The Best Of Days
One of the happiest of days growing up was “birthday day.”
We were lucky in that I can’t remember a single birthday when the Kiker boys of three were given a store-made birthday cake. Not that there’s anything wrong with store bought cakes … I just love the fact that Mom always made us our own “wish cakes.”
A wish cake was truly something just for us. A chocolate cake with trains. A circus-inspired cake. Or an Angel Food cake topped with chocolate frosting and sliced almonds, if you’re my brother Roger.
So when my birthday rolled around this year, I didn’t make cake. I just let my fingers find our next recipe in Mom’s cookbook. That’s all it took ~ this Italian Zucchini Casserole recipe.
If you love bacon, you’ll find its flavor woven throughout this dish … and that makes this a recipe worth celebrating!
foodie tips ~
♥ If you’re serving this as a side it’ll yield 10-12 servings. But if you eat like me, it will yield 6 servings.
♥ We used ciabatta bread vs. sliced bread. It was great!
7-8 medium | zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices
8 slices | bacon
1 large | white onion, chopped
1 large | garlic clove, crushed
4 slices | bread, torn
2 cups | cheddar cheese, shredded/grated
15 ounce can | tomato sauce
1 teaspoon | italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon | freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup | freshly grated parmesan cheese
ii. what to do
1. Cook zucchini in a small amount of boiling water for about 5-8 minutes; drain well and set aside.
2. Cook bacon in a medium skillet until crisp. Remove bacon and let the strips rest on paper towels. Reserve the bacon drippings in the skillet. Crumble the bacon and set aside.
3. Sauté onion and garlic in the drippings until tender; drain.
4. Combine onion mixture, zucchini, bacon and remaining ingredients EXCEPT the parm cheese; mix well.
5. Pour into a lightly-greased 13″ x 9″ x 2″ baking dish.
6. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until your eyes say “it’s done.”
Yields: 10-12 Servings (side dish) or 6 Servings (main course)
Pork. The Other White Meat.
I did some research and found out that “The Other White Meat” campaign debuted in 1987 – the same year Mom died and after she would have cooked this dish in the kitchen. So I guess you could call Mom a pork visionary. :)
I learned that this ad campaign has been one of the top 5 most memorable promotional taglines in the history of contemporary advertising. I can promise you that as an ad guy, that’s a huge accomplishment.
So lean meat and tagline aside, Mom was making pork in the Kiker kitchen and she was throwing fat into the mix … pre Paula Dean. I can see why – this bbq pork chop recipe holds its own, with or without bones.
This dish was so tender I could actually cut my chop with a fork. Well worth the wait coming out of the oven. Enjoy!
4 | pork chops (Mom would have used chops with bones)
to season | fat for skillet
⅓ cup | celery, diced
½ | lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons | brown sugar
½ teaspoon | salt
½ teaspoon | mustard
⅛ teaspoon | black pepper (I added more)
2 cans | hunt’s tomato sauce
½ cup | water
ii. what to do
0. Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Brown the pork chops in the fat.
2. Transfer chops to a shallow greased baking dish that has a cover.
3. Sprinkle chops with celery, lemon juice, brown sugar and the seasonings. Pour tomato sauce and water over the chops.
4. Cover and bake in oven 75 minutes or until chops are tender.
Yields: 4 Servings
foodie tip ~
♥ You’ll have leftover sauce from this recipe. Make good use of it on pasta or as a dip for grilled veggies.
Here’s a scan of Mom’s original recipe:
A Great Side Or Main Dish
How can you create anything but success with a recipe that calls for an entire pound of cheese?
This is a tasty dish that’s easy to prepare and even easier to eat. It’s great as an entrée or main dish depending on the size of the helping and what time of day you’re eating it.
This Casserole? Olé! Olé!
2 4 ounce cans | whole green chilies
½ pound | cheddar cheese, grated
2 | cage free eggs
1 tablespoon | flour
12 ounce can | evaporated milk
½ pound | monterrey jack cheese, grated
8 ounce can | tomato sauce
to garnish | tortilla chips, crumbled
0. Preheat oven to 400°F.
1. Split the green chilies and remove the seeds (if any).
2. Butter the bottom of a 9″ x 9″ casserole dish and layer the chilies in the bottom. Cover the chilies with the cheddar cheese and set aside.
3. In a medium-sized bowl beat the eggs, flour and evaporated milk. Pour the mixture over the chilies and cheese and place the casserole in the oven for 30 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and set aside for a few minutes to rest. Cut, plate and enjoy!
foodie tips ~
♥ Although the original recipe didn’t call for it, after my first helping I decided that a little crunch would be a nice contrast. So I crumbled some tortilla chips onto my plate before serving.
♥ Something tells me a dollop of sour cream would be good on top of a slice of this casserole. That “something” is my belly talking to me and I’ll try it when I heat-up the leftovers. (Simmer down, belly).
~ ~ ~
Who is “Mary Stephenson?”
We Kikers lived at 2927 Trailend Drive and Mary was the mother of the family living next door to us.
Mary was a fabulous foodie friend of ours and you’ll find a few recipes from Mary’s kitchen here at Betty’s Cook Nook. Click here for more of Mary’s recipes.
Our two families spent many shared dinners and laughs together so I was happy to find some of Mary’s recipes tucked in Mom’s cookbook since the Stephensons were a magnificent and memorable part of my wonder years.
On the anniversary of Betty’s Cook Nook, it was a unanimous decision to make this somewhat off-ishly-sounding dish, but a tasty delight.
I always pictured goulash as something that was made from cabbage, sauerkraut, an perhaps an eye of newt… and stirred by a witch maneuvering a wooden stick into her cauldron.
Tonight, it was a nice surprise to celebrate the 1st birthday of BCN (that’s Betty’s Cook Nook, y’all)!
2 tablespoons | falfurrias brand butter (per Nanny)
2 cups | thinly sliced onion
2 pounds | ground beef
1 tablespoon | sweet paprika
to taste | salt
1 | green pepper, cut into strips
½ cup | canned tomato sauce
3 | beef bouillon cubes
1 cup | water
3 medium | potatoes, diced and cooked
½ cup | sour cream
ii. what to do
1. Melt butter in a large, heavy skillet.
2. Add onion and cook, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
3. Add meat, paprika, and ~1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until meat loses its red color.
4. Add green pepper, tomato sauce, bouillon cubes and the water.
5. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes.
6. Add potatoes and heat. Stir in sour cream.
7. Don’t add more salt, unless you *really* need it. : )~
Foodie Tips ~
♥ Dish it over noodles or mashed potatoes, folks.
Before Hamburger Helper, There Was Beef In Casserole.
This dish is really easy to make, and even easier to eat! I’m not convinced it served 8… but then again it was the 1970s… when food portions were smaller sized… and like hips… eyes were wide.
1 pound | ground beef
2 teaspoons | salt
2 teaspoons | sugar
1 16-oz. can | diced tomatoes
1 8-oz. can | tomato sauce
2 cloves | garlic, crushed
to taste | fresh ground black pepper
1 8-oz. package | thin egg noodles
1 cup | sour cream
1 3-oz. package | cream cheese
6 | green onions, chopped with some of the tops
1 cup | cheddar cheese, grated
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine and simmer 5-10 minutes: the beef, salt, sugar, tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic and pepper.
3. While that’s all simmering, boil the noodles, drain and fold-in the sour cream, cream cheese and chopped onions.
4. In a greased casserole, arrange in layers ~ the meat mixture, noodle mixture and grated cheese.
5. Heat until bubbling, about 35 minutes @ 350°F.
Foodie Tip ~
♥ Just 1 cup grated cheese? Um, how about 4… or more!?
Mom’s actual recipe card shown below!