Recipes shared from our Alpena News readers

Editor’s Note: We received a wonderful response this year to our call for recipes to fill our upcoming, A Taste of Northeast Michigan Cookbook. The cookbook won’t come out in print for several more weeks, but we had many good recipes that we weren’t able to fit into the cookbook because of space constraints. So rather than not share them with our reading public, we decided to highlight one or two of those recipes each day on the daily Lifestyles from now through the end of December.

Today’s featured recipes were sent to us by Kay Kearly and Donna LeFave Smith. Kay took the time to write out by long-hand many of her favorites. “I have so many favorites,” she said. “I picked the ones I thought would have the most appeal.” We chose her Tomato Tortellini Soup to print here, but look for another of her offerings in our cookbook.

Donna also sent us multiple recipes that all sounded yummy. A lover of good food, she routinely shares many recipes through a blog she maintains at She too will have a recipe included in the upcoming cookbook. Below is her Caesar Panzanella Salad.


2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cans tomato soup

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes or sun dried tomato paste

2 cups half & half (can use fat free)

2 cups chicken stock

1 tsp. onion powder

1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

9 oz. pkg. cheese filled tortellini

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese for garnish

Chopped ham or sausage, optional

Saute garlic, then add everything except tortellinil Simmer for most a cold afternoon. Add tortellino 1 hour before serving (uncooked). Garnish with parmesan cheese. Can also garnish with cubes of gouda grilled cheese as croutons.

Submitted by: Kay Kearly, Alpena



For Salad:

6 celery stalks and leaves, coarsely chopped

1 cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, cut in half

1 red onion, chopped

1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered (if large)

or halved (if small)

1 yellow sweet bell pepper, cut into chunks

1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Marzetti’s Simply Dressed Light Caesar

salad dressing

Parmesan cheese, shredded

For Homemade Croutons:

1-1/2 lb. loaf Udi’s Gluten Free Bread, cut into cubes

Garlic salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Dried oregano leaves

Dried thyme leaves

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl except salt, pepper, dressing and cheese. Refrigerate until serving time.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Place croutons in large bowl and spray with cooking oil, stirring to lightly cover croutons. Sprinkle spices and herbs to taste onto croutons and mix well. Spoon onto 2 large baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes. Remove sheets from oven, toss croutons and replace to oven for another 20 minutes or until bread cubes are dried and crispy. Turn off oven and allow to cool in oven for extra crunchiness.

To serve, place desired amount of salad in bowl, add croutons, salt and pepper, and dressing, mixing well. Spoon onto salad plates and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Serves 6-8.

Submitted by: Donna LeFave Smith