Velvety Vegetable Soup

I was in the mood for something seasonal and came across this soup in my Simply in Season cookbook. They weren’t kidding about “velvety,” and although I was skeptical about velvety as a soup texture, it was great. I served it with a green salad and these adorable little bread bowls


  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or less)
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 4 cups leeks (diced, white part and 1 inch of green)
  • 1 cup celery (diced)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon (chopped; or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (chopped; or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 cups potatoes (diced)
  • 1 bunch spinach (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup milk (optional)


In olive oil over medium heat, sauté onion, leeks, and celery until wilted, about 15 minutes.

Add tarragon, thyme, salt, and pepper and stir well.

Add broth and potatoes. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Add spinach and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove soup from heat. Purée with hand blender in pot or in small batches in blender or food processor.

Return soup to pot and place over low heat.

Add milk, if using, and heat through. Add additional water or broth if you prefer a thinner consistency.


Fresh Mint Tabbouleh


When I visited Kate in Minneapolis, she took me to the Birchwood Cafe, where I had their Mint Tabbouleh. I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I emailed the cafe and they graciously gave me the ingredient list. I’ve been eating this for lunch for over a month. Here’s how I’ve been creating it.

1 cucumber, peeled, finely chopped

1 red pepper finely chopped

1 bunch  parsley (flat leaf or Italian) finely chopped. About 1/2 cup ish

1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

juice of one fresh lemon

2 tsp olive oil, or your other favorite oil (I’ve been using sesame seed oil)

salt and pepper

Almonds, at least 1/2 cup, however you like them, chopped big.

1 cup uncooked quinoa (then cook it as directed). You can use bulgar as well, but I couldn’t find it easily, and I’m lazy when it comes to shopping.

Optional: add chickpeas if you want even more protein.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, except the quinoa. Once the quinoa has cooled a bit, then mix it in.

Stick it in the fridge so it gets cold. Eat it.

Nutrition Facts (this isn’t exact, but it’s close)

Serving Size 149 g (based on 5 servings per recipe)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 212
Calories from Fat 78
Total Fat 8.7g
Saturated Fat 0.9g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 6mg
Total Carbohydrates 28.2g
Dietary Fiber 5.0g
Sugars 2.8g
Protein 7.5g
Vitamin A 20% Vitamin C 69%
Calcium 6% Iron 15%
Nutrition Grade A
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Fruity Couscous Salad

Originally posted in November 2010. This recipe is a slightly modified version of one I found on allrecipes. com, and it has become my go-to side dish for potlucks (or bring-a-pots, as they are called by some).
  • 1 1/3 cups dry couscous (I use Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend)
  • 2/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup packed dried apricots, chopped
  • 2/3 cup  sweetened, dried cranberries or raisins, microwaved in 1 cup water for 1 minute
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced with greens
  • 1 pinch Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • splash of orange juice (optional)


  1. Prepare couscous according to package directions.
  2. Combine all ingredients; toss.
  3. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Chicken Tikka Masala

This has become my go-to for mercy meals — if the family likes Indian food and doesn’t need to cut out dairy, this is probably what I’ll bring. It also makes a great freezer meal.

Originally posted in March 2009: I saw this recipe a while ago on Bethany’s blog and finally decided to try it this week. Oh my. It was goo-ood. And, best of all, Simon ate it up (it’s hard to get him to eat, so this is definitely a keeper). I made a few substitutions from the original recipe to make it lighter (with Jason’s full knowledge).


  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, cut in 1-inch cubes


  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used nonfat)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, minced
  • 6 (6-inch) bamboo skewers


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (I omitted this, and it was just spicy enough for us)
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup lite coconut milk (the original recipe calls for the same amount of whipping cream)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish)


  1. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade, add chicken pieces, and marinate overnight in the refrigerator (or for at least an hour).
  2. Thread chicken onto bamboo skewers, and grill or broil until thoroughly cooked (8 to 10 minutes).
  3. For the sauce, melt butter in a skillet and saute the garlic and jalapeno (about 2 minutes).
  4. Add the spices and the tomato sauce and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken and coconut milk (or cream) and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  6. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice and naan.

Cinnamon Chip Applesauce Coffeecake

My friend Karen Choi originally made this coffeecake and I was enraptured by it. Turns out the recipe came from the back of a bag of Hershey’s cinnamon chips, though, in my mind, it still comes from the genius of Mrs. Choi. Hershey’s website suggests baking in cupcake liners (pictured) or a fluted pan, but after choosing the first option, I’m going to recommend that you stick with a 9×13 baking dish. Coffeecake is a little heavy—definitely heavier than normal cake—and the fluted pan would probably invite disaster. Our coffeecake-cupcakes are taking forever to bake, despite their small size. So yeah, go with the big dish and enjoy!

  • 1 C butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 3/4 C applesauce
  • 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 2/3 C cinnamon chips
  • 1 C pecans, chopped (opt)

Heat oven to 350. Lightly grease 13×9″ pan. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl on medium speed until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix in applesauce. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in cinnamon chips and pecans, if desired. Spread into prepared pan. Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Drizzle with glaze (3/4 C powdered sugar mixed with 1-2 T warm water or milk) or sprinkle with powdered sugar. Yield: 12-15 servings.

Buttery Cooked Carrots

(Originally posted in February 2008.) Originally from, altered per other cooks’ recommendations. Declared by Jeremy to be the best cooked carrots he’s ever had. Let’s face it, everything’s better with BUTTER and sugar.

1lb baby carrots
1/4 C butter
1/3 C brown sugar

Cook carrots in a large pot of boiling water until tender. Drain carrots and set aside.

Stir butter and brown sugar in the pan. Simmer and stir until the margarine melts. Return carrots to the pot, and toss to coat. Cover, and let sit for a few minutes to allow flavors to mingle.

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

I really want to like spaghetti squash, I do. But I really don’t like it with marinara (or anything resembling marinara). I have found the solution! I made this dish for lunch today, and my mom and I agree that this is the best meal either one of us has had in a while. Mmmmm, bacon . . . Adapted very slightly from this recipe.


  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
  • Parmesan cheese to taste (optional)
  • Red Pepper flakes or black pepper, to taste (optional)


  1. Prepare the spaghetti squash according to the directions on the sticker. (Cut in half, scoop out the seeds, place two halves cut side down in a glass baking dish filled with about 1/4 inch water, cook in microwave on high for 7-10 minutes or in 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes.)
  2. Shred/scoop out squash with a fork and add it to your serving bowl.
  3. While the squash is cooking, start the “sauce.” Cut bacon into 1/2-inch strips (keep the long strips of bacon together and slice horizontally). Cook bacon over medium heat until it’s browned and add to your serving bowl. Remove 3/4 of the bacon grease and reserve for another use.
  4. Sauté the onion and garlic in the remaining bacon grease and cook until translucent. Add them to your serving bowl.
  5. Toss the walnuts into the pan and toast until slightly brown. Add them to the serving bowl. Add pepper and grated Parmesan cheese to taste.
  6. Serve immediately.