Tuesday, September 30, 2014

More than one way to prepare a sweet potato!

Mom has been very busy in the kitchen this week, but has temporarily diverted from her focus on BCC experiments to make some of her famous, old favorite dishes in order to bring comfort and love to a grieving family in our community. 

Nevertheless, she did make time to try something new. She recently harvested the last of the crop of sweet potatoes from her backyard garden... Now, mind you, we have a freezer full of prepared sweet potato dishes already, and there were two more full buckets sitting on the counter by the end of the harvest. What do you do when you've run out of ideas for ways to prepare sweet potatoes? Why, you consult your trusty BCC, of course!

Orange-Glazed Sweet Potatoes (from p. 440 of the BCC): Most of Mom's sweet potato recipes involve cooking and mashing, but this one was faster and easier. The recipe said to pare the potatoes (which means skin them, for anyone as culinarily illiterate as myself) and cut them lengthwise in half and put them in a casserole dish. After you make the orange glaze, you pour it over the potatoes, cover it and bake it for an hour. And voila! - a new and improved way to get your vitamins A and C! 

The glaze was marvelous - made from orange juice, sugar, corn starch, butter, salt, and orange peel slowly stirred together and boiled until thickened. Mom served this dish with pork chops, and I just smothered my meat and drowned my whole plate in the glaze. I think I could have eaten it on anything... maybe drunk it straight from a bowl, like soup.

And look how beautifully glossy and bright it makes the sweet potatoes! The color orange is supposed to represent strength and endurance... So what's your favorite way to prepare orange foods, like sweet potatoes?

And that, my friends, is the end of our first month of BCC adventures. I can't wait to see what delightful flavors are in store for us in October!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Guest Post: Sweet Puffs of Cream

My friend, Pam Leeper, shares her cooking adventure with us in today's episode of "Chandler Family Cooking - For Pete's Sake!" If you would like to send in one of your own BCC experiences, we'd love to read about it and have more guest posts!

This weekend was one filled with nostalgia.  My husband and I gleefully celebrated our first wedding anniversary.  In preparation for this milestone, my sweet friend Connie sent us our very own, circa 1976 version, Betty Crocker's Cookbook and I couldn't have been more thrilled.   Recipes always fill me with hope much like God's love and the instructions he has for us every time we open his Word.  

Well after I tore off the cellophane I excitedly flipped through the vintage pages practically drooling as I made my way closer to the “Candies/Desserts” section and then I saw it … Cream Puffs, on page 195.  I knew right then and there that this would be my first adventure with BC, and very fitting, because my affection for Cream Puffs started decades before I met my husband, Andy.  Fitting as it may be, we had our first date at a donut shop and he shares my appreciation for tasty pastries.

Cream Puffs are an item that I have always been drawn to. Some may think they are “old school” compared to the cupcake and cake ball trends recently, but I can’t think of a better way to satisfy a sweet tooth.  I can remember a little Greek donut shop near our house in Illinois carrying them regularly in their display cases, and me begging my dad for one over the donuts that he was picking up for the rest of the family. 

Cream Puffs (p. 195 of the BCC): The BC recipe says that “Cream Puffs are surprisingly easy to make …” and this blew my mind because I thought that something so delicate must be a skill that is learned over time.So with some hesitation I got to it and started on the dough for the puff which involved making a roux and then slowly adding in eggs. 

Next it was time to scoop the mixture into 12 ball-like mounds on a sheet pan.  I doubtfully put them into the oven and waited for failure because in my mind there was no way something so delicate could withstand 35 to 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  Somehow, to my surprise they actually PUFFED!!

The next step was making the Vanilla Cream Pudding on Page 185 and at this point the lovely smell in the kitchen got the attention of our bulldog, Ace. 

So while I started blending, he sat and sniffed.  As the mixture on my stove started bubbling I was again in awe of the process. Don’t tell my dad (professional chef) but I have never made pudding without the help of a box of JELLO mix, so I too bubbled with pride as the pudding actually started to thicken up. 

Finally it was time to put them together and I couldn't help but add a little personality to the BC instructions.  Along with a simple dusting of powdered sugar (recommended) I added some decadent chocolate drizzle to make them a little more like the ones I remembered. 

As I arranged the Cream Puffs on the cute two-tiered tray we got as a wedding gift one year ago, I praised God for recipes and the similar hope he gives that if we trust in his promises we will be dazzled by the results.

The Cream Puffs were devoured by myself of course, my husband Andy and multiple friends at a birthday party we attended that evening.  They were a fun, unique treat that disappeared quickly and will be a staple treat in the Leeper household for years to come.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tasty dishes and talking dogs

Chicken Cacciatore (from p. 284 of the BCC): As the book declares, it is a great family favorite! Lots of great flavors and colors together... The recipe recommends serving it over rice or spaghetti, so we decided on rice today. Mom used her own garden-fresh tomatoes and green peppers, but decided to leave out the mushrooms this time. It is basically chicken in a tomato-based sauce that includes the above-mentioned ingredients, plus garlic, onion, and oregano (mmmmm, who can resist oregano!). 

 When I asked Dad for a critique, he just said, "Tasty!" with a nod and smile between bites. I said that wasn't really enough verbal response to write a blog about it, and Beau (our dog) must have overheard that, because he suddenly had plenty to say.

Beau is our faithful old house pet who behaves very much like a person, and who likes to keep us company at the table (he is a wonderful companion). If he is patient and very good, he might get a little spoonful of "people food" mixed in his bowl too, after we finish our meal.

But today he reached his nose up to the edge of the table and sniffed and sniffed, apparently enjoying the smells he smelled. Then he stalked back and forth from one of our laps to the other, breathing and wheezing louder and louder, and nudging us as though he was afraid we would forget to save him a taste.

Finally, Mom gave him a bite in his bowl, which he savored and then ran back to the table looking for more. We tried to tell him that we were finished and there was no more for him, but he was not convinced. He still smelled those smells, and they were making him crazy enough to demand more.

Barking ensued, which is not a common practice for the old gentleman. But he was rather insistent and in earnest as he barked and moaned and huffed noisily and pitifully at Dad, then Mom, then me. I think he was actually trying to use Dad's old trick on us: "Tasty? Well, I think it was tasty, but I can't be sure from the tiny morsel I was given. I may need more to be able to tell you for certain how tasty it was!"

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Let the sunshine in!

Yesterday was cool and very cloudy here in NC, so what better way to fight the gloominess than with a recipe titled "Sunshine Salad"?!  This is our first molded salad, and it is so pretty that it did brighten up the room and our lunch table. I must say that it was artfully made to go with a lunch of Sloppy Joe's and sweet potato fries, so the color scheme was very much in an autumnal theme - red, brown, orange, and yellowish-gold. 

Sunshine Salad (from page 377 in the BCC): This is almost exactly like a long-time Chandler family favorite dish, though our recipe uses orange jell-o, and this one uses lemon jell-o. Either one works out well, so I think it's safe to say that you can just use whichever one you prefer... or make both and let your family compare and decide! In both cases, you mix in shredded carrots and crushed pineapple, to make plain old unromantic jell-o into something new and exciting. The fruit and veggies not only make it a more healthy side dish, but also add texture and a crisp freshness. 

Mom doesn't normally "mold" her jell-o, and anyway, who really does that anymore? But we thought it was pretty classically mid 1970s, so we decided to humor Miss Crocker and go with it. Dad thought that since it had a "hole" in it, we should have filled it with something - a potted plant, or maybe a pile of whipped cream. What would you fill it with?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Guest Post: Balancing the Fall

We are so excited about the response we're getting from our readers, who are inspired to cook and bake for their families. Tonight we are giving the BCC a break, and bringing to you a very special guest post from our very own Amanda Chandler, who is truly a gifted cook and writer!

I'm sitting on my deck watching a gorgeous Ohio fall sunset. Ahhhhh, fall...I love rekindling our love affair each year!

I've been thinking the last few days how much I love fall, especially since I now live in Ohio and the first day of fall actually feels like fall...unlike Memphis's fall which actually starts 3 days before winter. But like so many other areas of life, I find balance hard during this time of the year too. I want to stuff my face full of all things pumpkin and bread and creamy soups and cheesy casseroles....but I dislike having to "stuff" myself in my clothes the following days. I want to work in the yard and be active outside, soaking up every minute of the nearly perfect weather, but I also want to snuggle down with a book and ignore any prodding to be productive. Although I haven't considered it until now, I feel like 'balance' (specifically finding it) has been a strong theme in my life this year. Balancing grief and regret with grace and forgiveness. Balancing stress and frustration with peace and trust. Balancing chaos with contentment. It has been a year full of letting go and trusting God's promises to bring things "greater than I could have ever imagined" (thanks Dad!). And as always, God's promises are true and sound.

Speaking of balance, and the real reason for this blog...PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE. Talk about balance! Ginger snap crust. Creamy filling with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin. A surprise sour cream topping that is the perfect collaboration of cool and sweet. Seriously, it is the very picture of fall...and balance.

So go ahead and experience balance: make this scrumptious treat with someone you love, read a book while it bakes, eat a piece or two....and then stop so that you can fit into your clothes later. But whether or not you make this cheesecake, learn to enjoy life. All of it. And thank God...because there's bound to be an endless supply of fall and cheesecake in Heaven.

Pumpkin Cheesecake (Joy of Cooking cookbook, page 983):

For the crust: Sorry I don't really have a recipe. I combine ginger snaps, graham crackers, about 1/4 cup melted butter and a couple tbsp of sugar in food processor.

For the cheesecake: It is essential that you use a springform pan. I think mine is a 10 inch but you could use one slightly smaller or larger and it would be fine.

Also, fill a small pan (I use a loaf pan) with water and put in the oven the entire time. This keeps moisture in the air and helps prevent cracking. This is also a must.

2/3 cup brown sugar ( my fav is dark, but you can definitely use light)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

In large bowl, beat until smooth:
1 lb cream cheese (do not use low fat...this is cheesecake for crying out loud!)

Gradually add the sugar mixture and beat until smooth, scrapping the sides of the bowl often, about 2 minutes.

Beat in 1 at a time until well blended:
2 large egg yolks
2 large eggs

Add and beat just until mixed:
1 cup pumpkin purée

Scrape into crust and smooth the top. Set the pan on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 min @ 350 degrees, reduce temp to 325 degrees and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until edges are puffed but the center still jiggles when pan is tapped.

Meanwhile, whisk together:1 cup sour cream 
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Pour on top of hot cake and tilt pan to spread evenly. Return to oven for 7 minutes. Place pan on rack and cover pan with large inverted bowl or pot to cool the cake slowly. Let cool completely before unmolding. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably 24 hours. (So apparently this is about balance and endurance- sheesh! But truly just like my husband was...it's worth the wait! Ha!) Enjoy!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

"The Candy Bar Cake"

After much anticipation (you were anticipating, weren't you?), we bring to you our first BCC cake recipe! This is by far the messiest thing we have made... but then, when you're dealing with all things marshmallowy, caramely, and fudgey, what else could you possibly expect?

There was definitely magic happening in the kitchen... the way Mom danced, flitted, and giggled reminded me a bit of the fairy, Fauna, in Disney's Sleeping Beauty... 

Of course, I had my share of giggling too... How could I not with a bowl full of butterscotch at my side? 

Chocolate Buttermallow Cake (from page 92 of the BCC): Yes, that is the official name of this cake, which is almost as ridiculous as the cake itself. A Red Devils Food Cake, with Butterscotch Filling, crushed pecans, Marshmallow Frosting, and don't forget the chocolate swirl garnish... because there just wasn't enough sugar already. This thing must have come from the mind of an insane Queen of Candyland or something. Anyway, it was tons of fun to make! But what would the critics think of the taste?

As promised, we took it to the church luncheon at Triad Christian Fellowship today. If you were not there, you really missed it - not just the cake, but quite a spread of delicious dishes, like mashed potatoes, chicken casserole. pasta salad, corn casserole, barbecue tortillas, and more, much more! 

The thing that made my day, though, was when I came into the fellowship hall after the service and saw what appeared to be adolescent male vulchers, swarming hungrily around the dessert table. The Chocolate Buttermallow Cake was sitting there in all its hyperactive-disorderly glory, tempting its admirers. Mom smiled, and without saying a word, cut a small chunk off the corner and dropped it into an eager outstretched hand. Ethan tasted it cautiously as the other boys leaned forward with wide eyes, saying, "What's it like? Is it good?" Ethan nodded and started naming off the flavors he could identify. Then he smiled and stuffed the rest of the treat in his mouth. After a satisfied gulp and sigh, he said, "Yeah, that's delicious. I'm gonna eat two more pieces!" 

 Ladies and gentlemen, that is what I call success!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The New England Pot Roast!

LOTS of cooking going on today at the Spoon Drop Inn! Dad had the day off work, which means instead of our usual big midday meal, we got to plan a nice dinner this evening... which means Mom picked a BCC recipe that took all afternoon to prepare! WARNING: You may want to plan to be out of the house while this dish is cooking all day long... at least it felt like it took all day. The mouth-watering, tummy-rumbling smell of slowly cooking roast and potatoes is enough to drive me crazy! Also, don't plan on having an engaging, animated family conversation during this meal, because, well, everyone will be far to busy ravenously stuffing their faces to be able to talk.

Waldorf Salad (from p. 372 of the BCC): First we had a little side dish salad - pretty basic, with apples, nuts, and celery... I have to admit, I prefer Mom's own recipe to this one, just because it has marshmallows and raisins in it, but the BCC won me over with this suggestion: "If desired, mound salad in lettuce cups and garnish with maraschino cherries." Of course we desire that! I always desire a cherry garnish! Who wouldn't??

New England Pot Roast (from p. 240 of the BCC): And here's a classic family favorite! Not sure what makes it inherently "New England" though... This dish includes pot roast, potatoes, carrots, and onions, which we get to drown in a delightful brown gravy. The recipe said we could add 5 ounces of horseradish to the roast, if we desired - which we didn't, so we didn't. The gravy recipe was a little hard to follow, the wording was a bit unclear, but we did our best to logically decipher, and I think we did well because the gravy was amazing. (Hint: Skim off the fat, reserve 1/4 cup of it, and put that amount back into the gravy mix.)

Dad loved it. I know, because he had seconds. And because he cracked Chandler jokes throughout the meal. (Joke: Most of the animals entered the ark in pairs - except for the worms, which entered in apples.) He also commented that it reminded him of Grandma Chandler's Sunday afternoon lunches... which is indeed a high compliment, and is synonymous with "delicious."

This morning, before the pot roast adventure, Mom and I created what I like to call "The Candy Bar Cake," a sticky, sweet, fabulous, and positively ridiculous BCC recipe that we will be bringing to share at the church luncheon tomorrow at Triad Christian Fellowship. I'll write all about it tomorrow afternoon, once I get to taste it and get some reactions from our church family. If you are at TCF tomorrow, make sure to get a piece, and let us know what you think!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Cold eggs and hot salads - Mmmm!

This week when Mom made deviled eggs, she laid them out in her egg dish... one that she has used for as long as I can remember. She realized that this egg dish is as old as her BCC! She bought it in Long Grove, an historical village near Chicago, the year that she and Dad were engaged - 1976. Long Grove is actually where they had their engagement pictures taken (one is the picture in the right side bar, of them in front of the old mill). So we thought it would be pretty special to commemorate that with a picture of the book and dish together.

Deviled Eggs (from p. 205 of the BCC): The cookbook gave a friendly tip about storing these eggs that reminded me so much of my thrifty and resourceful (and picnic-loving) Grandma Chandler, that I just have to put it in here: If you are packing them for a picnic or other such adventures, fit the two filled halves together, and wrap the whole egg in foil or plastic wrap. Simple and basic, and probably something many of you already knew, but it was a novel idea to me! (And it gives me a great excuse to plan a picnic... anyone want to join me?) The recipe called for salad dressing, vinegar, or light cream, so Mom used salad dressing and a splash of vinegar. It also called for 1/2 tsp of salt, which we all decided in the taste test was too much for 6 eggs, made it rather too salty for us. Good thing we paired them with a savory-sweet chicken salad!

Hot Chicken Salad (from p. 381 of the BCC): The two cups of chicken and two cups of celery in this recipe were the talk of the Spoon Drop Inn (official name of Mom's kitchen)... Mom loves her celery (like a good Ohio-born cook should) but she was surprised that there was as much celery as there was chicken in this dish. We were also impressed that the recipe said to put one cup of croutons inside the mixture for the salad, which made it a bit heartier. And between the celery, the cup of salad dressing, and the slivered almonds, I really loved the sweetness of it. I also loved the cup of croutons and cheddar cheese that got baked on top of it. The recipe said to make this in six 1-cup baking dishes, but we just decided to make it in a 9x9" casserole dish instead. It was so lovely and golden and bubbly when it was done, that I couldn't resist taking a picture of it as it came out of the oven!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Autumnal Variations

Since the temperature has finally dipped below 75, Mom has decorated the house for the autumn season, in classy-elegant cream tones with splashes of brilliant orange, red, and gold, and it all puts me so in the mood for chai tea, pumpkins, and everything cinnamon... 

Apple Muffins (from p. 47 of the BCC): Mom followed the "Popular Muffins" recipe (more milk and salt, less sugar), and did the apple variation. Warning: there are seven variations, so there may be more muffins in our dietary future! For the Nut-Crunch Topping, Mom used walnuts, which were an excellent choice. She made a dozen regular-sized muffins, and had enough left over to make some mini muffins too!

Tea drinkers: Mini apple muffins go great with a hot spiced or vanilla chai for afternoon tea time! If you aren't a tea drinker, don't worry, I also tried the regular sized muffins for breakfast with coffee, and they were just as delicious. No matter what your favorite hot beverage is, these muffins are the perfect thing to welcome in the cooler air, shorter days, and changing leaves... such beauty and flavor in this time of year!

By the way, a few of our readers have mentioned wanting to buy this edition of the BCC to follow along, so I went on Amazon, just to see how much it would cost. Did you know that a brand new 1976 ed. BCC is actually selling on Amazon for $689.43?! That's crazy - and doesn't even include shipping cost! I mean, granted, it claims no shelf wear, unread quality AND it will come to your door in bubble wrap (additional fun... for the kids, of course!). But how valuable can an unused recipe book really have, anyway? People, use your recipe books to make delicious food for your loved ones. Wear them out, get them covered in flour and stained with vanilla extract and speckled with tomato sauce, and that book will become priceless! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

For the Queen of Quiche

Last night, Mom and I were home watching a movie when we got a phone call about our dear friend, Miss Peggy, and a very difficult time she is going through this week in her family. Miss Peggy is like a grandma to me, and we were very sad to hear of her suffering. After about 10:00, when we would normally get ready for bed, I found Mom in the kitchen, apron tied in place, fluting the edges of a pie crust in a pie pan. I knew she was praying for Peggy, and that she couldn't go to sleep yet. Me too. Instead, she was making a quiche... which in our house is pronounced "kish," because that's how Peggy says it. Miss Peggy is the Queen of Quiche, quite well-known for coming up with colorful, unusual, and delicious ingredients to stuff in an egg pie. There wasn't much I could say or do, but I grabbed my book and sat at the counter and read, and watched as Mom baked. 

Quiche Lorraine (from p. 218 of the BCC): Now, mom has made quiches before, and is pretty comfortable in adapting recipes, but she resolved to make this exactly as the recipe in the BCC instructed.  Of course, the base was her family-favorite flaky pie crust. But three ingredients were different for her. First and most importantly, instead of milk, this calls for whipping cream. This ultimately was a brilliant idea, making this one of the thickest, richest, fluffiest quiches I've ever had. Second, mom tends to throw in whatever cheeses are in the refrigerator, which is most often cheddar, but this specifically calls for one cup of Swiss cheese, which of course added to the richness of the flavor. Finally, it called for 1/8 tsp of cayenne red pepper; while I didn't really taste this ingredient (probably because it was so minor), it did lead to an interesting tidbit of cooking wisdom later...

We got ready for bed about an hour later, and left the smell of warm quiche lingering in the kitchen to tempt Dad when he got home from his second-shift work... and it did. Today, I wasn't sure how the quiche would taste after warming it back up, but it tasted freshly baked - and boy, was it fluffy! While we were eating and enjoying each bite, who should call us but Miss Peggy herself. She wanted to drop off something and wondered if it was a good time. Yes! Mom jumped at the opportunity, and said, "Do you have time to stay and have a piece of quiche too?"

When she arrived, she sat at the counter in the kitchen, and Mom put a slice of quiche in front of her. True to her character, Miss Peggy started telling us stories... stories from her painful week. Some were bittersweet and made us laugh with misty eyes, and some were so heartbreaking she began to weep. I guess because she couldn't speak any more, she finally poked at the slice and put a forkful of the pie in her mouth. Immediately she perked up and said, "Oh this is wonderful kish!... This tastes so good!" Mom wiped the counter and laughed, "Well, that's quite a compliment, coming from you!" Without missing a beat, Peggy said, "I know it, I'm famous for my kish!" and took another bite. I asked her about whipping cream, and she confirmed that she usually uses it, "with a dash of nutmeg," she added. I mentioned the cayenne pepper, and she said that if a quiche recipe calls for whipping cream, it also includes a spice like nutmeg, too.

Mom packed up another slice for Peggy to take home and eat later, and after a little visit that seemed to lift her spirits a bit, we hugged her and she said goodbye. Mom said she was so glad she made that quiche today. If you happen to make this recipe this week, would you please lift up a prayer for Miss Peggy and her family, too?

I don't know who "Lorraine" is, but I think I'm going to rename this dish the "Kish Peggy."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

That Flaky-Bakey Crust

Well I was busy working in my room today and missed the baking of the French Apple Pie... but I heard Mom rolling out the dough, imagined her pinching the edges, smelled the warm cinnamon, and heard the apple filling bubble and sizzle. It felt like magic when it appeared on the table.

Standard Pastry (from p. 316 of the BCC): 
Mom made the 9" one-crust pie, meaning it doesn't have a crust on top. (I added that bit of info, because I actually didn't know that before today.) Here's another thing I never knew - do you know that when you pinch the rim of the dough and make it look so pretty and frilly, it's called "fluting"? People compliment Mom on this crust every time she makes it. It is not as easy as the pre-made stuff you can get in the store, but it is WAY better! So flaky and light... and Mom told me today that THIS is the pie crust recipe she has used for her entire married life.

French Apple Pie (from p. 321 of the BCC): 
Ok, if you open your BCC with me, you will find "Apple Pie" has several variations. We plan to make every variety eventually (except the Canned Apple Pie, on principle). But today we did the French, because it is Dad's favorite kind... though he will confess, "I've never met a pie I didn't like."
In this variation, you add a "Crumb Topping" (which is flour, butter,  and brown sugar), instead of just butter. The BCC adds the comment: "Best served warm," and we couldn't agree more. 

Dad had his slice a la mode, and with the first bite, he closed his eyes and said, "Mmmm..." Normally, if Mom asks him if something tastes good, he'll get a mischievous twinkle in his eye and say, "I don't know yet, I might need to try another piece." But today, Mom asked the question and he immediately said "Yes!" I think his own enthusiasm took him off guard, because after a pause, he added, "I don't need another piece to know this is good!"

37 years, and the recipe is still magical.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Stuffin Those Peppers

It's a cloudy, cool day in North Carolina today, and the general mood of our house has been quiet and sleepy. So for lunch we had a nice autumn comfort-food recipe of stuffed green peppers. Mom has always made these according to her mom's (my Grammie's) recipe, but today she thought she'd try Betty's version. It's hard to compare preference with these sorts of recipes, since it's essentially the same flavors, but even the best cookbooks can't compete with dear memories and familial tradition. However, Mom did say that Betty's recipe was easier and faster to put together. (So Kelsey, Mom remembers teaching you her recipe, and recommends you try this one out, and see if it works better for you!) 

Stuffed Green Peppers (from page 291 of the BCC): 
The recipe makes six large peppers, but today it was just Mom, Dad, and I, so we cut the recipe in half and made three. So we cut the tops off of the green peppers and "removed the membranes" - which sounds super disgusting and, well, it kind of is. Wash them out and cook them in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Also cook ground beef and onion together, and cook up some rice (from p. 221). Then stir the rice in to the beef mix, along with salt, garlic salt, and tomato sauce. This is your "stuffing." Once everything is cooked and mixed, stuff each pepper with the stuffing, pour the leftover tomato sauce over the tops, cover, and bake.

The recipe did have a note about adding another dish to contrast in color and flavor. The BCC recommends the "Sunshine Salad" (p. 377) - which is a bright yellow jello mold salad that we will be making later on. But in accordance with our autumn comfort mood, Mom opted to make another family favorite, Scalloped Corn. See how pretty the colors look together?! Her Scalloped Corn recipe is not in the BCC, but is available to our faithful readers upon special request. :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

The BLT... plus!

Aaaand we're back! This time, we're taking on a new salad recipe for lunch... one that pays homage to the classic BLT sandwich. And really, who doesn't love a good BLT? Add to that, the taste of tangy barbeque, and this salad just gets more and more intriguing!  

Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato Salad (from page 381 of the BCC):
Chop up and lay out all the individual ingredients: bacon, lettuce, tomato, chicken, and egg. Mix up the dressing, using barbeque sauce, mayonnaise, minced onion, and a little lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Aren't the colors beautiful?! I think I enjoy salads most when they have a lot of color and texture, and this salad has both.

Then you put all the ingredients in a bowl together and lightly toss them until it looks like a party. Then you serve it up! We just ate it as a meal by itself today for lunch. It is a great main dish, because the chicken and egg makes it a little more hearty, and the dressing makes it more exciting for your taste buds.

By the way, I was visiting my friend's parents' house in Indiana this weekend, and guess what I found in her kitchen:

Several people have told me lately that they (or their mom) have this cookbook, and they seem to be excited about this blog because it is familiar, nostalgic, and classic. I hope you are trying some of these recipes with us, rediscovering these fun family flavors. And if you do, please leave us a comment and tell us how it is going - we'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Care Packages, Cookies, Comics, and Counseling

Well my bags are packed, and tomorrow morning I drive up to Fort Wayne for a little visit... which means (among other things) that I get to see my dear brother Kevan... which means also I will be the courier of a delicious, homemade care package from Mom for him.

And so, today the house was cozy with the smell of cinnamon-sugar in the air, as Mom baked an old family favorite, snickerdoodles! You can find this recipe under the "molded cookies" section of the BCC on page 144. Our only criticism is that Betty claims the recipe makes 6 dozen, and Mom could only make 4 dozen... apparently we Chandlers prefer our snickerdoodles bigger than the average cookie.

Best served warm, with a cup of cold milk or hot chai tea, and with this classic "Zits" comic strip, which Mom keeps on her kitchen cork board:

So true... Here's to moms everywhere who know the power of cookies and counseling!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Not your average hot dogs and orange juice

(Is it just me, or do other people out there grin and drool at the phrase, "wrapped in bacon"?)

It is Labor Day, and Mom and Dad and I spent the day outside - Mom was working in her garden, Dad was washing the cars, and I was sunbathing and chilling in the jacuzzi. After all of our hard work, Mom made a classic Labor Day picnic lunch... with a Betty Crocker cookbook (BCC) twist.

Orange Swizzle (from p. 40 of the BCC) - 
This cool summer drink was super easy to make, with a can of frozen orange juice and a quart of ginger-ale, mixed and poured over crushed ice. And it's really pretty too, with a garnish of an orange slice and maraschino cherry speared together with a toothpick, and a colorful swizzle straw.  

Cheese Boats (from page 262 of the BCC) - 
Hot dogs, cheese, and bacon are three of our favorite things, so why not use a recipe that brings all three of these together?? Split a hotdog halfway through the middle from end to end, and stuff the split with sharp cheddar cheese, then wrap the hotdog up with a piece of bacon, and secure the bacon on both ends of the hotdog with toothpicks. Place the hotdogs - split side down - on a broiler pan and broil them for 15 minutes at 500 degrees, flipping them over halfway through. SO GOOOOOD... Melty, cheesy, crispy, salty, sizzly, meaty, mmmm... Best hotdogs ever!

Both recipes were new for Mom, and in fact it was the first time she had used the broiler in her new oven that she got earlier this year. She served the hotdogs and swizzle with deviled eggs, pasta salad, and watermelon, outside on the back porch.

Dad ate three cheese boats, so I think he liked them. :) He also ate his orange slice garnish, and all the left over orange slices for which we didn't have enough drinks... which made me think (in a shocked, Meg Ryan voice), "You ate that orange?! That orange slice is a garnish!" But really, it was cool to see him enjoying this special (and successful) BCC meal... the first of many more!