Three soups for you


(photo c/o

All I want to eat lately is soup.

Let me rephrase that: All I’m eating lately is soup.

Within the past week, I’ve made three big pots of soup. Lunch at work every day this week has been leftover soup and my favorite Fall salad (which I can share with you another day, if you’re interested). Soup every day sounds boring, I know, but it’s not. Most soups/stews taste even better the second day – or fourth, in my case – because the flavors have had time to settle in and get comfortable.
Here are links to the three soups I made this week. They’re all really easy to make and have a ton of flavor. Enjoy!

North Woods Bean Soup: I buy whole carrots and chop them into bite-size pieces (think the size of  a chickpea)  instead of using baby carrots.
Autumn Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup: I roast the carrots, sweet potatoes and apple instead, but I’m sure the recipe as is, is great, too.
Split Pea Soup: I use this recipe for smoked turkey lentil soup, but use green split peas instead. It’s an easy substitution.

Curried Roasted Vegetable Farro Salad


Grain + vegetable + protein = an amazingly easy, tasty and healthy salad.

I make a lot of these types of salads. I even blogged one not too long ago. I hesitated sharing this one, but it’s so good, SO GOOD, that I just had to share.

The thing I love about these salads is that they pack a lot of flavor. They’re also full of vegetables, so I feel good eating a big bowl. Or two. And they’re easily adaptable. Use what grain(s) you like. Use what vegetables you like. Add chopped chicken for protein or garbanzo beans to make it vegetarian or quinoa to make it gluten-free.

There are two tips to make these salads really stand out. The first is to season everything as you go. The second is a well-seasoned vinaigrette. Please make your own. The vinaigrette I use for this salad comes from Giada De Laurentiis. Many, many years ago, I watched her (on Everyday Italian) make a curry vinaigrette to top a carrot and pear salad. While that particular fruit/vegetable combination didn’t knock my socks off, the vinaigrette did. If you’re not a fan of curry, this vinaigrette is not for you. If you are a fan, you’ll love it and want to use it all the time.

So here’s another salad recipe. This is the combination I used this time, but I’ve made it before with other ingredients. I often make it with whole wheat couscous for the grain. Sometimes, I’ll chop a cucumber and throw it in there. Oftentimes, I use golden raisins for a little sweetness. One big thing I did differently this time was roasting the vegetables first and, wow, was that a good idea. It’s not necessary, but if you have 20 minutes, I recommend it.


Curried Roasted Vegetable Farro Salad

Cook 1 cup of farro according to package directions, drain and place in a large bowl

2 carrots, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 cup garbazno beans

1 small handful of cilantro, chopped

1 small handful of dried cherries

salt and pepper

Curry vinaigrette*

Preheat the oven to 450. Toss the carrots and red pepper in a bowl with oil (whatever you have. I like to use neutral oils when roasting such as grapeseed), about a 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for 20 minutes, turning once or twice.

While the vegetables roast, make the vinaigrette.

When the vegetables are done, add to the bowl with the farro, toss in 1 cup of garbanzo beans, a handful of dried cherries and the cilantro. Pour the vinaigrette over the mixture and stir to coat.

Refrigerate or serve at room temperature (I like it at room temp).

*Curry vinigrette

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 a small shallot, chopped

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a blender combine the white wine, curry powder, shallot, honey, salt and pepper and blend to combine. With the machine running add the olive oil.

Freekeh salad

freekeh 007

Freekeh salad

2 cups cooked freekeh (or quinoa, farro, brown rice) (cooled after cooking)

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup diced English cucumber

1/4 cup golden raisins

1 pint of roasted grape tomatoes*

1/4-1/2 cup feta cheese (omit the feta cheese for a vegan salad)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 red onion, diced

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

A pinch of oregano

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Juice from 1/2-1 whole lemon

Toss the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper.

Pour the vinaigrette over the freekeh mixture and toss gently to combine.

Sprinkle the juice of half a lemon over the salad. Taste and add more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice to taste.

Keeps for several days.

*Roasted tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half and toss with a teaspoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Place the tomatoes on a baking dish lined with parchment paper. Roast for 20-30 minutes until the tomatoes burst and start to shrivel.

Want to know more about freekeh? Freekeh is young green wheat that has been toasted and cracked. It’s a healthy whole grain food, much like bulgur wheat and other whole grains.

Golden Potato-Leek Soup


Once fall arrives and the temperature drops below 65 degrees, I’m in full-on soup mode.

There are a few recipes that I turn to time and time again, including smoked turkey lentil soup (make it now!) and this Golden Potato-Leek Soup. This soup is delicious and so simple. Seven ingredients and 30 minutes. That’s it. The result is a warm, creamy (without any cream) soup that’s great as a starter and even better served with crusty bread or cornbread for a full meal.

Golden Potato-Leek Soup

Slightly adapted from Cooking Light

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

3 cups thinly sliced leek (about 3 medium)

6 cups cubed peeled Yukon gold potato (about 2 1/4 pounds)

2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

2 (14-ounce) cans organic vegetable or chicken broth

2 thyme sprigs, leaves removed, or 1 tablespoon of dried thyme

Melt butter or oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leek; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally (do not brown).

Add potatoes, water, salt, broth and thyme. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender.

Turn off the heat. If you have an immersion blender, blend everything in the pot until smooth. Stir in the pepper and add more salt to taste.

If using a regular blender, transfer the soup, in batches, to the blender and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, stir in the pepper and add more salt to taste.

Southwest Stuffed Peppers

Inspiration can come from anywhere.

Sometimes I’m inspired by a meal I’ve eaten in a restaurant. Sometimes I’m inspired by other blogs or magazine articles. Sometimes I’m inspired by ingredients already in my kitchen. And sometimes I’m inspired by friends.

A friend inspired these stuffed peppers.

I’ve been wanting to make stuffed peppers for ages, but they always took a back seat to other meal ideas. Then a friend showed me a picture of stuffed tomatoes and that was it: I finally had the motivation to make these stuffed peppers.

They’re as easy as … I was going to write pie and then I realized that pie isn’t so easy. But these? Super easy. And very tasty. I stuffed these with couscous, corn, black beans, red bell peppers, cilantro and smoked Gouda. The possibilities are endless. I think next time I’ll try orzo, sun-dried tomatoes, chickepeas, basil and mozzarella.

Have fun. Play around with flavors. Be inspired.

Stuffed peppers

4 bell peppers (I used red and yellow)

1 cup of cooked couscous (or quinoa)

1 cup black beans

1 cup corn

1/2 bell pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped

handful of cilantro, chopped

handful of shredded smoked Gouda

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon (smoked) paprika

dash of cayenne pepper

salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Prepare the peppers: Chop off the top of the peppers (or slice them in half) and scoop out the seeds and ribs. Place the peppers in a microwave safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes.

For the filling: Mix all the other ingredients, except the cheese, in a large bowl. Taste the filling and adjust your spice levels as needed.

Assemble the peppers: Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Place the peppers in the dish and stuff the peppers with the couscous mixture to the top. Top with cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, just until the mixture is heated through.

Chunky Bran Muffins

When was the last time you had a bran muffin? Was it good? Most bran muffins I’ve had are either dense and gritty or dense and too sweet. The common denominator? Dense.

These muffins are soft and light. And healthy. Made with whole wheat flour, wheat bran and flax seeds, the muffins stay light and moist thanks to unsweetened applesauce and a mashed banana. A little honey and the addition of raisins (plus the banana) adds sweetness, but not so much that you feel like you’ve crossed the line into full-on dessert. They’re perfect for breakfast or a nice, light snack to tide you over until your next meal.

Chunky Bran Muffin

Based on Konosur. Makes about 11 muffins

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup unprocessed wheat bran

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp grounded flax seed

1 egg

1 large banana, mashed

1/4 cup no sugar added, natural applesauce

1/2 cup milk (almond milk)

1/3 cup honey

1 tsp grated orange zest

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a muffin tin with 11 paper liners.

Whisk the egg in a medium bowl. Mix in the milk, applesauce, orange zest and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the egg mixture. Mix until just combined. Add the mashed banana, honey and raisins. Stir a few times, just to combine.

Spoon into lined muffin tray until 3/4 full. Bake at 400°F for 15 – 20 minutes until a thin knife inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.

Homemade Larabars

I’m always looking for healthy snacks. I had given up on energy bars because, nutritionally, most of them are no better than candy bars when it comes to added fat and added sugar.

Then I discovered Larabars. Larabars are made from whole foods – mostly dried fruits and nuts. Most bars contain three items, dates being the main ingredient, and none of the bars contain more than nine items. My favorite, cherry pie, is made of dates, almonds and dried cherries. That’s it. And while I love to have one of these bars in my purse and work drawer at all times, they can get a little pricey at $1.25-$1.99 a bar.

So when I came across a few recipes for homemade bars, I had to give it a shot. I’m glad I did. These cherry pie bars came together in a snap. The most laborious task was pitting the dates and even that wasn’t too difficult. A few weeks ago, I made almond milk. There’s quite a bit of almond ‘pulp’ left after straining the mixture. I couldn’t bear to throw it away so I kept it hoping to find some use for it. It worked really well in these bars.

Experiment with the dried fruits and nuts for different flavor combinations. I think dates, apricots and almonds would be delicious. Or dates, walnuts and dried apples. I can’t wait to get to work on the next batch.

Vegan. Gluten free. Soy free. Delicious.

Homemade Larabars/Energy bars (Based on Larabar)

1 cup dried, pitted Medjool dates

1 cup raw almonds, toasted (I used 1 cup of almond pulp from homemade almond milk)

1 cup dried cherries

If using whole almonds: To toast the almonds, place them on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F for ten minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the almonds to a plate to cool.

Place the dates and cherries in a food processor and pulse until a gooey paste forms (Start slowly. The dates are really sticky and may get caught in the blades of the processor. If this happens, stop pulsing, scrape down the sides and continue to pulse ). Transfer the dried fruit into a large bowl.

If using whole almonds: Put the almonds in the processor and pulse until small bits remain. Transfer the almonds to the bowl (or the almond pulp, if using) with the dried fruit. Knead the dried fruit and almonds together until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan, lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil, to about 1/2-inch thickness and refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes. Invert the contents onto a cutting board and slice to desired size.

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