Super Simple Ramen

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I added chopped oyster mushrooms, upped the amount of broth and water because this was way too salty (and not enough broth to make the size batch I wanted).  I cooked 2 bundles of soba noodles separately, and spooned the broth over them in the bowls immediately before serving.

For the tofu, I pan-fried thin slices in our blue steel skillet for a few minutes, then put the whole thing in the oven at 400 degrees until the edges started to brown.  Then I spooned the chili sauce (doubled the quantity) over each slice and let it bake a few minutes longer, added to the bowls at the end.

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

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This meal was born out of good fortune.  Monday afternoon, my friend-and-interior-designer Claire and I were having coffee at Little T Bakery, discussing design plans for Yarnia‘s new location.  When we got up to leave, the barista asked if we wanted to take any bread home, since they were closing up for the end of the day.  I said sure (now that I’m running a half marathon, I’m guiltlessly back on the gluten bandwagon) and he loaded us up with gigantic shopping bags full of artisan loaves.


One of two large Tupperwares full

I had a whole plan for a more elaborate dinner for that night, but with so much fresh, delicious bread now taking up counter space in my kitchen, and the fact that Jesse was still getting over being sick, grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup (mostly based off of this recipe) seemed like the only logical option.


But, to be fair, I also made this wild rice casserole that I’d had in the back of my mind as a good way to use up the head of broccoli that had been dwelling in our crisper for almost-too-long; those potatoes you see dotting the top are the tail end of the scalloped potatoes I’d made last week, and with almost the exact same sauce holding this dish together, they seemed like the perfect layer to spread on top.  Delish, to be sure, but would have benefited greatly from the addition of sauteed mushrooms.


Ambiance augmented by beautiful flowers that Jesse brought home last Friday afternoon.  Just ‘cuz.


Curried Cauliflower Soup

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This was totally on a whim, and in celebration of the fact that I got my Dutch oven back this week — totally forgotten about, having lent it to a friend last month.  I was in the mood for something light, something that could make use of the veggies in our fridge, and something that would last for the rest of the week.

Oh, and something that would let me finally break open that immersion blender we bought back in December!

These kind of soups really couldn’t be simpler: start by sauteeing some onions and garlic in the bottom of whatever soup pot you’re going to use, add veggies and spices, sautee some more, add broth and cover, simmering until all the veggies are fully cooked.  Blend, garnish, and serve!

In this case, the veggies were cauliflower (of course), celery, a couple of sweet potatoes, and a jalapeno pepper.

The spices were cumin, turmeric, curry powder, coriander, and half a can of coconut milk, garnished with fresh cilantro.

I was impressed by Jesse’s relenting on the idea of cooking up some chicken breasts on the side, saving those for another night, and letting this be a totally meat-free meal, quelling the craving for something hearty and savory by adding a little quesedilla on the side — a fried corn tortilla with a little pile of olive tapenade, broccoli slaw, fresh mozarella, pesto, and a drizzle of sriracha.  Of course, he ate half a package of peanut butter cookies later that night, but still.

This Week’s Groceries



Oops!  I’m realizing some non-grocery items snuck in here — kitchen towels and a laundry basket and whatnot.  Oh but that phyllo dough you see?  I used it to make a delicious spanikopita that I served last Saturday when we had two of our good friends over for dinner, alongside some home-smoked salmon.  These were just the leftovers!:



That almond milk I’ve been enjoying over my gluten-free Mesa Sunrise in the mornings!

Root Vegetable Borscht

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February has been all about the stews and soups.  I’ve gotten into a nice weekly routine of prepping some sort of crock pot meal on a Monday or Tuesday night, while I cook that night’s dinner, sticking it in the fridge, and then getting it started the next morning when I get up for work.

This borscht is actually a stovetop recipe, but simmered nicely in the background in the same way while I prepped about 4 different meals’ worth of food.  It’s from the same blog where I discovered last week’s tea eggs, and now that I’m glancing back at the recipe I’m astonished that I didn’t notice that it shared a post with her beef stroganoff, since that’s what Jesse got out of bed talking about on Sunday morning, and dutiful for his craving, made for dinner on Sunday night out of the Betty Crocker cookbook.

In any case, I like Mimi’s instruction to chop up all the vegetables ahead of time.  This is usually how I roll anyway, as it’s so satisfying to have the tedious work done and to be able to just dump, sweep, and add during the fun part of cooking time while cleaning up the detritus trail as I go.


This is:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 rib celery
  • 1 rutabega
  • 1/2 small cabbage
  • 2 cloves garlic

All chopped up.  You start with your big soup pot, melt some butter in the bottom, and cook and onion and shallot first.  After a few minutes, add all the chopped veggies, plus a bay leaf, garlic, and 1 teaspoon crushed allspice.



Once the veggies have cooked down a bit, add 1.5 cups of stock (I used beef stock), and simmer until all vegetables are soft.  I ate mine with a little bit of Greek yogurt as a garnish!


Curried Coconut Carrot Soup

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Well, I totally forgot to take any pictures leading up to the completion of last night’s dinner, but that’s probably okay, since this is one of the easiest soups you’ll ever make.  I’ve made many variations of carrot soup before, but this one had a few new elements to it — inspired by the Esalen cookbook which I’ve been slowly working my way through all the bookmarked pages of, I also added an apple to the mix, and roasted this along with the carrots instead of simply throwing them in to the pot to boil.  I don’t know how much of a difference that really made, but this soup was delicious so let’s just go with it.

The first thing I did was chop my carrots into thirds — nothing too labor-intensive here — along with a cored apple.  These got coated with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted in the oven for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, I did the usual soup-prep thing: chopped up an onion and a few cloves of garlic, and this some some ginger, too.  I sauteed these all in some olive oil, along with a few spoonfuls of my Indian curry powder.  Once the onions were translucent, I filled the pot with broth (using Better Than Bullion these days, since until last night, we haven’t roasted a chicken in ages!), and let that simmer until the veggies were done.

Once they were soft, I took them out of the oven, added them to the broth, and brought this to a boil.  I was too lazy to get out the blender, so I mashed the carrot and apple pieces directly in the pot with our potato masher (an immersion blender is #1 on our list when we go to Kitchen Kaboodle to spend the Hanukkah/Christmas gift cards we received from Dad and Kathy this week!), and added half a can of coconut to give the soup some creaminess.  And because coconut milk is delicious in just about anything.


For the rest of this meal, I have Jesse and Hollis to thank — Hollis, who brought over some kale which I quickly sauteed in the skillet in a bit of coconut oil, slat, some Balti seasoning from Penzey’s, and a few squirts of my favorite lemon juice — a perfect green side dish to accompany this meal; and Jesse, who swung by New Seasons on his way home from work and already had the chicken roasting in the oven by the time I got home in time for a nice Thursday night dinner with two of my favorite people.

Oh, but this wasn’t just any chicken roasting.  It was a chicken slathered with this.


He also injected this directly into the breast of the chicken with a syringe, if you want to really know how this went down.  This rub is courtesy of one of my vendors at the Urban Craft Uprising, and it is amazing.  I mean, I even though it was amazing when I sampled it off of a wooden stick at the show, as well as smeared onto a crust of some leftover baguette and topped with brie while impatiently waiting for the carrots to finish roasting for the soup.  But hot damn, rub it all over a chicken and pop it in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour, and you will never be able to eat a regular roasted chicken again.


This is but one of half a dozen different flavors that we acquired from One Screw Loose at last weekend’s show, and be warned: this may be appearing on most meat we consume for the next few months.


This Week’s Groceries

Portland Fruit Company 10/4

  • Garlic
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Chard
  • Red onion
  • Globe grapes
  • Orange bell pepper
  • Asparagus
  • Cilantro
  • Broccoli

TOTAL: $23.74



An Dong Market 12/6 — Jesse’s World-Famous Curry!

  • Sorry, folks.  Every item on this receipt just says “grocery.”  I’ll have to get him to blog about this sometime.  It’s outta this world.

TOTAL: $41.23



New Seasons 12/13

  • 5 lb. bag of carrots
  • 1 apple
  • Bulk popcorn
  • Dozen eggs
  • A whole chicken
  • Whatever else Jesse decided to buy…?  We’ve got to have a talk about saving those receipts!

TOTAL: $27.54


Hungarian Mushroom Soup

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We have a new addition to our household.

It’s a smoker.

This was a fantastic, much-drooled-over housewarming gift from our friend Tyler, whose promise of Jesse’s dream grill, months ago, finally came to fruition last week, and just in the nick of time.  We had a chili cook-off slated for just two days later, and you’d better believe what we did to our meat.

Yup, mesquite-smoked tri tip steak, and a delicately scientific combination of many other secret ingredients that kept us up until 1:00 a.m. last Friday night, perfecting our entry.

So pretty much, everything this week has been smoked.

From left: trout, lamb leg, pork, chicken, tri-tip steak, rib-eye steak, lamb something-or-other, wheat berry salad, harvest slaw, kale salad, edamame carrot salad, whole baby red potatoes, and blue cheese stuffed smoked pears.

It’s soup season, folks, and we’re kicking it off with some rich homemade mushroom soup, the kind that puts Campbell’s to shame.

I bought a mix of criminis and shitakes for this purpose, and started off by sauteeing about two pounds of them, chopped, in some homemade chicken stock, along with a chopped yellow onion.

To this, I added some fresh chopped dill, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, another cup or so of sauce, and a tablespoon of paprika.

I covered this and let it simmer for a few minutes, waiting for the mushrooms to release their liquid, while I made some side dishes: green beans with masala and coconut milk, and some brown and wild rice with frozen peas, carrots, and some Indian seasonings.

After that, I made a little roux, to thicken up the soup — not as much as I’d make for my cheese sauce, but enough to fill a little saucepan and pour into the soup as it finished cooking — this is just a simple mixture of butter, flour, and milk, cooked down into a smooth paste.

You can see how this thickens and lightens the soup just a bit.  I also chopped up a few stalks of celery and added those in at this point, so that they’d still have a hearty texture when the soup was finished.

I let this all simmer together a little longer, and just before serving, added some salt, lemon juice, more fresh dill, and cracked black pepper, to taste.

This Week’s Groceries

Fred Meyer 10/12
  • Chili powder: $1.96 — Guess what we were making!
  • Tomato paste: $1.29
  • Cumin: $0.99
  • Tomato sauce: $1.59
  • Green chiles: $1.59 

TOTAL: $7.42

Portland Fruit Company 10/16
  • Bell peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Yellow onions
  • Fresh dill
  • Crimini and shitake mushrooms
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
TOTAL: $15.19
Grocery Outlet 10/17
  • Ground espresso: $3.99
  • Hummus: $2.99
  • Pumpkin seeds: $2.99
  • Frozen peas and carrots: $1.29
  • Shredded asiago cheese: $1.99
  • Orange juice: $1.99
  • 1% milk: $1.99
  • Sourdough bread: $2.49
TOTAL: $19.72

Potato Leek White Bean Soup with Collard Greens and Flatbread

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Big news: we now have a dining room table!  I got to break it in for its very first meal last Sunday night, when I had some friends over for dinner.

And then again this week, when I whipped up this delicious meal, while Jesse geeked out on his new bike, trying to find the perfect orientation for his homemade pannier stereo, in preparation for Elizabeth’s Dirty 30 Fancy Cocktail Hopping Bike Extravaganza that we embarked on Wednesday night, with a crew of about 30 of our friends.

Note: I do know the correct pronunciation of “pannier,” but have Americanized it for the sake of convenience.  I get a lot of crap whenever I pronounce it like I’m Canadian.

Really, this soup was so simple, I don’t think I even remembered to take a picture. I had started some white beans soaking earlier in the afternoon after coming home from some errands (and discovering The Portland Fruit Company, OMG!! And way to go on the domain name score, btw), which I boiled while getting the base going.

This entailed chopping some leeks, and sauteeing those in some olive oil, along with a few cloves of pressed garlic, some salt, a diced Hatch chile, and coriander.

Then I added some russet potatoes, diced into 2″ chunks, some chicken stock and water, and some fennel seeds, and let this all cook together (adding the beans once they were nearly cooked) until all the ingredients were nice and soft. I was totally not up for getting the blender dirty (and I’m pretty sure the rubber ring has somehow gotten stuck in the garbage disposal) so I just used a potato masher to half-puree the soup right there in the pot, giving it a nice milky consistency but leaving enough chunks of veggies so it wasn’t too smooth. I was going to add some milk or cream but really, it was rich enough without it.

I had just bought a gargantuan bunch of collard greens and was stoked to get to use them.  First, some oil and butter in the skillet,  and a tablsepoon or so of mustard seeds, cooking them until they started to pop.

And entire chopped onion got sauteed in this…

And then the entire head of greens, chopped, while I melted an inch’s worth of chicken stock off of the cube I keep in the freezer.

Once the greens were bright and just wilted enough, I threw in a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and salt to finish it off, rolled out some flatbread dough that I’ve been keeping in the fridge, and fried that up in a little bit of olive oil.

Oh  yes, and I also made chocolate chip banana bread out of some bananas that were taking up too much room in the freezer!

This Week’s Groceries

Portland Fruit Company 9/11

  • Collard Greens: $1.29
  • Kale: $1.29
  • Yellow onions: $2.14
  • Hatch chile: $0.79
  • Garlic: $0.60

TOTAL: $6.11


Split Pea Soup

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Well, as intended, I’m sticking to a pretty strict budget till the end of the month.  With only $14 left as of a week ago, I knew the rest of the month would be produce-only shopping…and would rely heavily on beans.

My grocery shopping this week was very strategic: filling, nutritious, and on sale.  I knew I already had a good size bag of carrots in my fridge, so veggies to round out a nice soup, like celery and onions and potatoes, seemed likely candidates.

New Seasons
collard greens: $1.50 — on sale this week!  A heavily seasoned saute of this and come roasted chicken from the freezer and a wild rice pilaf will easily make 2+ dinners for me this week…
red potatoes: $2.56
yellow onions: $1.16
celery: $1.73
TOTAL: $6.95

It really doesn’t get much easier than split pea soup.  Start by chopping a whole onion, and sauteeing it in a healthy amount of butter with a few stalks of chopped celery and carrots.

Add 1.5 cups of dried split peas, add water, and bring to a boil.  I discovered during my annual pantry inventory that I have some powdered veggie bullion that needs to get used up, so rather than go with my regular Better Than Bullion chicken base, I decided to make this soup entirely veggie, and used the powdered stuff instead, supplementing with some necessary spices like fresh ground coriander, salt, boquet garni, and even a little garam masala at the end.

I let this boil down for over an hour, adding water as it reduced, waiting for those cute little peas to split open and puree themselves.  Towards the end, I diced a few red potatoes and threw them in to bulk it up some more.  

With a loaf of homemade bread to accompany (this week: orange rye caraway), a hearty soup like this one can easily be my lunch for a week; I heat it up at work with a few slices of bread that I toast that morning, a light spread of mayo and some cheese and maybe some lettuce or a collard leaf if I’m lucky enough to remember to pack it in the morning, and this’ll keep me going until the last customer leaves beaming with their cone of yarn at 6:00.

Other fellow Project: Food Budget-ers

Sweet Potato Coconut Kale Soup

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It’s soup season, and not only that, but it’s my crazy-busy season, where one of the kindest things I can do for myself each Monday is to make a gargantuan pot of soup that I can ration out over the rest of the week for work lunches, accompanied by simple open-faced sandwiches on homemade bread.  

November and December for me isn’t even about not having time to cook; it’s about not having time at work to even think about what to eat for lunch.  The default plan of heating up a hearty soup is pretty much all I can handle once my work day starts, if I want any chance of eating before 3:30 p.m.

I had stumbled upon the idea for this soup during a rushed attempt at trying to catch up on my blog reading one night. Without even wanting to take the time to read the recipe, I literally just saw the title of this soup, thought hey, that sounds like a fantastic combination of flavors, and added it to my day-off to-do list for the next week.

It’s basic as far as soups go — no blending, no pureeing, not even really worrying about whether vegetables are getting overcooked and falling apart.  This soup is more bulk than broth, which is what I was going for since I wanted it to be filling even without any official protein to speak of, and although I’m generally not even a fan of sweet potatoes, they impart a really wonderful sweetness to this soup, without having to add any other herbs or spices — also fantastically simple.

It starts, as any good soup does, with a chopped yellow onion, sauteeing in olive oil.

After about 5 minutes, I added in three huge cloves of minced garlic, and a chopped jalapeno pepper (seeds removed).

I used two and a half large sweet potatoes for this soup, a little less than a pound and a half, chopped into one-inch cubes.  These got added next, and I filled the rest of the pot up with broth and water — a combination of my own homemade chicken stock, and my favorite commercial brand, Better Than Bullion.  

I brought this to a boil and the reduced the heat to medium, and left it to simmer while I went and did my dishes.  My plan for the rest of the night was to make some headway on a set of reversible crocheted coasters for an upcoming Christmas present, and after dinner I wanted nothing standing between me and a pair of pajamas, my cozy couch with the heat cranked, a crochet hook and six cones of soft bamboo yarn, and five episodes of Parks and Recreation.

Once the potatoes had softened (and sort of disintegrated, which I don’t mind in this soup), I added an entire bunch of green kale, chopped, and a can of coconut milk.

Overwhelming a pot with an unwieldy portion of greens and watching them lose their water and cook down is one of my favorite things to do, so I did not do this in manageable phases.

And it all worked out.