Baked Potato and Broccoli Cheddar Soup

A few days before the wedding, I came across a killer deal for a Vitamix at Costco that I could not resist. My life savings was already down the crapper so I figured why not dig myself a bigger hole and purchase myself a super high powered blender while I was at it?

While a lot of people use their Vitamix to create green smoothies, I mostly use mine to create hot vegetable soup. All you have to do is throw in some celery, tomato, spinach, onion, peppers, or whatever type of vegetable you have lying around and you have a nutritious, hot soup in a few minutes! This soup has been a complete saving grace on busy work days or nights I am too lazy to cook.

This week, I decided to kick up my Vitamix game a notch and start experimenting with recipes in their “Intermediate” level. The following recipe is something I developed after I could not decide what I wanted more for dinner: a loaded baked potato soup or a broccoli cheddar soup.

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[Steam a handful of red baby potatoes and half a bag of broccoli florets and cube] [Split potatoes and broccoli florets into two portions] [Saute half an onion in pan] [Add 2 and a half cups of milk, onion,  some shredded cheddar, a teaspoon of Better than Bouillon chicken flavored, and half of the broccoli and potato mixture into Vitamix and blend on the hot soup setting] [When the cycle has completed pour soup in a bowl and top with chopped broccoli and potatoes to give it a chunky texture. Sprinkle some cheddar on top for good luck.] [Enjoy!]

***DISCLAIMER***
Yes, this has dairy and yes, I am aware that dairy can cause stomach and skin issues as well as cancer. If it makes it better, I used organic milk but vegans could try using this with a cashew cream instead. I am also aware that Better than Bouillon is not exactly better than bouillon. Potatoes are also not the healthiest vegetable in the world. However, if you compare this to the calorie, preservative and sodium laden soup that they sell at Panera this is a wonderful alternative.

As for taste? Yes, it is green. The hubster was entirely leery when I first served this to him but after one bite his frown turned upside down and he slurped the whole thing up!

 

 

  

Happy Thanksgiving!

As a nurse, my mother is required to work one holiday a year.  For as long as I can remember she always has chosen Thanksgiving as her holiday.  One year, when I was about 11 or 12, my family got kind of lazy to whip up a big meal so they decided to purchase a “Thanksgiving in a Box” meal from our local Giant. It was terrible.  I made a vow to never have a gross Thanksgiving day dinner again and have been cooking for my family ever since (except the turkey — that is my dad’s pièce de résistance!).  I was always an odd child and spent a lot of my Saturday mornings watching Julia Child on PBS instead of cartoons like other normal children so I took on the challenge with gutso!

I was introduced to the magic of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup at an early age and was able to turn it into an integral part of my Thanksgiving side dishes.  But I am older and wiser now and I worry about things like sodium and preservatives so I now make all of my meals from scratch.

This year everybody’s favorite side dishes were John Legend’s Macaroni and Cheese and Alton Brown’s Green Bean Casserole.  Thanks to Chrissy Tiegan from Sodelushious for the ideas!

This year I am thankful for so many things: the ability to watch my little brothers grow into wonderful young adults, Kassie for keeping me on my toes and just giving me the opportunity to feel so loved, two sisters that I can talk to any time of the day, a new baby niece who smiled at me for the first time last week, my parents for always supporting me, not one but two awesome jobs to support my Anthropologie and nail polish addiction, Nintendo for making sure that I am never bored again, and of course my wonderful fiance Rob who reminds me how blessed I am every single day.

 

  

Curried Vegetables Over Quinoa

If you are craving Indian food without the heavy cream and clarified butter — this should do the trick!  It is spicy, easy to make, and quite filling.  But I’m not going to lie — it would have tasted MUCH better in a creamy tomato sauce with lots of garlic naan to soak it up.  There are some classic recipes you shouldn’t mess with.

Ingredients
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion diced
1 cup of cut broccoli florets
1 medium zucchini sliced
2 Tablespooons of curry
1 teaspoon of tumeric
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 cup of cooked quinoa
Himalayan sea salt to taste


Directions
-Saute diced onions in olive oil for a few minutes until translucent, add salt, curry, tumeric, and red pepper
– Add other vegetables and cook untik softened
– Add cooked quinoa and stir everything together. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Recipe adapted from Kimberly Snyder

  

Chasin’ Tails

I was lucky enough to check out the soft opening at the much-anticipated Chasin’ Tails Restaurant yesterday and all I have to say about it is…

NOM NOM NOM

As a seafood aficionado, I have never had the chance to fall in love with crawfish.  My pops had 30 lbs of fresh crawfish flown in from Louisana last spring and I was a bit underwhelmed — now I know why.  It was missing that hot, spicy, tangy seasoning that makes the inside of your mouth pucker for days. Luckily for me, Chasin’ Tails had the secret ingredient and it is less than a hop, skip and a jump away from my office building in Falls Church!

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

 

 

 

 

Everything I consumed from the gator bites, to the shrimp, to the lushious, lushious crawfish was fresh, juicy and perfectly seasoned.  I have a feeling that this will be my new seafood bar of choice since our last trip to the raw food bar at Dogwood Tavern ended up being a big fail.  Rob, Kristina, Andrew, Timmy, Linda, Sam, Kat, Paul, and Carlo – – I hope you have your seafood bibs ready cus things are about to get CRAYYYY!

Now Open!
220 N Westmoreland Street
Arlington, VA 22213
http://chasintailscrawfish.com

  

Get On the Boat, the Zucchini Boat!

In my household of two, I am the main cook while Rob takes care of the dishes.  Some people may think that I have it easy since cooking is the fun part, but it is EXHAUSTING trying to come up with new and delicious recipes all the time.  Thanks to Pinterest, this task has been alleviated for a little bit, but now I am stuck with the wonderful job of making sure that my pantry is stocked with the right ingredients at all times.  I have been drooling over this recipe for stuffed zucchini for quite some time now, but unfortunately I was missing more than half of the ingredients it called for.  I decided to try stuffing my zucchini (that sounds dirty doesn’t it?) with whatever vegetables I could find at the fridge at the moment.  Guess what — my gamble was worth it!  This dish ended up being tasty, filling, and easy to prepare!  I am already thinking of other ways I can stuff it next time — orzo salad? garlic, cheese and bread crumbs?, curried cauliflower and chickpeas? I don’t mind if I do!

Ingredients:
– chopped tomatoes
– chopped parsley
– chopped onions
– chopped mushrooms
– minced garlic
– two zucchinis
– salt and peper

Directions:
Cut two zucchinis length wise
– Scoop out the guts with a fork and then chop into cubes
– Combine zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and garlic in a skillet and saute until cooked
– Stuff vegetable mixture into hollowed out zucchinis, top with shredded cheese and fresh parsley
– Cook in 400 degree oven for twenty minutes
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Serve immediately

I served my zucchini boats with some tzakiki sauce on it just because I had some laying around.

 

 

  

The Dirty Dozen: What Vegetables to Buy Organic

After speaking to a few people, I realized that buying organic produce is not always an option for those with kids to support, a house to pay for, student loans, expensive shoe habits, etc.  This is something that you should not beat yourself up over.  If you arm yourself with the correct information you will find that there are some vegetables/fruit that lend themselves to more contaminants than others.  These are the products that you should buy organic — the rest….feel free to buy the cheapest of the lot!

For example, regular bananas are 19 cents at Trader Joes.  Their organic counter part is 29 cents — a whole ten cents more per banana.  If you are like my (living-in-sin/fake) family, you consume two bananas a day.  Those extra ten cents can really add up.  After doing some research about what vegetables/fruits I should purchase, I learned that since bananas have a thick skin, the fruit inside is protected from most of the pesticides.  Since Rob and I buy two bunches of bananas a week, that is a whole $1 saved thanks to a thing called KNOWLEDGE!

 

  

Portobello Mushroom Fajitas

These mushroom fajitas were JAWSOME.  And I’m the type of girl who appreciates an extra juicy steak fajita. Even though I had cheese as a topping option, I didn’t use it because the dish was so flavorful as is.  The best part?  It was super easy to make.  Rob helped me make the pico de gallo and guacomole while I made the mushroom filling which consisted of  giant Portobello mushroom caps, orange bell peppers, and red onions drizzled ever-so-slightly with olive oil and seasoned with Goya’s Adobo seasoning.

Unfortunately, I am starting to run out of vegetarian ideas so if anybody has any recipes they would be willing to share please send them over!

  

Greek Style Chicken Wings

Rob and I love chicken wings but since he gave up fried food for Lent and I am trying to eat healthier in general, I had to come up with new alternative.

I really love Mediterranean style flavors so I seasoned some organic, free-range chicken wings I found at Trader Joe’s in olive oil, oregano, parsley, garlic, and onion powder and threw it on top  Cuisinart Griddler for about twenty minutes.  For an inside grill, the Griddler makes some amazing looking grill marks!  I topped my chicken with fresh squeezed lemon juice and some parsley that I snipped off my new herb plant.

We ate the meal with a side of kale, cucumbers and tzatziki sauce for dipping.

….and rice!  I can’t give up my rice.

  

Spinach-Basil Pesto and Bowtie Noodles

Ever since I saw a Facebook photo of my sister Kristina’s pesto noodles made with homegrown basil, I have been JONESING for the dish.  My time finally came last Thursday night.  I didn’t get home from work till about 8:30 and I wanted something carb-filled and creamy in my belly.

I followed Ina Garten’s basic pesto recipe but since I had so much spinach in the fridge (I’m already up to my second bag this week) I decided to add some spinach in it as well.  I made a boo-boo and added 100x more garlic than I should have (I confused the difference between bulb and clove but stopped myself before things got crazy) but I actually really enjoyed the dish (I think it is because I am sick and have no taste buds or sense of smell).  Rob on the other hand politely had one plate and then promptly brushed his teeth and popped ten altoids.  You live, you learn!

  

Bulgogi with Grass Fed Beef

By day 3 of our vegetarian diet, Rob was begging for some meat!  I was okay with that because everything is fine in moderation.  I was able to find some thinly sliced grass-fed beef so I decided to make bulgogi.  I served the meal with lots of romaine lettuce and kim chi so we could make our own Korean-style lettuce wraps.

 

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