Soup for the Soul

I disappeared for a while. I know. Life seems unusually busy...but maybe thats just all in my head!


Soup. There is just something about a great soup. It's so warm and comforting. It makes you feel like you should wrap up in a blanket, throw on some slippers and cozy up on a couch before devouring a gigantic bowl. Especially with all this snow we've had, it seems like the perfect heart-warming meal. At least that's how I feel! Not so sure about you.

So surprise, surprise...I have been on a soup kick. They are so downright simple. And you end up making a lot and you can throw it in your freezer and use it when you want or need to like I have this week for lunches. Just make sure you have a really good piece of Tupperware for carrying it to work. As if that was not already obvious! I have these awesome ones that I am obsessed with. Nothing can get through the lids. They are made by Ziploc, in case you are curious.

But that is neither here nor there.

The soup! This soup is delicious. There aren't enough words to tell you how much I love this soup. It's creamy, smoky, sweet, silky, savory....and everything in between. The best part...it's uber good for you. I know I told you it's creamy, but I in no way used a drop of anything dairy-like. All of the ingredients are raw, which only makes me love this soup more.

This is definitely not the only recipe out there, but I used the one I found on Savory & Sweet. It's a great recipe, and of course, I highly recommend it.

Carrot Ginger Soup with Cashews adapted from Savory & Sweet

*2 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
*4 cups water

*1 Tablespoon olive oil
*1-1/2 cups chopped onion
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger
*1-1/2 teaspoons salt

*1/4 teaspoon cumin
*1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
*1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon allspice

*3-4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
*3/4 cup toasted cashews

1. Place the carrots in a medium saucepan and add the water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook until the carrots are very tender (10-15 minutes)

2. Heat the olive oil in a small fry pan. Add onion and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add ginger, garlic, salt, and spices. Lower the heat and continue to saute for another 8-10 minutes, until the onions are soft. Stir in lemon juice.

3. Combine the spice-onion mixture with the carrots and the cashews. Use a blender to puree the mixture until smooth.

(Serves 8-10)

Feel free to devour numerous servings yourself!!


Snowed In: Sun-Dried Tomato and Artichoke Pesto Pasta

I left work early on friday and then I had Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday AND Thursday off. Four and half days. I thought at the beginning of this snowmageddon that I would be lucky with Monday. With 2 feet of snow already on the ground from the weekend, we then proceeded to get about 10 more inches on Tuesday and Wednesday. Who would have thought? There is now a ton of snow here. The most since like 1898. Yes, I do know that, only because the news reported it repeatedly. Unfortunately, I think it's safe to say the fun is over. Well sort of. Tomorrow morning we have a 2 hour delay, so I do not have to be at work until 11am. Which is really ridiculous because we all know what will happen tomorrow. Everyone will go to work, talk about the Snoverkill and waste away the day. And then we will have a 3-day weekend. Thank you George Washington for being born in February.

While I am loving all of this, I also am getting a bit restless. I have seen about 4-5 movies in the last few days, slept more hours than necessary, and I can't seem to just stop eating, especially fat-kid, comfort food.

Yes...I said fat-kid food. You know what I'm talking about.

Ironically, this pasta dish I made brings to mind hot and sunny summers at a lake in Michigan with these kids...

Every summer, we - aka me and a few of my friends from college - meet in Michigan for a few days at a lake. We go boating, water tubing, lay out, drink and be merry, and obviously, we eat! We set it up so that a few people are scheduled for each meal. My friend, Jackie, and her husband, Mark, were in charge of this mouth-watering dinner that I thought about regularly afterwards:

So naturally I asked for the recipe, the super simple recipe, and whipped up my own pesto-y pasta. While it's not so fatty, its definitely comforting...and versatile. You can make it over the summer while in the midst of bikini season, or, if you're currently like me, while you're in the midst of sweatpants and hoodie season. It is a delicious, simple and light pasta dish. It would definitely be worth your while to mix up a leafy green salad and toast some garlic bread to accompany this dish. So grab a blender/food processor, boil some pasta annnddd, of course, pour a big glass of red wine!

Sun-Dried Tomato and Artichoke Pesto Pasta

* 1 can of artichokes, plain or marinated
* 6-7 sun-dried tomatoes
* 2 cloves of garlic
* water from artichoke can
* 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* handful of fresh parsley leaves
* as much pasta as you want
* a heaping amount of grated parmesan
* a bottle of red wine!

1. Boil pasta.

2. Blend artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic cloves, and parsley. Add oil and water as needed.

3. Toss the cooked pasta with as much of the pesto as you like and top it off with some parmesan.

4. You're all set and ready to eat.

Cheers to the 6-day weekend and the quickly approaching 3-day weekend (well...for those of us in DC at least!!)


Hodge Podge Cookies

That's my street yesterday morning. So pretty and quaint in the snow.

DC is cold. And we're on the verge of getting about 2 feet of snow this weekend, again. Unlike many of those in DC, I am ecstatic. I absolutely love winter...the snow, the hot chocolate with tiny fake marshmallows, snow boots, scarves, cozy sweaters, cuddling, sledding, snowmen, snowballs, snow angels...you name it, I love it. Except skiing, only because I tried once and lets just say the easy slope and I had our differences.

There's something about a snow fall in the city though. I'm used to Michigan winters, where a foot of snow doesn't really phase anyone. It's quite comical in DC. Everything shuts down. My roommate just called me from the grocery store and told me that water and bread are sold out. It's as if they are preparing for the apocalypse. All day everyone has been checking the weather religiously and figuring out their daily commutes for the following day. I'm just hoping that we are able to leave work early! It reminds me of the week in high school that we were let out after lunch hour and then got three snow days in a row. That was in Michigan, which means there was some serious snow. Not knowing if I will get off work early tomorrow makes me feel like a kid again. I'm already planning...maybe some sledding in Rock Creek Park. Now I just need a sled...

The upcoming snowpocalypse also brings cookies to mind. Something about making cookies during winter...it's like making snowmen in the snow. You just have to! So I did. I used a bit of everything I had around that was cookie related...hence the Hodge Podge.

Hodge Podge Cookies adapted from Cookie Madness

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons all natural peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon plus an extra pinch salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup oats (old fashioned or quick)
1 tablespoon flax seed
2 oz dark chocolate
2 oz reeses pieces chips
handful of toasted pecan pieces
handful of toasted almonds, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium mixing bowl mix together brown sugar, olive oil, peanut butter, vanilla, the egg.

3. Mix in the baking soda and salt. Then slowly add in the flour. Mix well.

4. Add oats, flax seed, chocolate, reeses pieces chips, pecans, and almonds. The dough will be very stiff, so fold in these ingredients.

5. Make balls a little smaller than golf balls, put on a baking sheet and press the balls down a bit. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Makes 1.5 dozen

Pour yourself a glass of milk, grab some cookies and cross your fingers for snow days!!!


Green Beans, Apples, Onions and Pecans

Odd combination? I was recently with my boyfriend, Jon, in Brooklyn, NY visiting his sister and brother-in-law. They took us to this restaurant called The Farm where I had this awesome green bean salad. The green beans were just the way I liked them, steamed so they were still crunchy and bright green. The beans were mixed together with cooked pears and hazelnuts, a combination I would have never put together on my own. I didn't have super high expectations for the dish because, while I like green beans, they are not my go-to veggie. There were plenty of other salads available like a tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad, but at the moment, I felt like going a different route and taking a slightly healthier path, basically meaning there was no cheese in this dish. I loved every bite. I ate the entire thing, despite already feeling completely satiated before my entree came out....that didn't stop me though!

So, of course, I had to try my hand at something similar. The other day I randomly had green beans, a Gala apple, and some pecans. That's close enough, right?? I had some onion too, which I thought would be a great touch. It always surprises me how versatile apples are. From desserts, to meats, to Bean Burgers, to juice, to green beans!

These green beans turned out awesome. I shocked myself a bit. They were simple, a bit citrusy, sweet and perfectly nutty.

Apples, Onions, Pecans and Green Beans

*1 cup fresh green beans
*1 teaspoon butter
*1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
*1 teaspoon garlic powder
*1/2 onion, sliced
*1 medium apple, sliced (I used Gala, but I am sure you could venture out.)
*handful pecans, chopped
*salt and pepper

1. Put 3 tablespoons of water in a pan and steam the green beans. Add salt.

2. Saute the onions, apples and butter for 3-4 minutes.

3. To the onions and apples, add the green beans, apple cider, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the chopped pecans. Put lid on pan and cook for another minute.

Eat warm or chilled. Either way, these beans will leave you satisfied!


Bean Burgers

I would call them veggie burgers, but that's not really the main component. The main component of these burgers was beans. I found this recipe a while back on Buff Chickpea that looked interesting and I had been wanting to give it a go. I don't know about you, but I like a non-meat burger every now and then. That is not to say that I would rather have one over a real, juicy, thick, cheesy medium-rare beef burger. That would actually be a down right lie. I would eat bacon cheeseburgers everyday if they wouldn't cause a slow, ugly death. But actually, a bean/veggie burger is a whole different ball game. They aren't really a substitute for a meaty burger, they are just...a veggies-and-beans-in-the-shape-of-a-burger sandwich, if you will. I like to think of the "burger" section on a restaurant menu as the section that you should only eat sporadically. But this...

...this is actually a scrumptious little patty of beans and veggies. Which means that you probably COULD eat this everyday. So if you are trying to convince someone of the macho, red-meat-eating, male species to eat this Bean Burger, you can explain to them that it's true, it's not a burger, but it's awfully delicious!

Bean Burgers adapted from Buff Chickpea

1/2 cup white soy beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 large eggs
1 medium apple, diced (I used a Gala)
6-8 baby carrots
1/2 tablespoon red curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cauliflower
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped raw kale
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup whole-grain bread crumbs
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or cooking spray

There are numerous ways to make veggie burgers. I used soy beans and white kidney beans because they were what I had available. However, a better option would be chickpeas. They aren't as soft and would made a chunkier blend. Also, instead of cauliflower, you can use cabbage. I had cauliflower that was about to go bad, so I used it. Honestly, these burgers can really be made with anything. If you have some produce thats about to go bad, don't waste it, blend it all up with some beans. One of my favorite additions to these burgers are the apples. They add a touch of sweetness.

1. Boil carrots for a few minutes. You do not want them too soft, but just a bit so that they blend more easily. Do not blend until mixture is smooth.

2. Add the beans and blend. Again, do not blend until smooth.

3. Add the eggs and blend.

4. Add the cilantro, parsley, apples, and the cauliflower and blend. And again (I have become repetitive!), do not blend until smooth.

5. Put chopped onion and kale into mixing bowl. (I do suppose you could have added the kale to the blender, but apparently I like the extra steps that include chopping.) Pour blended mixture into bowl and mix together. Add the bread crumbs and flax seed. Let sit a minute to soak up the blended mixture. You may need more bread crumbs to help hold the mixture together.

6. Scoop out golf ball sized patties and place on a greased baking sheet.

7. Spray a pan with olive oil cooking spray (or just use olive oil) and place 2-3 patties on the pan.

8. Cook the burgers until they brown on each side.

9. Place on baking rack to cool.

The best thing about these burgers is that you can freeze them. I made 8 burgers. I froze 4 of them and had the rest for that week to take to work for lunch or for a quick dinner.

Different options for toppings:

- lettuce, Tomato, and avocado
- hummus, tomato, and Garlicky Kale
- sauteed onions and mushrooms
- arugula and dijon mustard
- apple slices and cheddar cheese, bleu cheese, or goat cheese
- Tahini and onion slices


Garlicky Kale

Have you ever been to Whole Foods' salad bar? If not, go right now. If so, have you had their raw kale with their kale dressing? You have to. Stop whatever you are doing and go to Whole Foods now and get some. It is quite possibly my favorite super healthy thing ever.

However, I hate to say this, but there is a disclaimer.

You must love garlic. A LOT! I know a lot of people avoid garlic because it becomes your personal aroma for quite some time after consumption, an example being my mother. (She also claims to dislike onions. I think she just doesn't like the way they leave her smelling.) This kale is so garlicky that you may only be able to eat it at certain times. Like on a Tuesday night. You definitely can not ever eat this before 1. a date, 2. an interview, 3. a dentist appointment, 4. anything where you may have to speak to someone. Tough, right?

Don't be scared though. Kale is a bright leafy green, and when raw, it's even better for you. It has a ton of phytonutrients that help prevent cancer. Remember, the brighter, the better. As for the garlic, just note that The Nutrition Reporter has said that, "If garlic had been created in the laboratory instead of by nature, it would probably be a high-priced prescription drug." Fortunately for you, garlic is pretty cheap and you don't need a prescription!

I was not absolutely sure how to replicate Whole Foods' Kale, so I improvised. This is my version. And I would make it over and over and over again.

Garlicky Kale

*2 cups raw kale
*1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
*1 tablespoon tahini
*1 tablespoon lemon juice
*1 garlic clove, pressed
*salt and pepper

1. Massage the raw kale with the olive oil for a few minutes.

2. Add all of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust ingredients to your liking. You could add a bit of cayenne to heat it up a little bit.

3. Refrigerate for a few minutes before eating. Will stay refrigerated for up to 2 days.