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


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


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.


slang jang

Slang Jang Recipe From Betty's Cook NookA Delightfully Interesting Creation

I had never heard of “Slang Jang” before finding this recipe in my Mom’s cookbook.

I was curious about the origin of Slang Jang and one theory is that it hails from the East Texas town of Honey Grove, known as “The Sweetest Town In Texas.” Slang Jang has roots to 1888, a giant washtub, and the creative appetites of a group of men who just wanted lunch.

Slang Jang can be made a multitude of ways; surprisingly this recipe omits the often incorporated oysters, clams, and shrimpy things I know my Mom Betty would have loved. This Slang Jang recipe is super simple and super versatile – think of it like a relish or a “chow chow.” You can enjoy it on many things including hamburgers, hot dogs, atop cheese and crackers, or as an accompaniment to corn bread or black eyed peas.

Diving into Mom’s culinary legacy – her cookbook – I’m often able to connect pieces of the past together. I noted this Slang Jang recipe was written by my Mom on stationery from Hotel Monteleone (a.k.a. “The Monteleone”) in New Orleans. I only know of one trip my parents took to New Orleans so possibly they scored this recipe during that trip in 1956. Here’s a slice of history – a picture of them enjoying dinner in New Orleans at The Roosevelt Hotel’s “Blue Room” – a historic “supper club” venue where dinner, drinks, and dancing all converged.

The Blue Room

New Orleans (1956): The Blue Room ~ Shown here are my Uncle Bill (Willard Franklin Sutton,) Aunt Delores Marie Hannes Sutton, and my parents “Betty” (Elizabeth Joanna Hannes Kiker,) and Louis Orville Kiker.

i. Time

Total prep: About 20 minutes

ii. Ingredients

1 large can or jar (3 ½ cups)  |  sauerkraut, drained (we used 2 bags of Boar’s Head)
1 large  |  onion, finely chopped
1 cup  |  celery, finely chopped
|  green pepper, finely chopped
½ cup  |  water
½ cup  |  oil (we used Wesson Vegetable Oil)
¾ cup  |  vinegar
1 ½ cups  |  sugar

iii. What to do

1. Prepare all the vegetables.

2. Place the four wet ingredients in a medium pot and bring things to a boil.

3. Remove from heat and pour the boiling mixture over the vegetables and you’re ready to enjoy!

Stores well in the fridge

~ Patrick

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

 

Also note: Don’t miss the recipe’s shorthand “code” for one 2 ½ can of sauerkraut. Back in the good ol’ days can sizes were often used to denote how much of an ingredient to use. A “2 ½ can” would translate into 3 ½ cups!

Slang Jang Recipe

A Scan Of Mom’s Handwritten Slang Jang 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!


pumpkin bread

Pumpkin Bread Recipe From Betty's Cook NookThe Best Of Fall

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – when wearing flannel and smelling like patchouli is top of mind. Also top of mind? PUMPKINS!  🎃 There’s no better way to ring in fall’s greatness other than watching the fall favorite It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

The Peanuts gang were probably my best friends growing up. In a time before you could record TV I never missed a show. I remember sketching Snoopy on top of his doghouse… and funny, I never thought it was odd that Snoopy slept *on top* of his doghouse rather than in it. Childhood innocence.

While your pumpkin bread is baking, come back and watch the movie below – share it with your family and friends and celebrate the way we were… and the way we are with the best of fall!

Foodie Tips

  I halved this recipe and made 2 medium-sized loaves. If you’re gift-giving or a lover of loaves, go all the way!

  One small can pumpkin? I presumed it was a 15 ounce can.

  The recipe didn’t note it but I greased my loaf pans before adding the batter.

  This bread is most great served sliced and toasted with a schmear of Phildelphia Whipped Cream Cheese.

i. Time

Total prep: About 75 minutes (minus resting)

ii. Ingredients

3-⅓ cups | flour
3 cups | sugar
1 teaspoon | cinnamon
2 teaspoons | nutmeg
2 teaspoons | baking soda
1 teaspoon | salt
| cage free eggs, beaten
1 cup | oil
⅔ cup | water
15 ounces | canned pumpkin
¾ cup (2 small boxes) | raisins
¾ cup | chopped nuts (a.k.a. “pecans,” here in Texas)
to top | more pecans (optional)

Pumpkin Bread In The Works

iii. What to do

1. Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

2. Add the eggs, oil, water, and pumpkin. Mix everything well.

3. Fold in the raisins and the pecans.

4. Pour the batter into two large or four small loaf pans at 325°F until the bread tests done.

ENJOY

~ Patrick

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

Pumpkin Bread Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Peanuts Cook Book Circa 1970One of my most cherished childhood items is this Peanuts cookbook. Originally printed in 1970 it still remains in my kitchen today, almost 50 years later!

This cookbook was not mine, originally… but at the magical age of 10 I was such a fanatic about The Peanuts Gang I was able to smooth talk this cookbook out of my neighborhood friend’s kitchen and into mine!

Pumpkin Bread

A Scan Of Mom’s Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Sous Chef Note: While acquainting myself with this recipe I noticed a credit to “Barbara Harris” and took to the internet to see if I could find out who she was. Turns out Barbara was a San Antonio restauranteur who ran some popular food establishments in San Antonio and Dallas.

I found reference to Barbara’s Pecan Pie Muffins in Karen Haram’s 50 Favorite “Good Taste” Recipes – these muffins are surely a culinary cousin to the Pumpkin Bread recipe above. Karen was a food author for the San Antonio Express-News for more than 30 years so you know these recipes have gotta be tasty… I have Karen’s Good Taste cookbook printed out for my culinary archives and you can score a digital copy of her fifty favorites here > Karen Haram’s 50 Favorite Recipes.


jim’s canadian cheese soup

Canadian Cheese Soup Recipe From Betty's Cook NookAn Ol’ Time Family Favorite

The very first “Jim’s” opened back in 1963 at the corner of Broadway and Loop 410 in San Antonio. This location was my Dad’s absolute favorite to meet up for a standing breakfast with a large group of colleagues. When it was a lucky weekend day Dad would let me tag along. Here the staff knew him like the best of family.

Jim's No 1 Restaurant Broadway at Loop 410 Circa 1963

Circa 1963 ~ Jim’s Restaurant (No. 1)

My friend Dan said his Dad created this cheese soup for Jim’s Restaurants, which I remember being a favored thing right up there with the pet rock and the skateboard. This soup was a pre-appetizer staple that I liked more than the greener alternative – the salad. Um, no. When I asked my friend why his Dad named it “Canadian Cheese Soup” he said it was because “the name sounded good.”

Flash forward several decades to today and the recipe is still on Jim’s menu so it’s quite exciting to be able to enjoy it at home now that I’m not within walking distance of my childhood Jim’s.

My research for this recipe helped teach me the difference between a mirepoix, a roux, and the foodie “holy trinity” (deets below) so hats off to this silky, delicious, cheesy soup!

Foodie Tips

  I’ve adjusted the recipe ingredients below based on my friend’s inside scoop – cutting back on the milk, adding Tobasco, and using Velveeta instead of the triple play of cheeses I found in another copycat recipe which was: Cheese Whiz (16 ounces), Swiss (2 ounces), and cheddar cheeses (2 ounces).

  You can adjust the flour and milk as you see fit to arrive at your preferred consistency.

  I wasn’t sure what “chicken base” was, thinking it might be chicken stock or chicken broth. Turns out there is such a thing as chicken base – I found this “Better Than Bouillon” at my local market and it sure was flavorful, living up to its name.
Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base

  Refrigerate leftovers for an impromptu treat for when you’re in a hurry – you may find that adding a bit more milk will help return the silky, smooth consistency.

i. Time

Veggie prep: About 10 minutes.
Total prep: About 45 minutes.

ii. Ingredients

6 cups | water
5 stalks | celery, finely diced
¼ medium | onion, finely diced
3 medium | carrots, finely diced
4 tablespoons | low salt chicken base
2 sticks | butter (my grandmother insisted on Falfurrias)
1 cup | flour
20 ounces | Velveeta, cubed
2 ½ cups | milk
tiny bit | Tobasco
to garnish | oyster crackers (optional)

iii. What to do

1. In a stockpot over high heat bring the water to a boil.

Canadian Cheese Soup Ingredients
2. Let’s make “mirepoix!” To the water add celery, onion, carrots, and chicken base. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes, or until the celery is tender but firm. Note: About 15 minutes into the simmering start Step 3 (if you like the quick route)!

3. Next up? The roux: In a heavy skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and mix constantly with a whisk until things are smooth and free of lumps. Cook your roux 8-10 minutes, whisking constantly to prevent scorching.

4. Reduce heat under the soup (not the roux) to medium-low, add the prepared roux and continue to whisk until everything is smooth and thick, 4-5 minutes.

How to make Jim's Canadian Cheese Soup

5. Add the Velveeta and continue cooking until the cheese is melted, making sure to whisk occasionally.

6. Heat the milk in the microwave (or double boiler). Slowly add the milk to the soup mixture, whisking all the way. You can add a little more – or less – milk to reach your desired consistency.

To Serve: Spoon into bowls and top with a few shakes of Tabasco. After enjoying my first bowl I added a few oyster crackers for crunch and 5-7 fresh pinched oregano leaves to add a pop of herby flavor.

Yields 12-16 servings!Jim's Restaurant Logo

~ Patrick

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

Relevant, Additional Foodie Info: 

Is Velveeta Cheese Actually Cheese?

The History of Cheez Whiz

My Own “Cheesy Love Affair” With Velveeta

Kitchen Tip: Mirepoix vs. The Holy Trinity

More Vintage Jim’s Pics

More About Mirepoix:


lemon springtime cake

 

Springtime Cake Recipe
Debuting in my kitchen on Mother’s Day 2018,

this springtime cake recipe is dedicated to all you Moms out there!
Thank you for everything you do…

and for ensuring we never go to bed hungry!
~   ♥   ~

Pucker Up, Cake Lovers

Just before jettisoning to my first official family vacation in over 5 years (insert glad face here) I made this cake. Before I dive into why you should make it, too, I want to share a crazy family story connection with this recipe!

Before leaving for the Texas Coast I was reminded of a list I recalled that was tucked away in my Mom “Betty’s” cookbook. For 7 years I had thought it was a list Mom wrote in preparation for an October trip to the coast to enjoy the temperatures of the beachy, breezy 70s and 80s which is quite delightful after the typical blazing Texas summer.

Since I was reminded of the beachtime list I snapped a few pics of the list (below) and texted them to my Dear Cousin Alison, who is as much a fellow Foodie as one could hope for. She and I texted back and forth while Joe drove me and the Dogs to Port Aransas… somewhere around Refugio, Texas, I had a huge revelation – the list wasn’t for a family vacation, it was preparing for an e-vacuation!

What Chew Talking About, Willis?

I stumbled across the date “10-22-62” that was written off to the side of my Mom’s list and after seeing my Googled search results my heart started beating faster. My family wasn’t about to to go on a joyride trip – they were preparing for the Cuban Missile Crisis! I had heard about the Cuban Missile Crisis before, but I didn’t realize its potential for devastation here on U.S. soil.

Aggressively searching on Google for more clues about this date and it’s significance to San Antonio I stumbled upon a passage from the book A Tale of Three Cities (authored by R. Douglas Brackenridge and published by Trinity University).

“During the Cuban missile crisis in the fall of 1962, students monitored events closely, aware that because of its military bases, San Antonio was a prime target in case of enemy attack. One student wrote, ‘We live in an age in which we have five minutes to rush to a bomb shelter to live. For that is how long it would take for a nuclear missile launched from Cuba to reach San Antonio.’ … The university was preparing shelter areas with minimum provisions in case an emergency should arise.”

Sobering. As a alum of Trinity University, there’s no doubt Mom’s ties to her alma mater rang loud during this scary time. Even more so, I was amazed how – once again – a simple recipe from Mom’s cookbook could unearth so much history and relevancy to my family.

Um, Did You Forget About The Cake?

Of course not! As a self-proclaimed extreme foodie, culinary consumables are always on my mind. So let’s get to it! What I think you’ll love about this cake:

  • The checkerboard cake pattern. 50+ years ago alternating yellow and white cake was surely quite a surprise, cleverly “hidden” beneath the lemony frosting.
  • Layered pudding cake. Need I say more?
  • The tart and sweet taste of the lemon frosting. You can peel off the frosting recipe and make it for cupcakes or any other cake where you want a citrusy lemon appeal.Springtime Cake

Foodie Tips

  Mom’s Options For The Frosting: 1) Mix lemon juice into 2 packages (7 ounces each) butter-cream style frosting mix or; 2) Make your own delicious Lemon-Butter Frosting compliments of Mom’s recipe that pairs wonderfully with this cake! The instructions below presume we will be making scratch frosting, since that’s how I enjoyed it. The scratch frosting was super-simple to make and the taste was excellent!

  Tube pan vs. bundt pan. I didn’t know the difference until I was already into baking this recipe! Luckily my bundt wasn’t extremely fluted and the cake popped right out. But I was panicking that the batter was going to ooze all over my oven as the tube pan holds a little more batter than the typical bundt.

i. Time

Total prep: About 2 hours, including baking, cooling and chilling.

ii. Ingredients

for the cake:
1 package | angel food cake mix
6-8 or so | drops of yellow food coloring
1 package | lemon instant pudding
varies | milk or water (read directions on the pudding package)

for the frosting: (yields 2 ½ cups)
½ cup (1 stick) | butter, softened (my grandmother insisted on Falfurrias)
| cage free egg yolks
4 cups (1 pound) | confectioner’s sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons | lemon juice

iii. What to do

for the cake:

0.
Preheat your oven to 375°F.

1. While that’s prepping, in a large bowl prepare the cake mix. Spoon half the batter into a second bowl and add about 6-8 drops of yellow food color and stir well; leave the other batter original “white.”

2. Fill an ungreased 10-inch tube pan with alternating spoonfuls of yellow and white batters. Do not stir! I wound up with 3 layers of alternating colored batters in total; yours may vary.

3. Bake your cake mix in your preheated oven about 1 hour, or until done.

4. Remove the cake from the oven, turn the pan upside down onto a wire rack and cool completely.

5. Prepare the instant pudding mix and chill it about 10 minutes to allow it to thicken.
Springtime Cake Recipe Layer 1

6. Loosen and turn out the cake (mine literally fell out of the pan). Using a  large serrated knife to slice the cake into 3 horizontal layers. Spread the pudding between layers leaving the top of the cake plain.

7. Frost the top and sides of the cake (frosting recipe below).

Springtime Cake Recipe

for the frosting:

1.
With a hand mixer cream the butter until soft.

2. Blend in the egg yolks.

3. Add sugar a little at a time and alternate with the lemon juice.

4. Blend until everything is thick and creamy-smooth. The suspense is killing me! Let’s frost the cake and get to it!

Despite my excitement to devour this I was able to wait and chill my cake for 15 minutes or so. This step is totally optional but I like my citrusy cakes chilled and refreshing.

Yields 12-16 servings!

~ Patrick

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

Scans Of My Mom “Betty’s” Original Springtime Cake + Frosting Recipes

Springtime Cake Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Springtime Cake From Betty's Cook Nook

Hats Off To You, Springtime Cake

Ready for my Mom’s Cuban Missile evacuation lists?
Here they are followed by a few comments from the “me” of today to yesterday.

What To Pack For The Cuban Missile Crisis List 1

What To Pack For The Cuban Missile Crisis List 2

What To Pack For The Cuban Missile Crisis List 3

What To Pack For The Cuban Missile Crisis List 4

What To Pack For The Cuban Missile Crisis List 5

  • Pink Baby Quilt – Since Mom and Dad only had two boys I thought this one was interesting. Then I was reminded that ultrasounds didn’t become popular until the 1980s so undoubtedly they received a pink blanket for what turned out to be baby boys. Surprise!
  • Snowsuits, Coveralls, and Flannel Shirts? In San Antonio? Alison noted a passage in the “Fallout Protection” book below that explained the wintry coverups: “Young people might be injured more by nuclear radiation than older people. This is because young people are more apt to absorb radioactive elements into their bones and internal organs than are older people.”
  • Water (5 Gallons) and Toilet Paper (4 rolls): I found these quantities disproportionate to what I would insist upon – more like 80 rolls of toilet paper and 5 boxes of wine… to get me through the weekend.
  • Bonus Reading Below: My Cousin Alison gave me links to so many awesome references about nuclear fallout. I know it’s weird to be posting about them here, but they are a blast from the past, so I’m sharing them.

President JFK’s Cuban Missle Crisis 10-22-62 Address:

A Fallout Shelter Audio Clip:

Fallout Protection: What to Know and Do

Family Shelter Designs

New Homeowner Opens Shelter Sealed Since 1961

A Special Treat: Something From the 80s


wonderful christmas scent

A Wonderful Christmas Scent Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Ahhhh… the holiday smells!

There’s no doubt that my Mom “Betty” loved cloves.

She cooked with cloves and even decorated with them. At the holidays Mom would make orange-clove pomander balls and you guessed it – clove gum was a special treat beyond the usual mint flavored gums.

There’s no better time of year to enjoy the aroma of all that is spice and nice than at holidaytime.

This Wonderful Christmas Scent recipe comes to us from my Cousin Julie’s kitchen. Julie has contributed several recipes to this blog and her cooking advice has helped bridge the gaps in my much younger memory since the loss of my Mom back in the 1980s. Losing Cousin Julie in October (mere weeks ago) has left a huge void in my heart that’s only filled with the love and bountiful memories she gifted those who knew her.

This holiday season I dedicate all of it to Julie’s loving memory! And as you’d expect making this Wonderful Christmas Scent recipe could be no finer way to fill my home with a memorable great scent of the holidays.

I hope you enjoy this recipe – it’s so easy to make and enjoy! And you can gift the ingredients to friends and family as an easy way for them to brighten and heighten their holiday season!

Pomander Ball With Red And Green Ribbon

An example of the holiday pomanders my Mom “Betty” would make at the holidays.

i. ingredients

3 sticks | cinnamon
¼ cup | whole cloves
| bay leaves
½ | orange, halved
½ | lemon, halved
1 quart (4 cups) | water

ii. what to do

It doesn’t get any easier than this, folks!

1. Put everything in a medium-sized pot over low heat.

2. Bring things to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Check the water level periodically to ensure it hasn’t all evaporated. You can tilt a pot lid on top to help release the fragrant mist while helping retain the water.

Enjoy and Happiest Holidays from Betty’s Cook Nook!

~ Patrick

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

Wonderful Christmas Scent Recipe

Julie’s original Wonderful Christmas Scent recipe was recently given to me by her son, Lorin. I’d peg this to be circa 1980s-ish given the colorful ribbon design.

In the tradition of many of my posts here at Betty’s Cook Nook let’s take a stroll into the past and enjoy some vintage images of gum advertising! I focus on clove gum, since it was one of Mom’s favorites and clove is a key ingredient in this Wonderful Christmas Scent recipe.

Click the circles to view the entire ad:

julie and patrick in starburst frame

Circa 1995: This one’s for us, Cousin!