Thursday, September 22, 2011

Another Recipe, Another Story

Tomorrow is the first day of fall and I've decided to share a summer recipe, and this one has a fun story behind it.

I like when recipes have a story to them. To me it makes them taste so much better. Your grandma made this dish every Easter, or Great Aunt Lida served that recipe every Sunday, or here's one that Uncle Greg invented one summer when he was out camping. This is a recipe you serve with fruit salad, and here's how I came to have it.

In the late 1940s my mother and her sister moved from Minneappolis, Minnesota down to Houston, Texas. They became friends with a large group of other single people in their church and had many, many adventures. When I was a girl I loved to hear all her stories. One of her friends had a close friend who was married. One night her husband took her to dinner at a well-known hotel there in Houston that was known not only for it's romantic atmosphere, but also for it's amazing menu.

That night the woman had the fruit salad with poppyseed dressing. She was so taken with the dressing she asked the waiter if she might get the recipe, which he soon brought to her. At the end of the meal when her husband was presented with the bill, an additional $100 was added to it for the recipe. They were shocked, and afterwards the woman decided that if they were going to charge her that much for the recipe she was going to get her money's worth and passed it around to all of her friends; one of which knew my mother.

I've always liked that story. That spunky woman passing around that fancy hotel's $100 recipe! And here it is for you to try. We always serve it on the side in a small gravy boat or pitcher so you may add as much or as little as you like. It's a sweet and sour type of dressing and is wonderful with a fresh fruit salad. Have fun!

Poppy Seed Dressing

1 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups oil
1/2 cup vinegar
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

Mix sugar, mustard, salt and vinegar.  Add oil gradually, but steadily. Add poppy seeds last.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Forty-three Years and Counting!

My BFF Beth had her birthday Monday. We've been friends for 43 years this month, so of course in all that time we've celebrated many birthdays together. Her birthday dinner of choice was always BBQ Beef Sandwiches and chocolate cake with peppermint frosting. I did get the recipe for the sandwiches, but never did get the peppermint frosting recipe. Beth tried to make it once when we were roommates and it turned out looking like she'd thrown up on the plate!

So every year I make these sandwiches for my family on her birthday. It's the only time all year I do make them, and I always ask why, cuz they're so stinkin' good!  It's been kind of a crazy couple of days around here so I'm making them for dinner tonight. Mmmm! I can smell the meat cooking!

I'm sharing the recipe here. The only thing I do differently these days is, after I brown the meat, I put it and the onions in my crock pot before I cover it with the sauce so it can cook all day long. The house smells amazing and it makes the meat easy to shred, which I like. I also prefer chuck roast for the way it tastes. Give it a try!

This is a picture of Beth and I the summer we were 17.
We spent a week up at Lake Tahoe before we started college.
Don't we look young???

BBQ Beef Sandwiches

4-5 pound pot, chuck or rump roast
3 medium onions, sliced
French rolls (sliced sandwich size)
For sauce:
1/4 cup water
8 oz tomato sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
2 pressed garlic cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons brown sugar

Brown meat (seasoned well) in heavy kettle. Drain off fat when done. Top with onion slices.

Combine sauce ingredients and whisk until smooth. Pour over beef and onions.

Simmer covered for approximately 2 hours for sliceable meat, 3+ hours for very tender. If it dries out add water.

Serve on heated and buttered rolls.

Oh ... YEAH!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Another Goodbye

One of the hard things as your family grows up is that those who have gone before us start to leave us. My husband and I are now in our fifties, which means our parents, aunts and uncles are all in their seventies, eighties and nineties.

In the past two years my family has lost my great aunt Charlotte, my mother's brother Bud (Rollin) and my dad lost his brother Ira last summer.  Sweet, loving and fun-loving people who will be missed.

My dad's oldest brother died this week. Neal Jacobsen Hillyard Jr. was such a sweet man. He lost his wife Nona years ago, and I know he's missed her every day. Knowing they are reunited again is the only bright spot in knowing he's gone. That and the knowledge that he's out of pain now, after having battled pancreatic cancer for the past couple of years.

My sister and her husband are driving my parents to Salt Lake for the funeral, for which I am grateful. I'm sad I won't be able to be there in person, but my heart is full of memories and I will be thinking about my family, all of them, as they say goodbye.

I'm so grateful for the knowledge that this is only a temporary separation and that we will all be reunited once again.

Neal Jacobsen Hillyard Jr.
August 17, 1920 - September 14, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cockeyed Cake

I have been very open about my chocolate addiction. I think it started while in the womb since my mother is a known chocolaholic. Often when planning things for my family I see when and where I can fit chocolate into our plans. Labor Day is this Monday, and it seemed like the perfect time to add some of my favorite concoction to the menu: homemade fried chicken, potato salad, corn-on-the-cob, watermellon and ... TA DA! ... chocolate cake!

Since the last few times I've made cupcakes and pie and cake about half of it gets thrown out, I thought about making a smaller amount. That was when I remembered this old recipe my mother got back in the 1970s from her sister. No bowls needed, just the pan you fix it in! Easy peasy! And it's a smaller, one layer cake that you can jazz up a bit. I just make a powdered sugar, cocoa and milk frosting for it. But for extra fun, when you take it out of the oven, cover the top with mini-marshmallows and let them melt a bit on the hot cake. Make the frosting a bit thinner and pour or drizzle over the marshmallows. Gooey, decadent and oh so yummy!


1-1/2 cups flour
3 Tablespoons cocoa
1 tsp soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon inegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cold water

Sift dry ingredients together into a greased 9" x 9" pan.  Make three holes in the dry mixture.  Into one pour the oil, another the vinegar and into the third the vanilla.  Pour cold water over all.

Beat with a spoon until nearly smooth.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Coarse but moist! Good!