toasted sandwiches

Treat Time Toaster Toasted Caprese Sandwich Recipe

This is perhaps the post with the most unique blend of happenstance and foodie passion here at Betty’s Cook Nook.

Tucked in the very back of Mom’s cookbook is a tiny accordion-folded recipe booklet called “How to use your Treat-Time Toaster.” You can enjoy a scan of it below.

I had thumbed passed this booklet many times before but in late January 2017 I finally took my curiosity online to try and find out what a “Treat-Time Toaster” might actually be.

In just a few clicks I found myself at eBay where I discovered these toasters were in fact vintage grilled sandwich makers. These were the same things I remember being in our kitchen at Trailend Drive – Mom used them to fashion some of the coolest grilled cheese sandwiches ever!

Treat Time Toaster Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

After quickly checking with my older brothers about the whereabouts of our toasters, I sadly realized they were long, long gone.

Gone, too, was the company who made them – NuRod, Inc., based out of Monrovia California. So since I couldn’t score one of my own new Treat-Time Toasters, I found a set of two vintage toasters that I scored on eBay for about $30, including shipping.

A few days later a bountiful box arrived at my home and boy, was I excited! Soon my kitchen would be turning out delicious sandwich snacks. The possibilities were endless, thanks to the recipe booklet that contained 13 ideas for transforming mere bread into a myriad of mouthwatering delights filled with awe-inspiring ingredients like cocktail Vintage Flying Saucersausages, bologna, baked beans, raisin bread, marmalade, fried eggs and more.

Are you salivating yet?

The Treat-Time Toaster looked part flying saucer and part clamshell. Placing the toaster over campfire or stove in mere seconds you can create panini, grilled sandwiches, pocket sandwiches … anything your mind and appetite can conjure!

The toaster churns out culinary delights that remind me of those from the raclette tabletop grill, which has been a favorite kitchen accessory of mine for many years.

Treat Time Toaster Ad June 1965 Popular Science

Snack Attack

The adman in me appreciated reading the recipe booklet that appears to have been written by Donna Reade, who was Director of Consumer Service at Nu-Rod. I cracked a few smiles when I read passages like “You’ll find family and friends runnin’ back for more,” “Not only delicious but filling” and “M-M-M-boy!

The folks at Nu-Rod also knew a little something about target marketing back in the early 1960s. I found evidence of ads for their Treat-Time Sandwich Maker in Popular Science, Boys’ Life, Mobile Home Journal, and V.F.W. Journal.

Where did it all go wrong?

So if the Treat-Time Toaster is so awesome, why did it disappear from America’s kitchens almost as fast as it arrived?!

Based on my online research Nu-Rod was in existence from 1960-1970 and then their digital footprint is no more. Perhaps they were intent on connecting the Treat-Time Toaster with men more so than women? Or perhaps the name “Treat-Time Toaster” was too innovative at the time.

Whatever the case all I know is I’m glad I’ve reconnected my appetite with this fond foodie kitchen gizmo.

foodie tips

  While supplies last you can likely find vintage Treat-Time Toasters on Ebay or similar machines like these on the web. I ordered two so that I didn’t have to share my toaster with anyone else! Hey, twice the fun!

  The ingredients list below is for the most basic – and delicious – grilled cheese sandwich. But don’t let your imagination and appetite stop here – try any of the original recipes in the Treat-Time Toaster recipe book (below)… or you let your imagination go wild. My top three favorite sandwiches are grilled cheese, PB&J, and our own creation – a grilled caprese sandwich (shown above), crafted from mozzarella, fresh basil leaves from the garden and a few slices of red tomato.

ButterKrust Bread Fresh From The Bag

i. ingredients (per serving)

2 slices | white bread (or artisan bread if you’re feeling très gourmet)
schmears | falfurrias brand butter
assorted | ingredients for your sandwich (melting cheese, crisp bacon, sliced tomato, etc.)
no-stick cooking spray or butter | to grease your toaster
(optional) to serve | your favorite condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, honey, etc.)

Treat-Time Toaster Cookbook

Click the image for a close-up view of some of the original Treat-Time recipes!

ii. what to do

1. Butter the outside of two slices of bread and set aside. Hey, if you’re feeling adventurous you can also butter the inside, if butter complements your chosen ingredients.

2. Top one inside with your chosen ingredients, making sure to keep things mingling toward the center of the bread.

3. Butter or spray both insides of your Treat-Time Toaster to prevent sticking.Treat Time Toaster Punch It Out

4. Center and place your buttered sandwich onto the toaster and close the toaster. Squeeze tight and remove the excess bread. Latch the handle.Treat Time Toaster on da Grill

5. Hold/Place the Treat-Time Toaster over campfire or medium-fired kitchen stovetop for 1-2 minutes on each side. I used my toaster inside over a gas range. I experimented a few times to find the right combination of flame and time to deliver the perfect oozy, gooey, buttery treat.

Treat Time Toaster Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Serve warm with your favorite sides!

~ Patrick

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

ButterKrust Bakery San Antonio Texas

The ButterKrust bakery way back then… I love the art deco lines!


A word about bread…

One of my favorite childhood memories happened when our elementary school (go, Northwood Unicorns) made an outing to San Antonio’s ButterKrust Bakery that graciously rested alongside 2251 Broadway Street.

I’m confident my love of carbs was born that day. In fact, every time I drove past the bakery (passenger or driver), the window somehow found itself miraculously resting so I could enjoy the waft of butter and bread while the wind whipped through my hair. Never underestimate the power of bread!

But gosh, I hope the power of ButterKrust bread outlives me, no thanks to their new owner’s shameful and shoddy company website, which looks circa 1995. More ButterKrust bakery history here.

Yup. I scored this vintage spot for you!


eggplant parmigiana

An Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Aubergine Supreme

Found on the same page of Mom’s cookbook as this savory pepper steak recipe is this eggplant parmigiana recipe.

We Americans often shorten words down to make them easier to pronounce:

    • When referring to cheese, “Parmigiana” (Italian origin) is shortened to simply “Parmesan”. But somehow saying “parmigiana” just makes anything made with it sound fancier … and tastier.
    • “Aubergine” (British English) is known as “Eggplant” this side of the big pond <– I’m pointing to Texas. I’d rather refer to my walls being the color of aubergine than eggplant. Any day, hands down.
    • Shaking My HeadWhen in Italy “Rome” is “Roma,” “Naples” is “Napoli” and “Florence” is Firenze.” On my first trip to Italy in 2006 I had a full on adult melt-down in the Naples train station when I thought we couldn’t purchase a ticket to Florence … only to discover a few minutes later that Firenze and Florence were the same city. Finger to forehead! Still shaking my head to this day.

While I’ve spent much of my recent adult life researching and traveling Italy, I look for ways to incorporate the Italian romance language into my everyday life as often as I can, so while the use of “eggplant parmigiana” would appear to be on the decline according to Google Ngram Viewer, I can assure you this dish will be making a repeat appearance in my kitchen … and more importantly in my belly. :)

This dish hails from southern Italy’s regions of Campania and Sicily. Layers of cheese and tomato sauce? Count me IN!

foodie tips ~

❤  While the debate over whether to salt (sweat) or not salt your eggplant rolls on, this recipe doesn’t call for it. Once your eggplant is layered between tomato and cheese, even the discriminating pallet shouldn’t notice any eggplant bitterness.

❤  Love eggplant? Check out more of Mom’s recipes here at Betty’s Cook Nook using the nav at left!

i. ingredients

2 tablespoons | unsalted butter (Falfurrias brand butter, per Betty’s Mom “Nanny” – she is my grandmother)
½ cup | onion, chopped
1 clove | garlic, crushed
1 pound | ground beef chuck
1 can (~1 pound 1 ounce) | Italian-style tomatoes, undrained
6 ounce can | tomato paste
2 teaspoons | dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon | dried basil leaves
1 ½ teaspoons | salt
¼ teaspoon | pepper
1 cup | water
1 tablespoon | brown sugar
1 large | eggplant (about 1 pound in size)
| cage free eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon | water
½ cup | dried bread crumbs
1 ¼ cups | parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup | salad oil (vegetable oil)
8 ounces | mozzarella cheese, grated

ii. what to do

1. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Sauté the onion, garlic and beef chuck until the meat is no longer red (about 5 minutes).

2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, brown sugar and the water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.

3. Let’s get the oven preheating to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13″ x 9″ baking dish and set aside.

4. Wash the eggplant and leave the peel on. Cut the eggplant crosswise into slices about ½” thick and set aside.

5. In a pie plate, combine the eggs and 1 tablespoon more water; mix well.

6. Are you ready to bread? On a sheet of waxed paper, combine the bread crumbs with ½ cup of the parmesan cheese and mix well. Dip the eggplant slices into the egg mixture and coat well. Then dip into the breadcrumb mixture, coating evenly.

7. In a new pan sauté the eggplant slices a few at a time in 1 tablespoon of hot oil until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Add more oil as needed.

8. Arrange half of the eggplant slices in the bottom of the prepared dish. Sprinkle with half of the remaining parmesan cheese. Top each slice with half of the mozzarella cheese; cover with half of the tomato sauce.

9. Arrange the remaining eggplant slices over the tomato sauce. Cover with the rest of the parmesan, and the tomato sauce.

10. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes. Arrange the remaining mozzarella over the top; bake 20 minute longer, or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Yields 6 servings

~ Patrick

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

Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

A scan of Mom’s original recipe clipping.


lasagne

A Lasagne Recipe From Bettys Cook NookYou Say Lasagna. I Say Lasagne.

Lasagne is plural for lasagna, so the more, the merrier! This dish is the epitome of comfort food.

Fun Foodie Facts ~

  July 29 is National Lasagna Day, just 72 hours from my official birthday!

  The word “lasagna” originally referred to the pot the dish was made in – not the dish itself.

  While there are several ways to prepare lasagne, most folks automatically think of a red tomato-y ragu when they think of lasagna. The earliest recipes of lasagna date back to the 13th century, before tomatoes were known to Europeans (they came to Europe via South America).

  Northern Italy (Emilia-Romagna) is credited as the birthplace of lasagne. For those who don’t know me, if you want to learn more about Italy, check out my website ForTheLoveOfItaly.com – I created this site to inspire all to travel to this magnificent land.

  More fun facts about lasagna are here – check all the links!

i. ingredients

¾ pound | ground meat
1 tablespoon | olive oil
½ clove | garlic, chopped
1 small | onion, minced
1 can | tomato paste
1 cup | water
to taste | salt and pepper
to taste | parsley, chopped (I suggest Italian flat leaf)
| bay leaf
8 ounce package | lasagne
½ pound | mozzarella cheese
¼ pound | ricotta or cottage cheese (small curd)
to garnish | parmesan cheese, grated (not the stuff from the can)

ii. what to do

1. Brown meat in the oil. Add garlic, onion, tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, parsley and the bay leaf. Simmer about an hour. Remove the bay leaf before layering (below).

2. While the sauce is simmering, cook the lasagne (if you aren’t using “no boil” or “oven ready” noodles). Mom would have cooked the noodles the old-fashioned way as the speedy version wasn’t on supermarket shelves until years later. Drain the noodles.

3. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

4. Arrange lasagne in layers alternating with layers of sauce, mozzarella and ricotta. Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese.

5. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the mozzarella is melted and the dish is heated through.

A Belt Buster

A Lasagne Recipe From Bettys Cook Nook - Layers Of Noodles

A Scan Of Mom's Lasagne Recipe From Bettys Cook Nook

 

 


italian vegetable soup

mom's italian vegetable soupSoup’s On

Growin’ up in “San Antone,” my first memories of Italian food came in the form of Shakey’s Pizza Parlor off Austin Highway.

I don’t really remember the pizza much, but I do remember the experience and excitement of piling into the car to go pick it up. Shakey’s was the place for great family fun ~ especially for kids. Shakey’s had a magically cool player shakeys pizza balloon guypiano similar to the one we had at home where we spent countless hours singing with friends. I still have that piano!… To top your day, Shakey’s had party skimmer hats for the taking sporting bands around the top that read “Shakey’s” typeset in a blackletter-style font… and my favorite part were these little figure eight-shaped balloons you could blow-up and slide onto flat cardboard shoes; they’d stand on their own, transforming into the awesome shape of a happy pizza chef (at right). Why not watch this vintage video of the Shakey’s experience (and have a little laugh)?

So Italy. I’ve been lucky to travel to my far away home away from home 5 times (so far!) and have become somewhat of an Italian foodie snob. While this soup may not knock you over the head with “obvious” Italian flavor, when I close my eyes, the heartiness of the beans, carrots, tomato and parsley transports me back to my first tastes of Italy.

What a great memory that is.

You can read about my travel experiences to Italy at my other passion site at ForTheLoveOfItaly.com. More recipes, travel tips and pics, and fun stories.

Now, on to the soup!

i. ingredientsthe cast of characters for mom's italian veggie soup

1/2 cup | diced carrots
¼ cup | sliced celery
1 | diced tomato
1 cup | shredded cabbage
to taste | pepper
6 cups | boiling water
1 package | lipton brand beef flavor noodle soup
1 package | lipton brand onion soup
1/2 cup | kidney beans
2 tablespoons | chopped parsley
to serve | grated cheese

ii. what to do

1. Cook vegetables in boiling water, covered, for 20 minutes.

2. Stir-in pepper and soup mixes; cover and simmer 10 minutes.

3. Add beans and parsley. Heat.

4. Serve with grated cheese.

6 Servings

Foodie Tips ~

You may have trouble finding the boxed soups; they are from the 70s. So sport your favorite 70s “cut-offs” and hold a soup-y seance. If you can’t find the soup with the noodles inside it, you can add your own; just make sure it’s a fine noodle, like Capelli d’Angelo (angel hair pasta). You can break the pasta into small pieces before cooking.

In a pinch, you can do what I did and use grated mozzarella cheese. But try using a finely grated “hard” Italian cheese so the gooey cheese doesn’t overwhelm the soup. A couple of my favorites are Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano.

Add a few sprigs of rosemary to the soup for a souper-dooper-booster of Italian flavor.

You can double-up on the beans and some of the water, to make it more broth-y.

mom's italian vegetable soup recipe