a favorite kind of soup.

There are many recipes that I just don’t blog about.  Recipes that simply feel too…well…simple.  Overused and much overdone.

Like oatmeal.  Or hummus veggie sandwiches.

Or my daily consumption of peanut butter.  (Besides, I’d hate to think that I might scare you away.)

Soup is a pretty regular thing in my kitchen too.  Sadly, many of these recipes flitter and float around but never really get spoken of.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy them.  Or that I want to ignore them.  It’s just that.  Well.  They’re just nothing special (ouch!)

However, this recipe made me very, very happy.

And for that reason alone, I am blogging about it.  Because I think you’ll feel delightfully happy and content with it as well.  And that’s a feeling worth sharing.

Bountiful Black Bean Soup—as seen on the back of the package of Bob’s Red Mill Black Beans

This soup pairs perfectly with homemade corn bread or cheese quesadillas.  You could tweak it and make it your own by adding spinach, mushrooms, and other such veggies as well.  Or, spice it up with some cayenne or red pepper.  I absolutely love this soup and I almost always double the batch so that I can have some for lunch during the week.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 2 cups roasted corn (roast frozen corn in 350 oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, including leaves, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 package of Bob’s Red Mill black bean soup mix (or about 1-1/2 to 2 cups dry black beans)
  • 1-28 oz. can tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups butternut squash, cut into large, bite sized cubes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat; add onions and celery.  Saute until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and saute for one more minute.
  3. Carefully pour in stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits.  Stir in black beans and tomatoes.  Add butternut squash and roasted corn.  Add herbs, stir and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 1-1/2 hours, stirring every 1/2 hr.  Add more stock or water if beans and squash absorb too much liquid.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: What is your favorite kind of soup?

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Fast Food.

Well.  I thought I’d let you in on a couple of my most recent, fast food favorites.

And no.  I’m not talking about that kind of fast food…

Recently, I went to a state dietetic conference, in which there were all kinds of free giveaways, goodies and snag bags.  Yep, just one of the many perks of going into a food-related job. 😉

I sampled my way through delicious (and, to be honest, sometimes not so delicious) chocolate, yogurts, and cheese.  Lots of cheese.  By the end of the day, I discovered a couple of new (to me) products that I plan on using in my kitchen if ever I need food fast.  Fast food.

Fast Food #1: Dell’Amore Tomato Sauce

Supposedly, this sauce is homemade in Vermont.  I’m not usually a fan of store bought tomato sauces, but I’m really, really liking this one.  The sodium content is reasonable and the flavor is as deliciously close to homemade sauce as I’ve yet to find.  Best of all, the ingredients are 100% pronounceable.

It is pretty pricey though.  I paid $5.00 for one bottle.  But considering how cheap pasta noodles are, this meal really comes out to be a pretty affordable deal.

I like to bulk it all up with some extra veggies: zucchini, mushrooms, onions

…and a crunchy side salad.

The sauce gets mixed with the cooked veggies and then I smother it all over a plate of whole wheat noodles.

There you have it.  Fast food at its finest.

Fast Food #2: Flat-Out Wraps

At the end of the dietetic conference, there were more and more giveaways, as companies tried to just get rid of their products before heading home.  I snagged a couple of these flat-out wraps to be used for quick meals and snacks.

The best serving method that I discovered for these wraps, was when I served them alongside bowls of homemade channa masala, which I had pulled from the freezer.

Fast food.

The taste and texture of the flat-outs are fun.  I liked them.  But I’m still not crazy about that long ingredient list.  I wonder if the non-light ones are a little shorter?

Fast food doesn’t have to involve drive through’s, greasy fingers or eating in 5 minutes flat.  A little planning can go a long way in preparing foods at home that won’t take hours and hours of your time.

Eating On the Road:

  • Stop at a grocery store and make a meal from the deli with a whole wheat bulkie roll, a couple slices of turkey breast, a slice of cheese and some lettuce and tomato.  BONUS: Park in the furthest parking spot and get some walking into your day.
  • Pack a sandwich into a cooler if you know your day will be a long one.  Chop up some chicken, mix it with a bit of mayo, add some grapes and walnuts, and tuck into a whole wheat pita with lettuce.  Serve with some fresh raw veggie sticks for crunch and a piece of dark chocolate for dessert.
  • Pack a substantial snack to hold you over until you can sit down and have dinner: half a peanut butter and banana sandwich, almonds with apricots, cheese stick and a piece of fruit, yogurt with fresh berries and granola, etc.

Quick Meals At Home:

  • Breakfast for Dinner: Scrambled eggs, whole wheat toasts with a pat of jam, and roasted veggies on the side with fruit salad for dessert.
  • Tuna Melts: Grilled cheese with tuna salad tucked in between.  Serve with raw or roasted veggies and fresh fruit for dessert.
  • Black bean burgers on whole wheat buns with avocado, lettuce, and tomato.  Serve with homemade french fries and side salads
  • Make big batches of soups, chili, stews, salads, etc. on your weekend and stash in the freezer or fridge for an upcoming busy week.

Healthy fast food.  What a concept.

QUESTION: What is your favorite “fast food?”

I know I’m busy when…

I know I’m busy when I bounce out of bed at 5:00am on a Sunday morning, with a feeling that I’m late for something important.

I know I’m busy when a quiet movie night at home becomes the highlight of my week.

I know I’m busy when I can’t for the life of me remember what year we’re in.  How old am I again?

I know I’m busy when my calendar begins to look as if a two year old randomly scribbled a bunch of chaotic marks across the page.

I know I’m busy when I make three large salads, just so that I can have lunch already made for two more days.

I know I’m busy when I forget about the broiler.

I know I’m busy.  And yet, through it all, I know I am okay.

Because I actually kind of like early mornings, even on Sunday.  My scribbled calendar secretly makes me happy.  And larger than life salads never get old.

Oh.  Yes.  And I’m also okay with improvising.

 

QUESTION: Even when you’re in a time crunch, what is one thing that you refuse to give up? For me, it’s spending at least 15 minutes for breakfast.  And going for at least three runs or walks a week.  AND, spending at least half an hour at night to read in my book.  😀

a simple dish

Reason why my sister is my best friend, number one million and three

cat not included.

 Nicole makes a different pancake flavor for each new month of the year.  And while banana chocolate chip, maple walnut, and pumpkin rank high on my list of favorites, I don’t think any can compare with the gingerbread pancake.  It’s a little like eating a spicy gingerbread cookie for dinner.   :mrgreen:

Last night, Nicole had me over for dinner and a movie.  We plopped ourselves on the floor, watched Home Alone 2, and ate our fill of gingerbread pancakes, scrambled eggs and fresh fruit for dinner.  It feels a lot like Christmas. 😀

(If you’re dying for a batch of gingerbread pancakes too, she posted this recipe on today’s blog post: click here.)

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 Over the weekend, my dad grilled a couple of  ‘beer can chickens,’ and we’ve had heeps of leftover meat sitting in the fridge ever since.  Aside from using it for salad toppings—or just picking at it here and there—I really wanted to make a meal of it.  A simple, nutritious meal that I could get on the table quickly, after a long day of battling it out at the supermarket.

This meal *screams* simple.

(1) Diced chicken and halved pea pods sitting—waiting—in a colander.

(2) A simple sauce simmering.  Whisk, whisk, whisk.

(3) Hot (cooked) fettucine poured over chicken and pea pods.

(4) Everything poured back into pan, along with sauce and pineapple.

(5) Stirred gently.  Meal served.

 

Simple, simple, simple.  I love it when meals are fast, healthy and tasty to boot.  This is especially important during the holidays, wouldn’t you say?

Turkey and Pasta with Peanut Sauce—as seen in Better Homes and Gardens.

This meal could easily be made vegetarian, if you take out the meat and maybe add in some baked tofu.  If you do decide to go vegetarian, I recommend doubling the sauce and letting the tofu sit in some of the liquid before tossing it all together.  You could also double up on the veggies as well.  Sauteed red or green bell peppers would be a lovely addition. 

And while this simple dish is best served immediately, it reheats decently well for lunch the following day.  Enjoy! 

  • 6-oz. dried fettuccine or linguine
  • 2 c. fresh pea pods, cut in half
  • 1 c. cooked turkey or chicken, chopped
  • 1 c. chopped fresh pineapple OR one 8-oz. can pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1/4 c. reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 T. all natural peanut butter
  • 1 T. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 T. lime or lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, place pea pods and turkey or chicken in a colander.  Pour hot cooking liquid from pasta over pea pods and turkey or chicken in colander; drain well.  Return pasta, pea pods and turkey/chicken to the hot pan.  Add pineapple.
  2. Meanwhile, for sauce, in a small saucepan, stir chicken broth into peanut butter.  Heat and stir with a whisk until peanut butter melts.  Stir in soy sauce, lime juice, red pepper and garlic.  Heat thorough.
  3. Add sauce to pasta mixture.  Gently stir and toss to coat.  ENJOY! 😀

Question: Are you doing any traveling for Christmas or are you the one putting on the feast?

an ode to muffins

I love muffins.

I love that they’re so easy to pack.  Easy to eat. 

I love that they can verge on the side of sweet.  A not-so-subtle dessert.

I love that they can be your go-to healthy morning meal. 

Versatile.  Muffins are completely versatile. 

I love that a big batch of muffins can be whipped together in under 30 minutes.

I love that muffins are so forgiving.  They work with what you’ve got on hand.

I love that you can add just about anything you want to a basic recipe (carrots?  raisins?  flax?  pumpkin?) and watch it come out perfect.

Muffins.  I love everything about them. 

 

When I’m looking for more than just a “special treat”—when I need a muffin to be strong and carry me through an early morning—I usually look to bran.  Veggies.  Fruits.  Whole grains.  A bit of healthy fat. 

A muffin can offer all of these things.

Since I was looking for a hearty breakfast muffin, I decided to experiment with a basic bran muffin recipe.  Cutting out some of the oil and replacing this with carrots did nothing to the moisture content.  Not even the second day left a hint of difference.

The apples added a natural boost of sweetness (and fiber, thanks to leaving the peel intact!) 

And the spices and molasses offer that extra somethin’, somethin’, just to make you dream of autumn.

Quick.  Convenient.  Healthy.  Delicious.

Just what I need to carry me through a busy week of early mornings and late nights. 

(I paired my morning muffin with more veggies and fruits in the form of a smoothie.  A cup of milk, a cup of frozen blueberries, half a cup of canned pumpkin, a tablespoon of flax and a few handfuls of baby spinach leaves.  Sprinkled off with granola.)

I ate my smoothie upon waking up and took the muffin to go.  

Because—you know—muffins are totally transportable. 

Autumn Spiced Bran Muffins

Muffins always taste best on the same day that they’re made.  Even so, these do hold over really well.  If you don’t plan on eating them all within a few days, however, simply double bag them and store in the freezer.  Take them out the night before and you’re golden.  They make a very convenient and healthy breakfast or snack to have throughout the week. 😀

  • 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 1 cup milk + 1 T. lemon juice (or 1 c. buttermilk)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 small to medium apples, diced (peeling not necessary!)
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • cloves
  • ginger
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
  • Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray muffin pan with cooking spray or line with muffin tins.
    2. Mix together wheat bran, buttermilk, apple and carrot; let stand for 10 minutes.
    3. Beat together oil, egg, molasses and vanilla and add to buttermilk/bran mixture. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture, until just blended. Fold in walnuts if desired and spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.
    4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan and then transfer to a cooling rack.  ENJOY!

    Question: What is your favorite busy morning breakfast?