Easy Zucchini Soup

At the end of my maternity leave, I had a few hours to myself each day as Jacob transitioned to day care. One day, I found myself at the Santa Monica public library, perusing the cookbook section. I came across a Jose Andres book all about veggies. This soup looked simple and delicious, so I gave it a try. I made a few changes from the recipe and the result was fantastic. Enjoy!

Here’s what you need:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced, or a generous squeeze of garlic paste

4 zucchinis, cut into large cubes

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

5 wedges Laughing Cow cheese

Here’s what you do:

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat, and saute the onion, garlic and salt until the onion is soft and translucent (but not browned), about 5 minutes.

2. Add the zucchini pieces and water, cover, and bring to a boil. Cook until the zucchini softens, about 10 minutes.

3. Working in batches if necessary, transfer the zucchini/onion/water mixture to a blender and combine with the cheese wedges until smooth. (There will be little green flecks from the skin of the zucchini.) Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.


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Anzac Biscuits (aka Really Yummy Oatmeal Coconut Cookies)

While I maternity leave, I had the opportunity to read a lot of books. Because breastfeeding takes a lot of time, and babies take a lot of naps (on their moms). And with books on my phone, I always had access. I was particularly into books by Liane Moriarty (think Big Little Lies), and read one book called “The Hypnotist’s Love Story.” In this book, set in Australia, a stalker breaks into a house and bakes Anzac biscuits. They were discussed a lot. And I thought to myself, what are these? So I did some research, bought one of the necessary–but probably not available in the US but easily accessible on Amazon–ingredients, and made them. They are easy and they are YUMMY!

Here’s what you need:

1 stick unsalted butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup (here’s what I bought: Lyle’s Golden Syrup)

2 tablespoons hot water

1 teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line two cookie sheets with silpat or parchment paper.

2. Melt the butter and golden syrup in the microwave in a large bowl until bubbling. Whisk in the hot water and baking soda (it will keep bubbling).

3. Whisk in the sugar and salt until fully combined. Then add the flour, oats, and coconut and until a dough is formed.

4. Scoop the dough using a heaping tablespoon, roll in your hands, place on the cookie sheet, and then press down lightly with your fingers. Give them some space in between as they really spread.

5. Bake for 10 minutes–the edges should be golden and the center will cook a bit more as it cools. Allow to cool and enjoy!

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Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

With berries no longer in peak season, but still wanting to enjoy them, this light cake is a perfect way to extend the summer.  Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Here’s what you need:

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons softened butter

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 egg

1/2 cup buttermilk

1.5 cups raspberries

Here’s what you do:

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the rack in the middle.  Butter a 9 inch cake pan.

2.  In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3.  In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Then beat in the vanilla and lemon zest.  Finally, beat in the egg.

4.  Working in batches, at low speed, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just combined.  Then add 1/2 of the buttermilk to the batter, and beat until just combined.  Then repeat, ending with the flour:  add 1/3 of the flour and beat until just combined; then the remaining buttermilk and beat until just combined; and then the remaining flour and beat until just combined.

5.  Pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth with a spatula.  Dot the top of the cake with the raspberries, some upright like cups, and some upside down.

6.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in the pan, 15 minutes upside down on a cooling rack, and then invert onto a plate.


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Asparagus & Goat Cheese Pasta with Corn and Lemon

This pregnancy hasn’t led to many cravings, but for some reason, asparagus, recently, has been quite appealing.  And of course, while pregnant, pasta always tastes good.  Hence this adaptation of a Smitten Kitchen summery pasta recipe that’s light, delicious, and quick & easy to make.  Hope you love it too!

Here’s what you need:

1 pound pasta (use a shape, like spirals, or something else with nooks and crannies)

2 bunches asparagus, tough ends removed and cut into 1 inch pieces

2 ears corn

1/4 cup olive oil

8 ounce log goat cheese

8 ounces ricotta cheese

handful of freshly chopped basil or tarragon or both, or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon and 2 teaspoons dried basil

zest from one lemon and juice from two lemons

salt and pepper

Here’s what you do:

1.  Cook the pasta and the asparagus:  Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil.  Cook the pasta for 3 minutes less than the package suggests.  Then, add the asparagus, and cook for the remaining three minutes.  Drain, reserving about 1-2 cups of the pasta water.

2.  While the pasta/asparagus are cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients and sauce.  First, prepare the corn.  I like to cook it in the microwave by removing the husks, putting the corn on a plate with a wet paper towel on top, and, for two ears, microwaving on high for 3-4 minutes.  Cut the kernels off the ears and place in a large bowl.

3.  Prepare the sauce:  Add to the bowl with the corn the olive oil, cheese, herbs, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Mix to combine.

4.  Mix the pasta and asparagus into the corn/sauce mixture, and add about one cup of the reserved pasta water to make the sauce creamy.  (If you want it thinner, feel free to add more.)  Mix well.  Then, add salt and pepper to taste.  (This is a lightly flavored dish, so you may want to be generous.)


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Miso, Sesame and Peanut Butter Soba Noodle Salad

My husband recently went fishing, and thought that he came home with black cod.  I quickly jumped online to find a yummy miso black cod recipe–only to  discover that what he brought home wasn’t actually black cod.  Regardless, I made the recipe anyway (and just bought the cod), and in the process, discovered that the sauce would make a fabulous base for a cold noodle salad.  I played around with it a bit and came up with this delicious dish.  Hope you like it!

Here’s what you need:

For the sauce/dressing:

1/4 cup Mirin

1/4 cup sake

4 tablespoons white miso paste

3 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons peanut butter

4 tablespoons sesame oil

Optional:  freshly grated ginger, red pepper flakes

For the salad:

One package soba noodles

1 English cucumber or 4 Persian cucumbers

1 bell pepper

bunch of cilantro

a few green onions

Optional:  avocado, carrots, edamame

Here’s what you do:

1.  Make the sauce/dressing:

In a small saucepan, cook the Mirin and sake over high heat until it boils, and allow the alcohol to cook off (about 30 seconds).  Turn the heat to low, stir in the miso paste, and whisk until combined.  Turn up the heat to high again, add the sugar, and whisk constantly until dissolved.  Remove from the heat.

Once the miso mixture has cooled slightly, stir in the peanut butter, sesame oil, and optional additions.  Whisk until smooth.  Set aside.

2.  Make the salad:

The noodles:  Cook the soba noodles in well-salted boiling water for the amount of time suggested on the package.

When finished cooking, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Toss the noodles in a bowl with the dressing.

The veggies:

Julienne the cucumbers and bell pepper (and the carrots if you want to use them–I didn’t as I made my salad all green).  I actually watched some YouTube videos on how to do this, and also visited the SmittenKitchen website for some tips.  The basic idea for the cucumber is to cut in thin slices, and then cut those into long, skinny strips.  For the bell pepper, remove the top and bottom, remove the seeds, and cut in thin strips.

Chop the cilantro.

Thinly slice the dark green and light green parts of the green onions.

(If using avocado, now would be the time to cut it into chunks.  And, if using edamame, now would be the time to cook it according to the directions on the package.)

3.  Stir the julienned veggies, cilantro and green onion (and edamame, if using) into the noodle/miso mixture.  (If using avocado, gently fold it into the noodles now.)


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Honey Chipotle Chicken

This simple chicken recipe has easily become one of our favorites.  It’s easy to make, with a sweet, smokey, and slightly spicy flavor.  Again, sorry for the lack of photos.  We ate this too quickly too, but wanted to make sure we can always find the recipe to make it again and again.

Here’s what you need:

salt and pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

6 tablespoons adobo sauce and some chunks of chipotles, from a can of chipotles in adobo

4 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

2 tablespoons honey mustard

handful of freshly chopped cilantro

8 minced garlic cloves, or some generous squeezes of the refrigerated garlic paste (I like the Gourmet Garden Garlic Stir-In Paste)

2 pounds chicken (I like boneless, skinless thighs, but you could also do breasts)

Here’s what you do:

1.  In a bowl, whisk together all of the marinade ingredients.

2.  Stir in the chicken to combine.

3.  Put the chicken and marinade into a container or Ziploc bag, and allow to marinate overnight.

4.  When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees,  Pour all the chicken and marinade into a pan, and cook for about an hour, or until the chicken is fully cooked through.


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Greek Baked Lamb Stew

I was recently perusing recipes I had cut out, hoping to try, and came across a recipe for a baked lamb stew, Greek style, filled with potatoes and lots of flavor.  It was simple to make and tasted great.  Apologies that I don’t have a photo–we ate it up too quickly but I wanted to make sure the recipe was easily accessible.  I hope you like it!

Here’s what you need:

2 red onions, roughly chopped

2.75 pounds potatoes, cut into large chunks (I did small, yellow potatoes)

2.25 pounds lamb, cut into chunks

1/2 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons cumin seeds

salt and pepper

4 large tomatoes, thickly sliced

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup wine (or water)

For garnish:  Chopped fresh basil, mint, or parsley; Feta; Lemon wedges

Here’s what you do

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  In a 5-quart casserole dish, combine the potatoes, onions, lamb, cumin seeds and olive oil.  Generously season with salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.

3.  Place the sliced tomatoes over the top of the potato mixture.  Dot the tomatoes with the butter.

4.  Pour the wine (or water) around the potato mixture.

5.  Cover and bake for 2 hours, tilting the pan from side to side and spooning juices over the top every hour or so.

6.  Uncover, increase the temperature to 400 degrees, and bake another 45 minutes.

7.  Remove from the oven, and serve with garnish of your choice.


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Homemade Lamb Sausage Pizza

Sometimes I feel like making my own pizza dough, sometimes I like buying the pre-made flatbread slabs and covering them with my own toppings.  I’ve made this pizza twice now, both times with the Trader Joe’s flat breads.  The base is your choice, this recipe just tells you how to bring it all together.

Here’s what you need:

For the sausage:

olive oil

1 sweet onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 pound ground lamb

1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves

1 teaspoon sumac powder

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds

For the sauce:  1 can crushed tomatoes, 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

The cheese:  3-4 cups shredded fontina and Gruyere cheeses (also good with Gruyere and jack combo)

The base:  2 flatbread crusts (or other crust of your choice)

Here’s what you do:

1.  Make the sausage (you can even do this a day in advance):

Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat and cook the onion and celery until tender, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the lamb to the pan, and continue to cook until the meat is cooked through, adding the fresh herbs and dry spices about halfway through.

Remove from the heat.

2.  Make the sauce (you can do this while the lamb mixture is cooking):

Open the can of crushed tomatoes.  Stir in the garlic, sugar and crushed red pepper.  Allow the flavors to meld.

3.  Shred the cheese (you can do this while the lamb mixture is cooking).

4.  Prepare your pizzas:

Preheat your oven per the instructions on your crusts.

Spread a thin layer of the sauce over the crusts (you will have much more than you need).

Sprinkle a generous layer of cheese.

Sprinkle a generous layer of lamb sausage.  (You will have extra.)

5.  Bake per the instructions on your crusts, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden.


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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Recently, I attended Caleb’s bris.  (He’s this perfect little guy that just joined us in this world.)  It was lovely and emotional and he slept through the whole ceremony.  And, like any good Jewish celebration, it was accompanied with copious amounts of food and dessert.  One particularly delicious one – this coffee cake.  It was so good, the baker gave me the recipe and I made it for Grandma the same week.

Here’s what you need:

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature

1 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Here’s what you do:

1.  Generously butter a bundt pan.

2.  In an electric mixer, combine the butter, 1 1/4 cup sugar, and eggs, and beat until light and fluffy.

3.  Add flour (sifted if you can) and baking powder and baking soda to the bowl.  Beat to combine.

4.  Add vanilla and sour cream and blend in.

5.  Make the filling:  combine the two remaining tablespoons sugar with the walnuts, cinnamon and chocolate chips.

6.  Spoon about half the thick mixture into the bundt pan.  Then sprinkle about half the filling.  Spread the remaining cake mixture over the top, and then the remaining filling mixture.

7.  Place into a cold oven, set at 350 degrees, for about 55 minutes.


P.S. My sister, Ashley, made it today.  Hers looks pretty amazing too, and she said it tasted great!

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Coconut Curry Roasted Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Soup

Simon’s description of this soup:  “the soup with the yellows–it’s soo good.”  This simple and delicious recipe is a new fave, hope you like it too!  (Note–My pics are of a very thick version of the soup.  We thinned it out each time we ate it with milk.)

Here’s what you need:

3 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into uniform sized-cubes + olive, salt and pepper, to coat and season the sweet potatoes for roasting

2 yellow onions, sliced + olive, salt and pepper, to caramelize and season

1 can coconut milk

4 cups liquid (broth or milk or some combination–I did 1 cup broth and the rest milk)

1 tablespoon madras curry powder

Here’s what you do:

1. Roast the sweet potatoes:  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Toss your sweet potato cubes with enough olive oil just to coat, but not to pool in the bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spread the cubes on a large baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Check to see if the cubes are cooked to tender and lightly browned.  If not, stir them around a bit and give them another 5-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven when they are cooked.

2.  Caramelize the onions:  Add olive oil to a large non-stick cooking pan and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, plus salt and pepper.  Saute until the onions until cooked and brown in color, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.

3.  Combine the ingredients:  In a large pot, combine the sweet potatoes, onions, coconut milk, liquid, and curry powder.  Mix and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.

4.  Puree:  Working in batches, puree the ingredients in the blender.  Let them at least 2-3 minutes per batch so they are all whipped and yummy.

Then, enjoy!  (If you want the soup thinner, you can always add milk or broth to each additional serving.)

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