Monday, April 26, 2010


I missed blogging last Sunday. There was just too much going on. But I have the whole day to myself so I will have plenty of time to share my recipes and my thoughts today.

Last time I sent out my e-mail reminder for my weekly Blog, I invited readers to let me know if they would like me to address anything in particular. I got a response from a friend who has been enjoying my blog, and asked me if I would particularly address "Healthy" dishes. Today's recipe is about as healthy as you can get, and as easy as it gets too!

Tilapia with Vegetables In Lemon, Olive Oil and Tarragon Sauce.

Preheat oven to 350 or preheat the grill outside on medium with the lid closed

4 pieces of tilapia (or any nice white fish such as cod, halibut, whiting)
1 cupful of cut up carrots (I used the shortcuts cut in half lengthwise)
1 1/2 c. lima beans (use green beans of you prefer)
2 T. olive oil
1 -2 T. butter (optional - it's fine without the butter)
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. dried onion flakes or 1/2 small onion sliced into thin slices
1/4 t. dried tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

Place a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil on a sheet tray. Bend up the edges a little so when you add the liquid ingredients they don't run out.

Place the fish (frozen or thawed) on the center of the foil. Top it with the carrots, then the limas or green beans, add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and tarragon.

Now wrap the foil up around the fish like you see in this picture. Seal it up good so it won't leak, turn the ends up a little to keep liquids from seeping out. Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes if you started with frozen ingredients, about 15 - 20 if you started with thawed.

After the time has elapsed, take the package out of the oven and open carefully (HOT STEAM!!) to check for doneness in the fish. It should be nice and white and flaky. If you think it's done, it is!

Serve with a few roasted potatoes or mashed potatoes made with some plain yogurt and a little 2% milk instead of cream and butter. Or if you're trying to watch what you eat, no need for anything else at all.

Don't like fish? You can adapt this recipe for chicken. Use chicken tenders or boneless, skinless breast cut into smaller pieces. Change up the veggies too - use broccoli, green beans edamame (soy beans) . Try the chicken with corn, diced tomatoes and green pepper with a light sprinkle of cumin for a Mexican flair . Whatever you like. Tarragon is very good on chicken, but you could use basil, thyme or oregano and of course, garlic and parsley. Experiment with flavors you like.

I'm not a nutritionist so I won't be able to provide calorie or fat content. And if you're on a special diet, don't take any advice I give you - check with your doc.

Portion control counts for a lot. Using healthy ingredients is important too. I use as little fat, salt and simple carbs as possible! I recently heard that people who leave out the carbs entirely from their diets are depriving themselves of the nutrition they give your brain! Apparently complex carbs train our brain to help us control the cravings we get for the cupcakes and the Wonder Bread. Complex carbs (whole grains, brown rice, root vegetables, beans, fruit) are good for you! Simple carbs (refined sugar, processed white flour, soft drinks) - BAD!

Olive oil, other lite oils such as sunflower or grape seed oil) veggies, fish and fruit can provide the nutrition that we all need that are so vital to health, but won't add those nasty cholesterol building fats or blood pressure raising sodium to your diet. Too much sodium also makes you retain water so you'll always be a couple of pounds heavier than you have to be if you take in too much sodium.

Don't let ingredients like sunflower or grapeseed oil put you off. They are a tad expensive, but not so much that one couldn't afford to keep a bottle at home. For example, I have a bottle of grapeseed oil that I paid about $5.00 for, and a bottle of sunflower oil for about $4.00. You only need a little when you use them, so once you have a bottle in your pantry, you will find that you can make many many dishes before the bottle is gone. I got the grapeseed oil at Peters It's a great site to find all kinds of goodies for very reasonable prices. The sunflower oil came from Marshall's in their gourmet department. They have a great little gourmet section where you can find all kinds of seasonings, sauces and other things also for pretty reasonable prices. I go often looking for things on sale. Anyway, don't let something that is an "unusual" ingredient put you off. You'll reap the benefits of healthier and tastier food.

I've had my share of flops trying to see if I liked different combinations. Part of learning what flavors go together is tasting them. You will never know if tarragon is good with beef until you taste it. It's NOT by the way. But its wonderful with chicken, fish and eggs. Thyme is perfect with chicken and even good in a marinade for beef, but I don't like it as much with pork. Pork loves rosemary and garlic and so does lamb. Garlic is good with everything, right? No! I don't particularly like garlic with eggs, and I'm not really all that wild about it with fish. Fish lends itself better to onions and fennel. But garlic is good on almost everything else. I don't think I have to elaborate on that. Almost everyone loves garlic! Of course, just because I don't like a certain combination, doesn't mean you shouldn't try it. You may love garlic with eggs!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


When I got home one day last week, my husband said we could do whatever I wanted to for dinner. So I said, " you pick for a change." So he said he would take me to the little Country Deli down the street. It's a little place I just discovered a few days ago after being here for nearly 5 years. Don't know how I missed it. A little tiny place that makes decent food. I don't know how this photo was taken, it's kind of weird - very wide angle lens I guess. I got it off the internet. It's tucked behind this gas station at the corner of Main and Old Ocean City Road. Don't blink if you are driving by, you won't see it. But, if we want to get something quick, we don't have to go all the way to Salisbury. Burgers, Philly cheese steaks, pizza, wings and all kinds of sandwiches and subs. And REAL milkshakes that are as chocolaty and creamy as can be. And call your order in ahead of time - it was really crowded with takeout customers the first time we stopped. We won't eat there often, but it'll be handy when we're in a hurry. I didn't feel like eating burgers or Philly cheese steaks or pizza shop pizza or wings. These are not on my menu 99% of the time - too "unhealthy".

So I said "Nah, I'll make something." It occurred to me that on the way home I thought of something I would like to make, so I decided to do that. I often spend time thinking about what I'll make for dinner on the way home. Especially if the talk show I'm listening to is a little off the wall that day. Uggh. I love talk radio, but when a host has on a very interesting guest and all this guy does is talk the whole time while his interesting guest listens to HIM on the other end of the phone. What a jerk he can be sometimes. Anyway. I digress - that is an entirely different subject. But it gave me time that evening to think about what I have at home and what I can do with it.

I remembered I had some rice leftover from Chinese takeout a couple of nights ago. We almost never eat the rice that comes with the meal, but I never throw it out either. I use it for rice pudding, or another home made stir fry, or even for soup. Tonight I wanted to make a cold rice salad. I love rice salad. I had some fresh veggies in the refrigerator so I started gathering everything I had that I thought would be good in it.


1 container of cooked rice - probably about 2 cups
1 med zucchini, large dice (cucumber would be great too)
1 or 2 roma tomatoes, large dice
4 - 6 large crimini mushrooms, large dice(regular white button are fine too)
1 cup of frozen corn
2 - 3 T finely chopped cilantro
10 shrimp (optional) raw or already cooked. Freshly cooked would be the tastiest.
1 avocado, cut into cubes or slices (optional)
Dice red onion (optional) I didn't use any tonight, but it would be good in here
Cumin Dressing (recipes follows)

Cumin Dressing
1 T. Lime juice
2 T. canola or other light oil (I used sunflower oil)
1/2 t cumin
1 t salt
1/2 chili powder
1 T mayonnaise
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T dried onion flakes
1 large clove of garlic very finely mined or run through a garlic press

Chop all the veggies into cubes about the size of a small grape. Then just put all the salad ingredients except the shrimp in a bowl and stir well. You will top the salad with the shrimp.

Now place all the salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk vigorously until creamy. The mayonnaise isn't there so much for flavor as it is to emulsify your salad dressing. Otherwise the oil and lemon juice and vinegar would separate. The dressing is creamy now and coats everything very nicely. Pour the dressing over everything and mix well.

Cut each shrimp into 3 pieces if they are large, leave them whole if they are small. If you are using raw, saute in a little tiny bit of oil until they are done. No seasoning necessary since the dressing is quite tasty.

Spoon some of the salad on a plate and top each serving with some of the cooked shrimp.

Ten shrimp is enough for 2 servings, but the whole recipe of rice salad is enough for 4 -6 servings.

I wasn't really sure how this salad would taste, but I knew I liked all the ingredients. It turned out better than I thought it would! It's good without the shrimp, (I had the leftovers without shrimp for lunch the next day) but the shrimp made it all the more delicious! I wanted to put avocado in it too, but when I cut open the avocado I had on the counter, it was too old to use (arggghh!!!!!) So I had to add it to the compost pile. If you like avocados, I know it would have been wonderful sliced on top of this salad. You could even add a can of rinsed black beans to the mix.

I think I will make this one for the family reunion picnic this year (minus the shrimp because it will be too hot outside to keep a salad sitting around with shrimp in it).

I guess I always knew this little tidbit, but I relearned it several years ago while reading my A-Z Cooking from the California Culinary Academy cookbook.
You may already know , but did you know that:
1 T. minced cilantro means mince the cilantro first, then measure it.
1 T. cilantro, finely minced, means first measure 1 T. of cilantro leaves, and then chop it.

The second way of measuring would yield much less cilantro, so when you are measuring things, be sure to notice how they are worded in a recipe. But of course, you can always alter quantities of ingredients to your taste no matter what a recipe says. I happen to love cilantro so I use a little more than is called for. Same with garlic. I tend to use a little more than is called for.

Did you know that crimini mushrooms are simply baby Portabellos? As they grow larger the top spreads out to be quite large. I've seen them up to 8 inches across. They have a much more earthy/meaty flavor than regular white mushrooms and are somewhat more firm. I have taken to using them almost exclusively. Portabellos are a great steak substitute for vegetarian recipes. Simply use the big portabellos in place of the steak -- top with blue cheese, splash A-1, grill and slice into a "steak" salad, even put them into a "beef" vegetable soup. Just use seasonings that would add to the flavor like McCormick's steak seasoning, A-1 sauce, or Worcestershire sauce. Maybe I'll experiment with a pot of that soup and post it in a future blog. They are also great stuffed with anything you like! A sausage or vegetable stuffing, your favorite crouton bread stuffing, crab stuffing, cornbread stuffing. They would make a great light meal or appetizer. As I write here, it occurs to me that I should do a whole blog on portabellos. If you are a mushroom lover, they are enormously versatile and delicious. These two photos are not mine, but how beautiful and tasty do these dishes look! The salad is from a site called POM being pomegranates. Lots of great recipes. The panini is from the the McCormick site.

Here's a shopping tip for mushrooms. If you shop at a store where you can buy your mushrooms loose, in bulk, that is to say you can take two in a bag or you can take 20, they are MUCH cheaper. A 12 oz. container of prepackaged mushrooms is nearly $.90 more than the same weight of loose ones. And when you buy as many mushrooms as I do, that adds up.

I'll have to go shopping for some portabellos to try some dishes to share with you. Sam's Club has a pack of 4 really large ones for a very good price. Next time I'm there, I'll get some.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


After a long afternoon in the garden I was getting really hungry. I planted carrots and lettuce, and fixed up the planters for the front porch with red salvia, and another pot with some pansies. I had a lot to finish up but even the sweet smell of composted manure I was using in the back flower bed didn't deter me from wanting to eat something.

We don't eat beef that often. But once in a while I find a nice cut on sale for a ridiculous price - $2.41!!! . So I bought it and made Roast Beef Paninis. Wow! These would have been $7.00 + each at Panera or some such place. And I got the bread on the day old rack for $1.50 (regular $2.50). I also found some other cuts of meat for about 1/2 price so I bought them and put them in the freezer for the family reunion picnic in August. I'm going to make some pulled pork.

Tonight it was London Broil marinated in:

1/4 balsamic vinegar
1 t. dried basil or 1 T fresh chopped finely
1 t. dried oregano or 1 T. fresh chopped finely
1 large clove of garlic pressed in a garlic press or very finely minced
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 t dried onion flakes or 1 T. dried onion flakes

Put all of these ingredients with the London broil into a large self seal bag and let it marinate for at least 1 hour. Massage the bag a little to press the flavors into the meat. Over night is great. In the meantime...

Make some dressing to coat some arugula or some shredded romaine:

1 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. Olive Oil
1 t dried basil
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. ground pepper
1/8 t. salt

Whisk until well mixed and slightly thickened.

Coat about 1 cup full of greens for two sandwiches with enough dressing to coat the greens without being too runny.

Now make a little herbed mayonnaise: add just a teaspoon of dried tarragon to about 4 T. of mayonnaise and mix well. Set aside.

Now, slice open two whole or multi grain sub rolls and lightly coat the outside of the rolls with a little olive oil. Now either put them in a panini grill or into a skillet and brown them lightly.

Open the warmed rolls and add a slice of Swiss or provolone cheese. Turn off the heat source and place the rolls back on the grill or back in the skillet and just let them sit there in the warm pan melting the cheese.

OK - now everything is ready. Turn on the broiler and broil the beef for about 6 minutes on each side for medium rare. About 10 minutes on each side for well done. It will be a little dry if you do it too well done.

Let the roast sit for about 10 minutes before you slice it. Slice it into very thin slices.

Now assemble the sandwiches. Add the sliced beef to the the rolls and slather with the tarragon mayonnaise. Top with the dressed arugula or shredded romaine. Cut in half and serve with a yummy dill pickle and a handful of chips. Yummy! What treat to have a roast beef panini after a week of minestrone, linguine with clam sauce, and a meatloaf made with ground turkey!

This sandwich was very satisfying and filling. I could only eat half which means that I have a half left for breakfast tomorrow. Yes, I love eating sandwiches for breakfast. About 30 seconds in the nuke at work and I have a breakfast that keeps me going all the way up to lunchtime.

I made myself a lovely cocktail too. I was again going through one of my pantry spaces and saw 6 cans of peaches in lite syrup. What to do with these???? I took two cans of them and put them into my blender and pureed them. They were now an ingredient for my peach martini.

Vanilla Peach Martini

8 shots of vanilla vodka
4 shots of peach schnapps
8 shots of peach puree

Now pour about 2 shots of this mixture into a martini glass. Fill the glass with club soda or ginger ale, or even a club soda flavored with lemon.

I don't have a name for it, but it is definitely a delicious peach martini.

There were a thousand things on my to do list this weekend, and I finished maybe 950 of them. The rest will have to wait until next weekend. But I made sure I took the time to make something that we would enjoy eating. It was the only real meal of the day, so it was worth waiting for.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I don't really feel like writing my web log today. Not really in the foodie mood this morning. I have too much laundry to do and I have to go grocery shopping and in just kind of a funky mood today. Grocery shopping should put me in the mood to cook, and to think about food, but I'm not going until later. For now - "I got nothin' "

There are two things I recently decided to do. Who knows how far I'll take them. I really don't have the time some of these projects deserve to have devoted to them, but I like having the ideas and acting on them, even if they don't go anywhere. Its what keeps my creative juices flowing and one day, I can pick and choose from all the little projects I want to do and make something out of one or two of them. Anyway, once you are out of ideas, what else is there to do but sit around and watch the Kardasians display their butts or yell at each other because one of the other sisters has been selfish! I'd rather sit on a cactus! Well, I don't have to worry about that - I usually come up with something else to keep me away from those insipid television shows.

Anyway, one of the things I want to do is take my blogs and turn them into books. This Blogger has a feature whereby you can submit your blog pages to them, and the will format, print and bind them into a book for a mere $14.95 for 25 pages and an extra 25 cents for each additional page. I'm sure I'll do this one. I'd love to have this on my cookbook shelf, and $14.95 + is affordable.

The second thing I am already working on is putting together a cookbook for kids. Recipes that are healthy, delicious, and most of all, easy. And I'm not talking about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Some of my favorite dishes are ones that are supremely easy to prepare. I will target the cookbook at kids who are old enough to help Mom in the kitchen and are allowed to use kitchen utensils and cook on the stove with a parent's supervision. Probably starting at around 10 years old. Obviously a parent would have to be the judge about whether their kids are capable of working in the kitchen safely. Here's one example of the kind of dishes I'll include:

Take a package of chicken wings, put them in a foil lined baking pan. Salt, pepper, bake until almost done. Douse in your favorite barbecue sauce, bake another 15 minutes. Voila, barbecued wings that your kid made!! And I'll be sure to include the ways to make the dishes as healthy as possible, like removing the skin from the chicken before you sauce it. It's a little extra trouble, but removes more than half the fat!

Hmmm, what will the title be? "Hey Mom! Look what I made!" or "That's right! I made it!" or ..... I'm open to ideas!

I was cooking simple things at home when I was 10 or 11. I learned just by watching and helping my Mom. The most important thing about kids cooking is make sure they are safe, of course. So if the recipes they are provided are as simple as possible, you can spend a lot more time on teaching them technique and safety in handling kitchen equipment and using the range.

Listen, any kid who can tell Mom to take a break from cooking dinner one night is a great kid in my book!

No recipes today yet though - I guess because I'm not inspired. Maybe later tonight.

.......... It's about two hours later and I've been inspired by hunger, and nothing that I can grab and eat. So I had to make something for lunch.

Refrigerator first - a few pieces of celery left from a veg tray, a half bag of those little carrot short cuts. Next, the pantry. Tomato soup and some tri-color corkscrew noodles.

Makes 4-6 servings

1 - 2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 1/2 cups of short cut carrots, cut into pieces
1 T. canola or olive oil
1 26 oz can tomato soup (naturally low fat, low calorie!)
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
Water or chicken stock
1 can white beans (kidney, cannelini, navy)
1 T. dried oregano
1 T dried garlic flakes
1 T dried onion flakes
1 cup full of any kind of chunky noodles
( I used what I had - corkscrew - and I broke them up a little in the food processor)

Saute the cut up celery and carrots in just a little canola or olive oil or medium high heat. Just let them color a little. Now, dump everything else into the pot. Add enough water or chicken stock to bring the soup to the thickness you like. Stir and let the soup simmer on low heat until the noodles are done; about 12 - 15 minutes depending on the pasta you use. Be sure to stir occasionally to keep from burning the bottom of the soup. The flavor of the oregano, dried garlic and onions will bloom while the soup simmers . You would never know it was made from a can!

Instant Minestrone! Mmmmm. It was really good! Low calorie, low fat, low sodium, lots of veggies, savory herbs, and just a little bit of comforting pasta! Enjoy a bog bowl of this!

I think this one will go into the kids cookbook!

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Bless you!

Sorry, I couldn't help myself. No, one sneezed. Shakshuka is an Israeli dish that my husband and I ate almost every morning for breakfast when we were in Costa Rica. We go there for the surfing - him - not me. There is a little restaurant across the street from hotel where we stay called Zula. It's run by Israeli brothers, Rotem and Avi. Gingi, (pronounce with soft Gs) who is the server most of the time, told me how to make it. Two years ago two of our friends came along with us. They had never been to Costa Rica before and they really needed a vacation. Long story short, they loved it. They were able to relax, AND they loved the Shakshuka at Zula. Like I said, we went almost every morning (they are closed on Saturdays) and ordered the same thing.

I will admit that the photo isn't the best. I forgot to photograph it before we dug into it, and I will also admit that it is not the most photogenic dish either. But fear not - looks are deceiving!

Shakshuka has a very chunky tomato sauce with lots of onions and garlic, seasoned with salt, and a little red pepper flake. When the sauce is properly cooked down, you crack eggs right on top of the thick sauce and let the eggs poach on top until they are done to your liking. Some people like them cooked hard, some like the yolk still soft. I like them a little soft. It's served with hummus and warm pita bread. Gingi would NEVER use store bought hummus, he likes to make his own starting with dry garbanzo beans. Feel free to use store bought - it'll be fine.

Zula has other dishes that are equally good. They make several kinds of vegetarian pita sandwiches, felafel, they even make a chicken schnitzel they put on a pita sandwich with lettuce, cucumbers and some yummy dressing. Wow. It's one of my favorites. And they make the best smoothies using, of course, nothing but ripe local fruits -- mangoes, papayas, bananas.

When we got home from Costa Rica that year I promised our friends I would have them over for Shakshuka. Here we are nearly two years later and finally, we are having Shakshuka together. My husband and I normally drive up to Ohio to spend Easter with my family. This year, we aren't driving up so I asked my friends if they were going anywhere for Easter and they happened to be staying in town too. So this was the perfect opportunity to have Shakshuka Easter Eggs, as I've come to call them this year.

It's only 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, and as I write I can hear the sauce bubbling and simmering while the liquid cooks down. The house smells wonderful, full of garlic and tomato! I'm making the sauce ahead of time. It has to simmer for a while, and since we are transporting the dish, I didn't want to have to cook it for such a long time over there. Making it ahead of time is perfectly fine. As a matter of fact, the sauce will have a chance to marry all the flavors together. Tomorrow, I will reheat the sauce, and crack the eggs on top. Should take about 25 - 30 minutes to cook up the eggs.

Since Gingi gave me the recipe nearly 2 years ago, I couldn't quite remember everything. So I looked up a bunch of recipes on the web. Almost every one of them included a hint of green pepper, so I did that. And many of them indicated that the key to a good Shakshuka is making it in a cast iron pan. I don't know why, but I am lucky enough to own a large cast iron pan, so I used it. The first time I made this, I just cooked up the sauce in my every day skillet, cracked the eggs on top and let it simmer to finish the eggs. It was delicious! It didn't taste quite the same as Gingi's, but we loved it. The cast iron skillet did somehow make it better, but I wouldn't lose any sleep over it if you don't have one.
Here's what you'll need.


1/2 c olive oil
1 Medium white onion, diced
1/2 of a large green pepper, diced finely
3 - 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 - 2 T salt
1 t. red pepper flake
2 28 oz cans of diced tomatoes
8 - 12 large or jumbo eggs

Pita bread

Saute the onions and green pepper over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so. Then pour in the tomatoes, add the salt and red pepper flakes and let this simmer until the sauce is no long watery but still very moist -- almost creamy.

Now make indentations all over the top with a big spoon and crack an egg into each indentation. I found that jumbo eggs are little big for this, so large will probably work better. Adjust the heat so that the sauce is not boiling, but just simmering gently, and let the eggs poach in the sauce until they are done to your liking. Poke the whites with a fork to test. You'll be able to tell if they are set up to your liking.

Since I was transporting my dish to someone else's house, I poured the finished sauce from the cast iron pan into a 9 x 12 glass casserole. I cracked the eggs on top once we were there and baked the whole thing for 25 - 30 minutes. You could obviously take the whole cast iron skillet along but that's a little unwieldy because it's so heavy.

As soon as it was done, I used a slotted spoon to separate the eggs from one another. We were serving it as a buffet so this made is easier for everyone to serve themselves individual eggs.

Serve it with Pita bread and some hummus on the plate.

Even those whom I thought might be skeptical about this dish loved it. It was lovely and creamy and garlicky with just the right amount of heat from the red pepper flakes! Everyone had a large plateful and ate every bite! I could eat this every day! As a mater of fact, if you leave out the hummus, you are actually eating quite a healthy dish full of tomatoes and only one or two eggs per person.

Our friends who were hosting the "brunch" provided us with a lovely dessert of Orange Cream Cake and little tiny morsels of tiny cake squares in different flavors- peanut butter with chocolate, brownies with cream cheese frosting, shortcake with jam and what I think were pecan pie flavored squares. We also had a lovely surprise called Electric Blue Martinis. They were made with Grand Marnier, Curacao and other ingredients of which I know not. They were delicious and beautiful!

We talked about the movies we'd seen, loved and hated, played Dirty Minds, talked a little taxes, discussed the merits of shopping at Best Buy (or not shopping at Best Buy) and enjoyed a lovely afternoon out on the back deck.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's Every Man for Himself!

It's Thursday night, I just got home from the gym, I'm tired, hungry and don't want to go out. I don't really want to cook. My husband had enough to eat during the day so he doesn't really want any dinner tonight. Good. It's every man for himself. He can find whatever is left in the refrigerator if he gets hungry. There should be a piece of two of the Shrimp and Sausage Quesadilla I made last night.

I feel like having mushroom soup.

When my late husband died, I lost my appetite for more than a month. Couldn't eat anything but mushroom soup. It went down easy and it was warm and comforting. Every afternoon I warmed a can of the low sodium, 98% fat free version of Campbell's Mushroom soup and sipped it with a few crackers. Eventually I could add a 1/2 sandwich of some kind, but the soup was always what I wanted.

For some reason, I wanted mushroom soup tonight. I opened two cans of the low sodium, 98% fat free. There's nothing wrong with my appetite now, so I wanted to make it a just a little more hearty.

Mushroom Soup with Green Beans

2 cans Campbell's Mushroom Soup low sodium, 98% fat free
1 can of water
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 t. dried thyme
1 10 oz. jar of sliced mushrooms (or 12 oz. of fresh mushrooms sliced and sauteed.)
1 c. of cooked green beans
1/2 t dried onion flakes

I put everything into a saucepan and let it warm slowly for about 15 minutes. This allowed the dried thyme and onion flakes to rebloom in the soup and the green beans to lend their flavor to the rest of the pot.

That's it! I ate it with some whole grain wheat crackers. It was delicious.

As much as I love to cook, it's also very nice to have a night where I can just throw something together that only takes a few minutes. Warming the soup actually took longer than assembling it. And like so many of the dishes I make, I already had everything in the pantry. I always keep several cans of mushroom soup to use for sauces, etc. I was in the Sav-A-Lot and saw sliced mushrooms in a jar for $.89. I bought two to keep in the pantry. The freezer always has frozen vegetables of all kinds to use whenever the urge strikes. Tonight I used some green beans I found on sale at Harris Teeter in a Steam in the Bag variety for $.75, regular price - more than $3.00.

Try this same soup recipe with Cream of Chicken, dried basil, and frozen peas or corn. Add the mushrooms if you like. Add a little garlic powder or Lawry's Season Salt.

Or try it with Cream of Celery, parsley, and corn or diced potatoes.

I'm full. I'm going to finish checking e-mail and turn in for the night.