Corn Chowder

We love soups. This corn chowder is one of our favorites. In fact, we enjoyed it just last night.


  • 1/2 cube margarine
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 cups peeled, cubed potatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 can whole corn
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 can evaporated milk


Melt the margarine in a pot and add the onion and celery; saute. Add the salt, potatoes, water, bay leaf, celery salt, and parsley flakes. Cook slowly until the potatoes are half cooked. Add the whole corn (drained) and creamed corn and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the evaporated milk and let stand for 15 minutes.


Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup [Recipe]

I travel to the Sacramento area for work. As a plus, I get to visit my parents and Melissa. On one trip, my mother served a wonderful, green soup. I had to ask for the recipe. […]

I travel to the Sacramento area for work. As a plus, I get to visit my parents and Melissa. On one trip, my mother served a wonderful, green soup. I had to ask for the recipe.

Vegetable ingredients

  • 2 stalks broccoli (approximately 4 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 cup of water

Vegetable directions

Cut the vegetables into chunks. You’re going to blend this up later, so don’t worry about cutting the veggies pretty. You’re cutting them so they’ll cook more evenly and faster.

Put all of the vegetable ingredients in a covered kettle and cook. Don’t overcook the vegetables. If you do, your soup might turn gray like it sat on a cafeteria hot plate for hours and will taste icky1.

Sauce ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds or raw washed cashews
  • 1 tablespoon chicken seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/8 teaspoon marjoram

Sauce directions

Blend all the sauce ingredients in a blender until they are smooth and creamy.

Add cooked vegetables to the blender and blend smooth. Be careful when blending hot ingredients, especially hot liquids2.

Return the mixture to a kettle and reheat. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of water as needed.


We made it without salt and didn’t miss it. Others in my family seem to think it’s great with grated cheddar cheese or cottage cheese. So much for keeping it vegan…

Photo credit: “Broccolli doesn’t grow on trees, you know” by Darwin Bell on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

1Okay, maybe not icky, but it could look like it should. I cooked a double recipe for 20 minutes or so and it was great.
2As I explained in the vegan tomato basil bisque recipe, the expanding hot air wants to blow the top off your blender, mess up your kitchen, and burn you. Don’t let it.

Pumpkin Pancakes

We received this recipe for pumpkin pancakes in the mail from Anthem Blue Cross. I suppose that suggests these are healthy pancakes — depending on what you top them with. We tried them for breakfast this morning. They were delicious! […]

We received this recipe for pumpkin pancakes in the mail from Anthem Blue Cross. I suppose that suggests these are healthy pancakes — depending on what you top them with. We tried them for breakfast this morning. They were delicious!

Dry ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (see variations, below)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 3/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  1. Mix dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl1.
  2. Mix wet ingredients in another medium mixing bowl2.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir just enough to mix, but no more. It should still be lumpy.
  4. Heat griddle to medium heat. Lightly oil with spray.
  5. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to put the mixed batter on the heated griddle. Turn after bubbles begin to burst. Cook other side until desired darkness3.
  6. Serve and eat. We top them with whipped cream4.

Makes about 12 pancakes5.


You might not have pumpkin pie spice; we don’t. has a recipe for making your own pumpkin pie spice. To get the 1 1/4 teaspoons needed for this recipe, I used:

  • 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoons ground allspice
1I used a 3-quart mixing bowl. It was perfect.
2I used a 1-quart mixing bowl. The ingredients fit — just barely. A 2-quart bowl would be better.
3For some reason, we used to pat down pancakes while they cooked. All it does it make them dense. Who wants that? Don’t do it.
4For some, I should add one more step: Hose down the kitchen. I find that if I clean all the way through cooking, there’s less of a mess at the end. I know others who wait until the very end to clean. Your choice.
5I counted because I like “trust, but verify.” I got 14.

Pad Thai

Photo by Chez Pim

I was going to post a Pad Thai recipe. Before I clicked “publish” I thought to look for other Pad Thai recipes to include as additional resources. What a stroke of luck! Now instead of posting a recipe, I’m just linking to Chez Pim’s Pad Thai for Beginners.

After reading Chez Pim’s tutorial, I’m too embarrassed to post the recipe I had, but inspired (and hungry). :-)

Photo credit: Photo by Chez Pim used under a Creative Commons license.

Vegan Tomato Basil Bisque

tomatoWith the first rain in Hillsboro after what seemed like months of dry weather and an honest-to-goodness record-breaking heat wave, it seemed like the right time to try a new soup recipe. Ashley found a recipe for a vegan tomato basil bisque in The Candle Cafe Cookbook at our local Hillsboro public library. That recipe, with our modifications (some not so intentional) is found below.


  • 1 small beet
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 12 small tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup cubed tofu
  • Salt and pepper


Preheat your oven to 350°F. While the oven is heating, trim and peel the beet. Put the beet on a baking pan and bake it until tender (1 to 1.5 hours). Let the beet cool and chop it. There’s no need to be precise. You’re going to run it through a blender later. Maybe just chop it in half while it’s still hot.

Saute the onion, garlic, and celery in the olive oil until tender (about 5 to 10 minutes). If you don’t like lots of dirty pots and pans, use the same large pan you’re going to use to heat the soup. And don’t worry — you’ll still have lots of dirty pans. I did…

Add the vegetable broth, tomatoes, basil, thyme, and oregano to the sauteed mixture. Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir occasionally. Or frequently, if you’re like me. A watched pot is quite enjoyable. A stirred, watched pot, even more so.

Using a food processor or blender, blend the soup, beet, and tofu until smooth. Unless your food processor or blender is very large, you’ll need to stage this in several batches. No problem. As my mother used to say, it all ends up in the same place. (I think she was talking about something else, though…) In this case, everything ends up in another large pot or large bowl. Yup, another dirty dish.

Reheat the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. The cook book recommends garnishing with a whole basil leaf.

Variations (Or maybe just more directions…)

When we tried this recipe, we already had some boiled beets in the fridge and used one beet’s worth of that instead of trying to bake a beet. We used a food processor to blend the beet and tofu together to get a bright purple mixture that we added to some of the blended soup. Oh my! It’s still bright purple!! By the time we added all the blended soup to the mixture, it still seemed a little … purple!

We don’t know if a baked beet is less bright purple than a boiled beet. It might be worth a try. I don’t think it could be brighter purplier.

Regardless, we were concerned about the color. Drastic measures were called for. Out came the blender and we ran everything through again. This resulted in a much smoother mixture. It was also less purple, and more red, closer to what we had expected. By the time the soup was blended (twice) and reheated, the color was normal. Next time, we’ll just use the blender. And not worry so much.

Be careful using the blender. When blending hot mixtures, any air in the blender container will heat up and expand rapidly. (That’s according to Charles’ gas law for those interested in chemistry and/or physics.) The expanding air will blow the lid off at the exact moment the hot, purple mixture is testing its limits of containment. Fortuitously, I learned this by having my hand on the blender lid when I pushed “blend,” inadvertently holding the lid down and preventing any renegade soup from escaping and staining the cabinetry. You might want to put a wash cloth over the blender lid if yours has a central opening (like mine) with a smaller cap in it. Hot soup could escape through the cracks, burning your hand.

If you have no sense of adventure, let the soup cool before attempting to blend it — OSHA approved (and recommended by the cook book).

We didn’t have fresh basil. Sacrilege, I know. So we substituted 1/4 cup of dried basil. Although the soup was good (why else would I be typing this recipe if it wasn’t?) next time we’re going to try fresh basil. After all, this is tomato basil bisque. Why go cheap on the named ingredients?

Speaking of which, the book mentions you can use a 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes instead of the 12 small tomatoes. We went with the fresh tomatoes. Canned tomatoes would be a lot easier and probably would effect the flavor a lot less than using dried basil. Obviously, I recommend using fresh tomatoes and basil you lovingly planted, tended, and harvested from your own garden. Probably the celery, onions, and oregano, too. You’re on your own making extra-virgin olive oil.

While I was pouring the vegetable stock into the pan, I realized the recipe might specify a recommended amount. It did! And I’d already added one cup too much. Oh well. I’ll just say it was intentional because I wanted more soup and leave it at that. We used a store-bought vegetable broth that touted its absence of gluten. The recipe book includes directions on making your own.

Have a go with this soup. I think we proved the recipe is quite tolerant of modifications while still resulting in delicious soup. :-)

Photo credit: “Another View” by Darwin Bell on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Pasta Salad

Ingredients bowtie-pasta

  • 3 cups cooked pasta
  • 1 cup Italian dressing
  • 1/2 cup green pepper
  • 1/2 cup red pepper
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 can sliced olives
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare the pasta according to the directions on its package. While the pasta is cooking, cut the red and green peppers and the red onion into thin strips about 1 to 2 inches long. When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and combine it with all other ingredients. Chill and serve.


For pasta, we prefer to use pasta bows. Other small pasta shapes would work well, too. I don’t think I’d want to try a long pasta like spaghetti. When we’re in a hurry, we’ll drain the pasta and then rinse it with cold water (and maybe even use a little ice) to cool it off quickly.

We use marinated artichoke hearts and have never tried the non-marinated variety.

We have tried different Italian salad dressings and have settled on Newman’s Own Olive Oil & Vinegar Dressing.

And, maybe it goes without saying, but our standard variation is to make a double recipe. It just works out well. One box of pasta bow pasta, one red pepper, and one green pepper, one red onion, and one bottle of salad dressing yield the appropriate amounts for a double recipe.


Gazpaco Ingredients

Gazpacho is a perfect summertime recipe. Many of the ingredients can come straight out of your garden or from a friend’s (thanks, Rodney!).

Like tabouli, gazpacho is easier to make with a food processor. Or you could be much better with a knife than I am (not that hard) and have lots of patience.


  • 4 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste


Peel and chop the vegetables very fine. Mix all ingredients together and chill before serving.


It’s not much of a variation, but we almost always make a double recipe. We also use vegetable juice (V-8) instead of tomato juice. Wikipedia has even more variations.

Be brave in your experimenting. You can’t go wrong with gazpacho.

Photo credit: “ingredientes gazpacho” by po.psi.que (Juan Carlos) on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Creamy Red Potato Salad

The Fourth of July means picnics, and picnics mean potato salad. Here’s one of our favorites.


  • 1/2 cup Italian dressing
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 pounds red bliss or new potatoes


Cook the potatoes and cut into large chunks and chill. Combine all the other ingredients and mix well.  Toss everything together and serve.

Makes ten servings.

Vegetarian Chili


Ashley was in the mood to cook tonight so she brought out a cookbook she got before she headed off to college last fall: College Cooking: Feed Yourself and Your Friends, by Megan and Jill Carle. It has an amazing photo of a vegetarian chili. We just had to try it.

The recipe says “serves 6.” Six what? Ravenous college students? That must be what it meant. We made a double recipe to have enough for our family of six. Oops! We now have enough chili left over to freeze and serve later over baked potatoes (as suggested by the book). Mmm.

We’re looking forward to trying this recipe again next fall when stews and soups are more “in season.” It’s a Friday night tradition for us.


  • 1 onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 small zucchini (about 1 pound)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans


Cut the onion, red pepper, and celery into 1/2 inch pieces and mince the garlic. Place these ingredients in a pan and add the water. Cook for 5 minutes.

Cut the zucchini into 1/2 inch pieces, add to pan, and cook for another 10 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chili powder and the kidney beans, undrained. Simmer for yet another 45 minutes.

Serves 6 ravenous college students (maybe).