Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

Dining In: Tomato Lentil Soup with Fancy Grilled Cheese October 29, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 7:52 AM
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After a long weekend in NYC filled with a bit of overeating, fun and fall weather, I knew exactly what I wanted to cook for this week, SOUP! During my college days, my sorority house had the habit of serving tomato soup and grilled cheese on Fridays for lunch. It was the perfect comfort/hangover meal at the end of the week.

So, I decided to do a grown-up version of the classic grilled cheese and tomato soup. Soup from scratch. Whole wheat bread. Fancy cheese. 🙂


  • 1 can whole tomatoes
  • 1 qt. vegetable broth
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • cayenne pepper
  • paprika
  • fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • whole wheat rolls
  • Fontina cheese
  • prepared artichoke tapenade (or any other pesto or tapenade you like)


For Tomato Lentil Soup – (adapted from this recipe)

  1. Rinse the lentils well and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft and golden.
  2. Add the tomato paste, paprika, and cayenne, and cook an additional two minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add the lentils, stock, bay leaf, tomatoes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer 15-20 minutes, until the lentils are soft and the tomatoes have broken up.
  4. Add the fresh thyme, reserving some for garnish, and simmer for an additional 1-2 minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve with fresh thyme as garnish.

For the grilled cheese

  1. Slice the roll in half and spray each half with olive oil.
  2. Add the desired amount of cheese on each half and place on a baking sheet. Broil on low until the cheese melts.
  3. Remove from the oven and spread the tapenade on each half. Serve open-faced.



Dining In: Gnocchi with Basil, Tomatoes and Olives October 21, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 7:54 PM
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Last week I discovered, much to my delight, that Central Market is selling their own freshly made pasta. I’m definitely not against boxed noodles or making the pasta from scratch (just need that pasta-making add-on for my Kitchen Aid mixer). But, like their bunches of herbs for $1, the convenience and freshness of the pasta grabbed my attention.

It’s been a while since I prepared some gnocchi and what Central Market had looked tasty. I prepared half of the gnocchi last week with a simple marinara, but wanted to do something more fun with it for this week’s recipe.

I checked out my good friend to see what they could offer up for inspiration. Several chefs had recipes for making gnocchi but it took a while to find a recipe for a good sauce. These two recipes caught my eye for the basil and tomato and the olives, so I decided to fuse them together to make something new.


  • 1.5 – 2 cups of freshly made gnocchi
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • a couple sprigs of fresh thyme
  • a bunch of fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add gnocchi and cook for 10-15min.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Drain gnocchi, leaving some pasta water and add the lemon and oil mixture to the gnocchi
  4. Mix in the Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, bail and thyme.
  5. Top with a little extra cheese and serve!



Dining In: Asparagus and Rice Soup with Mexican Cornbread October 15, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 3:52 PM
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This week’s meal is an ode to my fantastic mom. She has taught me so many things about life and a ton about cooking. As the weather finally begins to cool off (umm, could this next cool front stick around for more than a few days??), the memories of my mom’s homemade soups are my inspiration.

Last Friday, I fixed a quick and light French Onion soup with a side of pasta salad (sorry, I forgot to take photos). Since it was just a meal for two I had tons of the ‘onion stock’ leftover. Something my mom always did was re-purposing leftovers, so last week’s French onion soup became the base of this week’s asparagus and rice soup.

I used this recipe as a sort of guide for making mine, except no bacon and a few less steps. I reheated the onion soup base in a large saucepan and brought it to a boil. I added just a 1/4 cup of white rice to the soup and cooked the rice completely, adding a little bit of water. In a separate pan, I heated olive oil and butter (to add back some fat that bacon would normally bring) and sautéed the asparagus until tender, seasoning with garlic salt. Once both the asparagus and rice were ready, I added the greens into the soup and served in a tall coffee mug.


For the second part of the meal, I had to make some cornbread. Nothing goes better with soup than fresh cornbread. And, cornbread should always be spicy and savory (not sweet) with cheese! I found a good-looking Mexican cornbread mix at Central Market, prepared it according to the directions (except adding a little more oil and milk and CHEESE). YUM!



Repair those previously fab shoes to be like new! October 13, 2009

Filed under: Fashion — karakrautter @ 7:27 AM
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When I wear out a pair of shoes, I usually get rid of them. Often they would look dingy, need a lot of help or are now out of style and didn’t cost that much to begin with. However, this fall I decided to get two of my favorite pairs of shoes fixed, so I could get another year out of them.

The first pair are fantastically unique Prada heels. I found them years ago at DSW for a great price, yet within the first few years I wore out the heel and tore up the sole. Since they weren’t cheap, and I’ve never seen any others like them, I’ve refused to get rid of them. They’ve moved with me at least 3 times and I cannot even remember the last time I wore them. So, it was time to bring them back to life!

The wonderful guys at the Austin Shoe Hospital replaced the heel, re-soled them with a little extra cushion, and shined them up. I cannot wait to wear them!


The second pair I purchased at Nordstroms in fall of 2007. These Franco Sarto black booties were not terribly expensive, but for the past two fall seasons I wore them at least twice a week. I knew they were on their last leg when I heard the nail head clink across the bathroom tiles at work after a long weekend of fun in NYC. For at least a month I had them in my car to have them fixed, but I never got around to it. My motivation to repair these came when I saw for the third year in a row that booties and leggings were prevalent in the September issue of Vogue.

For these, just a heel replacement and shine did the trick. Just like new!



Dining In: Spicy Roasted Tomato and Pepper Pasta October 7, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 6:49 PM
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Thanks to my mother, I’ve lately been obsessed with adding red pepper flakes to pasta, pizza, and just about everything to give it an extra kick. These spicy little flakes even inspire me to cook a second meal each week. So, when I saw this recipe for a spicy, roasted pasta dish, I knew I need to prepare it and share it.

I made a few changes to the original recipe to simplify it a bit and use what I already had in my kitchen.


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes
  • 2 bell peppers, 1 red and 1 yellow
  • 1/2 pound curly shaped pasta
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • fresh basil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Slice the tomatoes and peppers and place on a roasting pan. Drizzle them with some olive oil and salt and pepper.
  2. Roast the tomatoes and peppers under an oven’s broiler, turning occasionally, until the tomato skin soften and the pepper skin blackens (about 10-12 min).
  3. While roasting, bring a pot of salty water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, reserving some pasta water.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet, and cook the garlic and chili flakes over medium-low heat until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and peppers  and raise the heat to medium and cook until the sauce thickens (mash the halved tomatoes and add a little pasta water to help the sauce form).
  5. When the pasta is ready, drain the noodles and melt the butter over it. Then toss with the sauce and chopped basil. Serve with Parmesan cheese.



Purple Party Dress! October 1, 2009

Filed under: Fashion,Purple — karakrautter @ 11:23 AM
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So, I really love the holiday season. And, since today is the first day of October, I think it’s fair for me to start blogging about my fashion, decor and feasting plans for the final few months of this year.

My love for purple continues and seems to grow stronger with every passing month. For the holiday parties of the season, I decided to finally get a purple cocktail dress. My ‘friends’ at BCBG told me I must have this one, so I got it. 🙂 Can’t wait to wear it!! *I will need to steam it first.