New Soup Recipe!

Hello all! I hope you are enjoying the post Christmas relaxation and preparing for the new year! I have been taking full advantage of being able to relax and just do whatever I feel like. I have a SUPER long list of recipes I want to make before I go back to school as well as when I return to school. I am definitely set on making some pumpkin butter! As soon as I got hooked on it, Trader Joe’s no longer has it on the shelf, so I am going to try and make my own! I have also been enjoying time with friends and family, I’m not home too much anymore so it is nice to catch up with people.

Here is a recipe for tomato soup which I started out trying to make from a lovely cook book I got for Christmas called ” The America’s Healthy Family Cookbook” , but before I knew it I was just doing my own thing and the soup isn’t a thing like the cream-less tomato soup I set out to make.

I really wanted tomato soup so I set out to make the cream-less tomato soup, as well as clean out the fridge a bit. My family had gotten some fresh mushrooms from my aunt for Christmas so I knew for sure I was going to be adding a few of those to the mix.

Yum!

I also encouraged my mom to save some of the beet greens from the beets we roasted on Christmas day, so I went about adding those as well. You could add spinach in these greens place and it would be just as delightful!

These are tasty!

First I chopped an onion, and some garlic and sauteed them in a pan with olive oil. I sauteed them until transparent. Then added some fat free half and half that my mom had left from christmas day. (I know this stuff is loaded with not so great fillers, but it need to be used, and in small amount it does a great job at making soups creamy without adding tons of calories and fat). The original recipe did not call for any cream, so this is where I started to do my own thing. Next came about 2 cups of chicken broth.

I used 2 cans of whole peeled tomatoes just like the recipe said and smashed them with a potato masher….<— way time consuming. I would have rather used diced canned tomatoes. I ended up using the 2 cans peeled whole tomatoes that I smashed as well as 2 more cans of diced tomatoes. Then came the spices….. I used Aleppo pepper (like red pepper flakes but less heat), basil, rosemary, oregano, and thyme. A small amount of sugar and salt and pepper were added to make the tomato flavor pop.

Not a necessary step! Just use canned diced tomatoes

Then I sliced mushrooms and then beet greens which I just cut in strips. I made the mistake of adding these to the pan…. forgetting I later wanted to blend the tomatoes into the broth…… lets just say it was a messy process to recover from. I had to fish out all the big tomato chunks to puree then add then back in. LEAVE THESE OUT UNTIL YOU BLEND THE TOMATO MIXTURE!!!

I used an immersion blender (new Christmas gift that I LOVE!) in the pan to blend the tomato, onion, garlic, spice mixture. THEN add the beet greens and mushrooms! I let this sit for about 10 more min on the stove on low heat and seasoned until perfection!

YUM!

Here is the run down on ingredients! AND the right less messy way to make this soup.

Tomato Soup with Mushrooms and Greens

2  large cans whole peeled tomatoes (If you don’t want to mash them, just used 6 cans diced tomatoes)

2 regular sized cans diced tomatoes

1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced

1 cup greens (beet or spinach)

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 – 1/2 cup fat free half and half (depends how creamy you like it)

1 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes (or to taste)

1  1/2 tsp basil (or to taste)

a pinch of salt

black pepper to taste

1/2 tsp-1 tsp sugar

2 tsp Italian herb mix (rosemary, thyme, oregano) <– (or to taste)

Directions:

Over medium heat saute onion and garlic until transparent/ cooked through

Add half and half, and chicken broth

Added diced tomatoes ( or mash whole tomatoes and add them)

Season with Aleppo or red pepper flakes and add the remaining spices (basil, thyme, oregano) as well as sugar, salt, and pepper

Use immersion blender to blend together or place in small batches into a regular blender

Slice mushrooms and greens and saute in pan

Add to tomato mixture….ENJOY!

Variations:

The next day I had some for lunch and added some leftover crab dip….. AMAZING! You could also add regular crab or lobster pieces as well as chicken for a more protein packed soup. Brown or wild rice could be another great addition!

With added crab dip! SOOOO YUMMY!

I hope you all have a happy last day of 2010! I’m hanging out with the boyfriend and his family. It should be a nice, relaxing new years celebration. 2010 sure has gone fast, but its been a good year. A growing year really. I learned and grew up so much this year!

How was your 2010?

What are your New Years plans?

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Almost a White Christmas

I hope you all had a WONDERFUL Christmas eve and day! I have been super busy these past few days but it has sure been delightful! The snow is piling up. We are expecting 8-12 inches! CRAZY! It was almost a white Christmas! Glad that it held off so family could come and go for the holiday safely.

I had a really nice Christmas! Christmas eve was spent with my boyfriend’s family for dinner and church then I came home to snack on some delicious cheese and crackers while watching White Christmas by the fire with my family. As usual I fell asleep. I sleep through almost every movie, no matter what time of day. It’s kind of funny when people ask if I’ve seen a movie before. If I didn’t see it in the theater it generally begins with I did….. but I fell asleep.

Christmas morning began with opening stockings in my parents room as usual, then we all headed downstairs to see what was under the tree. The morning started with some fresh citrus, pumpkin bread, and some coffee!

Coffee and fruit!

Momma's famous pumpkin bread!

 

I got some GREAT kitchen items! Now I just have to wait until I have a bigger kitchen at school to actually use them, but it will be fun to experiment while I’m home!

Mini food processor!

Mini Keurig

Apron, oven mits, lemon juicer, and a covered muffin pa

 

As usual all the family came to my house for the big meal on Christmas day, so we immediately began running around prepping and cleaning for everyone’s arrival. All the food turned out wonderful! Some appetizers included

Cranberry Goat cheese with crackers

Shrimp

Mozzarella Cheese Braid

We also had crab dip, brie, and a mixed selection of olives. It was hard not to eat a ton before dinner!!!!!

Dinner was also AMAZING, everything turned out fabulous!

My plate included, whole grain roll, lobster tail, two types salad, smashed potatoes w/ herbed goat cheese, roasted brussel sprouts and turnips, and sauteed mushrooms!

Roasted Red beets, White turnips, and Green brussel sprouts, my mom wanted to be festive with the colors!

Another great picture of the sprouts

Lobster tail was AMAZING! We also had filet of beef (but I don't eat beef)

Mixed green salad with cranberries and feta

Ceasar salad

I’m so bummed I didn’t get a picture of the meat or the potatoes. They were seriously amazing! Smashed with herbed goat cheese! Try it sometime! I don’t even like mashed potatoes, but my mom smashed them with the skins and the goat cheese was a great touch!

We had LOTS of candy and cookies sitting around as well and two pies for dessert (butterscotch, and pecan pumpkin pie). If anyone can say anything about my family it’s we know how to eat!

Later in the evening we all came back together for some dessert and presents and this guy showed up!

All in all it was a great day! Now off to enjoy some tea, the fire, and the falling snow! I hope you have safe travels!

 

Merry Christmas!

Hello all!

I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas week and ready for the big events to come these next few days! I just wanted to post a quick, short note. I have been rather busy as well tackling that to-do list I mentioned before. Its quite the feat! So far I’m half way through one book, and in the process of figuring out my camera! It had LOTS of new settings to play around with!

Christmas eve is my favorite part of Christmas! I love preparing for the big day, going to church, and my family ALWAYS watches White Christmas with a nice warm fire! Wishing you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

What are your Christmas eve traditions?

Lists Galore!

Lists are a must in my life, grocery lists, project/exam lists, weekly task lists, recipe lists, you get the point… I guess it comes from being a bit of an obsessive planner. An attribute I am often made fun of for, but hey this time of year its acceptable to make to-do lists, because there is SO much to-do! I’ve made a list of things I want to accomplish this break:

1) Make homemade pumpkin butter (it is no longer on the shelves at Trader Joes and I’m going through withdrawal)

2) Cook down the turkey carcass and make my own broth which I will use to make a yummy soup, to be determined.

3)Make and can chili (or can anything really, I’ve never canned before and its the ultimate convenience!)

4) Bake bars with some sort of fruit (ie. raspberry oat bars)

 

But these things will have to wait until after christmas, because I am currently crossing things off of this list.

1) Decorate the tree with my family

Check: Love this ornament!

2) Learning how to use my new camera!

So excited about this upgrade! Expect LOTS of pictures!

3) Reading a few of these books, the pile keeps growing!

Let's be real, I'll probably get to about 2 of them... I'm the worlds slowest reader, not to mention the task of actually making myself sit down to read.

4) Running and catching up with old friends

Best running shoes EVER: Asics Gel Cumulus 12

5) Spending lots of time in the kitchen helping my lovely mom prepare for Christmas dinner

Baking 8 different kinds of cookies: Check

6) Catching up on this pile of Runners world and Cooking light magazines

I already went through half of them!

7) Enjoy Christmas-y decorations and time with family

The real meaning of Christmas

8) Enjoying LOTS of Christmas cookies for dessert

Cocoa Snowflakes

Molasses Cookies: Old family recipe!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

Spritz cookies: Wreaths and Trees

Peanut Butter Cookies

Sugar Cookie Cut-outs

10) Enjoy the nice warm fire!

My favorite place in the house!

9) Eat new foods and food combinations I’ve been dying to try

LOVE these chips! Trader Joes Baked potato chips, Hickory Barbeque

Feta cheese stuffed olives

Turkey, Mozzerella, roasted tomatoes and lettucs on a roll

Yummy snack! Apple and chocolate graham crackers w/ peanut butter

1/4 cup Plain greek yogurt, 1/4 cup mix of kashi cereals, 1/2 apple, pumpkin butter

10) Relax with friends and family. (too many possible pictures to insert here)

 

I hope you all are enjoying the Christmas week! Bless you all and your time with family and friends!

Whats on your to-do list?

Comfort Food: Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Exams are finally over and the grades are in! I can finally catch a break for the next few weeks! Somehow, my hardest and busiest semester turned into my best semester grade wise! It has been an adjustment the past few days realizing there is nothing I HAVE to do, it’s really weird for me. I think I am finally settling into “relaxing” mode, which for me means baking cookies, eating good food, reading books I actually want to read, hanging out with friends and family, and working out. The extra sleep in the mornings has been nice too 🙂

Finals week brought lots of cravings for comfort food….. Not only were we all stressed, it was by far the coldest week we have had! I couldn’t feel my face after walking to work! I tried to not give in to all of the cravings, but I can guarantee you a few cookies and pieces of caramel apple cake were consumed (and VERY much enjoyed). Here is one recipe I used to try and make some of these cravings a little healthier. Its Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese. My mom found it a few years ago and it has been changed to make it a little less fattening. You don’t even miss the plethora of cheeses AND you get a serving of veggies!

 

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese! YUM!

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

3 cups butternut squash, peeled, cubed

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 cups evaporated milk

3/4 tsp salt

Ground black pepper to taste

1 lb pasta (whatever you prefer for you macaroni, elbows, shells, etc)

1 cup grater chedder cheese

1/2 cup fat free ricotta cheese

4 tbsp Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp breadcrumbs

1 tsp olive oil

Directions: Preheat oven 375

Combine squash, chicken broth, and evaporated milk in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer until squash is tender (about 20-30 min).

 

Squash cooking

Remove from heat and mash squash mixture. (I used a blender, and it worked great!) Stir in salt and pepper.

 

Mashing it all up!

While squash is cooking, prepare pasta and drain. Transfer to large bowl and stir in mashed squash, chedder, ricotta, and 2 tbsp Parmesan. Prepare  13×9 baking dish or pan with cooking spray. Poor noodle mixture into prepared pan.

 

This was the perfect shape to trap all the creaminess in!

Combine breadcrumbs, remaining 2 tbsp parmesan and oil in a small bowl. Poor evenly over noodles.

 

All ready for the oven!

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake further until lightly browned (30-40 min). Serve.

I served this with chicken breast and spinach. It was a good dinner!

 

In other foodie news:

I was trying to use up all my cottage cheese before I left for break.

 

Mandarin Oranges in juice, drained over Cottage cheese

Random Sandwich I made on the spot before my last exam: Cottage cheese with Trader Joes Cranberry Apple Butter

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this yogurt! It tastes like a Chocolate milkshake. I had it for breakfast with raw oats and Kashi GoLean sprinkeled on top. SOOOOO good!

It would also be an AWESOME dessert!

 

Trader Joes Mocha Cappaciuno Yogurt

Another thing I discovered and cannot get enough of is hot chocolate coffee! Pour a packet of your favorite hot chocolate mix in a mug, pour brewed coffee over top, and froth some milk to top it off. Perfect cold weather, christmas time beverage!

I hope you all are enjoying your time off and spending time with friends and family. I know this time of year can get awfully stressful for many people, but try to remember to relax. Your time spent with friends and family has far greater meaning than the gifts under the tree!

 

What is your favorite comfort food?

It’s Soup Time!!!

I hope you all are keeping warm! Its been pretty decent here the past few days but there is supposed to be a high of 20 with wind and snow on its way this week. NOT cool! Well….at least I don’t have to walk to class anymore! So I think soup has be to be one of my favorite foods of all time. It really packs a lot of nutrients and warms the soul. It makes you feel good physically cause well its WARM and relaxing and mentally because if you pick the right kind, its chock full of nutrients and veggies!!!!! You’ll generally find me eating Campbells Select Harvest Minestrone pictured below) with a cheese stick and an apple.

YUMMM!

BUT every few weeks I decide to whip up my own homemade soup! Friday was one of those days! I had some lentils to use, LOVE lentils! So I decided to make something I call Lentil Stew. I love the steamed Lentils from Trader Joe’s!! They are vacuum packed and unopened last forever. Great to have around to put on salad, in pasta, in sauces, and of course in soup! Does anyone else buy these?

First I chopped up all the carrots ( I used baby carrots, because I have a bunch to use up before break, but you can use regular carrots as well), then I minced the garlic and onions and sauteed them in some olive oil.

Carrots

Sauted Garlic and Onions

I added the lentils and carrots to the onions and garlic. Next came some chicken broth, a splash of balsamic vinegar, oregano, ginger, and some adobo pepper. I let this sit at medium heat for about 10min then tested it. I decided to add some more oregano, some aleppo pepper, and another splash of adobo pepper as well. <– I love this stuff, its peppery/spicy without numbing your taste buds. Then let it sit on the stove at low heat for about another 15 min to blend. I removed from the heat and let it cool, before enjoying a bowl. So here’s the break down…

1-1 1/2 cups cooked lentils

1 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves

1/3 cup carrots, chopped

1/2 cup chicken broth (add more if you want it more soup like)

a splash of balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp oregano

2 tsp ginger

1 tsp adobo pepper

1/2 tsp aleppo pepper

a splash of cinnamon

Enjoy! I sure did!!!

Lentil Stew!

Here are a few other yummy things I’ve enjoyed throughout the past few days!

 

My new favorite dinner after a long study day! Scrambled eggs w/ ketchup, roasted brussel sprouts, and toast w/ pumpkin butter!

 

Night time snack! Vanilla greek yogurt w/ pumpkin butter and toffee almonds

My typical breakfast.... 4oz yogurt w/ some fruit. Here is peach yogurt with pomegranate seeds!

Another night time snack.... peanut butter toast w/ heath bits, a banana, and a glass of milk!

I’ve been loading up on protein this week for some reason, but everything has been soooooo yummy, I can’t complain!!!! I loved the pumpkin butter in yogurt paired with the toffee almonds! They are an amazing pair!!!

I also love peanut butter bread, a common snack of mine. Here I spiced it up a bit,  sprinkled with heath bits, I usually like it with mini choco chips,  but this was still super yummy! Its a nice little dessert that is still really good for you! Raisins are a good addition too! Good Luck on finals for those of you who still have them!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

 

How do you like to warm up on a cold day?

God’s Love in music

Hello All! SO around here (in the middle of NO-where PA). Pretty much the only radio stations you can pick up regularly are country or christian. While I’m a sucker for country every now and again, you can guess what I generally am tuned into. This semester has been a whole bunch of ups and downs regarding my moods, my relationship with god, etc. Lots of work, lots of stress, never a good combination. Stress does not do good things to me….. BUT… Drumroll please…….. I’m DONE! I mean, I have 2 finals, but they are not cumulative so really I have two exams and then I have officially survived the worst semester yet! 🙂

So to my point….. when I was driving home for break a few weeks ago, It was just so great to sit alone and listen to how AMAZING our creator is! To pray, to sing, to worship! Many of the songs that came on at first were about love, loving others as god loves us. Something I know I’ve touched on before here. We as Christians are supposed to love as Jesus loved, not condemn or look down upon others, as we are so often known for. A song that always pulls me back to this reality is Casting Crowns “If we are the body” check it out!

Also songs about God’s love for us. I know I as well as many other girls and women have struggled with body image, and loving themselves for WHO they are and not how they look. We are all who HE has created us to be. Something that I know that I struggle with sometimes is, how could he love me despite everything I’ve done! It blows my mind, but guess what! The creator is in love with each and every one of us! He loves us all inside and out! “You are More” is another song to check out by Tenth Avenue North… It is such an amazing song we can all relate to. I am off to study away for finals! I will be back tomorrow with a new recipe! Have a blessed weekend!

 

A photo of me about a year ago, taken on a beautiful property our church owns!

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” -Psalm 139:13-14