14 September, 2016  |   1 Comment

Repost: Helen Jane’s Minestrone Soup Recipe

  • Seasons, seasons.
    This month seems all about revisiting things after taking a break from them.
    Sometimes the things are relationships, sometimes they’re beliefs, and sometimes they’re hobbies.

I’ve taken a big break from my blog, no surprise. Due to a combination of time and social media and a personal turn to the more private, this seems like the worst, most dangerous hobby in the world. Of course, I miss it.

Lately, due to wonky plug-ins and comments, I’ve had to go back in the archives.
I’m surprised at all the energy and adjectives.
I shared so much.
I’m not much like that anymore.

But all those past, bubbly posts remind me that I’ve shared some useful things. We still eat this soup nearly every other week. In fact, we ate it Monday.

Eat this with grilled cheeses and grapes

When I first made this recipe, we had no kids. I had more energy and adjectives. I shared so much.

Things change. Soup remains.

Now, this minestrone soup recipe is the most effective way I have to cram veggies into the girls. I make it on Sunday, we eat it on Monday. We eat it up and ask for seconds, not realizing the cabbage, greens, beans and lycopene doing their healthfuls.

Minestrone Soup is good for your ass and ass.

Helen Jane’s Minestrone Soup Recipe

3 tablespoons olive oil
6 pieces raw bacon, chopped fine
1 large onion, chopped fine
3 stalks celery, chopped fine
3 carrots, peeled, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic
1/2 green cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
6 leaves swiss chard, stripped from the stems and sliced into thin ribbons
1 32 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
2 quarts chicken broth
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
1 16 ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed – we like butter beans
1/4 cup tiny star shaped pasta or 1/3 cup Ditalini pasta.
A block of parmesan cheese and a fine grater

Chop the onion, celery and carrots fine. You want them small, especially if small mouths are consuming. Mince garlic. Slice the cabbage fine. Remove stems from swiss chard and slice fine. Open the can of tomatoes.

Veggies are ready.

Warm olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Add the chopped bacon and stir until the bacon is cooked through and fat has melted down.

Remove the bacon from the oil to drain on paper towels. Add onions, celery, carrots, salt, pepper and bay leaf to the pot.

Stir and cook veggies for 2-3 minutes.
Add garlic, cabbage and kale and stir frequently until mixed through and limp.
Add can of tomatoes, chicken broth and water.

Stir through until everything is mixed. Turn heat to high, bring the soup to a boil and then turn to low and simmer. If I have a random Parmesan cheese rind, this is when I add it. If you have no Parmesan cheese rind, I promise I won’t hold it against you.

After 15 minutes, add the white beans. Cook for another 20 minutes, add the pasta (if you’re using) and cook until the pasta is tender (7-10 minutes, depending on the size). Remove bay leaves, taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Leave the bacon out and swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth and you’re looking a little Vegan around the edges.

Serve with sprinkled reserved bacon (this keeps it crunchy) and a healthy scattering of grated Parmesan cheese.
(Sometimes, when lilygilding, I drizzle olive oil over the whole thing.)

We serve this soup with grilled cheese or panini and a chopped antipasti salad. The girls eat it up. Now you can too.

9 February, 2016  |   Comment

Today I researched my passion


This community college adult education food class was marvelous. They all are.
(Pro-tip for your next wine country trip, pop in a cooking class at our community college.)

Secrets of Archetype class

We learned all about some of Archetype restaurant’s best dishes. I learned about making chicken and gnocchi, tandoori cauliflower and brussels sprouts with chinese mustard sauce and now I feel I can win your reality show.

3 February, 2016  |   Comment

Helen Jane’s Granola Recipe

I feel like this should be said in the tone of the Law & Order beginning. (Indulge me.)

Every year, we make granola for our friends and family.
This is our recipe

Granola Jars, ready for filling.

This granola is perfect on thick yogurt. I’m currently loving it with blueberry Noosa, but you could love it with a Gogurt. I won’t judge, it’s your life, your yogurt.

3 cups oatmeal
1 cup almonds
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coconut flakes
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dried peaches, chopped small

Preheat the oven to 350° F, and then cover a baking sheet in parchment paper and set aside.

Put the almonds in a plastic bag and smash them with a hammer or mallet until they are smaller than pea sized, but not yet dust.

In a large bowl, add oatmeal, almonds, salt and coconut flakes.

In a saucepan over low heat, mix canola oil, honey and vanilla until it is all well-blended and warm.

Combine the oatmeal and honey mixtures in the large bowl until it’s coated and spread onto the covered baking sheet.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Then stir in your cup of dried peaches.
Stir a little more.
Let cool completely on the pan.

Then squinch up the granola from the big nuggets before adding to jars.

Happy granolaing!

17 November, 2015  |   3 Comments

Make Paper Bag Popcorn – with me, Nora Lea


This weekend Nora Lea worked on a project with me. She wanted to show kids how to make popcorn in the microwave. She organized the steps, set up the script and the different shots and didn’t even need any second takes!

Back when I was a kid, I could never comprehend that this was a thing I could do — much less with my daughter. I’m a-goggle at the many forms of communication and connection our kids will intuitively know how to use.

On with the show!

15 November, 2015  |   1 Comment

Meal plan, this week

This week, we’re prepping fixins galore. I missed the heck out California cuisine after 8 days in the delicious Midwest.

This week, we're bringing the fixins with our meal plan

Did you know that we end up sticking to the meal plan about 60% on average?
(That’s right, only about 60%)