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Tag Archives: vegetarian

Dreary days and spicy tomato soup.

Since I’ve been in Massachusetts there has been 4 snow storms. I’ve been here 2 months. Welcome to New England, right? I usually love snow, but this year I’m waiting for Spring. I’m craving brightness. I want the freshness of Spring. I guess I’m looking the rebirth that comes with the season to coincide with my new beginning. I’m waiting for the crocuses to emerge, the asparagus to appear in the market, the sun to warm my bones.

Bright flowers for a dreary day

Bright flowers for a dreary day

But right now it’s snowing.

The (financial) demands of moving have kept my cupboards lean. Thankfully I preserved a lot last summer, both in jars and frozen. (Yes, I packed up all my frozen produce and moved it from Ohio to Massachusetts.) Fortunately/unfortunately, you have to get creative sometimes during lean times. Sure, I have some preserved things, some beans (uncooked), rice, pasta…. But what to do when you don’t want to wait for beans to cook, and you’re tired of pasta with tomato sauce? Flipping through my cookbook collection just made me more frustrated as I kept finding recipes I wanted to make only to find I was missing a major ingredient. Normally, I substitute. Sometimes when I’m tired and hungry, I don’t want to think about flavor combinations and what could fill the giant void of ‘X’ main ingredient. Too technical. Blah.

So, I stared at my cupboard. Tomatoes. Chicken stock. Cumin. Onions. Tomato soup! Wait! I have squash in the freezer. Southwest-style tomato soup!

Warms from within

Warms from within

And here ya go…

Spicy Tomato & Squash Soup

  • 1 qt, or 1-28oz cans- chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 c chopped zucchini, cooked
  • 1/2 med onion, diced
  • 1-2 jalapenos, minced (or any spicy pepper, such as chipotles)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 1/4 c chopped cilantro
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 lime (optional)

In a large pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeno and garlic, and cook until onion is translucent. Add tomato paste, cumin, salt & pepper, thoroughly combining. Cook until tomato paste just takes on a brown color. Add tomatoes and zucchini; cook for 5 min. Finally, add chicken stock. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 30 min, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings as needed. Right before serving, stir in cilantro and lime juice.


*I used yellow squash, but any summer squash will work. *Adding shredded rotisserie chicken will make a heartier soup. *Adding crisp tortilla strips and avocado will make this like a tortilla soup. *Switch up the cumin for other spices to take this soup around the world. *make this vegetarian by using vegetable stock or water.


An Easter side-Maple Pan Roasted Carrots

Easter is just around the corner, and I thought I’d share this tasty side dish. I’m not a big fan of hams, but I do love the sides that come with Easter. I’m actually more likely to eat a Passover-inspired (brisket, charoset, etc) meal than a “traditional” Easter meal. This particular side can be served at either Easter or Passover.

Jeweled carrots

I used jeweled carrots for this recipe because it’s what I had on hand. Don’t they look gorgeous? Baby carrots are easier, as they don’t have to be cut. Be sure, if you use normal carrots, to cut them into even lengths and sizes for even cooking.

This is also a great dish to show off local maple syrup. Maple season just wrapped up, so you should have some in your pantry. And if you don’t go get some! Real maple syrup is no match for the maple-flavored high fructose corn syrup. Bleh. The maple in this recipe makes these carrots almost candy-like. A great substitute or fresh take on the ever-present candied sweet potatoes.

Tossed with maple syrup

Maple Pan Roasted Carrots

retrieved from, adapted from Fine Cooking

  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb baby carrots, or regular carrots cut into 3″ lengths
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Peel carrots. Preheat oven to 400°F

In a 12″ oven-proof skillet, heat oil over high heat, not quite to smoking. Add carrots and cook, stirring frequently, 3-5 minutes, until they blister and turn brown in spots.

Add syrup, salt and pepper, stirring to coat completely. Remove from heat.

Spread carrots in an even layer in the skillet and transfer it to hot oven. Roast until the carrots are tender, brown in spots and slightly shriveled, 12-15 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed.

A beautiful side for your Easter table

A twist on a steakhouse salad.

I like a good steakhouse salad. A plate full of crisp greens, piled high with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, blue cheese and strips of juicy steak. All doused with a tangy vinaigrette.

While I really like the flavors of that salad, I don’t usually have steak on hand. I’m just not a big steak eater.  I wanted to do a salad with all those wonderful flavors, without the steak, but just as filling. So, naturally I thought of barley. Ha! Then I thought, why not use steak sauce in the dressing to get that steak flavor? And I did. And it turned out fabulous!


Steak-house Style Barley Salad

  • 1 c barley, cooked and cooled
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1-2 oz blue cheese, crumbled

Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl with half of Steak Sauce Vinaigrette.


Steak Sauce Vinaigrette

  • 2 1/2 Tbsp steak sauce
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp malt vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced. Mash into a paste with a pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in a jar and shake well. Store leftover dressing in refrigerator.

Notes: I only used the veggies I had on hand, but I wrote the recipe with more in mind. Also, depending on the blue cheese you use, it could end up overpowering the salad. Start with a little, and add if you want more. A big handful of arugula with be lovely.

Spicy Peanut Noodles

There’s no neat story about this one. This is just a comfort-food go-to for me. It’s so easy, and almost all the ingredients are in the pantry. Go ahead, give it a try. It’s even good cold the next day…if it lasts that long. Just don’t be alarmed at the chunky sauce. The peanut butter in the sauce solidifies as it cools. Still just as tasty!

Spicy Peanut Noodles

  • 1/2 lb spaghetti, cooked just beyond al dente
  • 1/2 c peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
  • 3 Tbsp unseasoned rice (or cider) vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce (I use shoyu)
  • scant 1/4 c water
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • lime wedges, for serving

In a small sauce pan, combine peanut butter, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, water, sriracha and garlic. Heat until peanut butter is melted and all ingredients are combined.

In a medium bowl, toss noodles with scallions. Pour dressing over and toss to combine.

Squeeze lime slices over servings.

Notes: I added about 1/2 cup shredded chicken. Please do try the lime wedges. It adds a great brightness to the dish. Another great addition would be ginger, about a 1″ piece, grated. Add to sauce.