Posted in Life

Soup #5 and Some Cupcake Baking

Let’s start with dessert, eh? We had one of three farewell parties last week for my boss. The first was a potluck, for which I baked cupcakes. For the second party, I drank margaritas. It was at a Mexican spot. The last one is on Tuesday in Little Italy. I’ll just drink.

Pretty in pink and yellow. I really want to work on my presentation / decorating skills this year.

My soup this week was Thai Chicken Soup. The recipe is from Cooks Illustrated. It’s SO GOOD. Like, mouth watering good. And, I don’t even like coconut and cilantro and I was gobbling this up. I won’t lie, it took a trip to my Asian market for a lot of the ingredients. But, I’ll be making this a lot. The only thing I changed was chicken breasts to thighs and one of my cans of coconut milk is ‘light’.

Posted in sewing

Pattern Review: Burda Magazine 10-2009-119

Wow. I thought I would get this dress finished over the New Year’s break. Not so much 😉

Somedays, I think I have got to leave pleats alone. Remember this shirt? Or my last dress? Luckily, Burda’s 10-2009-119 was not an epic fail. I actually quite like it. But, these pleats and I have got to go to therapy to work on our relationship.

I was immediately drawn to this dress because it’s in just about my favorite neutral, gray. And, it had that awsome flared skirt that would skim over my legs. I like how the tucks in front  created interest. What I forgot, is that I am god-awful at sewing pleats! Not one single tuck is the same size as the next tuck. I find myself triple checking every single tuck because the whole concept is a little confusing to me. But, I love how they look!

First, let’s just stop pretending you don’t see it and address my little ‘style’ change to the skirt portion. I somehow managed to not mark the tucks (or extend them) to the hem. And, rather than go back and remark the skirt once I realized, I decided a 60s style full skirt would do me just fine. But, I am not totally lazy– the dress is fully lined!

And, while Nigel has heated seats, I cannot go sleeveless in winter. Today, it was a balmy 40 degrees (after two weeks of temps in the mid 20s, it almost felt like spring). This dress can easily be worn with a turtleneck underneath.

The fabric is a heather gray stretch wool from A 2009 purchase! I’m still on my 2010 fabric fast. It’s very soft and warm and totally a steal at less than $5 a yard. But, it is not pant weight IMHO as they suggested.

I don’t know what I think about the sizing though. I sewed a 40 in this (I normally sew a 38 — but I’m experimenting). It is a very snug fit in the bust. So snug, that without the turtleneck you can see my bra straps in back (again — fully lined). Or, I have back fat now. Either way — not a good look. That could easily be my fault since I can’t sew tucks. But, I have found that Burda’s fitted / tucked dresses don’t work well for me sizewise. Remember this one?

I’m still on my soup / cooking kick.

Tortilla soup is soup #3. Yummy. I went to the Latino store and even bought real crema, fresh tortillas and cotija cheese. I know. I need to work on my food photography skills 😉

Soup #4, Garlic Potato soup. Which I think is your basic Baked Potato or Potato Leek Soup. So not really ‘healthy’ between the sour cream, cheddar, heavy cream and starchy potatoes. but, it was delicious.

Soup #5 was today’s lunch. Vietnamese-Style Beef Noodle Soup. There is a Thai-Fillipino store less than a mile from my house with everything I needed. Su-wheet. Never thought I would find my self putting cinnamon in chicken broth!

Posted in Life

Black Bean Soup

I still haven’t blogged about the GREATEST CHRISTMAS GIFT EVER. But, it’s got to be photographed and I just haven’t gotten around to it. That’s next.

On Sunday, I made soup #2. Half of it is in the freezer with all of Soup #3 . I can’t eat two huge pots of soup on my own in a week!  This is from Cooks Illustrated. Honestly my bible when it comes to cooking. I’m always hesitant to repost recipes. If we do that, what will happen to cookbooks and magazines? But, this one is so good it must be shared with the world!  This is one of my favorite soups — and the one that will make me re-think the ‘no repeats’.

First, I should mention: I don’t eat pork or shellfish. So, for below I use a thick slice of turkey ham, a smoked turkey leg or often nothing. I also run the veggies through the food processor. I’m not much for mincing. And, I use a full tablespoon of red pepper flakes. Sister likes it spicy!

From Cooks Illustrated:

Makes About 9 Cups, Serving 6.   Published January 1, 2005.

Dried beans tend to cook unevenly, so be sure to taste several beans to determine their doneness in step 1. For efficiency, you can prepare the soup ingredients while the beans simmer and the garnishes while the soup simmers. Though you do not need to offer all of the garnishes listed below, do choose at least a couple; garnishes are essential for this soup as they add not only flavor but texture and color as well. Leftover soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 or 4 days; reheat it in a saucepan over medium heat until hot, stirring in additional chicken broth if it has thickened beyond your liking.

1 pound dried black beans (2 cups), rinsed and picked over
4 ounces ham steak , trimmed of rind
2 bay leaves
5 cups water
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions , chopped fine (about 3 cups)
1 large carrot , chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
3 ribs celery , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
5 – 6 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons lime juice , from 1 to 2 limes
lime wedges
minced fresh cilantro leaves
red onion , finely diced
avocado , diced medium
sour cream


  1. 1. FOR THE BEANS: Place beans, ham, bay, water, and baking soda in large saucepan with tight-fitting lid. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; using large spoon, skim scum as it rises to surface. Stir in salt, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer briskly until beans are tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours (if necessary, add another 1 cup water and continue to simmer until beans are tender); do not drain beans. Discard bay. Remove ham steak (ham steak darkens to color of beans), cut into 1/4-inch cubes, and set aside.
  2. 2. FOR THE SOUP: Heat oil in 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking; add onions, carrot, celery, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic, pepper flakes, and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in beans, bean cooking liquid, and chicken broth. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 30 minutes.
  3. 3. TO FINISH THE SOUP: Ladle 1 1/2 cups beans and 2 cups liquid into food processor or blender, process until smooth, and return to pot. Stir together cornstarch and water in small bowl until combined, then gradually stir about half of cornstarch mixture into soup; bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, to fully thicken. If soup is still thinner than desired once boiling, stir remaining cornstarch mixture to recombine and gradually stir mixture into soup; return to boil to fully thicken. Off heat, stir in lime juice and reserved ham; ladle soup into bowls and serve immediately, passing garnishes separately.
Posted in Life, sewing

Sewing Kit and Miso for Breakfast

Two years ago I thought it would be really fun to make a new soup every week. I even squatted on the blog name ’52 Soups’. Well, I never got around to doing anything about it. But, over the weekend I got an itch and made not one, but three different soups. Right now, I’ll post on the first one.

I got absolutely no sewing done this weekend between visiting friends, trips to IKEA and savoring the last few minutes of the holiday. One place I did go was to our local H-Mart. It’s a (mostly Korean) Asian grocery store just outside of the City. I went because I’m on a ‘eat miso soup for breakfast kick’. Why? Because I don’t eat enough leafy greens and I love soup. Between that, the tofu and other veggies — it’s hard to think of a better way to start my morning. I will eat anything for breakfast as long as it’s warm.

While shopping at H-Mart is like shopping on the streets of Calcutta, it’s well worth the effort. The soup base comes in a packet like Ramen (this one is lower sodium). I just added water, tofu and a cup of chopped bok choy. I swear I wasn’t hungry until late afternoon.

While at H-Mart, I found this adorable sewing kit that’s coming to work with me on Monday. While I do plan to tell people to hem their own damn pants, I occasionally have a clothing malfunction that could benefit from an on-site kit.

There are 10 rolls of thread, two needles, a needle threader and a few white buttons. The kit was $4.95. It definitely needs a mini scissors (which I actually have from Christina courtesy of Daiso).

Oh, and to all my West Coast PR friends, I can stop hating on you for your iPhones. I got an iTouch this weekend! So, Christina, Nancy, Cindy, Leslie and Leslie — I will stop asking if there is an app for that 😉 I should note the Blackberry above is for work. And it should not be confused with my personal mobile. Yeah… a few too many electronic doo-dads, huh?