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’.
2 pounds | squash, chopped
1 | medium onion, chopped
¼ stick | oleo (unsalted butter)
to season | a little salt and pepper
1 cup | crackers, crumbled
2 | 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
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!
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
Just in case you missed it above…
Holiday traditions are the best, right?
One of my more recent holiday traditions was literally handed to me by my brother Roger’s mother in law, “Lou.”
Each year when I blew into town from college for holiday visits Lou would always have a special plate of several handmade holiday sweets for me … and her special chosen ones. There were cookies and brownies and some things I never knew what they were called and I loved them anyway because they tasted great and they were made with love.
Of all the holiday treats the ones I always ate first were the chocolate pb balls. If you love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups you will love these as much as Christmas itself!
A few years after Lou had passed I remembered these favorites and finally tracked down the recipe through a family member “Dollie” who secured her spot in “Awesomeville” forever more for sending a pic of the recipe (below) my way. On Thanksgiving weekend 2013 two of my nieces (Lou’s grandkids) Kim and Lizzie and I made these together and it was one of the most special things ever!
We all love and miss Lou very much. But especially when I eat these chocolate covered peanut butter balls, she’s only a lick of a chocolatey finger and a wink away!
foodie tips ~
♥ What’s oleo? It’s margarine. What’s better than margarine? BUTTER! Which butter’s best? Falfurrias brand butter per my grandmother Nanny and my stomach! Get the unsalted stuff.
♥ Kim, Lizzie and I had a difficult time finding the paraffin wax. My local HEB Foodie intercepted our shopper’s frustration and told us to use chocolate cubes because they have more cocoa and they include the paraffin wax ingredients which makes them great for coating. He was right! We omitted the Hershey’s chocolate bar (forgive me), the chocolate chips (forgive me again) and the paraffin wax and used Ambrosia brand Chocolate Flavored Bark Coating (a.k.a. bark coating).
♥ We were only able to find Jif Extra Crunchy peanut butter. I checked out the Jif website and it appears Jif only produces creamy or extra crunchy peanut butter (no “regular” crunchy) at this time. My hunch is that the folks at Jif had some consumer insight that said their customers are big crunch lovers.
♥ About 30 balls into the mass dipping, we noticed the balls were starting to crumble when the toothpicks were inserted into them or when they were toothpick diving into the chocolate. Angry faces! We put the tray of balls into the freezer for 10-15 minutes and they firmed right back up. Happy faces! You can leverage your angry broken ball frustration by re-forming any broken balls into new balls or simply put the broken pieces into a freezer-safe Ziploc bag – I plan to decorate the top of a large bowl of ice cream with the broken pieces. Soon.
♥ If the melted chocolate becomes difficult to work with, zap it in the microwave about 30 seconds and it’ll return to creamy.
♥ We doubled this recipe and it made a ton! Plan on a single batch yielding about 50-60 balls. For the doubling we used extra butter to aid with forming (½ cup) and extra chocolate to help coat (4-6 squares) for each batch.
♥ On the next go of this recipe I’m going to try and drizzle some white chocolate on top for some contrast. That was actually Kim’s idea but since I typed this recipe up on Betty’s Cook Nook, I’ll take credit for it. Ssssshhhh! :)
1 stick | margarine (oleo)
1 pound | powdered sugar
2 cups | jif brand chunky (extra crunchy) peanut butter
3 cups | kellogg’s brand rice krispies cereal
8 ounce bag | hershey brand chocolate bar*
6 – 9 ounces | chocolate chips*
⅛ pound (½ a slab) | paraffin wax*
* See an important foodie tip above regarding a substitution for these three ingredients.
ii. tools n’ materials
1 | medium-large mixing bowl
1 | tray for refrigerating the peanut butter balls
1 | pyrex bowl for microwaving the chocolate
1 | spatula for mixing and dipping the chocolate
a few | toothpicks for dipping
a few sheets | wax paper or nonstick foil
to present | petit four cups or packaging, if gift giving
iii. what to do
1. Mix together the butter, powdered sugar, peanut butter and the rice krispies. Form the mixture into 1″ balls then refrigerate for at least 1 hour. You will have to use pressure to mold the balls as the mixture is fairly dry. You’ll get better at forming as you go!
2. Just before you’re ready to start dipping, melt your Ambrosia bark coating (or the last three ingredients above) in a microwave safe Pyrex bowl. Do not boil!
3. Insert a toothpick into the center of the rolled ball and completely dip it into the melted chocolate. With the toothpick horizontal to the bowl gently tap the toothpick and ball against the rim of the bowl a few times to return some of the chocolate “runoff” back into the bowl. If you leave too much chocolate on the ball it may form a flat foot for the finished ball and this tapping technique will yield a tight round ball.
4. While the ball is still on the toothpick move it over a tray or counter lined with wax paper (or nonstick foil) and shake it off of the toothpick. It may be helpful to use a second toothpick to free the ball from the toothpick. If there’s a crater-blemish on the top of the ball you can smooth things over with the toothpick or a dab more chocolate. Continue dipping the balls until you’re all done.
5. The chocolate will cool with a little time. You can transfer the finished chocolate covered peanut butter balls to fluted paper petit four cups or to a serving plate or gift box.
Yields: 50 – 60 balls per batch
Ready to get the party started?
This recipe was a Kiker family favorite during the holidays.
It still is.
The more we made, the more we shared. And the more we shared, the more we ate. The circle of life.
I found it interesting to see that Mom’s *original* recipe (below) called for Corn Pops… and that it was later
scratched out and replaced with Cheerios. I’m guessing perhaps the sweet-salty match-up was too “avant garde” back in the 70s… Or was it?
I dove-in head first with my first attempt re-making this classic by using both the Corn Pops and Tabasco. And you know what? I loved them both!
While my childhood friend “Snoopy” later popularized the Party Mix, Mom was making this original before it was available, pre-made in a bag, at the grocery stores (there’s not much fun in that).
Brother Roger said “Nuts and Bolts” would often be served warm in Mom’s white CorningWare bowls, which he still has to this day. And his favorite part? Taking the pretzel sticks and “stabbing” the Cheerios in their center hole, so he could stack ’em up.
Move over, popcorn. There’s an old snack in town. Nuts and Bolts rules. Hands down.
PS ~ I take responsibility for the doodling on the back of the well-worn recipe card; seems I was too young to have respect for life’s “little treasures.”
group 1 :
1 stick (1/2 cup) | oleo (Nanny loved Falurrias Brand Butter!)
1 tablespoon | Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon | garlic salt
¼ teaspoon | salt
to taste | Tabasco (if desired)
to taste | Lawry’s brand seasoned salt with black pepper (if desired)
group 2 :
2 cups | cheerios (the “bolts”)
3 cups | wheat chex
3 cups | rice chex
to taste | pretzel sticks
1 package | lightly salted peanuts (the “nuts”)
1 package | cashews (the “nuts”)
1 package | Texas pecans (the “nuts”)
ii. what to do
0. Preheat oven to 325°F.
1. Melt the oleo (butter) in a large baking pan and add the “group 1” ingredients. Stir well.
2. Stir-in the “group 2” ingredients until well coated.
3. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
4. Serve warm, if you can.
foodie tips ~
♥ This recipe is great for making treats for gift-giving… especially during the holidays when friends and family may pop-in for a visit.
♥ I remember mom also using Lawry’s brand seasoned salt on the party mix. Roger remembers it, too. Rahhhh, salty! I sprinkled some seasoned salt with black pepper on top just before I put them in the oven and it brought back the good times.
♥ Why not consider adding Corn Chex to the party? The more, the merrier.