Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving - Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving dinner is not complete without pumpkin pie. I am not a fan of pumpkin pie. Yet I was determined to make a reasonably decent pumpkin pie. Thanks to Weight Watchers, I found a pretty good recipe. Everyone else seemed to like it, and I found it tolerable which is as much as I expect from pumpkin pie. At this writing, Aaron is enjoying a piece with some leftover chocolate frosting. *grin*

Pumpkin Pie with Graham Cracker Crust
From Weight Watchers - 3 points per serving
Serves 8

3 oz reduced-fat cinnamon graham crackers, about 5 1/2 sheets
1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter, melted
2 large egg white(s)
1 large egg(s)
1/2 cup(s) dark brown sugar

1/4 tsp table salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or less to taste
1 cup(s) canned pumpkin

1/2 cup(s) fat-free evaporated milk
1/4 cup(s) lite whipped topping

Position rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Place graham crackers and light brown sugar in a food processor; process into crumbs (or smash into crumbs in a sealed plastic food bag with a rolling pin). Spoon crumbs into a small bowl; add melted butter and combine with fingers into a coarse meal. Distribute crumbs evenly on bottom and up sides of an ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Chill for 30 minutes before baking. Bake until crust starts to turn golden, about 8 to 10 minutes; remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whip egg whites until frothy; fold in egg, dark brown sugar, salt, pumpkin pie spice, canned pumpkin and evaporated milk. Beat pumpkin custard until smooth and pour into pie shell. Bake until a knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 to 55 minutes. Slice into 8 pieces, top each piece with 1/2 tablespoon of whipped topping and serve warm or at room temperature. Yields 1 slice per serving.

For pumpkin pie spice, I used cinnamon. For canned pumpkin, I used actual pumpkin puree from a pumpkin. For the graham crackers, I bought full fat natural honey graham sticks. The fat content was not THAT different, and the reduced fat grahams all had HFCS. I'd rather choose a more real food over a less real food.

Thanksgiving - Mustard Potatoes

One type of potato is never enough, especially if a key member of the family refuses to eat sweet potatoes. My mom gave me this recipe, and it's a winner.

Mustard Potatoes
Serves at least 6

6 medium red potatoes, rinsed and quartered
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. Dijon/spicy mustard
1 Tbsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 and spray a baking dish. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. When potatoes are well covered with other ingredients, transfer to baking dish. Bake in oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until potatoes are fork tender.

I cooked this dish rather inconsistently this year. The oven temperature was set for the turkey, at 325. The potatoes looked done after an hour or so, but I still found a few quarters that were not so well cooked. The ones which were cooked enough were quite tasty.

Thanksgiving - Cranberry Orange Relish

People have strong opinions about cranberry sauce and jelly. They fall into camps - those who like sauce with whole or chopped cranberries; those who like the canned jellies. Each camp insists on its own preferred cranberry concoction and feels excluded or slighted if its own concoction is missing from the table. I am a canned cranberry jelly type. I am delighted to have found organic jelly which uses sugar instead of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). Despite my own cranberry affiliation, I respect the right of others to have their own tastes. For my Thanksgiving table, I made the following "relish" for those who refuse the jelly.

Cranberry-Orange Relish

From Weight Watchers - 1 point per serving
Servings: 16

12 oz cranberries, fresh
1 medium orange(s), navel, washed, unpeeled and cut into chunks
1 cup(s) sugar
1 piece(s) ginger root, fresh, peeled, about 1-inch, chopped
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Put cranberries, orange, sugar, ginger and cinnamon in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Scrape into a serving bowl (or a plastic container if making ahead). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Yields about 2 2/3 tablespoons per serving.

If the flavor from using the entire orange peel is too strong for you, add some fresh orange zest instead. Then remove the peel and white pith before cutting the orange into chunks.

If you want to give the relish a different spin, add chopped cilantro or mint and minced jalapeno pepper.

You can make this relish up to 5 days ahead.

This recipe is great as a spread for leftover turkey sandwiches or as an accompaniment to roast pork or chicken.

Thanksgiving - Green Beans with Mushrooms and Crisp Onion Crumbs

So many Thanksgiving foods are brown, white, or orange. I think this is why green bean casserole became a traditional food. We just wanted more color, right? The problem I have with green bean casserole is the cream of mushroom soup and I don't like it THAT much anyway. A few weeks before Thanksgiving, I saw this green bean recipe at my Weight Watchers meeting and thought it looked really good.

Not my picture - I got lazy about my picture taking as the day progressed. :) I really liked this dish and thought it was pretty easy. If you don't want to use bread crumbs, you could substitute something like crushed rice crackers or corn flakes. The flavor wouldn't be quite the same, but I bet it would be just as tasty.

Green Beans w/Mushrooms and Crisp Onion Crumbs
From Weight Watchers - 2 points per serving
Serves 8

2 Tbsp uns
alted butter, divided
3/4 cup(s) dried bread crumbs, panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 Tbsp dehydrated onion flakes, minced
3/4 tsp table salt, divided
2 spray(s) cooking spray
1 1/2 pound(s) uncooked string beans, fresh, trimmed, cut in half
1 pound(s) button mushrooms, thinly sliced


To make crumb topping, in a large, deep, nonstick skillet, over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter; add bread crumbs, onion flakes and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside; carefully wipe skillet clean.

Coat skillet with cooking spray; place over high heat. Add string beans and mushrooms; sauté until lightly golden and tender, about 6 minutes.

Add green beans, remaining tablespoon of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to skillet; toss over low heat until butter is melted and mixture is heated through. Transfer to a serving platter; sprinkle with crumbs. Yields about 1 cup of vegetables and 2 tablespoons of crumbs per serving.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving - Butternut Squash Soup

I've posted about the butternut squash soup before. For Thanksgiving, I doubled the recipe from Whole Foods and made it on Wednesday. We reheated it in the slow cooker a few hours before our dinner time.

Instead of writing about how to make the soup, I wanted to share some pictures and ideas. Some people have told me they think cutting the butternut squash is difficult. One tip someone shared with me is to microwave the squash for a few minutes first. Not only is it easier to cut, but it's also easier to peel. I also was told to poke a few holes in the squash to prevent it from exploding in the microwave. I've never had a squash explode in my microwave when I forgot to poke the holes, but I figure it's not really worth risking -- images of Gremlins going through my mind.

Even after you microwave the squash, it's still pretty firm.

But persistence pays off.

The butternut squash pictured here gave me more than 8 cups of peeled cubed squash. I did not use all of that squash in my soup. Eventually I'll make some spiced butternut squash and onions for a side dish with what is left.

Anyway, the soup was enjoyed by all and really can make a meal unto itself. Some nice crusty bread goes quite well with it.

Thanksgiving - Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite vegetables. Aaron cannot stand them.

"They are neither sweet nor potato. They are bitter tubers." He tells me this every time the vegetable is mentioned. According to Wikipedia, sweet potatoes are "large starchy sweet tasting tuberous roots." They are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin B6. In other words, sweet potatoes are good for you even if you think they are bitter tubers.

Instead of the "traditional" marshmallow sweet potato concoction or the particularly yummy one with the pecan topping, I decided to try another Weight Watchers recipe. I was really pleased with it and definitely want to do it more often. Really easy and quite tasty!

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
From Weight Watchers - 2 Points per serving
Serves 8


3 medium sweet potato(es), peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 pounds)

2 medium garlic clove(s), peeled

1/2 cup(s) plain fat-free yogurt, Greek-variety recommended

4 tsp sugar

1/8 tsp table salt, or more to taste

1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste


Place potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan; pour in enough water to cover potatoes. Set pan over high heat and bring to a boil; boil until potatoes are fork-tender, about 8 minutes.

Drain potatoes and garlic; transfer potatoes and garlic to a large bowl. Add yogurt and sugar to bowl; mash until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Yields about 1/2 cup per serving.


I didn't have an actual bulb of garlic. I added pre-minced garlic after the potatoes boiled when I was mashing them. The yogurt makes a very creamy dish. And I do think you could add brown sugar as a topping if you want a bit more sweetness.

Thanksgiving - Stuffing with Sage and Chives

I tried a new recipe for stuffing this year. I didn't love it, but I thought I would share it because maybe someone else will have better luck with it.

Stuffing with Sage and Chives
From Weight Watchers - 2 Points per serving
Serves 8


1 spray(s) cooking spray

12 slice(s) whole-wheat bread, or white bread, preferably day-old, cubed

2 tsp olive oil

2 tsp light butter

1 cup(s) onion(s), diced

3 medium celery, stalks, diced

2 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp dried sage

1/2 tsp table salt

1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

2 cup(s) canned chicken broth

2 Tbsp chives, fresh, chopped


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 4-quart shallow baking dish with cooking spray.

Arrange bread cubes on a large ungreased baking sheet in a single layer (use 2 sheets if not enough room). Bake until lightly toasted, about 8-10 minutes. Remove bread from oven and set aside; leave oven set to 350.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil and butter together for 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion and celery; saute until soft, about 3 minutes. Add thyme, sage, salt and pepper; stir to coat. Cook until herbs are fragrant, about 1 minute.

Transfer onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add bread, broth and chives; toss to combine. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish and cover with foil; bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown, 15 minutes more. Yields about 1 cup per serving.


I thought the stuffing was dry and not terribly flavorful. I over-toasted the bread, and the chives were not noticeable. I probably would try this again with some changes - more seasonings and maybe some other vegetables. I think I should have taken the effort to cube the bread instead of tearing it. Oh well! The rest of the meal was great!

Thanksgiving - The Turkey!

I've only roasted a turkey once or maybe twice before. I was very nervous about doing it this year. We bought our 15.5 pound turkey from the Natick Community Organic Farm. The farm is about 7 minutes down the road from our house. I am delighted to buy a turkey so very local to us when we live in the middle of suburbia. Maybe it sounds weird, but I like that I've seen the rafter of turkeys living on the farm before I bought one of them for my dinner. And yes, I looked up what a group of turkeys is called. :) On with the cooking!

First I let the turkey thaw in our refrigerator for about 4 days. On Thanksgiving, I unwrapped the bird, removed the giblets, rinsed the bird and patted it dry with paper towels. I briefly considered making gravy with the giblets, but I am a bit lazy and Aaron gets grossed out by giblets. There's always next year, right?

So here is the bird before I added any seasonings and such. I rubbed the inside and outside of the turkey with kosher salt and cracked black peppers. Then I loosened the skin around the breast so that I could tuck herbs and vegetables under the skin. I managed to make 4 cavities under the skin, and I rubbed olive oil with sage and thyme in there. Then I tucked in some fresh rosemary - our rosemary bush does not seem to mind the cold. I chopped up a couple of carrots, some celery, and about 1/4 of a medium, peeled turnip. I put the chunks of vegetables into the 2 holes. I poured a 1/2 c. of red wine and 1/2 c. water in the roasting pan.

By this point my oven was preheated to 425. I put the bird in the oven for 40 minutes. According to the farm instructions, doing this "sears" the turkey. After 40 minutes, I covered the turkey loosely with foil, turned down the temperature to 325 and set my timer for 4.5 hours. When I put the bread in the oven, I checked on the bird.

When the Patriots game ended, the turkey was done and sitting out of the oven to "let the juices resettle." I'm not sure where the juices go during a roasting, but the instructions said to do this, and I didn't want to screw up the main dish. Before I forget, the instructions said to cook the bird until the internal temperature reached 160. The thermometer instructions said roast turkey should reach 165. Mine got to 170.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the turkey, so I think I did all right!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving - Dinner Rolls

Aaron reminded me that most people have some kind of bread or dinner roll with Thanksgiving dinner. I decided to make the "5 minute artisan bread" into dinner rolls. It's a super easy recipe and gets better as it sits.

5 Minute Artisan Bread - Basic Recipe with Herbs
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp. coarse salt (I use kosher salt)
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
6 1/2 cups flour (I use either all purpose or white wheat or a combination)

Add yeast, salt and herbs to water. In large mixing bowl or stand mixer, add flour to water mixtures. I usually add 2 cups of flour at a time to prevent a huge flour cloud. Mix until dough is evenly moist/wet. This dough will be quite wet.

Cover loosely and let dough rise about 2 hours, until doubled and top has flattened.

After dough has doubled, you can shape it into loaves or rolls. I sprinkle cornmeal on a thick plastic cutting board and place the shaped dough on the cornmeal. Do NOT knead bread. Shape it quickly. Let it rise for another 20 minutes if you are making it the same day. If you have refrigerated the dough, you'll need to let it rise about 40 minutes.

While dough is rising a second time, preheat your oven to 450. Place your pizza stone and a broiler pan in the oven at same time. Once oven is heated, take the pizza stone out and place your shaped loaves on the stone. When you put them in the oven, pour 1 cup of cold water on the broiler pan and close the oven door quickly. This is what makes the hard crust.

Bake 30 minutes. More yum!

NOTE: Pictures will be forthcoming. Making rolls was a VERY messy process.

Thanksgiving - Kentucky Derby Pie

What is Kentucky Derby Pie? Only the most supreme decadent pie EVER. Also known as chocolate bourbon pecan pie, it is my absolute favorite Thanksgiving dessert. Words cannot describe how excellent this pie is. Let me see if I can put it in perspective.

First, I am not a huge fan of pie. Given a choice of desserts, pie is about the last thing I will choose. That's not to say I won't eat it when offered, but I greatly prefer almost any other dessert you can imagine, even just plain ol' ice cream. Yet I have fantasies of this particular pie. It is just that good.

I have made this pie to prove to people that it is the absolute best pie ever. One of my friends is a Bible scholar and has quite the talent for baking. He makes amazing cookies, rivaling those made with my family recipe. He makes cheesecake to die for. His desserts have been known to produce Meg Ryan reactions (think When Harry Met Sally). He didn't believe me that this pie was so awesome until I made this pie for him. His review of the pie included a lot of blushing - apparently he enjoyed it rather thoroughly. I'm pretty sure he remembers this pie with great fondness even though it has been years since he ate it.

Now if you don't like rich decadent desserts or you prefer fruit for your dessert, then this is NOT the dessert for you. Our cousin's wife doesn't like chocolate, so this is not for her. Yes, she's still my friend. After all, more chocolate for me! :)

Without further ado, here is the recipe and pictures for this delectable and delightful dessert.

Kentucky Derby Pie (Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie)

1/4c. butter
1 c. sugar
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 c. corn syrup (dark is more intense)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. bourbon
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. whole pecans, rounded cup
1 9 inch unbaked pie shell

Cream butter. Add sugar slowly. Before I knew how to bake, I had no idea what creamed butter was. It looks like snow. Some people think it looks like popcorn.

Add eggs, corn syrup, vanilla and salt - stir or mix. There is a lot of corn syrup in this pie. I've toyed with the idea of using a different syrup such as Lyle's Golden, but I have no experience with it and am nervous about changing my pie.

Stir in bourbon, chips and pecans. The bowl now contains butter, eggs, corn syrup, vanilla and salt.

Seriously, don't forget the bourbon. :)

Pour into pie shell.

Bake 50-60 minutes in 375 oven, until set and not watery when knife is inserted. Bake longer if necessary, wrapping edges in foil to prevent burning. After 55 minutes, I wrapped my pie in foil messily and popped it back in for 5 minute intervals. After 10 minutes and I still had a wobbly pie, I popped it back in the oven for another 7 minutes. I have little patience for this part of baking.

YUM! At long last, it is done. Look at the caramelized goodness. Can you imagine the smell? Hmm..

Thanksgiving Preparations

The time has come for the Thanksgiving preparations. Food! Glorious food!! I'm going to share recipes here as I go (or after the fact in the case of the cranberry relish and fudge. When I'm really with it, I'll share some pictures too. The next several posts will be our Thanksgiving recipes for this year.

I wish all of you a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Turkey Sloppy Joes - Almost a Hit

Aaron mentioned he wanted to try making sloppy joes with ground turkey. I didn't want to buy Manwich because of the ingredient list. However, we had about 3 pounds of ground turkey in the house, and the Weight Watchers recipe database is HUGE. I figured I would find some good ideas there, even if I didn't find a sloppy joe recipe.

Much to my delight, WW has a sloppy joe recipe. I had high hopes for this recipe, and I still think this recipe will work for our family. I simply need to find a less spicy or less smoky barbecue sauce.

Turkey Sloppy Joes
From Weight Watchers - 8 points per serving
Serves 6

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion(s), finely chopped
1 medium green pepper(s), finely chopped
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 pound(s) uncooked ground turkey breast
1 cup(s) barbecue sauce
4 item(s) mixed-grain hamburger roll(s)

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Swirl in the oil, then add the onion, pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, oregano, and mustard; let cool 1 minute. 

Add the turkey and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until no longer pink, 3–4 minutes. Stir in the barbecue sauce and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve on the hamburger rolls. Yields 1 roll with 3⁄4 cup meat.

Why buy the salty packaged flavoring mix when you can easily make them yourself? This dish can be made with ground skinless chicken, ground lean beef, or, for a vegetarian version, textured vegetable protein crumbles, now found in the freezer case in most supermarkets. 

Just cook the crumbles according to the package directions and add them to the cooked vegetable mixture at step 2. 

If you’d like a little more heat, try adding 1 chopped jalapeño pepper to the vegetable mixture in Step 1, then stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro just before serving.

Like I said, I had high hopes for the recipe. And as far as Aaron was concerned, this recipe is awesome. Ellie was pretty happy with it too, and she is pickier than Caleb about most food. Caleb, however, was not a fan of the dish. He said it was too spicy/hot. I only can blame my BBQ sauce from Trader Joe's. I don't remember which variety I have, though I remember something about "smoky" in the description. I asked Caleb if he would try the meal again with a different sauce, and he said he would try it. I still have some hope for this one. :)

If you make your own sloppy joes, what do you use for the sauce?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Turkey Chili Mac - a HUGE hit

Some more good meals to share from our house to yours! Do let me know if your kids end up liking any of what I share. It's nice for me to know whether I'm sharing useful stuff!

Whole-Wheat Chili Mac
From Weight Watchers - 4 points per serving
Serves 6

12 oz uncooked lean ground beef (with 7% fat) - I use ground turkey
1 medium onion(s), chopped
14 1/2 oz canned stewed tomatoes, Mexican-style, undrained
1 1/4 cup(s) canned tomato sauce
2 Tbsp canned green chili peppers, diced, drained
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup(s) dry whole-wheat elbow macaroni
15 oz canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained

In a large skillet, cook meat and onion until meat is browned, about 10 minutes; drain off fat. Stir in undrained stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili peppers, chili powder and cumin; bring to a boil.

Stir in uncooked macaroni and kidney beans. (I needed to add some water for the macaroni - maybe half to a whole cup) Return to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until macaroni is tender, about 15 minutes. Yields about 1 1/4 cups per serving.

Other than substituting turkey for beef, I didn't change much about this recipe. The stewed tomatoes I have are not specifically Mexican-style (whatever that means!), and the tomato sauce I used is whatever Aaron made with our tomatoes, but I'm sure a store-bought tomato sauce would be fine. You may want to serve this with some grated parmesan cheese ("shakee cheese" in our house) or shredded cheddar. The cheese will add to the Points value in Weight Watchers world.

Naptime never happened here today, so I must return to my regularly scheduled life!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Twinkie Diet

A friend sent me a link about the "Twinkie Diet." After reading it, I decided I should write some of my thoughts about it, but I had my paying job to do and I had a hard time coming up with something coherent to say. I decided to start writing when I needed a break from the job, figuring I can edit later.

The article touches on at least 2 issues which are rather near and dear to me - weight loss and eating real food. The gist of the article is that a nutrition professor lost 27 pounds on what may be called a "convenience store diet." Two-thirds of his diet came from junk food such as Hostess cupcakes, Doritos, and sugary cereals. He limited himself to 1800 calories per day. By limiting his calories, he lost weight. I suppose I should be shocked, but I'm not. Weight-loss is not some great mystery. It can be summarized in an equation even I, the mathematically challenged, can understand.

When Calories In < Calories Out = Weight Loss

The challenge in this professor's diet, like any diet, is portion control and keeping those calories consumed lower than the calories expended (i.e., eat less, move more). Not binging on junk food is challenging for many people. Some people struggle with the salty stuff; other people struggle with the sweet stuff; some of us struggle with all of it. All of that is to say, I am not surprised this man lost weight, even by eating nutritionally empty foods.

A slightly more surprising piece of information from the article is that the man's cholesterol improved. I'm not that surprised since cholesterol can be related to one's weight (not always as there is a rather strong genetic component). The article mentions his BMI being lower (duh - another way to measure weight), and his body fat percentage lowered as well.

A dietitian for the American Diabetes Association,
questioning how the lack of fruits and vegetables could affect long-term health said, "There are things we can't measure. How much does that affect the risk for cancer? We can't measure how diet changes affect our health." I add to her question that we don't know what these foods do to our metabolism, the chemical reactions in our body which keep us alive.

As far as the weight loss is concerned, I feel there are many ways to lose weight. There are good ways and bad ways. Yeah, I'm judging how people choose to lose weight. At the end of the article, part of me was happy for the man who lost weight and part of me was disgusted by the foods he chose to eat.

The article left me wondering, "Why should I bother teaching my kids WHAT to eat if they can maintain a healthy weight by eating junk?" A few days later, I remembered that one of my favorite food blogs has my answer:

"It's Not About Nutrition"

The title of her blog is my answer. What we eat is NOT just about the nutrition. I'm not a purist, and I certainly think there is a time and place for processed junk food. That said, I have a feeling, call it a hunch, that perhaps science hasn't caught up with the reality of our relationship with food. I know that I feel better when I eat real food - less processed,
closer to the original source, and recognizable by my great-grandparents as food. My new jogging routine is easier when I've eaten well the previous day, and it is harder when I've eaten what most of us recognize as junk. My opinion is just that - an opinion. It's not based in peer-reviewed experiments, though I understand there are some experiments which lend support to my position that real food is better for you. My opinion is based in personal experience, which is by definition anecdotal.

So of course the "Twinkie Diet" still rubs me wrong. I'm delighted the professor was able to lose weight as I think weight loss can have great health benefits. I think eating healthfully is a better option for the long run, and I'm continuing to pursue that despite the temptation.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Good Thing I'm Not a Professional

It's a good thing I'm not trying to make money blogging. :) My blogging frequency is lousy. As other food bloggers I read have written, we just haven't been doing much interesting with food lately. And the kids have not been enthusiastic eaters - of anything! I don't just mean my cooking, but even of "classics." For example, what child rejects applesauce? Yeah, one of mine.

That said, we have had a few successes in the past few weeks. Fall is in full swing, and the weather is hinting at winter. We had our first hard frost this week. The weather has me in a bread baking and soup mood. Soup is tricky with young kids, mostly because of the mess in our house but also because of the unknown factor. That is, they can't tell what the soup is other than a colored liquid. Soup is a great way to get vegetables into your kids though, if you can convince them to try that first spoonful (and the temperature isn't too hot!)

I've shared recipes for two of our "classic" soups before here. Since then, I've added 2 new soups to the repertoire, both courtesy of Weight Watchers!

Tuscan Pumpkin-White Bean Soup
I just wrote about this one, but I tried it with chick peas (garbanzo) in place of white beans after dear husband Aaron used the last of our white beans for a great chili. You REALLY need to try this soup with whatever white or garbanzo bean you have.

Zero-Point Garden Vegetable Soup
From Weight Watchers
Serves 12

2 medium garlic cloves, minced (I didn't measure)

1 medium onion, diced (probably used a larger onion)

2 medium carrots, diced (used baby carrots or skipped)

1 medium sweet red pepper, diced (might have had a green pepper instead)

1 medium stalk celery, diced (I skipped this)

2 small zucchini, diced

2 c green cabbage, shredded (I had red)

2 c Swiss chard, chopped

2 c cauliflower, small florets (I skipped this, but I bet this would make the soup creamier.)

2 c broccoli, small florets (can't remember if we had broccoli)

2 tsp thyme, fresh, chopped (mine is dried)

6 c vegetable broth

2 Tbsp parsley, or chives, fresh, chopped (mine is dried)

1/2 tsp table salt, or to taste

1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, optional (pretty sure I skipped)


Put garlic, vegetables, thyme and broth into a large soup pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer, partly covered, about 10 minutes.

Stir in parsley or chives; season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Yields about 1 cup per serving.


If you like thick soups, consider pureeing this recipe in the pot with an immersion blender. I blended it because my kids are picking things out of their foods these days. There are so many variations on this recipe. Add or leave out vegetables to suit your taste.

Maybe my kids are just unusual, but they seem pretty willing to try soups, and they generally enjoy them. If you give any of these a try, let me know how they are received.