Monthly Archives: December 2011

Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Greens Soup

It’s black-eyed pea time! Hoping this soup will bring us lots of good luck since we will be eating it for several days :). I remember my mom ‘making’ us eat at least one black-eyed pea on new years eve every year. We always complained and couldn’t believe we ‘had’ to force that nastiness down! But, secretly, I always liked black-eyed peas. I still don’t understand why people don’t eat them more. They are yummy!

Ok, I don’t really believe in the whole good luck thing but I do like the new years black-eyed pea tradition! The babe and the hubby slept in today so I got to enjoy some time cooking [alone] this morning!

I can’t believe it but until today, I had never cooked with dried beans (well, black-eyed peas in this case). The soak-over-night thing never sounded appealing but it was so easy. I will definitely [sometimes] go for dried rather than canned beans in the future.


–2.5 cups dried black-eyed peas

–2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

–1 large yellow onion, chopped

–3 cloved garlic, minced

–3 stalks celery, chopped

–5 carrots, peeled and chopped

–1 bunch collard greens, stems removed and chopped into bite sized pieces

–6 cups chicken broth

–chili powder to taste

–salt and pepper to taste

Directions: SOAKING PEAS: Go through peas to remove any hard pieces or debris. Then, rinse well and soak peas in water at room temperature overnight or for at least 8 hours–in a large pot, cover peas with 3 inches of water. After soaking, drain and rinse well.

SOUP: In a large pot, heat oil over medium. Add garlic, onions and celery and cook until onions are translucent. Then, add peas and broth and bring to a boil. Remove any foam off the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to let the peas cook. Add collard greens and carrots and simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Season with chili powder, salt and pepper and enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Whole Foods Recipes

If you try this for new years (or any other time!), let me know what you think!


Arugula, Pear and Goat Cheese Salad

Well, the title pretty much says it all!

After traveling for Christmas, we’ve had somewhat of a fussy baby so I’m going with super easy recipes this week (yea, even easier/quicker than usual!). We grabbed a cooked rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, scooped up some leftover mashed potatoes from the other night and threw this salad together for dinner last night. Everything tasted pretty great, too!

[Btw, rotisserie chickens are only $5-$6 and provide about eleven 3 ounce servings. Even though we usually eat more than 3 ounces per serving, these little guys go a long way and provide a great protein for a quick, easy meal, allowing you more time to have fun with side dishes!]

I didn’t take time to measure the amounts of everything I used for this salad (a little 12 pound baby was demanding ALL of Mommy’s attention yesterday) so you’ll have to just make everything ‘to taste’ if you want to try it. But, that’s more fun anyway!

Here are the ingredients.

–baby arugula (a few handfuls)

–1 pear, chopped

–goat cheese crumbles

–juice from about 3/4 of a lemon

–oilve oil

–salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Grab a few handfuls of baby arugula lettuce and place in salad bowl. Add pear and goat cheese crumbles. Just before serving, squeeze lemon juice and drizzle olive oil on salad. Add salt and pepper to taste, toss and enjoy!

A Very Merry Christmas

Had to start with a picture of her first Christmas! Ellie Grace is already a pro at opening gifts. She might be trouble later ;).

And, whoa! I just realized I haven’t posted in almost a week. A nice, long vacay will do that to you. We just got back from traveling for Christmas and, wow, we feel blessed! We had such a great time with our families and we were spoiled rotten, per usual (although, I must say, having a baby does contribute to the spoilage)!

Most importantly, we were reminded of our Father’s love for us and of the beautiful birth and life of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Here’s a prayer my dad wrote for Christmas.

‘Father, we thank you for all you have created and for giving us the capacity to see your creation in its simple beauty and to appreciate how extraordinary it is.

But most of all we thank you for your boundless love, undeniably shown more than 2000 years ago when you entered into this world yourself and, through your Son, became one of us to redirect us back to our original destiny of eternal life with you.

And tonight, Father, we also thank you for this Christmas gathering of family and friends and for giving us the courage to say:  Bless us O Lord and these thy gifts we are about to receive from your bounty through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.’

I hope you, too, enjoyed reflecting on His greatness over Christmas!

Now, onto some pictures of family and food, of course!

Well, first things first…

Yep, that’s a Kitchen Aid Mixer! Best gift EVER! Now, if we could find somewhere to put this thing. Our kitchen is teeny! And don’t mind my attire and lack of make-up, please. You can stay in your pajamas all day on Christmas, right!?

Four generations! (I finally got ready for the day!)

Loving Mimi holding her!

Our first Christmas with Ellie Grace.

Delicious Appetizers on Christmas Eve.

The usual–Beef Tenderloin. Mmmm.


The Christmas Feast!

We also had some amazing beets on Christmas Eve and delicious homemade apple pie on Christmas day. I’ll be blogging about the beets in the very near future! No promises on the pie though–maybe my cousins will make a guest appearance to blog about the pie…if we’re lucky. It was tasty!

And, finally, you know it’s a good day when this happens:

Maple Vinegarette Sweet Potatoes and Special Guest–SANTA!

Here comes Santa Claus, Here comes Santa Claus…

Yes, people, this happened last night. Look really closely.! Hahaha! I realize this might not be as hilarious to others but I was laughing ALL night. This was our first year to join in on the block party festivities but according to the neighbors, Trey was the best Santa yet! The kids loved him and told him all kinds of stories about vampires and dragons and doll houses galore.

Unfortunately in the midst of all the chaos last night, I switched cameras with our neighbor so all the pictures I took of Trey and Ellie Grace are on another camera but I will post those as soon as I get my hands on them.

Here are a few more pictures of all the fun! Then, onto the yummy food!

Express train, duh!

Couldn’t resist posting a picture of this cutie!

Now for those tasty sweet potatoes!

Wow! These are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I got this recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, Confections of a Foodie Bride. These are supposed to be grilled but since it had been raining for a week straight when I was wanting to make them, I went for the oven instead. They were awesome anyway. I also used less olive oil than the original recipe called for but pretty much everything else is the same.

Oh, ummm, everything except that cilantro on top! Yea, so, I thought I had parsley at home and found out I didn’t when I was throwing this together for a late dinner. I used cilantro to make it look prettier but please, if you make this, go for parsley! Your tastebuds will thank you ;).


–2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced

–2 Tbsp olive oil

–Salt and Pepper


–1 clove garlic, minced

–2 Tbsp spicy brown mustard

–1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

–dash of cinnamon

–2 Tbsp maple syrup

–2 Tbsp olive oil

–handful of fresh PARSLEY, chopped

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place sweet potato slices in a glass baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Roll potatoes around in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender. Mix garlic, mustard, vinegar, cinnamon, maple syrup and olive oil. Drizzle vinegarette over sweet potatoes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Top with chopped parsley and enjoy!

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Quinoa with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli

This recipe was a result of trying to use up all the veggies and ingredients I had around the house before they went bad. I refuse to waste ANY food! And, honestly, my firm stance on not wasting anything has helped me come up with some pretty tasty dishes I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Let me rephrase, I WILL throw out old food but I do my best to not let food go bad before consuming it!

I made sure to include all the food groups in this dish so we had this as the main course/sides/etc. This was all we ate at dinner so our portions were huge. And we still had tons left over (I’m sure you’ve noticed I’m a fan of leftovers too!).

But, you could serve this as a side with chicken or another protein–especially if you wanted to change things up and not include beans, feta and/or walnuts. The quinoa/veggie combo would be a perfect side!

Chopping, chopping, chopping!

More chopping.

Mixing, cooking.

Almost ready!


–1.5 cups dry quinoa
–3 cups water
–1 veg bouillon cube

–1 large sweet potato, peeled and  chopped

–Broccoli–2 heads, chopped
–Black beans–1 can, drained
–1 red bell pepper, chopped
–1 onion, chopped
–3 cloves garlic, minced

–3 oz. feta cheese crumbles

–1 cup chopped walnuts
–2 tsp oregano
–1 tsp thyme
–Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Mix quinoa, water and bouillon cube in one pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer until water is absorbed. Boil sweet potatoes in water until tender– about 15 minutes. Heat olive oil and garlic in a skillet. Once hot, add broccoli, onion and bell pepper. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Add black beans and sweet potatoe to veggie mixture and stir. Combine veggie mixture with quinoa and add oregano, thyme, feta, walnuts, salt and pepper. Stir evenly and enjoy.

In other news, this guy is going to be Santa at our neighborhood block party tonight (yep, that’s my hubby!).

Plenty of Santa pictures to come. I. CAN’T. WAIT! I’ve been feeding him so well, the neighbors asked him to be the plump, jolly old fellow (yea, I can say that since he’s obv. not too plump)!

Grapefruit Tilapia

I’m sure you can tell by now that my kind of cooking is generally easy, healthy and cheap(ish). By easy, I mean, I like making meals that don’t take long to throw together. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to spend hours cooking in the kitchen but, with a newborn, I don’t have many extra hours in my days. I’m sure most of you don’t either so I hope my blog can help you make the most of cooking with the time you have!

Also, sorry for my lack of posts last week. We got busy! Baby girl had to do some physical therapy which, let me tell you, baby physical therapy is quite possibly the cutest thing EVER. And, yes, this may be because I think my child is the most adorable thing in the world — yep, she’s even cuter than your kid, whoever you are ;).

On that note, I’m going to be shooting for 3 posts a week from now on. That number could grow or dwindle in the future but that’s the current goal. Thanks for reading!

Okay, so this recipe is super easy, delicious and is ready in no time!

Ingredients for 4 servings [Note: we had about 3 servings using 4 fillets so my pictures don’t completely match the ingredients/directions to make 4 servings. Tilapia tends to not be super filling so below I’m going to suggest about 1.5 small fillets for one serving.]

–6 small tilapia fillets

–3 Tbsp olive oil

— juice from 1/2 large grapefruit or 1 whole small grapefruit

–3 Tbsp dill

–pinch of salt and pepper (per fillet)

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place washed tilapia fillets in a glass casserole dish (I layered the fillets so they would fit). Drizzle 3 Tbsp olive oil on top of fillets — 1/2 Tbsp per fillet. Squeeze grapefruit juice over fish. Use enough juice to almost (but not quite) cover the fish. Sprinkle dill, salt and pepper on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until the fish flakes nicely. And, enjoy!

By the way, is it ‘filet of fish’ or ‘fillet of fish’? I always thought one ‘L’ but spell check tells me otherwise. I’m learning so much from blogging!

More pictures for your viewing pleasure. Wow, now that I’m looking at this, that is some serious dill. I guess we like dill more than I realized…add more than I suggested above if you want to go a little crazy ;).

White Bean and Chicken Chili

I’m finally not [completely] relying on soft foods to survive anymore. Which made me think of this delicious white bean and chicken chili! I got this recipe from my friend, Kristen and it is GOOD. REALLY GOOD! Per usual, I changed a few things due to lack of ingredients and my desire to put my own ‘spin’ on things (although I did not change much this time because I knew how good this chili was to begin with!). 🙂

This is easy to make, healthy and goes a long way. I’d say we got about 10 servings (generously).

Here are [some of] the ingredients.

(Thanks to my sweet hubby for making this look all organized–and especially for helping me make this meal!)

 –2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast

–3 cans white northern beans (undrained)

–1 Tbsp Olive Oil

–4 Garlic Cloves, minced

–1.5 Medium Onions, chopped

–2 tsp Ground Cumin

–1/4 tsp Ground Cloves

–1/4 tsp Chili Powder

–1 tsp Oregano

–8oz Diced Green Chilis (two 4oz cans)

–14oz grated Cheddar Jack Cheese

–3 cups water

–1 chicken bouillon cube

And, here’s part of the cooking process.

Directions: Place chicken in large pot and add water to cover. Add bouillon cube after a few minutes. Cook chicken until tender and dice into bite size pieces. Reserve liquid from cooking chicken and strain. Heat oil and add onions. Cook until translucent. Stir in garlic, chilis, cumin, chili powder, oregano and cloves; sauté for 3 minutes. Add chicken, beans (undrained), reserved cooking liquid, water and 8 ounces of the cheese; let simmer for at least 15 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top with grated cheese.

We had our chili with cornbread, of course! We also had plenty left over!

Carrot Ginger Soup

Yep! I’m still eating mostly soft foods :(. But, this brightened my day yesterday. Carrots and Ginger are two of my favorites so the combo was perfect on a cold December day!

This is a warm, tasty soup and it would be a great side with pork tenderloin or a chicken dish!

Here are the ingredients (Makes 4 servings).

— 1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped

— 2 Tbsp minced ginger

— 1 shallot, minced

— 2 cups chicken broth

— 1/4 tsp coriander

— 1 Tbsp olive oil

— pinch of salt

— sliced green onions for garnish

Directions: In a pot, heat the olive oil over medium high. Saute minced shallot until tender. Add the ginger and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add carrots, broth, coriander and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for another 15 minutes. Transfer to blender and puree. Pour into bowls and sprinkle sliced green onions on top.

Source: Eat, Live, Run.

Yea, it tastes better than it looks!

Yesterday was great! Started out with a good run with my mommy running friend and her son (Ellie Grace’s future boyfriend). A carroty ginger soup for [part of my] lunch. Then, we went to Ellie Grace’s first happy hour. After all, it is her birthday week! Several margaritas, great food and wonderful time with our friends later, we called it a night!

Green Smoothie {Spinach, Mango, Cherry}

My baby girl turned 4 months old on Saturday! Time is flying by. She’s so big!

So, we celebrated with delicious smoothies. Thanks, Ellie Grace–hope she could taste some of this greatness in her milk ;).

Ok, yea, this smoothie isn’t really green but I think any smoothie with lettuce in it should be categorized as ‘green’. Something about drinking something ‘green’ just makes you feel healthy so I’ll keep the name ;).

And, I know, it’s December and not really smoothie season (every time I’ve ordered a smoothie recently, I’ve been the ONLY person in line) but after getting my wisdom teeth out last week, I’ve decided that smoothies in December should happen more. These are good, people! Like REALLY GOOD! I think I’ve found a new favorite breakfast drink!

Here are the Ingredients.

–Orange Juice

–Plain Yogurt



–Frozen Mango

–Frozen Cherries

–Juice from 1 lime

And, I’m sorry but I have no idea how much of everything I ended up using but you can guess from this picture! This made two large smoothies. Yum!

Potato Broccoli Rabe Soup

My mom made me this delicious soup yesterday!

I know, it looks like a green smoothie in a bowl but I promise, it’s yummy potato broccoli rabe soup. I am supposed to eat cold, soft foods for a couple days [I just got my wisdom teeth extracted]  so I ate this at room temp but, heated up with cheese, this would be very tasty! Being the obsessive ‘make-sure-I-get-all-my-veggies-a-day’ person that I am, this soup was a perfect complement to pudding, chocolate milk, yogurt and every other non-green food I can eat right now ;).

So, if you get some teeth pulled, have your heart broken, or just want some [healthy] comfort on a cold day, give this recipe a try!

Recipe: (4 servings) — Warning: These are ‘guesstimates’ because nothing was measured–So, you’ll have to make everything ‘to taste’!

–1/2 chicken bouillon cube

–water (enough to cover boiling potatoes plus 1/2 cup extra)

–2 large potatoes

–1 garlic clove, minced

–2 green onions (used the white part at the root), chopped

–1 bunch broccoli rabe, rinsed and steamed

–salt and pepper to taste

Directions: In a large pot, cover potatoes with water and boil until tender. In a separate pot, steam the broccoli rabe until tender. Once potatoes are ready, add about 1/2 cup more water, bouillon cube, garlic and onions and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Blend all ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy at room temperature or heat and add cheese! Delish!

Just a few Health Benefits of Broccoli Rabe: It is full of vitamins A, C and K. It also provides some iron and calcium and has cancer-fighting properties. Mmmm…I feel healthier just writing about it!