Tag Archives: vegetables

Kale and Sausage Soup


Got leftover kale? Don’t throw it out. Whether it is from my Cannellini and Kale recipe, kale salad or some other kale dish you can turn it into a delicious soup. If you have been following my blog, you know I am a fan of soup. Creamy or brothy. I love soup any time of the year.


Kale is one of those vegetables that has taken center stage in many kitchens whether at home or in restaurants. Kale has a beautiful vibrant green color and there are a few variations like common (curly) kale and Tuscan (Italian) kale and salad Savoy kale. The nutritional value is probably why kale has become so popular and can be prepared in multiple ways. Kale is a good source for protein, vitamin A, C and K. Plus, kale is considered to have cholesterol-lowering and cancer risk-lowering benefits.


The other day I made kale as a side dish for dinner and had quite a bit leftover for the next day. I didn’t feel like eating it again as a side dish so I created a kale and sausage soup that was pretty tasty if I do say so myself. I think it helped that all of the seasonings I used in the kale the night before had a chance to meld together. Personally, I think soups, stews and certain other dishes taste better the next day just for this reason.


The best part about making Kale and Sausage Soup is that half of the work is already done if you use leftovers. Add a few more ingredients and a tasty broth and you have a delicious meal or an appetizer to go with a delicious meal.


Kale and Sausage Soup


1 bunch of kale (stems removed) or 2 cups leftover kale

1 15 oz can small white beans (do not drain)

1 pkg chorizo sausage (casing removed)

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup water

1 cup fresh corn cut from the cob (scrap the cob) or 1 can of white corn strained

2 scallions sliced

1 small white onion diced

½ yellow pepper diced

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp thyme

¼ tsp cumin

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add sausage. Break sausage with a spoon and brown. Remove from pot and drain on a paper towel. Pour off fat from sausage.

Add remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil to the pot along with diced white onion and yellow pepper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper then saute until vegetables are softened. Add chicken broth, water and sausage to the pot and reduce heat to medium. Let soup simmer for 3 minutes. Add kale, and remaining seasonings. Stir and cook for an additional 10 minutes is using fresh kale and 5 minutes if using leftover kale. Stir in corn and scallions to the soup. Simmer for 3 minutes then turn off heat.

Serve with a slice of crusty bread or cornbread.

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My hubby has been trying to get me to make Guacamole for years. He has even brought home recipes from co-workers who he said made “the best” guacamole for office parties. To say I was intimidated by his “the best” statement would be an understatement. My past attempts at making Guacamole never quite hit the mark. It was either too lemony, too salty, too garlicky or too yuck!


Yep, I don’t mind saying I made some terrible Guacamole in my earlier days of cooking. Now? Now, I can say I have finally pulled together a recipe that is simple and full of flavor. Keeping it simple is the key to making Guacamole. Having only a few ingredients and seasonings helps to keep the avocado the star of the recipe. After all, it is not really Guacamole without the avocado.


Speaking of avocado, did you know that avocados are rich in fiber with about 10 grams in a medium-sized avocado. One of the things I love about avocados is that they are versatile. I use them in salads, toppings for my tacos and tostadas or in spreads or dips. I think some folks even use avocados as a hair conditioner and as a facial mask to improve their complexion. I would rather eat avocados than wear them.


So, for anyone out there that has been intimidated by the idea of making good Guacamole try my version. I no longer feel like a wimp and neither will you.




1 small container of fresh salsa drained

4 ripe avocados cubed

1 4oz can of jalapenos drained

½ tsp cilantro

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp salt

¼ cup olive oil


In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, salt, black pepper, cilantro and garlic powder.

Place drained salsa in a medium-sized bowl. Pour lime juice over salsa and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Add avocado and jalapenos to the salsa. Pour dressing mixture over avocado. Gently toss salsa and avocado together. Let chill at least 15 to 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve with tortilla chips or thin slices of french bread.

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Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad


Lately, I have been eating a lot of cauliflower which means I have to come up with different ways to fix it so that we don’t get bored with cauliflower. I really like broccoli salad so I thought I would add cauliflower and a few other ingredients to my standard recipe to create a new fresh salad.


The spring and summer seasons call for light flavorful dishes. Cauliflower is big, pretty and plentiful during this time of year. As the seasons progress, cauliflower becomes less expensive so it usually ends up in my shopping cart.


My biggest surprise after making my Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad was that my youngest son really liked it. He can be picky when it comes to eating raw vegetables so I was taken aback when he dipped his fork into the bowl and scooped out some of the salad. His reaction surprised me even more and I suddenly realized I may not have any Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad left to take to work for lunch. No worries. I would rather see T enjoy eating raw veggies than worry about lunch the next day. Besides, I quickly put aside a little salad in a container then put it way back in the frig before hubby and T could polish it off.


This is one recipe I am sure I will be making all summer long. Bring on the BBQ!!! I have a dish I think everyone will love.


Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad


1 large broccoli crown cut into small florets

1 large head of cauliflower cut into small florets

6 slices bacon fried and crumbled

1 cup carrots shredded

1 cup red cabbage shredded

½ cup sour cream

½ cup mayo

½ cup golden raisins

¼ cup Colby jack cheese shredded

½ tbsp seasoned salt

½ tsp cracked black pepper

½ tsp sugar

¼ tsp chopped parsley

Combine broccoli, cauliflower and raisins in a large bowl. In a medium bowl blend together sour cream, mayo and seasonings. Pour over veggies and gently mix to coat. Sprinkle with bacon (reserve a little bacon for garnish) and cheese then gently toss.

Chill 30 minutes. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Top with bacon crumbs before serving.


Combine broccoli, cauliflower and raisins in a large bowl. In a medium bowl blend together sour cream, mayo and seasonings. Pour over veggies and gently mix to coat. Sprinkle with bacon (reserve a little bacon for garnish) and cheese then gently toss.

Chill 30 minutes. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Top with bacon crumbs before serving.

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Dee’s Veggie Soup


My mom loves to make vegetable soup in the winter or if there is a slight chill in the air. I really like her vegetable soup but when I cannot get to her house I have to make my own soup. Usually, I make chicken corn chowder or some version of chicken noodle soup. Today, I thought I would try my hand at creating my own vegetable soup. Besides, it was a cold snowy day and I couldn’t get to my mom’s house.


My version of vegetable soup (Dee’s Veggie Soup) did not include any meat. My mom uses ham or smoked meats to help season her soup. I wanted mine to be purely vegetarian. The natural sweetness of the vegetables along with a few choice seasonings gave the soup the punch of flavor I desired. As for the vegetables I used in the soup, they were both traditional and non-traditional. Like my mom I used tomatoes, onions and cut green beans. But, instead of adding celery and peas I used sliced fennel and kale. I also used a can of creamed corn to make the soup a little more savory.


Dee’s Veggie Soup had several depths of flavor from the mix of vegetables and seasonings. I thought it was delicious and the soup definitely took the chill out of my bones. Hubby liked the soup too. Once he started dipping into his bowl of soup I don’t think he stopped until it was all gone. To me, that is one of the nicest compliments you can get when you cook.



Dee’s Veggie Soup

1 small fennel bulb sliced (white part only)
1 small bunch of curly kale chopped
1 small onion diced
1 ½ cups cut french green beans
1 14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1 14 oz can creamed corn
2 14 oz cans small white beans drained and rinsed
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp parsley (fresh or dried)
32 oz chicken stock
32 oz water

Place all ingredients except for kale into a large pot over medium heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add kale. Stir and simmer for an additional 30 to 45 minutes until kale is tender.

Jalapeno Poppers with Bacon


On a whim I thought I would try making Jalapeno Poppers. Not the type of poppers that are breaded and fried. I wanted to make oven baked poppers with a twist. I wrapped them in bacon. Yummy!


Making the Jalapeno Poppers with Bacon was a quick and semi-easy task. I was a little gun shy in making them at first because I had recently tried making roasted stuffed poblano peppers and it was a disaster. But, I made lemonade out of those lemons by adding the collapsed roasted poblano peppers to a brown rice dish I decided to create. More on that one later.


The most difficult task in preparing the poppers was cleaning the jalapeno peppers. After slicing off a little piece of the pepper I had to remove the seeds and membrane. Both are the hottest part of the jalapeno pepper just like any other hot pepper. Removing the seeds and membrane helped to tone down the heat of Jalapeno Poppers but they were still a little hot. I guess stuffing the peppers with pepper jack cheese may have contributed to the level of heat also (ya think !?!). Of course, if you are not a fan of really hot foods, you could use a milder cheese like cheddar or monterey cheese. However, if you are willing to make Jalapeno Poppers I doubt heat is really an issue for you.


Bacon. Who besides non meat eaters does not like bacon? Bacon adds a lot of flavor to most dishes (even ice cream if you are truly adventurous) and it definitely adds another level of flavor to the Jalapeno Poppers.


Fast, easy and tasty. Three words I like to hear whenever I have to cook. I think this recipe fits the bill for all three.


Jalapeno Poppers with Bacon

8 – 10 jalapeno peppers with stems
4 – 8 slices of bacon sliced in half
½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese
¼ cup whipped cream cheese
8 – 10 toothpicks

Optional Stuffing:
Crumbled browned Italian sausage and cheese
Sauteed veggies and cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine pepper jack cheese and cream cheese in a small bowl. Okay to use your fingers. Set aside.

Slice jalapeno peppers lengthwise to remove part of the pepper without removing the stem. Prepare only a few at a time so that you do not mix up the different sections of the peppers.

Stuff peppers with cheese then place cut slice over cheese. Wrap a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and back for 20 – 25 minutes until bacon is crispy. Drain on paper towels.


To stretch the peppers just cut them in half and stuff each half then wrap in bacon.  The peppers are great whether you serve them whole or in halves.

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Potato Squishes


My friend Doll and I were discussing food the other day (as we usually do) and she told me about a great potato recipe she saw on the show “The Chew”. Since I am a potato lover my ears perked up when Doll said the recipe started with Yukon Gold Potatoes.


The recipe turned out to be simple so it was right up my alley. The most intriguing part of the recipe called for squishing the potatoes after boiling them until they were fork tender. Potatoes? Squishing? Sold! I knew this was recipe I wanted to make into my own. With just a few additions to the recipe Doll conveyed to me I created Potato Squishes.


As I said earlier, this is a very simple recipe that will go great with any beef, pork fish or fowl entree. My first adventure into making Potato Squishes was to pair them with steak. Like my daughter often says “shut the front door”! What goes better with steak than potatoes? Nothing! My family was a bunch of happy campers when I served up a nice tender steak, salad and the newly created Potato Squishes.


Doll – you are my new foodie hero. Thank you the idea and for sharing such wonderful recipes.

Potato Squishes

10 – 12 baby Yukon Gold Potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp diced chives (optional)
1 tbsp salt
½ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese or pepper jack cheese
water (enough to cover the potatoes)

Place potatoes in a large pot with water and salt. Boil potatoes until they are fork tender but do not over cook. Remove potatoes from the pot and place on a flat surface. Gently squish the potatoes with the palm of your hand until they are slightly flattened.

Heat olive oil in a medium size non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Place potatoes in the frying pan and brown on one side. Flip the potatoes over and sprinkle with cheese. Lower heat to medium and cover until cheese melts. Place a dollop of cream cheese on top of the melted cheese then sprinkle with chives.

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Collard Greens


No matter what kind of greens you are preparing the key to making delicious greens is the seasoning. I don’t mean just salt and pepper. I mean down home kind of seasonings. Ham hocks, smoked turkey parts or fat back. Take your pick. I have used them all at some point in time to season both my greens and different kinds of beans.


Collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens and kale each have their own unique flavor. To me, kale has a very mild flavor that is sweeter than other types of greens. Plus, kale is a very tender green that has become popular as a substitute for salads or is prepared as a crispy snack. Turnip, mustard and collard greens on the other hand have a much stronger taste than kale. In the case of turnip and mustard greens I think they are on the bitter side so I often mix them with cabbage or with collard greens to balance the flavor. I love to pair collard greens with pork or if I am making a real southern Sunday dinner, I will make collard greens, fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. Throw in some skillet cornbread and my family is in heaven.


Every year until he passed away my dad would plant a garden in the backyard and on one side of the house. He enjoyed planting tomatoes, peppers, okra, beans and collard greens. The collard greens were for my mom and me since he really did not like them but he would grow them just for us. I don’t know how he did it but each year he grew some of the prettiest collard greens I ever saw. I always envied the nice large leaves and when I bought my first house my dad gave me a couple of plants to try in my backyard. The collard greens never quite turned out like his and were often a little puny so I would go over to my parent’s house and pick a few from their garden to supplement my pot of greens.



One trick my mom taught me when cooking Collard Greens was to strip the greens from the stem then layer a few into a pile. Next, you roll them up like a cigar and then slice them into ribbons. For whatever reason, my greens seem more tender when cut them up this way. I also add a little sliced onion and my mom’s secret ingredient to my pot of greens. One or two (depending on how spicy you want the greens) hot peppers. Do Not mix the peppers into the greens and break them up. You also don’t want to lose the peppers in the greens when you stir them up . The person that finds the pepper will have a nice hot surprise. Back in the day I use to be that person whenever my mom forgot to take the pepper out. Now, it is my daughter that finds the pepper on the few occasions I forget to take it out. Remember to just lay the pepper on top of the greens and be careful when stirring them.

Ummm …… talk about good southern cooking!


Collard Greens

2 bunches collard greens
2 ham hocks or 2 smoked turkey legs
1 hot pepper
4 cups water
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup diced onions
1 tbsp bacon fat
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Adobo (optional)

Place ham hocks or smoked turkey legs into a pressure cooker with 4 cups of water with ½ cup of diced onion. Cook for 35 – 40 minutes. Cool down pressure cooker by running under cold water so that pressure is released. Remove meat. Drain broth and set aside. If you are not comfortable using a pressure cooker, place the ham hocks or smoked turkey legs in a large pot with 4 cups of water. Cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours on medium high heat until meat is tender. Remove meat and drain broth.

Remove stems from collard greens. Layer collards in a stack of 4 – 5 leaves then roll up like a cigar. Slice collard greens into ribbons. Set aside.

Heat bacon fat in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onions and saute for 1 minute. Add meat, broth, water and collard greens to the pot then sprinkle with seasonings. Lay hot pepper on top of the greens. Reduce heat to medium and let greens cook for 1 ½ hours until they are tender. Stir occasionally but be careful not to break up the hot pepper. Add more water if necessary. Remove the hot pepper prior to serving.

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Tex Mex Chicken Salad


Summer is slowly fading which means all the delicious backyard veggies, fresh corn and fresh herbs I grew will also fade away. Before fall settles in I thought I would come up with a dish that we could have year round but would remind me of our hot and lazy summer days. Tex Mex Chicken Salad became my summer reminder.


Chicken salad was one of my favorite meals growing up. My mom made some of the best chicken salad around and always made little blueberry muffins to go with the salad. It took me a while but I mastered make my own wonderful version of chicken salad. Because chicken is so versatile it can be combined with a lot of different ingredients to make a fantastic salad.


Tex Mex Chicken Salad combines black beans, corn (the reason I call it Tex Mex) and avocado along with fresh herbs. Lemon and lime juice help brighten the flavors. As always, my family likes heat so I add a little cayenne or chopped jalapeno peppers to spice up the salad.


Even though summer will fade into fall it doesn’t mean we cannot continue to enjoy the great tastes of summer. Remember, all it takes is a little chicken, a few fresh veggies and memories of those hot, lazy days we enjoyed so much.

Tex Mex Chicken Salad

4 cooked chicken thighs diced
3 ears fresh corn shucked
2 15oz cans black beans rinsed and drained
5 fresh basil leaves chopped
½ cup small cherry tomatoes
½ cup olive oil
1 ripe avocado diced
1 tbsp red onion diced small
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp cilantro
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne (optional)
juice from ½ lemon
juice from ½ lime

Place olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice, cayenne, parsley and cilantro in a small bowl. Whisk together.

In a large bowl add chicken, corn, avocado, tomatoes, red onion, salt, pepper, chili powder and basil. Pour dressing over salad and gently toss.

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Shrimp Lo Mein

   IMG_0153_1The day I made Shrimp Spring Rolls I also made Shrimp Lo Mein. Most of the ingredients I used as the filling for the spring rolls was also used to create Shrimp Lo Mein. How great is that? Two meals and I only cooked one time.


As I said in my Shrimp Spring Rolls post, my family loves Asian cuisine. We could eat it a couple times each week but I am sure that would get old as time goes on. We all need variety when it comes to food. At least I do. Anyway, Since I had quite a few extra ingredients I decided to make a quick Shrimp Lo Mein. The other thing my hubby and son love is pasta so Shrimp Lo Mein was definitely right up their alley. Thankfully, it did not take much to get them to agree to be my taste tester for this recipe.


In case you didn’t know, there are all types of noodles used to make Lo Mein. I used Chinese noodles since that is what I used to make the Shrimp Spring Rolls. However, you can also used thin wonton noodles which are stringy and cooked in wonton noodle soup because they are light and delicate. Wide wonton noodles can also be used for Lo Mein. These noodles are often used in heartier soups like beef noodle soup. Of course you can just look for Lo Mein noodles which are thick and used in stir-fried noodle dishes made with a heavy sauce or gravy. In researching the variety of noodles used for my recipe I found out that Lo Mein noodles are probably the best choice when making a Lo Mein dish because they stand up better to reheating.


Bottom-line. You can use whatever noodle you like to make Shrimp Lo Mein. In a pinch I think I would even use spaghetti noodles or linguine noodles if that was the only thing available. The most important thing to remember is add a little love to your recipe. It makes everything taste good.


Shrimp Lo Mein

1 lb large shrimp peeled and deveined
1 pkg lo mein noodles
1 pint snap peas
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tbsp sriracha sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp oyster sauce
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
juice from ½ lemon

Prepare lo mein noodles according to package. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a medium size non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Add shrimp, sriracha sauce and lemon juice. Season with a little salt and pepper. Stir shrimp until they turn pink. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside in a small bowl. Add carrots, snap peas and a little more salt and pepper (add cayenne pepper if you really like heat) to the frying pan. Stir and let cook for 1 minute. Add oyster sauce and mix with veggies until they are well coated. Reduce to low heat and cook for another 2 minutes. Toss with lo mein noodles. Enjoy!

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Chickpea and Cucumber Mint Salad


I recently went on a cucumber buying spree because my local grocer had so many beautiful cucumbers on sale. In the summer months the store features produce from local area farmers. I try to support farmers as much as I can because when you get produce direct from a farm you know it was grown with tender loving care. Plus, the fruit and veggies are usually huge!


Anyway, my grocer had some really nice cucumbers and after eating a bunch of them all week I needed to find one more way of serving them besides with lettuce. I decided to keep it simple and incorporated a few items from my little garden like small cherry tomatoes and mint. In the end, I made a Chickpea and Cucumber Mint Salad.


The cucumbers were crisp. The tomatoes were sweet. And the chick peas were light but filling. To top it all off, the mint made the dish taste refreshing. If you like cucumbers and want a light refreshing salad, try making this Chickpea and Cucumber Mint Salad. I doubt you will be disappointed.


Chickpea and Cucumber Mint Salad

1 15oz can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
1 large cucumber peeled in into stripes and cubed
12 small cherry tomatoes
4 – 5 mint leaves chopped
4 tbsp Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing and Marinade
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
juice from ½ lemon
pinch of sugar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well mixed. Chill for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors blend together.






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