pack Honeybuns
Toastem Pop-Ups

Candy Bars 6/pk
Hershey w/ Almonds
Strawberry Cream Savers
Sugar free candy
Royal Candy Mix
Jolly Ranchers
Tootsie Roll Pops
Nestle choc. syrup

bell_labs, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:10 (sixteen years ago) link

Bacon chocolate chip cookies-
(this is for a FULL batch)

3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon hazelnut (or almond) extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups bacon bits (if preferred, you can separate the dough into two parts and only make half of the dough into bacon cookies, in which case you'll only want to use 1 cup bacon bits)

*An important note- Be sure to use real bacon bits, not Bacos. Also, you can make your own bacon bits, just make sure you pat down the bacon chunks with paper towels to remove as much extra bacon grease as possible.


preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Beat together the butter, sugars, flavouring and eggs until creamy. In another bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir together. Dough will be slightly soft. If you want a cakier cookie, add another half cup of flour. Add in chocolate chips and bacon bits. Stir until well integrated. Place dough on a sheet of waxed paper and refrigerate at least an hour. Remove dough from fridge, pinch off 1 1/2 inch pieces of dough and roll into balls. Set dough balls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten dough balls slightly with your fingers in the center.

Bake cookies for about 10 minutes, or until the dough starts to turn golden brown. Allow cookies to cool on a cooling rack while you ready the glaze.

Maple cinnamon glaze-

2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon maple extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
enough water to make a thick glaze (I used about 3 tablespoons)

Mix all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. If lumpy, use a whisk.

Spread a small amount of the glaze on the top of each cookie and top with a small piece of crisp cooked bacon.

mookieproof, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:11 (sixteen years ago) link

probably not microwavable, though

mookieproof, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:12 (sixteen years ago) link

among other things

mookieproof, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:12 (sixteen years ago) link

Soup & Meals:
Chicken Soup
Hot & Spicy soup
Pizza Kit
Pasta, uncooked
Macaroni & Cheese
Pasta Sauce, tomato
Flour Tortilla
Sazon Goya
Goya Adobo Seasoning

bell_labs, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:13 (sixteen years ago) link

most of the stuff for those cookies not on the list....

bell_labs, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:14 (sixteen years ago) link

we've never needed dr. strongo more

Jordan, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:31 (sixteen years ago) link

haha this isnt supposed to be a joke thread btw, i guess i should have posted to ilcooking. shrug

bell_labs, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:44 (sixteen years ago) link

Give it time! Some of the best cooks on here are either busy or travelling today -- I'd bet Jaq could have some great suggestions.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:46 (sixteen years ago) link

turkey sausage + hot & spicy soup

Mr. Que, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:47 (sixteen years ago) link

I should ask my brother his recommendations, except I never go see him.

Rock Hardy, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:49 (sixteen years ago) link

sounds like your relative should stock up on meat and soups and tortillas. add the meat to the soups or maybe some extra pasta and make the soup into more of a sauce? it would also be good to add things to chili.

you could stuff the chicken with pepperoni and cover with tomato sauce? eat it with some macaroni and cheese?

none of this sounds particularly appetizing, but cooking in prison isn't supposed to be fun/easy i guess.

La Lechera, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:49 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, I mean, my no-brainer stuff would be like summer sausage + mac'n'cheese, or the garlic chix breast + olive oil + parmesan chz + brown rice + broccoli or string beans or something. Just basic meal planning, albeit pretty limited.

Can they not get ANYTHING not on that list?

Laurel, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:51 (sixteen years ago) link

Or just start chucking different things into the tomato pasta sauce: bell peppers, his choice of the meats, olives, shredded mozzarella, and so on.

Laurel, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:53 (sixteen years ago) link

nothing - except for occasional fresh fruit or veggies most of which are contraband, but grown in the prison garden.

bell_labs, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:53 (sixteen years ago) link

It seems funny that fresh garlic is one of the core items, but hey it makes pretty much everything better. Ooooh I wonder if you can roast garlic in the micro.

Laurel, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:54 (sixteen years ago) link

yeah i was gonna say tuna macaroni and cheeze, not that it is particularly healthy. hmm. i will think on it. also, try or something - you can list ingredients and it will give you recipes that use them. obviously you won't be able to cook those as they require stoves, etc., but it could be a jumping off point.

tehresa, Friday, 7 December 2007 18:58 (sixteen years ago) link

laurel and la lechera otm with their suggestions. tuna and canned (two of the more palatable items on the meats list, imho) salmon are great as a quick protein for pasta dishes.

lauren, Friday, 7 December 2007 19:02 (sixteen years ago) link

a potential pasta cooking method, if there's a radiator around:

Put water in a plastic bag, twisting a tie, then wrap the bag around again, twisting another tie, and then wrap around again. Now you have a little water inside a bad with three layers of plastic. Gently place the bag on the scalding hot radiator in the cell, and wait.

I assure you in the deep of winter, when the heat is pumping, the water in that plastic bag will boil in only a few short minutes.

lauren, Friday, 7 December 2007 19:08 (sixteen years ago) link

I'd suggest crumbling the crackers up into bread crumbs for the mac n cheese but I'm not sure how well that would microwave.

Casuistry, Friday, 7 December 2007 19:16 (sixteen years ago) link

Chiken soup + tortillas = tortilla soup?

Abbott, Friday, 7 December 2007 19:19 (sixteen years ago) link

but cooking in prison isn't supposed to be fun/easy i guess.

not like in goodfellas, i guess :(

Jordan, Friday, 7 December 2007 19:19 (sixteen years ago) link

bell, i don't mean to divert your thread away from practical tips, but here's a pretty interesting article from a few years ago about italian prison cooking:,,1522377,00.html

lauren, Friday, 7 December 2007 19:27 (sixteen years ago) link

Microwave Roasted Garlic

4 heads garlic, tips cut off
1/3 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Cut tips off whole garlic heads, keeping heads intact.
2. Place all ingredients in a 4 cup glass measure.
3. Cover tightly with microwave plastic wrap.
4. Cook at 100% for 6 to 8 minutes, longer if bulbs are large.
5. Remove from oven.
6. Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
7. Peel when cooled.
8. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Other recipes for roasting in micro say "nuke whole bulb for one minute, then turn upside down and nuke for one more minute" which might be cool too, but the broth & olive oil seemed like they'd make a nice paste/sauce.

Laurel, Friday, 7 December 2007 19:42 (sixteen years ago) link

this might be obvious, but theres a lot of good sandwich stuff on that list

max, Friday, 7 December 2007 19:47 (sixteen years ago) link

mix and match sausage, veggies, olive oil, olives

max, Friday, 7 December 2007 19:48 (sixteen years ago) link

Peanut butter and hot sauce and garlic and olive oil might make an okay sauce for pasta, with turkey sausage and slivers of bell pepper? Can experiment with cooking the various meats on their own in the micro, or putting them into one of the soups. Could also marinate the chix or other meats in a variety of sauces, for instance mayo + garlic + whatever!

Tortillas heated in micro and left to cool will be a little crispier -- drizzle with honey and lemon and butter?

Laurel, Friday, 7 December 2007 20:00 (sixteen years ago) link

paprika might be difficult + the whole oven thing, but:

10 oz of elbow macaroni
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese
6 oz mild cheddar
1 stick of butter
4 eggs
1 cup whole milk *
½ cup evaporated milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
pinch of paprika
½ small onion diced (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Whip eggs in small bowl and put aside. Mix cheeses in small bowl and put aside.

Boil pasta in LARGE pot and drain off most of the water. While pasta in still steaming, stir in the butter and about ¾ of the cheese. Stir until everything is all melty. Add salt, pepper, and paprika. (This is your last opportunity to taste, so please do.) Next add eggs, and all milk. You can add the onion now, if you like. The whole concoction should be really soupy. Stir, stir and stir some more.

Pour mixture into a casserole dish and bake for about 30 minutes. It will rise like soufflé, so make sure that your dish is big enough. Carefully open the oven and slide the rack out halfway so you can sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Continue to bake about another ten minutes until the cheese is bubbly. Take it out of the oven and let it sit about 10-15 minutes while it sets.

* Dieters can substitute skim or 2% milk and the butter can be cut down by half. You might be able to scale back the cheese a little, but just use less cheese, not a 2% or fat free.

mookieproof, Friday, 7 December 2007 22:38 (sixteen years ago) link

dude you ganked that from

Mr. Que, Friday, 7 December 2007 22:39 (sixteen years ago) link

Bell_labs, can you list out the liquid/dry beverages and the chips section? I can't read those and there's probably some useful stuff listed. Does he have access to butter and/or oil and granulated sugar?

When he can get fresh veg, encourage him to stock up if he has a covered bin for storage - onions can keep for weeks, tomatoes and peppers can be partially dried.

If he can get Fritos or some plain tortilla chips (or some mildly seasoned ones) and tomato juice, he could make a passable chilaquiles with the Goya adobo seasoning and a squeeze of lemon. Is there peanut butter someplace? (I don't know why I can't make anything out on the list except some of the headings - old squinty eyes) Anyway, drain the hot sauce from the fish steak, mix it with some peanut butter and a little garlic, add a smidge of sugar and some lemon rind for a Thai-influenced sauce.

Jaq, Saturday, 8 December 2007 04:50 (sixteen years ago) link


Oatmeal Variety
Parmesan Cheese
Shredded Mozzarella
Refried Beans
Strawberry Jam
Guava Paste
Cheese Spread
Jalapeno Peppers
Imitation Bacon Bits
Garlic Hot Sauce
Onion Dip
Olive Oil
Honey Nut O's
Raisin Bran
Peanut Butter
Mixed Nuts
Unsalted Peanuts
Salty-Sweet Nut Mix
Sweet-Savory Nut Mix
Soy Sauce
Chewy Granola Bars
Brown Rice
White Rice


Salmon Flakes
Kippered Snacks
Fish Stick in Hot Sauce
Spam Singles
Vienna Sausages
Pepperoni Slices
Beef Summer Sausage
Beef & Cheese Pack
Turkey Sausage
Garlic & Herb Chicken Breast


Chicken Soup
Hot & Spicy Soup
some other soup in a can, probably tomato?
Pasta, Uncooked
Macaroni & Cheese
Pasta Sauce - Tomato
Flour Tortillas
Sauza Goya
Goya Adobo Seasoning

El Tomboto, Saturday, 8 December 2007 04:59 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, there's hot sauce, peanut butter, soy sauce, honey in the Variety Snacks section. Those'll be handy. I'd say a must-avoid is the vienna sausages ("potted meat with a hard-on") and a must-have will be the multivitamins. (xpost)

Rock Hardy, Saturday, 8 December 2007 05:01 (sixteen years ago) link

sausages & fish in the spicy soup & heated up, and I'd be loading up on the salt & pepper packages

El Tomboto, Saturday, 8 December 2007 05:02 (sixteen years ago) link

From Goya's site:

Guava Paste
Serve sweet guava paste with cheese and crackers as a snack or appetizer. Great in desserts too.

tehresa, Saturday, 8 December 2007 05:10 (sixteen years ago) link

I dunno if it's up their alley but I bet some folks would go to town on some spam singles with guava paste & mayonnaise (strongo's nuevo cuisine indeed)

El Tomboto, Saturday, 8 December 2007 05:15 (sixteen years ago) link

I'd mix the guava paste with lemon juice and some honey - spread on a tortilla and roll up to eat. Make rice pudding w/ powdered milk, sugar, water, brown or white rice, salt. Eat with the guava mixture or a little strawberry jam.

Jaq, Saturday, 8 December 2007 05:16 (sixteen years ago) link

I think there's a site or program that makes you list what's in your fridge and then it suggests recipes, but I can't find it right now.

StanM, Saturday, 8 December 2007 06:23 (sixteen years ago) link

that site blows anyway, I know what you're talking about

El Tomboto, Saturday, 8 December 2007 06:35 (sixteen years ago) link

oh i totally ganked it, i'm a shitty cook

mookieproof, Saturday, 8 December 2007 08:36 (sixteen years ago) link


oh, ok - thanks!

StanM, Saturday, 8 December 2007 08:42 (sixteen years ago) link

For a less fatty, non-canned-fish protein alternative, he can make up farmer cheese (or paneer, or queso fresco, or ricotta, or dry-curd cottage). Juice 1/2 a lemon. Mix up a quart of powdered milk and heat it to boiling in the microwave. Remove and stir in the lemon juice. Insulate the container some way (set on a towel or pillow, wrap a shirt around it) and let it sit for 5 - 10 minutes to allow the curd to develop. Run a plastic knife or the handle of a spoon, something long and straight through the curd, cutting it so the top looks like squares. Pour off the whey (save it if you like and mix with a little sugar for a healthier lemonade). Spoon the curd onto a piece of clean cloth (t-shirt works). For ricotta/farmer cheese/dry-curd cottage cheese: suspend the cloth over a bowl to drain over night. Mix in a little salt before eating. For paneer/queso fresco: stir in a little salt after the whey is drained off. After spooning the curd onto the cloth, draw the edges up tight and twist to make a ball of cheese. Leave it to drain overnight into the sink, keeping the pressure on it. Cut into cubes and make up a sauce of some kind (tomato based pasta sauce, salsa, etc) - nuke together to heat through.

Jaq, Saturday, 8 December 2007 13:17 (sixteen years ago) link

A healthier lemonade? Lemonade is unhealthy now?

Casuistry, Saturday, 8 December 2007 13:30 (sixteen years ago) link

I'd make a sauce from olive oil, lemon, garlic, olives, and some raisins (out of the Raisin Bran). Nuke the raisins in some water to plump them up. Mix in the olives and garlic and nuke a little more. Add the lemon and olive oil (include a little lemon rind, if possible to grate it). Nuke off and on for a few minutes, stirring every 45 sec to minute. Add some cashews - crush one or two before adding, they will help to thicken the sauce, but leave the rest whole. Nuke for a few short bursts, enough for the cashews to heat up and absorb some of the sauce. Pour over rice.

re lemonade: healthier as in contains some of the milk protein and residual vitamin D.

Jaq, Saturday, 8 December 2007 13:36 (sixteen years ago) link

Melt broken up Hershey bars (sans almonds) with peanut butter and stir in a little water - just enough to make a smooth sauce when warm. Stir into bran flakes and mixed salted nuts and press down in the bottom of the bowl to cool. Cut into squares.

Jaq, Saturday, 8 December 2007 13:44 (sixteen years ago) link

no mookie i had just read that on maud's site, it was funny

Mr. Que, Saturday, 8 December 2007 16:27 (sixteen years ago) link

martha stewart to thread, surely.

elmo argonaut, Saturday, 8 December 2007 17:32 (sixteen years ago) link

Raisin wine?

Wait, why is he in prison?

libcrypt, Saturday, 8 December 2007 20:03 (sixteen years ago) link

broek the law

El Tomboto, Saturday, 8 December 2007 20:04 (sixteen years ago) link

subsequently apprehended

El Tomboto, Saturday, 8 December 2007 20:05 (sixteen years ago) link

Peanut butter beaten with olive oil and a little hot sauce (if he likes it hot) or honey (if he likes it sweet) ought to make a passable sauce -- mix with turkey sausage and put it over rice for a Thai curry type thing.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Saturday, 8 December 2007 20:16 (sixteen years ago) link

thank you guys - jaq's especially sound promising. i'm going to try these out over christmas and will let you know the results.

libcrypt - he was convicted of securities fraud and conspiracy and sentenced to 9.5 years, which he started serving this august (i don't know what that really has to do with the premise of this thread tho)

bell_labs, Saturday, 8 December 2007 20:57 (sixteen years ago) link

oh and thanks tom for listing out everything

bell_labs, Saturday, 8 December 2007 20:57 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh, right. This is yr dad. I totally forgot about that. I'm sorry for any offense and I hope that he gets out soon on good behavior, etc. By the way, if you haven't seen Oz, I suggest that you not watch it until he's out.

libcrypt, Saturday, 8 December 2007 21:04 (sixteen years ago) link

it's nothing like oz.

bell_labs, Saturday, 8 December 2007 21:05 (sixteen years ago) link

The local paper ran a feature about the microwave in September...

Microwave cookbook:

Tape Store, Saturday, 8 December 2007 21:29 (sixteen years ago) link

btw, this would be a great Top Chef challenge (if they haven't done it already)...

Tape Store, Saturday, 8 December 2007 21:30 (sixteen years ago) link

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