Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Soup with an Italian Flair!

Tuscan Chicken Soup


My youngest daughter was not a fan of the spinach,
but that's part of what makes it so tasty.  She ate
around it.  Everyone else gobbled it up and I
noticed someone went back for seconds!  <3 
  • 1 c. onion, chopped
  • 2-3 large carrots, cut into thick, half moon slices
  • 2 T. Tomato Paste (I used Contadina w/ Italian Seasonings)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 (15 oz.) Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 c. chicken stock (plus extra for later)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (can substitute chicken breasts if you prefer), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat orzo pasta
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 T. (or more to taste) chopped fresh basil
  • 1 (6 oz.) package of fresh baby spinach
  • Fresh Parmesan Cheese for garnish

Here's what to do:
  1. Combine onions, carrots, tomato paste, salt and pepper, seasoning, beans, chicken stock, chicken and garlic add to slow cooker.

    ***NOTE:  I remove every bit of visible fat from the chicken.  I like to use thighs because they do not dry out during the cooking process and are more flavorful.  With that said, when cutting the thighs into chunks, it enables you to cut off every little piece of fat.  I take the time to do this.  You will be glad you did, too.
  2. Cook on HIGH for 1 hour.
  3. Reduce heat to LOW and cook for 3 hours.
  4. 40 minutes before you want to serve, add orzo.

    ***I add a little more chicken stock if I think the soup is too thick.  Maybe 1/2 a cup.  I just pour it from the box without measuring.  (eyeball it)
  5. 10 minutes before serving, add rosemary, basil and spinach.
  6. Serve topped with fresh Parmesan Cheese.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Super Flavorful Soup--Vegetarian, but Hearty!

Moroccan Red Lentil Soup

Such a flavorful soup.  It's even better the next day!

  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1-15 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 c. red lentils, washed and rinsed
  • 8 c. vegetable stock/broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 T. flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 T. cilantro, chopped

  1. Saute the onions, celery and carrots in 1 T. of olive oil for 5 min.  Add garlic and stir for one more minute.
  2. Add sauteed veggies to slow cooker
  3. Add spices, salt and pepper, crushed tomatoes and lentils to the slow cooker and stir to combine.  
  4. Pour vegetable stock over lentil and veggie mixture and cook on LOW (if you are starting in the morning and will be gone all day) or HIGH (if you are starting it around lunchtime).
  5. Prior to serving, stir in vinegar, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, parsley and cilantro, and cook an another 10 min. on HIGH.
  6. Serve with warm pita bread and garnish with parsley and cilantro if you wish.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chicken Chili Stew to Warm You Up

Okay, friends.  I know it has been awhile.  The truth is that I am meeting myself coming and going, but my people still want dinner.  So in between teaching Zumba and dance classes, laundry and carpool, I try to get a good meal on the table.  Don't know about your neck of the woods, but it's colder than a polar bear's toenails here and that means soup weather.  I love the crock pot, but tonight I was able to cook during normal hours and have a nice warm, dinner for my peeps.  Adding a pan of cornbread, too.

The simple blend of flavors gives this hearty stew that something extra.

1 T. Olive oil
I medium onion, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small jalapeño, seeds removed and chopped
1 T. Chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
4 c. Chicken broth or stock
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 c. Salsa verde
12 oz. leftover roasted chicken
1 (15 oz.) can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. Fresh cilantro, chopped
Garnishes:  avocado, sour cream, tortilla crisps

Here's what to do:
All the veggies in the pot, ready to cook.
Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapeño and sauté until soft (4-5 min.)

Stir in the chicken broth, sweet potato and salsa verde and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until sweet potato is tender.

All that's left is the simmering.

Stir in the chicken  and beans.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 10 minutes.  Stir in cilantro at the end of cooking.  Serve in soup bowls and top with avocado chunks and a dollop of sour cream.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Back to Reality

Did you think I had fallen off the edge of the earth?  Sometimes I feel like it.  Although I am still here, cooking and creating, I have found myself busier than a bee in honey season!  I am teaching ZUMBA classes at Boni's Dance and Performing Arts along with a ton of other classes for the younger dancers like pre-ballet, jazz and tap.  I am meeting myself coming and going.

The not so funny thing is that my girls are back in school, my husband is traveling more than ever and they all still want to EAT!  Can you believe that?

I am trying to utilize my Mondays to prep for the week, as I am now teaching mornings and evenings.  I thought I'd share a little supper secret with you so that you and your family can enjoy some delicious pre-planned meals as well.


  • 1 lb. Chicken Breasts
  • and/or 1 lb. Skirt Steak

Marinade (makes one marinade for chicken OR beef--make two if you make both chicken and beef fajitas)

Mix together 4 T. of tequila, 1/2 tsp. salt, 3 T. FRESH lime juice, 1 tsp. cumin, 2-3 cloves of garlic peeled and smashed, 1/3 to 1/4 c. of canola or vegetable oil.  Marinate the chicken or beef for 12 to 24 hours.

This is a great Saturday or Sunday afternoon grilled meal.  I add rice and borracho beans along with salsa, guacamole and trimmings.  I always make more than I need to utilize in the week ahead. 
I pre-chop the chicken and beef fajitas along with the
peppers and onions for quick and easy quesadilla


Here's what's next:

Chopped Chicken or Skirt Steak
Grilled Onions & Red and Yellow Peppers
Reduced Fat Monterey Jack Cheese (slices)
I love using healthy tortilla options for my quesadillas.   My family doesn't know the difference and the whole wheat and lower fat versions are healthy choices for all of us. 

I assemble the quesadillas with tortillas with a smidge of Land o Lakes LIGHT butter on the outside.  I use a non-stick skillet on medium heat.  Press the quesadilla down with a spatula to help seal the tortillas together with the melting cheese.  Flip when the bottom tortilla begins to brown.  Turn out onto a cutting board and cut into wedges using a handy, dandy pizza cutter. 

Serve with salsa, guacamole and sour cream.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Shrimp Cobb Salad

Wow!  A family trip can really wreak havoc with your healthy eating.  Five days eating sporatically and sometimes splurging on higher calorie dishes can do a lot of damage in very little time.  Well, we are back in the woods and getting back on track!

Thankfully we have a wonderful garden in our very own backyard.  This has produced a plethora of tomatoes and cucumbers.  A few days away and our baskets were full with fresh veggies.  I don't know if you have noticed, but it's been HOT out.  I just couldn't even think about making a hot meal, so salad seemed like the perfect solution. 

When you need a fast, easy and FRESH weeknight dinner, this is one you should try!

1 lb. boiled shrimp (I bought mine, already deveined, at the seafood counter)
1 package of organic Romaine Mix
2-4 tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 cucumber, cut into chunks
2-4 green onions, sliced thin
*** crumbled bacon to taste (OPTIONAL)

This refreshingly chilled shrimp salad is a definite
fan favorite at my house.  The Buttermilk Vinaigrette
is so easy to make and deliciously guilt-free.
Chill your plates or serving bowls in the freezer until ready to serve.  Add veggies to the Romaine lettuce and toss.  Plate salads, arrange shrimp on top (I remove the tails, but you can leave them on if you prefer).  Top with crumbled bacon if desired.  (I do NOT desire, but you go right ahead) And sprinkle with a little reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese if you're feeling froggy.  Drizzle dressing over the top and voila, you have dinner!  ***For best results, serve with a chilled white wine.  I highly recommend JLohr Chardonnay.  ; )

1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk
1/4 c. fat free mayo (Kraft brand)
1/4 c. fat free sour cream
2 T. White wine vinegar
1 T. freshly snipped chives
1/2 tsp. fresh dill, chopped (optional)
1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Dressing mix

Mix the buttermilk, mayo and sour cream together and whisk until smooth.  Add in the packet of dressing mix and stir to combine.  Add the vinegar, chives and dill and mix well.  Chill until ready to serve.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Buttermilk Brined Chicken

I have been uninspired lately.  I have been cooking and snapping pictures, but haven't been posting.  Time is not my friend.  : (

I don't want you to miss out of this really tasty chicken.  You know that's the big joke at our house. 
The girls ask, "Mommy, what's for dinner?"
I respond, "Guess."
They say in a sad monotone voice, "Chicken."
And I say with a wink, "YOU, are RIGHT!"
Chicken can be boring.  It can be dry and just bland.  Chicken breasts are one the lowest fat sources of protein you can find.  Chicken has to be our friend, if nothing more than out of necessity.  So I marinate it, sauce it up, braise it and now I BRINE it!

I found this recipe in Southern Living, June 2012

Buttermilk Brined Grilled Chicken
2 c. buttermilk
2 c. cold water
1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 c. hot sauce (I used Frank's Hot Sauce)
3 T. kosher salt
1 T. freshly cracked pepper
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, halved
1 (3 1/2 - 4 lbs. whole chicken cut up)--* I used 1 package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and 1 small package of chicken legs

  1.  Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved:  stir in onion and next 2 ingredients.
  2. Place buttermilk mixture and chicken in a large freezer bag; seal and chill for 24 hours.  Remove chicken from marinade; discarding marinade. 
  3. Grill over medium heat. 
I served this with cream peas (found them fresh at HEB) and roasted rosemary potatoes b/c my peeps just love these potatoes!

To cook the fresh peas, place peas in a heavy saucepan, cover with water (about 2 inches above the peas), add in a few strips of bacon (I used the Hormel pre-cooked variety, b/c that's what we have on hand.  I roughly chop it and toss it in.  It's just for a little flavor.)  Add salt to taste.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 35 to 45 minutes.  I add lots of freshly ground pepper when I am ready to serve.  I always serve peas with pepper sauce.  And a good piece of cornbread would have gone great, but I just didn't get around to it. 

Make this one of your go-to summer suppers!

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Just a picture of the homestead.  This is where I create the magic.  ; )