mrs. copple’s banana bread

Mrs. Copples Banana Bread RecipeBreadwinners

Back in 2012 I posted this banana nut loaf cake recipe (which is really just banana bread, disguised with the “loaf” part). It has remained a family favorite to this day and I look forward to making muffins out of my Aunt’s recipe on our next go.

My friend Suzanne will be delighted to hear that Mrs. Copple’s banana bread recipe doesn’t call for nuts (shorthand for pecans, here in Texas). She and I continuously arm wrestle over whether banana bread should or should not have nuts and since I’m the fingers behind this post we know that “with nuts” wins. Yay me! But I will admit – this banana bread packs a great taste. Even if the nuts were forgotten! 🤠

Regardless of nuts and butter (or no nuts and margarine), I think we can agree we’re “breadwinners” when we enjoy a baked banana slice of home sweet home.

Foodie Tips

❤  You won’t see a bread picture in this post. Why? We decided to gift some of this sweetness to neighbors and thought muffins would be more portable than slices of bread. This recipe yielded 6 large (jumbo) muffins and 12 mini muffins (yielding 18 in total). For the large muffins you’ll cook about 25 minutes at 350°F; the minis were ready in 15 minutes.

❤  In addition to arm wrestling over nuts or no nuts, you can add butter vs. margarine to the list! We used butter in this recipe vs. margarine. Sorry, Mrs. Copple! During the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown all we stock is unsalted butter so that’s what we used. There are some culinary differences between butter and margarine that you might want to read more about in this post.

❤  I thought it interesting lemon juice was called for to prevent turning the bananas brown (the bananas wouldn’t be sitting out for a long period of time). But I’m not willing to risk a brown banana bread so in the lemon juice went!

❤  To serve, my favorite way to enjoy a bread or muffin is “toasty warm” with a smear of plain Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese on top! There’s nothing better!

banana bread mini muffins

i. Time

Total prep: About 40-75 minutes (depending on whether you make mini muffins or bread)

ii. Ingredients

1 stick  |  margarine or unsalted butter (my Grandmother “Nanny” always insisted on Falfurrias brand butter)
1 cup  |  sugar
|  cage free eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon  |  baking soda
1 teaspoon  |  baking powder
1 teaspoon  |  salt
2 cups  |  flour, sifted
|  bananas
a tad  |  fresh lemon juice

the best banana bread muffins

iii. What To Do

1. In a mixing bowl cream the margarine (or butter) and sugar together.

2. Add the room temperature eggs and beat well.

3. In a separate bowl add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the flour.

4. Mash the bananas and sprinkle them lightly with a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

5. Mix together the flour mixture and the creamed butter/sugar mixture.

6. With a spatula hand mix-in the bananas and your banana batter is ready!

7. Decide whether or not you’re making bread or muffins. Prepare your chosen baking pan (we used nonstick spray) and fill ¾ full.

8. Bake for 50-60 minutes for the bread; about 25 minutes for jumbo-sized muffins; or 15 minutes for the mini muffins… all until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

~ Patrick

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

A Scan Of My Mom “Betty’s” Coveted Banana Bread Recipe (in her handwriting)


lela’s grits

True Grits

Grits were born in the 16th century thanks to the Muskogee Native American tribe of Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia.

Flash forward 400-ish years later and we’re still enjoying cornmeal that’s often served with a seemingly endless assortment of sweet and savory sidekicks.

Because grits don’t have much flavor all by themselves, they are super versatile adopting the taste of their foodie sidekicks like bacon, cheese, onions, shrimp, sausage and more. Butter is a given! I’ve included some ingredient options below, although Lela’s original recipe just called for garlic cheese. Sometimes the simple foods provide the greatest comfort!

My orientation to grits was via the 1970s greasy spoon diner sitcom Alice. I spent many hours watching Flo Castleberry find a delightfully southern and spunky way of telling people to “Kiss my grits!” Here’s a video compilation of some of her sassiest moments:

Truth be told – one bite in and you may just kiss these grits. I enjoyed reminiscing over this dish and hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Foodie Tips

❤  Garlic cheese roll? Yeah, you won’t likely readily find it at the grocery store. This good ol’ classic has been discontinued by Kraft but you can score a way to make your own Garlic Cheese Roll at home with this Betty’s Cook Nook recipe (scroll to the bottom for the bonus cheese roll recipe).

❤  This pimiento cheese recipe tastes great in lieu of the garlic cheese roll.

❤  I discovered a recent Southern Living magazine article with some ingredient options to enjoy grits three unique ways: Option 1: Scrambled eggs, cubed ham, shredded cheddar cheese, halved cherry tomatoes, and chopped fresh chives. Option 2: Fried egg, cubed chorizo, cubed avocado, crumbled queso fresco (fresh Mexican cheese), and hot sauce. Option 3: Poached egg, crumbled bacon, sautéed spinach, and shaved Parmesan cheese.

i. Time

Total prep: About 25 minutes

ii. Ingredients

3 cups  |  boiling water
1 cup  |  grits
to taste  |  salt
1 roll  |  garlic cheese roll
1 stick  |  unsalted butter (my Grandmother always insisted on Falfurrias brand butter)
|  cage free eggs
to serve  |  cheddar cheese, shredded
to garnish  |  bacon, crumbled (optional)
to garnish  |  green onions, sliced (optional)

iii. What To Do

1. In a saucepan bring the water to a boil.

2. Slowly stir the grits into the boiling water. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes until thickened.

3. Add the salt, garlic cheese, butter and eggs and continue cooking until everything melts, about 2-3 minutes. The cheese should cool the grits a bit – you’ll want to make sure you don’t scramble your eggs!

Optional step: We transferred the grits into a buttered casserole dish, topped the grits with the shredded cheddar cheese and baked it at 350°F for 10 minutes to give the grits a cheesy crust up top.

4. To serve (if using): Sprinkle the bacon and sliced green onions on top and enjoy!

~ Patrick

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

A Scan Of Mom’s Original Grits Recipe Card

Who is Lela?

When I was growing up Lela Swinny lived at 3006 Northridge in San Antonio just 2 doors around the corner from my family’s home at 2927 Trailend.

The Swinny family was a delightful bunch of folks and my family spent almost as much time at their house as our own so naturally “fooding” was a part of the times our two families shared.

Mom’s dear friend “Lela” taught me many things ~ the joy of laughing, how to swim in their awesome pool, and how to cook a memorable breakfast treat called “Egg In A Nest,” which is also posted here at Betty’s Cook Nook.

True family fact: Back in the 1970s Lela was throwing out an old desk that caught my Mom’s eye. A coat of red paint later and it was a cornerstone in my brother Tim’s red white and blue bedroom (it was around the time of our Country’s Bicentennial celebration so red white and blue was extra hot). In the 1990s I painted the desk black and it’s the desk where I author this cooking blog to this day, proving that Lela is still with us, heart and soul!

You’ll find a picture of Lela and me in the “old family photos” tab and you can search for her by name to connect with more of her spirited recipes here at Betty’s Cook Nook.

Cheers to two great friends – my Mom Betty and Lela!


spinach crepes with ham sauce

Spinach Crepes with Ham SauceCrepes Of Great

Whether they’re sweet or savory, crepes have always intrigued and intimidated me.

I’m always afraid I can’t keep them in tact (no crepe skills) which is likely why only recently I found the encouragement to make them later in life. Thanks to this recipe my partner Joe showed me firsthand that crepes are actually doable without a fancy crepe pan or cooking classes!

Crepes originate from Western France and they are celebrated every February 2nd during e jour des crêpes or “the day of the crepe.”

Growing up I don’t remember eating these crepes with ham sauce but I do remember dreaming about every kid’s treasured hammy story “Green Eggs and Ham.” You can enjoy a video short of that below.

This recipe hails from my Cousin Julie’s kitchen and I’m pegging it at circa 1970s or 80s. Julie wrote the recipe on her special stationery to my Mom “Betty,” and I’ve included a scan of the original below!

Foodie Tips

❤  If you’re fast-tracking this recipe while the crepe batter is chilling in the fridge you can continue on to prepare the filling and ham sauce. Or you can enjoy a mimosa and some conversation with your friends and family while the party crescendoes.

❤  Depending on the size of your pour you may have some leftover crepes. You can refrigerate them to enjoy a day or two later or… we froze a few of ours by placing a sheet of waxed paper between each crepe then placing the stack in an air tight, freezer-safe bag.

i. Time

Total prep: About 90-120 minutes (including 1 hour for the crepe batter to chill)

ii. Ingredients

for the crepes:
1 cup  |  flour, sifted
½ teaspoon  |  baking powder
¼ – ½ teaspoon  |  salt
|  cage free eggs
1 cup  |  milk
¼ teaspoon  |  nutmeg

for the filling:
1 cup  |  onion, chopped
2 tablespoons  |  unsalted butter (give Falfurrias brand a try per my Grandmother “Nanny”)
10 ounce package  |  frozen spinach, thawed
1 cup  |  swiss cheese, diced
2 teaspoons  |  dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon  |  salt
¼ teaspoon  |  nutmeg

for the ham sauce:
2 tablespoons  |  Mmmmmore unsalted butter
2 tablespoons  |  flour
¼ teaspoon  |  salt
1 cup  |  milk
½ cup  |  half and half
2 teaspoons  |  dijon mustard
1 ½ cups (about ½ pound)  |  ham, cooked and diced
to garnish  |  green onions, chopped (optional)

iii. What To Do

Prepare The Crepes: 1) Combine by hand the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. 2) In a separate bowl beat the eggs and milk together then add to the flour mixture. 3) Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight, if you’re preparing this ahead of time. 4) Over medium-low heat (we used gas) melt some butter in a flat pan or crepe pan. 5) Pour 3 tablespoons of the batter all at once into the heated pan and let it sit a few seconds. Carefully rotate, flip and cool a bit more on the second side. Transfer the crepe onto a plate until ready to use. Continue cooking and stacking until you’ll all out of batter, making about 12 crepes. If you’re lucky the crepes will turn out something like this:

Prepare The Filling: 1) In a larger pan over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in butter. 2) Add the spinach and cook until the moisture evaporates. 3) Stir in the swiss cheese, mustard, salt and nutmeg. 4) Preheat your oven to 350°F. 5) Fill the crepes using ¼ cup of the filling for each, roll ’em up, and arrange them in a lightly buttered casserole dish. You can place them in a chafing dish if you’re serving right away.

spinach and ham crepes from bettys cook nook

Prepare The Ham Sauce: 1) In your crepe pan, melt butter and stir in the flour and salt. 2) Add the milk, half and half and the mustard. 3) Cook, stirring constantly until thickened. 4) Fold in the diced ham and heat until warm. 5) Pour the ham sauce over the crepes and “warm up the whole business at once in the oven” as Julie wrote below, about 10-15 minutes or heat in the chafing dish (per above).

We sprinkled some chopped green onions on top to serve (optional).

Enjoy!

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
spinach crepes and ham sauce

Julie's Spinach Crepes with Ham Sauce Recipe

Who is “Julie Mueller”

Julie is more than my 1st Cousin; she has been like my 2nd Mom. Julie had a heart bigger than Texas and I can still hear her signature “infectious” laugh which would instantly brighten any room.

Julie was known for having the impeccable skill of a master entertainer and with that the tastiest of foods were always to be enjoyed by all! I always thought of Julie as my very own Martha Stewart as she was crafty well beyond the kitchen across mediums like needlepoint, painting, furniture restoration and being a wonderful decorator and story teller. Whether by design or accident, Julie taught me to never underestimate the loving power and influence of a Cousin!

You’ll find several of Julie’s recipes, photos, and stories here at Betty’s Cook Nook. Her memory lives on in those who knew her and I’m happy to share some of her favorite foods with you.


hondo corn casserole

Thanksgiving Spectacular

In uncommon fashion I’m pre-posting some recipes that are on deck and ready for the upcoming foodie festival!

Scroll down below and you’ll find three recipes that hail to my kitchen from my Cousin Julie – Hondo Corn Casserole (thank you, carbs), Madeira Turkey, and Wild Mushroom and Pecan Stuffing! These are on deck and coming out of the oven soon!

For you new-comers out there if you missed it make sure and check out the latest posts perfect for Thanksgiving –  Pumpkin Bread, Sour Cream Apple Pie plus Brandied Pumpkin Flan which is a family Thanksgiving staple. On our sister site Home Style Austin you can score our newest recipe Honey+Rosemary Roasted Cashews which are great for gift giving. Enjoy our 2019 fall “flavorites” from us to you!

This is surely going to be a Thanksgiving to remember. Photos and my usual rambling on about the good ol’ days to follow!

HONDO CORN CASSEROLE

This recipe sat in my cookbook likely since the 1990s. This year I was searching for the best sides to make for Thanksgiving and dived in. I couldn’t remember the origin of the recipe but when I read the ending of the recipe “If guests arrive, give them a drink and regale with stories of Texas Gulf Coast wonders” I knew this recipe hailed from someone special.

One phone conversation with Cousin Jennifer and it was confirmed – this recipe was from my dear Cousin Julie Sutton Mueller. Jennifer said this was one of Julie’s long-standing recipes at the holidays and as the recipe indicates – it’s a crowd favorite and people always ask for this recipe. That certainly proved true this Thanksgiving when I made it for our annual gathering at Canyon Lake!

Foodie Tips

❤  All about the corn: You can use a box of frozen corn – the instructions below presume you’ll use canned corn. If you’d like to increase the serving sizes to 8-10 you can add a can of the whole kernel corn.

❤  “Unsweetened condensed milk” – you’ll likely not find this in your store… but never fear – it’s the same thing as evaporated milk. Who knew?!? I didn’t until I researched it!

i. Time

Total prep: About 75 minutes

ii. Ingredients

16 ounce can  |  cream style corn
16 ounce can  |  whole kernel corn
1 cup  |  cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup  |  Ritz crackers, crushed
1 small  |  onion, chopped (or several green onions, chopped)
|  cage free egg
3 tablespoons (or less)  |  sugar
⅔ cup  |  unsweetened condensed milk (see foodie tip above)
1 stick  |  unsalted butter, melted (tip: my Grandmother “Nanny” insisted on Falfurrias brand butter)
1 small can (4.5 ounces)  |  chopped green chilis
to taste  |  salt and fresh cracked pepper

iii. What to do

0. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Meanwhile…

1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine all the ingredients together and set aside.

2. Grease or spray an oven casserole dish and fill it with your casserole mixture. You can either refrigerate this overnight until ready to bake or you can simply jump to step 3!

3. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the top is golden brown. Recommended step: If you’d like to make a pretty top crust, 10 minutes before the casserole is done baking sprinkle more cheese or crushed Ritz crackers on top. Deeeee-licious!

Serves: 6-10 (see recipe expansion tip above)

~ Patrick

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

Hondo Corn Casserole

A Scan Of Cousin Julie’s Hondo Corn Casserole

Thanksgiving 2019Enjoy your preview of what’s to come for Thanksgiving 2019!Wild Mushroom and Pecan Stuffing

Madeira Roast Turkey


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


prune cake

Prune Cake Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Thanks To Prunes, The Wait Is Over

If you’ve made it this far into the recipe then you’re obviously open to prunes. I mean hey, they have a bad rap for being associated with senior folks… and for giving the gift of, ahem, “regularity.”

Regardless of prunes’ affiliation with the trots at least 4 generations of my family have loved knocks at bathroom humor even before it was vogue. So I’m not sure why it took me 8 years after recovering Mom’s cookbook to dive into this recipe just because of the word “prune;” I should have been drawn to it!

So in 2000 even though the FDA changed the name of prunes to “dried plums” which boosted sales I say bring on the prunes! They taste great no matter what they’re called and who doesn’t like a little regularity? Plus, it seems that California may have returned to their prune-y roots, making me want to just call this “prune-plumb cake” just to ensure I have all “loose ends” covered (pun intended).

A Prune By Any Other Name…

I smiled when I saw this came from the Fredericksburg cookbook of our family friend “Lela.” Fredericksburg, Texas holds a special place in the hearts of Texans and it’s where Texas-German charm and heritage runs as thick as our state’s love for silky queso. I had a gut instinct this cake had historical origins to our European roots and I was right! Whether it goes by spice cake, election cake or muster cake, this is a delightfully decadent and dense cake that tastes like a warm slice of sweet Christmas drizzled with butter.

What’s different about this cake is the twist of incorporating Texas pecans and vanilla, and commingling them with the fruity smash-up taste of prunes in both the cake and the icing! I think you’ll agree this cake will disappear in a jiffy!

I saw in a recent McCormick video (below): “It’s the recipes we pass on to the next generation that are the reason there’s really no flavor like home.” And I hope this recipe becomes a, ahem, “regular favorite” that hails from Fredericksburg, to Lela, to my Mom, to me, and now to you!

Foodie Tips

❤  You can enjoy prune cake tabletop warm or cold from the fridge… but my favorite is when it’s just a bit warmed from the toaster oven or the microwave.

❤  9″ x 13″ loaf pan? This threw me because I thought loaf pans were almost as tall as they were wide. A 9″ x 13″ pan is what I call a sheet cake pan. I’m wondering if I could make a couple of 5″ x 9″ loaf pan cakes out of this!

❤  Prunes’ super power? Fiber, sorbitol, and polyphenols. They act as antioxidants and help keep a clean house.

i. Time

Total prep: 1-2 hours (includes cooling the cake)

Prune Cake Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

ii. Ingredients

for the cake:
3 | cage free eggs, well beaten
1 ½ cups | sugar
1 cup | salad oil
1 teaspoon | soda
1 cup | buttermilk
1 teaspoon | cinnamon
1 teaspoon | ground cloves
1 teaspoon | allspice
1 teaspoon | nutmeg
1 cup | mashed prunes, cooked
1 cup | pecans, chopped
2 cups | flour
1 teaspoon | baking power

for the icing:
2 tablespoons | butter (my Grandmother insisted on “Falfurrias” brand butter)
1 cup | sugar
2 | cage free eggs
½ cup | sour cream
1 cup | chopped prunes
1 cup | more chopped pecans
1 teaspoon | vanilla
a pinch | salt

iii. What to do

1. In a medium bowl beat the eggs and add the sugar. Beat everything together.

Prune Cake Recipe

Now Forming: A Blowout

2. In a measuring cup add the soda into the buttermilk, making sure to leave plenty of room as the soda will cause carbon dioxide bubbles to form, so use a larger measuring cup to prevent a “blowout,” (shown).

3. Add the salad oil, the buttermilk mixture and the the rest of the cake ingredients and mix well.

4. Bake everything in your choice of a greased 9″ x 13″ cake pan or three greased 8-inch cake pans at 350°F for about 25 minutes. When done remove the cake from the oven and let it cool on a cooling rack, if you have one.

Prune Cake Icing

5. After the cake has cooled a bit you can jumpstart your icing! Cream the butter and sugar and add the eggs. Mix with the remaining icing ingredients, transfer into a medium pan and cook over medium-low or medium heat until thick. Spread on cooled cake.

Serves: About 20 (sheet cake style)

~ Patrick

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

A Scan Of Mom's Prune Cake Recipe

A Scan Of Mom’s Prune Cake Recipe

 

Who is Lela?

When I was growing up Lela Swinny lived at 3006 Northridge in San Antonio just 2 doors around the corner from my family’s home at 2927 Trailend.

The Swinny family was a delightful bunch of folks and my family spent almost as much time at their house as our own so naturally “fooding” was a part of the times our two families shared.

American Revolution Bicentennial LogoMom’s dear friend “Lela” taught me many things ~ the joy of laughing, how to swim in their awesome pool, and how to cook a memorable breakfast treat called “Egg In A Nest,” which is also posted here at Betty’s Cook Nook.

True family fact: Back in the 1970s Lela was throwing out an old desk that caught my Mom’s eye. A coat of red paint later and it was a cornerstone in my brother Tim’s red white and blue bedroom (it was around the time of our Country’s Bicentennial celebration so red white and blue was hot). In the 1990s I painted the desk black and it’s the desk where I author this blog to this day, proving that Lela is still with us, heart and soul!

You’ll find a picture of Lela and me in the “old family photos” tab and you can search for her by name to connect with more of her spirited recipes.

Cheers to two great friends – Mom and Lela!



chicken divan

Chicken Divan Recipe From Betty's Cook NookDivine Divan

This delicious recipe comes to my kitchen via my awesome Cousin Julie’s kitchen. Julie had the best taste in many things – art, decorating, food, and Cousins!

My Cousin Jennifer said Chicken Divan was a Sunday staple that they enjoyed quite regularly. So if you want to help create a few cherished family memories, chicken divan may be a wonderfully tasty starting place!

While the original recipe is not vintage per se it comes to our bellies via Paula Dean, so you know it’s gotta be good.

I hope you try this dish that’s been known as a classic American casserole since the 1960s. In fact, the dish has origins back much earlier to its birthplace as the signature dish of New York City’s Chatham Hotel.

“In English, the word “divan” came to mean sofa, from the council chamber’s benches. In France it meant a meeting place or great hall. It was this meaning that attracted the notice of the owners of the New York restaurant as they searched for a name that would imply continental elegance.” ~ GlutenSugarDairyFree.com

Foodie Tips

  Pull up a chair and let’s talk cheese. I try to refrain from buying bagged shredded cheese. For years I used it but as my hunger for knowing more about food intensified I realized I preferred freshly grated cheese vs. bagged cheese. I found it melted better and on closer inspection discovered bagged cheese has a coating on it that prevents clumping. Some posts I read said this dusty white coating was actually cellulose, which is made from wood pulp. I’m out.


  Is Parmesan Cheese the same thing as Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese? You might be surprised after reading this article! And this one, too. Hint: No shaker cheese for this recipe!
Shredded Chicken For Chicken Divan
  In a flurry to get this dish made? We used shredded chicken from our grocery and it shaved some serious time time off of the food prep clock.

i. Time

Total prep: About an hour.

ii. Ingredients

2 10-ounce packages | frozen broccoli, chopped
6 cups | shredded chicken, cooked
2 10¾-ounce cans | condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup | mayonnaise
1 cup | sour cream
1 cup | sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 tablespoon | fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon | curry powder
to taste | kosher salt
to taste | fresh cracked black pepper
½ cup | dry white wine
½ cup | parmesan cheese, freshly grated
½ cup | soft bread crumbs
2 tablespoons | unsalted butter, melted (my Grandmother “Nanny” insisted on Falfurrias)
1-2 handfuls | gruyere or more sharp cheddar cheese, grated (optional and highly suggested)

iii. What to do

0. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

1. Remove the outer wrappers from the boxes of broccoli. Open one end of each box and microwave on full power for 2 minutes, or until thawed. Drain the broccoli into a strainer and add the shredded chicken and let rest.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, add the soup, mayonnaise, sour cream, cheddar, lemon juice, curry powder, salt and pepper to taste, and the wine. Whisk everything together to make a sauce. Transfer the broccoli-chicken mixture to the bowl with the sauce and gently mix things well using a spatula.

How To Make Chicken Divan

3. Place the mixture into an 11-inch x 7-inch casserole dish that’s been sprayed with vegetable oil cooking spray. Pat the Divan mixture down evenly and smooth with a spatula.

4. In a small bowl combine the parmesan, bread crumbs and butter and sprinkle this over the top of the Divan mixture.

A Chicken Divan Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

5. Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes until bubbly. If desired, about halfway through baking remove from oven, top with cheese, and return to bake until toasty. Remove from oven let rest and serve!

Pairs well with a salad – enjoy!

~ Patrick

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

Chicken Divan With Cheese


shrimp victoria

Shrimp Victoria Recipe From Bettys Cook NookTales From The Sea

I found this recipe folded in my Mom “Betty’s” index card holder. I recognized her handwriting immediately.

There’s no doubting Mom’s love for seafood as this recipe is one of several shrimp recipes I’ve discovered in her cookbook (surf the shrimp recipe archive).

While I tell a few funny stories on this food blog about my dislike for most types of seafood, this recipe is delicious, proving once again that my distaste for seafood is waning. Mom would be proud.

The Write Stuff

I look closer at the paper containing the recipe and notice the phone number “CA6-4141”. I was time-warped back to an era when phone numbers began with exchange names. Exchanges were phased out in the 1960s and 70s, so this would date the origin of this recipe back about 50 years ago. The number CA6-4141? “CA” stood for “Capitol” which translated to “22” so the full phone number would have been 226-4141. Confusing short-code, huh? Today San Antonio has 10-digit dialing like most large cities. The city’s newest area code 726 went into effect in 2017 and made me smile because 726 is my birthdate, July 26th.

Also on the paper recipe (below) I see The Clegg Company. A quick Google and this San Antonio Business Journal article popped-up in sight. I was surprised to learn that the then 104-year-old retailer was purchased by Herman Miller – the maker of the iconic Herman Miller Aeron chair. This very chair was one I sat on during my days working for a large internet consultancy that went belly up after the dot-com bust. That’s another long twisty, turbulent story for another day!

While stories like these likely don’t mean much to folks outside my family I include them here as an example of the amazing ways we are connected to the past if we’re open to it. All this from a Shrimp Victoria recipe scribbled on a notepad… and tucked away for more than 50 years!

Foodie Tips

  The rice was good but believe it or not I’m trying buttered toast on the next go (we were out of bread)!

  Not sure how to clean and devein your shrimp? I’ve included a couple of YouTube videos below that will show you how easy it is!

  I thought I was being fancy by letting my shrimp marinate overnight in the fridge. Turns out that it’s not really necessary! My online sleuthing showed that a 30-minute marinade should be fine but with an acid-based marinade (this recipe has lemon juice) the shrimp can turn “mushy” as the acid can start to break down the shrimp. I didn’t experience this with my dish, however!

  While stores may not be consistent in how they classify shrimp, when you’re at the seafood counter there’s a method to the madness for how many shrimp typically come per pound (this is indicative of their size). Resources that will be helpful include the Certi-Fresh Shrimp Sizing Guide you can print, and keep with your cookbooks (score!)… and the Farm to Table guide that provides some detail on larger-sized shrimp. Now you’ll be able to decipher shrimp-like code like PUD, P&D, U/15, and 61/70!

i. Time

Total prep: About 30 minutes.

ii. Ingredients

½ cup | unsalted butter (my grandmother “Nanny” insisted on Falfurrias)
1 ½ pounds | cleaned, raw shrimp
½ cup | onion, chopped
1 cup | fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons | lemon juice
1 tablespoon | worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons | flour
1 ½ teaspoons | seasoned salt
dash | fresh cracked black pepper
1 ½ cups | sour cream
1 tablespoon | fresh parsley, chopped
to serve | rice or buttered toast (optional)

Shrimp Victoria On The Stove

iii. What to do

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat melt the butter. Cook shrimp and onion, stirring until the shrimp is almost tender, about 5 minutes.

Shrimp Victoria Recipe With Mushrooms

Shrimp Victoria With Sour Cream

A Mound Of Sour Cream? Texans “Yee Haw” About This!

2. Add the mushrooms, lemon juice and the Worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Stir in the flour, seasoned salt and black pepper. Then the sour cream. Return the skillet to the heat and cook over low heat stirring until hot, but not boiling.

Shrimp Victoria Recipe

4. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve at once over rice or buttered toast.

Yields 6 servings

~ Patrick

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

Shrimp Victoria Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

A Scan Of Mom’s Shrimp Victoria Recipe ~ Note The Suggested Pairings
For The Perfect Meal (see bottom of recipe)


jim’s canadian cheese soup

Canadian Cheese Soup Recipe From Betty's Cook NookAn Ol’ Time Family Favorite

The very first “Jim’s” opened back in 1963 at the corner of Broadway and Loop 410 in San Antonio. This location was my Dad’s absolute favorite to meet up for a standing breakfast with a large group of colleagues. When it was a lucky weekend day Dad would let me tag along. Here the staff knew him like the best of family.

Jim's No 1 Restaurant Broadway at Loop 410 Circa 1963

Circa 1963 ~ Jim’s Restaurant (No. 1)

My friend Dan said his Dad created this cheese soup for Jim’s Restaurants, which I remember being a favored thing right up there with the pet rock and the skateboard. This soup was a pre-appetizer staple that I liked more than the greener alternative – the salad. Um, no. When I asked my friend why his Dad named it “Canadian Cheese Soup” he said it was because “the name sounded good.”

Flash forward several decades to today and the recipe is still on Jim’s menu so it’s quite exciting to be able to enjoy it at home now that I’m not within walking distance of my childhood Jim’s.

My research for this recipe helped teach me the difference between a mirepoix, a roux, and the foodie “holy trinity” (deets below) so hats off to this silky, delicious, cheesy soup!

Foodie Tips

  I’ve adjusted the recipe ingredients below based on my friend’s inside scoop – cutting back on the milk, adding Tobasco, and using Velveeta instead of the triple play of cheeses I found in another copycat recipe which was: Cheese Whiz (16 ounces), Swiss (2 ounces), and cheddar cheeses (2 ounces).

  You can adjust the flour and milk as you see fit to arrive at your preferred consistency.

  I wasn’t sure what “chicken base” was, thinking it might be chicken stock or chicken broth. Turns out there is such a thing as chicken base – I found this “Better Than Bouillon” at my local market and it sure was flavorful, living up to its name.
Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base

  Refrigerate leftovers for an impromptu treat for when you’re in a hurry – you may find that adding a bit more milk will help return the silky, smooth consistency.

i. Time

Veggie prep: About 10 minutes.
Total prep: About 45 minutes.

ii. Ingredients

6 cups | water
5 stalks | celery, finely diced
¼ medium | onion, finely diced
3 medium | carrots, finely diced
4 tablespoons | low salt chicken base
2 sticks | butter (my grandmother insisted on Falfurrias)
1 cup | flour
20 ounces | Velveeta, cubed
2 ½ cups | milk
tiny bit | Tobasco
to garnish | oyster crackers (optional)

iii. What to do

1. In a stockpot over high heat bring the water to a boil.

Canadian Cheese Soup Ingredients
2. Let’s make “mirepoix!” To the water add celery, onion, carrots, and chicken base. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes, or until the celery is tender but firm. Note: About 15 minutes into the simmering start Step 3 (if you like the quick route)!

3. Next up? The roux: In a heavy skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and mix constantly with a whisk until things are smooth and free of lumps. Cook your roux 8-10 minutes, whisking constantly to prevent scorching.

4. Reduce heat under the soup (not the roux) to medium-low, add the prepared roux and continue to whisk until everything is smooth and thick, 4-5 minutes.

How to make Jim's Canadian Cheese Soup

5. Add the Velveeta and continue cooking until the cheese is melted, making sure to whisk occasionally.

6. Heat the milk in the microwave (or double boiler). Slowly add the milk to the soup mixture, whisking all the way. You can add a little more – or less – milk to reach your desired consistency.

To Serve: Spoon into bowls and top with a few shakes of Tabasco. After enjoying my first bowl I added a few oyster crackers for crunch and 5-7 fresh pinched oregano leaves to add a pop of herby flavor.

Yields 12-16 servings!Jim's Restaurant Logo

~ Patrick

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

Relevant, Additional Foodie Info: 

Is Velveeta Cheese Actually Cheese?

The History of Cheez Whiz

My Own “Cheesy Love Affair” With Velveeta

Kitchen Tip: Mirepoix vs. The Holy Trinity

More Vintage Jim’s Pics

More About Mirepoix:


lemon springtime cake

 

Springtime Cake Recipe
Debuting in my kitchen on Mother’s Day 2018,

this springtime cake recipe is dedicated to all you Moms out there!
Thank you for everything you do…

and for ensuring we never go to bed hungry!
~   ♥   ~

Pucker Up, Cake Lovers

Just before jettisoning to my first official family vacation in over 5 years (insert glad face here) I made this cake. Before I dive into why you should make it, too, I want to share a crazy family story connection with this recipe!

Before leaving for the Texas Coast I was reminded of a list I recalled that was tucked away in my Mom “Betty’s” cookbook. For 7 years I had thought it was a list Mom wrote in preparation for an October trip to the coast to enjoy the temperatures of the beachy, breezy 70s and 80s which is quite delightful after the typical blazing Texas summer.

Since I was reminded of the beachtime list I snapped a few pics of the list (below) and texted them to my Dear Cousin Alison, who is as much a fellow Foodie as one could hope for. She and I texted back and forth while Joe drove me and the Dogs to Port Aransas… somewhere around Refugio, Texas, I had a huge revelation – the list wasn’t for a family vacation, it was preparing for an e-vacuation!

What Chew Talking About, Willis?

I stumbled across the date “10-22-62” that was written off to the side of my Mom’s list and after seeing my Googled search results my heart started beating faster. My family wasn’t about to to go on a joyride trip – they were preparing for the Cuban Missile Crisis! I had heard about the Cuban Missile Crisis before, but I didn’t realize its potential for devastation here on U.S. soil.

Aggressively searching on Google for more clues about this date and it’s significance to San Antonio I stumbled upon a passage from the book A Tale of Three Cities (authored by R. Douglas Brackenridge and published by Trinity University).

“During the Cuban missile crisis in the fall of 1962, students monitored events closely, aware that because of its military bases, San Antonio was a prime target in case of enemy attack. One student wrote, ‘We live in an age in which we have five minutes to rush to a bomb shelter to live. For that is how long it would take for a nuclear missile launched from Cuba to reach San Antonio.’ … The university was preparing shelter areas with minimum provisions in case an emergency should arise.”

Sobering. As a alum of Trinity University, there’s no doubt Mom’s ties to her alma mater rang loud during this scary time. Even more so, I was amazed how – once again – a simple recipe from Mom’s cookbook could unearth so much history and relevancy to my family.

Um, Did You Forget About The Cake?

Of course not! As a self-proclaimed extreme foodie, culinary consumables are always on my mind. So let’s get to it! What I think you’ll love about this cake:

  • The checkerboard cake pattern. 50+ years ago alternating yellow and white cake was surely quite a surprise, cleverly “hidden” beneath the lemony frosting.
  • Layered pudding cake. Need I say more?
  • The tart and sweet taste of the lemon frosting. You can peel off the frosting recipe and make it for cupcakes or any other cake where you want a citrusy lemon appeal.Springtime Cake

Foodie Tips

  Mom’s Options For The Frosting: 1) Mix lemon juice into 2 packages (7 ounces each) butter-cream style frosting mix or; 2) Make your own delicious Lemon-Butter Frosting compliments of Mom’s recipe that pairs wonderfully with this cake! The instructions below presume we will be making scratch frosting, since that’s how I enjoyed it. The scratch frosting was super-simple to make and the taste was excellent!

  Tube pan vs. bundt pan. I didn’t know the difference until I was already into baking this recipe! Luckily my bundt wasn’t extremely fluted and the cake popped right out. But I was panicking that the batter was going to ooze all over my oven as the tube pan holds a little more batter than the typical bundt.

i. Time

Total prep: About 2 hours, including baking, cooling and chilling.

ii. Ingredients

for the cake:
1 package | angel food cake mix
6-8 or so | drops of yellow food coloring
1 package | lemon instant pudding
varies | milk or water (read directions on the pudding package)

for the frosting: (yields 2 ½ cups)
½ cup (1 stick) | butter, softened (my grandmother insisted on Falfurrias)
| cage free egg yolks
4 cups (1 pound) | confectioner’s sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons | lemon juice

iii. What to do

for the cake:

0.
Preheat your oven to 375°F.

1. While that’s prepping, in a large bowl prepare the cake mix. Spoon half the batter into a second bowl and add about 6-8 drops of yellow food color and stir well; leave the other batter original “white.”

2. Fill an ungreased 10-inch tube pan with alternating spoonfuls of yellow and white batters. Do not stir! I wound up with 3 layers of alternating colored batters in total; yours may vary.

3. Bake your cake mix in your preheated oven about 1 hour, or until done.

4. Remove the cake from the oven, turn the pan upside down onto a wire rack and cool completely.

5. Prepare the instant pudding mix and chill it about 10 minutes to allow it to thicken.
Springtime Cake Recipe Layer 1

6. Loosen and turn out the cake (mine literally fell out of the pan). Using a  large serrated knife to slice the cake into 3 horizontal layers. Spread the pudding between layers leaving the top of the cake plain.

7. Frost the top and sides of the cake (frosting recipe below).

Springtime Cake Recipe

for the frosting:

1.
With a hand mixer cream the butter until soft.

2. Blend in the egg yolks.

3. Add sugar a little at a time and alternate with the lemon juice.

4. Blend until everything is thick and creamy-smooth. The suspense is killing me! Let’s frost the cake and get to it!

Despite my excitement to devour this I was able to wait and chill my cake for 15 minutes or so. This step is totally optional but I like my citrusy cakes chilled and refreshing.

Yields 12-16 servings!

~ Patrick

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

Scans Of My Mom “Betty’s” Original Springtime Cake + Frosting Recipes

Springtime Cake Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Springtime Cake From Betty's Cook Nook

Hats Off To You, Springtime Cake

Ready for my Mom’s Cuban Missile evacuation lists?
Here they are followed by a few comments from the “me” of today to yesterday.

What To Pack For The Cuban Missile Crisis List 1

What To Pack For The Cuban Missile Crisis List 2

What To Pack For The Cuban Missile Crisis List 3

What To Pack For The Cuban Missile Crisis List 4

What To Pack For The Cuban Missile Crisis List 5

  • Pink Baby Quilt – Since Mom and Dad only had two boys I thought this one was interesting. Then I was reminded that ultrasounds didn’t become popular until the 1980s so undoubtedly they received a pink blanket for what turned out to be baby boys. Surprise!
  • Snowsuits, Coveralls, and Flannel Shirts? In San Antonio? Alison noted a passage in the “Fallout Protection” book below that explained the wintry coverups: “Young people might be injured more by nuclear radiation than older people. This is because young people are more apt to absorb radioactive elements into their bones and internal organs than are older people.”
  • Water (5 Gallons) and Toilet Paper (4 rolls): I found these quantities disproportionate to what I would insist upon – more like 80 rolls of toilet paper and 5 boxes of wine… to get me through the weekend.
  • Bonus Reading Below: My Cousin Alison gave me links to so many awesome references about nuclear fallout. I know it’s weird to be posting about them here, but they are a blast from the past, so I’m sharing them.

President JFK’s Cuban Missle Crisis 10-22-62 Address:

A Fallout Shelter Audio Clip:

Fallout Protection: What to Know and Do

Family Shelter Designs

New Homeowner Opens Shelter Sealed Since 1961

A Special Treat: Something From the 80s