Tag Archives: Texas

Pillsbury Complete Cook Book


It was August 25th, 2001, when I married my best friend.  On that day, just before taking that walk down the aisle, my Dad came into the room and said that I would never believe it, but Wilma Dominic (the sweet, receptionist that worked at our doctor’s office, and who we had known for years) was my future husband’s aunt!  It was a great surprise.  This cookbook, Pillsbury Complete Cook Book was given to us for our wedding, by Aunt Wilma and Uncle Bob.  I’ve turned to this cookbook a number of times through the years.  With our 16th wedding anniversary right around the corner, I decided to pick a recipe from this cookbook to review and write a blog post.

Here are two pictures of Aunt Wilma and me.  I think they were taken in 2006.  I love this amazing woman!  I just wished she lived closer, so we could visit more often.



After flipping through the cookbook, I decided to roast a chicken.  I love chicken, especially roasted or baked chicken, but I don’t make it very often.  I guess I’ve just never found that tried and true roasted chicken recipe, that is…. until now!   This recipe is delicious!  It’s seasoned just right and was really moist and tender.  I only made two small changes.  First, I forgot to use fresh garlic, but it was fine how it was.  Second, I sprinkled a little lemon pepper seasoning on top, before roasting.  Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly.   I hope you will give this recipe a try, as you won’t be sorry!


Lemon-Herb Roasted Chicken

1 (4-6 lb.) whole chicken

1 lemon, thinly sliced

2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes, divided

1 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon butter, softened

Lemon pepper seasoning


Heat oven to 425F.  Remove and discard neck and giblets from the cavity.  Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels.  Loosen skin covering chicken breast.  Take one lemon slice and rub it all over the chicken breast, under the skin.  Take one teaspoon dried parsley and rub it on the chicken breast, under the skin.  Take the additional 1 teaspoon parsley, along with sage and thyme and rub it into the cavity of the chicken.  Place lemon slices in the cavity.  Tie up the legs of the chicken.  Place chicken in a shallow roasting pan, breast side up.  Spread the softened butter over the chicken.  Sprinkle with lemon-pepper seasoning, if desired.  Bake at 425F for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until meat thermometer reaches 180F – 185F, when inserted into the thickest part of the chicken thigh.  If necessary, cover chicken with a tent of foil half way through cooking, so that it doesn’t brown too much.  Remove from oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes before carving.










1 Comment

Filed under cookbook

Variety Pack Favorite Recipes – Ladies of the Sacred Heart


The Variety Pack Favorite Recipes Cookbook is compiled by the Ladies of the Sacred Heart, here in Houston, Texas.  I recently found this gem of a cookbook at an estate sale.  I had no idea this book existed.  It’s full of wonderful recipes, and to my surprise, there is a small section on cucuzza recipes!

Most people have never heard of a cucuzza.  A cucuzza is a long green Italian squash, which has the texture of an eggplant, but tastes more like a zucchini, but with a slight nutty taste.  I normally grow these in my backyard, but I didn’t grow any this year, as my husband hasn’t made a bed or trellis for them in our yard yet.  However, I plan to grow them next year, for sure!  I purchased this cucuzza at Canino’s Produce, off of Airline Drive.  I plant my cucuzza seeds on St. Joseph’s Day, just like my Aunt Frances always did, which is March 19th.  The seeds start off growing slow, but by June and July, the established plant grows extremely fast.  The vine can grow up to 2 feet in one day and the squash can grow up to 2 inches in one day!  They grown to the length of a baseball bat and one squash can easily be used for two recipes of your choice.  I’m attaching a photo of me with the squash.  As you can see, my puppy Shady, was intrigued with the cucuzza, and wanted a bite.


Naturally, I decided to try a recipe to use the cucuzza I had purchased over the weekend.  It was hard to choose, but I finally decided on “Creole Ro-Tel Cucuzza”.   Now, if you don’t have a cucuzza, you can use zucchini instead.  This was a simple meal to make and I served it  over rice, along with garlic bread.  It would have been delicious with a salad, but I was out of lettuce.  Here is the recipe, with just a few minor changes.  I’m not fond of lima beans, but I put in a smaller can than the recipe called for, because my husband likes them.  However, I’d be happy without them in there next time around.


Creole Ro-Tel Cucuzza

1 (2-3 pound) cucuzza, peeled and diced

1 large yellow onion, chopped

Olive oil, for sautéing

1 pound lean ground beef

1 (10 oz.) can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 cup water

1 (8.5 oz.) can Del Monte lima beans, rinsed and drained

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning

Salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté cucuzza and onion in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once they are translucent, remove from skillet.  Brown ground beef in skillet, until done; drain.  In skillet, combine cucuzza, onion, and browned ground beef.  Add Ro-Tel, , tomato sauce, water, lima beans, garlic, Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper.  Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.






Leave a comment

Filed under cookbook

Necessities and Temptations

The cookbook, “Necessities and Temptations” is a cookbook published by the Junior League of Austin in the late 1980’s.  This is one of my favorite books.  My mother purchased a copy for herself and told me about  how many wonderful recipes were in it and told me she would buy me a copy if she ever came across another.  Well, about a year later, she found another copy and bought one for me.  If you ever come across this cookbook, I highly suggest you buy a copy for yourself.  Besides all the wonderful recipes inside, there is also some very helpful information, such as: measurements and equivalents, measurement conversion formulas, average yields, quantity servings for 50, ingredient substitutions, can sizes, herbs and spices, oven temperature chart, storing and freezing food, and cooking terms.  There is even a whole section on entertaining and it gives information such as: selecting wine and spirits, storage of wine, serving wine, table placement of wine glasses, wine bottle sizes and servings, wine selection guide, suggestions for a basic home bar, different glassware, party times, staff requirements, rental equipment lists, decorations, table linens, how to fold fancy napkins, silverware, and table setting, and buffet tables.  In a word, this cookbook is “awesome”!

So, as you can imagine, with the number of wonderful recipes inside, it was a little hard to make a decision.  I decided to see what I had in the refrigerator and pantry and make something from the book, in which I had all the ingredients.  I chose two recipes, Italian Chicken and Pound Cake.  Both were delicious and I would make both again for my family.  Below are the recipes that reflect slight changes made by me.

Italian Chicken

Italian Chicken

1 whole chicken, cut in half

4 – 6 tomatoes, quartered (I used tomatoes fresh out of out garden)

8 ounces fresh button mushrooms

8 ounces prepared Italian dressing (I used Good Seasons Zesty Italian made with olive oil)

1 tablespoon dried onions

2 teaspoons beef bullion granules

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 bay leaves


Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray a 9X13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Place chicken in baking pan.  Add tomatoes and mushrooms.  In a medium-sized bowl, combine Italian dressing, onions, and remaining seasonings.  Stir with a spoon and pour over chicken.  Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours, or until done.



Pound Cake

Pound Cake

1 1/2 cup butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese

3 cups granulated sugar

6 eggs

3 cups cake flour, sifted

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 325F.  Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan and set aside.  In a large mixing bow, combine butter, cream cheese, and sugar.  Cream together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Slowly add flour and beat well.  Add flavorings and salt and beat until combined.  Pour into prepared tube pan.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until cake tests done.




1 Comment

Filed under cookbook

Changing Thymes

Changing Thymes is one of my favorite cookbooks and is compiled by the Austin Junior Forum. The Austin Junior Forum is an organization who’s objective is to create a greater interest among young women in civic and educational fields.  This is the third cookbook of collected recipes published by this organization.  The other two cookbooks were titled Lone Star Legacy and Lone Star Legacy II

I’ve made several recipes from this cookbook in the past and they have never disappointed my family and this time was no different.  I made “Savory Meatballs and Rice”, as well as “Triple Corn Bake”.  My husband and I really liked the meatballs and rice and I will definitely make them again.  The corn bake was good, but I felt it needed a little something.  It was somewhat bland to me, but this is coming from a girl who loves her food spicy.  I’m sure most people wouldn’t feel the same way.  I made two changes to the meatball recipe but followed the corn bake recipe exactly.  First, for the meatballs, I used canola oil instead of vegetable shortening for browning in the skillet.  Second, I used cream of celery soup instead of cream of mushroom soup because my family doesn’t like the taste of cream of mushroom soup.  We really enjoyed this meal and I hope you will too.

Savory Meatballs and Rice

Savory Meatballs and Rice

1 cup uncooked regular rice

1 pound ground beef

¼ cup dried breadcrumbs

¼ cup minced onion

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 small clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

1 (13 ¾ oz.) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

½ cup chopped tomatoes, drained

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tabelspoons soy sauce

Dash of black pepper

Prepare rice according to package directions.  While rice is cooking, prepare meatballs.  Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, minced onion, egg, and garlic.  Mix well and shape into 1 ½ inch balls.  Sauté meatballs in vegetable shortening, browning on all sides.  Drain on paper towels and drain excess grease from skillet.  Return skillet to stove and add soup, tomatoes, brown sugar and soy sauce; stir well.  Add meatballs back to skillet.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover, simmering for about 20 minutes until meatballs are done.  Serve over rice. 

Triple Corn Bake

Triple Corn Bake

1 (16 oz.) can cream style corn

1 (16 oz.) can whole kernel corn, undrained

1 (8 oz.) package cornbread mix

1 cup low-fat sour cream

¾ cup melted butter

Combine all ingredients into a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Pour batter into a 13X9-inch greased baking dish.  Bake at 350F, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes.

1 Comment

Filed under cookbook

Heights Delights

The Heights Delights is a wonderful cookbook compiled by the Houston Heights Association Museum Committee and includes a variety of recipes from Heights area residents and their families.  When I saw this used cookbook in a Half Price books, I knew I had to buy it for my collection.  The Houston Heights is a diverse little community in the heart of Houston, just minutes northwest from downtown.  It’s one of my favorite areas of town and includes some of my favorite shopping and eating spots, which include Canino’s Market, El Bolillo Mexican Bakery, Spanish Flowers Mexican Restaurant, Another Place in Thyme Nursery, Buchanas Native Plants, and Wabash Feed Store… just to name a few.  If you are interested in learning more about the Heights, you can check out this website:  http://www.houstonheights.org/photos.htm 

This cookbook is fabulous!  You know by looking at the recipes that each and every recipe is a favorite of the submitter and that always makes for a great cookbook!  I was surprised to notice while looking through the book, that I recognized a few familiar names from the list of recipe submitters, so of course I had to try their recipes.  The first was a recipe submitted by Libby Lee.  Mrs. Lee has known my family for years, since before I was born.  My family and the Lee’s met while attending church at Baptist Temple.  I tried Mrs. Lee’s recipe for Chicken a’la King and it was great!   I made just a few changes, using milk instead of cream and if I were to make the recipe again, I’d cut the dry sherry by half to be only ¼ cup.  I served it over white rice, but she suggests to serve it in plates in the following order:  Chow mein noodles, white rice, Chicken a ‘la King, sliced pineapples, sliced tomato, chopped chives, silvered almonds and soy sauce.   The note in the book says she serves it with an apricot salad and peanut butter sticks.    I made this dish ahead of time and froze it for two weeks in my freezer.  A day before I was going to serve it, I placed it in my refrigerator to thaw.  Then, all I had to do was heat this up and make some rice, which made a super easy, yet delicious dinner. 

The second recipe I tried was Blue Ribbon Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream submitted by Dennis and Laura Virgadamo, which is my uncle and aunt on my dad’s side of the family (my father’s brother).   This ice cream is so creamy and the flavor is perfect!  I think it is now my favorite homemade ice cream recipe.  I used my new electric Cuisinart ice cream maker that had been sitting in the garage for over a year.  The machine works great by the way, and I’m not sure why it sat out there unused for so long.   I followed my Uncle Dennis’ directions exactly and I wouldn’t change a thing as far as ingredients.  I noticed after I combined the fruit and base that my directions on my Cuisinart says to add the fruit during the last few minutes of freezing, so that is the only think I will do differently next time.  Oh… and the note in the recipe says that this recipe won the “Best All Around Homemade Ice Cream” at the Homemade Ice Cream Social at Baptist Temple in 1992.  ~NOTE~  I didn’t take a picture of the ice cream because we were so anxious to try it out, but next time I make it, I’ll add a picture. 


Chicken a 'la King

Chicken a ‘la King 

4 tablespoons butter 

1 cup mushrooms 

2 tablespoons green bell pepper 

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour 

Dash of cayenne pepper 

½ teaspoon salt 

½ teaspoon celery salt 

¼ cup dry sherry 

1 cup chicken stock 

1 ½ cups milk 

1 tablespoon finely diced pimentos 

1 tablespoon chopped parsley 

2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces 

Melt butter in a large stockpot.  Add green bell peppers and mushrooms.  Cook, stirring occasionally for five minutes.  In a small bowl, mix seasoning with flour and blend; add to stockpot.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Gradually add chicken stock and milk.  Cook until thickened.  Add cooked chicken and parsley.  Add pimentos and heat until heated through.  

Blue Ribbon Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream 


1/3 cup sugar 

Juice of ½ lemon 

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced 


2 eggs 

¾ cup sugar 

1 ½ teaspoon strawberry extract 

2 cup heavy whipping cream 

1 cup milk 

For fruit, combine the strawberries with 1/3 cup sugar and lemon juice.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.  After the fruit has chilled for an hours, mix the base.  For base, mix eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  Ad ¾ cup sugar, adding a little at a time.  When completely blended, stir in extract and set aside.  Mash strawberries well and add to base.  Put all ingredients into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.  Makes 1 gallon.


Filed under cookbook

Barbecue Bible

This past weekend Vince and I threw a graduation party for our son Vincent, who just graduated from high school and will be heading off to college in the fall. We’re so proud of him! We decided to BBQ for the party and Vince made his famous brisket along with bacon wrapped jalapenos. I made coleslaw, potato salad, squash casserole, chocolate chip cookie cake, and vanilla cupcakes. It was all so good and everyone had a wonderful time. We normally serve the brisket with store-bought sauce, but decided to make two homemade sauces instead. The cookbook Barbecue Bible immediately came to mind when Vince mentioned making homemade sauce. Barbecue Bible –  Sauces, Rubs and Marinades by Steve Raichlen was published in 2000. Vince bought me this book several years ago on one of our trips to Austin, but unfortunately until now, I hadn’t tried a recipe from it. Once we decided to try our hand at homemade sauce, I pulled the book off the shelf and gave it to Vince to pick out a sauce that sounded good. He found a recipe for “Firehouse Jack’s Mustard Sauce”. By reading the recipe, it sounded so much like the sauce we have enjoyed in Alabama while visiting our daughter who goes to Auburn. We made several changes to the recipe, adjusting it to our taste, and we were very pleased with the results. We also named our version “Tiger Tori Sauce”. Our guest enjoyed it too. While we liked it over beef, we both felt it would probably be better on pork, but maybe that is because that is how we’ve had it in Alabama. My sister-in-law, Shirley said it would be good over eggrolls and I believe she might be right. Over all, we really enjoyed it and will make it again. I didn’t take a picture of the sauce, but below is the recipe and a picture of Vincent.


Vincent in his Texas Tech hat from Aunt Kit & Uncle Scott

Firehouse Jack’s Mustard Sauce

¾ cup white vinegar

½ cup beef or chicken broth

½ cup finely chopped onion

¼ cup seeded minced jalapeno

½ cup Dijon mustard

¼ cup honey mustard or brown deli-style mustard

¼ cup corn syrup, or to taste

2 tablespoons molasses

½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

½ teaspoon salt (Kosher or Sea)

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a heavy saucepan, combine all ingredients and heat over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Taste sauce and adjust to taste as desired. Pour into jars, cover and refrigerate. Sauce will be good in the refrigerator for several months.

1 Comment

Filed under cookbook

Twelve Years of Prize Winning Recipes

Twelve Years of Prize-Winning Recipes, published by the Beaumont Enterprise and Journal, was printed in 1983.  The Beaumont Enterprise and Journal is a newspaper from Beaumont, Texas.  The cookbook is compiled of 234 recipes, all of which were prize winning recipes from their annual recipe contest over a period of twelve years. 

I decided to try a recipe called Wine and Cheese Bread, because the recipe sounded unusual.  I only made two changes.  First, I used my bread machine and used the “dough” cycle.  Then I placed it in a 9-inch round pan and let it rise once more before baking.  The other change I made was using Mozzarella cheese instead of Swiss or Monterey Jack, because that is all I had in my refrigerator.  The bread had a wonderful taste and the texture was very light and fluffy.  The recipe was submitted by Josie E. Tellez Rochford from Lawton, Oklahoma. She won the 3rd place prize in 1981.

Wine and Cheese Bread

 Wine and Cheese Bread

 3 cups all-purpose flour

1 package active dry yeast

½ cup dry white wine

½ cup butter, melted

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1 cup grated Swiss or Monterey Jack cheese

In a large bowl, combine 1 ½ cups flour and yeast.  In a saucepan, heat wine, butter, sugar and salt until warm, stirring constantly until butter melts.  Add to dry mixture.  Add eggs; beat at low speed with an electric mixer for half a minute, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat three minutes at high speed.  Stir in cheese and enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed until smooth.  Place in lightly greased mixing bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size.  Punch down dough and cover again, letting sit for 10 minutes.  Shape into an 8-inch loaf and place on a well buttered 9-inch round cake pan.  Cover and let rise for about 35-45 minutes until doubled in size.  Bake at 375F for 40 minutes or until golden brown.  Cover with foil after 20 minutes of baking.

Leave a comment

Filed under cookbook