Japanese Clear Onion Soup

The recipe trials continue!  I’m not a whiz enough to come up with recipes on my own from scratch so I scour books, blogs and Pinterest for recipes that I like the looks of and that are healthy, easy and made with fresh ingredients to try out in my kitchen.  If it’s too hard for me to make or doesn’t taste great, you bet I won’t make it again and I’ll let you know here.  But if it’s easy and delicious, I also love to share that too! I found this delicious dish one night as I was rolling and scrolling through Pinterest.  It comes from www.livingchirpy.com, a blog run by a South African couple (I had no idea about any of this until writing this blog post, but how cool!).

Here’s the picture that caught my attention on Pinterest:

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My inspiration (www.livingchirpy.com)

I can just taste the beloved appetizer of Hibachi restaurants.  I screenshotted the recipe and this weekend when planning for my meals, remembered it was stored in my phone.  The ingredient list is simple and so was preparing it.  But of course, I managed to “mess up” one of the simplest recipes I’ve reviewed so far.

Scores: 

  • Taste: 10 out of 10!
  • Ease: 9 out of 10! (only because I couldn’t follow directions completely)
  • Total time: 43 minutes

Utensils you’ll need

  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Bag for onion and celery remains
  • Soup pot
  • Strainer

Ingredients you’ll need

  • Olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 6 cups of broth of choice
  • Button mushrooms, sliced (to taste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (let’s be honest, I can only ever manage to get garlic to a chopped stage)
  • Sriracha, coconut aminos to taste

So, I had no wine on hand for this prep.  I did have the Dance Workout station on Spotify which made the kitchen a delightfully upbeat place.  Y’all, if you don’t like cooking, do whatever you can to help you enjoy it a little more. It’s one of the first steps to a healthier lifestyle (and thinner wallet!).

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My favorite kitchen helper

To begin, you’ll first chop the onion, celery and carrots.  Don’t worry too much about how small each gets chopped, we’re not actually going to eat any of these, they’re just for the broth.

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Trifecta for a good broth!

The onions will join the olive oil in the soup pan over medium heat first.  Stir occasionally for about 4 minutes.  Or until you’re tired of waiting and ready to put the other veggies in.  Just be careful not to leave those onions unattended, they will burn!  Add the carrots, celery and garlic to the pot and mix together.  The six cups of broth are added next.

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THIS IS WHERE I SCREWED UP! PAY ATTENTION!

You’re supposed to bring the broth to a boil and then reduce it to simmering for 30 minutes.  DO NOT KEEP IT BOILING AND LAY DOWN TO TAKE A NAP!  A nap is a great idea since there is minimal clean up in this one BUT reduce that heat first.

Just in case you don’t listen to me, here’s what will happen: about half of your broth will evaporate into your kitchen air, leaving maybe a serving and a half of soup left.  DON’T PANIC though, just add the remaining 2 cups of broth from one of the containers :D.  You can let it simmer some more if you want, I just let it warm up a bit.

No harm done.  Next, put a strainer over another pot and pour the broth and veggies into the strainer.  Discard the veggies and examine your first pot of homemade broth!

IMG_0159.jpg I found some pre-sliced mushrooms at the grocery store so I just threw in an appropriate amount for my taste.

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(Sprenkel tip: If you don’t love mushrooms enough to put the whole box in, and likely won’t eat more later, just buy them from the bulk section of the front produce area.) I am not a huge fan of mushrooms so I put in just enough to cover the surface of the soup.  I did not let double layers of mushrooms form.  Keep the heat on low and let the mushrooms cook a bit while you chop some scallions.  Add those babies in and you’re done!

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I am so surprised at the simplicity of this recipe (not at all surprised that I managed to botch it a bit) and how closely the taste matches that of the restaurants’.  The mushrooms remind me a little bit of a pizza which is a weird thing to taste in a Japanese soup but I didn’t mind it.  I’ll make this one again for sure.

(Original recipe said to add Sriracha and/or soy sauce to taste but I forgot!)

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Recipe Trial: Pasta Fagioli with Zucchini Soup

The recipe trials continue!  I’m not a whiz enough to come up with recipes on my own from scratch so I scour books, blogs and Pinterest for recipes that I like the looks of and that are healthy, easy and made with fresh ingredients to try out in my kitchen.  If it’s too hard for me to make or doesn’t taste great, you bet I won’t make it again and I’ll let you know here.  But if it’s easy and delicious, I also love to share that too!

This week I chose a recipe from a cookbook my delightful mama gave me for Christmas.  It’s called weeknight wonders by Ellie Krieger.  She claims quick and nutritious meals for dinner in less than 30 minutes.  We’ll see about that!

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I’m a visual person so a recipe with a photo is 138x more likely to be made by me.  I like to see what ingredients are in it and get a gauge of what it will look like all at once.  This book doesn’t have photos for many of the recipes (which I understand, that can add so much work to publishing) but I found one that did to try.

I’m still not eating meat, just to see how I do without it and wanted something that was warm for these chillier Tulsa nights, and able to freeze since I’m traveling a lot this month.

Taste: 6/10

Simplicity: 8/10

Total time: 37 minutes

Tools You’ll Need

Cutting board

Sharp knife

1 cup measuring cup

Soup pot

Stove

Can opener

Cheese grater

 

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 onion, chopped

Garlic (I used pre-minced)

3 Zucchini, chopped

1 can of white beans (I used Navy)

1 can of diced tomatoes (I used 2, with seasonings)

3 cups of vegetable broth

Salt

Pepper

Parsley for garnish

First, pour yourself a glass of wine and turn on a Spotify station to keep you company.  I chose Hot Country this week.  Chop the onion and place into the soup pot with the olive oil in the bottom.  Cook for 3-5 minutes before adding garlic.  I put in 2 Tbsps of pre-minced.  Turn the heat to low and let these flavors mingle for the time it takes you to open your can of beans.  The recipe called for rinsing and draining but I pretty much just open it, keep the can covered to drain out the extra juice and dump it in the pot.  I can’t say I’ve ever rinsed a can of beans in my life even though every single recipe tells me to.  Rebel am I.

Stir those ingredients together and let them get to know each other just long enough to open and add the 1 or 2 cans of tomatoes.  I chose two because I love tomatoes.  Then pour in the 3 cups of veggie broth.

That all happens pretty quick.  The next part is what took me the longest – chopping the zucchini.  I don’t really have an efficient method for chopping squash and I was also a little distracted by my adorable helper so this took the bulk of the time.  Add chopped veggie to the soup pot and bring to a boil.  Once all the ingredients are boiling, turn the stove down to low and let them blend for 20 minutes (great time to clean up and grate the parmesan cheese!).  This is also where Ellie added elbow macaroni but I didn’t want to so I didn’t.  But if you do want it, add a cup before letting the soup sit for 20 minutes.  Pre-simmering, time spent adding ingredients to pot was just over 12 minutes.

On this particular round of cooking, I roasted some brussels sprouts to toss in a caesar dressing while I waited, and managed to get some dishes cleaned.  I also grated the parmesan cheese to add to the soup at the end – about half a cup, plus more for garnish.

Once the 20 minute timer dings, add the grated cheese to the soup and stir, saving some for garnish.  Top with a sprinkle of parsley and serve hot.

I’m not crazy about the soup but it’s not horrible either.  I’m not going to toss it out but will likely freeze whatever I don’t eat tonight.  There’s a strong tomato flavor (obviously, I added and extra can) which is fine with me but the zucchini and beans don’t add much.  I LOVE how many veggies are in one serving though so that’s a plus.  And it was filling with the beans and squash.   I may experiment with some additional spices next time or if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them!

Recipe Review: Gimme Some Oven’s No Bake Energy Bites

My brother’s fiancee Shelby shared this recipe with me when I visited them in Minnesota. I made them for the second time this week and thought it’d be a good recipe to review!

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No Bake Energy Bites

The original recipe can be found here on the blog Gimme Some Oven.  This is the first recipe of hers that I’ve tried and based on it, I’ll be browsing her blog for some more ideas!

I love these bites for a quick snack, an easy breakfast on-the-go or a sweet pop of dessert at the end of the day (or anytime really).  I keep them refrigerated and grab one when I want to.  They’re a little sweet but really filling from the fatty peanut butter and ground flax.  The recipe is super easy to customize too.  Add or take out any of the ingredients here you don’t like.

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Scores

  • Taste: 8 out of 10.  It’s sweetened with honey, which I’m not a huge fan of yet.  But I LOVE peanut butter and that’s a big flavor in it too.
  • Ease: 8 out of 10.  There’s no oven, and just one bowl.  But I have yet to find a way to cook with honey without getting it on everything.  It’s on my phone, on the refrigerator handle and on the oven still.

Kitchen Utensils

  • Large mixing bowl
  • A 1/2 c measuring cup
  • A 1/3 c measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Mixing spoon
  • Container to store them in after rolling

Food Items

Measure and put them into the bowl in this order!

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  • 1 cup dry oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
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This is what the ground flax I used looks like.  Keep refrigerated after opening.

Once everything is in the bowl, use a mixing spoon to stir it all together.  I eventually gave up on the spoon and used my hands to mix, making it a little messier than it probably could have been.  But I wanted to be sure the distribution of ingredients was thorough!

Measuring, combining and mixing all of the ingredients took me just under 13 minutes.  This included some honey mishap clean up and dealing with my supervisor who could not shut her mouth about wanting to taste the peanut butter.

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Just a taste Miley.

The mixture goes into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Use this time to clean the dishes, throw in some laundry and tidy up elsewhere in the house.  Or drink some wine.  After 30 minutes, pull the bowl out of the fridge and roll the mixture into balls of your size preference.  This took me just under 6 minutes but I also made a double batch.

This recipe is in my rotation pretty frequently.  It’s easy to whip up a batch one night and have them all week to snack on.  Good luck making them last all week though, they’re pretty tasty 😉

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Ready to pop in your mouth!

Will you try these?  What other recipes would you like to see reviewed?

Runner’s World Black Bean Soup

The first recipe in my new installment of recipe testing is a dish I found in an article of Runner’s World.  I’ve written about this soup before but it’s such a hit that I thought it should lead off my new critique series.  Because I’d rather give good critiques than disappointing ones.

This soup is one that I give major credit to for continuing to help me on my journey to appreciating beans.  It’s got great flavor and is wonderful comfort food following these cold miles in the evening.

Scores:

  • Taste: 8 out of 10
  • Ease: 9 out of 10
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Black Bean Soup

You can find the original recipe right here: Runner’s World One Pot Meals 

This is my critique and also spin on the recipe from that article.

Kitchen Utensils 

  • One measuring cup (1/2 c)
  • Measuring spoons
  • One cutting board
  • One knife
  • One grater
  • One can opener
  • One soup pot

Ingredients

  • Kerrygold butter (to coat the pot)
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (this is what will make it spicy, omit if you don’t like that!  Add more if you want clear sinuses)
  • 1 cup (about half a jar) of roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 2 cans of black beans (I used one plain can and one pre-seasoned can)
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes (I used Rotel tomatoes with green chiles for more spice)
  • 1.5 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 orange for zest
  • Avocado for garnish

Time required

Active time starts when the ingredients are laid out on the counter.  It includes chopping, opening the cans, throwing things away and all activities before simmering the soup.  It’s probably a little longer than yours should take because my can opener broke before I had the last two cans of beans open and I had to get creative with a fork!

  • Active time: 17 minutes 14 seconds
  • Down time cooking: 20 minutes

 

Alright, let’s do this.

  1. Chop the onion.  Then place into the soup pot with melted Kerrygold butter in the bottom.

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    Simple enough.

  2. Cook onion over low, low heat while you chop the chipotle (one of these, more sauce = more heat) and roasted red peppers (one cup of these).  Keep an eye on it so you can stir if things get smoky.

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    This is what the can looks like for the chipotle peppers looks like.  I found it in the Mexican food aisle.

  3. Add the peppers to the onion mix and stir.  This is when you’ll start to get some great smells that foreshadow the fun your tastebuds will have later.IMG_9436
  4. Pour in the 1.5 cups of veggie broth.
  5. Add all cans of beans and tomatoes (try not to break your can opener).
  6. Add 1 tablespoon of cumin.
  7. Stir together and increase heat until the mix starts to simmer.

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    Turn that heat up and let the ingredients blend while you clean up!

  8. Let simmer for 20 minutes while you do the dishes and put leftover ingredients away.
  9. Garnish with orange zest.  I don’t measure this, maybe a teaspoon.  It really compliments the spice though, I wouldn’t leave this ingredient out.
  10. Top with avocado or guacamole and chow down!IMG_9457

I want to hear from you!  What kind of recipes do you want me to test out for you?  What things do you want to know about the recipes I post?  Price?  Clean up time? Leftovers?

 

Oklahoma Country Runnin’!

Run 1: Set the Pace

I mentioned in my last post that I was ready to get back to it – starting with a 2 miler to help me gauge my pace for the training season.  I am here to report to you that I completed my mission yesterday evening, in a  light drizzle!  It took a lot of mental determination and energy to get out the door.  Once I was out though, it was just a quick mile up the road and back.  No big deal.

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Rain jacket – check. Sorry Miley, you can’t come.

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It was a rough run, glad to do it though!

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Final stats from my NikePlus App.

I’ll use that 2 mile time to set my target paces for specific workouts throughout the 8 weeks – it’s fun and tortuous all at once.

I posted the last picture on my Instagram account with the following caption: Rain can’t get me down anymore.  Today marks the first run of #8weeksto15 (I know I said a little while ago I’d be doing a race in 4 weeks from now but plans changed, life got hectic  and I pushed it back like a #bosslady).  I felt bad about it for a while and cycled into not running at all.  I felt like I had failed that 12 week plan.  But I coached myself up with the help of a friend and got out there again….

Something I’m  trying to learn (over and over again) as I become a more seasoned runner (going on almost ten years now!) is that I won’t always be a four times per week runner.  Hell May has hardly seen 4 in the entire month!  But it’s always there in the back of my mind, and I know I’ll come back to it…..

So here I am, the first run for #8weeksto15.  Have you guessed the state yet?  Drivable from OK!

The run was pretty straightforward – run one mile down the road and run back.  I like coming back into it with a run that I know I can do.  I was pleasantly surprised by my pace, I haven’t been that fast on an average since pre-meniscus!

Run 2: Country Run

Since I didn’t work at any of my jobs today, I took an old offer up from a friend to have a run in the country.  My friend Katherine who writes over here and I have been running together in the city for a few weeks now.  She’s invited me out to her neck of the woods a few times and with the time off today it was perfect!  I was extra enthused when I saw her Instagram post this morning of a baking session going down in her kitchen!

This was my first trip north on 169 to Owasso.  It’s not tough to get to, most places from Tulsa are just a twenty minute drive (except Muskogee which happens to range from 45-50 minutes depending on Broken Arrow traffic).  By the time I arrived, the sun was all the way out and the temperatures were in the 80s!  I opted for no hat in order to get some sun on my face.  She took me on her usual route, pointing out neighbors and barnyard animals as we went.  We had to turn around at one point because of a flooded creek!  We were aiming for four but decided to cut it at 2.2 when we looped past her house to grab her dog Stella for a walk (and because if I’m totally honest, I was struggling in the out-of-nowhere sun and heat).

Turn around, don't drown!

Turn around, don’t drown!

Made a pony friend!

Made a pony friend!

Once we got back home from the walk (and a swim in the river for Stella), we teamwork a delicious banana, blueberry and spinach smoothie and she pulled out the magical blueberry muffins.  The smoothie was a perfect post-run cool-down treat and her muffins were wonderfully delicious and made with healthy alternatives too!  Head on over to meet her and check out the recipe here: Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins.

Blueberries two ways!

Blueberries two ways!

Yay for blogging friends!

Yay for blogging friends!

That’s all for this weekend y’all!  I hope you’ve had a relaxing day off with your families, taken some time for yourself and a moment to remember those who have served for us!

Recipe: Sweet and Salty Brussels

Happy Monday everyone!  I spent the weekend testing out my DIY-skills and I can’t wait to share the finished product (in a few weeks….)!

Jig sawing

Jig sawing

I also spent some time in the kitchen working on recipes between client appointments and carpentry time.  In honor of both the Austin City Limits Festival and Red River Rivalry week, I’ve chosen to share an Austin-inspired recipe with you today.

Red River Rivalry

Red River Rivalry

There’s a restaurant in Austin called the Salty Sow.  It’s close to where I lived my second year of graduate school off Manor Road.  This meal was one of my top 5 in Austin, and is what taught me to love brussels (the only way to get rid of the red squiggly line was to pluralize that…) sprouts.  I’ve been playing around with it and this version is pretty darn close!

Brussels Salad

Brussels Salad

I love the crisp feel of the brussels just barely coated with the cool and creamy parmesan dressing.  The salty meat mixes so delightfully with the sweet raisins but neither are so prevalent that they overpower the other.  Feel free to adjust to your own tastes and add protein in egg whites or more meat as needed!

Sweet and Salty (Sow) Brussels Salad

  • 2 cups chopped brussels sprouts
  • 3 slices pancetta (or 2 slices bacon, I used pancetta because it was leftover from a previous salad), fried
  •  2 tbsp raisins (substituted for dried cranberries since the crans have added sugar)
  • Up to 1 tbsp Annie’s parmesan dressing

This salad is super easy to assemble once you get past all the chopping.  Place the slices of pancetta in a frying pan over medium heat and cook until desired crispiness.  Keep an eye on them, flipping occasionally (I usually flip 3 times).  Remove meat from the pan and pat dry.  Throw a handful of chopped brussels into the pan to cook in the leftover grease.  Chop the pancetta and then add it to the chopped brussels (both cooked and uncooked) in a large bowl.  Add raisins and dressing and toss.  Feel free to garnish with more cracked black pepper or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese!

De-lish!

De-lish!

Here’s to Austin (and me surviving being a Longhorn in Sooner country this week!)!

Recipe: Daly Special

Y’all it has been a day.  I got back from Memphis last night with just enough energy from so much driving to get the new toy into the house, snuggle my crazy girl and crawl into bed.  Something about being in Memphis or being in the car or being around a bunch of people rooting for me had the productive engines on today.  I caught an incredible sunrise this morning on a run around the river with the Runnin’ Fools and then feel like I conquered the world through a series of business errands.

Morning Magic

Morning Magic

First was the magnificent accomplishment of jumping off the family phone plan!  While I appreciate that it’s the more economical choice to continue to pay Verizon through the Bank of Mom and Dad, it just feels so much more adult to do it on my own.  And I know they’ll appreciate having most of their data back 🙂

That trip also allowed me to set up enough data for myself so that I can have a personal hotspot through my phone. Which means I’m writing this from the comfort of Casa Santa Fe instead of having to work online during the hours of Foolish Things.  Welcome back to the 21st century, Coach Sprenkel!

Thursdays are quickly becoming my night to cook and I’m ready for another recipe share.  I mentioned this one when I wrote about the Catoosa Blue Whale – it’s a perfect picnic salad and I easily tweaked it to feed just me tonight.  The recipe below is for a single serving (and named after it’s inventor, Mr. Ryan Daly).

The Daly Special

Daly Special

Daly Special

  • 1 cup mixed greens
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 half avocado
  • 4 slices pancetta
  • 1/8 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp Brianna’s French Vinaigrette Dressing

The first step is to fry the pancetta.  I found a no nitrates/nitrites added brand at Sprouts (gotta be careful with these cured meats and their additives) and cooked up 4 slices.  It starts out kind of like prosciutto but finishes as crispy as you want it, like bacon.

No badditives

No badditives

Once the pancetta is cooked through, save the grease.  It’s not a lot if you’re just cooking for one and toss the chopped walnuts into it.  Stir them around over low heat for 3-4 minutes until toasted.

That’s all folks.  Then you just assemble the salad.  Leaves then tomatoes then avocado then pancetta then walnuts then a splash of dressing.  Creamy and salty are baller together.