Like the combination of salami and okra, this blog is dedicated to recipes that are born from sometimes unusual mishmashes of leftover ingredients we have on hand at home. We both work full-time so there is always time pressure, especially on weekdays. I do most of the daily cooking, and together my husband and I try to create meals for our family that follow three basic guidelines:

1. Delicious and nutritious.

2. Frugal use of ingredients

3. Edible to everyone in the family

We try to limit takeout food to once or twice a week because it's not good for our waistlines, the cost adds up and can put a strain on the family budget. At the end of the day, I just want to go home and stay home after work. I've found that in the time it takes me to drive to the store and pick up ready-to-eat takeout, I can usually put together something quick at home.

David and I grocery shop together for the entire week. Sometimes we impulsively buy an interesting ingredient at the store with no plan for cooking it, and later I'm not sure how to incorporate it into our meal plan. Thus, by the end of every week, I'm inevitably left with only a few ingredients, many of which do not traditionally go together.

These recipes are a result of those experiments. Some combinations work unexpectedly, some combinations may not appeal to you -- they don't all appeal to us!

When writing up these recipes, I try to be accurate, but often I put together these dishes by sight or taste or availability of ingredients. Most of the photos are David's. We'll note it when someone else contributes a pic.

The wins come when my family says, "I thought this dinner was going to be crazy, but it's actually good."

We hope you'll have the same reaction!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Kale and Tortellini Soup

We look for ways to add more vegetables, especially greens, into our every day meals.  When I read that kale is one of the “world’s most healthiest foods,” I gave it a try.  I was most familiar with kale as a garnish among the containers of vegetables and toppings at the salad bar at work and as an ornamental crop in gardens.  At first, I tried steaming it; no one liked it.  Even a sauté with garlic and olive oil didn’t convince my family to eat this robust vegetable.  Knowing I had to soften the tough kale leaves, I tried them in soup.  Since I almost always have a bag of frozen tortellini in the freezer for quick dinners, I combined the two.  Here’s the recipe that delivered the kale.  We hope you enjoy!
In a large pot, place about a tablespoon of oil olive. Sauté:
            1 carrot, chopped
            1 stalk of celery, chopped
            1 small onion, chopped
            2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
When the vegetables are slightly softened, add:
            1 bunch of kale, washed, stalks removed and roughly chopped into large pieces
When the kale leaves turn bright green (in about a minute or two), add:
            4 cups of low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock and 3-4 cups of water
Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.  Add:
            1 can of chick peas or cannellini beans, rinsed
            1 bag of frozen tortellini (I use Whole Foods brand frozen cheese tortellini) 
Continue cooking until the tortellini are ready (about 3-4 mins – a taste will tell you).  Serve with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes (if you like) and grated parmesan.  Serves 4-6. 
Variations:  When I’m in a hurry, I skip the sautéed vegetables and begin sautéing garlic in olive oil adding in the kale and stock and let that simmer for about 10 mins.  Then add the beans and ravioli.  If you don’t have any beans at home, you can omit them.  If I have some crushed tomatoes (about a cup or so) leftover from another recipe, I sometimes throw them in when I add the stock/water.  I’ve also used frozen ravioli instead of tortellini if that’s what I have in the freezer.  If I have frozen turkey dogs in the freezer, I’ll slice a few of those up and add, too.  The red pepper flakes can go in when the garlic is added during the sauté. 


  1. Made this tonight and we all loved it! Even my children and they can be a tough crowd sometimes! Fantastic recipe! Thanks for sharing it!

  2. Just made this tonight. Left out the beans because I, myself, am not a fan. But the soup was fabulous! Looking forward to trying more recipes.