Apple Cheddar Squash Soup

Alright people, it’s officially soup season!  It’s chilly out in Philadelphia, so I’m ready to start taking advantage and make some yummy soups.  Believe it or not, the recipe I’m sharing with you today was a recipe that Dave, my husband, made for me!  I was so impressed.  I had flagged the recipe and bought all the ingredients, and by the time I was home from work, he had already almost finished making it!  I was so happy 🙂

This soup was really delicious, and the apple and squash go so well together.   Continue reading

Crockpot Bean & Barley Soup

soup

So, for those of you awesome GTBTC fans who actually follow me on Instagram, you probably already know about my fear of using my Crockpot.  I totally understand that it’s not very powerful, and that no one’s house burns down because of it, and that like… everyone else uses it and leaves their house and their house doesn’t burn to the ground… but it’s scary!  What if that happens to me?!

One of the things I want to do this winter season is to start using the crock more… without anxiety.  I can do that, I think!

With the new job, I have to work one day a week as a “late” day, where I come into work at 11:45am and work until 8:15pm.  It’s not the most ideal schedule but it’s great for using the crock.  I’ve done it a few times now, and it’s awesome.

In the morning, I do all the prep, stick my food in the crock, and then have it ready for Dave and I to eat once I get home late.  It’s so much better than starting to cook at 9pm.

This recipe is fabulous, and I can’t wait to make it again.  I even have enough leftover of all of the ingredients to make it a second time without shopping again!  Perfect!  This vegetarian-friendly soup is so delicious and filling, and I even let myself use the Porcini Mushrooms despite Dave’s hatred for them.  I just had him pick them out, and everything was right in the world.

Enjoy this “Meatless Monday” recipe on a Wednesday 🙂

Crockpot Bean & Barley Soup

Ingredients:

1 cup Dried Multi-Bean Mix, picked through and rinsed
1/2 cup Barley
3 Cloves Garlic, smashed/chopped
2 Medium Carrots, roughly chopped
2 Ribs Celery, roughly chopped
1/2 Onion, roughly chopped
1 Bay Leaf
Kosher salt, Black Pepper
2 teaspoons Dried Italian Herb Blend
1/2 ounce Dried Porcini Mushrooms, crumbled if large*
One 24-oz can Whole Tomatoes, with juice
1 package Frozen Chopped Spinach
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan
Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Directions:
1. Put 6 cups water, the beans, barley, garlic, carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, 1 1/2 Tablespoons salt, herb blend, some pepper and the porcini mushrooms (if using) in a slow cooker.
2. Chop the tomatoes, keeping the juice and put the tomatoes into the crockpot with all the juices.
3. Cover and cook on high until the soup is thick, about 8 hours.
4. Add the spinach and cheese, and stir until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes.
5. Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.
6. Ladle into bowls and drizzle each serving with Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil.  ENJOY!

Recipe adapted from:  Food Network Kitchen

*I bought the Porcini Mushrooms at Wegmans, but you can probably find them anywhere!  They were in a section near the produce in it’s own little area with other dried mushrooms*

All of the ingredients ready to go

All of the ingredients ready to go

Before the water goes in

Before the water goes in

Finished product!

Finished product!

Drizzle of balsamic and EVOO does the trick.  So good.

Drizzle of balsamic and EVOO does the trick. So good.

I shared this soup with a few friends from work, and we all loved it.  It’s thick and creamy and rich, without sacrificing the positive qualities of all of the good stuff in there.  It’s so healthy!

I found this recipe to make about 6 pretty big servings.  Don’t skimp on the Balsamic and EVOO- I added just a little bit to two tiny tupperwares when I brought this for lunch, and I’m glad I did!  The Balsamic gives the soup such an awesome interesting flavor, and it is a great contrast to the richness in the soup.

What crock recipes have you been making this winter?  Feel free to share!

Lamb Chili

This week called for a crockpot meal.  I have been exhausted with everything going on right now, and HELLO… has anyone been outside in the last two months?!  This kind of miserable cold, snowy, icy, rainy weather practically begs for a nice hearty chili that smells up the whole house… mmmmmmmm.

Dave and I went to the market this weekend with Chili in mind.  Dave walked up to the meat area and turned around with something in his hand and a huge smile on his face.  “What if we make our chili… but with LAMB?!??”  I shrugged my shoulders and said “Why not?!”.  As we walked away with two pounds of Organic Ground Lamb, we couldn’t help but laugh that Dave’s comment was 100% something our friend Donny would say (or probably has said before).

Although there are probably some pretty awesome lamb chili recipes out there, we really were just in the mood for “our” chili, so we didn’t change the flavor too much, except we did add some extra cumin.  And as always (and as in most of the recipes I cook) you can change the ingredients and spices to fit your own preferences.  Do whatever you want… but I will tell you… this chili is bangin!

Lamb Chili

Ingredients:

10 Servings

2lb (2 pkg) Organic Ground Lamb (we found ours at Wegmans, but whole foods should have it)

1 medium Sweet Onion, diced

3 cloves Garlic, minced

4 large Carrots, peeled and sliced

1 Green Bell Pepper- diced

2 Fresh Jalapenos, diced- remove seeds to lower heat

1 can Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained

28oz Tomato Sauce (can)

2 cans Diced Tomatoes, undrained

1 can Stewed Tomatoes

¼ cup Dark (or light) Brown Sugar

1 packet Chili Spice (hot)

1 Tablespoon Cumin

1 Tablespoon Teriyaki Sauce

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

Extra Seasoning:  Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Ground Mustard, Chili Powder, Crushed Jalapeño Chili (whole foods carries it… omg. It’s like crushed red pepper but from jalapeños.  WOW)

Directions:

1.  Cook the lamb over medium-high heat in a large pan, chopping into small pieces.  When the lamb is cooked through- drain and place in the bowl of a crockpot, leaving about a Tablespoon of grease in the pan.  Cook the onion, garlic, carrots, and peppers for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft.  Add to the crock.

2.  Add the rest of the ingredients into the crock.  The extra seasonings are what I suggest to add, but you can really do whatever you’d like!  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  mmmm!

Do yourself a favor and serve with this cornbread.  So. Good.

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Some of our other favorite crockpot meals…

Chickpea & Veggie Curry

Chickpea & Veggie Curry

Asian Beef

Asian Beef

Sweet & Sour Brisket

Sweet & Sour Brisket

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala & Chilled Strawberry Soup: SRC September

This month, for my Secret Recipe Club assignment… I ended up making two of her recipes!  There were just so many to choose from, I couldn’t decide on one.

For those of you who are new to this or just not paying attention- the Secret Recipe Club is a really cool group I joined last winter.  Every month, we are assigned a new blogger.  This month, I was paired up with Lisa from “Cook Lisa Cook“.  We get to pick ANY recipe that blogger has written about and cook it up ourselves.  We can make adjustments according to our tastes too.  All of the bloggers post their results on the same day and we all get to see who had who and more importantly, what delicious dishes were made!

I decided to make Lisa’s Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala and serve the spicy dish with a side of her Strawberry Soup.  Using the slow cooker isn’t something i typically do in the summer, but it worked out to be a lifesaver!  I got it all ready and let it cook during the day, and by the time that Dave was home from work and I was home from a late appointment… dinner was READY for us, no more work for me!  Love this concept 🙂

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 TBS. fresh grated ginger
  • 1 – 29 oz. can tomato puree
  • 3/4 cup Fat Free Plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1 TBS. olive oil 
  • 1 TBS. Garam masala 
  • 1/2 TBS. cumin 
  • 1/2 TBS. paprika 
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
  • 2, 3-inch pieces whole cinnamon sticks 
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper 
  • 1 TBS. cayenne pepper, more or less depending on your heat preference
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (or use light cream)
  • 1/2 TBS. cornstarch 
  • cilantro, for topping

Directions:

1.  Place everything up to and including the bay leaves into the slow cooker.  Stir to combine everything and make sure the chicken is coated well.  Refrigerate overnight or use immediately.  When ready to cook, place the crock into the slow cooker, cover and cook for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.

2.  When done, in a medium bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and corn starch, then pour the mixture into the crockpot and gently stir. Let cook an additional 20 minutes to thicken up.

3.  Serve hot over a bed of rice and garnish with cilantro.

Recipe adapted from Cook Lisa Cook

 

Want more Slow Cooker Recipes?  Check these out!

Do you just love spicy food?  Here are more spicy recipes!

 

Chilled Strawberry Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1lb Frozen Strawberries (no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup Skim Milk
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon Fat Free Sour Cream
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Mint or Fresh Strawberries for Garnish

Directions:

1.  Mix everything except the garnish in a blender until smooth.  I had to stir it around a few times to help it get going and add a little bit of skim milk to make it a little less thick.  Using a blender mix together the strawberries, heavy cream, sour cream & yogurt until smooth.

2.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Stir or shake will before serving.  Add a dollop of sour cream, fresh strawberries, and mint leaves for garnish.

Recipe from:  Cook Lisa Cook

Everything ready to hang all day in the crock!

Everything ready to hang all day in the crock!

Ready to eat!  Had to add a little extra black pepper :)

Ready to eat! Had to add a little extra black pepper 🙂

Pretty strawberry soup!

Pretty strawberry soup!

The perfect dinner!

The perfect dinner!

The Strawberry Soup was the perfect complement to the spicy chicken dish.  I would even love to add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or a balsamic reduction to add more depth of flavor next time.  The Chicken Tikka Masala itself had so many complex flavors with the curry, the cinnamon and of course the garam masala.  I was super excited to use the garam masala… I’ve had it for a few months and never had a chance to use it!  This was the perfect amount of creamy and spicy for us.  MMM!

Okay everyone, now time to check out the other amazing recipes revealed today! ENJOY!

Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Bisque

I spent most of my post yesterday talking about , grilling, pasta salads, and foods that remind me of summer.  I’m really going to change things up today and now go with a recipe for a soup.  A sweet potato soup.  Like, am I back in October or something?

Okay, so, in my defense, I just really really wanted to use my immersion blender and also wanted to use up the rest of my Red Lentils… trying something new other than the Dahl I’ve become obsessed with.

Enter the sweet potatoes and now you have a sweet potato and lentil bisque.

This recipe comes from Oprah’s Magazine which I actually found online.  I followed the directions using my beloved Sriracha for the red chile paste, and omitting the pomegranate seeds the original recipe calls for (poms are a winter fruit!).  It was really yummy!  Dave and I packed this in tupperware for our lunches and both found it to be very filling.

It may be hot outside, but my office is always freezing… soup is always welcome over here!

Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Bisque

Ingredients:

1 lb Sweet Potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup Red Lentils, rinsed (I use the ones from Trader Joe’s)
½ cup Dried Apricots, quartered
½ Onion, chopped
1 tsp Sriracha
4 cups Chicken Broth
1 can Light Coconut Milk
½ tsp. salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp. ground black pepper
Chopped cilantro

Directions
1.  Place the sweet po’s, lentils, apricots, onion, Sriracha, and broth in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, COVER, and simmer until the lentils are falling apart and the sweet potatoes are cooked through (fork it!).  

2.  Uncover the soup and let it sit for 5-10 minutes with the heat off.  Add the coconut milk.  Using an immersion blender puree the soup until mostly smooth.  Use a blender if you have to working in batches if necessary.  Stir in salt and pepper.  Top with cilantro and serve*.

*I even put some cilantro in the soup before i blended it… we LOVE cilantro!*

Recipe slightly adapted from:  O, the Oprah Magazine

The soup was so good that I devoured my portion before remembering to take a picture!  Blogging-Brain-Fart!!!!!!!

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I LOVE SOUP!  Check out these other yummy soup recipes:

Buffalo Chicken Soup

Buffalo Chicken Soup

Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

Creamy Tomato Balsamic Soup

Creamy Tomato Balsamic Soup

 

 

 

 

Creamy Carrot Soup w/ Scallion-Poppy Topping

I know it’s getting warmer out here in Philly.  The geese have returned to the parking lot where I work (next to the river), it’s sunny on my ride home, and it’s starting to feel like that time of year where I can go get Fro-Yo or Ice Cream every day.

I love seeing my "Friends" when I'm leaving work!

I love seeing my “Friends” when I’m leaving work!

With all of that being said… I still am trying to squeeze in a few more soup recipes for you.  I can’t get enough of soup and that’s just going to have to be okay going into the Springtime here.

Today’s recipe is a really healthy vegetarian soup which I served as a main course for dinner (maybe a little more than 6 servings).  It would also be a great starter making the suggested 12 servings.

My Fitness Pal tells me that splitting this recipe into 6 makes a 179 calorie dish.  Considering how full I was after I ate this, I’m VERY pleased here.

Creamy Carrot Soup w/ Scallion-Poppy Topping

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

2 Tablespoons Grapeseed Oil, DIVIDED

1 Onion, coarsely chopped

1 quart (box) of Low Sodium, Organic Veggie Broth

1 quart of Water

2 lbs Carrots, sliced into 1/3 inch thick discs (approx)

6 Scallions, sliced very thin

2 teaspoons Poppy Seeds

2 Tablespoons Fat Free Half and Half

1/2 cup 2% Milk

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

1.  In a dutch oven or VERY large pot, melt the butter and 1 Tablespoon of oil.  Add the chopped onion, stir, cover, and cook over low heat stirring occasionally for about 5-7 minutes.

2.  Add the carrots first (i didn’t and splashed EVERYWHERE), then the broth and water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover and lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the carrots are soft (about 30 min).    

3.  While the soup is cooking, in a small saucepan, heat a Tablespoon of Oil with the Scallions and Poppy Seeds.  Cook over med-high heat while stirring for about a minute.  Set aside.

4.  Check a carrot to make sure they are cooked, then either blend the soup with an immersion blender or work in batches to puree the soup in a blender until smooth.  Stir in the FF Half and Half (or use heavy cream if you like that sort of thing) and milk.  Simmer over medium heat and stir.  Season with Salt and Pepper to taste.  Serve with the Scallion-Poppy Seed mixture as garnish.

Recipe adapted from:  Food & Wine

Three Carrots = 2lbs?!  I got these babies at the Italian Market for $1 :)

Three Carrots = 2lbs?! I got these babies at the Italian Market for $1 🙂

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I served this soup with "quick biscuits" I tried for the first time... recipe coming soon (Bisquick, Sour Cream, and Sprite... whatttttt?!)

I served this soup with “quick biscuits” I tried for the first time… recipe coming soon (Bisquick, Sour Cream, and Sprite… whatttttt?!)

Look, my scallion-poppy mix turned into a heart when I stirred it :)

Look, my scallion-poppy mix turned into a heart when I stirred it 🙂

Are you still in SOUP-MODE?!  Try one of my other favorites…

Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

Buffalo Chicken Soup

Buffalo Chicken Soup

Creamy Tomato Balsamic Soup

Creamy Tomato Balsamic Soup

Buffalo Chicken Soup

We’re a little spicy food obsessed over here in the It’s Good to be the Cook family… if you couldn’t tell.

The latest and greatest creation, also which has now been named one of Dave’s “Top 5” favorite dinners (whoa!) is this Buffalo Chicken Soup recipe.  It’s got all of the good stuff you’d normally find in and around and dipped with wings put together in a warm, hearty soup.

What could be bad?? (Not rhetorical… the answer is NOTHING!  🙂 )

Buffalo Chicken Soup

Recipe based on:  Bake Your Day

Serves:  4

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup uncooked Orzo Pasta
  • 2 teaspoons EVOO
  • 1/2 Sweet Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Carrots, peeled, and cut into half moons
  • 2 stalks Celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix (you can get in the salad dressing aisle in little $1 packets)
  • 1 teaspoon Freeze-Dried Chives (my new fav thing ever)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh Cilantro, divided
  • 32 ounces Low-Sodium, FF, Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce*
  • 1/2 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (red. fat)
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 2 cups Cooked Chicken Breast, shredded/”pulled” **
  • ¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
Instructions:
  1. Cook orzo according to package directions until about half way done. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven (yay I got to use mine!!). Sauté yellow onion, garlic, freeze-dried chives in the olive oil for 5 minutes until the onions soften up a bit.  Stir so the garlic does not burn.
  3. Add carrots, celery, ranch mix and 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro. Stir and saute until the carrots are starting to soften.  **Meanwhile, this is a good time that you can cook your chicken if you haven’t yet! I just cooked it in a sprayed pan with some salt and pepper sprinkled on.**
  4. Once the veggies are nice and soft, add chicken broth, buffalo sauce, cheddar, parmesan and shredded chicken (i shredded with two forks). Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the carrots are fully tender.  Bring to a boil, add the orzo, and stir until the orzo is cooked through.
  6. Serve in a big bowl with a sprinkle of blue cheese crumbles and cilantro.

I decided to plug this recipe into my nutrition calculator that I just LOVE… just to see how “bad” this was.  You’ll be happy to hear this soup clocks in at UNDER 400 CALORIES!!  3-4 Buffalo wings generally bring in about 500 calories and (my favorite) Buffalo Chicken Dip can bring in almost 300 calories in 5 Tablespoons without including chips!  This soup is a great alternative without losing any flavor!  YUM!

…I may have to replace my famous Buff Chick Dip with this soup for the Superbowl this year!

Everything gettin' all toasty in my new dutch oven!!

Everything gettin’ all toasty in my new dutch oven!!

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YUM!  The blue cheese gets all melty when you mix it in.

YUM! The blue cheese gets all melty when you mix it in.

Buff Chick Soup

You may also like…

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Baked Potato

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Baked Potato

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Spiced Peanuts

Buffalo Spiced Peanuts