Family Recipe Friday – Mom’s Microwave Minestrone Soup

Say that 10 times as fast as you can!

As I mentioned last Friday, my husband was sick last week so I became the caregiver – a role I haven’t played in a year. It felt good to be able to take him to doctor appointments, pick up his prescriptions, go to the grocery store, and do a little cooking. I wasn’t too pleased that some of these things required possible exposure to lots of germs. Grocery carts… Doctor offices… But I’ve developed a new habit – using hand sanitizer as soon as I return to the car. Or, in the case of the doctor’s office, I used it as soon as I sat down in the waiting room!

I’ve become quite the germaphobe.

DSCN3369Hubby wanted soup and our cupboards were nearly bare (before I made that trip to the store), but an old microwave recipe of Mom’s came to the rescue. You can substitute freely with what is on hand. Sometimes I add a can of chick peas or white beans. It’s quick and easy. I didn’t think to take a picture until there was only this little bit left.

I like to include the written recipes to preserve example’s of the writer’s handwriting. Mom wrote this out for me. I added a couple of notes in parentheses. You can see by the smudges and spills that it’s been used a few times!

Microwave Minestone Soup


1 can (15 oz.) tomatoes, undrained (I always use diced)
1 can (14.5 oz.) beef broth (or chicken or vegetable)
1 cup water
1 small zucchini, halved and sliced
1/2 cup broken spaghetti (about 1 1/2 oz.)
1 tablespoon instant beef bouillon (or chicken or vegetable)
1/2-1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon pepper 
1 package (10 oz.) frozen mixed vegetables
Parmesan cheese

1. Cut tomatoes into small pieces. Combine broth, water, zucchini, spaghetti, bouillon, seasoning and pepper in 2 1/2-quart microwave safe casserole. Cover with lid.
2. Microwave (high) 6-7 minutes, or until steaming hot. Add frozen vegetables. cover.
3. Microwave (high) 16-18 minutes until veggies and pasta are tender – stirring once. Serve with cheese.

I never remember the cheese.

Family Recipe Friday: Dad’s Chocolate Chip Cookies – Revised!

Well… what to do? I posted this yesterday, then posted to Facebook and tagged my sisters and asked if they had any stories about these cookies. The conversation that ensued leads me to make some revisions. So the new stuff is in blue.

Neiman Marcus cookie recipe

Cookie Recipe Revenge

First, my sister Karla said that she thought this was the “Neiman-Marcus” cookie recipe that was going around years ago. Sure enough, I googled it and it is almost the same as the recipe that goes with the urban legend. Then I looked back at the recipes I copied from Dad and found the original that he had printed from an email.

Then I found a compilation of recipes that Dad typed up with the same cookie recipe – but the brown sugar is missing.

Guess he made a mistake.

Now I understand why my cookies didn’t turn out quite as I remember his… He used the copy he typed to write out the recipe for me, so they are missing brown sugar. – He also cut the proportions in half so it would make a smaller batch. The cookies are good as I made them, so if you don’t like really sweet cookies, go ahead and leave out the brown sugar.

My sister Kim added a great story to go with the cookies, so I’ll share that too:  ”Dad does not really follow recipes. He makes lots of adjustments. The first time he made them he blended the oats and then measured them so he had way too many dry ingredients so the batter was too thick for the mixer. Rather than add water or milk, dad started melting sticks of butter and adding sweetened condensed milk. They were very good but I renamed them cookies of death!”

We all get a laugh at Dad’s expense on occasion because of his recipe revisions. Love you, Dad! 

What follows is my original post with the addition of brown sugar. Enjoy!

DSCN3365My husband has been really sick this week so the shoe has been on the other foot – with me taking care of him for a change. Hubby wanted a cookie yesterday and asked our daughter to get him one at the store, but she came home without cookies!

What could I do? I had to bake cookies. They were required for his well-being after all.

Dad's Chocolate Chip Cookie RecipeAfter looking through my cookie recipes, I decided to bake some that my Dad(Jim) often makes. I don’t know why, but I hadn’t made them before. Guess I always made Mom’s recipe.

After consuming waaayyy too many of these one weekend, I asked Dad for his recipe and he wrote it out for me, as you can see here. When I was making them yesterday I discovered that he left off the oven temperature and my baking time differed, so I’ll type his directions and add my edits.

I need to do more of Dad’s recipes. He started cooking beyond the grill later in life – and he especially enjoys baking. A visit to their house means desserts are plentiful – and usually includes cookies, cake, and a couple of pies. And maybe some brownies for good measure.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups oats – measure and then blend to fine powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
12 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 8-ounce Hershey bar (grated)
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (usually pecans)

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, baking soda – add chips, candy and nuts.

Roll into balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 6 minutes. Should make approximately 66 cookies. Original recipe says to bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. 

My changes: I mixed the dry ingredients together and added them to the creamed sugar/butter/egg mixture. I baked at 350 degrees for about 10 or 11 minutes. Maybe if you bake at 375, the cook time will be shorter. I didn’t have a Hershey bar around, so missed that extra bit of chocolate. :( Also, my chocolate chips were the oversized kind, which makes the cookies look smaller in the picture, I think. There was just enough dough to hold the chips together!

DSCN3367I decided that since we have a real problem with limiting our cookie intake around here, I wouldn’t bake all of the dough. I rolled it into balls on a cookie sheet and stuck it in the freezer. Once frozen, I put my cookie dough balls in freezer bags for future freshly baked cookies. I haven’t done this before, but it seems like a good idea.



Family Recipe Friday: Mom’s Tuna Casserole, Shepherd’s Pie and Jello

When my sister Karla was here taking care of me last month, I was treating my stomach with kid gloves after my stem cell transplant. It reminded me of being pregnant – when the mere thought of some foods could turn my stomach and I craved foods I normally didn’t eat that often. I could not eat chicken or any soups made with chicken broth, but I could eat cheeseburgers with abandon.

Comfort foods were appealing to me. When we were growing up, we ate tuna casserole fairly often. It’s something I still make on occasion, and so do my sisters. Mom always served tuna casserole with English peas and there was usually some kind of jello with fruit.

Long ago, I asked mom for the recipe for tuna casserole. You can imagine that she kind of laughed, because who would need a recipe? She obliged by giving me instructions while I wrote as quickly as I could.
Recipe - Tuna CasserolTUNA CASSEROLE

Butter bottom of baking dish. Break up a few crackers on bottom. (We used saltines.) Drain 1 can tuna. Layer with mushroom soup, then tuna, then all of pre-cooked noodles, tuna, and mushroom soup. Add more crackers, dab with butter and pour in milk up to about 1/2 inch from top of mixture. (I know I had to work to get specifics about the milk out of her – more than “add a little milk”.)
Can use rice instead of noodles.

Karla made tuna casserole for supper one night and since it must be served with peas, now she just adds the peas to the casserole. As we were eating, Karla asked if I remembered the casserole with mashed potatoes on top. Yes I did – Shepherd’s Pie – and since hamburger and mashed potatoes were acceptable to my leery stomach, she made that for us too.

We didn’t eat Shepherd’s Pie as often growing up, but it was one of my favorites. I’ve made it a few times as an adult, and I can’t help but like it still. My sister Kristie tells me she hated it as a kid. Of course, this is the easy canned everything variety, not quite like the real thing, but who cares if it tastes good to you?


Brown one pound of ground beef; drain, and season with salt and pepper. Stir together ground beef, 1 can cream of tomato soup, and 1 can cut green beans, drained. Top with mashed potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees until heated through.

Karla also made Jello because the nurse said to add it to my diet to boost my fluid intake. We most remember Mom making lime Jello with added canned pears and orange Jello with orange add-ins: mandarin oranges, shredded carrots, or maybe canned peaches. There was the occasional red Jello with canned mixed fruit – not my favorite. I never did like canned mixed fruit – especially those green grapes.