High Kalerie – How I learned to stop worrying and love the vile weed.

What I am about to say amounts to cultural heresy: I hate kale.

Guess where you can stick this.

Guess where you can stick this.

I know you say you love it. I know it’s supposedly the best thing I can put in my mouth (heh), but I’m sorry. I call bullshit. It tastes like old broccoli in leaf form.

At a diner they will serve you a hamburger or chicken salad drowned in mayo, but put a lettuce leaf and a scoop of cottage cheese on the plate, and all of a sudden, it’s a “diet pate”.  It’s the same thing with kale.  I mean it’s a food so supposedly virtuous, just having it on the plate makes you feel like you should lose two pounds by morning. It’s like cottage cheese (which I will never like).

I think as women, we spend so much time on diets trying to be thinner/healthier etc that our taste buds get out of whack. This is why all food that people want to say is delicious AND healthy should be man tested. They will tell you if something healthy tastes like crap. (Unless they haven’t slept with you and think they might have a chance to.)

Your cauliflower "mashed potatoes" are amazing!

Your cauliflower “mashed potatoes” are amazing!

“Shiratake noodles are a perfect pasta replacement! And only 40 calories!”  – Lies. They smell like dead goldfish, taste about as good, and are evil rubbery things just cut to look like pasta. They should be arrested for fraud.

“Use fat free greek yogurt instead of sour cream, you’ll never know the difference!” – Except that your mouth now feels like paper.

And my personal favorite:
“OMG! Kale chips are amazing! They’re as good as potato chips!!!”

First of all, we will ignore the OMG, as it is never okay.  Beyond that, I will say that no; no they are not. Not even close. Kale chips are somewhat palatable to me, but I add oil and salt and/or grated parmesan (cheese makes everything better). And they were still just kind of… flimsy? You don’t get that satisfying crunch. They just kind of dissolve in your mouth like a bad broccoli flavored listerine strip that you have souped up to make it just okay. If I really LIKED them given all that added stuff, fine. But I just tolerated them because I was supposed to.

MMMM.  Brown leaves.

MMMM. Brown leaves.

They aren’t bad… They’re just not GOOD.

And because this is a supposed “nutritional powerhouse” (the pretentiousness of that phrase makes me want to punch someone in the neck), everyone seems to be trying to do something to make it taste good, but in the meantime they are taking things that are yummy and ruining them.

Because oatmeal isn't gross enough.

Because oatmeal isn’t gross enough.

This is how you properly fuck up a beautiful thing.

This is how you properly fuck up a beautiful thing.

This is what angered me the most:

Kale margarita.  when you want to be both self-righteous and drunk at once!  Bonus, looks like a breakfast smoothie.

Kale margarita. when you want to be both self-righteous and drunk at once! Bonus, looks like a breakfast smoothie.

Is nothing sacred???

Yet despite my anger I soldiered on. Everyone kept raving about it. I tried a multitude of recipes, and it still felt like I was forcing myself.

Until this. I don’t know how it happened. I guess it’s a mishmash of recipes I tried plus some tinkering of my own, and wonder of all wonders, I NOW LIKE KALE!!! I now frequently eat a head of kale for dinner prepared in this way. And while I don’t lose two pounds the next morning, the scale has definitely been inching down, and I actually CRAVE this. And oh yeah, it takes ten minutes.

Kick-Ass Kale

.5 oz chopped pecans
1.5 tsp olive oil
Dash red pepper flakes
1 head kale (whatever kind you like, I’ve tried several and it’s all good.)
Sea salt
1/4 of a lemon, (zest first, reserve zest then cut)
1/2 tsp Grade B maple syrup (no fake log cabin crap)

Preheat frying pan/skillet and turn to medium heat. Add pecans and stir constantly for one minute or so until they darken and you can smell a nutty, toasted smell. Remove from pan.

Slice the center thick rib from each kale leaf and discard. Wash kale leaves but do not dry them. The water will help them cook.

Roll them up (doesn’t have to be pretty, if they don’t fit on top of each other well, just bunch them up and hold them in place with your fingers). Slice into ribbons. FYI, this is called a chiffonade, which makes you sound super fancy and like you know what you are doing. It’s also a great technique for herbs. Google chiffonade if need be.

Heat oil over medium heat and add red pepper flakes. Let cook for 30 seconds and add kale. Stir to coat with oil as much as possible. Season with a few good shakes of sea salt. Cover with lid, it doesn’t have to fit on the pan though it can, you can just cover the leaves if you don’t have a lid big enough for a pan, which I do not and it works out fine.

After a minute, add 2 tbsp of water. and cook 1-2 more minutes until tender.
Add lemon zest and the juice of the quarter lemon and the maple syrups. Let cook uncovered another minute, stirring occasionally. Add pecans, toss and serve.

It should have just a little kick from the red pepper, a touch of sweetness from the maple syrup, and a smokiness from the pecans. You can sub a quarter cup white beans for the pecans, but I much prefer it this way.

Calories – 279
Fat – 18.6 g (all good fat)
Fiber – 5.9 g
Carbs – 26.5 g
Sodium – 188 mg (stats are without salt added, adjust accordingly)
Protein – 8.8 g



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Frankenstrone – (Or, you’re not going to starve to death, I promise.)

Behold! The Bunny Bowl!

I’m one of the only people I know who does not go batshit crazy for Halloween.  I mean, I sort of get the appeal.  It’s fun to dress up and some people get amazingly creative with it.  But for me I just don’t feel like it’s worth the effort, and maybe it’s because I’ve hit my 30s, but my dignity will not allow me to dress as a slutty hamburger or what have you and parade around in public.  (That’s for special times…)

No. I don’t want to hear you say anything about special sauce.

All that said, I do remember LOVING it as a kid.  In my strangeness I know I once went as  a high cholesterol breakfast.  (Eggs and bacon, which was basically a sheet with some yellow and brown felt.  I was a weird kid.)

So it does kind of chap my hide that mother nature is fucking with Halloween for the second year in a row. Last year it was Irene, and this year it’s Sandy, which has been dubbed appropriately enough, the “Frankenstorm”.

So I decided to make my soup on Saturday just because I didn’t have much else to do.  But when I passed by the supermarket it looked like people were preparing the goddamn apocalypse.  This is the Upper East side of Manhattan.  It is very unlikely we will lose power, but if we do I don’t think any of us are in danger of starving to death over three days.  (OMG!  I might have to eat something with gluten!)

But that’s not my favorite way! That only meets 99% of my criteria!


So, the end result is that I had to make do with what I had on hand.  I didn’t intend on making a thematic soup.  Really I was only short a few beans and it wouldn’t have mattered, but despite being a ridiculously easy recipe, yesterday this soup was just a cluster fuck.   I also substituted fiber gourmet pasta for regular since it’s what I had and I love it.

So.  This is the recipe I intended to make:

* 1 cup chopped onion
* 1/2 cup chopped celery
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* zucchini, cored and diced
* 1 tablespoon oil (2 tsp plus 1)
* 2 cups bottled water
* 2 Tbs Better Than Boullion – Beef (or skip the water and use 2 c homemade beef broth.  Regular boullion cubes suck.)
* 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can no-salt-added whole tomatoes
* 1 TBS tomato paste
* 1 cup low carb or high fiber pasta like fiber gourmet or Darielle low carb (fiber gourmet is best)
* Italian Seasonings (basil oregano, parsley) to taste
* salt and pepper to taste
* pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
* bay leaf
* 2 (10 oz packages) frozen mixed vegetables
* 1 (15 1/2 ounce) cans no-salt-added kidney beans, drained

Sauté onion, celery and garlic in 2 tsp oil in large pot
Add water and Better than Boullion or stock
Drain tomatoes and add liquid to pot along with tomato paste.
Cook pasta separately.
Chop tomatoes roughly and add.
Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
In the meantime, Cook zucchini separately in a pan with remaining tsp oil over medium heat til tender.

Remove soup from heat and blend with an immersion blender if desired.  I desired.
Add seasonings to taste, bay leaf, zucchini, frozen vegetables and beans.
Simmer 15 minutes to heat through.  Add pasta.

And here’s what transpired:

All was going according to plan.  I’d made this before without incident.  So I’d gotten to the point where I had made the pasta and drained it, and sprinkled it with a bit of salt.  I ate a couple with my fingers while stirring the soup.  Then I ate a few more.  And so on until I gave up the ruse and ate the rest of the pasta.  Damn.  Then I made more but did my nails so I couldn’t grab any.  True story.

I tasted the soup and it seemed a bit bland.  I thought it could use a touch more garlic.  So I added some garlic powder, having forgotten that my garlic shaker has holes the size of the sun.  Great.  Now the soup tasted like a foot.  And for some strange reason it didn’t seem to have enough liquid.  So now I had a sort of wet, footy casserole.  Not what I was going for.

I was pretty sure all was lost, but looked in the fridge for inspiration.  And then I did something I’m not proud of.

Oh yes.  Yes I did.  I found an unopened 32 oz bottle of V8. (Full disclosure: I think I once had ideas about making it into bloody marys, but found the idea to be too much work in the end.  I top out at 3 ingredients for a cocktail.)  So it had been there for… awhile.  I’m really not sure.  But I hadn’t opened it and the expiration date wasn’t til 2013 so…  In it went.

And surprisingly, it helped a lot.  The soup is pretty good now.  It needed a few seasoning tweaks due to the extra liquid, but despite all the shenanigans, I’m actually pleased with how it turned out in the end.

Note on stats – Stats do not include the additional pasta eaten on the sly.  Stats go up to around 230 using regular pasta rather than fiber gourmet or low carb.  They are also VERY conservative.  I’m calling this 8 servings but it’s more like 10 or 12 considering there’s 6c liquid alone and tons of veggies.  And you really can’t overdo it with this soup.  It’s too filling.

Calories  156.4,   Total Fat  0.9 g,        Saturated Fat  0.1 g,        Polyunsaturated Fat  0.3 g,        Monounsaturated Fat  0.1 g,   Cholesterol  0.0 mg,   Sodium  427.0 mg,   Potassium  596.6 mg,   Total Carbohydrate  27.8 g,        Dietary Fiber  9.5 g,        Sugars  2.2 g,   Protein  9.5 g,   Vitamin A  78.5 %,   Vitamin B-12  0.0 %,   Vitamin B-6  9.4 %,   Vitamin C  22.5 %,   Vitamin D  0.0 %,   Vitamin E  2.4 %,   Calcium  8.6 %,   Copper  12.4 %,   Folate  16.4 %,   Iron  20.5 %,   Magnesium  12.5 %,   Manganese  21.2 %,   Niacin  10.4 %,   Pantothenic Acid      3.1 %,   Phosphorus      14.3 %,   Riboflavin  11.8 %,   Selenium  3.0 %,   Thiamin  13.7 %,   Zinc  6.0 %,


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I never promised you a garden soup

So like a good novel, we begin in the middle.  I started the soup challenge a few weeks ago, but have been too busy with my wifely duties to myself that I haven’t had the patience to sit at a computer.  But oh the soup.  The soup has been so good that I have to share it with you.  And today’s soup took it so far over the edge it actually drove me to a computer.  So take that as you will.

I’m taking a huge risk here.  I know I may be putting people off.  I’m starting with mushrooms.  But wait, don’t leave yet!  It has booze.  It tastes boozy and creamy and rich and is still low calorie and decadent.  This will work well into stupid February.

Now even I think “ick” when I hear of mushroom soup.  I like the flavor in stuff, but I don’t want to come face to face with the fungus.  I don’t want to bite into that scary fungusy head.  So I did what I do with any soup that has more vegetables than I want to deal with – I used an immersion blender.  This is a tool that is about $15 and makes you think every soup is made mainly of potato, even if it’s just lame things like celery and onion.   I can get behind that.

So please note that this soup is a bit higher in calories and fat than most of my soups.  But you’re still clocking in at under 200 for a serving so I don’t want to hear it.

Anyhow I first got the idea from Anthony Bordoin’s recipe.  His idea is to take an onion, a package of button mushrooms and a shitload of butter and cook it, then add some chicken broth and sherry.

Okay, fair enough, but we can do better.  Never use an onion when you can use a shallot.  Never use a button mushroom when…  well scrap that.  Never use a button mushroom.  It’s a fucking imposter.  Use whatever the hell else you want that doesn’t come from a can, but button mushrooms are evil and everything that is wrong with the world.  They are a fungi but don’t have the rich earthy taste of real mushrooms.  When I see them in the supermarket I glare at them.  They know I’m onto them!

Then there is the butter.  Oh the butter.  My dear barefoot Contessa is guilty of this as well.  Of COURSE it’s going to taste good if you drown it in butter and oil, or cheese, or deep fry it.  Duh.  But you SHOULDN’T HAVE TO.  That’s what you do when you are starting with shitty ingredients and you want to mask the taste.  It’s the culinary version of the spicy crunchy tuna roll.

And blasphemy above all blasphemy, there was no garlic anywhere.  It’s not a dessert, so that makes no sense.

So next time I shall do something a tad more popular like my old fashioned chicken soup or peppery broccoli potato, but today you get what you get and you don’t get upset.


1 tsp olive oil

1 clove minced garlic

3-4 shallots (enough to equal a medium yellow onion) peeled and chopped

2 tbs unsalted butter

12 oz crimini (baby bella) mushroom, sliced (not too thin)

4 cups chicken stock

2 sprigs fresh parsley

1-2 oz sherry (seriously a little goes a long way, try 1 first)

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat 1 tsp olive oil in saucepan over medium high heat. Add minced garlic stirring constantly for 30 second.  Turn off burner.  Add shallots.  Stir until oil and garlic is evenly distributed.  Raise heat to medium.  Saute until soft, stirring often.  About five mins.  Add 2 tbs butter.  Wait for it to melt.  Add crimini mushrooms and stir.  Reduce heat to low.  Cook ten mins stirring occasionally.  Add  chicken stock and parsley.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling reduce heat to medium low and simmer one hour, stirring occasionally.

Turn off burner and allow to cool for 30 mins (0ptional).  Puree with a hand blender (recommended) or in small batches in food processor or blender.  Return to saucepan and add sherry and black pepper.  Simmer two minutes and serve.  Serves 5.  See nutritional info below.  I know you need to know how much Pantothenic Acid you’re getting…

Amount Per Serving, 1 cup  ,    Calories 190,   Total Fat 10 g,      Saturated Fat 4 g,     Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g,     Monounsaturated Fat 4.4 g,    Cholesterol 18.2 mg,  Sodium 283.9 mg,     Potassium 575.2 mg,    Total Carbohydrate 17.1 g,   Dietary Fiber 0.8 g,     Sugars 4.4 g,  Protein 8.2 g, Vitamin A 14.1 %,    Vitamin B-12 0.6 %,   Vitamin B-6 17.5 %,    Vitamin C 9.3 %,  Vitamin D 13.3 %, Vitamin E 2.5 %,   Calcium 2.6 %,  Copper 18.3 %,   Folate 9.0 %,  ,    Iron 7.3 %,  ,    Magnesium 5.8 %,   Manganese 8.0 %,   Niacin 29.1 %,    Pantothenic Acid     11.9 %,      Phosphorus     13.9 %,      Riboflavin 27.4 %,      Selenium 15.8 %,      Thiamin 10.5 %,  Zinc 5.4 %,

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So I promised you soup. Well, sort of. I promised I would make soup every week, not that you could have any. But I said I’d share the recipes and that should be good enough for you people.

But of course I got bored when I wasn’t internet famous after two posts (what’s wrong with the world, seriously?)  So while I have other yummy soups to share, I do in fact cook many things, so why limit this page only to what can be eaten after oral surgery? So to summarize, this will be a personal blog that acts as a catchall for the healthy cooking that has no business tasting that good, random sewing mishaps (cause I feel like it) and the occasional geeking out over knitting stuff that doesn’t belong on the wheatpenny blog. This will be terribly unprofessional.  Yes, I do need to swear that much.

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