Fall Soup: Smoked Pumpkin Chipotle

Yesterday I went past a family family farm that sells chubby little pumpkins for a dollar each! I got a bunch to bring home, and knew I’d figure out to make with them later.

Round one of my soup week has begun with this tasty and super simple recipe. Don’t worry – if you don’t like spicy foods, you have complete control over how much heat to use. I assure you that you can still make this using chipotles and it won’t be super spicy.

The secret to the smokiness in this soup is 1) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. You can find a can of these for a dollar or two where you’d find mexican food at the grocery store (think: Goya products). One small can will go a long way. Store what you don’t use in a container with a lid in the fridge. They will keep for a long, long time. And 2) smoked paprika. This is very much different from regular paprika! The smoky taste is awesome… especially if you’re not chowing down on meat all the time, it’s a great way to get some of that smokehouse flavor. I urge you to use smoked paprika!


  • 1 small pumpkin (see photo for size comparison)
  • 3 shallots, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup dried red lentils
  • 2 chipotle peppers, a little adobo sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika


Cut off the stem of the pumpkin. Cut pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds (and save them to bake in the oven – tamari sauce, garlic, cayenne pepper… yum!) and the stringy middle.

Brush both open halves with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt. In an oven set at 450 degrees, place pumpkin halves side down on a baking sheet. Bake until soft (about 30-40 minutes).

When the pumpkin is ready, it will be completely soft. In this case, the skin actually removed itself from the pumpkin flesh, and came off in one piece.

Add olive oil and shallots to a large soup pot. Let shallots cook until clear. Add the pumpkin (you can cut it up first, it’ll be really mushy). Add the vegetable stock. Wait for a boil, then simmer. Add the banana and lentils.

Allow to simmer until the lentils are cooked and soft, about 15 minutes. Add the smoked paprika and chipotle peppers. Simmer the soup a few more minutes.

When soup has cooled, ladle into a food processor and blend! Add more chipotles if you choose – but two will give it good flavor and not too much spice. I promise!

Garnish with some smoked paprika on top.


(Soup monster)

Check back soon for the next recipe, featuring different fall-inspired ingredients.

Twenty Seven on Twenty Eight.

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” – Zora Neale Hurston

Perhaps we’re all guilty of making assumptions of people based on age. Sometimes it pains me to be grouped in with “twentysomethings” when they act in ways that I find obnoxious or embarassing. Maybe I give too much credit to older adults, assuming they have it all figured out, when more and each day they assure me they don’t.

I know that some of my life experiences thus far aren’t often had until someone is older – the death of a parent, owning a home, having multiple educational degrees and credits, having been through breakups akin to many divorces, not to mention the stark constrast of the states of my health in the past year. (Hospitals began to feel like hotel rooms. “Hey, glad you’re back, stay a while!”)

Last night I took a long, long bath and spent a lot of time thinking about Life and What am I doing with myself? and What is anyone doing with themselves? My legs made the water to slosh every time I shifted to get comfortable. Pierogi hung on the side of the old white tub, sticking his head close to the water, trying to drink but just missing. I looked up at the almost-empty bottles of shampoo, the newly replaced razors sitting in the shower caddy hugging the neck of the faucet like a child greeting a father home from war.

I spent all day and night looking around the house for tangible proof of my existence of the past twenty seven years. Meaningful art on the walls. Books that helped to shape my opinions and knowledge. A dress collection – some I’ve had since high school – a testament to my desire to make most things a little more special. My favorite CD, cat toys, a half-drunk glass of wine, the electric bill.
What are we made of? It’s certainly not our stuff. And I’m not sure it’s a culmination of our pasts mixed with our intentions for the future, either.  Or maybe all of the above?
I’m going into this continuing to seek answers, to be humble enough to say I sure as heck don’t know everything, teach me! To find the endless beauty and uplifting power of admitting mistakes, and forgiveness. To keep saying yes to every opportunity and constantly create new ones.
I’d be lying if I said I have absolutely no regrets – but that’s not to say I haven’t found value and lessons in taking responsibility for myself. The moment you make the deep connection that you are responsible for everything in your life (and get past the severe loneliness and blamelessness that brings), you can relax into yourself knowing that You Will Be Great because you have the ability – all of the ability – to make yourself that way.
Happy Re-Birth Day.
Your newly 27 year old friend,
Jaime K
(Lettuce Celebrate Card, $4.95 from Pup and Pony)
(Happiness Print, $15.00 from Valentina Designs)

Things I Like Thursday! On Friday

A new batch of goodies for you this week:

Vegan Palette by Urban Decay – Urban Decay makes not only some of the BEST eyeshadow out there, they have long been proud to let folks know they don’t do animal testing and make cruelty-free, vegan products. Yesterday I was at  Sephora collecting my free birthday gift (thanks!), and noticed this palette. HOW did I miss the launch of this? Urban Decay isn’t cheap, but absolutely worth it with amazing color payoff, and their palettes are a great way to get more for your money. Six shadows, an eyeliner, and primer portion for $34. Did I mention the gorgeous packaging that literally spells out “We don’t do animal testing… How could anyone?” with illustrations of chubby animals all over. LIMITED EDITION, people. Run, don’t walk.

Sweet and Sour Print – Bold, bright, graphic, and a cute message to boot! This optimistic 8×10 print comes in your choice of colors (green, pink, aqua, orange) and will remind you to turn that frown upside down. Or there’s nothing some good baking can’t fix. Or that you need to go grocery shopping. Even if it’s all of the above, you still end up with some cute art. $23 by DazeyChic via Etsy.

Sweet On Veg Blog
– Truly one of my favorite blogs, Jennifer knows how entice you with recipes and then keep you hanging around for the uplifting bits of inspiration. The whimsical design of her site (the cartoon girl at the top is wearing an “I Love Guacamole” apron!) foreshadows the gorgeous recipe photos and light kindness of her personality.  I think 80% of my veg-idols come from Canada. Thankfully, we don’t need to travel far to enjoy this wonderful blog. When you’re done drooling over recipes, make sure to check out the “Bliss” section for friendly reminders to believe in yourself. Thanks, Jennifer! www.SweetOnVeg.com

Modern Pet Sofa Bed – !!!!!!! Oh my gosh. Someone has entered the deepest parts of my brain and pulled THIS out. This is, basically, the sofa I’ve been saving up for that someone stuck in the Honey I Shrunk The Kids shrinking machine, to make it a perfect posh hangout for Pierogi or other stylish cats and dogs. I wonder if a Dog Dwell magazine exists? The fabric is cotton denim for plush softness, and the bed is strong enough to hold about 160 lbs. This Meis Van Der Rohe inspired pet bed is blowing my mind away… I wish the human-size version was this affordable.  Why can’t your little buddy take interest in interior design, too?  $190 from ModPet via Etsy

Hug a Vegetarian Day (TODAY!) –  Thanks to a random text message I got this morning from peta2, I can now walk around soliciting hugs and have a national reason! Go to this link and get a “Tofu Makes me So So Happy” tshirt, or upload a photo and get a wacky border with japanese animals celebrating your love of soy foods. For so many people, being veg*n is about living a joyful and compassionate life! Look at all these colorful veggies we get to eat, think about the joyful novelty of having a veg*n version of something you haven’t ate in a long time, think about the peace of mind from knowing that you are living in direct alignment for peace to come to all animals, not just our furry pet pals. GO HUG SOMEONE. Woohoo!  Click here to Make one

You Can Do It! (We Did It!)

Last weekend was the sort of weekend that encourages and supports exactly where you are in life.

I remember meeting with Alison (photographer for WINK Pinup and Magazine, and owner Eskandalo! salon) a few months ago and wanting to plan this cool event for local artists and businesses with an eco-friendly theme. What started with a tote bag became an all-day fun festival with live music, awesome vendors, and community building at the most basic level.

(Thank you so much to Alex for this candid shot of me at my booth! I took pictures of everything but my own table, sheesh!)

The day before I was running around to health food stores and the restaurant supply store for ingredients and take-out containers. I was a woman on a mission, staying up so late on Friday night to make sure my food would taste as delicious as possible.

Once everyone got their booths set up and people came and walked around, my heart felt so full to know that we did this. We created this event, this day. I looked around and saw the smiles on the faces of everyone, friends and neighbors, and it reminded  me just how powerful all of us are in the creation of our own lives.

As for  my food, the biggest compliment came from the people that said “Wow – I have hated tofu every time I tried it, but this is awesome!”, or the people who didn’t believe you could make something decadent without the use of dairy and meat but are now believers! Everyone was so friendly, kind and wonderful. At the end of the day, I had next to nothing left!

That night, I had another dream in which I clearly visualized the future of Save the Kales! A gorgeous restaurant/cafe, a space in the back for cooking classes, an office for nutrition consulting… While I don’t know where I’ll end up, or how my plans will play out, last weekend gave me nudge to keep moving forward with optimism and seizing all opportunities.

The biggest, most heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who came out that day. It means so much to me, personally, even if I never met you before!

Now that my new house is just about in order, I’m going to pick a date for the next cooking class soon! I hope you’ll attend. Til then, enjoy some photos from the weekend:

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce (stuffed w/ tofu, walnuts, sage, cranberries, other yummy things)

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STK Weekend Tour 2010

And by tour, of course, I mean STK is going to be all over the Lehigh Valley this weekend, serving food and smiles. If you’re in the Lehigh Valley area, stop by!

Saturday is a huge all-day event in downtown Bethlehem. Officially titled “Loop-a-palooza”, Bethlehem’s North and Southsides are throwing a huge celebration. You can buy tickets for $15 that give you all day access to the Loop buses than run between both sides of town, and stop at 10 stops for activities, food, sales, and live music. (Included in that price is a beer mug that you get to cart around town and drink up!)

Go Green Town is one of the stops, and this is a conglomeration of eco-friendly local businesses. We’ll have local designers, silkscreeners, mosaic artists, vintage clothes sales, plus some GREAT, GREAT bands!

I’ll be selling some snacks and treats from a Save the Kales! table, where you can also pick up some the new promotional postcards/recipe cards. (Can I call them collectible? That’s fun. Collect them all! Yay!)

And if you’ve ever said “I love your clothes, where do you get them?”, now is your chance to take some off my hands. I’ll also be selling clothes, shoes, books, etc… so PLEASE stop by!

You can also pick up one of these adorable and sturdy totes, made specifically for the event. Designed by a local artist, printed on recycled canvas by a local silkscreen shop, and supported by Southside Businesses, for only $3 show Bethlehem some love.

Sunday, there’s an event in downtown Allentown for a new local theater company started by some dear friends. I am so proud of them and am honored I get to bring food to share in the celebration. I love these living examples of people that started with an idea and then made it happen. YES!

I can’t wait to see you this weekend!

Eco-Art: Geometric Modern Wall Art (DIY!)

Since moving, I have about double the room I used to have in my old condo, and the ceilings are twice as high. I have a lot of artwork for the walls, but not nearly as much as I’d like.

I also had a TON of left over paint color samples from design school projects – I’ve hung on to them for some reason, and finally found a way to use them up!

Behold: The Free Paint Sample Paper Wall Art

I bought a canvas from the art store while it was on sale for 40% off, got some spray adhesive, and arranged the paint samples in random colored rows. Once the paint samples were stuck, I coated everything with a layer of Modge Podge to seal it in. (Many thanks to my ex for showing me the wonders of using this stuff for art! It seals it in and makes the colors pop!)


(Pierogi was so excited at the new colorful addition, he kneaded extra-long on his favorite owl toy.)

Cost for project (canvas, adhesives): about $22.00

Now, go make something beautiful (and then take photos and share them here)!

So(ba) What!? Soba Noodles

Soba noodles are those thick, chewy japanese noodles often found in soups or traditional asian dishes. Aside from having great flavor and texture, soba noodles are a great alternative to white flour noodles, as soba is made with buckwheat flour.

Despite the word “wheat” in the name, buckwheat is a gluten-free and wheat free food. This makes it great for people with gluten intolerances (read all labels because some soba noodles may be made partially with wheat flour!), and makes the carbohydrates in the noodles slow-releasing. (No wacky blood sugar spikes and dips.)

Soba noodles are also packed full of vitamins and minerals, and have TWICE the amount of protein found in rice! Hmm, anyone else hungry for stir fry?

If you’re worried about fat or calories, don’t fret – a full cup of cooked soba noodles has only 113 calories and almost non-existent fat.

Soba noodles are SO versatile and can be used in and endless number of dishes – recipes and cookbooks everywhere can offer some culinary inspiration. But if you have nothing more than a pack of soba noodles and a well-stocked pantry, try this 5 ingredient recipe:

5 Ingredient Soba Noodle Dish

  • 8 oz. soba noodles
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp tamari sauce
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Cook noodles as per directions. Toss everything in a big bowl, and dig in!

THINGS I Like THURSDAY! Topic: Begin Again

What is it about cold gray days that make sitting in a coffee shop feel so good? This weather makes me contemplative. I could throw in a cliche here about the seasons changing and how it’s a time for new beginnings, but I think that’s evident.

What I’ve been inspired by in the last 24 hours is the idea of beginning again right now. Right now! When you are finished reading this sentence!

It’s part of my nature to strive to see the good in situations, in people, and even if something negative has happened I can take a lesson from it and make it mean something valuable. But yesterday I found myself wallowing around – thinking too much about things that don’t matter (or even exist outside the thoughts I created!), playing somber music to aid in the wallowing, avoiding communication because something about feeling sort of bad felt good. I don’t know.

It can be so easy to catastrophize a thought, this weird brain-manipulation that can be hard to climb out of. By the evening, I really felt awful for having wasted a day coming up with imaginary situations instead of being productive to feel better.

But then I read something so simple, something so obvious and just forgotten:Tomorrow is a new day. And if you’re really feeling ambitious, you don’t even have to wait for morning to get another chance. You can take one right now.

What a relief! I know I sound like a Lifetime Movie or a high school guidance counselor, but isn’t that sort of incredible? That YOU have the ability to do something RIGHT NOW to change your situation and/or your mind. That’s a simple sentence but a big, big idea.

There’s a Unitarian Universalist church I pass when I walk to the library. They have a big sign out front that says

It’s Never Too Late to Become What You Might Have Been

and the other side says

They Can Because They Think They Can

It’s always a pleasant reminder to see something like that in big, bold letters. Forgive yourself for the times you’ve messed up. You did what you could at the time. It’s okay if you take a day off to hibernate in bed. You can start your plans and projects tomorrow. Don’t feel like if you haven’t achieved everything you wanted in your life right now, you have failed. You haven’t.

Just remember the incredible power of starting over, making changes, constantly improving, and gaining new perspective. Don’t let your worries flood your head. Every moment is another chance.

(The Sad Song print by Doctor Pinky, $23.00 via Etsy)

(New Day print by ErinJane, $16.00 via Etsy)