Heirloom cooking, vegetable soup and leftovers

IMG_9257My Mom’s vegetable soup is  a favorite.  I have fond memories of a bowl of soup, a grilled cheese sandwich and a rerun of an episode of Perry Mason with my Mom.

I’ve never quite mastered Mom’s recipe for her soup.  I think part of the reason is she used leftovers.  Ever the home economist, nothing was left to waste.  At the same time, my Dad was not fond of leftovers.  He called them reused food inferring that it was less than appealing, even when it was.  Mom’s trick was to repurpose her leftovers in a disguised manner that would pass muster for even the most discriminating, thus pot roast became vegetable soup.

I’ve come to appreciate Mom’s thrifty character.  Her table was always wonderful and healthy.  She was rail thin and I credit that to not only her genes but the way she cooked. Her ability to create wonderful meals that were inexpensive was brilliant and led to many “extras” as I grew up.  She was born just before WWII and her parents instilled in her that Depression era thriftiness and waste not philosophy.  I think she was on to something, spend wisely and save for a rainy day.

Mom’s vegetable soup / pot roast

1 two-pound roast, salt and pepper to taste and flour lightly

potatoes diced

carrots diced

onion diced

Place in Dutch oven with beef stock and cook slowly for several hours until done.  Serve for dinner.   Refrigerate left overs in pot over night.  Shred remainder of roast with a fork. Add two large cans diced tomatoes and juice, beef stock, one bag frozen mixed vegetables, one bag frozen white corn, one medium diced onion, one large potato diced, one rib celery diced and additional carrots, salt and pepper to taste.  Cook on low for several hours.

Spaghetti Squash – a preview of fall

Squash is a favorite of mine, zucchini, yellow, and spaghetti routinely make their way into my kitchen.  Spaghetti squash is a fall favorite.  I usually serve the “noodles” from the squash with marinara or spaghetti sauce and, on occasion, I whip up a cream sauce and make an alfredo type of squash with cream, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.

Recently, I began looking for new recipes.  I wanted something different and new from my standard dinners.  I eat a lot of chicken, so I began to experiment with the concept of chicken and squash.  I ended up with this variation on chicken and spaghetti squash.


Two chicken breasts diced in bite sized pieces

Half an onion diced

One carrot shredded

One medium tomato diced

One bell pepper diced

Fresh basil chopped

Parmesan cheese to taste

tomato pesto sauce, half a cup

Small spaghetti squash

Olive oil, salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning all to taste.

Cut the spaghetti squash in half, length wise.  Sprinkle olive oil, salt, and pepper over each half.  Place the halves open side down in a baking or oven proof dish and cook at 350 for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes, remove and permit to cool.  Once cool, remove seeds with a grapefruit spoon then, still using the grapefruit spoon, remove the squash in long noodle like strings to a bowl.

Next, in a skillet, add more olive oil, onion, chicken, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and shredded carrot.  Sauté until chicken is almost done.  Toss in the tomato and bell pepper and sauté another three minutes.  Next add in the Parmesan cheese and spaghetti squash.  Remove entire mixture to a baking dish and place in the oven on 350 for thirty minutes.




Stuffed Peppers



I am addicted to the farmer’s market this summer.  I cannot get enough of the fresh produce with an emphasis on peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  At my last visit to the farmer’s market I brought home a lot of peppers.  All day I looked at them attempting to decide what to do with them.  Then I recalled my Mom serving stuffed peppers when I was young.  I couldn’t find her recipe so I reached out to my friend Google.  After reading multiple different recipes, I decided to make up my own.  The result was a winner!

Four large and preferably round bell peppers.

One cup orzo cooked al dente

Two links chorizo sausage removed from skin and cooked

Half a medium onion chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesean cheese

Cut the top off each pepper and scoop out the inside.  Dice the tops of the peppers and place in a bowl.  Add the diced onion, the sausage, orzo, and cheese.  Stir until the ingrediants are mixed.  Add salt and pepper.  Stuff each pepper with the mixture, spray the top with olive oil and place into a baking dish.  Bake for thirty minutes at 350.


They were not Mom’s peppers but I think I like mine better!




The Onion

Do you like french onion soup? Do you like something tasty but with minimal calories? Do you enjoy a dish that is simple to prepare in minutes after a busy day?   If you            answered these questions in the affirmative, then I have a recipe for you.

This is one of my Mom’s favorite dishes for a summer, or any time, dinner.  The backstory of the introduction of this dish to my family goes to Dad.  He was traveling in Georgia on business, tasted the onion in a local restaurant, and ended up brining home a large bag of Vidalia onions. For those of you unfamiliar with this onion, it is grown in Vidalia, Georgia. Evidently there is something special about the soil in the area that produces a tantalizingly sweet onion perfect for baking or use in a salad.

Imagine my Mom’s face when, after presenting her with this huge twenty pound bag of onions, Dad then asked her for pantyhose. I’ve seldom seen my Mother at a loss for words, but her silent response was to walk upstairs and, within a few minutes, return with packages of unopened pantyhose.  I guess this was part of what she dearly loved about my Dad.

Dad dutifully put onion after onion separated with a knot into several pairs of pantyhose while Mom looked on. After his precious onions were “packaged” for storage he took them to the garage where he hung them next to the sugar cured hams also in residence and hanging from the ceiling in the garage.

Over the next few months Mom was converted into a fan. As she prepared supper, she would cut an onion per person for dinner from the pantyhose for our vegetable.

Mom’s recipe, slightly altered by me –

Prepare one onion per person with the skin removed. Cut a notch out of the center of the onion to insert a bullion cube. I use beef bullion cubes and this makes the onion taste like french onion soup. If you really want the onion soup feel, sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.   You can also use chicken bullion, if you prefer.  Spray the outside of the onion lightly with olive oil and sprinkle greek seasoning over the onion. Over top of the bullion add a smear of butter (I use yogurt butter). Place in the microwave and cook three to five minutes or until the onion is cooked through. The time will depend upon the size of the onion.