Bean Soup with Ham and Lots of Veggies

December 23, 2019

Do you celebrate the holidays with a spiral-cut ham? This post is for you! 

I brought home a delicious spiral-cut ham a few weeks ago. It was huge – much bigger than was needed for three people – and we ended up feasting on ham for the better part of a week. My parents then went out of town, and I set out to make one of my mom’s favorite things using spiral-cut ham… soup.

As you may know from reading this blog, I’m not the sort that follows a recipe blindly. And that worked out well, because my mom didn’t leave me a recipe. So Read the rest of this entry »

A Perfect Autumn Recipe: Butternut, Carrot & Orange Soup

September 23, 2015

It sure doesn’t seem like it’s autumn, but then again, autumn doesn’t really exist in Los Angeles. It’s 85 degrees today – and that’s not a brag, by the way – I want it to cool down! But leaves are turning in other parts of the country, and I just created a soup that screams Autumn, so I’m gonna share! It starts with this stuff:


The recipe is for Butternut, Carrot & Orange Soup, and believe me, Read the rest of this entry »

Well? What Happened To That Poaching Liquid?

January 30, 2015

It’s the resolution to the cliffhanger that had, um, a couple of you racked with anxiety and on the edge of your seats!

Here’s the recap, in case you missed my last post: Read the rest of this entry »

What’s In The (Brand-New) Crockpot? Part Seven

July 17, 2012

On Sunday I got to break in my brand new fancy-pants Crockpot! It was a very exciting day. I couldn’t wait to pull that lid off and sample the contents, but I had to endure hours and hours of waiting, because as you know, Crockpots don’t cook things fast. They cook them slow… which is why they’re also known as slow cookers (whoever thought that name up should definitely get bonus points).

So… are you ready? Ready for the first-ever edition of this game that features my brand-new crockpot? Strap on your knee and elbow pads, because it’s time to play!


Read the rest of this entry »

What’s In The Crockpot? Part Six

June 26, 2012

A big thank you to everyone who sent good thoughts my way yesterday. My first day at the new job was great – I met a lot of great new colleagues and absorbed a lot of info… now, onto Day 2!

Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I spent part of my Sunday loading up my crockpot to make some meals to eat throughout the week. There’s no better way to reveal my crockpottery than by playing a riveting, edge-of-your-seat game of What’s In The Crockpot?!

What’s In The Crockpot? is a spin-off of the very popular, smash hit, blockbuster blog game What’s In The RediSetGo?, all of which are archived here. (I haven’t archived my What’s In The Crockpot? installments yet, but it’s on my list.) If you’ve never played before, hold on to your hat! Don’t worry about the rules – you’ll figure it out quickly. And if you get hooked, click here and here to play a couple more installments!

So stuff some shin guards into your socks, because it’s time to play…


Read the rest of this entry »

Freezer Surprise AND My New Challenge

May 8, 2012

I promised at the end of yesterday’s stair climb recap (Did you see the awesome photos? And the awesome video?) that I would announce my next fitness challenge today. And I will. But first…

1) Cinco de Mayo! I had a fun surprise at the end of last week… I was on TV! A year ago, I was working at Warner Bros. when I was captured, on hidden camera, being startled by a mariachi band. It was a prank for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” and they ended up using the footage on the show. This year, for Cinco de Mayo, they used the footage again!

You can watch me getting startled by clicking here. I’m at the 1:10 mark (the link is what they aired last year – it features a few more seconds of me than the version they ran this year).

Read the rest of this entry »

Shark’s Tooth Salad AND 2-Headed Soup

March 22, 2012

The other day, I shared my recipe for watermelon gazpacho, which I renamed “chum” because I made a big vat of it for an event themed around a wonderfully terrible shark movie called “2-Headed Shark Attack.” Click here for that recipe. I made two other dishes for the same event, and I thought I’d share them in this post.

Dish #1: Shark’s Tooth Salad. I never ever thought I’d be saying this, but this recipe is actually based on a recipe by Paula Deen! And it doesn’t even start with two sticks of butter! Paula Deen doesn’t get a free pass, though – like every recipe I use, I modified it. I kept the core ingredients: spinach, sliced strawberries, a few walnuts that I toasted in a pan before adding. Instead of simply draining and chopping the hearts of palm, I sorted out the bigger pieces, and carefully cut them into triangles, creating the shark’s teeth in the recipe’s title:

One big round piece yielded two shark teeth, and the bits and pieces that were cut away I saved for another occasion – only the teeth went in the salad. Is it lame to cut hearts of palm into shapes? Probably. But I don’t care.

I also upped the tropical nature of the salad by adding a couple of mangoes that I chopped up.

Paula’s dressing was made on the stove, and I didn’t have time for such nonsense, so I used the same basic ingredients and completely made up everything else.

I started with the juice of three lemons, and added a few tablespoons of basil-infused olive oil, a few tablespoons of honey to balance out the sour, and pinches of poppy seeds, dry mustard, and paprika.

The dressing wasn’t great. Too much lemon. It wasn’t inedible, but I suggest you do what I didn’t do, and actually follow a recipe or just use dressing from a bottle. But the salad, as a whole, was fantastic. And beautiful – check this out!

Dish #2: 2-Headed Soup. I suppose the full title of this recipe would be called “2-Headed Roasted Broccoli and Orange Cauliflower Soup” but that seems a little unwieldy, so the shortened version will have to do.

My original intention was to make this recipe in the crockpot, but I didn’t get moving that day until a little later than expected, and the crockpot wouldn’t have had all the time it needed to work its magic. Plus, I thought that roasting the vegetables would create a bigger depth of flavor, and you know what? I was right.

Even though I didn’t use a crockpot, I did base my recipe off this crockpot recipe, which I liked because it was pretty healthy for a cream-based soup. I ended up doubling the recipe. The first thing I did was roast the veggies. On a big sheet pan, I laid out 2 (small) heads of broccoli and one big orange cauliflower, cut into florets:

If you haven’t put two and two together, I did 2 small heads of broccoli in honor of “2-Headed Shark Attack.” Not familiar with orange cauliflower? It’s beautiful (read more about it here):

And, since I was in a roasting mood, I also roasted two whole heads of garlic – this soup seemed like something that would taste better with garlic. I cut the tops of the garlic heads, and put them in a small dish:

After about a half hour at 425 degrees, they look like this:

Once they cool a little bit, you can just sorta squeeze the cooked cloves out of the paper skins. The broccoli and cauliflower don’t take nearly as long – only 10-12 minutes until they were tender and starting to turn brown, at the same time as the garlic. I forgot to take a picture when they came out.

While the veggies were roasting away, I diced two white onions, and started them sweating in my Dutch oven, with two tablespoons of butter (Earth Balance, actually).

After about 8 or 10 minutes, I added 10 tablespoons of flour and 1/2 a cup of half and half, and shortly thereafter, 6 cups of skim milk. I got that up to a simmer, and, once they came out of the oven, I added all the broccoli, cauliflower, and garlic. I let it sit for about 30 minutes, letting all the flavors marry, as they say, and then went to town with an immersion blender until it was all pureed and creamy. I ended up adding one more cup of skim milk to thin it out a little bit (the recipe calls for adding water, but that seems so boring).

The soup was served with garlic toasts (store-bought, not home-made), and It. Was. Delicious!

Keep it up, David!


July 29, 2011

I saw my friends Heather and John for the last time the other night.  Not the last time ever, the last time for now.  They’ve been in town for work for the past month and a half, but in a few days, they’re packing up and moving on.  It’s been great having them around, and hanging out with them has resulted in some great meals.  Heather and I had a lovely dinner at Bottega Louie; all three of us lunched at Mas Malo; and I won’t forget any time soon our downtown urban picnic and the amazing sandwich for five that I brought along.

Bottega Louie and Mas Malo are both downtown, and the other night we met up for dinner at another downtown restaurant that Heather and John love.  I think it’s hilarious that friends that visit once a year now know downtown Los Angeles better than I do after living in Los Angeles for nine years!  Hilarious, and perhaps a touch sad on my part, but hey – I’m glad they have places they love, because there are a lot of restaurants downtown to choose from.

Blossom Restaurant is a small little Vietnamese restaurant on Main Street, where Heather and John went a bunch of times last year when they were here, but hadn’t managed to make it back this year.  They wanted their Blossom fix before hightailing it out of California, and I was more than happy to join them.

Heather’s actually in that picture, on the right, in the window, reading the menu, partially obscured by foliage.

A few minutes before I took this picture, while I was walking from the subway stop to the restaurant, I passed a not-uncommon sight in Los Angeles: a film crew!  They was lots of equipment and crew members on the sidewalks, and whole blocks of parking spots coned off.  I came across this sign, which answered my first question: “I wonder what they’re filming?”

Prime Suspect,” by the way, is an upcoming detective show on NBC.  They must have been filming in one of the buildings, because nothing exciting was happening on the street.  I love the first sentence on the sign – very Big Brother!

On to the restaurant.  I don’t eat tons of Vietnamese food – not for any particular reason, it’s just not a cuisine I’ve been exposed to very often.  I can’t think of the last time I’ve been to a Vietnamese restaurant – it’s been a few years, at least.

I started off with an order or vegetarian spring rolls.  In some other Asian cuisines, spring rolls are fried, but Vietnamese spring rolls are fresh and wrapped in rice paper.  These had tofu, greens, and herbs, and a great peanut dipping sauce:

They were good, and the peanut sauce had a nice spicy kick to it, although I think I would have preferred a little less tofu and a little more greens.

Then I had the shrimp pho soup.  Pho is a staple in Vietnamese cuisine, and it’s eaten for all meals of the day.  It’s a broth-based soup with rice noodles, cilantro, onions, and a protein (traditionally beef, but also chicken or shrimp, and you can find vegetarian versions too).

My big bowl of soup:

There were a lot more shrimp on the bottom.

The fun thing about Pho is that more ingredients come on the side, as garnishes that you can stir in: a big pile of bean sprouts, fresh Thai basil, limes , and hot Thai peppers.  Heather, who also got the shrimp Pho (I definitely copied her, not the other way around), and I shared this pile of garnishes:

I don’t eat a lot of soup on a regular basis.  I never really crave it, because most of the time it seems weird to me to be consuming a hot liquid in a hot climate like southern California.  The pho, however, was fantastic.  Flavorful, filling yet light, and how could I not get behind any dish that comes with a plate of produce as garnishes?

Maybe I should seek out some Vietnamese restaurants in my neck of the woods… for any Angelenos out there – do you have a favorite Vietnamese spot in the valley?

Oh, and like I mentioned in my Hollywood Bowl post, another perk to riding the subway downtown is the built-in stairs workout.  It’s 5 flights to get down to the train platform and 5 flights to get back out – so when I go round-trip, that’s 20 flights I’m ascending or descending.

Screw you, escalators!

Keep it up, David!

What’s In The Crockpot? Part One

January 4, 2011

Don’t fret.  The very-popular What’s In The RediSetGo? posts aren’t going away, even if it has been a long time since I’ve posted one (see the most recent one, from before Thanksgiving, here).  In the meantime, I was inspired yesterday to dust off the ol’ Crockpot, one of my favorite kitchen vessels, so remove your shoes, belts, and any metal from your pockets, and place all your liquids in a clear one-quart bag, because it’s time to play What’s in the Crockpot?

Are you ready?

What’s in the Crockpot?

Squash and Sweet Potato Soup is in the Crockpot!

Like most crocked foods, it took hours for the soup to look like this, so I’ll start at the beginning, which, in this case, was in November, when I came home from the store with a table queen squash.  Remember this guy?  Probably not.  I forgot all about him until I came home the other night from my travels and saw him there on my counter.  I placed an apple alongside to provide a size comparison:

A table queen is a type of winter squash, like butternut or acorn, and they’re called winter squashes because they’ll last from when they’re harvested in the fall all the way through the winter, which was helpful for people back in the days before refrigeration, when fresh food in the cold winter months was sparse.  Because of this, I had no qualms that this squash, purchased 6 weeks ago, would be perfectly good and delicious.

I found this recipe for Butternut and Sweet Potato Soup on the New York Times website, and decided to adapt it, first by using table queen instead of butternut squash, and second by using a crockpot instead of cooking it on the stove.  Adapting recipes for a crockpot doesn’t involve rocket science – in many cases, you can just throw all the ingredients in the crock and then walk away for, like, half the day or more.

The first step was prepping my ingredients.  I started by peeling the table queen and scooping out the seeds.  Has anyone peeled a squash before?  It’s a pain in the ass.  At least butternuts are smooth – this table queen has valleys all around it, like a pumpkin, and my crappy little vegetable peeler can’t get in there.  I was half done when I took this picture:

I also peeled two sweet potatoes, and 2 regular potatoes, and 1 small knob of fresh ginger (in the bottom right of the picture):

I diced up the veggies, along with 1/2 of a large white onion, and grated the ginger, and it all went in the crockpot:

I skipped the first step of the NY Times recipe, which was sauteing the onion and ginger, and because I skipped it, I omitted from my crockpot the tablespoon of oil the recipe called for.  Leaving out the oil means leaving out the fat!  The recipe also called for 6 cups of stock, but I only added 4, partly because crockpots have a way of pulling much more water out of every ingredient than you thought could ever exist, and partly because I only bought one 4-cup box of low-sodium vegetable stock at the store.

I set the crockpot on high, and walked away for 4 hours.  When I came back, I sampled a few pieces of the veggies, and they were definitely cooked through and tender.  So I pulled out the blender, and began pureeing the soup, in batches:

After I had it all pureed, it went back into the crockpot for about another 1/2 hour, while I ran out to the store to buy croutons, because I really wanted croutons with my soup.  Here’s the finished product (the croutons are Marie Callendar’s fat-free caesar croutons):

The soup is tasty, with a smooth and creamy texture, and it doesn’t taste fat-free, even though it is.  It may be a little on the bland side – perhaps I could have used more ginger (crockpots tend to bleach out spices and things like ginger or garlic, so maybe I should have just added it later in the cooking process).  I ate two bowls nevertheless.

And, there’s lots of leftovers! Now I have 4 Gladware containers of soup – 1 in my fridge for tomorrow or the next day, and 3 in my freezer to eat at a later date.  I love healthy meals that I can just reheat and enjoy!

Keep it up, David!