Thai Chicken Soup

This easy Thai soup recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, and full of flavor. It also yields some excellent leftovers.Soup season will soon be over. But while it lasts, this recipe is one to try before warm weather hits. Especially if you love Thai food. This recipe is my version of one from the Elana’s Pantry website.

This recipe is easy, dairy-free, gluten-free, and bursting with flavor. It makes a big batch. That’s good because The Man of Steel and I would have quibbled over the leftovers otherwise. Needless to say, this version of Thai soup received the Hiram Coveted Seal of Approval. Next time, I may add some red pepper flakes to add a bit more heat.

Thai Chicken Soup


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 bunch green onion, chopped
  • 8 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 28 ounces coconut
  • ½ pound crimini mushrooms
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 pound chicken breasts skinless-boneless, halved lengthwise, sliced on bias, cut into ⅛ inch thick pieces
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • ½ cup cilantro, minced

Cooking Instructions

  1. Warm oil in a large saucepan over medium heat
  2. Add half of the green onions and cilantro, stirring frequently until softened, about 5 minutes
  3. Stir in stock and coconut milk and bring to a simmer
  4. Pour broth through a fine mesh strainer and discard solids (green onions and cilantro)
  5. Return broth to saucepan
  6. Reduce heat to medium, add mushrooms and broccoli and cook until tender, about 5 minutes
  7. Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until no longer pink
  8. Combine lime juice, curry paste and fish sauce in a small bowl then stir into soup
  9. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro, chilies and scallions


Crock Pot Pulled Pork

This recipe for pulled pork contains natural ingredients, is dairy-free, and easy to make. Plus it received the coveted Hiram seal of approval.During our last visit to see the grandkids, the cook served the most delicious pulled pork. The Man of Steel raved over it so much I had to asked for the recipe and was directed to the 100 Days of Real Food website. That’s where I learned that the recipe for crock pot pulled pork was low in sugar and had no preservatives. Plus it was easy, and has been mentioned before, had already received the coveted Hiram Seal of Approval.

This makes a large batch. We ate some, saved some for left overs, and froze the rest for another meal in a couple weeks.

Crock Pot Pulled Pork

  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 3 to 3 ½ pounds pork shoulder, cut in half
  1. In a bowl, mix the dry spices together with a fork.
  2. Add the honey, vinegar, and olive oil and stir until smooth.
  3. Place the onion in the bottom of the crock pot Top it with the 2 pieces of pork and then pour the spice mixture over every side of the meat.
  4. Turn the slow cooker on to low and cook for 6 hours or until the meat is tender enough to be easily shredded with a fork.
  5. Remove the meat from the crock pot and place in a pan to cool. Once it has cooled, shred the meat and return it to the liquid in the crock pot.
  6. Serve warm on buns. For a side dish try fresh spinach salad.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corn Beef and Cabbage 1For the past several months, I’ve been creating and freezing meals for my son and daughter-in-law and for my daughter and son-n-law, all parents of the 2 most adorable babies born in 2015. I have lost count of how many meals I’ve cooked, frozen, packed in coolers, and hauled to Wisconsin on the weekends we’ve visited.

The freezer meal binge ended well with this recipe for slow cooker corned beef and cabbage. It originally appeared at the Family Fresh Meal site. I made a double batch so we could eat some for supper and have enough left over for a freezer meal for each family. One batch went into the slow cooker (and the batches are big) to cook all day. The other was cooked in my big cast iron dutch oven in a 250 degree oven. It was done about 2 hours sooner than was the slow cooker. The adjusted times for adding vegetables for the oven version are in parentheses.

The meal was delicious and received the coveted Hiram seal of approval. I hope the frozen meals (3 gallon bags full) are just as good.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

5-6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small onion, cut into wedges
3 cups of water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
8 ounce beer (I split a 12 ounce bottle between the 2 batches and had plenty of broth)
3 pounds corned beef brisket
1 pound carrots (about 4) peeled and cut into strips
1 pound small red potatoes, quartered
1 pound head of green cabbage, cut into wedges

Place onion wedges and garlic at the bottom of slow cooker. These will act as a stand for meat, so it doesn’t touch the bottom and dry out. Place beef on top of onions and garlic.

Next, mix together water, beer, sugar and vinegar. Pour over beef and then sprinkle seasoning packet that came with the corned beef over meat.

Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 8 hours. (For dutch oven method, cook in 250 degree oven for 6 hours.)

After 4 hours of cooking, add in potatoes and carrots. (Add potatoes and carrots after 3 hours for dutch oven method.) Cover and continue cooking.

When 1 hour remains (40 minutes for dutch oven), add quartered cabbage and cook the remainder of the time. Serve hot with broth on the side for dipping and drizzling. Yum!

For freezer meals, allow the meat and vegetables to cool, place in zippered freezer bags and place in freezer, like this:

corned beef freezer




Cover and continue cooking

Top Ten Freezer Meals for New Parents, 2015

deep freeze

The winter of 2014-15 has been a long one. At this house that’s a good thing because with two new grandbabies, I’ve been cooking up freezer meals to make life easier for the two sets of new parents. These ten recipes have received thumbs’ up from the parents…when they have the energy to lift their arms, that is.

10. Slow Cooker Pork and Veggies: Easy to make, and it received both the New Parents’ Thumbs Up and Hiram’s Coveted Seal of Approval.

pork and veggies9.  Hearty Hamburger Stew: This one isn’t a slow cooker recipe, but it’s very easy to throw together and doesn’t require much cooking time.

Hearty Hamburger Stew8.  Barbeque Meatballs: These take a little longer to put together, but they don’t take up much freezer space.

shapeimage_1-1221-300x1717.  Spaghetti Sauce: This sauce can cook on top of the stove or in the crock pot. But a double batch won’t fit in a crock pot. Don’t ask me how I know this.

spaghetti sauce6.  Turkey-Veggie Sloppy Joes: Though I’m not usually a fan of Sloppy Joes, these are very good…almost like a casserole in a bun.Turkey-veggie Sloppy Joes5.  Crock Pot Chicken Fajitas: As I said a few weeks ago when this recipe first posted, it’s about the easiest recipe ever. And it freezes really well.

Chicken Fajita4.  Minestrone: Another winner of Hiram’s Coveted Seal of Approval and the New Parents’ Thumbs Up. The cook likes it, too, because it tastes like it’s a lot of work, but it’s not.

Minestrone3.  Italian Wedding Soup: Yet another double winner. The other day, I tried it with ground turkey instead of ground beef, and it tasted just the same.

Italian Wedding Soup2.  French Stew: If you visit this website frequently, you’ve probably seen this recipe before. It’s a family favorite, easy to freeze, crock pot friendly, and delicious.

French Stew1. Chicken (or Turkey) Tetrazinni: Whenever I offer to make freezer meals for the kids, this is the one recipe they request every time.

tetrazinniIs your mouth watering yet? Mine is. If you’d like more recipes, check out the post for Gravel Road’s Top Ten Freezer Meals compiled a couple years ago. And if you have a bang up freezer meal, give it a shout out in the comment box.

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

This recipe for Italian wedding soup comes from my sister and brother-in-law. They served it during our Thanksgiving stay with them. The Man of Steel raved about it and couldn’t get enough of it. So our hosts graciously pointed me to the recipe which they found at

They made in dairy free by not adding Parmeson cheese to the meatballs. Instead, they put the cheese on the table so diners could sprinkle some on top of each bowlful. Even with that alteration, this soup immediately received Hiram’s coveted seal of approval. And it received a second ringing endorsement when I served it recently at our house, too.

Italian Wedding Soup, Dairy Free Version

Meatball ingredients:
1 pound
extra-lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs1 teaspoon dried basil
3 tablespoons minced onion

Soup ingredients:2 1/2 quarts chicken broth
2 cups spinach – packed, rinsed and thinly sliced
1 cup seashell pasta
3/4 cup diced carrots


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the beef, egg, bread crumbs, basil and onion. Shape mixture into 3/4-inch balls and set aside.
  2. In a large stockpot heat chicken broth to boiling; stir in the spinach, pasta, carrot and meatballs. Return to boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, at a slow boil for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente, and meatballs are no longer pink inside. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Slow Cooker Pork and Veggies

pork and veggiesFor most of December and January, I made double batches of slow cooker meals for supper a couple times a week. The Man of Steel and I ate half the food and the other half went into the freezer for later transport to my son and daughter-in-law, who have a new baby this winter.

This recipe comes from Loving My Nest, which features all sorts of freezer meals/slow cooker meals. My version, found below, received the coveted Hiram seal of approval. He liked it so much, there was barely enough left of the double batch to freeze for the new parents!

Slow Cooker Pork and Veggies

1 pound pork roast, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, sliced
4 medium carrots, sliced
½ pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine ingredients in the crock pot. Cook on low for 6–8 hours. Serve over rice or with French bread or baguette. Feeds 6–8.

Non-Dairy Brunch Casserole

Brunch CasseroleEgg bakes are so yummy, but because of their high dairy content, they’re often off limits to people with dairy allergies. But this egg bake, served by my daughter-in-law at our Christmas brunch, is not only dairy-free, but also delicious. So delicious it received the coveted Hiram Seal of Approval, which may have something to do with the pound of bacon on top. The original recipe can be found at All Recipes. Below you’ll find the modified dairy-free version.

Non-Dairy Brunch Casserole

1 pound bacon
2 onions, chopped
2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
4 cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
1 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups rice, soy, almond, or coconut milk

Place bacon in a large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain and set aside. Add the mushrooms and onion to the skillet; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent and the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.

Spray a 9×13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Place potatoes in bottom of prepared dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with crumbled bacon, then add the onions and mushrooms.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the milk. Add the garlic. Pour the mixture over the casserole. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until set. This casserole can also be baked immediately after it’s prepared. In that case reduce the baking time to 45 minutes.

Cilantro Pesto Pork Chops

Cilantro pesto pork chopGuess who’s back in the kitchen? Not only cooking again, but also looking for ways to use meat from our half of a hog purchased from our farmer son. The meat in our freezer and a craving for cilantro pesto prompted a “pork and cilantro recipes” internet search. It turned up a deceptively simple Better Homes and Gardens recipe for pan-seared pork chops with cilantro pesto.

I substituted cilantro pesto from my freezer instead of making it according to the original recipe’s directions. But the rest of the instructions were followed exactly. The pork chops were delicious enough to receive the coveted Hiram seal of approval. They received my seal of approval because they were tasty, as well as easy to make and a very fast meal to throw together.

Cilantro Pesto Pork Chops

2 cubes of frozen cilantro pesto, thawed  1/4 cup fresh pesto
4 1/2 inch thick, bone-in pork chops
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix the brown sugar and chili powder together. Sprinkle on pork chops and rub mixture in with fingers. Flip chops over and do the same on the other side.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork. Cook for 5–7 minutes on each side, turning once, until they are no longer pink. Serve chops with cilantro mixture.


Late Summer Cucumber, Tomato, & Zucchini Salad


What’s a person to do when the vegetable drawer is stuffed with summer produce that needs to be used? How about typing the names of all those veggies, along with “recipe” and “salad” into a search engine to see what turns up? That’s a strategy that worked beautifully for me. I settled on a dish at the All Recipes site, and added a few more veggies we had on hand.

This recipe makes a big batch, which was fine because we had a houseful of company. But for an intimate dinner at home with the Man of Steel, I would halve the recipe. That said, we found a delicious way to use the leftovers for supper a few days later. I browned a pound of ground sausage. We put the sausage in pita bread and piled on the salad (Man of Steel added ranch dressing, too) to make sandwiches reminiscent of gyros. They received Hiram’s enthusiastic seal of approval.

Late Summer Cucumber, Tomato, & Zucchini Salad

2 large cucumbers, diced
1 zucchini, seeded and diced
3 large tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium sweet pepper, diced
1 cup chopped kalamata olives
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped basil
2 teaspoons fresh, chopped thyme
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon cracked, black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a large salad bowl, mix together the cucumbers, zucchini, red onion, tomatoes, sweet pepper, kalamata olives, basil, and thyme. In a separate bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, kosher salt, sugar, and white pepper until thoroughly combined. Pour the olive oil slowly into the dressing mixture, whisking to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad. Can be served immediately, but is better if allowed to marinate for a couple hours in the refrigerator.

Basil Pesto Pasta

Basil Pesto Pasta

One cooking puzzle I’ve never been able to solve is how to achieve the perfect marinara sauce to pasta ratio. My tendency is to overdo the pasta, which means that 9 out of 10 times we have left over spaghetti noodles. If it’s just a little bit, we throw it away. But recently, I made way too much. So much that my guilty conscience kicked into high gear at the thought of wasting so much food.

Therefore, I did the logical thing and created a new recipe to make good use of the leftovers. The resulting meal was a big hit and received the coveted Hiram Seal of Approval. It is dairy-free and versatile, as the cook can add or substitute ingredients, especially the veggies, depending on what’s available.

Basil Pesto Pasta

12 ounces cooked spaghetti noodles
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts pieces (or use pine nuts or almonds)
1/2 cup basil pesto
1/3 cup red sweet pepper, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped (optional)
1 cup kale, torn into small pieces (or use broccoli, green beans, or cauliflower)
1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
1/2 cup thin-sliced pepperoni, each slice quartered

Heat oil over medium heat in large, heavy pan. Add walnuts and stir fry for 2 minutes or until they begin to brown slightly. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper toweling.

Add vegetables and stir fry until hot, but still fairly firm. Add cooked pasta and stir well until coated with oil. Add the pesto and stir until the pasta is evenly coated. (This takes patience!) Add olives, pepperonim and nuts. Stir for another minute. Serve immediately. Sprinkle with feta or Parmesan cheese if desired.