Casey’s Pasta Fagioli

I don’t have a lot of time today – book to finish and all that –  so I decided to share a family recipe – Pasta Fagioli. Italian for “beans and pasta”, this dish is great on a cold winter night. Contrary to what The Olive Garden restaurant servers tell customers – Pasta Fagioli is NOT Italian chili. Traditionally, there’s no meat in this dish!!

This recipe can be doubled (use 2 bags of beans and 2 cans diced tomatoes) or even halved. I have to double it because Older Son

What? No meat. The cat does not approve.
What? No meat. The cat does not approve.

devours it.

I don’t soak the beans for hours ahead. It’s not necessary. You can if you want, but I don’t bother.


1 bag white beans (I use navy beans or whatever small white beans my grocery store carries). Remember to check for small stones.

4 or 5 cloves of garlic (or to taste)

3 or 4 celery stalks cut in large chunks (0r to taste)

1 – 14 oz can diced Italian seasoned diced tomatos

1 – 14 oz can of tomato sauce (NOT jar sauce)

1 lb box of ditalini


Olive oil, salt and pepper

Prepare as follows:

1. Dump the beans, tomatoes, sauce, celery, and garlic  into a large sauce pot. (I toss in whole, peeled cloves because I don’t like it and it makes it easier to pick out!)

2. Fill pot with water until near the top. Heat to a boil.

photo (2)3. Cover and simmer on low heat for 2 – 3 hours or until beans are soft.

4. At this point, I add half the box of pasta (save the rest for something else). Watch the water level so the pasta doesn’t suck all the water out of the soup. Add more if needed. If you want to cook the whole box, do it in a separate pot.

5. Final step – pour in a glurg or two (that’s a technical term) of Olive oil and then add salt and pepper to taste. I follow my Grandmother’s advice, adding oil too soon will make the beans tough. I don’t know if that’s true but boiling for hours doesn’t do the oil any favors.

Serve warm with crusty bread. Yummy.

Leftover can be re-heated, if you added pasta in step 4, then you will need to add more water and/or tomato sauce.

Friday Favorites – Beer Bread Recipe

I never thought I’d be typing these words – the first draft of Mystic Hero is finished! It’s not pretty, but it’s done and will be heading to my beta readers shortly. Whew! Just in time for NaNo (which I usually unofficially participate in), so I can finish my other manuscript – Lachlan’s Curse.

IMG_1187To celebrate, I’m sharing a recipe I recently re-discovered. When I was a teen, my mother used to whip up a loaf of beer bread and, man, was it delicious. And super simple to make. After my sons were born, I made it a time or two (using non-alcoholic beer) then I kind of forgot about it.

I’m not sure what triggered the desire for beer bread. Maybe it was the stew I was making at the time. After a quick search of the internet, I managed to find one that replicated my mother’s recipe at Food.Com. If this one doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are dozens of variations out there in cyberspace.

A note about flour. This recipe uses either all-purpose flour or self-rising. If you use self-rising, omit the baking powder and salt.

Also, I don’t actually sift my flour (you can if you want to). Instead, I stir it first (in the bag), then scoop it into the measuring cup and gently level it off. This is the proper way to measure flour.  Never tap the measuring cup against the counter or scoop flour directly from the bag using the measuring cup. If you do this, your baked goods will resemble a dense brick. Don’t say I didn’t warn you first!


Classic Beer Bread:


3 cups flour (see note above about proper scooping) OR self-rising flour

3 tsp baking powder (skip it if you use self-rising flour)

1 tsp salt  (skip it if you use self-rising flour)

1/4 cup of sugar

1 – 12 oz of beer (I used Sam Adams because that is what hubby had stashed in the cellar. If you don’t want a strong beer taste try something paler)

1/4 to a few tablespoons melted butter (Mom never used butter so you can skip it. But try it. You might like it).

Oven temp: 375 degrees

Grease the bottom of a 9″ loaf pan.

1. Combine all the dry ingredients with the beer.

2. Put in the loaf pan. (I’ve heard of people mixing ingredients right in the pan, but I don’t see how without making a big mess).

3. If using melted butter, pour over the top (this will make the crust crispy).

4. Bake 1 hour. Remove from pan and cool about 10-15 minutes. Try not to skip the cooling step. Otherwise the bread will fall apart when cutting (Not that it stops my husband or older son!)


Anyone else love beer bread? Have any variations to share or other simple bread recipes?

Yummy Plum Torte

Today I am shamelessly borrowing my friend’s plum torte recipe and passing it along to all of you.

IMG_3600If you don’t like plums, no worries. The recipe works just as well with other fruit like cherries, peaches, pears or apples.  And it freezes too.


The notes in ( ) are mine.

B-girl’s Plum Torte

You’ll need:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter (and do use unsalted butter. It’s not as good with salted butter)

1 cup unbleached flour (I used regular all purpose flour and it came out fine)

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

2 eggs

24 halves pitted purple or prune plums (see note above – other fruit works too)

Topping: sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon

9 inch springform pan

Cook Time: 1 Hour, @ 350 degrees

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients Assemble!

1. Cream the sugar and butter. Add flour, baking powder, salt and eggs. Beat well.


2. Spoon the batter into the springform pan (I have used cooking spray or Cricso on the bottom to keep it from sticking).


3. Place the plums skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with with sugar and lemon juice. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of cinnamon or however much you like.

We interrupt this recipe for a cuteness!
We interrupt this recipe for cuteness!

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping.


5. To serve frozen torte, defrost and reheat briefly at 300 degrees.

Be sure to share!

Fun with Ground Beef

Today, I’m poking my head out of the writer’s cave to share a quick, easy recipe that I call Casey’s Taco Beef Melt. This is one of those recipes that I just threw IMG_3320together using things I had already had on hand and, added bonus, it cooks quickly without heating up the house too much.

Feel free to substitute chicken (or other meat) for the ground beef or use only beans, or use tortilla chips instead of Doritos. Also, this can be used as topping on a salad or rolled into a soft tortilla.


  • 1 – 2 lbs ground beef (I used two because I have hungry men to feed)
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 – 2 packages low sodium taco seasoning (if you use 1 pound of beef, use 1 package)
  • Water – according to seasoning packages.
  • Doritos (about 1/3 of an 11 ounce bag)
  • 1- 2 cups shredded  cheddar cheese of your choice

1. In a skillet, brown beef (or meat of your choice). Drain excess fat once browned.

2. Add beans, then taco seasoning and water.


3. Once the seasoning is thickened, crush up chips and place over top until covered.


4. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the tops of the chips. Cover with lid until chees melts.




Galloping Goulash!

I’m coming off a week of answering loads of  interview questions for an upcoming blog tour, so I’m taking a break from talking about writing. Instead, I want to talk food.

Okay, I know it’s still summer, but this is a great, easy recipe for a rainy day. Especially if you have loads of tomatoes sitting around. And fall weather will be here soon enough so you can save it until then.

It’s around this time of year that I start getting sick of eating “summer” food because we don’t want to heat up the house. This is one of my older son’s favorite recipes. I don’t mind making it for him since it’s pretty easy and cooks up fast without me hovering over the stove too long.

I improvised this recipe for goulash. I know there are numerous versions of this, but it’s the basic American version with ground beef, sauce, and pasta.

Here’s what you need:

1 – 1.5 lbs of ground beef

1 box of shaped pasta (choose any shape that floats your boat)

1 onion sliced  or chopped

1 can of diced tomatoes with basil & oregano (or if you have fresh tomatoes use those instead)

2 can of tomato sauce (the 14 oz size)

Grated Parmesan cheese

If have them, I also add in fresh oregano, basil and parsely. If not, dried is okay too.

Cook as follows:

1. Brown the ground beef with the onions in a large skillet until onions are soft or meat is no longer pink

2. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, bring to a low bubble (not boil!), lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 -25 minutes.

3. Boil water and cook pasta  (use the al dente directions so it doesn’t get mushy). Drain pasta. I usually take out about a bowl full because and leave it plain. Older son snaps it up. I find that a whole box is too much and absorbs all the sauce. So use less and add more later if you want.

4. Add the pasta to the sauce/meat and blend. If you have fresh herbs, add them now. I let that simmer for about 10 minutes (or the time it takes for the pasta to soak up some sauce).

Right before serving, I add in the grated cheese to taste. Enjoy.

If you have a moment, please stop by the Scribes where I talk about using the 5 senses – Scents and Sensibility.

Who has a favorite go-to recipe?  And anyone else ready for a change in season?