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185 posts categorized "25) What would Don Draper do? Retro recipes from my past to your present!"

07/20/2020

~My Aunt's Apple-Pie Pork-Chop & Stuffing Casserole~

The sweet and savory act of combining porcine and apples is classic. Every whole roasted pig that I've ever seen had an apple in its mouth. I honestly can't remember where I read it or heard this, but, my recollection is: this centuries old custom had to do with pigs being fattened by feeding them apples, so, this was considered a show of respect for the animal, representing it eating apples in life and into eternity (hogs were typically slaughtered in the Fall and apples were in season). All I know for certain is pork and apples go hand-in-hand, it's...... View full recipe for "~My Aunt's Apple-Pie Pork-Chop & Stuffing Casserole~"

07/09/2020

~ Betty Crocker's 1950 Sour Cream Cookie Recipe ~

Sour cream cookies have been a favorite in households for decades -- mine included. They are the perfect little not-too-sweet cookie. They're soft, a bit chewy and need no adornment or intervention. They only require a few on-hand ingredients (unless you're out of sour cream) and take moments to mix. They're good hot, warm, at room temp, and, they keep for days in the cookie jar. I can't think of a better use for a cup of sour cream, shortening and two eggs. I have two recipes for sour cream cookies (see Cook's note below), and both or great. The...... View full recipe for "~ Betty Crocker's 1950 Sour Cream Cookie Recipe ~"

07/07/2020

~ McCall's 1974 Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies ~

Nineteen Seventy-Four. I was nineteen years young, a new bride, and, living in our first apartment here in downtown Happy Valley. I was the secretary to the Vice-President of Lending for our towns premier bank. I drove a hot, little lime-green Fiat, got my first miniature poodle and named him Caesar, and, I loved to cook. Life was good (and it still is). While times change and people change, a good recipe does not -- it just gets better and better with age. This is one such recipe, and, these cookies evoke these and more memories every time I bake...... View full recipe for "~ McCall's 1974 Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies ~"

06/09/2020

~ Hellmann's Original Eight-Ingredient Potato Salad ~

Want to make a country-style potato salad just like your grandmother used to make? The kind that allows the potato to be the star of the show? Of course you do or you wouldn't be Googling around the internet looking for a basic, vintage recipe reminiscent of kinder, gentler, traditional times -- a recipe absent of a long-list fancy-schmancy ingredients (no special heirloom potatoes, no gourmet vinegars, no crazy-hot sauces, no silly spices, no asinine add-ins), that, while exciting-to-the-palate for the first few bites, just grow old in your mouth while muddlling up the flavor of the perfectly-cooked spuds. If...... View full recipe for "~ Hellmann's Original Eight-Ingredient Potato Salad ~"

04/15/2020

~ Oh-My-Goodness-Good Retro Rice-a-Burger-Roni ~

When I was a kid, my mom invented a beefy Rice-a-Roni dinner that kept my brother and I from bugging her to buy us an occasional, to quote mom, "over-priced, over-rated TV dinner" -- which, to us kids of the era, were nothing more than a trendy novelty. As they say on the Rice-a-Roni website: Prepare for a stampede to the dinner table when you serve our delicious rice and vermicelli blended with the savory flavors of onions, carrots, beef broth and garlic. It's true. Mom would carefully shape hamburger patties, prepared meatloaf-style (meaning mixed with a binder, some milk,...... View full recipe for "~ Oh-My-Goodness-Good Retro Rice-a-Burger-Roni ~"

04/02/2020

~Oodles of Tender Chicken & Egg Noodle Casserole~

Chicken-noodle soup is the quintessential comfort food. While nourishing the body, chicken-noodle soup channels the mind back to kinder, gentler, childhood times. When I was growing up, I don't remember eating canned chicken-noodle soup. Mom always had one-quart containers of homemade chicken soup in the freezer. When it was gone, she made more. That was that, haha, no canned chicken-noodle soup for me. While stocking my pantry with a few chicken-y staples (four boxes of chicken stock, two jars of granulated chicken bouillon, and, two double-size bags of wide egg noodles), my mind wandered to mom's chicken noodle casserole. Mom's...... View full recipe for "~Oodles of Tender Chicken & Egg Noodle Casserole~"

03/03/2020

~ Mel's Cheeseburger Quiche w/Special Sauce Salad ~

Cheeseburger pie was not something my mom ever made -- it existed back in the 1950's and 60's, she just never made it. As I recall, the recipe moms across America were using then was made popular by Bisquick. Mom probably didn't make it because dad wouldn't eat anything "casserole-ish". A cheeseburger pie or quiche was not something I thought I would ever make -- it existed in the 1970's and 80's, I just never felt like making it. That said, when you're a mom of three boys in the 1970's and 1980's and one of them comes home after...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Cheeseburger Quiche w/Special Sauce Salad ~"

02/20/2020

~ Buttery-Rich Crispy Ritz Cracker Casserole Topping ~

Many casseroles and almost any dish that gets baked in a casserole can benefit from a buttery-rich crispy topping. It enhances both the flavor and texture, especially if the dish is creamy or cheesy-creamy. Kids adore it. Adults love it. I describe my all-purpose Ritz-cracker topping as the grand finale that transforms an ordinary casserole into an extraordinary one. It takes just a few moments to prepare, and, it can be made hours ahead of time too. Just sprinkle it on any casserole during the last 15 minutes of the baking process. Voila: accolades and applause. Sprinkle on any casserole...... View full recipe for "~ Buttery-Rich Crispy Ritz Cracker Casserole Topping ~"

02/06/2020

~ Better than Store-Bought Stovetop Mac & Cheese ~

In my food world, three meals require a side of orange-and-cheddary creamy-dreamy macaroni-and-cheese: meatloaf, fish sticks, and, chili dogs. There's more. If you're looking for the perfect side-dish to turn Buffalo chicken wings into dinner, set your sights on mac and cheese. When I was growing up, when we sat down to eat meatloaf, fish sticks or chili dogs, my mom indulged my brother and I in a side-serving of mac and cheese. Interestingly, she didn't buy the stuff in the blue box. She refused. She made her own copycat version of it on the stovetop. It was quick-to-make and...... View full recipe for "~ Better than Store-Bought Stovetop Mac & Cheese ~"

01/22/2020

~Pretty-in-Pink Tiny-Shrimp Dip, Salad & Sandwiches~

Americans love shrimp. Shrimp, the fruit of the sea, is America's favorite seafood. When it comes to shrimp, while big is always better served in a shrimp cocktail, when making deep-fried shrimp, and, in specialty dishes like firecracker shrimp, that's just not so when it comes to making many appetizers and hors d'oeuvres (shrimp dip, shrimp salad, tea sandwiches, various canapés, etc.). Extra-small shrimp, also known as "salad shrimp", are sweet, tender and adorable, so, when serving fingerfood, think small, because the extra flavor is important. Once upon a time, people bought salad shrimp packed in cans (similar to tuna)....... View full recipe for "~Pretty-in-Pink Tiny-Shrimp Dip, Salad & Sandwiches~"

01/20/2020

~ Spicy Tiny Salad-Shrimp Mini Shrimp-Cocktail Cups ~

Shrimp cocktail. Two ingredients. Shrimp and cocktail sauce. To be more specific, succulent, perfectly-cooked and chilled tails-on shrimp served with a spicy ketchup and horseradish concoction for dipping. When it comes to shrimp for classically prepared shrimp cocktail, big is always better. That said, if you're looking for an impressive addition to your next appetizer buffet, put out a tray of mini shrimp-cocktail cups. Count the seconds until they disappear. Extra-small shrimp, also known as "salad shrimp", are sweet, tender and adorable, so, when serving fingerfood, think small, because the extra flavor is important. Flash-frozen extra-small shrimp (a 90/200 count),...... View full recipe for "~ Spicy Tiny Salad-Shrimp Mini Shrimp-Cocktail Cups ~"

01/18/2020

~ Time out for Tiny Shrimp & Tiny Shells Pasta Salad ~

Got a mid-day snack attack? Think small. Pretty in pink, tiny salad shrimp are sweet, tender and adorable. I only use them occasionally in very specific recipes, like shrimp dip to serve as an appetizer, and shrimp salad for making sandwiches, but, sometimes I like to turn my shrimp salad into a pasta salad, and tiny shell-shaped pasta are the perfect foil to make it happen. Served in a small bowl, this little nosh staves off hunger pangs without almost any guilt. Once upon a time, people bought salad shrimp packed in cans (similar to tuna). That's ok. That's how...... View full recipe for "~ Time out for Tiny Shrimp & Tiny Shells Pasta Salad ~"

01/15/2020

~ Time out for Tiny Salad-Shrimp-Salad Sandwiches ~

I grew up in an era when tea sandwiches were in vogue. At every festive gathering, one could count on at least one three-tier tray of tea sandwiches. Some might argue they're still in vogue, but, I can't remember the last time I was offered a tea sandwich. These tiny shrimp salad sandwiches aren't exactly tea sandwiches (which are made using crustless white bread), but, I'm willing to classify them as such, as, they're too classy to classify in the slider-sandwich category. Once upon a time, people bought salad shrimp packed in cans (similar to tuna). That's ok. That's how...... View full recipe for "~ Time out for Tiny Salad-Shrimp-Salad Sandwiches ~"

01/13/2020

~Puttin' on the Ritz, Retro Salad-Shrimp Dip Revisited~

Pretty in pink, tiny salad shrimp are sweet, tender and adorable. Once upon a time, people bought them packed in cans (similar to tuna). That's ok. That's how things were done before flash freezing came along, followed by freezer- trucks and train-cars criss-crossing our country. It was also before in-home refrigerators had an ample freezer section and households started investing in chest- or stand-type freezers. When my mom got her freezer IT was a very big deal. When frozen salad shrimp became available to her, she never bought the canned shrimp again. Americans love shrimp. Shrimp, "the fruit of the...... View full recipe for "~Puttin' on the Ritz, Retro Salad-Shrimp Dip Revisited~"

01/10/2020

~ Smokie Cocktail Wieners in a Bourbon BBQ Sauce ~

Aside from an occasional glass of Austi Spumante, mom didn't drink a drop, but, as a cook she wasn't opposed to adding boozy flavor to certain dishes. If a recipe required a splash of sherry or wine, she didn't scurry around looking for substitutions -- she added it. In the case of bourbon, which is a common addition to recipes containing sweet and savory tomato-based barbecue sauces, she put the bourbon in. As parents, mom and dad (who did enjoy a beer or two and an occasional cocktail), a little bourbon in the cocktail wieners didn't mean we kids had...... View full recipe for "~ Smokie Cocktail Wieners in a Bourbon BBQ Sauce ~"

12/31/2019

~ My Chinese-American Lo Mein-Style Pepper Steak ~

Pepper steak is a Chinese-American dish that, as per its name, features thin strips of soy- ginger- and garlic-marinated flank-, sirloin- or round-steak, boldly-seasoned with a copious amount of pepper, stir-fried with crunchy water chestnuts and julienne strips of colorful bell peppers and onion. The dark brown stir-fry sauce ranges from thick-to-thin depending on whether the dish is to be served to the side of or atop some steamed rice (thick), or, to be tossed with and absorbed into some cooked noodles (thin). Pepper steak was popularized in Chinese-American restaurants in the late '40's and early '50's, and home cooks...... View full recipe for "~ My Chinese-American Lo Mein-Style Pepper Steak ~"

12/23/2019

~Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Cauliflower Rice Casserole~

'Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. After all the holiday cooking and cleanup, mom was so exhausted she declared it HER holiday. She took a casserole out of the freezer and let it thaw on the counter for the afternoon. She popped it in the oven at 4:00PM, everyone enjoyed a wonderful meal around 5:00PM, and, by 6:00PM mom was lounging in her favorite chair, sipping a G&T, watching a movie. Every cook, every where, needs, at the very least, one, hearty, relatively easy-to-make, go-to casserole recipe...... View full recipe for "~Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Cauliflower Rice Casserole~"

12/20/2019

~ Tart Cherry & Toasted-Pistachio Snowball Cookies ~

These sweet and savory shortbread-esque two-bite cookies called snowballs, or, depending on where you're from, also referred to as Mexican wedding cookies or Russian tea cakes, are the darlings of holiday cookie trays all across America. The base recipe varies very little from baker-to-baker, because the ratio of flour to butter and sugar is important to prevent them from flattening out, meaning: loosing their ball shape. Flavored with vanilla, lightly-toasted chopped pecans or walnuts get added to the mixture for additional flavor and texture. Nobody can eat just one. A recipe for cherry-pistachio snowballs came across my Facebook newsfeed about...... View full recipe for "~ Tart Cherry & Toasted-Pistachio Snowball Cookies ~"

12/12/2019

~ Baked Three-Cheesy Hot Broccoli & Pimiento Dip ~

Eat your broccoli. That was never something my mom had to say to me. As a kid I loved raw or cooked broccoli (cauliflower too). Mom did too. My dad and my brother, not so much on either count, but, they didn't 100% hate it either -- they put up with it on an occasional basis. When broccoli was served for dinner, I knew there was going to a bonus snack later in the evening, made from preplanned-on leftovers: A little crock of bubbling hot, creamy broccoli-cheese dip. It wasn't fancy and only took a few minutes to mix together,...... View full recipe for "~ Baked Three-Cheesy Hot Broccoli & Pimiento Dip ~"

12/09/2019

~Gruyère & Olive-Tapenade French-Bread Appetizers~

Olive cheese bread was a trendy hot appetizer served with drinks at laid-back TGIF and fancy-schmancy holiday cocktail parties throughout the 1980's. For the obvious reason, the olives, they were particularly popular with martini drinkers. That said, olive cheese bread was just one of many spin-off recipes created by home cooks who were inspired by the introduction of the remarkably-tasty, frozen, store-bought, Stouffer's* French bread pizza into their lives. *Note: Making pizza on French bread was made famous in the 1960's by Bob Petrillose, the founder of the legendary Hot Truck on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY....... View full recipe for "~Gruyère & Olive-Tapenade French-Bread Appetizers~"

12/05/2019

~ Six Recipes for Fabulously-Flavored Holiday Fudge ~

Fudge is especially popular on the the boardwalks of the East coast in the Summertime. That said, it is also perfect for gift-giving during the holidays. Because it can be made several weeks in advance and stored (covered) in the the refrigerator, I like to make several flavors, then, assemble gift-boxes containing assorted flavors to share with family and friends. It's a fun, relaxing way to ease into the holiday spirit, and it's a great addition to a tray of assorted cookies too. This all-American confection dates back to the late 1880s. Fudge originated in America in the latter 19th...... View full recipe for "~ Six Recipes for Fabulously-Flavored Holiday Fudge ~"

12/03/2019

~The Ultimate-Best Peanut-Butter Killer Fudge Recipe~

If it's full-throttle roasted-peanut flavor and crunch you crave, there's no need to look elsewhere for a peanut butter fudge recipe. Lightly-roasted peanuts, crunchy peanut butter, peanut-butter morsels, and, peanut butter flavoring team up in my version, and, trust me, nobody can eat just one piece of this peanutty fudge. There's more. This recipe (which has been tested, tasted and approved by many experienced cooking friends) is super-easy to make, not to mention foolproof, so, for those who've never tried making fudge before, or novice cooks, this recipe is ideal. Everyone remembers their first bite of fudge -- that creamy,...... View full recipe for "~The Ultimate-Best Peanut-Butter Killer Fudge Recipe~"

11/30/2019

~Double-Cherry & Double-Vanilla Lover's Killer Fudge~

Cherry-vanilla is one of my favorite flavor combinations. Cherry-vanilla or black-cherry-vanilla cream soda, cherry-vanilla ice-cream, cherry-vanilla milkshakes, cherry-vanilla yogurt and cherry-vanilla biscotti are amongst my favorite things. While I didn't invent the idea for cherry-vanilla fudge, once I got my hands on a great base recipe for making fudge, cherry-vanilla was the first spin-off I made (for myself), and, after tasting it, I think you'll agree it's perhaps the best rendition in print or on internet, as, it uses a combination of dehydrated tart "sour" pie cherries and pure cherry extract, instead of neon-colored candied maraschinos (which taste nothing like...... View full recipe for "~Double-Cherry & Double-Vanilla Lover's Killer Fudge~"

11/28/2019

~Cinnamon-Apple Maple-Walnut Lover's Killer Fudge~

Maple-walnut ice cream and maple-walnut fudge. While they're my only two encounters with this sublime combination, meaning I've not tasted a maple-walnut pie or a maple-walnut cake, I was driven to re-create both of them in my home kitchen. My experience with the first was in Vermont, and it was a slow-churned unforgettable experience. My experience with the second was on the boardwalks of New Jersey, and, it was a creamy-dreamy unforgettable experience. Everyone remembers their first bite of fudge -- that creamy, semi-soft confection made with corn syrup and/or sugar, butter, cream and flavoring. Hands-down, the most popular flavor...... View full recipe for "~Cinnamon-Apple Maple-Walnut Lover's Killer Fudge~"

11/25/2019

~ Butterscotch & Bits-O-Toffee Brickle Lover's Fudge ~

Butterscotch, caramel, English toffee and American buttercrunch. These rich butter-and-sugar-based candies are all related, and, I have an affinity for them all. As a little kid, my hand gravitated to the bag of those little chewy squares of Kraft Caramels, and, when I got a little older, I always kept a few cellophane-wrapped Brach's Butterscotch hard-candies in my purse -- they were a way to enjoy an otherwise long and boring class at school or sermon at church. Everyone remembers their first bite of fudge -- that creamy, semi-soft confection made with corn syrup and/or sugar, butter, cream and flavoring....... View full recipe for "~ Butterscotch & Bits-O-Toffee Brickle Lover's Fudge ~"

11/22/2019

~Milk-Chocolate and Toasted-Coconut Lover's Fudge~

As one who in all seriousness does not crave chocolate, when I do eat it it, my taste leans toward milk chocolate, with Swiss Lindt being my chocolate of choice. Even as a kid, I pretty much turned my prissy little nose up at chocolate, with one exception. Every year for Christmas, mom would put a few Russel Stover milk-chocolate toasted-coconut wreaths in my stocking. For Easter, milk-chocolate toasted-coconut bird's nests went in my basket. I love them to this day. While I didn't invent the idea for milk-chocolate toasted-coconut fudge, once I had a great base recipe for fudge,...... View full recipe for "~Milk-Chocolate and Toasted-Coconut Lover's Fudge~"

11/20/2019

~Dark Chocolate Lover's Killer Dark-Chocolate Fudge~

Everyone remembers their first bite of fudge -- that creamy, semi-soft confection made with corn syrup and/or sugar, butter, cream and flavoring. Hands-down, the most popular flavor is dark chocolate, with milk chocolate in second. Peanut butter, butterscotch, maple and vanilla are all contenders for the third spot. When I was growing up, Agnes was our next-door neighbor. She loved to bake, and throughout the years her sweet treats made their way to our table often. Every year, on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve, Agnes joined our family for dinner and graced our dessert table with a plate of fudge...... View full recipe for "~Dark Chocolate Lover's Killer Dark-Chocolate Fudge~ "

11/18/2019

~ Gobble Gobble: Rich and Creamy Turkey à la King ~

Talk about a tasty use for turkey leftovers. Turkey à la king is a spin-off of chicken à la king -- an all-American comfort-food creation. At this time of year, with Turkey Day just around the corner, it is, obviously, a very tasty use for leftover turkey. That said, by using quick-to-cook stovetop-poached or oven-roasted turkey tenderloins, it is a wonderful alternative if you want to serve turkey in a non-traditional way for a more laid-back or take-to-a-potluck feast. Make no mistake, we're not talking "cream of canned any kind of soup" thrown into a skillet or a casserole. À...... View full recipe for "~ Gobble Gobble: Rich and Creamy Turkey à la King ~"

11/15/2019

~Gobble Gobble: Get Tangled Up in Turkey Tetrazzini~

When one writes a cooking blog long enough, one learns that sharing vintage recipes is as important as sharing trending, innovative new ones. Experience has taught, "what's old is always new to someone", and cooks of all experience levels appreciate learning about it. Experience has also taught: "what's old has often been lost to someone", as many times, these retro classics, which evoke fond memories, have sadly, been lost (grandma never taught it, shared it, or worse, never wrote it down), or tossed (instead of being handed down from generation to generation). About vintage recipes: What's old is always new...... View full recipe for "~Gobble Gobble: Get Tangled Up in Turkey Tetrazzini~"

11/12/2019

~ Gobble Gobble: Divine Parisien-Style Turkey Divan ~

Turkey divan is a spin-off of chicken divan -- an all-American casserole invention. At this time of year, with Turkey Day just around the corner, it is, obviously, a very tasty use for leftover turkey. That said, by using quick-to-cook stovetop-poached or oven-roasted turkey tenderloins, it is a truly wonderful alternative if you want to serve turkey in a non-traditional way for a more laid-back or take-to-a-potluck feast. Make no mistake, we're not talking "cream of canned any kind of soup" thrown into a casserole dish. This dish is indeed real-deal creamy, comforting and divine. While we're all familiar with...... View full recipe for "~ Gobble Gobble: Divine Parisien-Style Turkey Divan ~"

11/04/2019

~ Doritos Taco Salad w/Catalina &/or Ranch Dressing ~

If you were a mother in the 80's, or if you were a kid in the 80's, you likely know all about this salad. It showed up everywhere: birthday party buffets, weekend sleepovers, support-the-team sports benefits, potluck school functions, Summer pool parties, neighborhood block parties, etc. There was never a doubt it would be served. Anyone organizing a get-together assigned someone in the neighborhood or group to make the Doritos salad -- everyone had a recipe. From a small tacup to a large taco salad to the Doritos taco salad: The history of the taco-bowl salad, as per this book,...... View full recipe for "~ Doritos Taco Salad w/Catalina &/or Ranch Dressing ~"

11/02/2019

~Scratch-Made All-American Catalina Salad Dressing~

As a lover of sweet and tanilizingly savory combinations, Catalina dressing was always on the door of my mom's refrigerator. While she and dad didn't, for the most part, ever stray past the bottle of Wish-Bone Italian dressing, for some reason my brother and I gravitated to this red-orange concoction. While I enjoyed it on chef-type salads that contained "the works" (lots of cheeses and meats), my brother would drench large chunks or wedges of iceberg lettuce with it. Please don't confuse Catalina dressing w/French dressing. Catalina dressing is an American creation defined as: A commercially-emulsified, tomato-based dressing that is...... View full recipe for "~Scratch-Made All-American Catalina Salad Dressing~"

10/31/2019

~Instead of Taco Tuesday, Taco-Bowl Salad Thursday~

Taco Tuesday. I'm clueless as to who started it, but, I thank them profoundly. Like pizza and cheeseburgers, it's downright difficult to find a man, woman or child who is disappointed at the sight of tacos on their lunch or dinner menu. Other than needing a fork, taco salad is not much different than eating tacos. Served in a large, deep-fried, edible flour-tortilla shell, anything and everything one would expect to find in a pick-it-up-to-eat taco can be served in a taco salad. Serving taco salad in edible bowls is mealtime fun. While they lend a festive, impressive "you cared...... View full recipe for "~Instead of Taco Tuesday, Taco-Bowl Salad Thursday~"

10/15/2019

~ About Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix & My Copycat Recipe ~

This blast-from-my-past box of versatile, dependable baking goodness allowed me, as a young girl, to hone my skills with yeast dough and bread. While I have many refined recipes for specialty breads and rolls in my repertoire (which, as a young adult I learned hands-on from my grandmother and mother), that was not always the case. There was a time in my life, as a young pre-teen, ages 9-12 give-or-take, when I expressed a serious interest in experimenting, on my own, with my own creations, to imitate the recipes of my grandmother and mother. I was a remarkably meticulous child,...... View full recipe for "~ About Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix & My Copycat Recipe ~ "

10/03/2019

~ Lemon-Dressed Arugula, Watermelon & Feta Salad ~

Watermelon salad in October? You betcha. It's been unseasonably warm here in the Northeast, with unusually mild-to-hot Summer temperatures lasting into our four-seasoned Fall. While most (but not all) of our garden has indeed met its end-for-this-year (Summer basil, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, etc.), the extra growing time has rendered it a stellar year for watermelon, which, in honesty, doesn't do well when the the days grow short and the temperatures go low. Twenty-plus years ago, watermelon salad was trendy everywhere. One of my favorite versions was served in a now defunct high-end French restaurant right here in Happy Valley: The...... View full recipe for "~ Lemon-Dressed Arugula, Watermelon & Feta Salad ~"

09/18/2019

~ Mrs. T's Pierogy, Kielbasa & Sauerkraut Casserole ~

One doesn't need Eastern European roots to enjoy pierogi, but, if you are of Eastern European heritage, you grew up knowing they're much more than a potato-and-cheese stuffed, half-moon shaped dumpling. Pierogi can be stuffed with all sorts of savory or sweet fillings to serve as a snack, side-dish, main-dish or dessert. They can be boiled, baked, sautéed, deep-fried or grilled -- some recipes can be transitioned to the microwave or slow-cooker. They can be made ahead and frozen too. About the only thing you can't do with pierogi is put them in a sandwich. Pierogi (singular and plural, meaning:...... View full recipe for "~ Mrs. T's Pierogy, Kielbasa & Sauerkraut Casserole ~"

08/21/2019

~ The Difference Between Imitation Krab & King Crab ~

If you grew up eating imitation krab (as it is often spelled for differentiation purposes, you never felt you were consuming a compromising product. Culinarily, it was a one of the staples of mid-century entertaining -- right up there with fondue, Spam and molded Jell-O -- and life was good. Krab Salad and Krabby's (crab on cheesy toast) were two of my favorites. Imitation crab revealed nothing about ones standing in life either -- from the ditch digger's wife to the doctor's wife, everyone used it. Truth told, unless you grew up in or within driving distance of a crabbing...... View full recipe for "~ The Difference Between Imitation Krab & King Crab ~"

05/31/2019

~ An Old-Fashioned Diner-Style Baked Rice Pudding ~

Rice pudding is to us Northerners what banana pudding is to the Southerners -- a staple in every diner. Speaking from lots of experience on behalf of parts of the Northeast (New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to be specific), I'm here to tell you our diner-style rice pudding is: to die for. Sit me in any diner and I can assure two things you can always count on: the fork-tender meatloaf (served up with fluffy mashed potatoes and gravy), and, the rice pudding (garnished with a generous squirt of Redi-whipped cream and a maraschino cherry -- banana pudding gets...... View full recipe for "~ An Old-Fashioned Diner-Style Baked Rice Pudding ~"

05/25/2019

~ The Retro & Original Wish-Bone Italian Pasta Salad ~

Wish-Bone Italian dressing. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. To name a few: drizzled on my garden salad or slathered on my turkey sandwich, as a dip for my vegetables, as a marinade for my chicken, and, as the dressing for the original Wish-Bone Italian pasta salad recipe. Growing up, right next to the bright- red Kraft Catalina Dressing and the creamy-white Hellmann's mayonnaise stood the Wish-Bone. All were condiment staples in my mom's 1960's and 70's refrigerator, and today, all remain staples in my own refrigerator -- although I now prefer Wish-Bone's Light-Italian version. Want...... View full recipe for "~ The Retro & Original Wish-Bone Italian Pasta Salad ~"

05/22/2019

~Three Great Tips for Making the Perfect Pasta Salad~

My mom always made pasta salad for Memorial Day. It was classic 1960's, Wish-Bone-Style -- rotini pasta with some cubed salami, pepperoni and American cheese, sliced black olives, diced onion and tomato dressed with store-bought Italian dressing. It wasn't gourmet, it wasn't even particularly exciting to look at, but, because it was prepared correctly, it was remarkably delicious. Our Memorial Day picnic, at our reserved picnic table, at Lakewood Park in Barnesville, PA, would have been incomplete without the pasta salad. Mom's Spring green Tupperware container went in and came out of the cooler several times throughout the day while...... View full recipe for "~Three Great Tips for Making the Perfect Pasta Salad~"

05/07/2019

~Kid's Stuff: Souper Fix-Quick Bowling-Night Meatloaf~

Bowling night. When I was growing up, depending on what league my parents were in, bowling night was either a Tuesday or a Thursday. They got my brother and I a babysitter, went out with their friends, and, on that night, we were allowed to stay up later than usual. We ate either a TV dinner, or, my favorite, mom's bowling-night meatloaf dinner. On the floor we two siblings sat, "Indian-style" (knees bent, ankles crossed) with one-foot-high TV trays in front of us (I had a Barbie tray, David had a Batman tray). In front of the television we ate...... View full recipe for "~Kid's Stuff: Souper Fix-Quick Bowling-Night Meatloaf~"

03/09/2019

~ That's a Wrap: Big Beautiful Chili-Cheese Burritos ~

Inform the family you've got chili simmering on the stovetop -- you won't have to call them twice to the dinner table. Tell the family you're making chili-cheese burritos for dinner -- you won't have to call them at all. They'll all be sitting around the table waiting to eat. Tick, tock. Once assembled, if individually wrapped in plastic or in aluminum foil, they're great to take to school or the office. They reheat perfectly in the microwave or in the oven, and for tailgate, I reheat the foil-wrapped packets on hot grill grids. The chili-cheese burrito is how one...... View full recipe for "~ That's a Wrap: Big Beautiful Chili-Cheese Burritos ~"

11/26/2018

~ Stick a Chip in It: Mel's Ultimate French Onion Dip ~

Stir a packet of Lipton's dehydrated French Onion Soup mix into a cup of sour cream and you will get no complaints from me -- zero. I love the stuff. I grew up watching TV shows (Bewitched, the Beverly Hillbillies, Andy of Mayberry, Gilligan's Island, Patty Duke, the Flintstones, etc.), to the crackling sound of a bag of Ruffles as I readied each chip for a copious glop of this beloved stuff. Those were good times. There were obviously no calories in it, because I was a stick figure. Nostalgic memories. We all have them. That said, times change, people...... View full recipe for "~ Stick a Chip in It: Mel's Ultimate French Onion Dip ~"

11/13/2018

~ Stranger Things: Revisit Retro French Bread Pizza ~

Binge-watching Stranger Things on Netflix started conjuring up fond food memories from the 1980's. OMG -- the many scenes with the Eggos, not to mention the perfectly-timed Jiffy-Pop explosion, the invitation to the KFC dinner, and, the Reese's pieces conversation in the shrinks office. They all left my mind wondering about what's to eat in Season three. Stouffer's French bread pizza was the first thing that popped into my head -- with frozen yogurt coming in second. I know everything there is to know about French bread pizza, as back in the '80's, even I dove into the frozen food...... View full recipe for "~ Stranger Things: Revisit Retro French Bread Pizza ~"

07/04/2018

~ Little Gems Caesar-Style Salad w/Roasted Chicken ~

Over the past four decades, the classic Caesar salad has: #1) Become America's most popular main-dish salad; #2) Altered the lettuce industry, as the demand for romaine has skyrocketed, and: #3) Turned the chicken-topped Caesar salad into the chicken item most frequently found on restaurant menus -- even more than wings and chicken fingers. Now considered the all-American salad, it was in fact invented in Mexico in 1924 by an Italian-born immigrant to Mexico. Now considered the all-American salad, the Caesar was invented on July 4th, 1924, by an Italian-Mexican chef & co-owner of a restaurant in Tijuana, who emigrated...... View full recipe for "~ Little Gems Caesar-Style Salad w/Roasted Chicken ~ "

05/31/2018

~ Chinese-American Restaurant-Style Pepper Steak ~

A few days ago, one of my Facebook friends posted a photo of her dinner, Chinese pepper-steak, and, for a few days, just like that song that gets stuck in your head, I walked around wishing everything I ate was pepper steak. As a kid in the 1960's, it was one of the first Chinese-American restaurant dishes I was introduced to, and, as a young bride in the mid 70's, it was the first Chinese-American dish I made in my own kitchen. By the time the '80's rolled around, I had three boys in elementary school, and, pepper-steak was in...... View full recipe for "~ Chinese-American Restaurant-Style Pepper Steak ~"

05/28/2018

~ Happy Valley Spinach Dip for Your Vegetable Tray ~

In the mid-1950's and throughout the '60's, everybody who entertained was serving French onion dip with their celery and carrot sticks. This simple concoction of Lipton dehydrated onion soup mix and sour cream was a year-round staple on picnic and cocktail tables. Said to have been created by an unknown French cook somewhere in Los Angeles in 1954, as a kid, I loved the stuff. In the 1970's, due to the invention of dehydrated ranch-dressing packets, another dip began appearing at gatherings all across America: Hidden Valley Ranch spinach dip. As a young bride, I loved the stuff. Throughout the...... View full recipe for "~ Happy Valley Spinach Dip for Your Vegetable Tray ~"

05/25/2018

~ Spring Chicken w/Garlic-Butter Pasta & Asparagus ~

This winner of a weeknight chicken dinner is taken straight from pages of my working parents' playbook. Before heading out the door in the morning, my mom would put four chicken breasts, doused with store-bought Italian dressing, in a bowl, and, at the end of the work day, dad would dredge the breasts in bread crumbs and sauté them in a skillet, while mom cooked a box of kid-friendly pasta and readied some fresh green beans. It was simple and straightforward, nothing fancy, but, it was a dinner we all liked, right down to the vegetable. If we four could...... View full recipe for "~ Spring Chicken w/Garlic-Butter Pasta & Asparagus ~"

03/27/2018

~Gone Bananas: Double Banana Pudding Poke Cake~

Retro recipes with a history to report or a story to share, are fun for me to write. While plenty of versions for this particular cake are available on the internet, my reason for adding "mine" is two fold: plenty of present day cooks have no idea what a poke cake is, and, this particular one is, one of three poke cake recipes my mom made when I was growing up in the 1960's and '70's. Because banana pudding is classic and traditional Southern fare (a layered dessert of vanilla cookies, sliced bananas, vanilla pudding and meringue), that would indeed...... View full recipe for "~Gone Bananas: Double Banana Pudding Poke Cake~"

01/26/2018

~ Deli Corned Beef on Swirl with Sauerkraut & Swiss ~

The Reuben sandwich. I crave one once or twice a year. And when I do, I don't waste time baking homemade rye bread, slow-cooking corned beef, long-simmering sauerkraut, or, whisking salad dressing. I don't try to save time by ordering delivery or take out either -- I don't live anywhere close to a NY-style deli that can begin to make this sandwich the way I like it. I take the 10-minute drive to the grocery store, pick up the ingredients and pass through the express checkout. Store-bought everything is fine. In about 45-minutes, including the drive time, I am eating...... View full recipe for "~ Deli Corned Beef on Swirl with Sauerkraut & Swiss ~"