Friday, December 27, 2013

Magical White Bean Soup Revisited

I mentioned this soup back in mid-November, but it's so good I think it deserves it's own page.


With just vegetables, a touch of oil, and white beans, it's flavorful, satisfying, vegan and gluten free, and did I mention that it's seriously yummy?

It's kicked up a few notches when you stir in a spoonful of home made vinaigrette and give it a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.  You don't need to do much to it.  When we had friends over for dinner back in November, we had bowls of parmesan, prosciutto, and chopped rosemary as well as a little pitcher of vinaigrette on the table for everyone to top as they pleased.  It went over splendidly.

I found this recipe in the book Bread & Wine  
by Shauna Niequist.  I cannot recommend this book enough.  Not only is it a fabulous read, full of stories about life and love, family and friendship, almost every chapter has a killer recipe at the end.  Every single thing I've made from this book has been the best thing I've ever made.  

If you're looking for a hearty, delicious, feel-good meal, try this soup.  You will NOT be sorry.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Smoked Salmon & Cucumber Wraps

I don't know about you, but I overdid it yesterday.  Yep.

I made a lot of delicious food but I didn't take any pictures of it because I was excited to be with my family after a stressful week before Christmas.

My normally dependable schedule for preparing my church's Christmas Pageant was thrown out the window when I discovered that all of our angel costumes were missing.  I called my mom to come out and help me look because moms always seem to have super powers when it comes to finding stuff.  Nope.  They were totally gone.

I didn't panic because I knew I had bins of white sheets and fabric, an old pattern for the costumes we already had, and a pretty decent knowledge of sewing.  As with so many things involving kids and scheduling, it was not smooth sailing.  Even with a costume for each angel at rehearsal, we didn't have enough when it was show time, but luckily a light beige tunic made a great substitute.  The pageant went off with out any major glitches and the kids were adorable.  In the end, a good time was has by all.  Success!

When it came time to finally kick back with my family, I relaxed and enjoyed everything Christmas had to offer, including Santa's cookies, fresh blueberry muffins, and (for some reason) the cheese ball puffs that were set around the room in big bowls just begging to be thrown in the air and caught in your mouth.

Today, with my pants feeling a little tight and my energy a tad lower than usual, I am ready to get back on track.  I genuinely like eating healthy foods that taste good and make me feel good.

Lunch today was really simple.  Pulled from one of my favorite cookbooks, it's a simple sandwich idea that you can whip up in minutes.  It's light, flavorful, filling, and you feel good about eating it.

Tonight, I'm going to make a big ol' pot of Magical White Bean Soup.  Without any fixin's it's a delicious gluten-free and vegan soup that fills you up without letting you down.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Guilt-Free Shrimp "Fried Rice"

I really enjoy a blog called The Londoner.  It's sort of a guilty pleasure.  It is one of the top lifestyle blogs in the UK and it features a young woman named Rosie who flits about town in super short dresses eating lots of things you might not believe she really consumes.  She presents a good balance of city glamour and country charm, as well as a good crop of super yummy recipes with tantalizing photos.  (Hello, Slutty Brownies...)

Girls today get a lot of terrible messages from social media about food.  Supermodels on Instagram seem to live only on homemade vegetable juice and the occasional bite of raw fish and we praise them for setting such healthy examples.  I greatly prefer the message of a beautiful woman who balances indulgences with smart, vegetable heavy meals while telling her readers to drink tons of water and get out and move.

The Londoner posted this recipe a few months back and I've fallen completely in love with it.  It's a regular in our house and just doesn't seem to get old.  I used to swear up and down that I hated cauliflower, but since falling in love with it in this recipe I've been eating it in quite a few dishes.  For now, I will swear that I hate beets.  Maybe then Rosie will change my mind about those too.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rosemary & Walnut Oven-Fried Chicken

It's always a weird experience to make something a few times and then go back to the recipe and find you've been doing it wrong, or have been missing a big step each time.  I'm having that experience right now, except that every time I have made this recipe it's been delicious!

This is a super busy time of year and like a lot of people, I like having recipes on hand that are totally delicious, crowd pleasing, easy, and I don't feel the slightest bit guilty about.  This one is awesome.  

Yes, this is another recipe from Cooking Light Magazine.  More specifically, it's by a woman named Laraine Perri, who when googled turns up all kinds of delicious results from some pretty major publications.  I plan to really explore some of her recipes later because if this one dish can be so good when I leave out steps, I'm excited to see what else of hers I can cook incorrectly yet deliciously.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Espresso Spice Cookies

My church sits alongside a really lovely little college full of high achieving, smart, and sometimes stressed out students.  Our youth pastor started a fantastic cookie ministry a few years ago that I'm a huge fan of.  The youth of our church get together in the church kitchen, each bringing ingredients for their favorite cookie recipe, and they spend an evening baking.  Church members also contribute to the effort with their homemade and store bought treats.

On one night during the college's finals week, groups of youth and a few adults take shifts camping out in one of the school common areas with trays and trays of cookies for the taking.  We listen to the students describe what they are studying and what projects they're trying to finish, and chat about their plans for winter break and the things they're looking forward to, or what they're taking next semester.  It took a little time to grow this effort, the students being understandably wary of whether or not the cookies came with strings attached.  But they don't.  The cookies are string-free.  We show up to say "We are here for you, we care about you, we know it's hard but you can do it."

Thursday, December 12, 2013


At the moment, I am sitting in an incredibly charming little coffee shop in New Oxford, Pennsylvania, writing my blog in Microsoft Word.  Though this little shop is adorable - with classic oak and marble counters, a patterned white tin ceiling, and tiffany-style lamps – it does not have internet access. 

When Paul has business in certain areas of the country, I try to tag along so we can visit friends and family we wouldn’t otherwise get to see.  Luckily today we are not that far from home, just a couple of hours.  While he is out on meetings, making friends and charming people with his delightful English accent, I chose to hunker down in this cute shop, with its lovely view of the town center and its slightly dilapidated but historic buildings, Christmas wreaths and garlands draped on the wrought iron fences, and American flags flying proudly on every corner.

The longer I’m here the more I can tell how odd it is that I am here, a stranger, quietly sitting at her computer staring at pictures of food.  Every time the door opens, a little bell rings and the new customer is greeted cheerily by name, either by the employees or the other customers.  The barista behind the counter seems to know what most people want before they order it.  I’ve heard of places like this, but have never gotten to sit and experience one.  I have made the mistake in the past of referring to this area as “the country” to one of its residents, but there is a decidedly slower pace and familiarity that you don’t easily find in the city or its suburbs.  The people are cheery, happy to run into one another, and I can feel their positive energy reaching me even though I sit away from them, quietly at my table, typing away.

This wasn’t the recipe I had in mind for today, but the slower pace of life around me is telling me that madeleines are what I should share with you.  Madeleines are a delightful cookie-cake hybrid, fluffy and sweet with a touch of lemon, but they require patience and a slower pace.  You can’t rush a good madeleine. 

Like so many things lately, I found this in one of the dozens of Cooking Light magazines my friend Eleanor gave me.  I promise not all of my recipes will be from CL, but they’re a great resource, especially at a time of year when people are more conscious of what they’re eating while trying to make their food festive and sweeter than usual.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kale Pesto

I don't know about you, but I like kale.  I always buy too much and often can't find ways to use it all before it becomes, well, unusable.

I also love pesto.  I love it on pasta and sandwiches, tofu and potatoes, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I have found the solution to my kale conundrum.  This is a great recipe!  And it's SO EASY!  I first made this kale pesto and put it on a pizza with goat cheese and olive oil, almost exactly as the recipe called for.


I've made it since then and have used it on whole wheat pasta with hot italian sausage, and I plan to spread some on slices of fresh baked toasty bread and top it with scrambled eggs and thin slices of pancetta.  Maybe a sprinkle of parmesan on top.  Now I'm hungry. On to the food.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Behold, the Sparkledoodle!

That is what I have decided to call it.  You heard it here first!  (As far as I can tell...)

Snickerdoodles seem to be making a comeback this holiday season.  I have seen them all over the internet, including an adorable red and green version that got me rethinking the batch I was about to make.  My snickerdoodles needed to be festive, special, even fun.

My snickerdoodles needed to sparkle.

Like any good glitter-lovin' gal, I happened to have sparkly food stuffs on hand.
I went to my favorite trusty snickerdoodle recipe and got crackin'.  

Friday, December 6, 2013

Guinness Mac n' Cheese

Paul has been uber supportive as I've embarked on this whole food blog journey.  He's helped me upgrade from a point-and-shoot camera to a DSLR and been just as passionate about learning how to use it as I have.  He dutifully eats whatever I make, even if it bombs.  He doesn't try to stop me from pacing around as I wait to find out the result of my latest submission.  (15th blog was the charm!  Woo hoo!)

I'm not very good at being romantic or putting my feelings into words, so I try to say thank you with food.

When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it for Paul.  He loves beer.  He loves pasta.  It was no surprise that this was a big hit with him.

If you do not like beer, this recipe is NOT for you.  It starts out cheesy and creamy but has a malty, bitter finish.

I was going to say that this is the perfect dish for the men in your life, but that's pretty unfair to all of my kick-ass girlfriends who love dark beer.  This is a delicious comfort dish for the beer lover in your life.

Did I mention it's from Cooking Light?  Yeah, everyone's a winner here.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Sweetmeats

Sweetmeat is a weird word.

Depending on the culture you're in, it can mean very different things.

For the western world it is "a piece of candy or a piece of fruit covered in sugar," or "a food rich in sugar."  (Thanks, Merriam-Webster!)

Well, there is not a drop of fruit in these little darlings, but I would definitely say that they are rich in sugar.  If you're looking for a healthy dessert or treat, this is not for you.  If you're looking for the perfect holiday coffee companion, you are in the right place.  

If you like giving food gifts around the holidays you might try cutting these into tiny squares and pairing them with a small bag of coffee.  Delish!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Chickpea Curry

When I'm away, Paul eats more fast food.  When Paul is away, I eat more delicious vegetarian dishes.  He's out tonight and we all know what that means:  Pajama pants, Love Actually, and a delicious vegetarian dinner.

Two weeks ago, my bestie Eleanor caught me looking at her Cooking Light magazine.  To our mutual happiness, she sent me home with a massive stack of Cooking Light magazines.  Once in my possession, I knew that if I opened one I would lose at least half a day to the stack and I had too much to do with Thanksgiving and the Advent Workshop approaching.  Both are now successfully behind me and as a reward I spent half of yesterday with magazines all over my floor, armed with sticky notes and a pen, blissful in recipe heaven.

I have a lot of food magazines that I've collected over the years, most of which have been read cover to cover but their recipes remain untested.  

It ends tonight!  

For my first magazine dinner, I decided to go with a gorgeous curry that was insanely fast to make.  It literally takes less than 10 minutes.  It's mild, creamy, and incredibly satisfying.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cheesy Spinach Pull-Apart Bread

Our friend Lindsay was home for Thanksgiving break from her first semester of college and we wanted to have her over to hear about what's been going on in her life.  We stocked up on Diet Coke (her favorite) and I wanted to make something fun to pick at while we chatted.  

I found a very intriguing recipe for pull-apart bread but wasn't a fan of a lot of the ingredients.  In a moment of boldness, I decided to change them!  The result was fantastic.

This is a great appetizer, game-day party snack, movie night nosh, or girls-night treat.  It takes a little time to put together, but it's serious fun when it's done.