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Category Archives: pasta

Lasagna Soup

Here in the foothills of North Carolina, we are experiencing unseasonably warm weather.  Last week I decided I wanted to make this soup and when I did my menu planning it was cold enough for soup.  On the day we planned to have it, it was close to 70 degrees.  I felt like turning on the air conditioner to let it get a little cooler so we could enjoy the soup.  However, the heartiness of the soup along with the pasta helped to make it very enjoyable even in warmer weather.

This is the first time I have made this soup and it was sent to me by my California cousin.  I used the whole wheat penne pasta in for the pasta and it has such a good rich flavor and you could imagine eating something italian while consuming it.  One of my favorite things about the soup is the fact that you don’t have to peel and chop lots of vegetables and most of us would have the ingredients in our kitchen.



Lasagna Soup

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 large green pepper chopped

1 medium onion chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

2 14 ½ ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained

2 14 ½ ounce cans of beef broth

1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce

1 cup frozen corn

¼ cup tomato paste

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 ½ cups uncooked spiral pasta

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan cook beef, green pepper and onion over medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook another couple of minutes.  Drain.

Return to saucepan and stir in tomatoes, broth, tomato sauce, corn, tomato paste and Italian seasoning and black pepper.

Bring to a boil, stir in pasta, reduce heat, simmer covered 10-12 minutes or until pasta is tender.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese

I am not complaining about the warmer weather even though I have noticed my tulips are beginning to peep out of the ground.  It is my understanding the cold weather is returning next weekend.  Because our snow has melted off the grill and we are experiencing warmer temperatures, I have really wanted to start grilling again.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sauerkraut Salad or Vermicelli Salad

The first time I heard of sauerkraut salad, I thought it was a crazy idea.  I have eaten it and it is very tasty.  Of course, if you look at the ingredients you will see it includes lots of sugar.  This would certainly be a conversation piece at a Christmas gathering. I don’t think I have ever eaten vermicelli salad but it sounds interesting.  It has lots of vegetables but it also includes lots of salad dressing.


In the South on special occasions we usually have potato salad or macaroni salad.  I think either one of the above recipes would be good alternatives.  But if you have a family member that would absolutely DIE if you did not make potato salad, you might need to make potato salad AGAIN!

These recipes are from my “Our Best Oakdale Club, Statesville, NC.  Thanks for stopping by.

Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese

I know you have probably heard “Life happens while you are making other plans.”  That statement came to mind over the weekend as I was baking goodies and planning meals for the Christmas weekend.  I was thinking that as we are making all of the plans for the holidays we are still busy preparing meals for our family every day.  I really get to the point where my brain just gets tired of thinking.

I try to prepare simple meals as we prepare for Christmas and the crock-pot helps me to save time..  I have been wanting to make macaroni and cheese and when I saw this recipe in my “Crock-Pot The Original Slow Cooker Recipe Collection I thought it looked simple.  I think it would be a good choice if you are having guests over the Christmas Holiday. I am also including a recipe for Gratin Potatoes with Asiago Cheese that looks delicious. The bacon in that potato recipe makes my mouth water.


I hope these recipes help you to save some time during this busy season.  I think the crock-pot is one of the greatest inventions ever.

Thanks for stopping by.

Char-Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad

IMG_4438When I started corresponding with my California cousin, I requested summer salad recipes that included fresh vegetables.  I wanted to make a fresh vegetable salad recipe but so many that we use in the South include mayonnaise and are actually quite similar. Now being a Southern girl, I am not bashing mayonnaise at all.  A fresh tomato sandwich with Duke’s mayonnaise is a southern tradition.

I received this recipe from my cousin and loved it.  I prepared it for us and it makes a huge portion.  I used the whole wheat penne pasta and I gave Mr. D the task of grilling the vegetables while I prepared the pasta so it was a fairly easy recipe to make.  The blending of the olive oil, pesto, lemon juice and spices in the salad is exceptional.  The charred vegetables and corn gives it a little crunch.  It will definitely be something I will make again.

Char-Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad

1 box whole penne pasta

½ cup of olive oil/divided

1 each:  yellow squash, zucchini, large bell pepper, 1 ear corn, l large tomato

1 Tbsp. pesto sauce

1 lemon juiced and zest of one lemon

1 pinch salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne and garlic powder.

Handful of chopped parsley

Cook pasta until el dente, drain and toss with ¼ cup of olive oil

Using a grill pan on stove or outdoor grill:  grill squash, zucchini and bell pepper.  Let cool.  Meanwhile shave corn off cob and then dice all vegetables including the tomato.

Toss vegetables and pasta together in large bowl.  Add pesto, lemon zest, lemon juice and remaining ¼ cup of olive oil and spices.  Toss all together and garnish with parsley.

You can add diced chicken or ham to the dish to make a great meal.

I think this would be good for any summertime meal and I am so thankful to my California cousin for inspiring me to try new things.  Is it Southern? Probably not but he does live in Southern California.

Thanks for stopping by.

A Grilling Favorite – Chicken Bruschetta

One of the great things about living here in the foothills of North Carolina is being able to use our grill year round.  Even though we have cold winters, there are days that we can still fire up that grill.

The recipe I am sharing with you today is a family favorite.  The marinade is easy to make and I really do like the Kraft sun-dried tomato vinaigrette dressing for this and other summer recipes.  I will confess that I turn the grilling over to Mr. D and I am the one that does all the other preparation. (Not really that much for me to do). This is especially good in the summertime when fresh tomatoes are available. I know you can tell by this recipe that it has been used a lot.

ckn brushetta

I have never served this with spaghetti as is recommended in the recipe.  We usually eat it with brown rice and some type of grilled vegetable.  I know Memorial Day is approaching fast and this would be a great option for a family cookout.

I think another reason I like this recipe so much is because I love to say “bruschetta.”  Can’t you imagine how it sounds with my southern accent? Thanks for stopping by.

Dunbar Macaroni By Pat Conroy

Last week as I was browsing through The Pat Conroy Cookbook, I saw the recipe for Dunbar Macaroni.  Technically, it is macaroni and cheese with tomatoes.  I do recall eating it at sometime in the past but I don’t remember the occasion.  I can say that it isn’t something that is extremely popular here in Catawba County and I don’t recall eating it when I was growing up in Rockingham.  I do remember that I liked it.

As I read over the recipe, I realized it would be a good choice for Mr. D as we could use the whole wheat macaroni and adding another vegetable would help to balance the carbs of the macaroni.  I did use the San Marzano tomatoes and mine were cubed so I didn’t have to mash them very much as is recommended in the recipe.  By the way, Mr. D and I loved the results and I think it will be a favorite for us in the future.

This is picture of my version of the Macaroni.


Below is the introduction to the recipe as Pat Conroy described it and I have to say I had never heard of Dunbar Macaroni. I have to agree with Julia that the recipe is exceptionally good without the addition of meat.

dunbar macaroni

Below is the recipe from the cookbook:

dunbar macaroni 2

This recipe was easy to make and with Easter arriving shortly I can imagine this as being a wonderful side dish for that special meal.  I do believe the flavor of the san marzano tomatoes made this especially good.

Thanks for stopping by.


Summertime Is Party Time In The South

In the summertime it seems as if party time escalates in the South.  There are weddings, reunions, anniversary celebrations, garden parties, picnics and so many other occasions to prepare and share food.  I have really enjoyed reading the By Invitation Only Cookbook by the Junior League of Pensacola, Florida. The book is beautifully illustrated and honestly, I think there is a menu of wonderful recipes for every occasion.  I had every intention of sharing recipes that would be good possibilities for weddings; however, I have chosen several different recipes to share with you that would be great for many different special occasions.

I love Vidalia Onions and I can imagine making this onion dip for a picnic or neighborhood block party.

vidalia onion dip

I think the egg salad sandwiches would be great for a luncheon or a wedding or baby shower.


The Orange Tiramisu would be great for a family reunion and the peaches in wine would be great for just about anything.


I love the salad dressings and they would be so good for those wonderful summertime vegetables.




What about serving this pasta salad as a surprise dish for a mid-week meal.

SW pasta salad

I hope you enjoyed these recipes as much as I have enjoyed sharing them to you.  Here is North Carolina we have been having very warm days and it seems more like August.  I hope it starts to rain soon and we can have more enjoyable days outdoors.  Right now, I am just very thankful for air conditioning.

Thanks for stopping by.

Crock Pot Creamy Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

One of my goals this summer is to use my crockpot more.  Remember I live in the hot humid South and I try not to bake or use my oven that much in the summer time.  Now, that doesn’t mean I am being good and healthy because I do have a large and small ice cream maker.  Ice cream is a great summer time favorite at our house.

I purchased the Crockport Recipe Collection Cookbook recently and as I browsed through it, I saw recipes that would be good for summertime. Also, I have been wanting to make Lasagna.  First of all, Lasagna is a great meal stretcher for us and when I make a pan of it, I freeze portions of it to be eaten later.  When I saw the recipe I am sharing with you today, I liked it because it only makes four servings and it only includes four Lasagna noodles that is great for Mr. D as he is diabetic.

On Saturday I made the dish and I will tell you that you might be amazed at what a small kitchen I have but it is totally acceptable with me.  However, I make a horrible mess as I am assembling a Lasagna dish.  My kitchen looks like a wreck when I finish.  Even though this recipe was simpler to make, I still wrecked the kitchen.

Here is a picture of the Lasagna:


ckn lasagna

We enjoyed this Lasagna and it is definitely a keeper for our family. I found the prepared alfredo sauce at the deli in the grocery store and we enjoyed the creaminess of the dish.  The flavors blended together so well and this would be a good dish to incorporate any leftover chicken you might have.

I have a girlfriend, Sherry, that I meet once a month for lunch and she gave me the idea of using my crockpot in the summertime.  I am so glad that I invested in this cookbook and I look forward to sharing more recipes with you as the summer continues.

Happy Friday Everyone and I hope your weekend is great.  Thanks for stopping by.


Let’s Start The Week With Easy Parmesan Chicken

IMG_3377I purchased the Crock Pot Recipe Collection Cookbook during the cold winter months.  I have really enjoyed reading it and like the idea of making different types of recipes in my crock pot.  On a recent Sunday we had many different obligations and I decided the crock pot was going to be a great way to prepare our main meal of the day.  As I read through the cookbook, this recipe really appealed to me.  The aroma of the Parmesan Chicken was so welcoming on a busy day. As the pasta was cooking, I made a salad and put some prepared garlic bread in the oven.  Everything was ready quickly and enjoyed very much by Mr. D and I.

As you read the recipe you will see they recommend on step 3 to sprinkle cheese over the chicken and cook for ten more minutes.  We chose to add the cheese to the sauce at the table as it was being served.

ckn parmThis will definitely be something that I will prepare again soon and I do plan to use my crock pot even in the summertime.

Our family will be visiting for a very short time in June and as much as I love to cook, spending time with our grandchildren will be our top priority. I hope you are having an easy Monday and thanks for stopping by.


Spinach Lasagna From Duke University And NC State Beat Duke Tonight Please!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is ACC tournament weekend here in North Carolina and I wanted to feature a recipe today from the state.  Oh, of course, I could have made a Carolina hamburger because we do put cole slaw on our burgers but being a big NC State fan, I couldn’t do that. I could have featured a barbecue recipe but I wanted something just a little different.  I am not a Duke fan for sure but they do have a very strong basketball program.  Coach K was a real good friend of the late and great Jim Valvano from NC State so that kind of  justifies the recipe.

As the days have become warmer and we reached almost a record of 80 degrees here yesterday, I have been looking for recipes that are a little lighter.  I have eaten Spinach Lasagna before but never made it.  When I saw this recipe it really peaked my interest and I think it needs to go into my “Recipes I will make” file. The recipe is from the cookbook, “Come to the Table: by the congregation at Duke University Chapel.  So see it really isn’t from the school at all.

spiniach lasagna

Our temperatures change so much this time of year in the foothills of North Carolina. Tomorrow our temperature will not be over 50 and it is to rain all day.  This would be a great dish on such a cold day.

By the way, NC State will play Duke tonight in the tournament.  I am not superstitious or anything like that but I wouldn’t dare feature a recipe from NC State because I am afraid that would hurt their chances and they would lose tonight.  Go State!!!  And by the way, always pull for State because there is only one State – NC State.

Hope you have a great weekend and thanks for stopping by.

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