Slow Cooked Green Chicken Chile


My sweet young friend is about to get married. How exciting!  My husband and I are about to celebrate 10 years of marriage. So, most of our friends are in their mid-40s and we haven't been to a wedding in years! The thought of a fresh couple uniting is the sweetest thing to me and I just love it when the bride-to-be asks me for advice... any advice at all! I'm happy to offer suggestions about even the most mundane things.  We love to talk about food and from time and she'll ask me for a recipe.  This is one of them. Any little offering towards a happy, healthy (& well fed) home; I'm happy to help!  I guess its the little sister in me, always dreaming of big sister status.

Our bride-to-be Samantha joined me and Pam to our little local town Chili Cook-Off.  The winner was a green chicken chili. It was really delicious.   Sam asked me to put together a recipe similar to the winner.... like, ok...(?)  Anyway, its taken me awhile to get it, but here is my slow-cooker, very easy version:

The ingredients are simple.  With the exception of the tomatillos, you may have most of these things in your kitchen:

  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 6-8 tomatillos, husked and roughly chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3  7 oz cans of mild diced green chilis*
  • 2  15.5 oz cans of cannellini beans
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • juice of a lime

*we've roasted hatch chilis in other chili recipes, but wanted this one to be as simple as opening a can... easy enough to prep in the morning before work.

Here's what you'll do:

1. Toss all of the ingredients in your slow cooker, stir it up a bit.

2. Set the slow cooker on low for 8 hours, or high for 6 hours.

3.  When you're ready to eat, use a fork to pull the chicken apart into shreds.  Add more salt & pepper to your preference.

4.   Garnish with cilantro and lime (optional)


xo & a pinch, 


Green chicken chili top.JPG

Repost: Slow Simmered Split Pea Soup

On a freezing cold day, especially during my favorite thing in the winter (a snow storm) we like warm, hearty soup.   During our recent "blizzard", split pea soup was on our menu, and despite appearances, it is truly "blog worthy!"  

The key to the creamy texture, is the slow cooker. It started on the stove but, once all the ingredients were mixed it's moved to the slow cooler and 6 hours later, or 4 hours, whatever your preference, voila! 


What you need: 

  • 1 lb bag of split peas
  • 2 Tbls olive oil 
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped into centimeter sized pieces 
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped into centimeter sized pieces 
  • 1/2 bunch of thyme (about 8 stalks) 
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped 
  • 4 cups chicken broth 
  • 2 pound baby ham hock, cut in half, one half stays whole, the other half gets cut up into centimeter size cubes. 
  • Large pot 
  • Slow cooker

Like most soup recipes, you'll start the pan with your olive oil, onion, celery and oregano. Let that simmer for about 5 minutes. Add your chopped garlic, your carrots and the all the ham hock, stir it up, add the thyme. and stir another 5 minutes. Things will get cozy, the onions a tiny bit brown. Add your peas and mix a bit longer, maybe 3 minutes, then add your chicken broth. 

I let it simmer for about 5 minutes. At this point, you can keep the process moving for another day or keep it rolling. If you're ready to roll the only thing you need to do is remove the one uncut ham hock (you can leave it out or chop it up, totally up to you on how much ham you'd like in your soup) Next, take the contents of your pot and pour into your slow cooker for 4 or 6 hours. 

You won't believe how beautiful this is when it's done! 

Enjoy, xo Measure 

Spiced Pumpkin Coconut Soup


My husband and I make bets against one another.  You know, to keep things spicy. (insert eye roll and pun intended!)  Anyway, we're betting who can lose 15 lbs by Thanksgiving. Don't tell him, but I'm not exactly in weight loss mode right now (yoga = body acceptance and ultimate bliss - try it!) So, ssshhhh! I'm letting him win.   I do find that when I am in actual weight loss mode, soup is a key element towards success.  

Like most commuters, I come home from work ready to eat the front door.  The hours between 6-8PM can be a danger zone, but soup can be a life raft to get you safely through; away from the Halloween candy.   While you are getting out of your work clothes, yelling at the kids to finish homework, getting the dog fed, emptying back packs, etc. etc., a pot of soup can be quietly simmering on the stove, waiting for you.  It can be a snack while you get the rest of your dinner ready, or your dinner on its own.

I like this one because it uses some of my favorite things; a trusty can of pumpkin, delicious spiced apple cider, Toasted Coconut Almondmilk and hot sauce.   

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup spiced apple cider (we LOVE Trader Joes)
  • 2 cups almond/coconut milk (we LOVE Califia Farms Toasted Coconut Almondmilk!)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • hot sauce (optional, we LOVE OuterLimits)
  • salt & pepper
  • sour cream or crème fresh(optional, for garnish)
  • toasted walnuts (optional, for garnish)

In a saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil and cook shallot until soft & fragrant.

Add pumpkin, apple cider, coconut milk, cayenne, salt & pepper and whisk while heating.  Be careful to keep the heat low.  When it bubbles, you'll get tiny explosives leaping out of the pot.  Actually, when that starts happening, its done!

Taste and add more cayenne and/or hot sauce.

Top with cream and toasted walnuts.

xo & a pinch,

The Classics: French Onion Soup

I usually don't insist upon proper serviceware, but for French Onion, you need crocks.  I got these at Target years ago and they are holding up nicely.  I also use them for chowders and crumble desserts. 

I like making French Onion Soup for guests because its classic and traditional, yet unexpected from a homecooked dinner.  Its also host-friendly. Once you have it simmering, it can sit on the stove all day until you're ready for the final elements; a hunk of toasted bread and delicious creamy Gruyere (also, a must).

I don't usually insist upon a proper cheese, but Gruyere.  I'm sorry.  This dish will cost you about $8 in cheese.   The rest, however is mostly just onions (cheap) and water (free!).

french onion soup.JPG

Here it goes:

  • 8-10 small - medium white onions, sliced(enjoy a good cry)
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 32 oz box of reduced sodium beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh thyme 2-4 sprigs
  • 1-2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar(secret ingredient ALERT!)
  • 6  slices of French baguette, cut on a diagonal
  • thinly sliced Gruyere cheese, about 3 slices per crock
  • parmesan cheese, grated for topping

1.  In a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook onions, butter, salt & pepper, olive oil, uncovered.  Stir frequently, until onions are very soft and golden brown, about 45 minutes.  Add brown sugar and cook for 5 minutes.  Add water throughout the cooking process as needed to prevent sticking or over browning. 

french onion soup browning onions.JPG


2.  Stir in wine and let cook for 5 minutes.

3.  Stir in broth, water, bay leaves and thyme and simmer for 10 minutes.

4.  Reduce heat to low and partially cover.  Let lightly simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  The longer it simmers, the better. 

5. When ready to serve.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove thyme stems and bay leaves.  Taste soup for proper seasoning.  

6.  Place bread slices on large cookie sheet and bake about 10 minutes until dried and toasted. Reserve toasts.

7.  Place crocks onto foil-lined cookie sheet.  Ladle soup into crocks.  Place one slice of bread into each crock. Top each with 3 slices of cheese to cover. Sprinkle parmesan cheese onto each bowl.

8.  Broil until cheese is melted and golden about 2 minutes.

Stay cozy & patient!  Spring will be here soon... I think.?

xo & a pinch,

Baked Potato Soup

Ok, so its cauliflower.  You know I love skinny-food trickery and cauliflower is my best partner in crime.  I promise, when you're eating this, you'll think its potato soup.  Its creamy, hearty and when its topped with the usual baked potato bits, you'll find yourself high-fiving "I can eat this whole thing?!"  Yes.  Its cauliflower.  Ok, there's one potato in there.

Here's what you'll need:

  • potatoes, 2 small or 1 large, roughly chopped
  • cauliflower, 1 large head, chopped
  • vegetable or chicken broth, 1 cup, but you may use less
  • salt & pepper
  • cheddar, shredded for topping
  • bacon, cooked & chopped for topping
  • chives or scallions, chopped for topping
  • sour cream, dollop for topping, if you wish

1.  In a large pot over high heat, add the cauliflower & potato. Cover with water and add about a tsp of salt.  Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the vegetables are fork tender.  Drain in a colander and return to the pot. 

2.  If you are using a blender or food processor, let the cauliflower cool completely.  Then, in batches, blend mixture until smooth.   If using an immersion blender, blend until smooth or your desired consistency.  Return the pureed cauliflower to the large pot.

3.  Over medium heat, stir while adding broth until you get your desired consistency.   Season with salt & pepper.

4.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with bacon, cheese & scallions.

 What's your favorite cauliflower recipe?

xo & a pinch,

Easy Fish Chowder

So, its March and its snowing here on the Jersey Shore.   I'm not mad, but come on!    I hate to be one of those weather-talkers, but spring has been peeking its little head out here and there and ... what a tease!

Anyway, I love this dinner on days like this because it too, is kind of a tease.  A good briny clam will always bring the summer into your kitchen, while the tomato-y broth is cozy and warm.  

  • 4 cod fillets, about 1 lb in total
  • 8-10 clams, scrubbed
  • Canned tomatoes, 28 oz
  • Chicken broth, about 1 cup
  • White wine, about 1 cup
  • garlic, 4-5 cloves, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled & chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6-8 small potatoes
  • Old Bay seasoning, 1 tbsp
  • Hot sauce, 2-3 shakes
  • olive oil, 2 tbsp
  • salt & pepper
  • Crusty bread or garlic bread for dipping (optional, but not really optional)

1.  In a large pot over medium high heat, swirl olive oil.  Add potatoes, carrots, celery and onion.  Season with salt & pepper.  Cook for 8-10 minutes.

2.   Add garlic, Old Bay and hot sauce and cook another 3-5 minutes.  Add wine, cook for another 3 minutes.

3.  Add tomatoes, broth and heat to boiling then reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 5-8 minutes.  Add salt & pepper to season.  Taste!

4.  Add cod fillets to the pot and cook 4-5 minutes until opaque.   Add clams to the pot and cover.  Let cook 5-8 minutes until clams are open. 

5. Stir pot, removing any clams that did not open. 

6.  Add chopped parsley and serve.  

** don't forget the crusty bread.

Stay cozy!

xo & a pinch


Cauliflower Cream of Mushroom Soup

Its no secret, I love cauliflower.   To me, cauliflower is the most magical vegetable in my kitchen.  Its versatility is endless and adding lots of cauliflower to your diet does wonders to your waistline.  Sometimes when I'm eating mashed cauliflower, I find myself trying to resist eating the entire plate.  I forget what I'm eating and think its potatoes!  No offense, potatoes, I love you too.   We go way back, but ... muffin top.

So, I introduce my newest cauliflobsession*- cream of mushroom soup.   Like I said in my post on our Cauliflower Broccoli Cheddar soup** (also fantastic), I would never eat the true versions of these soups; made with cream, flour and butter to get the "cream of ---" consistency.   To me, soups shouldn't be laden with fat and carbs.  Soup should not be a guilty pleasure.   It should be healthy, satisfying and cozy-inducing.  This soup is all of the good things and its so delicious and creamy, you'll forget what you're eating!

  • I small onion, chopped
  • garlic, 2-3 cloves, chopped
  • olive oil, 2 tbsp
  • cauliflower, 1 large head, chopped
  • beef or vegetable broth, 32 oz.
  • 8-10 mushrooms, chopped
  • Worchestershire, a small splash
  • thyme, fresh (a few sprigs, plus more for garnish)
  • salt & pepper

1.    In a large pot over high heat, add the cauliflower. Cover with water and add about a tsp of salt & pepper.  Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the cauliflower is fork tender.  Drain in a colander and return to the pot. 

2.  If you are using a blender or food processor, let the cauliflower cool completely.  Then, in batches, blend mixture until smooth.   If using an immersion blender, blend until smooth or your desired consistency.   Return the pureed cauliflower to the large pot.

2.  Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium high heat, swirl olive oil.  Add garlic, mushrooms & onion.  Cook for 10-12 minutes until softened.  Add thyme and splash of Worchestershire.   Season with salt & pepper.

3.  Put the pot of pureed cauliflower over medium heat.   Stir in broth until you achieve your desired consistency and let heat through.  Once you have the consistency that you like, stir in the cooked mushrooms & onions. (remove the thyme stems beforehand)  Taste for proper seasoning, adding salt & pepper as needed.  Garnish with fresh thyme leaves.

So good.

xo & a pinch,


*they say that people who create their own words are geniuses, just saying.

**for the Cauliflower Broccoli Cheddar soup recipe, search out site.  It'll pop right up!

Slow Cooker Turkey and Pearl Barley Soup


Coming home to a slow-cooker dinner makes me so excited and happy, that it completely washes away my workday exhaustion.   Opening the door to warm, delicious aromas reminds me of coming home to family dinner when I was a kid.  Thank you Slow Cooker!!

This soup is a great way to use up turkey left-overs for a weeknight dinner.  Its thick and savory, almost like a stew.  The pearl barley makes it creamy, luxurious and satisfying.  

Here's what you'll need:

  • carrots, 3-4 chopped
  • celery, 2-3 stalks, chopped
  • onion, large, chopped
  • turkey, 3 cups, cooked and chopped (or chicken)
  • chicken broth, low -sodium 48 oz. carton
  • barley, 1 cup uncooked
  • sage leaves, 1 tbsp. chopped, plus more for garnish
  • salt & pepper

Here's what you'll do:

Add chopped vegetables to the slow cooker pot.


Add the turkey and barley, season.


Chicken broth and water until all is covered with liquid.


Add your chopped sage, cover and set on low heat for 8 hours.

To serve, stir, ladle into bowls.  Top with a bit of fresh sage and enjoy.

xo & a pinch



Chilled Corn & Basil Summer Soup

I never believe it when people say "I'm too hot to eat!"  How could that be true?  Ok, maybe some days are too hot for meatballs and Chianti but... well, is that even true?   

Now, "I'm too hot to cook"  I get.  Hanging over the grill or the stovetop is not ideal during a heat wave.  This little chiller resolves that issue.  It also answers the old summer time question of "what do I do with all of this corn and basil?"  Its delicious and satisfying too.

Heres what you'll need for 4 small bowls:

  • 4 ears of corn, cooked (we roasted ours, but boiled is just fine)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup milk (fat content, your choice... we use whole organic milk)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil, for garnish

Equipment:  Standard Blender or Immersion Blender

Here's what you'll do:

1.   In a large bowl, combine the kernels from THREE ears of corn, (reserve the kernels from one ear for later), lime juice, minced garlic, milk, chopped basil, salt & pepper (about 1/4 tsp each).

2.  Blend everything together until you achieve your desired consistency.   Add more milk if you wish.   Taste for proper seasoning.

3.  Once youre finished blending, stir in the kernels from the last ear of corn.   Chill for at least an hour before serving.   Ladle into bowls and garnish with basil and olive oil.

Stay cool.

xo & a pinch,



Slow Cooked Sirloin Chili

Here's something I thought I'd never say:

"There's nothing like a warm bowl of chili in the middle of spring" 

We are officially unfriending Miss Mother Nature.   That's all I'm saying. 

In the meantime, we'll be enjoying this delicious chili, under our cozy blankets...waiting.

Here's what you'll need:

  • about 2 lbs sirloin, cubed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • olive oil, 2 tbsp
  • black beans, 15 oz can, rinsed
  • kidney beans, 15 oz can, rinsed
  • crushed tomatoes, 2 28 oz cans
  • beef stock, 2 cups
  • beer, 1 bottle, any brand
  • cumin,  1 tbsp
  • chili powder, 2 tbsp
  • cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp
  • red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp
  • salt & pepper
  • cilantro,  shredded cheddar, sour cream for garnish

What you'll do:

1.   Over medium high heat in a skillet, heat olive oil.  Add meat and season with salt and pepper.  Brown the meat on all sides, 5-8 minutes.

2.  Pour meat into the slow cooker.  Add all chopped vegetables, beans, spices, beer and beef stock.  Stir all ingredients.  Set on low for 8 hours.

Top with shredded cheddar, cilantro or sour cream.

Its warm, fragrant and spicy, just like spring should be.  Still waiting...

xo & a pinch


Cauliflower Broccoli Cheddar Soup

broc cauli done 2.JPG

Spring is being really shy this year, but I'm still having a spring fling.  Its still dreary, drizzly and chilly here, but I need few excuses to eat cauliflower soup.  As weird as it sounds, I can not resist a cauliflower soup.   I'm hooked and not at all shy about it.    

This soup is practically "free" if your tracking on weight watchers, but if you're looking for something warm, satisfying, good for you and crush-worthy.  Here you go:

  • I onion, chopped 
  • garlic, 2-3 cloves, chopped
  • olive oil, 2 tbsp
  • cauliflower, 1 large head, chopped
  • vegetable broth, 32 oz.
  • broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces (frozen works too)
  • salt & pepper
  • cheddar cheese, 1 cup shredded plus more for topping  (we used white cheddar)
broc cauli white cheddar.JPG

1.    Over medium high heat, add olive oil to a Dutch oven or large soup pot.  Add garlic and onion.  Cook for 8-10 minutes or until onions are softened.

2.  Add cauliflower, vegetable stock to pot. Season with salt & pepper.  Let pot come to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately 25 minutes, when all vegetables are softened.    Taste to adjust salt & pepper.

3.  If you are using a blender, let the soup cool completely.  Then, in batches, blend mixture until smooth with some small chunks (if desired).  

4.  Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth or your desired consistency. 

broccauli soupmaking.JPG

5.  Heat soup to a simmer over medium heat (if you let cool before blending).  Now,  add broccoli (frozen or fresh) to the creamed soup and let cook 5-8 minutes.  Lastly, stir in shredded cheddar.  When its melted through, its ready to eat.

So, about this weather...

xo & a pinch,



Cauliflower Leek Soup

Any good Irishman knows that potatoes and leeks just go together, much like peas & carrots!   As an Irish-Italian woman getting ready for a beach vacation, I think cauliflower and leeks are even better friends.  (Ok, I added 2 small yukon golds.  The Irish made me do it!)  The small amount of potato added to this giant pot of cauliflower soup adds the creaminess and satisfying texture that you're looking for with no added cream, milk or butter.  

All I can say about this soup is my ever picky, carnivorous, veg-adverse husband said  "Its surprisingly really delicious!"

Here's what you'll need:

  • leeks, 4-5 stalks, cut, soaked and rinsed well
  • garlic, 2-3 cloves, chopped
  • olive oil, 2 tbsp
  • potatos, 2 small or 1 large, peeled and roughly chopped
  • cauliflower, 1 large head, chopped
  • vegetable broth, 32 oz.
  • salt & pepper
  • cheddar, (we used vintage Irish Cheddar "KerryGold"), shredded for topping
  • chives or scallions, chopped for topping

1.   Over medium high heat, add olive oil to a Dutch oven or large soup pot.  Add garlic and leeks.  Cook for 8-10 minutes or until leeks are softened.

2.  Add potatoes, cauliflower, vegetable stock to pot. Season with salt & pepper.  Let pot come to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately 25 minutes, when all vegetables are softened.    Taste to adjust salt & pepper.

3.  If you are using a blender, let the soup cool completely.  Then, in batches, blend mixture until smooth with some small chunks (if desired).  Then re-heat to serve.

4.  Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth or your desired consistency.

5.  Ladle into bowls and top with shredded cheddar and chopped chives.

"For each petal on the shamrock this brings a wish your way. Good health, good luck, and happiness for today and every day." 

xo & a pinch


Italian Wedding Soup

How perfect is Italian Wedding Soup on Valentines?  It says it all; comfort, home, warmth, love, Italian-ness... best of all, its easy.  My little boy Valentines like it too!

Here's what you'll need for the meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 5 links Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 white onion, grated or minced
  • 2/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • fresh parsley, small handful, chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

Gently combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Create 1 inch balls and set aside until ready to brown. 

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.   Brown meatballs on all sides 8-10 minutes total, set aside.   Brown in batches.

For the soup:

  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 32 oz box of chicken stock
  • White wine, a splash
  • 1 cup of small cut pasta.  We used Stelline
  • baby spinach or escarole, a small bunch, washed and roughly chopped

Heat the olive oil pn medium-high heat in the (unwashed) Dutch oven, (the brown bits from the meatballs adds delicious flavor).  Add the chopped onion, carrots and celery, season with salt & pepper,  and cook for about 5-8 minutes.  Add wine and cook for a 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, meatballs and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, add the greens and cover for 1 minute until wilted.   Salt & pepper until you love it. 

Cook the pasta in a separate pot according to package instructions and add desired amount of cooked pasta to each serving of soup.  OR Stir in the pasta and cook for 8 minutes, until pasta is cooked.  

*When heating left-over soup, the pasta gets too soft and I cringe. To avoid this, I cook the pasta separate.   If you don't mind, or you don't care for left-overs, feel free to just cook the pasta to the soup pot.

be sure to put your heart in it!

be sure to put your heart in it!

italian wedding cooking.JPG

Garnish each bowl with extra grated parmesan and enjoy.

A glass of wine and a kiss makes it a perfect meal!

What special dinner will you make for your Valentine?

xo and pinch,



Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

black bean soup.JPG

Here in New Jersey its frigid.  Its 100% winter.  Sometimes when its this cold, I like to ignore it.   Not completely, I mean shorts & flip flops would be evidence of insanity, but a little mid-week, melt-me fiesta...? extremely sane.

This soup is perfect for my mood right now.  Its warm, spicy and creamy with a hint of the sunny, bright tropics.  Lime & cilantro will do that.   Margaritas will too.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 2  13 oz cans of black beans, rinsed
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed 
  • 2  white onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth, low sodium
  • cilantro, 3 tbsp. chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Lime, juiced
  • Hot sauce, 3-4 shakes (we like Outerlimits Jalepeno Lime)
  • salt & pepper

For Garnish:

  • fat free sour cream
  • lime slices
  • cilantro

Here's what you'll do:

1.  In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, add the olive oil and chopped onion.  Cook on medium heat for 5-8 minutes until translucent and slightly browned.  Stir often.

2.  Add the garlic and all spices including salt & pepper, stir to combine.   Add broth, beans and sweet potato.  Add water or extra broth to cover, approximately 2 cups.   Heat until it reaches a boil.

3.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, until sweet potatoes are fork tender.   

4. If you are using a blender, let the soup cool.  Then ladle 3/4 of the soup into the blender in batches.  Blend until smooth and reserve in a separate large bowl.   Return the blended soup to the remaining unblended soup into the pot and stir.  Store or reheat at this point.

5.  If you are using a emulsion blender, blend leaving some chunks of potato and whole beans. 

6.  Once blended to your preference, stir in lime juice.  Taste for deliciousness and season with salt & pepper as needed.   Ladle into serving bowls and top with lime slices, sour cream and cilantro leaves.

Stay cozy, my friends.

xo & a pinch,



Minestrone with Great Northern Beans & Pesto

I love Christmas but for me, winter weather isn't ideal.  The cold, the early darkness, the dreary skies...I'm more of a flip-flop & margarita person!  Rather than just wish it all away, I make an effort to look out for the great things about the season.  Third to flannel shirts and red wine, soup is on the list of "a few of my favorite things."  (yes, I sang that part)

When you come home from work to a dark & chilly house, its so nice to set a pot of soup on the stove while you get yourself settled.   I make soup on the weekends when I'm cooking other things.  Its so easy to chop a few extra carrots & celery, a bit more garlic and throw together something satisfying, warm and healthy for mid-week.  

On the other hand, overcooked pasta is on my list of least favorite things.  When you re-heat soup, the pasta just softens... (I cringe).  For this reason, I boil the pasta separate.  

For this batch, I soaked and Great Northern Beans, which is a nice thing to do when time allows.  You get a bit more texture from the beans and you control the sodium, but a can of cannellini works just as well.

Heres what you'll need:

  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1  28 oz. can crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 28 oz. can of chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup Great Northern Beans, soaked OR 1 large can cannellini or other white beans
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • spinach, medium bunch
  • salt & pepper
  • Pesto to top, if desired
  • Parmesan cheese, grated on top, if desired
  • Ditalini, cooked

Heres what you'll do:

For the beans:

Inspect beans while rinsing under cold water. Cover beans with water and soak overnight.   Drain. 

For the Soup:

1.  In a large pot on medium heat, add olive oil, carrots, onions, celery and garlic and cook until tender. Add beans, tomatoes, broth, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt & pepper.  Let simmer on low heat until tomatoes cook, stirring occastionally, about 30 minutes.

For the pesto:

In a food processor, add 1 cup fresh basil leaves, 1 garlic clove, chopped, 1/4 cup of pine nuts (or walnuts), 1/4 cup grated parmesan and pulse until chopped.  Drizzle in about 1/4 cup of olive oil and continue processing until smooth.   (Or try "Pistachio Pesto" using our Search feature.) 

To serve:

In a shallow serving bowl, add cooked pasta, the soup and top with pesto and more parmesan cheese. 

Stay Cozy!

xo & a pinch!




Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Welcome Fall!

Welcome Fall!

A good for you, low fat & yummy butternut squash soup, yup!

This is one of those recipes that marks the start of fall for our household.  It's a rare combination of comfort food and health food; a winner!   I generally make it with non-fat "College Inn" chicken broth because personally, I can't taste the difference in this recipe and I prefer a lighter substitute to heavy cream. All the luxurious richness comes from a good whirl in the blender!

One time, I made this soup as an appetizer for a family event and went off the reservation- I didn't "measure!"  BIG MISTAKE.  I got a little over zealous with the ginger and ended up tossing the entire batch into the trash, so as to avoid ginger-burns on the tongues of the entire Nicastro clan (my maiden name). Needless to say, I learned my ginger lesson the hard way, as did that poor, discarded butternut squash.  Bottom line, MEASURE your ginger, please, unless you're like my girl, Pinch, in which case you probably just know...

Here's what you'll need:

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
    • Use a microplane to get it as minced as possible. If you don't have a microplane, eventually you'll need one but, peel slices off with a potato peeler then chop/mince as finely as possible.
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 flat tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups, chopped onion
  • 2 small butternut squash (about 4 lbs total- pre-cut)
  • 4 1/2 cups of chicken broth if you like your soup thick
    • 5 1/2-6 cups if you prefer a thinner soup

Toppings vary but, I like to use:

  • Creme Fraiche
  • Toasted pine nuts
    • toast in toaster oven at 400 with some kosher salt, until light brown
  • Sage leaves
    • saute in butter until a little crispy

Pre-heat your oven to 370, cut your squash in half (be careful) and take the seeds out. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet and bake for about 40-45 minutes until soft. Take it out of the oven and let it cool before you peel and chop it up.

In a heavy dutch oven or large sauce pan, heat up your vegetable oil and add onion, garlic, cinnamon, brown sugar & ginger in the pan. Cover it and let it cook for 10-15 minutes, stir occasionally but, keep the top on.

After you peel your squash, cut it up into 2-3 inch pieces and pop it into the party in the pot. Then, add the broth. Cover it again, let it simmer on medium heat for another 10-15 minutes.

All of this, in small batches will need to run through your blender but, keep in mind you never want to blend HOT liquid. Let it cool down before you put it in the blender (not kidding) I think every one I know that's tried this has a story about being covered in burning hot liquid, there's no reason for that, just let it cool down a bit. You can put it back on the stove and re-heat it before you serve it once it's blended.

Be safe and enjoy! :)

xo Measure

A drizzle of creme fraiche, sage leaves & pine nuts 

A drizzle of creme fraiche, sage leaves & pine nuts 

Coconut Corn Chowder with Sriracha Shrimp & Bacon

When something is being sold 6 for $1.00, I buy now and figure it out later.  These days, fresh summer corn is practically free.  We're so lucky to have fresh food in abundance at every farm stand- one of the best things about summer!   I love to use up the seasonal surplus while we have it.  (Basil, up next!)

In this chowder, corn becomes the main dish.  The coconut milk adds a little something sweet & special in contrast to the spicy, sriracha shrimp & salty bacon topping.  When I make this corn chowder, I make a big batch and hope for left-overs.  Never happens.  At the end of the night- Dutch oven empty- every time.

For the Chowder:

  • Bacon, 4 slices, diced and browned
  • I small sweet onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 green pepper, minced
  • 1/2 red pepper, minced
  • 1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • Corn, 6-8 ears (approximately 3 cups of kernels)
    • husk and toss ears of corn with salt, pepper and olive oil.  Bake in 350 oven uncovered for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool before cutting kernels.
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt & pepper
  • cilantro or scallions, fresh for garnish
About the size that you want your peppers and onions

About the size that you want your peppers and onions

1. Brown the bacon in a Dutch Oven over med-high heat.  Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and reserve on a paper towel lined plate.

2. Leaving the bacon grease in the Dutch Oven, add onion, garlic, peppers, potatoes and corn.  Heat through for 5-8 minutes, stirring once or twice.

3. Add red pepper flakes, Old Bay and cumin. Season with salt & pepper. Stir in chicken broth and coconut milk and bring to a soft boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until heated through and potatoes are tender.  Taste for preferred seasoning.

While the chowder is simmering, cook the shrimp.

For the Shrimp:

  • 1/2 lb peeled, tail-on Shrimp
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp Sriracha
  • salt & pepper

In a large skillet, heat olive oil, butter and garlic on medium heat.   Add Sriracha sauce and sauté until shrimp is pink and opaque, 5-8 minutes for medium-sized shrimp.

To serve:

Ladle chowder into bowls and top with 2-3 shrimps, crumbled bacon, scallion or cilantro.


My corn kernel cutting method

My corn kernel cutting method


  • I find that holding the cob on its side and cutting away (rather than down) makes for easier, quicker and more stable kernel removal.
  • For a creamier consistency, use an immersion blender or potato masher to blend some of the chowder during the process.
  • In the winter months, when corn is found only in the freezer section,  this recipe is still delicious!

How do you use summer's surplus of corn?

xo & a pinch,



Veggie Spice Chill

garden fresh!

garden fresh!

Roasted Red Pepper Gazpacho

In my sweetest dreams, I have an enormous garden right in my back yard.  Each week, I fill the biggest basket I can carry with fresh, gorgeous vegetables to share will my family and friends.  In reality however, I have a tiny herb garden and a patio tomato plant.  This week, we were lucky enough to pluck three ripe juicy tomatoes off of our plant.  (see above mixed in with store-bought plum tomatoes)  Perfect timing after this long, wonderful weekend of hot dogs, chips, pies, ice cream(s) and various libations.   

Gazpacho is my favorite way to eat healthy.  Its spicy and delicious... with tortilla chips and a margarita! 

What you'll need:

  • 6-8 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped with the peel on
  • 1/3 cup roasted red peppers, chopped (jarred is fine)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cup of V8 juice
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp hot sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper

What you'll do:

Combine all of the above items in a large bowl.  Toss everything together and taste a few bits to be sure its the spicy-ness that you like.  Then, blend everything.  I use a standard kitchen blender on the "pulse" setting until I get a small chunks.  I do it in batches and combine the blended gazpacho in a large Tupperware.  Be sure to CHILL your gazpacho at least one hour before serving ( a very important step ).   Garnish with cilantro and a tiny swirl of sour cream or olive oil.

There are a ton of variations on this classic.  How do you make yours?

xo & a pinch,

All chopped up in a bowl.  Take a little taste now, before you start blending.


Eso Gazpacho!