Comfort Cooking for a Pandemic Winter: Part One — Drinks/Appetizers/Dips

Favorite recipes curated by me!

Since the COVID pandemic started, I’ve found myself hankering for recipes I used to make that have fallen by the wayside. Locating these favorites took effort, and I decided to put them into a collection where they would be readily available. In doing so, I was spurred on by the idea of sharing not only my favorites, but other recipes that have been given to me through the years by people I loved. 

This became “Comfort Cooking,” which I share with you in the hope that you might find a new (or old) recipe that will add joy — or at least some deliciousness — to this challenging time. I plan to email this collection to my friends and family as a holiday gift and decided to also share it as a series here.

Eventually things will get better. 

Love, 

Kym 

P.S. Although I did re-read these recipes, I did not go back and double-check against the originals. If in doubt about ingredients or instructions, feel free to email me and I’ll check.

Drinks/Appetizers/Dips

  • Amaretto Clone/Doris Taylor’s Brandy/Irish Cream/Kahlua Clone 
  • Black Bean and Corn Salsa
  • Chile Bean Dip 
  • Cucumber Piquant
  • Daryle’s Cheese Ball
  • Dill Dip
  • Orange Julius Clone
  • Spinach Dip
  • Whiskey Slushes

Amaretto Clone
6 Cups sugar
4 cups water 
1/2 gal vodka
1 fifth apricot brandy
3 oz almond extract
Bring sugar and water to boil and boil for one minute. Add remaining ingredients. Cool and bottle.

Doris Taylor’s Brandy
1 lb fruit
1 lb sugar
1 fifth vodka
Use a wide mouth jar. Place fruit in jar. Sprinkle sugar over fruit. Dribble vodka over mixture. Cover and let stand three months. DO NOT STIR OR SHAKE!

Kahlua Clone
4 cups sugar
2 cups water
6 tsp freeze-dried coffee
1/2 vanilla bean
1 qt cheap vodka
Heat sugar, coffee, vanilla bean and water until sugar is dissolved. Mix in vodka. Store in the dark for two weeks. (Keep bean in.) Makes 1/2 gallon.

Irish Cream
1 can Eagle Brand milk (sweetened condensed)
2 cups whiskey
2 cups heavy cream or half and half
1 tsp. instant coffee
2 oz Kahlua
Mix ingredients and refrigerate. 
Note on recipe: “Phyllis doubles this.”These drink recipes came from Phyllis Memmer, my mother’s long-time (over fifty years) friend and friend of our family. So many things to do with vodka!

Black Bean and Corn Salsa
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
6 tbsp fresh lime juice (I use bottled because I never have limes.)
6 tbsp vegetable oil (I use olive.)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (You can use a mix of the two and can also use dried. Fresh is better.)
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup minced green onion (I frequently don’t have green or even red onion and end up using 1/2 cup of whatever kind I have.)
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 chopped tomatoes
Mix beans and corn. Whisk lime juice and oil. Pour over vegetables and add remaining ingredients. Mix, season with salt and pepper, chill, and serve with tortilla chips.My friend Cathy’s recipe, this also appeared in “Cook’s Choice” fundraiser cookbook Darling Daughter and I created to raise funds for her People to People trip.

Chile Bean Dip
2 cans chile bean soup (specifies Campbell’s Chunky or Manhandlers, which tells you how old the recipe is — just buy what sounds close)
4-8 oz taco sauce (to taste)
1 lg onion, chopped
1/2 of a 6-1/2 oz can of chopped black olives
2 cups shredded cheddar
Layer in shallow dish: soup, onion, olives, sauce, then cheese. Bake until cheese melts and is bubbly. Serve immediately with corn chips or tortilla chips. 
From my mom, Helen Byrd Deuring

Cucumber Piquant
In a pint jar with lid: 2 tbsp sugar, dash pepper, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp celery seed, 2 tbsp parsley, 1/4 cup thin sliced onions
Mix, then add:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp lemon juice
Shake well, then add:
Thin sliced cucumbers, if tender, don’t peel. Place in refrigerator for several hours, turn and shake. There will be plenty of liquid.
From Aunt Eleanor Elsen — This was one of the recipe cards given to me at my bridal shower. Aunt Eleanor and her husband owned and ran Elsen’s Restaurant in Akron for many years.

Daryle’s Cheese Ball 
2 – 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
3 tbsp. finely chopped onion*
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 container of dried parsley (10 oz) or can use fresh
Leave cream cheese to soften a little before you mix it. I put the cream and cheddar cheeses in a large bowl with the onions, then use a butter knife to mix it. When all mixed, form a ball, put on a plate and sprinkle with parsley flakes enough to cover the ball. It takes about 1/2 the container of parsley. Place parsley-covered ball in ziplock and refrigerate overnight. Serve with sturdy crackers. 
*One copy of the recipe says 1/2 cup onion.
Daryle says: “I don’t usually measure the onions. I cut up a small one, so it may be a little more or less. This is a favorite holiday recipe.”

Dill Dip
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayo
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 tbsp dill weed
1 tbsp onion flakes
1 tbsp parsley
Mix all ingredients. Chill for several hours. Serve with raw veg (celery, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli).Another recipe card from my shower, this one from my cousin Karen.

Orange Julius Clone
1 – 6 oz can frozen OJ
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
7-8 ice cubes
5-6 shots vodka (again with the vodka, though here it’s optional)
Combine in blender and blend for 30 seconds. If you use regular OJ, use 1-3/4 cup and omit the water.
This one came from the kitchen of Vivian, a family friend who went to our church.  It’s meant to be similar to a drink served at a chain called Orange Julius. 

Spinach Dip
1 – 10 oz. package chopped frozen spinach
1 cup mayo
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup minced green onion
1 tbsp dry dill weed
1/2 tsp salt
1 round loaf of pumpernickel bread.
Thaw spinach and press out all water. Chop fine in blender or food processor. Stir remaining ingredients and spinach together. Chill several hours. Hollow out bread. Serve dip inside surrounded by bread pieces for dipping. 
From Mom — This remains a popular party dip. And for a change from vodka-based drinks, when life gives you lemons, make …

Whiskey Slushes
1 – 12 oz. can frozen lemonade
1 – 12 oz. can frozen OJ
6 tea bags – 2 cups H2O
1-1/2 – 2 cups whiskey
2 cups sugar
6 cans H2O
Freeze. Pour 7Up over. 
I think I must have had one (or three) of these before I copied my college roommate Beth’s recipe because the directions are vague, as is the memory of drinking them. Of course, it was about forty years ago.