Hella “Good” Soup (chickpea, farro, spinach)

In the next few months, you might see the recipes at Butter Is My Jam take a slight turn. No worries, butter is, and always will be my true jam, but I started a fitness program with some friends (BodyBack – woo!) and the nutrition component is pretty major. I hate the term “diet” because it sounds like something temporary and dumb. The guidelines are pretty simple – eat more real food, eat less fake food, and don’t eat so much dang sugar. It hasn’t been too hard – I truly love vegetables and whole grains and the good stuff, my main issue is that I also really love hollandaise, pasta, and Reese’s peanut butter eggs. So basically, you might see a few less indulge-y desserts and a few more healthy, filling meals that your grandma would be proud of.

Speaking of that, my grandma is particularly fond of this soup – every time I make it she tells me how much she loves it and how good it must be for you. It’s probably not quite as healthy as her famous vegetable soup, but this one’s quick, easy, and really filling. This recipe usually serves about 5 adults, 2 kids, and leaves enough leftover for a lunch or two. It refrigerates well, but note that the longer it sits the more the vegetables and farro soak up the broth – you may end up with a really dense soup. It’s no big deal, add a little water or broth if you prefer things soupier. Also, if you’re dieting  making healthy lifestyle changes, it’s a filling, nutrient-dense, low-calorie meal.

Also, if you’ve never cooked with farro, you’re missing out! It boasts many of the same nurtitional stats as quinoa, but offers a great chewy, nutty texture. We love it! I use the Trader Joe’s 10 Minute Farro, but refer to your package details to see how long you need to simmer. I cook it directly in the soup, but if you’re worried you could always cook the farro according to package directions and add it already cooked. This soup is also vegan (dairy/meat free!).

Chickpea, Farro, and Spinach Soup

1 swirl olive oil

1 medium onion

3-4 carrots

3-4 ribs of celery

3 garlic cloves

32+ oz vegetable broth

28 oz can diced tomatoes

15 oz can chickpeas

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 cup dried farro

2 cups fresh spinach (whatever you have, I’ve never actually measured, but like half a bag – 5-6 handfuls – follow your heart!)


  1. Dice the onion, peel and chop the carrots, chop the celery, and peel and mince the garlic cloves. In a large pot (I use a dutch oven) heat a swirl of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, stirring to soften all of the vegetables.  Once soft, add the garlic and cook for a minute or so.
  2. Add the tomatoes with their juices, drain and add the chickpeas and pour in 32 oz of vegetable broth. Stir everything together and season with the basil, oregano, and a little salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, add the farro and cook until they’re edible, but not quite done (usually about 10 minutes for me). At this point if things are looking a bit hearty, feel free to add a few cups of water or broth to loosen things up. Turn the stove down and add the spinach a little bit at a time, making sure to stir in each handful so it doesn’t make a big clumpy mess.
  4. Let the whole thing simmer for about 10 more minutes, taste and add seasoning as needed, and serve.


Broccoli, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomato pasta

Some nights I like to try new, exotic, fancy dinners with a million ingredients. Recipes that require me to watch a YouTube video or two, mess up every dish in the kitchen, and listen to pronunciations to make myself sound legitimate. I love to cook and I thrive on new challenges and techniques.

That said, sometimes at 6:30 it is just not possible.

Sometimes at 6:30 I’ve been up for too many hours with hyper, obnoxious children and am only running on leftover coffee fumes. Sometimes I come in from yard work or playing with kids in the yard and barely have time to wash my hands before jumping into cooking because all of my grannies come over for dinner on Tuesday. Sometimes I’ve been breaking up sibling fights and getting whacked with cars and have dried cheerios stuck to my pants and just need to make something so easy that I can do it AND send kids to the naughty chair at the same time. Sometimes the kitchen is already a disaster and I have a sink full of dirt, a dishwasher full of dirty dishes, and a barbie convention taking place on the counter. Tonight ALL of those things happened, and I made this pasta.

Also, it has 5 ingredients and they’re mostly in the title, so you can remember them even when a 4-year-old uses your grocery list to spit something gross into and you’re racing through the store with a screaming toddler who stuck his complimentary magic pop (sucker) in his hair and thus can’t lick it and you have to pee so bad because you quit drinking diet coke and replaced it with iced tea, which causes you to always need to pee.

So basically this dinner is cheap, easy, fast, requires only a few dishes and ingredients, and has vegetables in it so you can just serve it without any pesky sides or anything. It’s also vegetarian and grandma/kid friendly.

Broccoli, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomato pasta

Serves about 6

6ish cups of fresh broccoli (about 3 heads)

3-4 large cloves of garlic

1 lb dried orecchiette pasta (you could easily use bowties, too)

8 oz jarred sun-dried tomatoes (TJs makes an 8.5oz jar, I just use that)

6 oz goat cheese

Salt, pepper, olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°, and bring a large, salted pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Chop the broccoli into bite-sized florets and peel the garlic cloves. Toss the broccoli and whole garlic cloves with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, arrange onto a baking sheet, and bake for about 15 minutes.
  3. Cook the orecchiette according to package directions (10 minutes or so). When you drain the pasta, reserve about a cup of the pasta water. Chop up the sun-dried tomatoes if they are whole, if they come julienned just grab a glass of wine and pretend to be busy.
  4. When the broccoli and garlic are done, roughly chop the roasted garlic. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and pour in about a tablespoon of the sun-dried tomato oil. Cook the garlic in the oil for 30 seconds or so, then stir in the broccoli and the sun-dried tomatoes cooking it all together for about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir the cooked pasta and the broccoli mixture together in a large bowl. Crumble the goat cheese on top and stir to melt the cheese in. If the mixture is too dry, add in some of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up (I typically add in 1/4 to 1/2 a cup). Season with S&P to taste.

Chickpea and quinoa Thai-style vegeburgers

Before you start thinking that I’m here to replace all of your actual meat burgers with quinoa, know that I am not.  I grew up eating various iterations of vegeburgers, some excellent and most not so excellent.  As for the idea that a Boca burger is a reasonable substitute for actual meat, I firmly disagree.  Unless you’re a vegetarian, if you want a burger, you want a real burger and no matter how delicious, a vegeburger isn’t going to cut it.

To that end, I’m selling you on this the same way I sold my husband on vegeburgers: an alternative sandwich option.  Sort of like a snowcone and a chocolate brownie are both delicious desserts, but if you want chocolate a snowcone won’t do.

We had ours on a bun with the slaw and peanut sauce, but if you’re vegan  (or just not a fan of carbs, whatever), they really aren’t necessary.  And know that they don’t resemble the sad little pre-formed quinoa/boca/TVP you’re picturing in your head.  There are 3 components: the patty, the slaw, and the sauce.  You can easily make the slaw while the quinoa is cooking and then mix up the sauce while the patties are cooking.

Chickpea and Quinoa Thai Burgers

makes about 8 patties

for the patties:

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

1 cup water

15 oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

3/4 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup cornmeal (I substituted grits since it’s what I had)

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. paprika

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp. sesame oil (or olive)

1 egg

1 bell pepper

1/2 of a small red onion

olive oil


for the slaw:

1/2 head  of purple cabbage

3 carrots

handful of cilantro


for the sauce:

1/2 cup peanut butter

2T honey

2T soy sauce

2″ piece of fresh ginger

1/2 tsp red pepper

1 lime

2 T water


1. Toast the uncooked quinoa in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat for about 3 minutes.  Add in the cup of water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, pulse the chickpeas, cornmeal, oatmeal, salt, paprika, garlic and sesame oil together in a food processor until well combined (it should look a bit like wet sand).

2. Transfer to a bowl and add stir in the egg.  Finely dice the bell pepper and onion (I put them in the food processor) and stir them into the mixture.  Then fold in the cooked quinoa to create a thick, cement-like mixture.  If it needs a bit more moisture to hold it together, add in a tiny bit of olive oil.

3. Shred the cabbage and carrots, and chop the cilantro.  Toss together to make the slaw.

4. Form the quinoa mixture into 8 patties and fry in a tiny bit of oil over medium high heat.  Alternatively, you could use an electric skillet with no oil at 350.  Fry them for a few minutes on each side until they start to turn golden brown and crispy.

5. Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together to make the sauce.  To serve, top each patty with a heap of slaw and drizzle the sauce over the top.  Serve with or without a bun.



Baked Potato Soup

As expected, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow a few weeks ago,  predicting six more weeks of winter, so we have a little more than a month to go.  A North Texas winter is really not much to complain about when I see temperatures that are actually BELOW zero across the country, but we are truly ill-equipped to deal with it.  We don’t own coats, our homes are lacking insulation, and gosh darnit, our blood is thinner!  So, when I say it’s 29 degrees here today, know that I’m truly suffering.

On a cold afternoon when I don’t want to emerge from my blanket cocoon by the fire to make dinner, a warm crock pot full of potato soup is really ideal.  This soup is minimal prep, maximum warm and delicious.  The lack of meat makes it pretty variable as far as when you want to prep it – it could probably go 8-10 hours on low, or 4-6 on high.  I put mine on high for an hour, then 3 on low.  You could top it with some crispy bacon if you wanted, but it was vegetarian night at my house (minus chicken broth, obviously).  I like mashing half of the potatoes to give the soup some texture, but if you want it all smooth you could mash all of them.

Baked Potato Soup

1 onion

1T butter

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp dried thyme

2 T flour

4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)

6 russet potatoes

10 oz. cheddar cheese

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 scallions

1. Dice the onion, mince or press the garlic, and peel and cube the potatoes.  Melt the butter in a medium skillet over high heat and cook the onion, garlic, and thyme until the onion is browned.  Add the flour and stir together for a minute, then add 1 cup of the chicken broth and whisk.  Pour into the slow cooker.

2. Add the potatoes and the remainder of the chicken broth to the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low, until the potatoes are soft.

3. 20 minutes before serving, scoop out about half of the potatoes and mash (or rice) them.  Stir the cream into the mashed potatoes and return to the soup.  Grate the cheddar cheese and add 80% of it to the soup.  Stir while the cheese melts.  Season with salt and pepper.  Chop the scallions.

4. Serve the soup with a little grated cheese and scallion on top.

Dill Cheddar Scones

I really feel like if you serve soup for dinner, you need some sort of homemade bread or muffin to go along with it.  I have pretty much eaten my weight in goat cheese biscuits this winter, so when I made potato soup tonight, I decided to revisit these savory scones to go along with them.  Having made the recipe before, I knew that it yielded way more scones than I needed so I figured I’d half the recipe.  Unfortunately, I’m quite poor at math, so I split the whole recipe in half up until the end, when I added a whole cup of cream instead of a half cup, so, obviously, I ended up making the whole recipe of them.  The one I posted here makes about 12 medium-sized scones, a good amount to serve with dinner.  Like all scones, what keeps the flakiness intact is streaks of unincorporated butter.  Be mindful about that as you mix, especially if you use a stand mixer.


Dill Cheddar Scones

2 cups flour, plus a few tablespoons for assembling

1 T baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tablespoons)

2 eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 oz. cheddar cheese

handful of fresh dill

1. Preheat your oven to 400.  Using either a large bowl or mixer, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Cut the butter into small, centimeter-sized pieces and toss them in.  Mix briefly until the pieces of butter have broken up a bit.  Add the eggs and cream and mix until just incorporated.

2. Grate the cheese and chop up the dill, fold both into the dough.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and mold into a big rectangle, roughly an inch tall.  Using a bench scraper or  chef’s knife, cut triangles off and transfer to a baking sheet (I do 3-4″ hypotenuse triangles).

3. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until the tops begin to brown.

Adapted from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa

Vegetable Lo Mein

One of my goals for 2014 was to incorporate more Asian cuisine into our menu.  Some dishes, I’m really excited about (hot & sour soup, eggrolls, thai shrimp), but vegetable lo mein wasn’t high on my list.  See, when I think of it, my mind immediately goes to the sad vat of colorless vegetables and greasy noodles at Panda Express, where, when given the choice, I always choose the fried rice.  However, I’m a sucker for a vegetable dish, so I decided to start my quest with this dish.  I’m so very glad I did because it was wonderful.  The vegetables were crisp, the noodles were flavorful, and the whole dish was really comforting.  Also, I typically associate Asian cuisine with spice, which I adore, but my dear toddler does not.  This dish isn’t spicy at all and my little girl really liked it, so that makes it a win for sure.

I was able to find all of the ingredients at my standard grocery store.  The chow mein noodles came in 6oz. packages, sort of a tray wrapped in cellophane.  I bought 3 of them, so I had a little more than a pound, which was fine.


Vegetable Lo Mein

Serves 4-6

1 lb. chow mein noodles

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 T fish sauce

2T oyster sauce

2T sesame oil

1 onion

1 bell pepper

4T olive oil

1/2 lb. shiitake mushrooms

1 zucchini

1/2 lb. broccoli

1 inch of fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves

1. Boil the noodles according to package directions (about 4 minutes).  Strain and toss with about a tablespoon of oil (vegetable, olive, whatever) to keep the noodles from sticking together.  Chop the onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms.   Peel and mince the garlic and ginger.  Cut the broccoli into small pieces, removing most of the stems.

2. Whisk the oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1/4 cup of water together in a small bowl and set aside.  Heat 2T of olive oil in a large skillet (or better yet, a wok or dutch oven) over high heat and cook the onion and bell peppers until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and zucchini and stir fry until they start to brown, about 3 more minutes.  Scoop the vegetables onto a plate or bowl and set aside.

3. Add 1T of olive oil to the hot pan and cook the ginger and garlic for about 30 seconds until fragrant.  Then add the noodles and cook for about 4 minutes, turning occasionally.  Then, add the vegetables back in and toss in the broccoli.  Pour the sauce over the whole thing and use tongs to toss the mixture together until the liquid is absorbed and the broccoli is slightly tender.

Source: Adapted from Williams Sonoma.

Rigatoni with Blue Cheese and Butternut Squash

I always associate butternut squash with baby food.  Mushy, bland, orange – not incredibly appetizing.  However, as a mother of a 5-month-old who is just beginning to enter the world of culinary goodness, I thought it was time to see what an adult could do with butternut squash.  As soon as I saw that this recipe contained blue cheese I was hooked – I love blue cheese!  I realized though that I’ve really never cooked with it – usually I just use it in salads and salad dressing.  Whatever your relationship with butternut squash or blue cheese, give this simple dish a try.  Bonus points in that it’s vegetarian, gives you a healthy serving of veggies, and, above all – it uses a small amount of wine (which is pretty essential) so you’re gonna need to drink the rest of the bottle.

One major change I made from the original recipe was omitting the pine nuts.  Though I adore them and think a cup of toasted pine nuts would be excellent, one tiny box costs 1/10th of my grocery budget for the week.  I don’t think the dish suffered from a lack of overpriced pine nuts.  This meal requires very little work, but the squash needs to cook down for a while, so plan to start about 45 minutes before you serve.


Rigatoni with Blue Cheese and Butternut Squash

Serves 6

1 butternut squash

1 onion

1/2 tsp paprika

2T olive oil

1T butter

1/2 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)

1/2 cup water

1lb rigatoni pasta

5oz. crumbled blue cheese

1tsp dried marjoram

1tsp dried oregano

salt and pepper

1. Peel, seed, and cube the butternut squash into 1″ pieces.  I don’t know of a great way to do this, so I just hacked away at the thing.  Dice the onion.  Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over high heat and cook the onion until it begins to become golden and translucent.  Stir in the paprika.  Add the butternut squash and butter and stir it all together.  Pour the wine and water over the top and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, put a lid on the pot, and cook for about 15 minutes.

2. Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Before draining, reserve a little of the pasta water.  When the squash is fork tender, but not mushy add the marjoram and oregano.

3. Pour the strained rigatoni into the pot with the squash and onion and stir together.  Mix in the blue cheese until it melts and is evenly distributed.  Add some of the pasta water back in if it seems too sticky.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with the remainder of the white wine.

Source: adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella’s Kitchen