The Real Housewife of Santa Monica

Archive of ‘Meatless Monday’ category

Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Bread & Chayote Soup


Back in my pre-kid days I went through a 6 month bread-making phase. Without a bread machine. It takes some time but is so totally worth it. What goes better with bread than soup?

My friend brought over some chayotes. (Thanks, Rebecca!)


I didn’t take this picture. Obviously.

Photo from Palace of Latin Food blog.

Have you had these? I hadn’t. Having no idea what to do with them, I found this recipe for chayote soup. It was really easy & yummy – but much better the second and third day. Then I went crazy and made this excellent bread to have with it. YUM!

Here’s what you need for the soup:

Where’s the lid?

2 tbsp butter OR olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 chayote squashes, peeled & diced
[OPTIONAL] 3 large carrots, sliced
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
salt & pepper to taste
crushed red pepper to taste (start with 1/4 tsp)
2.5 cups vegetable broth
1 veg bullion cube (use a chicken flavored one if you can find it! – I actually threw in an old chicken bullion cube I had in the cabinet but Ralph’s has vegetable ones that have a chicken flavor without the poor chicken!)

1. Prepare onion, garlic & chayote.

NOTE: I am no chayote expert but did read about a milky white substance that weeps out of the chayote when you skin/cut it which can cause skin sensitivities. That’s why I wore rubber gloves when cutting! ‘Course I might just be a real Nancy but Lord knows my hands are dry enough & don’t need any added irritants.

2. Melt butter in large saucepan. Saute onion for 4-5 minutes or until translucent.
Add garlic for another minute. Add chayote, carrots,  2 tbsp cilantro & red pepper. Stir to coat with butter.

As you can plainly see, I forgot to add the cilantro. And the carrots. But you won’t!

3. Stir in vegetable broth, bullion cube & 1 tbsp cilantro. Heat to boiling & then simmer on low for 30 minutes. I think I simmered mine over an hour – I kept tasting my chayote to see if it was tender.

4. Ok. Here’s the tricky part. I couldn’t even photograph this since I needed both hands and was using my phone to take pix. In a blender or food processor, puree the whole kit and caboodle until smooth. I did a little at a time because last time I tried to puree a hot soup in the blender there was a LOT of clean up on the surrounding environs. If you like it a little chunky – just puree it a little.

You’ll notice I have whole carrot slices in my soup. That’s because I added maple glazed carrots as an afterthought. I actually have these in my refrigerator all the time for Bea. I will add a link to that recipe as soon as I get a chance! Anyway, they are really tasty but I definitely wouldn’t make them JUST for this soup – carrots do add a nice sweetness though.

5. Pour into bowls & garnish with cilantro or even a dollop of sour cream.

This soup tastes better the second, third & fourth days. VERY healthy yet it seems creamy!

Adapted from AllRecipes.

Creamy Chayote Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 6

A simple, light chayote soup that warms your cold self all winter & seems creamy without a drop of actual cream!
  • 2 tbsp butter OR olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 chayote squashes, peeled & diced
  • [OPTIONAL] 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • crushed red pepper to taste (start with ¼ tsp)
  • 2.5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 veg bullion cube (use a chicken flavored one if you can find it! – I actually threw in an old chicken bullion cube I had in the cabinet but Ralph’s has vegetable ones that have a chicken flavor without the poor chicken!)

  1. Saute onion in butter for 4-5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic & sauté for one more minute. Add chayote, carrots, 2 tbsp of the cilantro, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper and stir often for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add broth & bullion cube. Bring to a boil. When it starts boiling, turn down to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until chayote starts getting tender.
  3. Puree in blender or food processor. Be CAREFUL as it will be hot! If using a blender, do small batches to test it first. Pour blended soup back into your saucepan. Serve with cilantro on top or a dollop of sour cream. YUM!


Now for the bread!! Ooooooohhhh the bread!!

Whoever wrote the directions did it so perfectly I have to just repeat them verbatim. No way to improve on them…

Here’s what you’ll need:

(I just realized I put that Flax Seed in the picture but then forgot to add it to the bread dough. Anyway – you can add a little to the bread dough for extra fiber, lignans & omega 3 fats.)

2 c boiling water
1 c rolled oats
1/2 c honey
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp salt
1 (.24 oz) package of active dry yeast (or 1 1/4 tsp)
1/2 c warm water (NOT hot – hot will kill your yeast)
1.5 c whole wheat flour
4 c bread flour

2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp honey
handful of rolled oats

1. In large mixing bowl (stand mixer bowl if you have one), combine boiling water to oats, honey, butter and salt. Let stand 1 hour.

2. In small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

Someone forgot to take a picture of this.

3. Pour the yeast mixture into the oats mixture. Combine wheat flour and bread flour in separate bowl.

Add 2 cups of flour mixture to oats mixture and combine well.

Continue adding flour mixture to mixing bowl by 1⁄2 cup increments until dough pulls together.

It’s starting to pull together:

But you can see it needs a little more flour:

This will happen when between 5 1⁄2 & 6 cups of flour has been added. You may not need the last 1⁄2 cup of flour. (I did!)

4. When the dough has pulled together, turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Or add your bread hook to your mixer and knead for a few minutes.

5. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hr. (I preheat the oven for about 5 minutes then turn it off, make sure it’s warm but not hot and put the bowl in there to rise, this seemed to work best because for this recipe is there is much more flour than yeast).

Risen dough:

6. Deflate the dough and turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into two equal pieces and form into loaves. Place in 9 x 5 greased loaf pans and cover with damp cloth & let rise again until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. (I return the pans to the oven for this step too.)

7. Preheat oven to 375. While oven is preheating mix milk and honey together in mug and microwave for about 20 seconds. Brush warm milk mixture over loaves and generously sprinkle with rolled oats.

8. Bake loaves at 375 for 25‐30 minutes or until top is golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool before removing from pans.

Can we see that again from another angle?

Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Bread recipe copied verbatim (pix are mine!) from Fly Through Our Window

You can freeze this – just wrap in foil & then put in an airtight Ziploc Freezer Bag.

She’s got a PDF file as a link on her site!


Hearty White Bean Soup


I know what you’re thinking. “Couldn’t she have poured that soup into a clean pot?” The answer is, “No.

I really couldn’t – I’m lucky I got that soup done at all. And it came out great but I agree, it, that moment, really wasn’t a photo op.

Growing a fall garden seemed like SUCH a great idea so I could avoid trips to the Farmer’s Market only to buy (& then let rot) lettuces and greens that appealed visually but that I had no idea what to do with. Well, I didn’t know my garden would grow so quickly and now I have to actually eat this stuff!! (What a problem to have?)

Last week I posted a pic of my fall harvest asking people what to do with it. I got a few great ideas and executed one of them a couple of days ago. I made the white bean soup with my Rainbow Swiss Chard & parsley. Incidentally, those leaves kept really well for about 5 days in the fridge – I washed them, wrapped them in damp paper towels & stored in fridge in a Ziploc. They were really fresh & crisp when I took them out a few days later.

This soup is extremely tasty, healthy, easy & soooooooo good for those chilly (70 degree) fall nights. (That parenthetical was for my sister’s benefit as well as anyone else whose Halloween was cancelled due to SNOW this year.)

Here’s what you need: (+ 1 more can of beans & a bunch of parsley & basil)

2 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
32 oz vegetable broth
3 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans (or white beans – I think mine are bigger beans)
1 (32 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 tsp Italian seasonings
1 bunch greens (spinach, swiss chard, beet greens etc.)
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1/4 c chopped fresh basil

1. Saute onion in hot olive oil over medium heat for 4 minutes or until translucent. Make sure to coat onion with olive oil & stir occasionally.

2. Add garlic and stir. Sautee with onion for about a minute.

I love garlic.

3. Add vegetable broth!

4. Add 2 cans of the beans and 1/2 of the tomatoes to the broth. Turn medium-high to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.

5. To make soup extra creamy, add the 1 remaining can of beans and the rest of the diced tomatoes to your blender or food processor. Hello, I do NOT have a food processor. Christmas is coming, friends & family!!

I cannot emphasize enough how important holding the lid on is.

Not only does this thicken the soup but it also tricks family members into eating things they would never eat in a recognizable form.

Add the blended concoction to the simmering soup.

Isn’t it ironic that some people who gag at the sight of diced tomatoes (or any tomatoes) find odds & ends of pig guts comforting? Being one of those people, myself, I’m definitely not judging!

6. Add chopped greens (whatever you chose/have on hand), the chopped parsley & basil to the soup. Guess what? I didn’t have any basil. I cannot keep my basil alive in the garden (full/partial sun) or even in those window pots you can get at Ralph’s. But I think you ought to add basil to yours. Or not.

Have you seen Rainbow Swiss Chard? It’s a beautiful thing. I only planted it b/c of how pretty it was.

As you can see from my picture at the top of the post, my pot is quite “coated.” Yours won’t look like that. Mine looks like that because I set it to boil, then ran back to the girls’ room to break up a fight. There, I quickly forgot I was cooking and started reading “It’s Christmas, David!” Suddenly I remembered I had set something to boil, jumped up & ran to the kitchen. Sure enough it was boiling, probably for 10+ minutes. Boiling HARD. Anyway, I simmered it after that. We did not eat it right away as it was done just after lunch. So instead I spooned it into freezer bags to store & exchange with our neighbor.

This soup is supposed to be very good after freezing. Since I knew nobody in my house (except for yours truly) would like this soup due to all the ahem, green things & tomatoes, I froze it in 3 parts and will be reheating it this week.

What I learned about freezing soup:
1. Soup with fresh veg freezes better than soup made with frozen veg.
2. Do not freeze soup with potatoes. The potatoes are not tasty & get a strange consistency.
3. Pour soup into airtight containers or bags leaving a little room to expand.
4. Freeze soup in bags flat so they are more easily stored.
5. Store in freezer no longer than 3 months.

Stay tuned for the post with someone eating the soup! I did taste it a whole bunch & it’s yummy. I plan on serving it with a parmesan crusty toast & will share the results!

Love to hear any comments below on what you did differently or how it came out for you! Thank you, Dena, for this idea!

Hearty White Bean Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-6

Tasty & hearty fall comfort food! Easy to make & freezes well!
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 32 oz vegetable broth
  • 3 (15 oz) cans cannellini or white beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 (32 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 5 oz chopped greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard etc.)
  • ¼ c chopped parsely
  • ¼ c chopped basil
  • Freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

  1. Sautee onion in olive oil over medium heat until translucent (about 3-5 minutes). Be sure to stir to coat onion with oil. Add garlic for 1 minute. Be sure to coat garlic with oil as well.
  2. Add broth. Add 2 cans of beans and half the can of diced tomatoes & Italian seasoning.
  3. In a blender or food processor, puree 1 can of beans with rest of tomatoes. Add to soup.
  4. Bring soup mixture to a boil on medium-high heat. Once it’s boiling, reduce heat to simmer for 25 minutes.
  5. Add greens, parsley & basil. When greens have wilted, taste & season with salt & pepper accordingly.
  6. Serve in individual bowls with Parmesan cheese shavings & crusty bread!

This soup freezes well in plastic containers or freezer ziploc bags! Store frozen no longer than 3 months.


Spicy Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers – It’s pretty hot out…

why don’t I put the oven on to 375 for an hour or so?

What was I thinking? My friend posted a recipe for quinoa stuffed squash on my Facebook wall (DANG another plug for Zuckerberg! You haven’t won YET, Zuckerberg!) and, having only multi-colored peppers (on sale at Ralph’s for $1 each!) I decided to stuff some peppers. All I thought about was the lightness, the sweet & the crunch. Not the HEAT.

But I digress… these came out AWESOME!!
After being inspired by my friend’s squash version, I did use a recipe from Christie’s Corner to which I made some changes.

Here’s what you need:

and this:

(I always seem to forget at least one ingredient in the ingredients picture!)

First, pre-heat oven to 375.

2 tbsp oil (canola, olive – whatever you have!)
1 onion (finely chopped)
1-2 stalks celery (finely chopped)
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 cup frozen or 2 ears fresh corn (if fresh, cut off cob)
1/2 cup grated carrots (or whatever you can bear grating!)
3/4 c quinoa
1.5 c vegetable broth
1 c grated cheese (swiss/gruyere if you can find it!)

Heat oil in sauce pan on medium-high heat.

Add chopped onions/celery.

Watch 2 year old rearrange silverware drawer with sticky hands.

When onions & celery are soft & translucent, add spices. It will get pasty & dry-ish so have your can of tomatoes ready to dump in! The original recipe said to use a 28 oz can but I didn’t read the directions so I used a 14.5 or whatever those smaller cans are. Do whatever you want! If you go for more tomatoes, it says to drain them first but I wouldn’t.

NOTE: Do NOT cut your corn off the cob onto a FLAT PLATE unless you feel like washing the kitchen floor afterwards.

Who is holding that corn up?

Add black beans, carrots, corn & 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa.

Now, stir it and if it seems to “dry” i.e. there’s no way in $#@@ that quinoa is going to cook (for those who don’t cook quinoa it is a grain that needs water the way rice does so think about that kind of liquid), add 1.5 cups of veggie broth. If yours has a lot of liquid, hold off on the broth! Mine needed liquid so I added the broth.

If you’ve never cooked quinoa, how do you know when it’s done? Easy – it will have these tiny white “threads” coming out of each grain. You can also taste it and I recommend you do taste it! It should have a pleasing crunchiness. Not to be confused with a bad crunchiness, signaling the need for longer cooking time. The threads look like this:

Now, prep your peppers. The author of Christie’s Corner cuts her peppers sideways so they won’t fall over but I just can’t make that radical move. Instead, I cut just the tips off the bottoms of the peppers to make them flat. See, like this?

Don’t go crazy with this! You don’t want holes in the bottom or your filling will come out. But now that I think about it, who cares? It’ll be good and the filling won’t come out b/c it’s standing up anyway.
See how it stands up:

I didn’t tell you this but you should’ve cut the tops off the peppers first. Don’t cut too close to the stem or it’ll fall out of that pretty ring. Or do. It really doesn’t matter!

Scoop out the seeds/innards & throw into the compost! (If you have a yard & want to start composting – let me know!)

Hold onto the cute little tops!

Now add 1 c grated cheese. I can’t recommend the swiss/gruyere combination cheese enough. The gruyere has so much flavor that you don’t need that much which keeps the dish healthier and the swiss keeps it from being too rich/overpowering. Add salt & pepper to taste & stir really well.

I tasted the filling and didn’t find it spicy enough for my tastebuds but it was plenty spicy for the little monsters. So I separated about 1/3 of the filling into a bowl which I saved for the monsters. To the other 2/3rds (which I intended to stuff the peppers with) I added chopped jar jalapenos. Obviously you can add any kind of heat you like/have! Fresh is great but I am addicted to these hot jalapenos in a jar that I get at Ralph’s. Mezzetta Deli-Sliced HOT Jalapenos. Mmmmmmm…

Now stuff those peppers & put the lids on.

Stand them upright in a baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking oil. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake about 25 minutes. Take out of oven, remove lids & add grated cheese to tops of peppers, put back in for 10-15 minutes.

Take out & serve. These would be good with some crusty bread. Maddie ate hers with a spoon with the pepper rings as a side. YUM I can’t believe how much flavor these have and they are a very light yet satisfying dish for the summer.

As a main course – probably 2 peppers per adult. I had a LOT of extra filling but it’s really good the next day too! Enjoy and please comment on my blog if you make this recipe especially if you altered the recipe at all. Thank you!

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