Our Family's Chicken Pastina Soup


1 cup diced chicken breast (rotisserie is convenient) 
4 large carrots, sliced
1/2 box Pastina Pasta
64 ounces of  prepared Chicken broth (or one large can)
2 tsp minced onions   (optional)
1 TBS Parmesan cheese
2 tsp Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste


In a pot saute the onions (if you are using them) in a tbs of olive oil for a few mins until translucent. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the carrots and cook until slightly soft.  

Pour in the Pastina and continue to boil about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, parsley, cheese and salt and pepper to taste, turn the temp down to low to slightly simmer. Put the lid on, wait a few minutes and then, soups on!

**Some ideas**
 When I make soups with any pasta lately I have been cooking the pasta separately and then adding it to each serving. The pasta tends to swell up and make all the leftover soup starchy and also absorbs all of the broth. If this happens, you can just add more water to thin it out and test for flavor with salt and pepper. Even adding a bullion cube if necessary. It's easier to keep the pasta separate unless you don't intend on having leftovers :-)


Shauna Yosef's Banana Bread Muffins (via Pinterest)


4 large very ripe bananas mashed
1 egg (beaten)
½ cup sugar (you could use more if you like them REALLY sweet but the bananas are sweet enough)
⅓ cup butter, melted
1½ cups plain all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda 
½ teaspoon salt

Streusel Topping (not necessary! but it's what I made)

½ cup plain flour
¼ cup brown sugar
½ stick (57 grams) cold butter
¼ teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350F. Mash bananas and add the lightly beaten egg, sugar and butter and mix well to combine and set aside. In another bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and whisk well. Add nuts or chocolate or whatever add-ins you want to the dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until nearly all the flour has disappeared. Overmixed muffins are tough.Pour into greased cupcake pans (add streusel if you wish) and bake for about 20 minutes. Touch the tops and if they spring back, they're done.

Streusel Topping

Place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until it's streuselly. (or crumbly) If you don't have a processor, a fork works just fine - or your fingers.


Lentils with Beef and Vegetables


2-3lbs of beef sirloin, cut into small chunks
5 large carrots, sliced
4 celery stalks, sliced 
1 large white onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag of lentils
2 quarts of beef stock
4 TBS tomato paste
3 TBS Worshishire sauce
2 Bay leaves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper


Rinse and drain the lentils out very well in a colandar.
Put a pot of water on to boil with salt added.  Cook the lentils for 10-15 until they are soft but have a little bite. Drain, put back in the pot, on warm and put the lid on.
In a large heavy bottom pan or dutch oven, brown the meat in olive oil until browned. Remove the meat from pan and add in the vegetables. Add salt and pepper and mix in with the oil/juices. Cook until onions are translucent and veggies begin to brown. Add in the tomato paste. Blend in with the veggies with a wooden spoon. 
Throw in bay leaves and pour in the beef stock and Worshishire sauce.  Bring to a low boil, add the meat back in, simmer with the lid on for a good hour. 
Check the tenderness of the meat and carrots and taste for any needed salt, pepper etc...
Some people will add the lentils right into the pot, but I keep the cooked lentils on warm in a seperate pot and put a few spoonfuls of them in the bowl and top with the hot broth, and put the meat and veggies over them. I do this also with any noodle soups and any other soups with pasta.  


Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad:

Recipe and pictures courtesy of Carol Riggs Walz 


12-ounce pack Spiral pasta (I used Wacky Pack Veggie Spiral Pack)
3 chicken breast, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 chopped tomato, or a handful of cherry tomatoes chopped in half
12 pieces bacon, cooked hard and crumbled
1 zucchini shredded

1 scallion finely chopped for garnish

I doubled this and used at least 2 3/4 cups

1 pack Ranch Dressing (the original recipe called for 1 teaspoon dry Ranch dressing Buttermilk Recipe)
1 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Here’s what you do:

Mix together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, Ranch dressing pack, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder.


Season chicken with salt and pepper and bake for 30 minutes in the oven 350 degrees.
Cut the chicken breast up into bite sizes,
Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
In a large bowl, combine the chopped chicken, cooked and drained pasta, ranch dressing, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, zucchini, and 8 pieces of bacon cooked hard and crumbled, reserve the last 4 to crumble on top

Mix well and serve or refrigerate.


Baked Salmon with Red Pepper Cream Sauce


2-3 Salmon filets
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 tbs butter
1 tbs evoo
1/2 cup half and half  
(I used fat free 1/2 and 1/2)
1/2 Tbs minced garlic
1 Tbs chopped parsley
1/2 Tbs chopped shallots
pinch of red pepper flakes
Black Pepper



Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a medium saute' pan, heat the butter and olive oil.  Add in all of the ingredients 
except the half and half. Let cook, stirring often, until softened. Slowly pour and 
stir in the half and half. Lower temp to let simmer and let reduce, about 15 minutes.  

Brush the filets with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper 
and place in a glass bake dish sprayed with non-stick spray. 

Bake for 15 minutes, then spoon the red pepper sauce over the top and baked 
another 15 minutes. 


Valerie's Tarragon Beef Pasta with Mushrooms

Recipe and picture courtesy of Valerie Alava Ross 

This is similar to Beef Stroganoff....but not. More of a French or Italian feel. Tarragon always reminds me of French cooking. Of course, in this particular case I made fresh 
fettuccine...most definitely Italian. Perhaps its intercontinental. Maybe fusion? It was good and the sauce would go with any type of pasta...you could even switch out the 
pasta for rice or potatoes. It would work.

1 lb ground beef
1 large onion chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
bunch of fresh chopped Tarragon (1/2 cup?)
tsp + Kitchen Bouquet (sauce/gravy enhancer)
2 tsp (?) cornstarch and a bit of water for a paste
tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp Better than Bouillon and 1 1/2 cup water (or 10 ounces of beef stock/broth)
2 - 3 tbs (?) sour cream
Cooked Pasta

Cook the onion in a bit of olive oil for a couple minutes till translucent. Add ground beef and cook till browned thru. Add garlic and cook for a couple minutes more. Drain 

excess fat. Add broth of Beef Better Than Bouillon and water. Add a couple tsps cornstarch (?) to a cup and add a bit of water. Add to mixture on stove top. Stir well. Add 

Worcestershire sauce and Kitchen Bouquet. Cook on med heat a few minutes more. Sauce will start to thicken. Add more water if need be. Add sour cream, salt and pepper to 

taste. Add chopped Tarragon. Toss sauce in fresh cooked pasta. Top with more fresh Tarragon.


Hasselback Potatoes recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond


8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Stir together the butter, olive oil, chives and some salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Place a potato between the handles of 2 wooden spoons or 2 chopsticks. Slice the potato into thin slices, leaving 1/4 inch at the bottom unsliced; the spoon handles will prevent you from slicing the potato all the way through. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.
Put the potatoes on a baking sheet and brush on the butter mixture, making sure to get in between all the slices. Bake until tender and crisp, 55 to 60 minutes.

Video:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/hasselback-potatoes.html#lightbox-recipe-video


Homemade Gorgonzola/Bleu Cheese Dressing

Recipe and picture courtesy of Valerie Alava Ross 

1/2 cup Gorgonzola or Bleu cheese crumbles
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
splash Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup buttermilk or milk.
*measurements are approximate*

Combine all ingredients - let sit at least 1/2 hour before serving


Italian Style Beef Soup


1 large steak, cut into small pieces
½ large red onion, chopped
6 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cans or 1 bag frozen whole green beans
2 cans or 1 bag of frozen sliced carrots
2 48 oz cans beef broth
1 lb mini shells or ditalini pasta
3 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Italian seasoning, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper to taste


In a large soup pot on high, cook the beef and onions in the olive oil until browned, then add in the garlic. Saute' 5 minutes or so.

Season well, add diced tomatoes, stir to combine. Add in the beef broth, cover and bring to a full boil. Lower temp and and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Check for seasoning again, then bring back to a boil and add in the pasta. Cook as directed on package. Add in the carrots and string beans and lower to simmer.

Serve with grated cheese on top.

This makes a very large pot, cut everything in half to make less. 


Cream of Tomato and Basil Soup

Recipe and pic courtesy of Valerie Alava Ross


2 large cans of San Marzano Tomatoes 
1 med onion diced
Bunch of fresh chopped basil
Squeeze of agave nectar (or a couple tbsp reg table sugar)
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan (add more to taste)
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil
Splash of cream

Sauté onion in a bit of olive oil in a heavy stock pot. Cook till tender, 3 - 4 minutes. 
Add San Marzano tomatoes. Cook on med heat for 5 - 10 minutes. With a stick blender, mix the soup in the pan till the tomatoes are broken down. Can use a reg blender if need be. A potato masher will work in a pinch, but soup will be more chunky. 
Add Parmesan, a big splash of heavy cream and chopped basil. Mix well. Add salt, pepper and more Parmesan to taste. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and fresh basil.


Honey Dijon Crockpot Chicken

Recipe and pic courtesy of Chandra Graham 

I used a honey dijon dressing, added extra mustard, minced garlic, olive oil, honey, pepper, and basil. 
Cooked on low for almost 6 hours. I made rice and broccoli too that I poured the juice/sauce over


Beef Pot Roast


  2-3 lb Top round or Chuck Beef "roast"
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons each minced or chopped onion and garlic
Onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, oregano, paprika, thyme
2 tsps flour
Olive oil


In a large crock pot, pour in a little olive oil and 1 cup water. Rub the roast in olive oil and season with all of the listed seasonings. Place in crock and cook on high for about 3 hours or until you see a lot of liquid accumulated. 

Pour out most of the juices into a glass bowl. Re-season the roast and put back in on Low for another 2 hours. 

Remove the roast and spoon off all of the fat.  Whisk the flour into the juices in the bowl . Add the roast back in and pour gravy over the roast. 

Cook another hour or so until it comes apart with a fork.  

I have recently discovered that when using the slow cooker with meats that draining the excess liquid out halfway through and res-seasoning the meat, makes a more flaovorful, less soggy and watered down dish. I wish I had tried this long ago. So much better!


Chicken and Dumplings



·         2 TBS olive oil

·         4 boneless chicken breasts, 6 thighs or 1 whole rotisserie chicken
(can also substitute with Turkey)
·         5 stalks celery
·         5 carrots
·         1 large white onion
·         2 quarts of Chicken broth or stock
·         3 cups water
·         2 tsp dried thyme or 4 TBS fresh
·         3 bay leaves
·         ½ cup of flour
·         4 TBS butter

Dumplings:(can substitute all ingredients for Bisquick with just mix/milk and Thyme)
·         2 cups flour
·         1 TBS baking powder
·         ½ tsp baking soda
·         6 TBS unsalted butter, melted
·         ¾ cup buttermilk
·         2 TBS chopped fresh parsley, some reserved


Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Brown in batches, 4 to 6 minutes per side. If you are using a premade chicken, chop up into large chunks or shred it with a fork and set aside.  Transfer to a plate and in the same pot add the butter, let melt then add the celery, carrots, onions and Thyme, season with salt and pepper, stir and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

Add the chicken broth, bay leaves, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Shred the chicken with 2 forks or cut into small chunks and return it to the pot. In a separate small bowl, whisk together ½ cup of flour, 2 cups of the cooking liquid, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Slowly whisk the flour mixture back into the pot and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Make the dumplings: Whisk together the 2 cups of flour, baking powder, baking soda, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk in the butter, buttermilk and parsley. Reduce heat to low and drop the mixture into the broth in 8 large spoonful or 16 smaller spoon fuls. Simmer, covered, until the dumplings are firm, 10 mins for larger one and about 5-8 for smaller ones. Serve sprinkled with parsley.


Valerie's Home Made Sloppy Joes

Recipe and picture courtesy of Valerie Alava Ross

Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground beef
Small onion chopped
2 stalks celery diced
Small red pepper chopped
5 -6 cloves garlic minced 
1/2 tsp cumin 
1/2 tsp chili pepper
1 tsp salt
Cayenne pepper
Red pepper flakes 
Black pepper
1/2 cup - 3/4 cup ketchup
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dry mustard
Tsp yellow mustard
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water


Brown ground beef and drain excess fat. Sauté veggies till tender. Mix in ground beef, seasonings, ketchup, tomato paste, brown sugar and mustards, mix well. Add water a bit at a time till it's the right consistency. Add additional salt as needed. Serve on toasted buns


Lisa's Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Vegetables

Recipe and picture courtesy of Lisa Miles O'Connor


I used a 3.5 lb eye round roast and did a dry rub around the whole roast of black pepper, salt, onion powder and garlic powder mix. Two medium onions and cubed them to bite size, 12 yukon gold potatoes and cubed them and used the already peeled small bag of carrots about 3/4 of a small bag. I mixed the veggies and put a few layers on the bottom and then I put the roast in the middle of the crock and surrounded it with the rest of the veggies and potatoes. I used about 3/4 of a largest can of beef broth to bring it to about 2 1/2 inches from the top of the crock. I turned on high for 2 hours, then on low for 8 more hours. I took out the roast, veggies and potatoes and kept the broth in the crock and added flour to thicken the broth to a gravy with a whisk. Put the veggie/potatoes back in crock on high for 10 minutes while carving the roast and served. The recipe I saw read 5 hours on high or 8 hours on low but I left it in a little longer for a more well done roast. It was so tender and had enough for the next few nights as well. Hope you like it.