Stir Crazy: Empty Bowls a great way to help food pantry

News-DemocratMarch 31, 2014 

A major standing "O" to the Collinsville Woman's Club and Junior Service Club for their amazing work at helping feed the hungry in the metro-east. They partners for The Empty Bowl event held last month, raising $9,100 for Collinsville's Helping Hands Food Pantry.

The Knights of Columbus Hall, where the event was held, "was full and so was the parking lot outside," said Annette Graebe with the Woman's Club of attendance at the annual event, which offered soup from a variety of local restaurants and chefs for a $10 donation.

Kudos also to Olive Garden and Red Lobster in Fairview Heights, which donated $2,000 to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Southwestern Illinois. Also, Long Horn Steakhouse in O'Fallon and Red Lobster in Alton were among 10 Darden-owned restaurants to donate $10,000 to Operation Food Search in St. Louis.

Since this week's food section has been about dinner recipes with a minimum of ingredients, I thought I'd add a few side dishes that don't take much to put together. Plus, I included a soup, thanks to a reader who'd requested a "7-Can Soup." Can't tell you how many recipes variations there are on that theme!


1 pound green beans

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon white or brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon each sea salt and coarse black pepper

1/4 cup shaved almonds (optional)

1. On stovetop, steam green beans until tender, 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand covered until needed.

2. In microwave, melt butter, then juice, chili powder, sugar, salt and pepper. Transfer green beans to large bowl, then dress with mixture, stirring thoroughly. Reheat in microwave, if necessary. Top with shaved almonds and serve.

Sweet red bell peppers are sauteed with garlic and spicy cayenne pepper, then simmered with sour cream and chicken broth to make a hot and luscious pasta sauce. Finish with Parmesan cheese and toss with cooked pasta.


12 ounces dry fettuccine pasta

2 red bell peppers, julienned

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

1 cup reduced-fat sour cream

3/4 cup chicken broth

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

2. Meanwhile, spray cooking oil in a large skillet and saute red bell peppers, garlic and cayenne pepper over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Stir in sour cream and broth; simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese.

4. Toss hot pasta with sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste; serve. Serves 4.

7 Can Chicken Enchilada Soup

1 (13-ounce) can white chicken breast meat*

1 (15.25-ounce) can whole kernel corn

1 (4-ounce) can mild chopped green chilies

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth

1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes (Ro-Tel for a spicier version), undrained

1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce

1/2 packet enchilada or taco dry seasoning

Optional tortilla strips

Mix all ingredients in a large pot and stir over medium heat until warm. Top with tortilla strips. Makes 8-10 servings.

Here's how to reach me: Phone, 239-2664; e-mail,; or write, Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

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