Originally created 09/17/97

Small portions



Copy cat cookies

The Girl Scouts can't be happy about this. Or maybe they just don't know about it yet.

A recipe for Girl Scout mint cookies has been posted on the Web, along with near knockoffs of other famous foods, including Boston Market's macaroni and cheese and Cracker Barrel's hash-browns casserole.

They're all found at the Copy Cat Recipes site (http://www.copykat.com), which is nearly as good as another cloned recipe locale: Top Secret Recipes (http://www.topsecretrecipes.com).

Sweet smile

There's something fishy about that smile. ... It's just too cute, too pert and too perfect.

But that's why scores of snackers are falling hook, line and sinker for Pepperidge Farm's new Smiley Goldfish. For the first time in its 35-year history as a lunchbox staple and happy-hour favorite, the fish has a fresh, new look: It has a face.

The tiny cracker cutups ($1.69 per package) have been on shelves at some supermarkets and delis since the beginning of last month. They're available only through the end of this month.

It's no easy task to get a goldfish grinning from gill to gill. The project occupied a team of designers and engineers - and even a smile psychologist - for nine months.

"Getting the smile to stay on the goldfish was the No. 1 problem," says Edie Anderson, spokeswoman for Pepperidge Farm.

"We started out where we'd get it sometimes, but not every time," Ms. Anderson says. "Sometimes half of it faded and you couldn't tell if it was smirking. Nailing the genuineness and the sweetness of a full smile was really important to us."

Lunchbox blues

If you're struggling with those back-to-school blues because you can't figure out what to tuck in lunch boxes, the authors of Brown Bag Success (Chronimed, $9.95) have some ideas.

Dietitians Sandra K. Nissenberg and Barbara N. Pearl have filled their paperback book - subtitled Making Healthy Lunches Your Kids Won't Trade - with easy recipes. Here are some of their tips:

  • Add color, texture and flavors to lunches - they'll be more appetizing. Try red, green, yellow, orange and purple foods. Contrast crunchy with smooth. Include several different flavors in your child's bag, but watch out for strong-smelling foods.
  • Plan lunches ahead by preparing foods such as muffins, cookies and trail mix on weekends; use your freezer to stay stocked on food such as sliced meats.
  • Keep a plentiful supply of lunch basics, such as peanut butter, bread, jam, fresh fruit, pretzels, applesauce, pudding, cheese, fruit juice. Don't forget sandwich bags, plastic wrap and plastic utensils.
  • Pack lunch the night before.
  • Entice your child with a creative lunch. Use cookie cutters to cut sandwich bread in different shapes. Make fruit, vegetable and cheese kebabs instead of sandwiches. Add color and crunch with raw fruit and vegetables. Instead of chips, send popcorn.
  • Cookbook, she wrote

    Mystery sleuth J.B. Fletcher has been relegated to rerun land, but fans of Angela Lansbury's long-running TV show can clue in to more than 350 recipes in The Murder, She Wrote Cookbook (Chicago Review Press, $16.95). Recipes from the show's cast and crew include Jessica's cheesecake from Lansbury; artichoke pie from Ron "Sheriff Metzger" Masak; creamy celery casserole from studio grip Moe Altamirano and sherried scallops from script supervisor Betty Abbott-Griffin. The contributors are donating the book's proceeds to Aid for AIDS. At Barbara's and Barnes & Noble bookstores.

    A hamburger by any other name...

    The most extensive hamburger site on the Net comes out of Berkeley, at http://soar.berkeley.edu/recipes/burgers and features everything from crab burgers to Fake Burger King Whoppers.

    Argentine beef

    Argentine beef is back. But Americans may have a hard time finding it. Low-fat, hormone-free, grass-fed, 100 percent organic, it recently made its first appearance in the United States since a 67-year-old export ban was lifted this year. But few companies or restaurants have plans to buy it. Critics say grain-fed, fatty American beef will always be superior to the grass-fed variety. Julia Child herself says that without enough fat, or marbling, Argentine cattle won't produce tasty steaks.

    in sales last year.

    More pizza, pizza

    Good news, pizza lovers: Little Caesar's will expand its small, medium and large pizzas four inches in diameter without raising prices. The move comes amid fierce competition, particularly with inroads being made by Papa John's.