Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Children's Favorite Casserole

There is nothing easier to throw together after a long day than a casserole, and the League of Women Voters of Illinois knew this back in 1971 when they published this chic little “Hasty Lady” Cookbook. Filled with quick and tasty recipes, it also gives helpful tips, such as this gem:  “No time-saving device beats a well-trained 12-year-old”. SOLD!

Lots of yummy-looking recipes in here, but good LORD, there is a recipe for a casserole specifically For Children, made with BEER? I know, I know, the alcohol is cooked out… it just seems so funny! I do cook with booze all the time, and who doesn’t love a casserole?  Even though the “cheese mixture” had me a liiiiiittle grossed out, I decided to give it a try. 

Turns out, sure – it’s easy to whip up, and fairly tasty. It wasn’t my own child’s favorite, though, because I think, even at eight, she prefers champagne.

Children’s Favorite Casserole

1 lb. ground beef
1 Tbsp oil
2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
1 6 oz.  can tomato paste
1 cup beer
1 tsp salt
½ tsp Tabasco
½ tsp. oregano
1 cup cottage cheese
8 oz. cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
1 green pepper, chopped
8 oz. broad noodles, cooked and drained

Brown beef in hot oil. Add tomato sauce and paste, beer, salt, Tabasco , and oregano. Cook 10 minutes and remove from heat.

Mix cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, and green pepper in a separate bowl.

Spread half the noodles over bottom of a greased 2 quart casserole or lasagna dish. Cover with cheese mixture, then with remaining noodles. Pour beef sauce over top.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

Serves 4 heartily.  Easy to double recipe. Can be made night before of frozen before baking.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Frito Pie

Being a child of the 70s and raised by an “Earth Mother” who did not allow processed foods of any kind, naturally I gravitated towards things like Fritos and other delightful snack foods, but usually as something I snuck and ate in my car or late at night. Ironically, it was my own mother who gifted me this very cookbook (“Carrie – Happy Easter 1993 Love, Mama”) and thus helped me learn to incorporate those “forbidden foods” into perfectly acceptable company dinners.

Recently I found myself with a surplus of chili (leftover from a campout with a Hillbilly theme, if you must know) and was too tired after the weekend to cook a meal. I didn’t want just leftovers, and my friends were shouting Frito Pie! Frito Pie! OK I have to admit I’d never heard of such a thing, but I knew right where to turn. Thank you, mom, for the book that teaches me to cook in ways that you never did.

Fritos brand corn chips were created by Texan Elmer Doolin sometime around 1932. (See? Vintage food, or course I love them. – CS) Beginning with a formula purchased from a Mexican cook, adapted from the authentic corn tortilla, Doolin parlayed his snack business into a national phenomenon.  Fritos brand Corn Chips Chili Pie, invented by Doolin’s mother, Daisy, is a baked dish of corn chips, chili, onions and cheese that soon became the Southwest’s equivalent of the tuna noodle casserole. The Walkabout (aka “Frito Boats” – CS), created by spooning chili, cheese and onions into an opened snack-size bag of Fritos brand Corn Chips, is eaten on the hoof with a spoon and is still enjoyed at drive-ins, rodeos, state fairs and the like. (“The Back of the Box Gourmet”, Michael McLaughlin 1991)

 Basically, you throw chili (be it leftover or a can) into a casserole with Fritos, onions and cheese, and bake it. So Easy! So Good! Please note, though, that as much as I love to sneak junk food, I will not and cannot eat American Cheese, so I used cheddar. See, mom, at least some of what you taught me stuck!



3 large cups Fritos brand Corn Chips, divided

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup grated American cheese, divided

1 19-oz can chili

Spread 2 cups Fritos brand Corn Chips in a baking dish. Arrange chopped onion and half of the cheese on top of the corn chips. Pour chili over the onions and cheese. Top with remaining corn chips and cheese. Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Orange Cupcakes

Celebrating a birthday calls for cupcakes, doesn’t it? In the past, I’ve been treated to entire trays of Hostess orange cupcakes studded with candles, but I decided to bake up my own, somewhat healthier, version for a friend’s recent birthday. As usual, I turned to the venerable Joy of Cooking (1975 version) for a recipe for Orange Cake, and adapted it to cupcakes, as follows.

Since I made mini-cupcakes, I didn’t have room to inject the cream inside, (the element that makes the Hostess product the chemical-filled delight that it is!) but that can be achieved with regular-size cupcakes and a baking syringe if you have the time and inclination. Otherwise, go nuts with the frosting instead (I used a basic cream-cheese frosting with orange and topped each cupcake with colored sugar) for a sweet little bite of cheer.

To note with cupcakes, especially mini ones: watch them as they bake, and test them as soon as you can smell the cake. Burned cupcakes aren’t the life of any party!

Orange Cupcakes

Have all ingredients about 70 degrees. Sift before measuring:

3 cups cake flour

Re-sift with:

¾ tsp. salt

3 ½ tsp. double-acting baking powder


Rind of 1 orange


1 ½ cups sugar

Cream this until light with:

¾ cup butter

Beat in, one at a time:

3 eggs


½ cup orange juice

½ cup water

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts to the butter mixture, alternately with the liquid. Stir the batter after each addition until smooth. Bake for 12-24 minutes; cool.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream together 1 package or softened cream cheese and 1 package of powdered sugar. Add 1 Tbsp orange juice and the zest of ½ an orange, to taste. Spread lightly on each cupcake and top with colored sugar.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Frosted Eggnog Logs

Not that I don’t eat cookies nearly constantly all year round, but the Holidays really seem made for them, and each year I delight in finding new and different recipes to make and share with my friends – I mean, to eat till I feel sick. This year my dear friend Lauryl sent me a link to an adaptation of a recipe she’s been making for years, and by coincidence, my dad’s wife also sent me a Xerox of an old recipe for the same thing! It was fate – I *had* to make them!

They really are the same recipe, the only difference being in the old recipe, you are advised to “shape the pieces of dough on sugared board into long rolls ½” in diameter.” Now I’m sure I could figure this out, but I don’t have a big board to use, and I’m not actually familiar with this technique, so I just hand-rolled little log shapes. The results are OK, but I think 1960 had something there, so I’m going to do them that way next time. SEE? The old ways are the best, people!

Below I’ve copied the new version, but see the image of the old page straight from some unknown magazine, dated December 1960. I don’t care which recipe you use, but you’ll be happy you tried these rummy delights! Make up a batch and share them – or keep them all to yourself!

Frosted Eggnog Logs

From Lauryl Berg (adapted from Cooks.com)


3 c. flour

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 c. butter

¾ c. sugar

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp rum


3 Tbsp butter, softened

½ tsp rum

½ tsp vanilla

2 ½ c. powdered sugar

2-3 Tbsp cream or milk

Food coloring (optional)

Cookies: in a mixing bowl, stir together flour and nutmeg. In a large bowl, bear butter for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and rum until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat well. Shape dough into 3 inch logs, about ½ inch wide. Arrange on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 15 to 17 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on racks.

Meanwhile, prepare the rum frosting. Frost tops of the cooked cookies. Mark frosting lengthwise with fork to resemble bark. Sprinkle with additional nutmeg if desired. Makes 4 ½ dozen.

Frosting: Beat together softened butter, rum and vanilla. Beat in ½ cup sifted powdered sugar. Gradually add more sifted powdered sugar (about 2 cups) and cream or milk. Beat until frosting spreads easily. Tint with green food coloring if desired.