March 3, 2012
In case you haven’t noticed, I love soup. Especially in the winter. Or what’s supposed to be winter. One day it’s cold and snowy, and the next day it’s 50 degrees and sunny. I can’t complain – the mild winter has kept my husband and I from scrambling to figure out a plan for snow removal! To satisfy my cravings, we recently tried a new soup recipe and revisited an old favorite that I thought I’d share.
The new one comes from The New York Times semi-vegan series that I previously mentioned here. Let me start by saying that I’m not a big fan of sweet potatoes, although I want to like them because I know how good they are for me. I have become fond of sweet potato fries, but that’s as far as my taste has come. (And really, what isn’t good fried?) I’m not a fan of mashed sweet potatoes – maybe because I like mashed white potatoes way too much? When I was a kid, my mom once asked what I wanted for my birthday dinner, and I responded mashed potatoes. And that was it. If you asked me today, I may have the same answer….
Anyway, despite my lack of interest in sweet potatoes, this recipe for sweet potato stew intrigued me. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s soup. Maybe it’s the fact that I want to like them. Maybe it’s the other ingredients. I’m not sure, but I had the urge to try it, and boy am I glad I did! This stew is so delicious. It’s spicy and sweet and the flavors mingle so nicely. It’s reminiscent of a Thai curry. The chunks of sweet potato and apple made it hearty enough that we didn’t even miss the meat (although I bet it would be tasty with chicken as well).
The old favorite is a chicken posole recipe from Real Simple. We first made this shortly after seeing it in the October 2009 issue. It quickly became a staple in our repertoire, and I’m not really sure why we stopped making it. Other than shredding the rotisserie chicken (which isn’t that big of a deal…), this recipe is fast and easy. It’s certainly wholesome, relatively healthy, and a little spicy. The chicken and hominy help it compete with traditional chili when it comes to filling you up. If you aren’t familiar with it, hominy is dried maize and common in Native American and South American dishes.
February 18, 2012
I don’t know what it is, but for the past three years, I get the urge to make smoothies in January. Not June or July, but January. I guess it’s the whole healthy start to the new year, but you’d think the last thing I crave is a frozen beverage. In any event, this January was no different and I broke out the Magic Bullet, stocked up on bananas and yogurt, and reacquainted myself with smoothie recipes.
Many of the recipes I use are from Whole Living. Did you know they made a smoothie app? While some might scoff that the included recipes are no different from what you find online for free, I say the convenience of having the recipes on my phone so I don’t have to power up my computer first thing in the morning is well worth a couple of dollars.
Here’s a recap of some of my favorites that I’ve been making lately.
Blackberry Cinnamon Smoothie I love the combination of the berries and cinnamon. The cinnamon gives it a really warm flavor. I don’t generally have buttermilk on hand, so I substitue either skim milk or a non-dairy milk (soy, almond, etc.), and it still tastes great.
Banana-Peanut Butter Smoothie This may be my all-time favorite. I love the taste, and I almost always have the ingredients on hand. I use almond butter instead of peanut butter, and using vanilla almond milk instead of skim gives it a nice, slightly sweet flavor.
Blackberry-Wheat Germ Smoothie Adding wheat germ or flax seeds to smoothies instantly boosts the nutritional value without changing the flavor or texture. I love the combination of blackberries and orange juice in this recipe. A similar recipe that’s on the app but not online is the peach and blackberry smoothie, which adds peaches, yogurt, and honey to the mix.
Blueberry-Flax Smoothie Flax seeds are low in carbs but high in fiber, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids, so they pack a powerful punch, especially for breakfast.
Banana-Oat Smoothie I like the flavor of this smoothie, but the texture leaves something to be desired. The oats certainly make it a hearty breakfast, but they make the smoothie a bit gritty. Maybe if I used a stronger blender it would be better?
These are just a few of the smoothies I’ve been making lately. I also have gotten hooked on Naked brand smoothies - Mighty Mango is particularly tasty!
February 15, 2012
My sister-in-law also enjoys cooking and finding new healthy recipes, so when she came across this New York Times article, she sent it my way. Bittman makes some great points about how much meat and dairy Americans consume and provides suggestions, including a number of recipes, on how to reduce your intake. A few weeks ago, my husband and I made pasta, beans, and tomatoes.
This recipe is not groundbreaking. The ingredients are simple. In fact, we had all of these ingredients on hand, which is why it was the first recipe I chose from the article. The combination is so basic, but it ended up being pretty tasty. I think it could benefit from some tomato sauce to give the pasta a bit more flavor. If you wanted to get fancy, you could roast or saute some cherry tomatoes instead of using diced canned tomatoes. You could also spice it up with some crushed red pepper flakes or even some diced bell peppers. The possibilities are endless!
I’m really looking forward to trying some more of these recipes – especially the sweet-potato stew and the tomato-rice soup. Hopefully as we get into more of a routine with our new addition, we’ll get back into our routine of cooking and trying new recipes.
February 11, 2012
On January 11, I had this urge to catch up on email correspondance and update my blog. I must have been e-nesting, because that afternoon I went into labor. On January 12, my husband and I welcomed a beautiful baby boy, and our lives haven’t been the same since. Needless to say, we haven’t been cooking as much as we used to. In fact, we have some very generous family, friends, and neighbors who have cooked for us! But, I promised you a few recipes that I hadn’t reported on yet, so here we go.
A friend of mine who enjoys cooking and baking as much as I do recommended the Pioneer Woman’s minestrone recipe for cold winter nights. This minestrone is particularly hearty, thanks to the pasta and beans. Adding tumeric gives it a unique punch.
I’ve made this soup several times now, and it never disappoints. I also have not made it the same way twice! This recipe is so versatile. I pretty much throw in whatever veggies and beans I have on hand. Sometimes I roast the veggies in the oven, sometimes I saute them in the pot, and sometimes I skip that part all together. I’ve used frozen, fresh, and canned veggies, and they all taste delicious!
The first time, I followed the recipe pretty closely. I roasted squash and zucchini in the oven. I then added fresh celery, carrots, and onions. I didn’t have any green beans, but I had some mixed frozen veggies that included asparagus, corn, and carrots, so I threw those in. I finished it off with a can of diced tomatoes. The second time I made it was one of those nights where I hadn’t been shopping in awhile and just threw in whatever I had on hand. I had onion, celery, and carrots, but I didn’t have any squash, zucchini, or asparagus. I skipped the roasted veggie step and just threw the fresh veggies in with the broth. I also didn’t have cannellini beans, so I used dark red kidney beans instead. It still made a delicious meal!
Not only does this soup taste good immediately, but it makes great leftovers and can even be frozen. I like to top it with shredded cheese (asiago is particularly yummy, but parmesan is good, too).
January 11, 2012
Things got a bit crazy the past few months, and while we’ve tried some new recipes, I didn’t blog about them as I should have. Therefore, I give you a recipe round up so I can start fresh with my plan of blogging about new recipes once a week.
Lemon Chicken with Black Bean Salsa (Recipe from Whole Living and Power Foods)
We turned this chicken breast entree into a flavorful Southwestern bowl because I’m not a huge fan of grilled chicken breasts. I don’t know why, but to me, chicken tastes better when it’s already diced. This delicious dish is like a lighter version of a Chipotle burrito bowl. The dressing has a wonderful tanginess, and the mix of vegetables keeps it interesting.
Chicken and Quinoa Burritos (Recipe from Real Simple)
Keeping with the Mexican theme were these chicken and quinoa burritos. Once you have the rotisserie chicken shredded, putting these together is a piece of cake! They were quite filling and delicious. As always, quinoa is a great sub for rice. This is a good alternative to taco night.
Pasta with Rosemary Shrimp Scampi (Recipe from Martha Stewart)
This pasta dish was super easy to make. The flavor was nice and light, and the rosemary did not overwhelm, which can happen sometimes. It wasn’t the most exciting meal, but it was good.
Linguine with Spinach, Artichokes, and Red Lentil Sauce (Recipe from Whole Foods)
I have to be honest, while this recipe was very intriguing, it left something to be desired. The red lentil sauce did not have as much flavor as I would have liked, and the artichokes were a bit too powerful combined with the other ingredients. I would say make this one with caution, if you’re feeling adventurous.
And now I’m all caught up. Stay tuned for not just one, but two recipe recaps!
January 4, 2012
Last year I set actionable goals, and I’m pretty proud of how many I was able to accomplish. This year, however, I know that my life is about to do a complete 180 once baby arrives, so I’m giving myself a bit of a break. I’ve come up with both specific (actionable) and broad goals that I’d like to accomplish throughout the year. Measuring the broad goals will be difficult, so they are more things that I will strive for rather than things I will accomplish.
Without further ado, here is the list I’ve come up with. I’ll revisit these occasionally to see where I stand. And, I know it’s already four days into the year, but better late than never, right?
- Try one new recipe each week
- Blog about each new recipe
- Walk every day
- Take a photo every day (I found this cool app that will help me chronicle this on my phone – My365)
- Have a date night with my husband once a month (this could be dinner out, a concert, or even just pizza and Red Box at home)
- Organize my photos (yes, this is a carryover from 2011)
- Have patience and flexibility with my new lifestyle
- Accept that I won’t do everything well right away
- Find a good balance between family and my business
So there you have it. Looks like you should expect a blog post from me at least once a week! I have a few recipes in the hopper that I still need to share with you, so over the next few days (or weeks), I will aim to get those out in batches – trust me, there are some winners you won’t want to miss!
December 30, 2011
As 2011 comes to a close, I wanted to revisit my goals for the year. Taking a look at this list, I’d say I did pretty well! I certainly could have done better, but I can’t complain.
Complete 28-day detox plan to embark on a healthier lifestyle.
- Jog three times per week.
- Run two 5K races in 2011. (Ran one, walked one)
Do yoga two times per week, either on my own or in a class. Modify my chocolate chip cookie recipe to be more wholesome while still meeting my husband’s high quality standards.
Buy a house.
- Volunteer at least twice a month.
- Print favorite digital photos from over the years and put them into albums (or create printed photo albums).
- Read at least one fun book each month. (Got preoccupied with baby books….are those considered fun?)
Write every day.(Granted, this was mostly work related, but who’s counting?) Take two photography classes or workshops to improve my skills. Sing a full solo at my choir’s spring concert.
- Connect with existing clients at least once every quarter to assess their needs and see how I can be of service.
Establish two new recurring clients. Secure at least two projects every month. Step out of my comfort zone to network with other small-business owners, freelancers, and potential clients. Take at least one professional development class.
The thing I am most proud of is my commitment to healthier living. While I definitely indulge from time to time, I am much more conscious of the food choices I make. We have completely overhauled the way we cook at home, (as I type this, I’m cooking a minestrone recipe that my friend recommended) and I even make better choices when I eat out. I have discovered many new vegetables and found that I actually like them!
As for exercise, I started out the year very motivated to run. It was easy when we lived in the apartment, because the fitness center was across the parking lot, so even when the weather was bad, I only had to step outside for a minute. Once we moved, I not only had less time, but I was less motivated to run. I walked a 5K in April and ran one in June, at two and a half months pregnant no less. I considered walking a third one at Thanksgiving, but when our plans changed, I didn’t pursue it any further. When I stopped running, though, I did start attending yoga classes. I found a fabulous studio near our house and have been going (almost) religiously twice a week since July. I’d like to say that once baby arrives I’ll go on regular, if not daily, walks, but we’ll just have to see.
My business has really taken off this year, and I couldn’t be more pleased. I have three regular clients who keep me very busy – I have been working full time since April and made more this year than I did in my first couple of full-time jobs! I have been able to work on a wide variety of projects with many different people and even attended the conference of one of my clients.
While this year has certainly had its ups and downs, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot and have a lot to look forward to in 2012. We found a house, established ourselves in a new community and will soon be a family of three. I came across the following quote recently and can’t help thinking how perfect it is.
“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Happy New Year to you and yours!