Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tea Room Recipe #45 - Idyl Hours Tea Room (Cypress, Texas)

Some recipes, frankly, have such a bizarre combination of ingredients that you a) wonder how on earth this could work and b) suspect that it just might. That's the case with this week's delightful recipe from a small tea room in Texas.

Tea room cookbooks are just so fun to read. Idyl Hours Tea Room in Cypress, Texas closed in 2009, but the tea room's owner, Stella Riley Pinson, has compiled some of the tea room's favorite recipes and made them available in a cookbook on Amazon, which is where I found my copy of "The Idyl Hours Cookbook." Here is what she says on her Amazon page: "This isn't a book of recipes for high tea. This is a book of recipes from a little tea room in Texas. It's peppered with local history, artwork, and photos." I love how she spelled that out, because some folks are still unaware that American's earliest tea rooms were not Victorian tea parlors with lace doilies and three-tiered servers. That may be what we think of today, yet I think it's important to honor past tea room history by acknowledging the hardworking women (and men!) who had the gumption to open quaint little restaurants where travelers, and locals, could stop and enjoy a nice meal. Also, Pinson's story of how she came to acquire the tea room is a great read!

And the recipe I decided to make from this book was fun and easy to cook! If I told you to spice up some baked chicken with a combination of apricot preserves, French dressing and onion soup mix, would you be skeptical? I was, and yet somehow I had a hunch this could work. For one thing, the tea room entrees I have tried this year have all been wonderful. In fact, only one tea room recipe so far this year turned out to be a dud. (Which one? Well, it was a dessert, a chocolate cake recipe from a tea room in Mississippi. This thing turned out to be so dreadful that my husband tossed it out in the yard for me, and he later admitted upon inquiry that even the critters wouldn't touch it. Our critters obviously have standards.) At any rate, this week's tea room recipe is most certainly *not* a dud, and I hope you'll give it a try!

Almond and Apricot Baked Chicken

1 envelope dry onion soup mix (store brand is fine)
1 (16-ounce) bottle Ken's Country French dressing
1 (18-ounce) jar apricot preserves
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, add the onion soup mix, French dressing and apricot preserves, stirring with a wire whisk until combined well. Using a 9x13-inch pan prepared with cooking spray, spread one-third of the sauce mixture. Add chicken breasts to the pan, then pour the rest of the sauce evenly on top and bake for 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt butter and sugar over medium-high heat, until the mixture is bubbling. Add almonds and stir constantly until all the almonds are coated well. Remove from heat and set aside until chicken has cooked. Use the caramelized almonds as a garnish when chicken has finished baking. Serve over rice if desired.


  1. That sounds unusual but delicious. And pretty, too!

  2. I just totally adore your blog, Angela. This is amazing and sounds exotic and I def wish to make this soon.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. I like the combination of ingredients for the chicken and it couldn't get any easier. It would be tasty served over rice and a nice entree to serve company.
    I sure wish I could be one of your recipe samplers Angela. ;-)

  4. Yummm! And I am smiling at the "dud" being thrown into the yard and no critters even eating it. Amazing!

  5. Wow. I'm so honored! You featured my cookbook! Did you ever eat at the tea room?

    Thank you!

    1. Stella, I am only now seeing this comment, but I wanted to let you know that no, I have eaten at your tearoom only in my dreams … and I'm so glad you shared your recipes with those of us who didn't have the pleasure of eating at your tea room in person!


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