crunchy tuna salad

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

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

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

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

Crunchy Tuna Salad Recipe

foodie tips

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

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

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

ii. what to do

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

2. Stir in the mayo and the French dressing.

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

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

Yields 4-6 appetizer-sized servings.

~ Patrick

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

Now on to the vintage videos!

Crunchy Tuna Salad Recipe

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

 

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macaroni chicken salad

Macaroni Chicken Salad Recipe
take an old friend for a new spin

Mmm MMM! I love me some macaroni and cheese!

In college I could eat an entire box of the stuff in one sitting. I still can. I’d stir in a little sour cream just to make things creamier, as if that was a missing thing.

This recipe takes the tried and true mac ‘n cheese staple and dresses it up with a bit of protein and some veggie bits to make a special dish that will tickle the tastebuds.

foodie tips

❤  I’m sure the folks at Kraft would love to know that in my entire life I don’t recall if I’ve ever had any other boxed mac and cheese but theirs. There’s something to be said for a loyal stomach! I’ve made mac and cheese from scratch a few times – here’s one of my favorites if you want to enjoy hatch-chicken mac ‘n cheese. It’s out of this world.

Evil Bell Pepper

Could it be evil lives inside peppers? On my next slice I’ll definitely have an *extra* knife handy. Just in case.

❤  My dear friend Heather 1,000% percent loathes bell peppers. I don’t quite get her hatred for the lil’ green things. She said the flavor is wretched and it makes her burp.

I went online and discovered there is a following a folks who are convinced that “pepper faces” are evil. Hmm… they could be onto something. This one’s for you, Heather!

If by chance you fall into the “no-thank-you” green pepper camp, try substituting a can of Hatch peppers – fresh if you can. The smoky heat will warm your heart. And I know Heather loves hatch peppers so all should be good there.

❤  House divided: Joe and I argued whether this dish was better hot or cold. Since I’m the one writing the blog post, I kindly suggest you try it warm first; then chill any leftovers and see if you like the chilled version. Note: There won’t be any leftovers! :) Looks like I win again!Macaroni Chicken Salad Ingredients

i. ingredients

1 package | macaroni and cheese dinner
1 cup | cooked chicken, diced
| hard-boiled cage free eggs, chopped
½ cup | green pepper, chopped
½ cup | green peas, cooked
¼ cup | celery, chopped
¼ cup | radishes, sliced
3 tablespoons | onion, chopped
⅓ cup | salad dressing or mayonnaise

ii. what to do

1. Make your mac ‘n cheese dinner according to the package directions. Please don’t overcook it! Soggy pasta is right up there with wet blankets and warm beer. No thank you!

2. Transfer the mac ‘n cheese to a large bowl and combine in the next seven ingredients.

3. Stir in the salad dressing and toss gently. Consume immediately or chill, if you must. :)

Yields 6-8 servings according to the original recipe… or 1-2 servings, if you enjoy bountiful mounds of food, like me.

~ Patrick

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

A macaroni chicken salad recipe from Betty's Cook Nook

A scan of Mom’s macaroni-chicken salad recipe

 

At 5 cents a servings I’ll eat $2 worth, please. It’s the least I can do! The least.

Here in the 2nd commercial a wife is really bummed her husband is coming home for lunch. Sheesh! Maybe he should check the Mac n’ Cheese to make sure it’s not generously sprinkled with Rat Kill! 

Here we see the Mom’s family is just too busy to stop to eat dinner together. Sounds like it’s 15 minutes for dinner to be ready… and 20 minutes of spankings for all! And there’s plenty more servings of spankings to go ’round!


vegetable dip

Vegetable Dip Recipe
Dippity Do

My Cousin Julie is a fantastic host.

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

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

foodie tips

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

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

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

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

i. ingredients

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

How To Make Vegetable Dip

ii. what to do

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

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

3. Dip to your heart’s content!

A Vegetable Dip Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Vegetable Dip Recipe

A Scan Of Mom’s Original Recipe

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

~ Patrick

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


squash casserole

Squash Casserole Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

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

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

~      ~

The Magnificent Seven

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

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

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

foodie tip ~

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

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

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

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

i. ingredients

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

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

ii. what to do

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yields 8 servings

A Squash Casserole Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

A Scan Of Mom’s Original Recipe Card

Still Hungry For More Senseless Lore?

You’ve stumbled into the right cyber-place!

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers to 7!

~ Patrick

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

Confident

Just in case you missed it above…


minute rice salad

Minute Rice Salad Recipe From Betty's Cook NookHam + Cheese? Yes, Please!

I love reading about the history of food.

Researching and making my Mom’s recipes has become a hobby of mine and I’m often amazed at the evolution of food through the years – especially during my lifetime; I find that food is in many ways like fashion.

Flashback Foods

I enjoy taking trips down the international food aisle at the grocery store. It’s here I can be surprised and delighted with foods I’ve never heard of… not to mention the interesting and artful packaging.

My international food journeys remind me of the things I often mistakenly take for granted. Things like:

  • Some foods are no longer available. I discovered this the hard way with one of my early BCN posts when searching for madrilène so I could make this tasty avocado soup. Also extremely hard to find? A garlic cheese roll. If you were a chocolate and caramel lover eating between 1973 and 1981, you likely remember the Marathon Bar which was sweet and savory braided deliciousness that was a treat about as big as a Texas sunrise.
  • Packaging sizes have changed. I often find that cans and packaged foods are trending larger than they did in the good ole’ days. Supersize Me! And give me seconds. And please don’t forget the cheese.
  • Food packaging has changed. Wine in a box? Get real. (Pssst – it is real)! Refried beans in a bag? Just heat ’em and eat ’em! Tomato paste in a tube? Totally tubular! Let’s get rolling!

A Cheesy Love Affair

I got super sucker-punched in the belly when I lived in Italy. I thought I knew most everything about the country – Heck, it was my seventh trip there. But living far and away for more than a couple of weeks taught me a lot about the presence and absence of food.

Most notably I learned that authentic Italy does not sell or consume yellow cheese. Wait, what?!? Yeah, no yellow cheese! You can imagine the sadness and horror that became my new face as repeated trips to every store in the region produced no yellow cheese. This Texas boy quickly developed a serious health issue when I realized there would be no yellow cheese for me. No homemade mac and cheese. No cheese n’ potatoes. No queso. NO QUESO?!?

This is the solid truth – had someone told me there was a store in a province within a one or two day walk from Tuscany, I would have walked there and back just to score a single log of Velveeta. Pinky swear it. Joe will back me up on this.

I begged our great friends Jeanie and David who were flying over from Texas for an Italian New Years to please, please, please bring me a block of Velveeta. And if they could also find it in their Texas-sized hearts to tuck some taco seasoning in their bag, I would be eternally grateful. And I am.

Velveeta, taco seasoning, picante sauce and Rotel ... In Tuscany!

Eating like a Texan when in Italy begins with the proper ingredients.

My dream came true for NYE 2012 when three beautiful blocks of Velveeta arrived along with several packets of taco seasoning, some Pace picante sauce, Rotel and even a bottle of Don Julio tequila. It was a Holiday to Remember! ← Read this post of mine to learn more about shopping Italian style.

Get On With It

OK, OK! So what does all this have to do with this recipe? Everything.

The optional yellow cheese? Yeah, forget about it. It’s not that you’re in Italy … it’s because this dish doesn’t need it.

Most notably this is a typical recipe circa 1970s that is less about sizzle and more about sustenance. No fancy presentation draped with a demi-glaze sauce. It’s good ole’ timey tasty. For me the combination of swiss cheese, ham and pickle was a delicious trio that packed a lotta taste. The mayo, onion and peas only sealed the deal.

You’ll see.

foodie tips ~

❤  While perfect as a side salad my appetite was trying to find other ways to enjoy this aside from “just a salad.” I wound-up making lettuce cups out of mine and enjoyed every delicious bite. I think a toasted sandwich filled with the stuff would make the world a brighter place, too.

❤  American Cheese is optional for this dish; I did not use it but I love me some yellow cheese, as the story above reveals.

  Dill pickle lover? Check out my other post for Sauerkraut Bend’s Potato Salad… plus a video revealing the history behind the little pickle that made Texas famous.

Minute Rice Salad Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

i. ingredients

1 box | Bird’s Eye frozen green peas
½ teaspoon | salt
1 ½ cups | water
1 ⅓ cups | Minute Rice
¾ cup | mayonnaise
½ cup | chopped dill pickle
1 teaspoon | onion, grated
1 cup | slivered cooked ham
1 cup | slivered swiss cheese
1 cup | slivered american cheese (optional)
to serve | tomato wedges (optional)

ii. what to do

1. Add the peas, salt and water to a saucepan. Cover and bring to a full boil.

2. Add the Minute Rice and mix to moisten all the rice. Cover, remove from heat and let stand for 13 minutes.

3. Add the mayonnaise, pickles and onion and mix/fluff with a fork. Chill in the fridge.

4. When ready to serve add the ham and cheese. Serve on lettuce with tomato wedges and enjoy!

Yields 6 servings

~ Patrick

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

Minute Rice Salad Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

A Scan Of Mom’s Original Minute Rice Salad Recipe

Minute Rice Salad Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook


king crab appetizer puffs

King Crab Appetizer Puffs

Let’s Get Crabby

In my younger years I spent most summers visiting the Texas Coast at Port Aransas. My Dad loved to wade fish and my Mom loved to crab. Port A’s north and south jetties are where I learned to maneuver the giant granite blocks that extended into the sea. There were countless nooks and crannies where the sea met the granite boulders and this was the special place my Mom “Betty” loved to go crabbin’.

The Joys Of Coastal LivingMom would bait her crab net with a small piece of chicken and lower it into the water and wait a bit. Moving very slow and being extra quiet we’d quickly raise the nets to see if we had caught a crab – two if we were lucky! Females went back into the water and the males we’d take back to our short-term home at Executive Keys to boil and create some crab delicacies.

foodie tips ~

 This yields about 3 dozen appetizers. You can half the ingredient quantities if you’re just having a snack. They are best consumed fresh but don’t reheat them in the microwave – only the oven, so they will be crispy!

 I couldn’t find King Crab at my local HEB so I substituted it with plain ol’ crab.

i. ingredients

1 package (6-8 ounces) | frozen crab, thawed
2 tablespoons | butter (my grandmother insisted on Falfurrias brand butter)
¼ cup | green onions, sliced
1 cup | fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 cup | monterey jack cheese, shredded
3 ounce package | cream cheese, softened
⅓ cup | mayonnaise
2 tablespoons | parsley, minced
¼ pound | phyllo pastry sheets
¼ cup | more melted butter

ii. what to do

0. Preheat oven to 350°F.

1. Drain and slice the crab. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add the onions and sauté them 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté 1 minute longer. Combine the mushroom-onion mixture with the crab, cheeses, mayonnaise and parsley.

2. Spread phyllo sheets out in layers, two at a time (we did 3 layers because we love the crisp of phyllo). Cut each group of two into strips about 2 inches by 10 inches.

How To Make King Crab Appetizers

Look at the butter! Mmm – BUTTER!

3. Brush each phyllo strip with melted butter. Mmm … butter! Spoon a scant tablespoon of filling onto the end of the phyllo strip. Fold the pasty over the crab filling to form a triangle. Continue folding into triangles as you would a flag for the length of the strip. Seal the seam with a little more butter.

4. Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Serve these hot!

~ Patrick

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

King Crab Appetizer Puffs Recipe

A Scan Of Mom’s “Crabetizer” Recipe

King Crab Appetizer Puff Recipe

They kinda look like crabs already. Next time I’ll fashion these just right!


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.