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Cream is the Theme

Happy Sunday!  We’re enjoying a beautiful day here in Texas. The SUN has decided to grace us with its presence once again, and we’ll be seeing the 70s this week!  Let the pool party season begin.

After enjoying some Amy’s soup this past weekend, Dustin and I realized that we really love soup..a lot.  This week shall be devoted to finding lots of new soup recipes to make.  It seems like one of the easiest and most delicious ways to eat veggies if you ask me.

Today’s soup was inspired by a recipe we found on Taste of Home, called Garden Chowder.  We wanted to be a little adventurous and make our first “creamy” soup from scratch.  We took the original recipe and adapted it to make a healthier version with some added flavors.  Definitely check out the original recipe, where you’ll also find about 22 more pages of vegetarian soups.

“Creamy” Vegetable Soup

THE INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup each of the following chopped ingredients: carrots, celery, broccoli, red potato, onion, bell pepper
  • 2 T of olive oil
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 T pre-mixed garlic and herbs blend (sesame seeds, black pepper, dehydrated garlic and green onion, lemon peel)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups rice milk
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 green onions (chopped)
  • Colby jack cheese (optional topping)

1. Chop the carrots, celery, potato, onion, broccoli, and peppers into bite-size pieces.

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2. Heat your soup pot on high and add 2 T of olive oil.  Then add the peppers and onion.  Add 1 T of garlic and herbs blend.  Sauté for about 3-5 minutes or until the onion is browned.

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3. Once the peppers and onions are sautéed, throw in the rest of the chopped vegetables.  Mix together.

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5. Add 4 cups of water.  Mix.  Bring to a boil.

DSCN3568 6. Add 2 vegetable bouillon cubes.  Mix.

DSCN3569 7.  Put in one dry bay leaf, 1 T of dry parsley, and 2 T of garlic blend.  Mix.

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8.  Once it reaches a full boil, add 1/2 cup of brown rice.  Bring to a simmer and cover for about 35 minutes or until rice is tender.

DSCN3578 9. While soup is simmering, prepare your “cream” mixture to the side.  Pour 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 2 cups of rice milk into a mixing bowl.  Mix until smooth.

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10.  When the soup is finished simmering and the rice is tender, slowly add in the milk mixture.  Stir until it is fully mixed in.  Cook on medium-high heat for another 5 minutes or until you reach your desired thickness.

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11.  In the final 5 minutes, throw in 4-5 thyme sprigs and 3 chopped green onions.

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12.  After about five minutes, remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.  Your soup is ready to serve and eat!

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We cut up some little cheese cubes and added a DROP of habanero hot sauce.  Delicious!!

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Honestly, we were extremely nervous about how this would turn out, as we chose whole wheat flour over white flour and rice milk over whole milk.  It turned out so great!  Obviously, the appearance won’t look as “creamy” as traditional cream-based soups,  but the flavors were phenomenal.  I highly encourage you to try it or create your own adaptations of it.  We were satisfied, but not stuffed.  It also didn’t leave me with an icky feeling after eating it, as most dairy dishes tend to do.

And finally, a new green smoothie recipe!

BLUEBERRYSTRAWBERRY CREAM GREEN SMOOTHIE

We experimented with some new flavors in our green smoothie today.  Vanilla coconut milk was on sale this week (plus $1 OFF coupon I had). I snagged a carton for $1.99!  Blueberry pints were also on sale for $1.77!  Hellooo, antioxidants!

THE INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup vanilla coconut milk
  • 1/2 banana (frozen if you can)
  • 3 frozen strawberries
  • 1/8 cup blueberries
  • Handful of spinach
  • 2 T vanilla yogurt
  • 3 ice cubes

Throw in a blender (or Magic Bullet), blend, pour, and enjoy!!

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This may be my new favorite green smoothie.  That is, until the price of blueberries goes up.  Then, I’ll be getting creative again.  The combination of blueberries and coconut is out of this world!  🙂

Have you ever had a green smoothie?  If so, what is your absolute favorite recipe?  We’re always looking to try new ones!

Egg, Spinach, and Mozzarella Bake

This morning we decided to experiment and attempt to make our first “frittata”.  Unfortunately after prepping the ingredients, we quickly realized we didn’t have an “oven-proof” skillet.  But, we improvised and decided to make an egg bake instead!  The frittata will make an appearance some day in the future.  😉

This is a delicious, nutrient-dense meal that creates six servings.  If you have busy mornings, you can prepare it in advance and simply heat it up when you are ready to eat it.

Here’s what we did:

1. Gather necessary ingredients and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

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  • 5 eggs
  • 2 T of milk of your choice
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 9 oz package frozen spinach, cooked
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

2. Add eggs, milk, and cheese to mixing bowl.

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3. Stir together.

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4.  Add salt and pepper to taste. (Snowman shakers optional 😉 ) Put aside.

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5.  Heat skillet on medium-high and add olive oil, garlic, onion, and pepper.

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6.  Sauté ingredients until onions are translucent (about 3 min).

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7.  Add in cooked (wilted) spinach and sauté for one more minute.

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8.  Pour sautéed ingredients into a greased baking pan and mix in egg/milk/cheese mixture.

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9. Once mixed, sprinkled additional cheese on top (as much or as little as you like).

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10.  Place in oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes (or until eggs are settled and cheese is melted). DSCN2533

Use a knife to check the center.  If it comes out clean, you are good to go!

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Cut into six rectangles, and enjoy!!

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Such a delicious AND nutritious meal LOADED with spinach! Best part is, for kids (or adults) who don’t like to eat greens, you can’t even taste the spinach.  😉

See ya at lunch time!

Mele Kalikimaka Chicken with Fried Rice

Hawaiian Merry Christmas Chicken!  We couldn’t think of what to call the dinner we made tonight.  It was marinated in a Hawaiian sauce, and I couldn’t get the song from National Lampoon Christmas out of my head.  So it works, right?

We had a Sous Chef to help us out.  He’s just a seasonal employee.  😉

Here’s the recipe and step-by-step guide to what we made tonight:

1. Gather the necessary ingredients:

  • Fried Rice
    • 1 cup cooked brown rice
    • 1 cup peas
    • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
    • 1/4 cup chives (more or less to taste)
    • 1 egg
    • Minced garlic
    • Soy sauce
    • Olive Oil

  • Hawaiian Chicken
    • 1 lb breast
    • 3 T Hawaiian marinade (brand of your choice)
    • 1/2 cup chopped onion
    • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (we used orange)
    • 3 T crushed pineapple (fresh or canned)

2.  Combine Hawaiian marinade with chicken; let sit while you prepare the rice.

3. FOR FRIED RICE

  • Bring skillet to medium-heat and add 1 T of olive oil

  • When oil is hot, add the peas, carrots, chives, and garlic into the skillet.  Saute for about 2 minutes.

  • Next, add the cup of brown rice.

  • Mix all of the ingredients well.

  • Now create a hole in the center of the mixture.  This is where the egg will go.

  • Crack an egg into the center hole.

  • Stir in the center to create a scrambled eggs mixture.

  • When it is just about done, mix it with the rest of the ingredients and add a splash of soy sauce.

4. FOR HAWAIIAN CHICKEN

  • Put 1 T of olive oil into the skillet.  Bring it to medium-high heat.  Then add the chicken.  It should take about 5 minutes per side.

  • While that start cooking, start a separate small skillet with 1 T of olive oil.

  • Add the onions and peppers with salt and pepper to taste.

  • To speed up the cooking time for the chicken, we cut it into smaller slices while it was on the skillet.  Then, we added the onions, peppers, and pineapple.  Stir it all together.

5. Put on a plate and enjoy!


Mmmm…

Dustin’s wasn’t quite done until he added his Siracha sauce…

Now it should hit the spot!

Bake-a-holics

Tonight provided the perfect opportunity to begin blogging.  Dustin had a few hours of guitar lessons to do, and while he was busy doing that, I had my best friend, Lauren, over for some baking madness.  Lauren and I have been best friends since we were 12 years old!  She actually just recently moved to Texas from New Hampshire with her fiance, Jason.  She and I have been reunited after 2.5 years apart.  Needless to say, it is a pretty exciting adventure.  What 12 year old wouldn’t love to grow up and live down the street from their best friend in a totally foreign state?!

Here we are baking back in high school. Lauren is the one in the middle.

We have been planning baking/Christmas movie marathons the past few days, and tonight was Day 1.  Except for the fact we didn’t actually get to the movie.  We were too busy chatting and catching up, which made the time fly by way too fast.  We have about 18 movies to get through before Christmas, though, so I guess we better get on that next time.

The baking extravaganza included three different types of cookies:

1. Classic Chocolate Chunk Cookies (recipe courtesy of  Food Network)

2. “Perfectly Peanutty” Cookies (recipe courtesy of Bakerella…such an awesome baking website with creative ideas)

3.  Brownie cupcakes (adapted from Brown-Eyed Baker’s “Better-than-Brownies” cookies recipe..another great site if you’re craving creative baking ideas)

We started with the Chocolate Chunk cookies, which came out amazing and fluffy.  Love big chunk cookies.  Spoken from a true Chocoholic.  Well, I have a sweet tooth in general.

Next, we made the peanut butter cookies, which we were surprised only had 5 ingredients!  Actually the cookies themselves only had 3 ingredients.  Not one of which was flour.   The two other ingredients were used for a chocolate dipping sauce.  It was an interesting experiment to say the least.

The steps were as follows:

1. Prep ingredients:

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg

  • 4 oz. Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped peanuts

2. Preheat oven to 325. Mix peanut butter, sugar and egg until well blended.

3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4. Remove and roll mixture into 18 balls.

5. Place on ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart.

6. Flatten each ball by using a fork to make a criss-cross pattern.

7.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned.

8. Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet and then cool completely on a wire rack.

Chocolate dip and nuts:

1. Melt chocolate.

2. Dip one end of cookie into melted chocolate and then dip into chopped peanuts. Repeat with other side. (The chocolate I melted was way too thin…so it didn’t exactly stick to the cookie.  But I will do better next time)

3. Place on wax paper covered cookie sheet and refrigerate until chocolate hardens.

In the end, we created what you see above.  A little adaptation of the Bakerella recipe.  I have to admit, her cookies looked A LOT prettier.  But we gave it our all.

Verdict? They were extremely rich.  Delicious, but rich.  As in, half a cookie was PLENTY to satisfy.   One reason why peanut butter is such a satisfying snack.  Next time I’ll require a glass of milk on the side.

Finally, we baked what were supposed to be “better-than-brownie cookies”.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get a very thick consistency, so making “cookies” was impossible.  We got creative, though, and put the batter into a cupcake pan to create the most delicious brownie-chocolate chunk-cupcakes ever!  You gotta do what you gotta do, right?

Don’t forget to check out the links next to the pictures above, so you can create these goods at home.  Thanks Bakerella, Brown-Eyed Baker, and Food Network!

I had such a great time tonight.  Sometimes I can’t believe how you can be apart from someone for so long, but maintain the same, amazing relationship.  I guess I have technology to partly thank for that.  But mostly, I truly believe we have a special friendship that will last forever.  Whether we’re down the street, across the country, or an ocean away.  Distance really doesn’t affect us.

Thank you, Lauren, for sticking by me all these years.  You truly become a best friend to nearly every one you meet.  You are an amazing, compassionate, and beautiful human being with the potential to be, do, and have anything you want in life.  Never lose your wonderful optimism and contagious sense of humor.  Everyone needs one of you in their life! 🙂