minestrone soup

Minestrone Soup RecipeMy Mainstay, Minestrone

This is the third minestrone recipe I’ve discovered in my Mom “Betty’s” cookbook so there’s no doubt this was one of her favorites. This soup’s signature ingredients of beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, and tomatoes will not disappoint. Plus, there’s pasta and cheese!

I’m glad to be reminded that this dish hails from Italy. And not just Italy but ancient Italy (think BC, folks!).

I’ve kidded a few times here at Betty’s Cook Nook that my family must have had poor roots as many of the recipes we ate growing up are considered peasant foods. This is one of them; minestrone belongs to a style of cooking known in Italy as “cucina povera” (literally “poor kitchen”). All I have to say is bring it on — I love my peasant foods as they are hearty and the very origins of comfort foods rely upon them! True story: I once made and devoured an instant mashed potato on sliced white bread sandwich proving my forever love for carby sustenance.

HEB Organics Elbows Macaroni

Macaroni For Me … Macaroni For You!

As a lover and former resident of Italy, one thing I’ve learned is that Italians do not rush in the kitchen. They really don’t rush outside the kitchen, either, unless it’s from behind the wheel of a fast sports car or when horse racing at revered events like Siena’s Palio.

In similar fashion, please don’t hurry this recipe — let the ingredients mingle and get to know one another. While cooking time takes about an hour and a half it’s well worth the wait. You’ll be treated to wonderful smells from your lively kitchen and rewarded with a savory soup that has withstood the test — and taste — of time.

Eating In Cortona Italy

foodie tips

  Back in the day “oil” likely meant Crisco vegetable oil. Since this dish has Italian roots we used olive oil — a kitchen staple. As fan of a great olive oil, for several years I’ve fostered an Italian olive tree living on a farm gracing the hills outside Montalcino, Tuscany. Each year after the Il Palazzone harvest my eyes grow as wide as dinner plates when 3 bottles of pure gold arrive at my door. That’s amore!

  Make sure and check out Mom’s other two minestrone recipes here and here. I’m not sure which version I like best as each has its own merit. In a pinch you could make the one that makes best use of the ingredients you have in your kitchen.

  Wacky about minestrone? Wiki’s got you covered with more interesting facts about this zesty soup!

Minestone Ingredients

i. ingredients

½ cup | olive oil
1 clove | garlic, minced
2 cups | onion, chopped
1 cup | celery, chopped
4 tablespoons | parsley, chopped
6 ounce can | tomato paste
10 ½ ounce can (~1 ½ cups) | beef or vegetable broth
9 cups | water
1 cup | cabbage, coarsely chopped
| carrots, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons | salt
¼ teaspoon | freshly cracked pepper
⅛ teaspoon | sage
1 pound can | kidney beans
1 cup | green beans or peas (we used beans)
1 cup | elbow macaroni
to taste | grated parmesan cheese

ii. what to do

1. In a large pot heat the oil over medium-high heat.

2. Add the garlic, onion, celery, and parsley and cook until soft, about 7-9 minutes.

3. Stir in the tomato paste and the next 7 ingredients (the broth, water, cabbage, carrots, salt, pepper and sage). Mix well and bring to a boil.

4. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer slowly 1 hour.

5. Add the kidney and green beans (or peas) and the macaroni. Cook 10-15 minutes more or until the macaroni is tender.

6. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese. That’s right — grated cheese makes the world go ’round!

Yields 8 servings. Keeps well in the refrigerator and reheats nicely!

~ Patrick

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

Minestrone Recipe Card

Here’s A Scan Of Mom’s Actual Recipe Card

How To Make Minestrone Soup



bootsie’s salad

Bootsie's Salad Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook Almost four years after making Mom’s Layered Salad recipe, Bootsie’s Salad kicked its way into my life.

I don’t know who ‘Bootsie’ was, but celery, red onion, and tomato were a flavorful twist on the layered salad. So what, exactly, are the similarities and differences between Bootsie’s and Mom’s salads? I conducted a little side-by-side comparisons and the results are in!

Bootsies Salad versus Moms Salad

I think the results are clear – both salads have a lot to offer. In fact most anything fresh that finds its way into a salad bowl tastes great. Which is why next time I’m making a mega-layered salad comprised of all these ingredients! :)

foodie tips

  I thought it was odd that both recipes called for sugar. I didn’t really notice it, which means it probably got married-up with the mayonnaise (or sour cream). If you’re watching your weight you can eliminate the sugar and use low fat mayo along with other substitutions. Remember – this recipe is from flashback 1970s so pretty much anything went into the belly!

  This would pair well with anything from the grill – chicken, pork and beef come to mind.

  In case you missed the callout above here’s the link over to Mom’s Layered Salad here on Betty’s Cook Nook.

i. ingredients (listed in layered order)

1 layer | lettuce, blotted dry
1 layer | celery, diced
1 layer | red onion, sliced (we diced)
2 packages | frozen peas, cooked, drained, and cooled
globs | mayonnaise
to taste | salt and pepper
¼ cup | sugar
7-9 slices | crisp, crumbled bacon
| tomato, sliced
to serve | parmesan cheese, freshly grated

ii. what to do

1. Prepare the peas and set them aside.

2. Layer the ingredients into a bowl that will fit into your fridge:

  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Peas
  • Mayo (drop it by globs over the top of the peas)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Sugar

3. Cover the salad bowl with foil (or wrap) and place it into the fridge or crisper to allow things to marinate, about 3-5 hours.

4. At some point before you’re ready to unveil the salad prepare your bacon and set it aside.

Bootsies Salad Recipe

5. When ready to serve, remove the salad from the fridge and garnish with the crumbled bacon, tomato, and the parmesan cheese.

Yields 4-8 servings, depending on the size of your appetite and whether this is being served as a main entree or a side!

~ Patrick

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

A Scan Of Mom’s Original Bootsie’s Salad Recipe Card

Bootsie's Salad Original Recipe Scan

While Bootsie’s Salad Recipe doesn’t call for any additional dressing poured on top (you’ve already made it with the mayonnaise), let’s have a look at some vintage salad dressings commercials that might make you smile wider than a salad bowl.

Sous Chef Note: Let’s take a brief time machine stop into the 1980s with this Salad Shooter commercial. I was working at Foley’s in the (gulp) housewares department and this commercial was on a loop which means in a typical 8 hour shift I would have been exposed to this jingle almost 1,000 times. And some wonder why I hand slice/grate – the jingle is tattooed on my brain!

Sous Chef Note: Oh Edith, Ralph doesn’t love your salad – he loves your salad dressing – all of it! You just poured about 2 cups of dressing on his “side” salad. Just give him the pitcher and a straw. Voilà! LOL

Sous Chef Note: “What’s happening to salad that’s never happened before?” It’s getting smaller! I’m going to need seven servings of this Seven Seas salad – apparently my appetite is bigger than this teacup saucer-sized salad plate!

green pea timbales

A Green Pea Timbales RecipeYou Say Timbale. I Say Teem-Bah-Les.

I’m not quite sure how to pronounce “timbales” (2 syllables or 3) – it seems to depend on whether or not you are using the French or Spanish pronunciation.

The name derives from “kettledrum” after the drum-like mold in which the dish is baked.

Growing up I was a drummer and we often played drums called “timbales.” We pronounced them like this.

So put on your best Charo or Sofia Vergara accent (your choice) and let’s get cookin’!

Foodie Tips ~

  In a hurry? I think you can substitute canned peas for the frozen and save yourself a step. And a pot to clean.

  I must have been a salt block lovin’ cow in a former life. For some reason I couldn’t get enough salt on these so I used more than what was noted below.

  White Pepper? Didn’t find it at my grocery. I just used fresh cracked black pepper. Sorry, Mom!

  I don’t own any custard cups so I used the 4 ramekins, shown below. As a result I made larger timbales which required a little more time cooking. If you’re not planning on eating this as your only item I’d suggest making 6 and serving as a side.

i. ingredients

10 ounces | frozen peas
1 cup | cooked rice
1 cup | chicken broth
½ cup | cream
| cage free eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon | parsley, chopped
¼ teaspoon | celery salt
¼ teaspoon | onion salt

for the sauce:
1 cup | falfurrias brand butter
¾ cup | celery tops, finely chopped
¼ cup | flour
¼ teaspoon | salt
⅛ teaspoon | celery salt
⅛ teaspoon | white pepper
2 cups | milk
to garnish | more chopped parsley

ii. what to do

0. Heat oven to 325°F.

1. Cook the peas and drain. Combine the peas with the next seven ingredients – the rice, broth, cream, eggs, parsley, celery salt and onion salt.

Green Pea Timbales Going Into The Oven

2. Grease 6 custard cups (or ramekins) and fill each 2/3 full of the pea mixture from step 1 above. Place the custard cups on a shallow roasting pan filled with 1 inch of hot water and place in oven.

3. Bake 45 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

4. After the timbales have been baking about 25 minutes, let’s make the sauce. Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add and sauté the celery. Blend-in the flour, salts, pepper and milk. Simmer 6-8 minutes, stirring often until thickened.

5. Un-mold the pea timbales onto a warm serving platter and top with celery sauce and some chopped parsley.

Yields about 4-6 servings.

Green Pea Timbales Fresh From The Oven

Here’s a scan of Mom’s original recipe!

A Green Pea Timbales Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

If you missed the Sofia Vergara You Tube link above you have to watch it now. A guaranteed belly buster!


swiss steak

A Swiss Steak Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook
Swiss One’s For You

Mom had more than one Swiss steak recipe included in her culinary legacy. The handwritten recipe below caught our eye first, so let’s make a go of it.

Wait! Did you honestly think before we dove into this recipe that I wouldn’t “wax on” about this or that (or both)? Well you’re right!

You might learn a few things about this tasty dish, as did I. Most shockingly, this recipe does not hail from Switzerland – FOR REAL? Yes, if Wikipedia is remotely true, (and I believe that it is), I’ve been wrong about this small but tastefully important detail my entire life. Read why here.

Foodie Tips ~

  “Fat” sounds so … er … fatty.  :(  We used bacon drippings. Mmmm … bacon!  :)  Sounds much healthier and “hipper” than mere fat alone.

  If you’re feeling rather hungry and you don’t want to pound/tenderize the meat, you can simply coat the steak with the flour mixture by tossing them all together. But don’t blame me if you have second thoughts!

  Sadly, my local market (cough-cough-HEB-cough) was out of the cuts of meat I was looking for. Sniffle! Sniffle! But I found boneless chuck steak ribs and they were quite good. But on the next go, I’ll try waking up early in the day for a run at the steak.

A Vintage Borden's Potatoes Picture From 1959  Serve with a bountiful sidekick of instant potatoes? Hey, don’t hate! This blog is about functional food from the 1950s – 1970s, so that’s what we ate … and we loved it! And yet I’m still alive to blog about it. I fondly remember black packets of Borden Brand Instant Mashed Potatoes prepared with a divot generously filled with melted butter and a sprinkling of Lawry’s Brand Seasoned Salt (shown above). My brother Roger tells me that Idahoan has filled the void sadly left by Borden. I read more online about the blows to the Borden brand and he’s right. Tonight my partner Joe thanked me more than he did at Christmastime for making this savory starch “with no nutritional value.” That says a lot about his love of instant potatoes … and my skills with gift giving.  :\

  Whoopsie! Forgot to add the peas near the preparation dismount … probably because I was overly-focused on the “sinsationally” starchy potatoes and garlicky green bean sidekicks.

i. ingredients

1 ½ pounds | round or chuck steak, about 1-inch thick
2 tablespoons | flour
½ teaspoons | salt
¼ teaspoon | fresh cracked pepper
3 tablespoons | fat
| white onion, sliced into rings
8 ounce can | hunt’s brand tomato sauce
1 cup | water
1 cup | green peas

ii. what to do

1. Cut steak into four pieces.

2. Mix flour, salt and pepper, coat the steak, then pound into steak.

3. Heat fat/drippings in a large pan over medium heat.

Making Sliced Onions For Swiss Steak From Betty's Cook Nook

4. Separate the sliced onion into rings then cook them in the bacon (Mmmm …) drippings until golden. Push the rings to the side of the pan to make room for more friends.

5. Place the coated steak into the pan and brown slowly on both sides.

6. Cover steak with the onions, the tomato sauce and water and blend. Heat until bubbly.

7. Cover tightly then lower heat and simmer 2 hours or more until meat is very tender. Add the peas and warm through.

A Closer View Of Swiss Steak From Betty's Cook NookA Scan Of Mom's Swiss Steak Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook




mom’s layered salad

A Layered Salad Recipe From Betty's Cook NookLayers Of Taste

This salad recipe should be in everyone’s cookbook, so best bookmark it now.

My Cousin Julie said this dish is very popular for potluck meals – and when she’s taken this she’s always been asked for the recipe.

It’s that good!

Foodie Tips ~

  If you plan to eat this salad right away, run hot water over the frozen peas before adding so that they will defrost. Or you can use canned or fresh peas.

  Ingredient amounts may be doubled and layers may be doubled for large party servings. You can add any of the optional ingredients below to make this salad more of an entree then serve it with rolls, iced tea and a dessert! Need some dessert ideas?

  You may notice that in my pic above I served my salad from a glass champagne bucket. Whoopsie – no big glass dish for me! If you don’t care as much about the presentation you can layer this salad in any bowl that you’d like but make sure it’s large enough to hold the head of lettuce and all its friends.

  If you can serve the salad with the layers in tact send me a pic! It’s probably best to toss the salad just before serving. That is, after everyone has already viewed and snapped pics of your multi-layered wonder.

i. ingredients

the main stuff:
1 head | iceburg lettuce, chopped
1 box | frozen peas
2 cans | water chestnuts, drained (I added a can to the recipe below)
| green onions, chopped
1 cup | swiss cheese, shredded
optional | ham, chopped
optional | black olives, sliced or chopped (I used 2 cans)
optional | hardboiled eggs, chopped
optional | green peppers, chopped
optional | dealer’s choice  :)

the topping:
1 cup | mayonnaise
1 cup | sour cream
½ – 1 teaspoon | sugar (it’s not me, it’s the ’70s calling!)

to serve:
1 bottle | hormel brand bacon bits (yummm… a bottle)
1 cup | parmesan cheese, shredded

ii. what to do

1. In a large glass dish layer the first five ingredients to form the base of the salad. Add the optional ingredients, as you wish.

2. Mix together the three topping’s ingredients above and spread over the top of the salad. Be sure to cover to the edges to seal. The salad may be covered with plastic wrap and left in the fridge for a day or two or enjoyed now.

3. When ready to serve sprinkle the salad with the bacon bits and the parmesan cheese.


mom's layered salad recipe from betty's cook nook


This photo is of Julie’s original Mom’s Layered Salad recipe. I took this pic on her dining room table which is as big and beautiful as Texas. The wood originated from a bowling alley.

Who would have thunk? My spectacular Cousin Julie, that’s who!

creamed peas and dried beef casserole

This special recipe is dedicated to my niece Kim ~
her curious spirit inspires me to explore beyond the obvious,
in search of greater meaning.
~      ~
creamed peas and dried beef casserole, plated up just for you

Shortly after reclaiming Mom’s cookbook and sharing the good news with my brothers (Tim and Roger), Roger asked if I had found the “S.O.S.” recipe. Funny, I had forgotten about chipped beef until he mentioned it!

Roger said Dad would make S.O.S. for us kids when Mom (Betty) was in stenography class (she was studying to become a successful court reporter. And she became just that)!

While Mom’s recipe below calls for toasted hamburger buns, I also remember Dad topping mere pieces of white toast with the creamy mixture. Super simple S.O.S.

Roger sent me this passage from his daughter Kim which taught me a thing or two about the history of this time honored dish:

“After reading the history of chipped beef and its relation to the military, I can understand why your Dad probably enjoyed making it. For Army soldiers, chipped beef was a favorite meal and for him it probably carried a lot of meaningful memories. For you, I can understand why you wanted us all to sit down as a family when we were kids and try it. Although we literally were in tears because of how bad it tasted, I can understand now why it had meaning for you. :)
Love ~ Kim”

While Kim didn’t find the Stouffer’s version of chipped beef terrifically tasty, I have to admit that after eating mom’s casserole, I’ll be giving it another go soon. I was surprised how great it tasted without my usual *mandatory ingredients* of salt and pepper.

i. ingredientslove chipped beef? strap your tastebuds in for this tasty ride!

1 can (16-17 oz.) | peas
1 cup | evaporated milk
¼ cup | butter
2 tablespoons | chopped onion
¼ cup | flour
1/2 teaspoon | paprika
1 teaspoon | prepared mustard (we prefer Jack Daniel’s mustard)
3 hamburger buns | split and toasted (we prefer seeded buns)
1 jar (2-1/2 oz.) | shredded dried beef
1 cup | grated American cheese

ii. what to do

0. Preheat oven to 375°F.

1. Drain pea juice into a 2-cup measuring cup then add enough water to make 1 cup of liquid.

2. Stir-in evaporated milk; set aside (reserve).

3. Melt the butter, add onion and cook together until tender, but not brown.

4. Blend-in flour, paprika and mustard.

5. Add the pea reserve and cook, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil and thickens.

6. To half of sauce add peas; spoon into a 10 x 6 inch baking dish.

the casserole hot out of the oven7. Arrange the buns (two sets of three each tall) on top of the pea mixture.

8. Add beef to remaining sauce and spoon on top of buns.

9. Sprinkle with cheese. If your local store doesn’t offer American cheese, you can substitute a mild cheese, like Colby.

10. Bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes.

Makes six 1970s portions, or two 2011 portions! Yeah!

Buon appetito!

mom's original recipe for creamed peas and dried beef (a.k.a. "s.o.s.")

A photo of Mom’s original recipe