Lunch With Loni

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Ranch Beans- Another Potluck Favorite March 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 11:05 pm

I first tried these beans when my mother-in-law made them for our rehearsal dinner cookout.  I’ve never seen people go back for seconds of baked beans before, but they definitely did with these!  So of course I asked for the recipe and now I make them.  If you wind up with a lot of leftovers, you can add some canned tomatoes, a hit of several spices, and turn it into next-day chili.

Recipe Courtesy Of: My Mother-in-Law



  •  1 16 oz can black beans – rinsed and drained
  • 1 16-oz. can molasses baked beans
  • 1 16 oz can chili beans in sauce
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef or bison
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
  • 1 cup catsup
  • 2 Tbs mustard
  • 2 tsp vinegar


1.  Brown ground beef and drain off grease.

2.  In slow cooker, combine all ingredients.  Cover.

3.  Cook on low setting for 3-4 hours.  (I stir occasionally, or else some of the beans adhere themselves to the sides of the crockpot).



Paula Deen’s Creamy Mac & Cheese March 3, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 10:17 pm

Of course I’m posting this recipe while a cloud of controversy surrounds Paula Deen…but I am going to a cookout today, and this is one of my trusty potluck/cookout recipes.  You can make it a little different each time with just a couple of changes.  For example, you could try substituting cheddar broccoli soup for the plain cream of cheddar and adding in some chopped broccoli.  Today I used nacho cheese soup instead of the cream of cheddar.  I was going to add some diced tomatoes, but decided to keep it a little more traidtional, since I don’t know what everyone at the cookout likes.  You’ll love this recipe if you like your mac & cheese to have a nice creamy sauce.  I don’t use the eggs, since I don’t care for the consistency it gives the mac & cheese…but I know people who swear by putting eggs in.  By leaving the eggs out, using evaporated skim milk/lowfat milk, 2% cheese, and light sour cream (or greek yogurt), you can also make this healthier without sacrificing taste.

Recipe Courtesy Of: Paula Deen

Original Recipe Located At:


  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (an 8-ounce box isn’t quite 2 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stuck) butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups (about 10 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese (2% cheese works just fine)
  • 3 eggs, beaten (None of these for me!)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I use light sour cream)
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk (I use lowfat evaporated milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Boil the macaroni in a 2 quart saucepan in plenty of water until tender, about 7 minutes. I always make sure my pasta is on the al dente side, because it will be in the slow cooker for a little while and will continue to cook/soften.  Mushy mac & cheese isn’t so great!  Drain. In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese. Stir until the cheese melts. In a slow cooker, combine cheese/butter mixture and add the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard and pepper and stir well. Then add drained macaroni and stir again. Set the slow cooker on low setting and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.


Spicy Sausage & Lentil Soup

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 2:15 am

I’ve always been a big fan of the spicy lentil soup at Carrabba’s, and in fact will sometimes just order a big bowl of it as my meal (and I really mean big…you will not leave hungry if you order their mixing-bowl sized soup)!  I found this recipe through a bit of Google searching and was pleased.  It didn’t taste exactly like the soup from Carrabba’s, but it was pretty darn close.  The recipe doesn’t include amounts of the spices, so I just added a bit, then a bit more, until I was satisfied.  I honestly can’t say how much of each I used.

Recipe Courtesy Of: Contributer “Boo’s Mom” on

Original Recipe Located At:


  • 1  lb Italian sausage ( You can also use Italian turkey sausage—which I did, as I generally prefer turkey sausage to pork sausage, anyhow)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 (14 ½ ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups dry lentils
  • black pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • basil
  • oregano
  • parsley
  • thyme


  • Brown sausage; drain off fat.
  • In a large pot combine all ingredients bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat,cover.
  • Simmer for about 1 hour or until lentils are tender. Add water if necessary, for desired consistency. I like to puree about 1 cup of the soup and add back to pot to give it a thicker consistency.  I did puree one cup, and recommend it…but it’s all about personal preference.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

I think this would be a great crockpot recipe, but I actually cooked it on the stovetop since I didn’t pick up the ingredients until after work.  As usual with soup, it tasted even better the next day.  We all had a bowl for lunch today (okay, so mine was more like a plastic container that I reheated at work)!