2018 – Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – Best of the Recipe Detective is a re-write of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook by her daughter, Laura Emerich (published by Balboa Press, Jan. 2018). This cookbook has 318 pages filled with over 500 of Gloria’s best recipes, Food-for-Thought, inspirational stories, household and cooking tips and tricks, witty jokes, illustrations and historical information on some of the companies whose dishes and products she mimicked at home!
*SPECIAL NOTE: This cookbook was Gloria’s personal favorite of all the ones she’s written. It was recently re-written by Gloria and her daughter, Laura (Pitzer) Emerich. It is currently (as of Jan 2018) published by Balboa Press and available for sale at $20.99 each (also, available as an eBook for $3.99 each)…see: https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252
“Gloria Pitzer was famous for her copycat recipes and their clever sound-alike names. She experimented in her kitchen to recreate popular foods. The first was McDonald’s secret sauce, way back in 1968. At that time, it was an 80-mile round trip from her home to the nearest McDonald’s. Any of her cookbooks is worth owning. They can be hard to find, so buy them when you see them.
Gloria Pitzer died earlier this year. The best tribute I can include is her version of Open Pit BBQ sauce — which will give you the flavour (yep, pun intended) of her style and creativity. She called it (what else?) Open Pitzer BBQ Sauce – Combine 1 cup bottled apple butter, 1 cup ketchup, and 1 cup Catalina Dressing. Mix well. Store in covered container in the refrigerator.”
1998-2004 – Secret Recipes Bulletin was a series written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Secret Recipes, Marysville, MI). There were 7 “Bulletins” in all – most were double-sided, 8½” x 11”, full-page collections of recipes inspired by specific restaurants or “name brands”, plus tips and historic information – that sold for $1 each and are NO LONGER IN PRINT.
Bulletin #101 – Imitations of Old Country Buffet or Hometown Buffet Specialties – 18 recipes
Bulletin #102 – Imitations of Boston Market Dishes – 17 recipes
Bulletin #103 – Imitations of Bob Evans Restaurant Favorites – 17 recipes
Bulletin #104 – 20 Different Cookies from One Recipe! – Based on a basic recipe for a Mrs. Field’s-Style cookie, which Gloria called “Mrs. Meadows’ Soft Cookies”; plus, 20 options to go with it! This bulletin had a one-page, 8½” x 14”, legal-size format.
Bulletin #105 – Imitations of Fred Sanders Favorites – 14 recipes
Bulletin #106 – Imitations of Bill Knapp Favorites – 11 recipes
Bulletin #107 – Imitations of J. L. Hudson Favorites – 11 recipes
1988 – The Copycat Cookbook was written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI). NO LONGER IN PRINT – this cookbook originally had a 120-page, 5.5″ x 8.5″ format with about 484 make-alike recipes of famous favorites not contained within her other cookbooks.
This unique collection includes a little of this and a little of that, imitating menu specialties from Greenfield’s, JL Hudson’s, Chasen’s, Lafayette’s, Frankenmuth, Cincinnati, Mrs. Field’s, Maid Rite, Cinnabon’s and many more! Some of the name-brand recipes are for products such as salads and dressings, pizza, pasta, BBQ, chili, hamburgers, powdered mixes, pies, pastries, sourdough, chicken, shrimp and fish dishes – to name a few!
Over the many years and various printings, the original title remained the same, but the cover changed slightly (shown in the pictures above), as did the size and price of the book. The size changed from the original 5.5″ x 8.5″ format to a 60-page, 8.5″ x 11″ format with over 350 recipes listed. It originally sold for $6 but went up over the years to as much as $9.75 per copy until it sold out sometime between December 2000 & 2001.
Years: Apr 1988 – 2000+
Recipes: originally 484; over 350 listings in the larger format
Pages: originally 120; 60 in the larger format
Size: originally 5.5″ x 8.5″; then, 8.5” x 11” starting with the 12th printing (Oct 1996)
Price: originally $6; up to $9.75 by November 2000
Used copies on eBay: none found
Used copies on Amazon: $50 for the smaller format; $26 for the larger format
ISBN: unknown for original format; 1-886138-04-4 for the larger format
Mrs. Field’s-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies [aka: The Great Imposter Cookies!]
By Gloria Pitzer; from her Spring 1995 newsletter, Secret Recipes Quarterly (St. Clair, MI; p.6 )
Even though these cookies do not appear to be completely baked, do not over bake them or they’ll be like rocks by the 2nd day! Cookies will remain soft in a covered container by adding a few slices from a fresh, unpeeled apple.
1 pound butter (or use ½-lb butter with ½-lb margarine)
2 C packed, light brown sugar
2 C granulated sugar
5 large eggs (or 6 medium)
1 TB vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
6 C self-rising flour
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 ounces MINI semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 ounces milk chocolate morsels
2 C chopped walnuts and/or pecans (optional)
In large bowl, cream butter (and/or margarine) with electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugars, eggs (1 at a time), vanilla and baking soda. Add in only 2 cups of the flour, beating for 5 minutes. Remove beaters and work in remaining flour with sturdy mixing spoon, stirring in chips and nuts last.
Using a 1/8-cup scoop, place dough balls 2 inches apart on a warm, prepared* cookie sheet (see instructions below), slightly flattening each mound with the back of the scoop.
Bake at 350°F for exactly 12 minutes. [Note: Cookies will not look done – very light beige color with definite cracks where wet dough is visible.] Cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing carefully to place on paper towels. These cookies are best after 4 hours of cooling on the paper towels…but, who can wait that long?!
*To prepare cookie sheet: spray it with Pam and place it in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes or until Pam turns brown. Remove pan and wipe with paper towel, leaving a light, but even, film on the cookie sheet. Do not re-grease between cookie batches.
Note: other versions of this recipe, using different measurements or different ingredients like Dream Whip or oatmeal or cake mix, can be found in some of Gloria Pitzer’s cookbooks as well. Gloria’s first imitation of these cookies appeared (with the cake mix ingredient) in her cookbook, The Joy of not Cooking – Anymore than You have To! (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 191).
If you’re new to this site and this blog, let me introduce myself. My name is Laura (Pitzer) Emerich and I started this blog to honor my mom’s legacy as the ORIGINAL Secret Recipes Detective – Gloria Pitzer. Since the early ‘70s, Mom was “busting” the secret recipes of the fast food industry, as well as some “fine” restaurants and grocery products too! As I mentioned in my last blog, “Imitation”, Mom never really knew their exact recipes, but she could imitate them very well!!!
I’ve been writing these weekly blogs, about the many wonderful memories I have of Mom as I was growing up, since this past September. Shortly after starting these blogs, I decided to include one of Mom’s recipes with each one. For the 35-plus years that Mom “worked her business”, she offered (in exchange for a SASE) a sheet of free recipes, along with information on how to order her currently (at that time) available self-published cookbooks, as well as how to subscribe to her newsletters; which were published monthly in the beginning, then bi-monthly and quarterly and back to monthly until she permanently retired it.
Five weeks ago, I shared another blog, “Time to Make the Cookies”, regarding cookies as they related to some of my memories of Mom, and including her make-alike version of one the Famous Amos cookies (with an alternative option.) Rather than repeating those memories, here, with these Mrs. Fields make-alike cookie recipes (below) that Mom also gave out for free (merely asking for proper credit when shared), I thought I’d write about making a new memory.
While surfing the internet around Thanksgiving time, I came across a Martha Stewart link, “8 Steps to Hosting a Cookie Swap”. I hadn’t participated in a cookie swap/exchange since my first two kids were toddlers (in the late “80s!) Anticipating the coming of “the final push” to get all my Christmas cookies made in time for holiday visitors and last minute gift-giving, I planned my first (hopefully annual) Christmas cookie exchange party with some of my girlfriends, who also hadn’t participated in any such event in a long time, if at all. While Martha’s ‘8 Steps’ was a great source of inspiration, I added some of my own ideas too!
I started (as in Martha’s ‘Step 1’) by inviting people. I created a private “event” through my personal Facebook page and invited about 18 girlfriends that were nearby and whom I knew (or thought) liked to bake and socialize (not to discriminate against my male friends who also enjoy baking, but the perk was for female bonding time.) Although, one friend’s “significant other” popped in to share some male bonding with my husband while all of us ladies “cackled” amongst ourselves; which was perfectly fine. Martha Stewart’s link suggested inviting up to 8 friends; but, having hosted other types of parties over the years, I knew that only one-third to half of invitees actually come. So, I invited 18 friends and about 8 people RSVP’d that they could come. Hindsight being foresight, next year, I will probably, also, “snail-mail” personal invitations because not everyone (in my generation) knows about Facebook created events; plus, it’s something tangible that they can hang on their refrigerator or calendar as a reminder.
On the event page, I asked everyone to post what cookies they were thinking about bringing (as in Martha’s ‘Step 2’), so we didn’t end up with 5 people bringing the same type. I suggested everyone bring 8 dozen cookies – no matter how many people actually come, I posted, if you bring 8 dozen of the same type, you’d be taking home 8 dozen of a variety. The more that come, the more of a variety there will be. I also asked that they post their recipe there, on the event page, (or email or text me a copy) so I could print out the necessary copies for everyone attending (instead of them making their own copies, not knowing how many copies to actually make.) However, only a few shared their recipes on the event page or texted me a picture of it in time for me to copy them for everyone.
Instead of making display cards or having everyone make multiple copies of their recipes on cards (as in Martha’s ‘Step 3’) for the cookie table, I bought little “brag books” from my local Dollar Tree store. I found and printed out a cute little cookie jar graphic to put in the cover’s picture window on each book. Then I printed out copies of the recipes that I had received before and at the party, inserting them into the pages of each book – for everyone to each take home from the party as a memento and, in which to continue collecting other cookie recipes.
On my party prep checklist, I forgot to list ‘creating a packaging station’ (as described in Martha’s Steps 4 through 7) for wrapping up all the dozens of cookies that everyone was going to take home. I was going to buy things at the dollar store for this; but I didn’t write it down and, then, was distracted by the crowd at the store, and just wanted to hurry and get out of there with my “brag books” and “door prize” picks. Fortunately, some of my friends must have anticipated this – one brought special Christmas trays on which everyone could to take home their cookies and some others pre-wrapped their dozens of cookies in decorative bags and tins for easy grabbing!
Not listed in Martha Stewarts ‘8 Steps’, but which occurred to me, is to serve snacks. Whenever I host anything (in-bred from my mom), I, at least, serve something to munch on – it’s always an ice-breaker! So, I decided to prepare a bunch of simple finger-food snacks for everyone to enjoy besides the cookie samples. Having hypoglycemia, myself, I knew I couldn’t snack on all that sugar and wanted to offer my friends the same option. One friend, who couldn’t make cookies in time for the party, but didn’t want to miss out on the “girl time”, brought a wonderful spinach dip and crackers for the “snack table” instead. All were welcomed, cookies in tow or not! Afterwards, I found that Martha Stewart did have a follow up to the ‘8 Steps’ regarding finger-foods to serve at your cookie swap – https://www.marthastewart.com/274426/holiday-cookie-swap-finger-foods
As everyone started showing up, I got wrapped up in setting up the snack table, making introductions between those who didn’t know each other and, of course, in the socializing. Thus, I forgot all about putting out the coffee, tea and punch that I had planned (Step 8); but I did have bottled water for everyone (thanks to my wonderful husband – who always has my back – as he brought in a cooler full of the iced-down bottles for all of us!)
Also, not listed in the “8 Steps”, I decided to offer a few “door prizes”. Martha did make mention of voting on a favorite cookie during the test-tasting, but I was debating between having a few cute, little shower-type games for us to play or just drawing a few names from a hat (or something like that.) In the end, because the socializing was going so well and I didn’t want it to stop, I just had my husband draw 3 names out of a bowl containing all the names of the ladies who showed up; and each of those 3 ladies went home with an extra little gift bag from me.
Unfortunately, it didn’t dawn on me until after my first friend left and others were getting ready to do the same that I should have been taking pictures of everyone and their wonderful baked goods! I did get my husband to take one picture of all of us before anyone else left, which I could immediately send to everyone through my Messenger App. Note-to-self: next time, delegate (in advance) someone to be “the photographer”, which wasn’t in the 8 Steps either! Anyway, I hope I created some special new memories for my friends. I know I will cherish the memories of that day, myself, flaws and all! In fact, I am really looking forward to doing it all again next year!
Photo by Laura Emerich, Dec. 14, 2018
In the mean time, this is a picture of the cookie recipe I chose to make for my friends – my mom’s make-alike version of Mrs. Fields Soft Sugar Cookies – as printed on her later “Free Recipes/Information” sheets (2000) under the name “Mrs. Meadows”, along with her make-alike version of Mrs. F’s Crisp Buttery Cookies, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it:
*Special note: I used a 1/8-cup scoop to ball up my cookies and I had about 50 cookies. This recipe says it yields 2 dozen…it should be 4 dozen.
In addition, this is a picture of Mom’s 1985 version of Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies from her older “Free Recipes/Information” sheets, again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it:
Note: Unlike the previously shared “free” recipes in my blogs, the Mrs. Fields make-alike cookies I’ve included in this blog also appeared in some of Mom’s other previously self-published cookbooks and newsletters; but, they didn’t make it into her last cookbook [“Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective”, published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing).]