Recipe: Bacon Muffins and Black Bean Soup

I made these recipes on Sunday and got a lot of requests to post them here. They come from my two favorite cookbooks, BH&G 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Recipes and Muffins by Francesca DiPaolo. This makes a great meal, and both recipes make enough servings to last a while, though the muffins last longer than the soup.


Bacon Muffins

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, blend well:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled


  • 1 pound lean bacon (cooked, drained, and crumbled)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives (I used small green onions from my garden)

In a large bowl, sift together:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper (optional)

Combine the two mixtures just enough to blend. Spoon the batter into a prepared pan (makes either 10 really large muffins or 24 regular-sized muffins). Bake for 17-20 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan, and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm.

Black Bean and Kielbasa Soup


  • 2 19 oz cans ready-to-serve black bean soup
  • 1 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, undrained
  • 1 pound cooked, smoked Polish sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn

In a 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 quart slow cooker, stir together the soup, undrained tomatoes, sausage and corn.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 8 hours or on high-heat for 3 to 4 hours.


My recommendation, start the soup early in the morning, then bake the muffins later in the afternoon. Serve for an early dinner. If you like to watch football on the weekends, this makes a nice easy meal to enjoy during the game. I can’t stand football, but I do like lazy afternoons, so I have Hubster and the kids watch the game while I collapse on the couch with my muffin and soup and a good book or craft project. Enjoy!

Recipe – Western Egg Strata

I tweeted about this meal this morning and promptly got five requests for the recipe, so here it is. This one is made the evening before and cooked in the slow cooker. It comes from Campbell’s Slow Cooker Recipes, a little digest of recipe cards my mom picked up in Wal-Mart. Don’t know if it’s still available, but she just got it, so you could check the magazine stands at your local stores to find out. There are several recipes in there I’m going to try. Anyway, here we go.

Western Egg Strata

  • vegetable cooking spray
  • 8 slices sandwich bread, cubed
  • 3 cups frozen diced potatoes (hash browns)
  • 1 pound maple-flavored ham steak, cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese about 16 oz)
  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup (regular or fat free is fine)
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups milk

  1. First, spray the inside of a 4 1/2 – 5 quart slow cooker with cooking spray (this is a large meal, so you do need a large cooker). Layer **half** the bread cubes, potatoes, ham, onion, bell pepper and shredded cheese in the cooker. Repeat the layers.
  2. Beat the soup, eggs, and milk with a fork in a medium bowl (I used an electric beater and it still came out fine). Pour over bread mixture in slow cooker. Press down the bread mixture into the soup mixture to coat (I didn’t get everything completely coated, especially the top layers, and it still came out just fine).
  3. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 8 hours or until set.

I set this up last night around 11:30 PM, and had breakfast waiting for me at 8AM. Nice! I also programmed my coffee maker to brew a pot of joe around 8AM, so the only thing I had to do when I got up this morning was set the table, pour some juice, and cut up some fruit. This was a very easy breakfast, and I’m likely to do this more often. In addition to the egg strata, the Campbell’s book also has a Cinnamon Breakfast Bread Pudding, a Chocolate Almond Bread with Dried Cherries, a Harvest Fruit Compote, a Raisin Cinnamon Bread Pudding, and a Tropical Pudding Cake, all of which sound like good ideas for a Sunday morning breakfast.

Let me know if you try this recipe, and if you liked it. Personally, I thought it was great, and best yet, we’ve got enough to last the entire week! WIN!!

Cooking Crisis – Yellow Squash!

It’s Monday evening, almost 5:30PM. I have entrees already prepared – spaghetti, steak. But I have no side dish. Hubster bought an armload of yellow squash this weekend. I’m supposed to do something with it. However, I have no canned tomatoes and no bread crumbs, so that effectively kills my two best ideas. I do have a HUGE can of spaghetti sauce, but I don’t want to crack that open just to cook the squash (it’d be too much sauce, and I’d have to store it and remember to use it later, only to end up forgetting about it until I find a tupperware container of fuzzy green spaghetti sauce several weeks from now). I thought I had an onion, but I sliced it and it smelled funny. Not like an onion, but more like an onion that died, rotted and came back as a zombie onion and now I have to blow off its stinky onion head with a shot gun.

What to do? I’ve already sliced the squash! Hmmm…

I know. I have a big unopened tub of salsa sitting in the fridge. Unlike the spaghetti sauce, there is no way I’ll forget I have salsa in the fridge. And get this! It’s labeled “Italian Rose” salsa. I think the cooking fates are trying to throw me a clue.

I’ve got the sliced squash simmering in a pan with a cup of the salsa. The only other ingredient I added was a little olive oil. We’ll see how this works.


Update: It’s 7:30PM. The salsafied squash was a success, at least in my opinion, and that’s the only opinion that counts. Nyah! It was spicy, but tasty. WIN!

Dinner Didn’t Suck – Honey-Lime Pork Chops

The family as a whole has gotten a little tired of Crock Pot cooking, so once again I find myself struggling to come up with an easy way to make dinner. My brain automatically shuts down at 5PM, not surprising since I usually get up at 5AM. So I’m always on the look out for cook books with easy recipes that are healthy and don’t suck in the taste department.

Rather than throw beau-coup bucks at a new cookbook, I decided to check my local library to see what they had. I found Taste of Home: Everyday Light Meals and decided to give it a try. Most of the recipes involve a short list of ingredients, and all recipes have the estimated cook and prep time listed at the top. They also have icons to indicate which meals are low fat, low sodium, low carb and meatless. All of these features are a plus in my book.

The big bonus for me though was that first six chapters are meal-oriented, meaning they list recipes for a whole meal as opposed to just listing recipes for a single dish. These chapters are labeled “Chicken Meals,” and “Pork Meals,” etc. Each meal consists of an entree and a side dish recipe, with suggestions for simple, additional sides (many of which have recipes listed in the book). There’s also a photo for each meal , showing what it looks like. The meal-oriented chapters are a huge benefit for someone like me who, as I’ve said, tends to shut down mentally by the time dinner rolls around.

For this week, I went with one of the pork meals, Honey-Lime Pork Chops with Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes. We had plenty of left-over sauteed Italian squash and mixed berries from the weekend, so I opted not to make the steamed baby carrots and Emerald Fruit Salad recommended as additional sides. The pork chops and potatoes turned out great! Hubster and I devoured our meals, and Princess mostly cleaned her plate. Pixie picked at her meal, but even she had a few bites of pork chop. I doubled the recipes to make sure I had enough to last the week, with the occasional switch out of sides (remember, I shut down at 5PM, so I’m not inclined to cook from scratch every night of the week; leftovers are my friend!). This is definitely something I don’t mind seeing on the dinner table a few nights in a row, and again, Hubster and Princess are eating happily too, and Pixie snubs everything as a general rule, so we’re good with this menu.

Here’s the recipe for the Honey-Lime Pork Chops.

Pork chops with marinade:

  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (I substituted jarred minced garlic)
  • 6 boneless pork loin chops (4 ounces each) (I had smaller chops, but I made 8 chops total, doubling all the rest of the ingredients from what I’ve listed here)


  • 3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (again, used the jar stuff)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon browning sauce
  • Dash pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

In large resealable plastic bag, combine first four ingredients (from chops and marinade list). Add pork chops, seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 8 hrs or overnight. Drain and discard marinade. Grill chops, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 inches from heat for 6-7 minutes per side or until juices run clear.

For sauce, combine broth, garlic, honey, lime juice, browning sauce and pepper in small sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into broth mixture. Return to a boil. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with pork chops.

Makes 6 servings.

Again, we really liked this meal, and with 8 chops instead of six, we’ve got enough to last the week. All I have to do is make new side dishes as needed. I’m going to try another couple of recipes from this cookbook before making a decision to hunt this one down and buy it, but right now it’s already looking like a good candidate for my bookshelf! If you want to get a copy yourself, it’s Taste of Home: Everyday Light Meals, available on and probably just about anywhere else you can order books. Enjoy!

Dinner this week – Southwest chicken stew

I hate cooking a different meal every night. I simply do not have the time to whip together something new from my fridge on a regular basis. I’m just too distracted and unorganized by the time 5:30 PM rolls around. My brain literally goes into shut down mode.

Thus I have adopted the habit of cooking a single dish at the beginning of the week and then reheating that dish all week long. It works for this family, seriously, because a) neither my husband nor I mind eating left overs; b) the kids don’t care what I put on the table, they’re going to snub it; and c) I can cook on autopilot once my brain has ceased all higher functions for the day.

I usually do the cooking on Sunday morning, and I always use a slow cooker. This week’s recipe is Southwest chicken stew, from The Busy Mom’s Slow Cooker Cookbook. If you like this recipe, consider buying the book. The recipes are low fat, pretty tasty, and usually easy to make. I’d say I use this cook book for 60% of my cooking.

Southwest chicken stew:

  • 2 lbs chicken breast tenderloin, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 18-oz package refridgerated shreddedn potatoes
  • 1 15-oz jar southwest style salsa with corn and black beans
  • 1 4-oz can diced green chiles, undrained
  • 1 package taco seasoning (1 1/4 oz)
  • 6 tbsp Italian tomato paste with roasted garlic (or use regular tomato paste and add basil, oregano, and chopped garlic)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 16-oz package frozen cut green beans

Spray the inside of the slow cooker with cooking spray. Add chicken and potatoes and mix together. In a bowl, mix salsa, undrained chiles and taco seasoning. Add to slow cooker and mix everything together. In another bowl, mix tomato paste with water. Layer this over top of the chicken mix, but do not mix in. Heat on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.

If heating on low, turn up to high. Add green beans and mix in. Cook for an addition 15-25 minutes.

I have not tried this recipe yet, but like I said, all the recipes in this book have been good so far, and the way dinner smells right now (it’s cooking on the counter even as I blog), I don’t think I’m going to be disappointed. If I’d had a little more time, I think I would have made up some corn bread to go with this. As it is, I’ll probably serve this with baked tortilla chips, and maybe top with some low fat shredded cheese.


Potato and Sausage Stew – FTW!

This is for the very talented Mr. Phil Rossi – amazing
musician, wonderful writer, and an all-around great guy who is always more than welcome to drop by any time I’ve got a fresh pot of
stew bubbling in the slow cooker 😉

This recipe is modified from the Potato and Bratwurst Stew recipe found in BHG’s 5 Ingredient Slow Cooker Recipes cook book.

  • 14 oz no fat chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 10 1/2 oz can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 lb sausage (bratwurst, kielbalsa, smoked sausage, or whatever you choose), sliced
  • 1 20 oz package refridgerated shredded potatoes, preferably southwestern style
  • 1 package frozen golden corn
  • 2 cans dark red kidney beans

Put all ingredients into slow cooker and mix together. Set slow cooker on low and cook for 8 hrs, or set on high and cook for 4 hours.

If you can’t find southwestern style shredded potatoes, add 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper and 2 teaspoons minced garlic. Serve with
fresh cornbread. This makes a pretty big pot of stew, but it’s a great comfort food and everybody here loves it!

Hope you enjoy the recipe, especially you, Mr. Rossi 😉

Christmas Recipe – Mom’s Russian Tea Mix

I’m having a crap-tastic day so far. Stayed up waaaaay to late to finish a story that didn’t quite work like it should have. Then I tried to sleep late this morning only to have my oldest invade the bed, demanding I get her going for church. I am not religious. The closest I come is Zen Buddhism, which I practiced regularly for three years. But there’s no longer a zendo in my area, so I feel no need to get out of bed to prep my daughter for church while her Catholic father snoozes away. That doesn’t stop her from trying to get me to do it however.

Anyway, after everyone who was going to church headed out the door, I went to make myself some coffee, only to drop the coffee pot and watch it shatter into a million-billion little pieces. So no coffee this morning. To salvage the day from this tragedy, I have turned to one of my other favorite drinks, and to make it a good, positive thing, I am sharing that drink with you. Here it is, Mom’s Russian Tea:

19oz container of Tang or orange drink mix

19oz container of lemonade mix

1 cup ice tea mix, unsweetened (with or without lemon, up to you)

1 tbsp cinnamon

1tbsp ground cloves

Put all the ingredients together in a Tupperware container and make sure the lid is sealed VERY tight. Then start shaking it to mix everything up. If the lid isn’t tight, you will have a drink mix disaster of epic proportions. Once you have everything good and mixed up, put 3-4 teaspoons of the mix into 1 cup of hot water and enjoy. Trust me, this will taste like Christmas.

Recipe: Spaghetti Squash with Sauce

I am not normally the person you go to for a recipe. I can barely cook. So it surprised me that I came up with a recipe that’s easy and actually works. Blame my oven. It died on me last week when I went to make dinner.

Spaghetti Squash with Sauce


1 spaghetti squash
1 jar marinara
1 package shredded parmesan cheese
1 really big Crock Pot (okay, not really an ingredient, but work with me here, all right?)


Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the yuck. Take a big fork and stab a bunch of holes in the outer shell.

Pour the jar of marina sauce into the Crock Pot. Lay the spaghetti squash, cut side down, on top of that. Cook on ‘low’ for 8 hours.

When cooking is done, carefully pull out the squash (use oven mitts, it’ll be hot) and scrap the insides into a bowl. Throw out the empty shells. Pour the marinara sauce over top of squash in bowl. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.

And that’s it. Three ingredients and almost no work on my part. Gotta love that.