Jul 292016



The July movie pick @ Food N’ Flix was Popeye, chosen by Elizabeth at The Lawyer’s Cookbook. The cast includes Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, and Ray Walston, who by the way was on one of my favorite tv shows when I was a kid, My Favorite Martian.

I loved the Popeye cartoon when I was a child and was really excited to watch this movie since it’s been many many years since I saw it. To be honest, unlike the first time I watched it, all the singing and “silly” talk got to me a bit. I almost stopped watching it a few times, but I didn’t, and am glad I didn’t. It must have been the mood I was in, because it never bothered me before, in fact I always found it “cute”. Still, when the movie was over, my thoughts were that I loved the movie and wouldn’t mind watching it again.

There were a few times food was mentioned or seen in the movie, other than spinach and hamburgers of course, but the one that grabbed me the most was a conversation between George W. Geezil and  Wimpy. Here’s what was said:



George W. Geezil: What is that glop you’re eating?

J. Wellington Wimpy: It’s a soup burger.
These are difficult times. Burgers can’t be choosers.


So, I decided to make this recipe, which I found HERE, and adapted it a bit.

Burger Soup
1 lb. extra-lean, ground sirloin

1 chopped onion, about 1 cup

2 clove garlic

1 15 oz. no-salt-added tomato sauce

1 14 1/2 oz. canned, chopped, no-salt-added tomatoes

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 16 oz. packaged, frozen mixed vegetables

1/3 cup brown rice, uncooked

In a large pot, cook the meat, onion, and garlic over medium heat until the meat is done.

Drain excess liquid.

Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, broth, mixed vegetables, and rice.

Cover the pot, allow the mixture to come to a boil, reduce heat, and cook 35 minutes or until rice is done.


Popeye Hamburger Soup

I didn’t think this had very much flavor, so I added 1 tsp. each of cayenne pepper, garlic powder & onion powder. That made it a lot better.

This was a good soup. The ingredients didn’t cost much to buy, and it was easy and quick to make. The next time I make it I’m going to use a few each of Yukon potatoes, carrots, and a small bag of frozen peas, and maybe celery, instead of using a bag of mixed vegetables. was good good, but I like to try different ingredients to see which way tastes the best. I served it with a crusty bread which I didn’t take a photo of 🙁

Also linking to:
Weekend Cooking
Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sunday


Jul 162016

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The June/July book selection @ Cook The Books is Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy

I’ve never read this author before so I was excited to read this book.

The book is about Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather who are starting a catering business in Dublin. Add some relatives, friends, and some minor characters here and there and well, I thought there was just too many characters.

It’s a bit longer than what I prefer, and I do think it could have been a shorter and still had the same impact on the reader, but it did flow along well enough to keep my interest.

The book ended rather abruptly I thought, and kind of left me wondering what was next. Overall, this was a good book and I’m glad I read it.

There were so many foods mentioned in the book, and I wrote the name and page number of all the ones that I thought I might make. I finally narrowed it down to  two, Paella, which is mentioned on page 156 and Irish Stew which is mentioned on page 480.  I finally settled on Paella since I’ve never had it.

Here is what is said when the Paella is mentioned:


Tom said that the whole trick for the estate agents’ reception was setting up the Spanish atmosphere. Cathy said that was all very well certainly, but they must have a whole range of tapas to start. Followed by a knockout paella with all the right flavors.


I found a recipe here, and adapted it a bit:
Quick Chicken & Chorizo Paella
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
14 ounces chorizo, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 small onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pimenton or paprika (I used pimenton, which is just smokier)
2 cups short- or medium-grain rice
1 pinch saffron threads
2 bay leaves
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 pounds chicken, cut into chunks (didn’t use)
1/2 cup frozen peas (I used a cup)
1 tomato, chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400°F.
Heat oil in a large casserole or paella pan over high heat.
Add chorizo and cook until browned and fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add onion, red bell pepper, and garlic.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes.
Add rice (medium or short grain rice), pimenton, saffron, and bay leaves.
Stir to combine and coat the rice, about 1 minute.
Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
Add roast chicken, frozen peas, and tomato; stir to combine.
Transfer skillet to oven.
Cook uncovered until rice is tender and no liquid remains, about 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven.
Fluff with a fork and serve immediately.


I had both the chicken and chorizo on the counter to use, but decided to go with just the chorizo. The next time I make it I’ll use just the chicken, then both.

This was really good and very easy to make. The paella was full of flavor and was all I needed as a main dish. The recipe made enough for 6 bowls, so there’s plenty leftovers, saving you from having to cook the next night and/or trying to figure out what to take for lunch.

Cook The Books

Weekend Cooking

Jun 272016

Last week I was searching for sandwiches to see if I could find one I had never tried before. I kept seeing “Monte Cristo” and so I wanted to try one. I had the one I wanted to try, but because I am who I am,  I kept searching and then I found one here. It uses turkey along with ham.

Monte Cristo (I adapted it)
2 slices bread
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
2 slices cooked ham (I used thick sliced Boar’s Head ham from the deli)
2 slices cooked turkey (I used left over crock pot turkey breast)
1 slice Swiss cheese (I used Gruyer)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

Spread bread with mayonnaise and mustard.
Alternate ham, Swiss and turkey slices on bread.
Beat egg and milk in a small bowl.
Coat the sandwich with the egg and milk mixture.
Heat a greased skillet over medium heat, brown the sandwich on both sides.
Serve hot.


Half one

This was so good! The bread was nice and crispy and the flavors of the turkey, ham and melted cheese was amazing. I normally don’t use so much meat, but sometimes you just want a sandwich that’s thick and meaty. Today was one of those days. I only ate half of the sandwich because it was so filling. I’ll eat the other half tomorrow for lunch. The next time I’ll make it with thin slices from the deli and see which one I like the most.

Try it, you’ll like it!

 Linking to:
Jun 112016
Crock Pot Chicken Thighs With Vegetables
Adapted from this recipe
1 cup chicken broth
12 medium chicken thighs
1 1/2 tsps leaves dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground curry powder
1 package mixed vegetables

Rinse chicken and remove skin, leaving the bone in.

Place a layer of thighs in the bottom of the crock pot.

Sprinkle with seasonings. Repeat until all thighs are in the pot.

Pour a cup of chicken broth down the side of the pot, being careful not to disturb the seasonings.

Cook on low setting of crock pot for 6 hours.

Add mixed vegetables, recover and cook for 1 1/2 hour or until vegetables are heated through.

I had a pack of 12 boneless skinless chicken thighs thawing in the fridge so I checked online to see what I could make with them and found this recipe. The original recipe called for turmeric which I thought I had, but I didn’t, so I used curry powder instead. I had a bag of frozen vegetables in the freezer which had peas, baby carrots, baby corn, and sugar snap peas so that’s what I used.

The original recipe said to cook on high for 4 hours, but I like cooking with the crock pot on low, so I cooked it for 6 hours. After I added the vegetables I cooked for an hour but they were still not warm enough, so I cooked for another 30 min. or so.

This was SO good! The seasoning on the thighs stuck really well and I thought it was perfect. If you don’t like your food really spicy you might want to cut back a little on the seasonings.

The chicken was mostly falling apart and it was all very tender. You could eat the chicken and vegetables without the broth, but I added quite a bit and it was more like a soup or stew.

This was really quick and easy to prepare, and was very yummy. I liked it so much I had it the next day for lunch. I will be making it again.




Hosted @ Kahakai Kitchen

May 302016


This week at I ♥ Heart Cooking Club it’s time to make a recipe with ingredients grown locally. Black-eyed peas are grown in Florida during this time so I chose this recipe. I love black-eyed peas!

Black-Eyed Peas and Greens Soup  (adapted from this recipe)
1 lb. boneless country pork ribs, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 1-in chunks (I used boneless pork chops)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 white onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp. Winn-Dixie crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup cider vinegar  (I used white wine vinegar)
1 tbs. dark brown sugar
6 oz. Winn-Dixie dried black-eyed peas, rinsed
2 bunches green kale, (about 1 lb.) stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
Season pork generously with salt and pepper

Heat a large heavy pot over medium-high heat until hot

Add 2 tbs of oil and pork and cook, turning occasionally, for about 6 minutes, or until browned all over

Using a slotted spoon, transfer pork to a plate

To pot, add remaining 2 tbs of oil, onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes

Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until onions soften

Add vinegar, sugar, 1 tsp of salt, and 10 cups of water and bring to a simmer

Return pork and any of its accumulated juices to pot

Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes

Stir in black-eyed peas, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, or until peas have softened slightly

Working in batches, add kale, letting each addition wilt before adding next

Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until pork and beans are tender

Season soup with salt and pepper

Ladle into bowls and serve


I had all the ingredients on hand and the pork chops were getting close to the “use by” date so I cooked them the way the recipe said and then stored in a baggy in the fridge until I was ready to make the soup. I  added it back to the pot when the recipe said to. I was afraid being cold for a few days would make them tough, but they simmered in the soup and  were so tender and yummy. I thought this soup was amazing, but my son thought it was a bit too spicy, so next time I make it I’ll cut back on the red pepper flakes. I’ll also use less kale because we both thought there was too much compared to the amount of peas. I made cornbread to go with the soup.

This is another “will make again” recipes!

Also linking to:
May 142016

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This week at I ♥ Heart Cooking Club we’re making any recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi. I decided to make:

Seriously Zesty Bread Salad (adapted)

5 oz.  rustic bread,stale or fresh (I used ciabatta)
Salt and pepper
2 small cucumbers (15cm long), cut into 2cm pieces (I used 1)
3 tomatoes, cut into wedges (I used 1)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (I used 1/4, and cut them up in small pieces)
1 red pepper, cored and cut into large pieces (I used 1/2)
1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped (I used dill)
2 tsp sumac (optional)(I didn’t use this ingredient)
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon (I used 1/4)
1 garlic clove, crushed (I used 1/2)
1 1/2 tsp red-wine vinegar (I used 1 tsp.)
3 tbsp olive oil (I used 1 1/2 tbs.)

Preheat the oven 325F

Spread out the bread on a roasting tray, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with some flaky salt

Bake for 20 minutes until crispy and golden, then leave to cool

Mix all the other salad ingredients and adjust the seasoning to taste. Just before serving, mix in the toasted bread, using your hands


YUM! I loved it! It was light and fresh and one of the best tomato/cucumber salads I’ve ever tried. I loved the toasted bread, it gave the salad a nice crunch. It was simple to make and had easy to find ingredients. I plan on making this again!


I’m linking this recipe to:

I ♥ Cooking Club

Weekend Cooking

Souper Sundays 

May 082016


Ha! I just noticed that it looks like I have the top buns on the wrong bottom!

Mini Baked Ham Sandwiches (adapted)

1 pound Deli ham shaved
1 pound Swiss cheese thinly sliced
1 stick Butter
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Minced onion dried
1 12-pack KING’S HAWAIIAN Original Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls

Melt butter and mix in mustard, sauce and onion.

Cut the entire pack of rolls in half, horizontally (keeping all top and bottom halves separately in tact).

In a 9×13 inch pan, place bottom half of rolls and cover with ham and cheese.

Cover ham and cheese stacks with top half of rolls.

Drizzle butter mixture over top of rolls, making sure onion is evenly distributed.

Refrigerate over night.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes and, once finished, separate for serving.
I wasn’t paying much attention when I bought the ham and cheese because I didn’t buy 16oz. like the recipe says. I only bought 12oz. each. I also bought the ham and cheese from the grocery section because I didn’t want to stand in line at the deli counter.

My take:
I thought they were really good but had too much of a mustard flavor so next time I’ll use less dijon mustard. I like lots of meat and cheese so next time I’ll make sure I buy the right amount. And, even though we liked the ham and cheese, I’ll stand in that long line next time.

He thought they tasted good, didn’t think there was too strong of a mustard taste and didn’t mind that there was less meat and cheese. Of course he never eats more than one piece of thin meat on his sammies, and rarely eats cheese, except for burgers. That’s ok, more for me.

Final thoughts:
Will definitely make these again.


Hosted @ Kahakai Kitchen

Apr 292016


Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup
1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 28 oz. can Rotel (diced tomatoes & green chilies)
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 package taco seasoning

Combine all ingredients except chicken in slow cooker and stir.
Place chicken breasts on top.
Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Prior to serving, remove chicken breasts, shred them, and return to soup.
Garnish with low-fat sour cream & shredded cheese, avocado, cilantro, etc.
Serve with warm corn tortillas.

Oh boy did I adapt this recipe!
1. I used 3 large breasts.
2. I left out the can of tomato sauce and the onion.
3. I added a package of ranch dressing mix.
4. I used two cans each instead of one of the 3 beans and the corn.
5. I used 2 taco seasoning mixes.

When it was time to take the chicken breasts out and shred them, I took half the soup (no chicken) out of the slow cooker and put it in a container to freeze.

I garnished with sour cream, chopped onion, shredded mild cheddar cheese.

When I want it for dinner again I’ll take it out to to thaw, add a pound of browned ground chuck and reheat it.


This was really good, lots of taco flavor and the ratio of the ingredients was perfect. I was going to eat a hard crusty bread with it but we had some left over cornbread from the night before and Anthony said he was going to eat that instead. So I did too, not sure I’d like it with the soup. I shouldn’t have worried, they were really good together. Anthony buttered his and then crumbled it up in his bowl. I just ate mine buttered, but did occasionally dip it in the soupy goodness.

This got a thumbs up from both of us.

wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads


Hosted @ Kahakai Kitchen

Apr 262016

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I missed the I ♥ Heart Cooking Club theme for recipes by Curtis Stone that you can eat on the couch. Since I already bought the ingredients I decided to make it this week for Potluck.

I love healthier snacks to munch on while I’m watching tv,  and with it being so hot and humid these are perfect. Especially after a walk outside.

Frozen Chocolate-Peanut-Butter Banana Bites
Makes 30 pieces
3 ripe large bananas
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60 percent cacao), chopped
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Peel bananas & slice them into 1/4-inch-thick rounds; you should have about 60.
Lay half the slices on prepared baking sheet.
Using 2 spoons, place 1/4 tsp. peanut butter on each slice.
Top with remaining banana slices.
Cover and freeze until bites are completely frozen, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, place chocolate in a small bowl and set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.

Stir chocolate until it has just melted.

Spoon about 1/2 tsp. melted chocolate over each frozen banana bite and quickly sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. peanuts before chocolate hardens.

Serve immediately, or arrange the bites in single layers between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container and freeze until ready to eat. Bites will keep for 1 week.


I adapted the recipe a lot. I used crunchy peanut butter because that’s the only kind I’ve ever bought. I used walnuts because I don’t really like peanuts, and I cut the recipe in half because I’m the only one who will eat them. I used two bananas and they made 18 bites.

Yummy, Yummy Yummy! And btw, my son did try them and he said they were really good.

Sorry for the out of whack photo.

Apr 162016


Mexican Taco Salad

Taco Casserole (adapted from this Betty Crocker recipe)

1 lb lean ground beef
1 can (16 oz) Old El Paso™ refried beans
1 jar (16 oz) Old El Paso™ Thick ‘n Chunky salsa
1 package (1 oz) Old El Paso™ 40% less-sodium taco seasoning mix
2 1/2 cups coarsely broken tortilla chips
1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped (didn’t use)
4 medium green onions, sliced (I used a yellow onion)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (4 oz)
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives (um, nope)
1 cup shredded lettuce

Heat oven to 350°F.

In 12-inch skillet, cook beef over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked; drain.

Stir in refried beans, salsa and taco seasoning mix. Reduce heat to medium. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.

In ungreased 2-quart casserole, place 2 cups of the broken tortilla chips.

Top evenly with beef mixture.

Sprinkle with bell pepper, onions, 1 cup of the tomato, the cheese and olives.

Bake uncovered 20 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly and cheese is melted.

Top baked casserole with lettuce, remaining 1/2 cup tomato and remaining 1/2 cup tortilla chips.


This was really really good. Even my son who doesn’t like any kind of taco stuff other than the taco salad I make, liked this. He’s not a fan of tomatoes that are baked so did say next time he’d like the tomatoes added after it was baked. I love them baked so I’ll probably just leave them out of half when I make it again. If you like stuff like this, give this a try. It was so good.


wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads
Apr 082016


This week at I ♥ Cooking Clubs, we are saying G’day to Curtis Stone. We can make any recipe from online or one of his cookbooks to welcome him to IHCC.

Since I LOVE Brussels Sprouts and am always looking for new ways to make them, I decided to try this recipe but adapted it a bit:

Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved and tough outer leaves removed
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/3 cup diced Spanish chorizo
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small heavy skillet, stir the caraway seeds over medium heat for about 2 minutes, or until toasted and fragrant. Transfer the seeds to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind to a powder.

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, then add the Brussels sprouts, scallions, and chorizo and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the Brussels sprouts are tender and beginning to caramelize. Mix in the ground caraway. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.





I can’t tell you how much I love Brussels Sprouts. Yes I can, a lot. A whole lot. A bunch.

So, I didn’t have any caraway seeds so I substituted curry. Yum! I also couldn’t find any fresh Brussels Sprouts so I used a bag of frozen, and I couldn’t find any bulk chorizo so I used chorizo sausage. I probably could have found these ingredients if I had wanted to store hop, but I didn’t. And I don’t think this could have tasted any better if I’d followed the recipe exactly as it’s written. It was yummy.

I had never had Chorizo before and wasn’t sure if I’d like it, especially with Brussels Sprouts, but this was so good. My son doesn’t like Brussels Sprouts at all and I couldn’t get him to try them, but he did try the chorizo. He liked it, said it was good other than it was tainted by Brussels Sprouts 🙂

I’ll be making this again, but will cut the recipe in half, maybe even in thirds, since I’m the only one that eats it. This was a win!

Also linking to
wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads

Mar 192016

08179569-be5b-4ee8-968b-2842b0e5426aKung Pao Pork Stir Fry

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
About 1 lb of boneless pork chops, sliced into chunks
10 tbsp Panda Express Kung Pao sauce
Half a bag of Sugar Snap Pea Stir Fry frozen vegetables (2.25 cups)
1/2 onion cut in chunks

Put olive oil, garlic and a small part of the chopped onion in a large frying pan or wok to heat on medium.

Chop pork into chunks, removing large parts of fat as necessary.

Add to pan with olive oil and 2 tbsp of Kung Pao Sauce.

Once pork is cooked through, add remaining onions, frozen vegetables and remaining Kung Pao Sauce.

Stir and fry until vegetables are cooked and sauce is bubbly.

Serve with brown rice or noodles as desired.


We thought this was just ok. It didn’t have the kick we thought it would, the sauce was a bit too runny, and it didn’t have enough veggies. If I make it again, I think I’ll use chicken (just because I love chicken), use a thicker sauce, and double the veggies. Overall it was ok, but I think these changes will make it even better.

I know the photo makes it look like there was plenty of veggies, but that’s because I didn’t put many pork chop chunks in my bowl.

wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads
Feb 202016


This week at I ♥ Cooking Club we’re making any recipe by any of the IHCC chefs that you can eat in a bowl

I decided to make Giada’s One Pot Chicken Stew, and adapted it to suit us, of course.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks celery, cut into bite-size pieces
1 carrot, peeled, cut into bite-size pieces
1 small onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 chicken breast with ribs (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
1 (15-ounce) can organic kidney beans, drained (rinsed if not organic)
Crusty bread, for serving


Heat the oil in a heavy 5 1/2-quart saucepan over medium heat.

Add the celery, carrot, and onion.

Saute the vegetables until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, chicken broth, basil, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme.

Add the chicken breasts; press to submerge.

Bring the cooking liquid to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently uncovered until the chicken is almost cooked through, turning the chicken breasts over and stirring the mixture occasionally, about 25 minutes.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken breasts to a work surface and cool for 5 minutes.

Discard the bay leaf.

Add the kidney beans to the pot and simmer until the liquid has reduced into a stew consistency, about 10 minutes.

Discard the skin and bones from the chicken breasts.

Shred or cut the chicken into bite- size pieces.

Return the chicken meat to the stew.

Bring the stew just to a simmer.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle the stew into serving bowls and serve with the bread.


So, I changed this recipe up a bit by putting all the ingredients into the slow cooker at the same time (instead of making it on the stove) and setting it on low for 8 hours.


It turned out great and was very good. I couldn’t find any fresh basil at the store, so I used dried. The conversion called for 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons, but that seemed like way too much, so I only used 1 tablespoon.  That was plenty. Next time I’ll make sure I have fresh though, just to compare it.

We ate it with crusty bread and it was really yummy. It was quick and easy too, so I plan on making it again.

wkendcookingHosted @ Beth Fish Reads

Souper Sundays2

Hosted @ Kahakai Kitchen

Feb 062016

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This week at I ♥ Cooking Clubs we’re making Oodles Of Noodles with Ellie Krieger. After doing quite a bit of searching, I decided to make an adapted version of her Family Favorite Minestrone.

Family Favorite Minestrone
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced (1/2 cup)
1 large carrot, scrubbed well, then diced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces), diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
28 ounces canned, no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
48 ounces (6 cups) no-salt-added vegetable broth or chicken broth
15 ounces canned, no-salt-added small red beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup dried, whole-grain elbow pasta
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish


Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion, celery, carrot and bell pepper; cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften.

Add the zucchini, garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and broth; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Partially cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, then add the beans and pasta.

Uncover; increase the heat to medium-high just long enough to return the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, until the pasta and vegetables are tender.

Divide among individual bowls; garnish each portion with the cheese.

Serves 6


So yummy!

I’ve only eaten Minestrone a few times, and that was canned. This recipe was so much better. I loved it. It was easy to make and didn’t take much time and it tasted so good! The next time I make it I think I’ll add garbanzo beans, corn and baby spinach. We had a French Baguette (you can see it in the first photo behind all the ingredients) to go with it and it was a very satisfying meal. I took the photo before adding the cheese, just so you could get a good look at the soup. I adjusted the recipe a bit by adding 2 cans of un-rinsed beans instead of one rinsed (I added the other can after the picture), and used plain Parmesan cheese. Also, I was going to use vegetable broth but the store only had chicken and beef with no-salt added.


Jan 312016


It’s time for the first Potluck of 2016 for  I Heart Cooking Club

I spent about 3 days searching through the recipes of the chefs and finally came across this one. We love mac & cheese so I was excited when I found it. I was extra excited when I realized I had all the ingredients in my fridge and pantry.

Rick Bayless: Salsa Mac & Cheese
Recipe from Season 7, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 8

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa or your favorite salsa
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound dried pasta (though elbow macaroni will do, I suggest you try cork-screw cavatappi or the spiral rotini or fusilli)

Pour 4 quarts of water into a large pot, cover and set over high heat.

In a medium-size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour and whisk until the mixture turns a deep golden, about 2 minutes. Add the milk and continue to whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and comes to a full boil, 4 or 5 minutes. (Whisk diligently and there will be no lumps.) Stir in the salsa, remove from the heat, then stir in cheese. Continue stirring until all the cheese has melted. Taste and season generously with salt, usually 1 1/2 teaspoons. Cover to keep warm until the pasta is done.

When the water has come to a boil, add the dried pasta. Stir well to keep the pasta from sticking together and boil until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly and add the pasta to the sauce. Stir until all the pasta is covered in the salsa cheese sauce. You’re ready to dig in.

Rick Bayless Mac & Cheese

I substituted the salsa for my second favorite (my very favorite has corn and black beans in it and I wasn’t sure how that would work) and used elbow macaroni since that’s what I had.

The mac & cheese turned out really good and I plan on making it again. I also want to try some of his other recipes since this is the first one I made. You can visit his site here.


I made this for I Heart Cooking Club


Jan 162016


This recipe is from Nestle’ Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels Best Loved Recipes



*Photo from the book*

Layers Of Love Chocolate Brownies

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup Nestle Toll House Baking Cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut in pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet White Morsels
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
3/4 cup Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease an 8 inch baking pan
Combine flour, cocoa and salt in a small bowl
Beat butter, granulated sugar & brown sugar in a large mixer bowl until creamy
Add two eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
Add vanilla extract and mix well
Gradually beat in flour mixture
Reserve 3/4 cup batter
Spread remaining batter into prepared baking pan
Sprinkle pecans and white morsels over batter
Drizzle caramel topping over top
Beat remaining egg and reserved batter in same large bowl until light in color
Stir in semi-sweet morsels
Spread evenly over caramel topping
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until center is set
Cool completely in pan on wire rack
Cut into squares
Makes 16 brownies


wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads

Jan 012016

Every year for New Year’s Day, I make a pot of black eyed peas, cornbread and cabbage. This year I wanted to make them a little different so I searched online and found these recipes @ Mommy’s Kitchen

Southern Black Eyed Peas
1 – (16 oz) package dry black-eyed peas
4 – cups water or
2 – cups water and 2 cups chicken broth
1 – tablespoon vegetable oil
1 – ham hock
2 – cups cubed cooked ham
salt and pepper to taste
1 – pinch garlic powder
1/2 – 1 onion, diced
1 – (14.5 ounce) can whole or stewed tomatoes (pureed)

Sort through your peas for any pebbles or stones.

Cover the peas with water, you want to make sure there is enough water so they don’t dry up.

Soak peas overnight.

Drain the water from the peas and place peas in a crock pot.

Add the 4 cups water or broth and water, onions, seasoning, tomatoes, ham hock and ham.

Stir well to mix.

Cover and cook on high for 5 hours then turn to low for about 2 hours or until the peas are tender.

Remove ham hock and any meat from the bone and add to the peas.

Ladle into bowls and serve.

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Southern Pan Fried Cabbage
3 – 4 – slices bacon, cut into pieces
1/4 – cup vegetable oil
1 – teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 – teaspoon ground black pepper
1 – head cabbage, cored and sliced or cubed
1 – small onion, chopped
1/2 – cup water
1 – pinch white sugar
2 – beef bouillon cubes crushed or granules

Place the bacon and vegetable oil into a large pot over medium heat.

Cook for about 5 minutes, or until bacon is crisp.

Add cabbage, onion, sugar, salt, pepper, water and crushed bouillon cubes to the pot; cook and stir the cabbage as it cooks.

Cook until tender but still crisp, about 10 – 15 minutes on medium heat.

I’ve never soaked beans overnight and was a bit worried about them being bloated in the morning, but they weren’t. For the recipe, I used 2 cups of water and 2 cups of chicken broth. I’ve also never put any kind of tomatoes in beans, but since I love me some maters I was excited to see how they’d turn out. For the cabbage I used 1 large bouillon cube and crumbled it up. Man oh man, both the beans and cabbage were soooo good! My son ate two big bowls which surprised me since he’s not really a fan of tomatoes, and I always have to nag him before he’ll eat cabbage, but he tried it without me asking him to. And he ate it all!

We both loved these two recipes and I’ll  definitely be making them again.


wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads

Dec 262015


Celebrating Family and Friends: Recipes for Every Month of the Year
by Kay Robertson

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Howard Books; Reprint edition (April 7, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1476795738
ISBN-13: 978-1476795737

From New York Times bestselling author, star of A&E’s Duck Dynasty, and matriarch of the popular Robertson family, comes a savory new collection of recipes that gives you and your family plenty of reasons to sit down together and share a meal, love, and laughter.

Miss Kay is a master of the back-country, home-cooked meal. She has been cooking ever since she was a little girl and has perfected her skills through years of practice on the Robertson clan. After sharing some of her family’s favorite recipes in Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Kitchen, Miss Kay has gone back to her cupboard and pulled out more of her down-home, mouthwatering recipes, this time grouping her recipes around reasons to get together—New Year’s Eve spreads, special Mother’s Day meals, Fourth of July picnics, Christmas dinners, church potlucks, and everything in-between.

In addition to more than one hundred recipes, Miss Kay opens her heart to share hard-won wisdom and special memories, along with beautiful full-color photos and family pictures. And true to the Robertson faith, you’ll find scriptures sprinkled throughout Miss Kay’s newest collection of recipes.

Take a peek into the off-camera life of America’s favorite duck-loving family, the foods they love, and the wisdom and legacy that make a family strong.

This book is full of recipes for every month of the year starting with January. It has all the big days like Valentine’s Day, Mother & Father’s Day etc., but it also has recipes for other days like Wedding and Baby Showers, Picnics and Summer Fun, Grandparent’s Day, Family Reunions and Potlucks.

This is a book that I’ll go to from time to time when I need a recipe for a special occasion, and I would definitely recommend it to others.

I’ve made a pot of Black Eyed Peas every year for New Years day with only a few years missed. So when I saw this recipe in the book, I wanted to keep a copy of it and maybe give it a try because it has more ingredients than the one I have. I don’t know about your but it sounds really good to me. Check it out:

A Pot Of Black Eyed Peas
1 lb. dried black eyed peas
1 tbs. bacon drippings or vegetable oil
1 large or 2 small ham hocks
1 med. onion , chopped (about 2 cups)
2 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 green bell peppter, diced (about 1 cup)
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups chicken broth or water, plus more as needed
2 sprigs (3 inch) fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 tbs. salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp. cayenne, or to taste

Place the peas in a large bowl and add cold water to cover by 3 inches
Let soak at room temperature overnight
Drain, rinse, and drain again
Heat the bacon drippings or vegetable oin in a large pot
Add the hock and sear until browned on all sides, about 1 min. per side
Remove from the pot and set aside
Add the onion, celery and bell pepper
Cook, stirring often until tender, about 5 min.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 min. more
Add the drained peas and enough broth or water to cover them by 1 inch
Return the ham hock to the pot and push down into the peas
Add the thyme nad bay leaves
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partioall cover, and simmer until the peas are almost tender, about 30 min.
Make sure the top of the peas don’t cook dry
Add more broth or water to keep them slightly submerged as they cook
Stir in the vinegar, salt, pepper and cayenne, and continue simmering until the peas are tender and the liquid is thick and creamy, 10-20- min more
Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaves
Remove the hock and pull any meat from the bones (discard bones)
Finely chop the meat and stir into the peas
Check the seasoning and serve warm

It’s od to think that dried peas and beans can get too old, but they can. If they don’t get plump and tender enough to bite after soaking, then no amount of cooking wil make them fully tender.

A note from Miss Kay:
Black eyed peas are only one type of field pea. Try this recipe with others that you like, such as crowder peas or purple hull peas This dish is a must on New Years Day!


wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads

Nov 132015


An Old-Fashioned Christmas: Sweet Traditions for Hearth and Home by Ellen Stimson

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Countryman Press; 1 edition (November 2, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1581573286
ISBN-13: 978-1581573282

With its trademark snow, piney forests, sleigh rides and woodsmoke curling out of village chimneys, New England was practically invented for the Christmas postcard. It’s got your Christmas goose and the maple syrup with which to glaze it. It’s most of the reason author Ellen Stimson made Vermont her home. Here she shares recipes that have been in her family for generations, mixes up a cocktail or two, and invites readers to make their own traditions.

I love this book! I love the cover, the stories, the recipes and the photos.

This is one of the few Christmas-y books I absolutely love. It has a lot of great stories, some touching, some funny, and lots of yummy sounding recipes.

I grew up in Ohio where there was usually a lot of snow during the winter, and this book made me more homesick than I already was. I loved reading the stories and didn’t want the book to end.

One of my favorite stories was when one of the family members had been misbehaving and they all were feeling bad with colds and a little bit of fever. John got the book SantaLand Diaries by David Sedaris and they all took turns reading while eating cold fried chicken. What could have been a very bad day turned into a day filled with laughs and good memories.

This is the first book by Stimson that I’ve read, but I’d like to read her other two books. I like her writing style and her wit, and think I’ll probably enjoy them too.

This is a book filled with good memories, good food, and gives you a good feeling. Even if you aren’t a fan of Christmas books, I think you’d enjoy this book for it’s great sounding recipes.

I’ve never liked the taste of beets, but I’m willing to give them another try. Here is a recipe from the book:
Electric Beets
1 large bunch of beets
1 bunch of green onions
olive oil
1 tablespoon sour cream
sea salt

Fill a pot with enough water to cover the beets at a high boil
Rinse beets, cut off the top and roots
Place beets in boiling water and boil until fork tender
Drain beets and peel them with your hands under running cold water
Slice into 1/4 inch thick slices
Dice bulbs & tops of green onions, gently saute’ in olive oil for 3-4 min.
Add beets to the pan, toss, and saute’ until they are heated through
Add sour cream and mix until the entire dish is bright pink
Plate and finish with sea salt


6988633Ellen Stimson is a bread and butter homecook … possibly more butter than bread. Her house and table are usually full to overflowing with friends, family, and a whole bunch of folks who have come to Vermont just to eat at her table and listen to her stories. During one particularly misguided period, she churned out her justifiably famous mac and cheese from the kitchen of what was possibly the oldest country store in America. That tale was told in the hilarious bestselling Mud Season. She cooks and writes about the whole divine and delicious catastrophe from a farmhouse in Vermont.

For More Info:
Amazon | Goodreads | Author’s Webi | Facebook | Twitter


Giveaway: I have one copy of the book to giveaway (US/Canada)
To Enter:
Leave a comment with your favorite family Christmas tradition.
US/Canada Only
Don’t forget to leave your email info
Ends November 19


Tour Stops:

Monday, November 9th: Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, November 10th: (Never) Homemaker
Wednesday, November 11th: Bibliotica
Thursday, November 12th: Under My Apple Tree
Friday, November 13thI’d Rather Be at the Beach
Monday, November 16thI Wish I Lived in a Library
Wednesday, November 18thMajorly Delicious
Wednesday, November 18thOpen Book Society
Thursday, November 19thThe Things We Read
Monday, November 23rdSharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Tuesday, November 24thTime 2 Read
Wednesday, November 25thSatisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Friday, November 27thJoyfully Retired
Monday, November 30thBroken Teepee
Wednesday, December 2ndgirlichef
Friday, December 4thA Chick Who Reads


tlc tour host (5)
wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads