Ham, bean, and potato soup

For this recipe, I used a ham that my husband smoked on the green egg. Deli ham would work just the same but would give a slightly different flavor.

My cook times for this recipe result in the beans being so cooked that they fall apart. It leaves a creamy buttery texture. If you perfer more firm beans then you should decrease the cooking time my 30-45 minutes.



3 stalks celery, diced small

1 cup sliced carrot

1/2 onion, diced small

2 cloves garlic, diced small

10 ounces dried white beans

6 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1-2 cups cubed ham

1 large russet potato, diced

1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder

2 bay leaves

3 sprigs thyme – remove stems

1 teaspoom white pepper

pinch or more cayenne

3 tablespoons butter

Clean and rinse the beans. Place the beans in water with salt. Bring this to a full rolling boil. Remove it from heat and cover the pot. Let them sit for 60 minutes.


Turn the heat back on. Add all of the ingredients to the pot except the butter and ham. Place a few pieces of ham into the pot (1/4 cup) and reserve the rest. Simmer on low covered for 60 minutes. Stir the mixture every 15 minutes. Add water is needed. It is supposed to be a thicker soup.

After an hour, add the diced ham and butter. Cover and cook another 30 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Serve with crusty french bread or corn bread.




Cracker barrel style chicken and dumplings


Chicken and dumplings was a Missouri staple. Actually, in Missouri, it was common to eat some type of gravy almost every day. Unfortunately my grandma’s chicken and dumpling recipe was something she just did by heart. No one really remembers it. This recipe is pretty close to what hers tasted like. I have heard that she made the dumplings a day early and let them dry on the counter. Her dumplings were firm and not fluffy. They were thin rectangles and never had raw centers. Next time, I will try that trick and see if it changes the texture to more dense as I remember them.


3 quarts water

3-4 pounds whole chicken cut up or bone in chicken thighs

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 medium onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 bay leaf

4-5 sprigs parsley

1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

1 tablespoon lemon juice



2 cups flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk


Bring the water to a boil. Add the chicken, salt, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and parsley. Simmer uncovered for 2 hours. The liquid is supposed to reduce by 1/3.



When the chicken is fully cooked remove it from the pot and let it set out to cool. I did not cook the chicken a full 2 hours.  I removed it after about 40 minutes and I could have removed it sooner.

After the 2 hours of simmering, strain the broth. Discard all the veggies and spices.

Add 6 cups of the stock back into the pot. Add the coarse ground pepper and lemon juice. Add more salt if desired. Heat the stock on medium heat while making the dumplings.

For the dumplings, mix all. Stir until smooth and then let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Roll the dough on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. I used a pizza cutter. These do not need to be perfect in appearance at all. I let my 5 year old cut them.


Drop the dumplings into simmering stock one by one. They will first double in size, then they will slowly shrink as the sauce becomes thicker. Stir them often. Do not cover the pot. Here are some photos of the changes you will see. Simmer them 30 minutes. Shred the chicken in between stirring the dumplings.



Place the chicken back into the pot. Make sure to add just the meat and not the skin or bones. Simmer for another 10 minutes.



Chicken noodle casserole


2 cups shredded/diced rotisserie chicken

8 ounces dried egg noodles

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 yellow onion diced

1 red bell pepper diced

2 large carrots diced

2 stalks celery diced

1 cup fresh white mushrooms sliced

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons flour

3/4 cup half and half

1-2 cups water

1 cup panko unseasoned

2 tablespoons butter melted

1/4 cup fresh parsley


Cook the egg noodles as directed by package to al dente. Drain and let them sit.


Melt the butter in a skillet. Add onions, carrots, celery, and the red bell pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes – the vegetables should still be semi firm because they will bake in the oven later.

Add flour and seasonings. Slowly stir in the half and half. Continue to add up to 2 cups of water until it a thicker consistency. Go slow because you do not want the sauce too runny. Add in chicken and mushrooms. Cook 1-2 more minutes. You can add more water if it continues to thicken. Remove from heat. Mix with noodles. Pour into a prepared 9×14 or 8×12 pan.


Mix the panko crumbs with the additional 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Top the casserole with the panko mix and then chopped fresh parsley. This can remain refrigerated for 24 hours. Bake covered with foil at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Remove foil. Bake about 10 minutes or until panko crumbs have browned.



Beef stew


Okay. There are recipes and then there are RECIPES! There are recipes you make and you eat because it took work and there are ones that you dont know why you can’t have more leftovers. Am I right? My husband ate 4 bowls of this. It is seriously that good. Even though my posts are all not my original recipes, I try hard to post only the best of the best that I create or find. There is nothing worse than spending time or money on something that fails.

2 pounds beef stew meat

1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoons black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 large shallot diced

3 cloves garlic minced

1 cup cabernet sav wine

4 cups beef broth – or 4 water and 4 bouillon cubes

1 tablespoon italian seasoning

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1-2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce

4 cups red potato – small diced with skin on

3 cups carrots – peeled and cut into rounds

1 ear fresh sweet corn – remove corn from cob

1 12-14 ounce can diced tomatoes undrained

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Place the stew meat in a gallon bag or bowl with flour, pepper, cayenne pepper and salt to coat. Warm the butter and olive oil on medium high heat in a dutch oven or pot. Brown meat in 2 batches. Do not cook fully or crowd the pan.


Remove all the meat from the pan. Add the shallot and garlic. Cook about 3-5 minutes on medium high. Deglaze the pan with red wine. Add the beef broth, worcestershire, bay leaves, italian seasoning, and paprika. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer 40 minutes.


Prepare the vegetables.

Add them in along with the diced tomatoes. Cover. Return to boil. Boil anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours depending on when the meat is tender. It really depends on the cut of the meat. I say taste test it every 10 minutes or so.

Mine was not as thick as I wanted so I mixed 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with the hot soup in a small bowl until mixed and poured it back into the pot about 40 minutes after adding the vegetables.




This is really quite amazing with the wheat bread I posted earlier. I have tried it with cornbread and french bread. The wheat really makes it pop.

Light and spicy broccoli cheese casserole


OMG! Tis the season for comfort food. I made this up last night. It might be the best broccoli cheese casserole I have ever made. Again…. there is no cream sauce in a can or milk. Just a little butter and cheese.

1.5 cups cooked white rice

1 pound fresh broccoli – steam and chop

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 of a roasted poblano

2 cloves of garlic

5 tablespoons of flour

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

2 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon white pepper

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup grated parmesan… not powdered

1 cup of French’s new jalapeno crisps


After I steamed the broccoli and made the rice, I let them cool and worked on the sauce. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and chopped roasted poblano pepper. Cook about 3-5 minutes. Add in the flour. Slowly…. very slowly…. add the chicken broth stirring constantly so it does not clump. It needs to be added a few tablespoons at a time. Continue stirring constantly until thickened. Add in the onion powder and cheddar cheese. Stir until melted and thickened. Remove from heat. Salt to taste. I added 1 teaspoon. Add in the rice and chopped broccoli. Pour into prepared 8×12 casserole pan. Top with parmesan and then crispy jalapeños. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

This was so yummy. I enjoy casserole type foods but I really do not like feeling like I ate a stick of butter or drank a cup of heavy cream. This really satisfied my every need. We served it with simple grilled chicken.


Poblano chicken casserole


Okay. My chicken from last night… Here is how I meal plan.  Tonight it is a casserole and tomorrow chicken paninis. Each very different and not tasting like leftovers. I basically cook 2 big meat dishes per week then fill in the gaps. Sometimes we have cold leftover chicken on giant cobb type salads with fresh warm rosemary bread.

This is also another great garden dish because we grow onion, garlic, poblanos, and tomatoes. I have even grown tomatillos and made my own salsa verde. That is a whole other story.

The casserole….. I dont use “cream of xxxxx” soup if possible. I think the only fattening thing in this whole casserole is 2 tablespoons of butter and a cup of cheese. I would consider this lower fat. I am not a fan of loading up every dish with cream and cheese and butter.

Roast 2 poblanos in the oven at 400 for 10-15 minutes. Cool fully. Peel and remove seeds. Then rough chop.

My sauce….

Saute 2 tablespoons of butter with 1/2 onion and a clove of minced garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add all poblanos. Add 2 tablespoons of flour. Stir. Gradually add in 2 cups of chicken broth. Add 1 tablespoon cumen, 1 teaspoon mexican oregano, and a handful of fresh cilantro. Cook 5-10 minutes stirring often. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of salsa verde…. any brand.

Now the layers in the cassrole pan.

1: one cup of sauce

2: corn tortillas – about 4 – just break them up and cover it in one layer

3: chopped cooked chicken – 1 cup

4: 1/2 can of rinsed and drained black beans

5: half of remaing sauce

6: 4-5 corn tortillas

7: 1 cup chicken

8: rest of black beans

9: more tortillas

10: dump rest of sauce over

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes. Remove foil. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Turn oven off. Remove when ready to eat.

Ha! I forgot to buy chips so I baked leftover flour tortillas for 10 minutes. I was going to break them up as chips. They puffed up. Still tasted great!