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.


spinach delight

Spinach Delight Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Debuting for Super Bowl 2018 along with Holy Guacamole, this Spinach Delight recipe proved just that – De. Light. Ful!

Growing up you could find me about as close to anything fashioned from spinach as you could my homework (think: Far Far Away). Now that I’m older I can see what all the fuss was about – this dish is creamy, savory, and the dressing-stuffing that tops this appetizer provides the perfect crisp to raise eyebrows and arms.

Foodie Tips

  Herb Dressing or Herb Stuffing? Joe and I discussed this one for a bit. I told him I believed my Mom “Betty” knew well the differences between dressing and stuffing and she clearly penned the recipe card below “dressing.” But when we went searching for the ingredients for this recipe all we could find was Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing.

You can read this post where I help debunk the differences between dressing and stuffing but I’m leaving this “dressing” in the ingredients list even though I think the Pepperidge Farm stuffing packaging caters to northerners, where their Connecticut headquarters is located. #ThisIsTexas So buy their stuffing but call it dressing. :) Heck, even Pepperidge Farm uses the terms interchangeably as you can see in their very own recipe!

Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing

 This dip pairs remarkably well with tortilla chips, Fritos or better yet Fritos Scoops which will lend you a helping hand fostering bigger globs of the green good stuff from dish to belly. We also enjoyed our delightful dip smeared atop some homemade garlic-rubbed toast (see the mouthwatering “triple play” pic below).

i. Time

To prepare: About 15 minutes.
To bake: 30 minutes.
To enjoy:
Mere nanoseconds

ii. Ingredients

3 packages | frozen chopped spinach
1 stick | butter, softened (my Grandmother insisted on Falfurrias)
8 ounce package| cream cheese, softened
⅓ package | pepperidge farm herb dressing (see stuffing tip above)
to serve | your favorite chips or veggies (optional)

iii. What to do

0. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

1. While the oven’s preheating cook the spinach (boil it?) and drain well. Set aside.

2. Blend together half of the softened butter and all of the cream cheese. Add in the spinach and mix everything well. Place this mixture into a 2 quart baking dish.

3. Roll the dressing to fine crumbs and sprinkle it over the spinach mixture. Dot the top of the dressing with the remaining ½ stick of butter.

4. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest about 5 minutes.

Serve warm with your chosen accessory (tortilla chips, Fritos, Fritos Scoops, garlic bread, etc.). Or just enjoy it with a spoon!

~ Patrick

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

Spinach Delight The Triple Play

Super Bowl Score: Shown here is my beloved “triple play” shot – Spinach Delight with hand-rubbed garlic bread, Lil’ Smokies resting in a BBQ and grape jellied sauce, and my homemade Queso and Fritos Scoops. It was hard to share. :)

Spinach Delight Recipe

A Scan Of Mom’s Recipe Card (Circa 1970s)

Who is Mrs. Ira Lieberman?

Well clearly she was the inspiration behind this recipe per the credit Mom included on the recipe card above.

I did some online researching and believe I found her. Janet “Casey” Liberman was married to Ira Lieberman and both lived in San Antonio where I grew up.

Sadly both Ira and Casey have passed. I send my thanks to them for this recipe.


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


jojo’s spinach

Jo Jo's Spinach Recipe From Bettys Cook Nook

You’re Looking At Green Bean Casserole’s Kissin’ Cousin

Sadly, this recipe sat for many months lonely sandwiched amongst many other recipes hoping to be brought to life from Mom’s legacy cookbook.

On “lucky day” it was the chosen recipe because it sounded like the perfect side dish for fast approaching Thanksgiving. Boy, we were right! We loved the creamy-savory smash-up that reminded us of green bean casserole . . .  but with spinach.

Popeye would be proud.Popeye Loves Jo Jo's Spinach Recipe From Bettys Cook Nook

foodie tips ~

 By “mushroom soup” I’m 99.99% confident that “Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup” was implied. If for some reason Cream of Mushroom soup makes your tummy twitch, try Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup.

 This dish makes a great Thanksgiving side and it’s a great way to get kids to eat their spinach (Winky, Winky – we all know kids will love the onion rings, just like me).

 I canNOT believe my Mom wrote “We like it best w/o onion rings.” The rings were my favorite part! The hips don’t lie. Push off, Popeye!

 We prepared the spinach in the microwave. For shame. And speed.

i. ingredients

onion, sliced
2 10-ounce packages | frozen spinach, chopped
3-ounce package | cream cheese
½ can | mushroom soup
¼ can | fried onion rings

ii. what to do

0. Preheat oven to 350°F.

1. Sauté onion in a pan over medium heat then set aside.

2. Cook the spinach according to package instructions and drain well.

3. In a casserole dish combine the onion, spinach, cream cheese and soup.

4. Cover and bake for 15 minutes.

5. Remove casserole from oven, add onions on top and return everything to the oven to bake 10 minutes longer, uncovered.

6. Dish up and enjoy!

~ ~ ~

Who is “Jo-Jo?”

Jo-Jo and her husband Charles (Chizzy) Davis were our next door neighbors when I was a little kid. Sadly I don’t remember them very well. My brother Tim said they moved from the home they built at 2923 Trailend Drive a couple of miles away from us to Treasure Way in San Antonio. Who moved in to their former home? The Stephenson family! The Stephensons were our neighbors on Trailend until Mom and I moved out of the home shortly after Dad died.

A Scan Of Mom's Orignal Recipe - Jo Jo's Spinach Recipe From Bettys Cook Nook