Tag Archives: tomatoes

Barley Chili


Now that the days have been cooler, I’ve been craving chili. But I wanted to try something different, so I played around with several recipes and came up with this unusual but delicious vegetarian version.  My inspiration was barley soup, so I thought, why not try barley in chili?  The result was both warming and tasty.  This chili is full of anti-oxidant rich, heart healthy vegetables, and is low in calories, so if you want a second serving, go for it!  

Diff:  Easy  Prep:  45 min  Cook:  25 min  Serves  8


¾ c. barley

2 cups boiling water

1 large green pepper, finely chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

2  T. olive oil

1 can (16 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (16 oz) Grilling beans – beans in seasoned tomato sauce

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce

1 can green chili peppers, mild

2 Thai hot red chili peppers, seeds removed, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ ground cumin

¾ c. shredded cheddar cheese (can use reduced fat)

*can add chopped roasted chicken (1-2 cups)



Place barley in a large bowl, pour in boiling water.  Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain water and squeeze dry.


In a large saucepan or stockpot, sauté green peppers and onion in oil until tender.


Stir in the drained barley.


Then stir in tomato juice, beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, Thai hot red chili peppers, green chili peppers, garlic and cumin.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese if desired.






Hope this warms you up on chilly days!

Until next week, wishing you all of God’s Blessings, good health and happy eating!

Smiles, Maria 

Tomato, Sausage & Cheddar Bread Pudding


maria wolffeThis dish is absolutely delicious!  It’s a great use for day old bread, and contains ingredients that can easily be found in most home pantries.  This is great at your own dinner table, but also is a great dish to take to potlucks and picnics.  The addition of brown sugar is unusual, but serves to make the dish heartier.  This pudding is a little richer than I normally make, so if you want a lower fat version, you can substitute whole or 2% milk, reduced fat cheddar cheese and switch to turkey sausage. I, however, made the recipe just as it appears below.   Feel free to experiment as that’s half the fun of cooking!  I gave this recipe a rating of Intermediate Difficulty because of the number of ingredients and amount of chopping involved. Recipe is easily doubled and can be frozen.


Diff: Inter    Prep: 30 min

Bake: 45 min    Serves 12




3 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese (12 oz)

1 can diced tomatoes, (28 oz), drained

1 # Italian bulk sausage

4 green onions, thinly sliced

¼ c. fresh basil, minced or 1 T. dried basil

¼ c. packed brown sugar

1 t. dried oregano

1 t. garlic powder

3 cups cubed day old French bread

6 eggs

1 ½ c. heavy whipping cream

½ t. salt

½ t. pepper

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese




  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • Cook Italian sausage, breaking meat up into small crumbles as it cooks.  When done, remove sausage, drain on paper towels and let cool.


  • Mince basil, green onions, set aside.

DSC03628 DSC03620

  • In a large bowl, combine the cheese, tomatoes, sausage, green onions, basil, brown sugar, spices and mix together well.

DSC03621 DSC03624 DSC03625

  • Stir in bread and mix until bread is well incorporated.


  • Transfer mixture to a greased 9 X 13 pan or divide evenly between two 1.5 qt. Casserole dishes (only showing one casserole dish due to space considerations).


  • In the same large bowl (time savings!), whisk eggs, cream, salt and pepper.


  • Pour mixture over bread mixture. 


  • Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.


  • Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


  • Serve and enjoy!


This made my kitchen smell so good while it was cooking that I was literally salivating waiting for it to come out of the oven. 

Yes, with all those ingredients, this recipe is a bit of work, but it’s sooo delicious it’s worth all the grating and chopping it requires.  Keep this recipe in mind for your Thanksgiving or Holiday table, it’s that good!

Until next week, wishing you and yours all of God’s blessings, Good Health and Happy Eating!


Smiles, Maria

Zesty Tomato Veggie Pasta Salad


Memorial Day is coming up, and that means family barbecues and gatherings. So what do you take or prepare this year? This is usually a quandary for me so I spend hours looking through cooking magazines and recipes, hoping to find just the right dish. I’ve always been a big fan of pasta salad, but don’t like rich, creamy dressings, and haven’t found a vinaigrette based pasta salad dressing that I like. So I was delighted when I came across this recipe.

The combination of tomato sauce and salsa is unusual and really makes the dish. Full of wonderful, fresh veggies and herbs; this colorful salad can easily become a full meal salad with the addition of chicken, meat or cheese. It’s healthy, quick and easy to prepare, and absolutely delicious. What else could you ask for? So, take this salad to your next outdoor gathering, graduation or party, and be prepared for compliments and recipe requests!

Diff: Easy     Prep:  20 min + Chilling     Cook: 11 min     Serves: 12



4 cups. uncooked spiral pasta (tricolor or reg)

1 jar (16 oz.) salsa (mild or medium)

1 can (15.5 oz) corn, drained or

2 cups frozen corn, thawed

1 ½ cups halved cherry tomatoes

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 can (8 oz.) no-salt-added tomato sauce

4 T. minced fresh parsley

1 T. red wine vinegar


  1. Fill large pot with water, add salt and oil. Bring to boil.DSC02639

  2. Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse in cold water and drain.DSC02647

  3. In large serving bowl, combine pasta and veggies. Stir to combine.DSC02654

  4. Add liquid ingredients, combine well to blend with pasta mixture.DSC02657

  5. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving as this will allow the flavors to meld.  You can sprinkle additional parsley on top just before serving.DSC02658

  6. Enjoy! Happy Memorial Day!

I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful Memorial Day. Until next week, wishing you all of God’s blessings, good health and good eating!

Smiles, Maria

Chicken Bolognese


Who doesn’t love Italian food? My childhood favorite was always spaghetti and meatballs with lots of mozzarella cheese and meat sauce. Lesser known than it’s meaty rival, Bolognese is another traditional Italian sauce with an ancient heritage. It has been traced back to the 5th century when the Romans still ruled. Although we don’t know who created this hearty sauce, we do know that it originated from Bologna, Italy. There it is called ragu alla bolognese, and is traditionally served with flat noodles such as linguine or fettuccine. The essential ingredients of Bolognese sauce are meat, vegetables, spices and tomatoes, and there are numerous versions of this recipe. Some are basic, while other contain rich ingredients such as bacon and heavy cream. But for those of us watching our calories, fear not! Today I’m sharing a lighter version of Bolognese sauce with you. My addition of an extra ¼ cup of half and half makes it creamier, however, you can omit this and it will still be delicious! This version has a subtle and pleasing flavor that is not overwhelmed by any one ingredient.

Diff: Inter Prep: 25 min Cook: 40 min. Serves: 6


12 oz. linguine or fettuccine

4 T. olive oil

1 lb. ground chicken breast or cut up chicken breast

½ t. salt

¼ t. coarsely ground black pepper

2 medium carrots, sliced

2 sticks celery, sliced

1 large onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, crushed

28 oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes

½ c. 2% milk

¼ c. half and half

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

¼ c. fresh parsley or basil, chopped


1. Heat large covered saucepot of salted water to boiling on high. Add a splash of olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking. Add pasta and cook as label directs.


2. While pasta cooks, in large skillet, heat 2 T. of olive oil on medium for 1 minute. Add chicken to skillet, sprinkle with ¼ t. salt. Cook chicken for 8 or 9 minutes or until no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Transfer chicken with juices to bowl and set aside.


3. To same skillet, add remaining 2 T. of olive oil with chopped carrots, celery and onion. Cook 10 to 12 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.


4. Add tomatoes, ¼ t. salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Heat to boiling.


5. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered , for an additional 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.


6. Stir in cooked chicken and reduced fat milk. Heat through.



7. Reserve ¼ c. cooking water from pasta. Drain water and return pasta to sauce pot. Stir in sauce from skillet, add ¼ c. water and ¼ c. half and half and stir to combine.



8. Add Parmesan cheese and toss until melted. Top with basil or parsley. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.


I hope you and your family enjoy this light and tasty dish. It’s lovely paired with a fresh green salad and crusty bread to make a complete meal.

Until next week, wishing you God’s blessings, good health and good eating!


Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup


You can tell that we like chicken at my house, can’t you?  At this moment, we have not one, but two, rotesserie chickens in the refrigerator, because me and my husband both purchased chicken when we went, separately, to the grocery store.  I  just realized this is the second Chicken Tortilla type recipe I’ve posted, and for that, I apologize.  My husband likes chicken, and also tomato-based spicy food.  So much so, that I’m sure he would be happy eating salsa as soup!  Needless to say, salsa is a staple in my pantry.  In any case, on to the recipe.  I combined several Chicken Tortilla Soup recipes  to make this up; and  one of the recipes I used was from Ree Drummond’s PioneerWoman site.  There is some chopping involved, but once you get past that part, it’s just a matter of minutes to put the soup together.  As always, having all your ingredients at hand and prepped will speed things up in the kitchen.  And if you decide to make this, the soup freezes well, so why not make a double batch?   Warming and delicious, I hope this soup proves popular with your family!

Difficulty:  Easy    Time Prep:  45 min - 1 hr 

 Time Cook:  15 - 30 min    Serves:  8

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup 



1 11.5 corn tortillas,

cut into 1/2 in strips

1 1/2 t. salt

1 T. canola or light olive oil

1/2 t. chili powder

1 t. garlic powder

1 1/2 t. ground cumin

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 c. chicken broth

3 c. chopped cooked chicken

1 15 1/4 oz. canned corn*, drained

1 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes*

1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles

1 15 oz. can black beans*, drained

1 onion, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper,chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper*, seeded and minced


*not pictured because hubby was at grocery store picking them up!



1.  Fry tortilla strips (if desired) in 1/2 inch oil in dutch oven, about 2 min.  Drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle with 1 t. of salt.  Set aside.  (I didn’t do this step, so no pix!)

2.  In large pot, add 1 T. of oil, DSC02222

add onions & garlic. Stir

for one minute. 


DSC022233.  Add red, green and jalapeno peppers.  Stir for one minute.


4.  Mix in chicken and spices,  DSC02224

including 1/2 t. salt, stirring


DSC022255.  Add chicken broth and all canned ingredients.  

DSC022296.  Bring to a low boil,  simmer for five minutes

to blend flavors; the let sit for five more minutes

 before serving.

DSC02230 7.  Serve in bowls topped with fried (or baked) tortilla strips.  


Isn’t that one pretty bowl of soup? 

Embellish with your choice of sour cream, salsa, shredded cheese, cilantro, chopped avocado, green parsley or green onions.  Serve with tortilla chips and an ice cold beer!




Maria, the Kitchen Guru