Recipes

Savory Cottage Cheese Cakes

Today’s recipe, which looks like a pancake but is actually a rich, creamy fried egg and cheese mixture, strays a bit from Barbie’s designs. She intended cottage cheese cakes to be sweet and topped with syrup or “frozen strawberries, slightly thawed and mashed.” I saw the potential for something savorier and more to my liking if I left out the sugar she calls for, and so I did.

Continue reading “Savory Cottage Cheese Cakes”
Recipes

Barbie’s Main Dish Tuna Salad

I like tuna salad, but in my house it’s a lunchtime thing eaten in sandwich form. Barbie serves hers with lettuce and a few extras in an attempt to elevate this tuna salad into a satisfying entree.

The cookbook’s structure suggests that Barbie wasn’t entirely sold on the idea of tuna salad as the star of dinner though; despite claiming “Main Dish” status right in the recipe’s title, Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook lists it under Sandwiches, Salads, and Snacks instead of putting it in the Most Delicious Main Dishes chapter. Is this a covert acknowledgement that tuna salad is not, in fact, a dinner-worthy main dish? Or does Barbie think that it is a main, just not one of the “most delicious” ones? Read on to take a look at this dish and decide for yourself.

Continue reading “Barbie’s Main Dish Tuna Salad”
Recipes

Chunky Apple Pancakes

I decided to try making Barbie’s apple pancakes even though I usually avoid recipes that call for baking powder. I prefer recipes that read as nice suggestions rather than precise instructions, and the inclusion of baking powder in an ingredients list sends up a warning that I am dealing with the latter. But I had apples, and pancakes are tasty, so for this week’s Barbie experiment, chunky apple pancakes it was. 

Continue reading “Chunky Apple Pancakes”
Recipes

Chopsticks Sandwiches

Chopsticks Sandwiches is probably one of the lowest effort dishes in Barbie’s Easy-as-Pie Cookbook. And let’s just address the name and issues with ‘ethnic’ recipes in vintage cookbooks upfront. Reference to chopsticks aside, this is an American recipe. It comes in the middle of the Sandwiches, Salads, and Snacks chapter, and wisely contains no story vignette or Barbie-based flavor text at all. As a white girl who maybe kind of definitely wore a cheongsam to her senior prom in the 90s, let me tell you. Cultural appropriation does not age well, and naïveté is no excuse for it. I am more than happy to be spared whatever Barbie and Midge might have had to say about Chinese food in 1964. 

I should backtrack and point out that the recipe might have been low effort in Barbie’s day, but it proved challenging in ours, as its main ingredient is frozen chow mein, and that… is not so easy to find it turns out. Both Donna and I were stymied in our early efforts. Still, the recipe appealed to my lazy side, to say nothing of the side of me that thinks that American Chinese food served with butter on a bun sounds … pretty good, actually. (Don’t judge me!)

The internet promised me that the product does still exist, although not in a form Barbie would have recognized, and eventually, I stumbled upon a carton of Tai Pei’s chicken chow mein in the freezer section of my grocery store. Score! (Note: The history of Chinese food in America is a really rich rabbit hole to fall into if you have some free time. You could start here!) I grabbed some hamburger buns and peanuts and was all ready for a delicious* if not culturally authentic lunch. 

*At least, I hoped it would be delicious.

Continue reading “Chopsticks Sandwiches”
Recipes

Barbie’s Baked Custard

It’s been a busy few weeks around here, and halfway through planning the big batch of freezer meals that my husband and I made over the weekend, I realized that I hadn’t started a post yet. I was also low on pretty much everything other than basic pantry staples. Thankfully when I cracked open Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook to look for something to make, there it was: Baked Custard. A relatively quick prep dish that would work with the few ingredients I had on hand. Read on for the recipe…

Continue reading “Barbie’s Baked Custard”
Recipes

Brandied Apple Sauce

My apple sauce recipe is neither easy nor Barbie-inspired, but it IS full of booze and butter, and that makes it worth a mention, right? It also provides a nice counterpoint to Barbie’s stovetop and Donna’s pressure cooker in that it is baked in the oven. 

It comes from Volume 11 of the Short Stack series of zine style cookbooks. Each book in the series is about fifty pages long, devoted to a different single ingredient, and bound in textured paper printed with original artwork. (They are gorgeous, and I am obsessed with them. I display mine facing out, as if I lived in a store and needed to merchandise my home.) Volume 11: Apples by Andrea Albin is one of my favorites in the collection, and probably the one I reference most often for actual cooking (Chicken apple meatballs with aggrodolce? Pork chops with apple-beet-horseradish compote? Yes, please.)

Albin’s applesauce is made with apple brandy and butter. I halve her recommended amount of apples … but not the brandy. So my apple sauce is pretty boozy and plenty buttery too. If you’d like to do a more sedate version, use 5 lb of apples, a half cup of sugar, and 4 tbsp butter.

Continue reading “Brandied Apple Sauce”
Recipes

Pressure Cooker Applesauce

When I tried the applesauce recipe from Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook, I kept thinking that my usual pressure cooker applesauce was more hands-off and predictable. It also cooks up faster.

The disadvantage of the pressure cooker method is that you need a pressure cooker, but if you’ve got that covered (or if you’ve considering picking one up and want a delicious, apple-flavored excuse), then read on!

Continue reading “Pressure Cooker Applesauce”
Recipes

Barbie’s Easy Homemade Applesauce

I’m a big fan of homemade applesauce.

I practically lived on the jarred stuff as a kid, but after years of inching back from processed food, it tastes too sweet to me now. So once a month or so I break out my electric pressure cooker, grab a bag of apples, and pressure cook my way to apple heaven. Barbie’s stovetop method is a little more hands-on. It’s still pretty easy though, and it works with fewer apples.

To find out how Barbie does it, read on.

Continue reading “Barbie’s Easy Homemade Applesauce”
Recipes

Spicy Meatloaf, or Cold Meatloaf Sandwich, the Long Way

I love a meatloaf, and Barbie’s meatloaf, while not prepared My Way, seemed like it had potential. It has salami in it. Salami. In a meatloaf. Interesting. Better than peas anyway. (Barbie’s tuna salad has peas in it. Ew.. I’m hoping Donna will take that one.)

Unfortunately, perhaps because I already have an internalized meatloaf recipe in my weeknight dinner rotation, I played really fast and loose with Barbie’s perimeters, which is why I wound up having to make the recipe twice in order to get anything close to presentable. 

Warning: This post will go on and on and on and on. I really love meatloaf. And apparently I have a lot to say about it.

Continue reading “Spicy Meatloaf, or Cold Meatloaf Sandwich, the Long Way”
Recipes

Berry Milk Punch

This post was written prior to Covid-19 and social distancing, back when Donna and I could get together for cooking dates. In the absence of bars, I have upped my cocktail game, so I’m drinking well these days. But this post reminds me that good friends make even terrible drinks go down well. I don’t know when we’ll be able to get back to that kind of thing, but I’ll make sure to appreciate it when we do.


In Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia Project, I’m pretty sure there comes a point when her friends and blog readers give her permission to skip all of the aspics in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I wish we had a similar crowd letting us off the hook for the variety of milk punches in Barbie’s chapter “MMMNN! Is for Milk and Other Marvels.”

Julie didn’t back down from her meat jellos, and we wouldn’t wimp out either, but man. It would be tempting. 

Milk punch. Milk. Punch. Milk and punch. Milk and pineapple; milk and orange juice; milk and strawberry jelly AND red food coloring…

Wasn’t milk and orange juice what Wynona Ryder was going to use to make Heather Chandler throw up before Christian Slater swapped her glass for Drain-o? 

There’s milk and orange juice in today’s recipe. Just saying.

Continue reading “Berry Milk Punch”