Soup is one of my favorite things during the cold winter months. I literally dream about the days where I can sit with a good book, a cup of soup, and a slice of crusty bread to soak up all that warm comfort left on the bottom of my bowl.
And of course in between eating pie for breakfast (there were leftovers!) and shoveling Christmas cookies in my mouth; my soul craves soup. Perhaps because it’s the only thing that isn’t made up of purely sugar and butter. Goodness, my body needs a break from that. And this soup? Well, it leaves me full, warm, and richly satisfied.
The butternut squash is roasted in the oven to bring out it’s natural sweetness. Meanwhile the apples, carrots and onions are sauteed with a bit of cinnamon. Lastly the maple and milk are added. The soup is easily pureed into a fairly thick and creamy delight which ends up being quite delicious paired with croutons, or a warm crusty bread for dipping.
It’s really quite perfect in between those overindulgent family get-togethers, cookies exchanges, and peppermint lattes.
I just wanted to tell you all that I’m in a Starbucks writing this post. I’m hungrier than a lion and those little salted caramel cake pops are staring at me. Seriously, whoever invented those is a genius because I want to destroy about three of them… with my mouth.
Sorry if that was too much, but writing about food, staring at food, and smelling food is making me a little bit weird. Minus the fact that I’m already weird, so this post is just extremely weird. Got it?
Anyway I’ve gathered all of my willpower so we can chat about what’s been actually going down in my kitchen. About a month ago I posted a simple photo of tilapia on my Facebook page. Many of you asked for the recipe, so although I don’t have photos of the finished, plated meal, I thought that you would still enjoy it. But here’s some truth: half of the things I create or bake don’t end up on my blog. Sometimes it’s simply because I didn’t snap a photo; realistically it’s because I’m a little bit of a perfectionist now that I own a nice camera. Most of the food I create is made at night for dinner, so finding time to set up a photoshoot when I’m hungry can be difficult. Not to mention I only use natural lighting, so I’m a little bit bummed that it’s getting darker, earlier.
Let me introduce you what’s been happening. Usually my kitchen is a mess.
Mostly because I make a lot of pancakes. Like every morning. They’re always different and damn, they are delicious.
I know, crazy right? I think it’s because I’m a tiny bit obsessed with all things Mexican (enchiladas, chips, guac, tacos… etc)! It’s just too good to refuse.
This past week though I just had a craving for ravioli, lasagna, garlic bread or basically ANYTHING ITALIAN. Unfortunately all I had in my cupboard was tomato sauce, but man, did that sauce look good. Like I sort of wanted to eat it out of the jar and call it dinner.
Is that weird?
I thought to myself for a very long time about what I could do with the tomato sauce. I mean, besides spooning it into my mouth or just warming it up and pretending it was tomato soup. At one point I considered ordering breadsticks from Pizza Hut just so I could dip them in the sauce, but decided I wasn’t that desperate.
I ended up searching the freezer and found lean ground turkey. Obviously cute little meatballs came straight to mind!
Just look at that steamy goodness!
I especially love this recipe because it only takes about 30 minutes to throw together. The ground turkey is combined with an egg and the following spices: cumin, garlic salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, a pinch of cayenne, basil, oregano, plus a bit of dijon mustard. Now that may seem like a lot of spices, but it results are drop dead delicious!
There’s something about pizza that’s irresistible.
Who can just stop at one slice? Especially kids! Seriously, put a large pizza in front of two kids and it will be gone in approximately 5 minutes… then they’ll want cupcakes immediately after. How do they do it?! Bottomless stomachs.
I’d love to go back to that carefree world and eat a whole pizza for breakfast.
I’m being serious here.
I ate bagel bites alllll the time when I was a kid. Cute, delicious little pizza bagels is what they were. And let’s not forget about stuffed crust pizza! Too good. But please NEVER eat a pizza crust stuffed with hot dogs… that’s just disturbing.
As perfect as pizza can be, in any shape or form, I’ve never been a huge fan pepperoni; however, I made a spicy pepperoni tomato sauce, spooned it on top of skillet chicken, and topped it with mozzarella cheese. MIND BLOWING is what it is.
WHAT? The sauce is DAMN good. Quite possibly now the love of my life. No big deal though, I’ll walk you through the deliciousness so you can experience it for yourself in less than 30 minutes!
First we start with the best ingredients for the best sauce: roasted garlic pasta sauce (any type of tomato sauce would work such as marinara), fresh minced garlic, pepperoni, oregano, and fresh basil.
Saute pepperoni and fresh garlic for a few minutes. Savor the smells.
Note: I used turkey pepperoni; it tastes the same but has half the fat and calories of regular pepperoni. You can usually find it at your local grocery store.
Next, add your pasta sauce to the pan and add oregano.
Look at that steam rising!
Add red pepper flakes if you desire to make the sauce spicy, otherwise you can leave them out.
But please do add them. My motto: Spice up your food, spice up your life!
Now we add in the million dollar basil. Stir, and get a little obsessed.
Set the sauce aside. Sprinkle chicken with black pepper and cook in a skillet until golden brown and juices run clear.
Once chicken is cooked, spoon the pepperoni sauce on top. Resist the urge to just eat the sauce by the spoonful. I have no willpower sometimes.
Add cheese and place the skillet under the broiler for two minutes.
Remove and garnish fresh basil leaves, extra cheese, and/or extra red pepper flakes!
Even though I’m not a parent, I know that it can be difficult to find healthy meals that kids will enjoy. Just trust me on this: put something in front of them that tastes like pizza, and you’re golden. Using reduced-fat cheese and turkey pepperoni makes it even better for them and you!
Of course there are endless possibilities with this: Throw it on top of pasta or stuff it in a whole wheat pita (pita pizza)!
It’s a truly simple, healthy weeknight dinner that can be whipped together in a flash. I’m all about that.
Something else I’m all about? That Magic Mike movie. Drool.
Skillet Chicken with Spicy Pepperoni-Tomato Sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
20 slices pepperoni (I used turkey), coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups healthy tomato pasta sauce*
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat broiler to high.
Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and pepperoni; cook 2 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently. Add oregano; cook 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in basil.
Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. Sprinkle chicken with pepper. Add chicken to skillet; cook 5-6 minutes or until lightly browned, turning after 3 minutes and cook until chicken juices run clear. Spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.
*Use any pasta sauce you like, I recommend healthy low-sodium marinara sauce or a roasted garlic
I mean, have you ever wondered why old people love butterscotch candies so much? I did and I googled it… here is the answer. Please read the entire explanation.
I think the best part is the last sentence. Spot on, right?
I’ve discovered that my soul must be about 70 because some of my favorite sweets include butterscotch candies, Fig Newtons, peppermint patties, and Almond Joys. Simplicity is good in the candy world. The sweet and salty versions and contrasting textures that make up a good bar.
Almond joys are great examples: coconut, almonds, and dark chocolate. I mean, it’s kind of just simple perfection. Or perfect enough for me to want to put the ingredients on top of my ice cream anyway.
When you dream and work in the food world — you always want to experiment with what you create. To be wild and explorative makes things interesting. Adding bourbon to sauces and cookies, baking with brown butter, adding green chile to eggs. These things are totally what I’m about–keeping it fearless and sassy.
Anyway my point is that applying more spontenaity to my actual life could be beneficial. These days I tell myself to pursue the projects I think I might enjoy. If they don’t work out, then it’s not meant to be. Right now, I’ve got A LOT of thing I’m working on… including a guest post from someone VERY special this week!
Opportunities are endless.
Can ice cream be endless too?
Without a doubt. Especially when it’s healthy and vegan. Although I will admit that this really isn’t ice cream — it’s a one ingredient guiltless summer treat. All you need is a couple of frozen bananas and a food processor (or a blender). Once the frozen banana are processed, they turn into a creamy treat that mimicks your favorite soft serve! Make sure you use ripe bananas to ensure sweetness and an irresistable texture. You’ll be surprised by this one.
Banana “Ice Cream” with Toasted Coconuts, Almonds, & Dark Chocolate
To make the banana ice cream:
Start with 2-4 ripe bananas. Peel your bananas and cut them into small chunks. Freeze for just 2-4 hours on a plate or in a plastic bag. Place into food processor and process (you can use a blender as well), making sure to scrape down the bowl when they stick. Again process the bananas until they create a creamy puree. Serve in a cold bowl or in a cone. Each banana will make ½ cup of “ice cream.”
To make Almond Joy version:
Add 2 tablespoons of toasted coconut, 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips, and 1 tablespoon of chopped almonds to a medium bowl. Sprinkle on top of banana ice cream.
I have some very important information to share with you.
I’m on a no pie diet. The importance of that statement can’t be questioned.
Does this mean you won’t see sweet recipes? Nope, it just means I’m going to bake and eat brownies, cookies, and homemade pop-tarts instead. Pie baking is saved for special occasions only (otherwise my thighs would hate me). Wait, my half-birthday is coming up! That’s a special occasion… right? More pie please!
Focus Monique. Obviously we’re not taking about anything sweet here. What we are talking about is a Sweet Potato & Chicken Mexican Stir-Fry that you’ll want every day for the rest of your life. Facts only.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking about the title of this post. But before I can explain it, I have to tell you something.
I’m completely jealous right now. Like green eyed full of envy jealousy.
The blogger that inspired me to create my own blog, Emily from SugarPlum, is doing something that food bloggers only dream about… She’s cooking with Giada De Laurentiis! Big congrats Emily, you deserve it!
I love Giada. She’s authentic, adorable and she puts Italian words into English conversation. Plus she’s an amazing chef. I’ve been watching her religiously on the Food Network. Ridiculously addicting.
The Food Network is taking over.
Sandwich King, Giada, Bobby Flay, Paula… oh and Cupcake Wars! What a great show. I even emailed the people from Cupcake Wars to see if I could compete on the show, but they said you need to have your own business. Well guess what, my ‘business’ is baking ridiculously amazing cupcakes. Just ask my mom, friends, or my dog.
What? Animals have rights. And Lucky loves cupcakes. Point is, the Food Network is missing out on my lovely cupcakes.
But this isn’t about cupcakes or Giada.
This is about potatoes. Sweet ones. With a little bit of spice. Okay, okay and everything nice. Just cause I made them for you. ha.
Spicy sweet potato fries.
Super easy, super healthy. And they are super super yummy. Wait, what? Super is a weird word.
But listen, if you want to eat healthy and you crave fries, these babies will welcome you with open arms. Sweet potatoes have lower carbs and they are complex, meaning your body takes longer to digest them. That equates to you feeling fuller, longer.
That also means you won’t be going back for that second piece of pie… or third. And I’m sure you like making healthy choices.
Or maybe you don’t?
If that’s case, we should become friends. Because you’ll choose these over Mickey D’s fries any day.
Alright… I’m getting to the blueberry part.
No silly it’s not tomato ketchup, it’s blueberry ketchup. It’s sweet, but salty… and it’s good.
Spicy sweet potato fries and blueberry ketchup: A match made in heaven.
Where are your favorite french fries from? Do you make your own? Buy them? Are they from a restaurant/fastfood place?