puffy tacos

Puffy Taco Recipe

2 Treats In 1

If you’ve never eaten a puffy taco, you’re missing out on one of life’s greatest culinary creations! Picture the usual taco shell but it’s filled with air (kinda like a blow fish) and about ¼” thick. The shell is not crunchy but when made properly arrives in-between a soft and crunchy taco and it’s made of corn flour. The taste is 100% authentic and delicious!

Growing up in San Antonio I thought puffy tacos were as common as burgers, hotdogs or soda pop. Almost since the very beginning in 1937 my family has scored our favorite Tex-Mex delights from Teka Molino which is still in operation. Whenever I visit my hometown of San Antonio I make sure and load-up on an a la carte plate filled with my favorite edibles: bean and cheese cups, guacamole cups, and of course puffy tacos.

It wasn’t until about 30 years later in life I found myself living in Round Rock (a mere 90 minutes away) and was surprised that our Tex-Mex waitress had never heard of a puffy taco. And no, they didn’t carry them.

Teka Molino Treats

Behold The Puffy

We accidentally fell into making the puffy tacos. We were making empanadas with masa and decided to give it a whirl. After watching the Hilah video below we realized after a couple of fails we could make the puffy tacos! They were way easier to make than holiday tamales of 2019, when I was sore for two days later from the 5-6 hours of labor. I will never see a tamale the same way again!

What’s even better my Cousin Jennifer told me that the usual beef mixture inside the puffy taco wasn’t just mere old taco meat but picadillo, so that recipe is here as well! My favorite part of the picadillo are the small potatoes that are married-up with green bell peppers and the seasoned meat. Give this dish a whirl and I think you’ll love it!

Puffy Chalupa

Even Dressed As A Chalupa The Puff Makes All The Difference

Foodie Tips

❤  No tortilla press? I found some tips for how you can press your own without a formal press. Here’s one approach that makes use of plastic cutting boards and in this YouTube video you can see what you’re doing while you press, thanks to a glass pie plate! Since our tortilla press was on extra backorder we used the pie plate method with Ziploc bags (vs. plastic wrap) and it worked like a charm.

❤  Don’t be discouraged if your first few tacos shells crack or don’t fold properly! You can use the imperfect tacos for masa chalupas, make an impromptu taco salad, dip them into queso, serve with fresh pico de gallo, etc.

❤  For the best taco filling this recipe goes hand-in-hand with this picadillo recipe. You can trust me on this one! #PinkySwear

❤  I’ve never seen a yellow (orange) Mexican cheese but that’s how Teka Molino serves theirs. So a mild cheddar would work or possibly grated Velveeta. If you want to try a white cheese, go Oaxaca or Monterey Jack.

❤  For the best creamy jalapeño dressing recipe (shown above) click here.

  Want to learn more about the history of the puffy taco? This video is my favorite!

i. Time

Total prep: About 30 minutes (excluding the makin’ of the picadillo). This dish is best consumed fresh. We enjoy ours progressive style, meaning we set up our taco bar and eat as we make.

ii. Ingredients

for the puffy:
2 cups  |  maseca brand corn flour
1 ½ cups  warm water
1 teaspoon  |  salt
to form  tortilla press (or see alternate pressing tips above)
to press  PAM Spray, plastic wrap, or a Ziploc bag with the sides trimmed away with scissors
to fill pot 2 inches deep  canola, peanut or vegetable oil (we found canola didn’t stink up the kitchen as much)
1  deep pot or pan for frying
thermometer (for testing the oil temperature)
1  large metal spider strainer or strainer spoon ladle
1  metal spatula

to dress your puffy:
lettuce, thinly sliced
mild yellow or white cheese, shredded
tomato (diced or sliced)
fresh pico de gallo (chopped tomato, onion, salt, lime juice, and cilantro)

iii. What To Do

A word of caution: Remember you’re frying in hot oil! Please keep kids and pets safely away from the range top in case of any wayward oil splatters.

1. Prepare the masa!

  • I have a feeling for best results make your masa fresh; don’t make the masa tortillas in advance and refrigerate them.
  • In a medium-sized bowl combine 2 cups of the corn flour and the water.
  • Mix by hand until the dough is nice and soft. The dough should be moist but not stick to your hands. If the dough feels dry you can add a teaspoon or two of water and continue mixing until you’re happy. Don’t put too much water or else the puffy taco will get holes in it as it fries.
  • Hand roll the masa into the size of a golf ball.
  • Take one ball at a time and press it using your chosen pressing technique. You can press them all at once or press as you fry.

2. Puff those tacos!

  • We used a 2 quart cast iron pot filled with our chosen oil and the temperature gauge attached. The oil was heated precisely to 375°F. Make sure your range vent is on!
  • Insert one flattened tortilla into the oil and let it fry! Flip it over once after it has fully puffed (about 20 seconds). You’ll cook it no more than 60 seconds. After you flip the taco, form the signature fold by gently press and holding a metal spatula into the middle of the puff – this is where your toppings will eventually go. Be careful not to cut the taco in half! While forming the fold, keep the taco submerged under the oil to keep it cooking.
  • Using your strainer, lift the taco from the oil, lightly shake the puffy shell a few seconds and transfer it to a cooling rack that is sitting on top of a baking sheet (to catch any oil drippings). Let the taco rest with the inside of the taco fold facing down.
  • Ensure that the oil has returned to 375°F then continue making additional tacos until all the rolled masa balls are complete.
Puffy Taco Side View

Puffy Taco Shells Should Be Like An Al Dente Noodle – Soft To The Bite – Not 100% Crunchy Or Soggy

3. Dress those tacos!

  • This isn’t Taco Bell! So a properly dressed taco is what tastes Um Um, vs. OH. MY. GAWD! delicious! (we’re going for the latter).
  • Fill a taco with about a 1/4 cup of picadillo (or your chosen filling) then add your toppings.
  • While I could go crazy with an assortment of toppings, I prefer to enjoy my puffies how Teka Molino makes them – rather simple, so the picadillo doesn’t get lost with an avalanche of other toppings. My suggestion: lettuce, cheese then the tomato slice on top.

Perfection!

~ Patrick

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

Spicy Shrimp Puffy Tacos


picadillo, part ii

Picadillo Recipe From Bettys Cook NookThe Big Deal About Picadillo

In 2014 I posted this original picadillo recipe which remains a family favorite. This recipe makes a welcomed “second spin” on the original via my main squeeze: the puffy taco.

I routinely obsess about eating my favorite puffy tacos from my childhood chomping grounds of San Antonio’s Teka Molino where my Mom “Betty” grew up eating bean rolls for a nickel. She was barely 3 years old when “Tekas” opened in 1937!

This week while I was catching up with my Cousin Jennifer about newsworthy topics like puffy tacos she confirmed that the usual beef mixture inside the Teka puffy taco is in fact picadillo, which is anything but “just” ground beef! The flavors are unmistakably from south of the border and make a signature part of the best puffy tacos you’re likely to encounter.

My favorite part about picadillo are the small potatoes that are married with green bell peppers and the seasoned meat. Some describe picadillo as a ground beef hash and I’ve been known to eat it straight from the skillet with a spoon and a smile.

Give this dish a whirl and I think you’ll love it!

Foodie Tips

❤  Picadillo is one of those rare finds that makes exceptional leftovers. Enjoy it atop: 1) Nachos; 2) Warm, crusty bread; 3) Chalupas; 4) White or corn taco shells; 5) A baked potato; 6) Feeling adventurous? Make picadillo and baked eggs! To do so just reheat the picadillo in a skillet or microwave. Transfer the picadillo to a skillet and make a small well (indentation) for each cracked egg to rest in. Bake everything at 350°F for 13-15 minutes. You’ll want the egg yolks to finish a tad “runny,” – not hard boiled. This makes it a delicious way to start the day!

❤  In case you missed it don’t forget to enjoy this picadillo inside a puffy taco. Puffies aren’t necessarily easy to make the first time but after our second attempt I declared Joe a pro.

❤  Never heard of a puffy taco? Learn more about its history here!

i. Time

Total prep: About 30 minutes.

Picadillo and Baked Eggs

Picadillo and Baked Eggs. 100% delicious!

ii. Ingredients

1 tablespoon  |  oil (we prefer vegetable, canola or avocado)
1 pound  |  ground beef
½  |  onion, diced
½  |  green bell pepper, diced
1 medium  |  russet potato, chopped into ¼ – ½ inch squares
10-ounce can  |  diced tomatoes and chilies (a.k.a. RO*TEL), with the juice
8-ounce can  |  tomato sauce
2 tablespoons  |  taco seasoning
1 teaspoon  |  cumin
2 tablespoons   |  minced garlic
to taste  |  salt and pepper

iii. What To Do

1. In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, add the oil and ground beef, break-up the beef with a spoon or spatula for a couple of minutes while sautéing.

2. Add the chopped onions and bell pepper and sauté another minute or two.

3. Add the potatoes and give things a stir.

4. Add the rest of the picadillo ingredients (diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, taco seasoning, cumin, tomatoes and minced garlic).

5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes. While things are simmering you can move to making your puffy tacos with this recipe or… when the picadillo is done, remove from heat, leaving covered to keep warm. You’ll know it’s done when the potatoes are soft, but not mushy.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do!

~ Patrick

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

Puffy Taco Recipe

If you’re reading this you must be interested in puffy tacos, pictured here with picadillo!


fried rice

The Best Fried Rice RecipeA Rice Surprise

This fried rice recipe didn’t seem much of a recipe at all.

There were just a few ingredients listed on Mom’s recipe card (below) and there were no measurements. Seriously?

Well I was shocked when Joe made the fried rice seemingly out of nowhere. It was absolutely the best fried rice I’ve ever had and he made it at home using my Mom “Betty’s” recipe as a guidepost!

After all these years… I’m glad there looks to be what is a dash of a soy sauce stain on Mom’s recipe card.

Foodie Tips

❤  This dish loves seemingly day old, dry seemingly unusable rice. This recipe will bring the rice back to life in a delicious way! Joe will make a fresh batch of rice in our Zojirushi rice maker then refrigerate it so it gets nice and dry.

❤  A bit about peas and carrots. We keep the frozen bagged stuff on hand at all times and these are super easy to add to the fried rice. Plus these add a nice pop of color!

❤  If you haven’t heard the term “soft scrambled eggs,” they’re just a little under cooked or taken “just to the shiny” and a bit wet look. To some, soft scrambled is the preferred way to eat them. In this recipe they’ll finish cooking in the rice.

❤  Winner Winner! Joe’s extra spin on this recipe included 3 cage free eggs and 1 tablespoon each of fresh minced ginger, garlic, soy sauce and hoisin sauce. OMG.

i. Time

Total prep: About 20 minutes.

ii. Ingredients

|  cage free eggs
1 pound  |  meat (pork, chicken, beef)
2-3 tablespoons  |  vegetable oil
at least 2-3 cups  |  cooked, cold rice (we prefer white, basmati and jasmine rices) follow the package instructions
2-4 tablespoons  soy sauce
1-2 cups  peas and carrots (frozen or fresh), optional
lots o’  |  green onions, sliced
to taste  |  kosher salt
to taste  |  fresh cracked black pepper
optional  |  sesame seeds, toasted

Fried Rice Recipe

iii. What To Do

1. In a large pan over medium-low heat soft scramble the eggs and set them aside to rest.

2. In the same pan sauté the meat in oil. Joe used some thinly sliced pork and it was tender and delicious!

3. Add the the cooked rice. Stir/sauté everything until nice and brown.

4. Season with the soy sauce and continue stirring. Hungry yet?

5. Add the peas and carrots then the green onions.

6. Toss on some salt and a few fresh cracks of black pepper. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds and you’re done!

~ Patrick

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

Yum Yum Fried RiceFried Rice Recipe Bettys Cook Nook


mrs. copple’s banana bread

Mrs. Copples Banana Bread RecipeBreadwinners

Back in 2012 I posted this banana nut loaf cake recipe (which is really just banana bread, disguised with the “loaf” part). It has remained a family favorite to this day and I look forward to making muffins out of my Aunt’s recipe on our next go.

My friend Suzanne will be delighted to hear that Mrs. Copple’s banana bread recipe doesn’t call for nuts (shorthand for pecans, here in Texas). She and I continuously arm wrestle over whether banana bread should or should not have nuts and since I’m the fingers behind this post we know that “with nuts” wins. Yay me! But I will admit – this banana bread packs a great taste. Even if the nuts were forgotten! 🤠

Regardless of nuts and butter (or no nuts and margarine), I think we can agree we’re “breadwinners” when we enjoy a baked banana slice of home sweet home.

Foodie Tips

❤  You won’t see a bread picture in this post. Why? We decided to gift some of this sweetness to neighbors and thought muffins would be more portable than slices of bread. This recipe yielded 6 large (jumbo) muffins and 12 mini muffins (yielding 18 in total). For the large muffins you’ll cook about 25 minutes at 350°F; the minis were ready in 15 minutes.

❤  In addition to arm wrestling over nuts or no nuts, you can add butter vs. margarine to the list! We used butter in this recipe vs. margarine. Sorry, Mrs. Copple! During the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown all we stock is unsalted butter so that’s what we used. There are some culinary differences between butter and margarine that you might want to read more about in this post.

❤  I thought it interesting lemon juice was called for to prevent turning the bananas brown (the bananas wouldn’t be sitting out for a long period of time). But I’m not willing to risk a brown banana bread so in the lemon juice went!

❤  To serve, my favorite way to enjoy a bread or muffin is “toasty warm” with a smear of plain Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese on top! There’s nothing better!

banana bread mini muffins

i. Time

Total prep: About 40-75 minutes (depending on whether you make mini muffins or bread)

ii. Ingredients

1 stick  |  margarine or unsalted butter (my Grandmother “Nanny” always insisted on Falfurrias brand butter)
1 cup  |  sugar
|  cage free eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon  |  baking soda
1 teaspoon  |  baking powder
1 teaspoon  |  salt
2 cups  |  flour, sifted
|  bananas
a tad  |  fresh lemon juice

the best banana bread muffins

iii. What To Do

1. In a mixing bowl cream the margarine (or butter) and sugar together.

2. Add the room temperature eggs and beat well.

3. In a separate bowl add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the flour.

4. Mash the bananas and sprinkle them lightly with a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

5. Mix together the flour mixture and the creamed butter/sugar mixture.

6. With a spatula hand mix-in the bananas and your banana batter is ready!

7. Decide whether or not you’re making bread or muffins. Prepare your chosen baking pan (we used nonstick spray) and fill ¾ full.

8. Bake for 50-60 minutes for the bread; about 25 minutes for jumbo-sized muffins; or 15 minutes for the mini muffins… all until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

~ Patrick

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

A Scan Of My Mom “Betty’s” Coveted Banana Bread Recipe (in her handwriting)


lela’s grits

True Grits

Grits were born in the 16th century thanks to the Muskogee Native American tribe of Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia.

Flash forward 400-ish years later and we’re still enjoying cornmeal that’s often served with a seemingly endless assortment of sweet and savory sidekicks.

Because grits don’t have much flavor all by themselves, they are super versatile adopting the taste of their foodie sidekicks like bacon, cheese, onions, shrimp, sausage and more. Butter is a given! I’ve included some ingredient options below, although Lela’s original recipe just called for garlic cheese. Sometimes the simple foods provide the greatest comfort!

My orientation to grits was via the 1970s greasy spoon diner sitcom Alice. I spent many hours watching Flo Castleberry find a delightfully southern and spunky way of telling people to “Kiss my grits!” Here’s a video compilation of some of her sassiest moments:

Truth be told – one bite in and you may just kiss these grits. I enjoyed reminiscing over this dish and hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Foodie Tips

❤  Garlic cheese roll? Yeah, you won’t likely readily find it at the grocery store. This good ol’ classic has been discontinued by Kraft but you can score a way to make your own Garlic Cheese Roll at home with this Betty’s Cook Nook recipe (scroll to the bottom for the bonus cheese roll recipe).

❤  This pimiento cheese recipe tastes great in lieu of the garlic cheese roll.

❤  I discovered a recent Southern Living magazine article with some ingredient options to enjoy grits three unique ways: Option 1: Scrambled eggs, cubed ham, shredded cheddar cheese, halved cherry tomatoes, and chopped fresh chives. Option 2: Fried egg, cubed chorizo, cubed avocado, crumbled queso fresco (fresh Mexican cheese), and hot sauce. Option 3: Poached egg, crumbled bacon, sautéed spinach, and shaved Parmesan cheese.

i. Time

Total prep: About 25 minutes

ii. Ingredients

3 cups  |  boiling water
1 cup  |  grits
to taste  |  salt
1 roll  |  garlic cheese roll
1 stick  |  unsalted butter (my Grandmother always insisted on Falfurrias brand butter)
|  cage free eggs
to serve  |  cheddar cheese, shredded
to garnish  |  bacon, crumbled (optional)
to garnish  |  green onions, sliced (optional)

iii. What To Do

1. In a saucepan bring the water to a boil.

2. Slowly stir the grits into the boiling water. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes until thickened.

3. Add the salt, garlic cheese, butter and eggs and continue cooking until everything melts, about 2-3 minutes. The cheese should cool the grits a bit – you’ll want to make sure you don’t scramble your eggs!

Optional step: We transferred the grits into a buttered casserole dish, topped the grits with the shredded cheddar cheese and baked it at 350°F for 10 minutes to give the grits a cheesy crust up top.

4. To serve (if using): Sprinkle the bacon and sliced green onions on top and enjoy!

~ Patrick

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

A Scan Of Mom’s Original Grits Recipe Card

Who is Lela?

When I was growing up Lela Swinny lived at 3006 Northridge in San Antonio just 2 doors around the corner from my family’s home at 2927 Trailend.

The Swinny family was a delightful bunch of folks and my family spent almost as much time at their house as our own so naturally “fooding” was a part of the times our two families shared.

Mom’s dear friend “Lela” taught me many things ~ the joy of laughing, how to swim in their awesome pool, and how to cook a memorable breakfast treat called “Egg In A Nest,” which is also posted here at Betty’s Cook Nook.

True family fact: Back in the 1970s Lela was throwing out an old desk that caught my Mom’s eye. A coat of red paint later and it was a cornerstone in my brother Tim’s red white and blue bedroom (it was around the time of our Country’s Bicentennial celebration so red white and blue was extra hot). In the 1990s I painted the desk black and it’s the desk where I author this cooking blog to this day, proving that Lela is still with us, heart and soul!

You’ll find a picture of Lela and me in the “old family photos” tab and you can search for her by name to connect with more of her spirited recipes here at Betty’s Cook Nook.

Cheers to two great friends – my Mom Betty and Lela!


spinach crepes with ham sauce

Spinach Crepes with Ham SauceCrepes Of Great

Whether they’re sweet or savory, crepes have always intrigued and intimidated me.

I’m always afraid I can’t keep them in tact (no crepe skills) which is likely why only recently I found the encouragement to make them later in life. Thanks to this recipe my partner Joe showed me firsthand that crepes are actually doable without a fancy crepe pan or cooking classes!

Crepes originate from Western France and they are celebrated every February 2nd during e jour des crêpes or “the day of the crepe.”

Growing up I don’t remember eating these crepes with ham sauce but I do remember dreaming about every kid’s treasured hammy story “Green Eggs and Ham.” You can enjoy a video short of that below.

This recipe hails from my Cousin Julie’s kitchen and I’m pegging it at circa 1970s or 80s. Julie wrote the recipe on her special stationery to my Mom “Betty,” and I’ve included a scan of the original below!

Foodie Tips

❤  If you’re fast-tracking this recipe while the crepe batter is chilling in the fridge you can continue on to prepare the filling and ham sauce. Or you can enjoy a mimosa and some conversation with your friends and family while the party crescendoes.

❤  Depending on the size of your pour you may have some leftover crepes. You can refrigerate them to enjoy a day or two later or… we froze a few of ours by placing a sheet of waxed paper between each crepe then placing the stack in an air tight, freezer-safe bag.

i. Time

Total prep: About 90-120 minutes (including 1 hour for the crepe batter to chill)

ii. Ingredients

for the crepes:
1 cup  |  flour, sifted
½ teaspoon  |  baking powder
¼ – ½ teaspoon  |  salt
|  cage free eggs
1 cup  |  milk
¼ teaspoon  |  nutmeg

for the filling:
1 cup  |  onion, chopped
2 tablespoons  |  unsalted butter (give Falfurrias brand a try per my Grandmother “Nanny”)
10 ounce package  |  frozen spinach, thawed
1 cup  |  swiss cheese, diced
2 teaspoons  |  dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon  |  salt
¼ teaspoon  |  nutmeg

for the ham sauce:
2 tablespoons  |  Mmmmmore unsalted butter
2 tablespoons  |  flour
¼ teaspoon  |  salt
1 cup  |  milk
½ cup  |  half and half
2 teaspoons  |  dijon mustard
1 ½ cups (about ½ pound)  |  ham, cooked and diced
to garnish  |  green onions, chopped (optional)

iii. What To Do

Prepare The Crepes: 1) Combine by hand the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. 2) In a separate bowl beat the eggs and milk together then add to the flour mixture. 3) Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight, if you’re preparing this ahead of time. 4) Over medium-low heat (we used gas) melt some butter in a flat pan or crepe pan. 5) Pour 3 tablespoons of the batter all at once into the heated pan and let it sit a few seconds. Carefully rotate, flip and cool a bit more on the second side. Transfer the crepe onto a plate until ready to use. Continue cooking and stacking until you’ll all out of batter, making about 12 crepes. If you’re lucky the crepes will turn out something like this:

Prepare The Filling: 1) In a larger pan over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in butter. 2) Add the spinach and cook until the moisture evaporates. 3) Stir in the swiss cheese, mustard, salt and nutmeg. 4) Preheat your oven to 350°F. 5) Fill the crepes using ¼ cup of the filling for each, roll ’em up, and arrange them in a lightly buttered casserole dish. You can place them in a chafing dish if you’re serving right away.

spinach and ham crepes from bettys cook nook

Prepare The Ham Sauce: 1) In your crepe pan, melt butter and stir in the flour and salt. 2) Add the milk, half and half and the mustard. 3) Cook, stirring constantly until thickened. 4) Fold in the diced ham and heat until warm. 5) Pour the ham sauce over the crepes and “warm up the whole business at once in the oven” as Julie wrote below, about 10-15 minutes or heat in the chafing dish (per above).

We sprinkled some chopped green onions on top to serve (optional).

Enjoy!

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
spinach crepes and ham sauce

Julie's Spinach Crepes with Ham Sauce Recipe

Who is “Julie Mueller”

Julie is more than my 1st Cousin; she has been like my 2nd Mom. Julie had a heart bigger than Texas and I can still hear her signature “infectious” laugh which would instantly brighten any room.

Julie was known for having the impeccable skill of a master entertainer and with that the tastiest of foods were always to be enjoyed by all! I always thought of Julie as my very own Martha Stewart as she was crafty well beyond the kitchen across mediums like needlepoint, painting, furniture restoration and being a wonderful decorator and story teller. Whether by design or accident, Julie taught me to never underestimate the loving power and influence of a Cousin!

You’ll find several of Julie’s recipes, photos, and stories here at Betty’s Cook Nook. Her memory lives on in those who knew her and I’m happy to share some of her favorite foods with you.


hondo corn casserole

Thanksgiving Spectacular

In uncommon fashion I’m pre-posting some recipes that are on deck and ready for the upcoming foodie festival!

Scroll down below and you’ll find three recipes that hail to my kitchen from my Cousin Julie – Hondo Corn Casserole (thank you, carbs), Madeira Turkey, and Wild Mushroom and Pecan Stuffing! These are on deck and coming out of the oven soon!

For you new-comers out there if you missed it make sure and check out the latest posts perfect for Thanksgiving –  Pumpkin Bread, Sour Cream Apple Pie plus Brandied Pumpkin Flan which is a family Thanksgiving staple. On our sister site Home Style Austin you can score our newest recipe Honey+Rosemary Roasted Cashews which are great for gift giving. Enjoy our 2019 fall “flavorites” from us to you!

This is surely going to be a Thanksgiving to remember. Photos and my usual rambling on about the good ol’ days to follow!

HONDO CORN CASSEROLE

This recipe sat in my cookbook likely since the 1990s. This year I was searching for the best sides to make for Thanksgiving and dived in. I couldn’t remember the origin of the recipe but when I read the ending of the recipe “If guests arrive, give them a drink and regale with stories of Texas Gulf Coast wonders” I knew this recipe hailed from someone special.

One phone conversation with Cousin Jennifer and it was confirmed – this recipe was from my dear Cousin Julie Sutton Mueller. Jennifer said this was one of Julie’s long-standing recipes at the holidays and as the recipe indicates – it’s a crowd favorite and people always ask for this recipe. That certainly proved true this Thanksgiving when I made it for our annual gathering at Canyon Lake!

Foodie Tips

❤  All about the corn: You can use a box of frozen corn – the instructions below presume you’ll use canned corn. If you’d like to increase the serving sizes to 8-10 you can add a can of the whole kernel corn.

❤  “Unsweetened condensed milk” – you’ll likely not find this in your store… but never fear – it’s the same thing as evaporated milk. Who knew?!? I didn’t until I researched it!

i. Time

Total prep: About 75 minutes

ii. Ingredients

16 ounce can  |  cream style corn
16 ounce can  |  whole kernel corn
1 cup  |  cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup  |  Ritz crackers, crushed
1 small  |  onion, chopped (or several green onions, chopped)
|  cage free egg
3 tablespoons (or less)  |  sugar
⅔ cup  |  unsweetened condensed milk (see foodie tip above)
1 stick  |  unsalted butter, melted (tip: my Grandmother “Nanny” insisted on Falfurrias brand butter)
1 small can (4.5 ounces)  |  chopped green chilis
to taste  |  salt and fresh cracked pepper

iii. What to do

0. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Meanwhile…

1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine all the ingredients together and set aside.

2. Grease or spray an oven casserole dish and fill it with your casserole mixture. You can either refrigerate this overnight until ready to bake or you can simply jump to step 3!

3. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the top is golden brown. Recommended step: If you’d like to make a pretty top crust, 10 minutes before the casserole is done baking sprinkle more cheese or crushed Ritz crackers on top. Deeeee-licious!

Serves: 6-10 (see recipe expansion tip above)

~ Patrick

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

Hondo Corn Casserole

A Scan Of Cousin Julie’s Hondo Corn Casserole

Thanksgiving 2019Enjoy your preview of what’s to come for Thanksgiving 2019!Wild Mushroom and Pecan Stuffing

Madeira Roast Turkey


sour cream apple pie

Sour Cream Apple Pie Recipe

The Apple Pie Of My Eye

Hubba! Hubba! One bite into this apple pie sent me back on a flavor adventure into my childhood – a time when apple rocked my world.

My fondest apple memories weren’t necessarily of the fruit itself, but its fruit-inspired kissin’ Cousin – Jolly Rancher Apple Candy. Awe shucks – my eyes would grow wide with these little suckers and my fingers could barely fumble fast enough to frantically tear off the plastic wrapper so I could get down to business.

Jolly Rancher Apple Stix Vintage Print Ad

It Doesn’t Appear That Jolly Rancher Made Any Apple-Inspired Print Ads Back In The Day…
So I Modified A Fire Stix Ad To Represent!

Several years ago my tongue stumbled upon my first Caramel Apple Pop and these have since become my go-to candy for Halloween trick-or-treaters. These taste like a green apple Jolly Rancher that’s been dipped in rich, lux caramel. Boy howdy! These are way easier to enjoy and I don’t have to be reminded that when it comes to my ability to handmake a caramel apple on a stick I ought to just phone a friend for help (you can read all about that hilarious foodie fail here)!

Back To Pie Basics

This recipe – like others – unassumingly sat tucked away in my Mom’s cookbook. Then this October fall rushed in. This is when Texas temperatures drop into the 90s and we reach for blankets and sweaters to keep us alive. October is a time of year when the eyes and the appetite often turn to the wonderfully warm and woodsy flavors of fall. And sitting right in the middle of it all is the fall apple.

Enjoy the mash-up of apple graced with the south’s favorite sidekick – good ol’ sour cream! Topped with a cinnamon-sugar crumb topping, the remarkable taste is probably one of the earliest sweet ‘n sour ‘n tarty foods I can remember.

Sour cream apple pie – you’re welcome in my stomach any time!

Foodie Tips

❤  I may not be an apple connoisseur but I do recognize all apples are not created equal when it’s time to bake them. Avoid the ones that get “mushy” – nobody wants those in their pie! I got lucky and picked a granny smith apple which proved to be the perfect pucker-upper for the sour cream pairing! Here’s some southern wisdom about selecting baking apples.

❤  I have a gas oven and it browned my pie a little more than I would have preferred. I used a silicon pie crust shield which will help prevent the edges of your crust from burning.

i. Time

Total prep: About 75 minutes

ii. Ingredients

for the pie:
|  pie crust
2 tablespoons  |  flour
⅛ teaspoon  |  salt
¾ cup  |  sugar
cage free egg
1 cup  |  sour cream
1 teaspoon  |  vanilla
¼ teaspoon  |  nutmeg
2 cups  |  apples, diced (I enjoyed this with the peel on)

for the crumb topping:
⅓ cup  |  sugar
⅓ cup  |  flour
1 teaspoon  |  cinnamon
¼ cup  |  unsalted butter, melted (tip: my Grandmother “Nanny” insisted on Falfurrias brand butter)

iii. What to do

0. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Meanwhile…

1. Line a 9-inch pie pan with the pastry.

2. In a medium-sized bowl sift together the flour, salt, and sugar.

3. Add the egg, sour cream, vanilla, and nutmeg to the flour mixture. Beat everything into a smooth, thin batter.

4. Stir in the diced apples and coat well.

Sour Cream Apple Pie Going Into The Oven

5. Pour your apple batter into the pastry-lined pie pan.

6. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes then lower temperature to 350°F and bake for 30 minutes – be careful not to over-bake!

7. Remove the pie from the oven and let it rest while we make our crumb topping.

8. Coarsely mix the four topping ingredients together in a small bowl and sprinkle them over the top of the pie. Lumpy crumbs are good here – there’s no need to pulverize the topping.

Apple Pie Crumb Topping

9. Raise the oven to 400°F and return the pie to bake 10 minutes to brown.

10. Remove the pie and let it rest. Warm or cold this pie is delicious!

Sour Cream Apple Pie Guard

Yield: 8-12 slices of tasty pie

~ Patrick

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

Sour Cream Apple Pie Recipe

A Scan Of My Mom “Betty’s” Original Sour Cream Apple Pie Recipe


pumpkin bread

Pumpking Bread

Fall Is In The Air

It’s hard to image Halloween without enjoying the time-tested taste of pumpkin.

Nowadays the season is ushered in with the arrival of anything pumpkin spice. Back in my younger days, however, pumpkin was simple, usually in the form of pie, flan, or bread.

Before we break into this bread recipe let’s have a look and some laughs at some vintage family Halloween pics from the good ol’ years! And before we watch the Hallo-slideshow, please click and listen to The Great Pumpkin Waltz by Vince Guaraldi. It sets the mood for pumpkin bread perfectly!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Foodie Tips

❤  I often get stumped on the material differences between baking powder and baking soda. This Bon Appetit article explores the yin and yang of these two essential baking ingredients.

❤  Fancy pumpkin? Take your tastebuds on a spin with my Mom’s other pumpkin bread that’s a kissing Cousin to this recipe… it includes raisins and pecans!

i. Time

Total prep: About 75 minutes

A Pumpkin Bread Recipe From Betty's Cook Nookii. Ingredients

4 | cage free eggs, beaten
3 cups | sugar
1 cup | salad oil
20-ounce can (2 ½ cups) | pumpkin
3 ½ cups | all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon | baking powder
2 teaspoons | baking soda
2 teaspoons | salt
½ teaspoon | ground cloves
1 teaspoon | ground allspice
1 teaspoon | ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon | ground nutmeg
⅔ cup | water

iii. What to do

0. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

1. In a large bowl mix together well the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin.

2. In a separate medium-sized bowl combine the 8 dry ingredients and add to the pumpkin mixture. Add the water and mix well.

A Pumpkin Bread Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

3. Pour the batter into 3 greased 8-inch loaf pans. You may have noticed that I snuck in some nuts (a.k.a Texas pecans) on top of two of the loaves. Just to keep me an honest Texan.

A Pumpkin Bread Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

4. Place the loaf pans in the oven and bake for at 350°F for 45-50 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

A Pumpkin Bread Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Yield: 3 loaves. Each loaf will yield about 8-10 slices each!

~ Patrick

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

Vintage Witch And Moon BeistleFancy Retro Halloween Decorations?

You’re not alone! Revisiting some of my old family photos has me wishing we still had our old decorations! You can still find some online at Vintage Beistle. Great stuff!


prune cake

Prune Cake Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Thanks To Prunes, The Wait Is Over

If you’ve made it this far into the recipe then you’re obviously open to prunes. I mean hey, they have a bad rap for being associated with senior folks… and for giving the gift of, ahem, “regularity.”

Regardless of prunes’ affiliation with the trots at least 4 generations of my family have loved knocks at bathroom humor even before it was vogue. So I’m not sure why it took me 8 years after recovering Mom’s cookbook to dive into this recipe just because of the word “prune;” I should have been drawn to it!

So in 2000 even though the FDA changed the name of prunes to “dried plums” which boosted sales I say bring on the prunes! They taste great no matter what they’re called and who doesn’t like a little regularity? Plus, it seems that California may have returned to their prune-y roots, making me want to just call this “prune-plumb cake” just to ensure I have all “loose ends” covered (pun intended).

A Prune By Any Other Name…

I smiled when I saw this came from the Fredericksburg cookbook of our family friend “Lela.” Fredericksburg, Texas holds a special place in the hearts of Texans and it’s where Texas-German charm and heritage runs as thick as our state’s love for silky queso. I had a gut instinct this cake had historical origins to our European roots and I was right! Whether it goes by spice cake, election cake or muster cake, this is a delightfully decadent and dense cake that tastes like a warm slice of sweet Christmas drizzled with butter.

What’s different about this cake is the twist of incorporating Texas pecans and vanilla, and commingling them with the fruity smash-up taste of prunes in both the cake and the icing! I think you’ll agree this cake will disappear in a jiffy!

I saw in a recent McCormick video (below): “It’s the recipes we pass on to the next generation that are the reason there’s really no flavor like home.” And I hope this recipe becomes a, ahem, “regular favorite” that hails from Fredericksburg, to Lela, to my Mom, to me, and now to you!

Foodie Tips

❤  You can enjoy prune cake tabletop warm or cold from the fridge… but my favorite is when it’s just a bit warmed from the toaster oven or the microwave.

❤  9″ x 13″ loaf pan? This threw me because I thought loaf pans were almost as tall as they were wide. A 9″ x 13″ pan is what I call a sheet cake pan. I’m wondering if I could make a couple of 5″ x 9″ loaf pan cakes out of this!

❤  Prunes’ super power? Fiber, sorbitol, and polyphenols. They act as antioxidants and help keep a clean house.

i. Time

Total prep: 1-2 hours (includes cooling the cake)

Prune Cake Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

ii. Ingredients

for the cake:
3 | cage free eggs, well beaten
1 ½ cups | sugar
1 cup | salad oil
1 teaspoon | soda
1 cup | buttermilk
1 teaspoon | cinnamon
1 teaspoon | ground cloves
1 teaspoon | allspice
1 teaspoon | nutmeg
1 cup | mashed prunes, cooked
1 cup | pecans, chopped
2 cups | flour
1 teaspoon | baking power

for the icing:
2 tablespoons | butter (my Grandmother insisted on “Falfurrias” brand butter)
1 cup | sugar
2 | cage free eggs
½ cup | sour cream
1 cup | chopped prunes
1 cup | more chopped pecans
1 teaspoon | vanilla
a pinch | salt

iii. What to do

1. In a medium bowl beat the eggs and add the sugar. Beat everything together.

Prune Cake Recipe

Now Forming: A Blowout

2. In a measuring cup add the soda into the buttermilk, making sure to leave plenty of room as the soda will cause carbon dioxide bubbles to form, so use a larger measuring cup to prevent a “blowout,” (shown).

3. Add the salad oil, the buttermilk mixture and the the rest of the cake ingredients and mix well.

4. Bake everything in your choice of a greased 9″ x 13″ cake pan or three greased 8-inch cake pans at 350°F for about 25 minutes. When done remove the cake from the oven and let it cool on a cooling rack, if you have one.

Prune Cake Icing

5. After the cake has cooled a bit you can jumpstart your icing! Cream the butter and sugar and add the eggs. Mix with the remaining icing ingredients, transfer into a medium pan and cook over medium-low or medium heat until thick. Spread on cooled cake.

Serves: About 20 (sheet cake style)

~ Patrick

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

A Scan Of Mom's Prune Cake Recipe

A Scan Of Mom’s Prune Cake Recipe

 

Who is Lela?

When I was growing up Lela Swinny lived at 3006 Northridge in San Antonio just 2 doors around the corner from my family’s home at 2927 Trailend.

The Swinny family was a delightful bunch of folks and my family spent almost as much time at their house as our own so naturally “fooding” was a part of the times our two families shared.

American Revolution Bicentennial LogoMom’s dear friend “Lela” taught me many things ~ the joy of laughing, how to swim in their awesome pool, and how to cook a memorable breakfast treat called “Egg In A Nest,” which is also posted here at Betty’s Cook Nook.

True family fact: Back in the 1970s Lela was throwing out an old desk that caught my Mom’s eye. A coat of red paint later and it was a cornerstone in my brother Tim’s red white and blue bedroom (it was around the time of our Country’s Bicentennial celebration so red white and blue was hot). In the 1990s I painted the desk black and it’s the desk where I author this blog to this day, proving that Lela is still with us, heart and soul!

You’ll find a picture of Lela and me in the “old family photos” tab and you can search for her by name to connect with more of her spirited recipes.

Cheers to two great friends – Mom and Lela!