Treasures & Tips to Health & Happiness

little tid bits that add a touch of happiness to your life

Soups, Salads & Sides

 = My family's favorites!

  1. Baked Mac & Cheese 
  2. Quick Jamaican Rice & Peas 
  3. Broccoli Cheese Soup & Pasta 
  4. Bacon Wrapped Asparagus 
  5. Sweet Potato Pancakes 
  6. Broccoli Salad 
  7. Black Bean Soup 
  8. Baked Ziti 
  9. French Onion Soup 
  10. Chili 
  11. Coleslaw (UPDATED 03/24/2009)
  12. Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup 
  13. Chicken Tortilla Soup 
  14. North African Chickpea Soup 
  15. Cheesey Corn Mac & Cheese 
  16. Baked Potato Soup
  17. Salads
  18. Sweet Potato Fries
  19. Broccoli & Rice

Baked Mac & Cheese

1 tablespoon vegetable oil                                                                                                       1 (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni                                                                                   8 tablespoons butter                                                                                                                1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese                                                                                             1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese                                                                                  1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese                                                                                 2 cups half-and-half                                                                                                                 8 ounces cubed Velveeta                                                                                                      1/4 teaspoon salt                                                                                                                   1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper                                                                                      ½ cup dried bread crumbs                                                                                                   ½ cup Parm Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F .  Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain well and return to cooking pot.   Add 6 T butter; stir macaroni until butter melted.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the half and half and cubed processed cheese.  Mix until melted.  Add in the rest of the shredded cheeses, season with salt & pepper.   Stir until melted.  Pour over macaroni, mix well.  Transfer to a lightly greased deep 2 ½ quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs & parm cheese and 2 tablespoon of butter.  Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until hot and bubbling around the edges; serve.

Posted 07/24/2009

Quick Jamaican Rice & Peas

2 C white rice (not instant is preferred)                                                                               3 sprigs Thyme                                                                                                                        2 cloves garlic                                                                                                                           2 stalks scallion                                                                                                                      1 T each salt & pepper                                                                                                             1 can green pigeon peas with coconut milk                                                                          3 1/2 cup water (Or use the required amount for the rice)                                           1 Scotch bonnet pepper

Pour the rice in the Rice Cooker.   Combine the water with the green pigeon peas with coconut milk into the pot.  Be sure the rice is completely covered with water.  Add the salt, pepper, thyme, Garlic and scallion.  Place Scotch bonnet in the pot.  Turn on the rice cook.  Serve once the rice cooker has completed cooking. Do not keep the rice cooker on warm as it will burn the bottom of the rice.

If you do not have a rice cooker, follow these instructions using a pot on the stovetop:  Combine the water with the peas in the pot and heat to boil.  Add rice and stir to completely combine.  Reduce heat, add s&P, thyme, garlic, scallion and Scotch bonnet pepper to the pot, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Posted 07/20/2009

Broccoli Cheese Soup & Pasta

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup fresh pre-diced onions
2 (14-oz) cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 (14-oz) box deluxe macaroni and cheese dinner
12 oz fresh broccoli florets (rinsed)
1 (10.75-oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 (10.75-oz) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
1 cup toasted cheese snack chips
1 large zip-top bag

Preheat large saucepan on medium 2–3 minutes. Place oil in pan; swirl to coat. Add onions; cook 2–3 minutes or until tender. Add broth; cover and bring to a boil for pasta. Measure 1 cup of the macaroni pasta from dinner kit (reserve remaining pasta for another use); stir pasta into boiling broth. Boil 9 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until tender.

Meanwhile, microwave broccoli (in bag or in microwave-safe bowl) on HIGH 2–3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Whisk together in medium bowl, both soups and cheese sauce (from dinner kit).

When pasta is tender, stir in soup mixture (do not drain pasta or discard broth). Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in broccoli. Cook 7–10 more minutes, stirring occasionally, or until soup is thoroughly heated. Place cheese snack chips in zip-top bag and crush coarsely; sprinkle over soup and serve. (Makes 8 servings.)

Posted 06/16/2009

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

This recipe was submitted by my good friend and site member, Melanie Sonier.  Thanks Melanie!! 

1 Bunch of Asparagus
Bacon slices (uncooked)
Brown Sugar
Wrap about 3 or 4 pieces of asparagus with a strip of bacon and place in a baking dish. Finish rest of asparagus bundle. Sprinkle entire baking dish with brown sugar and bake at 350 degrees until bacon is done. About 25 minutes or so. Not exactly the most figure friendly recipe BUt totally awesome!  Hope you like it!!

Posted 06/06/2009

Sweet Potato Pancakes

I am experimenting with making my own baby food and found this recipe on

2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
1 egg (or 2 egg yolks)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (use graham flour for a nice taste!)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk (or more)

Mix sweet potatoes in a mixing bowl with egg. Stir in the flour and add the baking powder. Add up to 1/3 cup of milk while stirring. Stir in 1 tbsp butter.
The mixture should have the consistency of thick, lumpy sauce like an "instant" pancake mix.
Place a non-stick or heavy iron skillet over medium heat on top of the stove and add 1/2 tsp butter.

Spoon batter into the skillet and cook until bubbles rise to the surface of the pancakes and break. Approx. 1 to 2 minutes.
Using a spatula, flip the pancakes and cook another 2 minutes.
Remove pancakes from the skillet and keep warm on a covered plate in the oven. Freezes Well!

Posted 05/22/2009

Broccoli Salad

4 c. fresh chopped broccoli (approximately 1 head)

 ½ lb bacon, fried & crumbled (or 1 jar real bacon bits)

1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

½ c. sunflower seeds

½ c. diced red onion

1 c. mayo

2 tlbs vinegar

1/3 c. sugar


Chop broccoli into bite-size pieces.  Add to large mixing bowl and set aside.

In small mixing bowl, combine mayo, vinegar and sugar; mix well.  Add cheese, onions, bacon and sunflower seeds to broccoli.  Pour dressing over and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Posted on 03/28/2009 for 03/30/2009

Black Bean Soup

12 oz. dried black beans

8 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 cup carrots, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Fresh cilantro (optional)


Rinse and sort though black beans, discarding any that are

shriveled or discolored. Place beans in a large stockpot.

Cover beans with water and refrigerate to soak overnight.

Drain beans and return to stockpot.

Add stock and heat to boiling.

Meanwhle, heat olive oil over medium−high heat in a large

skillet. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and saute until

tender, approximately 5 minutes. Add to stockpot along with

oregano, thyme, bay leaf and cayenne pepper.

Cover stockpot and reduce heat to simmer for 3 to 4 hours.

Transfer soup to blender or food processor and puree to

desired thickness. Just before serving add lime juice and

garnish with a sprig of fresh cilantro, if desired.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.


Posted 03/24/2009

Baked Ziti

2 lbs. Ziti (uncooked)

2 lbs. Ricotta Cheese

3 Oz. Grated Romano Cheese

3 Cups Tomato Sauce

1/2 Teas. Black Pepper

1 1/2 lbs. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese


Cook Ziti according to package directions − 12 to 14 minutes until al dente stirring often. After cooking, drain ziti well, but DO NOT RINSE OFF UNDER WATER!   

While Ziti is cooking preheat oven to 350F. Combine ricotta, romano, tomato sauce (reserve 1/4 cup) and pepper in large mixing bowl.

Gently combine cooked ziti with cheese/sauce mixture.  In a 13"x9"x2" pan, spread the 1/4 cup reserved sauce.  Add ziti and top with mozzarella cheese. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake until mozzarella is thoroughly melted

(about 12−15 minutes). Serve with garlic bread and additional sauce if desired.


Posted 03/21/2009

French Onion Soup

2 Tablespoons butter or margarine

4 cups sliced onion

3 cups beef broth

1−1/2 cups water

1 Tablespoon cooking sherry

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 dash dried thyme

1 cup soft croutons

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Add onions and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beef broth, water, sherry, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and thyme to pot. Increase heat and bring to boil, and then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Divide into bowls. Top with croutons, then mozzarella. Broil until cheese melts and begins to brown.

Posted 03/18/2009


1 Can Pinto Beans                                1 Can Black Beans

1 Can diced Tomato                             1 Can Tomato Sauce

1lb Ground Turkey or Beef (Browned) 

Chopped Onion (as much or little as you like)                         

Beef or Chicken stock                          2T Chili Powder

1tsp Ground Cumin                              1tsp Garlic Powder

1tsp Onion Powder                              salt & pepper to taste

add a couple pinches of cayenne pepper to kick up the heat level.


Mix everything together in crock pot (don’t drain the beans).  Add enough stock to make the chili as thick or thin as you like.  Simmer on low for several hours (good one to leave on all day while at work). 


Helpful Hint:  Cook the hamburger the night before while your making dinner for that night, put everything together in the crock pot, and put it  in the frig.  Then all you have to do is cook it the next day.

Additional Notes:  I like to substitute ground lean turkey for ground beef in many recipes.   I also like to use a variety of beans in my chili.  This recipe is a little different than your normal recipe because I used Pinto & Black Beans.  You can use normal Kidney beans if you prefer. 

Posted 03/13/2009

Coleslaw (UPDATED 03/24/2009)

I have searched and searched for the perfect coleslaw recipe.  I have tried recipe after recipe and altered many to finally come up with what I believe to be darn close to KFC’s (because ultimately, that’s the best coleslaw, agree??). 


8 cups shredded cabbage

¼ cup shredded carrots

2 T diced onion

1/3 cup sugar

½ tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

1/8 tsp celery seed

¼ cup milk

1 cup mayo

¼ cup buttermilk

1 ½ T tarragon vinegar

2 ½ T lemon juice


Mix the cabbage, carrots & onion together in a large bowl (the serving or storage bowl will work).  In another bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour over cabbage mixture.  Mix well (I usually put the lid on and shake it up).  Refrigerate for 2 hours or so before serving, even better if you make it the day before serving.

Posted 03/08/2009

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

This recipe was given to my by my dear friend, Jody Keisner.  Thanks Jody!




1 whole chicken, cut up (or just breasts and thighs)
3 12 oz. cans fat-free chicken broth                    1 lb bag carrots
1 large onion                                                           1 bunch celery
1 8 oz. package baby Portabella mushrooms     3 medium leaves kale
8 oz egg noodles                                                      salt
freshly grated black pepper                                 1 bay leaf
½ tsp chili powder                                                ¼ tsp coriander
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste




1st Part: Fill an 8 quart stock pot slightly more than half full with water. Add 1 12 oz can of chicken broth. Add a ½ tsp of salt and ½ tsp of pepper. Bring to a boil.

While waiting for the water to boil, wash chicken parts and trim off some skin and fat (not all of it, though).

Once the water is boiling, add bay leaf and washed chicken. Reduce to a low/medium simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat on the chicken falls off bone very easily. Remove from heat.

Remove chicken from stock and allow to cool to the touch. Pick meat off the bones and discard skin, bones, and undesirable meat. Put chicken in fridge.

Strain stock pot to remove bay leaf and any remaining bones, etc.


2nd Part: Wash all vegetables. Chop entire bag of carrots (without peeling the carrots of their skins, that's the healthy part!). Chop 6-7 stalks of celery. Peel and chop entire onion. Chop entire package of portabella mushrooms. Chop kale leaves into manageable strips.

Return stock pot to burner. Add 2 cans of chicken broth (to boost the flavor). Bring stock to a high simmer. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, ½ teaspoon of chili powder, and ¼ teaspoon of coriander (add crushed red pepper flakes here if you like it with more bite). Add all chopped vegetables. Reduce to a low simmer for 1 hour.


When veggies and stock are almost done, take a 3 or 4 quart pot and fill with water. Bring to boil. Add 8 oz of egg noodles and salt to taste. Follow package directions for al dente pasta. Make sure to rinse noodles in cold water when they are done.


Once vegetables are finished simmering, add chicken and egg noodles. Continue to heat on low for 10 minutes to bring chicken and noodles up to temperature. Remove from heat and ENJOY!


Posted on 03/07/2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup


1 tsp onion powder                                          

1 tsp garlic powder                                          

2 tsp chili powder                                

1 pinch Cayenne Pepper          

½ tsp ground cumin                 

3 cups Chicken Broth                                      

2 boneless chicken breast cooked/cubed                                  

1 cup whole corn kernels, cooked

1 can black beans, rinsed/drained

8 oz Velveeta

3 tbls corn flour

1/2 cup water


Optional toppings:

Sliced avocado

Crushed tortilla chips

Shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Chopped green onions



Combine the corn flour in the water (this is used to thicken the soup).  Add everything to crock pot and let cook all day on low. 


Ladle soup into individual serving bowls, and top with crushed tortilla chips, avocado slices, cheese, and chopped green onion.


I use what I have on hand, no need to make special trips or buy special ingredients.  Leftover chicken breast from earlier in the week and instead of corn flour, use precooked white corn meal (P.A.N. brand) it has a flour consistency not the mealy consistency of corn meal or even corn starch or regular all purpose flour. 


Posted 02/27/2009

North African Chickpea Soup

Chickpeas are a staple of North Africa, and this chickpea soup recipe is a great way to enjoy them.  I haven't made this one yet (as of 19FEB09, but I am planning to make it within the next week, so I will let you know how it goes!)



pie pan                                                               aluminum foil

medium stock pot or Dutch oven with lid     wooden spoon

6 soup bowls                                                      ladle



1 small red onion, thinly sliced          2 T olive oil

5 c vegetable stock                              1¼ c dry chickpeas, soaked and drained

4 cloves garlic, minced                        2 t harissa*

½ t cumin                                             salt & pepper

6 slices peasant bread or 8-10 slices French bread, lightly toasted and torn

2 scallions, thinly sliced (optional)


*Harissa is a fiery Moroccan paste made of chilis, garlic, and spices.  You may have to go to a Whole Foods or specialty story for this ingredient.  I also have a recipe posted under the Miscellaneous tab. 



Preheat oven to 425.

Combine onion and oil in the pie pan, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake for 15 minutes, until soft. Remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat stock over high heat. When it boils, add chickpeas and again bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 25-30 minutes, until chickpeas are slightly tender. Stir in garlic, harissa, and spices, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes.

Stir in onion, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes, until chickpeas are tender.

Place bread pieces in bowls and pour soup on top. Sprinkle with scallions and maybe a drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately.

Posted 02/19/2009

Cheese Corn Mac & Cheese

This recipe was given to me by friend & site member, Katie Meck! 

1 cup of whole corn
1 cup of creamed corn
1 cup of noodles
1 cup of Velveeta cheese

Cook noodles and then add all ingredients in a crock pot for an easy meal.  Try adding chicken or hamburger to make a complete meal.  The recipe works better when you double it and put in about an extra half cup of noodles.

Posted on 02/17/2009

Baked Potato Soup


4 baking potatoes

2/3 cup butter                                      2/3 cup all-purpose flour

6 cups milk                                            5 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

1 cup chopped green onions               1 (8 ounce) container sour cream

3/4 teaspoon salt                                 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

12 slices cooked bacon, crumbled



Bake potatoes 1 hour in a 400 degree F (200 degree C) oven. Scoop out the inside of the potatoes and set aside. Reserve the skins for another recipe or discard.  You can also prick potatoes with a fork and cook in the microwave, 3 or 4 at a time, and scoop out the flesh (while the others are cooking).


In a small stock pot (a 2 qt pot might work, depending on how large your potatoes are and if you add any extras veggies), melt the butter in a large skillet over medium low heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually pour in the milk while stirring until all the milk has been added. Bring heat to medium and keep stirring until the soup mixture starts to get thick (yes, your arm will probably get tired!).


Add the potatoes, green onions, salt, ground black pepper, bacon. Stir well and continue to heat for about 15 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend. Stirring well, mix in the sour cream until well blended with the soup. Serve immediately, topped with a sprinkle of cheese in a bread bowl or with rolls.


Add on’s:  Just a little something to add variety to your soup…add chopped carrots, peas or chopped broccoli. 


Also, since I had bought some buttermilk for another recipe, I substituted 7 oz of the buttermilk (just under 1 cup) for the 1 cup of sour cream. 


Posted 2/01/2009

Simple Salads

Each of my mealtime ideas suggests having a salad.  These suggestions were also provided by site member and friend, Shelly Nourse (thanks Shelly!!).  What a great way to add variety and change up the everyday Iceberg Lettuce Salad!


Grocery List for 5 Side Salads

Red leaf lettuce (2 heads)

Cucumbers (5)

Plum Tomato (11)

Reduced fat olive oil vinaigrette (2)

Ground Pepper

Feta cheese (4oz package)


Side #1 Tossed Salad

Combine 4 cups lettuce, 1/2 cucumber chopped, 3 tomatoes sliced, 1/4 cup vinaigrette. Sprinkle each serving with crumbled feta and pepper

Calories 68 Fat 4.8g Protein 2.3g


Side #2 Marinated Cucumbers and Tomatoes

Combine 2 cucumbers thinly sliced, 4 tomatoes sliced and 1/2 cup vinaigrette, Cover and chill, sprinkle with pepper

Calories 73 Fat 6.2g Protein .5g


Side #3 Marinated Tomatoes

Combine 4 tomatoes and 1/4 cup vinaigrette. Cover and chill. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon feta and ground pepper

Calories 62 Fat 4.7g Protein 1.5g


Side #4 Simply Greens

Combine 8 cups torn lettuce and 1/4 cup vinaigrette; toss. Sprinkle with feta and pepper


Side #5 Marinated Cucumbers with Feta

Combine 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced and 1/4 cup vinaigrette. Cover and chill. Sprinkle with feta and pepper

Calories 49 Fat 4.5g Protein 1.0g


Posted 02/03/09

Sweet Potato Fries


1-2    Skinny Sweet Potatoes (I use 2 and skinny ones work best, but you could just slice them in half too)

1 T. Veg oil

A pinch or two of the following spices:

Chili Powder

Cayenne Pepper

Black Pepper

Garlic Salt



Slice the potatoes into ¼ inch thick slices and add to a gallon size freezer bag or big bowl with a lid.  Add oil and shake to coat slices.  Layer on cookie sheet & sprinkle with spices.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or so.


Note:  Sweet Potatoes are packed with so many good for you nutrients.  I try to get them in at least twice a month!   Save some of the slices.  Do not add oil or spices to them and bake with the rest.  The skin pulls right off and you can mash them up for the babies or cut them in smaller pieces for tiny fingers! 

Posted 02/12/2009

Broccoli & Rice

1 bag frozen broccoli florets

1 can fat free reduced sodium chicken broth

2 cups instant white rice (cooked)

½ lb (8oz) Velveeta, chunked


Place broccoli & broth in medium sauce pan.  Bring to boil on med-high heat.  Add rice, cover and let stand (off heat) for 5 minutes.  Add Velveeta and stir until melted.

Posted 02/17/2009