Thai Chicken Soup

Thai Chicken Soup
Serves 6


cups chicken stock


kaffir lime leaves


3-inch piece lemongrass, thinly sliced


3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated


scallions, trimmed and julienned


teaspoon curry powder


teaspoon ground cumin


small fresh red Thai chile pepper, seed and ribs removed, and sliced crosswise


cup shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced


tablespoon Thai fish sauce

Coarse salt


cup thinly sliced carrots


cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish


cup bean sprouts

Juice of 1/2 lime, plus lime wedges for garnish

Mint leaves, for garnish


cooked boneless skinless chicken breast halves, shredded
1.   In a medium saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil. Add the lime leaves, lemongrass, ginger, scallions, curry powder, cumin, chiles, chicken, mushrooms, and fish sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in carrots, cilantro, and bean sprouts. Simmer for 5 minutes more.
2.   Remove lime leaves, and discard. Season with salt and lime juice. Ladle soup into shallow soup bowls. Garnish with cilantro, mint, and lime wedges; serve immediately.
Note: Recipe from the kitchens of Martha.

This is delicious and healthy soup.  The only thing I would advise is to not use the whole Thai chile at once.  It will be very spicy.  You can slice up the remainder and each person can choose to add it to their own bowl.  I also added a little bit of cooked jasmine rice.  I did not have kaffir lime leaves so I added some freshly grated lime zest at the end along with the lime juice.


Black Bean-Quinoa Burgers

I love veggie burgers! Although I always order them when we go out for dinner, I had never made any at home before. Then I discovered this recipe. They are delicious and a little complicated to make, but well worth the effort.

The reason this recipe is adapted is because I accidentally added all the black beans and all the quinoa into the food processor instead of leaving some of each to stir in as the recipe calls. When I realized my error, I had to add some flour to help them bind. Regardless of my error, they came out delicious.

The next attempt at making these, I followed the recipe exactly as it was but the patties crumbled up in the oven. They would have made a great taco filling but I was disappointed that they didn’t remain intact. Additionally, the original recipe calls for cooking the quinoa for 20 minutes. When I tried this, it burned. 10 minutes is all you need.

So this recipe shows the version that worked for me. I have included the link to the original recipe for reference.


1/2 cup quinoa

1 small onion finely chopped (1 cup)

6 oil packed sun dried tomatoes drained and finely chopped (1/4 cup)

1 and 1/2 cups cooked black beans or 1 15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cloves garlic minced (2 tsp)

salt and pepper

1/2 to 3/4 cup of flour

8 hamburger buns

Lettuce, tomato, cheese, onion, pickles, avocado, ketchup to taste


1. Stir together quinoa and 1/4 cup water in saucepan. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 10 minutes. (*original recipe called for 20 minutes but is too long and burns the quinoa.)

2. Meanwhile, place onion and sun-dried tomatoes in medium skillet and cook over medium heat. (The oil left on the sun dried tomatoes should be enough to saute the onion. Add extra oil if needed). Cook 3-4 minutes, or until onion has softened. Stir in black beans, garlic, slat and pepper and 1 and 1/2 cups water. Simmer 3-5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.

3. Transfer mixture to food processor, add quinoa (all of it) and process until smooth. Transfer to bowl. Add flour slowly. Start with 1/2 cup and add more if mixture seems to wet.

4. Form into patties and place on well oiled baking sheet. ( I lined mine with foil). Bake 20 minutes, or until patties are crisp on top. Flip patties with spatula and bake 10 minutes more. Serve on buns.

I like to serve these with baked sweet potato fries or onion rings.

🙂 Cynthia

This recipe is adapted from a recipe from vegetarian times magazine.


Chocolate Cupcakes and Chocolate Frosting

On rainy days there is nothing better than baking and today, my daughter and I baked homemade chocolate cupcakes with homemade chocolate frosting. 🙂 Smiles galore!

This chocolate cake recipe is called “crazy cake” and my mom, sister, and I have been making this recipe for cakes and cupcakes since I was a kid. I don’t know the origin of this recipe. I’m sure my sister and I my mom do and I will try and find out. I remember the funky colorful 1970esque cookbook they came from but not its name or author.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. The cake part is actually vegan so it would work for those who are avoiding eggs and milk due to preferences or allergies. The chocolate buttercream frosting recipe is from pinterest and it is easy and good. Here is the link to the frosting recipe:

Happy Rainy Days!

🙂 Cynthia

For the cupcakes:

Chocolate Crazy Cake Cupcakes (makes 12 cupcakes)

1. Mix together these dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

3 T. cocoa

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2. Add:

5 T. cooking oil

1 T. white vinegar

1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup cold water

Mix with spoon until well blended. Add to cupcake pans with liners sprayed with Pam or cake pans if used for cake. For cupcakes bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees. For cake, bake 30 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with your favorite frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting from

( I halved this recipe for the cupcakes. There was more than enough to make 12 cupcakes.)

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!)
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  1. Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn off the mixer. Sift 3 cups powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.

Cupcake Froster Extraordinaire





Black beans

Even before I was a vegetarian, I frequently made a meal out of beans and rice. Homemade pinto beans were common in my house when I was growing up. They smell so delicious all day long. I hope my children have fond memories of our house and the aroma of beans when they are adults. I discovered black beans when I was away at college. They were part of the “Southwestern Food” trend in the 1990s. Does anyone remember the restaurant Les Amis in Austin, Texas in the mid 1990s? They served a black bean and brown rice dish inspired this dish.

I make homemade black beans from scratch in a slow cooker but sometimes if I am in a hurry and didn’t plan ahead, I  use the Eden Organic canned black beans to make this dish. I serve the black beans with brown rice and garnish with any or all of the following depending on personal taste: avocado, sliced tomatoes, red onions, pickled jalapenos, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese.


1 16 oz bag of dried black beans ( I like Whole Foods 365 Organic Brand)

3 cloves of garlic

2 bay leaves




1. Method for the soak. Choose either of these:

a)Rinse and sort black beans and place in a large bown. Add 6-8 cups of water. Let stand overnight or at least 6 to 8 hours. Drain water.

b) Rinse and sort black beans and place in a large saucepan. Add 6 -8 cups of water. Bring water and beans to boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover with lid and let stand for 1 hour. Drain water

2. Add drained beans and 8 cups of water to slow cooker. Add bay leaves and peeled whole cloves of garlic. Cook on low for 6 or 7 hours. At midpoint check to see that there is enough water and add more if needed. By hour 5 add salt to taste.

Tip: Don’t add salt before you cook the beans or they won’t cook well.


From Cynthia

Simple Chocolate Sheet Cake

Simple Chocolate Sheet Cake


From “Cook’s Country Chocolate Desserts –The Absolute Best Chocolate Recipes Ever”

From the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated

Issue to Display until February 27, 2012


1 ¼ Cups (6 ½ oz.) all-purpose flour

¾ Cup (2 ¼ oz.) Dutch processed cocoa

¼ tsp. salt

8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

12 Tbs. unsalted butter

4 large eggs

1 ½ Cups (10 ½ oz.) sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 Cup buttermilk

½ tsp. baking soda


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour bottom and sides of 13 x 9 –inch baking pan.
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa, and salt in medium bowl; set aside. Place chocolate and butter in bowl, cover, and microwave 2 minutes at 50% power; stir until smooth. (If not fully melted, heat 1 minute longer at 50% power.) Whisk together eggs, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl.
  3. Whisk chocolate into egg mixture until combined. Combine buttermilk and baking soda; whisk into chocolate mixture, then whisk in dry ingredients until batter is smooth and glossy. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake until firm in center when lightly pressed and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool on wire rack until room temperature, at least 1 hour; serve or ice with frosting, if desired.

Notes: I mixed the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. I melted the chocolate and butter in a Pyrex measuring cup. I put the eggs, sugar, and vanilla into the bowl of my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Then I added the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture, added the combined buttermilk and baking soda, and then the dry ingredients.

Creamy Milk Chocolate Frosting

Makes about 2 Cups

½ Cup heavy cream

1 Tbs. light or dark corn syrup

Pinch of salt

10 oz. milk chocolate, chopped

½ Cup (2 oz.) confectioner’s sugar

8 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and chilled

Combine cream, corn syrup, and salt in liquid measuring cup and microwave until simmering, about 1 minute, or bring to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Place chocolate in food processor. With processor running, gradually add hot cream mixture; process 1 minute after cream has been added. Stop processor, add confectioner’s sugar and process to combine, about 30 seconds. With processor running, add butter 1 piece at a time; process until incorporated and smooth, about 20 seconds longer. Transfer frosting to medium bowl and let cool at room temperature, stirring frequently, until thick and spreadable, about 1 hour.

Comments: This is a fantastic chocolate cake! My friends and family loved it! When I brought it to a family dinner, I also served it with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with a few drops of vanilla. The cream acts as a foil for all of that chocolate. I find that the contrast makes for a better chocolate experience.

I used Pernigotti Cocoa (an Italian cocoa from Williams-Sonoma that is my absolute favorite cocoa), unsalted Plugra butter, Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips (in the cake), Mexican vanilla (like my sister, I prefer “La Vencedora” brand). For the frosting, I used dark corn syrup (Karo), which is now made without “high-fructose corn syrup”—just regular corn syrup, for whatever that is worth, and Guittard milk chocolate chips.

I would say that this cake is not totally “simple”, but it was not difficult, just a lot of steps, but a very worthwhile result!

Also, this magazine has incredible looking desserts. I look forward to making more recipes from it, and I recommend buying it while you have the chance.



Quinoa-It’s what’s for dinner, Variation 1

quinoa served with roasted vegetables

From Cynthia:

I absolutely love quinoa. It is a complete protein. It is easy to prepare and it’s loaded with micronutrients since it is actually a seed. Although I had heard of it before, my inspiration for cooking quinoa came from my husband’s Uncle Bob who is an AMAZING cook!  I learned about the book  Quinoa 365 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming is full of delicious quinoa recipes and included vegetarian and meat dishes from Uncle Bob as well.

Quinoa varieties

We eat quinoa at least once a week. I cook with black quinoa, red quinoa and the regular white quinoa. I always rinse it prior to cooking. You will need a sieve that has very small openings or you will have quinoa seeds all over the place (trust me.) A tip: if you spill quinoa, swiffer  cloths work really well for clean up. Another quinoa tip: If you want your quinoa slightly crunchy and less mushy, saute your quinoa in a little olive oil or grapeseed oil prior to cooking. This will keep the seeds intact.

Here is variation 1. I prepare it different ways and I plan to share the variations in this blog.

Quinoa variation 1.


1 cup quinoa (rinsed)

1-2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or olive oil

2 cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons water

1/2 onion diced

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 garlic clove, minced or pressed with a garlic press


Place rinsed and drained quinoa in a pan with oil on medium high heat. Stir and saute for 2 minutes. Add chopped onions and continue to stir until onions are translucent (2 -3 more minutes). Add salt and cumin spices. Add vegetable broth and additional water. Bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat. Cook for 10 minutes and remove from heat. Let rest for 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.

rinsing quinoa

black and white quinoa

saute the quinoa

*Feel free to add any of these or a combination of these: beans, garbanzo beans, sauteed diced vegetables, feta cheese, kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, parmesan cheese, etc. …

broth or liquid added to the quinoa

Chicken Milanese – Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Arugula Variation

From Lisa

This recipe turned out very well.  I was pleased with the results.

I did not have cherry tomatoes, so I cut larger tomatoes into wedges.  I used regular arugula, not wild, from the local Farmer’s Market.  I sometimes find wild arugula too bitter tasting.  I used regular bread crumbs because I did not have Panko (even though I prefer Panko bread crumbs).  I squeezed fresh lemon juice over the chicken before topping it with the arugula and tomatoes.

Recipe is adapted from: Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, My Father’s Daughter


Chicken Milanese – Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Arugula Variation


Roasted Tomatoes:

2 cups Cherry Tomatoes

2 Tbs. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, divided

Coarse Salt

2 cups wild arugula

1 Tbs. high-quality balsamic vinegar


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the tomatoes in a small baking pan and drizzle with 1 Tbs. olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast for 45 minute, stirring occasionally, until they’re split and super sweet.

While the chicken is cooking, toss the arugula with the remaining  tablespoon olive oil, the vinegar, and a pinch of salt.  Fold the tomatoes into the arugula.


4 skinless, free-range or organic boneless chicken breasts, washed and dried

1 cup milk

2 cups plain bread crumbs (Japanese Panko makes the crispiest crust) mixed with 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper and 1 tsp. coarse salt

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided


Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of parchment paper.  Using a mallet, pound the chicken breasts until they are very, very thin—you should be able to almost see through them—about 1/16” thick.  Put the milk in a shallow bowl and the bread crumbs on a large plate. Dip each piece of chicken into the milk and then dredge it in the bread crumbs, tapping off the excess.  You should have a thin, even coating.

Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet big enough to hold 2 pieces of chicken in a single layer.  Cook for about 4 minutes on the first side, or until evenly browned and crisp.  Flip and cook for an additional 2 or 3 minutes, or until the other side is browned and crisp and the chicken is firm to the touch.  Wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining ¼ cup of oil and the remaining 2 pieces of chicken.

Place one piece of chicken on each of four dinner plates and mound a handful of arugula over each piece, making sure everybody gets plenty of tomatoes.




Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

definitely a crowd pleaser

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies or “Homemade Oreos” by Cynthia

Hello every one,

If you knew me well, you would wonder why the very first post was not about sweets or chocolate. I held out as long as I could. Here come the sweets!

I have to share this cookie idea with you. This cookie part of these sandwich cookies is “Grammy’s Chocolate Cookies” from Martha Stewart’s Cookies. My sister was the one who discovered this recipe. I learned about them when she baked them for a family reunion cookie contest. Once a year, usually in the summer, the tias (aunts), tios (uncles) and cousins and their kids gather somewhere in Texas for a grand get-together, which we look forward to all year.  This is an elaborate gathering as T-shirts are made (yes, we are one of those families), gifts are exchanged (since we can’t all be together for Christmas), recipes are exchanged, and there is an abundance of delicious food, laughter, games, and reminiscing about old times.

Several years ago at one of the larger reunions, there was a cookie contest for anyone who wanted to participate. Lisa (the baking queen) entered the Grammy’s Chocolate Cookies into the contest. How she didn’t win is beyond me! In fact, now that I think about it, the same obscure relative won every year. Hmmm….Now I am wondering who the judges were. Anyway, this contest was just for fun so there really were not hurt feelings, just large quantities of cookies to sample. For me, Lisa was truly the winner since these are awesome cookies.

My brilliant husband had to idea to turn them into sandwich cookies by adding a layer of cream cheese frosting. Who knew you could improve a cookie that was already so delicious? I’m proud of my husband! I made this variation for a family reunion on my husband’s side and they were a hit.

adding sanding sugar prior to baking

Since we got married, I always bake my husband his favorite cookie on Christmas Eve. For years, I made him double chocolate thumbprint peanut butter cookies (post to come). Since we discovered these sandwich cookies, these have become our new favorite. They were the cookies put out for Santa this year. I love cooking with my kids and I relished every moment in the kitchen with them baking these. I hope you have a chance to make these too. You can even experiment with the filling by adding a berry flavor or strawberry puree to the cream cheese filling. They might also be good with crushed peppermints if you are a fan of mint (This is usually controversial. The world is made up of two kinds of people, those who love mint and those who clearly do not.) Let me know in your comments what you think, please.

So here is the recipe:

For the cookie:

“Grammy’s Chocolate Cookies” from Martha Stewart’s cookies

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( I choose the darkest I can find)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup (2 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

sanding sugar for rolling

For the filling:

1 package cream cheese (softened by allowing to come close to room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract ( I use Mexican Vanilla, the Vencedora brand. It is the best in my opinion)

1. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beet to combine. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add flour to mixture; beat to combine. Form dough into a flattened disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Roll each ball in sanding sugar. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until set, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to rack to cook for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies from baking sheet to wire rack.

4. To make frosting, place softened cream cheese into mixer. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and mix on low speed until blended. Spread on the flat side of the cookie. Cover with another cookie.

5. Enjoy!

Easy Vegetarian Chili

Hi everyone,

Happy New Year! I hope your year is off to a great start. I thought I’d share an EXTREMELY easy but tasty recipe for vegetarian chili. It’s great for January nights. We served it with Frito’s corn chips to make it into a Frito Pie (husband’s idea) for a fun and casual New Year’s Eve dinner and night in.

I have a more elaborate recipe for vegetarian chili that has lentils and red rice and I will post it soon. But in the meantime, when you want a quick, easy, healthy (as long as you don’t eat too many corn chips-oops), and delicious chili, use this recipe!

(My son wanted to add this is a good meal so I inserted this comment.)



1/2 onion chopped (red, yellow, or white)

1 tablespoon grape seed oil or vegetable oil (use more if your onions begin to stick to the pan or begin burning)

2 cloves of garlic (pressed with a garlic press or finely chopped)

1 tsp. Chili powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. Ancho Chili Pepper (use more or less according to preference for spice, use 1/4 tsp. black pepper to substitute if you don’t have ancho chili pepper)

1 15 oz. can black beans rinsed and drained ( I use Eden Organic)

1 15 oz. can pinto beans rinsed and drained (I use Eden Organic)

1 and 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

1 26. oz container of cooked tomatoes (I use Pomi Tomatoes which come in a tetrabrick). Use a  jar of cooked tomatoes or canned as a substitute. This comes in a liquid.

1 cup vegetable broth

2 cups of water


sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped red onion, sliced avocado, Frito corn chips or tortilla chips

Place oil in a  medium to large pan and place on medium high heat. Add chopped onion and saute for 2-3 minutes or until onion is translucent and caramelized. Add spices and continue to brown in oil for 1 minute. Add entire contents of Pomi tomatoes (all liquid). Then add rinsed beans and corn. Add water and vegetable broth. Add pressed or chopped garlic. Add salt.  Stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 40 minutes to an hour. Check periodically to make sure mixture has enough liquid and beans are not burning at the bottom of the pan. Add hot water if needed.

Serve in bowls and add sour cream, cheddar cheese, red onion slices, avocado, and chips if desired. Enjoy!

-Cynthia M.

P.S. I try to avoid BPA when possible and use Eden Organic brand as much as possible since their cans are not lined with BPA. This is also why I use the Pomi tomatoes or tomatoes in a jar instead of canned tomatoes as much as possible.

Great for a cold night