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Soup

Skinny Thai Chicken Noodle Soup: 177 Calories

 

Skinny-Thai-Chicken-Noodle-Soup

My life has been insane lately. A good insanity from being busy, being asked to do things, be places. It’s welcomed and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities I’ve been so blessed with, even on the days when it feels like it’s too much. Travel, speaking engagements, book signings, photography jobs, dinners, it’s all amazing I’ve hardly found the self esteem to feel like I even deserve half of it.

Luckily a coping mechanism for me has always been cooking, a double edged sword when you have a propensity to stress eat. So I’ve had to sublimate my urge to gorge on cheesecake with homemade soup. A fine stand in, especially when it takes 15 minutes and only 177 calories a bowl.

It also makes me feel like I have this all under control, and I’m going to go ahead and let myself think that for a while longer.

Skinny Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Calories per serving: 177

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 5 ounces chicken breast, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated with a microplane
  • 2 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 can (13.5 fl oz) lite coconut milk
  • 2 wt oz rice noodles, broken
  • 2 tbs fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbs crushed red pepper
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup green onion, chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large pot heat the olive oil. Add the chicken and cook until browned. Stir in the garlic.
  2. Add the chicken broth, fish sauce, soy sauce and coconut milk.
  3. Add the broken rice noodles and simmer until noodles are soft, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lime juice and red pepper.
  5. Ladle into bowls, garnish with cilantro and green onions.

Sweet Potato And SweeTango Apple Soup

Sweet Potato Apple Soup

SweeTango apples seemed to come out of nowhere, at least to me. As someone who grew up mere feet from two different apple orchards in Easter Washington, it seemed like these fantastic little gems of produce brilliance appeared as if by magic as a brand new species of one of my favorite fruits. In the old school fashion of cross pollination (nothing new, plants have been doing this without human intervention since the dawn of time) the SweeTango is a cross between the fantastic Honey Crisp and a Zestar. The flavor is beautiful, but it’s the sharp snap crisp when you bite into one that’s unlike anything else out there. As much as I love the apples in this soup, it’s eating them raw that’s really the way to go.

I was introduced to the SweetTango at a press event at my favorite Los Angeles Resturant, Animal. A table at this sought after joint, and a meal cooked up by the celebrity chef-owner team of Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook may take you months to secure and is on every LA based foodies Must Do list. I was thrilled to spend an afternoon among a small group of other writers, eating the dishes cooked up by Jon and Vinny themselves, all featuring SweeTango apples. Other than the chance to chat it up with on of my favorite local chefs, this soup was the highlight. Jon and Vinny even sent us home with the recipe. And even let me share it.

sweet tango apples2

You could win an all expense paid trip to Los Angeles as well as an unforgettable dinner at Animal, one of LA’s best restaurants. Enter here

Sweet Potato And SweeTango Apple Soup

Ingredients

  • 1/4 lb Butter
  • 1 cup Yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup SweeTango apple, peeled, cored, diced
  • 1 cup Butternut squash, peeled, seeded, diced
  • 1 cup Sweet potato, peeled, diced
  • 2 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup Heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup Maple syrup
  • Salt and espelette pepper to taste

Instructions

In a 1 gallon pot, melt butter. Add vegetables cook until onions are translucent. Add stock, and cook for 20-30 min, or until vegetables are soft. Puree in blender, strain, and add cream and maple syrup. Season to taste, serve, and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Apple Soup2

Caprese Soup

 

Caprese-Soup

 

Did I ever tell you about the time I though I’d invented Caprese salad? I threw myself into cooking in college, and although I wasn’t really all that great at it, I was the only one who was doing it, so people ate it.

I made an apple pie that I forgot to put sugar in that came out a bit savory, but the guy across the hall still polished it off. And then there was the cheesecake that I massively overcooked because I thought "a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean" turns out, that isn’t the case with cheesecakes. But I wanted to learn to cook, and without growing up in a cooking environment, I just had to get in the kitchen and work it out.

When I discovered the "cheese balls in water in those tubs" it was quite a culinary revelation for me. I’d never seen anything like it, and although it cost about an hours wage at time, it was completely worth it. I cut it up, added tomatoes, basil and some balsamic and though I was a genius. A few months later, after 3 part time jobs along with a full load of college classes, I’d save enough money for a plane ticket to Europe. I ended up in Italy, and realized that the Italians had discovered those same magical mix of ingredients centuries before I did.

Even though I had to concede the recipes origin to Italy, it’s still one of my favorite flavor combinations. I just can’t believe that someone who loves soup and caprese as much as I do took this long to mix the two together.

Caprese Soup 3

Caprese Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs tomatoes, quartered (4 to 6 large heirloom or beefsteak)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ½ tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or vegetable broth) plus additional as desired
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup balsamic glaze
  • 10 ounces burrata cheese or soft whole milk mozzarella
  • 8 leaves basil, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Place tomatoes, cut side down, on a baking sheet that has been covered with aluminum foil.
  2. Roast at 400 for 20 minutes or until the skin starts to shrivel. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly. The skins should easily peel away. Pull skins off tomatoes, discard skins.
  3. While the tomatoes cook, start the soup. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Stir in the white wine.
  5. Add the rosemary, stock, tomato paste, and skinned tomatoes. Allow to simmer until reduced, slightly thickened, and the tomatoes have broken down, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
    Using an immersion blender, puree until very smooth. Soup will be thick, add additional stock to thin as desired.
  6. Stir in cream over low heat for about 2 minutes.
  7. Pour into bowls, top with cheese, drizzle with glaze and sprinkle with basil.
    Notes

You can either make balsamic glaze by reducing 2 cups balsamic and 2 tbs of white sugar or honey until thick and syrupy, or you can purchase it in most grocery stores near the balsamic vinegar.

Caprese Soup 7

 

 

Negative Calorie Roasted Asparagus and Cauliflower Soup

 

Negative Calorie Roasted Asparagus and Cauliflower Soup

I heard this theory of negative calories foods about a year ago. And while this idea would be a dream come true, I’m not actually convinced of it’s validity.

The theory is that some food cost your body more energy in calories to consume and digest than the food actually contains.

Take celery for instance. A stock of celery is 5 calories, but between chewing, swallowing and digesting, it takes 15 calories to actually eat a  stalk of celery, for a net loss of 10 calories. Now, if celery could just taste better, and not like, well, celery, than we’d be all set. Clearly, this theory doesn’t apply to French fries.

On the list of "Negative Calorie Foods" are:

-Asparagus

-Beet Root

-Broccoli

-Cabbage

-Carrot

-Cauliflower

-Celery

-Chicory

-Hot Chili

-Cucumber

-Watercress

-Garlic

-Green Beans

-Lettuce

-Onion

-Radish

-Spinach

-Turnip

-Zucchini

-Apple

-Blueberries

-Cantaloupe

-Cranberry

-Grapefruit

-Honeydew

-Lemon/Lime

-Mango

-Orange

-Papaya

-Peach

-Pineapple

-Raspberry

-Strawberry

-Tomato

-Tangerine

-Turnip

-Watermelon

 

While this theory has been widely discredited, there is no arguing with the fact that this is an incredible list of foods. If more than half of your diet was pulled from the above list, and the rest of your diet was "sensible" you would never have to diet again and those skinny jeans would be yours.

I did a bit of a test of my own. I made a batch of this soup and ate it for lunch every day for a week.

I lost 2 lbs. Which is a lot for me, given that I have a BMI of 20.6.

That doesn’t really prove anything. Other than the fact that a low calorie vegan soup is a good route to take when looking to drop those holiday pounds. Believe the theory or not, this is still a fantastic list of healthy foods.

Even if this soup isn’t "Negative Calorie," it still only has 78 calories per serving.

Negative Calorie Roasted Asparagus and Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs chopped cauliflower (about 8 cups)
  • 1 lb fresh asparagus stalks, trimmed
  • 4 cups veggie broth
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper

yield: 6 cups

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Place asparagus and cauliflower on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 for 15 to 20 minutes or until asparagus is fork tender and the cauliflower has started to brown.
  3. Add broth to a large pot, add asparagus and cauliflower and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the vegetables have started to break down. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Add the seasonings, adjust to taste.

Negative Calorie Roasted Asparagus and Cauliflower Soup

Creamy Vegan Broccoli Avocado Soup & Five Foodie New Years Resolutions

Creamy Vegan Broccoli Soup

Five New Year Food Resolutions to Make

 

Let’s stop vowing to cut things out of our lives at then beginning of each year, and start promising ourselves we’ll add some great things in.

Can’t we all just agree that those “I’m going to lose weight/stop eating sugar/give up carbs/cut out coffee” resolutions are just going to leave us feeling hungry, guilty and eventually shameful when they go enormously ignored about the second week in January?

Maybe you have a bigger capacity for restraint than I do, or a higher guilt threshold, but I gave up those types of personal promises years ago. Although I do still love a good resolution and tend to make them year round.

How about we agree to ADD things to our lives instead of taking away? There is something about making a decision to add something great to our world that just reminds us what an amazing life we have ahead of us. And adding greatness has a way of pushing out some of those not as great things.

Let’s give it a try.

Here are my favorite food resolutions, all about adding more amazingness, not about taking things away.

 

1.Start a food tradition: Maybe a once a month Sunday Supper with your family, or a quarterly Food Friends Pot Luck, or even just New Recipe Wednesday where you try a new dish. Food traditions are memories that you’ll be glad you made.

2. Read more food lit. Chefs have written most of the best books I’ve read over the past year. There is something about knowing the back story of food, and those who have created it, that give you a deeper connection to the food world.  Plus, food people tend to read food books, it’s an instant conversation starter when you meet a food writer or a chef. My recommendations: Yes Chef, Marcus Samuelson;  Blood, Bones & Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton; Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table,  Ruth Reichl, Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain.

3. Join a CSA or other Organic Produce Delivery Program. Before my recent move, I got a box of organic produce delivered to my doorstep every Wednesday from Love Delivery. Mostly local, in season and very fresh fruits and vegetables. This also gets you to eat more good stuff, because it’s there. And you hate to waste it.  Supporting local farmers and eating healthier, it’s a total win. There are several in most cities and states, consult Google for ones in your area.

4. Try New Foods. This is for the picky eaters. Pick one new food a month and cook it, and eat it. Or, order that one thing on the menu that you would never normally eat. After a year you’ll have 12 foods that you never otherwise would have tried. And I’m going to bet you a batch of cookies that you will be surprised at how much you like at least one of those new foods.

5. Master A Recipe or Technique. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to make a soufflé, or homemade pasta. What better resolution to make than the acquisition of culinary knowledge you can someday pass down to future generations? Just go into assuming that the first time may not be a huge success, and by that I mean don’t plan an entire dinner party around skills you haven’t acquired just to end up in tears when your husband has to have pizza delivered. It will probably go fine, and you will probably post the results on Facebook (yay!), but take it slow and know that to master a technique takes a lot of practice, each time you try it you’ll learn something new.

 

One of my resolutions is to explore vegan cooking more, even though I have no plans to give up meat or dairy. There really isn’t any arguing with the fact that produce is the best thing you can put in your body. The more I focus on the beautiful flavors of fruits and vegetables, without using meat and dairy as a crutch, the better my cooking becomes over all.

Here is a vegan soup, inspired by this Bon Appetite recipe. Without garnishes, it’s about 170 calories a serving.

Here is a How To Roast Red Peppers post by Kitchen Treaty. If you are going to use them right away, you can skip the oil and the jar.

Creamy Vegan Broccoli Soup2

Creamy Vegan Broccoli Avocado Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 large red potato, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • ½ to 2 cups water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • pinch chili powder
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lage avocado, diced
  • 1 red pepper, roasted, cut into strips

Instructions

  1. In a stock pot or Dutch oven heat the oil. Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir. Add the vegetable stock and potatoes, cooking until the potatoes are almost soft, about 10 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook until the broccoli and potatoes are both tender, about 5-8 minutes. Using an emersion blender, puree until smooth. Add water, if desired, to thin to desired consistency. Add spices and lemon juice.
  2. Garnish with avocados and red peppers prior to serving.

If you want to know how I made the garnishes "float" on top of the soup for the picture, check this out.

Creamy Vegan Broccoli Soup3

Chicken Enchilada Soup & Foodies Things To Do in L.A.

As I throw this soup together with ingredients I picked up at my local Mexican food market, it occurs to me how few of you live just a few hours from the US/Mexico boarder. You might not have access to some of the best handmade Mexican sauces and chilies north of Tijuana. You might even only have access to these ingredients via the canned goods section of your grocery store.

This makes me appreciate my town so much. It’s a great food city. Of course, lots of famous chefs and food reality show contestants head for the Sunshine State and set up shop, but my favorite food in Los Angeles comes from the hands of immigrants, handed down through the generations,  made from scratch just the way it was by their great grandmother in her kitchen on another side of the world. We also have more produce than all the other states combined. California grows more than half the produce in the United States. So many things, like California Strawberries, are in season all year long. That’s amazing.

If you visit LA, please, skip Rodeo Drive, and Hollywood Blvd, that’s not really L.A., it’s just a caricature, a fun house mirror of a place that doesn’t really exist, full of lost tourists and overpriced mementos. Here is where you will find the real L.A., especially if you are a food lover:

1. Farmers Markets. This is a must. And no matter what time of year you visit, we’ll have one for you. All year long, any day of the week, you can find one. Everything from produce, to fancy salt, to home grown honey to the goat cheese guy who even brings along his goats.

2. Butchering Classes at Lindy & Grundy. This is the butcher that all of L.A. has a collective girl crush on. Two amazing women started this butcher shop and from time to time offer classes on how to expertly break down meat. Even if you can’t partake in a class, stop by and check out the incredible shop. Then go next door to The Fat Dog and have yourself a Croque Madame and a glass of craft beer.

3. Happy Hour At Bar Bouchon. I had an office in Beverly Hills and spent two years immersed in that little town. Although I never really came to love it, I did get to know the 90210 fairly well. My favorite happy hour was at Thomas Keller’s Bar Bouchon. You can sit on a little patio that opens to the Beverly Canon Gardens, opposite Scott Conants Scarpetta at the Montage. While we are on that subject, I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to a seven course tasting dinner at the Chefs table in the kitchen of the Scarpetta, twice, and it was incredible. Although I didn’t have to pick up the tab either time, that may have colored my opinion, but if you can swing it, the pasta is even better than you would expect from the Modern Master of Italian Cuisine. Given the vast price difference, I would have to give my final Beverly Hills recommendation to Bar Bouchons Happy Hour, if you are in town Monday though Thursday from 4-7pm. Bar Bouchon is great for people watching, the food is fabulous AND well priced. There are very few places in Beverly Hills that you can get such great food will out feeling like your bank account has been pillaged.

4. Surfas and Helms Bakery. These two food and baking Meccas of Los Angeles are located conviently close to each other and offer everything from professional grade products, to classes to one of the best hamburgers in all of Los Angeles. Food events, food shopping, food markets, restaurants, bars all make this little area a must for the food travelers. Check both websites for events and classes, Surfas often has free cooking demos that don’t make the website. You can call ahead to check.

5. Fast Food Worth the Hype and the Sodium: In-N-Out, especially if you haven’t had it, it’s a must. Check out the Secret Menu to order like a pro, although most of us just order the Double Double Animal Style. Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, and you have to eat the chicken and the waffles together, none of that side by side nonsense. Pink’s Hot Dogs, it’s an institution. In a land where even historic landmarks are torn down for ultra-modern mini lofts, Pinks has managed to keep it’s foot hold on the corner of Melrose and La Brea for 73 years. You would be hard pressed to find a Los Angeles resident, famous or commoner, who hasn’t eaten there. But beware, even at midnight on a Tuesday, there will be a line. Randy’s Doughnuts. Before Sprinkles, before Krispy Kreme, before the Macaron Madness, there was Randy and his little hand held treats inside a tiny shop with a gigantic doughnut shaped sign on the roof. It’s conveniently close to LAX, and worth a cab ride if you find yourself at the airport with nothing to do for a few hours.

6. Downtown After Dark. Unlike most cities, the Downtown we have in Los Angeles is a bit skeevy and unused. By day it’s mostly a financial district peppered with the house-challenged, and little to do. But in recent years the night life has taken off. Right now, it’s my favorite place for a night out. Coles is one of my favorite places to stop for a drink, along with it’s back bar, Varnish. It’s the oldest bar in Los Angeles, over 100 years old and even served as a speakeasy during prohibition. Although it had a slight remodel, it’s decor is authentic and true to it’s roots. The food is….OK, but the bartenders are complete pros. If you are looking for an expertly crafted cocktail and possibly the definitive Old Fashion, this is a place to go. These are people who know their stuff and are in love with art of the cocktail, don’t even think about ordering a Scooby Snack or a Jager Bomb, show some respect for the cocktail. Library Bar is almost always busy but the vibe is great, and the Pork Belly Skewers are the best pig bites in all of L.A. Make reservations at Baco Mercat and go with someone who wants to share food, family style. The Edison is worth the trip just to see the amazing space. Housed in a 100 year old building that once served as powder plant, and now has a Golden Age feel, and even a beautiful, but very tame, burlesque shows on the weekend.

7. Festivals and Food Events. These happen nearly every weekend. Read up before you come, LA Times Food, LA Magazine, Experience LAGrub Street and even Yelp Events Page are good places to start.

 

So there you are. My Cliffs notes on my little town. There is so much here that I love, even my small local markets that I wish I could take you too. If you do visit, think like a local, try your best to stay off the tourist-beaten path, that is where the best stuff happens.

 

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup mild enchilada sauce
  • 8 oz chicken, skinless (breast or thighs will work)
  • 1/4 cup Masa Harina
  • 1/2 tsp cummin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup roasted mild green chilies, diced
  • 1/3 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 ½ cups cooked black beans
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 avocado, diced

(Makes 4 Servings)

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, add the broth and the enchilada sauce. Bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and poach until cooked though. Remove the chicken from the pot, shred chicken using two forks.
  2. Add Masa Harina, cumin and the pepper to the broth, whisk until well combined.
  3. Add the chicken back into the pot with the chilies, olives, and beans. Allow to simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, and then add the hot sauce to taste.
  5. Pour into bowls, garnish with cheddar, cilantro and avocado.

Note: Try to buy as few of these ingredients in cans as possible. Look for jars or even cartons, if you can. Too many ingredients from a can will give you an overwhelming metallic taste.

Potato Artichoke Bisque & Support for Sandy Victims

As we leave the most divisive election in modern history, we need to remember that we are still a Nation. One Nation, Under God, Indivisible by politics, that comes together to help others.

(Photo, AP:  Frank Franklin)

Red state or blue, that is what we are. We are also a Nation that loves to help, feels an obligation to lend a hand, lift up others when we have the opportunity. We are a Nation in which everyone of  us have had the "do you give your spare change to the homeless"  debate, because regardless of the answer we all have felt the a conflict in walking away without handing something over to someone in need.

We are a society of people who have even felt selfish in giving because it makes us feel good. Because we want to help others.

(Photo: AP Spencer Platt)

We are not a nation that spends our precious moments on this earth angry because of which of the  good-hearted, great men was chosen to lead this amazing Nation. At least that is what I need to believe. I see so much good in you,  America.

I see that huge heart that breaks when you see others in need. And no matter where your bed is tonight, remember those who are without one.

This post is dedicated to all of the victims of hurricane Sandy, from Jamaica, to Cuba, to Haiti, to New Jersey to New York.

To all of the more than 110 lives that were lost in the USA, and the 71 lost in the Caribbean.

For the more than 55 billion dollars of damage the storm did.

This post is so little, in the face of that. But like you, America, I want to help. And if I could, I would make every person affected by the storm a big bowl of soup, and listen to their story and hope that I did someone some good.

 Click on the picture to give to Red Cross to assist in their efforts to help:

This post was part of a blog event put on my Creative Culinary.

Other ways to give:

 

 

Potato Artichoke Bisque

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 leek, chopped (white and very light green parts only)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs white wine
  • 4 cups broth (either chicken or vegetable)
  • 4 cups red potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups artichoke hearts, divided
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup cream

Instructions

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and shallots, sautee until soft and slightly caramelized, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and stir. Add the wine, scraping to deglaze the pot.
  2. Add the broth, potatoes, and only 1 cup of the artichoke hearts. Cover and allow to simmer (adjust heat if necessary) until potatoes are fork tender, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, belnd until smooth.
  3. Add pepper chili powder and cream, stir until combined. Salt to taste.
  4. Chop remaining artichoke hearts.
  5. Pour into 4 bowls, garnish with chopped artichoke hearts.

(Yields 4 servings)

 

Pad Thai Soup

Love veggie meals? Try my Vegan Mushroom Quinoa Beer Chili! or Beer Battered Avocado Tacos

 

Living in LA during "fall" makes you feel like a bit of crazy person.

I’ll pull on my tall boots and a chunky sweaters that I am rightfully entitled to wear in late October, later realizing that the weather will creep up into the 80’s by mid day. And I’m the crazy lady at Starbucks ordering a pumpkin latte, wearing vintage Frye boots, jeans and a thick wool sweater while I could be wearing a jersey knit sundress like the normal, non-crazy, girl behind me in line.

And still, I persist. I even go home and make soup. Sweating the entire time I eat it. In my sweater, with the air conditioner running.

I spent three years as a vegetarian. The best thing I ever did when it comes to cooking, it opened up a world of produce to me and reminded me of all the foods I would often overlook just because they didn’t contain meat. To this day there are still things I prefer in a vegetarian or vegan form.

When it comes to thai cooking, fish and oyster sauce are frequently called for. Here is an article about how to make those, DIY style in your own kitchen using non-meat products.

There is also a company that sell vegetarian fish sauce, vegetarian oyster sauce, and Golden Mountain Season Sauce is a great alternative when those are called for.

And for Gluten Free, I hear this Kikkomon GF Soy Sauce is great.

Pad Thai Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 tbs oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg (omit for vegan)
  • 3 oz extra firm tofu, diced (or cubed chicken)
  • 4 cups broth (veggie or chicken)
  • 4 oz rice noodles (also called pad thai noodles)
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp sriracha
  • 1 tbs fish sauce (For vegan, use adaptation listed in above post)
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, crushed
  • 1/4 cup green onions
  • 1 tsp crushed red peppers

Instructions

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the garlic and stir. Add the egg and cook until softly scrabbled. Add the tofu (or chicken), cook until lightly fried about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the broth, then add the noodles, soy, sriracha, fish sauce, and peanuts. Cook until noodles have softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Serve topped with peanuts, green onions and red chili flakes.

 

Creamy Butternut Soup With Pomegranate and Goat Cheese

I’m so excited to share this with you. It is my favorite soup right now, and one of my favorite recipes so far this year.

It’s interesting to see which posts get tons and tons of traffic and which ones get ignored, because really, you never know. My highest trafficked post isn’t even in my top twenty favorites.

My most popular post, Inside Out Caramel Apples, makes me cringe a bit. Although it has been pinned about 200,000 times and shared on Facebook and Twitter thousands more, I don’t really love it. It was posted about a year ago, and there seems to be mixed results with success. As a blogger, that’s hard. I want everyone to have a home run every time they make the recipe, and that one seems to be hit or miss. I hate that. And I hate that I have no idea why it fails for some people, and works for others.

And sometimes, the recipes that I love and can’t wait to share, get ignored. You just never know what is going to be a runaway pinterest hit, and what is going to get nothing more than a passing glance.

But this soup, I LOVE this soup, and I hope you do too.

 

Seriously, I’m going to make it again this week.

Creamy Butternut Soup With Pomegranate and Goat Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 large (or two small) butternut squash
  • 2 shallot, minced
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 3 oz crumbled goat cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Cut the tip of the head of garlic, exposing the tops of the cloves. Place on a small sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with 1 tbs olive oil. Fold foil around garlic to form a tight package.
  3. Cut the butternut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds. Place on a baking sheet. Place garlic package on the baking sheet as well.
  4. Roast at 425 for 25 minutes, remove the garlic and allow to cool. Continue to roast the butternut squash for an additional 20 to 30 minutes (45 to 55 minutes total) or until flesh is soft and easy to scoop out.
  5. Scoop out flesh (should be about 5 cups) and puree in a food processor until smooth.
  6. In a large pot or dutch oven, add the shallots and olive oil over medium heat. Caramelize the shallots over medium heat, stirring occasional, for about 10 minutes, or until a dark golden brown. Don’t cook over high heat or the shallots will burn.
  7. Add the chicken broth, water, butternut puree, salt, pepper and cayenne. Squeeze the soft garlic head until the cloves push out (should be soft and mushy) add cloves to the soup. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and to maintain a simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat, add cream and stir.
  9. Scoop into bowls, garnish with pomegranate and goat cheese.

Makes 6 servings.

 

Skinny Baked Potato Soup 210 Calories

 

Raise your hand if you ate way to much this weekend.

I finally found pie pumpkins in my city wide search and participated in hours of pumpkin glutton. Those posts will be up later, but I needed a bit of a pumpkin detox before jumping back in for more. I have no plans to stop my fall pumpkin worship, but I needed a break.

I am also preparing for October Unprocessed. Have you taken the challenge? I signed up. Andrew of Eating Rules has asked if we could all go just one month without eating processed foods. I did it last year and found that it was both easier and more challenging that I had thought. What is processed food? That’s quite the debate, but it gets you thinking. It was, more than anything, a great reminder to read every single label on every single package I buy. Why am I buying a jam with ingredients I don’t recognize when I can just buy the one with only two: Strawberries, sugar.

Why don’t I just buy my bread from the baker down the street, with his 4 ingredients rather than the  package from across the country with 17 ingredients?

More produce, less cans, no Doritos. You can do it.

There is no fixed answer to the question, "What is unprocessed?" but the simple answer is: do you have (or could you have) all of those ingredients in your kitchen and could a person reasonably make it themselves.

For instance, I have lots of friends who are home brewers and they make beer themselves. So that makes beer OK to have, it passes the Kitchen Test. If you could reasonably assume you COULD make it, it’s OK.

However, I have no idea how to pronounce half of the ingredients in Oreos, I don’t have those in my kitchen, I could not make that product, with those exact ingredients, so sorry, no Oreos for me. For more in depth answer to the questions, you can read this.

The best thing about this challenge, is that it gets us thinking. About what we eat, who we "vote for" with the dollars we spend, and what we are training our bodies to crave.

And if you can’t go a month with eating just real whole food, then why not? Why is that hard for you?

I encourage you sign up, even if you know you can’t be perfect. Can you do Unprocessed Wednesday Night Dinners? Sign up and give it a try. It will get you thinking about what you’re eating, and what you are feeding your family.

This soup recipe could even be debated (although it is not yet October). While some ingredients easily pass the kitchen test, it reminds you to read the labels on the brands of sour cream and cheese you buy. Some will only have three or four easily recognized ingredients while some brands will have several more. It’s just about being mindful of what you buy.

Skinny Baked Potato Soup 210 Calories

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 leek, chopped (only white and light green part)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups fat free chicken broth
  • 4 cups cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup milk

Garnishes:

  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese, 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onion or chives, chopped

(Makes 4 servings)

Instructions

  1. In a pot over medium high heat, add the leeks and onions, cook until softened, stirring frequently. Add garlic and stir. Add the chicken broth, potatoes, and cauliflower and allow to boil until vegetables are softened, about 15 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender or a food processor, puree until smooth. Stir in the spices and milk, return to heat and allow to simmer until thickened to desired consistency (the longer you simmer, the thicker the soup will become).
  3. Divide among 4 bowls, top each one with 2 tbs sour cream and stir. Top with remaining garnishes and serve.

 

Chipotle Corn Chowder

I had this friend once, years ago, who used to live under the Franklin Bridge in Los Angeles. A bridge that is rumored to have been Anthony Kiedis muse for the Red Hot Chili Peppers Under The Bridge. I can’t even remember how I began my friendship with a skinny, old, homeless man named Clarence. A friendship that was unlikely to say the least, but I’ll never forget the last time I saw him. He took up residence on a pile of cardboard on my route home from the gym, and I had a neatly pack care package for him. Socks, a sewing kit, two bananas, a copy of  Sea Biscuit, and a small first aid kit, all packed into a black and white Sephora bag.

I parked at a near by gas station, and met him half way between my car and his make shift bed, his huge smile contagiously lit up my own face. We stood on the corner of Franklin and Cahuenga, talking about the days since I had seen him last.

"Jackie, I’m a blessed man." His dark unwashed skin hung from his boney frame, "I live in the best city in the world! I have friends like you! I found a church that don’t mind me, a place that I can get me some coffee every day and I’m healthy as a horse!" As the sun began to set over LA on an overcast February evening, he went on to detail for me how life had lavishly blessed him. A man who had holes in his shoes, no shower in the foreseeable future and whose worldly possessions I had just double with a small gift bag, was telling me how blessed he was.

This was a conversation that changed my life, and the way I see every situation I’m in. Could I find joy with so little? Why not? A truly happy person can find joy in very little,  an unhappy person will always be that way. Since this conversation I  take time, nearly every day, to find the lavish blessings in my own life.

Maybe you’re dealing with a lot right now, maybe the hardships are outnumber the blessings. But I’ve learned that the thing with counting blessings is that it tends to multiply them, or at the very least amplify them. The same applies to hardships, so be careful.

Taking the time to make some chowder on a lazy summer afternoon, I could not have felt more blessed. At home with my little family, we’re all healthy, I get to cook with fresh ingredients and the chowder turned out amazing. And anyone who spends time developing recipes can tell you that there are days when that feels like noting short of a huge blessing.

Serve this warm, hot or even chilled. I hope you love it as much as I did. And I hope the 30 minutes it takes to makes this will give you time to count all those blessings in your life.

Chipotle Corn Chowder

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of corn kernels cut off fresh ears of corn (about 6 ears, I used sweet white corn)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup shallots, chopped (about 1 to 2 large shallots)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable, either will work. Do not use beef broth)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce
  • 1 tbs adobo sauce from chipotle chili can
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Instructions

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, add the oil, shallots, corn, salt and pepper. Saute over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until shallots are opaque. Add remaining ingredients and adjust heat to maintain a simmer, do not boil. Stir occasionally for about 20 minutes or until the corn kernels are soft. Remove from heat. Using a food processor or blender, puree until smooth. Taste, adding additional salt, pepper or chipotle to desired levels.

*Note: it is impossible to predict the heat level of any chili, including chipotles, since the heat level varies widely from pepper to pepper. Use the smallest chili in the can to start, add additional chilies to raise the heat level at the end.

 

 

 

Butternut Squash and Bacon Pot Pie & Job Interview Tips

This has been a long week for me. I’ve been in the process of hiring a new person at work. Through out the interview process, from reading resumes to second interviews, I’ve been able to learn quite a bit about the behind-the-scenes-process. It is incredible what people think is completely acceptable behavior in an interview, here are some examples:

In response to the question, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" Here are some of the responses I got:

"Oh…I’m going to win the lottery. I am. But don’t worry, I’ll give you a big donation, It’s a tax write off."

"Ummm…A lawyer? I think maybe I’ll be a lawyer." (I don’t work for law firm and we don’t employ lawyers)

"I don’t know. I mean, I only want this job for like…18 months? But don’t worry, I’ll help you find someone really good to replace me!"

I’ve never been a "tell me what I want to hear" kind of person, but this really comes down to professionalism and good judgement. If you aren’t able to answer that question correctly, It makes me worry about how you will answer more difficult questions that clients may ask you. 

The correct response, in one form or another: "I am looking to find a company that I can work for long-term. I want to be at my next job, hopefully, for the rest of my career so I’m looking for a place that has opportunities for advancement and will allow me to grow as a professional."

Proper attire:

Don’t wear a shirt that intentionally shows your bra. I don’t care if it is La Perla. 

6-inch platform Lucite heels are not a good choice for interview footwear. 

For the LOVE OF GOD do not, under any circumstances, wear a BLUETOOTH in an interview. Unless you hold the keys to missile defense, you are not that important. I promise. 

Written communication, the first impression:

Before you even get an interview, your resume, cover letter and initial email will give the first impression. Here are some tips to make sure you aren’t weeded out right of the bat:

Make sure everything is spelled correctly

Write a cover letter, this alone will put you above half of the other applicants and give you a voice. 

Change the "Objective" field to fit the company you are applying for. It is a huge red flag if it does not match who we are. Either you are sloppy and have no attention to detail, or you really don’t want to work for us. 

If you have a email address, such as [email protected][domain].com don’t put it on your resume, take the ten minutes to set up a free, more professional looking email address using your name, for instance: [email protected] That was an actual email address I got from one of the applicants (domain has been changed to protect the obviously not so innocent). 

If I call you for an interview, don’t wait 3 days to respond. I’m not some chick you banged in the bathroom of a TGIFridays, the three day rule does not apply. 

If you say that you are "Detail Oriented" at least spell both words correctly. 

Ugh. I have lost a bit of my faith in man kind after this week. But I have not lost my faith in a good soup with a pastry crust. And bacon makes everything better. 

This recipe was inspired by a Butternut Squash Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis.

Butternut Squash and Bacon Pot Pie

Pot Pie crust:

Pie dough (enough from one pie crust)

OR

1 sheet puff pastry

Pot Pie Filling:

6 strips of bacon, cut in half

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 7 to 8 cups)

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves

½ tsp smoked paprika

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.

In a dutch oven, over medium heat cook the bacon until most of the fat has been rendered. Remove from heat, allowing to drain and cool on a stack of 2-3 paper towels.

Drain off most of the bacon fat, leaving only about 3 tbs in the pot.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the onions and carrots to the pot, cooking in the bacon grease until opaque. Add the garlic and cook just until you are able to smell them, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth and squash, allowing to simmer until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Add the smoked paprika, and sage, stir to combined. Add the salt and pepper, seasoning to taste.

Chop the bacon into small pieces, add to the pot and stir.

Place four ceramic, oven safe bowls on a baking sheet. Divide the filling equally between the four bowls.

Place desire pot pie crust on a well floured surface, add flour to the top of the disk as well. Roll out into an even thickness.

Cut out 4 circles that will cover the dishes with at least a one-inch overhang on each side.

To prevent sticking, spray the rim of the baking dish with cooking spray. Top each dish with the dough circle, pressing into shape. Cut a few slits in the top to vent heat. Brush with melted butter.

Cook at 400 for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to cool a bit before serving. 

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Blue Cheese & Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie

This pot pie was the muse for my homemade Buffalo Sauce that I posted on Friday. 

I was craving chicken wings AND pot pie (since pot pie is my new found love) and I just figured they would be super-awesome-amazing mixed together. 

But I didn’t want to just say, "1/2 cup of hot sauce" because it felt like I wasn’t really doing enough. Plus, all hot sauces are not created equal and I didn’t want to start down that spiral of over analyzation that I tend to get sucked into.

I think too much. 

I just made my own. Which ended up being a hybrid of the ingredients listed on the hot sauce containers I had in the fridge and the ingredients I had in my pantry. Turned out pretty great, and so did that soup. 

If you have a favorite hot sauce, one that you just adore so much you are even tempted to put it on your waffles in the morning, feel free to use that instead. 

Or you can even make the non-pot pie version, and it’s a creamy, yummy soup.

Blue Cheese and Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie

Pot Pie crust:

You can use my pie dough recipe (make a half batch)

or Puff pastry

 Plus 2 tbs melted butter


1/2 cup Buffalo Sauce:

Recipe I post on Friday

Or 1/2 cup of your favorite


Pot Pie filling:

2 tbs unsalted butter

¼ cup chopped red onions

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbs flour

5 cups of low sodium chicken broth

3 cups red potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes

2 cups raw, diced chicken

½ cup celery, chopped

½ cup blue cheese crumbles

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400.

In a large pot, or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onions, stirring occasionally, until opaque. Add the garlic and stir. Add the flour and whisk until well combined with the butter. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add the potatoes and cook until very soft. Remove from heat and blend until smooth with an immersion blender.

Return to heat and add the buffalo sauce and the chicken cubes and allow to cook until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in the blue cheese and celery. Place four ceramic, oven safe bowls on a baking sheet. Divide the filling equally between the four bowls. 

Once the dough has chilled, place disk on a very well floured surface, add flour to the top of the disk as well. Roll out into an even thickness. Cut out 4 circles that will cover the dishes with at least a one-inch overhang on each side.

 

To prevent sticking, spray the rim of the baking dish with cooking spray. Top each dish with the dough circle, pressing into shape. Cut a few slits in the top to vent heat. Brush with melted butter.

Cook at 400 for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to cool a bit before serving.

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Printable Version: Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie

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Spicy Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup

Do you remember when you were a kid and staying home sick had sort of a romantic, charming allure? Your friends at school would wonder where you were. Maybe there would be rumors of your overall declining health and that you passed out in 31 Flavors the night before.

You would stay home, indulge in as much sleep as you wanted. Watch TV in your jammies, eat ice cream.

You had no idea that when you grew up, that would be called "Vacation."

When you have a baby, there are no such thing as sick days. Your kids pay absolutely no attention to that note your doctor gave you saying you need to rest. Those little Tyrants want sippy cups filled at full capacity, grapes cut into quarters, constant supervision of their destructive tendencies…*Sigh* It’s a good thing we are genetically inclined to adore them or they would be the worst boss ever.

BUT, if you do get sick, make sure and give your immune system the boost it needs. First, and I hate to break it to you after all that Ice Cream talk: Sugar lowers your natural immunities. Stay away it for the first few days.

Garlic, ginger and lemongrass are all known fighters of the everyday cold and flu. I ate disgusting amounts of them the winter I was pregnant with Tater, and I avoided getting sick for the first winter in about 6 years.

Plus, the kick of thai chili in this soup will remind you that you are alive and strong, empty sippy cups and whole grapes beware.

Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup

2 tbs Smart Balance Light, butter or margarine

2 tsp chopped thai red chili, seeds removed

6 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbs fresh Lemongrass, chopped

1 tbs thai Galangal ginger, peeled, minced

5 cups, fat free, low sodium chicken broth

2 cans light coconut milk

3 tbs fish sauce

2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1 tbs lemon juice

8 large basil leaves, chopped into ribbons

16 large shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined, tails off (can substitute 1 cup, chopped raw chicken)

(Makes 4 Servings)

In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt the margarine. Add the chili and the lemon grass and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and the ginger. Stir frequently until you can smell the garlic, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth and coconut milk and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the shrimp is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning to your personal preference.

Printable: Thai Shrimp Soup 

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Healthy Soup Recipe: 220 Calorie Mac N Cheese Soup

So I made this resolution to not be so hard on myself.

This is a resolution I made, not for myself as much as for my daughter. And how I model womanhood to her.

I want to show her how to focus more on her successes than her failures.

Hold her strengths closer than she holds her weaknesses.

Our children only learn so much from our words, but our actions, especially those that we think they don’t see, are ingrained in who they are.

I’ve stopped using self deprecating statements, as my vow not to model for her what I so badly want to protect her from.

As I see her tiny body grow more and more into a mirror of my own, I now realize that all the things I say about myself, I am inadvertently saying about this tiny "Me"  who is now running around trying to mimic what I do.

It’s cute when she says, "Bacon, Yum!"

Would it be as cute if she looks in the mirror and says, "I’m too fat to wear this"?

I don’t get to pick and choose what she picks up from me. I can just be more aware of my own attitudes and try to shape them into what I want her to pick up. And hope that I do my best to eliminate the mentalities that cause me to say hateful things about myself.

I want to teach her to look back on her mistakes with a postivive filter.

Not to say:

"What was I thinking?"

But instead to try and figure out:

"What was I learning?"

How the heck does this relate to Mac N Cheese soup? Well, most of you have resolutions about weight. Some of you probably even need to lose weight for health reasons. But if you have a daughter, or even a sensitive son, please don’t say:

"I don’t want to be so fat anymore."

Instead:

"I want to be healthier. Run faster, jump higher."

Because, the truth is, unlike a lot of regrets we have in life:

Your weight is fixable.

That is great news, because so many things we have done aren’t. Make a plan, stick to it. Focus on your success, not your failure and give yourself time to make it happen. Because,if you have kids, our resolutions aren’t that different. They are for our kids, modeling how to live. Eat how you want them to eat and they will follow suit.

Mac N Cheese soup is great way to do this. It’s familiar, with just a bit of the high calories stuff. I’m focusing on the strengths of the food to bring it into a high flavor, low calorie food.

I used the Recipe Calorie Calculator on Spark people to find out how many calories are in this. It’s a great tool for homemade food. You can even adjust the ingredients to see how you can get the same amount of food for less calories.

The idea came from The Daily Unadventures in Cooking, and her Macaroni and Cheese dish. Check out her blog if you get a chance.


Healthy Soup Recipe: 220 Calorie Mac N Cheese Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs Smart Balance Light (or other low cal margarine spread)
  • 1/3 cup red onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 6 cups of low sodium, fat free chicken broth
  • 3 cups of butternut squash, fresh, peeled and chopped
  • 2/3 cup Macaroni noodles
  • 1/3 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes

Makes 4 servings.

Instructions

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat, melt the Smart Balance Light. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, but not browned. Add the garlic and stir until you can smell them cooking, about 20 seconds. Add the flour and whisk until combined with the butter spread and no flour lumps remain. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the cubes of butternut squash, place the lid on at an angle allowing the steam to vent, boiling until the squash is very soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit. Using an immersion blender, puree the squash until smooth and creamy. Return to heat. Add the noodles and cook until al dente. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat and add the spices, adjusting to your preference. Add to bowls and top with chopped tomatoes.

Avocado Crab Chowder

My favorite thing about fall is homemade soup. I love a soup that takes all day, it’s like an art. But, since I am a very busy working mom, as I assume quite a few of you are too, I also need a really delicious soup that I can make after work. I invented this soup because I adore clam chowder, but I’m not a huge fan of the clams that you buy at the grocery store. Crab, in all it’s delicious splendor, was a fine substitution. I added the avocados because I live Southern California, a very avocado heavy place. If you ever make it out west, make it a mission of yours to stop by a farmers market (we get to have them year round in these parts) and have one for yourself.

Avocado Crab Chowder

2 tbs butter

1/2 cup chopped onions

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups potatoes, peeled, chopped

1 cup corn kernels (I used Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Corn Kernels)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp Old Bay seasoning

1/2 tsp chili powder

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp chili pepper sauce (Such as Tapatillo or Tabasco)

2 6oz cans crab meat (lump or claw meat if you can find it), drained

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 large avocados, chopped

In a large pot, melt the better over medium/high heat. Saute the onions until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and stir. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and allow to boil until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, Old Bay, and chili powder, stir to combine. Remove the soup from the heat. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth,  and then pour in the cream, stir to combine.  Return to heat, add the corn, and allow to boil until thickened, stirring frequently,about 5 minutes. Add the chili pepper sauce, crab meat, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Pour into serving bowls, garnish with avocado.



Mushroom Cheddar Chicken Pot Pie

I just realized the perfection of Chicken Pot Pie. Like a creamy soup, with any veggies you want and a beautiful homemade crust on top. I can tell you for sure: This will not be my last pot pie post of the fall.

I used another Kerrygold cheese. There are at least two reasons that I love Kerrygold. First, I will always have a place in my heat for Ireland, and Irish people. The first real trip I ever took was to Ireland. I was just out of college and had spend the past 6 months working two jobs, and finishing up my classes, just to buy a plane ticket to Europe and enough money to see me though a few weeks. I landed in Ireland on a drizzely morning, jet lagged and confused. I had no idea where to go, or how to get there. Before I really knew what was happening, I was being dragged though the streets of Dublin by a charming Irishman who was taking me to a youth hostel at the foot of the Guinness brewery.  With a smile and a cheerful welcome, he was on his way, leaving me to realized that this kind stranger had walked at least a mile in the wrong direction just to make sure I found a bed for the evening.

OK, so that really has nothing to do with the cheese, but I was able to meet quite a few Irish people and fall in love with them. And Kerrygold is more of a co-op than a corporation and relies on independent Irish dairy farms to source their produces. Second (third?) if you look at the ingredients they are beautifully simple. Milk, cream, salt, all things that I know and can pronounce.

I used Red Leicester, which is a beautiful mild cheddar. Reminds me of the people I met in Ireland, beautiful, honest, full of flavor.


Mushroom Cheddar Chicken Pot Pie

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 5 tbs butter cold, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2 tbs vodka
  • 2 tbs cold water

For the Filling:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • ½ cup sliced leeks (white and very light green portion only)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 cups raw chicken, cut into small cubes
  • 2/3 cup broth, plus additional 1 1/3 cup, divided
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ cup corn kernels
  • ½ cup peas
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup melted butter

1. Combine 1 cups of flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor, pulse a few times until its combined. Add the butter and the shortening and process until it forms a ball around the blade, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the remaining flour and process until well incorporated, about 1 minute.

3. Move to a bowl and add the water and the vodka, combine with a spatula or wooden spoon.

4. Form the dough into a disk. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and chill until very firm, about two hours.

5.  Preheat oven to 400.

6. In a pan over medium, high heat, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the leeks and the garlic, sauté until leeks are soft.

7. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft and darkened.

8. Add the chicken and sauté until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

9. In a separate bowl, add 2/3 cup of broth and the flour, stir until combined. Pour mixture into the pan through a small mesh strainer to remove any lumps.

10. Add the remaining broth to the pan and stir to combine. Add the peas, corn, cheese, salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese has melted and is well combined with the broth.

12. Pour into small, portion sized, oven safe ceramic dishes. Makes about 4.

13. Once the dough has chilled, place disk on a very well floured surface, add flour to the top of the disk as well. Roll out into an even thickness.

14. Cut out circles that will cover the dishes with at least a one inch overhang on each side.

15. To prevent sticking, spray the rim of the baking dish with cooking spray.

16. Top each dish with the dough circle, cutting a slit to vent at the top. Then brush the dough with melted butter.

17. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool a bit before serving.