As a self-proclaimed pizza junky my at-home pizza-like objects often take a variety of forms involving Boboli crust, a nice slice of bread topped with Joe’s Red Sauce or this home grown recipe for Trader Joe’s Bacon Cheese Bread. No matter the form the cheesy, savory taste of pizza is always a delight, morning or night.
It wasn’t until my first trip to Italy that I discovered I actually prefer thin crust pizza topped with a few simple ingredients. Sorry, cheese-stuffed crust, deep-dish gooey pie!
This burger pizza recipe surprised both Joe and I – we agreed it was a bit like the home grown Boboli pizza of the 1970s. But before we dive into how to make a slice of this burger topped piggy pie let’s enjoy a little story.
Burgertime … In The Beginning
Following our family’s Pong and Atari 2600 digital scores, in walked ColecoVision. My Mom “Betty” and I spent many mind-numbing moments playing our hearts away in front of the likes of Dig Dig, Frogger, and BurgerTime. Let’s have a brief look at some of the BurgerTime action:
Wow. Chef eating pickles, eggs, hot dogs brought to life in cutting edge ROM graphics. Exciting, huh? Hah! More than 30 years later I still have my Coleco game console including my BurgerTime cartridge, which shows my inner love of food-related fancies. Anyone game for a BurgerTime playoff?
foodie tips ~
❤ We didn’t see instructions for how to prepare 1 cup of biscuit mix so we got as close as we could – we used 1 cup Bisquick brand mix plus ¼ cup whole milk to mix. Also, we added a tad more biscuit mix to dust our pastry/cutting board.
❤ Out of Bisquick? Try this substitute for 1 cup of Bisquick mix: 1 cup flour + 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder +½ teaspoon salt + 1 tablespoon of shortening. Mix it all up and voilà!
❤ Mom’s recipe doesn’t specify this but we browned our ground chuck before topping and baking the pizza.
❤ I thought to use fresh herbs but I was corrected. “Dried is what would have been used,” Joe said. I agreed.
1 cup | packaged biscuit mix (most commonly known in the 1970s as bisquick)
¼ cup | whole milk (if following the foodie tip above)
to coat dough | wesson oil
½ pound | ground chuck, browned (see foodie tip above)
to taste | salt, pepper and garlic salt
½ teaspoon | oregano or basil (we used oregano but I love me some basil)
8 ounce can | tomato sauce
1 tablespoon | parsley, chopped
¼ pound | swiss cheese, cut into 1-inch strips
ii. what to do
1. Prepare dough according to package directions (or my above foodie tip).
2. Divide the dough in half and roll each piece to fit the bottom and sides of the pie pans. Place in pan and brush with the oil.
3. Put half of the remaining ingredients on each of the pies in the following order: crumble the ground chuck evenly over the dough, sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic salt and oregano or basil. Cover with tomato sauce and parsley. Arrange the swiss cheese strips on top, like a spoke of a wheel.
4. Bake in a 400°F preheated oven about 20 minutes or until brown and cheese has melted.
Yields: 2 delicious pizzas
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
I’m confident this is the first of Mom’s recipes I found cut out with Pinking Shears (see the pic below).
Mom was an expert artist, although she would never consider herself as such [insert a Betty-blush here]. Mom’s artistic mediums spanned food, paper, wood, plants and cloth, where her pinking shears were one of her essential tools.
Mom loved sewing so much she found a way to include a sewing closet into her and Dad’s bedroom so there’s no doubting her passion for handmade clothes. Mom made many of her dresses, my band uniforms – she even sewed printed labels bearing my name into my clothes. I wish I still had the hand-painted denim shirt she made me based on my wish – a red barn complete with a scattering of farm animals painted in her “Oh, Betty” style.
I love it when I can find evidence of when Mom’s recipes came into existence. This one was from the May 1975 issue of Family Circle. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. My partner Joe said this sauce was better than his sauce. That really says a lot since his Red Sauce recipe is my favorite.
foodie tips ~
❤ Spaghettini? We had to look it up. And we briefly lived in Italy. It’s thin spaghetti. How to pronounce “bolognese?” This dish hails from Bologna, Italy, so it’s pronounced with four syllables – not three. Like boh-loh-NYEH-zeh. If you’re doubting your Italian pronunciation you can simply refer to it as a ragù, making sure to pepper your pronunciation with some hearty Italian hand gesturing.
❤ Pump up the jam. I added more carrot, celery and garlic. More cowbell? Well, that’s an ingredient for another special recipe.
❤ Why not serve this dish with some sidekicks? Some pepperoni-cheese bread and a side salad would hit the spot. It’s called a side salad so there’s more room for the bread. :~)
¼ pound (about 1½ cups) | mushrooms, sliced
1 | carrot, sliced
1 clove | garlic, crushed or minced
½ cup | onion, chopped
½ cup | celery, chopped
½ cup | green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons | wesson oil*
¾ pound | Italian sausage, casings removed and broken-up with a spoon
2 15-ounce cans | Hunt’s tomato sauce
½ cup | water
¼ cup | dry red wine (not optional)
1 teaspoon | sugar
¼ teaspoon | Italian herb seasoning
* We argued over this one. I wanted to use olive oil and Joe said “stick to the recipe the first time,” my very own cardinal rule. Joe won. But I still snuck-in more carrot, celery and fresh garlic since I wasn’t changing an ingredient. Besides, who gets all excited over one carrot, celery stalk or garlic clove?! Not me, that’s who!
ii. what to do
1. In a medium pan or Dutch oven, sauté the mushrooms, carrot, garlic, onion, celery and green pepper in the oil.
2. Add the sausage and cook until it’s no longer pink. Drain the fat (or not) … we don’t judge.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. Stir occasionally.
4. About 25 minutes into the simmer you can prepare your spaghettini by preparing your pasta according to the instructions.
5. Serve the bolognese over hot, cooked thin pasta.
Yields 5+ servings.
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
Here’s a scan of Mom’s original recipe.
After I safely recovered Mom’s cookbooks in 2011, I was quick to notice one thing missing – recipes from her Mom – Nanny. Nanny was the Grandparent I was closest to and she had a few “home run” recipes like her coconut-fruit (Ambrosia) salad, homemade chicken noodle soup and waffles served hot from the press. What’s not to like there?
I’ve been deeply saddened that Mom didn’t have any of Nanny’s recipes in her own cookbook but I find “the closer to home, the less likely you are to write things down.” This is certainly true with cooking as many of Mom’s favorite recipes were in her head – not on paper – so good luck to us all in documenting our family’s tried and tastefully-true recipes!
My family’s recipe void began changing earlier this spring when I visited Julie, who’s my 1st Cousin and our family’s much loved Matriarch. Julie has a mind like a steel trap, so after blogging my way through almost 100 of Mom’s recipes I decided to dig deeper; a trip to San Antonio with the specific culinary reconnaissance mission of recovering a few family recipes I didn’t have. And recover, I did!
In addition to Julie gifting me Nanny’s Iced Tea recipe, I scored the Grandmother-load of all – Nanny’s Barbecue Sauce Recipe (below) which we’ll get to in a moment. Why, in a moment? Well, for those of you who haven’t read most of Betty’s Cook Nook you may be disappointed to hear that I have the gift of gab which translates quite nicely online as I’m also fast-to-type (so was my Mom, Betty). So if you want a “CliffsNotes” version of this recipe, you best scroll down to this post’s “Foodie Tips” section and continue on. If you want to read a free and fabulous story about family and food, read on!
The Art Of Family Cooking
When creating Betty’s Cook Nook I knew I wanted to weave in family stories along with our recipes because to me, eating goes hand-in-hand with daily living for all of us regardless of geography, culture or perceived socioeconomic status. Celebrating great food and friends was something my parents Betty and Louis absolutely loved to do, so it just felt right to try to honor my Mom’s love for cooking by creating this blog so I could translate her conventional cookbook online for generations to come.
While my storytelling is primarily for my family, I’ve heard from several non-family members – even strangers – who say they love reading the stories so I know the true essence of my effort extends far beyond a handful of my closest family members, maybe even to you! So I want to share a really touching story about something that happened today that directly ties to this recipe in the most fantastic way.
Who Do You Think You Are? (a.k.a. You Are What You Eat!)
For a few years I’ve enjoyed watching the TV series “Who Do You Think You Are.” I’ve seen some incredible stories uncovered through research. Because I lost my parents at a young age I have several family “holes” to fill, so last night after watching Valerie Bertinelli‘s amazing story I finally signed-up for a free 2-week trial at Ancestry.com. No, the folks at Ancestry didn’t pay me to write this post, but they should have. ;)
I was instantly addicted to my family’s online research – I’m quite skilled at online sleuthing, so Ancestry.com fits right up my alley. Within a few hours I had connected over 50 of my family members dating back to 1874. One of the most impressive things I quickly found was the address where my grandparents “Nanny” and “PaPaw” and my Mom “Betty” lived in 1944 thanks to a local city directory listing. Years after I grew-up in San Antonio, lived in Dallas 20 years then moved to Italy and returned to Texas in 2012 I learned they lived just 20 miles from where I live today in Austin, Texas … and I had no clue!
With their home address I was quickly able to find driving directions – even score a recent picture of the house from GoogleMaps.com. The home was a charming stone house, and the more I looked at the online photo I realized it looked strangely similar to one photo among the thousands of family photos that I have. It was well after midnight so I went to bed. At 4am hope and excitement woke me up. I pulled out the family photos and within 10 minutes had found the match for the online photo!
I knew I had to visit the house today. While the Google picture from the front of the street looked relatively the same with just a few modern updates to the carport and entry, I was nervous the house was no more as online records suggested their house had quadrupled in size. Today I bundled-up my two Labs “Boomer” and “Harley” and drove to Nanny’s and Mom’s old neighborhood and was thrilled to find that the house had not been torn down – it was doing just fine – including the two huge oak trees that flanked the 1981 family picture I have of the house (above).
The Way We Were
Standing in front of the house was a bit strange for me. While my feet were 70 years late arriving to the party, I felt an awesome peace; the peace that comes from discovering something special. I pictured the old 1938 stone house with my Mom “Betty” and her Sister “Delores” playing in the yard … then my Grandmother “Nanny”, sticking her head out the screen door to summon her two girls to dinner.
Today, while I may have arrived 70 years late for dinner, I’m able to recreate one of their family favorites thanks to Nanny’s Barbecue Sauce recipe. So can you!
Foodie Tips ~
♥ This sauce works well with chicken, beef or pork. Feel the force!
♥ Julie said my Grandfather Harry would make a basting “sop mop” by wrapping a T-shirt strips around a stick. Feel free to create your own … or use a modern silicon basting brush shown above.
♥ What are those yellow wrappy-things below? They’re lemon cover stretch wraps and you can find them online or at a store near you! They make juicing lemons a seedless, pulp-less pleasure!
♥ A nice side for this dish would be one of my all-time favorites here on BCN – California Potato Salad. It’s that good!
1 cup | shortening
3 | white onions, peeled and quartered
1 | green bell pepper, cut into chunks
4 pieces | celery, cut up
1 can | tomatoes (we used a 14.5 ounce can of diced toms)
1 can | tomato sauce (we used a 15 ounce can of Hunt’s)
½ cup | vinegar
2 cups (or more) | water
1 | lemon, juiced then quartered and everything added, including the peel
3 teaspoons | yellow mustard
¼ cup | catsup
2 teaspoons | chili powder
3 teaspoons | salt
1 teaspoon | fresh cracked black pepper
2 dashes | hot sauce
2 dashes | tobasco
¼ cup (or more) | worcestershire sauce
ii. what to do
1. In a large stock pot simmer everything uncovered until it’s all cooked down and reduced. While the original recipe below says “at least ½ hour,” my Cousin Julie was quick to point out that it takes much longer than noted! I think we simmered everything for about 2 hours, stirring every few minutes.
2. Taste and adjust the sauce as you like, because these measurements aren’t “exactly right!” Gottaloveit.
3. When the sauce is done to your liking, baste the meat on the grill with a sop mop or basting brush. We made sure to heavy-up on the last basting just before removing everything from the grill.
If you want to enjoy this the way Julie said our family did (throw away nothing), save the vegetables and serve them as a side dish for your barbecue meal.
Family Fun Facts ~
♥ The vintage “Fire King” measuring cup above is Betty’s; it has surely measured-up over the years and can probably tell bountiful stories about the families and friends it has fed! I alone can tell more than a few stories. :)
♥ Cousin Julie told me that when they lived in the old stone house my Grandpaw Harry worked at the IRS in Austin; turns out he was too old to enlist for WWII so worked this government job instead. What’s even more impressive is that my Mom (Betty) her Sister (Delores) and Delores’ Daughter Julie (my Cousin who was barely 2 in 1944) also lived in the house. It must have been a lively party of five, indeed! Delores also worked at the IRS which Julie said was “filled with women” as most men were off serving in the war.
♥ Cousin Julie said Nanny and PaPaw (Grandpaw Harry) would hose down the old stone house above in the hot summer days to keep it cool inside; these were days before air conditioning!
♥ Here’s my original scan of Nanny’s BBQ recipe – Cousin Julie said this was Nanny’s recipe penned by Mom’s sister Delores Sutton who is one of the most elegant ladies I ever met. I love her handwriting! The paper? It can tell a story all its own. Click the pic for a bigger view.
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.
♥ 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.
1 ½ pounds | round or chuck steak, about 1-inch thick
2 tablespoons | flour
1 ½ teaspoons | salt
¼ teaspoon | fresh cracked pepper
3 tablespoons | fat
1 | 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.
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.
Picadillo Is My Pillow
In March 2014 my awesome Cousin Julie gifted me the recipe for this ole time family favorite.
What a great gift! I remember Mom talking about “picadillo” but the recipe wasn’t in her cookbook. Luckily, it was in her sister Delores’ cookbook that Julie has in her care!
Totally flexible, this Cuban-inspired dish made its way to San Antonio kitchens before the days of the internet … and into my heart 4ever. A foodie’s BFF.
♥ The original recipe scan below makes mountains of this delicious stuff. My Cousin Julie said the portions were large because her Mom, “Delores,” would often serve this dish at parties. I divided the recipe down, down, dowwwwwn into 6ths below. And yet after Joe and I ate it all, we wanted more.
♥ Cousin Julie was very specific – unless you don’t mind soggy almonds, sprinkle the almonds on top just before serving; or set them aside in a serving bowl with a spoon.
♥ Cousin Julie also said this picadillo freezes well. Sweet! If you freeze or refrigerate it overnight, add more dry sherry when reheating. It’s the honest thing to do.
♥ You can serve picadillo many ways – on top of scrambled eggs, breakfast tacos, nacho chips or inside tacos. This stuff is so good I even ate some with a shovel-spoon or two… :)
1 pound | ground round
⅓ cup | dry sherry
1 teaspoon | salt
⅓ teaspoon | pepper
3 | japaleños, chopped
1 clove | garlic, chopped
splash | oil
4.8 ounces | canned tomatoes
⅔ cup | tomato sauce
2 tablespoons | pimiento
to taste | raisins
⅓ teaspoon | oregano
½ cup | water chestnuts, sliced
⅔ cup | canned mushrooms, sliced
flour or corn tortillas
tostitos brand scoops
⅓ cup | salted almonds, diced
ii. what to do
1. In a medium-sized pan over medium heat, bring the first 5 ingredients (see “marinate”) to a happy sauté.
2. Add “the mixture” ingredients (the 9 ingredients) above and simmer, covered, about 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
3. Uncover and stir until “mushy.”
4. Serve with your preferred foodie accents and style (above). And smile. :)
Don’t let this recipe fool you.
This rice isn’t spicy hot. But that doesn’t mean it’s not delicious.
I was surprised to read this dish calls for ground beef … but all the happier since it was my main squeeze tonight. That’s right – this dish and I are going steady.
After making this dish per Mom’s instructions I read up a little more on the history of Spanish Rice which you might want to check out.
foodie tips ~
♥ Bacon drippings or shortening? Seriously ~ this is Texas. Go for the bacon drippings.
♥ We all know that food portions were smaller back in the 1970s. So when this calls for a “small box” of rice, I’m thinking it must have been 3 ½ cups of rice. The smallest box of rice I found at my local grocery store was about 7 cups strong (14 ounces). Supersize me.
♥ This is a great-tasting recipe but if you want something spicy you better add some cumin or chili powder or maybe even a can of Rotel (drained).
¼ cup | bacon drippings (or shortening)
1 | onion, thinly sliced
small box | minute rice
½ | green pepper, diced
1 pound | ground beef
2 8-ounce cans | tomato sauce
1 teaspoon | prepared mustard
to taste | pepper
to taste | salt
1 ¾ cups | hot water
ii. what to do
1. In a medium sized pot prepare the bacon over medium heat. Remove the bacon strips and set aside reserving the drippings in the pan. The bacon isn’t used in this recipe so now you have something to snack on while you finish this out. :)
2. Add the onion, rice, pepper and meat. Stir over high heat until lightly browned (including the rice).
3. Add the tomato sauce, mustard, pepper, salt and hot water. Bring to a boil; then simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes. Shake your maracas – it’s ready!
Serve warm, as a sidekick or a main dish. Leftovers refrigerate well. This makes a lot of rice!
A scan of Mom’s original recipe card:
And for those who want to learn a little more about how to shake your maracas: