Read and don't give up!

I just received this comment for the Pantry Suggestions page:

Your website is very informative. Thank you for all of your effort. I do have a conflict though. You suggest a Chicken Broth from Pacific Natural Foods. I checked the ingredients on their website and unfortunately they use Autolyzed Yeast Extract in their broth. This is another name for MSG.

I thought I would post the repy here, though, because it is important. Though Pacific Foods Chicken Broth does contain Autolyzed Yeast Extract, a big MSG ingredient, Pacific Foods Organic Chicken Broth does not. I have a box of the Organic in my fridge right now, so I checked immediately. This is a great example of my urging you to keep reading labels.
However, my mother still reacts to both of these, and makes her own broth from scratch (just boil a chicken, strain and save the broth). I do not react to either of these products, so I include them in these recipes, as this site is for finding convenience while avoiding harmful additives. I just cannot boil a chicken every time I need broth. I do get an almost immediate headache when I have a bowl of soup made with other broths, like Swanson. So I know, of the many products out there we use for convenience, this is a good one. Let your body tell you.
My mother also introduced me to Pacific Foods No Chicken Chicken Broth, a delicious vegetable broth she loves. Unfortunately, nobody sells it here in Cody. Look for it.
You can also always substitute water for recipes calling for chicken broth. You may need to season it a little more to taste. Of course, for gravy that would be gross, so try one of these products, or boil a chicken!
Thank you, Dee, for bringing that to my attention!


Every time I ask Maren, the 7-year old, "What should we have for dinner?", she replies, without hesitation, "Macaroni and cheese."
She does NOT mean the box.

4 c. macaroni noodles, cooked following directions on package

3 c. milk
1/2 c. flour
3 c. cheddar cheese, grated (sharp, medium or colby jack works)
1/4 brick cream cheese
1 T. parmesan cheese
1/2 T. salt
1 tsp. mustard
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. paprika

Whisk flour into milk over MED HI in a pot. If you have a shaker, shake flour and 2 c. milk until smooth, pour into pot, then whisk in rest of milk. Whisk constantly until it begins to boil and thicken. Turn heat down to MED.
Stir in cheeses and seasonings and stir until smooth and creamy.
Drain noodles and add to pot. Combine and serve.

1 c. frozen peas
fresh chopped tomatoes
1 T. finely chopped onion

Pour Mac-n-Cheese in a buttered casserole dish. In a small bowl combine 1 c. fresh bread crumbs (gently crumble old bread or end pieces between your hands), 2 T. melted butter, a dash of salt, sugar, onion, and garlic powder. Mix well and sprinkle evenly over noodles. Bake in 350 oven for 20 mins. or until topping is lightly toasted. Serve with salad or veggie.


Perfect Grilled Steaks

Any number of your preferred steak cuts.
Whole garlic cloves, minced. I use a stainless steel garlic press. You place the entire clove in the compartment, skin on, and squeeze. Too easy.
I place my steaks in a bowl and mince one clove of garlic per steak, adding it right on top of the meat. At this point, you may also add pepper. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.
Then I rub. Each steak gets a massage of little grains of garlic. They smoosh into the grains and crevices of the meat. Not too hard. This is a relaxing, "finding your steak's chi" kind of rub.
Now is when I call my B to get the grill going, and I turn my attention to salads or sides or writing down a scene idea for the book I am working on.
When B gives me the thumbs up, he excitedly takes the meat away, and when he brings back the perfect steaks, we are ready to eat.
SO ready.

*A great trick to avoiding that garlic smell on your hands for the next three days: After handling garlic or onions, squirt a little drop of dish soap on hands and sprinkle liberally with salt. Rub hands and rinse. Salt is a base, and neutralizes the acids in the garlic and onions. Ta da!

Sweet Chicken Macaroni

This light salad combines a savory macaroni salad with the sweetness of mandarin oranges and cranberries. I make it without the chicken for a side dish, with the chicken for a one dish meal. I had eight little girls at my house the other day and this was attacked again and again. Even the 15 month-old, though she kept handing her mom the cranberries.

2 cans chicken in water, drained OR
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. sour cream
2 T. vinegar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 stalks chopped celery, OR
1/2 bag shredded cabbage
2 11 0z. cans mandarin oranges, juice drained and saved
1/2 c. dried cranberries, soaking in the saved mandarin juice
*1/2 c. pecan halves or pieces
4 c. cooked macaroni

As macaroni cooks according to package directions, mix chicken, onions, mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, salt, sugar, pepper, and celery or cabbage in large bowl.
Cool noodles by tossing gently with ice cubes in a colander in the sink. Drain noodles and cranberries and stir into chicken mixture. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Gently add oranges and pecans.

When making this ahead of time, wait until just before serving to add noodles, oranges, and pecans.

May substitute one apple, cored and diced, and 1-2 c. grapes for oranges and cranberries.


Green Smoothies

I know... What? But these satisfying smoothies have a special place in my heart, and my blender. My sister turned me on to them, and I ended up putting them in one of my novels. Intrigued? There is a snippet to the right. Maybe someday you will get to read the book. Until then, energize yourself for the day.

Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie

1/2 c. oatmeal (I use our 6-grain rolled cereal)
3 dashes salt
1 tsp. ground flax seed
2 bananas (may be frozen)
2 tsp. peanut butter
1 peach, fresh, frozen, or canned (I use my home canned, with some of the juice)
2 handfuls fresh spinach
1 c. ice
3 t. sugar, or a big squeeze of agave nectar
1 dash vanilla

Blend for 1 minute.

Berry Green Smoothie

1/2 c. oatmeal
3 dashes salt
1 tsp. ground flax seed
1-2 c. frozen berries or mixed fruit
1 peach, fresh, frozen, or canned (I use my home canned, with some of the juice)
1 banana
1/4-1/2 tsp. ginger
2 handfuls fresh spinach
1 c. ice
3 t. sugar, or a big squeeze of agave nectar
1 dash vanilla

I usually add 2 tsp. of peanut butter to this as well. I make these so much now I no longer measure, and make all kinds of combinations, but these two started it all. I promise you cannot taste the spinach. Now my husband and kids are hooked. Drink and feel better!

Citrus Tomato Salad

This refreshing salad was inspired by a hot seafood dish I had in Cabo San Lucas. I will still try to duplicate that, but for now, try this cold, fresh version. An excellent side to fish or poultry. If you can do shrimp, I recommend tossing in some of the cooked or grilled pinkies. Cabo San Luscious.

3 large tomatoes, chunked
2 med. cucumbers, peeled and chunked
1/2 sweet red onion, sliced into thin rings


1 T. olive oil
2 T. canola oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 c. vinegar
1/2 c. water
4 T. salt
3 T. sugar
1/4 tsp. orange zest
1/8 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper

Chili Grill Chicken

I love rubs. Back rubs, shoulder rubs. The chicken loves this one. Serve it with Mexican Cabbage Salad and Peach Salsa and chips.

6-10 pieces chicken (breast, thigh, legs), or pork chops
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 T. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. onion powder

Mix dry ingredients in small bowl. Add just enough canola oil to make a thick paste. Rub on chicken or pork and bake at 400º for 30 mins.
Finish on grill until juices run clear.

Wild Pineapple Rice

2 c. wild rice
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 T. butter
1 T. oil
1 t. salt
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 c. pineapple juice
1 c. water

Saute wild rice, celery, and onion, salt, garlic, and pepper in butter and oil over MED HI heat. As rice begins to brown, stir constantly for three mins. Add liquids, cover, and when boiling resumes, take off heat. Allow to sit until rice has absorbed all the liquids and is fluffy with fork.
Delicious served with Brown Sugar Salmon and steamed or grilled vegetables.

Brown Sugar Salmon

If I knew how to plank a salmon, I would plank it on a cedar board with this recipe, like they do at the Rib & Chop here in Cody. I did my best to duplicate the flavor of theirs. So feel free, plank experts!

Whole salmon fillets, or steaks
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. crushed pineapple and juice
1 T. chopped green onion, or fresh chives
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Combine all ingredients in small mixing bowl. Remove 1/4 c. for later. Spread remaining mixture over salmon fillets. Bake at 400º for 30 mins. Brush or spoon remaining mixture over salmon and broil for 5 mins.

OR place fish on heavy duty foil and grill until fish is no longer transparent. Brush with mixture as above to finish.