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Go bananas

26 May

At a loss for what to serve for dessert? It doesn’t get any better – or easier – or tastier than bananas foster. This is a dessert fit for a fancy dinner party or “just because.” Appears I am on the banana trail this week – first banana daiquiris and now this stunning banana dessert. I found this version in still another one of those Better Homes and Gardens Encyclopedia of Cooking (1970) cookbooks, Volume 1. Chances are you have everything on hand that you need to make it. Just look at this gorgeous presentation! Tastes as good as it looks – absolutely scrumptious!

Bananas Foster

Peel 6 large ripe bananas and halve lengthwise, brush with lemon juice. In skillet melt ¾ cup brown sugar and 6 tablespoons butter. Add bananas; cook till almost tender, about 3 minutes. Drizzle ¼ cup orange liqueur atop. Serve with ice cream.

Cook’s note: recipe can easily be altered for more or less. Pictured is just a single banana split (pun intentional).

Hot tamale.

25 May

I was excited to try this recipe that I found in another one of my Better Homes and Gardens Encyclopedia of Cooking books (1971), Volume 10. In fact I had a hard time deciding between the Chili Rellenos Casserole and this tamale pie. Love, love, love Mexican food! I am a big fan of tamales but have yet to tackle making them from scratch. This pie is the next best thing. The cornmeal topping “frosting” the spicy beef filling makes each piece taste like an actual tamale. Great fix-ahead.

Tamale Pie

1 pound ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped green pepper

2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce

1 12-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained

1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder (use more for added spice)

Dahs pepper

6 ounces sharp process American (or Cheddar cheese), shredded (1½ cups)


3/4 cup cornmeal

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups cold water

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

In a large skillet cook ground beef, onion and green pepper until meat is lightly browned and vegetables are tender. Stir in tomato sauce, corn, olives, garlic, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, chili powder and pepper. Simmer until mixture is thick about 20 to 25 minutes. Add shredded cheese; stir until melted. Turn into a well-greased 9 x 9 by 2-inch baking dish.

To make cornmeal topping, stir cornmeal and ½ teaspoon salt into cold water. Cook, stirring constantly until thick. Add butter or margarine; mix well. Spoon over hot meat mixture. Bake at 375 degrees about 40 minutes.

Go bananas.

24 May

I have never stopped searching for a recipe to recreate the banana daiquiris I remember enjoying at Carlos & Charlie’s Restaurant in Acapulco decades ago. I was a college freshman on vacation with several sorority sisters – and of course, enjoying that the drinking age was 18, not 21. I recently found a recipe for that elusive drink in the Favorite Brand Name Recipe Cookbook (1981). Who knew there was a banana liquor? While this drink isn’t identical to what I remember – it was damn close. I think another banana would equal perfection. This is a great drink for those hot summer months. I froze what I didn’t drink. I’ll puree it with that second banana next time!

Banana Daiquri

1 lime slice

1 medium banana

6 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 cup crème de banana

2 tablespoons bar* or powdered sugar

9 ounces light rum

3 cups finely crushed ice

Optional, banana slices, mint sprigs for decoration

Rub rim of serving glasses with lime; chill. Measure all ingredients into blender jar. Cover and blend at high speed a few seconds until smooth and snowy. Pour or strain into chilled glasses. Optional: decorate with a banana slice and mint sprig.

*Also known as Baker’s Sugar.

Fingerlingin’ good.

24 May

Yep,  yet another potato recipe to add to my potato repertoire! I first discovered fingerling potatoes at the Madison, Wisconsin Farmer’s Market when my oldest son was a student at the University of Wisconsin. The Market rings the state Capitol on Sunday mornings. These funky shaped potatoes roast up in mere minutes – and you can season them to your liking. This recipe is from the Cook’s Illustrated 2019 Annual Collector’s Edition. Roasted this way, they are delicious with a crispy outside and a buttery inside. Definitely a repeater!

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

2 pounds fingerling potatoes, unpeeled

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

½ teaspoon salt

Adjust oven rack to middle position, and heat oven to 450 degrees. In a 13 by 9-inch baking pan, toss potatoes with oil until evenly coated. Arrange potatoes in even layer. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil. Transfer pan to oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Carefully remove foil (steam will escape). Shake pan and continue to roast, uncovered, until potatoes are spotty brown and tender and largest potato can be pierced easily with tip of paring knife, about 20 minutes longer, shaking pan halfway through roasting.

While potatoes roast, chop thyme, sage and salt until finely minced and well combined. Transfer potatoes and any oil to bowl and toss with herb mixture until evenly coated. Transfer potatoes to plate. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Cook’s note: if you using a glass or ceramic baking dish, increase the roasting time by 5 minutes.

This salad gets the green light.

23 May

I found another oldie but goodie recipe in Volume 8 of my Better Homes and Gardens Encyclopedia of Cooking (1970) series. I remember my mom making this salad for her mahjongg luncheons. It’s a great salad to put on your summer meal rotation once those herbs you’re planting start shooting up. I threw all the ingredients into a food processor which made blending easy and fast. Add additional tarragon vinegar to thin the dressing if desired. Not only is this dressing delicious on salad, it can be used as a luscious dip for raw veggies.

Interestingly the name isn’t derived from the distinctive green color of the dressing. Instead its credited to a chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco who invented the salad dressing in 1923 to honor an actor who was staying in the hotel while he starred in a play called “The Green Goddess.”

Green Goddess Salad

1½ cups mayonnaise

¼ cup finely snipped chives

4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

1 green onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons snipped parsley

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

1 tablespoon crushed tarragon

5 cups torn romaine, chilled

3 cups torn curly endive, chilled

1 9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, cooked, drained and chilled (or use canned quartered artichoke hearts)

1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, sliced

1 2-ounce can rolled anchovy fillets

2 medium tomatoes, cut in wedges (optional)

For dressing, combine first 7 ingredients; mix well. Chill thoroughly. In large salad bowl, combine romaine, endive, artichokes, olives, rolled anchovies and tomatoes. Top with desired amount of dressing. Toss until greens are well-coated.

Chicken worth counting.

21 May

Sadly I’m approaching the end of my cookbooks. Hard to believe I’ve posted a recipe from a different cookbook every single day since January 1. I had no master plan for doing what I did. I was spurred on by my daughter-in-law who questioned why I had so many cookbooks – and if I really used them all. Not surprisingly I discovered several cookbooks (and their recipes) were not to my liking – and I donated them. But I also found at least a dozen recipes that were new and different – and I am excited to prepare and serve them again. And again.

Preparing and writing about a recipe daily also helped me to get through these last five months of Covid concern and worry. And for that I am grateful.

So it’s not good-bye just yet. I will finish out this month with daily recipes – and starting in June Connieiscooking will continue – probably not every day – but often – to share great recipes, cooking tips and of course, stories. I hope you will continue to follow my posts – and let me know if there are recipes you think I should be tackling!

And I’m not done yet with those cookbooks – 10 days and 10 more cookbooks to go!

Today’s recipe I found in The Best of Bon Appetit (1979). I continue to search for new and different ways to prepare boneless chicken breasts. This one is stuffed with cheese – and is a great fix-ahead. Next time I think I would lightly pound the raw chicken breasts to tenderize a bit before adding the cheese.

Cheese Cache Chicken

2 whole chicken breasts, skinned, boned and halved

4 pieces Monterey Jack Cheese, about ¼ inch thick and 1½ x 3-inches long

4 sprigs fresh sage or ½ teaspoon dried

2 eggs

1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon minced parsley


¼ cup clarified butter or oil

Cut pocket in each chicken piece by holding knife parallel to breast and making about a 2-inch deep slit in side. Do not cut through. Place a strip of cheese and a sprig of sage (or 1/8 teaspoon dried) in each pocket. Chill.

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, Parmesan, salt, pepper and parsley. Roll breasts in flour; dip into egg mixture. Heat butter or oil in skillet. Sauté breasts just until crisp and golden, turn with spatula, not tongs. You may refrigerate breasts at this point, finishing them just before serving.

Transfer chicken to a baking dish and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven 8 to 10 minutes or until coating begins to brown (and internal temperature reaches at least 160).

The icing on the cake.

20 May

Yesterday’s post showed off the glossy chocolate icing I used on mocha cupcakes. I’m sharing that easy – and remarkably tasty – icing recipe right here. I found it in Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts (1965). It’s basically melt, stir, dip! This would be the perfect icing for cake pops, Rice Krispie bars and brownies as well. Decadently chocolatey and not overly sweet.

Chocolate Cupcake Icing

6 ounces (4 squares or 1 cup chips) semisweet chocolate

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

Place all ingredients into a small, heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove from heat. Continue to stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until icing reaches room temperature.

Hold cupcakes upside down and dip the tops into the icing. Twirl slightly and then hold upside down for a few seconds for excess to drip off. Optional, after dipping them all, dip each one a second time for a thicker coating.

Cook’s note: I poured the remaining frosting into a small container and refrigerated it. I wasn’t sure what I would do with it but I hate to throw out anything – especially good chocolate. I popped it out of the container the next day and cut it into small squares – voilà chocolate fudge!

Happiness is homemade cupcakes.

19 May

I bravely tackled another baking recipe – this one for mocha cupcakes, a recipe I found in another one of those Better Homes and Gardens Encyclopedias of Cooking (1970), Broccoli to Caudle, Volume 3. Note, the recipe calls for shortening – feel free to substitute oil – hey, this cookbook is more than 50 years old! Loved the short list of ingredients and I was happy to have another use for the instant coffee powder I bought for another recipe. I recommend baking them a tad less – my first batch was a little dry. I used a simple dip and swirl icing from yet another cookbook which I will share in tomorrow’s post. Loved the texture and mocha accents!

Mocha Cupcakes

1/2 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee powder

Cream shortening and sugar well. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt together; beat into creamed mixture alternately with milk. Dissolve coffee in 1/2 cup hot water; stir into batter. Fill paper bake cups in muffin pan 2/3 full. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool and frost, if desired.

Made 15 cupcakes.

Très bien!

18 May

I love Mexican cuisine – everything from tacos and enchiladas to fajitas and chimichangas! And cooking through my cookbooks has helped me tackle some dishes I love but have never prepared – like these flautas. I found this recipe in Adventures in Mexican Cooking by Angelo Villa and Vicki Berrios (1978). They are fabulous! Do not skip softening the tortillas! And fry just a couple at a time. Next time I am going to try to make mini flautas for appetizers (you’ll find mini corn tortillas in grocery stores everywhere).


12 or more 6-inch corn tortillas

Shredded chicken or beef*

Chipotle sauce (recipe follows) or your favorite salsa

Corn tortillas

Guacamole (optional)

Heat ½-inch oil in a frying pan. On a griddle or separate pan, heat tortillas to soften. Combine chicken or beef filling with just enough chipotle sauce to hold meat together. Fill softened tortillas with approximately 2 teaspoons of prepared meat. Roll tightly and secure at both ends with toothpicks. Light salt and fry in oil until golden, but not too crisp. Drain on paper toweling. Remove toothpicks.

Optional: top with guacamole and serve with additional chipotle sauce. May be made in advance and reheated in 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. They also freeze well.

*Here again I use the soup chicken I stash in my freezer. You can also buy pulled seasoned chicken in most grocery stores. Sirloin or skirt steak are another option. I used about a pound and a half of cooked chicken to make a dozen flautas.

Chiptole sauce

3-4 chipotle chiles

6 to 8 fresh tomatillos (about ½ pound)

2 cloves garlic

2 green onions, finely minced (or 3 tablespoons finely minced onion)

¼ cup water

¼ cup cilantro leaves, slightly chopped

Preheat grill or frying pan over medium-high heat, reduce to medium-low and toast the chiles. Set aside to cool. Place the tomatillos (still in husks) and garlic (with skins on) onto the grill (or in a frying pan). Toast gently, turning often, until the husks are brown and flesh is soft, approximately 10 minutes. Remove stems from chiles (and seeds if you want to reduce the heat). Remove skin from garlic cloves and husks from tomatillos.  Place tomatillos, garlic and all remaining ingredients in blender and blend briefly. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. Will keep 1 week.

Cook’s note: sure you can substitute prepared green salsa (I recommend Trader Joe’s) but geez, this sauce is delicious and easy to prepare. Stir leftover sauce into scrambled eggs!

“Cheese Danish” WW Style

17 May

I remember visiting my Aunt Jo in Los Angeles when I was a teenager – and she would make me a faux cheese Danish for breakfast. She explained it was from the Weight Watchers program (now known as WW) that she was on – and all I remember was that it was delicious! I’ve tried to duplicate that treat over the years – without success – until my friend Esther, gifted me the original Weight Watchers Cook Book (1966) by Jean Nidetch, when I went to work for WW. At last I had the “official” recipe – and it’s just as good as I remember. I like more cinnamon sprinkled on top! You don’t need to be on on a diet to enjoy this sweet imposter.

Cottage Cheese Danish

1 slice crisp toast

2 ounces cottage cheese

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon vanilla

½ page granulated sugar substitute (or other sweetener e.g. Truvia)

Mix cottage cheese with cinnamon, vanilla and sugar substitute. Spread on toast and place under broiler until warmed through.