Thursday, April 26, 2012

When Your Fridge is Overloaded with Veggies, Make Soup - Serves 4 plus more for freezing

Aside from vegetables growing in my own garden, I have become a fan of Greenling, which delivers local, organic vegetables to your front door.  Before they really got geared up in Dallas, I was their guinea pig, helping out by sampling certain in season vegetables from local farmers.  Lucky me!  So within a few months, they are thriving and the goods are too.  That being said, we've eaten our share of turnips and rutabagas,  adding them to everything like salads (great roasted), pizzas, soups and potatoes.  I've had so many vegetables on hand that I needed to get rid of them so I could make room for more.  Therefore, I came up with this fabulous soup that literally had my entire produce drawer/some of my garden in it.  What you see in the pic above is everything, including the kitchen sink (ha!). The only thing I didn't throw in there were the beets.  I just used their leaves (beet pizza later with goat cheese and arugula!).  Seriously, this is the BEST way to clean out your vegetable drawer.  Throw everything into water , add garlic, salt, herbs... bring to a boil then simmer for about 45 minutes. Now, you have a fabulous vegetable broth and a terrific vegetable soup.  You can freeze the leftovers and whip it out on a later date and be proud of yourself all over again.

Garden Vegetable Soup


Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
Everything in your vegetable drawer (except lettuce, which is saved for last), washed and diced, cubed, chopped if necessary
Herbs of your choice (I like Herbs de Provence, thyme, oregano)
Sea or Kosher Salt
Fresh ground pepper
4-8 cups water (or more depending on how many veggies)

Add about 2-3 tbs olive oil to large pot.  Heat until shimmering and add garlic.  Saute for about 30 seconds and add chopped veggies (not lettuce, yet).  Add herbs, salt and pepper, mixing well to coat.  Saute veggies for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add water and stir to mix.  Bring to boil, cover then simmer for about 30-45 minutes or until vegetables are soft (especially potatoes).  Add lettuce, cover, letting lettuce wilt for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Using either a hand puree or pureeing in batches, puree vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve either warm or cold with a drizzle of your favorite olive oil.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Udon Noodle Soup with Vegetables - serves 4

In case you haven't noticed, I love food.  One of my favorite things to do, other than cook, is to visit ethnic grocery stores, maybe meet some people that speak English and learn how to cook different types of foods.  A couple of weeks ago, we dined at Jeng Chi (, located in Richardson, on Greenville Ave., between Spring Valley and Beltline.  People, let me tell you... if you love Chinese food without all the MSG and soy sauce, you have to eat here.  As my husband would say, "it's like being a cowboy in Indian country" when I tell you it is an Asian hotspot.  We often have to go with my Taiwanese girlfriend just so she can order for us.  That and the fact my kids love to mimic her and try to take on the language themselves.  There's nothing there that isn't good and it's as fresh as you can get as well as BYOB.  The strip center is lined with restaurants as well as an ice cream shop and grocery store.  Have you ever been to an Asian grocery store?  I was warned the first time I entered that I would encounter a stiff fist of fish slamming into my face.  After about 10 paces into the store, it hit.  I might as well been slapped by the tail of a red fish it was so strong.  This store is a foodie's dream.  Fresh vegetables, handmade noodles and fish swimming in tanks for customers to pick out, have butchered and take home.  Now there are rather odd things in the store as well, not something I would like to take home and put on the dinner table, but if you're someone who likes chicken hearts, feet and sea cucumbers, this place is for you.  My kids have grown to love this place as it's taught them to embrace the different cultures within our city.  I highly recommend a trip here, if not Jeng Chi to test out your inner Confucius.


1 pound ground pork or turkey
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs sesame oil, plus more for drizzling
8oz shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 small head of bok choy, washed and sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce (get the authentic, thick kind)
1 pound fresh, Udon noodles


In a large sauce pot, heat sesame oil until shimmering.  Add garlic, stirring for 30 seconds, then add meat and brown until cooked through, crumbling as you cook.  Remove meat from pan and set aside.  Add a drizzle of oil and add vegetables, stirring to coat.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add vegetable broth and teriyaki sauce, stirring to incorporate.  Bring to a simmer then add Udon noodles, cooking according to package directions. Add meat to soup, stirring to mix.  Ladle into bowls and serve.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Southern Living's Strawberry Mousse Cake - serves, well, I wouldn't know....

It's official.  I will never attempt to bake again.  The picture you see above is what the cake should have looked like.  What I concocted was something different.  Oh, what plans I had to bake this wonderful cake for Easter!  I even traveled with a friend to a dilapidated farmhouse outside of Dallas looking for only the freshest ingredients.  We arrived only to my friend being scolded by the lady farmer/owner for not knowing how hard it was to get organic farmers to come sell at her farm. (We knew the reason, but obviously she did not.  The place was pretty scary.)  Not to be discouraged, we headed for the Farmers Market where my sweet Anna, who never lets me down, sold me some goods.  I then went and purchased organic strawberries, 3 pints worth, per the recipe directions along with organic eggs.  Arriving home, I began my quest for the Southern Living look-a-like Strawberry Mousse Cake.  I would not fail.  Well, that's exactly what I did.  After 3 LONG hours of mixing, chilling, stirring, waiting, chilling, stirring, waiting, I did EXACTLY what the recipe called for.  I layered each tier, adding mousse in between each, then applying the icing.  What happened you ask?  The (cuss word) tiers started sliding out from the cake plate.  My fingers where dripping with icing all the while I'm trying to slide the (cuss word) cakes back into place.  My daughter is looking at me (she was supposed to help) asking "Mom, why are you gritting your teeth?".  This is one of those moments where I could be a good mom or a bad mom.  "Go outside".  My next thought was to quickly put the (cuss word) cake into the fridge where hopefully the (cuss word) icing and mousse would harden enough to stay put.  Good idea, right?  This is a four tiered cake, just to give you an idea that has about 4-5 cups of strawberry mousse and icing.  After 30 minutes, I stand before the fridge hoping that my idea was in fact genius, when I opened the door.  Not only did my idea not work, but one of the tiers had completely rocketed itself to the other side of my fridge splattering about 2-3 cups of mousse and (cuss word) icing ALL OVER THE INSIDE OF THE FRIDGE.  I sat there stunned.  A few tears came.  It was then that I made the realization that although I can prepare an amazing meal, baking cakes is not something I can do.  I said it.  I can not do it.  So instead of throwing a tantrum like the last time, I called my daughter and 4 of her friends to the fridge, handed them forks and told them to dig in.  Yes, in the fridge.  One kid thought I was the coolest mom ever for letting him do it. My daughter thought I was high.  They all commented on how good it was, which it should have been for all that went in it. And if it wasn't, they weren't going to tell me if they knew what was good for them. My husband later came home with me waiting on the porch, bees hovering above as they likened to the smell of sugar that coated me head to toe, beer in hand.  "Honey, next time I get the novel idea to bake, please (cuss word) tell me I can't."  End of story.  If you you'd like the recipe, let me know because I'd like to to see the finished result.  In fact, I'll hire you to bake for me.