June 2024 Monthly Letter

Dear Friends,

Even though the summer hasn’t officially started, the weather has been extremely hot and steamy, although that’s not new to South Carolina.  It seems like it lasts longer and gets hotter more often, and we keep flipping the pages of the calendar much faster.  I know you know what I am talking about.  Scientists at NASA have said that our solar system is moving faster through the universe. It’s infinitesimal, yet somehow we seem to feel it.  Speaking of the spinning of the planets, I hope some of you were able to see the Northern Lights courtesy of a solar storm.  Yep.  Solar Storm.  There’ve been three so far this summer.  Makes you wonder, or better we don’t!  LOL.

Most of you know that I have become one of those “Cat Ladies.”  I refrain from inserting the word “Crazy” but give me time.  They make me laugh out loud.  I can honestly say I probably do sound like a crazy cat lady.  I love those hooligans to the moon and back.

As far as book stuff, this month’s contest will be a grand prize of signed copies of ON THE LINE, TINY BLESSINGS, HIDE & SEEK, KISS & TELL, THE WILD SIDE, all stuffed inside a canvas tote bag.  Two other winners will receive signed copies of ON THE LINE.

The paperback edition of ON THE LINE is on sale now.  It’s filled with history and contemporary themes.  You will find yourself in the midst of Pablo Escobar’s narco-terrorist reign in the 1980’s and follow a family that goes to great lengths to escape to America.  Their son becomes the new “it” chef in the New York culinary scene, but a mysterious blood infection stops him in his tracks, while dark family secrets are revealed.

That’s my news for now.  Be safe, be kind, stay cool, and have fun.

All the best,

June 2024 Recipes

I LOVE bacon.  I make a salad with a pound of bacon but I’ll share that recipe another time.  With summer Bar-B-Ques I thought you might try a different take on potato salad.  You have to turn on the stove for that one, but the dessert recipe I included is No Bake!

I am also including an orzo recipe compliments of Gail Gallagher; and a sneak peak at a recipe that will be featured in an anthology scheduled for next spring.

German Potato Salad


  • 5 slices bacon (diced and cooked until crisp)
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cups sliced cooked potatoes – look for thin skinned like red or fingerling


  1. Boil already-sliced potatoes until they are cooked through. Set aside.
  2. Cook the bacon and keep the drippings. Set it aside to cool.
  3. Heat bacon drippings in a pan large enough to add the potatoes.
  4. Blend in flour, sugar, salt, and mustard.
  5. Slowly add vinegar and water, stir until smooth.
  6. Continue cooking over low heat, until thickened.
  7. Add potatoes and heat through, slowly add crumbled bacon-save a few tablespoons for garnish.
  8. Serve warm or room temp.

No Bake Cheesecake


  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • 4 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
  • ½ pint sliced fresh strawberries – sprinkled with sugar – set aside


  1. Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
  2. Fold in whipped topping.
  3. Spoon mixture into graham crumb crust. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  4. Once the cheesecake has set, garnish with sliced strawberries.

Grandma Matilda’s Plum Cake courtesy of Patricia Dorph


  • 1 cup butter, plus some to coat pan
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 6 ripe plums – cut into slices (remove pit)


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Coat round nine-inch pan with butter.
  3. Mix the sugar and 1 cup butter together until creamy.
  4. Stir in eggs.
  5. Add dry ingredients until mixed through.
  6. Spread mixture into pan.
  7. Begin in the middle and place 4-6 slices into a fan pattern, then alternate layers as you move from the middle of the pan to the inside edge.
  8. Place in oven. Bake 40 minutes and check with a toothpick to be sure it comes out clean. If not bake an additional five minutes.

Summer Orzo Salad


  • 1 box or bag of orzo (16 oz)
  • 1  1/2 tablespoon Lemon Zest
  • Juice of 2 lemons (add more after the orzo cools to keep moist)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped up
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped or mashed up
  • 1 cup of frozen baby peas – I put them in water to slightly thaw while orzo is cooking
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped up scallions (or I substitute sweet onions)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup packed arugula ( you can judge how much after mixing some through)


  1. Cook the orzo per package and drain well.
  2. Mix in the olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, peas, parsley, lemon juice and scallions. Mix well.
  3. Put aside until cool. Put in refrigerator covered after it stops steaming.
  4. After it is cool, mix in the parmesan cheese and the arugula.
    If you mix the cheese and arugula while it is still warm the cheese will melt and make it icky.
  5. Serve cold.

NOTE: if you have had the salad in the refrigerator for a couple of hours you might need to add a touch more olive oil and lemon as sometimes it gets absorbed into the orzo!

May 2024 Monthly Letter

Dear Friends,

Spring has come!  Flowers, trees, and shrubs are blooming.  It brings a sense of hope.  The phrase “Hope Springs Eternal,” is interesting that the words “hope” and “spring” are linked together.  Spring brings hope.  I can live with that.  Let’s “hope” the world will right itself, and people can live more harmoniously.  If any of you had the opportunity to view the eclipse, it can give one pause.  We truly are one under the sun.

Here we are in the month of May.  I mentioned this a couple of years ago, but it’s worth sharing again.  Did you ever wonder why they call it “The Merry Month of May?”  It’s a poem from a play The Shoemaker’s Holiday written by Thomas Dekker (circa 1590) an Elizabethan poet and pamphleteer.  It was first performed in 1599 by The Admirals Men, also known as The Earl of Nottingham’s Men, considered one of the most important acting troupes of The English Renaissance Theatre.  The play depicts everyday life during the reign of King Henry VI.  Here’s the first verse:

O the month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!
O, and then did I unto my true love say:
“Sweet Peg, thou shalt be my summer’s queen!

One of the lines mentions “Kiss and Toy” so I’ll just leave the rest to your imagination.  But isn’t it nice to know there was real heated romance way back when?  I guess they don’t call some of the more current romance novels “Bodice Rippers” for nothing!

Getting back to this month.  Mother’s Day is coming.  Do something nice for your mother if she is still here.  And if she isn’t, light a candle and say a prayer.  A mother’s love never dies.  And nobody’s perfect.

Speaking of families, my fur-babies are up to their usual tricks.  Miz Boo insists on walking on my head if I don’t get up fast enough.  I’ve been told that’s a “thing” with cats.  I swear they talk to each other somehow, and I’ve caught them giving each other sideways looks.  A bunch of wise guys.  LOL.  And they do make me laugh.

In addition to Mother’s Day, we have Memorial Day Weekend.  I’ll share some simple holiday recipes.  But first, on to book news.  The paperback edition of ON THE LINE will be available May 21st.  It’s about a young chef who is on his way to becoming the latest celebrity but becomes ill with a mysterious illness.  While he’s recovering in the hospital, he sees a segment with José Andrés and how he began The World Central Kitchen in 2010 after an earthquake in Haiti.  That much of the story is actually true.  Since that time World Central Kitchen has been providing food relief to people who are suffering from natural and unnatural disasters.  As of last month, the organization has served over 32 million meals.  Again, that is also true.  There is a lot of mystery and inspiration in the book, including how Mateo’s family escaped from the drug cartels in Columbia.  If you haven’t read the hardcover, I hope you will enjoy it, and be inspired by good deeds.

This month’s contest:  Two winners will receive:

Be safe, Be kind.
All the best,

May 2024 Recipes

It’s time for Fresh Basil!!

Watermelon Salad – Delicious and Pretty

Prep time: 15 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Serves: 4


  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 8-lb seedless watermelon cut into 1½-inch chunks
  • 1 cup reduced-fat feta
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves


In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add the watermelon, feta and onion and toss gently. Garnish with the basil and serve.

Smoked Mozzarella Salad

Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 8


  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • ½ cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 and ½ tsp.)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ pound whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach, washed and stemmed
  • 4 pieces jarred roasted red pepper, diced
  • ½ pound smoked mozzarella cheese, diced (use regular mozzarella if you can’t find smoked)
  • Fresh basil (optional)


  1. Combine the Parmesan cheese, parsley, mayonnaise, vinegar, garlic, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper with a hand mixer or in the bowl of food processor or in a blender until the dressing is smooth.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until it is al dente. Drain the pasta into a colander, run cold water over it or submerge it in ice water until chilled through, and drain well. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, spinach, roasted red peppers, and smoked mozzarella.
  3. Garnish with fresh basil, if desired. For best results, make this ahead of time and let chill for 2-4 hours before serving. Serve cold.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

20 minutes prep
8 hours cook time
Serves 8-10


  • 4 pounds pork shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika or try smoked paprika for more of that smoked flavor
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 10-12 slider buns or 8 regular buns


  1. Cut pork into 3-4 pieces
  2. Mix all dried spices together and rub into all sides of the pork
  3. Place vinegar and water in bottom of slow cooker and add pork
  4. Cover and cook for 8 hours
  5. Remove pork and shred
  6. Serve on slider buns or Hawaiian buns

April 2024 Monthly Letter

Dear Friends,

Hooray for Spring!  Blooming flowers brings me so much joy, and we can all use some of that now.  I know the world is a mess, but we can’t give up on hope.  Pray, meditate, whatever brings you peace.  We have to think that way otherwise we will be depressed, and I know so many people are feeling down and exhausted.  Maybe vow to not watch the news for a day or two.  Take a walk.  Start your gardens.  Nature is a good antidote.  If it’s raining watch an old favorite movie.  Bake something delicious.  Meet a friend for lunch.  Reframe those photos that have been sitting in a box.  Do something that brings you peace, and a little satisfaction.

We have a rare cosmic event on April 8th:  A full solar eclipse will be seen by most of the states.  PLEASE be sure to wear special glasses.  You can buy inexpensive cardboard frames that are specifically designed for this.  And I mean inexpensive.  You can get a pack of ten for ten bucks, but make sure they are ASS (American Astronomical Society) and ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certified.

For the past two months I have been plagued with major computer issues, and I know I am not alone when it comes to techno nightmares.  And, if you’ve been through this, you know how frustrating it is, plus all the time wasted.  Being on deadlines makes it even more annoying, but here I am, back at the keyboard, until the internet decides to “take a powder.,” which means to leave in a hurry.  Some of you know that expression, but did you know where it came from?  Back in the 1920’s laxatives were in powder form.  When a doctor would prescribe it, you had to leave in a hurry!  I think it’s kind of funny.  But here’s something that’s not so funny.


Book news:  this is a little eerie, but I wanted to share it with anyone who hasn’t read ROCK BOTTOM yet, or if you did, you know it’s about buildings and bridges collapsing, and last week there was a terrible accident on the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.  Gave me chills in more ways than one.

THE WILD SIDE is out now, and as I mentioned last month, Melanie Drake kicks butt as a retired OSI officer, brought back for a few missions while she is currently working as a guidance counselor.  She is a woman of many disguises as she escorts some of the richest men in the world.  Lots of intrigue, mystery, and two dogs!

This month’s contest we will have two winners.  Each will receive a pretty tote bag with signed copies of ON THE LINE, THE WILD SIDE, ROCK BOTTOM, WISH LIST and HIDE & SEEK.

Be well, stay safe, be kind, and remember to maintain a sense of humor.

All the best,

April 2024 Recipes

Stuffed Shells 


  • 1 lb. of large macaroni shells
  • 2 cups Ricotta cheese – please don’t ruin it with cottage cheese!
  • 1 cup parmesan or Romano cheese – grated
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley – the dried stuff doesn’t do it
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil – this you can substitute for 2 tsps. dried basil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese – or more if you like a lot of cheese


Marinara sauce:  If you want to save time and have EXCELLENT sauce get a couple of jars of RAO’s.  Most grocery stores carry that brand now.  It comes from a family recipe at Rao’s Italian Restaurant in the Bronx.  The restaurant has only 10 tables and is considered THE hardest place to get a reservation.  For real.  It’s not even knowing someone.  It’s knowing someone who owns a slot who would be willing to give it up for you!

Cook the pasta al dente according to the package.  You don’t want them to get too mushy because you will be stuffing them and then baking them.
Drain and let them cool down a bit so you can handle them.

While the pasta is cooking – 10-12 minutes prepare the mixture.
Beat the eggs and mix ricotta and parmesan cheeses and herbs and blend. (The mozzarella goes on later.)
Fill each cooked shell with egg/cheese mix.

Preheat oven to 325.

Put a small layer of sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish.
Lay stuffed shells on top of the sauce. Its ok to overlap them if necessary.
Top the shells with more sauce, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.

Bake for 20 minutes.

They’ll think you have an Italian chef in your kitchen!

Short Ribs Slow Cooker 

This is SO easy!


  • 2 lbs. short ribs
  • 3 large peeled carrots cut into chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic – sliced
  • 1 onion sliced (can use leeks if you want)
  • 1 8oz. package of mushrooms (optional)
  • 2 tsps. Thyme
  • 1 8oz. can of beef broth
  • 2 cups red wine or alcohol free wine


Salt the ribs on both sides and brown in a little olive oil– 2 minutes on each side.
Remove from pan and set aside.
Sauté the onion and garlic in same pan used for browning the short ribs until wilted.

In crock pot add broth, thyme, wine, carrots, mushrooms if desired, then add the wilted onions and garlic and short ribs to the crock pot.
Set on low for 8 hours.

The meat will fall off the bone!

Creamy Cheesecake

Combine in blender:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 lbs. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Pour blender mixture in graham cracker crust.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool slightly before spreading topping on top.


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Spread topping on. Bake at 475 degrees for 5 minutes. Refrigerate.
If desired, top with cherries (or 1 can of cherry pie filling) before serving.

March 2024 Monthly Letter

Hello Friends,

March comes in like a Lion???  Been on the warm side, all over the country.

Lots going on this month and into the first week of April.  First, we have The Ides of March, the day when Julius Caesar was assassinated.  Most people were taught that Caesar was warned by a soothsayer “Beware the Ides of March,” but, in fact, the line comes from William Shakespeare in his play, Julius Caesar.  Interesting, eh?  And “Et tu Brute?”  (And you too, Brutus?  Accusing his friend of treason) was also from the play.  By the way, the play was written in 1599, by candlelight.  Glad I have electricity and a computer!

Two days after the Ides, we have St. Patrick’s Day.  Here’s another interesting factoid.  St. Patrick was kidnapped when he was sixteen and worked as a shepherd for six years.  During that time, he received a “message from God” telling him to flee to the coast where he would find freedom.  And he did, which was what inspired him to become a priest.  The legend that he banished “snakes” from Ireland is an allegory—he actually banished paganism from Ireland.  I guess pagans were called snakes at the time.

At the end of the month, we have Easter.  I mention this every year because I find it fascinating.  As you know, Easter falls on different Sundays.  Why?  Because it’s the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the Equinox.  Equinox is March 19th.  Full Moon is March 26.  The next Sunday is March 31st.

Now that we’ve completed the history part of this letter, let’s move on to things more personal.  The fur family is doing just fine, and I still haven’t been able to figure out who is unraveling the toilet paper.  Some of you know, Miz Boo’s front paw is a stump, which is what has me stumped.  When I ask them who made the mess, they all look at each other and shrug.  Mind games.

I also want to remind you about cyber security.  There is an enormous amount of scams and spam flooding the internet.  When you search for a specific company or website, make sure https: accompanies the name of the company.  It’s easy to be fooled into thinking you’re logging into one website when it isn’t what you think it is.  Be careful.  It’s scary and dangerous out there in cyberspace.

Book news:  The Wild Side will be published on March 26th.  Melanie Drake, a seemingly ordinary guidance counselor, gets dragged into doing one final job for her previous boss at the Department of Special Investigations, and goes undercover as a high-class escort to bring down a dangerous network of ruthless and powerful men.  I’ll be giving away a signed copy in this month’s contest, as well as a few of my favorites.  Goodreads is also sponsoring a contest.  So be sure to enter one or both.  I think you’ll like Melanie.  She’s a kick-ass character.

Be well, be safe, be happy.  Thanks for stopping by.
All the best,

March 2024 Recipes

Now on to something delicious.

Easter Brunchy Food:



  • loaf French bread (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 Cups unsweetened milk
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • maple syrup, for serving


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


Grease 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place bread cubes in baking dish. In large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour mixture evenly over bread cubes.

If making casserole ahead, cover baking dish and refrigerate overnight. If baking immediately, let stand 30 minutes at room temperature to allow bread to soak up egg mixture.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

To make topping: Drizzle casserole with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and pecans. Top with strawberries and blueberries.

Cover and bake 35 minutes then uncover and bake 10-20 minutes, or until topping is browned and egg mixture has mostly set.

Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and let stand 10 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with maple syrup.


Need ovenproof frying pan.


  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 can potatoes or 1 cup [blanched] sliced fresh potatoes
  • 1 package of frozen artichoke hearts –[thawed]
  • ½ cup sun dried tomatoes – sliced
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh basil leaves shredded/chopped
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 4-containers of Eggbeaters [or 6-8 eggs scrambled]
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese [according to taste preference] to melt on top  just before done


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Sauté onions and potatoes in olive oil until soft.

Add artichokes and sun dried tomatoes and sauté until ingredients are mixed.

Whisk eggs and parmesan cheese together and pour mixture over veggies, toss half the basil on top.

Let entire mixture set for about five-seven minutes on top of stove on low-medium, heat.  You don’t want it to cook through.

Once set, place frying pan in oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle shredded cheese and bake additional 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit for 3-4 minutes.  Garnish with remaining basil.



  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Finely chopped zest of 1 lemon or 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 egg, large
  • 1½ cups (225 g) Pamela’s Bread Mix
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅓ cup milk or milk substitute
  • ¾ cup fresh blueberries


Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease 7 or 8 muffin cups, or use muffin papers sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat together oil, white and brown sugar, lemon juice, zest or extract, and egg until creamy.

In another bowl, whisk together Bread Mix, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.

Alternately stir flour mixture and milk into egg mixture, in two additions each, stirring until smooth after each addition.

Set aside ¼ cup of the blueberries to put on top of the muffins; add the other ½ cup to the dough and gently mix to combine.

Scoop dough equally into muffins cups.

Press reserved berries slightly into tops.

Bake for 22 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean.

Serve muffins once they are cool enough to handle.

February 2024 Monthly Letter

Dear Friends,

I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well.  I was looking over some of my previous letters.  Three years ago we were in the midst of a pandemic.  Seems like yesterday when you could walk into a bank wearing a mask and no one would call the police.  Ha.  Glad that’s behind us, but let’s not get complacent my friends.  It’s flu season, and there are a few different strains running amuck.  So still be mindful when you’re in public, especially if someone is sneezing and not covering their mouth.  And, of course, wash your hands.  That was my health reminder for the month.

The weather has been crazy everywhere and it seems as if the sun has taken a very long vacation.  I keep trying to sing “The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow” but then I am reminded I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, so I’ll sing it in my head.

Here’s a factoid about Groundhog Day:  I heard that Staten Island Chuck has a better forecasting average than Punxsutawney Phil.  Chuck’s accuracy is 80% while Phil’s is 39%.  My money is on Chuck.  In either case, Spring is due on March 19th this year.

Besides Ground Hog Day, we also have Valentine’s Day.  I have mixed feelings.  As a writer of romance novels, I am sometimes ambivalent about it.  I know that sounds contrary but the reason I write those types of novels is because it’s the kind of romantic experience we wish we could have.  And who says we can’t?  If no one buys you candy this year, buy some for yourself.  Or buy yourself a new purse.  Something to treat yourself.  We shouldn’t have to wait for other people to do something nice for us.  That being said, in addition to signed books, this month’s contest will include a small box of four real, red preserved roses to share the love.  Also is a signed copy of THE WILD SIDE.  It’s an advance reading copy.  I believe I explained what that was in a previous letter, but just in case you missed it, the publisher prints a very limited edition of uncorrected proofs to be sent to reviewers in order to give them time to read it and review it before the book goes on sale.  In addition, it will include a copy of ROCK BOTTOM – #35 in The Sisterhood.  #35!  Wow.  I am amazed, so thank you for your continued support.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Be well.  Be safe.  Be kind.  And keep your sense of humor!

All the best,

February 2024 Recipes

Here are a couple of recipes that will keep you warm and cozy until the tulips stick their head out.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Serves 6 –  Serving Size 2 cups

  • 1 pound bottom round beef roast, cut into 1-inch cubes, all visible fat discarded
  • 1 large russet potato, cut into 1/2-inch pieces about 2 cups
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch pieces about 2 cups
  • 2 cups thinly sliced carrots
  • 10 ounces frozen pearl onions
  • 1 14.5-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5-ounce can fat-free, low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 10 ounces frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley


  1. Add the beef, potato, and flour to a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, stirring well to combine.
  2. Add the sweet potato and carrots to the slow cooker. Top with the onions, tomatoes, broth, water, thyme, and pepper.
  3. Cook, covered, on low heat for 10 to 12 hours or high heat for 5 to 6 hours. Quickly stir in the peas and parsley. Re-cover the slow cooker. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes.

An easy, healthy favorite: 

Pasta Fagioli pronounced Pasta Fa-zool

This is more like a stew.  If you want it more like a soup see below.


  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 cloves large garlic chopped
  • medium onion chopped
  • tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
  • teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 16 oz. can of tomato sauce (I like Rao’s with basil.)
  • 8 oz. cans Cannellini Beans drained and rinsed
  • ¾ lb. dried small pasta shells (I like the shells because the beans get nestled in them and they hold the sauce better.)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Crushed red pepper – optional
  • Fresh chopped basil – for garnish


  1. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil
  2. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, broth, wine and herbs
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add parmesan cheese and  pasta and cook another 20-30 minutes until pasta is tender
  4. Garnish with basil, more grated cheese and crushed pepper. This will last in the frig for a week and in the freezer for a couple of months
  5. Easy peasy

For soup:

add 2 chopped carrots and 3 stalks of chopped celery, and 16 oz. of vegetable of chicken stock – follow same directions

And of course what would a letter be without GRILLED CHEESE!!!!

Here are a couple of my favorites.  BTW, did you know you can substitute mayonnaise (the real stuff) instead of butter?  I recently discovered that many diners use it in place of butter.

  • Grilled Swiss Cheese, Bacon & Tomato – I like it on Rye Bread
  • Make sure the bacon is cooked first.
  • *Slather up two slices of bread with either butter or mayo. Place slathered side down on medium heat in frying pan.
  • Place 2-3 slices of swiss cheese on each slice of bread. When cheese starts to melt top with bacon and a slice of tomato.  Let melt for another minute.  Carefully flip one of the slices over and place on top of the other – cheese meets cheese.

If you want a little tang:

  • Sourdough bread
  • Provolone
  • Cheddar

*Same routine as above substituting cheeses

Even more tang:

  • Your choice of bread
  • Monterey Jack
  • Jalapeno peppers – as much heat as you can stand
  • *Same routine as above substituting cheese and adding peppers