I’m going to be a total girl and talk about the weather… The high temperature on Tuesday was in the single digits. SINGLE digits. And with the wind chill, it felt like -13 degrees. Yes, it’s subzero in Chicago. No one wants to go outside and even inside our home, I can’t seem to get warm enough. I feel like the little kid from The Christmas Story – I have on so many layers and can’t keep my arms down. But I heard it’s going to be in the upper 20′s by the end of the week. Things are heating up.
When it’s cold outside, I try to warm myself up anyway I can. I’ll take a hot shower but then get cold when I’m drying off. I’ll look at our Hawaii pictures to “mentally” warm up, however, that never works. All it does is make me wish I lived in Hawaii. Working out is a temporary fix but commuting to & from the gym really makes we wish we had a home gym. Plus, I think my Mom told me being sweaty and going outside in cold weather makes people sick. (Or is this an Old Wives’ Tale..??)
Soup is something that never fails to warm me up. And when it’s really cold, I’ll go above & beyond to warm the belly. Something as easy as roasting vegetables can really change the taste of a recipe. Roasting vegetables sweetens and intensifies the flavor instead of losing it into water like steaming or boiling does. And I love standing by the oven when it’s pumped up to 400 degrees.
Eating Oven Roasted Squash, Sweet Potato and Carrot soup is equivalent to getting into a warmed bed with a heating pad and being wrapped in a blanket like you’re a burrito. While I was eating dinner, I wasn’t thinking about how cold my feet felt or that another manicure would not save my cuticles from the extremely dry air. All I could focus on was how amazing this soup tastes! Roasting the veggies added a caramelized flavor and the soup had such a creamy texture. I couldn’t believe it was dairy free!
After writing this post, I’ve come to the realization if I need to distract myself from being cold, all I need to do is eat this soup. Luckily for me, this recipe makes a TON. Hopefully I’ll have enough leftover to make it to the weekend warm up!
Oven Roasted Squash, Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup
- 1 butternut squash (about 2 lb), peeled, seeded & diced into cubes
- 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled & diced into cubes
- 1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into 4 wedges
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- Cooking spray
- 1 granny smith apple, cut into small cubes
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with foil. Divide squash, potatoes, carrots and onion between baking sheets. Drizzle oil, salt & pepper over the veggies. Toss veggies to coat. Roast until lightly brown, about 25 minutes. Stir veggies around the 15 minute mark.
- In a soup pot, combine oven roasted veggies & vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer for 15 minutes.
- Puree the soup by using an immersion blender or a blender working in batches. Taste and season with salt & pepper. Bring soup back up to a simmer.
- In a skillet, toast pine nuts. Remove nuts from skillet. Spray skillet with cooking spray. At a medium heat, saute apple cubes for 3 minutes. Set aside.
- When soup is ready, ladle into bowls and top with pine nuts, apples and parsley.
Christmas is less than a week away!!! I finished my holiday shopping on Monday. (Thank you, Amazon!) I had everything shipped to my in-laws houses, so fingers crossed all of the gifts will be there when I arrive this weekend.
I really do try to eat healthy during the week and get to the gym 5-6 days/week. It’s an active effort everyday and trust me, there are days when I think to myself, “It would just be easier to pick something up to eat.” Or, “Gosh, I have so much work to do. I should just skip the gym.” But I know that’s just my lazy inner self just getting the best of me. There are a few strategies I use to keep me on track.
- Packing a gym bag in my car prevents me from coming home and keeping me there.
- Find others who can be support you and help you to be accountable — Find a gym buddy. Sign up for classes. Write down in your planner when you’ll be going to the gym each day.
- Plan meals ahead of time and look for healthy substitutes.
I can’t help you with making sure to pack a gym bag everyday, but I can help you with a getting involved with a community and healthy meal planning. Emily from Sweet Bella Roos has started an online community called Counting Cupcakes. (How cute!!) This group is for anyone who wants to start (or continue) to live a healthy lifestyle. There will be a weekly newsletter which will feature a healthy recipe, a sweet treat recipe and a weekly meal plan. Click on the cute lil cupcake to sign up!
When you look at your favorite recipes, try to find new ways to make it better for you. Add more vegetables so you get fiber and stay full longer, skip butter & cream and use olive oil & skim milk instead, use fresh herbs and seasonings instead of salt or fat. It takes some practice, but I know you can do it.
There is a local restaurant in town and they have the best chicken & rice soup I’ve ever had. It’s creamy and delicious. I really wanted to recreate it at home and make it a lighter option. I added vegetables & brown wild rice. Instead of cream, I used skim milk and reduced fat cream cheese to give it a creamy texture. It totally worked! And since I made it at home, it wasn’t loaded with salt and I wasn’t tempted to dunk a huge loaf of bread into the soup. (this restaurant gives you huge portions and a loaf of bread which every order. It’s a total calorie bomb.)
I know with Christmas & New Years right around the corner, you might not be in the mood for a soup makeover recipe, but pin it and come back when you’ve started your new years resolution to get healthy. It doesn’t taste like a “diet” meal, which is important to me!
Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
- 1 cup uncooked wild rice (I used Uncle Ben’s and included the spice packet.)
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 3 celery stalks, sliced
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 3 cups skim milk
- 1/3 cup flour
- 4 to 8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, cut into cubes
- 2 cups cooked skinless boneless chicken breasts, chopped
- Salt & Pepper
- Parsley, chopped for garnish
- Cook rice according to package directions. When cooked, set aside.
- In a large dutch oven, bring the heat to medium and add oil. When the oil is warm, add onion & thyme. Stir & cook for 2 minutes. Add celery, carrots, and garlic. Saute for another 5 minutes. Add potatoes and stock; bring to boil. Cover pot; reduce heat to a simmer until potatoes are tender.
- Combine milk and flour; stir with a wisk and make sure there are no clump. Pour milk mixture into soup and let simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in cream cheese. When all of the cream cheese has dissolved, add in rice & chicken. Let all of the ingredients fold into the soup and warm up. Taste and season with salt & pepper if needed. Garnish soup with parsley.
Christmas is less than two weeks away and I’m already entering sugar coma status. Holiday lattes start off my morning. Everyday seems like a cookie swap party at work…and it’s rude to turn away treats people have baked, right?? And for the past few nights, I’ve been having these as dessert – they’re sooo addicting. I know I’ll have to make more once they’re gone.
Since I’m eating so much sugar, I’m really trying to balance out my diet with some healthy meals like this soup. It’s filled with vegetables and has a rich tomato base. If you like tomato soup, you’ll want to try this! By blending a can of diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and basil, each bite you take is full of flavor. Not even a pinch of salt went into the soup!
If you’re a sugar addict like me, make this soup so you can enjoy all the holiday treats the season has to offer.
Tomato Based Vegetable Soup
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, sliced
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 small zucchini, sliced
- ½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes
- 1 15-oz. can small white beans or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes. Get the ones that aren’t packed in oil. They come packaged in a resealable bag, can be found in the produce section.
- 8 basil leaves, torn plus more for garnish
- 8 oz bag baby spinach
- Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook 1 minute, or until garlic is fragrant. Stir in onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, and thyme. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until onions are soft.
- Add broth, 1 can tomatoes, and beans. In a blender, add remaining can of tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, torn basil leaves and 1/2 soup liquid. Purée until smooth. Add more soup liquid to get the consistency you want. Stir mixture into soup, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Simmer 10 minutes.
- Add baby spinach and simmer 1 minute more. Remove pan from heat, and stir in basil garnish.
Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Something really exciting happen to me. Pillsbury’s social media team shared my Biscuits, Sausage & Gravy Casserole on their Facebook & Twitter pages. The amount of activity I got on my blog and Facebook has been so amazing! I’m so thankful for all of my new visitors. I can not stop smiling. It’s really nice to be recognized and know people love my recipes. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
For all of my soup lovers, I got a great chowder for you to try. And guess what? You won’t find a touch of cream in this recipe. (just reduced fat sour cream.) The chowder get’s it thick consistency by adding diced potatoes and using an immersion blender. I’d say it’s healthy but the night I made this I was craving bacon….which is like every night. If you’re vegetarian or looking to cut calories, you can omit the bacon.
Like most of my week night meals, this soup will be ready for you to eat in less than 40 minutes. I enjoyed this chowder with some crusty bread. It’s great for dipping and rounding out the meal.
This chowder has everything I love — Veggies & bacon. Creamy texture. Lots of flavor. Quick ready meal.
I hope you give it a try!
Creamy Mushroom Chowder with Bacon
- 8 slices of bacon, chopped
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 10 oz container sliced mushrooms, cleaned
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 cups stock (I used beef)
- 2/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
- Salt & Pepper
- Parsley for garnish
- Crusty bread
- In a large cast iron dutch oven or stock pot, cook bacon pieces. When the bacon has browned, remove pieces and set on a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
- In the same pot, add onions to the bacon fat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add garlic and continue to stir & cook for 5 minutes. Pour mushrooms and cook until slighty soft.
- Add potatoes and stock. Add more stock if the potatoes aren’t covered with liquid. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender, puree half of the chowder. (You can also use a blender if you don’t have an immersion blender.) Add sour cream. Stir to incorporate into soup. Add bacon to the chowder. (I saved a couple pieces to garnish.) Taste chowder, add salt & pepper if needed. When you’re ready to serve, garnish with parsley and warm bread.
How is everyone’s sugar hangover today? Are you in the need of some healthy food to detox? Well look no further..
As a child, I loved trick or treating and my favorite candy to get was Snickers. I was the type of kid who would save the “good” candy, like only allow myself to eat a few pieces a day. We always had sweets in our house, but there was something about Snickers candy bars. I wanted to keep those treats around for as long as I could.
As an adult, I rarely buy candy bars. “Too much sugar, too many calories” always runs through my mind as I’m gazing at candy in the check out line at the grocery store. But with it being Halloween season, I caved and bought 3 bags of treats — Kit Kats, Milky Ways & Peanut Butter Cups.
And guess what? We had 5 trick or treaters. Guess who lost all will power and ate a TON of candy?? (This is an obvious answer.)
Today I’m feeling the effects of a sugar coma… and the best way to get rid of my sugar guilt is to eat something healthy. Hello Corn, Sweet Potato and Poblano Chowder.
It might be hard to believe, but this is a healthy chowder. No cream or loads of butter. An easy way to give this chowder a thick consistency is to puree a bag of frozen corn with some stock. Not only will give your chowder a creamy consistency, but it gives the soup a sweet taste. I couldn’t believe a bag of frozen corn had so much flavor!
Make this soup when you’re looking to stock up on some veggies into your meals. This recipe makes a lot, but luckily, it gets better the longer it sits. Freeze smaller portions or enjoy it for lunch for a few days.
When it comes to eating healthy, I don’t want to feel like I’m eating rabbit food. This is the type of chowder you can feel good about eating…and maybe have a piece of Halloween candy for dessert.
Corn, Sweet Potato and Poblano Chowder, makes 8 cups
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and diced
- 2 bags of frozen corn (16 oz), defrosted
- 2 32 oz cartons of stock (veggie if you want to keep this soup vegetarian)
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 poblano peppers, seeds removed and diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 cup skim milk
- cilantro for garnish
- In a stock pot, add olive oil. When the oil is at a medium heat, add onions, garlic and jalapenos. Stir and cook for 10 minutes.
- In a blender, add 1 bag of defrosted corn and 1 cup of stock. Puree until smooth. Add more stock if needed.
- When the onions are soft, add flour and cumin. Stir consistently for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the rest of the open container of stock. Stir to make sure there are no clumps (from the flour).
- Add potatoes. Add 1 to 2 cups of stock. Bring to boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- When the potatoes are cooked, add 1 bag of defrosted corn, poblanos and carrots. Stir in the corn puree and 1 cup of milk. Bring back to a simmer. Taste and season with salt, pepper and cumin. Garnish with cilantro.
Well, hello Fall.
I will admit, I’m happy to see you. I’m ready for jeans, cute boots and chunky scarves. If you’re a follower of my Pinterest page, you’ll see I have a one track mind for all things fall.
Has anyone tried Meatless Monday? I’ve got some Veggie Friends out there who told me about this concept. Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. All good things in my book.
I made this Smokey Chipotle Black Bean Soup on Monday and I was sad when the Hubby finished it off on Tuesday. This recipe will definitely be in rotation a lot for me this fall & winter. The smokey-ness from the chipotle peppers and cumin just warmed me up. Pureeing a small portion of the soup allowed thick chunks of peppers and black beans to make it a hearty meal, but not weigh me down. Also, this soup comes together really fast which is great for a weeknight meal.
So when you’re planning your meals for next week, skip the meat on Monday. This soup will make you forget about anything mooing, snorting or clucking any day of the week.
Smokey Chipotle Black Bean Soup, serves 4 -6
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-4 chipotle peppers in adobo, diced & with sauce
- 2-3 tablespoons cumin
- 2 (29 ounce) canned black beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 lime, juiced
- 4-5 cups of vegetable stock or water
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 tomato, diced
- Greek Yogurt
- Warm a soup pot to medium heat. Add olive oil, diced onion & the peppers. Saute until the onions are soft. Add garlic and chipotle pepper, stir for 2 minutes. (You may want to add a few chipotle peppers at a time, depending on your spice level.)
- Add black beans, cumin and lime juice. Stir until the cumin distributes. Taste and add more cumin or chipotle peppers if needed. Pour in stock/water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
- If you have an immersion blender, blend about 1/4 of the soup. If you have a blender, puree about 1 cup and add it back to the pot. If you want a smoother soup, feel free to puree more. Simmer for 5 minutes. Give it a taste – add S&P if needed.
- When you’re ready to serve, top soup with cilantro, diced tomatoes and a dollop of greek yogurt.
- Go back for seconds
Hi!! Things got pretty busy for me last week…. I started a new job at a fresh herb company, Infinite Herbs. I’ll be doing sales & business development for their Mid-west clients, handling social media & recipe development. It’s the perfect job for a girl like me!
I’ll be traveling a couple of times a month but I’m still going to try to post 3 blog entries a week. That’s my goal and I hope it’s a realistic expectation.
There are a few things I find more convenient than a slow cooker. I love coming home from a long day at work and my dinner is ready for me. One less thing to do when I get home!
Tonight’s meal — Very Veggie & Chicken Tortilla Soup. I find restaurants that make this soup miss so many elements I love. Spice & veggies. This soup has a variety of vegetables, so you could omit the chicken and make it vegetarian. I included several layers of spice to this soup by using enchilada sauce, a jalapeno with the ribs & seeds and some spicy seasonings.
Every spoonful had so much flavor!! Have fun with the garnish for this soup. Bake your own tortilla chips, squeeze some lime juice into it, sprinkle cilantro or add a dollop of sour cream… or do it all!!
This soup was a delicious way to enjoy my dinner while watching E! news and get my Oscar red carpet recap. (Emma Stone was my favorite! J-Lo, a close 2nd.)
Have a great week!!
Very Veggie & Chicken Tortilla Soup
- 2 (14 oz) cans of chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 can red enchilada sauce
- 1 (4 oz) can green chilis
- 1 (14.5 oz) can tomatoes
- 2 cups black beans, rinsed & drained
- 2 cups pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 10 oz frozen corn
- 2 chicken breasts, uncooked and cubed
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 jalapeno, sliced
- 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbs cumin
- 1 tbs chili powder
- 1 tps salt
- garnish – tortilla strips, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, lime wedges
Everything goes in the slow cooker except for the garnishes. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Eat & enjoy.
If you’d like to “make” your own tortilla strips, all you need are corn tortillas, cooking spray & salt. Cut the tortillas into strips, spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes (or until crispy) at 350 degrees. I made strips & chips!
Also known as Tom Kha Gai. (try saying that 5 times fast.)
I love to order it from my favorite Thai place. The combination of the lemongrass, ginger and coconut is great to eat anytime of the year. I’ve always wanted to make it for myself — mainly because once I know how to make Tom Kha Gai, I won’t order it anymore when I go out. I don’t like to eat specific dishes I know I can make. Which is great because it makes me venture off the everyday menu & try new things. Win Win for me!
Even though this recipe tastes exotic, you can find all of the ingredients are your local grocery store. I recommend using chicken thighs instead of breast meat. Thigh meat retains moisture when it’s cooked unlike breast meat which gets all rubbery if it’s cooked too long.
I like to add rice to this soup. It’s not the traditional way to eat it, but it keeps me full longer. You can add rice to a bowl and ladle the soup over it if you want.
It’s getting colder in Chicago… but this soup keeps me warm and the Thai flavors spice up my day. Hope you enjoy it!
Tom Kha Gai
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1/2 green pepper, diced
- 1 can (14oz.) light coconut milk
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 stalk of lemon grass
- 1 lb skinless chicken thighs, cubed
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 tbs lime juice
- 1 tbs Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp Thai chili paste ( I used Sirichai since I always have it on hand)
- Basil leaves, for garnish
- Cilantro, for garnish
- In a medium sauce pan, add olive oil. When the oil is warm, add onion, garlic, ginger and green pepper. Once the onion is soft, add coconut milk, chicken stock and lemongrass. Bring to a boil.
- Add chicken, mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chili paste. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is firm and opaque, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Discard lemongrass. Garnish servings with basil and cilantro.