Hittin’ the Road….er…Plane

I’ve been busy getting ready for a short trip with my husband.  We’re going to East Tennessee for a few days to investigate the possibility of moving there.  As a result, there has been no gourmet fare around here.  Not even close.  In fact, we’ve had frozen orange chicken and hot dogs this week.  Last night was spaghetti only because I had sauce made and in the freezer.  Sometimes, that’s just how life is.

I try to make time for real food, both for the time together and the nutrition, but getting a house and three little kids ready for a few days with the fabulous MIL in control (in addition to three special events in school) has required to give myself a little grace this time around. 

BUT, while I won’t be blogging on road, I will be Instagramming!  Did you know you can follow me on Instragram?  I’m DailyRationWithAlicia or you can follow this link

Creamy Carrot Thyme Soup

 

I don’t even know where to start with this soup.  Seriously.  It’s creamy sweetness in a healthy warm package.  It’s winter well-being and luxury rolled into one pleasant bowl.  It’s a balance between natural sweetness from carrots and almost caramelized onions, and savory with herbs and garlic.  It’s topped off with a velvety ranch whipped cream to add yet another layer of yumminess.  It’s adapted from a recipe on delish.com that I found on Pinterest.  I’ve made it 3 times to figure out the perfect blend of everything.

It starts with fresh from the garden carrots.  Just kidding.  While those would be fabulous, these are fresh from Trader Joes. 😉  Peel and chop, unless they’re organic (like these) and you can just scrub and chop.

carrots

Then dice a large onion and saute that in butter.

When the onions are beginning to caramelize, add the carrots in and let it go a bit more.add in carrots

 

After about 5 minutes the carrots will start to soften.  Add garlic and cook for another minute.  Add some chicken broth or vegetable broth, a bay leaf and dried thyme and let it simmer until the carrots are mash-able.  It took me almost 30 minutes. 

add in broth

Let it cool just enough to blend in a blender or use an immersion blender to puree it. 

While it’s cooling you can make your whipped cream and store it in the fridge.  Just add your homemade ranch dressing to some whipping cream and whip until soft peak stage.

ranch mixI think I posted where I get my recipe for ranch in yesterday’s post.

Return the soup to the pan and gently reheat.  Then ladle into bowls and swirl in a dollop of the ranch whipped cream.

Creamy Carrot Thyme Soup
Serves 2
A warm and creamy carrot soup with a balance of naturally sweet and savory.
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Prep Time
40 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
40 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 1 large onion, diced
  3. 1 Tablespoon salt (you might need more depending on your broth)
  4. fresh ground pepper
  5. 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  6. 1 lb. carrots, scrubbed and diced
  7. 1 bay leaf
  8. 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  9. 6 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  10. 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  11. 1 Tablespoons homemade ranch dressing mix
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in soup pot over medium high heat.
  2. Add onion. Stir and cook until onion is soft. Lightly salt and pepper.
  3. Add carrots to the onion and cook until the carrots are starting to soften and onions are caramelized. Put in garlic and cook 1 more minute.
  4. Gently pour in broth and bring to a simmer. Add thyme and bay leaf and cook until the carrots are mashable, anywhere from 15-30 minutes depending on your stove and heat level.
  5. Meanwhile, put whipping cream in bowl with ranch dressing and whip until it reaches soft peak stage.
  6. When carrots are soft, taste and adjust salt and pepper. I have to add quite a bit of salt because I use homemade, non salted, chicken broth. Remove bay leaf.
  7. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture to your desired consistency, or let it cool slightly and use a blender. You might have to work in batches for the blender.
  8. Ladle into bowl and place a dollop of whipped cream on top. Swirl slightly into the soup.
Adapted from Delish.com
Adapted from Delish.com
Daily Ration https://dailyration.net/

Toasted Corn and Avocado Soup

Day 4 of 30 Days of Soups, Stews, and Chilis is here!

I went with something totally out of my realm of normalcy with this one.  I love avocado and I love this soup! 

 

toasted corn and avocado soup

In the summer you can use fresh corn, but I used frozen this time around.  It’s creamy and flavorful.  It’s rich and lush enough to feel like you are indulging in a little something naughty, but it’s chock-full of nutrients and healthy ingredients.  It fits a Paleo and Whole30 diet and who knows what others. (Really, there are too many to keep track of.)

It starts with olive oil and onion getting sauteed in a pot.  Then add the corn and toast it.

corn onion sauteAfter the corn is toasted, add in the broth and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Then transfer it to a blender.  This is where the avocado and jalapeno come in.  *Blender tip* You know that removable piece in your blender lid?  Remove it for this.  The heat from the soup needs to escape to prevent air expansion that leads to explosive messes.

blender lidBut don’t just leave the gaping hole in the blender lid!  The soup will come up. I put a kitchen towel over it to keep the soup inside the blender, but still let the hot air escape.

blender with towel on topAt this point you’re done!  Just toast some more corn in that same pan to use as garnish.  Ladle up your soup and add garnishes on top like toasted corn, avocado slices, green onion slices, a squeeze of lime, a drizzle of EVOO….whatever sounds good. 😉

Best of all, it comes together in about 30 minutes!

Toasted Corn and Avocado Soup
Serves 4
Delicious, creamy avocado soup, chock full of nutrients!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  2. 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  3. 1 green onion, sliced and roots removed
  4. 2 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed, or fresh corn
  5. 4 cups chicken broth, I used homemade
  6. 2 large avocados, peeled and pitted
  7. 3/4 of 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and diced
  8. salt and pepper to taste
  9. extra avocado, lime wedges and sliced green onions for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the diced onions and cook until onions start soften and turn slightly clear. Stir occasionally while cooking.
  2. Add 2 cups of the corn kernels and continue cooking and stirring until the corn starts to brown. Add a dash each of salt and pepper.
  3. Once onions are beginning to brown and corn is toasting, add the chicken broth. Simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer soup to a blender. Add avocado and jalapeno pepper. Blend until smooth, making sure the heat doesn't cause your blender lid to pop off. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper.
  5. If the soup has cooled in this process, you can add it back to the pot to heat back up. I didn't need to do this. In the same pot, Toast the other half of the corn kernels for garnish.
  6. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with toasted corn, slices of avocado, green onions, lime juice, etc....
Daily Ration https://dailyration.net/

 

Sarah’s Beef Stew

My mother in law, Sarah, makes the best beef stew.  The first time I had it, I was dating my husband and took my parents to his mom’s house for Christmas.  We’re talking travel, stay over night in their house a few days, real Christmas.  Looking back, that was rather brave of us.  We weren’t even engaged. 

Beef Stew

Anyway, she served this Christmas Eve and I remember thinking Beef stew?  As in that old fashioned food so one eats anymore?  This was long before the revival of retro dishes.  But I got schooled that night.  Not only did I love it, I couldn’t get enough.  I not only had to ask for the recipe, but I had to stop making it for a few years because I once ate so much I made myself sick on it.  True story.  Everyone around the table loved it (there were other guests that night as well) and my dad even ate the cooked carrots. 

Time has passed and I started making it again a couple of years ago, making sure I don’t eat too much and get sick again.  I’ve made a few small changes over the years to suit our family’s tastes and the types of ingredients we like to use.  The bottom line is that this is warm comfort food with layers of savory flavors that make you welcome the winter cold. 

I think part of the successful marry of flavors in this dish is the unexpected baking spices.  They sound odd, but they play with that beef like nothing I’ve had before.  I always double or triple this recipe because guess what, it freezes well too!

Beef Stew
Serves 4
Layers of savory beef and vegetable flavor in a bowl of warm comfort.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs, stew meat
  2. 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  3. 4 Cups boiling water
  4. 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  5. 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire
  6. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 1 medium onion, sliced
  8. 2 bay leaves
  9. 1 Tablespoon salt
  10. 1 teaspoon honey
  11. 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  12. 1 dash allspice
  13. 1 bag frozen stewing vegetables (it has potatoes, carrots, onions, and possibly more depending on where you buy them) - no need to thaw
  14. 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  15. 1 Tablespoon cold water
Instructions
  1. Heat butter or oil in large, heavy bottomed stock pot. Brown meat on all sides.
  2. Add everything else except for the vegetables, corn starch, and cold water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and let it simmer for 2 hours. Add more water if necessary.
  3. Add the stew vegetables, cover and let is cook 30 minutes more.
  4. Remove the stew chunks to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Remove bay leaves.
  5. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch into cold water and pour into stew liquid that is still in the pan. Let it heat and turn into a little bit of a gravy. Add the stew chunks back in and serve.
Adapted from from my mother-in-law's recipe
Adapted from from my mother-in-law's recipe
Daily Ration https://dailyration.net/

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 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!
Daily Ration https://dailyration.net/

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.
Daily Ration https://dailyration.net/

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!