The Mailbox: Reader recipes and requests

Sweet potatoes and PB

Please, please help me. I have lost one of my favorite recipes. I believe it is called sweet potato and peanut (or peanut butter) stew. I got the recipe from The Bee probably 10 years or so ago. It had sweet potatoes and peanut butter, ginger, onions, bell pepper and other tasty ingredients. Thank you for any help.

Teri L. Joseph, Grass Valley

Spicy green beans

My wife and I have had dinner at Mints Euro-Asian restaurant in Rancho Cordova on a number of occasions and have always loved their spicy green beans. Any chance someone has this recipe? Thanks.

Paul Severson, Sacramento



Prep time: 15 minutes; Chill time: 15 minutes; Makes about 5 1/2 dozen (33 servings, 2 buckeyes per serving)

Dave Maples of Carmichael and his wife had a friend visiting from Florida recently. She made buckeyes while she was here. Maples was hoping someone had a recipe so he could try his hand at making these treats himself.

This “Taste of Home” recipe sounds like a match for Maples.

Note: Here’s a hint to help keep the chocolate melted while you dip all the peanut butter balls. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave as directed in recipe. Place this bowl inside a slightly larger bowl with a heating pad in between. Find the setting (high, medium, low) that keeps the chocolate melted while dipping each peanut butter ball.


5 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 2/3 cups peanut butter

1 cup butter, melted

4 cups (24 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon shortening


In a large bowl, beat the sugar, peanut butter and butter until smooth. Shape into 1-inch balls; set aside.

In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and shortening, stir until smooth. Dip balls in chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. (See note above). Place on a wire rack over waxed paper. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until firm. Cover and store in the refrigerator.

Per serving (2 balls):

302 cal.; 4 g pro.; 35 g carb.; 18 g fat (8 sat.); 15 mg chol.; 119 mg sod.; 2 g fiber; 53 percent calories from fat.


Olive Garden pasta e fagioli clone

Prep time: 15 minutes; Cook time: 1 hour, 20 minutes; Serves 8

Michael Arn of Glendora loves the food served at Olive Garden restaurant, especially their pasta fagioli soup.

The recipe for this popular dish has been requested many times before. In the past, Dorothy Peek of Citrus Heights shared the recipe saying that she makes this soup often and that it tastes just like Olive Garden’s version. Patsy Kirk of San Saba, Texas, also shared this recipe. The recipe comes from “Top Secret Recipes” by Todd Wilbur.

I made this soup; it is easy to prepare and delicious. I would suggest, if you have leftovers, to use V-8 juice to thin instead of water to prevent diluting the rich flavor. Also, I kept the cooked pasta separate instead of adding it to the soup at the end. I just put a large spoonful of the pasta in the individual bowls and scooped the soup on top of the pasta. Finally, I topped each bowl of soup with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


1 pound ground beef

1 small onion, diced (1 cup)

1 large carrot, julienned (1 cup)

3 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced

Two 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes

One 15-ounce can red kidney beans, with liquid

One 15-ounce can Great Northern beans, with liquid

One 15-ounce tomato sauce

One 12-ounce can V-8 juice

1 tablespoon white vinegar

11/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 pound ditali pasta (short little tubes)


Brown the ground beef in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Drain off most of the fat. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.

About 50 minutes into the simmering, cook the pasta in 11/2 to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or just until pasta is al dente, or slightly tough. Drain. Add the pasta to the large pot of soup. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more and serve.

Per serving: 382 cal.; 24 g pro.; 55 g carb.; 7 g fat (3 sat., 3 monounsat., 1 polyunsat.); 34 mg chol.; 1,199 mg sod.; 10 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 16 percent calories from fat.