This column today is something of a smorgasbord because there is a little bit of everything—diabetic friendly recipes, vegetarian recipes, dessert recipes, no-egg cakes, fish recipes, soup recipes—you get the idea! I hope you’ll find something today that you will want to try. Please notice the eggplant recipe. I often hear people comment that they don’t know what to do with eggplant. This would be a good recipe to start with because there are many wonderful things you can do with it. I think the first time I ate eggplant was at the Piccadilly Cafeteria at Northgate Mall. They fixed a delicious Eggplant Dressing that I liked. Once you have eaten an eggplant dish you like, you’ll find that you want to try more and more recipes. It makes delicious lasagna, too! You might want to consider the Pumpkin Crunch Cake for one of your holiday offerings. It’s really good. This weekend I bought a really pretty pumpkin to make some pumpkin soup. The easy way to cook a pumpkin for other uses is to cut it in half an clean out the seeds and strings. Then turn it cut sides down on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake it at 350 for about 40 minutes or until a knife pierces it easily. I cooked mine before bedtime and then left it in the cooling oven overnight so it would be all cooled off by morning. Then I peeled it, kept what I wanted for the soup and packaged the rest for the freezer. I harvested the seeds from the strings and roasted them. All the throw-away parts I gave to the chickens and they thought it was a feast day!

Make it a good week, and let me hear from you!

Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup

Note: This recipe won first place at the Alabama National Fair in Montgomery, Ala., on October 8, 2011, in the Vegetable Soup category. (Submitted by Helen Watson of Daphne, Ala.)

2 large cucumbers, peeled and seeded

1/4 cup water cress

Zest of one lemon

Juice of one lemon

2 heaping Tbs. chopped green onions

3/4 cup strained Greek yogurt

1/3 cup Half and Half

Salt and pepper to taste

Sprigs of water cress for garnish

Puree cucumbers, watercress, lemon zest and green onion. Pour into a medium bowl. Stir in lemon juice, yogurt, and Half and Half. Salt and pepper to taste. Yields approximately one quart. To serve, pour into chilled martini glasses and garnish with watercress sprigs like you would a martini.

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin

1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk

1 & 1/2 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. salt

1 (2-layer) pkg. yellow cake mix

1 cup chopped pecans

3/4 (1 & 1/2 sticks) butter, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350°. Beat the pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a mixing bowl at medium speed until blended. Spoon the batter into a greased 9x13 cake pan. Sprinkle the cake mix over the prepared batter and then sprinkle with pecans. Arrange the butter slices evenly over the top and back for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Baked Eggplant

This is wonderfully delicious!!!!

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed

2 eggs beaten

8 saltine crackers crumbled

3/4 cup milk

Dash of hot sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Tbs. melted butter

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the eggplant slowly in a small amount of water until tender--about 20 minutes. Drain well. Combine all other ingredients and gently stir in eggplant. Bake in a well-greased casserole dish for 30 minutes at 350°.

Cheesy Potato Soup

4 slices bacon

1 & 1/2 cups chopped onion

5 cups diced peeled russet potatoes (about 6 medium)

1 medium stalk celery, chopped (1/2 cup)

1 (32 oz.) carton chicken broth (4 cups)

1 cup of water

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 & 1/2 cups Half and Half

1 (8 oz.) bag shredded cheese blend (2 cups)

In 12-inch skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, turning occasionally, until browned and crispy. Remove from skillet, reserving fat in skillet. Drain bacon on paper towel, then refrigerate. In same skillet, saute’ onion and celery in bacon fat over medium heat four to five minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. In cooker, mix onion, celery, potatoes, broth, water, salt and pepper. Cover; cook on Low heat setting six to seven hours. In small bowl, beat flour and half-and-half with wire whisk until well blended; stir into soup. Increase heat setting to high. Cover; cook about 30 minutes longer or until thickened. Stir in cheese until well melted. Crumble bacon; sprinkle over soup.

Hash Brown Casserole

2 lbs. frozen hash browns

4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup melted butter

1 pint sour cream

1 (10.5 oz.) can cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper.

Mix all together, spread in an 11x14 greased pan. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes to one hour. If you have ever had the hash brown casserole at Cracker Barrel, this is just like it.

Fruit Dessert

1 cup sugar-free, low-fat plain yogurt

1 orange, peeled, sectioned and chopped

1/2 cup pineapple, without sugar

2 packs Sweet and Low

2 or 3 drops coconut flavoring

Mix all ingredients together, chill and serve on lettuce or any way you wish.

Sugar-Free Fudge

16 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 unsweetened chocolate squares (1 oz. each, melted and cooled)

1/2 cup Splenda sweetener

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cu[ chopped pecans

Mix cream cheese, chocolate, sweetener, and vanilla until smooth. Pour into 8-inch square pan lined with foil. Cover and refrigerate over night. Cut into 16 squares. Serve chilled.

Chocolate Brownies

4 oz. melted unsweetened chocolate

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup nonfat yogurt

1 cup unsweetened applesauce\

1 cup Splenda

3/4 cup egg substitute

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 325°. Spray a 13x19 pan with low-fat spray. Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler. Sift dry ingredients. Add the Splenda to the butter and the chocolate, stir well. Add applesauce, yogurt, egg products, extract, and blend thoroughly. Add dry ingredients and stir until blended. Add chocolate chips and nuts and stir to combine. Spread in pan. Bake at 325° for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Striped Delite

Note: You can vary this endlessly using different puddings.

Layer a graham cracker crumb crust using a small amount of margarine to moisten. Next layer sugar-free vanilla pudding mix, made according to the directions on the box. Next layer chocolate sugar-free pudding made according to the directions on the box. Top with a layer of lite Cool Whip. Chill overnight and serve.

Applesauce Cake—no eggs!

Note: I sometimes use apple butter in this cake instead.

1 & 3/4 cups flour

1/2 cup margarine—during Great Fast,, use a Lenten margarine

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 tsp. cloves

2 tsp. soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup applesauce

2 cups raisins—half regular, half golden is nice

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a tube pan. Cream together margarine and sugars until soft. Stir in flour, cloves, cinnamon, salt and soda. Add applesauce and nuts. Stir until well combined and spoon into greased pan. Bake about 60 minutes. Cool and remove from pan. I then boil together one cup brown sugar and one-half cup orange juice and pour over the cake so it will soak it up, But you can glaze or frost it as desired.

Chocolate Wacky Cake—no eggs!

Richard’s Note: When I make this cake I also add two teaspoons baking powder. It gives it a little extra lift!

3 cups flour

1/4 cup cocoa

2 cups sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups water

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

3 Tbs. vinegar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the mixture and add the combined wet ingredients. Mix batter well. Grease a 9x13 pan and pour in the batter. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for about 45 minutes. Cool. Frost.

Easy Frosting:

Of course you can frost this cake any way you wish, but an easy way to frost it is by combining softened margarine and confectioner’s sugar. I sometimes vary it as follows

Add cocoa

Add cocoa and instant coffee granules

Add orange juice and orange extract

Add peanut butter

Apple Strudel Baklava

Combine wonderful tastes from two cultures—Germany and Greece!! This is made in a large 15x10 pan and does not have to be rolled like most strudels. It is a nice treat for a gathering since it makes about 40 pieces.

1 lb. phyllo dough

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup toasted almonds

2 Tbs. orange juice

1 & 1/4 cup margarine melted

Pinch cloves

2 cups sliced apples

1 Tbs. cinnamon

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp. orange peel

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup raisins

Layer eight sheets of phyllo dough, brushing melted margarine between each layer. Combine all the ingredients except for the honey. Sprinkle half of this mixture over the phyllo. Layer eight more sheets of phyllo, brushing margarine between each layer. Top with the rest of the apple mixture.. Using the remainder of the phyllo leaves, layer and brush each with margarine until azll are used. Score into squares or diamonds. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Warm the honey in a microwave and pour it over the warm squares. Easy Frosting for Wacky Cake

Leanna’s Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

To cure what ails you!

In a 4-quart pot:

2 quarts water

1 small fryer or chicken pieces (such as backs, wings, necks )

1 small to medium onion finely chopped

Salt and pepper

Cook the above ingredients together in a covered pot about an hour. When the meat becomes loose on the bone, remove the chicken from the pot to a dish. And remove the meat from the bone as soon as you can handle it. While you prepare the chicken meat: Add water to pot bring it back to about the original two quarts and bring to a boil and add about four chicken bullion cubes, add and stir in about two cups dry noodles, lower heat to Medium. Stir occasionally to keep noodles from sticking together.. When noodles become tender (done) add the chicken pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve in bowls with your favorite crackers. There are times that I add about a cup each of diced carrots and of celery before I add the noodles I cook the carrots and celery till tender then add the noodles. This is a soup that just about heals any kind of sickness, from the common cold, to some it seems even broken bones!!!!

Oriental Salad

1/2 head of cabbage shredded (I buy the bags and used about 3/4)

2 Tbs. of toasted sesame seeds (you skip this and it will still be great)

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

2 oz. toasted or not slivered almonds

1 pkg. of ramen noodles broken into pieces -

Oriental flavor

Put all the ingredients into a bowl except the ramen flavoring packet (I have used vegetable bouillon that you shake on if I don’t have a packet of ramen seasoning).

Dressing:

Mix together the seasoning packet with

1/3 cup oil

2 Tbs. sugar

1/2 tsp. pepper...or more

3 Tbs. vinegar (preferably rice vinegar)

Pour over the salad! Delicious!

Salmon Salad

1 (16 oz.) can of Pink Salmon

2 celery stalks

1 onion

3 boiled eggs

2 oz Feta cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp. of paprika

1 tsp. of powdered sage

1/2 cup of mayo

1/4 cup of spicy brown mustard

Add all ingredients in a bowl. Remove the bones and skin off of the salmon and crumble into the bowl. Crumble the Feta cheese. Dice the celery, onion, and eggs and add to the bowl. Add mayo and mustard and the salt, pepper, sage and paprika. Gently blend together until all items appear to be coated. Can serve on bread, alone or with crackers. This gives a change from tuna salad.

Veggie Burritos

1 pkg. burrito wrappers (i.e. tortillas)

1 (30 oz.) can vegetarian refried beans

1 (7 oz.) can fire-roasted diced green chiles

1 (14.5 oz.) can Mexican-recipe stewed tomatoes

1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes

4 medium to large Russett potatoes, peeled & quartered

Boil potatoes until tender.

Meanwhile, combine chiles and tomato ingredients in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Reduce mixture slightly and add refried beans. Rice potatoes into the hot bean and veggie mixture. Fill tortillas and enjoy!