Cooking with Carol- Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

Contributed by Carol McCoy

Ingredients ~
1 onion chopped
1/4C olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried basil
1 (14.5oz) can crushed tomatoes
2C dried lentils
1/2C fresh spinach, rinsed & thinly sliced
2T vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Directions ~

  1.  In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil; cook for 2 mins.
  2. Stir in lentils and add water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour.
  4. When ready to serve stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts.
  5. Stir in vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper, and more vinegar if desired. 

Don't forget that you can add or delete any item you want. Personally I would use several different colors of lentils and also add a little pasta of some kind. And any additional veggies you might want to add. ~ Enjoy!

Cooking with Carol- Healthy Frying

Healthy Frying

Contributed by Carol McCoy

 I have a very healthy hint for you to be able to make some of the things that we all love. It’s called “faux frying”. Rocco Dispirito developed this way of frying that you won’t need to use a deep fryer or fry pan. This is what he had to say about his old way of frying. “I would heat up a cooking vessel, then add oil, butter, or bacon fat to it, let the fat get hot, and then add the ingredients. Needless to say, that method is not applied to the kind of cooking in this book (Now Eat This). In these recipes, the method is to get the pan very hot and I mean very hot. The pan is then sprayed with cooking spray, followed immediately by the ingredients that are to be cooked. This method spares you countless calories, and in most cases, the results are nearly identical. Where they’re not, I’ve made other adjustments to achieve the same level of deliciousness. When choosing cookware, go for porcelain-coated cast-iron or nonstick-coated cast iron, or heavy stainless steel. Anything else will not give you the results you are looking for”.  It’s worth a try.

Cooking with Carol- Parmesan Panko Poppers

Parmesan Panko Poppers

Contributed by Carol McCoy


  • 2C panko bread crumbs
  • 2T grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1tsp pepper
  • 1/2tsp garlic powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1T milk
  • 1C flour
  • 1 & ½ #’s skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut in bite-sized pieces
  • Oil for frying


Directions ~

  1. Combine panko crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt/pepper, and garlic powder. Put this mixture in a bowl.
  2. Whisk eggs and milk in a separate bowl to make an egg wash. Place flour in another bowl.
  3. Coat chicken pieces in flour, dip them into egg wash. Press panko mixture to coat, shaking off excess.
  4. Heat oil in a deep fryer (this is where I disagree). I would put a small amount of oil in a large skillet. Heat oil on medium high. Fry chicken in batches, until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 3 to 5 mins. Depending on high your heat is.

These would be great for a kids dinner and/or use them as a snack with Ranch dressing.

Cooking with Carol- Sugar and Fats Facts

Sugar and Fats Facts


Contributed by: Carol McCoy

In case any of you are wanting to lose a few pounds or just wanting to eat more healthy I want to give you a list of the sugar in some common foods and also a list of fats that you may not be aware of in some common foods.

First we’ll do the sugar:

  1. Fruit punch 12oz 40G sugar which amounts to 10 tsps of sugar. This is a drink that it should never be given to kids, it’s promotes tooth decay and obsity.
  2. Carbonated soft drinks 12oz 40G sugar & 10 tsps. of sugar, also promotes tooth decay and obesity.
  3. Ice Cream 1C 40G of sugar & 10tsps. of sugar.
  4. Yogurt w/fruit 1C 35G of sugar & 9tsps of sugar.
  5. Candy bar 1 average 30G of sugar & 8tsps of sugar.
  6. Apple pie 1 slice 15G of sugar & 4tsps of sugar
  7. Sweetened cereal 1C 15G of sugar & 4tsps of sugar.
  8. Jam and/or jelly 1T 10G of sugar & 2& ½ tsps. of sugar.
  9. Donut 10G of sugar & 2& ½ tsps. of sugar.
  10. Honey 1tsp 5G of sugar & 1 tsp of sugar
  11. Brown sugar 1stp 5G of sugar & 1tsp of sugar.
  12. Table sugar 1stp 5G of sugar & 1tsp of sugar.

Now the fats:

  1. Butter 2T 23G fat ~ 14G saturated  fat ~ 200 calories
  2. Steak 3oz 21G fat ~ 8G saturated fat ~ 270 calories
  3. Peanuts 1/4C 18G fat ~ 3G saturated fat ~ 210 calories
  4. Cake donut 1 large 16G fat ~ 3G saturated fat ~ 300 calories
  5. Blue cheese dressing 2T 16G fat – 3G saturated fat ~ 150 calories
  6. Peanut butter 2T 16G fat ~ 3G saturated fat ~ 190 calories
  7. Chocolate/peanut butter candy bar (2oz) 14G fat ~ 5G saturated fat ~ 270 calories
  8. Fried chicken thigh (3oz) 14G fat ~ 4G saturated fat ~ 240 calories
  9. Croissant roll (2oz) 12G fat ~ 7G saturated fat ~ 230 calories
  10.  Ice cream (1/2C vanilla) 12G fat ~ 6G saturated fat ~ 180 calories
  11.  Cream cheese (2T) 10G fat ~ 7G saturated fat ~ 100 calories
  12.  Whole milk (1C) 5G fat ~ 5G saturated fat ~ 150 calories
  13.  2% Milk (1C) 5G fat ~ 3G saturated fat ~ 120 calories
  14.  Sour cream (2T) 5G fat ~ 3G saturated fat ~ 50 calories
  15.  Half & half (2T) 3G fat ~ 2G saturated fat ~ 40 calories

There you go, pretty surprising isn’t it?  There are a lot of alternate choice that are much more healthy. Check it out at the market next time and let me know what you found.

Cooking with Carol- Hydration Tips

Hydration Tips

Contributed by Carol McCoy

I have some good ideas to help you stay & keep hydrated. You should be drinking water all day long. You need at least ten 8oz glasses per day. It’s not necessary for you to drink bottled water that you have to purchase, our tap water if fine, especially if you keep it cold in the fridge. Or you can always boil it for 10 mins if you feel it’s necessary, then chill it. Water helps you boost your immunities. It also helps keep your metabolism up. Water will not bloat you, it’s when you don’t drink enough water that your body is depending on whatever moisture it can get that will start to bloat you and retain water. So drink up until when you pee it’s clear. The color is a good indication of your level of hydration. The clearer your pee is the better.

If you don’t like water, try a water based beverage with flavor, iced tea, water w/lemon, cucumber, or maybe even a tiny bit of extract of your choice. You can also cut your water with a healthy unsweetened juice. Such as 100 percent pomegranate juice, grape juice, prune or cranberry juice. Avoid store-bought juice drinks also called “cocktails” or “punch” as they contain as little as 5 percent juice and a lot of added sugar. Always check the label to see what you’re getting. Your juice of choice should be 100 percent fruit juice, made without any added sugar.

The more water you drink, the less soda, sugary juices, and alcohol you’ll desire.

Drinking water is a very big part of being healthy. After 2 weeks of your new water drinking habit you will notice that you’re getting thinner and healthier. You may go a very long time without catching a cold. So keep this hint in mind the next time you want a soda.

Cooking with Carol- Greek Pasta

Greek Pasta with Tomatoes and White Beans

Contributed by Carol McCoy

Prep time~10mins

Cook ~15mins

Ready in~25mins


2 (14.5oz) cans Italian style diced tomatoes

1 (19oz) can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed ~ Can use any other beans you like

10 oz fresh spinach, washed & chopped

8 oz penne pasta

1/2C crumbled feta cheese

Directions ~

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente
  2. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and beans in a large non-stick. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Add spinach to the sauce and cook 2 mins or until spinach wilts, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve sauce over pasta, and sprinkle with feta.



Cooking with Carol- Taco Pizza

Taco Pizza

Contributed by Carol McCoy



1lb frozen pizza dough (thawed)

1 can (15oz) refried beans, stirred to loosen

3/4C medium-hot jarred salsa

1C (15oz) black beans, drained & rinsed

3/4C shredded pepper jack cheese

2T chopped cilantro

2C shredded iceberg lettuce

2C grape tomatoes, quartered



  1. Heat oven to 475. Coat a 14” pizza pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 14” circle. Gently roll up on a lightly floured rolling pin and unroll onto prepared onto prepared pizza pan.
  3.   Spread the refried beans over dough to within ½” of edge. Spoon on salsa and black beans. Scatter cheese over the top.
  4. Bake at 475 for 15 to 17 mins., or until bottom of pizza is brown and crispy.
  5. Scatter cilantro, lettuce, and tomatoes over top and cut into 6 slices.

            This would be a nice dinner to serve with a green salad.

Cooking with Carol- Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread

Contributed by Carol McCoy

Here is a fun recipe for you and your kids to do for Christmas morning or for anytime for that matter.


3 (12oz) packages refrigerated biscuit dough

1C white sugar

2 tsps ground cinnamon

1/2C butter (or margarine)

1C packed brown sugar

1/2C chopped walnuts (opt)

1/2C raisins or dried cranberries (opt)


1.      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 1~ 9 or 10” tube or Bundt pan.

2.      Mix white sugar and cinnamon in a plastic bag. Cut biscuits into quarters (or smaller). Shake 6 to 8 biscuit pieces in the sugar cinnamon mix. Arrange pieces in the bottom of the prepared pan. Continue until all biscuits are coated and placed in pan. If using nuts & raisins, arrange them in and among the biscuit pieces as you go along.

3.      In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar over medium heat. Boil 1 min. Pour over the biscuits.

4.      Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 mins. Let bread cool in pan for 10 mins, then turn out onto a plate. Do not cut! The bread will pull apart easily.

                   ~I can hardly wait to make this for my family on Christmas Morning~



Cooking with Carol- Food Safety Tips

Food Safety Ideas

Contributed by Carol McCoy

 I want to share some food safety ideas with you. Protect your valuable natural foods by storing them properly. Insects will choose whole foods over processed foods every time, so don’t give them the opportunity: keep whole grains and legumes in airtight jars in a cool, dark place.

Troublesome as it may seem, it is vital to store unrefined flours, oils, nuts and seeds (this includes peanut butter and salad dressing) in refrigerator in hot weather. Always refrigerate wheat germ, Parmesan cheese, dried coconut, dates and figs. These foods are as perishable as produce and spoil more quickly than you can imagine. Many people, unable to recognize the taste of rancid nuts or oils, eat them unknowingly and it can be a serious health hazard.

Store herbs and herb teas in a cool, dry place away from the oven and stove top.

Store baked goods at room temperature for two to four days, depending on the weather, then refrigerate.

There are many things that would store very well in the freezer if you have the room such as flour, corn meal, nuts. You can also freeze butter and cheese, if needed.

Cooking with Carol- Portion Control Tips

Portion Control Tips

Contributed by Carol McCoy

  1.  If you feel hungry between meals, eat a healthy snack, like a piece of fruit or small salad, to avoid overeating during your next meal. You can count this as part of your meal.
  2. When eating in front of the tv put the amount that you plan to eat into a bowl or container instead of eating straight from the package. It’s easy to overeat when your attention is focused on something else.
  3. To minimize the temptation of second and third helpings when eating at home, serve the food on individual plates, instead of putting the serving dishes on the table. Keeping the excess food out of reach may discourage overeating.
  4. Many restaurants serve more food than one person needs at one meal. Take control of the amount of food that ends up on your plate by splitting an entrée with a friend or ask the waitress for a “to go” box and wrap up half your meal as soon as it’s brought to your table.
  5. People tend to consume more when they have easy access to food. Make your home a “portion friendly zone”. Replace the candy dish with a fruit bowl. Store easily temping foods, like cookies, chips, or ice cream, out of immediate eyesight, like on a high shelf or at the back of the freezer. Move the healthier food to the front at eye level. Or don’t buy those things at all to avoid the temptation, avoid those aisles at the market.
  6. For some reason, the larger the package, the more people consume from it without realizing it. To minimize this effect:

a. Divide up the contents of one large package into several smaller containers to help avoid over-consumption. 

b. Don’t eat straight from the package. Always serve the food in a small bowl or container.

       Hope this helps anyone who is interested in portion control. 

Cooking with Carol-Blackberry Crisp

Blackberry Crisp

Contributed by Carol McCoy


4C fresh blackberries, washed and drained well (frozen are ok but you’ll want to drain them)

2 tsp lemon juice

1/3C white sugar

3/4C quick cooking oats

1/3C flour

1/3C packed brown sugar

1/4C softened butter

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 pinch salt



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a baking dish.
  2. Place berries in large bowl. Pour in lemon juice, sprinkle sugar evenly over berries. Gently stir to combine. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Gently pat down berries with the back of a spoon and level the surface.
  3.  Place rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Mix together with a fork until mixture is blended and crumbly, about 1 minute.
  4. Distribute crisp mixture over the top of the berries and smooth out with a tip of a
  5. Fork so all berries are covered.
  6. Bake in preheated oven until dark and berries are bubbling, about 45 minutes. Allow crisp to cool somewhat and firm up. Serve warm.

This is a great dessert to use for anytime!

Give The Gift of Dignity

Our very own Executive Director, Theresa Murphy was featured in this blog by HomeAid Orange County about bringing awareness to the importance of giving to others in need. Precious Life Shelter would not be where it is today without the support of all our wonderful donors and volunteers. If you would like to donate to help our mothers and babies, please visit our Donate Today page.

Can you imagine what it would be like not to have clean socks, underwear or a clean shirt? It seems like most people have items in their closets that have not been taken off the hanger for months or longer.