White Bean Soup with Garlicky Croutons

Any one else out there suffering from the “I can’t get warm” syndrome???  It’s been down right cold this week.  There’s no better cure for “chilled to the bone” than soup.  This soup is creamy and thick without being heavy.  And to contrast with the silky soup, crunchy, garlicky croutons on top.  

To start the soup, sauté chopped carrots and onion in a little EVOO until softened.  Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds before adding in stock, water, salt, pepper and white beans.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, prep your croutons.  I used the last of Dave’s Killer Bread (my absolute favorite sandwich bread – and you can find it at Walmart) that we had and simply cut into cubes.  Toss with a little olive oil and salt and place on a sheet pan.

Once the soup has simmered for 20 minutes, add in the kale (I used a baby green mixture), whole milk and parmesan cheese.  Let stand for 5 minutes while you broil the croutons.

Keep an eye on the croutons – you don’t want them to burn!

whitebeansoup

The soup is served with the croutons on top and I absolutely loved every single bite of this warm dinner.  It seriously warmed me up.

p.s. While it was frigid all week, they are calling for 60 degrees on Sunday.  BRING IT ON!

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Spicy Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato and Kale

The snow is finally starting to melt!  It’s been brutally cold and despite the fact that we’re having a major warm-up towards the end of the week, I know that we still have some frigid days in our future.  Big Guy and I don’t eat a lot of soup because we really only enjoy it when it’s cold outside.  However, we both love peanut soup – a soup that is inspired by a West African recipe.

Last night was the perfect evening for soup.  After a day of driving back from Charlotte, we wanted something comforting and cozy yet healthy.  Spicy Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato and Kale comes together in a flash on the stovetop but the recipe has adaptations for both the slow cooker and the instant pot.  There’s no excuse not to make this soup (which is actually more like a stew because of the thickness).

To start the soup, onion, garlic and jalapeño is sautéed in olive oil until softened.  Then you add in the sweet potato.  I cut my sweet potatoes pretty small but you could totally do bigger chunks – especially if you’re cooking this in the slow cooker.  Allow the sweet potatoes to brown just a little bit and then add in the fire roasted tomatoes (juice and all), coconut milk, water, salt, curry powder and peanuts.  Trust me on the peanuts.

This simmers until the sweet potatoes are tender.  Add in the peanut butter and the chopped kale and allow to simmer until thickened and the peanut butter has melted into the entire pot of soup.

Serve with an extra sprinkle of peanuts on top.

peanutsoup

So delicious!  I know peanuts seem a little weird in soup but I can’t stress to you how incredible this dish tastes.

 

Chickpea “Meatballs” with Crunchy Romaine Salad

As promised – a recipe!  And not only is it incredibly healthy but it’s one of the best salads that I’ve made at home.

This Mediterranean-inspired salad is packed with flavor and the chickpea “meatballs” reminded me a lot of the flavor of garlic hummus.  The meatballs were best the day you make them (aka crunchy on the outside) but don’t think I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the leftovers for lunch the next day.  Even Big Guy loved this salad.

To make the meatballs, you process the chickpeas in a food processor until ground.  Then add in the panko (I used gluten-free), cumin, paprika, garlic (I obviously used more than the recipe called for), tahini and salt.  Once smooth, add in an egg and pulse until just combined.  The mixture is then shaped into meatballs – about 1 tablespoon each – and cooked in olive oil until crisped and browned on all sides.

The salad base is simply a mix of chopped romaine, parsley (LOVE this ingredient in a salad), cucumber, grape tomatoes and red onion.  To make the dressing, simply combine a grated garlic clove, lemon juice (key ingredient), warm water, tahini, olive oil, salt and pepper.

chickpeameatballs

If you’re anything like me, after the holidays (or between Christmas and New Years) you crave a big salad of goodness.  And this is just what I needed.  The flavors were out of control and my favorite bites included the garlicky meatballs and lemon tahini dressing. And as you can see from above, the bump couldn’t help but make an appearance.

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Roasted Veggies

November 1st.  How did that happen?  I’m actually pretty excited to see November.  I love the holiday season.  But just because October has come and gone, don’t think I’m going to stop with the “pumpkin.”  I actually love pumpkin.  And in this mac and cheese pumpkin not only adds lots of nutrition but it makes the mac and cheese super creamy and will make you feel like you’re eating the cheesiest bowl of noodles.

The mac and cheese is made even more nutrition by adding in roasted veggies:  brussels sprouts and cauliflower.  While the veggies are roasting, start boiling your noodle water. Feel free to use whatever noodle you want – I went with a gluten free spiral noodle.  The cheese part of this mac and cheese is a mixture of gouda and cheddar.  Yum.  Go ahead and grate that so that it’s ready when you are.

When you have about 10 minutes left of roasting, cook your pasta and make your cheese sauce.  Simply sauté onion in a little butter before adding the flour of your choice to thicken the mixture.  Mix well and then whisk in chicken stock (or veggie if you want to keep it vegetarian) and milk.  Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg – my favorite fall spice.  This is where you’ll add in the canned pumpkin.  Stir until the pumpkin completely mixes in and then add in your cheese and stir until melted.  Finally add in the cooked noodles and roasted veggies.

pumpkinmac

Incredibly creamy and the “orange” of the pumpkin makes you feel like you’re eating Velveeta Mac and Cheese.  Except this one is a whole lot healthier.

 

Smashed Chickpea Salad Toast

Happy Friday and September!  The birthday celebrations continue this evening but today I’m spending lots of time prepping for the ECU tailgate tomorrow.  Hopefully this weekend and into next week I’ll be able to cross off a few final bucket list items before having to say “farewell” to the Summer of 2017 on Wednesday (I’m lucky that I’m able to take a couple of days off from teaching so that I can enjoy the time that Big Guy has off work).

This recipe is one that I honestly didn’t think I would share with you – I whipped it up simply because I had all the ingredients on hand and I needed a quick dinner on Thursday night after working out with a client.  However, immediately after digging in, I knew I had to share the recipe.  Y’all – this smashed chickpea salad toast is awesome.  It reminds me a lot of chicken salad and egg salad but I loved the texture from the crunchy celery and the sour pickles gave the entire batch of salad so much flavor.  The salad is not overly mayo-y thanks to lemon juice and I anticipate this becoming a lunch time meal that I keep on rotation.  You could also top a salad with the chickpea mixture or you could simply use crackers to scoop instead of using bread.

chickpeasalad

I hope you all have a wonderful looonnngggg weekend and if I disappear at the beginning of the week, don’t be alarmed.  Cheers!

Sesame-Ginger-Chickpea-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

If you’re in a dinner rut you must try these stuffed sweet potatoes.  So many flavors and textures.  This recipe was in a recent issue of Cooking Light in a section that focused on the use of “tahini,” a rich sesame seed “butter” that can be used in everything from savory soups to desserts.  I’ve found that Trader Joes has the best tahini for the price but you can find it at Harris Teeter and some other local grocery stores.

The most time consuming part of the recipe is baking the sweet potatoes but once their in the oven, you can forget about them for an hour.  Pierce the potatoes with a knife or fork and rub with a little oil before baking at 400 degrees.

Once the potatoes are baked, remove from the oven and let them rest (and cool!) a little bit.  Now it’s time to roast your chickpeas.  Rinse and drain the beans before tossing with sesame oil, garlic powder, ground ginger, and salt.  Roast for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

While the chickpeas roasted, prep your sauces.  The tahini sauce is made with tahini (make sure to stir it really well), spicy fresh ginger, garlic and rice vinegar.  It is thinned out a bit with the addition of warm water.  Whisk until creamy and smooth.  The other “sauce” is simply Sriracha mixed with a little water.

To serve, halve the potatoes and score with a knife.  Top with the tahini sauce and a sprinkle of salt.  Add the roasted chickpeas and then top with a little more tahini and some of the spicy Sriracha mixture.

stuffedswttators

Incredibly delicious.  Incredibly healthy.  Incredible filling.  This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and perfect for any night of the week.

Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Since we have a looooong weekend on the horizon, I thought you might need an appetizer for a party or get together.  Whether there are 2 of you or 20 of you, this dip is a winner.  The best part, there’s NO mayo involved so you can let it sit out longer without going bad.  Another awesome part, you can make this up to two days in advance.  #winning

I know, “no mayo in an artichoke and spinach dip?”  It’s true.  This healthier spin on the classic hot dip is fresh and bright and totally dippable.  You can simply serve this dip with veggies and crackers like I did or you can add it to a platter of cheese, meats and other yummy bites.

To start, sauté the well drained artichokes (I used canned) in butter and then add in the garlic.  Let this cool for 20 minutes.  Next whirl the green onions and spinach in a food processor until finely chopped.  Place in a bowl.  Now add the artichokes, shredded parmesan, and pecans (!!!) to the food processor and whirl.  Add that mixture to bowl with the spinach mixture along with EVOO, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper and let marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

spinachartichoke

What are your plans for Memorial Day Weekend?

I think you should add “making this dip” to your plans.