Here's My Answer

Tag Archives: carrots

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Last weekend I made shepherd’s pie and it turned out to be one of the best things I may have ever made.  It was so good that I kind of want to make it again.  And again.  And then again.

I have officially made shepherd’s pie twice in my life.  The first time was a few years ago and it was quite a failure.  Well.  It wasn’t BAD.  I just remember being very disappointed with it.  And I think at some point I had to run to the grocery in the middle of making it because I wasn’t following a recipe and realized at the last minute that I needed something urgently.  That sounds like something I would do.

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I found a recipe on Pinterest that makes shepherd’s pie in a cast iron skillet which is a little bit quicker and requires only about one less pan.  But you know what?  One pan is one pan and if I have a say, I will always vote for the method using less dishes.  It ended up working perfectly and I can promise you that I will forever make shepherd’s pie in my cast iron skillet.  It’s so silly to cook the filling in a pan and then transfer it to a baking dish when you can just cook it all in a pan that can go in the oven.  I don’t know… it’s just genius and everyone should just listen to me and do it.

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As for the actual shepherd’s pie.  Wow.  It was delicious.  I tweaked the recipe a little to make it easier and I really just didn’t think some of it was super necessary, like adding an egg to the mashed potatoes and I wanted peas in mine… little things like that.  I think what really made it so good was the A1 sauce I decided to throw in there at the end.  I have a feeling that’s not a normal ingredient to go into shepherd’s pie, considering I haven’t seen it used in any of the recipes I looked up, but believe me when I tell you, adding A1 sauce brings it to the next level.  You get an extra kick of salty-sweet-tanginess that you really just can’t get from anything else.  We even added more once we dished it all up for dinner!

There’s just no way you can go wrong with this dish.  Meat and potatoes.  Isn’t that every guy’s dream?  It’s a little time consuming to make since you have to the filling and the mashed potatoes to go on top, but I can promise you, it’s worth all the work.  It’ll feed you and another person two dinners and a lunch and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be wishing for more after every bite!

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Skillet Shepherd’s Pie 
Adapted from Laura’s Sweet Spot
Makes 6 servings (it fed Brad and I two dinners and a lunch)

1 pound ground beef
2-3 pounds of russet potatoes, cut into chunks (you can peel them but I prefer the skins on)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2-1 whole cup milk (just depending on how thick you want your mashed potatoes)
Butter (to go into your mashed potatoes.  Dare I say I used a whole stick of butter in mine??)
1/2 onion finely shopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium sized carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2-4 tablespoons of A1 sauce (start off with a little and taste as you go)
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Ok- put the potatoes into a large pot and put enough water to cover the potatoes by about an inch. Add a hefty pinch of salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce to medium heat and allow to simmer until potatoes are soft, about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your potato chunks.  Drain.  Mash the potatoes either with a masher or with a hand mixer.  Add the milk a little at a time along with the butter until you get a desired texture and taste.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside when finished.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Once hot, add the onions and carrots.  Once they start to soften, add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the ground beef and cook until browned, drain any leftover fat.  Mix in the tomato paste and then slowly add the beef broth, worcestershire sauce and A1 sauce.  Again, add a little of the A1 sauce at a time making sure to not add too much for your liking.  Bring to a boil.  Add thyme and peas and simmer for about 5 minutes.  To thicken the sauce, pull a couple spoonfuls of the sauce and mix with the cornstarch to create a thin paste.  Stir into the meat and veggies mixture.  Allow to simmer for another 5-7 minutes until sauce is nice and thick (you might have to add more cornstarch).  Spoon the mashed potatoes onto the top of the meat and spread around evenly.  Place in the oven, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.  It’s already hot so it doesn’t have to go in there for very long.  You can flip the broiler on to just brown the tops of the potatoes, but I wanted to bake it for a little while.

Remove from oven carefully (the sauce seeps up from under the potatoes) and let it sit for a couple minutes.  Spoon into bowls and enjoy!!

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Can I ask you guys something?  … Where did 2012 go??  It’s December 2nd and I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that another year has gone by.  Time seems to be going a little to fast for my liking and it’s starting to freak me out.

On the bright side, I am excited that it is the holiday season, which, let’s face it, is the best season of all.  Nothing makes me happier than the first snow, lots of sweaters, a ton of time with family, and packing on a couple pounds so that I can stay warmer in the cold weather (wait, did I just say that makes me happy?).  Either way, the cold weather definitely bring in new cravings for comfort food, especially hot, hearty soups that simmer on the stove for an hour and leave your kitchen smelling heavenly.  Oh yes… how I love those meals.

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This soup is by far one of the best soups I have made and I am pretty damn proud of it.  The original recipe I based this off of was a more brothy soup.  It’s not thick and it doesn’t have any barley in it.  But with a few of my (fantastic) tweaks, this soup will leave anyone feeling full and satisfied after just a bowl!  Which is perfect because it lasts longer and feeds more!

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The recipe this is based on is from a store/restaurant/cafe in Geneva, Illinois.  It’s called The Little Traveler.  It’s the ultimate girl place, filled with everything from kitchen stuff to candy and tea, from kiddie toys to fancy crystal bowls, from a year round Christmas room(s) to some pretty interesting clothes… it has everything.  But best of all it has a little restaurant inside that has, by far my favorite vegetable soup.  When I thought the other day about making it though, I was worried that it just wouldn’t be enough for us.  Sometimes I get really hungry and let’s face it, a bowl of soup just doesn’t do it for me.  I remembered I had a package of barley still in the pantry from when I made beef stew about a month ago and decided I’d make some alterations to the original recipe to make it more filling.

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It’s a rather simple soup to make, it does take a little time though to cut up all the veggies and simmer.  But in my opinion, it’s well worth the wait.  It is loaded with vegetables and has a lot of flavor that comes from beef broth.  You could try to make this soup vegan by using vegetable broth, but I worry it would be quick as flavorful.  You could pair this soup with fresh out of the oven cornbread or crusty bread or biscuits… or it my case, just a lot of saltine crackers.  Whichever you choose, they will pair well with the soup.

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This is the most perfect meal for a cold night, especially a Sunday night where you can curl up on the couch and watch football, if that’s your thing.  If it’s not your thing, then just make it on any night you want, no big deal.  I really think you will enjoy this soup, I hope so anyway!  I’d love to hear about if you do!

 

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Hearty Vegetable Barley Soup
Adapted from a recipe that’s not online or anywhere to be found other that in my mom’s recipe box… oh wait, yes it is, I wrote about it on my old blog!
Makes a lot… I’d say at least 8 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
4 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
14-28oz petite diced tomatoes (I don’t like a lot of tomatoes so I only used half of a 28oz can)
6-8 cups of low sodium beef broth (I used about 7 cups, almost 2 full cartons)
1 really big thinly sliced potato
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons dried parsley
3/4 cup pearl barley
1/4 of a small head of cabbage, chopped
2 tablespoons flour

Ok… heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the carrots, celery and onion and saute until they start to get tender.  Add the tomatoes, beef broth, potatoes and the basil and parsley and bring to a boil.  The stir in the barley.  Add salt.  Simmer this for a good 30 minutes.  Next, add the cabbage and stir.  Using a ladle or measuring cup, remove about 1/3 cup of the broth from the pot and stir in the flour.  Poor this back into the soup and stir to combine.  Simmer for another 10-15 minutes.  Check seasonings and add any if necessary.  Serve and enjoy!


You know what sucks?  Other than it being Sunday already, or that we started training for Tough Mudder this week, or the fact that we had to rake leaves this morning and our yard is already covered in more…

It sucks that it gets dark SO early now.  It’s really not that bad for me exactly because I get out of work around noon everyday so I get to enjoy daylight while others are stuck at work sitting in front of computers in an office… it’s one of the benefits of working 4am-noon everyday.  However, it sucks that it gets dark so early because it ruins all my photos I take of our dinners!  I start dinner while it’s still plenty light out, but it gets dark so quickly that by the time I’m finished, I have to take photos with our kitchen lights.

Oh the misery.  How will I ever survive??

Anywho… last week I was feeling under the weather.  I had to go home from work at 5am on Thursday but luckily felt decently well enough to go in on Friday.  However, my stomach was still in recovery mode for many days (and I think it still isn’t quite at normal yet).  I thought I was ok but everything I ate upset my stomach.  Brad claims it was “Beth-didn’t-get-a-flu-shot-itis” (if you saw the way I am about needles, you wouldn’t suggest I get one).  I think I just ate something weird or something along those lines.  Whatever it was, it sucked.  So I decided I was going to make chicken and noodles.  But it turns out this recipe is more like a thick chicken noodle soup than anything.

No matter what you want to call it, it’s amazing.  And it will make you instantly feel less sick than you did before you ate it.  You’ll feel cured (for a few hours anyway).  This soup literally makes you feel so much better with the first bite.  It’s a perfect comfort food for a day that you are feeling under the weather, but also for any day that the actual weather isn’t so lovely.  It makes for a great Sunday night meal that will give you plenty of leftovers come Monday for lunch and even Monday night for dinner (for two people).

It’s moderate on the labor scale.  It’s not as easy as warming up a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup, but it’s worth the work.  You can easily gather up enough energy and you’ll be so happy you did.  I loosely adapted this recipe from Pioneer Woman (link is below), but I had to do some major tweaking as I was in no mood for deboning and boiling my own chicken.  Instead I used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and quality store bought chicken stock.  I also finally bought some of those chicken bouillon cubes to get even more chicken flavor.  Sometimes I just don’t think chicken broth or stock and actual chicken gives it enough umph.  I was also able to finally find Reames Homestyle Egg Noodles which is something I have searched for at least 3 times at our grocery store but have never found.  Which, come to find out, is because they are on the very top shelf in the freezer section and pushed pretty far back on the shelf which makes it nearly impossible for a 5’2″ person like me to find.  What are those grocery people thinking!?

In the end I was REALLY happy with the results.  I felt that my tweaks worked out really well.  The soup had a perfect amount of flavor to it, it was thick but not too thick and in my opinion it had just enough veggies in it.  I’m telling you, this is going to be my go-to chicken noodle soup recipe.  It’s better than any version of that soup I have ever tried to make.  It will forever be at the top of my list of things to eat when I’m feeling crappy.  And I am 100% sure it will be up there on your list too!

Chicken and Noodles OR Chicken Noodle Soup
Loosely adapted from Pioneer Woman
Makes about 6-8 servings (for us it was closer to 8)

1/4 yellow onion, chopped
2 whole carrots, peeled and chopped
2 whole celery stalks of celery, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Meat of 1 whole rotisserie chicken, shredded or cubed
2- 32oz containers of chicken stock
2-3 chicken bouillon cubes
Salt and Pepper
1- 16oz package of Reame’s Frozen Homestyle Egg Noodles
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

First, shred or cube your chicken and set aside.  Heat the olive oil in large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the carrots, onion and celery.  Saute for a few minutes until the veggies start to get tender.  Pour in the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and add 2 of the chicken bouillon cubes (reserve the 3rd for later in case you want it, I like to start with less, you can always add more but you can’t take away!).  Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the chicken and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the noodles and simmer for another 15-20 minutes until the noodle are tender.  Pull out about 1/2 cup of the chicken stock in a measuring cup and add the flour to it.  Stir until the mixture is smooth (add more stock if needed).  Slowly add that to the soup, while stirring.  Let that simmer for a couple minutes until the soup starts to thicken.  Add more flour if desired.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can add dried parsley, thyme, turmeric or whatever else you want.  I just didn’t want anything crazy with my stomach being weird.  I didn’t think the soup really needed any of that, but you might!


Brad’s birthday was… oh … well … 2 weeks ago, but that’s ok.  I was debating how I was going to post these recipes and decided that I would do both of them in one post for ease (for me, not for you).  Yep.  I’m officially lazy.  Not sure where this has come from, but it’s true.  I have found myself watching more useless television and sleeping at odd hours of the day for longer than a normal person should nap.  Yep.  Lazy.  But it’s ok.  I’ve come to terms with it and have decided I should probably make some sort of changes regarding this laziness.  Maybe this week will be the week I change.  Maybe…  Actually, I’m really not that lazy. I’m just tired all the time because I wake up in the middle of the night to go stand and work for 8 hours.  I still manage to get my lists of things done, I just sleep in between all of those things on my lists.

   

Whatever.  I’m not sure why I even told you all of that.  It was useless information.  Moving on…

OK.  So Brad’s birthday was 2 weeks ago and it was really fun.  I brought him a specially decorated cupcake (I’m not the best at writing in icing) and we went to a concert that night and I made dinner and dessert for him the following night.  When I asked what he wanted for dinner he gave no response.  We had our family over that weekend and fried a turkey and had a whole bunch of sides and appetizers and desserts and beer…. lots of food.  And so he considered that his birthday dinner, however, I was still determined to make him something. So when he gave me no suggestions, I went to the internet and tried to find something a little different.  So stir fry it was!  We haven’t had stir fry in probably a month!  And as for dessert, I wanted something different than cake.  I had brought him home a chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream and I made chocolate whoopie pies with brown sugar Italian buttercream for the party, so I didn’t want anymore chocolate cake (that’s his favorite).  I found my answer pretty quickly while wasting time on Pinterest… carmel apple crisp.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Not just apple crisp, CARMEL apple crisp.

Let me start with the stir fry.  This is a beef with bok choy and carrot stir fry.  And it’s awesome.  It’s probably one of my most favorite stir fry recipes that I have made.  The sauce is a perfect combination of a little sweet and salty.  It actually has peanut butter in it, which I was hesitant, but it was barely noticeable.  I loved the combination of carrots and bok choy as well.  I just love bok choy.  If you don’t, you could sub a different leafy green, but I would highly suggest sticking with the bok choy.  Now, the butcher shop in our area didn’t have skirt steak, as the recipe calls for, so I got a flat iron steak.  That worked out really well, it’s so nice and tender!  If you can’t find either of those, flank steak would work just fine.  Let me just tell you, this recipe has definite potential to become our new go-to stir fry recipe!!



As for dessert… Holy cow it was good and holy cow it was easy!  I had found a few different recipes for carmel apple crisp on Pinterest (I had no idea carmel apple crisp was so popular!) so I ended up combining recipes to make, what I felt, would be the best.  Some recipes called for caramel sauce that goes on ice cream, but I don’t feel like that is REAL caramel.  So instead, I used the little caramel cubes that you buy by the bag (which is clearly the real stuff).  I cut them up smaller so they would melt a little more evenly.  And melt evenly they did!  While I got a little excited about the caramels and added a little bit too many, it still turned out delicious.  It could have used another apple with all that caramel, but it’s ok (don’t worry, I took this into account when writing the recipe below).  Bradley thoroughly enjoyed the extra caramel with his vanilla ice cream.

All in all it was a great birthday for him.  We didn’t have a Birthday Extravaganza this year (see this link, this link, and this link for last year’s Birthday Extravaganza), but we had two great days together.  I tried to be a little more low key than normal.  Usually, I go crazy and have all this stuff planned and I jam pack a whole weekend with too many things.  This year, we went simple.  A concert and really good food.  We are both excited for what this next year has in store!

Now go make this stir fry and carmel apple crisp.  It’s just really important that you do it.

Steak, Bok Choy and Carrot Stir Fry
Adapted from Martha Stewart 
Makes about 4 servings

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon peanut butter (We always have this on hand and it worked perfectly in this dish)
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1 pound of skirt steak, flat iron steak or flank steak cut about 1/2 inch thick
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2-3 heads of baby bok choy (I felt this worked better than the large heads the original recipe called for)
4 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced at an angle
Rice for serving
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped (we skipped this but I wanted you to know that this is an option)

In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, rice vinegar, peanut butter, honey and garlic together.

In a bowl (or on the cutting board like I did because I didn’t want to have to wash another bowl) mix the steak with the cornstarch. Season with salt and pepper and toss again.  In a nonstick skillet, heat the vegetable oil.  Add 1/2 of the steak and cook, tossing, until brown, only a couple minutes.  You don’t want to overcook this!!  Remove from skillet and cook the rest of the steak, remove and set aside.

Add the soy sauce mixture to the skillet.  Toss in the bok choy and carrots.  Cook, tossing occasionally until veggies are tender, about 5 minutes.  Return the steak to the skillet and toss.  Cook for a couple minutes until the steak is heated through.  Serve over immediately over the hot, cooked rice!

 

Carmel Apple Crisp
Adapted from like 5 different Pinterest links (here’s the only one I can remember I used)
Makes about 2-4 servings depending on how hungry you are!

2 apples of your choice, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
8-12 caramel cubes cut in thirds
4 tablespoons flour
6-8 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small chunks
8 tablespoons old fashioned rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray the bottom and sides of either a loaf pan or 4 ramekins with cooking spray.  Place apples in bottom of dish(es).  Sprinkle the caramels over the apples.

In a small bowl mix remaining dry ingredients together.  Cut in the butter with your fingertips until mixture is the texture of coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle over the top of the caramels and apples.

Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the apples feel tender when poked with a knife.  Remove from the oven and serve immediately with ice cream!


Have you ever eaten something and didn’t know what to do with yourself because it was so good.  So good that you realized half an hour later that you ate a good 4 extra helpings just because it tasted that good.  So good that you were sickeningly full but didn’t regret a single bite because… well… it was that good.

This dish is a prime example of that situation.  I was so full, but I still ate 2 servings (ok, I lied earlier about eating 4) just because I wanted to keep enjoying it.

I’ve never had chicken n’ biscuits before.  Never.  I don’t think so anyway.  But this is pretty similar to chicken pot pie, only with biscuits on it.  And I have definitely had chicken pot pie.  But this is chicken pot pie times 100.  It’s incredible.  It’s chicken and veggies in a deliciously creamy sauce with hints of sage and parsley.  And the biscuits.  Oh god the biscuits.  The biscuits, my friends, have cheese in them.  CHEESE.  And they are flaky and layer-y and fluffy and gooey on the bottom because they bake in the chicken wonderfulness.  This dish is heaven in a bowl.  Seriously.

Warning though.  This isn’t just magically tasty without any work.  You have to devote a good afternoon to working on this dish.  I opted to separate everything out, doing one thing at a time, but you could do a good amount of multitasking and get it done in slightly less time.  However, I had a whole Saturday afternoon to myself so I was in no rush.  But I do think you need to know that it’s just not a “this cooks in 30 mins or less” meal.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it.  By all means, make this dish.  I mean in.  It’s an incredibly delicious meal that will leave you feeling amazing.  It’s a perfect meal for a cool, fall day.  Oh!  It’d also be perfect for Halloween night!  Oh, I have to remember that!  This is 100% on my must make a million times list!

Chicken n’ Biscuits
Adapted from Eat, Live, Run (instructions are pretty much word for word from her)
Makes 6 servings (from our experience.)

1 quart chicken stock (I used broth and it was just fine)
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 large celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3-4 medium sized red potatoes (I used like 5 small ones because I wanted it potato-y)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you could technically cheat and use a rotisserie chicken I think, but I would suggest following the recipe)
6 tablespoons butter (yea, it’s a lot, but you do need all of it)
6 tablespoons flour
3 cloves of garlic, peeled smashed with a knife
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper
*Original recipe calls for 2 cups of chopped mushrooms, but I hate mushrooms so I just added an extra carrot and an extra stalk of celery.  If you choose to add the mushrooms, only use 3 carrots and 2 stalks of celery.

For the biscuits:
1 1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons COLD butter
2 tablespoons COLD shortening
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttermilk (this is what the recipe called for.  I only had half & half on hand, but it worked just fine!)

In a large pot filled with water and the garlic cloves, poach the chicken breasts until cooked through. Drain and set aside to cool.  Once cool, chop into cubes.

In another large pot (I used the one I cooked the chicken breasts in, just emptied the pan and did a quick rinse.  Less dishes this way), bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the carrots, celery and potatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until veggies are done. Remove veggies with a slotted spoon and reserve broth. Combine chicken and veggies and set aside.

In a dutch oven, melt the butter. Add the onions and saute for about seven minutes, or until they are soft. Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Keep cooking for about five minutes, making sure to scrape the flour from the bottom of the pot so it doesn’t burn. Now, slowly pour in the remaining stock, whisking as you pour. Crank up the heat to high and whisk your heart out for about five minutes as the sauce thickens and boils. Add the thyme, parsley,  salt and pepper. Pour the chicken and veggies into the dutch over (or a casserole dish) and set aside while you make the biscuits. You could also make the sauce earlier in the day and stick it in the fridge until later….just be sure to make the biscuits right before you serve it!

Preheat the oven to 450. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter and shortening and use your fingers to mix until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Stir in the cheese. Break the egg into a measuring cup and add the buttermilk to the egg. Whisk and then pour the mixture into the flour mixture and mix so that you have a relatively smooth ball of dough. On a floured surface, knead the dough four times (FOUR TIMES) and then roll out to 1/2 inch thick. Cut biscuits to desired size (I made 6 biscuits because I didn’t want a massive biscuit per serving).  Place biscuits on top of the filling and brush the tops with egg wash (just one yolk mixed with a little warm water—this gives the biscuits shine) and prick with a fork.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden and the chicken mixture is bubbling. Serve hot.  And eat till you can’t stand anymore.


Welllll…. we managed to eat like vegans for 4 meals.  Uuhhhh….

Allow me to explain.  We ate like vegans actually for 5 days because I made 2 hearty soups that fed us fantastic leftovers.  We started on Monday and went all the way through Friday, sort of.  I made a total of 4 vegan recipes (one was for lunch and too easy to write a whole post about so I’ll just have to tell you about it), but here’s what happened.  The NASCAR race was in town and there was so much going on Friday, Saturday and Sunday that by Saturday I caved.  I’m not proud of it.  But sometimes when you’ve been drinking beer for a good part of the day and you already came up with some great vegan recipes, it’s hard to come up with more.  So basically, I just got lazy.  There…. I said it.  I’ve decided today that I will not beat myself up over it.  4 meals was pretty good and it’s not my fault that it was race weekend.  Plus, I had too high of expectations to be able to quit all dairy and meat cold turkey.

Instead, I think our goal for right now will be to eat a few vegan meals a week, a few vegetarian meals a week and just try to skip red meat, chicken and fish as much as possible.  I’ll report back with, hopefully, better news next week.  But for the time being I will share my handful of awesome vegan recipes!

This was Vegan Meal #2!  And to my surprise, it was pretty good!  Good enough that I will make it again.  This is another recipe that I found on Whole Foods’ website.  As I said in the last post, I was stunned by how many fantastic recipes they have on their website.  My favorite thing about all their recipes is that they are so different!  There’s a huge variety and that is absolutely what we need if we are going to embark on this journey… again.

As I said, this is an awesome vegan dish.  It’s really simple to make and also pretty quick, you just have to chop up a few veggies and cook the soba noodles which take a whopping 4 minutes to cook.  The peanut butter was definitely a different taste for me since we have never eaten anything savory with peanut butter.  But, I think that having the tahini and tamari helped balance out that out.  The snow peas were my favorite part of this dish too.  I got some of the best snow peas ever from Whole Foods last week.  I couldn’t stop eating them.  On a side note- this does make a LOT.  And sadly, it does not keep well, at all.  The noodles really soak up the sauce, but not in a good way.  You lose a lot of flavor.  So if you are making this for just 2 people, half this recipe.  Otherwise, if you are making this for a family of 4, you’ll be good with the recipe as is.  I just wanted to warn you.  However, if you eat this all right after you make it, yum.  It’s really great!


Taken straight from Whole Foods’ website (with only a couple minor changes)
Serves 4

1- 8oz package of soba noodles
2 cups of snow peas
2 tablespoons of roasted, unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter, or almond butter (this is VERY important.  Do not sub any other type of peanut butter!!!)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari (gluten-free soy sauce.  You could use regular soy sauce here)
1 tablespoon tahini
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 scallions, sliced
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Cook soba noodles according to package.  You can add the snow peas about one minute before the noodles are done, but I put mine in fresh.

In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, rice vinegar, tamari, tahini and red pepper flakes.  Add a splash of warm water to thin the sauce if desired.  Add the noodles, snow peans, carrots, red pepper, scallions and sesame seeds.  Toss to coat everything with the sauce.  Serve at room temp or chilled (it’s best at room temp)!


Here’s the deal- Brad and I decided to try going vegan for a week…ish.  It’s undecided as to how long we will be doing this, however, when it comes to food, I do best with short term goals.  It’s Thursday night currently, and as far as I am aware, I have not broken this goal that we started on Monday.

Allow me to explain why we would decide to do something so crazy:

We watched a film called “Forks Over Knives“.  And I’m pretty sure everyone NEEDS to watch it.  You can rent it and you can also watch it on Hulu Plus.  It’s a film about plant based diets and how they basically will make you disease free, cancer free, diabetes free, and essentially live an awesome, very long, healthy life.  We watched it last Wednesday and it was far more of an awakening for us than we could have ever imagined.  And so we decided to try to go vegan, but by taking small steps.

I’ll admit, it hasn’t been super easy because, while we eat a lot of meatless meals, we eat a lot of dairy.  I do not drink milk though for 2 reasons.  1) it is so gross and 2) I’m a little bit lactose intolerant (but only for certain things, it weird.  Milk bugs me, ice cream bugs me and certain amounts of cheese bug me… I’m just screwy I suppose).  But we do eat a lot of meals that involve cheese.  Especially the Mexican ones.  Mexican is just so easy to turn into a meatless meal because all you have to do is substitute black beans for the meat and you’re done.  But they are definitely not vegan meals.  There, my friends, lies the problem.

I started to panic a little when I realized I was going to have to come up with some vegan meals for this week.  But to my utter amazement, Whole Foods‘ website has more vegan recipes than I think I knew existed.  735 to be exact.  I was so excited that I spent a good hour just surfing through some the recipes.  I found some really great ones, this being one of them!

When I think of eating vegan food I think of healthy, green, earthy foods that are not entirely filling nor entirely delicious.  Wrong.  REALLY WRONG.  This soup is awesome.  So awesome that we’ve been eating it leftover… and if you know me, if I eat something leftover it has to be good.  I was shocked.  How could something with all plants or plant based stuff be… so good?

My first skepticism was the vegetable broth.  Which is obviously not quite as flavorful as chicken broth or beef broth.  I am happy to say that it does have flavor, and good flavor at that!  And the kale?  Well, this was the most shocking part!  The kale was great!!  Last time we had kale was when we tried making kale chips and learned quickly that they were NOT for us.  At all.  So I was scared to put it in the soup.  But when it’s not baked in an oven, kale is actually pretty tasty!  I think it added another level to the soup.  But you could easily substitute spinach if kale isn’t you’re think.  You definitely need one of the two though, because like I said, it adds a real something to this soup!

This was a very easy meal to make as well.  It didn’t take very long to make at all.  It reminds me almost of a minestrone with the beans and veggies and pasta.  Maybe next time I’ll add some green beans to it too.  I like green beans in my soups!  Even if you aren’t going on a vegan diet like we are, this soup is still a great addition to your box of recipes.  It’s not entirely the best meal for a 100 degree day, but I’m so sick of summer food that I couldn’t pass this soup up.  I know that we will for sure be making this soup again come fall…. or in a few weeks (which will hopefully be cooler then!).

Pasta and Bean Soup with Kale
Adapted from Whole Foods website with some minor changes
Makes about 6-8 servings

2 cans no salt added kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
1 quart of low sodium vegetable broth
1 (14.5) oz can of diced tomatoes
Salt to taste
3/4 cup small pasta, I used whole grain elbow macaroni
2/3 bunch of kale, large stems removed and leaves sliced

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery and cook, stirring every once and awhile, until everything is tender.  Stir in the beans, broth and diced tomatoes.  Add salt and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until tender (about 10 minutes).  Stir in the kale and cook for another 5 minutes.  Serve in bowls!



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