Category Archives: Asparagus

In Defense of Canned Soup…

I try to cook with fresh ingredients. Usually. But sometimes–you know those times when you’ve been working and suddenly you’re faced with a hungry family without a dinner plan–you’re tempted to order pizza. Again. Been there, my friend. So without apology, I present the emergency one-dish meal using (gasp!) canned condensed cream of whatever soup. 

All you need in addition to the soup is pasta or rice, some leftover (or canned) meat and/or vegetables, and cheese. There are endless combinations, and any combo produces a reasonably healthy meal in a short time. If you make it in one pot, cleanup isn’t overwhelming, either. One-pot meals are a great use-up of leftovers, too, like that one serving of green beans or that half cup of corn kernels you just couldn’t bear to put down the disposal.

I use a pressure cooker, but I’ve also made this dish in an electric skillet. Whatever works best for you. 

Here’s an example, but feel free to substitute ingredients you have available.


Chicken and Mushroom Pasta

Serves 4


  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • 1 10½ oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 10 oz. chicken broth or water
  • 1 cup dried cavatappi or similar size pasta
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup fresh asparagus, sliced in 2″ pieces
  • ½ cup mushrooms
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • (optional) fresh basil, chopped


  1. Layer the cooked chicken in the bottom of the pot of a pressure cooker. Spread pasta on top the chicken.
  2. Pour the soup and broth or water over so that all pasta is submerged in liquid. Scatter the minced garlic on top.
  3. Close lid, bring to pressure, and cook 4 minutes. Immediately remove from heat (or hit Cancel on electric models) and release pressure. Carefully open lid and stir in the vegetables.
  4. Cover and let the vegetables cook in the residual heat. There’s no need to return to heat.
  5. After about 10 minutes, open and sprinkle cheeses over the top. Cover for another 3-5 minutes or until cheeses have melted.
  6. Serve garnished with optional fresh basil.

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Filed under Asparagus, casseroles, cooking, mushrooms, pasta, pasta dishes, poultry, Recipes

Five-Minute Asparagus

Delicious asparagus in five minutes? Now that’s hasty and tasty.

I love asparagus as long as it’s cooked properly. I loathe canned or limp, overcooked slime. My asparagus must be bright green and crisp, cooked tender but not too cooked. If you don’t eat asparagus, perhaps you have been a victim of the overcooked slimy variety. Give this dish a try and you might change your mind.

Why asparagus? One serving offers 2 grams fiber in only 20 calories, making it a good food if you’re watching your weight. Nutritionally rich in vitamin A and K, it also offers iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Counting carbs? One serving has about 3.7.

Here’s how I cook it (and I credit TV Chef Alton Brown for the idea):

  1. Wet a generous length of paper towels (approximately two full-size) with water.
  2. Spread the trimmed, washed asparagus spears along the length of paper towel.
  3. Season with salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg (or your choice of spices).
  4. Roll the asparagus up in the wet paper towel to form a “log” and place in the microwave oven.
  5. Cook for three minutes (1000 watts–adjust for your microwave’s power level).
  6. Using tongs, carefully remove the asparagus from the microwave oven.
  7. Gently unroll the paper towel “log” to deposit cooked asparagus into serving dish.


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Filed under Asparagus, Healthful Eating, Recipes, Vegetables