italian dressing

Love Italy?what's this? italian dressing! shake it up and it'll tickle your taste buds.

I’m freshly back from a two week adventure to Italy*, so there’s nothing more relevant to make this week than Italian dressing.

Italian dressing isn’t just for mere lettuce; you can use it to top sliced tomatoes, or marinate meats or potatoes before cooking.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s get shaking!

* Think I’m kidding about an amazing trip to Italy? Mouse over then click the pic below!

i. ingredients

1/2 cup | EVOO
2 tablespoons | red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon | fresh basil, chopped (dried basil only if you must)
¼ teaspoon | fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon | gray sea salt
to taste | freshly ground black pepper

If serving dressing atop sliced tomato:

also add | LOTS of green onion tops, sliced
also add | parsley

ii. what to doA view of Lake Como from my rental's balcony view of Varenna, Italy. Read more about Lake Como at my site ForTheLoveOfItaly.com

1. Prepare all ingredients and place in a dressing jar.

2. Shake, shake, shake!

3. Enjoy the dressing fresh or refrigerate it up to a week or two.

Foodie Tips ~

  I doubled the recipe. The more, the better.

  Try using a garlic press if you’re too tired to finely chop.

  You can also add some grated aged romano cheese to the dressing for an awesomely cheesy taste.

  If using as a marinade, add chopped green onion tops and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes … then grill.

  Try the tomato recipe on the recipe card if you want a tasty option for the dressing.

the original italian dressing recipe cardthe original italian dressing recipe card written by mom... the recipe is from mary stephenson's kitchen

Who is “Mary Stephenson”?

We Kikers lived at 2927 Trailend Drive and Mary was the mother of the 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.


patrick’s rosemary smashed potatoes

tah dah! my rosemary smashed potatoes!
T
his special recipe is dedicated to my niece Laura ~
her naturally beautiful spirit reminds me that I love her
“a bushel and a peck” more than my never-ending love of potatoes!

~      ~

Mom’s mom “Nanny” used to make her well-known “lumpy mashed potatoes” for special holidays, which were Roger’s favorite time of year. Why? well, on fancy occasions, like Thanksgiving, Roger would perform his signature “choking napkin-in-the-mouth trick,” which usually resulted in Nanny tabbing out, saying “oh, stop it!”

When it comes time to make your own mashed potatoes, I offer-up my home-grown recipe, compliments of freshly-claimed rosemary. After making and tasting these potatoes, you might get all “choked-up” yourself.

In a good way.

i. ingredients

6 | medium-to-large russet, yukon gold or red potatoes
a dash or 2 | gray sea salt
a hearty splash | evoo
38 twists | freshly milled medium/course pepper
6-8 | 6″ long fresh rosemary sprigs (leave rosemary on the stems)
1/2 stick | salted falfurrias brand butter (per Nanny)
1 cup | sour cream
2-3 handfuls | shredded cheddar and or mozzarella cheese (even better if mixed)
to taste | lawry’s brand black pepper seasoned salt

meet the cast of ingredients for my rosemary smashed potatoesii. what to do

1. Chunk-cut the potatoes 1″ square and place them in an large, empty stock pot. Leave the potato skins on; they add texture and more Vitamin C vs. peeled.

2. Fill the pot and add the salt, evoo, fresh pepper and the rosemary sprigs. Bring to a boil and stir periodically for about 15-20 minutes, or until tender (when you can easily separate the chunks with your wooden spoon).

3. Drain (do not rinse) the potatoes in a strainer but leave the “loose” rosemary and pepper, clinging to the potatoes. Remove/toss the rosemary twigs, reserving any rosemary leaves for the potato mixture.

4. Return the warm potato mixture to the stock pot and fold-in the butter, sour cream and cheddar cheese. Stir with a wooden stick, leaving the potatoes somewhat lumpy. Make sure the cheese is melted (reheat a bit if you have to).

5.  Serve potatoes on your serving plate (platter) and top with a dash of freshly ground pepper or Lawry’s brand black pepper seasoned salt. Maybe even more butter. Go on, it’s the Kiker way.

Foodie Tip ~

  If your rosemary is stubborn and won’t fall from the stem during cooking, make sure and clip the green leaves into the potatoes before discarding the stems. These are, after all, *rosemary* smashed potatoes!
  These potatoes are best experienced fresh. You *can* store them in the fridge, but you’ll need to reheat them on stove top or microwave.

Fun Fact ~

  What the heck’s “A bushel and a peck?” Mom’s mom “Nanny” used to say she loved us a “bushel and a peck.” I never really knew the true meaning of the saying until I researched it for this recipe post. Now I get it! “A bushel and a peck” was a song sung by Doris Day. See it here and read the lyrics below.

a picture of my niece laura in an appropriately themed picture frame
Doris Day’s “A Bushel And A Peck” Lyrics

I love you a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck
A hug around the neck and a barrel and a heap
A barrel and a heap and I’m talkin’ in my sleep
About you, about you
‘Cause I love you a bushel and a peck
You bet your purdy neck I do

A doodle-oodle-ooh-doo
A-doodle-oodle-oodle-ooh-doo

I love you a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck though you make my heart a wreck
Make my heart a wreck and you make my life a mess
Make my life a mess, yes a mess of happiness
About you, about you
‘Cause I love you a bushel and a peck
You bet your purdy neck I do

A doodle-oodle-ooh-doo
A-doodle-oodle-oodle-ooh-doo

I love you a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck and it beats me all to heck
It beats me all to heck, how I’ll ever tend the farm
Ever tend the farm when I wanna keep my arm
About you, about you
‘Cause I love you a bushel and a peck
You bet your purdy neck I do

A doodle-oodle-ooh-doo
A-doodle-oodle-oodle-ooh-doo
A-doodle-oodle-oodle-ooh-doo
A-doodle-oodle-ooh-doo-doo
~      ~


patrick’s chicken tortilla soup

This recipe is dedicated to my special niece Melissa ~ Her zest for food taught me
the more spice you add to life, the merrier!

~   
  ~

my tortilla soup recipeIf my Mom “Betty” was still alive, I would have made sure she put my own favorite recipe in her cookbook. And better yet, I would have made her some bowls of this great-tasting soup.

I’ve tweaked this recipe over the years, and you can also edit it to please your own personal taste buds. I’ve had several friends say it’s the best tortilla soup they’ve had … plus, it’s easy to make. My secret? Squeezing lime juice on top just after the cheese starts to melt.

As temperatures start to “dip,” what better way to warm-up chilly evenings, than with this all-time favorite tortilla soup recipe? Perfect as an appetizer, or as a main course, one bowl of this soup usually leads to two … or more! Totally a comfort food staple for the Fall Foodie in you.

ingredients

2 cups | cooked chicken breast (cubed)
1 cup | chopped onion
1 tsp. | olive oil
1 – 4 oz. can | chopped green chilies
1 – 1.25 oz. package | taco seasoning mix ~ the hotter, the better
1 – 16 oz. can | stewed tomatoes
6 cups | chicken broth
1 – 10 oz. package | frozen corn
1/3 cup | fresh chopped cilantro
to taste | tortilla chips, broken into pieces
4 cups | your favorite grated cheese (we prefer pepper jack, monterey jack or cheddar)
1 | avocado
garnish | sour cream
garnish | green onion (scallion)
to taste | fresh ground black pepper
garnish | a squeeze of lime juice

what to do

1. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and place into a medium pot filled with water. Bring to a boil for 5-7 minutes and cook until done. Drain and set aside.

2. In a 5-quart saucepan over medium heat, sauté onion in oil 3 to 4 minutes, until soft.

3. Stir in chilies and the seasoning mix, cook 1 minute.

4. Add tomatoes and juice, breaking them up with a spoon.

5. Stir in broth and bring to a boil.

6. Add corn and chicken, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

7. Top with the cilantro.

8. Spoon into bowls and top with chips, cheese, avocado, and sour cream. Garnish with scallion, black pepper, and a squeeze of lime.

Serves 4-5 hungry folks. The soup refrigerates well; keep the garnish (chips, cheese, avocado, sour cream) as last minute additions. 

~ Patrick

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

 


calabacita

This special recipe is dedicated to our dear family friend Bristol ~
thanks to her, mom’s recipes live on; the greatest treat I’ve ever received.
~      ~

tasty calabacita

My mom’s great friend “Bristol” said “calabacita” was one of mom’s absolute favorite recipes because she loved its spicy taste. Now I know where I get my love of spicy food!

I didn’t even know how to spell calaba-HUH?, but thanks to Google, I do now. Calabacita means “little squash” in Spanish and is often made of a variety of summer squashes with thin, edible skins, including zucchini, yellow crookneck, Mexican straight-neck and sunburst squashes (per the research I did online). We’ll see what mom used!

I remember something squashy as a kid, but not sure of the name. I think mom “dumbed” the name calabacita down to “squash” for me since my tiny tongue was too young to pronounce “ca-la-ba-ci-ta.” Although I do remember the young ability to say “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!”

5/14/11 UPDATE ~ I received mom’s cookbook this very week and scoured both the cookbook and the little recipe card file… and no calabacita recipe! All I can figure is that mom probably had the recipe in her head and didn’t need to write it down. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t share it with her friends! I’m on the hunt for the recipe, so in the meantime, enjoy the recipe below from the other Betty (Crocker)… the ingredients look similar to what I remember eating… except I don’t remember mom using chicken… but she did use both yellow crookneck squash and green zucchini.

i. ingredientsingredienti di calabacita

1 tablespoon | extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 lb | uncooked chicken breast tenders (not breaded)
8 to 10 small to medium | zucchini (2 1/2 lb), peeled, thinly sliced (8 cups)
1 medium | white onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 can (15.25 oz) | Green Giant® whole kernel corn, undrained
1 can (14.5 oz) | diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion, undrained
1 can (4.5 oz) | Old El Paso® chopped green chiles, undrained
1-1/2 teaspoons | garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon | ground cumin
to taste | salt and pepper, if desired
1/2 cup | chopped fresh cilantro

ii. what to do

1. In 5- to 6-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken; cover and cook 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink in the center.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients except cilantro. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is tender.

3. Stir in cilantro; cook 3 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.

the simple joy of calabacitaFoodie Tips ~

While I don’t remember mom serving calabacita over white rice, consider it (from me to you).

Making instant rice? Why not substitute water with chicken or beef broth?