crunchy tuna salad

Crunchy Tuna Salad Recipe
It’s Time for a Chow Mein Chow Down 

One of the interesting things about being a self-proclaimed nostalgic food blogger is when I run across food items that are no longer available. Looking for something that isn’t there can turn me into an angry shopper at times but I often find a workaround, like when I made my own madrilène for what I thought was going to be a simple bowl of cold avocado soup.

In just a single lifetime serving sizes have become larger and in tandem food is sold in larger sized containers. Supersize Me. As is the case with this recipe, “Tasteez Fried Chow Mein” is no more. I can’t even find a trace of it performing one of my usually successful Google image searches! So that means it was likely gone way pre-pre-Internet.

Like many of my other posts, I will give you a taste of what it was like back in the good ol’ days with some vintage chow mein commercials, albeit from other brands like La Choy, which seems to have survived the taste test of time. After you’re done with the recipe, scroll down below where I’ve curated some of my favorite videos from YouTube. 享受! (that’s “enjoy” in Chinese).

Crunchy Tuna Salad Recipe

foodie tips

❤  I wasn’t very familiar with what “dry onions” were. Maybe something was lost in translation so I used Spice Islands Dry Minced Onions, which was all I could find at my neighborhood store. I think I got this correct!

❤  A word about parsley: While my Mom “Betty” would likely have used curly-leaf parsley, I’ve learned through the years that it’s a little too tickly for my tongue. I’m usually hugging tight to the Italian flat-leaf parsley because I don’t find it wrestling my tastebuds on the way down.

i. ingredients
1 cup | tuna
½ cup | celery, chopped
¼ cup | dry onions, chopped
handful | lettuce, chopped
¼ cup | mayonnaise
2 tablespoons | french dressing
1 cup | la choy fried chow mein noodles, lightly crushed
to present/serve | lettuce leaf (optional)
to garnish | parsley, chopped

ii. what to do

1. Mix tuna, celery, dry onions, and lettuce.

2. Stir in the mayo and the French dressing.

3. The recipe doesn’t call for it, but here is where you could chill your tuna salad (totally optional). When ready to serve add the chow mein to the salad mixture and stir to coat.

4. Arrange the tuna salad on your lettuce leaf and garnish with parsley.

Yields 4-6 appetizer-sized servings.

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook

Crunchy Tuna Salad Recipe

A scan of Mom’s Crunchy Tuna Salad recipe.
This recipe is on a waxy kinda paper – likely a cutting from the Tasteez chow mein package itself!

Now on to the vintage videos!

Crunchy Tuna Salad Recipe

YUM YUM YUM – Crunchy Tuna Salad’s In Da House

 

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sweet and sour cabbage

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Recipe

Your tastebuds will dance a sweet and savory tango induced by the dynamic pairing of brown sugar and bacon – both wrapped in a blankety “zing” of vinegar and a sprinkling of caraway seed.

Indeed, cabbage has a bad rap. Why, the lips seem to curl at the very mention of its name! And while cabbage made a lot of appearances at depression era tables, there are some quite redeeming qualities of cabbage including protecting against stress, lowering the risk of diabetes and heart disease, and helping create a healthier complexion. I’m in!

the cabbage craze

Perhaps the biggest cabbage morale booster started in the 1970s. This was the golden era where the origins of the Cabbage Patch Kids kingdom was born. During this time I was preoccupied with skateboarding or patiently staring at the fruitless gems never born by my rock tumbler. Simultaneously a multi-billion dollar business was emerging thanks to the help of “Bunnybees” sprinkling magic dust on top of cabbages. Hey, don’t make fun of the messenger!

While your sweet and sour cabbage is chilling in the fridge you can enjoy the earliest Cabbage Patch Kids video I could locate (below) plus a video revealing the lesser-known story behind the pudgy dolls.

foodie tips

  Dressing tip: We didn’t notice the dressing turning clear per the instructions below; just make sure you don’t overcook it; in 3-4 minutes ours was done.

  This dish is best consumed the same day it’s made; the chopped cabbage will gradually lose its crisp the longer it sits.

  Love sweet and sour? Celebrate the flavorful ying and yang by clicking here for more of Mom’s recipes!

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Close Up

A Cool, Star-Like Design, Compliments Of Cabbage

i. ingredients (per serving)

6 slices | bacon
3 tablespoons | bacon drippings, reserved from bacon (above)
2 tablespoons | white onion, chopped
½ cup | brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon | corn starch
1 teaspoon | salt
¼ cup | water
⅓ cup | vinegar
6 cups | red cabbage, shredded
1 teaspoon | caraway seeds

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Caraway Seeds

A Caraway Seed Close Up

ii. what to do

1. Cook the bacon until crisp. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the bacon drippings in the skillet then drain the excess. Cool then crumble the bacon and set it aside while we prepare our dressing.

2. To the drippings add the onion, brown sugar, corn starch, salt, water, and the vinegar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and clear. Remove the dressing from heat and cool.

3. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, caraway seeds. Add the crumbled bacon and the cooled dressing. Toss well and chill.

Yields 6 1-cup servings! I paired my cabbage with a nice home-grilled cheeseburger, which complimented the sweet and savory cabbage perfectly!

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook

A Sweet and Sour Cabbage Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Recipe

A Scan Of Mom’s Sweet and Sour Cabbage Recipe (note the back – Woman’s Day Magazine!)

And here are the videos I promised!


vegetable dip

Vegetable Dip Recipe
Dippity Do

My Cousin Julie is a fantastic host.

When there’s a gathering at her house – whether simple or grandiose – the tastiest of foods are always at the ready. It’s like Christmas for the taste buds!

Cousin Julie’s veggie dip is easy to make and doesn’t require resting. Smooth and creamy with a natural green color, this is one of my favorite flavors that reminds me of home.

foodie tips

  Leftovers store well in the fridge. However, I have it on good word that being in possession of veggie dip leftovers is actually a misdemeanor here in Texas. Just sayin’. :)

  While typically dunked by sliced veggies (see below), this dip is also good on toasted or fresh-cubed bread, corn chips… you get the idea.

  I might sneak in some minced garlic into this on my next makin’ of this mighty dip recipe. Did you know that since garlic has leaves it’s actually a vegetable and not an herb?

  I can think of many ways to enjoy this dip: On a burger, by the fire, just because, and above all else… to show others how much you care!

i. ingredients

1 cup | mayonnaise
½ cup | fresh spinach
handful | fresh parsley (we used Italian flat-leaf)
3-5 | green onions, chopped
to serve | your favorite vegetables (carrots, celery, zucchini, peppers, radishes, etc.)

How To Make Vegetable Dip

ii. what to do

1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

2. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and you’re ready to let ‘er rip.

3. Dip to your heart’s content!

A Vegetable Dip Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Vegetable Dip Recipe

A Scan Of Mom’s Original Recipe

In my blog posts I typically include a nod to yesteryear. Let’s celebrate this time-honored dip with a flashback to some “Dippity Do” commercials from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Enjoy!

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook


parmesan dressing

Parmesan Dressing RecipeA Tale of Two Dishes

When I first picked this recipe from Mom’s cookbook, I thought I’d be making a creamy salad dressing chock-full of grated parmesan.

I was so very wrong!

A few minutes into the prep for this recipe and I knew to set my salad aside.

I was making dressing. Or was it stuffing?

Turns out I wasn’t sure the differences of either.

I grew up loving me some Stove Top Stuffing. Not that my Mom “Betty” regularly made it – I did. My love for stuffing started and swelled during my college years and since I’ve polished off more than a few boxes of the stuff like it was a main course … and a dessert.

A Foodie War Rages On

After a little bit of online research I was left even more conflicted about the differences between dressing and stuffing.

Some posts I found noted that the only difference was whether you prepared and served the dish from inside a bird (hence stuffing) vs. from the side of the bird (or dressing).

Another post said it was due to differences in dialect as in the south dressing was a more “genteel” way of referring to stuffing. Reading this made me feel like I time-warped back into a scene from Gone With The Wind.

Others posts pointed to stuffing being super moist and dressing more like a special combination of sticky-pillowy soft with a hint of crisp – this is the style I am used to.

Stuffing vs. Dressing - What's the Difference?All I know is based on this Butterball survey, the various regions of the country do have differences in preference. No wonder my confusion! As a Texan, I live in a region where the popularity of “stuffing” vs. “dressing” is an arm-wrestle more evenly matched than anywhere else in the nation! Heck, even in this Paul Deen video, the Southern Queen of Comfort Food herself uses the terms interchangeably… yet her end result looks more like porridge than what I’m used to. Heck, y’all, if Rachael Ray was weighing-in here, she’d probably call this dish “druffing,” as she’s known for inventing words that are a made-up mish-mash of food itself!

So, what does your family call it?

I simply call it “get in my belly!” And just like the war over chili with or without beans, I’ll leave it to you to make and enjoy the very best of your favorite recipes!

foodie tips

  A word about parsley … While I’m fairly certain that in the good ol’ days any reference to parsley implied the curly-leaf kind, today I’m a lover of Italian flat-leaf parsley because I find it less “grassy” and “scratchy” on my palate. The good news is you can pick whichever variety you like!

  Step 3 below is optional, but I tried the dressing before and after and preferred the dressing with a slight toasting.

i. ingredients

1 large | white onion, chopped
4 tablespoons | vegetable oil
3 cups | soft bread crumbs
½ cup | parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup | fresh parsley, chopped (Italian flat leaf suggested)
2 tablespoons | hot water
Parmesan Dressing Recipe from Betty's Cook Nook

ii. what to do

1. In a medium pan over medium-high heat, sauté the onions.

2. Add the onions to all the other ingredients and mix well.

3. This step is extra (from me)… I transferred my dressing into a 350°F preheated oven for about 5-7 minutes to toast it up a bit. I added a bit more freshly grated parmesan on top to give it a little punch.

Enjoy!

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook

Parmesan Dressing Recipe

Parmesan Dressing Recipe

A Scan Of Mom’s Original Parmesan Dressing Recipe Card

A few more vintage Stove Top commercials from me to you!

NPR Kitchen Set~ ~ ~

Stove Top Stuffing: Creepy, Remarkable, or Somewhere in Between?!

Listen to this NPR spot about the origin of Stove Top Stuffing and its creator, Ruth Siems.

After listening to this I gained a greater appreciation for the culinary convenience of Stove Top Stuffing as well as the time-tested art of conventional stuffing!

~ ~ ~


biscuits

A Biscuit Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Two Birds. One Biscuit.

I love it when you can enjoy two great things from one! Like:

  • Two tasty recipes that are born from one simple ingredient.
  • A history lesson served with a delicious slice of quiche lorraine.
  • And this biscuit recipe – a fast way to make some homemade biscuits that are infused with the taste of beer. Why just drink a beer when you can eat one, too! Read more about cooking with beer!

foodie tips

  If you don’t want a hint of sweet in your biscuits you can dial back on the sugar to 1 tablespoon… or none. But as Joe taught me… “It’s not nice to fool with Betty’s Cook Nook!” You can always adjust after you make *and try* a recipe the first time.

  Use your favorite flavor of beer. I used what I had in my refrigerator’s drink drawer which was Modelo Especial. My Mom “Betty” would have Pearl Light handy. And my Dad would be alongside to share a Budweiser with you. Thirsting for more beer? Enjoy some vintage beer commercials below!

  I brushed some melted Falfurrias butter on my biscuits and gave them a slight sprinkle of garlic salt. For a second round of biscuits I added a handful of cheddar cheese and they tasted great! The cheesy biscuit pic is below.

A Biscuit Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Cooking with your fur babies makes everything better. Shown here is my amazing Chesapeake Bay Retriever, “Lucca.”
He has his eyes on the prize!

i. ingredients

2 cups | bisquick
2 tablespoons | sugar
½ can | beer
optional: to serve | butter
optional: to serve | dash of garlic salt
optional: ½ – 1 cup | cheddar cheese, grated

How to make homemade biscuits

Using a cookie scoop makes biscuit-making a snap!

Homemade Biscuits Recipe

A scan of Mom’s original biscuit recipe!

ii. what to do

0. Preheat your oven to 450°F.

1. In a medium-sized bowl add the bisquick, sugar and beer. Mix with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until well combined.

2. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a prepared cookie sheet.

I used a cookie dough scoop to keep things consistent in size. If you want your biscuits a little taller than they are wide you can also scoop the batter into a prepared muffin tin (sprayed with Pam baking spray)

3. Bake the biscuits for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately alongside your favorite breakfast spread.

Yields: About 10 biscuits!

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook

 

Biscuits with Cheese

Everything’s betta’ with chedda’!

 


cheese straws

A Cheese Straws Recipe From Betty's Cook NookCheese? Yes, Please!

Candy cigarettes aside, the first straw-like food object I can remember from my childhood are Pixy Stix.

The brightly colored straws have origins to the 1940s and were filled with a sweet n’ sour powdery candy that jettisoned my energy levels into outer orbit! #OffDaCharts! If I cough-choked while inhaling the sugary straws, I knew I was having a good time.

A Vintage Pixy Stix Print AdFlash forward quite a few years: These cheese straws are a savory treat that were surprisingly delicious to me – they have a nice buttery-cheesy taste and a few seconds later I enjoyed the warm – not spicy – flavor dismount, compliments of the cayenne pepper.

Younger foodies will enjoy helping you make these straws – they’re perfect for your game day lineup or any day you’d like an extra-special pick-me-up beyond the usual potato or tortilla chips.

foodie tips

  Per the recipe card below… “Cookie press?” “Star plate?” Yeah, this is why this recipe wasn’t one of the early chosen ones I’ve made here at Betty’s Cook Nook – I had no clue what these items were! After some online research I realized a cookie press is a quite popular semi-automatic weapon for cooks! I ran to my nearest store and scored this new kitchen gadget which is a foodie essential for making these cheese straws.

Driving home I remembered that Mom had a cookie press, too! It was an all-metal version and it had lots of extra parts that were kept by its side. Funny how certain things can conjure up *almost* forgotten memories!

  These straws are delicate so handle with TLC. No worries – even if they break they still taste the same: AWESOME!

i. ingredients

1 teaspoon | red pepper (a.k.a. cayenne pepper)
1 cup | sifted flour
½ teaspoon | baking powder
1 cup | cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup | butter (go big with unsalted Falfurrias Brand)
3 tablespoons | cold water
special kitchen utensil | a cookie press (see tip above)

ii. what to do

0. Preheat oven to 375°F.

1. Sift together the red pepper, flour, and baking powder.

2. Cut in the cheese, butter and then add the water. Mix well.

3. Insert the cheesy dough into your cookie press and squeeze it into your desired length, then cut to free it from your foodie gun. Note: If you find that the dough is too thick to easily come out of the press you can remove it, add a little bit more water and reload.

4. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Yield: About 2 dozen straws

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook

 

A Cheese Straws Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

A Cheese Straws Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

cheese-straws-recipe

Here’s A Scan Of Mom’s Original Cheese Straws Recipe.
I’m not certain who penned this recipe, but the handwriting looks like that of Betty’s Sister, “Delores.” :)


squash casserole

Squash Casserole Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

This recipe is dedicated to the music teachers of my life. Bill Brady (drums at MacArthur High), Cliff Robertson (piano), and Miss Nance (beginning band, drums, at Garner Middle School).

Thank you for the talent and confidence you gifted me; I lean on both every day!

~      ~

The Magnificent Seven

This dish comes to Mom’s cookbook courtesy of our 1970s next door neighbor Mary Stephenson.

Mary and my Mom were the best of foodie friends; when I was a younger Patrick trading marbles they were trading recipes and sharing stories about the greatest of foods for family and friends. You can find more of Mary’s recipes here at Betty’s Cook Nook by searching for “Stephenson” in the search bar at right. I probably have more of Mary’s recipes than any other of Mom’s friends. And I’m all the better for it!

This recipe combines 7 key ingredients in 7 simple steps to make one savory, buttery casserole that makes me want to yodel from the hilltops. ← Click this link if you think I’m kidding. I’m highly confident that this dish would have made an appearance at the best-dressed Thanksgiving table. Give it a taste and you’ll see!

foodie tip ~

❤  Cooking terms decoded: Per below, “squash” had to be yellow squash, “onion” would be a white onion, “sharp cheese” would be sharp cheddar cheese, and oleo is margarine (I had to look that one up!) … but in this family we only stick with butter. Falfurrias brand butter, to be precise. Betty’s Mom (my grandmother), “Nanny” insisted on it and that is a tradition that has stuck with me through the years.

Being fooled by the term olio has me remembering a battle between the butters, so to speak. If you are too young to remember the war between butter and margarine you’ve gotta enjoy this vintage TV commercial from the 1970s where we see what happens when you fool with Mother Nature.

I’m not sure if Mother Nature needs to see the doctor or what but she seems to have “ChiffonWare” bowls of margarine confused with daisies confused with butter. Just sayin’.

PS ~ I love you Mother Nature!
Squash Casserole Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

i. ingredients

2 pounds | squash, chopped
1 | medium onion, chopped
¼ stick | oleo (unsalted butter)
to season | a little salt and pepper
1 cup | crackers, crumbled
| cage free eggs, well beaten
1 cup | sharp cheese, grated
¼ cup | mayonnaise

for the delightful topping:
3 tablespoons | oleo (3 tablespoons? now we’re talking!)
¼ cup | crackers, crumbled

ii. what to do

1. Boil the onion and squash until tender. Drain the water then mash ’em both together.

2. Season with the butter, some salt and fresh cracked black pepper, and of course the mayo. My lips have been waiting for the mayo.

3. Add the eggs, crackers crumbs and cheese. My hips have been waiting for the cheese.

4. About now I’d rev-up the oven to 350°F.

5. To make your casserole topping, melt the additional 3 tablespoons of oleo in a skillet. Add ¼ cup of more cracker crumbs and coat them well in the butter.

6. Transfer the squash mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle with your buttery, crumbly topping.

7. Bake for 30 minutes. Let rest but best served warm.

Yields 8 servings

A Squash Casserole Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

A Scan Of Mom’s Original Recipe Card

Still Hungry For More Senseless Lore?

You’ve stumbled into the right cyber-place!

While “The Magnificent Seven” is a phrase I’ve heard of pretty much my entire life. I realized today I really didn’t know where it truly originated.

A couple of clicks later and I learned “The Magnificent Seven” was actually a film from 1960.

Picture 7 gunslingers comprised of a star-studded cast including Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, and James Coburn.

A few seconds into the trailer and I instantly recognized an all-too familiar tune I played over and over in band at Garner Middle School. Even more interesting is that I read that in 2013 the movie was inducted into the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, making this a must watch movie.

How ironic all this is. And how “sweeter” this dish is to my heart!

Cheers to 7!

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook

Confident

Just in case you missed it above…