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Coconut Lemongrass Soup


I know what you’re thinking!! “Christina, Coconut Lemongrass Soup has entirely too many ingredients for me! You can take this recipe & shove it.” To that, my honest reply is, “You’re correct! It’s a lot of effing ingredients!” (I dare you to make sense of effing, Auto-correct! D’OH!! It DID by turning “effing” into “offing”!” And you, Sir, are a formidable opponent.)

Use this recipe to challenge yourself to:
a) Dirty every pot/pan/measuring cup/knife & cutting board in your house.
b) Impress the checkout woman at Ralph’s with your slew of exotic ingredients,
c) Make a beautiful, yummy soup that is sure to impress!

All you need are these ingredients:

Hooo boy, that’s a lot of stuff!

This picture was so dark as a cloud was passing over the house at just that moment. I brightened it in Photoshop. It still looks weird/ugly. As my dad always says, try not to think about it. He’s a real softie.


For the Infusion:
1.5 c dry white wine
(4) 14.5 oz cans light coconut milk
12 cloves garlic, peeled & bruised
6 stalks lemongrass, cut into 2 inch pieces & bruised
12 slices fresh ginger
3 Thai chilis (cut lengthwise & seeded)

Ok. First you’re going to make the “infusion.” This is great news! You’ll make this, pop it in the fridge, and enjoy the rest of your evening with the whole bottle of dry white wine (less the 1.5 cups, mind you), Bravo TV and a massive pile of laundry to avoid.

Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let it sit for a minimum of 2 hours. Overnight is ideal. And more supportive of any Bravo habit.

NOTE: Wearing rubber gloves, I used 3 Thai chilis which I first sliced lengthwise, scraped out the seeds, and then chopped. Thai chilis are MORE THAN HOT. (If you don’t believe me, click that link & scroll down – Thai chilies merit a 5 chili pepper heat rating which is 1 chili pepper hotter than a Serrano chili pepper. D’OH!)

Slice ‘em lengthwise

To say these are hot is an understatement.

Get rid of these seeds. Unless you’re making this soup for an enemy. Oh yeah, and no matter how much your eye itches, do NOT SCRATCH YOUR EYE!

[Incidentally, the infusion can be stored in the fridge for up to a week in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, after straining it.]

Ok. Now for the soup!

For the Soup:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1.5 c minced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 teaspoons salt
1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
2 c chopped cabbage
About 10 small mushrooms, quartered (feel free to do more if you like them!)
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced in short strips
1/2 pound extra firm tofu, diced
1.5 c basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1-3 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp sugar

OPTIONAL: 10 kaffir lime leaves, torn
Any veggies will be fine as substitutes: cauliflower, baby corn etc.

1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, saute about 4-5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic, ginger and half the salt for another minute or two.

2. Add the carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, and the rest of the salt and stir. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

My advice: unless you want pink soup, do NOT use purple cabbage!

3. Add zucchini and bell pepper, cooking for another minute or two.

4. Strain the infusion into the soup, and heat to almost boiling.

5. Turn heat down to low and simmer for a few minutes.

6. Add the tofu, basil, lime juice, about 10 torn kaffir lime leaves (if you have ‘em!) & sugar.

7. Add cayenne & curry powder to taste. Another option if you have it: add fish sauce. Of course I didn’t have any fish sauce so I didn’t add any!

Oh my gosh! I love this soup but I loved it even more over the next two days. You may notice my finished soup has a pinkish hue to it. That became even more pronounced each day and was due to the purple cabbage. I used purple cabbage simply because I had it in my fridge already. You should use a non-purple cabbage. Unless you want pink soup!

1. If you can’t get Thai chilis, you can use Jalapeños or Serranos. See the link I posted above about how to substitute them.
2. Don’t worry about the kaffir lime leaves if you can’t get them!
3. Lemon juice can replace the lime juice in a pinch.
4. Vegetables – feel free to throw any veggies you think will be good in there! I chose veggies for beauty, color, and convenience.

This soup will really wow your company! Maddie surprised me by picking out all the mushrooms. And then EATING them. What kid does this?

Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Vegetable Heaven. (Thank you, Nina!!)


Coconut Lemongrass Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 6-8

Creamy, Thai-inspired soup with complex flavors. Happens to be vegan too!
  • 1.5 c dry white wine
  • 4) 14.5 oz cans light coconut milk
  • 12 cloves garlic, peeled & bruised
  • 6 stalks lemongrass, cut into 2″ pieces and bruised
  • 12 slices fresh ginger
  • 3 Thai chilis (seeded & chopped)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1.5 cups minced onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 c chopped cabbage (NOT PURPLE)
  • 10-20 small mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 red peppers, thinly sliced, in short strips
  • ½ pound extra firm tofu, diced
  • 1.5 c coarsely chopped basil
  • 1-3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • cayenne & curry powder to taste

  1. Combine the wine, coconut milk, 12 cloves garlic, lemon grass, sliced fresh ginger & chilis in a large soup pot or Dutch oven & bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat and leave to infuse for at least 2 hours. Overnight is ideal.
  2. NOTE: infusion will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Just strain it and put in a jar with a tight fitting lid.
  3. Now, for the soup, heat the oil at medium in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Saute the onion for about 4-5 minutes, or until it’s translucent. Add ginger for another minute. Add garlic for another minute stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms, carrots & cabbage. Cook for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add zucchini & red pepper, cooking for another 2 minutes.
  5. Strain infusion into the pot and heat to almost boiling.
  6. Turn down & simmer for a few minutes.
  7. Add lime juice, tofu & kaffir lime leaves.
  8. Add 1 tsp sugar.
  9. Finally, add cayenne and/or curry powder to taste!
  10. ENJOY!!

I was eating this soup up to 5 days after making it and all the veggies held up really well. I would guess it’s good in the fridge for a week tops.


Haunted Party of Five

Between my neat habit of obsessing over upcoming earthquakes, overpopulation, poisoned water supply – or in general, just imagining every possible “Final Destination” scenario no matter where I am (Hello, ferris wheel on Santa Monica Pier – you know what I’m talking about…), in addition to wine & Real Housewives, I’ve found another escape.

WARNING: There may be spoilers in this post!! Turn back now to Fatty’s Banana Bread if you plan to watch this but haven’t already!

Have you been seen it? Not since “Party of Five” have so many calamities befallen an American Family in a GORGEOUS, HUGE, multi-million dollar house.

Party of Five House:

No ghosts/murders/abominations in that house. Nosiree – just car accidents, orphans, pregnancy, drug problems, infidelity, and a neglected toddler.

This house is also gorgeous, expensive, in California, and the site of some…strife.

Infidelity is the least of their problems here and any babies/toddlers here would’ve been better off neglected!

(Incidentally – this house was on the market last year. I’m sure they’re still considering offers

But I’m not here to explain the premise of the show or help sell the house – I’m here to boast about all the plot twists I called (out loud to G while he tried in vain to hear the show.) **SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT READ ON!**

1. Tate is Constance’s son. When Constance told Vivien about her children she said something to the effect that one of them had been beautiful but that she had “lost him to other things.” I said to G, “Tate is Constance’s son!” to which G replied, ” ———.”

Because he had headphones on and didn’t hear me.

You’re probably saying to yourself, “No s___, Christina, Tate was revealed as Constance’s son in last night’s episode. Tell us something we DON’T know!” You’re 100% correct but I only just found out last night that I was right about that and I’m still pretty excited!

2. Second thing I called: that little toothy monster in the white nightgown was the first owners’ child. This remains to be seen…

3. Third: hmmmm… There’s really only one thing I called correctly and one’s pending. So big deal! It’s only been 4 episodes!

Here are some questions. Wondering if I’m just missing something (whilst talking to G)??

1. Is Tate alive or dead? I think he must be dead because the dead cheerleader from his school said she’d now be 34 years old yet Tate appears to be high school age or at least in his early 20′s.

2. Remember the bitchy girl that Violet & Tate scared the bejeezus out of in the basement? Did she know Tate already? B/c afterwards when she was oh poor-me-ing over what had happened and asked Violet, “What WAS that?” (Good question, by the way…) Violet replied, “That was just Tate with a mask on!” as if she knew Tate as well. If she didn’t know him wouldn’t she have asked, “Who’s Tate, yo?”

3. Why can’t the murder victims leave the house (except on Halloween)?

4. Why does Vivien kick her husband out & choose to stay instead? I realize this is a dumb question. We’ve been asked to suspend our disbelief so many times already I shouldn’t have asked this. All I know is after being tied up & almost cut apart by some Manson-ite copycat murderers, the last place I’d send my husband was out. I’d be in that cookie-cutter studio apartment in Palms faster than you could say “popcorn ceiling.”

5. Whatever happened to the real gay fluffer who was supposed to come stage the house for them? Or is the real estate agent in on this too?

6. What did the nurse/technician see on the Ultrasound that made her faint & how come the PARENTS aren’t as concerned about that as say, I am?

7. What, what, what the HELL is that little creature in the white nightgown in the basement (I know my theory but want to hear yours)? Oh my god – I’m scaring myself at 3:10PM in my house in full sunlight…what’s BEHIND ME??? No worries – just more unpacked boxes from when we cleaned out the garage TWO MONTHS AGO. Anyway, mixing a lack of height with sharp teeth and a frilly white nightgown has always been frightening. My call: that creature is the current state of the original owners’ baby. After the baby was kidnapped, murdered & dismembered, his father was shown trying to sew animal feet onto a piece of his leg. Aggh. Oh. Mama mia. Somebody please explain?

Strawberry Lemonade Butterfly Cupcakes

Maddie wanted “flowers & butterflies” at her birthday. I found this idea on Pure & Yummy. It was surprisingly easy. Between these & the store-bought Breakstone’s French Onion Dip

it was my most asked about recipe at the party. Really people? Store bought onion dip? (But honestly, I love it too!)

Here’s what you need for the strawberry lemonade cupcakes (filthy toaster not included):

2 1/4 c flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon zest
12 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
1.5 c sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c milk
2 c fresh strawberries, chopped

For syrup:
1 c lemonade concentrate, thawed
3/4 c confectioner’s sugar

Get started!
1. While you are preheating the oven to 325, look at the clock.
What? Only 10:37PM? PERFECT time to start making these for tomorrow!

2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt & lemon zest


in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the butter until it is fluffy.

4. Add sugar and eggs (one at a time).

5. Add half of the flour mixture & mix on a low speed.
(Someone forgot to take pictures of the next few steps. I was “in the zone” i.e. tired.)
6. Add milk and mix until smooth.
7. Finally, add the remaining flour mixture & mix on low until JUST blended.
8. Fold in strawberries.

Now spoon mixture into the paper liners



about 3/4 of the way to the top.

You should have 24 cupcakes.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. I did the toothpick test- it should come out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool.

Now you’re ready to make the syrup! Get out your “ingredientses” (as Teresa Giudice calls them):

This is really easy: just whisk together the confectioner sugar & lemonade concentrate in a small bowl. With a toothpick, make holes in each cupcake (deep holes as you are going to saturate each cupcake by drizzling the icing over the tops and into those deep holes (that’s what he said.) How many holes? I dunno – 6-8? 4-10? Whatever you’re up for! In the original recipe she made mini cupcakes but I made standard sized so you decide! WARNING: this is likely to make a sticky mess so put something under the cupcakes to catch that stuff unless you really love cleaning & re-cleaning your counters.

Strawberry Lemonade Butterfly Cupcakes
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 24

A fresh, sweet, summer cupcake!
  • 2¼ c flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1½ c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ c milk
  • 2 c fresh strawberries, chopped
  • SYRUP:
  • 1 c lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • ¾ c confectioners powder sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Fill cupcake tray with paper liners for 24 cupcakes.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Stir with a fork and put aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter until it’s fluffy. Add sugar & beat well. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add half of flour mixture to the bowl and beat on low until just mixed. Add milk and mix until smooth. Add remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed until just blended. Fold in fresh strawberries with a spatula.
  5. Spoon batter into liners about ¾ of the way full. Should fill all 24 liners.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. They are done when a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Let them cool COMPLETELY! (I’m serious.)
  8. SYRUP: Whisk together powdered sugar & lemonade concentrate. **MESS ALERT: Lay some wax paper under your cupcakes before you go any further!**Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops of each cupcake. Drizzle syrup over tops of cupcakes saturating each one.
  9. Frost as desired!


I made a plain vanilla buttercream for the frosting because I wanted something firm and less sweet (HAHA!! – RIGHT!) that could hold up those butterflies. This is SO easy and I completely forgot to take pix. I added fuschia food coloring to it and voila! I had pink frosting upon which a butterfly could light. (Light?)

Anyway, here’s a link to the recipe!

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Make sure your frosting is firm enough to hold the butterflies. Just add powdered sugar until it’ll work!

How did I make those dad-blamed butterflies, you ask?
First, all you need is:

1. Wilton’s Candy Melts (whichever color(s) you like) for the WINGS. (From Michael’s or Party City or you can even order online.) I had green & brown.

2. Store-bought frosting for the BODIES.

3. White or colored non-pareils (which I totally forgot to add)

4. A couple of Ziploc bags.


Here’s what you do:

1. Cut up pieces of wax paper. A piece for each set of wings and another little piece for each antenna. Put them on whatever surface you plan to use to cool them.
2. Add about 1/2 cup brown (or whatever will be your OUTLINE) candy melts to a Ziploc bag. Follow the directions on the Wilton’s bag. It will tell you how long to microwave, then massage/mix, microwave some more. When it is all melted and gooey, close the Ziploc and cut a corner off of it.
3. Put your drawing or printout of the wings/antenna under each wax paper so that you can trace it with the melted candy. Apparently I did not take pix of this but I will attach a PDF of my drawing in case you want it. Trace the outline of the wings and antennae (they should not be connected).


4. Now melt whatever colored candy melts you got in another Zip-lock. This will be what you use to “color” the wings. Just fill in between the lines. Don’t worry about being too perfect. Thank garsh I got a pic of this!

You’ll get the hang of it quickly!

Buttload of wings!

5. Let them cool. I actually made these the night before and left them out. Out of reach, that is, of tiny hands.
6. Frost your cupcakes. I used Wilton’s cheapest disposable bags with tips that didn’t even fit! I just forced the tips in and hoped for the best! After frosting the cupcakes (making sure my frosting was on the “stiff” side) I stuck the wings in and using a small round tip and another frosting bag I connected the wings with the brown bodies. What did I make the brown bodies with, you ask? Good question! I used that Duncan Hines store-bought chocolate frosting. It’s very firm and since you barely need any of it, who gives a fig if it’s not homemade? Who’s gonna notice? Then stick the antennae in however you like them!

Thank garsh only my hands are in the picture at that hour!

I wish I had more photos of the decorating steps. That part was done in the morning up against the clock so I had no time for fanciful pix. But I’m sure to do it again and will leave myself more time. Or not!

Don’t worry too much about these – they’ll look cute – you don’t have to be a perfectionist about them. I saw other versions of these that were VERY cute with different colored butterflies, each matching its own cupcake. That was way too ambitious for me, not to mention both Michael’s & Party City were out of pink candy melts.

The butterfly idea came originally from a book called Hello, Cupcake! via Pure & Yummy.

Here’s where I got stuff:
- cupcake tray – TJMaxx
- Wilton’s Candy Melts & napkins, plates, etc.(Party City)
- Frosting bags & tips (Michael’s)

Next time I will cut out 1/2 cup of the sugar in the cupcake recipe. It is just too sweet though I got TONS of compliments on them. I don’t think anyone would notice if it were gone.

I think that covers it! Please comment below if you have any questions, if I forgot anything. I probably did!

Maddie & Bea are 1 & 3 or “Cupcake Porn”

Well, Maddie’s 3 and Bea’s 1 but Bea and 1 don’t rhyme. We were really lucky to have my dad and the A’s come celebrate with us!

Maddie told me she wanted a “butterflies & flowers” theme until I was done making 24 chocolate butterflies. Then she told me “I changed my mind. I want DRAGONS!”

She got butterflies.

Thank god my sister in law was there!! She appeared like a magic fairy princess around 6AM to help me with EVERYTHING and then she took photos at the party! I couldn’t have done it without her!
That’s my torso next to the cupcakes. I don’t like it but I DO like the colors of the veggies!

This was a pink & green park party. I spent all day Friday & the wee hours Saturday preparing everything. To be honest, my sister in law, angel, sent from Heaven, also spent the wee hours Saturday. And the later morning hours too. Oh, and she took all these photos as well. THANK YOU, ALLISON!

This is not a cupcake porn page.

Or is it?

Stay tuned for the cupcake HOW TO in the next posting…

Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

Cucumber/cream cheese sandwiches.

G hauling 3 of the cutest kids in the world around

Andrew & Grampa

Little Sylvie just turned 1 a couple of weeks prior. Happy Bday!


Aston mastered rings and now bowling.


Ava goes vertical!


The place is lousy with babies!


Thomas, Bella & Root Beer. Root Beer, you are NOT a gentleman.


Thanks for the idea, Charlotte!

Coffee filters + paint + a pipe cleaner = a butterfly!

"First you do this, and then you do that. Is anyone listening??"


"Where'd everyone go?"


Maddie did hers one-handed.


Aston, don't leave your cupcake here!


We absolutely LOVED having family there! We loved seeing friends at the party – friends we don’t get to see very often due to busy schedules and that pesky little thing called “work.” And I love baking and planning. But because of all the things I had to leave till the last minute…I was exhausted by the time the party started!

With Rebecca.


By the time this photo was taken I was too tired to get back up & light the candles on the cake.

The words of my mother in law rang in my head, “I always hated birthday parties.”

Next year G and I will be taking the girls to this place. They recently got a beer/wine license. Phew!

We came home and sat around watching football. (Not me, I wasn’t watching football.) Maddie loves having family around. And so do we.

Patsy, don’t blame Andrew for this:

And thanks to Allison, we got a family shot!

I have crazy eyes here.

Later that night, after a yummy dinner with margs at Gilbert’s, we finally cut the cake! This is an excellent triple layer chocolate cake that I made last fall. This time it was DRY. And I ran out of time to decorate it. But it was the candle ritual that mattered!

The next day we headed to the Natural History Museum.

Andrew & Allison had to leave soon so we finally opened presents. Ready….set…


I thought I’d never finish this posting & I hope you didn’t think you’d never stop reading it! Happy birthday to both our sweet girls!!

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