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

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

Another Twitter video find when I was hungry…best part?  It’s from www.health.com!

buffalocauliflower

My sister Wendi and I fell in love with these when we went to San Diego and found a sports bar to watch USC football at before going to a Blake Shelton concert last year. I’ve finally found a recipe that comes close to what we had there!

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

  • Preheat oven to 400° F.
  • Wash a Large head of fresh cauliflower (About 1 lb).
  • Remove the outer leaves and stem and then cut to separate the individual florets.
  • Dry the florets and spread out on a cookie sheet lined with foil.
  • Sprinkle florets lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Put sheet in oven and roast for 20 – 25 minutes stirring once.

In a medium bowl combine:

  • 1 TBLS Butter melted
  • 3 TBLS Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or any kind you like)
  • 1 tsp Vinegar
  • Put roasted cauliflower florets into the bowl and stir with rubber spatula until all florets are coated with sauce.
  • Return coated florets to the cookie sheet.
  • Roast at 400° F for 5-10 minutes more or until cauliflower starts to brown.

Make the dipping sauce:

  • In a small pan over medium-low heat put 2 tsp Olive Oil and 1 clove garlic, minced.
  • Heat until garlic starts to brown.
  • Transfer garlic and olive oil into the mixing container of a blender or Vitamix.
  • Add 1/2 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt.
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 1 TBLS Parsley
  • 1 TBLS Chives
  • 1 tsp Dill
  • 1/4 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Honey
  • Pinch of Salt & Pepper

Blend until well combined.  Transfer to a small serving bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with the dip and ranch dressing on the side.

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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

Top 38 Diets of 2017

usnwrdietrankingsIt’s estimated that more than 45 million Americans, and an untold millions more worldwide, start a diet each year.  To assist those who are looking for the best and healthiest way to battle the bulge, U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in rankings and consumer advice, today released its annual assessment of the year’s Best Diets.

For the seventh year in a row, the DASH diet has been rated Best Diet Overall, followed by the Mediterranean diet, up from fourth place last year. The MIND diet, second last year, comes in third, and is followed by a four-way tie for fourth place: the Flexitarian diet, Mayo Clinic Diet, the TLC diet and Weight Watchers.

U.S. News’ Best Diets 2017 offers rankings of 38 diet plans across nine categories: in addition to the Best Diets Overall, this year’s lists can help people find the Best Weight-Loss Diets, Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets, Easiest Diets to Follow, Best Commercial Diets, Best Diets for Healthy Eating, Best Plant-Based Diets and best diets for conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

I’ve found links to all of the 38 diets with information about the diets.  I would Google any of the diets you are more interested in and pay particular attention to the opinions of people who have tried the diets.  For instance, the Engine 2 diet is one that is very difficult to stick to – it was developed by a professional athlete who was becoming a firefighter: so NOT like the rest of us.  Read the honest opinions and the pros and cons, especially the food limitations, so that you can make a well informed decision before committing to a diet.  It’s very depressing to fail at something when it could have been avoided if only you’d have done your homework beforehand.

Best Diets Overall

1. DASH Diet – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://dashdiet.org/default.asp

2. MIND Diet – Information, recipes, and more: https://www.southdenver.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Mind-Diet-for-web.pdf
2. TLC Diet (tie) – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://tlcdiet.org/
4. Weight Watchers – Information, diet books, meetings, recipes and more: https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/
4. Mayo Clinic – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://diet.mayoclinic.org/diet/home
4. Fertility – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/the-fertility-diet
4. Mediterranean (tie) – Information, diet books, recipes and more: https://authoritynutrition.com/mediterranean-diet-meal-plan/
8. Volumetrics (tie) – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://guidedoc.com/volumetrics-diet-menu-plan-recipes
8. Flexitarian – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/flexitarian_diet
10. Jenny Craig – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.jennycraig.com/
11. Biggest Loser – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.biggestloser.com/
11. Ornish (tie) – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition/the-ornish-diet.aspx
13. Vegetarian – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Vegetarian-Diets_UCM_306032_Article.jsp#.WG27pRsrLIU
13. Traditional Asian (tie) – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/traditional-asian-diet/recipes
15. Slim Fast – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://slimfast.com/
15. SparkPeople – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.sparkpeople.com/
15. Anti-Inflammatory (tie) – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/
18. HMR – Information, diet books, recipes and more: https://hmrgettherefaster.com/
18. Flat Belly – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/flat-belly-diet
18. Nutrisystem (tie) – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.nutrisystem.com/jsps_hmr/home/index.jsp
21. Vegan – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20773383,00.html
21. Engine 2 – Information, diet books, recipes and more: https://engine2diet.com/
21. South Beach – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.southbeachdiet.com/how-it-works/index.jsp
21. Abs (tie) – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.absdiet.com/uof/absdiet/abospl/
25. Eco-Atkins – Information, diet books, recipes and more: https://www.atkins.com/how-it-works/library/articles/the-eco-atkins-diet
25. Zone – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.zonediet.com/
25. Glycemic-Index (tie) – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.dummies.com/food-drink/special-diets/glycemic-index-diet/glycemic-index-diet-for-dummies-cheat-sheet/
28. Macrobiotic – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.nutritionsecrets.com/what-to-eat-on-the-macrobiotic-diet/
28. Medifast (tie) – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.medifast1.com/index.jsp
30. Supercharged Hormone – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.doctoroz.com/article/dr-natasha-turners-supercharged-hormone-diet-reset
30. Acid Alkaline (tie) – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/alkaline-diets
32. Fast – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/fast-diet-review
32. Body Reset (tie) – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.harleypasternak.com/index.php/body-reset-diet/
34. Raw food  – Information, diet books, recipes and more: https://draxe.com/raw-food-diet/
34. Atkins (tie) – Information, diet books, recipes and more: https://www.atkins.com/
36. Dukan  – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://www.dukandiet.com/
36. Paleo (tie) – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://thepaleodiet.com/
38. Whole 30  – Information, diet books, recipes and more: http://whole30.com/whole30-program-rules/

For Weight Loss

1. Weight Watchers
2. Biggest Loser Diet
3. Biggest Loser Diet
3. Jenny Craig
3. Raw Food Diet (tie)

Easiest to Follow

1. Fertility Diet
2. MIND Diet
3. Weight Watchers

For Heart Health

1. Ornish Diet
2. TLC Diet
3. DASH Diet

Best Plant-Based Diets

1. Mediterranean Diet
2. Flexitarian Diet
3. Ornish Diet

For Fast Weight Loss

1. Biggest Loser Diet
1. HMR Program
3. Atkins
3. Weight Watchers (tie)

For Diabetes

1. Fertility Diet
2. Biggest Loser Diet
2. DASH Diet (tie)

For Healthy Eating

1. DASH Diet
2. TLC Diet
3. Mediterranean Diet
3. MIND Diet (tie)

Best Commercial Diets

1. Mayo Clinic Diet
1. Weight Watchers (tie)
3. Jenny Craig

I have made it habit not to make New Year’s Resolutions, but want to wish good luck to all of us who may or may not be starting off 2017 with a diet or change in eating habits in our plans.

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

Mushroom-Spinach Spaghetti

mushspinspagKnowing that tonight will be a long one while we stay up late to watch the results of Election Night 2016, I am prepping dinner for tomorrow night ahead of time.  A recipe I love, that has no sauce, is easy to assemble, throw in the refrigerator a day ahead, and, as a bonus, is one that my husband will take to work for lunch afterward without complaint!

Mushroom-Spinach Spaghetti

  • 1 Pound Spaghetti, Spaghettini, or Angel Hair Pasta
  • 24 oz Sliced White and/or Baby Portobello Mushrooms (I used a combination of both)
  • 4 oz Fresh Spinach
  • 1 Stick Butter (8 TBLS)
  • 2 TBLS + 2 TBLS + 2 TBLS (all separate measures) Olive Oil
  • 4 oz Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 TBLS Garlic and Onion Spice Blend (You can combine equal amounts of onion powder and garlic powder if you don’t have a prepared blend on hand)
  • Fresh Ground Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper

mush1Put your stick of butter (8 TBLS) into a large skillet, I prefer a well seasoned cast iron skillet, over medium-high heat.

When your butter has melted, add your mushrooms and 2 TBLS olive oil poured over the top.  Cook, stirring occasionally so that mushrooms don’t stick to pan, for about 2 minutes, then add yourmush1a garlic and onion spice blend, salt and pepper.  Continue cooking and stirring the mushrooms for about another 3 to 4 minutes until most of the moisture has been absorbed by the mushrooms.  Remove the mushrooms to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

spin1Add 2 TBLS olive oil to the skillet and add your spinach to the pan.  Using tongs to toss the spinach with the oil, cook tossing constantly until all of the spinach is wilted but not cooked all the way.  Immediately remove from the pan to the samespin2 bowl as the mushrooms and stir the mushrooms and spinach together.  Set bowl aside and allow to cool while you prepare the pasta.  When your mushroom-spinach mixture has cooled, sprinkle your 4 ounces of shredded parmesan cheese over and stir it in completely.

Prepare your pasta according to package directions with one important change:  Make sure that you break the noodles in half lengthwise before you put them in the water.  When your pasta has finished cooking drain it and toss it with your remaining 2 TBLS olive oil then add it to your mushroom-spinach mixture.  Use your tongs to make sure your mushroom-spinach mixture is well combined and coating your pasta completely then either serve immediately or pour it into a 9 X 13 Pyrex baking pan and cover to keep warm.

mushspinspag

If you plan to make this a day ahead like I am, place covered baking pan in the refrigerator. To prepare for serving the next day, top cold pasta with a couple of TBLS butter (divided into small pats) and reheat in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes.  You can also just toss individual servings into the microwave. 😉

With this easy (and inexpensive) make ahead dinner, the only decision you’ll need to worry about making tomorrow night is which wine to drink!

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

 

Spicy Cognac-Mushroom Rice

mushrice

I’m throwing caution to the wind this holiday season and tossing my tried and true recipes out the window.  Well, at least a few of them.  So, out goes the usual wild rice side dish and in it’s place I’m going to add a whole lot more flavor:

Spicy Cognac-Mushroom Rice

  • 4 Cups Cooked Brown Rice
  • 4 Cups Cooked White Rice
  • 1 – 26.5 oz Can Black Beans (drained)
  • 12 oz Sliced White Mushrooms
  • 12 oz Sliced Portobello Mushrooms
  • 8 TBLS (1 Stick) Butter
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion Chopped
  • 1 – 4oz Can Diced Jalapeno Peppers (drained)
  • 1/2 Cup Cognac
  • 3 TBLS Honey
  • 2 TBLS Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Freshly Ground Sea Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper (to taste)

Prepare your rice using whatever method you prefer.  I prefer my pressure cooker so I can combine the white and brown rice and do it all at once, but you can do it on the stovetop, use your rice cooker or even do it in your microwave if you prefer.

  1. Using a large skillet, I use my cast iron skillet, melt your butter.
  2. Add in the sliced mushrooms and let brown, stirring, for 10 minutes.
  3. Next add the onion, jalapeño, salt and pepper and let cook for another two minutes.mush1
  4. Add the honey and stir until it’s well incorporated.
  5. Add the cognac and let reduce for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the soy sauce and stir, then add the drained black beans.
  7. Cook for another 5 minutes over low heat until the liquid thickens a bit.
  8. Pour over the rice in the large bowl.
  9. Stir together and then season with more salt and pepper to taste if needed
  10. Pour rice into a serving dish – I am using a disposable 9 x 13 covered cake pan with a lid for mess free transport.

I am using my unsuspecting friends at tomorrow’s USC homecoming tailgate as guinea pigs.  We are deep frying Duck and this seemed like a good way to do a test run.

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

 

Pressure Cooker Braised Red Cabbage

Those of us who were raised in the 1970’s remember the infamous Brady Bunch episode where, trying to imitate Humphrey Bogart, Peter Brady repeatedly said (misspellings intended), “Pork Chops and Apple Shauce, that’s schwell.”   I’m playing with a new pork chop recipe tonight and despite the expectation of mashed potatoes and, yes, apple sauce, there is no way I’ll be serving that boring combination!

I tossed around ideas for different types of cold coleslaw, carrot slaw and even considered going the sauerkraut route, but none of those seemed hearty enough to accompany the Smoky Ancho Cherry Pork Chops I have in mind.  I grabbed some red cabbage, Granny  Smith apples, aged balsamic vinegar and started tossing things into the pressure cooker.

Pressure Cooker Braised Red Cabbage

  • 1 Medium Head Red Cabbage (chopped)
  • 2 Large Granny Smith Apples (chopped)
  • 2 TBLS Coconut Oil
  • 2 TBLS Balsamic Vinegar
  • 4 TBLS Honey
  • 2/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2/3 Cup Water
  • 3 tsp Allspice
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • 1/4 Cup Golden Raisins (Optional)
  1. With lid open, pre-heat the pressure cooker on the “Brown” setting
  2. Add the coconut oil and chopped apple and stir about 1 minute
  3. Add half the cabbage and stir to coat with the oil
  4. Sprinkle the Allspice over the contents of the pan
  5. Stir in the remaining cabbage
  6. Stir in the 2 TBLS balsamic vinegar
  7. Add the water and apple cider vinegar to combine
  8. If you are adding the raisins, do so now
  9. Close and lock the lid
  10. Set pressure cooker to 194° (Medium-High)
  11. When it comes up to temperature, cook the cabbage for 10 minutes
  12. At the end of the cycle, unplug and allow to sit for 10 minutes
  13. Release rest of pressure and remove cabbage to a serving bowl
  14. Adjust sweetness with more honey or allspice as needed

Can be eaten hot or cold.

cabbageAre you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood