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


holy guacamole

Holy Guacamole

This special recipe is dedicated to Anna.
“Holy guacamole” not only makes us laugh – it jettisons us back
to our fond and flavorful days in Italy. Long live “Tes Mes” Day
and food comas!

~      ~

Homemade in February 2018 and promptly sent to the freezer, we later released this guacamole from its icy resting place to celebrate Super Bowl 2018 almost 50 years after the recipe was published.

I can promise you this is the first time I’ve made *then not quickly devoured* a delicious bowl of the green stuff but I was following my Mom “Betty’s” recipe clipped from the San Antonio Express-News as an experiment (see the recipe below). The recipe’s intent was to freeze before eating.

The results? Quite surprising!

Good gravy – freezing guacamole?

I agree – it seems odd at first but if you dial back the timeline to the 1960s/1970s the home economist (our Mothers) thirsted for ways to run an efficient kitchen. So freezing guacamole is a great way to prepare for your party without having to do all the work in the heat of the moment.

Back in the day freezing guacamole was considered “normal stuff,” like prepping your wardrobe or your “to dos” for the great day ahead. Brilliant forethought!

Holier than thou

To Texans guacamole is right up there in the inner circle of sanctity along with queso, big hair, and cowboy boots. These are the things we place high and mighty on our list of things to cherish. To literally “mess with Texas” is to tamper with one of its revered staples so you can image I was nervous about tinkering with the obvious – to divert from the culinary mission to make then eat in “normal” fashion.

To my family guacamole is a treasured treat. While we don’t necessarily enjoy “guac” for breakfast, lunch, and dinner like most outside our state might think – guacamole holds its place in our hearts as a “constant craving” food we keep near and dear.

Linus van Pelt and an Avocado

I Feel The Same Way, Linus

My Mom “Betty” truly loved guacamole. And she loved enjoying it alongside all of the wild and delicious Tex-Mex varieties we could consume while living in the unique pureness of San Antonio (rah, 78209-ers!)

Teka Molino Royalty

I Like My Puffy Taco Flanked By The Royal Line Up Of A Guacamole, Cheese, And Bean + Cheese Cups.
Nom. NOM!

One of our most special restaurants was — and still is — Teka Molino — which has some of the greatest food in the region (sorry, Nation, you do not qualify). Heck, I sometimes drive 97.8 miles from Round Rock to San Antonio just to enjoy Teka’s puffy tacos, bean rolls, and I always get a guacamole cup; a pot of gold served from masa fashioned into a cup which has been delicately deep fried.

I’ve lived north and south in Texas and I can promise you there’s nothing more tastefully authentic!

Teka Molino Bean Cups Rule T-Shirt

Considered My “Finer Attire” This T-Shirt Sums It Up Best

While I’m probably the only Texan outside “San Antone” proudly sporting a “Bean Cups Rule” T-shirt, I will promptly buy a “Guacamole Cups Rule” T-shirt when Teka Molino creates them. :)

So let’s dive deep into this guacamole and experience one of the greatest culinary gifts — glorious holy guacamole!

Foodie Tips

  Guacamole isn’t just a dip for chips, it’s a great plus-up to queso, enchiladas, tacos, soups, and it brightens a sad and lonely spoon (oh, yes I have!). Guacamole’s best friends include the nacho chip, the Fritos Scoop, and its often found mingling atop a properly dressed grilled hamburger, along with its farm-raised kissin’ cousins Mr. Bacon and Ms. Monterrey Jack Cheese.

  Nobody likes tired, ol’ brown guacamole. To extend your guacamole’s zest for life give it a slight squeeze of lime on top prior to serving. You can also store it overnight by placing cling wrap on top of the guac and lightly smoothing it out to remove any trapped air.

  I usually forage for the best ripened avocados from the bottom of my local market’s produce container. If I’m reluctantly forced to choose from pre-ripened avocados I’ll place them in a sunny window for a few days to help ’em along their way.

  My brow raised when I saw this recipe calls for parmesan cheese. It isn’t because I don’t love parm, but I’ve never had it alongside guacamole. And, while this recipe calls for lemon, lime is a citrusy suitable sibling. Lemon and lime go together like PB&J, cheese and wine, or a smile birthed from puppy kisses. I prefer my guacamole fork-mashed and chunky but I can respect why a blender was used given the culinary movement of the era.

After digging into the author’s past below I discovered she hailed from South Carolina. Hmm. So while I’m not saying this guacamole isn’t authentically Texas because of lemon and parmesan cheese I’m just noting the special twist Ruby Lou brought to this guac. Guacamole is a wonderfully inclusive dish that pairs well with others!

  Can’t get enough avocado? Explore some of the other recipes by clicking “avocado” in the ingredients word cloud list in the righthand menu. Don’t miss my Mom’s most special flavorful twist on potato salad made with avocado, bacon and sour cream instead of the typical mayonnaise. It’s a “Best Of The Best” recipe that has become a family tradition.

i. Time

To prepare: About 15 minutes.
To thaw: 1 ½3 hours (depends on the depth of your guacamole)
To enjoy:
Mere nanoseconds

ii. Ingredients

juice from ½ a lemon
| avocados, ripened, peeled, and quartered
| tomato, peeled, and quartered
| green onions, chive tops removed
| hot chilies (in Texas we call these jalapeños)
1 clove | garlic, chopped
to sprinkle | parmesan cheese (optional)
to serve | corn chips (we use “Fritos Scoops” these days #GoBold)

iii. What to do

1. Place your lemon juice in a blender.

2. Peel and quarter the avocados and tomato. Wash and dry the green onions and remove the chive tops. (Whoops — we accidentally included them and it was the more the merrier!) Remove the seeds from the jalapeños (we included them for more texture). Chop the garlic into small pieces. Add the avocado, tomato, onion, jalapeños and garlic to the lemon juice.

How To Make Guacamole

3. Cover the blender and run it on high speed until everything is smooth. Turn the guacamole onto a flat serving dish and place it in the freezer long enough to form a frosty crust. You can prepare this several days ahead of time if wrapped for freezing (we used Ziploc freezer bags).
Freezing Guacamole

4. To thaw allow 1 ½3 hours depending on the depth of the your guacamole. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve with corn chips or your favorite sidekick.

Yields 2 ½ cups and a whole lotta “Yee Haws!”

~ Patrick

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

Potato Salad Shooter

I Siphoned Off Some Potato Salad For A “Potato Salad Shooter.” A Perfect Way To Enjoy Your Day!

Texas Guacamole Recipe

A Scan of Mom’s Recipe Clipping (Circa 1970)

 

Who Was Ruby Lou Potts?

She penned the recipe (above) that caught my Mom’s eye. I found this old newspaper article about her which lends more detail about the era this recipe was likely penned.

SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS NEWS –  July 1, 1969

New Writer For Feature By HELEN MILES Food Editor

Take note of the new byline the “Bexar Cupboard” feature in today’s San Antonio Express.

Since 1952, Nell Read (who later became Nell Read Carraway) has signed these popular weekly articles on food produced by the Home Service Division of City Public Service Board.

When Mrs. Carraway retired at the end of June, Ruby Lou Potts moved into her job as Home Service Supervisor and, with today’s article, becomes the author of “Bexar Cupboard,” an exclusive feature carried Tuesdays in the San Antonio Express.

Mrs. Potts needs no introduction to followers of “Bexar Cupboard.” She has been a home economist with CPSB since 1958 and has frequently been photographed for the column, demonstrating food preparation. Mrs. Potts holds a degree in home economics from Winthrop College in Rock Hill. S.C. She is a former home economics teacher and dietician. She and her husband, William Robert Potts, have two sons. Bob, who lives in Houston, and Charlie, who is serving in the Marine Corps in Vietnam.

Mrs. Carraway has chosen to retire early in order to enjoy her family. When she married Ben Carraway three years ago she acquired four grandchildren, a daughter and a son-in-law. “I have a wonderful family,” she says, adding that she wants to become a full-time homemaker and do for her family the work she has taught so many for so long.

She has been with the City Public Service Board for 41 years and for 37 as Home Service Supervisor, in this capacity she and her staff have helped women of San Antonio with countless problems encountered in running a home. Mrs. Carraway’s work with the annual San Antonio Livestock Show has brought about the organization of the Women’s Division which sponsors competition in cooking, baking and preparation of food and pastries.

Because of her outstanding contribution to the civic life of San Antonio, two years ago the San Antonio Chapter of Theta Sigma Phi named her winner of a Headliner Award. She began writing a weekly feature for the San Antonio Express in 1952 when Hattie Llewellyn was food editor. It was called “In the Spanish Patio.” In 1955, the name was changed to “Bexar Cupboard.” Now, as Mrs. Carraway lays aside her pen, it is with continuing pride that the San Antonio Express publishes “Bexar Cupboard” without interruption. Watch for the column each Tuesday written by Ruby Lou Potts.

Avocado Bacon Potato Salad

Also Known As “California Potato Salad” This Dish Is Deliciously Dy-No-Mite!
Home Style Austin? One Of My Other Blogs! I’m THAT Into Food!
I Have A Third Blog To Boot called ForTheLoveOfItaly.com

 

Fun fact: Avocados are considered single-seed berries — not vegetables. Who knew? Not me! Read more!

Let’s have a closer look at the greatness of Teka Molino:


mexican chef’s salad

Mexican Chefs Salad Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook“…a whole meal in itself…”

I’m not sure who coined the phrase atop this recipe but after enjoying this hearty salad I discovered it to be quite true!

Even more surprising – this Mexican Chef’s Salad calls for Thousand Island (with Canadian roots) or French Dressing (um, with American roots?) – hey where’s the south of the border taste with those?

The mere mention of Thousand Island dressing takes my laughs back to the 1980s with this memorable scene from the movie “Cracked Up” where Jerry Lewis’ character gets a little more service than he bargained for thanks to this rigorously exhaustive waitress!

Despite my salad sign as a Leo, fate had a fresh bottle of Thousand Island dressing in my hands so that’s what I used. What’s your salad sign?

foodie tips

❤  I’ve included Mom’s original recipe scan below. I enjoyed the way the ingredients were organized (chop, toss, crunch, slice, brown, decorate) but I’ve taken liberties to put the typed instructions in order to help make it easy for you to prepare.

❤ Red, white, or yellow onion – it’s all up to you! If you prefer your onion cooked you can add it to the beef medley when browning; otherwise get ready for a little “oompf” from the uncooked fresh onion kick, as did I.

  While I’m 99% confident that Mom used tortilla chips for this dish I went with tortilla strips – their multi-colors are more festive than their typical chip cousin plus they’re easier to eat with a fork! Tip: HEB makes tasty Tri Color Tortilla Strips that I stock in my kitchen. Now if you’re eating this dish with your hands, step up to the plate (or bowl) and get some full-sized tortilla chips … or better yet a bag of Fritos Scoops!

  This recipe makes A LOT of salad. I believe in its entirety this dish will serve up to 6 as a main course and even more as a sidekick! You can easily half the ingredients for 2-3 people.

❤  Make sure and introduce your tortilla chips (strips), avocado, and tomatoes just before serving; nobody likes a limp tortilla chip, brown avocado or mushy tomato! As you would guess it this dish is best consumed fresh as with leftovers the dressing will make your lettuce turn sad and soggy.

i. ingredients

Mexican Chef's Salad Recipe Central Market Kidney Beansbrown together:
1 pound | ground beef
1 can (15 ounces) | kidney beans, drained
¼ teaspoon (or to taste) | salt

for the salad:
1 head | lettuce, chopped
| onion, chopped
| tomatoes, chopped
8 ounces | thousand island or french dressing
4 ounces | cheddar cheese, grated
to top | tortilla chips or strips
to top | avocado, sliced or cubed

ii. what to do

1. In a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat brown the beef. Halfway through browining add the kidney beans and the salt. While the meat-medley is simmering for 10 minutes…

Mexican Chef's Salad Recipe Ingredients

Why yes! I do like my salad with cheese and a side of lettuce!

2. In a large serving bowl introduce the salad ingredients – lettuce, onion (unless browning), tomatoes. Pour your dressing on top and mix well. You can set this into your refrigerator to chill for a few minutes or if your beef is ready…Mexican Chef's Salad Recipe

3. Give one last mix to stir things up a bit… then toss in your beef mixture, top with cheese, chips, and your avocado. Serve pronto!

A Mexican Chef's Salad Recipe To Share

Yields up to 6 servings (using full ingredients)

~ Patrick

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

Mexican Chef's Salad Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

A Scan Of Mom’s Original Recipe PLUS a Bonus Recipe Found On The Back… For Moist Carrot Cake!


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!


toasted sandwiches

Treat Time Toaster Toasted Caprese Sandwich Recipe

This is perhaps the post with the most unique blend of happenstance and foodie passion here at Betty’s Cook Nook.

Tucked in the very back of Mom’s cookbook is a tiny accordion-folded recipe booklet called “How to use your Treat-Time Toaster.” You can enjoy a scan of it below.

I had thumbed passed this booklet many times before but in late January 2017 I finally took my curiosity online to try and find out what a “Treat-Time Toaster” might actually be.

In just a few clicks I found myself at eBay where I discovered these toasters were in fact vintage grilled sandwich makers. These were the same things I remember being in our kitchen at Trailend Drive – Mom used them to fashion some of the coolest grilled cheese sandwiches ever!

Treat Time Toaster Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

After quickly checking with my older brothers about the whereabouts of our toasters, I sadly realized they were long, long gone.

Gone, too, was the company who made them – NuRod, Inc., based out of Monrovia California. So since I couldn’t score one of my own new Treat-Time Toasters, I found a set of two vintage toasters that I scored on eBay for about $30, including shipping.

A few days later a bountiful box arrived at my home and boy, was I excited! Soon my kitchen would be turning out delicious sandwich snacks. The possibilities were endless, thanks to the recipe booklet that contained 13 ideas for transforming mere bread into a myriad of mouthwatering delights filled with awe-inspiring ingredients like cocktail Vintage Flying Saucersausages, bologna, baked beans, raisin bread, marmalade, fried eggs and more.

Are you salivating yet?

The Treat-Time Toaster looked part flying saucer and part clamshell. Placing the toaster over campfire or stove in mere seconds you can create panini, grilled sandwiches, pocket sandwiches … anything your mind and appetite can conjure!

The toaster churns out culinary delights that remind me of those from the raclette tabletop grill, which has been a favorite kitchen accessory of mine for many years.

Treat Time Toaster Ad June 1965 Popular Science

snack attack

The adman in me appreciated reading the recipe booklet that appears to have been written by Donna Reade, who was Director of Consumer Service at Nu-Rod. I cracked a few smiles when I read passages like “You’ll find family and friends runnin’ back for more,” “Not only delicious but filling” and “M-M-M-boy!

The folks at Nu-Rod also knew a little something about target marketing back in the early 1960s. I found evidence of ads for their Treat-Time Sandwich Maker in Popular Science, Boys’ Life, Mobile Home Journal, and V.F.W. Journal.

where did it all go wrong?

So if the Treat-Time Toaster is so awesome, why did it disappear from America’s kitchens almost as fast as it arrived?!

Based on my online research Nu-Rod was in existence from 1960-1970 and then their digital footprint is no more. Perhaps they were intent on connecting the Treat-Time Toaster with men more so than women? Or perhaps the name “Treat-Time Toaster” was too innovative at the time.

Whatever the case all I know is I’m glad I’ve reconnected my appetite with this fond foodie kitchen gizmo.

foodie tips

  While supplies last you can likely find vintage Treat-Time Toasters on Ebay or similar machines like these on Amazon or like these. I ordered two so that I didn’t have to share my toaster with anyone else! Hey, twice the fun!

  The ingredients list below is for the most basic – and delicious – grilled cheese sandwich. But don’t let your imagination and appetite stop here – try any of the original recipes in the Treat-Time Toaster recipe book (below)… or you let your imagination go wild. My top three favorite sandwiches are grilled cheese, PB&J, and our own creation – a grilled caprese sandwich (shown above), crafted from mozzarella, fresh basil leaves from the garden and a few slices of red tomato.

ButterKrust Bread Fresh From The Bag

i. ingredients (per serving)

2 slices | white bread (or artisan bread if you’re feeling très gourmet)
schmears | falfurrias brand butter
assorted | ingredients for your sandwich (melting cheese, crisp bacon, sliced tomato, etc.)
no-stick cooking spray or butter | to grease your toaster
(optional) to serve | your favorite condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, honey, etc.)

Treat-Time Toaster Cookbook

Click the image for a close-up view of some of the original Treat-Time recipes!

ii. what to do

1. Butter the outside of two slices of bread and set aside. Hey, if you’re feeling adventurous you can also butter the inside, if butter complements your chosen ingredients.

2. Top one inside with your chosen ingredients, making sure to keep things mingling toward the center of the bread.

3. Butter or spray both insides of your Treat-Time Toaster to prevent sticking.Treat Time Toaster Punch It Out

4. Center and place your buttered sandwich onto the toaster and close the toaster. Squeeze tight and remove the excess bread. Latch the handle.Treat Time Toaster on da Grill

5. Hold/Place the Treat-Time Toaster over campfire or medium-fired kitchen stovetop for 1-2 minutes on each side. I used my toaster inside over a gas range. I experimented a few times to find the right combination of flame and time to deliver the perfect oozy, gooey, buttery treat.

Treat Time Toaster Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Serve warm with your favorite sides!

~ Patrick

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

ButterKrust Bakery San Antonio Texas

The ButterKrust bakery way back then… I love the art deco lines!


A word about bread…

One of my favorite childhood memories happened when our elementary school (go, Northwood Unicorns) made an outing to San Antonio’s ButterKrust Bakery that graciously rested alongside 2251 Broadway Street.

I’m confident my love of carbs was born that day. In fact, every time I drove past the bakery (passenger or driver), the window somehow found itself miraculously resting so I could enjoy the waft of butter and bread while the wind whipped through my hair. Never underestimate the power of bread!

But gosh, I hope the power of ButterKrust bread outlives me, no thanks to their new owner’s shameful and shoddy company website, which looks circa 1995. More ButterKrust bakery history here.

Yup. I scored this vintage spot for you!


minute rice salad

Minute Rice Salad Recipe From Betty's Cook NookHam + Cheese? Yes, Please!

I love reading about the history of food.

Researching and making my Mom’s recipes has become a hobby of mine and I’m often amazed at the evolution of food through the years – especially during my lifetime; I find that food is in many ways like fashion.

Flashback Foods

I enjoy taking trips down the international food aisle at the grocery store. It’s here I can be surprised and delighted with foods I’ve never heard of… not to mention the interesting and artful packaging.

My international food journeys remind me of the things I often mistakenly take for granted. Things like:

  • Some foods are no longer available. I discovered this the hard way with one of my early BCN posts when searching for madrilène so I could make this tasty avocado soup. Also extremely hard to find? A garlic cheese roll. If you were a chocolate and caramel lover eating between 1973 and 1981, you likely remember the Marathon Bar which was sweet and savory braided deliciousness that was a treat about as big as a Texas sunrise.
  • Packaging sizes have changed. I often find that cans and packaged foods are trending larger than they did in the good ole’ days. Supersize Me! And give me seconds. And please don’t forget the cheese.
  • Food packaging has changed. Wine in a box? Get real. (Pssst – it is real)! Refried beans in a bag? Just heat ’em and eat ’em! Tomato paste in a tube? Totally tubular! Let’s get rolling!

A Cheesy Love Affair

I got super sucker-punched in the belly when I lived in Italy. I thought I knew most everything about the country – Heck, it was my seventh trip there. But living far and away for more than a couple of weeks taught me a lot about the presence and absence of food.

Most notably I learned that authentic Italy does not sell or consume yellow cheese. Wait, what?!? Yeah, no yellow cheese! You can imagine the sadness and horror that became my new face as repeated trips to every store in the region produced no yellow cheese. This Texas boy quickly developed a serious health issue when I realized there would be no yellow cheese for me. No homemade mac and cheese. No cheese n’ potatoes. No queso. NO QUESO?!?

This is the solid truth – had someone told me there was a store in a province within a one or two day walk from Tuscany, I would have walked there and back just to score a single log of Velveeta. Pinky swear it. Joe will back me up on this.

I begged our great friends Jeanie and David who were flying over from Texas for an Italian New Years to please, please, please bring me a block of Velveeta. And if they could also find it in their Texas-sized hearts to tuck some taco seasoning in their bag, I would be eternally grateful. And I am.

Velveeta, taco seasoning, picante sauce and Rotel ... In Tuscany!

Eating like a Texan when in Italy begins with the proper ingredients.

My dream came true for NYE 2012 when three beautiful blocks of Velveeta arrived along with several packets of taco seasoning, some Pace picante sauce, Rotel and even a bottle of Don Julio tequila. It was a Holiday to Remember! ← Read this post of mine to learn more about shopping Italian style.

Get On With It

OK, OK! So what does all this have to do with this recipe? Everything.

The optional yellow cheese? Yeah, forget about it. It’s not that you’re in Italy … it’s because this dish doesn’t need it.

Most notably this is a typical recipe circa 1970s that is less about sizzle and more about sustenance. No fancy presentation draped with a demi-glaze sauce. It’s good ole’ timey tasty. For me the combination of swiss cheese, ham and pickle was a delicious trio that packed a lotta taste. The mayo, onion and peas only sealed the deal.

You’ll see.

foodie tips ~

❤  While perfect as a side salad my appetite was trying to find other ways to enjoy this aside from “just a salad.” I wound-up making lettuce cups out of mine and enjoyed every delicious bite. I think a toasted sandwich filled with the stuff would make the world a brighter place, too.

❤  American Cheese is optional for this dish; I did not use it but I love me some yellow cheese, as the story above reveals.

  Dill pickle lover? Check out my other post for Sauerkraut Bend’s Potato Salad… plus a video revealing the history behind the little pickle that made Texas famous.

Minute Rice Salad Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

i. ingredients

1 box | Bird’s Eye frozen green peas
½ teaspoon | salt
1 ½ cups | water
1 ⅓ cups | Minute Rice
¾ cup | mayonnaise
½ cup | chopped dill pickle
1 teaspoon | onion, grated
1 cup | slivered cooked ham
1 cup | slivered swiss cheese
1 cup | slivered american cheese (optional)
to serve | tomato wedges (optional)

ii. what to do

1. Add the peas, salt and water to a saucepan. Cover and bring to a full boil.

2. Add the Minute Rice and mix to moisten all the rice. Cover, remove from heat and let stand for 13 minutes.

3. Add the mayonnaise, pickles and onion and mix/fluff with a fork. Chill in the fridge.

4. When ready to serve add the ham and cheese. Serve on lettuce with tomato wedges and enjoy!

Yields 6 servings

~ Patrick

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

Minute Rice Salad Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

A Scan Of Mom’s Original Minute Rice Salad Recipe

Minute Rice Salad Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook


impossible taco pie

Go Loco For Taco

Mmmm... Taco Pie!This Pie Makes Its Own Crust ~ Total magic!

The idea of “magic” was something I was obsessed with when I was in 5th grade. I dreamed of being a professional magician after seeing a store display on Broadway Avenue… a mechanical magician who could perform tricks compliments of his table, a cup and a few eye-shifty shenanigans.

Oh, yeah… I was hooked.

Magically obsessed, one day I drug my Dad and best friend Sean to Central Park Mall to a magic shop. My eyes rest upon on a magic kit and I knew in a blink it was meant for me.

Dad selflessly bought me and Sean each the magic cred (I remember triple digits, so it was a big deal ~ especially in the 70s).

Back at our upstairs playroom at 2927 Trailend, complete with black light, cloth-covered table and my instruction manual cleverly tucked underneath, I performed ~ almost flawlessly ~ some of the tricks I could decipher.

This recipe? Totally easy to make. And especially easy and great to eat!

impossible taco pie ingredients

Ta Dah!

Let’s.
Make.
Magic!

i. ingredients

1 pound | ground beef
½ cup | onion, chopped
1 package | taco seasoning mix
4 ounces | chopped green chilies, drained
1¼ cups | milk
¾ cup | bisquick brand baking mix
3 | cage free eggs
2 | red tomatoes, sliced
1 cup | monterey jack or cheddar cheese, shredded
to garnish | ice burg lettuce, chopped
to garnish | red tomato, chopped

slice of heaven...ii. what to do

0. Preheat oven to 400°F.

1. Grease a 10½” pie plate and set aside.

2. Cook and stir beef and onion until brown; drain, then stir in taco seasoning mix.

3. Spread in pie plate and top with chilies.

4. With a blender or hand mixer, beat milk, baking mix and eggs until smooth; about 1 minute.

5. Pour into pie plate.

6. Bake pie 25 minutes then remove from oven.

7. Top with sliced tomatoes and cheese; return to oven and bake until knife inserted in the pie’s center returns clean (about 10 minutes).

8. Cool 5 minutes then top with sour cream, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce and cheese.

Serves 6-8 Texans

Great For Breakfast Or Dinner

Foodie Tips ~

Wanna spice up life? Add fresh diced jalapeños to the beef before you cook it. Adventurous!

Tre colori!

mom's impossible taco pie recipe. impossible? think again!






beef tamale pie

the beef tamale pie finale

Growing Up, Christmastime Meant “Tamaletime” For The Kikers

And living in San Antonio meant we had easy access to some of the best hand-made tamales on the planet.

This tamale pie recipe is a variation on the handmade tamales we enjoyed during the holidays. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do; you’ll find this savory pie won’t last long … In fact …

… Here today, gone tamale!

i. ingredientssome of the ingredients for mom's beef tamale pie

1½ pounds | lean ground beef
1 | white onion, chopped
½ cup | chopped green pepper
1 teaspoon | lawry’s brand seasoned salt
1 package | chili seasoning mix
1 pound | tomatoes, chopped
1½ cups | cooked and drained whole-kernel corn
1 cup | pitted black olives, sliced
1 cup | yellow corn meal
1 teaspoon | salt
2½ cups | cold water
1 cup | shredded cheddar cheese

ii. what to dobeef tamale pie in the works

0. Preheat oven to 350°F.

1. Brown the beef in a medium skillet, breaking up meat with spoon; drain and return meat to skillet.

2. And the next 5 ingredients and simmer 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the corn and olives; transfer to a 2-quart baking dish.

4. In a separate pot, combine the corn meal, salt and water, stirring until thick over medium heat.

the corn meal mixture atop the beef tamale pie5. Spread corn meal mixture over the beef mixture and bake about 40 minutes.

6. Remove your pie from oven briefly to sprinkle with cheese then return to bake for another 5 minutes.

Makes 6 servings

Foodie Tip ~

 Let’s go all the way – why not garnish your pie with sour cream, chopped scallions, guacamole and jalapeño?!

a close-up view of the pie fresh from the oven. me? about to dive in!

I found the original recipe (below) in mom’s 3-ring black binder. I think mom was more likely to “clip” recipes in her early days until she learned the art of freestyle cooking; the green index card file contains many of the recipes that are handwritten indicating they were favorite creations of hers… or her friends.

mom's favorite beef tamale pie recipe




italian vegetable soup

mom's italian vegetable soupSoup’s On

Growin’ up in “San Antone,” my first memories of Italian food came in the form of Shakey’s Pizza Parlor off Austin Highway.

I don’t really remember the pizza much, but I do remember the experience and excitement of piling into the car to go pick it up. Shakey’s was the place for great family fun ~ especially for kids. Shakey’s had a magically cool player shakeys pizza balloon guypiano similar to the one we had at home where we spent countless hours singing with friends. I still have that piano!… To top your day, Shakey’s had party skimmer hats for the taking sporting bands around the top that read “Shakey’s” typeset in a blackletter-style font… and my favorite part were these little figure eight-shaped balloons you could blow-up and slide onto flat cardboard shoes; they’d stand on their own, transforming into the awesome shape of a happy pizza chef (at right). Why not watch this vintage video of the Shakey’s experience (and have a little laugh)?

So Italy. I’ve been lucky to travel to my far away home away from home 5 times (so far!) and have become somewhat of an Italian foodie snob. While this soup may not knock you over the head with “obvious” Italian flavor, when I close my eyes, the heartiness of the beans, carrots, tomato and parsley transports me back to my first tastes of Italy.

What a great memory that is.

You can read about my travel experiences to Italy at my other passion site at ForTheLoveOfItaly.com. More recipes, travel tips and pics, and fun stories.

Now, on to the soup!

i. ingredientsthe cast of characters for mom's italian veggie soup

1/2 cup | diced carrots
¼ cup | sliced celery
1 | diced tomato
1 cup | shredded cabbage
to taste | pepper
6 cups | boiling water
1 package | lipton brand beef flavor noodle soup
1 package | lipton brand onion soup
1/2 cup | kidney beans
2 tablespoons | chopped parsley
to serve | grated cheese

ii. what to do

1. Cook vegetables in boiling water, covered, for 20 minutes.

2. Stir-in pepper and soup mixes; cover and simmer 10 minutes.

3. Add beans and parsley. Heat.

4. Serve with grated cheese.

6 Servings

Foodie Tips ~

You may have trouble finding the boxed soups; they are from the 70s. So sport your favorite 70s “cut-offs” and hold a soup-y seance. If you can’t find the soup with the noodles inside it, you can add your own; just make sure it’s a fine noodle, like Capelli d’Angelo (angel hair pasta). You can break the pasta into small pieces before cooking.

In a pinch, you can do what I did and use grated mozzarella cheese. But try using a finely grated “hard” Italian cheese so the gooey cheese doesn’t overwhelm the soup. A couple of my favorites are Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano.

Add a few sprigs of rosemary to the soup for a souper-dooper-booster of Italian flavor.

You can double-up on the beans and some of the water, to make it more broth-y.

mom's italian vegetable soup recipe


italian dressing

what's this? italian dressing! shake it up and it'll tickle your taste buds.Love Italy?

I’m freshly back from a two week adventure to Italy*, so there’s nothing more relevant to make this week than Italian dressing.

Italian dressing isn’t just for mere lettuce; you can use it to top sliced tomatoes, or marinate meats or potatoes before cooking.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s get shaking!

* Think I’m kidding about an amazing trip to Italy? Click here to visit my other site that celebrates all things Italian!

i. ingredients

1/2 cup | EVOO
2 tablespoons | red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon | fresh basil, chopped (dried basil only if you must)
¼ teaspoon | fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon | gray sea salt
to taste | freshly ground black pepper

If serving dressing atop sliced tomato:

also add | LOTS of green onion tops, sliced
also add | parsley

A view of Lake Como from my rental's balcony view of Varenna. Read more about Lake Como at my site ForTheLoveOfItaly.com - It'll make you a better Texan. :)

A view of Lake Como from my rental’s balcony view of Varenna. Read more about Lake Como at my site ForTheLoveOfItaly.com – It’ll make you a better Texan. :)

ii. what to do

1. Prepare all ingredients and place in a dressing jar.

2. Shake, shake, shake!

3. Enjoy the dressing fresh or refrigerate it up to a week or two.

foodie tips ~

  I doubled the recipe. The more, the better.

  Try using a garlic press if you’re too tired to finely chop.

  You can also add some grated aged romano cheese to the dressing for an awesomely cheesy taste.

  If using as a marinade, add chopped green onion tops and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes … then grill.

  Try the tomato recipe on the recipe card if you want a tasty option for the dressing.

the original italian dressing recipe cardthe original italian dressing recipe card written by mom... the recipe is from mary stephenson's kitchen

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 see a few recipes from Mary’s kitchen here at Betty’s Cook Nook.

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.