Randel Cooks

Midwest Home Chef

Ellen Hall’s Recipes

Aunt Ellen was a wonderful and loving aunt.  Alden Hall and Ellen Hall’s immediate family included oldest son Micheal, middle son Gary, and the youngest, daughter Cheryl but my younger sister Crystalyn and I would always feel right at home.  Fond memories of Aunt Ellen cooking amazing meals for Thanksgiving New Years and many other gatherings at Aunt Ellen’s house, summers at the farm in Carbondale, or whichever family gathering. 

But my favorite memories are cooking with Aunt Ellen by the campfire on Little Grassy Lake making smores and cherry campfire pies.  Here are some of Aunt Ellen’s recipes written in her own hand from my cousin Gary Hall, Ellen’s Hall middle son.


Aunt Ellen’s recipes in her own hand.


Rolled Dumplings


Hudson Bay Bread


Italian Beef




Soft Gingerbread


Famous Sugar Cookies




Butter Dips


Curry Dip


Drop Dumplings


Ellen and Alden Hall


Grocery List

Great food starts with great ingredients but not all stores are created the same.  Our foods do come from many sources and as I explore and travel I always find that local grocery store to explore.  Here is a list of favorites.



Amish Country Salvage – Awesome collection of expired or near expired food.  Great deals on cheese, refrigerated or frozen foods.  Bring your Yeti ice chest!



Amish Food Locker – Great turkey tenderloins


Louisville – great source of expired or near expired food.  Great deals on canned goods and boxed grocery items with small refrigerated and frozen section


Batavia Cincinnati West Location

Jungle Jim’s International Grocery – Awesome collection of hard to find foods

Fairfield Original Location – Same as original location but less crowded and less volume resulting in somewhat smaller selection of some specialty items

Jungle Jim’s International Grocery

Discount Grocery Stores

National Chains




Copy Cat List

Copy Cat Chick-fil-a Sandwich



Kosher salt (see note)


2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, split horizontally into 4 cutlets

2 teaspoons paprika

2 tablespoons black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon powdered MSG (optional)

1 cup milk

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons powdered non-fat milk

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 quarts peanut oil

4 soft hamburger buns, toasted in butter

8 dill pickle chips


1. Dissolve 1/2 cup kosher salt (see note) and 1/4 cup sugar in 1 quart of cold water. Place chicken breasts in a zipper-lock bag and add brine. Transfer to refrigerator and let sit for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

2. Meanwhile, combine paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and MSG (if using), in a small bowl. Set aside

3. Whisk together milk and eggs in a medium bowl. Set aside.

4. Combine flour, non-fat milk powder, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 2 teaspoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons of spice mixture in a large bowl and whisk until homogenous. Drizzle 3 tablespoons milk/egg mixture into flour mixture and rub with fingertips until the flour mixture is coarse like wet sand.

5. In a large wok, deep fryer, or Dutch oven, preheat oil to 350°F.

6. Remove chicken breasts from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Season on all sides with remaining spice mixture. Transfer to milk mixture and turn to coat. Working one cutlet at a time, allow excess milk mixture to drip off then transfer to flour mixture. Turn to coat, pile extra mixture on top of cutlet, and press down firmly to adhere as much mixture as possible to the meat. Lift cutlet, shake off excess flour, then slowly lower into hot oil. Repeat with remaining breasts.

7. Cook, turning breasts occasionally until golden brown and crisp on all sides, and chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

8. Place 2 pickles on each bottom bun and a fried chicken cutlet on top. Close sandwiches, then cover with an overturned bowl or aluminum foil and allow to rest for 2 minutes to steam buns. Serve immediately.

Dayton Style Pizza

Royal Thin Crust Pizza

by Melissa Slyh • July 22, 2015 • 96 Comments

If you grew up or lived in Central Indiana at any point, you’ve probably had Pizza King pizza. For many of us, it is the BEST pizza around. If you’re not from the area, you probably won’t understand the hype. To me, it tastes like home.

As a lot of you know, there are two types of Pizza King pizza, the Muncie/New Castle region and the Lafayette region. They are both similar, but they do have their differences. I grew up in the Muncie/New Castle region, and that’s the version I prefer.

Since moving from Indiana, I have longed for Pizza King pizza. When I have visited Indiana, I have made it an immediate destination to relieve my craving. We have even mastered the art of bringing some of the glorious pizza back home with us. When family and friends come to visit us in South Carolina, it is our number one request when visitors offer to bring something from home.

While they do offer to ship pizzas, it can be rather pricey. Who can blame them? They’re shipping precious cargo! So for the past year, I’ve been on a mission to create my own version of the pizza. The time has come…


You’re welcome…

Royal Thin Crust Pizza


Pizza Crust:
2 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

*A lot of times I will use a store-bought pizza crust instead of making it from scratch.  I don’t always have the time nor patience to make crust.  Some grocery stores have fresh pizza dough in their deli or bakery areas.  If you choose this route, roll the dough out thinly, and be sure to still prick the dough with a fork to keep it from puffing up during the par-bake.  Cooking temperature may vary depending on what the package states.

Preheat the oven and a pizza stone on 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Crust Flour

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.

Crust Dough

Slowly and gradually stir in the water and olive oil. Form into a ball and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.

Rolled Pizza Dough

Roll the dough out onto a flour dusted surface with a rolling pin dusted with flour. The dough should be pretty thin. Roll it out to about 16 inches in diameter. You can trim the edges off to make a round circle.

ParBaked Dough

Carefully transfer the dough to the preheated pizza stone. Allow the dough to bake for about 5 minutes.

For the Sauce:
1-6 oz can tomato paste (I used Red Gold brand)
6 oz water

Sauce on Pizza Dough
Combine the tomato paste and water and stir well. Using a ladle spread the sauce out on the pre-baked pizza dough. Be sure to spread the sauce clear to the edges of the pizza.

For the toppings:
8 oz ground pork sausage
1 tsp dried rosemary

1/2 tsp fennel seed
½ tsp dried dill
½ cup chopped pepperoni
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped mushrooms
½ cup finely chopped green bell peppers
½ cup finely chopped red bell peppers
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
Extra ½ tsp dried dill

Brown sausage
On medium heat, brown the ground sausage until cooked through. Be sure to break up the sausage into very small pieces.

Using a mortar and pestle, crush the rosemary, fennel seeds and dill. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can rough chop carefully. When chopping with a knife, the fennels seeds tend to flip everywhere. (You could also pulse a few times in a spice grinder.)

Add the seasoning to the sausage. Cook about another minute. Then remove from heat.

Cheese on Pizza Dough

Spread the cheeses evenly over the sauce. Sprinkle the extra ½ tsp of dried dill over the cheese, evenly.

Sausage on Pizza

Next spread the rest of the toppings evenly over the cheese.

Bake on 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-18 minutes.

Royal Thin Crust Pizza

Cut into the famous square shapes.

I hope you enjoy this little piece of home!

Army Recipes

Instant Pot

Thank to my sister, this christmas I have an instant pot.


Soft No Knead Dinner Rolls

Soft No Knead Dinner Rolls

Soft No Knead Dinner Rolls



    • 1 tbsp dry yeast
    • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/2 cup warm water
    • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 cup milk lukewarm
    • 3 1/2 tbsp butter melted and cooled
    • 2 eggs at room temperature and beaten with a fork


    • 1 tbsp butter melted


    1. Place the yeast and 2 teaspoons of the sugar in a medium bowl, then pour in water. Leave for 5 minutes until it froths.

    2. Place flour, remaining sugar and salt in a bowl. Mix to combine.

    3. Make a well in the centre. Add milk, butter, eggs and pour in the yeast liquid, including all froth.

    4. Mix until combined with wooden spoon – it will be like a thick muffin batter. Not pourable, but thick and sticky.

    5. Leave dough in the bowl, cover with a wet (clean) tea towel and place in a warm place (25C/77F+) to rise for around 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until almost tripled in volume.

    6. Line a 31.5 x 23.5 cm / 9 x 13″ tray with baking paper

    7. Remove tea towel and punch dough to deflate, then mix briefly in the bowl to get rid of the bubbles in the dough.

    8. Dust work surface with flour, scrape dough on work surface. Dust top of dough then shape into a log. Cut log into 4 pieces, then cut each piece into 3 pieces (12 in total).

    9. Take one piece and press down with palm, then use your fingers to gather into a ball, flip (so smooth side is up) then roll the dough briefly to form a ball.

    10. This stretches the dough on one side and that’s how I get a nice smooth surface on my roll. (For this step, use as much flour as needed to handle dough and avoid piercing inside into the wet dough)

    11. Place the ball with the smooth side up on the tray. Repeat with remaining dough. Line them up 3 x 4.

    12. Spray surface of rolls (or cling wrap) with oil (any), then place cling wrap over the tray.

    13. Return tray to warm place and leave for 30 – 45 min, until the dough has risen by about 75% (less than double in size).

    14. Partway through, preheat oven to 200C/390F (standard) or 180C/350F (fan/convection).

    15. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, or until the surface is a golden brown and the roll in the centre sounds hollow when tapped. The surface colour is the best test for this recipe.

    16. Remove rolls from oven. Brush with melted butter.

    17. Use overhang to lift rolls onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool to warm before serving.

    Mall Soft Pretzel


    Pretzel Dough
    1 1/2 cup warm water
    4 oz melted butter
    1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
    2 tablespoons brown sugar
    1 1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 cup bread flour
    3 cups regular flour (or less due to humidity)

    Water Bath

    2 cups warm water
    2 tablespoons baking soda


    Coarse pretzel salt
    3 tablespoons sweet butter (melted)**


    Sprinkle yeast on lukewarm water in mixing bowl and stir to dissolve. Add sugar, salt and stir to dissolve. Add flour and knead dough then add butter and knead until smooth and elastic. Let rise at least 1/2 hour.  Note this is a dry firm dough.

    While dough is rising, prepare a baking soda water bath with 2 cups warm water and 2 Tbsp baking soda. Place water and soda in a pan over medium low heat. Be certain to stir often and add enough water to allow pretzels to float.

    After dough has risen, divide dough into 8 portions and roll each portion into a long rope* (about 1/2 inch or less thick and approximately 36 inches long) and shape rope into pretzel desired pretzel shape. Dip pretzel in soda solution, drain and place on  parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

    Bake in 450 degrees F oven for about 10 minutes or until golden. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse pretzel salt. Enjoy!

    * The longer and thinner you can make the dough rope, the more like Auntie Anne’s they will be.

    ** Sweet butter, not regular butter, is one of her secrets!



    I like pizza, 0k I lied, I love Pizza.  Thick, thin, gourmet or grilled.



    Great forum with great advice and check out this neat tool.



    American Pizza Pie

    Hall Family Recipe

    1 quart water @ 100 degrees

    up to neck on old quart jar

    2 T yeast

    4 T Sugar

    combine and rest for 15 minutes

    Add water mixture to Kitchen Aid mixer with dough hook

    Add king Arthur’s bread flour till dough cleans sides of bowl then and 1 t salt and knead for 15 minutes

    Rise for 1 hour or until doubled

    Make 6 12 inch pizzas

    Note for softer crust use oil lined bowl for rise since adding oil to dough will soften the final crust.

    NYC Pizza Pie

    Vasanos Pizza Recipe

    Using some of the above techniques

    Add wood and light your Italian stone pizza oven if not …

    Place pizza stone in oven at highest temp on lowest rack
    Place additional second rack in the highest position

    Place the following into Kitchen Aid Mixer with bread hook

    2 cups filtered water room temp
    2 T SAF instant yeast
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup honey or about 4 T sugar (we like a sweeter crust)
    1 t salt
    4 cups Primo Gusto Pizza Flour (GFS) (more high gluten flour later)

    Mix till combined and the next step is hard to do but necessary
    Let dough rest in mixer for 20 minutes (Autolyse)
    Knead for 5 minutes using 1/3 power (Wet Kneading)

    Add additional high gluten flour slowly until dough pulls from bowl
    Note however dough will be sticky place on floured board

    Rest for initial rise till doubles in size
    Punch down and divide into quarters
    Shape each quarter into dough ball and wait till doubles
    Hand shape into pizza
    Place on wooden peal sprinkled with semolina four

    Cover with toppings (more on this later)

    Hopefully you have wood fired Italian stone pizza oven if not …

    Bake on pizza stone in 550 degree oven until crust is brown
    Place on top race of oven and brown toppings to GBD

    Dough Calculator


    Mellow Mushroom Copy Cat




    Mellow Mushroom

    Dewey’s Pizza


    Lou Malnati’s 

    Gino’s East Pizza

    Pizzeria Uno (original location)



    Wicks Pizza Parlor



    Chains (Ok not great but that do in a pinch or if you are lazy)

    Larosas – Sweeter dough and sauce

    Papajohns – but locations vary – (trick) order the XL !

    Pizza King Station – mainly here for the trains
    The original pizza king
    Another one of the Indiana Pizza Kings
    One of the Indiana Pizza Kings
    Dayton Pizza King

    Best Ever Homemade Flour Tortillas

    Homemade Flour Tortillas, so easy, SO good!


    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • ⅓ cup vegetable oil (coconut)
    • 1 cup warm water


    1. Combine flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the dough hook attached mix dry ingredients until well combined. Add oil (i used coconut oil) and water with mixer running at a medium speed. Mix for 1 minute, stopping several times to scrape the sides of the bowl. After about 1 minute, or when mixture comes together and begins to form a ball, decrease mixing speed to low. Continue to mix for 1 minute or until dough is smooth.
    2. Transfer from mixing bowl to a well-floured work surface. Divide dough in half, then in half again. Continue until you have 16 fairly equal portions. Form each piece into a ball and flatten with the palm of your hand as much as possible. If dough is sticky, use a bit more flour. Cover flattened balls of dough with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes before proceeding.
    3. After rest period, heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Roll each dough piece into a rough circle, about 6-7 inches in diameter, keep work surface and rolling pin lightly floured. Don’t stack uncooked tortillas on top of each other or they will get soggy.  (If you desire very thin tortillas. I used ziplot bag gallon sized cut along both sides to help roll the tortillas very thin)
    4. When pan is very hot 450-500 degrees, place one dough circle into pan and allow to cook about 1 minute or until bottom surface has a few pale brown spots. The uncooked surface will begin to show a few little bubbles. If tortilla is browning too fast, reduced heat a bit. If it’s taking longer than a minute to see a few pale golden brown spots on underside of tortillas, increase heat a bit. Flip to other side and cook for about 30 seconds. You want the tortilla to be soft but have a few small pale golden brown spots on surface. Remove from pan with tongs and stack in a covered container or zippered bag till all tortillas are cooked. This will keep them soft and pliable.
    5. Wipe out the pan in between tortillas if flour is started to accumulate.
    6. Serve warm or allow to cool for later use. When ready to use, place a slightly damp paper towel in the bottom of a container (with a cover) that will hold the stacked tortillas. Microwave, uncovered for 15-25 seconds (start with 15) or until warm, then cover to hold heat while serving.
    7. The tortillas will keep well stored in an airtight container or zippered bag at at room temperature for 24 hours or can be frozen indefinitely. To freeze, separate tortillas with parchment paper or waxed paper and place in a zippered bag before placing in freezer.


    Create a free website or blog at

    Up ↑