Desserts, Uncategorized

Nestle Toll House Cookies (Stein Style)

Especially toward the end of her time with us, LaVerne would begin to worry about what to serve as soon as she knew folks were coming to visit, but she could relax as soon as I told her we’d either bake these cookies before a visit, or pull some out of the freezer. Many batches of cookies have passed through Stein ovens, but this is probably the recipe that has been baked most.


Many thanks to Barbara for supporting my fundraising effort in The Walk to End Alzheimer’s. You can support my walk here.

Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened. The Stein family recipe replaces with shortening, as in the original Nestlé recipe
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
One 12 oz. package Nestlé Toll House semi sweet chocolate morsels (2 cups)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in chocolate morsels and nuts. Drop by spoonfuls onto on greased cookie sheets. Bake: at 375°F 9 to 11 minutes. Makes: about five dozen 2 1/4 inch cookies.
Pan cookie variation: prepared though as directed. Spread into greased 15.5 x 10.5 by 1 inch baking pan. Bake: at 375°F. 20 to 25 minutes. Cool; cut into 35 2 inch squares.


I put a note about shortening into the actual recipe above because the Steins are so opinionated about that difference, and we wouldn’t want you to get your butter ready in vain.

Our recipe card is simply the recipe from a bag of chocolate chips taped to an index card and family lore says that there is a very old card made the same way showing the shortening as an ingredient, but I am unable to provide photo evidence.

The Steins use pecans when they feel like using nuts as there is walnut allergy in the family.

What is your favorite cookie?

PS I hope this isn’t a repeat post! My records show that I have recorded the recipe but had not yet shared it with you. My apologies if I have – but you know, it’s always good to make a good cookie time and time again.

Do you have a  favorite cookie?

Side Dishes, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Onion Roasted Potatoes (AKA Case-Hardened Potatoes)

My apologies for not having a photo of the finished recipe. We photographed as we cooked and ate through these recipes the past year, but toward the end of our time at Mom’s house, it was not an organized effort to match photo to recipe we were capturing, as we were taking more care of the mother than the project.

Many thanks to Trudi for your support for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This one’s for you!

If you, too, would like to support my fundraising efforts for the Walk on October 1, you can donate to my page here.


Onion Roasted Potatoes “AKA Case Hardened Potatoes”

Preheat oven to 450°F

One envelope onion soup mix
Half cup olive or vegetable oil
Quarter cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon marjoram leaves and 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
Quarter teaspoon pepper
2 pounds all-purpose potatoes, cut into quarters


Blend ingredients (except potatoes) in a roasting pan.
Add potatoes, turn to coat thoroughly.
Bake, stirring occasionally, 35 minutes.
Garnish with fresh parsley.
Makes about eight servings.
Notes: Original recipe says 60 minutes. This is crossed out, replaced with 35, as you can see in the photograph of LaVerne’s copy in her recipe journal, seen above.


This recipe also works quite well in a cast iron skillet. It is one of those recipes that makes everyone in each family generation smile, I think, whenever we mention it. There was a time when LaVerne bought Lipton’s onion soup mix by the case. We make our own blend with bouillon granules, garlic powder, ground black pepper and dehydrated onion now.

What is a recipe that makes you smile?


Main Dishes

Tamale Pie

Speak the words “Mom’s Tamale Pie” around the Stein boys, and to a man their eyes light up. The reminiscent sigh that follows is the same.

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This is one of those recipes – fragrant, flavorful and satisfying, and I always think of how those hungry boys must have filled up on it when it comes to mind.

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Tamale Pie

Meat mixture:
1-1/2 pounds ground lean beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or mashed
1/4 cup shortening or salad oil
1 can (about 15 ounce) tomatoes
1 can (12 ounce) whole kernel corn
2 teaspoons salt
4 to 6 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup water
1 cup pitted black olives

1-1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

Note: while this mixture is cooking, make the topping (see below).

Sauté meat, onion, green pepper and garlic together in heated shortening until onions are golden, about 10 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes, corn, salt, chili powder, and pepper; cover and simmer 5 minutes.
Stir in the cornmeal blended with the water; simmer 10 minutes more.
Add olives and turn mixture into a 9 x 13″ baking dish.

Spread topping over meat. Bake uncovered in a 375° oven for 40 minutes.

To cook cornmeal topping:
Scald 1 1/2 cups milk with half teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons butter. Gradually add 1/2 cup cornmeal and cook, stirring until thickened. Remove from heat, stir in 2 beaten eggs and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

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**We don’t sauté ground beef in oil, nor cook the onions and the raw meat together anymore. You can follow the kitchen guidelines and routines you’re most comfortable with.

**This seems like an awful lot of salt, and I reduced the total by a generous 1/2 teaspoon. Taste the meat mixture after it has the other seasonings, then salt to taste.

**We use frozen sweet corn at our house.

**We used 1 pound of leanest ground beef for this recipe and it was really great.

**We bake the finished product right in the frying pan nstead of a separate 9×13 dish.

**We served this dish with a salad. Three of us (Mom was visiting again!) had two dinners and there was still another small meal plus some lunch sized portions for the freezer. In other words, it made a LOT. The fragrance as this dish cooked was so delightful!

** When I was getting ready to cook this dish, I found my own grandmother’s recipe for Tamale Pie as well. That one (pictured above with Mom’s recipe card) includes raisins. Ew.

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Is there a filling, flavor packed meal you enjoy cooking for your family?

Side Dishes, Vegetables

Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce

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Here’s the cookbook that still resides on Mom’s counter. It’s missing the title pages and the tape that reattached the last page of the index, but the duck tape repairs on the spine still hold.

It’s been a part of the Stein kitchen as long as the boys can remember, and it’s filled with treasures and memory.

Mom didn’t ever share a recipe for this, but it started with a classic white sauce and a high quality cheddar, so this is the one from the Good Housekeeping Cook Book.

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I always marvel at how simple this really is.

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Stirring and stirring is the  key to smooth white sauce – while adding the milk slowly.

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Medium White Sauce (cream sauce)

2 Tablespoons butter or margarine

2 Tablespoons flour (some people prefer to reduce flour to 1-1/2 T)

Speck pepper

1/2 tesaspoon salt

Dash paprika

1 cup milk, or part milk and part light cream

1. In double boiler (or in saucepan over low heat), melt butter; add flour, pepper, salt, paprika; stir until blended, smooth.

2. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.

3. Cook, stirring, until smooth and thickened. Makes one cup.

To make cheese sauce, add 1/2 to 1 cup grated cheese and dash cayenne pepper. *

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Our cauliflower was cooked in chunks. Not nearly as lovely as that whole globe.

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This original recipe calls for mustard powder here but I never remember that being used in the Stein kitchen. In my memory, maybe my own Mother’s addition of cayenne makes its way in here, but I’m fairly certain it was a part of LaVerne’s sauce, too.

A double boiler was never used, just a good heavy saucepan.

Always use a high quality cheddar. In the Stein’s house, it was invariably Tillamook.

My husband and I couldn’t agree on how the cauliflower was cooked, though it was always whole. Was it boiled or steamed? It was always lovely in the serving dish, that warm pale yellow cheese sauce flowing down the sides of the head of cauliflower.

He doesn’t remember this, but as I recall, his Mom made cheese sauce for broccoli sometimes, too. When our daughter disdained all vegetables except raw ones, she would eat cooked broccoli this way with pleasure. All the various Steins can correct me if I’m wrong…

Do you remember a sauce that made everything better?


Pear or Apple Crisp

This recipe was always called Pear or Apple Crisp on every recipe card and cookbook entry that was ever noted down, and pears were always listed first. In all the time it was made at the Steins’ house, they only ever used apples, often from their own trees. Not too long ago, we had way too many pears and used them instead, and though apple crisp is still the family go-to, LaVerne herself agreed when she tasted it that it’s maybe even better with pears.

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Pear or Apple Crisp

4 pears (Anjou or Bartlett) or 5 cooking apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
Whipping cream
Put sliced fruit into buttered 9 inch square pan.
Sprinkle with spices, add lemon juice and water. In separate bowl (we use the mixer), mix sugar and flour; work in butter to make a crumbly mixture. Spread over fruit.
Bake 350° of in about one hour.
Serve warm with cream.
Serves four
-Nuts, chopped may be added to the topping.
-Canned pears may be used-reduce time to 30 minutes.

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Though the recipe calls for cream, the Steins usually topped warm crisp with a scoop of ice cream.

No one ever tried it with canned pears as far as I know. It was always the thing to make when there was a bounty of fruit.

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It’s also good left over for breakfast with some coconut milk, but that is straying wildly from family tradition, to be sure.

What recipes does your family turn to when there’s a bounty of a fruit or vegetables?

Side Dishes, Vegetables

Green Beans

This is how green beans were always prepared at the Stein house. It’s another dish I learned by helping LaVerne in the kitchen. There was never a written recipe, so it’s recorded how we’ve remembered it. Of course, these were usually beans out of Dad’s garden, and there were lots and lots of those. The recipe applied to their canned quart jars of beans as well as the fresh ones, though, and the cooking time was adjusted to account for the form of the produce used.

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Green Beans

1 pound of fresh green beans, washed and snapped

1/2 medium onion, diced

3-4 slices of bacon, diced

Water to cover beans

Dice and then saute 3-4 slices of bacon. Drain if needed, leaving enough fat to saute the onions. Cook these two ingredients together until the onions begin to soften.

Add washed and snapped green beans and saute until the beans begin to change color to bright green. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pot with about an inch of liquid and bring to a boil.

Turn down and simmer, covered, until beans are tender, about 20 minutes for fresh mature beans. Cooking time will vary depending on size of beans.


We use enough bacon to impart flavor to the beans but not so much that they’re greasy. The bacon we used this time turned out to be very lean and we didn’t drain it. I added no salt to this recipe, but I’m thinking some was added during cooking. LaVerne’s salt box comes to mind.

The Stein green bean recipe did not depend on measured amounts of vegetable, but whatever came out of the garden, so adjust your quantities of onion and bacon to taste. This method works well with frozen green beans, too.

If the home-canned beans were used, the juice from the jar was the only liquid.

What is your favorite three-ingredient recipe?

Main Dishes

Spicy Oven-Fried Chicken

This is another of the treasured recipes my mother-in-law gave my husband in a little packet of recipe cards when he moved out on his own. More than that, it was one of the first times I remember as a young married couple making something delicious that seemed so very special and difficult when I’d eaten it at the Stein’s house. I was delighted that it was actually quite simple, and still so delicious even from my own oven, one of those recipes which gave me confidence to create good food.

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Spicy Oven-Fried Chicken

1 Broiler-Fryer, cut up

Combine dry ingredients:

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1-1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup melted butter

Dip chicken in milk, then flour mixture. Place skin side up in shallow baking dish, then drizzle butter over.

Bake at 375 deg. F for 55 minutes.

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The easiest way to coat the chicken with the dry ingredients is to put some of the coating in a paper bag and shake one piece at a time in that after dipping it in the milk.

I will say that the cleanup on this one was a bit yucky, as there was lots of grease left in the pan. I guess I have become unaccustomed to this heavy cleanup today, simply because of how I tend to cook now. That said, this is a lovely, delectable dish best eaten right out of the oven. Our chicken, which seemed of average size by today’s standards, was 5-1/2 pounds, so invite guests if your family is small like ours.

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What’s a recipe you’ve made that is always delicious?