Connie Stevens - Author - Riters' Recipes

She rises…and provides food for her household. Proverbs 31:15

Every writer, whether published or not, knows the feeling of writing under some kind of deadline. Sometimes it’s the date your manuscript is due on the editor’s desk, or perhaps you’re rushing to get those edits done. Other times you’re trying to get your story submitted to a contest. Wherever we are in our various writing journeys, we all feel the pinch of time pressure.

‘Riters’ Recipes Page features fast, easy, no-fuss, family-approved recipes for writers on a deadline (and any other time the clock is not your friend.)



1 box Jiffy corn bread mix
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 envelope Taco seasoning
1 can refried beans
1 jar salsa*
2 cups shredded cheddar
2 cups crushed Chili Cheese Fritos

Grease 8×11 casserole dish (9×13 works but it’s a bit large and the layers are too thin). Heat oven to 350. Prepare cornbread mix according to package directions. Spread over the bottom of casserole dish and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Cook ground beef in skillet, chopping it up fine as it cooks. Drain. Add Taco seasoning and a 1/4 cup of water. Mix well and spread over baked cornbread. Spread refried beans over beef. Spread salsa* over beans. Bake for about15 minutes. Remove from oven and spread shredded cheese over top. Return to oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and spread crushed Fritos over top. Return to oven for 3 minutes.

*If you don’t care for salsa, substitute a can of petite diced tomatoes, seasoned with salt & pepper, a few dashes of onion powder and chili powder. You can make it very mild or throw in several generous dashes of Tabasco if you like it hot.



1 can tomato soup
1 15-oz can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
2/3 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon each onion powder & garlic powder
a few dashes of crushed basil
salt & pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Empty canned tomatoes in food processor and pulse for about 15 seconds–just long enough so tomatoes are no longer cubed. Dump tomatoes (including all juice) into medium pan with tomato soup. Heat over medium heat until steaming. Add seasonings. Stir. Add half and half. Blend and heat until just before it boils, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and ladle into mugs. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serves 2. This recipe is easily doubled or tripled for a larger crowd, and the prep time is about 15 minutes.



1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken, cut into 1″ cubes
1 1/2 lbs cubed ham
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
1 can cream of chicken or cream of celery soup
1/2 can water
seasoned Panko bread crumb

Butter a 9X13 baking dish. Sprinkle bottom with bread crumbs. Add half the chicken, half the cheese, and half the ham. In small bowl mix soup and water. Pour half soup mixture over. Repeat layers and top with bread crumbs. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
(NOTE: original recipe called for salt and pepper, but the ham and soup is salty enough.)



2 Tablespoons minced onion       1  32 oz carton chicken broth
2 Tablespoons oil                          1  can chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic         3/4 bag frozen hash browns
1 1/2 cups cut-up ham                1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter                  1 cup instant mashed potato flakes

In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for about 5 minutes. Add ham and butter. Cook together for 10 minutes. Add all chicken broth. Add hash browns. Bring just to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, add milk, and gradually stir in mashed potato flakes to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.



Kaiser rolls                           sliced cheddar cheese
deli ham (1/4 lb per person)      mustard

Preheat oven to 350. Slice open rolls. Spread mustard on bottom half. Place ham and cheese in roll and replace top. Wrap each sandwich individually in foil, sealing tightly. Place foil-wrapped sandwiches on cookie sheet and bake for about 25 minutes.
SIDES: salad, cole slaw, pickles, assorted chips, french fries.



1 1/4 lbs ground beef                     1 can Manwich sauce
1/2 cup chopped onion                   1 bag frozen tater tots
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar

Brown beef and onions together in skillet. Drain grease. Blend in Manwich sauce. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 9×13 casserole dish. Spread tater tots evenly in casserole dish and top with meat mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle cheese over top. Return to oven for 10 minutes.


PIZZA BREAD (great family favorite!!)

1 loaf French Bread                       Pizza sauce, bought or homemade
Assorted pizza toppings                Sliced mozzarella or provolone

Preheat oven to 400, Slice loaf of bread in half lengthwise. Spread each half with pizza sauce. Top with whatever toppings you like. Place slices of cheese overlapping on top. Place loaves on greased cookie sheets. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Slice into 2″ pieces.  Serve with side salad.



1 pkg cornbread mix                         1 medium can baked beans
1 1/2 lbs ground beef                        1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup chopped onion                     1 cup shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 375
In skillet, brown ground beef and onion together. Drain off grease. Add baked beans and BBQ sauce and blend well. In medium bowl, prepare cornbread mix according to package directions. Spray a 9X13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour half the cornbread batter in the bottom of casserole dish and spread evenly. Distribute beef and bean mixture evenly over cornbread batter. Top with remaining batter. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and top with cheese. Return to oven for about 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve with a side salad.



1 large jar salsa                                 tortilla chips
4-6 cube steaks                                 sour cream
1 can black beans                              shredded cheddar

Spray skillet with cooking spray. Arrange cube steaks in skillet and pour salsa over the top. If desired, you can add salt & pepper or other seasonings of your choice, but really, the salsa is seasoning enough. Cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Heat a can of black beans. Serve with chips, sour cream, and shredded cheese.



1 bag frozen meatballs                             8 oz container sour cream
1 10 oz can cream/mushroom soup       cooked noodles or mashed
1 10 oz can cream/chicken soup                            potatoes

Place meatballs in slow cooker. In a bowl, combine soups and sour cream. Pour over meatballs. Cover and cook on LOW setting for 6-8 hours or on HIGH setting for 3 hours. Spoon meatballs and gravy over noodles or mashed potatoes.



1 Tablespoon oil                               1/2 cup chopped onion
4 boneless chicken breasts             1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup chopped (raw) bacon        6 slices cheddar cheese

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken. Cook, turning once, for about 7-8 minutes, until golden on both sides and juices run clear. Transfer chicken to plate and keep warm. Add bacon to drippings in skillet and cook, stirring frequently over medium heat until crisp. Add onion, and cook until tender. Add milk and cheese, and stir constantly while cooking until cheese melts and mixture is smooth. Return chicken to skillet. Turn chicken to coat. Serve chicken with cheese/bacon sauce spooned over it.


Here is a fast, family-friendly dish you can toss together in less than 20 minutes. Add a salad while it’s cooking and supper is ready!


One Step Tomato Basil Pasta

No straining, just stirring!
Throw it all in the pot, INCLUDING the uncooked Pasta, and cook! Bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. The starch leaches out of the pasta and makes a rich, warm sauce for the noodles. The other ingredients cook right along with the pasta
12 ounces pasta (linguini, bow ties, rotini—all work great)
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with liquid
1 large sweet onion, cut in julienne strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach leaves

4 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Place pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, basil, and spinach in a large stock pot. Pour in vegetable broth.  Drizzle top with oil.
Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and keep covered and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so. Cook until almost all liquid has evaporated, leaving about a half inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, stirring pasta several times to distribute the liquid. Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese.


Normally, this page is reserved for hurry-up, family-friendly meals we can throw together when we’re on a deadline. But the attendees of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference look forward every year to those delectable chocolate macaroons served by the cafeteria at Ridgecrest, I came up with a way to imitate them. (disclaimer: I did not get this recipe from Ridgecrest–it’s my own.)

First, take a package of your favorite brownie mix (9X13 size). Mix it according to package directions, EXCEPT add one extra egg, about a tablespoon more oil, and about 1/4 cup of half & half. Mix well and set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix
3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Beat very well, for 4-5 minutes, or until mixture begins to stiffen. Fold in 1 1/2 cups of coconut.
Using a lightly greased muffin tin, place 1 tablespoon of the brownie mixture in each cup. Spoon 2 teaspoons of the coconut mixture in the center of each cup, and then cover with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the brownie mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-23 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Try to let them cool completely before eating them, but I’ll bet you can’t!!


Here is an easy slow-cooker recipe that is family-friendly. FIVE-minute prep time!! Just make sure you’ve thawed out the chicken the night before.

White-Spaghetti_web-300x356WHITE CHICKEN SPAGHETTI

5 to 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 block cream cheese
1 Package Italian dressing dry seasoning
1 Can cream of chicken soup
1 (16-ounce) Package spaghetti noodles

Combine chicken, cream cheese, seasoning, and cream of chicken soup in the slow cooker.

Cook on LOW for 6 hours.

Before serving, cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions and add to chicken mixture. Serve with a tossed salad.


In a hurry? Here is a great recipe from Dianna Bupp, one of my Facebook friends. Prep time is just as long as it takes to brown the hamburger meat and toss everything in the Crock Pot. This is versatile, too. When it’s ready, you use it to fill burritos or tacos, top scrambled eggs, or spoon over baked potatoes that you’ve popped into the microwave.

Haystack-Chili-2-150x100Crock Pot Haystack Chili Filling
2 pounds ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2- 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
2- 15 ounce cans chili beans
2- 10 ounce cans mild enchilada sauce or use homemade enchilada sauce

Cook beef and onion until beef is browned and onion is tender.
Place cooked beef in a crock pot and add remaining ingredients.
Cook on low for 6 hours.
Serve as a Mexican filling for tacos, burritos, or as a topping for potatoes.
Thanks for the great suggestion, Dianna!!


Homemade soups are always a favorite at my house no matter what the season. One of my favorites is Vegetable Beef & Barley Soup. It only takes about 20 minutes to throw this together. Let it simmer all day, and there’s plenty of leftovers to freeze and heat up later when you’re really crunched for time.

1 1/2 lbs stew beef, cut in small bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large cartons Swanson beef broth*
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped cabbage
1 large can petite-diced tomatoes (including liquid)
1 can great northern beans (including liquid)
1 can black-eyed peas (including liquid)
1/2 cup frozen corn
3 tablespoons Dale’s Marinade
2 teaspoons salt / a few dashes of pepper
1/2 cup dry barley
In large stockpot, saute beef in heated oil. Add onion. Stir until onion starts to get tender. Add remaining ingredients all together except the barley. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to low simmer. Cover, and stir every couple of hours. About an hour before serving, boil barley according to package directions. Drain and add to soup. Add more seasoning to taste. Serve with cornbread, crackers, or corn chips.

*If you plan on making a pot roast any time soon, save the liquid in the bottom of the roasting pan and freeze it. When you want to make this soup, add the pot roast liquid. YUMMMM


Soups are a quick, easy, filling meal regardless of the temperature outside. A pot of homemade soup simmering on the stove makes the whole house smell wonderful. This recipe comes to us from Nancy Hird, and it’s one of those recipes that the cook can tweak, depending on what she happens to have in her refrigerator. Here is how Nancy makes her favorite soup:

1 carton chicken broth
1 can black beans or kidney beans
1 can white beans
15-20 baby carrots, diced
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes w/ Italian seasoning
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
several handfuls fresh spinach
1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
salt and pepper to taste

In large pot, bring chicken broth and beans to a boil. Lower heat to simmer. Add chopped carrots and tomatoes. In small skillet, saute onion and garlic, and then add to the soup, along with spinach and diced chicken. Taste-test and season according to your tastes. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Serve with bread or crackers, and fresh salad.

There are probably as many soup recipes as there are cooks!! The nice thing about homemade soup–besides how wonderful it smells while it’s cooking–is the various additions or substitutions one can make. Thanks, Nancy, for this yummy contribution to our recipe collection.

Look for Nancy at


Okay…disclaimer here:  The following two recipes have nothing to do with putting a quick meal on the table while you are under a deadline. They are simply yummy recipes you can enjoy any time of the year. If you have an extra few minutes on a Saturday morning, try these luscious pancakes. Your family will love them.


2 ½  cups self rising flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 eggs
¼ cup oil
1 ½ cups milk

Mix the dry ingredients together in large bowl. In smaller bowl, mix pumpkin, eggs, and oil. Beat well. Add milk a little at a time until well blended. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Pour batter (about 1/3 cup each) on hot, greased griddle. Flip after 2-3 minutes. All griddles are different, so watch pancakes carefully.
Cool leftovers on a cooling rack and freeze between pieces of waxed paper in a large plastic bag. To re-heat leftovers, place frozen pancakes on paper towels on a plate. Microwave for about 40 seconds. Turn pancakes a half turn. Microwave for another 15-20 seconds.



2 cups sugar                                  1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups Crisco oil                     1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs                                              1 cup dry oatmeal
3 cups all purpose flour             3 cups diced, raw apples
2 teaspoons cinnamon               1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon salt

Cream together sugar and cooking oil. Add eggs and beat well. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt and soda. Gradually add to egg mixture. Add vanilla, oats, apples, and nuts. Batter will be thick. Pour batter into a greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 ½ – 2 hours. (check after 1 ½ hours—if toothpick comes out clean, cake is done) Cool for 15-20 minutes in pan on cooling rack. Invert onto plate and cool completely. Dust with confectioners sugar.



This week’s recipe comes to us from fellow writer, Lisa Carter. It seems there is no end to the fabulous things we can do with chicken, and Lisa’s Italian Chicken and Rice with Vegetables is quick and easy as well as mouth-watering.


•1 Tbsp oil (I just spray pan with cooking oil)
•1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips (I use chicken tenderloin strips)
•3 cups cut-up fresh vegetables like broccoli, carrots, whatever is your favorite (and sometimes when I’ve lingered on a scene too long, I’ve been known to use a frozen vegetable medley which cooks up just fine)
•1 can (14.5 oz.) fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
•2 cups Minute White Rice, uncooked
•1/4 cup Kraft zesty Italian salad dressing

1. Heat oil or spray skillet.
2. Add chicken; cook and stir till lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
3. Add vegetables; cook and stir 3-5 minutes or till crisp-tender.
4. Stir in broth; bring to boil.
5. Stir in rice and dressing; cover.
6. Reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes or till liquid is absorbed and chicken cooked through.

Makes 4 servings.

[Connie’s Note:] I tried this recipe last week using low-fat Zesty Italian dressing, and it was scrumptious!!

Lisa Carter’s debut contemporary romance novel, Aloha Rose, releases November, 2013 and is part of Abingdon’s Quilts of Love series. Three more romantic suspense novels involving sassy Southern heroines will release in 2014 and 2015. Lisa was always the child who made up epic tales involving prairie schooners or interplanetary voyages for the neighborhood kids to re-enact during summer vacation. Now, she and her husband, David, have two daughters and make their home in North Carolina. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys traveling to romantic locales such as the Big Island, Hawaii, quilting and researching her next exotic adventure.


Lisa’s Debut Novel: Aloha Rose
Seeking out her birth family, Laney Carrigan’s only clue is the Lokelani quilt in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Hawaiian cowboy/helicopter pilot Kai Barnes finds himself drawn to Laney despite his reservations. Laney’s painstaking journey toward a place to belong among the breathtaking allure of the Big Island will lead her closer to her past and maybe something more.



Here is a winner!! Kathleen Y’Barbo Turner, author of over forty novels, including THE INCONVENIENT MARRIAGE OF CHARLOTTE BECK,  has shared her recipe (so simple it’s absolutely crazy!) for a rib-sticking meal with only minutes of prep time:


Wash and remove skin (if desired) from approximately 1 pound of chicken. I prefer boneless breasts but bone-in pieces are good too. Place chicken in crock pot and douse liberally with bottled BBQ sauce. Cover and cook all day. Serve with crusty bread and veggies or shred the breasts/pick meat off bones and enjoy BBQ sandwiches on hamburger buns.
(Connie’s note: I did this using boneless breasts and boneless thighs together. The dark meat and light meat combined is yummy!)

And here is Kathleen’s favorite dessert:


1 1/2 cups sugar (or Splenda)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup biscuit mix (recommended: Bisquick)
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch pie pan.
Put all ingredients in a bowl and blend for 1 minute with a handheld
electric mixer. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for about 50
minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool for 5 minutes.

Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple RITA and Carol Award nominee of over forty novels with more than one million copies of her books in print in the United States and abroad. A certified family law paralegal and former literary publicist, she was recently nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well as a Reader’s Choice Award by Romantic Times magazine. A tenth-generation Texan, Kathleen Y’Barbo has four grown children, seven bonus children, and her very own hero in combat boots. Find out more about Kathleen at or connect with her on Twitter at and Facebook at



One of my personal favorite quick fixes is boneless chicken breasts. I take one of those plastic bags of frozen chicken breasts—anything from a 3 or 4 pound bag from Walmart or my grocery store to an 8 pound bag from Costco or Sam’s Club—and cook the entire bag at once. Here’s what I do:

My favorite marinade:
¾ cup Dale’s marinade
1 cup Caesar dressing (not creamy)
¼ cup olive oil
A few dashes of onion powder & garlic powder
2 teaspoons McCormick Montreal Chicken seasoning
Mix all ingredients and pour into the poly bag of chicken. Turn bag to thoroughly coat chicken and let it marinate for 2 or 3 hours, turning bag occasionally. Grill all the chicken. Roasting is all right, too, but grilling is better. Serve what you need for one meal.

Here is the quick and easy part:  Refrigerate the leftovers. Now you have cooked chicken, ready to chop up for chicken salad, or cube and add to pasta salad (making it a meal salad instead of just a side dish), or cut up and add to quick, seasoned rice or packaged noodles for a fast casserole, or slice into strips for chef’s salad, or toss into a pot with canned chicken broth and a few veggies and simmer for soup. There are SO many ways to use cooked chicken, and if you already have it cooked and ready, you have an instant shortcut to a fast meal. If you know you’re going to be pressed for time in the next week or so, cook up an entire bag of chicken breasts and see how many meals you can get out of it.


Here is a “dump it and go” slow cooker recipe I found on ~ and I thank Allison Wilson for sharing this link with us.


Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time:  4 hours on high or 6 hours on low

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 cans broccoli cheese soup
1/2 cup milk

OPTIONS:  add 1 cup mushrooms
add 1 cup broccoli florets
add 1 cup carrots cut into chunks

Spray inside of crock with non-stick cooking spray. Add chicken, and any other options. In small bowl, blend soup and milk. Pour over chicken. Cover, set to either high or low, depending on your schedule.




This yummy-sounding recipe has been submitted by Karin Beery.

1 box of macaroni and cheese
1 lb. ground beef
Taco seasoning
1 jar salsa

Desired taco toppings (diced onion, tomato, lettuce,  etc.)

Cook the beef, then add the taco mix. Prepare the box of mac and cheese. Mix them together in a casserole dish. Cover with salsa. Heat and serve. Add your choice of taco toppings.

Visit Karin’s website at  and her blog at




1 stick butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
½ cup gingersnap crumbs
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Melt butter. Mix remaining ingredients into melted butter and pat into the bottom of 9X13 pan.


1 can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
¾ cup chocolate chips (I like to use the mini chips)
¾ cup cinnamon chips
¾ cup white chocolate chips
¾ shredded coconut (optional)
¾ cup chopped pecans
½ cup finely chopped hazelnuts

Pour sweetened condensed milk over the crust, completely covering. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients evenly over the milk in the order shown. Pat down gently. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into squares.


½ cup confectioners sugar ¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup softened butter 1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¼ cups flour 1 cup Heath toffee chips (with chocolate)

Combine sugar, salt, and butter. Blend well. Add vanilla. Gradually work in flour alternately with toffee chips until a soft dough is formed. Chill dough. Form into 1 inch balls. Bake on cookie sheet covered with baking parchment at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes until set but not brown. Roll in confectioners sugar while still warm. Cool on rack and roll in sugar again. Makes about 5 dozen.


1 package Martha White Cinnamon Spice Muffin Mix 2 eggs
1 package Martha White Honey Bran Muffin Mix 1 cup applesauce
½ cup self-rising flour ½ cup brown sugar
½ cup whole wheat flour 1 cup milk (can use anything from skim to half & half)
1 cup oatmeal 3 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup coconut (optional) ¾ cup dark raisins
½ teaspoon cinnamon ¾ cup dried cranberries
¼ teaspoon ginger ¾ cup pecan pieces

Combine all the dry ingredients (the first eight) in large bowl and blend them well. In smaller bowl combine eggs, applesauce, brown sugar, milk, and oil. Blend all at once into dry ingredients until moistened (be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl). Fold in the dried fruit and pecans.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray jumbo muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Fill muffin tin cups ¾ full. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. (Adjust baking time according to your oven.) Remove muffins from tin immediately and cool on rack.

I store cooled muffins in the freezer—one muffin per sandwich-size zip-lock bag. Take out of freezer as needed. Reheat thawed muffin in microwave for 15 seconds.

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