Potato and Spinach Soup (Cream-Free)

Here is a wonderful creamy potato recipe that’s super easy and very clean.  A variation from potato and leek soup, for one reason only: Publix was out of leeks, my most favorite vegetable in the whole wide world!  We were pleasantly surprised that the spinach did not overpower the dish and left us with clean palates.

Recipe for 3-4 servings.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 russet or white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock or broth
  • 1 handful fresh spinach, stems removed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions become translucent and garlic becomes fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Do not brown veggies.  Toss in the diced potatoes and stir a few times.

Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.

Once the potatoes are tender, using a ladle, remove about 1/3 of potato and stock and purée in a food processor until smooth.  Add back to soup and continue to reduce the liquid for another 15 minutes.  If soup thickens too quickly, add water by 1/2 cups at a time.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5 minutes prior to serving, roll up spinach leaves into a bundle and slice into thin strips. Stir into soup and let simmer until wilted, about 4 minutes.

Serve immediately with a fresh, crusty baguette.  Enjoy!


Cheater’s Chicken Pasty

A pasty — the “a” pronounced like in “Cat” — is a British staple that originated from Cornwall.  It’s like a turnover, or a pot pie, (minus the pie part) that can be served hot or cold.

And just a note:

Before people start complaining as to its authenticity, we all know that it’s not Cornish!  Just think about the West’s take on Chinese food, and we suddenly have “Asian Fusion;” my take on a pasty is a healthier chicken or turkey breast in lieu of beef, and a cheat by using puff pastry and gravy mix.  I also prefer not to mince the breast but bake it whole to retain its juices, so don’t tell me, I already know.  Enjoy with brown gravy and roasted potatoes.


I did put this in the “wicked” category, but we like comfort food just like anyone else, and sometimes a good meal just calls for butter and pastry.  But I should get bonus points by controlling our portions.  We usually cook this recipe for 2 and split it (eat small portions, often!) but this may be good for one person, depending on the size of the chicken breast. I prefer to use one cast iron skillet for the whole meal so we can deglaze and create a savory gravy with the bits left over in the skillet, so do not clean or rinse skillet as you remove items from pan.  We want to collect all the chicken and veggie juices and reduce for gravy.

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • ½ cup bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped (just eyeball it)
  • 1/3 sheet puff pastry
  • egg wash for brushing
  • pat of butter
  • ½ cup red wine for deglazing
  • 2 or 3 thinly sliced mushrooms
  • brown gravy mix (okay, so I think this is the only recipe at JTGCookbook that I actually use a mix)

Let puff pastry defrost over night in fridge or out on the counter for 30 minutes (keep covered to prevent pastry from drying out).

Heat oil on medium heat until near smoking, and sear each side of chicken breast (4 minutes or until browned per side), reduce heat and cover for 10 minutes, turning breast once.  Breast will be done once juices run clear.  Set aside to rest.

While the chicken is cooking, roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to about ¼ inch thickness, making a big rectangle.  Cover with a damp paper towel to keep pastry from drying out.

In same skillet, add the veggies (except cilantro) and cook over medium heat until mushrooms exude liquid and onions start to turn clear.  Add broth, bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Toss in the cilantro and stir until heated through.

**A pasty is basically a piece of pastry folded in half, so you will be placing meat and veggies on one side of the pastry, leaving room to pinch or fold the sides in to make a seal.  Check out this video on making a traditional lamb pasty here to see how to assemble.

Remove paper towels from pastry and begin assembling, first by placing the veggie mixture on one side of the pastry, and top with the chicken breast.

Brush egg wash on the edges of the exposed pastry, and fold the other side over the mixture, being sure to fold edges of pastry over tightly.  Take a fork and press down all along its seam.

Brush with more egg wash and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until pastry is fluffy and golden.  Feel free to brush with more wash halfway through the baking process to enhance colour.

As the pasty is baking, add butt to skillet and bring to medium heat.  Add the wine and stir constantly with a wooden spoon.  The wine will bubble and steam briefly before coming down in temperature.  This is deglazing, where the wine and steam help us scrape up the leftover chicken and veggie bits that will make our gravy so savory.  Toss in a few leftover thinly-sliced mushrooms.

Add gravy mix and water to skillet and cook according to packet directions.

Voila!  Chicken Pasty and Mushroom Gravy!

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

Thank you Gretchen Kennedy!

  • 2 cups canned or cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon raw/natural sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon each sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; toss well.

Spread chickpea mixture on a foil-lined baking sheet. Put in over, roasting 20-25 minutes; toss mixture halfway through. Remove from oven when chickpeas as dark brown in spots and cool.  Enjoy and store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

Angela’s E-Z Drop Biscuits

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).   In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar and salt. Stir in butter and milk just until moistened.  Drop batter on a lightly greased cookie sheet by the tablespoon.

Bake in preheated oven until golden on the edges, about 8 to 12 minutes. Serve warm.