Lunch


How’s your week going? We’re more than half way to Friday. Woohoo! I’m excited that St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. The parade in South Boston, which is happening on Sunday,¬†is always a lot of fun (think green beer and a lot of people in a festive mood). Next week, I’m planning to post a Irish-themed recipe or two. I have to represent, right? Check back. ūüôā

Back to today’s recipe. As you might remember, I am part of the Craving Ellie in My Belly¬†(CEiMB) cooking group. Sadly,¬†I haven’t posted recipes from Ellie’s group¬†lately. I’m blaming it on my busy schedule and my wimpiness (a few week’s ago, the chocolate mousse recipe contained tofu and I’m just plain scared of it).

Anywho, I’m back with this week’s recipe , which comes from Ellie’s first book titled The Food You Crave. I¬†just couldn’t pass up making this Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo. Doesn’t it sound delicious? It was…and easy too. I always expect soups and stews to be more difficult to make then they actually are.¬†Soups, especially Ellie’s, are¬†great for a healthy dinner – or lunch! This filling meal was on the table in less than 30 minutes…great for a weeknight!

As for the taste of this lemon chicken soup, it was just right. I wasn’t so sure about adding an egg to the soup¬†but it made for the perfect consistency. And, the lemon flavor was fantastic, in my opinion.¬†Not too lemony, a great flavor. Rounding out the soup was delicious veggies, protein from the chicken and fiber and carbohydrates from the whole wheat orzo. Yum!

Have a great rest of your week! What’s up for your weekend?

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What’s better on a cold winter day than a hot bowl of soup or stew? That’s exactly what I was thinking when I cooked up turkey chili this week. I like making soup or chili because the recipe makes enough for plenty of leftovers.

The recipe, Simple Turkey Chili, came from one of my favorite recipe websites, allrecipes.com. I have been using¬†allrecipes.com for as long as I can remember. I love the number of recipes, the search functions, the ratings and advice from other users, and the ability to save recipes to a recipe box! This chili¬†has a ton of flavor with a bit of spice. It’s hearty and ¬†satisfying.

Being the carb-lover that I am, I couldn’t¬†make just turkey chili.¬† And, what goes better with chili¬†than corn muffins?! I searched long and hard for a whole grain corn muffin recipe. I found this one, for Whole Wheat Cornbread, and chose to make 8 muffins instead. To make the¬†muffins instead of bread,¬†put the batter into muffin cups in a¬†muffin tin and bake them for 15-18 minutes.

These healthy muffins are moist and have a good amount of flavor. Top the muffins with a little honey or butter and they’re near perfect!

Turkey¬†chili and whole wheat corn muffins…the perfect healthy, hearty lunch.

I love risotto but was always a little nervous about making it at home. I’ve heard it can be time-consuming¬†and a little tricky. All I could picture was me standing in my kitchen for an hour resulting in rice stuck to the bottom of the pan! Luckily, my first¬†risotto-making experience turned out great and it’s¬†not as complicated as I expected!

There are so many variations to risotto but since my parents gave me two butternut squashes, I thought I’d incorporate that winter vegetable into the dish.¬†I decided to add spinach too, for some greens.

I found the process to be pretty¬† simple but it does take a bit longer than the average rice or pasta dish.¬†I my opinion, the extra time is¬†worth it! This dish was pretty darn tasty and was hearty without being too heavy.¬†This makes a great meal or side dish…especially for a cold winter night!

 

Butternut Squash and Spinach Risotto

(loosely based on a recipe by Ina Garten – but mine’s healthier!)

Servings: 3-4

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 Tsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

3 c. low sodium chicken broth

1/4 stick butter, unsalted

1 shallot, minced

3/4 cup Ariboro rice

1 1/2 c. fresh baby spinach leaves

1/2 fresh grated Asiago cheese

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 400*. Put butternut squash on a cookie sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, turning squash at least once. Once squash is soft, mash well and set aside.

2. While squash is roasting, heat chicken broth in small sauce pan on medium heat.

3. In a saute pan, melt butter. Add shallots to butter and saute until shallots are clear.

4. Add rice to butter mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes.

5. Add 2/3 c. of the chicken broth to the rice mixture and cook, stirring often until no liquid remains.

6. Continue adding chicken broth 2/3 c. at a time following step 4, until rice is al dente. This should take about 25 minutes.

7. Take rice of heat and mix in butternut squash, spinach and cheese.

8. Enjoy!

I told you I’d be back with a healthy recipe today so here it is: Tortellini-Spinach Soup from Ellie Krieger’s new book, So Easy.

Maybe this book should be called “So Tasty” instead because this soup is really delicious. I’m not usually a big soup person. I like it but I just don’t crave soup like I crave…let’s say…chocolate. I’m not sure if many people crave soup but either way, this is one to try. This soup is chock full of vegetables and the tomatoes and tortellini add a nice flavor and texture element. Soups with pasta are a bonus in my book. Wherever I can sneak in pasta, I do.

I received this cookbook from my brother for my birthday last month and I’m so glad I did. There are so many recipes I want to try and most of them are suitable for a weeknight meal. Chicken-mushroom quesadillas, garlic-basil shrimp, proscuitto-wrapped cod, fruit salad with honey lime dressing….anyone getting hungry?¬†

A good portion of the recipes have photos, which I love, and all have nutrition facts Рanother bonus! This is a book that anyone interested in cooking and eating healthy, but simple, meals would enjoy. Chistmas gift idea!

With the winter almost upon us, a pot of this soup is a great meal for a chilly night. Enjoy!

Tortellini-Spinach Soup

(Serves 4; from So Easy by Ellie Krieger)

Ingredients:

1 tsp. canola oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp.  dried thyme

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 14oz. can of low sodium diced tomatoes with juice

6 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth

3 oz. baby spinach, sliced into ribbons

1 9oz. package of spinach and cheese tortelli (2 cups)

1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

1. Heat the oil in a 4 or 6 quart saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent and the garlic is softened, another 3 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flaes and cook, stirring, until softened, 5-6 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the broth and bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer 10 -15 minutes. Add the spinach and tortellini and cook until tortellini is cooked through, 6 minutes.

4. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve.

What is your all-time favorite soup? Mine is clam chowder or French onion soup…but this tortellini one is my favorite homemade soup!

It’s Friday! I’m relieved, how about you?

Halloween is tomorrow and the weather is supposed to be nice (a high of 70*!) here in Boston. With the crazy New England weather, we’ve been known to have a warm Halloween one year and snow the next. It’s just sad to¬†see the little¬†kids wear their winter coats over their Halloween costumes. It’s just not right. This year the kids will be comfortable in their costumes while trick or treating.

While it isn’t my favorite holiday, I do hold a special place in my heart for¬†Halloween because it’s right near my birthday (next Tuesday). Growing up, a lot of my birthday parties were Halloween themed.¬†I remember parties in my backyard where¬†my friends and I would be in costume,¬†bobbing for apples and eating donuts on a string (BEST game ever).

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As I got into middle school, I had the brillant idea to have a pizza party then have all of my friends go to a¬†haunted house.¬†My poor parents. They ended up having to deal with 10-12 wimpy, screaming girls¬†¬†at a haunted house – for several years in a row. Some of my friends refused¬†to even go inside the haunted house. I remember¬†one girl being chased by¬†Beetlejuice one year and losing her shoe. I can laugh now but it was frightening back then.¬†I’m better with donuts on a string. ūüôā

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Well, enough¬†reminiscing. This past week I was craving a¬†hearty salad.¬†¬†I found a recipe online for a¬†Warm Fall Spinach Salad at everydayhealth.com. The preparation seemed pretty straightforward and I liked the combination of ingredients (dried cranberries,¬†shallots, pecans, bacon!). In creating the dish I added a bit of crumbled blue cheese…because cheese makes¬†everything even¬†better.

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The results? A very flavorful salad. The different elements worked really well together! Next time, I would use a little less cider vinegar and I bet it would be perfect.

This salad¬†is great for a¬†light dinner¬†or a nice side dish.¬†While the dressing is warm, it doesn’t wilt the spinach much so if that’s what you’re looking for, just put the finished plate into the microwave for 15 seconds. Delish! I¬†had the salad both ways and preferred the¬†wilted spinach a bit more. Yum!

Now onto my Friday Favs. There has been a lot of goodies in the blog world this week, especially with Halloween coming up. Here are my picks:

  • Tina at Carrots ‘N’ Cake made a delicious-looking Pomegranate Coconut Quick Bread this week. She has just returned from the POM orchards in California so I’m sure she knows the best way to cook with pomegranates now.¬†I bet the¬†tart pomegranates and the sweet coconut are a nice combo in this bread.
  • Erin, over at Erin Cooks, made a mouth-watering¬†Homemade BBQ Chicken¬†Pizza this week.¬†¬†¬†Sometimes I find that homemade pizza isn’t as good as I find in a pizzeria but Erin’s looks better than any BBQ chicken pizza¬†I’ve seen in a restaurant. This is a must try¬†for me.
  • Last but not least, a Halloween¬†treat. How¬†could¬†I not include this one? It’s a simple recipe that includes candy and chocolate.¬†Maria and Josh at Two Peas and Their Pod¬†made a batch of Halloween Chocolate Candy Bark¬†¬†this week. It’s just so festive and would make a great gift. Adorable and delicious, you can’t go wrong!

I told you about my childhood birthday parties…what’s your favorite Halloween memory?

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

I know, I know. I’ve been missing for several days. I blame¬†technology.¬†My computer was under the weather last week so I wasn’t able to blog.¬†But, I¬†now have my buddy back and it’s as good as new!

So I’m a bit bummed because the summer has completely flown by. I had so many¬†ideas for summer activities and places I wanted to see¬†but really, where did the time go?¬†A lot of kids are back in school already and it’s even cooled down here a bit in New England. You really can’t get bored with the weather around here. We started the summer with about 27 days of straight rain in June, followed by lower than normal temperatures mixed with nice days in July, and an August that started out beautiful and ended very (very!)¬†humid. I don’t know how I would do living in San Diego or somewhere where the weather is nice and sunny all the time. What would we talk about?

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As a result of the not-so-perfect summer¬†weather, tomatoes aren’t having the best year.¬†They are favorite of mine because they are tasty and are so versatile, especially in the summer. There are so many varieties of tomatoes (plum tomatoes are my all time favorite)¬†and they work¬†well in¬†salads, as side dishes and even as¬†entrees.

I recently saw a recipe on RealSimple.com for Herbed Tuna in Tomatoes. I always used to make tuna with a little light mayo, celery and ground pepper. It’s a classic way to prepare tuna but I know,¬†Y-A-W-N.¬†I’ve always read that tuna can be mixed with olive oil instead of mayo but I thought it would lack moistness (is that a word?). This¬†recipe from¬†Real Simple¬†is a nice change from my typical tuna and it’s¬†delicious. I¬†used large heirloom tomatoes for this dish and had it¬†for dinner last week. It was¬†very flavorful and very filling. This recipe is quick to prepare – just like the magazine, it’s Real(ly) Simple.

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We are in the middle of a¬†serious heat wave here in Boston. It’s supposed to be 95* and humid today! Of course, I’ve been in the AC at my office all day so I can’t complain (plus it’s better than snow!). However, this past weekend was the same way. I felt like cooking on Sunday but dreaded putting my oven on for too long since my apartment was as¬†HOT as it was. I started flipping through my cooking magazines for a “cool” recipe and, voila, I bring you Cuisine at Home’s Garden Gazpacho.

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This recipe comes from the August 2008 edition of the magazine. I love Cuisine at Home for a number of reasons but especially for the unique recipes and tons of photos. The recipes are always interesting, with a mix of simple and more complicated ones, and the photos are colorful and include the process as well as the final product. I like to know I’m on the right track when I’m cooking so I always go for cookbooks and magazines with photos.

The gazpacho was very simple to prepare (you’ll need a food processor) and now I have enough for the whole week. It has a nice classic flavor with a hint of each vegetable in every bite! If you’d prefer a spicier soup, just add more Tobasco until the flavor is right.

Cuisine at Home doesn’t post their recipes online so here it is.

Garden Gazpacho

Source: Cuisine at Home

Servings: 5 cups

Ingredients:

1/3 c. red onion, chopped

2 Tbsp. capers

2 c. tomatoes, chopped

1/2 c. cucumber, chopped

1/2 c. celery, chopped

1/2 c. red bell pepper, chopped

2 cans V-8 juice (5.5 oz. each)

1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. Tobasco

2 c. ice cubes

 

Preparation:

1. Mince onion and capers in food processor.

2. Add tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, and bell pepper and pulse to mince. Transfer to a bowl.

3. Stir in V-8, parsley, vinegar, Worcestershire, paprika, salt, and Tobasco.

4. Add ice cubes and let stand until ready to serve. Remove any remaining ice cubes before serving.

5. Enjoy!

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Note: Cuisine at Home¬†suggests serving this soup with its olive-pesto grilled cheese but it’s also great topped with cheese¬†with a few bagel chips on the side.

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