I love reading cookbooks. My kitchen is full of them, and I always enjoy getting a new one. I read them as if they were a novel. It would be hard to choose my favorite — other than my own.
The first cookbook I ever received is still in my kitchen. My mama gave it to me for my 8th birthday. The title is “Let’s Start to Cook: Never Fail Recipes for Beginners by the Food Editors of Farm Journal.” I scratched out the “Never Fail Recipes” part after I made peanut butter cookies and used ¼ cup of salt instead of ¼ teaspoon. Somehow, I thought that was the cookbook’s fault instead of mine.
When I wrote my cookbook, my editor told me that the front and back covers are big selling points. He wanted me to put a lot of time and effort into those decisions. My book was all about family, so I chose my family, including my dog, Dixie Belle. When I got the photos back, the one of me with the dog was my favorite, so I chose that for my cover. Our family photo moved to the back cover. I have had so many people comment on how cute she looks. My mama is still mad at me for not putting her only grandchild on the cover. We don’t discuss it any more.
I’m amused at some of the titles of cookbooks in my collection.
— “Granny’s Drawers”
— “I’ll Cook When Pigs Fly”
— “Family Secrets”
— “Live Well – Eat Well”
— “Living High on the Hog”
— “Always Enough Thyme”
— “I Told You I Couldn’t Cook”
— “Just Casseroles”
— “Gracious Goodness”
— “What Can I Bring?”
— “Any Blonde Can Cook”
— “Amazing Tastes”
The most unusual cookbook title I own is “Rebel Recipes.” The title is not so unusual, but the fact that I have a cookbook from the Home Economics department from “the school up north” is rather shocking. It was an April Fool’s gift. It is actually one of my favorites. I keep it hidden, but I do secretly use it from time to time. I don’t dare tell my boys if I prepare a recipe from that book — they wouldn’t eat it.
Hope you enjoy today’s recipes. Thanks for reading.
STRAWBERRY PRETZEL SALAD
2 cups crushed pretzels
3½ tablespoons sugar
¾ cup melted butter
1 (8-ounce) Cool Whip
1(8-ounce) cream cheese
1 cup sugar
3 cups boiling water
3 small packages strawberry Jell-O
2 small packages frozen strawberries, slightly thawed
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
First layer: Mix crushed pretzels, sugar and melted butter together. Pour into a 9-by-12-inch baking dish, and bake for 6 minutes. Cool completely.
Second layer: Mix Cool Whip, sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Spread on top of pretzel layer.
Third Layer: Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water. Add frozen strawberries, and cool for 15 minutes then pour over second layer. Refrigerate until gelatin is set.
PASTA CHICKEN LAYERED SALAD
1½ cups uncooked small pasta shells
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups shredded lettuce
3 hard cooked eggs, sliced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
2 green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat.
Place the lettuce in a large glass bowl; top with pasta and eggs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; layer with the chicken and peas. In a small bowl, mix dressing ingredients until blended; spread over top. Refrigerate covered for several hours, or overnight. Just before serving, sprinkle with cheese and parsley.
MARINATED TOMATOES and ONIONS
6 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon basil leaves
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped parsley
Arrange tomatoes and onions in a serving dish. Mix oil, vinegar, basil, sugar, salt, mustard, garlic and parsley together. Pour marinade over onions and tomatoes and refrigerate for several ours or overnight.
(I added slices of fresh Mozzarella cheese when I made this once and it was a terrific addition.)