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Pumpkin Soup

1 large onion, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon flour

3 cups chicken broth

1 (29-ounce) can pumpkin puree

Salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped

Dash of nutmeg

Sauté onion in butter in a large heavy saucepan over low heat until soft. Sprinkle in flour; cook and stir a few minutes. Add chicken broth gradually, whisking thoroughly; then add pumpkin puree. Slowly simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste; pour into warm serving bowls. Top with spoon of whipped cream and sprinkle of nutmeg. Yield: 6 servings.

Ground Beef and Vegetable Stew

2 pounds lean ground beef

2 medium onions, chopped

4 (14-1/2-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes

8 medium carrots, thinly sliced

4 celery ribs, thinly sliced

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 cups water

1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice

1 to 2 tablespoons salt

1 to 2 teaspoons black pepper

Cook beef and onions over medium heat until browned; drain excess grease. Add tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes, water, rice, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes until vegetables and rice are tender. Uncover; simmer 20-30 minutes longer, or until soup thickens. Yield: approximately 4 to 6 servings.

Chicken, Cheese and Bacon Casserole

8-ounces mini penne pasta

6 to 8 slices bacon

2 tablespoons butter

1 pound chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch pieces

4 green onions, sliced

2 tablespoons flour

1-1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried leaf thyme

8-ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded

4-ounces American cheese, shredded

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1 cup bread crumbs

1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat oven to 350°. While oven is heating, cook the pasta in boiling salted water following package directions. Grease a 2-1/2- to 3-quart baking dish. In a large skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Remove bacon from skillet and place on paper towels to absorb grease; crumble bacon. Pour off grease in the skillet, leaving about 1 or 2 teaspoons. Add butter to the skillet and cook the chicken over medium-low heat until cooked through. Add green onions and cook for 1 minute longer. Add flour and stir until blended into the fat. Gradually stir in the milk, cooking and stirring until slightly thickened. Stir in salt, pepper, and thyme. Add the cheeses and thawed peas, along with crumbled bacon. Spoon into the prepared baking dish. Next, combine bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon melted butter; sprinkle over the casserole. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until topping is browned and casserole is bubbly. Yield: 6 servings.

Parmesan Cheese Noodles

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 stick butter, softened

3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon dried whole basil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2/3 cup boiling water

1 (8-ounce) package fine egg noodles

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/2 stick butter, melted

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Garnish: fresh parsley, if desired

Combine first 6 ingredients. Add boiling water, stirring until cream cheese and butter melt. Set aside and keep warm. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well: set aside. Sauté garlic in 1/2 stick butter in a skillet 2 minutes. Pour over reserved noodles, tossing gently to combine. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese; toss gently to combine. Transfer noodle mixture to a warm serving platter; top with warm cream cheese sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Garnish with parsley, if desired. Yield: 8 servings.

Zucchini Quiche

(Requested by one of our readers)

3 cups peeled and grated zucchini

1/4 cup grated onion

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup Olive oil

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup Bisquick

1 tablespoon parsley flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In mixing bowl with electric mixer, combine first 5 ingredients. Add Bisquick and remaining ingredients; mix until well blended. Grease 12x9x2-inch baking pan; pour in batter and bake at 350º for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Place pan on rack for 10 minutes to set. Then cut into squares. Serve as a side dish or appetizer. Yield: 8 to 10 servings. Note: Instead of only using zucchini, you can combine zucchini, celery and carrots to measure 3 cups.

Candy Corn Cookie Bars

1/2 cup salted butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

1-1/2 tablespoon sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Yellow and orange food coloring

Cooking spray

For Icing:

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup salted butter, softened

1/4 cup half & half

1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

Dash of salt

Preheat oven to 375°. Prepare a 9x13-inch baking dish by lightly spraying it with cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and combine well. Next, add the sour cream and vanilla and mix until completely blended. In another bowl (medium-sized), combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir until well combined. Separate the dough into two equal parts. Add orange food coloring to one half of the dough; add yellow to the other half. Next, grease your fingers with a little butter to prevent stickiness and press the yellow batter into the greased baking dish and spread out to the edges with your hands. Then spread the orange batter over the yellow batter evenly. (Note: Use a rolling pin to spread the orange dough out a little before placing it on top of the yellow batter; this will stretch out the orange dough, making an even layer.) After layering the dough, bake for 17-20 minutes, or until edges become lightly golden. Set aside to cool completely.

To make icing: In a medium bowl, cream powdered sugar, butter and half and half until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla and salt and combine well. Frost the cooled cookie bars evenly and cut into triangles. Yield: 24 triangles.

Kitchen Tip:

Next time you’re baking cookies, whip up an extra batch and freeze it in ice cube trays. Spray each tray with nonstick cooking spray and fill with batter. Pop cookie cubes out of the trays and store in a freezer bag. When you’re ready for cookies, bake as directed by recipe, extending baking time as needed (watch for browning).

Please send your email requests to, and write “Helen’s Kitchen Request” or “Helen’s Kitchen Recipe Exchange” in the subject line to make sure that I receive and promptly respond to your email.

Homemade Pumpkin Fudge

3 cups sugar

½ cup whole milk

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 can pumpkin puree (see note below)

Dash salt

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons butter, plus some to coat the baking pan

In a saucepan over high heat, mix sugar and next 4 ingredients. Bring to boil, stirring constantly, until foamy. Lower heat; continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until a drop of the mixture forms a soft ball when dropped into cold water. (A soft ball will flatten when lifted from the water.) This step may take up to 45 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in pie spice, vanilla and 3 tablespoons butter. Let stand for 1 hour until lukewarm. Beat until mixture becomes very thick and loses some of its gloss. Scrape it into a lightly buttered 8-inch square pan. Set aside until firm, about 1 hour. Cut into 1-inch squares. Note: Seasoned pumpkin pie filling may be substituted for plain pumpkin puree; omit salt and pie spice. Yield: 64 (1-inch) pieces.