Chicken, Chard, Bean and Butternut Squash Soup

February 5, 2014 - Written by Diana

I told you I was going healthy for the Superbowl.  We brought this  – Chicken, Chard, Bean and Butternut Squash Soup.  We also brought some berries and greek yogurt with honey – plus vegan chocolate avocado cupcakes.  We did splurge though because my sister in law made some awesome queso with sausage that was great with chips and they also had some Buffalo Wild Wings.  It was a small gathering, but there was plenty of food and even though our favorite team disappointed, we had a good time (well most of us).

I bought my butternut squash last fall at the farmer’s market.  We put them into baskets and stored them on shelves in the unheated basement.  The food doesn’t freeze down there, but it does get rather nippy downstairs. Last year I tried storing them in a warmer spot, but some of my squash went bad.  This year, they are in perfect condition and not even drying out.  I’m thrilled that we put up a nice shelving unit to use for winter storage.

Anyway, I also have been trying to work with beans more, but dry beans not canned beans, and so that was the start of this soup. I roasted most of the vegetables in a glass pan in the oven until almost cooked.  I also baked the chicken breast rather than fry it up.  I wanted the broth to be clear when I served it and not muddied, which is why I did it this way.  And to give it a nice bright taste, I grated lemon peel and squeezed lemon juice into it.  This soup is one of my best tasting, I recommend it for family dinner, or a gathering of friends, or just the two of you.



Pumpkin, Chard and White Bean Soup

November 8, 2012 - Written by Diana

This soup is easy, semi fast and very seasonal.  I made this on vacation with a microwave, a bowl, and one pot on an electric burner.  The kitchen was a small not even efficiency size kitchen.  One microwave, a dorm fridge, a two burner cooktop and a small sink with a tiny counter made up the kitchen.  I have trouble with how small my small kitchen is and I could live with this little efficiency for the one week we were staying in Duck, North Carolina – but I think one week is the limit.

Pumpkin, Chard and White Bean Soup

While the recipe made four bowls of soup, my husband and I both ate two bowls each for dinner.  It was a vegetarian dish for us, you can add sausage to it, or chicken and it would go well.  Also, you could serve it as a soup course along with a sandwich.  While spelt berries were cooking in broth, the microwave was used to partially cook the pumpkin – after slicing in into pieces and cleaning out the seeds and pulp. Only one soup/stew pot was used along with one glass bowl for microwaving the pumpkin. You can easily use your oven to bake the pumpkin, or peel and cook in broth to soften it.  I used a quart of chicken broth that cost me nothing because I used leftover bones to make the broth last winter. The chard melts down quite a bit, so you throw the leaves in at the end, but the stems can be thrown in with the onion in the beginning for extra veggie goodness. I used canned beans – but if you want to really make it a project you can soak the beans twice, rinse it and then simmer it on the stove for hours until they are soft.

This makes up a great hearty soup with chewy spelt, white beans, seasonal pumpkin and chard.  Yummmmmmm!


Pumpkin, Chard and White Bean Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Hearty seasonal vegetarian soup with pumpkin, white beans and chard along with chewy spelt berries.
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Soup
Serves: 4
  • 1 cup spelt berries
  • 1 quart Broth (vegetarian or chicken)
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 small pumpkin
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • big handful of chard
  • salt
  • pepper
  • ⅛ tsp allspice
  1. In the bottom of a soup pot, heat oil and saute diced onion.
  2. Add 2 cups of broth and cook spelt berries until they are the right chewiness.
  3. While the berries are cooking, slice the pumpkin open, scoop out the seeds, place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave until the pumpkin will come away from the skin.
  4. Remove skin and dice.
  5. Add to soup pot. Large dice the swiss chard leaves and throw into the soup pot.
  6. Rinse beans and add to the soup pot along with salt, pepper and allspice.
  7. Heat and serve in bowls.
If you wish to use the stems, dice and saute along with the onion. Instead of the microwave, you can peel the pumpkin, seed it and dice it. Then cook it in the soup pot in broth until soft.


Wine Slushies, Winesicles and Ice Pop Molds – Are You Ready For Summer?

May 18, 2012 - Written by Diana

What happens when you stick your bottle of wine in the freezer to cool quickly and forget about it?  Wine slushies….. I’m sorry, I didn’t have an ice bucket and I thought that was the easiest way to do it.  I’ve thought about making a wine granita.  That’s where you put a liquid in the freezer in a shallow layer and scrape it around every so often mixing it with the liquid that’s left, to create a true wine slushie.  Truthfully, I was sure I was creating some sort of really big snobby wine faux pas… until I found out what they’re doing in Chicago.  Do you think we could do this ourselves?

Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park Hotel offers the perfect adult beverage, in a popsicle. Back by popular demand, this year’s winesicles offers some delicious and frozen options for wine lovers. Come to eno wine room inside the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park for an adults only sweet summer treat.

Red, White and Blueberry!! – Available for Memorial Day Weekend

The winesicles mentioned below are available from Memorial Day through the end of the summer. Each one is available for $5.


Sauvignon Rouge-Sicles


Sauvignon Blancsickles



If you are thinking about making your own winesicles – I suggest you take a look at Growing a Green Family for their molds without BPA (Fairmont Chicago are you BPA free in your molds?) This is a seriously cool idea.  Have any of you made wine slushies, or winesicles?  Let me know how it comes out. Since alcohol freezes at a lower temp, you may only get slushies and not ~sicles.

Here is a link to a winesicle recipe to try:

Bottle Note – Wine on a Stick


Friday Unwind – CalNaturale Wine in Tetrapaks- What Do I Think?

March 30, 2012 - Written by Diana

I was going to go easy tonight with a white wine spritzer.  I’ve been working a lot of overtime to complete a project, and I had decided to try out this wine, and use it in a spritzer.  Unfortunately -when I was looking for a spritzer – the spritz was gone.  No seltzer or even soda – we don’t buy it often, but it’s gone.  So even easier – it’s wine review night – CalNaturale wines – Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and they are made from organically grown grapes!

My dad used to buy boxed wine in the 70s and 80s, but I wasn’t a fan, so I decided to try out the tetrapacks, hoping wine has improved.  Plus, organic wine is definitely something I would look at.  I’m not sure I understand the green vs greener argument of tetrapaks vs glass or glass vs tetrapaks.  It’s more energy to produce glass, but can be recycled vs, less energy for tetrapaks, but while it takes up a lot less space, doesn’t get recycled?  I do know that if you are traveling, the tetrapaks are more convenient and take up less room in the cooler.  It’s easier to take a tetrapak on a hike or to a gathering rather than a bottle, and hopefully no one will know what they are and it won’t get stolen, like ours were at the last family gathering.  Easy to pack in and then easier to smash down and pack out.

As for the taste – it tasted like good decent wine, better than the boxed stuff my dad had back in the day.  The Chardonnay is a little oaky as one would expect from a California white, but not a real strong oak.  My husband prefers white over red, so this was his favorite.  However, though I usually prefer the white, it was a toss up because I think I liked the fruit taste in the red too. I think they’d be great for spritzers, or sangria or for sit down and watch a movie with the husband and drink a glass of wine night. I would definitely buy these, especially if I needed to pack them to go.  They’re the perfect weight for hauling around.

What do you think tetrapaks or not?


Disclosure:  I was given CalNaturale Wine to try out.  I was not paid for my recommendation, the opinion is all mine.


Note – the title says Organic wine, but it’s wine from organically grown grapes, which is different – sorry about that.



Spiced Sangria

September 22, 2011 - Written by Diana

Spiced Sangria – Wow, this looks so delicious I had to share.  I love all the fall fruit used to make this lovely spiced Sangria.

3-4 fresh figs, sliced (or 1 cup dried figs)
1-2 fresh gala apples, sliced
2-3 clementines, sliced (not peeled)
1 lemon, sliced
2 bottles VOGA Italia Merlot
3 cups sparkling apple cider
1 cup orange juice
½ cup brandy
½ cup dark spiced rum
4 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves

Slice apples and insert whole cloves directly into the fruit.
Combine all fruit slices in a glass pitcher and slowly pour in brandy and wine. Cover and chill from 2-24 hours (the longer, the better!)

Before serving, add sparkling cider and orange juice. Stir gently and serve over ice.

Makes about 15 servings.

Photo by  @Rich Brainerd 2011-12, http://2eat2drink.com .


What I’m trying – Wine Doctor Intelli-Stopper

August 24, 2011 - Written by Diana

The Wine Doctor Intelli-Stopper helps to preserve the wine left in your bottle after you’ve opened it, plus removes any air left in the bottle.  The Classic wine preservation kit contains one pump, to remove the air and two stoppers.  You line the preserver pump onto the stopper and pull the air out until the red indicator disappears. It’s easy to use, and though I don’t have a scientific way to measure success (except for the red indicator), I can tell that when I take out the stopper, the whoosh of air tells me that the stopper worked.  I’ve had other stoppers and I also have an electric preservation kit, but none of it comes close to the Wine Doctor Intelli-Stopper. The preserver is small enough to stick in a drawer and doesn’t need to be plugged in to an outlet, more pluses if you ask me. (more…)

Red Wine Blends for your Valentine

February 12, 2011 - Written by Diana

My husband and I are doing you a big favor – we’re tasting wine blends so that you can get our honest opinion of what we think.  It’s a tough job, but we’re doing this so you can enjoy your Valentine’s Day with your loved one.  So far, I’d have to say we are enjoying them and it’s not like wine punch – a mixture of different wines just thrown together, but it does have different compatible flavors hitting your tongue in a nice way.

My husband predictably liked the Barefoot Sweet Red Blend.  He likes sweet wines, but Barefoot Sweet Red isn’t a dessert wine, it’s a smooth, sweet red wine a little fruity, a little sweet, nice tasting, but not too sweet. Sweet Red ($7), is a deliciously sweet blend of Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Grenache and Petite Sirah.  I’m including a Sangria recipe below that I would be great to share with your significant other.  My dad used to make Sangria for our summer gatherings, but there was never enough to go around.  This wine is perfect for Sangria. (more…)

Quick Quinoa Burgers

January 28, 2011 - Written by Diana

Quick Quinoa Burgers is from The 150 Healthiest 15-Minute Recipes on Earth by Jonny Bowden and Jeannette Bessinger.  When Deb, Desiree and I were younger, my dad tried the meatless burger thing.  He used birdseed – or rather millet, but they were dry and not very tasty.  I tried this meatless burger thinking it would end on the same note, but I really was surprised at how good they were.  No, they don’t taste like burgers, not at all, but they are packed with flavor.  Where the recipe said to use a quality salsa – I used my canned salsa.  Where it said to use canned kidney beans, I substituted pinto beans that I made up earlier in the week, and it had a little garlic flavoring in it.  I also topped the burger and sauce with chopped avocado.  Deb are you listening – this meal had quinoa, avocado and salsa in it, you will like it.




Place the beans, oats, cheese and salt in a food processor in that order and pulse until combined and holding together but still chunky, about ten quick pulses (I think I probably over pulsed, but it came out nicely).  Turn the bean mixture out into a medium bowl, add the quinoa, and mix, with your hands just until it holds together well.

Heat the oil on a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat (or just below medium in a regular skillet to prevent sticking), and form the quinoa mixture into four patties.

Place the burgers in the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side in until heated through.  Patties will be soft, so handle gently.

While the burgers are cooking, place the salsa, yogurt, lime juice, syrup, cumin, and chili powder into a blender (or a small bowl, and use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth.  Serve burgers with a generous helping of the dressing.

Chipotle Baked Beans and Kolbasz

January 19, 2011 - Written by Diana

Chipotle Baked Beans and Kolbasz (originally Kielbasa) comes from Slow Cooker Winners – 300 Easy and Satisfying Recipes by Donna-Marie Pye.  My husband and I were invited to my brother in law’s to watch a Steeler’s game.  We had a bit of running around to do beforehand, but I wanted to bring something to eat.  So I went to the crockpot for my contribution.  I didn’t tell anyone I was bringing a pot of beans and kolbasz, but it was a good decision.  My sister in law’s chicken was bad when she defrosted it, so we would have been sending out for pizza.  I’m so glad I decided to bring something along, it’s always a good choice to contribute something. This recipe turned out really well.  We also brought along some whole grain rolls, and butter, along with a little cheese to sprinkle over top if you wanted.  It was a nice hearty, smokey, slightly spicy bean and kolbasz dish.  Notice Kolbasz, not kielbasa.  I used nice Hungarian Kolbasz instead of kielbasa because I wanted to – hey I’m Hungarian, my grandmother would love that I put kolbasz in it.


  1. In slow cooker stoneware, combine onion, great Northern beans, black beans, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and chipotle powder.  Place sausage on top.
  2. Cover and cook on Low for 5 to 6 hours or on High for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until bubbling.
  3. Transfer sausage to a cutting board and slice diagonally.  Serve with Beans.

Grilled Veal Chops in a Red Wine Sauce

September 13, 2010 - Written by Diana

The kids are gone, so bring out the good meat.  Does that sound bad?  When you have kids sometimes you want a bit of something more, but spending the money with teens around could be a waste since they consume every thing in two minutes and then run.  It’s difficult to want to cook dinner some nights with just two of you, but if you can change it up a little and make it interesting, it’s worth it.  I thought veal chops was just the thing to change it up a little.  I grilled the meat and then made a red wine sauce to go over it.  Simple fast and easy – even for a busy work or date night.


Brush veal with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill on a hot grill pan (or on the grill).   In the second pan, melt butter.  Slice shallots and throw into hot butter along with the sage leaves.  When the onions are soft and carmelized, add the red wine.  Simmer until it is reduced.

Turn the veal after about 5 minutes.  Plate up and pour the red wine sauce over top, letting it rest for a couple of minutes.  This is less than 15 minutes for the veal chops to be ready and served.  Fast and easy, but delicious.