puffy tacos

The Art Of The Puffy Taco

My Homemade Birthday Puffies July 26, 2020

2 Treats In 1

If you’ve never eaten a puffy taco, you’re missing out on one of life’s greatest culinary creations! Picture the usual taco shell but it’s filled with air (kinda like a blow fish) and about ¼” thick. The shell is not crunchy but when made properly arrives in-between a soft and crunchy taco and it’s made of corn flour. The taste is 100% authentic and delicious!

Growing up in San Antonio I thought puffy tacos were as common as burgers, hotdogs or soda pop. Almost since the very beginning in 1937 my family has scored our favorite Tex-Mex delights from Teka Molino which is still in operation. Whenever I visit my hometown of San Antonio I make sure and load-up on an a la carte plate filled with my favorite edibles: bean and cheese cups, guacamole cups, and of course puffy tacos.

It wasn’t until about 30 years later in life I found myself living in Round Rock (a mere 90 minutes away) and was surprised that our Tex-Mex waitress had never heard of a puffy taco. And no, they didn’t carry them.

Teka Molino Treats

A Pic Of Teka Molino Delights

Behold The Puffy

We accidentally fell into making the puffy tacos. We were making empanadas with masa and decided to give it a whirl. After watching the Hilah video below we realized after a couple of fails we could make the puffy tacos! They were way easier to make than holiday tamales of 2019, when I was sore for two days later from the 5-6 hours of labor. I will never see a tamale the same way again!

What’s even better my Cousin Jennifer told me that the usual beef mixture inside the puffy taco wasn’t just mere old taco meat but picadillo, so that recipe is here as well! My favorite part of the picadillo are the small potatoes that are married-up with green bell peppers and the seasoned meat. Give this dish a whirl and I think you’ll love it!

red tortilla press

Press On!

Foodie Tips

❤  No tortilla press? I found some tips for how you can press your own without a formal press. Here’s one approach that makes use of plastic cutting boards and in this YouTube video you can see what you’re doing while you press, thanks to a glass pie plate! Since our tortilla press was on extra backorder we used the pie plate method with Ziploc bags (vs. plastic wrap) and it worked like a charm.

❤  Don’t be discouraged if your first few tacos shells crack or don’t fold properly! You can use the imperfect tacos for masa chalupas, make an impromptu taco salad, dip them into queso, serve with fresh pico de gallo, etc.

❤  For the best taco filling this recipe goes hand-in-hand with this picadillo recipe. You can trust me on this one! #PinkySwear

❤  I’ve never seen a yellow (orange) Mexican cheese but that’s how Teka Molino serves theirs. So a mild cheddar would work or possibly grated Velveeta. If you want to try a white cheese, go Oaxaca or Monterey Jack.

❤  For the best creamy jalapeño dressing recipe (shown above) click here.

  Want to learn more about the history of the puffy taco? This video is my favorite!

  Using a small wire whisk we dipped the masa tortillas into the fryer and formed puffy cups! These are similar to the cups Teka Molino serves and super easy to make. AND EAT! Just load ’em up with beans n’ cheese, guacamole, picadillo… and you’re off to outer space!

Puffy Taco Cup

The Puffy Taco Cup Is My BFF

 i. Time

Total prep: About 30 minutes (excluding the makin’ of the picadillo). This dish is best consumed fresh. We enjoy ours progressive style, meaning we set up our taco bar and eat as we make.

ii. Ingredients

for the puffy:
2 cups  |  maseca brand corn flour
1 ½ cups  warm water
1 teaspoon  |  salt
to form  tortilla press (or see alternate pressing tips above)
to press  PAM Spray, plastic wrap, or a Ziploc bag with the sides trimmed away with scissors
to fill pot 2 inches deep  canola, peanut or vegetable oil (we found canola didn’t stink up the kitchen as much)
1  deep pot or pan for frying
thermometer (for testing the oil temperature)
1  large metal spider strainer or strainer spoon ladle
1  metal spatula

to dress your puffy:
lettuce, thinly sliced
mild yellow or white cheese, shredded
tomato (diced or sliced)
fresh pico de gallo (chopped tomato, onion, salt, lime juice, and cilantro)

Puffy Chalupa

Even Dressed As A Chalupa The Puff Makes All The Difference

iii. What To Do

A word of caution: Remember you’re frying in hot oil! Please keep kids and pets safely away from the range top in case of any wayward oil splatters.

1. Prepare the masa!

  • I have a feeling for best results make your masa fresh; don’t make the masa tortillas in advance and refrigerate them.
  • In a medium-sized bowl combine 2 cups of the corn flour and the water.
  • Mix by hand until the dough is nice and soft. The dough should be moist but not stick to your hands. If the dough feels dry you can add a teaspoon or two of water and continue mixing until you’re happy. Don’t put too much water or else the puffy taco will get holes in it as it fries.
  • Hand roll the masa into the size of a golf ball.
  • Take one ball at a time and press it using your chosen pressing technique. You can press them all at once or press as you fry.

2. Puff those tacos!

  • We used a 2 quart cast iron pot filled with our chosen oil and the temperature gauge attached. The oil was heated precisely to 375°F. Make sure your range vent is on!
  • Insert one flattened tortilla into the oil and let it fry! Flip it over once after it has fully puffed (about 20 seconds). You’ll cook it no more than 60 seconds. After you flip the taco, form the signature fold by gently press and holding a metal spatula into the middle of the puff – this is where your toppings will eventually go. Be careful not to cut the taco in half! While forming the fold, keep the taco submerged under the oil to keep it cooking.
  • Using your strainer, lift the taco from the oil, lightly shake the puffy shell a few seconds and transfer it to a cooling rack that is sitting on top of a baking sheet (to catch any oil drippings). Let the taco rest with the inside of the taco fold facing down.
  • Ensure that the oil has returned to 375°F then continue making additional tacos until all the rolled masa balls are complete.
Puffy Taco Side View

Puffy Taco Shells Should Be Like An Al Dente Noodle – Soft To The Bite – Not 100% Crunchy Or Soggy

Puffy Taco Recipe

3. Dress those tacos!

  • This isn’t Taco Bell! So a properly dressed taco is what tastes Um Um, vs. OH. MY. GAWD! delicious! (we’re going for the latter).
  • Fill a taco with about a 1/4 cup of picadillo (or your chosen filling) then add your toppings.
  • While I could go crazy with an assortment of toppings, I prefer to enjoy my puffies how Teka Molino makes them – rather simple, so the picadillo doesn’t get lost with an avalanche of other toppings. My suggestion: lettuce, cheese then the tomato slice on top.

Perfection!

~ Patrick

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

How To Make Picadillo

Picadillo Is So Much Tastier Than Plain Ol’ Taco Meat (Sorry, Taco Meat)

Spicy Shrimp Puffy Tacos


sour cream apple pie

Sour Cream Apple Pie Recipe

The Apple Pie Of My Eye

Hubba! Hubba! One bite into this apple pie sent me back on a flavor adventure into my childhood – a time when apple rocked my world.

My fondest apple memories weren’t necessarily of the fruit itself, but its fruit-inspired kissin’ Cousin – Jolly Rancher Apple Candy. Awe shucks – my eyes would grow wide with these little suckers and my fingers could barely fumble fast enough to frantically tear off the plastic wrapper so I could get down to business.

Jolly Rancher Apple Stix Vintage Print Ad

It Doesn’t Appear That Jolly Rancher Made Any Apple-Inspired Print Ads Back In The Day…
So I Modified A Fire Stix Ad To Represent!

Several years ago my tongue stumbled upon my first Caramel Apple Pop and these have since become my go-to candy for Halloween trick-or-treaters. These taste like a green apple Jolly Rancher that’s been dipped in rich, lux caramel. Boy howdy! These are way easier to enjoy and I don’t have to be reminded that when it comes to my ability to handmake a caramel apple on a stick I ought to just phone a friend for help (you can read all about that hilarious foodie fail here)!

Back To Pie Basics

This recipe – like others – unassumingly sat tucked away in my Mom’s cookbook. Then this October fall rushed in. This is when Texas temperatures drop into the 90s and we reach for blankets and sweaters to keep us alive. October is a time of year when the eyes and the appetite often turn to the wonderfully warm and woodsy flavors of fall. And sitting right in the middle of it all is the fall apple.

Enjoy the mash-up of apple graced with the south’s favorite sidekick – good ol’ sour cream! Topped with a cinnamon-sugar crumb topping, the remarkable taste is probably one of the earliest sweet ‘n sour ‘n tarty foods I can remember.

Sour cream apple pie – you’re welcome in my stomach any time!

Foodie Tips

❤  I may not be an apple connoisseur but I do recognize all apples are not created equal when it’s time to bake them. Avoid the ones that get “mushy” – nobody wants those in their pie! I got lucky and picked a granny smith apple which proved to be the perfect pucker-upper for the sour cream pairing! Here’s some southern wisdom about selecting baking apples.

❤  I have a gas oven and it browned my pie a little more than I would have preferred. I used a silicon pie crust shield which will help prevent the edges of your crust from burning.

i. Time

Total prep: About 75 minutes

ii. Ingredients

for the pie:
|  pie crust
2 tablespoons  |  flour
⅛ teaspoon  |  salt
¾ cup  |  sugar
cage free egg
1 cup  |  sour cream
1 teaspoon  |  vanilla
¼ teaspoon  |  nutmeg
2 cups  |  apples, diced (I enjoyed this with the peel on)

for the crumb topping:
⅓ cup  |  sugar
⅓ cup  |  flour
1 teaspoon  |  cinnamon
¼ cup  |  unsalted butter, melted (tip: my Grandmother “Nanny” insisted on Falfurrias brand butter)

iii. What to do

0. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Meanwhile…

1. Line a 9-inch pie pan with the pastry.

2. In a medium-sized bowl sift together the flour, salt, and sugar.

3. Add the egg, sour cream, vanilla, and nutmeg to the flour mixture. Beat everything into a smooth, thin batter.

4. Stir in the diced apples and coat well.

Sour Cream Apple Pie Going Into The Oven

5. Pour your apple batter into the pastry-lined pie pan.

6. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes then lower temperature to 350°F and bake for 30 minutes – be careful not to over-bake!

7. Remove the pie from the oven and let it rest while we make our crumb topping.

8. Coarsely mix the four topping ingredients together in a small bowl and sprinkle them over the top of the pie. Lumpy crumbs are good here – there’s no need to pulverize the topping.

Apple Pie Crumb Topping

9. Raise the oven to 400°F and return the pie to bake 10 minutes to brown.

10. Remove the pie and let it rest. Warm or cold this pie is delicious!

Sour Cream Apple Pie Guard

Yield: 8-12 slices of tasty pie

~ Patrick

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

Sour Cream Apple Pie Recipe

A Scan Of My Mom “Betty’s” Original Sour Cream Apple Pie Recipe


kalua pork

A Kalua Pork Recipe From Betty's Cook NookPerfect Chow For A Luau

I probably overlooked this recipe due to my first hangover in college from an untimely overdose with Kahlúa.

But this recipe doesn’t incorporate the Mexican coffee-flavored liqueur; I discovered it’s actually spelled “kālua,” which refers to a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that utilizes an underground pit oven called an “imu.” We won’t be digging any holes in the back yard for this recipe but I think you’ll find – sans the pit – that its got a delicious and warm flavor that will high five your tastebuds.

This recipe hails from my Cousin Julie’s kitchen. Hawaii held a special place in her heart; in Julie’s later years she would whisk her kids and grandkids to Hawaii for Christmas holiday. Also Hawaii fans, my Mom, “Betty,” and Dad Honeymooned in Hawaii in 1955 just 4 years after it became a U.S. state. So strap on your hula skirt, open-toed sandals, and top things off with a lei – we’re making kālua!

Foodie Tips

❤  Dry sherry vs. cooking sherry? Yeah, I still get confused. Here’s where you can get the 4-1-1 on sherry.

A Kalua Pork Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

❤  My Cousin Jennifer said Julie and the family often enjoyed this dish with taro rolls, which are funky purple moist rolls often served at Hawaiian Luaus. You can score a recipe for taro rolls here. Other great sides that Jennifer said complemented Julie’s meals were a salad, Sister Schubert’s yeast rolls, and mashed potatoes.

i. time

Allow extra time to marinate the pork. I let mine rest overnight but the recipe only calls for 2-3 hours. Total prep is about 6 hours. This is a slow-bake delight well worth the wait!

ii. Ingredients

5 pounds | center cut loin pork roast
¼ cup | soy sauce
2 tablespoons | dry or cooking sherry
large clove | garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon | ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon | thyme
⅔ cup | peach or apricot preserves
¼ cup | chili sauce (hot sauce)
8 ½ ounce can | water chestnuts, drained and sliced

iii. What to do

1. Place the pork in a gallon-sized baggie.

A Kalua Pork Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

2. Combine the soy sauce, sherry, garlic, cinnamon, and thyme and pour over the roast. Marinate the pork in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

3. Preheat your oven to 325°F.

Kalua Pork Recipe

4. Remove the roast from the baggie, saving the marinade. Place the roast on a rack in a shallow baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes per pound (about 2.5 hours) or until a thermometer registers 170°F.

A Kalua Pork Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Why was I using a candy thermometer vs. a meat thermometer? Well, it’s what I had in the drawer. LOL

5. While the roast is still in the oven, in a small saucepan combine the reserved marinade, the preserves and the chili sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring often.

A Kalua Pork Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook6. Brush a little of the sauce over the pork and roast it 10 minutes longer.

7. To the remaining marinade add the water chestnuts and any juice that is left from the roasting pan. Heat this through and serve on the side along with the roast.

Serves: 6-8

~ Patrick

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

Kalua Pork Recipe Card

A Scan Of Julie’s Handwritten Recipe Card

Kalua Pork Recipe

Thank You, Jennifer!


wonderful christmas scent

A Wonderful Christmas Scent Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Ahhhh… the holiday smells!

There’s no doubt that my Mom “Betty” loved cloves.

She cooked with cloves and even decorated with them. At the holidays Mom would make orange-clove pomander balls and you guessed it – clove gum was a special treat beyond the usual mint flavored gums.

There’s no better time of year to enjoy the aroma of all that is spice and nice than at holidaytime.

This Wonderful Christmas Scent recipe comes to us from my Cousin Julie’s kitchen. Julie has contributed several recipes to this blog and her cooking advice has helped bridge the gaps in my much younger memory since the loss of my Mom back in the 1980s. Losing Cousin Julie in October (mere weeks ago) has left a huge void in my heart that’s only filled with the love and bountiful memories she gifted those who knew her.

This holiday season I dedicate all of it to Julie’s loving memory! And as you’d expect making this Wonderful Christmas Scent recipe could be no finer way to fill my home with a memorable great scent of the holidays.

I hope you enjoy this recipe – it’s so easy to make and enjoy! And you can gift the ingredients to friends and family as an easy way for them to brighten and heighten their holiday season!

Pomander Ball With Red And Green Ribbon

An example of the holiday pomanders my Mom “Betty” would make at the holidays.

i. ingredients

3 sticks | cinnamon
¼ cup | whole cloves
| bay leaves
½ | orange, halved
½ | lemon, halved
1 quart (4 cups) | water

ii. what to do

It doesn’t get any easier than this, folks!

1. Put everything in a medium-sized pot over low heat.

2. Bring things to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Check the water level periodically to ensure it hasn’t all evaporated. You can tilt a pot lid on top to help release the fragrant mist while helping retain the water.

Enjoy and Happiest Holidays from Betty’s Cook Nook!

~ Patrick

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

Wonderful Christmas Scent Recipe

Julie’s original Wonderful Christmas Scent recipe was recently given to me by her son, Lorin. I’d peg this to be circa 1980s-ish given the colorful ribbon design.

In the tradition of many of my posts here at Betty’s Cook Nook let’s take a stroll into the past and enjoy some vintage images of gum advertising! I focus on clove gum, since it was one of Mom’s favorites and clove is a key ingredient in this Wonderful Christmas Scent recipe.

Click the circles to view the entire ad:

julie and patrick in starburst frame

Circa 1995: This one’s for us, Cousin!


quiche lorraine

A Quiche Lorraine Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook
Quiche Masterpiece

I love when I get a little history lesson along with a recipe. It’s like two treats in one! Found along with this recipe my Mom clipped from The San Antonio Express-News in 1970 the article tells an interesting story about this recipe’s creator, Ester MacMillan.

Ester helped introduce quiche to foodies near and far after it arrived at the 1968 World’s Fair dubbed “HemisFair” that was held in San Antonio. What a sight that must have been when the Tower of the Americas – an observation tower more than 600 feet tall complete with a spinning 360° top – debuted at the expo! You can read more about Ester and her story about the origin of quiche via the original recipe scan I scored from my Mom’s cookbook below. A postcard from HemisFair 1968, San Antonio, Texas

As a child I remember my Mom, “Betty,” talking about Quiche Lorraine and a few decades later (ahem, just a few) this was the first time I made it. I absolutely loved it! I found the recipe extremely forgiving, meaning you can adapt it to your liking by adjusting the ingredients you introduce into the custard.

Perfect for a brunch-time gathering or  a couch-side treat this recipe scored a well-deserved spot in “The Best Of The Best Recipes” category (at right) … as well as my heart.

I’ve discovered more than one quiche recipe in Mom’s cookbook so I’ll be trying other versions soon and will share them here at Betty’s Cook Nook.

foodie tips

  “Blind baking.” I had never heard of it before until my friend and colleague Suzanne told me about it when I commented that I longed for a crispier quiche crust. Essentially all you do is pre-bake the crust a few minutes before filling it; doing so will help give it more “fluff.” I’ll give blind baking a try on the next making of this dish. And there will be a next time.

  I may have “accidentally” used a teeny bit more meat than the recipe suggests. In fact, Ester called for bacon or ham. A lover of both, I used bacon and ham. #Carnivore. This recipe presumes you will follow suit and use both. I scored some peppered ham at my local HEB and I loved the extra peppery kick.

  After reading the recipe below if you want to learn more about NIOSA and score some of the festival’s recipes, click this link and enjoy!

Quiche Lorraine Ingredients

i. ingredients

9 inch | pie crust
¼ pound | bacon or ham (or both)
1 ½ cup | gruyere or aged cheddar, grated (I used gruyere)
| cage free eggs
1 cup | cream, half and half or undiluted evaporated milk
½ teaspoon | salt
dash | white pepper
dash | nutmeg, grated
1 teaspoon | dried onion
dash | cayenne pepper

ii. what to do

0. Preheat your oven to 400°F. That was easy, right?

1. Line a 9-inch pie pan or fluted quiche pan with pie crust. If you choose, blind bake the doughy crust (per above) and set aside.

2. Cook until crisp the bacon – and or – lightly brown the ham. Set the dynamic duo aside to cool off a bit.A Quiche Lorraine Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

3. Place your grated cheese (yum, cheese!) in the bottom of your pastry-lined pie pan. Over that, sprinkle your meats.

4. In a medium-sized bowl beat the eggs. Add the cream and the four seasonings and beat a little longer until everything is well-mingled. Pour this egg mixture over the cheese-meat medley.A Quiche Lorraine Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

5. Bake for about 30 minutes or until crust is golden and custard is set. Remove from oven and cool a bit to lukewarm and serve.

Yield: About 8 servings. Enjoy!

~ Patrick

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

 

A Quiche Lorraine Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

A Quiche Lorraine Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

A scan of Mom’s recipe for Quiche Lorraine. Click to read the interesting story!

Watch this interesting video series about HemisFair 1968! I learned much about my hometown city!


harvey wallbanger supreme cake

I made this special cake in honor of my longtime friend Sarah’s birthday ~ we should
all be so lucky to have friends like her. Great friends + tasty food = groovy living!

~ ~

Harvey Wallbanger Recipe Glazed CakeThe Wallbanger Cliffhanger

I remember my Mom making this cake and when I hear the Wallbanger name, “orange” always comes to mind. This recipe surely was a favorite and still sits near the front of her cookbook‘s “desserts” section in the exact location where I found it.

With orange on the brain I decided to research who this Mr. Wallbanger was and how this cake came to be. I quickly learned that Harvey Wallbanger wasn’t just a who; it was a what. It’s a drink that jettisoned to popularity during the “me decade” when I spent my wonder years. This drink is made from vodka, orange juice and Galliano, making the Wallbanger a drinky-doo Dopplegänger to the Screwdriver.

Harvey Wallbanger Cocktail Recipe

The retro cocktail has a bit of a mystery surrounding its origin. But no matter where it came from we can revel and enjoy the tasty Wallbanger delight whether in a highball or on a plate, in the form of this supreme cake.

foodie tips ~

  I’m sure if it was intentional or not that the original recipe below calls for frozen orange juice for the cake then orange juice (frozen was not specified) for the glaze. I followed the directions to the “T”. Just make sure and thaw your OJ before you blend it or you’ll wind up with a chunky cold glob to contend with in the mixer, as I did.

  Galliano is a golden yellow Italian liquor that is crafted by a guarded recipe since 1896 that includes 30 herbs, spices and plant extracts. Mediterranean anise, juniper, musk yarrow, star anise, lavender, peppermint, cinnamon, and vanilla will help you along your flavor journey! Score an online .PDF of the The Galliano Guide and learn more about this libation that hails from Livorno, Italy.

 Did someone say Italy? Check out my other passion site that is celebrating its 10th anniversary this very month. Enjoy For The Love Of Italy!

Duncan Hines Orange Supreme Cake Mixi. ingredients

the cake:
1 package | duncan hines orange supreme deluxe cake mix
1 package (3 ¾ ounce) | vanilla instant pudding mix
½ cup | crisco oil
4 ounces | frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
4 ounces | water
| cage free eggs
3 ounces | galliano l’autentico (the original)
1 ounce | vodka

the glaze:
1 cup | confectioner’s sugar (a.k.a. powdered sugar)
1 tablespoon | orange juice
1 ½ tablespoons | galliano
1 tablespoon | vodka

ii. what to do

0. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

1. Blend all of the cake ingredients in a large bowl, about 5 minutes.
Harvey Wallbanger Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook
2. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan (bundt pan).

3. Bake for 4555 minutes until the center springs back when lightly touched. While it’s cooling in the pan (about 15 minutes)…
A Harvey Wallbanger Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

4. Let’s make the glaze! Blend well the above glaze ingredients.
Harvey Wallbanger Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook
5. To serve, invert the warm cake onto a serving plate and drizzle the glaze on top. It was at this moment I reconnected with a childhood memory of the gooey greatness that forms in the center of the cake. There was no mistaking that my hand “accidentally” scooped a little extra of the amazing glaze onto my plate each and every time!

This cake is best enjoyed warm and fresh. For breakfast or dessert and with or without a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I hope you enjoy this time honored favorite!

Yields about 12-16 servings

~ Patrick

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

Harvey Wallbanger Supreme Cake Recipe

A scan of Mom’s original recipe from her cookbook

Harvey Wallbanger Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Harvey Wallbanger Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Harvey Wallbanger Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook


artichoke spread

An artichoke spread recipe from Betty's Cook Nook
A Hearty Artichoke Dish

Each time I dive into Mom’s cookbooks to select a recipe it usually winds up being a journey in time picking out the chosen one.

  • With more than 125 recipes under my belt since 2011 it’s becoming difficult to remember which ones Joe and I have already made.
  • With hundreds more recipes to choose from it can be hard to pick the next recipe.

This week I landed on a new strategy – to simply pick the next recipe in order from front to back in Mom’s index card holder or her recipe book. This makes choosing super simple.

As luck would have it the very first recipe chosen under this new form of culinary law and order was this amazing artichoke spread. This recipe quietly sat at the front of Mom’s appetizer section like a wallflower – probably because I had already made this artichoke dip … in the process this spread recipe had been passed over for more than 4 years.

Turns out this spread beats the pants off the dip recipe. Which just goes to show to never underestimate the power of a wallflower.

foodie tips ~

  Surely Parmesan Cheese isn’t the same thing as Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, right!? What you find when you click this link may surprise you!

  Whatever you do please don’t use “shaker cheese” for this recipe. Go fresh. I used my hand grater and made a coarse shred that melted into perfection.

  Love artichokes? Click here to peruse other artichoke recipes here at Betty’s Cook Nook.

  This recipe inspired me to create a new category for connecting you to my favorite Betty’s Cook Nook dishes. Just click on “The Best Of The Best” category link at right!

An Artichoke Spread Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

i. ingredients

2 cans | artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 cups | mayonnaise
2 cups | parmesan cheese, grated
to taste | salt and pepper
7 shakes | tabasco brand pepper sauce
to taste | garlic powder
to serve | ritz brand crackers

ii. what to do

0. Preheat oven to 350°F. Whew, that was easy!

1. Drain the artichoke hearts and chop them up. Place the artichokes into a casserole dish. Add the mayo, cheese, salt, pepper, Tabasco sauce, and garlic powder and mix everything together.

2. Bake in your preheated oven for 30 minutes. My spread got warm and bubbly with a little bit of browned cheese on top. #yum!

3. Remove the warm spread from the oven and let it rest a few minutes. If you add more parmesan on top we won’t be surprised. That’s what we did!

Enjoy by topping on Ritz crackers, tortilla chips, Naan bread, tortilla roll-ups … the list is never-ending. It’s that good.

Best served warm. Leftovers refrigerate well and they did not last long!

~ Patrick

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

An Artichoke Spread Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Mom’s original recipe gifted to us from our next door neighbor Mary Stephenson. :)


Who is “Mary Stephenson”?

We Kikers lived at 2927 Trailend Drive and Mary was the Mother of the Stephenson family living next door to us.

Mary was a fabulous foodie friend of ours and you’ll see a few recipes from Mary’s kitchen here at Betty’s Cook Nook.

Our two families spent many shared dinners and laughs together so I was happy to find some of Mary’s recipes tucked in Mom’s cookbook since the Stephensons were a magnificent and memorable part of my wonder years.


spaghettini bolognese

A Spaghettini Bolognese Recipe From Betty's Cook NookCrazy For This Bolognese

I’m confident this is the first of Mom’s recipes I found cut out with Pinking Shears (see the pic below).

Mom was an expert artist, although she would never consider herself as such [insert a Betty-blush here]. Mom’s artistic mediums spanned food, paper, wood, plants and cloth, where her pinking shears were one of her essential tools.

Mom loved sewing so much she found a way to include a sewing closet into her and Dad’s bedroom so there’s no doubting her passion for handmade clothes. Mom made many of her dresses, my band uniforms – she even sewed printed labels bearing my name into my clothes. I wish I still had the hand-painted denim shirt she made me based on my wish – a red barn complete with a scattering of farm animals painted in her “Oh, Betty” style.

I love it when I can find evidence of when Mom’s recipes came into existence. This one was from the May 1975 issue of Family Circle. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. My partner Joe said this sauce was better than his sauce. That really says a lot since his Red Sauce recipe is my favorite.

foodie tips ~

  Spaghettini? We had to look it up. And we briefly lived in Italy. It’s thin spaghetti. How to pronounce “bolognese?” This dish hails from Bologna, Italy, so it’s pronounced with four syllables – not three. Like boh-loh-NYEH-zeh. If you’re doubting your Italian pronunciation you can simply refer to it as a ragù, making sure to pepper your pronunciation with some hearty Italian hand gesturing.

  Pump up the jam. I added more carrot, celery and garlic. More cowbell? Well, that’s an ingredient for another special recipe.

  Why not serve this dish with some sidekicks? Some pepperoni-cheese bread and a side salad would hit the spot. It’s called a side salad so there’s more room for the bread. :~)

i. ingredients

¼ pound (about 1½ cups) | mushrooms, sliced
| carrot, sliced
1 clove | garlic, crushed or minced
½ cup | onion, chopped
½ cup | celery, chopped
½ cup | green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons | wesson oil*
¾ pound | Italian sausage, casings removed and broken-up with a spoon
2 15-ounce cans | Hunt’s tomato sauce
½ cup | water
¼ cup | dry red wine (not optional)
1 teaspoon | sugar
¼ teaspoon | Italian herb seasoning

* We argued over this one. I wanted to use olive oil and Joe said “stick to the recipe the first time,” my very own cardinal rule. Joe won. But I still snuck-in more carrot, celery and fresh garlic since I wasn’t changing an ingredient. Besides, who gets all excited over one carrot, celery stalk or garlic clove?! Not me, that’s who!

ii. what to do

1. In a medium pan or Dutch oven, sauté the mushrooms, carrot, garlic, onion, celery and green pepper in the oil.

2. Add the sausage and cook until it’s no longer pink. Drain the fat (or not) … we don’t judge.

3. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. Stir occasionally.

4. About 25 minutes into the simmer you can prepare your spaghettini by preparing your pasta according to the instructions.

5. Serve the bolognese over hot, cooked thin pasta.

Yields 5+ servings.

~ Patrick

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

Here’s a scan of Mom’s original recipe.

A scan of Mom's Spaghettini Bolognese recipe ... as clipped from the May 1975 issue of Family Circle Magazine.

A scan of Mom’s Spaghettini Bolognese recipe … as clipped from the May 1975 issue of Family Circle Magazine.


sauerkraut bend’s potato salad

Sauerkraut Bend's Potato Salad Recipe From Betty's Cook NookTime For A Potato Fiesta

Give your typical cold egg and mayonnaise potato salad versions a rest and get ready for a tongue-tingling-tangy version with German roots. This potato salad recipe is unlike any other I’ve tasted! It’s not a bad thing, it’s just tastefully unique.

Before we dive into this dish let’s enjoy a special story behind it.

Sauer-what? 

When I found this recipe in Mom’s cookbook I expected it to be a dish from a restaurant named Sauerkraut Bend. Reading a bit closer, I saw a well-known word to me “NIOSA” –  an acronym for Night In Old San Antonio – a four-day celebration held during the city’s larger two-week long Fiesta. Two weeks of citywide partying!

Fiesta San Antonio Picture Credit: Pinterest User: Scarlettpayne99

Fiesta San Antonio Picture Credit: Pinterest User: Scarlettpayne99

The NIOSA festival dates back to 1937 and it’s held in La Villita (Spanish for “tiny village”), a small art community nestled along the San Antonio River and very close to The Alamo. NIOSA is synonymous with cascarones, crepe paper flowers, live music, thousands of happy dancing folks of all ages and loads of food and libation. If social media hashtags were around when the festival was founded I would have used #bestofdays.

Mom and Dad attended NIOSA from the time before I could walk on my own two legs until my teenage years when we worked side by side in a pretzel booth with her dear friend Bristol, an important lady to our family and this cooking blog. While I sadly don’t see the giant pretzels listed on the NIOSA menu for 2015, I’m happy to learn the festival still serves the super-crispy-cinnamon-sugary “Buñuelos” and savory Peruvian “Anticuchos.” (I also found the Anticuchos recipe in Mom’s cookbook and it’s coming very soon here at Betty’s Cook Nook).

After a few clicks on Google I surprisingly learned the origin of Sauerkraut Bend. It was one of the 15 cultural areas comprising the NIOSA festival. Sauerkraut Bend was nicknamed after a neighborhood located in San Antonio’s King William District that was founded by German immigrants flocking to Texas in the 1840s in search of a better tomorrow. The ties between this recipe, my German roots, the now historic district where a great family friend moved and NIOSA were literally fast-tracking in the overactive windmills of my mind. Turns out the pretzel booth I volunteered in as a child was located in NIOSA’s Sauerkraut Bend pavilion and I had no idea until I researched for this post (I think way back then I called the area “Germantown”).

It’s so amazing the connections a simple recipe written on an index card can ignite!

I then remembered the connection to a funny picture I saw in our family photo archive. I dug it back up – here’s Bristol and my brother Roger (behind her) having a great time in the ol’ pretzel booth in 1976!

Here's a picture ofHere's a picture of Bristol and my brother Roger at NIOSA in 1976. Note the pretzel in the right hand corner!

I’m not quite sure how my Mom scored this recipe. Perhaps she smooth-talked it from a fellow volunteer friend who also worked in Sauerkraut Bend or maybe it was printed in the San Antonio Express News. Either way, I’m so glad I found it and I’m happy to share it forward to you now. Mom would want it this way.

I could go on and on (and you know I could) about this story and why I love nostalgic food blogging but I’m sure you all have better things to do, like eat. So let’s bring on the Potato Fiesta!

Sauerkraut Bend's Potato Salad Makes A Perfect Side Dish For Most Grilled Dishes

foodie tips ~

  Five pounds of potatoes? That will feed a small army! We cut the recipe in half and this yielded about 6-8 servings. The type of potato wasn’t specified but we used gold.

  One stalk of celery to five pounds potatoes? I’m not pointing fingers, but I am making note of it.

  If you have an eye for potatoes like I do (get it?) you’ll have to try my Mom’s California Potato Recipe which to this day remains one of my top favorites EVER.

i. ingredients

5 pounds | potatoes
5 strips | diced bacon
⅔ cup | sugar
2 cups | vinegar
2 cups | pickles, chopped (we used Texas’ own Best Maid Dill Pickles)
| green onions, chopped
1 stalk | chopped celery
½ cup | parsley, chopped
to taste | salt and pepper

ii. what to do

1. Boil the potatoes, drain and let cool a bit. Peel and discard the skin and cut the potato into pieces.

2. Fry the bacon, reserving the drippings. To bacon and drippings add the sugar and vinegar. Heat and stir until well blended.

3. Pour the bacon mixture over the potatoes.

4. Add the remaining ingredients and blend. The recipe doesn’t specify, but a little research at Wiki mentions that a vinegar-based potato salad like this one likely came from southern Germany and was served warm. I enjoyed mine at room temperature, but either way I’m sure it’s tastefully satisfying.

Yield: A lot of potato salad!

Here’s a scan of the original recipe as penned by my Mom, Betty!

A Scan Of Mom's Recipe For Sauerkraut Bend's Potato Salad

What’s the Big “Dill?”
Here’s a Texas Country Reporter video you might like to watch about Texas made Best Maid Dill Pickles!

Hope you enjoy this recipe!

~ Patrick

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


lou’s chocolate covered peanut butter balls

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls From Betty's Cook Nook
Great Balls of Christmas!

Holiday traditions are the best, right?

One of my more recent holiday traditions was literally handed to me by my brother Roger’s mother in law, “Lou.”

Each year when I blew into town from college for holiday visits Lou would always have a special plate of several handmade holiday sweets for me … and her special chosen ones. There were cookies and brownies and some things I never knew what they were called and I loved them anyway because they tasted great and they were made with love.

Of all the holiday treats the ones I always ate first were the chocolate pb balls. If you love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups you will love these as much as Christmas itself!

A few years after Lou had passed I remembered these favorites and finally tracked down the recipe through a family member “Dollie” who secured her spot in “Awesomeville” forever more for sending a pic of the recipe (below) my way. On Thanksgiving weekend 2013 two of my nieces (Lou’s grandkids) Kim and Lizzie and I made these together and it was one of the most special things ever!

Lizzie and Kim Making Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls From Betty's Cook Nook

We all love and miss Lou very much. But especially when I eat these chocolate covered peanut butter balls, she’s only a lick of a chocolatey finger and a wink away!

foodie tips ~

 What’s oleo? It’s margarine. What’s better than margarine? BUTTER! Which butter’s best? Falfurrias brand butter per my grandmother Nanny and my stomach! Get the unsalted stuff.

 Kim, Lizzie and I had a difficult time finding the paraffin wax. My local HEB Foodie intercepted our shopper’s frustration and told us to use chocolate cubes because they have more cocoa and they include the paraffin wax ingredients which makes them great for coating. He was right! We omitted the Hershey’s chocolate bar (forgive me), the chocolate chips (forgive me again) and the paraffin wax and used Ambrosia brand Chocolate Flavored Bark Coating (a.k.a. bark coating).

 We were only able to find Jif Extra Crunchy peanut butter. I checked out the Jif website and it appears Jif only produces creamy or extra crunchy peanut butter (no “regular” crunchy) at this time. My hunch is that the folks at Jif had some consumer insight that said their customers are big crunch lovers.

 About 30 balls into the mass dipping, we noticed the balls were starting to crumble when the toothpicks were inserted into them or when they were toothpick diving into the chocolate. Angry faces! We put the tray of balls into the freezer for 10-15 minutes and they firmed right back up. Happy faces! You can leverage your angry broken ball frustration by re-forming any broken balls into new balls or simply put the broken pieces into a freezer-safe Ziploc bag – I plan to decorate the top of a large bowl of ice cream with the broken pieces. Soon.

 If the melted chocolate becomes difficult to work with, zap it in the microwave about 30 seconds and it’ll return to creamy.

 We doubled this recipe and it made a ton! Plan on a single batch yielding about 50-60 balls. For the doubling we used extra butter to aid with forming (½ cup) and extra chocolate to help coat (4-6 squares) for each batch.

 On the next go of this recipe I’m going to try and drizzle some white chocolate on top for some contrast. That was actually Kim’s idea but since I typed this recipe up on Betty’s Cook Nook, I’ll take credit for it. Ssssshhhh!  :)

i. ingredients

1 stick margarine (oleo)
1 pound | powdered sugar
2 cups | jif brand chunky (extra crunchy) peanut butter
3 cups | kellogg’s brand rice krispies cereal
8 ounce bag | hershey brand chocolate bar*
6 – 9 ounces | chocolate chips*
⅛ pound (½ a slab) | paraffin wax*

* See an important foodie tip above regarding a substitution for these three ingredients.

ii. tools n’ materials

1 | medium-large mixing bowl
1 | tray for refrigerating the peanut butter balls
| pyrex bowl for microwaving the chocolate
| spatula for mixing and dipping the chocolate
a few | toothpicks for dipping
a few sheets | wax paper or nonstick foil
to present | petit four cups or packaging, if gift giving

iii. what to do

1. Mix together the butter, powdered sugar, peanut butter and the rice krispies. Form the mixture into 1″ balls then refrigerate for at least 1 hour. You will have to use pressure to mold the balls as the mixture is fairly dry. You’ll get better at forming as you go!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls From Betty's Cook Nook

2. Just before you’re ready to start dipping, melt your Ambrosia bark coating (or the last three ingredients above) in a microwave safe Pyrex bowl. Do not boil!

3. Insert a toothpick into the center of the rolled ball and completely dip it into the melted chocolate. With the toothpick horizontal to the bowl gently tap the toothpick and ball against the rim of the bowl a few times to return some of the chocolate “runoff” back into the bowl. If you leave too much chocolate on the ball it may form a flat foot for the finished ball and this tapping technique will yield a tight round ball.

4. While the ball is still on the toothpick move it over a tray or counter lined with wax paper (or nonstick foil) and shake it off of the toothpick. It may be helpful to use a second toothpick to free the ball from the toothpick. If there’s a crater-blemish on the top of the ball you can smooth things over with the toothpick or a dab more chocolate. Continue dipping the balls until you’re all done.

5. The chocolate will cool with a little time. You can transfer the finished chocolate covered peanut butter balls to fluted paper petit four cups or to a serving plate or gift box.

Yields: 50 – 60 balls per batch

A Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ball Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook