Sunday, December 30, 2012

Simple Chicken Tortilla Soup

Quick, easy, weeknight meal. 
Leftovers are great for lunch the next day. 

2 c cooked, shredded chicken
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 zucchinis, chopped
1 small can rotel tomatoes, drained
1 11 oz. can shoe peg corn, drained
6 c chicken broth
2 t chili powder
2 t cumin
juice from 2 limes
s&p to taste
handful fresh cilantro

Drizzle bottom of soup pot with olive oil. 
Heat over medium-high heat. Add onion and zucchini and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes.
Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir until fragrant. 
Pour in broth, rotel, and corn. Bring to a boil.
Add shredded chicken, reduce heat to medium and simmer until chicken is heated through.
Add lime juice and fresh cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

garnish ideas: crushed tortilla chips, avocado, cilantro, shredded cheese 

enjoy :) 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Vegetarian Taco Soup

This is a tiny bit adapted from my friend Melissa's taco soup recipe. 
She is by far the best vegetarian cook that I know.
 I love love love picking her brain for recipes. Thanks, friend!
p.s. I'm making it for small group this week...miss you guys so much! 

1/2 lb. morning star ground beef substitute
1 onion, chopped
1/4 jalapeño, finely chopped

1 tomato, chopped
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (15 oz)
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (16 oz)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (15 oz)
1 can shoe peg corn, drained and rinsed (11 oz)
1 can rotel diced tomatoes (10 oz)
1 small packet hidden valley ranch style dressing
1 low sodium/organic package taco seasoning
4 cans water

Brown together first 3 ingredients. 

Add all other ingredients.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, simmer about 1 hour.

garnish options: cilantro, chips, cheese, tomatoes, avocado

enjoy :) 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Roasted Tomatoes, Shrimp, and Feta

Thank you, Real Simple!

This was seriously delicious.
The combination of juicy roasted tomatoes, herbs, feta, lemon, and shrimp was just divine. 
I think it's a perfect dish to make for company. 
Seems really nice, but it only takes about 20 minutes
 of prep time and the oven does the rest. 

You can take a look at the link or keep reading...

5 tomatoes, cut into eighths
3 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 lbs shrimp, peeled
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley (or cilantro. i did a combination of both)
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 c reduced fat feta

Heat oven to 450. Place tomatoes in a large baking dish. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil, top with garlic  and 3/4 t each salt and pepper. Toss and roast for 20 minutes.

Remove baking dish from oven. Stir in shrimp, herbs, and lemon juice. Sprinkle with the feta. 

Return to oven for 10-15 minutes, until shrimp are cooked through. 

I served over quinoa with roasted green beans.
 Next time, I'll definitely have crusty bread with it. 

enjoy :) 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Crockpot Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

Growing up, my mom never cooked in a crockpot. Ever. 
Mom, do you own a crockpot??
I've been told many times that "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" 
when it comes to being like my mama. 
 Because of a busier work schedule this year, I've veered from "the tree" 
and started resorting to my crockpot. a lot! 
Life saver!
(thank you, Tom & Camille for my wonderful crockpot!)

In the original directions, this soup has a lot of fuss and hoop-la and 
stuff you're supposed to do before adding it to the crockpot. 
To me, that defeats the purpose of using a crockpot.
It's already hard enough to crawl
 into the back of my cabinet to lug the thing out....
So I decided to just dump all the ingredients in at once and voila.

3 cans diced tomatoes, with juice (low sodium if possible)
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup diced celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onion
1 T dried oregano
1 T chili powder
1/2 t cayenne pepper
4 c broth
1 bay leaf
1 c shredded parmesan cheese
2 T butter, optional
2 c skim milk (or fat free half and half)
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 t salt
1 t pepper

Add all ingredients to the crockpot
EXCEPT the fresh basil and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.

Cook on low for 5-7 hours.

Add basil and reserved parmesan for last 30 minutes of cooking time.

enjoy :)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Watermelon, Basil, Feta Salad

Get ready to impress.
With VERY little effort.

This salad is oh so pretty. 
It's like the perfect a salad version. 
makes sense to me 

Seedless watermelon, cut into bite-sized chunks
Handful (or more) of feta
Couple handfuls of basil, chopped
Lime juice
Sea Salt
Olive Oil
Tiny drizzle of balsamic vinegar and/or sprinkle of orange zest if desired.

 Chop of the watermelon and basil. 
Squeeze a little lime juice and add a few dashes of olive oil.
 Lightly toss together. 
Sprinkle the feta on top (don't stir or it gets messy looking)
Top with a little sea salt and vinegar/orange zest if you wish.

Serve on a bed of arugula or on its own.
Garnish with fresh mint or basil.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Spinach Lemon Pasta Bake

This pasta dish is fresh, summery, and simple.
 It's a good one to make for a crowd. 

12-16 oz. whole wheat pasta (not a spaghetti type of noodle)
1 lemon, zested and juiced (use 1/2 lemon if you don't love lemon)
2 c fresh spinach, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c milk or half and half, any kind 
1-2 T butter
1-2 T flour
1/4 c parmesan cheese
1/4 c shredded mozzarella
red pepper flakes
basil, dried or fresh
s&p to taste 

Preheat over to 350. 
Make pasta, drain, put back in pot with a dash of olive oil to prevent sticking.
Add butter to sauce pan and melt. Saute garlic in butter. 
Add milk, flour, lemon juice & zest, and spices (including basil).
Stir with whisk until it thickens.
Add sauce, spinach, and cheese to pasta (reserve a little parmesan for the top) Stir.
Transfer to casserole dish and top with remaining parmesan cheese.
Bake covered for 20 minutes.
Uncover and bake 5 more minutes. 
Garnish with fresh basil and serve.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Chicken Salad with Avocado and a Kick

My husband eats the same thing for lunch every day. He is incredibly
patient with this and has somehow convinced himself that the turkey
sandwich I make for him tastes WAY better than the turkey sandwich he
makes himself (probably b/c I take an extra 3 seconds and put some
mustard on it...and if I'm feelin' real fancy that day, maybe even a
couple pieces of spinach).

I had a burst of creativity?, boredom?, pity?, love? last week and
decided to spice up lunch around here. I made chicken salad and I
liked it. I don't trust chicken salad usually because---why is the
chicken so small and fine and fluffy like that?? and what is this cream
substance?? no. I just don't usually love it. (I do like Whole Food's
sonoma chicken salad, but don't really buy it because mayonaise freaks
me out)

Here's what I did---I boiled chicken, shredded it, added avacado, a
little greek yogurt, a dash of mustard, and some spices. Ryan enjoyed
a fancy chicken salad sandwich with tomato, sprouts, cucumber, and
spinach for about 4 days.

He's back to turkey this week. Bless him.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, boiled*, shredded, and cooled
2 avocados, pitted and cut into pieces
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/4 scant cup mustard (regular, honey mustard, spicy, whatever you
like. i used a sweet/hot blend)
1/4 scant cup greek yogurt (0% fat)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Add chopped celery, cilantro, or parsley if desired.

Mix together all ingredients. Add more yogurt or seasoning as needed.
Serve with sprouts, tomatoes, other greens, cucumbers, celery, etc. on
a sandwich, with pita chips, over a green salad, or with raw

*Notes about boiling chicken---spray large pot with cooking spray
(pam) and turn heat to high. season both sides of chicken breasts with
a little bit of salt and pepper. when pot is hot, add chicken in
single layer and cook on both sides for about a minute each just to
char it a tiny bit. fill pot with water (chicken should not be crammed
next to each other) and bring to a boil. reduce to simmer and let
chicken cook through. mine took about 15-17 minutes total.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

cinco de mayo

We had our 2nd annual Cinco de Mayo party this weekend. 
So fun!!! 

I had a great time preparing for it, planning the menu, decorating, plucking fiesta-ish flowers from neighbors gardens (with permission, don't worry..), but the best was time with friends, 
sharing our home, and hosting with my man...oh and of course, delicious margaritas.

I loved it :) 

I didn't get as many pictures as I'd hoped to (I'll be better about it next year), but here are a couple pics and a few snip-its about the menu: 
"fiesta" streamers made from dyed
coffee filters

food table (dark, not very pretty picture :/) 

menu: fajitas, grilled veggies,
mexican rice, black bean salad, quesadillas, chips,
salsa, and guacamole

food labels-limes and
bamboo skewers...and "mexican" sangria bar in background.

sangria has oranges, cloves, cinnamon, and other goodies.
next time I think i'll add some brandy.
living room with fiesta banner
peonies and cute margarita straws :) 

my cute host partner :)
...and desserts in the background on the buffet

dessert menu: mexican brownies (picture and recipe below),
no bake oatmeal chocolate PB cookies,
margarita cupcakes, and
"scotcharoos" (rice crispy, butterscotch, chocolate goodness)
and m&ms to go with the fiesta theme! 

mexican brownies 

My very favorite brownies are ghirardelli dark chocolate brownies 
with chocolate chips...from a box. Yep, I said it. They are dang good. 
Trick: cook them 7 minutes less than the minimum cooking time says on the box. 
I use a glass pan usually and the cook time says sirree, 38 minutes and those babies are perfect! 
My ultimate treat is these dark chocolate brownies with a scoop of Bluebell homemade 
vanilla ice-cream. That was before I had "Mexican-ized" these. 

Recipe: add 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to brownie mix. Follow all other instructions like normal. Try it, try it! So good and "fancy" in a split second.



Thursday, March 22, 2012

grilled asparagus with lemon zest

This is too simple to be considered a "recipe", 
but here goes nothin'. 
This is a very easy way to add a fresh, 
new spin to asparagus. 

All you need:
asparagus (1 bunch)
olive oil (1-2 Tbs)
lemon zest (of about 1/2 a lemon)
fresh herbs

All you do: 
-trim asparagus (break off the ends. asparagus make a 
natural break with the last few tough inches of the stalk)
-heat grill (I used an indoor grill pan)
-toss asparagus on grill and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and lemon zest 
-grill until tender, but crisp, rotating as necessary
-serve with chopped fresh herbs sprinkled on top (mint or basil)

Simple, healthy side to compliment almost anything this Spring.

Oh yes, happy Spring!! My favorite :) 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

This is a Martha Stewart, not a Kate, creation. 
I made it 4 layers instead of 6. 
I made it for Ryan's birthday.
It was amazing.

I'm married to a carb-aholic. He also happens to be a runner, golfer, and incredible athlete. 
And he's in the medical profession and would not counsel his patients 
to have the same "favorites" as he does. 
But in all honesty if you ask Ryan what his favorite foods are he will 
say, "cake, bread, biscuits, crackers, brownies, pizza, and cheese." yes.

I tell you these things because he is PICKY about his cakes, etc....and 
this cake is his new favorite, hands-down.

( from Martha:


  • For The Cake

    • Unsalted butter, room temperature, for pans
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
    • 3 cups granulated sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
    • 1 tablepoon baking soda
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • Coarse salt
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
    • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons safflower oil
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • For The Caramel

    • 4 cups granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • Coarse salt
    • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • For The Frosting

    • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
    • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
    • Coarse salt
    • 1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted, and cooled
    • Garnish: flaked sea salt, such as Maldon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cake: Butter three 9-inch round cake pans, and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Sift flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons course salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined. Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, 1 1/2 cups warm water, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Divide batter among pans. Bake until cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool in pans set on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks, and let cool completely.

Make the caramel: Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, without stirring, until mixture is dark amber, about 14 minutes. Remove from heat, and carefully pour in cream (mixture will spatter); stir until smooth. Return to heat, and cook until a candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees, about 2 minutes. Pour caramel into a medium bowl, stir in 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and let cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: Whisk together cocoa and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water in a bowl until cocoa dissolves. Beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and a generous pinch of coarse salt in a clean bowl with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in melted chocolate and then cocoa mixture until combined. Let stand for 30 minutes before using.

Trim tops of cakes using a serrated knife to create a level surface. Cut each in half horizontally to form 2 layers. Transfer 1 layer to a serving platter, and spread 3/4 cup caramel over top. Top with another cake layer, and repeat with remaining caramel and cake layers, leaving top uncovered. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

Frost top and sides of cake in a swirling motion. Sprinkle with sea salt.

some notes from me:
-yes, use a candy thermometer

-make cake and caramel ahead of time (a day before)

-use floss and toothpicks to easily cut your 2 cakes in half to create your 4 layers
 (imagine each round cake is a clock. if your cooled cake 
is on a piece of parchment paper on your counter 
place 2 toothpicks on the outside of "12 o'clock", "3 o'clock", "6 o'clock", and "9 o'clock". 
toothpicks should be centered in a way that when you slide the floss through, 
the cake is cut into 2 even layers.
 put a long piece of floss in between each set of toothpicks. pull floss through.
your cake is cut evenly and without a mess!)

Make for someone you love and share with friends! 


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

kale pesto

Hello again!

I hope you've all had a chance to enjoy balsamic green beans since that's 
the last thing I posted FOREVER ago! 
Sorry, really I am!!
I go through such spurts of feeling committed to this little blog...shady, I know. haha, get it? :)
ok anyways. I'm back and am going to try my hardest to be more consistent....because I have lots of things I want you to try. 

First up...kale pesto.
 Let me just say that I am sooo thankful for the produce co-op we're in. 
It's fun, affordable, and a great way for us (resident and teacher/nanny) to be 
able to eat more local and organic produce.
In our box last week, we got lots of kale, snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, clementines, 
spring mix lettuce, etcccc.... so much yumminess for just about $27. 

I made kale pesto and:
1. added it to whole wheat angel hair pasta with snap peas and broccoli
2. used it as a condiment to make delicious turkey sandwiches
3. dipped fresh vegetables in it instead of hummus
4. used it as a base for pizza

oh so good. 5 ingredients (plus s&p). easy shmeezy. healthy.

1 bunch kale
1/2 cup walnuts (OR pinenuts, almonds, or cashews)
about 1/2 cup olive oil (or a little less)
3-6 cloves garlic, depending on how garlicky you like things
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Remove kale from stem and peel garlic. 
Chop nuts in food processor. 
Add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, garlic, cheese, and lemon juice to food processor. 
Blanch kale in salt water (bring water to a boil, add kale, 
return to boil, remove kale and rinse in cold water, squeeze water from kale)
Add blanched kale to food processor and pulse until pesto-like consistency. 
Add more olive oil if necessary. 

Enjoy! :)