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Vegetable Soup

(Great served with chick pea dip and pita bread; recipe below)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup green pepper, finely chopped

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

1 (10-3/4-ounce) can condensed tomato soup

1-1/4 cups water

1 (12-ounce) can vegetable juice cocktail

Heat oil in medium saucepan; add vegetables and cook until tender. Blend together tomato soup, water and vegetable juice cocktail in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; add cooked vegetables. Cover and heat to serving temperature. Serve in mugs. Yield: 6 servings; about 3/4 cup each.

Chick Pea Dip

1 (15-ounce) can chick-peas, drained, liquid reserved

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon salad olives, drained

1 tablespoon ripe olives with 1 tablespoon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/8 teaspoon red pepper

Pimiento strips for garnish

Pita bread

Combine all ingredients except pimiento and pita bread in food processor or blender; process until pureed. Add as much reserved chick pea liquid as needed to moisten; process until smooth. Spoon into serving bowl; garnish with pimiento. Serve with pita bread cut into triangles. Dip can be covered and refrigerated up to 4 days. Yield: about 1-1/2 cups.

Roast Chicken with Onion Gravy

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

6 to 7 pound large roasting chicken

1 pound red onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup white wine

1 cup chicken broth

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Combine first five ingredients in a small bowl. Lift skin on chicken breast and leg meat with fingers or handle of wooden spoon and carefully spread herb mixture evenly underneath. Tie legs together with string, then place chicken in center of a 17x11-inch roasting pan. Arrange onions around chicken and sprinkle onions with remaining 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme and remaining salt and pepper. Roast chicken 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until meat thermometer inserted in inner thigh reaches 180°. Transfer chicken to serving platter; cover loosely with foil.

To prepare onion gravy: Strain onions and pan drippings through wire strainer set over a bowl. Skim and discard fat from drippings; save onions and drippings. Add wine to roasting pan; bring to boil, scraping any browned bits from bottom of pan. Boil 5 minutes; add chicken broth; boil 2 more minutes until mixture is reduced to 3/4 cup. Transfer mixture to blender; puree until smooth. Serve chicken with Onion Gravy. Yield: 8 servings.

Sirloin Steak with Chili Sauce

(Great served over baked potatoes)

1 pound lean, boneless sirloin steak

Dash of salt and black pepper

Vegetable cooking spray

Trim any fat from steak and partially freeze. Slice steak across grain diagonally into thin strips. Sprinkle strips with salt and pepper. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add steak and stir-fry 5 minutes or until cooked thoroughly. Serve at once with Chili Sauce alone or over baked potato, if desired. Yield: 2 servings.

To make chili sauce:

4 tablespoons chopped onion

4 tablespoons chopped carrot

2 small clove garlic, minced

1 cup peeled, chopped tomato

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)

Dash of salt

Combine and blend all ingredients in a saucepan; stir well. Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover and slowly simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place sauce in processor or blender; cover and process until smooth. Serve warm.

No-Fry Sweet Potato Fries

2 pounds sweet potatoes

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Line a jelly roll pan with foil; coat foil generously with vegetable cooking spray. Scrub potatoes; pat dry. Cut each lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices; cut each slice into 1/2-inch wide strips. Toss potatoes into jelly roll pan with oil, garlic, salt and pepper until well coated. Bake at 425° for 35 to 40 minutes, turning once or twice with metal spatula until potatoes are crisp and golden. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.

Green Bean Casserole

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon grated onion

1/2 cup sour cream

2 (9-ounce) packages frozen French-style green beans

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup fine, dry bread crumbs

Dissolve 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; add flour and stir until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add milk, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Add sugar, salt and pepper, blending well. Remove from heat; add onion and sour cream; blend well. Set aside.

Cook green beans according to package directions; drain well. In a bowl, gently combine cooked green beans with reserved sour cream mixture. Spoon half the mixture into 1-quart casserole; top with half the Cheddar cheese. Add remaining half of bean mixture and cheese. Over low heat, melt butter or margarine in a small saucepan and stir in bread crumbs, mixing well. Sprinkle evenly over casserole. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes until thoroughly heated. Yield: 8 servings.

Brown Sugar Muffins

1 stick butter, room temperature

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Cream butter in large mixing bowl; gradually add sugar and egg. Beat until fluffy. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir well after each addition. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Spoon into greased muffin pans, filling two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 18 to 20 minutes. Yield: 24 muffins.

Toffee Pudding Cake

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 (8-ounce) package dates, chopped

2 cups boiling water

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 stick butter or margarine

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Another stick of butter

1-1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

3-1/2 cups self-rising flour

Sprinkle baking soda over chopped dates in bowl. Cover with boiling water. Cool for l hour. Prepare Toffee: Heat heavy cream in a saucepan; set aside. Heat butter or margarine and brown sugar in a medium saucepan to a boil; cook 2 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat; stir in cream, set aside. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Beat butter and granulated sugar in mixing bowl until fluffy. Add eggs; beat 1 minute. Alternately beat in self-rising flour and date mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Pour into prepared baking pan and bake 40 to 45 minutes; cool in pan 1 hour. Pour toffee over cake in pan. Yield: 15 servings.

Any comments, questions or favorite recipes? I would like to hear from you. Please email me at Please write “Helen’s Kitchen Request” in the subject line to make sure that I receive your email!