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Welcome to Soul Food Lovers’ Newsletter

Contents Volume #005

Welcome New Subscribers
What’s New on Soul Food
Feature Article: How to Plan Your Family Meals
Column: Spice Up Your Soul Food
Column: This Month’s Best Soul Food Recipes
Cassandra’s Cooking Tips
Soul Food Care Package
Soul Food Blog
Coming In Next Issue: Healthy Tips for Preparing Great Soul Food
Ask the Editor
Reader’s Poll
Special Announcement
Special Request
Link to Your Gift: New Trends in Soul Food Cooking
Send a Friend a Gift



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By Cassandra Harrell

Planning family meals every night can be a troublesome task. But it don’t have to be. Planning meals ahead of time saves both time and money. The main thing to remember is to stick with what works best for you. There are four methods used most often in planning meals. Let’s look at each one.

Plan 1: Plan your meals once a week. This requires little freezer space and will save you valuable time. This method is the most popular.

Plan 2: Plan your meals every two weeks. This requires medium amount of freezer space and some valuable time.

Plan 3: Plan your meals once a month and freeze them for later use. This method requires a lot of freezer space and a lot of time.

Plan 4: Plan your meals daily. This method requires no freezer space, some time, but is very expensive.

The Plan you decide on has a lot to do with your daily or weekly schedule. Plan 1 requires little freezer space and saves valuable time. As for Plan 3, is for someone who has a lot of freezer space, and a lot of time to prepare a month of meals. Plan 4, daily meal planning is very costly even if you’re only planning for yourself. This sort of meal preparation is not recommended.

Plan 1 is the most popular and the one I use. This seems to be easier for me. Before going to the store, I check my cabinets and refrigerator then make out my grocery list.

This is also a good time to check grocery ads to determine what’s on sale and while shopping, keep an eye on other sales in the store. I especially try to find meat sales to stock up. I also find that shopping every 5 to 6 days works best for me and saves money. Plan 1 is also my choice because I might not want spaghetti three weeks from now. I may decide on something totally different. Every two weeks or monthly planning sort of lock you in to a certain menu.

Planning meals on a weekly basic allows me to enjoy leftovers. For example, I usually make enough Sunday dinner to have leftovers the next day. Plan 1 also works best for family meals because it takes less time to plan a week of meals-- than a month of meals.

What ever plan you decide on, make sure it works best for you and your busy schedule. Consider your time to plan the menu, storage space needed, and time to prepare each dish.

For more on meal planning visit this link: Meal Planning Ideas


March is National Nutrition Month and in celebration we have these healthy soul food recipes we want you to try during the month of March.


1 cup of rice
1 small can tomato paste
3 large green peppers, split lengthwise, stem and seeds removed
3/4 cup nonfat cheddar cheese , shredded
1 small can English peas, drained
1 teaspoon season salt, optional
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder

Cook rice. Boil peppers in pot of water, about 10 minutes. Drain. In a skillet, add tomato paste and add water from peppers to produce the desired thickness of sauce. Low to medium heat. Add spices and cheese. Scoop mixture into peppers. Leave extra rice in skillet and serve.


3 tablespoons steak sauce
1 jar (32 oz) spaghetti sauce, reduced fat
8 oz. lasagna noodles, cook until almost done, drain
2 cups fat-free ricotta or cottage cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese or Cheddar Cheese, reduced fat
1 cup parmesan cheese, reduced fat
½ cup bell peppers
½ cups onions
½ cup shredded carrots
Can also add ½ cup of any other vegetables
1 - 10 oz. pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained, then chopped

Saute bell peppers and onions and other vegetables in a small amount of no-fat butter. Mix in steak sauce; then and spaghetti sauce. Spray 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.

Cover bottom of pan with sauce mixture. Lay one layer of noodles on top. Layer cheeses. Repeat with sauce, noodles, cheeses, ending with cheeses on top. Bake 350 for 45 minutes. Remove, and let stand 15 minutes. Serves 6-8.



Red Pepper is used to achieve the characteristically hot flavor of Mexican, Creole, Cajun, Thai, Indian, and African American cooking. It also is used in chili, Spanish rice, and barbecue sauce as well as meats, salads, and casseroles.

Red pepper is a pungent, hot powder with a strong bite and is made from the ground fruit of a plant in the Capsicum family. The fruits, commonly known as "chilies" or "chili peppers," are fiery red or orange pods which rarely grow to more than 4 inches in length. The ground product ranges from orange red, to deep, dark red.

According to the American Spice Trade Association, "Red Pepper" is the preferred name for all hot red pepper spices. Cayenne Pepper is another name for the same type of product. Some manufacturers use the term Cayenne Pepper to refer to a hotter version of Red Pepper. If you want to add heat to your dish in a hurry, add red pepper.

Even though many recipes don’t call for red pepper, its basically up to you how spicy you want to make the dish. If red pepper is used during the cooking process, it makes the dish less spicy than if you used red pepper directly on your food. Red pepper also add tremendous flavor to soul food cooking and is often the preferred hot seasoning. Just remember, red pepper should be added with caution and with small amounts at a time.

Below is quick and easy recipe using red pepper.


1 whole cabbage
8 large white potatoes or 10-12 small white potatoes
4-6 slices of freshly cooked bacon or bacon grease
Salt and pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper

Wash cabbage and pull off dead leaves. Cut cabbage in half, then slice each half of cabbage into about 1/4 inch slices. Peel potatoes and rinse in cold water. Cut small potatoes in half or large potatoes into thirds. Put into big pot with just enough water to cover the potatoes. Add bacon slices or a few tablespoons of bacon grease. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper.

On high heat, bring to a rapid boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium/high and let cook at least 30-40 minutes or until cabbage is tender, but not falling apart.

For a list of specific soul food spices including how to use red pepper, visit:
Soul Food Cooking Spices




Smoked turkey
2 lbs. dried pinto beans
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 medium chopped onion

Boil turkey in water on high heat for 45 minutes. Water should come even with turkey. Add all seasonings except hot sauce and onion. Continue boiling for 30 minutes. Add pinto beans, hot sauce, and onion. Boil on medium heat until beans are done to taste. Beans take quite a while to get done. They should be soft and not crunchy.

Note: To speed up the cooking time, soak beans in cold water (without meat) overnight or for three hours during the day.


1 pound fresh crabmeat, cleaned and flaked
1/2 cup minced green bell pepper
1/4 cup minced onion
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon red hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs, divided
Vegetable oil

Mix crabmeat, green pepper, onion, egg, mustard, red hot sauce and 1/2 cup crumbs. Cover, refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape crab mixture into ( 3/4-inch thick) patties; coat with remaining crumbs.

Pour oil into large heavy skillet to 1/2 inch depth; heat over medium heat. Brown crab cakes, in batches, for 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until done. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm.


1 (8 ounce) package mixed color pasta
2 Tbsp. walnut or olive oil
2 Tbsp. coarsely snipped mixed fresh herbs -sage, rosemary, and basil)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Toss hot pasta with oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Makes 8 side-dish servings.


2 large Cucumber; peeled 2 cloves garlic; crushed or 2 cups plain low-fat yogurt 1 teaspoon garlic powder 4 tablespoons vinegar 1 teaspoon salt 3 teaspoons dried dill weed; or 1/2 teaspoon Fresh ground pepper 2 tablespoons Fresh dill

Slice cucumber lengthwise and remove seeds. Dice the cucumber and add remaining ingredients. Mix well and chill at least 1/2 hour before serving. Yield 10.



· Trying a New Recipe?
Make sure you make the recipe before serving it to your guests. That way, if it don’t turn out like you want, you won’t have to rush to make something else. Always purchase ingredients in advance and make sure cooking spices have not expired. Always plan to have adequate time to prepare the recipe.

· Purchasing Lemons and Limes:
Purchase large lemons and limes. There’re sweeter. Make sure the skin is thin, this helps the fruit stay juicy. To obtain more juice from the lemons or limes, soften in a microwave oven for 30 seconds, then let set a few minutes before cutting. Rolling the fruit on the counter with the pale of your hand also works.

· How to cut onions without crying:
Always use sweet onions. Cut onions under running cold water, or refrigerate onions before cutting helps reduce eye irritation.

· Energy Saving Tip:
When cooking small to medium size meals, use small to medium-sized pots instead of full-size pots. Smaller pots will also save energy and reduce cooking time. Also, for cooking these meals, use smaller microwave ovens, toaster ovens, and crock pots. These appliances are great energy savers.

· Ground Beef Tricks:
Make your ground beef mixture more juicy by adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of water per pound of meat.

Instead of just spreading ketchup on top of your meatloaf, mix together the following:

1 teaspoon yellow mustard
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Mix together. Spread on top of meatloaf. Sprinkle with parsley. Bake as usual. This is absolutely delicious.

Watch for more exciting cooking tips next month!



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Until Next Time

Cassandra Harrell
Editor & Soul Food Advisor

Cassandra Harrell is a Soul Food Advisor and recently owned a soul food restaurant and catering service. She taught cooking classes on preparing great soul food cuisine, and have served thousands during conventions and special events.

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