Easy pumpkin soup

The temperatures are starting to drop and my love for all things pumpkin are back in full force.

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Last weekend I made some pumpkin muffins with a pumpkin pie filling on top that are wonderful(recipe to come soon). With the leftover pumpkin, I decided to make us a pumpkin soup. This soup is thick, warm and delicious and was ready in less than 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups pure pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup of milk(can use cow, almond, coconut)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil or butter
  • pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries(optional)

Heat oil over medium heat. When hot, saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent.

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Stir in fresh ginger. Cook until fragrant, about one minute.

Stir in curry powder and cinnamon. Cook until fragrant, about another minute.

Add in vegetable broth and pumpkin. Stir well until combined.

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Bring mixture to a simmer and let cook for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, stir in milk. Let heat for about 5 minutes.

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At this point, it is ready to serve. Or for a smoother and creamier consistency, blend or immersion blend. I used my immersion blender to make sure there weren’t any little pieces of onion.

Serve.  Top with dried cranberries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds if you so desire.

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Goodbye, summer

Friday seems like so long ago that I can hardly remember what we  did.  We had plans to go out to eat, but with some torrential down pours right after I got home from work, we decided to order in. We ordered in some chicken shawarma from a new restaurant. It was so-so. So far, I haven’t found a place that competes with a a restaurant by my work. Then we set up an assembly line and put together our wedding invitations. After that was done, we rewarded ourselves with some couch time and started watching Orange is the New Black. Is everyone else watching this show? You should be! It’s great.

Saturday morning, I got up and made a veggie loaded breakfast with homemade tomato sauce, spinach, and eggplant. It was so delicious.

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Then I headed out for a busy day of going to the post office, hair cut and eye exam. The lovely lady at the post office gave me multiple kinds of misinformation including that we needed more postage for our invitations and that they don’t sell the stamps we need at that post office. Being that I needed to get to my hair cut, I delegated the other post office run to Brian. He had a pleasant post office experience, unlike mine, and the man at the other post office said we didn’t need extra postage, hand stamped our invites and mailed them for Brian. After having several unpleasant experiences with the post office closest to us, I will never be going there again. I will happily go out of my way and take extra time to go to a different office. Before my haircut, I stopped at a burger place by our wedding venue and tried out the Hurt Burger. It was supposed to be incredible spicy, but I didn’t think it had much of a kick, despite having jalapenos on it. The fries were really good though. My excuse for eating a burger and fries for lunch is that I need to be able to give wedding guests accurate information about eating establishments around our hotel. Ha!

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Sunday morning, I experimented with a new pancake recipe for Brian. They were incredibly dense and not the proper color, but he said they tasted great. Maybe it was all the cookie butter I slathered on them.

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Frustrated by his wonky pancakes, I didn’t pay much attention to my breakfast cooking and botched my eggs. I spent a good while at my garden then went to my last class of aquatic exercise of the summer. IO am saddened that I will have no more opportunities to be in the pool.  We had a quick “clean out the fridge” lunch before going to buy groceries and run errands. We stopped at Target and goofed around in the toy aisle. I spent the rest of my evening planning Monday’s cook-a-thon and watching more episodes of Orange is the New Black.

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Monday started off with a bang and an open-face egg sandwich. I headed into the kitchen to make black bean brownies, pumpkin muffins with pumpkin pie filling tops(they taste much better than they look), homemade, bbq sauce, curried ginger pumpkin soup, sunbutter and ended the day by grilling steak, burgers, chicken and veggies. We should be eating well all week!

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My long weekend was wonderful and productive with plenty of fresh air and exercise. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Honey almond roasted carrots

These carrots are a fall delight.

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I was ready to hunker down, make soup, watch football and eat my fair share of roasted root vegetables then we got a spike to hot temperatures again. That didn’t stop me from making these carrots!

I may have also been motivated to make these carrots as I was desperate wanting to use my new Le Creust dish that I received forma  dear friend as an early wedding gift. I named her Camille, because she’s French. Enough about the why and a little more about the how:

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pounds fresh carrots
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup silvered or chopped almonds
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Thoroughly wash your carrots and cut green end off. If you feel so inclined to peel your carrots, you can do that, too.

Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a thick bottomed pan. Place carrots in bottom of pan and toss to coat with carrots.

Salt and pepper your carrots to your liking. Drizzle with honey. Top with almonds. Place rosemary sprigs on top.

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Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil, or simply place lid on pan if it has one. Cook for 20-25 minutes. Cook closer to 20 minutes if you are using closer to 1 pound of carrots or if your carrots are on the thinner side. If using closer to 2 pounds of carrots and/or your carrots are on the thicker side, cook closer to 25 minutes.

After your 20-25 minutes is up, remove lid and cook another 20-25 minutes(follow the same guidelines). The carrots will start to brown and be nicely caramelized when done.

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Serve as a tasty side dish. I love the slight sweetness that the honey gives with the crunch of the almond. It’s really a great flavor combination. Upon eating them, my immediate thought was that I couldn’t wait to make them for Thanksgiving!

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Monday, back at it

It’s already Monday again? My weekend was so full of fun activities that it feels like I haven’t been to work in a week!

Thursday night, I was incredibly happy to eat a very summery meal of a half of a BLT with fruit, veggies and a few chips. See that sweet corn? It was my last ear from a batch I received from Iowa. Possibly the best sweet corn of my life. So sweet and tender it made my heart sing.

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Friday night we picked up our wedding invitations and envelopes. Eeek! It’s coming so soon. I’m so excited! Brian and I grabbed dinner at Native Foods. He had a curry bowl and I had the indo salad. Both were amazing. We loved our own choices and each other’s so much that we switched bowls half way through. Sharing is caring. After running some more errands, I got home and collapsed on the couch for the night.

Saturday I got up early, did laundry, worked out and watered the garden before heading to a bridal shower in the burbs.  I had a surprise strawberry waiting for me when I got there to water:

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Brian and I had a nice breakfast together before I left for the day. I made him cinnamon streusel French toast with caramelized bananas for breakfast. I had eggs and toast.

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I got to hang out with some fun Hawkeyes at Sarah’s beautiful shower:

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The rest of the day was full of bachelorette fun.

Sunday morning I slept in and headed to water aerobics. Only one more weekend left of getting to be in an outdoor pool and get exercise. Booo! I wish I could have this weather and schedule all year round. The rest of Sunday was filled with making food for the week and folding and putting away laundry. As much as I hate laundry, I love starting out the week with a full and clean closet.

I made another round of macro bowls(spinach, kale, zucchini, quinoa, lentils, beans and sweet potato) for us to have for lunches this week:

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Took a break to have a lunch of leftover pizza, salad, tomatoes and chips.

 

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I felt like I haven’t made us a proper dinner in a few weeks. When I said this, Brian gave me a strange look like I was a crazy person. I just felt like I hadn’t put a lot of time or effort into a meal lately. Which is the direct result of it being summer and using a lot more fresh food that doesn’t need as much preparation. Anyway, I having a strong yearning to do a little more cooking and use our early wedding gift. Look at her. She’s a beauty. I named her Camille, because she’s French, you know. And she can make honey, almond, rosemary roasted carrots with the best of them.

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I also made a simple and quick tomato sauce, which had tons of great flavor:

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With some seasoned green beans, the meal came together kind of like this:

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Brian gave the carrots two thumbs up. I really like the almond carrot combo. Delightful. It would probably be a recipe better reserved for cooler temperatures, but those are probably right around the corner. And the tomato sauce on the chicken really jazzed it up.

 

Tarragon chicken salad sandwiches

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This is an easy and flavorful recipe that I lightened up. Perfect for a quick lunch for unexpected guests or as smaller sandwiches/roll-ups for a party.

I lightened up the recipe by substituting plain Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise and Brian didn’t even notice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise(regular or low-fat)
  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons tarragon
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries(I used strawberries)
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts of choice(I used almonds sunflower seeds and cashews)
  • 6 oz of shredded chicken

Mix everything except the nuts, dried fruit, and shredded chicken in a bowl.

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Taste and adjust flavors as necessary.

Stir in nuts and dried fruit.

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Toss with chicken. Let refrigerate for about an hour(if you have the time) to let the flavors mingle.

Serve on delicious bread or in pieces of lettuce for lighter fare.

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Chocolate chip peanut butter cookies

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! These are amazing. Taste exactly like cookie dough. Serve them at a party and NO ONE will know they are healthy. Brian sure didn’t know…and I sure didn’t tell him.

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I had seen this recipe months ago, filed it to make later and forgot about it until yesterday when I saw someone mention it on a social media site. I had made bread before with chickpeas, so I wasn’t concerned that it was too weird of an ingredient swap. I had all the stuff at home and decided to make it last night. I mean, we were to get hit by derecho. Who wouldn’t need a batch of protein and fiber filled cookies to get them through the storm? So glad I did. It might be my new favorite healthy treat. I might even leave out the chocolate chips next time or half the amount and use mini chips.  Recipe adapted from Texanerin Baking.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup of canned chickpeas
  • 1/2 heaping cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup raw honey or pure maple syrup(I used 1/2 of each)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.

If you don’t have natural peanut butter on hand, dump a few cups of dry roasted peanuts in your food processor and process(scraping down the sides as necessary) until it forms into peanut butter. You may think that it will never get past the crumbled/powdery stage, but have patience, it will. Scoop out peanut butter and put in container. How return a heaping 1/2 cup to the food processor.

Thoroughly rinse a can of chickpeas. Lay out a paper towel or dish towel and pour the well-rinsed chickpeas on the towel. Take another towel and blot the chickpeas to dry them a bit. Scoop up 1 1/4 cup of chickpeas and toss into food processor with pb.

To get my 1/4 cup of sweetener, I used 1/2 raw honey and 1/2 pure maple syrup. My syrup is pretty runny and thin. My honey is very thick. I was concerned about the consistency of both varying the recipe too much so I used half and half to even out the consistency. Put in food processor. Add in vanilla and baking powder.

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Process until very smooth. Scrape down sides as necessary. The dough will be extremely sticky at this point.

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Stir in chocolate chips.

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Now, this is the point where I have to strongly disagree with the original post. The author said that the dough did not taste good and these cookies would not be good without the chocolate chips. I thought the dough was amazing. So good, I almost didn’t bake it, but just refrigerate it in ball form. I thought there was almost too much chocolate in them and would consider making them without or cutting back the amount. My two cents. Now continuing on with the recipe:

Use slightly wet hands and roll into balls about the size of golf balls. Place on baking sheet. These cookies do not spread, so if you want them to be more in a disc form, flatten out those balls. Continue making balls of dough, re-wetting hands when necessary until dough used up.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes. They won’t look much more done than when you put them in the oven, but if you flip one over, the bottom will be slightly browned.

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Wait for a few minutes and eat warm. So good.

Fun and fantastic

This past weekend was awesome. The weather was great and Brian and I ended up doing some spontaneous things and really taking advantage of the city. Something I need to do more often. That’s why I live here, right?

Brian took me out to dinner on Friday night because our fridge was bare! We hadn’t really gone grocery shopping in 2 weeks and we had been squeaking by on pantry staples and freezer meals all week. The upside to this was that, our fridge was bare. How is that an upside? It was the perfect opportunity to pull everything out and wipe down the shelves. A task that was long over due! Look at its glowing beauty afterwards:

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After my speed cleaning fridge session, I headed out the door to walk to meet Brian for dinner. The weather was perfect for eating dinner outside and this place had a patio(no coincidence). We started off our meal with the bone marrow appetizer which came with a great arugula salad and pickled cherry. It was the perfect flavor combination.

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I had a delicious and dark beer made with 3 different types of coffee beans:

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And was only able to eat half of my Legend’s of the Daal wrap(very tasty):

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The place is mostly known for their burgers. Brian got Elvis’ Last Supper with house made peanut butter and bacon. Surprisingly delicious.

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On the way home, we decided to walk through Ribfest, which was happening right down the block. There was this sign:

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To which, Brian reacted like this to the thought of a deep fried Snickers:

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We continued walking, until we saw this sign:

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To which the possibility of deep-fried Oreos was too much for Brian to resist. We headed over to the ticket line and within 10 minutes had a tub of fried Oreos. To which, the man next to us in line got a deep-fried Snickers and insisted I take his picture.

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Because deep-frying candy and cookies isn’t enough, they top them off with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar:

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I tried one of the Oreos. It was actually pretty tasty. Like a funnel cake married and Oreo and made tiny funnel cake Oreo babies. Brian was in heaven.

A Friday night of indulgence meant a healthy breakfast and exercise Saturday morning.

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Followed by a trip to the garden. A very exciting trip where I would learn that all of my radishes had matured and were ready to be picked. I also got a few handfuls of kale and spinach and a lone strawberry. I think I’ve gotten more produce from my community garden plot in one month this year than I did all last summer!

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After lots of errand running we grabbed lunch and then hit up Margie’s for a scoop of ice cream. They were switching out containers on Brian’s chocolate peanut butter and he got a mega scoop. That got all over his beard and mustache, but loos at those abundant ribbons of peanut butter. I had some serious ice cream envy and Brian happily shared with me.

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Saturday we ate mostly vegetable for dinner. I grilled a ton of them for us to devour and a little chicken. I also made a delicious salad with the kale and spinach from the garden with a vinaigrette, hemp and sunflower seeds and blueberries.

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Sunday was to be filled with rain, but we were surprised by a sunny day instead.

I had a breakfast taco to start the day. The eggs ended up overwhelming the tortilla, but it was delicious!

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I slow cooked brisket in a marinade all day to make some delicious barbacoa for our tostadas for dinner.

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While that was cooking and making the house smell wonderful, I got to work on a big batch of pumpkin and chocolate chip waffles to use as breakfasts in the upcoming days:

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Made a tasty batch of tarragon chicken salad(can’t wait to share the recipe) that was the perfect meal of protein to sustain us on our 12 mile bike ride by the lake.

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I don’t think we could have packed much more into our weekend. It was a great one! Hope everyone had as much fun as I did.

4 ingredient peanut butter cookies

These are nothing to write home about but would do the trick if you needed a quick sweet fix and are somewhat healthier for you than a regular cookie. I personally think a few adjustments could be made that would make them spectacular. I might play around with the recipe this weekend.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of almond butter(or nut butter of choice)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place all ingredients in bowl.

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Mix well. I think this is where the hiccup in the recipe occurred. I used natural almond butter instead of peanut butter. Store bought peanut butter has a much different (more solid) texture than natural almond butter. Making these cookies was also an effort to use up this Costco sized container of almond butter that I bought that I didn’t particularly care for. It was too oily and runny from the start.

Next, roll the dough into golf ball sized balls and place on baking mat. Make those iconic hash marks in the top of your cookie with a fork. I love the way those look.

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I could tell at this point that my dough was much too oily(thanks crappy almond butter). I had a fear that these were going to spread terribly and I would end up with one giant sheet cookie. I considered adding coconut, oats or flax at this point to firm them up a bit, but decided to just bake them and see what happened.

Bake for about 12 minutes.

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Mine did spread, but most were identifiable as cookies and tasted pretty good. I really liked the chewy texture.

Banana, peanut butter and flax waffles

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I got a much wanted waffle maker a few months ago. Honestly, I was a little intimidated about making waffles once I started researching recipes. Use yeast, don’t use yeast, fold in the whipped egg whites, it doesn’t matter. So many decisions, so many opinions.

I put off making waffles for about a month after getting the waffle maker. I couldn’t decide on a recipe. Then {never}homemaker posted a peanut butter and banana waffle recipe. It looked simple enough and if it was a flop, then my next attempts could only go better, right?

This recipe makes a healthier waffle than you would get at a restaurant. Brian and I both really liked it and made enough to have leftovers throughout the week. Brian likes his leftover waffles cold. I like to reheat mine in the toaster to give them a crispy exterior. Both of us eat the leftovers dry. I think the leftovers were even more flavorful than the fresh made.

I ran out of flour, so I substituted some oats in the mix and also threw in some cinnamon.

Dry ingredients:

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Wet ingredients:

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The wet and dry becoming friends:

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A nice thick mixture:

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Becoming a waffle:

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Extras cooling on a drying rack so they don’t become soggy and mushy and can be frozen to eat later:

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Mine with a little maple syrup and some 5-minute brownie crumbled on top. I regretted the syrup. Made it too sweet.

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Brian’s with a few chocolate chips on top:

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These are so delicious. I can’t wait to make them again.

Afternoon snack

I eat this almost everyday. It’s one of my favorite snacks. An apple with 10 almonds.

The trick to making it taste extra good? Take a bite of the apple. Put an almond in your mouth. Chew together. Tastes way better than almonds and apples separately.

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