Calico Bean Soup and Cornbread

Hearty bean soup is the perfect low cost dish for this spring weather that can be cloudy, drizzly and chilly in between the sunny, warm days.  It tastes so good, no one will realize how cheap it is to make. Beans are full of fiber, which is so good for you and yet can feel a little terrible at the same time if you aren’t used to it.  I have a hack for that.

calico bean soup

My dad was given this soup as a Christmas Gift from his secretary one year when I was a girl and the whole family loved the mix of flavors. My mom begged for the recipe and it has been a cherished favorite ever since.

Calico Bean Soup

3 cups of mixed beans (A 6 or 9 bean mix works great)

5 cups of water

1 Tbs dried chives

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried savory

½ tsp cumin

1 bay leaf

½ tsp black pepper

1 can, 15 oz chopped tomatoes, undrained

The night before: Combine dry beans with 9 cups of water in a large bowl. Sit on the counter overnight. In the morning: Drain beans.  If you forget to pre-soak the beans, this recipe will still work.  Just add an extra cup of water.

Some say beans are harder to digest if you don’t presoak them.  We get gas either way.  Just being honest.  We are saved the embarrassment if we remember to take amylase enzyme before eating.  Amylase breaks down starches and helps the probiotics process the fiber. I take an enzyme blend to prevent any digestion discomfort.

Slow Cooker Method: Place drained beans in a slow cooker. Add cooking water seasonings, and tomatoes. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

Pressure Cooker Method: Place drained beans in a pressure cooker. Add cooking water seasonings, and tomatoes. Or combine ingredients in a pressure cooker and cook at high pressure for 40 minutes.

Discard bay leaf and sprinkle with dried or fresh parsley just before serving.

1/8 of the pot of soup has 122 calories; 15 net carbs, and 14g of protein



This is a great all-purpose cornbread recipe and goes with a lot of different dishes.  Corn and Beans have complimentary proteins so when eaten together you get all the essential amino acids. Ground millet can be subbed for the cornmeal for those with allergies or sensitivities to corn.  It tastes very similar to the real thing.  Doubling the recipe is the perfect amount for a 9×13 pan.
1 cup cornmeal (or Masa Harina)

1 cup hard white wheat flour

1 Tbs Baking Powder

½ tsp salt

2-4 Tbs coconut sugar (brown sugar or honey) (If you are used to cake like cornbread go for the higher amount of sugar)

2 eggs

1 cup milk

¼ cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the middle of the bowl. Add eggs, butter, and milk. Stir until just combined. Pour batter into a greased 8×8 inch pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve with butter and honey.  Makes 9 2″square servings.

A 2” inch square has 144 calories; 23 net carbs and 6g protein

Homemade Beef Stew Mix

homemade beef stew mix

Beef stew is one of those dishes that is hard to mess up (if you use the right about of salt.)  Onions and garlic can give plenty of flavor on there own.  Once you taste a stew with just the right blend of herbs, it changes everything.  Read more

One Pot Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Dip

 Our guest recipe today is from Aimee of The Captivating Corner. If you need a no mess dish to take to a gathering, for hospitality, or an after school snack, this one has your back.   If you are really in a hurry it can be made on the stovetop too.

Here is an oldie but goodie appetizer. It is a personal favorite of mine, I have had it so many times that I have lost count. Maybe it is new for you? Seriously no matter if I am entertaining at my own house or going over to a friend or familys place of residence for entertainment, you can guarantee that this will be there as an appetizer! 


4 cups Shredded Chicken

1 cup Cheddar Cheese

1/4 cup Hot Sauce

1/4 cup Ranch Dressing

1 package cream cheese


In a crock pot, put in cream cheese, 1/4 cup ranch dressing, and 1/4 cup hot sauce. 1 cup cheddar cheese and 4 cups shredded chicken. After 1 hour stir ingredients. Cook ingredients for an additional 3 hours or until cream cheese is melted. That’s it folks, a one pot wonder. You can’t get simpler than this recipe. That is part of the reason why I enjoy a crock pot so much!

The dip can be paired with a wide variety of foodie snacks. My favorites include crackers and celery. I have also had it with pretzels and tortilla chips.

What event would you take this appetizer to?

One Pot Wonder: Cheesy Sausage and Pasta

I’m excited to introduce this guest poster to you today!  She has a yummy recipe to share that’s perfect for those nights when you don’t want to wash a lot of pots and pans.

Hello!  I am Terri from Our Good Life blog and I am here as a guest host for our friend, Angela.  I am a retired elementary school principal and I know the value of a one pot meal!  My family is grown and gone, but my husband and I are busy retirees with a full schedule!  This meal was popular with my family and I hope you like it, too!

There is no better time saver than a one pot meal! It is a much healthier way to cook than to buy a boxed meal. One pot, skillet, or crockpot and you are ready to cook! It is a quick clean up as well, which is another way to cut down time away from your family. This quick meal uses whole wheat pasta, canned tomatoes, and turkey kielbasa to make this rich, delicious meal. Fresh veggies and yummy cheese make this a kid friendly meal. I know my family enjoys it!

One Pot Cheesy Sausage and Pasta

One Pot Cheesy Sausage and Pasta

by Terri Steffes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 c vegetable broth
  • 1/2 c water
  • 6 oz whole wheat rigatoni
  • 8 oz turkey kielbasa, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 green or yellow pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 t minced garlic
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 2 T Italian seasonings
  • 1/2 c shredded, low fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated


Pour tomatoes, broth and water into a dutch oven. Add in pasta, stir. Add sausage, onion, green pepper, and seasonings. Turn on high, bring to a boil. Stir, then turn to medium heat. Let cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste noodles, let cook until desired doneness. Turn to low, add cheeses and stir until melted. Scoop into individual servings and top with grated parmesan cheese.

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Variations: I have replaced the peppers with leftover broccoli with great success!  Any favorite type of pasta, rigatoni, shells or elbows will work in this recipe but you may have to adjust the cooking time depending on the noodle.   Happy cooking!

One Pot Wonder: Chicken Pasta Salad

This refreshing pasta salad, can be ready in just 10 minutes! Welcome, my guest blogger Blake from Style-Island as she shares her spring recipe.


I don’t know about you but many weeknights, especially once the weather gets warm…the idea of slaving over a hot kitchen is not appealing. When you still need to pull off an awesome and delicious dinner, one pot recipes come in handy.

As the weather warms up, it’s time to put away the soups, and take out the spring salads starting with this one pot chicken pasta salad. This dish is packed with protein, and perfect for spring!


1 bag bowtie pasta

Grilled chicken strips – 1 Pound

2 Cups grape tomatoes

2 cups baby spinach

1/4 cup ricotta salata

1/3 cup mozzarella – cut up into squares

Boil pasta 8-10 minutes. Mix everything together in pot. Add 3 tbsp olive oil and 3 garlic gloves. Stir occasionally. Serve warm or cold. 



It’s One Pot Wonder Week!

one pot wondersOooooooh, I’m so excited!  One Pot Wonders are deliciously easy meals that
require minimal clean up.  They often work well for outdoor cooking over an open fire with a skillet. (A flame is ok, no need to wait for coals.) And a lot of them can go in a freezer bag for make ahead prep, and dump and go cooking.

This is my preferred cooking method when I’m in a hurry, low on groceries, or tired of washing dishes. (And by preferred method, I mean using one pot on our indoor stove, not an open flame.) It’s perfect when the fridge is mostly bare, because you can combine bits of leftover things and turn it into one BIG dish.  If that sentence just grossed you out, try to hang on a little longer.  There are a few “rules” to make sure you get something delicious at the end.  Here’s what you need:

1.  Flavor theme:  Southwest, Italian, Oriental, BBQ….. For best results, stick to one flavor profile.

2. Protein:  Ground beef, Shredded chicken, Ground Turkey, Smoked Sausage, Breakfast Sausage; Italian Sausage; Eggs; Shrimp; Salmon…

3. Vegetables: Southwest: bell peppers; onions; corn; tomatoes. Italian: everything. Oriental: Everything, but especially baby corn; sugar snap peas; bamboo shoots; water chestnuts. BBQ: corn, carrots, onions, mushrooms; sweet potatoes; potatoes.

4. Starch: Pasta; Corn; Potatoes; Sweet Potatoes; Beans; Rice.

5.  Sauce or herbs; Cheese

I’ll be featuring recipes of tried and true one pot wonders the rest of this week.  I’m sure you can think of some you’ve had before:  Frittata; stir fry; fried rice; skillet lasagna; (hamburger helper….)

What’s your favorite one pot wonder?  Leave a comment and help us with ideas.


Freezer Bag Cooking: Lunch and Dinner

Freezer Bag Recipes lunch and dinner

Yesterday I shared with you some really simple Freezer Bag Breakfast Recipes perfect for camping or just to make ahead for busy moments.  Today I’m going to give you my best Freezer Bag Lunch and Dinner recipes.  When meals are packed frozen in a cooler, you need less ice and they gradually thaw to be ready when needed. (My FAVORITE part of this series is how often I can use the word smoosh <3.)

 Dutch Oven

Dutch Oven Pizza

Crust: 1 2/3 cup water; 1 Tbs yeast; 1 Tbs olive oil; 2 Tbs Honey; 1 tsp salt; 4 cups flour.  Mix together, kneading right in the bag, then press out the air and freeze.

Sauce: 6 oz tomato paste; 1/4 cup water; 1 tsp sugar; 1 tsp garlic powder; 1 tsp onion powder; 2 tsp parsley flakes; 1 tsp basil; 1/4 tsp oregano; a few dashes of oregano.  Mix in a smaller baggie and freeze.  Snip the corner to easily spread onto the pizza crust.

Additional ingredients:  Shredded mozzarella cheese; browned ground beef, pepperoni;

This is enough for 2 pizzas. Spread the thawed crust in the bottom and up the sides a bit of your well seasoned dutch oven.  Top with sauce, cheese and desired toppings.  Top with a lid. Bake for 20-3o minutes with 7 briquettes under the oven and 21 on the lid.
Sloppy Joe

Sloppy Joes

2 lb Ground meat (I use a combination of turkey and beef.)

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced bell pepper

2 cans, 8 oz tomato sauce

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic salt

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Brown the ground beef, peppers and onions together, drain.  Place the tomato sauce, chili powder, garlic salt and worcestershire in a freezer baggie.  Smoosh it around.  Add remaining ingredients and smoosh to mix evenly. Seal well and lay flat to freeze.  To prepare, squeeze thawed contents into a dutch oven or saucepan and heat through. Serve on buns or stuffed into pitas with slices of cheese.



l lb macaroni noodles (dry)

8 cups tomato juice

4 tsp sugar, xylitol or similar

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp garlic powder

1 lb ground beef, browned and drained

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped bell pepper

8 American cheeses slices

Brown ground beef with onion and bell pepper, drain.  Combine all but the cheese slices in a baggie (pasta should still be dry.)  Seal, and smoosh flat to freeze.   To prepare, pour contents of the bag into a casserole dish or dutch oven.  Top with cheese slices.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes (For a Dutch oven: 7 hot coals on the bottom 21 coals on the lid) or until heated through and pasta is soft.



8 oz broken spaghetti noodles

4 cups tomato sauce

3 cups water

1 tsp basil flakes

2 tsp parsley flakes

1 tsp salt

dash of cayenne pepper (opt)

1 lb ground beef

1 cup onion

Brown and drain ground beef with onion.  Add all ingredients to a freezer bag (use the noodles dry.)  Smoosh flat and freeze.  To prepare, pour thawed contents of the bag into a pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until pasta is tender and dish is thickened.


2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into strips.

1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 red onion

1 white onion

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lime juice

1 1/2 Tbs Seasoned Salt (like Lowry’s)

1 1/2 Tbs oregano flakes

1 1/2 Tbs ground cumin

1 Tbs garlic powder

1 Tbs chili powder

1 Tbs paprika

1 tsp salt

In a large baggie combine the oil, lime juice and herbs and spices.  Smoosh all around.  Add the chicken and sliced vegetables.  Press flat and freeze.  To prepare, thaw the bag. Use tongs to lift the meat and vegetables out of the bag into a hot skillet, discard remaining marinate. Stir fry until meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender.  Serve with tortillas and salsa.  (Other toppings as desired: lettuce, cheese, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole….)

Fiesta Chicken Bowls

2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup lime juice
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 lb corn kernels
1 tsp garlic powder
1 chopped red onion
1 can, 15 oz  black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Combine everything into a freezer bag and smoosh flat to freeze. To prepare, thaw bag.  Pour entire contents into a hot skillet and sauté until meat is cooked through.  Layer bowls with crushed tortilla chips and chopped lettuce.  Top with chicken mixture and serve with salsa, cheese, and ranch dressing.

Teriyaki chicken over Rice

2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces

1 lb sugar snap peas

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup pineapple juice (I drain it from canned pineapple)

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

1 tsp garlic powder

Combine all ingredients into a freezer bag and smoosh to freeze.  Freeze 4-6 cups cooked brown rice in a separate bag.  To prepare, pour contents of the bag into a skillet and saute until chicken is cooked through. Heat rice, by simmering the bag in hot water for 2-3 minutes.  Serve Teriyaki chicken over rice.

Taco Soup

2 lb ground beef or turkey

1 cup chopped onion

1 lb corn kernels

2 cans, 15 oz each black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can rotel tomatoes, undrained

4 Tbs taco seasoning

Brown ground beef with onion, drain.  Combine everything in a freezer bag.  Smoosh flat to freeze.  To serve, pour contents of the bag into a stock pot or dutch oven. Add 1 cup of water. Heat through.  Serve with Frito style corn chips and cheese or sour cream.

Creamy Southwest Soup: A slow cooked masterpiece

I ♥ pinterest.  From homemade Valentines, to kitchen remodel, to new healthy recipes–the inspiration is all there.  Tonight’s dinner is no exception.

Mondays and Wednesdays I play Mama Taxi and arrive home at dinner time.  By then blood sugars are low and tempers are high, so using the Slow Cooker is a must.

The original recipe for this dish came from Jenna at Held Scraptive.  I modified it to fit my pantry stash and to enlarge it for our family.

Creamy Southwest Soup

2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 can tomates and green chilies, undrained

2 cans whole kernel corn, undrained

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (we used 2 cups of black beans cooked from dry)

1 brick, 8 oz,  1/3 less fat cream cheese

1 envelope ranch dressing mix (I had some of JPs Bacon Ranch Mix that was a gift that I used, but next time I’ll use a homemade ranch mix recipe.)

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic salt

1/4 cup cilantro chopped

1 cup brown rice, cooked (we had some leftover from Sunday so I threw it in to make the soup stretch.) (I also threw in half a can of leftover enchilada sauce, just to use it up.)

In a 4-5 quart slow cooker, combine tomatoes, corn, and beans.  Place the brick of cream cheese on top, in the center away from the sides. Place chicken in a single layer over the top, sprinkle with spices.  Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours.  Turn off the heat.  Shred the chicken with two forks, and stir in the cream cheese, brown rice, and cilantro.   We served ours with cornbread muffins.

How it went over with the family:  I thought it was delicious (but I will eat anything….). It fit in well with my FYM healthy eating plan.  1 Cup has 255 calories; 22g carbs, 7g fat, and 22 g protein.  Darren said, “Wow, this has great flavor but it’s going to be spicy for the kids.”  Heidi drank 3 tall glasses of water but ate her whole bowl.  She declared it tasty but HOT.  Caleb, Heather and Brandon ate it all without a word (but I had to feed Brandon’s to him).  Dub didn’t mind the spiciness but hated the look of it, especially the tomatoes.  Darren had to feed him every bite and hid the tomatoes under stuff.  All in all for as picky as my family is, this is a recipe that I would try again.

I am just about sold on boneless skinless chicken.  It has been going on sale around here between $1-$1.39 a lb and to come home and just shred with 2 forks and eat was a huge mind reliever.  If DH was out of work, I would have used a $.69/lb whole chickens and not complain, but wowza was this easy and delicious.