Beef and Noodles Recipe

This Beef and Noodles recipe is one of my favorite go to recipes for an easy family dinner.

Beef and Noodles



With this recipe on hand you will have the answer to “What’s for dinner tonight?”  This  Beef and Noodles recipe is real comfort food. I love to make this on  a cold winter day like today and it is super easy to make. This bakes in the oven for 4 hours so it’s a great recipe to make when you have other things to do because the oven does all of the work.    

Beef and Noodles
Serves: 8
  • 1 pkg dry onion soup mix
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 3 lb boneless beef chuck roast
  • 12 oz kluski noodles, uncooked
  • 2 cups additional water
  1. Combine soup mix and water in a roasting pan; stir in soup.
  2. Place roast in pan on top of soup mixture.
  3. Cover with lid and bake at 350 degrees for 4 hours ( yes 4 hours!)
  4. Remove roast from oven and shred the meat, using two forks.
  5. Add the dry noodles to the shredded roast in the pan and add an additional 2 cups of water.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Cover and bake an additional 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

Beef & Noodles Ingredients


Combine onion soup mix and water in a roasting pan; stir in the cream of mushroom soup.

Add Water to Onion Soup


Whisk Soups and Water Together


Place roast on top of the soup mixture.

Add Beef Chuck Roast


Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 4 hours. ( Yes…4 hours!)  Remove from the oven and shred the beef using two forks. 

Shred Beef


Add the dry noodles and additional 2 cups of water to the pan and stir.  Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.



Cover with the lid and return to the oven for an additional 30 minutes.  Stir after 15 minutes.

Cover with Lid



I always use my Dutch Oven for making Beef and Noodles.  Here is a great special on a Dutch Oven for all Make Life Special readers! Only $ 49.95!

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Beef and Noodles Close Up

Omelet In a Mug Is a Great Microwave Mug Recipe!


Are You Looking For a Quick Breakfast?  Try This Easy Microwave Mug Recipe for Omelet In a Mug!

Think you don’t have time for breakfast?  Well, think again!  Easy Microwave Mug recipes are the solution.  My Omelet In a Mug takes a total of 2 minutes and the combination of 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites will get your morning off to a healthy start.  The Ezekiel Bread toast and orange wedge round out this morning meal.  Microwave mug recipes are perfect for one person and are ready right away.  

There are many reasons why eating breakfast tops most “Best Nutrition Tips” lists and why they say “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”.  

The benefits of breakfast include:

  • Weight control (  Eating breakfast helps you to avoid snacking and overeating at other meals.)
  • Clearer thinking ( After 8 to 12 hours without food, the brain needs “energy” to function.)
  • Improved mood
  • Improved concentration at school or work

In addition to all of these great health benefits, eating breakfast as a family is the perfect time to share and talk with your kids!

Here is my 2 minute Microwave Mug Recipe for Omelet In a Mug:

Omelet In a Mug
Serves: 1
  • 1 whole large egg and 2 egg whites
  • A splash of milk ( about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped vegetables ( whatever you have on hand -- I used chopped green onion and chopped grape tomatoes)
  • Bacon bits ( optional)
  • Pam cooking spray
  1. Spray a large mug with cooking spray.
  2. Break one whole egg and 2 egg whites into the mug.
  3. Add the milk, vegetables and bacon bits. Stir well with a fork.
  4. Microwave on high 45 seconds.
  5. Stir.
  6. Microwave another 45 seconds and serve.


Omelet In a Mug Ingredients

Spray large mug with cooking spray.  Break one whole large egg and 2 egg whites into the mug.  Add vegetables , bacon bits and splash of milk.

Assemble The Omelet In a Mug 1

Assemble The Omelet In a Mug 2

Stir with a fork and microwave on high 45 seconds.  Stir again and microwave an additional 45 seconds.  

Microwave Omelet In a Mug 1

Microwave Omelet In a Mug 2


Microwave Omelet In a Mug 3


I served this quick and easy microwaved omelet with a big piece of fresh orange and some toasted Ezekiel 4:9 Bread. What a great way to start the day!

Omelet In a Mug

Be sure to try our Very Berry Yogurt Parfait For Another Great Make Ahead Breakfast!

Video: Omelet In a Mug


Think you don’t have time for breakfast? Well think again! This Omelet In a Mug cooks in less than 2 minutes for a hot and healthy breakfast

Hickory Farms Features Vickies Baked Potato Bar Ideas

Baked Potato Bar

Looking for some baked potato bar ideas?

I recently posted  baked potato bar ideas and how to bake the perfect baked potato.  You can check out my post here:  Perfect Baked Potatoes and a Baked Potato Bar.  This is an easy way to entertain because your guests help themselves.  The baked potato bar is great any time of year.  It would be perfect at a BBQ on the patio or for a Super Bowl Party as suggested by Hickory Farms.  It is fun to combine different options on the baked potato bar – depending on the season.  Add piping hot chili as a topper in the cold winter months.  Add fresh chopped tomatoes or green onions when the garden is busting with fresh vegetables.  Hickory Farms suggested adding chopped summer sausage as a topper and I like that idea too.   There are really countless options..just use your imagination for creative flavor combinations. 

My recipe for the perfect baked potato is also easy.  You can bake as many potatoes as your oven will hold!  I love to add the sea salt or kosher salt to the outside of the potato skin before baking because it adds a nice salty flavor and some crunch to the potato.   And, potatoes are loaded with nutrition!   


Hickory Farms just featured our Make Life Special Baked Potato Bar ideas in their “Winning Super Bowl Party Foods” post.  In addition to the toppings I suggested, they added their chopped summer sausage — what a great idea!

Check out the Hickory Farms post on Super Bowl Party Foods for some great entertaining ideas:

Hickory Farms Winning Super Bowl Party Foods

Thank you Hickory Farms for the great shout out!

Remember, “Let’s Make Life Special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!”



Robust Risotto

Risotto originated in Italy and is a rice dish that is cooked in broth to a creamy (dreamy!!)  consistency.  Risotto can be served as a first course – with some crusty bread – as we are doing  here.  As a first course, it is great paired with a Brut Champagne.  Check out this great pairing at Velvet Palate.

Risotto is typically cooked in a meat, fish or vegetable based broth.  This recipe uses chicken broth ( low sodium) .  Many types of Risotto contain Parmesan cheese, butter and onion.  This recipe uses Parmesan cheese, butter and shallots.  Then we ramp it up to robust by adding 1/4 pound diced asparagus, 1/4 pound sliced shiitake mushrooms and Prosciutto (which is a type of Italian bacon).

You have to use a high starch rice to make risotto and this recipe uses Arborio Rice.  This type of rice has the ability to absorb liquids and to release starch and so it is stickier than the long grain rice varieties.  

While there are many variations on Risotto, the basic preparation remains the same.  

  • The rice is first cooked in onion ( or shallots ) and butter or olive oil to coat each grain in a film of fat.  
  • Then, red or white wine is added and has to be absorbed by the grains.  This recipe uses white wine.
  • When the wine is absorbed, the heat is raised to medium and very hot stock ( I used chicken stock in this recipe) is added in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly ( this process is what creates the smooth creamy-textured liquid).  
  • At this point, it is removed from the heat and the finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is vigorously stirred in to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible.  
  • This recipe adds the cooked asparagus and mushrooms at this point and is then topped with the scrumptious cooked prosciutto for a robust and over the top risotto!             

Robust Risotto
Serves: 4
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth, heated
  • 4 ounces diced prosciutto
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ¼ pound asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into small pieces
  • ¼ pound sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1½ cups arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine, heated
  • 1 cup to 1½ cups shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Simmer the broht in a saucepan. Keep warm.
  2. Heat the wine in a separate saucepan and keep warm.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to large pan and heat. Saute the prosciutto for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  4. Add the asparagus and saute 2 minutes. As they begin to get tender, add the sliced mushroom and cook an additional 3 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is removed. ( do not include any of this liquid or the risotto will not be creamy!). Remove from skillet and set aside.
  5. Add the additional 1 tablesppon of olive oil to the skillet and sweat the shallots and garlic until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the DRY rice and saute until each grain is coated in oil.
  6. Deglaze the pan with the warm white wine and stir until completely absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Now, start adding the hot broth to the pan in ½ cup increments; simmer and stir frequently until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next, about 45 minutes total.
  8. Lastly, stir in the cooked asparagus, mushrooms and the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Season with salt and pepper, top with cooked prosciutto.
  9. Enjoy!!

Be sure to check out Nicole’s Mushroom Risotto which is a more delicate risotto recipe with a creamy cheesy texture.

This Robust Risotto is a little more time consuming than my other Make Life Special recipes but I was requested to feature this recipe.  I think it is really worth the effort because the layers of flavors in this dish are outstanding.  This really is very easy to make.  Here are the how-to photos:



Crisply cooked Prosciutto ….


Heating the liquids….


Saute the asparagus and then add the mushrooms….


Ladle the broth into the rice…


Grate the cheese…


Ingredients ready to add to the Risotto mixture….


Risotto after it has absorbed all of the liquid…


Stir in the cheese, asparagus and mushrooms….

Risotto is great to serve as a first course with crusty bread or as a side dish with pork.

Remember,” Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!”  


Nicole’s Mushroom Risotto



Are you looking for an easy risotto recipe?

Nicole’s Mushroom Risotto is easy and absolutely delicious!  She has been busy reviewing items for our Holiday 2012 Gift Guide.  One of the hot new items she reviewed was the Back to the Roots Gourmet Mushroom Kit.  Check out her review and see how to grow your own gourmet mushrooms!  Back to the Roots Gourmet Mushroom Kit Review  

Here is Nicole’s Recipe for Mushroom Risotto

Nicole's Mushroom Rissoto
Serves: 4
  • 6½ cups chicken stock OR ½ cup dry white wine and 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ stick ( ¼ cup) unsalted butter
  • ¼ pound fresh mushrooms
  • 2 finely chopped large shallots
  • 1½ cups Arborio rice ( 10 oz)
  • 1 generous cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  1. Bring stock to a simmer in a 4 quart pot and keep at a bare simmer, covered.
  2. Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a 4 to 5 quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Then saute mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until browned and any liquid they give off is evaporated.
  3. Cook shallots in 2 tablespoons butter in same saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened.
  4. Add rice and cook, stirring, until edges of rice becomes translucent.
  5. Ladle in ½ cup of white wine and cook at a strong simmer. stirring, until absorbed. Continue simmering and add stock, about ½ cup at a time, stirring very frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until rice is just tender and creamy-looking.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in remaining tablespoon butter, sauteed mushrooms, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.

Nicole is my oldest daughter and the mother to my awesome grandson, Teddy.  Thank you, Nicole, for sharing this terrific recipe!         


Sandra Lee 2013 Calendar


Gift Guide Age Recommendation:­  21+




             First off, I’m going to give you a heads up.  This is not your typical calendar.  This does not have open boxes for your to hand write your appointments.  This is more of a recipe box with recommendations as to what day to serve them.  The box contains 157 recipes for 365 days.  So, you have 3 recipes per week.  The recipes span several genres.  Some are main courses, some appetizers, some desserts, some are beverages, etc…   All the recipe cards are 4×6. 


            I’m really happy that the recipes follow the seasons very well.  You will get recipes for English Popovers and Berry Crumble during the winter months and slowly transition to Blue Corn Chip Nachos and Lush Lemon in the summer.  I also like that there are only 3 recipes per week.  So, when I do my meal planning I can reference them and see if I want to try one, two or all three recipes that week.  If I have a busy week, I might not do the recommended dessert.  But, I have the option of taking that card and saving it in a recipe box for later!  Or, if it is a recipe that will not work for my family (my husband HATES cilantro), I can pitch the recipe card when the day has passed.  Overall, I like this calendar.  I’ve already found a few recipes that I want to try.  I think that the Ham and Cheese Souffle will be made long before March 6th gets here! 


            Santa’s elves unsure what to put in Chef Dad’s stocking?  The size of this gift lends itself for use as a stocking stuffer! Not sure what to get your sister-in-law?  Need to beef up your gift to a mom in your life?  I think that any home cook would be happy to have this calendar assist them in their meal planning.  Also, I see this as a great gift for anyone who likes to entertain, likes variety in their foods, or is new to cooking and is in need of easy, delicious meal ideas.  There are quite a few alcoholic drink recipes, so maybe it would be best to keep this to the over 21 crowd. 


Where to Buy

 The Recipe Calendar sells for $ 14.99 and  can be purchased at


 Reviewed by: Nicole


Note: Sandra Lee supplied me with one Sandra Lee 2013 Calendar for review.  No other compensation was received.  The review in this post is honest and my own.






Crock-Pot Seasoning BBQ Pulled Pork Mix Review

Crock-Pot Seasoning Mixes have just been released in stores and what better time of year than fall to review these down-home, comfort food creations!  Any time of year is perfect for crock pot cooking.  In the spring and summer, crock pot cooking helps keep your kitchen cool.  In the fall and winter, crock pot cooking allows you to create delicious soups, stews and main dishes that are full of that wonderful slow cooked flavor.

I think the Crock-Pot Seasoning Mixes are really exciting!  They are a big time saver for a busy cook and allow you to create easy and creative main dishes with only a few ingredients.  There are currently three mixes that are available:

  • BBQ Pulled Pork
  • Savory Pot Roast Mix
  • Hearty Beef Stew Mix

The BBQ Pulled Pork was first on my list!  As many of you know, I have deep Southern roots and BBQ is near and dear to my heart. ( In fact, I was shocked when I moved north and discovered that there is not one BBQ barn, shack, or restaurant within a 60 mile radius of here!)

I made the BBQ Pulled Pork exactly as the directions on the packet suggested.  I used a  3 pound Boston Butt roast along with the Crock-Pot BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning Mix, 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup dark  brown sugar, 1/3 cup cider vinegar and 1 cup water.  I cannot even begin to describe the wonderful aromas that came drifting out of my kitchen as the pulled pork cooked away in the crock-pot all day!

At the end of the cooking time, I “pulled” the pork……

……and served it up on buns!

I LOVED the flavor of this pulled pork!  It reminded me of BBQ I used to eat in the South —-sweet yet spicy.  I will definitely make this again ( and again ) when I’m in the BBQ mood. 

The Crock-Pot Seasoning Web Site  has additional recipes you can make that are creative uses for these mixes.  I can’t wait to try their recipe for BBQ Apple Pork Chops!  Thick pork chops cook in the slow cooker with onion, apples, apple juice, white vinegar, mustard and of course the Crock-Pot BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning Mix.  It looks absolutely wonderful!  I’ll be reviewing the other mixes as well, but for now…..I’m thinking about having another Pulled Pork Sandwich!

Note:  I received the Crock-Pot BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning Mix to use in the review.  No compensation was received.  These are my true and honest opinions. 

Praline Topped Brie

Praline Topped Brie is a decadent appetizer that can be whipped up in 5 minutes and is sure to impress your guests!  What could be better than the gooey savory flavor of warm brie hot out of the oven – topped with the sweet delight of orange praline topping!

To view the YouTube step by step cooking tutorial for this recipe, click here:  Praline Topped Brie

Praline Topped Brie
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 4 to 6
  • 8 oz OR 13 oz round of brie cheese
  • ½ cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup pecans, chopped and toasted
  • Crackers or toasted baguette-style French bread for serving
  1. Place pecans in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes to toast.
  2. Trim top rind from brie round .
  3. Place brie in baking dish.
  4. Mix the orange marmalade and brown sugar together in a small bowl, Spread on top of the cheese.
  5. Sprinkle with toasted pecans.
  6. Bake in a 350 degree oven about 15 minutes or until cheese is slightly softened and topping is bubbly.
  7. Serve with crackers or bread slices.


Place the pecans in a baking dish and lightly toast in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.

Trim the top off of the brie round.

Place the round in an ovenproof baking dish.

Mix the orange marmalade and brown sugar together in a small bowl.

Spread the topping on the brie.

Sprinkle with toasted pecans.

Bake in a 350 degree oven about 15 minutes or until cheese is slightly softened and topping is bubbly.

Remove from oven and serve.

Praline Topped Brie hot out of the oven:

Serve with crackers or hot bread.  Enjoy!

Remember, let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  


Mom’s Old Fashioned Pecan Pie

No dessert speaks to me like pecan pie!  I can’t resist it. I’ve even been known to have it for breakfast ( but don’t tell anyone) !  My Mom always made a good old fashioned pecan pie every Thanksgiving and every Christmas.  I still make pecan pie for special holidays but I don’t reserve it only for special occasions.  It is so quick and easy to make – you can have it anytime!  In fact, the filling only has 6 ingredients and you can whip it up in about 5 minutes.  Here is my Mom’s Old Fashioned Pecan Pie recipe:

Mom's Old Fashioned Pecan Pie
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Pie
Serves: 8
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup Karo light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Combine sugar, light corn syrup and melted butter.
  2. Add beaten eggs, chopped pecans and vanilla to the syrup mixture, mixing thoroughly.
  3. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell. (Note: Since this is a high sugar content pie, sprinkle a little flour on each side of the pie dough before putting it into the pie plate.)
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, cover the edges with aluminum foil or a pie crust protector to prevent burning.
  5. After 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 15 to 20 minutes.

Click the link to view the YouTube How-To Tutorial for this recipe:  Vickie’s Mom’s Old Fashioned Pecan Pie 


Combine the sugar, light corn syrup and melted butter.  Stir well.

Add beaten eggs, vanilla and chopped pecans to syrup mixture, mixing thoroughly.  

Bring the refrigerated pie crust to room temperature and unroll.  Sprinkle both sides of the pie dough with flour.  Place into the pie pan and flute edges.

Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  NOTE:  After 20 minutes, put strips of aluminum foil around the edges of the pie or use a pie protector to prevent the edges from burning.

After 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Let the pie cool before serving.

Here is the pie— hot out of the oven.  (Notice my vintage pot holders?  My daughter, Nicole, made these for me when she was a little girl ( now she is a Mom too) and I love using my handmade pot holders !)


Vickie’s Almost Famous Chili

Fall is for football games, pumpkins and mums at the front door and a big pot of Chili simmering on the stove.   I was in a Chili Cook Off  years ago with several girlfriends and I discovered that there are about as many recipes for Chili as there are people who love it!  We called our team “The Red Hot Chili Peppers”.  Our recipe had about 25 ingredients and cooked all afternoon.  We won the Chili Cook Off but I’m sure none of us ever made that Chili recipe again because it had too many ingredients and cooked too long for all of our busy schedules.  That’s why I call my recipe “Almost Famous”.  I never won a Chili Cook Off with this recipe – but it scored big with everyone who has ever tasted it.

This recipe only has to simmer 15 minutes – so it can easily be cooked after a long day at work.  So, grab your Chili pot and get ready to round up some great chili for your gang!


Vickie's Almost Famous Chili
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 16 ounces tomato sauce
  • 15 ounces chili beans ( I use medium, but feel free to use mild or hot)
  • 15 ounces dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons instant dried onion flakes
  • 2 packages chili seasoning packets ( that are supposed to each season 1 pound of beef)
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Condiments to sprinkle on top of each bowl of chili: chopped onions, Fritos corn chips, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese
  1. Brown ground beef and drain well.
  2. Add remaining ingredients. Stir to blend well.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve piping hot with the condiments sprinkled on top. Enjoy!

Brown the ground beef and drain well.

Add the remaining chili ingredients and stir to blend well.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Ladle up a big bowl of this yummy chili and serve it topped with chopped onions, Fritos corn chips, a big dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

Remember, let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!



Make Life Special
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