Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nana's Bean Soup (Family Recipe)

A cold day and a bowl of hot soup are a great match.  Digging into my Nana’s recipe box once again, I found this family favorite.  I vaguely remember her making this soup as we rarely visited Pennsylvania during the cold months – I always stayed a few weeks during the summer!  I do however remember Nana teaching my mom this recipe.  It was one of my parent’s favorites.  Funny that as a child I didn’t care for soup so much but as an adult I absolutely love it, and these family recipes are the best.  Even though I didn’t eat the soup as a child, the smells that fill the entire house bring back all those memories of family togetherness….


1 ½ lbs. dried Navy Beans (rinsed and soaked overnight)

1 small head of cabbage (finely chopped)

2 ham hocks or ham bone with some left over ham. (I usually use the latter)

3 medium potatoes (peeled and diced)

1 large onion, chopped

Water to cover ham bone or fill 2/3 pot

Salt and pepper to taste


1.    Place ham bone/hocks in large soup pot add the water, set on stove on high. 

2.    Add beans, onion, potatoes, cabbage and salt and pepper to taste. 

3.    Bring to a boil, then turn to simmer for 3-4 hours.

4.    Stir occasionally, add water if necessary.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nana's Raisin Bread

This is a family traditional recipe that just the smell of this bread baking stirs more memories than my mind can handle.  Great memories of sitting in the picture window of 34 Graystone Lane, Levittown, Pennsylvania with my Nana slicing raisin bread to eat with our hot tea.  There are also the memories of my mother’s kitchen with her Mother-In-Law supervising the kneading and baking process of the bread.  These two women were extreme influences of who I am today because of the love they showed me. (If it weren’t for that great love they’d killed me long ago!)  The Raisin Bread recipe was ALWAYS used at this time of the year – Christmas.  We didn’t leave milk and cookies for Santa when I was growing up.  We left him Raisin Bread and Egg Nog! 

The aroma of Raisin Bread baking in the house will cause a man to gnaw his arm off if it were keeping him from the bread.  This bread is an ALL DAY work of love, maybe which is why it tastes so wonderful!

The ingredients:

5lb bag all purpose flour

½ lb light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp salt

1 heaping tsp cinnamon

1 heaping tsp allspice

1 heaping tsp ground cloves

½ cup of molasses

½ cup of milk
2 Tbs instant coffee

3 packs dry yeast (rapid rise)

1 ½ lbs raisins

3 eggs

4 cups of potato water (water from boiling potatoes for mashed potatoes)

1 cup of Crisco shortening

The Directions:

1.     Soak raisins in a large bowl with hot tap water for 30 minutes then drain.

2.    In a small bowl put yeast 2 Tbs of sugar and 1 ½ cup of water (check yeast instructions for water temp - usually 120-130)

3.    In large bowl pour half of the flour, and other dry ingredients making a hole in the middle of the flour.

4.    Add 2 ½ cups water, eggs, shortening and yeast mixture to the hole and let stand until little bubbles start forming. (mine took about 20 minutes)

5.    Add flour and raisins a little at a time.  Knead until it won’t stick to fingers and forms into a ball which is springy to touch.

6.    Cover bowl and keep warm until doubles in size (about 2 ½ hours)

7.    Cut into separate loaf sizes, then roll into loaves and place into greased and floured pans.

8.    Cover and let rise to double in size again.

9.    Bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes.  Remove from pans and spread tops with Crisco or Margarine.

* Note - this batch did not turn out with quite the same texture as hers, (didn't rise enough) but it sure tastes like hers!
     ** After I made this batch I was putting the recipe back in my grandmother's recipe box.  I was looking through the box of recipes (slips of paper, index cards, magazine clippings, on is actually written on a grocery store recipt and another on a church bulletin!) and I found on a slip of note pad paper a list of ingredients and at the top was written RAISIN BREAD.  It only had the ingredients listed as is customary for my Nana.  She knew what to do with the ingredients once she had them!  You see the other recipe that I used was compiled from my mother and my aunt from trying to watch and make Nana's bread over the years.  The differences in the two recipes are: 1/2 cup of molasses, 1/2 cup of milk, POTATO water, 3 eggs instead of 2, and a cup of granulated sugar.  Using these requires having a little extra flour to use to make the kneading process, but that is probably why my Nana always had a huge tub of flour on her bread table...


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Shrimp and Grits Casserole (Personal servings)

Crock pot grits for breakfast plus broiled shrimp for supper can add up to only one thing…


I took the leftover grits and put them in a bowl adding a bit of salt and pepper.   I sautéed some chopped green pepper and onions in a little olive oil.  Chopping the leftover shrimp and adding it with the sautéed vegetables, I mixed all of it with the bowl of grits.


Spray two ramekins with Pam and sprinkle some sliced green onion into the bottom of the ramekins. (this will be the top when it is finished!)  Pack the ramekins with the mixture - then refrigerate.

Next morning, I preheated the oven to 350.  I placed a ¼ cup of grated cheddar cheese on top and baked for 25 minutes. 

Enjoy!  I did!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Classic Minestrone Soup - Slow Cooker Style

This soup (prepared by my wonderful bride) comes from the magazine all*you, with a couple of seasoning twists of our own.  When we came home from work the house was filled with a wonderfully appetizing aroma!

2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes with liquid
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tsp basil, dried
1 tsp oregano, dried
1 cup small shell pasta (or elbows)
2 cups of chopped/shredded Kale
1 15oz. can Cannellini beans (or Navy/great northern)
Parmesan cheese, for serving.

1- Combine carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in a slow cooker.  Pour in broth and stir in tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil.  Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.
2- Thirty minutes before serving, stir in pasta, kale, and beans.  Cover and increase heat to high, cook for 30 minutes or until pasta is tender.  Taste to determine if more salt or pepper is needed.  Make six equal servings, and top with parmesan cheese. 

Nutrition: 219 calories per serving, 2g fat (0 sat.fat), 0mg chol., 8g fiber, 13g protein, 40g carbs,

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fall Dessert - Pumpkin Pudding

1 15oz can Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin
2 boxes of Jello Fat Free-Sugar Free instant pudding
3 cups Skim milk
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin spice


Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix completely for about five minutes with an electric beater.

Spoon into pudding cups and refrigerate for an hour or longer.


Makes 5 ½ servings at 128 calories per serving (eat the last half serving in the bowl for all your hard work!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

One box Super Moist SPICE Cake mix
   (the powder contents – not the eggs, milk, oil, or whatever the box says add)

One 15oz can Libby’s Pure Pumpkin (not pie filling)

Blend with mixer the pumpkin and cake mix until completely mixed.  Place two heaping tablespoons of batter into muffin tins sprayed heavily with non-stick cooking spray.
Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
If desired, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.  (These calories are not in my totals)

Yield: 24 muffins
98 calories per muffin
Less than 2 g fat per muffin

Turkey Smoked Sausage and Sweet Potato Casserole

• 3 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
• 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
• 3 egg whites, beaten
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 Smoked turkey sausage, cooked and sliced

Mix sweet potatoes with applesauce, egg whites, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon into a shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dish coated with non-stick spray. 

Arrange sausage slices on sweet potato mixture.

 Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes.

Makes 6 servings

Each serving is under 350 calories.  Serve with a side salad!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Black Bean and Mushroom Chilaquiles

This vegetarian concoction comes from Crock*Pot Comfort Food Diet Recipes and is a perfect fit for my busy Meatless Monday supper.  I put it all together before heading off to work, and come home to a wonderful smelling house with supper ready to go!

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 bell pepper (red or green), seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes
1 package of fresh white mushrooms, sliced
1½ tsp.  Ground cumin
1½ tsp. Dried oregano
1 cup shredded cheese ( I use a low fat/reduced fat cheddar or Mexican blend)
4 green onions, sliced
3 small Italian tomatoes chopped
6 cups Baked Tortilla chips


Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat.  Add onion, pepper and jalapeno.  Cook until softened, stirring occasionally. (about 3-5 minutes)
Transfer over to your crockpot sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Add mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, cumin and oregano.  Mix all ingredients well in the crockpot.
Cover and cook on LOW for six hours, or HIGH for three hours.
When ready to eat remove lid, add cheese and stir.  Wait ten minutes then serve in bowls over the coarsely crushed tortilla chips.  Top with green onions, fresh chopped tomatoes and a touch more cheese.
Makes about 6 1½ cup servings
Calories: Just under 350 (includes chips)


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Creamy Shrimp Pasta

 lbs. Shrimp, medium-uncooked, peeled, and deveined
1 lb. box Rotini Pasta
1½ Onions chopped
Bell Pepper - 1 Medium chopped
Fat Free Cream Cheese, 4 oz
Olive Oil, 2 tbsp
2 cups of Broccoli florets, Fresh,
2 tsp Kraft Parmesan cheese 100% Grated
Mushrooms, white, 1 cup sliced
2 tsp. Basil, dried
1 tsp. Oregano, dried
15oz can Chicken Broth

In a large pot cook pasta according to package directions.

While pasta cooks:

Heat oil in a large skillet over med-high heat.
Add onions, peppers, mushrooms and cook until softened 3-5 minutes. (Add salt and pepper to taste)
Add chicken broth, oregano and basil - bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add shrimp and stir occasionally. 

Add cream cheese - continuously stirring in the cream cheese.

Reduce heat and stir in Parmesan cheese and broccoli.

Drain and rinse pasta, and add to skillet. Mix well.

Serve with a small salad and enjoy!

This dish is under 400 calories

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Southwestern Chicken Chili

This is a meal that is great for a break from traditional chili and stews.  It's superb for those Saturday night tailgating at home dinners as it can be made a day or two in advance then reheated!
(Don't freeze it though, unless you add the pasta after thawing.)

1½ Bone-in split chicken breast  
1¼ cup of uncooked pasta (elbows or small shells)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
1 can of light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups of V-8 juice
1 can tomato sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel mild or regular your choice)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Place two or three chicken breasts in a large pot and add just enough water to cover the chicken.  Add some salt and pepper to the pot with a bay leaf if you have it.  Bring to a boil on high then reduce to simmer for about an hour.  While chicken cooks chop veggies and rinse canned corn and beans.   Remove chicken to cool.
While chicken cools, cook pasta according to package directions then rinse and drain.

Pick chicken from the bones of one and half of the breasts.  Pull it apart to shred.

Heat a Dutch oven or large skillet heat olive oil over med-high heat.  Add onions, peppers and garlic.   Cook until tender.  Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil.   Once boiling reduce heat to simmer and allow to cook for about 15 minutes. 

Serve with toasted Arnold Sandwich Rounds, sliced.


Makes six equal servings at about 325 calories each.

(To make it kid friendly – finely chop the onion, large chop the green pepper, and use regular diced tomatoes.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Greens, Beans and Turkey Bacon Soup

This recipe is derived from the original which comes from one of my favorite cookbooks and the creators of Cooking Light magazine- Fresh Food Fast-weeknight meals.   I have made a few adjustments from the original version in order to lighten in a little more and use fresh kale and onions.


3 slices Turkey bacon, cut crosswise into ¼ inch pieces

3 cups of fresh chopped Kale

2 ¼ cups of water

1 (15oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 (14.5oz) can of 99% fat free chicken broth

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin

½ cup of mushrooms

1 ½ tsp. Olive oil, divided

Salt and Pepper to taste


Cook bacon in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven over Med-high heat until crisp.  (Using turkey bacon I add a ½ tsp of olive oil in this.)

Once bacon is crisp, add the remaining olive oil and onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook until softened.  (Appx. 3 minutes)

Add chicken broth, water, beans, and kale along with a little salt and pepper. ( I use a lot of pepper)

Kale is high in beta carotine, vitamin C, and rich with calcium

Rinsing and Draining removes up to 50% sodium

Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to simmer for 30 minutes.

It's quick, it's easy, and it’s even better the second day!  I make it a day in advance and use it for my lunches! 

This healthy and delicious soup is right at 200 calories per 1 2/3 cups servings.

Serve with a slice of toasted crusty bread!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Jamaican Ox-tail Stew

On a mission trip to Jamaica, I learned this recipe from sticking my head in and asking the cook questions about what she was cooking. I was graciously welcomed into her kitchen and given a seat to listen and watch.

Note- this is an all day stew to make the house smell wonderful.

Ox-tails, raw about 2lbs.
2 cans Diced tomatoes and green chilies (drained)
Tomato Paste 1 small can
2 cans large Lima Beans (drained)
2 medium Onions
Baby Carrots, raw, 20 medium cut into chunks
Garlic, 1 clove sliced thin
Mushrooms, fresh, 1.5 cup slices
Olive Oil, 2.5 Tbsp (divided)
Beef broth, fat free 1 qt.
All Purpose Flour 0.25 cup
Jalapeno Peppers, 1 pepper (seeded and chopped)

Lightly flour the ox-tails.
Heat 1.5 Tbsps. oil in a large Dutch oven over med-high heat.
When oil is hot, add oxtails - brown all sides, then add beef broth. (A little water may be added to cover the tails)
Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for 4-5 hours.
Check occasionally stirring the mixture.

After simmering, take a pair of forks and remove the remaining meat from the bones. Discard the bones.

Rich Broth!
Chop veggies, seed pepper, slice garlic.
In a seperate skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. oil.   When hot add garlic and jalapeno first for one minute stirring, and then add onions, carrots and mushrooms.

Stir frequently to crisp tender (five minutes or so).

Add this to the Ox-Tail mixture and stir.

Drain tomatoes and beans. Add to the Dutch oven and stir.

Allow stew to simmer another 45 minutes to an hour.

Cook rice according to package directions in a separate pot or rice cooker.

Serve stew over 1 cup of cooked rice.