Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Me and my new rain boots

I am going to take a moment to go off on a tangent.

You have been warned.

Begin Tangent....NOW:
I have acquired a great walking partner. How do I know she is great? It rained today. I mean really heavy, pouring, rain. When we talked at 4pm, she had already been on a walk before the heavens opened up. Yet, she still went on a 2 mile trek with me through the muck in the woods, me grinning ear to ear the whole time. Why was I so happy to be slogging through all the crud? I was wearing my rain boots. My super bright, pink plaid rain boots that I got for my birthday. Another reason she is amazing? She calls me on those days I have ZERO desire to walk and tells me, "Well, too bad for you. I will be there in 15 minutes to pick you up. Be ready, because we are walkin'." And we always have a delightful time. So, here is my moment to praise God for a fantastic walking partner and knowing/fulfilling all my needs! Yeah God! :)

Ok, tangent over.

On to the reason for my blog today. Southwest Soup. So yummy, and so quick. This was just what I needed today to warm me up from the inside out.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Southwest Soup
Serves 5-6

1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1medium potato, peeled and diced small
2 cups low sodium beef broth
1 can stewed tomatoes, chopped
14 oz Turkey Sausage, diced (I like jennio low sodium)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 cup frozen corn
Salt and pepper to taste
Butter flavored cooking spray


1. Heat large pot with low fat cooking spray. Add onion, carrot, celery and salt and pepper; cook and stir over medium heat until vegetables begin to soften.

2. Stir in garlic, seasoning, potato, broth and tomatoes; heat to boiling. Stir in sausage, corn, and beans. Cover and simmer gently for at least 1/2 hour to blend flavors.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Summer Projects

This summer, I am going to garden. In town. On my roof. Yes, you saw it correctly, on my roof. I have been researching said project for 2 years now and have finally got it all set up. Today I will post a photo of my garden box. Don't go getting used to me posting pictures, it was just a necessity for this particular post :)

My loving husband helped me to build this box. It has a growing space of 4' x 4'. It is constructed of 4x4's cut to 4' 4" lengths. The over lap allowed for the growing space I wanted. The timbers are held together with 6" timber screws. We made 3 frames and stacked them on top of each other so the boards were staggered for more security. We will line the inside with landscape fabric. The four posts will be topped off with wood lattice. This will provide a buffer from the harsh conditions on the roof- higher winds, no shade etc. A great added benefit to the lattice is we can put a tarp over the top on cool nights to protect the plants.

Once we put the soil mix in- a combination of peat moss, compost, and vermiculite- we will section off the garden into 1' x 1' areas. This is a technique for small spaces to get maximum yields. This is the website we used to learn about this type of gardening:

I will post a few more photos as I get the garden planted and as the season progresses. So we shall see how the my adventure goes!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Now that's a saucy move!

When I was a senior in high school I realized I wasn't going to live with my parents forever (I know, crazy right?!)and so I asked for a cookbook. I didn't really think my mom would take time out of her Super Mom duties to put together a book of our family favorites. But, Christmas came and there is was. In a beautiful deep purple binding- my mom's collection of recipes. I still cherish and use that particular cookbook regularly.

So this one goes out to my mom- Thank you for putting all those amazing and healthy dishes into my belly :)

A hint of heat rounds out the flavors in this quick and easy dish.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend! Cheers!

Saucy Shrimp and Tomatoes
Serves 2


3 oz dry pasta shapes, such as piccolini (mini bowties)
1 can stewed tomatoes, roughly chopped (no salt added if you can get them)
4 tsp corn starch
12 oz shrimp, raw or thawed fresh frozen
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
dash of ground red pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well and set aside.

Meanwhile, clean shrimp, removing tails, shells, and vein. Also remove head and legs as needed.

Combine tomatoes, starch, sugar, Italian seasoning, and ground red pepper. Simmer until slightly thickened.

Add cleaned shrimp to tomato sauce. Cook until shrimp becomes opaque, about 1-3 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK!

Toss with cooked pasta.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My trip to the Middle East...

Ok, I didn't really go the Middle East. But, my dinner did!

I needed a REALLY quick recipe after our walk today. (It was Jon's first "walking with a purpose" walk. I took him out on the walking trails near our house to burn some calories with me.) By the time we got home at 5:30, I was "practically wasting away to nothing!" Ok, so I wasn't really, but I was really hungry...

Jon and I continued with our soup trials today. This one cooks up in about 25 minutes, start to finish. Jon even asked if we can have it again soon! Maybe I should take him on walks before dinner more often... :P LOL


Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend! Cheers!

Israeli Couscous Soup

2 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz Israeli couscous
6 1/4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 (14oz) can fire roasted, diced tomatoes- undrained
3 TBS fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups diced, fully cooked, turkey breast meat
salt and pepper and a dash of Jane's Crazy mixed up salt (to taste)


Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onion and carrots, cook about 10 minutes or until softened.

Add all remaining ingredients. Bring soup to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, over medium high heat 10-12 minutes until couscous is tender.

Divide evenly into 6 bowls.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Phillipe and Jean-Claude Make Great Soup

So, I have been on a one woman crusade to try as many new soups as I can. And thus far, it has been pretty rewarding. I had high expectations for this weeks soup- fresh pea soup as I am a big fan split pea soup. Luckily, it lived up to my expectations.

And for those of you who don't get the title reference for this particular blog, I was a huge fan of Veggie Tales in middle and high school. Phillipe and Jean-Claude were "The French Peas."

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Fresh Pea Soup

Serves 3-4

1 TBS butter
2 large shallots, finely chopped
14 oz fresh peas, shells removed OR fresh frozen peas, thawed
2 1/2 cups water
3 TBS fat free half and half or regular cream
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 smoked turkey leg, fully cooked*

Saute shallots and garlic in melted butter in a large soup pot. Add turkey leg, water, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Simmer, covered until meat begins to fall off bone, about 1 hour.

Add peas. Simmer 15 minutes, covered.

Take soup pot off the heat. Remove turkey leg. Set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove from bone. Strip away and discard skin. Dice or shred meat.

In a blender, blend peas and liquid until smooth. Return to pot. Add half and half or cream and cheese. Stir in meat.

Serve hot with crusty bread.

* You may substitute a meaty ham bone or large ham hock in place of the smoked turkey leg

Monday, April 13, 2009

Grillin Goodness

Today was one of those days where the sun was poking through the clouds and it beckoned me to the grill. I was delighted to see that chicken was on the menu tonight. It lends itself very well to the grill scene. For the fullest flavors, grow your own herbs and use them when they are young. I like to serve this dish with steamed rice and broccoli.

Tonight's rating? 8.5

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend!

Grilled Tomato and Herb Chicken
Serves 4

4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup Kraft tomato-bacon dressing*, divided
1 small fresh tomato, gently seeded and chopped
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
2 TBS fresh parsley, minced
1 TBS fresh basil, minced OR 1/2 scant tsp Italian seasoning

Place chicken in resealable plastic bag. Add 2 Tbsp. dressing; seal bag. Turn bag over several times to evenly coat chicken with dressing. Marinate for a least 10 min.

Preheat grill to medium high heat.

Remove chicken from bag; discard bag and dressing. Grill chicken 6 min. Meanwhile, combine remaining dressing, tomatoes, cheese and herbs.

Move chicken to one side of the grill. Lay a piece of foil on the grill. Place, grilled-side up, on foil. Top with tomato mixture. Close lid. Grill 8 min. or until chicken is done.

*You can use Italian dressing in place of the tomato bacon dressing

Monday, April 6, 2009

Warming the soul

It's that funny in between time of year here at my house where the sun shines but a cold wind blows. It was a cool evening this weekend when I decided to make turkey noodle soup from scratch and cheesy bread twists. Jon couldn't wait to get his spoon in the pot!

While there is little actual work, the stock is a bit time consuming. Translation: plan ahead. It's well worth the wait!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend!

Turkey and Noodle Soup
Serves 6

4 pound bone-in whole turkey breast
1 large onion, quartered
2 very large carrots, halved lengthwise
6 stalks celery, chunked
3 scallions, cut lengthwise
4 cloves garlic, halved
1 TBS chicken stock base
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

6 oz angel hair pasta
3 TBS fresh chopped parsley

In a large stock pot (or roaster with a lid) combine all but pasta and parsley. Cover with 10 cups cold water. Bring to a boil slowly. Skim any scum that rises to the top. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer slowly 2 1/2 hours until turkey is just cooked through. When simmering, the surface should just tremble. If it boils the soup becomes cloudy.

Once the meat is done, strip it off the bones. Return bones to soup and simmer 30-40 minutes longer. Once cooled, dice meat. You will only need half the meat. Use the rest for hot dishes or sandwiches.

Strain soup into a large bowl. Cool, then store in the fridge over night.

The next day, skim off any fat that has formed on the surface. Your soup should be a golden, clear broth.

Reheat over medium heat. Add pasta, parsley and reserved meat, bring to a simmer. Simmer 6 minutes. Serve hot with cheesy twists.

Cheesy Bread Twists
Makes 12 twists

3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 envelopes Rapid Rise Yeast
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup water
1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk or 5 oz skim milk + 1/2 TBS butter
6-7 (total) ounces grated sharp cheddar and pepper jack cheeses
1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Grated Parmesan cheese, poppy seed, or sesame seeds (optional)


In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt.
Meanwhile, heat water and milk until very warm (120 to 130 degrees);stir into flour mixture. Stir in cheese and enough remaining flour to make soft dough.

Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cover; let rest on floured surface 10minutes.

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece to 14-inch rope; fold each rope in half and pinch ends to seal. Twist each rope two to three times. Place on large greased baking sheet.

Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 20 to40 minutes.

Brush with egg white mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, poppy seed, or sesame seed, if desired.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until done. Remove from baking sheet; let cool on wire racks.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Cravings Galore!

One of my favorite restaurant treats is Oriental chicken salad. Unfortunately, it is not part of my new lifestyle. Several months back I came across a slimmed down version. I tweaked it a bit and this was the result. When I really crave restaurant food this is a great stand in. I have left the brand names of my choosing in the recipe. Use your favorites to make it your own.

Here's to your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Oriental chicken salad
2 main dish servings

10 oz chicken tenders, cut into medium chunks
2 TBS la choy teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 1/2 oz la choy oriental fried noodles
50/50 mix salad greens*
Kraft free honey dijon salad dressing

Marinate chicken in teriyaki sauce 10-15 minutes.

Toss with sesame seeds.

Bake in a preheated oven (350) for 10-12 minutes, until no longer pink.

Evenly distribute warm chicken over salad greens. Sprinkle with oriental noodles. Drizzle desired amount of dressing.

* I use Fresh Express pre-washed salad. It is 50% baby spinach and 50% mixed romaine and baby leaf lettuces.You can swap this out and use mixed greens if you prefer.