With the temps dipping back into the single digits after three days of snow, a soft sumptuous soup like creamy broccoli soup is just what I need. There’s something uniquely wonderful about a soup that’s creamy, hearty and totally good for you. I can indulge and still keep my new year’s healthy eating resolutions. There’s so much great nutrition starting in the base of this soup thanks to the traditional mirepoix trifecta of celery, carrot, and onion plus a little garlic for good measure. This vegetable base creates a subtle variety of flavors without being heavy.
This creamy soup isn’t cream based or made with any dairy, however. Instead, I’ve added potatoes and then pureed the soup base so it gets a smooth creamy texture. Using vegetable broth as the liquid makes it suitable for vegans as well. Another thing that I love about this dairy-free creamy broccoli soup is that it also uses the stem of the broccoli for a no-waste, budget friendly meal. The stems also add a more complex well-rounded wonderful flavor that even had my five-year old asking for seconds. If you do enjoy a bit of dairy, this soup is lovely topped with a bit of shredded cheddar too!
Happy New Year! I’m so excited… my awesome hubby gave me a new camera for Christmas to replace the one I’d been using that’s 10 years (or more??) old and starting to be a bit dated in functionality. My new camera has a neat food photo setting that makes everything just a bit more vibrant and saves me some editing time. I also got a fun macro lens to do close-ups on my food photos. YAY!!! This chocolate dessert hummus is my first time using the new camera and I think the photos are turning out fantastic!
Chocolate dessert hummus tastes like a nutty brownie batter and is perfect for dipping apple slices, pretzels or other fruits. If you’ve ever had black bean brownies, you’ll know that the “bean” flavor disappears when combined with the other ingredients. Like traditional hummus, this dessert hummus is made with chickpeas but that’s where the similarities end. Chocolate, vanilla, and a little maple syrup provide the sweet deliciousness that my kiddos have been savoring all week. This dip has a creamy decadence and protein power thanks to the healthy fats and proteins found in chickpeas. So go ahead, indulge in this chocolate yumminess and I won’t tell if you lick the spoon. Your secret is safe with me!
‘Twas the night before Christmas a long time ago, when I was a child and to church I would go. After church was complete, we’d perform the great feat. A holiday meal which would take hours to complete. I, a young girl, with my eyes in pure wonder, as my aunts and my grandma cooked with nary a blunder. The uncles and Grandpa were kicked out in a snap, to the living room, they retreated to relax and to nap. Among the kid’s playroom there was laughter, there was cheer, in anticipation of presents and Rudolf who was soon to appear. The meal was ended, bellies full and content, then Grandpa would tell stories while we listened, intent. Much needed was dish washing but we kids were playing hooky, excitedly leaving for dear Santa, these chocolate mint cookies…
Chocolate mint cookies, what a sight, a delight! Santa would surely enjoy a treat late that night. The chocolately chewiness about which we raved was topped with the sweet peppermint combo we craved. Leaving a few spares set out on a plate we’d wait and we’d wait and we’d wait, wait, wait, wait… then by morning these chocolate mint cookies disappeared, leaving presents behind with hope and good cheer. The sunshine glows bright with snow fresh and so white, and I wish a merry Christmas to all, and for all, delicious delights!
I’ve been in the mood for festive desserts that are heavy on flavor but still leave me feeling light on my feet. Fruits are the perfect dessert in this case as you get a bit of sweet decadence but won’t get overly full like you would with a dense cake or pie. These mulled wine poached pears are the perfect answer for any holiday season dessert.
Poached pears are super easy and look elegant among your holiday spread. The light spices in the mulled wine make for a very homey and enticingly fragrant house while the pears are poaching. Sliced in half, these poached pears look adorable with a luscious ring of red on the outside from absorbing the wine. The pears can then be stuffed with a small amount of blue cheese and walnuts or pecans to up the “fancy” factor. As an added bonus, you can strain and drink the leftover mulled wine used to poach these bits of deliciousness!
Over the river and through the woods, a lovely deer made it’s way into my kitchen, complements of my hunter husband. Every fall my man goes on multi-day excursion to hunt with a group of five other fellas, all of which are my immediate family or my sister’s in-laws who are like family to us as well. We all love the rewards of a successful hunting trip and look forward to meals of marinated venison chops or steaks throughout the season.
Venison is quite lean which can make it tough so a nice overnight marinade makes these venison chops super flavorful and tender. This marinade is Asian inspired and is very similar to the marinade I use for Korean Flank Steak. A true Minnesotan pairs their venison with a wild rice side dish so in true homage to my roots, these marinated venison chops are paired with a wild rice and mushroom dish. I’ve kept with the woodsy theme by using a mix of northwoods mushrooms but updated it with some added kale and a light kick of Asian flavor to blend with the flavors in the venison marinade. For added tastiness, reserve some of the marinade sauce (before the meat goes in it) to use as a dipping sauce or drizzle at the table!
1 cup wild rice blend (I used Lundberg's wild rice blend)
1¾ cups chicken stock
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 stems kale, stem removed and leaves finely chopped
1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Combine green onions, tamari, lime juice, ginger, honey, garlic and jalapeño in a small bowl.
Reserve 2 tablespoons to use as a dipping sauce or drizzle when serving.
Place venison in a zip top bag and pour remaining marinade over top. Massage gently to evenly coat the meat.
Let marinate in the fridge at least 4 hours but preferably overnight for best flavor.
When ready to cook, drain marinade and discard. Arrange venison on a broiler pan and broil about 10-14 minutes until desired doneness, turning once halfway through. You can also grill them on medium heat if you prefer.
While venison is cooking, prepare the rice.
Sauté mushrooms in a saucepan with the butter until they've browned.
Add all other ingredients and simmer, covered, about 40-45 minutes until all liquid has absorbed.
The first snow of the season (happening now!) always makes me a bit giddy. This can only mean one thing…that the holidays are approaching and spending lots of meaningful time with family is just around the corner. The hubby and I have been hosting his family for Thanksgiving for the past 8 years and we love it! It gives us a chance to create a wholesome meal with a heaping helping of nostalgia. Though each of us has our “must-have’s” as part of the main meal, there’s always room for a little improvisation in flavors like in these Cajun herb roasted Cornish hens.
Cajun herb roasted Cornish hens are much faster to prepare than roasting a turkey and look SO adorable on your table! After marinating overnight, these little fellas roast up in just over an hour which is a far cry from the multi-hour event that roasted turkey takes. If you prefer the big bird, this seasoning combination would also work great for turkey though you’ll have to double or triple it depending on the size of your bird. Our favorite side dishes are easily prepped either in advance or can be prepped while the Cornish hens are roasting.
Election day, election day… yes, I did indeed go out and vote my conscience. I’m grateful to live in a nation that has a democracy where we can be free to express and embrace all of our opinions and individuality. I’d love a few more morally acceptable options on the table this year but that aside, I educated myself on all of the viable candidates (third parties included) and voted for the candidate I’d be proud to invite to my dinner table for this spinach feta breakfast casserole and trust to hang out with all of my littles – chickens included.
Spinach feta breakfast casserole is the perfect dish to impress your morning brunch guests and it’s easy enough to make and refrigerate or freeze for easy weekday grab-and-go breakfasts. Many egg bakes or breakfast casseroles contain bread which I don’t really care for in a baked dish. Bread adds unnecessary empty carbs as well as creates an odd soft spoonable but not smooth texture. Mushy soft bread = not a fan. Instead, the base of this dish is browned hashbrowns topped with sausage (optional), a bunch of spinach, feta and eggs. It’s filling enough to get you to lunch but won’t weigh you down. For tomorrow’s breakfast, my vote is cast. My vote goes to this awesomely easy spinach feta breakfast casserole!
In a sauté pan, brown the hash browns with butter or olive oil until warmed and lightly browned.
Place hash browns on the bottom of a greased 1.5-2 quart casserole dish.
In the same sauté pan, brown sausage with the onion and then layer on top of the hash browns.
Sprinkle the chopped spinach and feta overtop of the sausage.
In a bowl, whisk eggs, coconut milk and rest of the seasonings together.
Pour eggs over spinach and feta.
Bake about 45 minutes until center is set and no longer wiggly.
If you prefer not to bake it right away, this can be fully prepped, covered and refrigerated overnight and then baked in the morning. Note, it will take extra bake time if baking directly from the refrigerator - closer to 60 minutes.
Leftovers can easily be refrigerated or frozen for an easy heat and eat breakfast option!
If I had to survive on only one cuisine for the rest of ever, it would be Mexican. Or maybe Thai. It’s a tossup. They both have one thing in common. Mexican and Thai flavors are both very cohesive and flavorful through the entire dish and have a lot of heat. I don’t mean just the little bit of kick, kind of spicy. I’m talking about the hit ya in the backside kind of spice but not so much that it knocks you over. THAT is what I like. I don’t even know HOW I’m a Minnesota girl, honestly. My roots are all Scandinavian and German (you know the type: those who think ketchup is spicy… and we dance a mean polka). Yet, somehow, I can’t GET enough hot spicy goodness in my life. I’ll blame it on my travels to Mexico and Asia. I remember a trip to Seoul, Korea where the vendors I was working with were astonished that I was eating whole charred garlic cloves straight off the grill (in multitude). I then proceeded to douse my rice with their chili paste (not for the faint of heart). I had been forewarned that “this is SPICY!!” and that maybe, as an American, I wouldn’t like it. It was fantastic!! I then proceeded to dare my coworker into a “you taste the spicy chili and I’ll taste the sushi” dare (I don’t do sushi… it’s the texture). I won. These amazing enchiladas are a testament to my love affair with spice though they are less spicy than I would make for myself, given the choice ;) These chicken white bean enchiladas are still kid and Midwestern husband friendly!
Chicken white bean enchiladas start with a slow cooked chicken. Hello, drool-worthy shreddable tenderness! To that, we add a touch of garlic and onion and a tish of that tomatillo salsa which also goes on top. You can use any other enchilada sauce too if you prefer red or green. My go-to sauces when I don’t make it from scratch are the Frontera brand that you can get in a pouch since it doesn’t have preservatives. If you like a nice red (rojo) enchilada sauce from scratch, you can use the red sauce I created for this venison enchiladas recipe both in the sauce and as a “smother” for baking. Add to that a bit of white navy beans, more garlic, and a little lime and spinach and we have ourselves a respectable chicken white bean enchilada. You can make this as spicy as you want simply by altering the type of peppers you use when making the sauce. Less spicy peppers equal less spicy sauce. Or use less of them just be sure to use a variety for a well-rounded flavor. Simple simon… and SUPER delicious!
I can’t believe I’m constructing a rooster tail out of chicken wire and feather boas right now. The hubby has a work trip next week which includes attending a costume party so in true form, he wants to go as a giant, ahem, “rooster” except that’s not the word he used ;-) He’s got himself a rooster hat, a rooster themed tee shirt and I’m in charge of using my skills from my former years in the apparel industry by fashioning him a rooster tail that attaches to his belt. It’s a pretty comical sight. A sight that I nonetheless need a break from for a little slice of heaven. Right now, nothing says “heaven” to me besides this perfectly spiced pork tenderloin with tomatillo sauce.
Pork tenderloin is the best cut of meat you can get from a hog if you ask me. Not only is it very tender, but the tenderloin is also lower in fat content while still providing tons of flavor. It’s easy to roast with any combination of spices. In this case, I used a Cajun spice blend with a touch of smoked salt. I then sliced it and covered it with tomatillo salsa, corn kernels and pickled jalapeños, both compliments of my abundant garden. Paired with cilantro lime rice it’s a winning dinner combination!
Last weekend, we had a photographer come out to our acreage to do a little family photo shoot. I also had her take some updated pics of me so I can finally update my photos here on the blog (soon!). I was re-living the senior picture experience all over again… except that I was posing with produce, ha! Between photos and family time, I froze some corn in prep for Thanksgiving and had a few corn kernel escapees to toss into this quick and easy cilantro lime rice.
Cilantro lime rice has such a great flavor and is a perfect sidekick to tacos, enchiladas, or to toss into a salad for some extra carbolicious bite. When making rice (or quinoa), I often cook the grains in a chicken or vegetable broth instead of water. Doing so significantly increases the flavor of the dish and adds complexity. In this case, the cilantro lime rice is cooked in chicken broth. Then, a quick addition of garlic, lime juice and cilantro completes the dish in seconds!