Well, ever since we had the Great Spaghetti Cook-off the ladies in the office are primed to show us guys what they can do. So with this in mind and not wanting to taste the same dish I decided to give them ten ingredients and let them come up with their own recipes. The rules are simple. You can make one dish or a main dish and a side dish. You do not have to use all of the ingredients but may not anything else.

I’ve chosen as the ten ingredients: 1 pound or less lean beef, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, brocalli, beans, cabbage, rice, peppers and any spices or combination of spices in any form (fresh, powdered, whole, minced, chopped, jellied, etc.).

Some of you out there should try this at the office. It makes a great break from the restaurants or eating at home and brings the office together at lunch. Simply chose a couple of judges and as many contestants as you want. If you do try this and come across a great recipe, we’ll be willing to put it into this column with the appropiate comments from staff members. Meaning you and your organization will get credit. Remember we place an emphasis on healthy cooking.

Good luck to all.

Gumbo a la Chicken & Sausage

A saucy little little number that’ll fill you up.

1 cup oil

1 cup flour

2 large onions, chopped

2 bell peppers, chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

4 quarts chicken stock

2 whole bay leaves

3 teaspoons Creole seasoning

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

3 pounds cooked chicken, cut into pieces

2 pounds andouille or kielbasa sausage cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 bunch green onion tops, chopped

2/3 cup fresh chopped parsley

1. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning and brown quickly.

2. Brown the sausage, pour off fat and reserve meats.

3. In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil and cook the flour in the oil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches a medium to dark brown color, being careful not to burn it.

4. Add the vegetables and stir quickly. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes.

5. Add the stock, seasonings, chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, then cook for about one hour, skimming fat off the top as needed.

6. Add the chopped scallion tops and parsley, and heat for 5 minutes.

7. Serve over rice in large shallow bowls.

Potato Casserole

1 1/2 pounds (4 to 5 medium) potatoes, peeled & diced

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 tablespoons flour salt and pepper

2 cups milk

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled & sliced

2 tablespoons chopped onion

3 tablespoons dried bread crumbs

1. Place potatoes in large saucepan. Cover with cold water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook 20 to 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender, drain; reserve.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan.

3. Add flour, salt, and pepper; cook until bubbly.

4. Add milk; stir well. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.

5. Combine potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, onion, salt, and pepper in lightly greased 1 1/2 quart casserole.

6. Add white sauce; blend lightly with spatula. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter. (You can buy the white sauce package for this recipe. I won’t tell if you do.)

7. Add bread crumbs; mix well. Sprinkle buttered crumbs over casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Roasted Veggies

A nice little side dish that’s easy to make.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 /2 pound peeled and cubed sweet potatoes

1 pound peeled and cubed turnips

10 cloves unpeeled garlic

1 pound chopped onions

2 teaspoons crumbled sage

1/2 pound peeled and cut carrots

2 teaspoons crumbled rosemary

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a large heavy roasting pan in oven for 15 minutes.

2. Coat pan with half the oil and add vegetables, garlic and herbs.

3. Drizzle remaining oil over vegetables in pan.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Seal tightly with aluminum foil and roast in oven for 30 minutes.

6. Remove foil and roast 15-20 minutes more, or until vegetables are tender.

Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup

Spring is here or just around the corner depending on how far north you are and that means allergies, flus and colds. This soup will help you gain back your strength. However, even if you aren’t sick this soup will be great.

1 chicken (3 to 3 1 /2 pounds), skinned & cut into 8 pieces

8 cups of water

2 tsp. chicken bullion

5 carrots cut into 1 /2-inch pieces

3 celery ribs, cut into 1 /2-inch pieces 2 onions, chopped

8 sprigs of parsley, chopped 1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. garlic powder 1/2- tsp. black pepper 11/2 cups medium egg noodles

1. In a Dutch oven, bring chicken, water and bullion to a boil over high heat.

2. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for one hour until chicken is done.

3. Remove the meat to a bowl to cool.

4. While chicken cools, add carrots, celery, onions, parsley sprigs, salt, and black pepper to the chicken stock cook on high.

5. Remove the bones of the chicken and cut into 1-inch pieces and return to soup.

6. Skim the fat from the top of the soup.

7. When veggies are done add noodles and return the soup to a boil.

8. Reduce heat to medium and cook 5 minutes, or until the noodles are tender.

24-hour Fruit Salad

A friend of mine tried my fresh fruit salad then insisted I try this mostly canned one. I can guarantee kids of all ages will love it.

* Whipped Cream Dressing (recipe below)

1 can (16 1/2 ounces) pitted sweet cherries, drained

2 cans (15 1 /4 ounces each) pineapple chunks in juice, drained and 2 tablespoons juice reserved

3 oranges, cut into small chunks (or 2 cans (11 ounces ea.) mandarin orange segments, drained, can be substituted for the oranges)

1 cup miniature marshmallows (optional)

1. Prepare Whipped Cream Dressing, (recipe below)

2. “Gently” toss dressing and remaining ingredients in large glass or plastic bowl.

3. Cover and refrigerate at least 12 hrs. to blend flavors but no longer than 24 hours.

Whipped Cream Dressing

2 large eggs, beaten 2 tbs sugar

2 tbs lemon juice 2 tbs reserved pineapple juice 1 tbs margarine or butter dash of salt

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Heat all ingredients except whipping cream just to boiling in 1-quart saucepan over medium heat; stirring constantly; cool.

2. Beat whipping cream in chilled medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff.

3. Fold in egg mixture. (No. 1)

Cooking tips

Burnt food stuck to your favorite cooking pot or pan?

To remove burnt food from a pot, try boiling water in it until the food lifts off. Or sprinkle cleanser or a little dishwashing detergent onto the bottom, add water to cover, and let the pot soak for about an hour before scrubbing. If the burn is really severe, you’ll have to repeat this process a couple of times. Or warm the pot in your oven; then remove and place it on a piece of newspaper. Wearing rubber gloves, spray all burned areas with oven cleaner and after 15 minutes wash in hot, soapy water. Don’t try oven cleaner with nonstick pans, however-they require gentle cleaning. Wash them with hot sudsy water and a sponge or soft plastic cleaning pad. Avoid harsh abrasives and steel wool pads that can damage the interior coating.

Just why do I have a box of baking soda in my pants?

Yes, yes, you can cook with it but it can also do all sorts of other things. Here’s just a few of my reasons why I keep a box handy.

1. Sprinkle it in shoes to kill odor. You men know what I mean.

2. If you’re a part-time bachlor while the wife’s on vacation and don’t know how to work a washing machine, layer it in the hamper! Especially on the socks. A little warning though, because the little angel will kill you if you use this one as she’ll spend all day doing laundry. Not the best “welcome back honey” message.

3. Mix a teaspoon of it in a glass of water when you take aspirin and the aspirin won’t upset your stomach.

4. Sprinkle it on the carpet and let it stand for half an hour before vacuuming to freshen your room.

5. Add a little to your toothpaste to whiten those teeth.

6. And finally the one we all should know! Tuck a small bowl of baking soda in the corner of your refrigerator or freezer to eliminate odors. Note: This is for odors like onion, etc. If something’s rotten, for God’s sake, throw It out!


Ok, ok, I stole the title from the restaurant, so sue me and I’ll ask for advertising dollars. But here’s a few egg facts to ponder before you crack a yoke.

A fresh egg will sink in water, a stale one will float.

An egg white is easiest to beat at room temperature. Take the egg out of the refrigerator about 1 /2 hour before using.

For light, fluffy scrambled eggs, add a little water while beating the eggs. Add vinegar to the water when boiling eggs. The vinegar helps seal the egg.