A local version of this story originally appeared on New Canaan & Darien Moms.
We are thrilled to introduce our new food/recipe contributor, Kathleen (Kat) Ashmore. Kat recently launched the CatwithaK Cooks food blog with a focus on healthy recipes that are family-friendly—aka meals they’ll want to eat and you’ll feel good about serving. Here’s a bit more about Kat—and don’t miss her Chicken Tortilla Soup below!
How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
William (age 4) and Coco (age 2).
How did you first develop an interest in cooking?
I’ve always loved to cook. My brother used to tease me as a child because I’d take Martha Stewart cookbooks on family vacations and read them in our hotel room. He’d be like “Umm, there’s not kitchen.” But I read them like novels, and I still do.
Cooking is a creative form that has always spoken to me. There is a comfort and certainty that comes over me in the kitchen that I don’t find anywhere else. Most of my best memories involve food and the caravan built around it.
What was it like developing recipes for Martha Stewart?
How much time do you have? Kidding aside, it was an extraordinary time in my life. The first day I walked onto the television set I felt a sense of exhilaration I had never felt before. There were many “pinch me” moments. Talking about food and producing television segments with chefs and food personalities I had followed for years was something I never fully settled into. For the first year I had total imposter syndrome, I kept waiting for someone to tap me on the shoulder and ask how I got in the building!
I learned so many valuable skills and lessons, and frankly it forced me to really grow up and get a backbone. I’ve taken with me the importance of leading with a point of view, even if you’re shaking in your boots. You can always pivot, but if you sit back and wait to feel ready the moments pass you by.
For anyone not yet familiar, how would you describe CatwithaK Cooks?
I focus on clean eating recipes for the most part – the majority are gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free simply because that’s how I eat on a daily basis and I want to share myself authentically with you all.
I am a believer that comfort food does not need to be heavy, and developing recipes that are satisfying and delicious is always the most important thing to me. It seems that right now we all need fast, simple, comforting family recipes and that’s primarily what I plan to serve up. I’m here to make your life easier, not harder!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another mom?
If you’re trying to be a good mom, you’re already a good mom. My nana also believed that most emotional ailments could be cured with a “nice cup of tea” and I think she was on to something.
How did you end up on Tik Tok?
No one is more surprised than me that Tik Tok has become my main content platform, it’s a total blast. You can find me there under the same handle for lots of tips, tricks, and short form recipe content!
Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup Serves 4
28 oz. pureed tomatoes
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
4 oz. canned green chiles
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1⁄2 cup unsweetened full-fat coconut milk 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced 2-3cups cooked chicken, shredded `
2⁄3 cup black beans, cooked (optional)
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 jalapeno, sliced thin
5-10 tortilla chips
1 avocado, halved and sliced thin 1 lime, cut into wedges
1⁄3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- In a large pot set over medium heat, add olive oil to warm. When hot, add onion, garlic, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Cook for 5-7 minutes until translucent. Add a few cracks of black pepper, cumin, paprika, coriander, and tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes to toast the spices.
- Add in the stock, tomato puree, chiles, and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Off the heat, add in the coconut milk and stir.
- Using an immersion blender or standing blender, blend the soup for 1-2 minutes until very smooth. Transfer back to the pot and add in the chicken and black beans.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes more on the heat to fully incorporate the flavors.
To serve, ladle soup into shallow bowls and top with the jalapeno, tortilla chips, avocado, and cilantro and serve with a squeeze of lime. Enjoy!