Category Archives: Side Dishes

Easy and Fresh Tomato Soup

Since moving up to Boston, Brent and I have been planning on buying a house simply because we are both absolutely sick of renting. I don’t really want to throw away rent money anymore and really want to put it into something that has some sort of return. We’ve been talking to some realtors just to get an idea of what is out there and where we stand. She suggested that we just go out and start looking at houses so we know exactly what we want. That way when it pops onto the market, we can swiftly take it off 🙂

Brent had emailed me with a house to consider last week, and the house looked perfect for what we were looking for. The only problem…the address. It was less than a mile from my parents house. I’m thinking we could just break out of the neighborhood that I grew up in. We went looking anyways…and it really gave us a good idea of how to look at the pictures online and translate it into actuality. I think if we were ready to buy a house, Brent would have been all over this one.

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It had a cute little backyard for BBQing, and around it, a perfect little Oreo pen.

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It was definitely a good idea to take a look at a house that we would consider buying, just to get an idea of what’s out there.

After I got back home from the open house, I went to work making some dinner. I wanted to make a soup and ended up making this Fresh Tomato Soup that was delicious and really light. I added some mashed potatoes to give it a little more weight and substance.

Fresh Tomato Soup

 

Ingredients:

3lbs Fresh Tomatoes (Any Kind)
1 Bulb of Garlic 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Thyme, Chopped Salt and Pepper to Taste
2 Potatoes 1 Tablespoon Parsley, Chopped
Parmesan Cheese to Top  1 1/2 Cup Chicken Broth

Directions:

1. Pierce your potatoes with a fork several times and place them on a baking sheet. Cut the top of the garlic bulb off and sprinkle about a teaspoon of olive oil over the bulb. Place it in tin foil and put it alongside the potatoes on the baking sheet. Bake the potatoes and garlic at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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2. While the potatoes and garlic are in the oven, spread out your tomatoes on a baking sheet, lined with tin foil. I used two different red tomatoes and some Sunburst tomatoes. You can take the stemmy heads off the tomatoes now, or after they bake. Whatever is easiest for you.

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3. Over the tomatoes, sprinkle olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and the chopped thyme. Then put them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the skins split.

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4. Once the skins have split on the tomatoes and a fork goes smoothly into the potatoes, it’s ready to start smashing. First, put a colander over a bowl, and smash the tomatoes. The juice will fall into the bowl below while keeping the chunks in the colander.

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5. In a large pot, smash the potatoes. Use the juice from the tomatoes to help the process.

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6. Next, mash in the garlic from the roasted garlic bulb. They should be easy to just squeeze out of the cloves. Stir in the chopped parsley, the tomato chunks and even some more thyme if you would like. Finish it with a cup and a half of chicken broth. Let it heat for 10 minutes under low heat.

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Serve it with some parmesan cheese on top and enjoy! The potatoes really help to add some substance to the soup without over doing it. The soup is extremely light and full of the tomato flavor. It doesn’t have the big chunks of tomato if you don’t want it to and it’s crazy healthy!! All good things!

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I was planning on keeping some for lunch the next day, but everyone kind of cleared it out. This soup will be making an appearance again. It’s very easy on the labor end, so when you don’t feel like making something, this is the perfect answer.

Do you like your tomato soup to be smooth or full of tomato chunks??

 

 

 

Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad

This week Mama C was cooking up some dinner for the family and she was working on this cauliflower dish. She called me and Maggie over to give it a try because she wasn’t sure about how it tasted. As soon as Maggie and dove a finger into, we were hooked. This dish is filled with a strong lemon and garlic flavor that really took the cauliflower to another level. We couldn’t get enough of it.

So, Mama C has allowed me to share this amazing recipe with all of you 🙂 I’m telling you, you won’t be disappointed. She has somehow found a way to take cauliflower and make us WANT to eat it. Crazy.

Cauliflower and Barley Salad

Ingredients:

3/4 Cup Quick Cooking Barley Salt
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest 3 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise 1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil Black Pepper
1 Head Cauliflower 1 15oz Can Small White Beans
1/2 Cup Parsley Leaves 1 Clove Garlic

Directions:

1. Start cooking the barley in a large saucepan, according to the directions on the package. Once it is cooked, drain it and set it aside.

2. Whisk the lemon juice, mayonnaise, mustard, 3 Tablespoons of Olive oil. Finely grate the garlic clove and whisk it into the dressing as well. Finally season it with salt and pepper to taste.

3. In a large skillet, heat up apprx. 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add in the cauliflower and occasionally stir it until it begins to brown in spots. It should take about 10 minutes.

4. Add in 2 tablespoons of water, then cover it and allow it to cook for 2 minutes longer, or until they are tender. Season them with salt and pepper to taste.

5. In a large bowl, add in the dressing, then add in the cauliflower, barley, beans (washed under cool water) and parsley. Toss it to coat everything and top it with the zest of lemon.

I can’t tell you how delicious this is. We had it as a side dish, but you could definitely have this as a main dish and even top it off with some sort of meat. You can also substitute the barley for quinoa or any other grains. The dressing is really simple and could compliment just about any grain.

Snowing Again!

This weekend we were hit with another storm, which was actually originally going to get up to 13 inches. But the temperature rose just enough last night to turn it into rain, and really reducing the amount of snow…and just making everything slushy.

However, that didn’t stop Bacon and Oreo from heading outside to get a spot of exercise. They have been kind of cooped up and Bacon has been staring at us begging to let him out. Colleen ended up taking the two of them out in the snow and throwing a ball around. You couldn’t have pictured any happier dogs.

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If you couldn’t tell, Oreo is back to her old self. We are trying to keep her from jumping around too much, but she doesn’t really have any interest in doing so. I took her to the vet on Friday and they came to the conclusion that it wasn’t took bad of a herniated disk because she did recover so quickly.

Hopefully the snow isn’t took bad for my flight tomorrow 🙂

The Superbowl Spread

Long time no blog! I’ve been in New Orleans for the past two weeks and have a few things to share with you about the delicious eats and all of the activities that went on. But first! The Superbowl!

I was slightly upset that I was leaving New Orleans, literally a DAY before the superbowl…but the crowds were unbelievable on a normal weekend. I didn’t want to know what would happen when Mardi Gras and the Superbowl collided. Madness!

Last night for the Superbowl, Brent and I stayed in with my parents and enjoyed an exciting game. When I got up in the morning, I threw together a chili that I think may have been one of the best. It was packed with tons of veggies and had a bit of spice to it. I loved how fresh it tasted…and how light it was. **You could EASILY make this a vegetarian chili by simply omitting the ground beef. There is so much veggies in this chili that you wouldn’t be missing too much 🙂

Spicy Veggie Chili

 

 

Ingredients:

2 lbs Ground Beef 2 Large Onions, Chopped
2 Green Peppers, Chopped 2 Red Peppers, Chopped
6 Medium Carrots, Diced 6 Cloves of Garlic, Diced
4 Tablespoons Chili Powder 1 1/2 Tablespoon Cumin
1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano 4 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
2 28-oz Cans Gournd Peeled Tomatoes
1 15oz Can Black Beans 1 15oz Can Red Beans
Shredded Cheese to Top

Directions:

1. Dice, Chop and prepare all of your veggies. Including the garlic.

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2. Heat up a skillet and cook the ground beef until done. Be sure not to dry it out. Then, in a LARGE crockpot, add in all of your ingredients (minus the cheddar cheese) and stir well.

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Cook on low heat for 6-7 hours. You want the onions and the veggies to cook through and the flavors to all marry. It was really fresh tasting, and don’t be afraid to adjust the seasonings to your liking. Just bare in mind that the cumin is a bit more potent than you may think 🙂 This will feed 10 people easily.

On the side of the chili, I made some home-made corn bread. I was really kind of pumped to give this a go because I hadn’t even made cornbread from scratch before. The cornbread turned out really moist…even though I left it in the oven for a little too long. WHOOPS. It’s a bit darker in color than it should be but still tasted amazing.

Cornbread

 

Ingredients:

1 Cup Flour 1 Cup Yellow Cornmeal
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs 1 Cup NonFat Milk
1/4 Cup Melted Butter 1/4 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Sugar

Directions:

1. Mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt together with a fork until it is light and evenly mixed.

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2. In a second bowl, whisk the eggs, honey, sugar, milk and melted butter. Make sure to combine it really well.

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3. When the oven is completely heated to 400 degrees, mix the wet ingredients with the dry and immediately transfer to a 9×9 greased baking pan and put it into the oven. **Once you mix the wet ingredients with the dry, you must transfer it quickly. Do NOT over mix the batter. It should be lumpy.

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Bake it for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Make sure you keep an eye on it or else it will come out a bit dark 🙂

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It was delicious and extremely moist. I will definitely be making this guy again.

I have one last thing that I whipped up for the Superbowl, but because this is getting to be a bit lengthy, I will save it for another post. It was a Buffalo Chicken dip that got great reviews. Brent inhaled it. Not that he doesn’t already love everything that is buffalo chicken.

Today is my first day back and I’ve got a few phone calls to start making, routing to do and some packages to go through. I think have about 15 individual boxes that are waiting for me in the garage. FUUUN!

Happy Monday!!

 

I Did Something GREAT for Dinner

WELL…that lovely thought of high school got me to thinking about marching bands in movies, then cafeterias in movies and then the crazy lunch ladies in those movies and THEN the sloppy joes. WHY in almost all of the high school cafeterias were the lunch ladies ALWAYS serving sloppy joes?! Mine never did?! Not once did a sloppy joe show up on that menu?! Is it just to make high school food look terrible?? I remember having a plain bagel that I just ripped into tiny little pieces and dipped into my little cream cheese tub. Nothing like Sloppy Joes.

All this thinking about Sloppy Joes led me to…Sloppy Joes! DINNER!

 

Ingredients:

 

2 Cups of Frozen Crumbles (or 1/2 lb of Ground Beef)
5 Ounces Condensed Tomato Soup 1/2 Cup Medium Salsa
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar 2 Hamburger Buns

Directions: 

1. In a small saucepan, start to heat up the crumbles over medium heat. After they are mostly defrosted, add in the condensed tomato soup, sugar, and salsa. If you are using ground beef, you are going to want to defrost it, cook it all the way through and then drain it. Then, you will add in the sugar, condensed tomato soup and salsa. Both of them should simmer, covered for 5 minutes.

 

Just put that sloppy mess on a bun and call it  a Sloppy Joe!

 

I obviously made it with the crumbles and I’ll be honest…I think I like sloppy joes with the crumbles better. It absorbs the flavor a bit better and you don’t have the grease to deal with. They also cook faster…because you don’t have to cook them…just warm them up. But these sloppy joes were some of the best I have ever had. Sorry Mama C.  🙂

As a side dish, not that it really needed it, I made a broccoli salad. Also, very simple and easy to whip up.

 

Ingredients:

1 Head of Broccoli. Chopped 1/2 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
1/2 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Diced 1/4 Cup Red Onion, Diced
1/4 Cup Sunflower Seeds 1/2 Cup Plain Non Fat Greek Yogurt
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar 1 Tablespoon Sugar
Salt and Peppr To Taste

Directions:

1. In a medium sized bowl, add the broccoli, tomatoes, onion and cheddar cheese.

 

2. In a small bowl, Mix the yogurt, vinegar and sugar.

 

3. Lastly, Pour the sauce on top of the veggies. Mix them up. Top with the sunflower seeds and BOOM! Broccoli Salad!

No one ever said that broccoli salad was difficult, but with the sloppy joes and the broccoli salad you have a great well rounded meal for 3 people.

I am so happy with how both of these came out. BUT, now, I am really full. And I feel like a little Rollie Pollie. YUP. So I’m going to roll myself over to the couch, put on a goodie and probably do some more work…MER,

 

What was your cafeteria food like?? Veggies?? Sloppy Joes?? Bagels and Cream Cheese?? Unmentionables?!

 

Bagels and cream cheese it was for me. But the most memorable thing about the lunch room in high school was the cookies. We had these chocolate chip cookies that were legit to die for. They sat in the corner, with one lunch lady guarding a whole stack of trays of cookies. I always joked about buying the whole rack and rolling it over to my seat, sitting down and just doing some damage.

The farthest I ever got was a tray…but no worries, I shared them…well…some of them…:-)

Blueberry Overnight Oatmeal and a Broccoli and Cheese Souffle

Yesterday was a loooooong day for me. I had to wake up early and drive out to Melbourne, which is an hour and a half from Orlando, work the whole day and drive back. So for breakfast I gave overnight oatmeal a go and I LOVED it. I was planning on making it again for this morning, but went on a baking frenzy instead. The pictures really don’t do it justice, I am going to have to make it again just to get a bit more decent photos.

 

Definitely making this again.

Ingredients: 

1/3 Cup Rolled Oats 1/2 Cup Non-Fat Milk
1/3 Cup Plain Yogurt 1/2 Banana
1/2 Tablespoon Chia Salt to Taste
Cinnamon to Taste

Just mix up all of the ingredients into a jar, bowl, etc and let it sit overnight. The milk and yogurt will soften the oats and turn it into a delicious oatmeal combo.

The next morning, just top it off with anything that you normally would top off oatmeal. I put:

1/2 Banana 1/2 Cup Frozen Blueberries, Melted
1/3 Cup Whole Wheat Rice Crispies

The blueberries really added to the sweetness of the oatmeal and the rice crispies gave it that crunch. They even Snap, Crackled and Popped in the oatmeal! Even now I feel like I love hearing it just as much as when I was a kid.

I ate on my drive out to Melbourne and got there at 8. They had loads of work waiting for me. When it was about lunch time, I asked the girls what they normally do for lunch…they said nothing. I thought it was a joke…but it wasn’t. I didn’t end up eating for the rest of the day. I was about to eat my desk when I left, seriously.

When I got home, I wanted to make this Broccoli Souffle that I have had my eye on for a while from EatingWell. Not my usual, quick and easy, but it was fantastic! Well worth it. It took me about 20 minutes to make and 20 minutes in the oven.

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 Cups Chopped Broccoli Florets 1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tabelspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 Tablespoons Flour
1 1/4 Cups Almond Milk 1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 Teaspoon Salt 1/2 Cup Goat Cheese
3 Large Eggs, separated 2 Egg Whites
1/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and the olive oil at a medium-high temperature. Whisk in the flour for about 1 minute. Be careful not to let it burn and adjust the heat down if you need to. It should turn into a caramel color. Microwave the broccoli for 1-2 minutes and set aside. You want them to be soft and crispy.

 

 

2. Add in the milk, mustard, rosemary and salt. Whisk constantly until it is thickened.

 

3. Remove from heat, and immediately add goat cheese and 3 egg yolks. Put the mixture aside  in a large bowl.

 

4. In a medium sized bowl, beat 5 egg whites until soft peaks form. Then add in the cream of tartar and mix until there are hard peaks.

5. Using a spatula, add in half off the egg white mixture into the large bowl with the wet mix. Fold it into each other. You do NOT want it to flatten out. Then add the second half to it as well, with the broccoli florets.

 

6. Grease the ramekins with non-stick spray. Now pour the batter into 4 10 ounce ramekins or 2- 2 1/2 Quart Souffle Dishes. I used two smaller ramekins and 1 quart sized dish. Place them in the oven for 20 minutes. The large may need 30 minutes. With a thermometer, the inside should read 160 and the tops should be hard to the touch.

 

 

 

 

You want to serve these ASAP, because they will deflate a bit. But they are DELICIOUS! It’s really light, but packed with flavor. It only has about 220 calories. So I had this and an english muffin and called it dinner.

 

 

 

So Yummy. I was really in the baking mood at this point, so I whipped up a batch of the Surprise Me Oatmeal Cookies. Those are some of my favorite cookies I have ever made. Although, I am due for some pumpkin cookies!