Family Recipe Friday: Patriotic Picnic Platter

When my kids were little, we watched Sesame Street every day. And I subscribed to Sesame Street magazine. I wish I still had a complete issue around here to help me remember the kinds of articles and activities between the covers – many that we probably did together.

One thing I do remember is the “Kids in the Kitchen” section. Here’s a page I saved from the July/August 1989 issue. At the time, I had a three-year-old and a 6-month-old.

Recipe Sesame St Flag platter

The only food on this page that I ever served was the Patriotic Picnic Platter. And I made it year after year after year after year for the 4th of July.

Of course, when my kids were little, they didn’t like potato salad or tomatoes or cucumbers, so I came up with my own red and white foods to fill in the stripes. I have used strawberries, sliced hot dogs, red grapes, cauliflower, white cheese, and cherry tomatoes. I wonder what else? Oh – apples! They serve double duty. You can use them for white or red stripes. One thing that always remained the same was the upper left-hand corner filled with blueberries and topped with some miniature marshmallows. I use an open Tupperware sandwich container to keep the berries in a square. I prefer that everything be finger food, but use your imagination and let me know how your patriotic platter turns out.

1989.07.04 AngelaOh my. I just went looking for a picture from July 4, 1989 and I found one. I started to add the story behind it here, but it deserves a post all its own. Later!


Happy Independence Day!

Family Recipe Friday – Mom’s Microwave Minestrone Soup

Say that 10 times as fast as you can!

As I mentioned last Friday, my husband was sick last week so I became the caregiver – a role I haven’t played in a year. It felt good to be able to take him to doctor appointments, pick up his prescriptions, go to the grocery store, and do a little cooking. I wasn’t too pleased that some of these things required possible exposure to lots of germs. Grocery carts… Doctor offices… But I’ve developed a new habit – using hand sanitizer as soon as I return to the car. Or, in the case of the doctor’s office, I used it as soon as I sat down in the waiting room!

I’ve become quite the germaphobe.

DSCN3369Hubby wanted soup and our cupboards were nearly bare (before I made that trip to the store), but an old microwave recipe of Mom’s came to the rescue. You can substitute freely with what is on hand. Sometimes I add a can of chick peas or white beans. It’s quick and easy. I didn’t think to take a picture until there was only this little bit left.

I like to include the written recipes to preserve example’s of the writer’s handwriting. Mom wrote this out for me. I added a couple of notes in parentheses. You can see by the smudges and spills that it’s been used a few times!

Microwave Minestone Soup


1 can (15 oz.) tomatoes, undrained (I always use diced)
1 can (14.5 oz.) beef broth (or chicken or vegetable)
1 cup water
1 small zucchini, halved and sliced
1/2 cup broken spaghetti (about 1 1/2 oz.)
1 tablespoon instant beef bouillon (or chicken or vegetable)
1/2-1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon pepper 
1 package (10 oz.) frozen mixed vegetables
Parmesan cheese

1. Cut tomatoes into small pieces. Combine broth, water, zucchini, spaghetti, bouillon, seasoning and pepper in 2 1/2-quart microwave safe casserole. Cover with lid.
2. Microwave (high) 6-7 minutes, or until steaming hot. Add frozen vegetables. cover.
3. Microwave (high) 16-18 minutes until veggies and pasta are tender – stirring once. Serve with cheese.

I never remember the cheese.

Family Recipe Friday: Dad’s Chocolate Chip Cookies – Revised!

Well… what to do? I posted this yesterday, then posted to Facebook and tagged my sisters and asked if they had any stories about these cookies. The conversation that ensued leads me to make some revisions. So the new stuff is in blue.

Neiman Marcus cookie recipe

Cookie Recipe Revenge

First, my sister Karla said that she thought this was the “Neiman-Marcus” cookie recipe that was going around years ago. Sure enough, I googled it and it is almost the same as the recipe that goes with the urban legend. Then I looked back at the recipes I copied from Dad and found the original that he had printed from an email.

Then I found a compilation of recipes that Dad typed up with the same cookie recipe – but the brown sugar is missing.

Guess he made a mistake.

Now I understand why my cookies didn’t turn out quite as I remember his… He used the copy he typed to write out the recipe for me, so they are missing brown sugar. – He also cut the proportions in half so it would make a smaller batch. The cookies are good as I made them, so if you don’t like really sweet cookies, go ahead and leave out the brown sugar.

My sister Kim added a great story to go with the cookies, so I’ll share that too:  ”Dad does not really follow recipes. He makes lots of adjustments. The first time he made them he blended the oats and then measured them so he had way too many dry ingredients so the batter was too thick for the mixer. Rather than add water or milk, dad started melting sticks of butter and adding sweetened condensed milk. They were very good but I renamed them cookies of death!”

We all get a laugh at Dad’s expense on occasion because of his recipe revisions. Love you, Dad! 

What follows is my original post with the addition of brown sugar. Enjoy!

DSCN3365My husband has been really sick this week so the shoe has been on the other foot – with me taking care of him for a change. Hubby wanted a cookie yesterday and asked our daughter to get him one at the store, but she came home without cookies!

What could I do? I had to bake cookies. They were required for his well-being after all.

Dad's Chocolate Chip Cookie RecipeAfter looking through my cookie recipes, I decided to bake some that my Dad(Jim) often makes. I don’t know why, but I hadn’t made them before. Guess I always made Mom’s recipe.

After consuming waaayyy too many of these one weekend, I asked Dad for his recipe and he wrote it out for me, as you can see here. When I was making them yesterday I discovered that he left off the oven temperature and my baking time differed, so I’ll type his directions and add my edits.

I need to do more of Dad’s recipes. He started cooking beyond the grill later in life – and he especially enjoys baking. A visit to their house means desserts are plentiful – and usually includes cookies, cake, and a couple of pies. And maybe some brownies for good measure.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups oats – measure and then blend to fine powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
12 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 8-ounce Hershey bar (grated)
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (usually pecans)

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, baking soda – add chips, candy and nuts.

Roll into balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 6 minutes. Should make approximately 66 cookies. Original recipe says to bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. 

My changes: I mixed the dry ingredients together and added them to the creamed sugar/butter/egg mixture. I baked at 350 degrees for about 10 or 11 minutes. Maybe if you bake at 375, the cook time will be shorter. I didn’t have a Hershey bar around, so missed that extra bit of chocolate. :( Also, my chocolate chips were the oversized kind, which makes the cookies look smaller in the picture, I think. There was just enough dough to hold the chips together!

DSCN3367I decided that since we have a real problem with limiting our cookie intake around here, I wouldn’t bake all of the dough. I rolled it into balls on a cookie sheet and stuck it in the freezer. Once frozen, I put my cookie dough balls in freezer bags for future freshly baked cookies. I haven’t done this before, but it seems like a good idea.