Southwestern Kale & Sausage Soup

Life has gotten busy and thus the blog has been neglected. Morgan and I had a wonderful anniversary celebration in Asheville, which I have been remiss in posting about. I’ve also participated in one of my favorite events, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure in Atlanta. Just this past weekend, Morgan and I were in a community theatre production of “The Bad Seed.”

It’s been a fun fall so far, but sadly all the activities have left me run down and battling a bit of a cold.

Lucky for me I have a wonderful husband to swoop in and save the day with the most wonderful soup to help me get over my cold!

Morgan’s Southwestern Kale & Sausage Soup


• 1 large or 2 small links chorizo sausage

• 1 small onion, diced

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• half pound of kale, chopped

• 1 carton beef stock

• 1 large can diced tomatoes

• 1 can pinto beans, drained

• 1 Chipotle pepper, chopped

• dash of crushed red pepper flakes

• 1/2 teaspoon cumin

• teaspoon oregano

• salt and pepper to taste


Brown chorizo in a large soup pot. Once sausage is browned, added in diced onions and saute until translucent. Add in minced garlic and kale and saute a few minutes more. Add tomatoes, broth, beans and seasoning and bring to a boil. Boil for five to 10 minutes then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.


A magical ride

I’ve always thought I lived in a beautiful place. This weekend I got to see that beauty from a very unique vantage point. A coworker of mine at my “day job” arranged for us to go on a hot air balloon ride.

To be truthful I will say that it wasn’t exactly a bucket list thing or something I’d ever given much thought to doing. My best friend is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, a place famous for their hot air balloon festival. I’ve always thoughts the balloons were beautiful, but really that’s about as far as I’d ever taken the idea.

Having now flown in a hot air balloon, I have an entirely different outlook. It was truly one of the most amazing and magical experiences. As I said earlier, I’ve always thought I lived in a lovely county, but seeing it from high above the trees gave me a whole new appreciation for Yadkin County.

The sensation of floating above the world in the balloon in nearly indescribable. After the sound of the gas is quieted there is a silence like no other. Far below us lay the lush green forests, a deep emerald green. In lighter shades of green were fields of soybeans, gold-tasseled corn and tobacco on the verge of turning a golden shade as well. We watched as several deer frolicked below us in a cornfield. The silver-tipped white clouds were reflected back to us in small farm ponds. On the horizon the sun shone brightly right at eye level. In the distance we could see the hazy blue line of the mountains, punctuated by the familiar sight of Pilot Mountain.

Once back on the ground I felt changed somehow. I am quite literally at a loss for words on how else to describe the experience other than the words magical and life-changing.

It’s pickle time!

Remember the song Cookie Time from the movie Troop Beverly Hills? Well, this time of year, I’m singing this, only it’s pickle time instead of cookie time! And if you don’t know this movie, go look for it. It’s a 1989 classic. I feel like I need to learn this dance to do while I’m making pickles.

Our cucumber vines are slowly starting to produce, but so far we don’t have enough to do a full canning so I went on the search for a quick pickle recipe that I could do with just a few cucumbers.

I found a great little quick refrigerator pickle recipe here. They look very lovely and I’m sure mine would have turned out great. . .had I not used tablespoons instead of teaspoons on the salt. Ha! My husband said it made his tongue go numb.

I was in the midst of canning some green beans when I put together this quick pickle recipe and clearly I wasn’t paying enough attention to the recipe. The sad thing is, even though they are super duper salty, I actually like them anyway. I’m sure they would be much better had I followed the recipe correctly. I will definitely try this again though.

I also found a great list of things to do with leftover pickle brine. Now, don’t judge me, but I have been known to drink it straight from the jar. I had some left over green beans though so I thought I would give one of these ideas a try. I blanched them and put them in a jar of grapeleaf pickle brine I had left over. I’ll let you know how this turns out. It could be a flop, but I did so hate to waste that pickle juice!

You can find more of my pickling stories on The Lush’s Blush by using the search bar on the right. If you have a favorite pickle recipe, I’d love to try it! Tell me all about it the comments.

Quiche: It’s what’s for breakfast

Asparagus and cherry tomato quiche | The Lush's Blush blog
Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Quiche
I bought a really big bag of asparagus at Trader Joes the other day. You ever notice that asparagus is one of those things typically served in smaller portions? We’d eaten it sauteed and in a pasta dish and I was in the market for some other venue for the last of the asparagus. I also had some lovely cherry tomatoes my neighbor Zehra gave me.

Sunday mornings are pretty much the only time my husband and I get to enjoy breakfast together and he is usually in charge of the menu. I typically request cheesy eggs and biscuits and gravy. That’s pretty hard to beat, in my mind, but I thought I would give quiche a try as a way to use up some of my fresh produce.

Though Morgan deemed it “not a very manly breakfast” he did eat two servings. I ate three. Needless to say, we enjoyed it. So here’s the recipe if you want to give it a try!

Kitsey’s Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Quiche


  • 10 – 12 asparagus spears, chopped into bite sized pieces (don’t forget to snap off the ends first.)
  • 10 – 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 of an onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil, chiffonade (I used about 5 large leaves)
  • 1 frozen pie crust


If you’re going to get fancy and make your own pie crust, feel free. Otherwise, lay one out of the freezer so it can thaw while you turn on the oven at 350 degrees to preheat. Cook chopped bacon until fat is rendered and it’s just beginning to get crisp then remove from pan. Drain off most of the grease, but leave about a tablespoon in the pan. Saute chopped onion until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and saute just for a minute then remove from pan. Toss chopped asparagus into hot pan and saute for about a minute then remove. Place pie crust into pan and top with halved cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Put cooked bacon on top of the tomatoes. Whisk together eggs and milk, season liberally with salt, cracked black pepper and basil. Add in cooked onions, garlic and asparagus. Pour egg mixture into piecrust. Top with shredded parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

Shatley Springs: A step back in time

img_6239Growing up, one of my favorite summer treats was a trip to Shatley Springs. In today’s world of farm to table restaurants with fancy upscale versions of Southern fare, it fascinates me that this little place in the absolute middle of nowhere is still around. But I am certainly glad it is.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good upscale Southern dining experience, but sometimes the tradition of a place outweighs the fancy table cloths.

I had a few days off recently and my Dad and I decided to take a little trip up to Crumpler, North Carolina to eat lunch at Shatley Springs.

While I greatly enjoy the food, it’s really about the overall experience. It’s not just lunch, it’s an adventure. It’s a little vacation and a good meal that is close enough to home to do in a day, but still feels like a sweet little get-away.

Shatley Springs is something of a ramshackle little red building set on a property in the mountains of North Carolina with a spring said to have healing properties. There’s a little duck pond, gift shop, and cabins on the property as well.

The restaurant serves up plain ol’ country fare like fried chicken and mashed potatoes. They have a menu, but the only way to do it, in my opinion, is to order the family style. They bring out a great big platter of fried chicken and country ham and bowls full of pinto beans, mashed potatoes, cabbage, apples, corn, macaroni and cheese, oh and biscuits. Be sure to ask for some red eye gravy too! I can’t explain it but it just brings me joy to watch them bring out all those dishes of food and set them right in front of you. Oh, and there’s cobbler for dessert. I usually leave feeling so miserable I can hardly walk, but it’s worth it.

The entire place feels like a little step back in time. The story about the spring is quite fascinating also. It was discovered in 1890 by one Martin Shatley. Shatley was said to suffer from a variety of health problems including a very severe skin disorder. According to his testimony, written down in 1925, Shatley had seen numerous doctors and tried many different treatments, none of which worked. He was so ill that he contemplated taking his own life just to get out of the misery he was in. Shatley had suffered from his ailments for seven years when he moved his family to the area where he discovered the spring.

“Then I moved away from town and went to this farm,” Shatley said in a written testimony. “A few months after I had been on this farm one day I walked out on my farm. My face was so inflamed and swollen I had to hold my eyelids up with my hands to see my way to walk. I passed a spring and dipped up some water with my hands and bathed my face to cool the fever down in my face as I had often done when I passed where there was cold water and in less than one hour I realized that my face was better and so much better that I became excited about it.

“Then late that evening I went back to that spring and bathed my face and other parts of my body, and by the next morning the fever had left where the water was put on the skin. I was so glad I felt like shouting, I was glad with all my heart. I told everybody I saw about it. I gained strength every day and in three weeks I was out on the farm at work and could do about as much work as any man I could hire, and in six weeks my lung was well and I was about as stout as I ever was.”

Since the spring was discovered, many have come to seek healing for various ailments. The spring runs to this day, right under the restaurant. Visitors are able to collect water to take home while there.

Thankfully, I have no ailments in need of curing, but I can say the water is quite refreshing and I certainly feel glad with all my heart when they bring out all that food!

Zucchini, zucchini, zucchini!

zucchini bread | The Lush's Blush blog
Homemade zucchini bread

Garden season is here at last and we’ve got tons of zucchini and yellow squash coming in. I’m on a mission to incorporate these fresh veggies into as many meals as possible.

So far, we’ve had zucchini bread, zucchini fritters, chicken stir fry with zucchini and squash, fried squash, pasta Primavera, zucchini risotto and a concoction I put together with the left over stir fry rice which included sauteed zucchini, squash and onions, a can of black beans, diced tomatoes, green chilies and cheddar cheese. It was very tasty.

The zucchini fritters were Morgan’s creation and they were delicious. We served them with a London Broil we coated in a dry rub and seared on the grill.

Morgan’s Zucchini Fritters


• One large zucchini, grated

• 1/4 of an onion, finely minced

• 2 eggs, beaten

• about 2/3 cup flour

• salt and pepper to taste


Grate zucchini into a colander and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let sit for about 10-15 min. Then put the grated zucchini in cheese cloth or a kitchen towel that you don’t mind turning green, and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Place grated and drained zucchini into a large mixing bowl. Add to the bowl two eggs beaten, onion, flour, salt and pepper. You may need more or less flour depending on how loose the mixture is. Mix every thing together then spoon into a preheated nonstick pan with a couple table spoons of butter melted in it. Cook until golden brown on first side then flip and flatten with a spatula. Once they are brown on both sides they are done. Season with a little extra salt and pepper immediately after removing from the pan.

London broil and zucchini fritters | The Lush's Blush blog
London broil and zucchini fritters



Out of office

The Lush's Blush blogSeveral years ago I had a job that I didn’t like very much. Looking back on that experience now, I know that part of the problem was my attitude. It was easier to complain about stuff than to just put on a smile and make the best of things. At any rate, during that time, I pretty much LIVED for the moment when I could turn on the out of office reply on my email and clock out for a vacation. Whether it was a long weekend or an entire week off, the moment of pure bliss came when I turned the out of office reply on.

I’ve recently been seeing a meme circulating that says something like, “Create a life you don’t need a vacation from.” I can certainly see the wisdom in that statement and at the same time, I disagree with it.

I am happily now at a place where I really like my job. And I love my life overall. But guess what, I still love to go on vacation!

There is great satisfaction in getting a job done whether that is your actual “day job” that makes you money or just jobs around the house like keeping the laundry clean and the living room vacuumed. But there is also great satisfaction in having a few days, or maybe even an entire week, where you have none of those responsibilities.

And so once again, that blissful moment is so near, when I shall turn on the out of office reply.

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