A Fast and Easy Way to Cook Sweet Potatoes

I LOVE sweet potatoes. Enough so that I usually buy a big ole’ bag of them when I go to Costco. I especially love them roasted along with other root veggies, but sometimes I just have to grab a potato and go. So, the next best thing is to microwave it. I can do that in my own kitchen or wait until I get to work to cook the potato for lunch. I like to eat them plain or with a little butter and maple syrup. I also like to cube them and add them to my veggie mixes.

Here’s the FASTEST way that I know to cook a sweet potato. Rinse it off with clear water. Place it onto a microwave safe dish. Place a wet paper towel or dishcloth over the potato. Microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes. Eat warm or let cool and cut into cubes for your other dishes.

A plus is that the potatoes freeze well, so I can cook the whole bag in one day, plate my week’s worth of lunches and freeze the rest.

vegan lunchThis nutritious lunch is made with a medley of cooked sweet corn, squash, zucchini, black beans, diced tomatoes and cubed sweet potatoes. Add a little salsa to spice it up and you will be good to go.

S McCall

Food · Recipes

How to Make Split Pea Soup

I’ll say it right up front. A lot of people, including my husband, say that they don’t like split pea soup. BUT they’ve never even tasted it! Les won’t taste it because it looks mushy and kind of, well, a pea-soup green. Plus, he hates canned peas. Well so do I! I’m telling you, split pea soup has gotten a bum rap and I also want you to know, it does not taste anything like those yucky canned peas. If you like other dried beans and legumes, then I am confident that you will like this split-pea soup recipe.

split pea soup Continue reading “How to Make Split Pea Soup”

Food · Recipes

Holiday leftovers? Make stuffed French toast with cream cheese and cranberry chutney

stuffed french Toast

You know how you have a bazillion gallons of cranberry sauce or chutney left over after your holiday guests have gone home? Well, I make the chutney and HOPE that my guests don’t eat it all up. Of course, it is so easy to make and store that you can make more after the party if it does get gobbled up. You can freeze it too, so you can have cranberry chutney all year round.

Continue reading “Holiday leftovers? Make stuffed French toast with cream cheese and cranberry chutney”

How to Roast Root Vegetables

Fall and winter are the perfect time to roast root vegetables. Not only are they plentiful, but the weather has turned a bit cooler or downright cold as the case may be. Unlike summer, autumn is a great time to have the oven on for about an hour or so. That’s all it takes to roast a truckload of veggies ready for the week’s feasts. I cook one day a week, so popping a pan of veggies into the oven is an easy way to assure that I have plenty for grab and go lunches and dinners all week long. Continue reading “How to Roast Root Vegetables”

Food · Recipes

Easy but Delicious Lunch with Roasted Vegetables

I’m in the middle of cooking for the week again. My crock pot chicken is almost done so I’ll have that for lunch. I’ve already made the rice/ quinoa medley, so I’ll move on to roasted vegetables next. Roasted root veggies are so easy to make and I can eat those all week as well. They are fabulous when combined with other foods to make satisfying and easy meals. Continue reading “Easy but Delicious Lunch with Roasted Vegetables”


Healthy Homemade Soup That Your Mom would be Proud to Call Her Own

The weather has cooled off a bit, dried leaves are rustling down the sidewalks and the light has taken on a golden, ethereal glow. Now that fall is finally here, it is time for homemade soup! One of my all-time favorite memories of childhood was coming home from school on a cold fall or winter day and seeing the welcoming halo from kitchen windows that were all steamed up. That meant that mom was making another one of her fabulous soups. A big bowl of soup cooked from fresh ingredients, a hunk of sharp cheddar cheese and warm San Fransisco sour dough bread – Yum! It’s still one of my favorite dinners after all these years.

chicken vegetable soup
My recipes are always simple but full of flavor. They are usually based on what I have on hand. I do my grocery shopping for the week and then work from there. My soups are really versatile too. This recipe is full of chicken, beans, rice and vegetables. All of my soups are good with or without meat, so that part is totally up to you. I cook chicken breasts once a week in a slow cooker. That way I can slice it for sandwiches, shred it for enchiladas and tacos and cube it for soups, salads and casseroles. You can certainly put a raw chicken breast into the pot and cook it while you are cooking the rest of the rice, beans and veggies. If you do that, then you will want to add 8 cups of water rather than chicken stock.

Basic Ingredients:

  • about a cup and a half of a dried beans/rice mix (See photo and text below for more specific info regarding ingredients)
  • half an onion
  • half a green bell pepper
  • four or five carrots
  • 2 cups of small Brussels sprouts, halved
  • one or two cups of cooked, cubed chicken (optional)
  • 8 cups of chicken stock (use water or vegetable stock if you want to cook vegan)
  • two cloves of finely minced garlic
  • a tablespoon of garlic/onion spice blend
  • one tablespoon of Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime seasoning
  • one tablespoon of dried chives
  • one teaspoon of dried basil
  • one teaspoon of dried parsley
    • (Optional) one tsp poultry seasoning – I sometimes add this when I am adding chicken, but not when it is all veggies
    • (Optional) one sprig of Rosemary finely chopped and sprinkled into the pot
  • salt and pepper to taste

spices for homemade soup
dried soup spices

I always start cooking by selecting and gathering my spices together. For this soup, I used chicken bouillon, a couple cloves of garlic, dried chives, basil, parsley, MRS Dash Fiesta Lime blend and a garlic/ onion spice blend from the Gourmet Collection. I LOVE the Gourmet Collection of spices. They do have salt in them though so if you are trying to cut down on salt, leave that one out. A good salt free spice blend is the Ms Dash spices. A favorite of mine is the Fiesta Lime blend. It’s really tasty and you don’t even miss salt when you use it. And, yes, I LOVE garlic so even though the spice blends have garlic in it, I still mince up a couple cloves and throw them into the pot.

spice for homemade soup
For a chicken base to my soups, I have switched entirely to the Organic Better Than Bouillon. I love the fresh taste.I don’t really have a spice brand preference. Oh Wait! I do. My preference is to buy whatever is on sale. By the way, I just went to the Better Than Bouillon site to get a link for you so that you can find it. It looks like they have a really good selection of yummy looking recipes on their site. You may want to it check out.

homemade soup mix with rice, lentils, yellow split pea, barley

Chop your vegetables into bite sized pieces. Use whatever is to your taste or whatever you have on hand. Here I have onions, Brussels sprouts, carrots and green bell peppers.
Cut cooked chicken breast into cubes of bite sized pieces. This is chicken that I made in the slow cooker earlier in the week. I throw about two cups into the pot, but that part is all up to you. The soup is fabulous without any meat too.Use what you have on hand – that is the true beauty of soup.

mix of beans, peas, lentils, barley and rice
mix of beans, peas, lentils, barley and rice

Rinse your selection of rice and beans. I put together about a cup and a half (total) of small white beans rice, barley, yellow split peas and red lentils. For this soup, stay with the smaller beans. If you use pinto, black, kidney, red or any of the larger beans, the soup will take twice as long to cook.
Money saving tip: You can buy soup mixes, but it is cheaper in the long run to buy the individual bags of dried goods and then use them as you need them. They are excellent for slow cookers as well and they will last through many, many meals.
Assembly instructions:
Add all of the ingredients except the cut vegetables and cooked chicken into a large pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Lower the heat , cover and simmer for about a half hour, stirring occasionally. At the half hour mark add the vegetables. They are cut into bite sized pieces so they will only take about half an hour to cook.

Tip: if you want a little bit of a thicker base, stir more often. The rice will start breaking down and become a little creamy as in how you make risotto. If you want the base to stay more broth like consistency, only stir (occasionally and gently) to prevent scorching at the bottom of the pot.

vegetable, rice and chicken soup
vegetable, rice and chicken soup

Use a fork to test the veggies to desired firmness at the 45 minute mark. Lengthen or shorten cooking time accordingly. Add the cubed chicken at the last five minutes of cooking. Enjoy ! This soup freezes really well too.