Coming Soon – 30 Days of Soups, Stews, and Chilis!

I love soup.  And stew. And chili.  Every fall I wait for the temperature to drop enough to justify making it, and every year, near the middle of January, I start to get tired of my favorites.  I have 2 months of soup weather still ahead, but I want something new.  30 dyas of soups, stews, and chilis

That’s why this year I decided to do a marathon of soup experimentation.  I will be posting 30 soup recipes (or stew or chili), 30 days in a row.  Some of them will be my family favorites.  Some of them will be new experiments I create.  Some of them will be recipes I’ve pinned or found in magazines and on blogs and I’ve been wanting to try.  I’ll be making those and reviewing the recipes for you.

It’s time to break the mid winter doldrums.  But I’m not ready to break it by buying that bikini I saw at Target right after Christmas.  And I’m not ready to pretend there’s an early spring out there.  I am ready for some new flavor combinations. 

Soups have the advantage of being versatile and healthy.  Raise your bowls and get ready to beat the winter blues without having to pretend it’s not winter.

Cinnamon Hot Cocoa With Bourbon Vanilla Whipped Cream

Hot cocoa is comfort food ya know.  And there are soooooo many ways to jazz it up, not that it needs jazzing up.  But sometimes you’re just walking through Trader Joes and see Bourbon Vanilla Extract and you think, that’d make a great whipped cream for hot cocoa!

cinnamon hot cocoa with bourbon vanilla whipped creamAnd then you just have to go home and make it. 

It’s as simple as whipping cream and adding some flavor to it.  You can use your favorite hot cocoa and just add cinnamon, but I put a recipe in below just in case you want to make it from scratch.  Hot cocoa is one of those things that’s really easy from scratch and tastes so much better than a packet.

bourbon vanilla whipped cream

So if you’ve forgiven me for starting too many sentences with conjunctions in this post, and you have a hankerin’ for a warm liquid treat, see the recipe card below.

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate with Bourbon Vanilla Whipped Cream
Serves 3
Cinnamon hot chocolate with bourbon vanilla whipped cream is a decadent cup of warm comfort.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
For the hot cocoa
  1. 3 cups milk (I use whole)
  2. 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  4. 1/4 dark chocolate chips
For the bourbon vanilla whipped cream
  1. 1 cup heavy cream
  2. 1 Tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
  3. 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  4. 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Instructions
  1. Begin by heating the milk in a saucepan until just barely starting to see bubbles around the edges. Remove from heat, add in the cocoa powder, brown sugar and chocolate chips. Whisk until it all dissolves.
  2. Meanwhile, in a cold mixing bowl, whip the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add in the powdered sugar, extract, and salt and continue whipping until you have the consistency you like in whipped cream. Do not over whip or you'll have bourbon vanilla butter. 😉
  3. Pour hot cocoa into a mug, top with a large dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle extra cinnamon over the top. Enjoy warm.
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My Favorite Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I have to admit I held off on the cauliflower crust thing for quite awhile after it came out.   Now I actually really like my cauliflower pizzas.  Once I finally did try a few recipes, I had to work on my own version to find an easier way. 

Secret: I am a bit of a lazy cook sometimes.  Most cauliflower crust recipes have several steps (ricing, steaming, squeezing, etc…) and I found myself wondering if I could take any shortcuts.  Also, while I enjoyed the taste of the crust more than I thought I would, I really thought they were also kind of bland. 

After a few experiments this is what I came up with.  It’s an easy crust with few steps and lots of flavor.

First step, buy cauliflower already riced or put yours in a food processor to get the small bits.  This is 2 cups and makes a 9″ pizza crust of medium thickness.

riced cauliflower

To the riced cauliflower you want to add 2 eggs,  1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/2 C Parmesan, 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning, and 2 teaspoons garlic powder.

cauliflower pizza crust

Mix it all together and pat it out onto a silicon baking mat.  This really is the best way to make sure it doesn’t stick. 

the best cauliflower pizza crustBake it at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes, until it starts to brown.

cauliflower pizza crustOnce you’re at this stage, you can add your normal toppings.  On the pizza below I was having an indecisive day so I made half of it pepperoni and the other half just shredded fresh basil (after putting sauce and cheese all over).  I topped both halves with a little dried oregano and a light dust of sea salt.  Return it to the oven just long enough for the cheese on top to melt and the toppings to look done.  This usually takes me between 5-10 minutes.

the best cauliflower pizza crust

My Favorite Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Serves 1
A quick and tasty cauliflower crust for low carb or gluten free pizza.
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 Cups riced cauliflower
  2. 2 large eggs
  3. 1/2 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  4. 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  5. 1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning blend
  6. 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  7. Pizza toppings of your choice (sauce, cheese, pepperoni, etc...)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. If your cauliflower isn't already riced, put it in a food processor and process until it is in small bits.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine all the crust ingredients well.
  4. Pat it out onto a silicone mat in a circle.
  5. Bake about 15 minutes until the top is starting to brown.
  6. Remove and top with desired toppings.
  7. Return to oven until the toppings are warmed through, 5-10 minutes. Do not let the crust burn.
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Pomegranate Mocha

Warm up with this seasonal treat! Pomegranate mochas are a delicious way to get toasty.

I love mochas.  I love almost anything coffee really.  But right now, I’m diggin’ on this pomegranate mocha.  My dad brought me a full brown paper grocery bag full of pomegranates from his neighbor’s tree.  We love to eat them, and make some pomegranate jelly, but I still had some left…so this is what happened with them.

Pomegranate Mocha

For the Mocha:

pomegranate syrup to taste (recipe follows)

1 shot espresso (feel free to use instant here if you’re not a purist)

8 oz milk (your favorite kind: whole, non-fat, almond, etc…)

1 Tablespoon cocoa powder

 

Heat your milk and use a steamer, milk frother, or blender (careful with this one) to froth up your milk. 

Add your espresso shot and cocoa powder to the milk and mix well. 

Then add your desired amount of pomegranate syrup.  This will depend on how sweet you like things.  I do 2-3 tablespoons of syrup per cup. Start small, taste, add more until you get where you like it.

Mix and enjoy.  You can add whipped cream to the top if you like your mochas that way.

 

Pomegranate Syrup:

pomegranate syrup for mocha

1 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup pomegranate seeds

 

This is pretty much a simple syrup, I just like mine less sweet so I don’t use the typical 1:1 ratio of water to sugar.  Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves and it starts to thicken to a syrup consistency.  This usually takes me less than 10 minutes.  When you see little bubbles around the edge your probably close.  Remove from heat and add pomegranate seeds. 

Let cool. 

Pour the whole contents in a blender and blitz it up.  Then strain out any remaining seed chunks.  Keep in a jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.

 

No Recipe Vegetable Soup

…or clean out the fridge soup.  I call it both.  This is today’s lunch. 

no recipe vegetable soupThis is something I made up a while ago, just to get more vegetables into my diet.  I’ve found, over time, that it has the added bonus of helping me use up odds and ends of produce in my fridge.

Here’s how it starts:

I usually use olive oil or butter to saute some onions and garlic.  While that’s going on, it chop up and drop in any hard vegetables.  This one has carrots, celery, broccoli, and a few fingerling potatoes.

Once that stuff starts to barely soften and possible stick to the pan, I add in water.  You can use broth too, especially if you have a portion you need to use up.  I add just enough to scrape up any bits on the pan.  Then I season with salt and pepper and add enough water to cover the veggies.

Let it go:

This is where it really gets easy.  Just let it sit and simmer on low, adding in water if it gets low.  I added two quart jars during the making of this large pot. I let it go for at least an hour, but I often start it in the morning and have it for lunch, so about 3 hours.  This one was a 3 hour batch. 

If you have any soft veggies you want to add, like tomatoes or kale, go ahead and add them in once you get it simmering.

Jazz it up:

Anywhere in the cooking process you can add more seasonings or dried herbs.  If you use fresh herbs, wait for the end.  For this bowl I added dried Italian seasoning.  Then when I spooned it into the bowl, I added some chopped avocado I needed to use up, some fresh parsley from the garden, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

no recipe vegetable soup

Have anything else you need to use up?

Are you sensing  theme here?  Have you noticed the repeated use of the phrase “use it up”?  I noticed that I have some shredded chicken in the fridge and I’m planning on adding that to my soup for tomorrows lunch- viola!  Chicken and veggie soup! 

There really is no wrong way to do this.  Just keep tasting and seasoning when you stir it every half hour to an hour or so.  I have put in just about every combination of things in the past and it always mellows down into this savory, warm, almost sweet concoction that I crave every fall and winter now.

The leftovers go into a jar for other quick meals the rest of the week.  It could also be taken to a friend. 

vegetable soupWhat’s your go-to easy lunch?

Bacon Bourbon Grilled Cheese

A garlic bourbon aoli and bacon elevate a grilled cheese sandwich to heaven.

I was in Trader Joes the other day and they had pita crackers and caramelized onion cheddar for tasting.  “Cheddar with caramelized onions?”  I said.  “Is that new?”

“No.  We’ve had it a while.”  How on earth did I miss that?!

Just look at this tangy cheddar sweet onion cube of goodness:

caramelized onion cheddar from Trader JoesI had to stop myself from sitting down with the block and a knife and just eating it all.  But I HAD to use it.  I decided the best way to break in my new found ingredient was a grilled cheese sandwich.  Hence:

bacon bourbon grilled cheese

I started with a garlic bourbon aoli.  While I was making the aoli, bacon was crisping up in the oven.  To make the aoli I mixed about a third of a cup of mayo, a tablespoon of choppped garlic, a splash of bourbon (use how much of it you’d like to taste), and salt and pepper. 

garlic bourbon aoliI mixed it all together and slathered it onto a mini french bread loaf.  It had lots of air holes and I spread on enough mayo mixture to fill ’em in.

slathered breadI slipped it under the broiler and let it melt down into the bread.  I didn’t leave it too long because I wanted it to go in again, without being over done.  So once the aoli was melted down, I added some fairly thick slabs of the cheese and put it back in  until the cheese was bubble and starting to brown.

broiled-cheddar-breadThe now cooked bacon went on and this is where I put the top on and went to town. You could add arugula here but I didn’t have any on hand.  This would also go great with kale chips on the side.

Next time you’re at Trader Joe’s, I’d encourage you to pick up some of this cheese and try it out.  And no, I’m not an affiliate blogger for TJ or anything like that.  🙂  Just a lover of good cheese.  And grilled cheese sandwiches.

bacon-bourbon-grilled-cheese

Bacon Bourbon Grilled Cheese
Serves 1
A garlic bacon aoli and bacon with a caramelized onion cheddar make grilled cheese heaven.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  2. 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  3. 1 tablespoon (or more for taste) bourbon
  4. 1 mini loaf of soft bread
  5. 2-4 ounces caramelized onion cheddar
  6. 3 strips bacon
  7. arugula (optional)
  8. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook bacon. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the mayo, garlic, bourbon, salt and pepper in a small bowl to make aoli.
  3. Slice bread in half. Slather with aoli and broil for about 2 minutes, until the aoli is melted down into the bread.
  4. Lay cheddar slices on bread and return to broiler until melted and starting to brown (4-6 min).
  5. Add bacon and, if desired, arugula to bread and cheese and enjoy!
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Cinnamon Peach Superfood Smoothie

I was so excited over the Labor Day weekend to have the temperatures around here down into the high 80’s!  I drank hot tea and made chili and went for walks in the crisp morning air, desperately trying to hang onto any sign of fall.  But of course we’re back into the 90’s this week.  I’m pulling out some my end-of-summer produce to make a cold smoothie in hopes of getting through the next week of hot weather.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we’re down to double digits, but I crave autumn. 

cinnamon peach superfood smoothie

Before I go on, yes, I am fully aware that is a nectarine in the picture.  I used my last peach making the smoothie so I used the next closest thing for the picture.  😉

This is one of those easy recipes that you just dump into a blender or smoothie maker or whatever you use and blend it all up!

Cinnamon Peach Superfood Smoothie
Yields 2
Reminiscent of peach pie, but cold and in a glass.
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 frozen banana
  2. 1 peach, pitted and rough chopped
  3. 1 cup almond milk
  4. 1 cup loosely packed fresh spinach
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  6. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  7. 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  8. 6-8 cubes of ice (depending on how thick you like yours)
  9. 1 small pinch sea salt
Instructions
  1. Toss it all in your favorite smoothie making appliance and blend. Stick a straw in it and enjoy!
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Herb Marinated Tomatoes on Parmesan Crusted Crostini

herb marinated tomatoes on parmesan crusted crostini

The sweet 100 tomatoes and yummy yellow pear tomatoes are exploding in my garden.  I also have a ton of fresh herbs and a need to use them up.  Fresh summer produce is in full swing!  It’s a great problem to have.  This recipe uses up some of that delectable healthy produce from my garden, as well as a few leftover small heirlooms from my local farmer’s market.

And just a note, my kids LOVE this.  They sit around the bowl of tomatoes and scoop it up with crostini.  It never makes it to a plate.

It starts with a pound of small sweet tomatoes.  In today’s version I used a combination of Sweet 100 tomatoes and yellow pear tomatoes from my garden along with a few heirloom cherry type tomatoes from my farmer’s market.  Cut them all in half.  (I did leave a few extra small ones whole)

cut tomatoes

Then add EVOO, balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic, fresh basil, fresh thyme, fresh oregano, and dried marjoram.  Salt and pepper it to taste.  Let it sit in the fridge for 2 or more hours.  You can make this up to a day in advance.  Anymore than 24 hours and it starts to get a bit mealy in texture.

herb marinated tomatoes

 

This is how I used to eat them.  Without crostini or anything.  It was just herb marinated tomatoes back in the day.  One day I was making them and saw a partial loaf of thinly sliced french bread sitting on the counter. Suddenly a Parmesan crusted slice of bread piled high with savory marinated tomatoes and dripping with that luscious marinade popped into my head.  I’ve never gone back. 

So I slathered a slice of bread with enough butter to make some finely grated Parmesan stick to it. 

butter parm bread

While that got all crusty in a skillet with the cheese side down, I did the same thing to the other side and repeated.  The rich butter and salty parm really set off the marinated tomatoes.

herb marinated tomato crostini

And that’s how this was born.  It has since been repeated at least once a week during tomato season.

Herb Marinated Tomatoes with Parmesan Crusted Crostini
Serves 4
Summer produce meets rich and savory lunch that gets gobbled up quickly. Tomatoes marinated in herbs on a salty Parmesan crostini.
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
For the marinated tomatoes
  1. 1 pound mixed small tomatoes (such as cherry tomatoes)
  2. 4 Tablespoons Extra virgin Olive Oil
  3. 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  4. 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  5. 6 fresh sweet basil leaves, sliced finely
  6. 1 sprig thyme, leaves only
  7. 1 sprig oregano, leaves only
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
For the Crostini
  1. 1 loaf country bread or french bread sliced thin
  2. 4-6 tablespoons butter
  3. 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, place the tomatoes after slicing them in half. Then add all the marinade ingredients.
  2. Chill for at least 2 hours, but not more than 24.
  3. Just before ready to serve, soften butter and slather it onto both sides of each slice of bread. Use just enough on each slice to make the Parmesan stick.
  4. Generously sprinkle Parmesan over a buttered slice of bread and put it in a skillet, cheese side down. While one side is cooking, sprinkle Parmesan over the other side. When the side that is cooking is nicely crusted, flip it over and cook the other side until both are a nice crusty brown.
  5. Repeat with as many slices as you want to make.
  6. Drape each slice with desired amount of the tomato mixture and then drizzle with extra marinade.
  7. Enjoy. Repeat.
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Menu Plan Monday

For those of you that are not from my last blog, and don’t know how I menu plan, I only plan Monday through Friday. The weekends are usually out and about and using up leftovers.  I also tend to create an appetizer spread on Sunday night, using leftovers, that we eat while watching a movie or sporting event.

Slide1

This week is not a week I’ve been looking forward to.  We start soccer practice for the fall. My three kids are on three different teams this year.  Oy!  While I’m grateful practices all worked out to be on different nights so I don’t have to juggle multiple places on the same night, I’m not crazy about spending 4 nights a week at practice during dinner time.

I am fairly adamant about not going through drive-thru and getting fast food.  There are so many other times that we need to do that, I don’t like to add the loss of money and health to their growing bodies over the week, especially when they’re needing added nutrition for sports.

That said, from now until Thanksgiving will have to be filled with 4 dinners a week that I can either prep super fast, throw in the crock pot, or prepare ahead.

There are things I only make during sports seasons and not the rest of the year, mostly because they fit the above criteria and we have to repeat them so much during the season that we would get sick of them if I made those dishes during the off season as well.  In other words, expect my menus to be repetitive for the next three months. 🙁

So here is the plan this week!

Menu Plan Monday August 15 through 19

Mondays are my lazy breakfast days.  We almost always have cereal.  But it’s the only day of the week that we do, so I don’t really feel bad.

That said, as school starts I am looking to streamline this year.  I’m thinking the same thing every Monday, every Tuesday, etc… for a month at a time.  I’m hoping that will help me stay on track with solid, healthy breakfasts each school day.  I’d love any breakfast suggestions that fit those parameters.  Please leave them in the comments! 

Turkey Zucchini Burgers With Cilantro Crema

Not only are these burgers and great way to use summer garden surplus, but they are healthy as well.  They are also easily adapted to Paleo or grain free lifestyles by breaking them up onto a romaine spear instead of in a bun. My husband couldn’t believe it the first time I got him to willingly eat something with zucchini!  Not only did he like it, but the whole family loved these!  As an added bonus, since the patties do best with a bit of chill time, you can make them up to a day ahead and just have them ready for a quick meal!

Turkey Zucchini Burgers with Cilantro Crema

Start out with ground turkey, shredded zucchini, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, jalapeno, cumin, and cilantro.  Form it into 4 equal balls.

Turkey Zucchini Burger
form into 4 equal balls

Then put them on a cookie sheet (lined for easy clean up) and smash them into patties.

turkey zucchini burger patties

Refrigerate them for at least an hour so they stay together well.

Meanwhile, combine sour cream, jalapeno, lime juice, garlic salt and pepper to make a great cilantro crema for the burger condiment.

Grill the burgers and pile on a bun with crema and toppings!

Turkey zucchini burgers with cilantro crema go well with sweet potato fries!
Turkey zucchini burgers with cilantro crema go well with sweet potato fries!

Enjoy!

turkey zucchini burger PDF