Quick and Easy Pantry Meal: Pasta and Bean Soup

I like to eat soups, especially in the fall and winter.  My children not so much, but I just give them pasta with butter and then make what I want for dinner. I have found that if you keep chicken stock in your pantry, pasta, beans, and canned tomatoes, then you can pretty much make some type of soup.

I made this soup recently by rummaging through my pantry and old cookbooks. It's a great soup using pasta.

Use your Pantry and serve this easy pasta and bean soup.

Pasta and Bean Soup


1/4 cup of olive oil plus a little more for drizzling
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of fresh or dried rosemary
2 14 oz diced tomatoes
Salt and Pepper
7 cups of chicken stock
6 ounces of pasta (elbow or tiny shells)
2 19-ounce cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed. 


Heat oil in a large stockpot. Add garlic and rosemary and saute for about two minutes. Add the tomatoes plus salt and pepper. Simmer for several minutes. 

Add the chicken stock and bring soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes. Add the pasta and cook 7 to 10 minutes. 

Add the canned beans to the pot and simmer for several minutes.  Add salt and pepper, if needed. Once the soup is in serving bowls, drizzle with olive oil to taste. 

Serve with my cornbread

This soup is excellent later in the week. It also makes enough to freeze. 

Are you a soup lover, too?

#Soups for weeknight meals. Quick and Easy from your pantry with #pasta #beans and #tomatoes. Get dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes with this soup recipe. Budget-Friendly, too.

Updated 2019

My thanks to Louisiana Eye and Laser, with offices in Monroe, Louisiana, for being an October HinesSightBlog sponsor. The Monroe location offers routine eye care to LASIK eye surgeries. 

#HouseTours Raleigh Bungalow in the Historic South Park Neighborhood: House Stalkers Episode Two

In Episode Two of the House Stalkers on YouTube, Heather and I explored parts of Raleigh, North Carolina's inner beltline area in downtown Raleigh. We originally wanted to stalk a home in the new Caraleigh Commons neighborhood off of Maywood Avenue, but that didn't work out because all homes in this new downtown neighborhood are custom, and a home was not far enough along in the construction process for us to view on our shooting day. We'll revisit these homes by CitySpace another time.

Not getting into a home didn't deter us from shooting that day. I suggested stalking some new construction about a mile down the road in Raleigh's historic South Park neighborhood.

White House

You can view the full seven-minute episode two: Downtown Bungalow: The House Stalkers on YouTube now.

This bungalow/modern farmhouse featured in the show sits on a historic downtown Raleigh street near Shaw University. Homes in this area in Raleigh are undergoing revitalization at a rapid pace. Home prices are increasing just as fast as the remodeling. The home featured in this episode had an asking price of $408,000 and was already under contract when we visited.

 Isabel Moss, a realtor with Fonville Morisey and also co-owner of Moss Construction and Design in Raleigh agreed to let us stalk impromptu and boy, are we glad. The original property on this corner lot was a duplex, built-in 1930.

The Before: raleigh duplex built in 1930:

Moss transformed the bungalow-style duplex into a 1400 square feet modern farmhouse with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. The remodel also included a coveted carport.

modern farmhouse

remodel of home includes a carport

There were many things about this home that we loved. We saw the house empty, but it is even more quaint furnished.  Be sure to check out the show and see the tile in the bathroom.

living room of home and kitchen. Blue couch. Staged

This South Park home is very close to Transfer Food Hall at the corner of Davie and East Street in Downtown Raleigh. It was where we chose to dine for the lunch portion of the show to tie in the flavors of the neighborhood and tap into my OutaboutNC community on Instagram.  I love this new space in Raleigh. It houses twelve vendors in one gorgeous space. Housed in the historic Carolina Coach Garage and Shop, it is a unique gathering place in Raleigh, where different communities can connect through food.  I've dined at Transfer Food Hall many times now, but for the show, we had Tuna Poke Bowls from Bul-Box.

Tuna Poke Bowl at Bul Box inside Transfer Food Hall

I've also dined at Locals Seafood and Dank Burrito plus had a visit to Burial Brewing. I highly recommend Transfer Food Hall as a place to visit when in Raleigh.

We're going to visit another Moss Construction and Design in show three in another part of Downtown Raleigh.  Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel Leigh Powell Hines and ring the bell so you will not miss it when we drop a new episode.

a white modern farmhouse

My thanks to October HinesSightBlog sponsor, Flooring by Design, carpet installer in Raleigh.  The Flooring by Design team is ready to assist your home project to suit your lifestyle and budget.

A Travel with Purpose Idea: Bahamas Vacation #Ilovebahamas #BahamasStrong

In between carpool lines, cheer practice, and walking the dog, I start fantasizing about vacations as it gets colder and darker earlier in North Carolina.

Usually, my daydreams start with my picturing a quiet, tropical destination (even though I'm not really a sit-on-the beach type gal) where I see blue waters, white sandy beaches, and refreshing cocktail in my hand. My children are off splashing around because they are at a resort having fun. Will is happy because he paid for all food and drink in advance, so he doesn't have to tally up the food bill every time he charges it to the room. And I'm happy because I'm not doing laundry, or cooking a meal that no one wants to eat.

Ahh, glorious family vacations. Aren't they wonderful?

The truth is family vacations are usually a mess at certain points when you are experiencing them with your kids. As parents, you probably stated at least one time on that vacation, "With that attitude, we won't be vacationing next year!"

But, you know that is not true. Once you get home, you will only remember the priceless vacation fun. That's what we do.

PLAN a Bahamas Vacation in 2020

As you start vacation planning or even fantasizing about destinations like I do, consider a Bahamas vacation. Hurricane Dorian, as a category five hurricane, was devastating. As someone who lives in a state where hurricanes are frequent, I know first-hand how devasting these storms can be for the economy and tourism in the areas that were hit. It's more important than ever to get those dollars flowing and to let people know that 14 islands are ready for visitors in the Bahamas. In this interactive  Bahama island finder, you can find the most perfect island to visit for your family.

map of the Bahamas with islands open
Photo courtesy of  Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation 

There are many places to donate dollars to help the area, but to choose to help the economy by planning and experiencing a vacation in the impacted area allows you to do even more for the area to help with recovery. From dining in local restaurants to local tour experiences, you are helping the area's economy. 

I traveled to Nassau in 2001 for a wedding with Will. We were not yet married, but Will told me that one night on the island, he wanted to " impromptu propose" to me because the setting was perfection. He, of course, had no ring plus it was someone else's' happy occasion, so he bit his lip and proposed a few months later instead while I was sick with a sinus infection, wearing a sweatshirt and watching Saturday Night Fever.  Maybe we should redo our experience. 

Leigh and Will in Nassau in 2001
July 2001 in Nassau, Bahamas

Eighteen years later, it's hard now to remember trips before kids. However, I remember we stayed an extra day so we could dine at the Graycliff Restaurant, an iconic five-star restaurant in a historic inn that is still in operation today. The base hotel for wedding guests was a Marriott resort, at the time, which I think could be the  Melia Nassau Beach now.

The Graycliff offers even more culinary adventures for travelers to experience.

  • Graycliff Chocolatier Factory – Located in the historic Graycliff Hotel, the Graycliff Chocolatier Factory is The Bahamas’ first interactive chocolate factory. From tasting tours to children’s activities, Graycliff Chocolatier offers something for everyone to experience chocolate in a new way. 
  • Graycliff Culinary Academy – The Graycliff Hotel is also home to the Graycliff Culinary Academy, where visitors can take interactive cooking classes with the hotel’s five-star restaurant’s Executive Chef Elijah Bowe and his team.

  • Graycliff Cigar Rolling – Vacationers can tour the award-winning Graycliff Cigar Company and even take a cigar-rolling lesson with one of the company’s 16 master rollers.

Baha Mar: Pack with Love Initiative 

White Sandy Beach and Gorgeous Baha Mar Resort Complex
Photo courtesy of Baha Mar Resort Media Office 

Baha Mar, developed a few years ago to revitalize the island's Cable Beach, houses three luxury resorts, including the Rosewood, SLS, and the Grand Hyatt. I always told myself that I would stay on Paradise Island when I went back to visit the Bahamas, but now, I'm not so sure. These resorts have my attention, and you all know this whole blog was started because of my hotel obsession.

Post-Hurricane Dorian, this Nassau resort, is offering the Pack with Love program where guests are encouraged to pack an item or two that symbolizes love and comfort for the victims. Articles can include clothing, stuffed animals, baby items, educational items, books, and small toys. Guests will have the opportunity to deliver their items directly to local shelters if they desire. There is also a collection on site. Baha Mar is also home to the Beach Sanctuary at Baha Mar, which is an experience that allows guests to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and the wildlife of the Bahamian Islands.

Man swimming with fish

Other resorts in the Bahamas are also offering special incentives to help you get there to visit and plan a vacation for all budgets.

If you would like to donate to the island's relief efforts, here is an approved list of  Hurricane Dorian relief agencies working with the tourism boards you can be confident your dollars are going to be used precisely as intended.

Bahamas Vacation Guide

Travel Sites to Help You Plan a Bahamas Vacation:

Official Nassau Paradise Island: The Bahamas
The Islands of the Bahamas: Official Site
Grand Bahama Island
The Out Islands of the Bahamas

Other Midlife Perspective Members Bahama Vacation Guides for Planning/Relief Donations

Discovering Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas
Travel to the Bahamas Now: #BahamasStrong and Relief Efforts
Bahamas Cruising
Bahamas Romantic Getaway for Two
7 Reasons to Visit Nassau Now

My thanks to Empire Chevrolet Buick in Wilkesboro, NC, for being an October HinesSightBlog sponsor. Empire Chevy Buick is the place to search for pre-owned certified vehicles. All vehicles undergo a 172-point vehicle inspection and a thorough reconditioning process.  My blog sponsors like Empire Chevy Buick keep me at my desk writing editorial content, house stalking on YouTube and OutaboutNC. 

Do You Like To Look at Homes for Sale and Eat in Restaurants? Catch the Raleigh Area YouTube Show The House Stalkers

I have a new passion project for my fifties. Apparently, I do something new to help me cope with aging every decade. In my thirties, it was getting married and starting a family. In my forties, I started this blog. Now, I'm excited to say I'm vlogging and back on the small screen (where I feel most at home) with a YouTube Show, called The House Stalkers. This show is done in conjunction with  Raleigh realtor, Heather Petrovich, who is my witty co-host.

House Stalkers Host on Scene Shooting You Tube  Show

In the House Stalkers show, which is housed on my Leigh Powell Hines Channel, Heather and I stalk homes and visit local restaurants for lunch. You get a front-row seat on this house hunting journey and are invited to go along with us on the ride. The two of us have been friends for years and met when our children were toddlers. When Heather went back to work as a realtor, I messaged her and told her I was in the market for a home. You see, I was in the market for a home, but my husband was not in the market. She stalked homes with me for five years until we got my husband ready. Yes, you read that right. FIVE YEARS! The woman is a saint. Most people would have written me off as a nut who wasted their time.  During our house stalking period, we would look at homes about once a month and eat lunch. She finally sold me my dream home in downtown Raleigh a few years ago.  When I told her my YouTube show idea last year, she said a colorful word and declared she wanted to be the realtor who stalked homes with me. Now in 2019, we are stalking homes together again.  You can catch our first episode below. 

In our first episode, we visited the model home in the Olde Mill Trace neighborhood in Raleigh with new home builder, Stanley Martin Homes. This neighborhood is about ten minutes from downtown Raleigh. This lovely home design, called The Morgan II, is built in a community with larger lots than what is usually found in the city. The model home price for this Morgan II design starts around $550,000 for The entire Olde Mill Trace neighborhood currently has homes for sale from around $478,000 to $862,615.

The House Stalkers show has been in the works for over a year. We are concentrating on new construction in the Raleigh area currently so we can share new home trends.  As we move throughout the city, it will also give you an idea of price points in the Raleigh area. I think everyone is curious to see the types of homes on the market, and to realistically guess if the house we show is in their housing budget.

Inside a model home on The House  Stalkers

No doubt, I truly believe that North Carolina is a great place to live, and I think this show, and on our social media, you will get to see the charm of North Carolina's southern homes. I've been doing social media many months leading up to our show, and I think people are surprised at the cost of homes, especially around the area of downtown Raleigh.

As the founder of the OutaboutNC community on Instagram, I also wanted to tie in the local neighborhood flavor with this show. If I were in the market for a home in Raleigh,  I would want to know what restaurants are around where I plan to live.  In this Model Home episode, I take Heather to the locally-owned Manhattan Cafe on Wilmington Street in Downtown Raleigh.

fruit and turkey sandwich at Manhattan Cafe in  Raleigh, NC
Manhattan Cafe

This little family-owned restaurant serves breakfast and lunch. It's been a popular spot for downtown Raleigh workers since its opening in 2009 and has one of the largest salad bars in town.

This show is not about selling homes. By the time, our show may air, the homes we feature may already be sold, but rather, the show is about what life in Raleigh is like, and what type of home budget you need to have to live in certain areas of the county.

Heather and I have known each other for years, and I'm so glad she is helping me make this show a reality. I think she has as much fun as I do on our shoots.

The House Stalkers is on YouTube on Leigh Powell Hines Channel

My thanks to October blog sponsor CQC Home Raleigh -for keeping me at my desk writing and OutaboutNCCQC Home Raleigh is a home remodeling business in Raleigh and Durham that will deliver everything you need to help you transform your living spaces to meet your exact needs efficiently and on budget.

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