Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

It’s finally cool enough in California, at least once the sun goes down, to justify getting the stock pot out to make a hearty soup that can serve as dinner with a big salad & crusty bread that can then live on as a couple of workday lunches too!  Great for the wallet AND the waistline!  This soup is so rich, and has such depth of flavor, that it seems like a cheat meal, which is a plus during the non-stop holiday feast season.

Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1  –  2 to 2+1/2 lb Butternut Squash (Peeled/Seeded/Chopped into about 1″ Cubes)
  • 1  –  Large Granny Smith Apple (Cut into about 1″ Pieces – seeds/core/stem removed)
  • 3  –  Large Ribs Celery Chopped
  • 3  –  Carrots (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 1  –  Medium Yellow Onion (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 4  –  TBLS Butter
  • 1  –  32 oz Container Organic Chicken Stock
  • 1+1/2 Cups Water
  • Freshly Grated Sea Salt (To Taste)
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper (To Taste)
  • Freshly Ground Nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
  • Cinnamon (1/2 to 1 tsp)
  • Cayenne Pepper (Pinch to 1/8th tsp)
  • Chopped Parsley (if desired)

Melt the butter in a medium stockpot and add the onions, carrot and celery.  Sauté over low heat about 10 minutes.  When onions just start to brown, add the squash, apple, salt, pepper, chicken stock and water.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring just to a boil.  When bubbles appear at the edges of the pan, reduce heat to low.  Cover pan tightly and simmer soup for 45 minutes until squash is completely softened.

Remove soup from heat and either process soup until smooth using your blender (I use my Vitamix) and returning to the pan after processed or an immersion blender as shown in the video.

Once soup is smooth, add the Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Cayenne.  Adjust spices to taste.

I came across a video that uses the same technique I use to make my soup, with slightly different measurements, and it’s much prettier, so I’ll give the standard #ShoutOut and #HighFive to Simply Recipes for producing a great (and quick) video that I can also use to demonstrate how to assemble my soup!

I’ve already been remiss at keeping up with my blog, so not having to produce a video is a definite bonus! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

slow-cooker-chicken-cacciatoreNobody likes to worry about cooking dinner after getting home from work on Monday night.

The weekend was a non-stop whirlwind of activity.  Kids games, recitals, activities, parties, chores, and maybe some adult beverages have left you with no energy to plan a meal after your first day back at the grind of the work week.

Thankfully Cooking Light Magazine has come to the rescue with a YouTube video to guide us all through a “fix it and forget it” healthy and hearty weeknight meal that will bring the whole family to the table and make you look like a SUPERSTAR!

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup drained capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 8 (6-oz.) boneless-skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken in half
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  1. Combine 1/2 cup water and flour in a 6-quart electric slow cooker, stirring with a whisk
  2. Stir in stock and next 8 ingredients (through mushrooms)
  3. Add chicken thighs to stock mixture; submerge in liquid
  4. Cover and cook on LOW 7 1/2 hours
  5. Remove chicken
  6. Add oil and pasta to slow cooker
  7. Cover and cook on HIGH 15 minutes or until pasta is done
  8. Stir in spinach until wilted
  9. Divide pasta mixture among 8 shallow bowls
  10. Top evenly with chicken
  11. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Easy Roasted Tomato Soup

fellp20150820_lowCalifornia’s multiple personality disorder has reared it’s ugly head again.  The weather, which had been giving us a normal winter for a change, has turned on a dime and we have Santa Ana winds, sunshine and warm temperatures just a day after rain clouds and temperatures in the low 60’s.  Ugh!  This is really screwing with my pre-planned menus!

Screw it!  I planned to make soup for dinner and soup it will be.  I don’t care if it’s warm outside or not.  If anyone complains they can chill theirs like gazpacho.

Roasted Tomato Soup

  • 1 Poblano Chili (Stem and Seed Pod Removed if Desired)
  • 6 Large Tomatoes (Hard Stems Cut Out)
  • 1 Medium Sweet Yellow Onion (Peeled and Halved)
  • 5 Large Carrots (Peeled & Tops Removed)

Preheat oven to 350°F

Place the onion, cut side down, onto an oiled baking pan along with the peeled carrots, the poblano chili and the 6 tomatoes (cut tops up). Tip:  For added flavor, I roast my chili with the stem and seed pod in and remove them before throwing into the Vitamix.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tomato skins begin to crack and peel.

Preparation Option 1 – VITAMIX:

If you have a Vitamix with a soup setting like I do (it’s on the Professional Series 750), the steps are simple from here.  All you do is throw all of the roasted vegetables into the container, place the lid on securely, turn the dial to the soup setting, depress the start button and wait for the cycle to end when it’s done chopping/blending and cooking the soup.

Preparation Option 2 -Blender or Food Processor and Stove Top:

Place the onion, chili and carrots into the blender/processor container and pulse to chop the vegetables up.  Then turn the blender to puree and mix until the vegetables are well chopped.  Add the tomatoes 1 at a time blending on high until all are well incorporated.  If you run out of room in your container, move 1/2 of your vegetable mixture to the pan you’ll be heating the soup in.  When all of the vegetables are blended/pureed, heat in a pan on the stove until warm enough to eat.

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Broccoli and Chicken Noodle Soup

broccolichickensoupCooking Light is my favorite “Go-To” resource for a quick and healthy weeknight meal.  It’s been cold and blustery this week and the last thing I wanted to do was put together a big fussy sit down meal, but I wanted something hearty enough to be filling.

This soup, that they did a recipe rescue on, has 40 percent fewer calories and 62 percent less fat than the heavy original.  It satisfied the need for something hearty and filling without completely blowing the diet while also giving a big sit down meal feel with some crusty bread and a glass of wine!

Broccoli and Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup pre-sliced mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1.1 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/4 cup)
  • 4 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 ounces uncooked vermicelli, broken into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded light processed cheese (such as Velveeta Light)
  • 4 cups (1-inch) cubed cooked chicken breast
  • 3 cups small broccoli florets (8 ounces)
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation

  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Coat pan with cooking spray.
  3. Add onion, mushrooms, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally.
  4. Reduce heat to medium; add butter to mushroom mixture, stirring until butter melts.
  5. Sprinkle mushroom mixture with flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Gradually add milk and broth, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 10 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly.
  8. Add pasta to pan; cook 10 minutes.
  9. Add cheese to pan, and stir until cheese melts.
  10. Add chicken and remaining ingredients to pan; cook 5 minutes or until broccoli is tender and soup is thoroughly heated.

Nutritional Information

Calories 317 Fat 12.3g Sat fat 6.8g Mono fat 2.9g Poly fat .9g  Protein 27.5g Carbohydrate 23.8g Fiber 1.9g Cholesterol 74 mg Iron 1.6 mg Sodium 723 mg Calcium 179 mg

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10 No Fuss Healthy Soups


If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too:https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Cold Outside? Warm Up Your Insides!

its-freezing-pnts-brrr-9666002I’ll be honest, cold is relative to where you are in the world.  Today I’m thankful to not be in Central or Eastern Europe, which is seeing temperatures as low as -30°C (-22°F).  Brrr

Here, in Irvine, CA today it is 62°F and raining which means I am under a warm blanket with my two Labrador Retrievers snuggled up beside me and the fireplace on as I sip on some coffee laced liberally with some Bailey’s Irish Cream.  I use the words, “I’m freezing” in nearly every conversation I have today, but I am loving this weather.  At this time last year, we were heading into what was billed as the hottest February on record with day after day of temperatures in the upper 90’s that led to 2016 being called one of the hottest, if not THE hottest year on record, so excuse my exaggeration with the term “freezing” as, in order to be cold last year, I had to have my air conditioner running.

Today I saw a picture at one of my favorite websites, www.bonappetit.com, for Chili Colorado, that made my mouth water.

colorado-chili-1-of-1

I hadn’t yet decided what to make for dinner, but, after seeing this picture, no further searching was needed.  This will definitely be dinner, and a couple of workday lunches as well!  I am not a big pork fan, so I’ll be making the beef option.

***Note I always trim all of the visible fat away so that the meat is as lean as possible.

Rick Martinez’s Mom’s Chili Colorado

  • 5 Dried Ancho Chilis
  • 2 Dried Pasilla Chilis
  • 2 Dried Guajillo Chilis
  • 8 Cups Chicken Stock (3 Cups + 5 Cups Separated)
  • 2-3 Pounds Boneless Pork Shoulder (or 2-3 Pounds Boneless Beef Shoulder)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Oilve Oil (My substitution for Vegetable Oil)
  • 6 Cloves Garlic Chopped
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 TBLS Ground Cumin
  • 2 tsp Chopped Fresh Sage
  • 2 tsp Chopped Fresh Oregano

Now Let’s Cook!

  1. Remove the stems and seeds from all of your chilis.  Make sure you have chosen soft and pliable chilis.  If they are dry and brittle they are too old.  They will be tasteless and ruin your dish.
  2. Cover chiles with 3 cups of your chicken stock (it should already be boiling) and let them steam, covered with plastic wrap, for about 30 minutes until they are plump and tender. Put the chilis and all of the soaking liquid into a blender and purée until very smooth.
  3. Cut 2 to 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (or boneless beef shoulder) into ½” pieces and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Brown the meat in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat with a couple of TBLS of olive oil so meat doesn’t stick. 
  5. Chop your 6 cloves of garlic and throw it in the pot along with 2 bay leaves, 1 TBLS ground cumin, 2 tsp each of chopped fresh sage and chopped fresh oregano.  Stir that around for about a minute, or until very fragrant.
  6. Add in your remaining 5 cups of chicken stock and simmer uncovered for about an hour.
  7. Stir in the chile purée and simmer for another 45 minutes until the meat is very tender and the sauce is a thick, mahogany-red color.
  8. Season with additional salt and pepper.
  9. Serve with flour tortillas – you can serve rice and beans for a full, authentic Mexican meal, if you desire, as well.

Just imagine the love and attention you’ll get from your family when they come into the house and are surrounded by the smell of chili Colorado simmering on the stove 😉 !

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too:https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Weeknight Steak Chili

steak-chili-with-red-kidney-beansThe wind is cold and it’s finally time to pull the jeans and sweaters out of the back of the closet.  It’s also time to let a pot of chili welcome the boys home after a long day.  This time it won’t have to cook all day, I have my handy dandy pressure cooker, which doubles as a enhanced slow cooker, to cut the usual cooking time in half!  If you don’t have a pressure cooker I’ve put the alternate instructions in red where they differ.

Pressure Cooker Steak Chili

  • 1 pound trimmed Chuck roast ( I buy mine Organic from Sprouts) chopped into 1/4″ chunks – it’s easiest to chop raw meat if you freeze it for 30 minutes or so
  • 1/2 of a medium onion chopped
  • 1 block XLNT chili con carne
  • 1 small can S&W low-sodium red beans drained of most of the liquid
  • 1 small can Hunt’s petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 large can store brand dark red kidney beans drained of most of the liquid (my store didn’t carry a large can of S&W)
  1. Turn your pressure cooker on to the brown setting and toss in the onions.
  2. For non-pressure cookers: heat a Stock Pot to medium-high heat with a splash of olive oil and add the onions, then follow the instructions below through #8.
  3. Allow to cook for about 2 minutes then give them a quick stir.
  4. Add chopped meat to the pressure cooker.
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes.
  6. Add the block of chili.  If thawed, stir into the meat and onion. If frozen, skip this step.
  7. Add both cans of beans and the can of tomatoes.
  8. Stir the mixture, getting chili block to the bottom if it’s frozen.
  9. Close the pressure cooker.
  10. Set to slow cooker setting (mine has one) – mine defaults to 2 hours of cooking time.  At the end of 2 hours my kidney beans needed a little bit more time, so I added an additional 30 minutes and they were perfect.
  11. If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can finish cooking 1 of 2 ways: Put everything into the crock pot and cook on low for about 4 hours (or 1 hour on high and 2 on low); or you can finish this chili on the stove top in your stock pot.  You will need to add some more liquid, in which case I would go with a beer and make sure that you are cooking it low and slow – you’ll need to simmer and stir occasionally for about 4 hours.

tjbsI grated some white cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top and grabbed a package of Trader Joe’s Cheesy Bread Sticks that toasted up perfectly in the oven in 6 minutes. No one was in the mood for a salad, but if you wanted a perfectly rounded meal a salad would do the trick!

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