Sunday, January 14, 2018

Italian Veggie Soup

Happy New Year, friends! I've written a Year in Review post in my head but I've yet to type it out on my keyboard. Someday, people. Someday.

But! In the meantime (while you're waiting with baited breath for the Jones family year in review), would you like to see Baby #5? He's almost 16 months old and he climbs on/in/out of everything. He stands on the kitchen island. And the dining room table. All of the furniture. It's never ending. And he's so cute, it makes us all laugh. Being the baby is a sweet deal.

And on to the actual point of this post. Here's a totally healthy, Paleo, Whole30 Italian Veggie Soup recipe. My sister-in-law texted this to me one night and I made it soon thereafter. It's got flavor, texture and it will warm you up while it's 4 degrees. Like it was today.

I snapped this picture with my phone right before I inhaled this mug of soup for lunch. So don't judge the soup by the sloppy picture. The soup has just the right amount of spice and texture from the veggies and it's sweet from the onions and carrots and the kale is the perfect finish. Parmesan would be a perfect finish, too, if you're not a Paleo person.

Italian Veggie Soup

1 T olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 T Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
15 oz. tomato sauce
15 oz. diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock
1 bunch kale, leaves torn into small pieces

Saute the onion, carrots & celery in olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes until softened and beginning to brown. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper & red pepper flakes and stir for a minute. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes & stock and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Add the torn kale and remove from the heat. Give the kale about 5-10 minutes to wilt a bit and then serve.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Chopped Salad

This salad just sort of evolved...I've made it so many times this summer, each a little different than the last. Oh summer, how are you already giving way to fall? I love fall...but I really love summer.

And I loved tossed salads. Quinoa gives this wonderful texture and flavor to salads...if you haven't tried it, you've got to.

Really you can toss just about anything in and it would be yummy. Roasted red peppers would be great...I might need to try that next time.

The Garlic Expressions Vinaigrette is's in regular stores like Kroger but usually in a random spot, like some shelf in the produce department. But the best part is that it has whole garlic cloves at the bottom. They. are. amazing. My friend brought me this dressing when Levi was born and I've been eating it ever since.

On that note, Levi is fixin' to be 1 (do y'all say fixin'? Or is that South speech?). What in the world. He is an absolute joy.

Here is the baby, helping himself to an Asian pear we just picked. Our apples and pears have been abundant. We've made apple butter, pear butter, canned pears, applesauce, baked apples, skillet apple pie (oh my word. it was amazing)...

And yes, I will still call him "the baby" when he's 4...and 6...and probably 15.

Chopped Salad
4 oz. arugula
1 heart of romaine, chopped
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked in 1 cup water & 1/2 tsp salt until done and cooled to room temperature
15 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped small
8 oz. grape tomatoes, cut in half or thirds
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed (optional)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup sliced toasted almonds
Garlic Expressions Vinaigrette (delicious) or Italian dressing...or Greek Feta dressing...whatever you like

Toss ingredients in a large bowl. Add enough dressing to moisten (but not too much!) can always add more if you need it. Serve immediately.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup January Matthew and I did a Whole30. And that was several months ago. And I'm just now getting around to posting this soup.

It is so good and I made it several times that month. It's a great Whole30 lunch...or any kind of lunch. I adore curry powder...and coconut...but I don't love butternut squash. I think it's a texture thing. It gets mushy. But it's perfect in this soup because it's pureed! The flavors are delicious together.

Also, I use the bags of frozen chopped butternut squash. It makes the soup fast and so easy. This mama ain't got time to slaughter a whole butternut squash. I've done it before and it practically takes an ax chop into that thing. So the frozen variety works great.

Here's how I did it...

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

1 T coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper (cut back if you like it with less spice)
1 T curry powder
2 one-pound bags of frozen chopped butternut squash (no need to thaw it first)
1 quart chicken stock
1 can coconut milk (I use lite)

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion for 8-10 minutes until it starts to soften. Add the salt, pepper & curry and stir it around. Add the butternut squash and stock. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes or so until the squash is tender. At this point, I use an immersion blender to make the soup smooth & creamy (but you could use a blender or food processor...just be careful not to overfill the food processor bowl). Add the coconut milk, heat through and taste for seasonings.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Kale Salad

This salad is pretty delicious, I must say. The Panera salad with roasted beets was my inspiration...but I'm not about to roast beets in my kitchen, so this is the next best thing to that salad.

I'm also loving adding quinoa to my salads this year! It's a 2017 thing.

I've made this salad a ton but apparently taking a picture of it was too much for me, so no picture this time. Just imagine the beautiful colors and delicious flavors. That's the best I've got to offer.

So delicious! Oh, and you want to dress this salad several hours before you serve it...kale needs some time to relax and become less...chewy.

Kale Salad

Juice of 2 lemons
3 T honey
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bunch kale, stems removed & chopped finely
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked in 1 cup water until done
1 cup dried cranberries
15 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
3/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
8 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Whisk together the lemon juice, honey, olive oil, salt & pepper. Add the shredded kale and toss it to coat. Taste the kale - you may need to add a bit more honey as kale can be quite bitter. Adjust the seasonings and know that it will get better with time. You want to dress the salad several hours before eating it. Toss in the cooked quinoa and craisins and combine. On top of the salad, sprinkle the mandarin oranges and almonds and mix in just a little bit (not too much or the oranges will break up). Just before serving, sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese on top. Don't stir in the goat cheese or it will dissolve and make a mess.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2016 In Review

I've never done a year in review post before! It sounded fun so I thought I'd try it.

In January, we found out that we were expecting a baby! #5. We've had a baby every "even" year since 2008, so why should 2016 be any different? Exactly.

In related news, I love being pregnant. Really. There is nothing sweeter than having a baby inside my belly. Nothing sweeter than telling our kids that there's gonna be another. Nothing better than filling every seat in my van.

I love it.

In March, our baby #2 turned 6. I turned 35. (!) We added a furry member to our family: Meet Ari Zebra (Mary Beth was in charge of naming him). He is a lionhead bunny. (Ari=lion in Hebrew; Zebra=black&white color to an 8-year-old). Isn't he CUTE???

In April, our baby #1 turned 8. Wow.

In May, our baby #4 turned 2, Matthew turned 35 and we celebrated 13 years of marriage! If you had told us when we got married that we would have 5 children, I would have called you a false prophet. But that's okay because I've had to eat a lot of words in my day. I'm used to it.

June started summer! I love summer. The kids literally wore nothing but bathing suits the entire month. We played in the backyard, in the sprinkler, in the baby pool, in the fields, the orchard and on the playset. We also went to the (real) pool a lot. Even as we pass the pool in the dead of winter, Sarah Kate (she's 2) still screams "pool!" Never mind that it's empty save some leaves and twigs.

In August, our baby #3 turned 4. And the big girls started school, 1st & 3rd grades. Then, in a stroke of genius, I taught my big girls how to clean bathrooms.

In September, our Levi Davidson was born! He weighed nearly 9 pounds. Sweet, peaceful, precious baby. The 4 kids are so proud. Levi excels in nursing, smiling and sleeping. (I didn't think we could birth a baby that slept in the first year of his life. Levi has proven me wrong and I am thankful!)

In November, our 13-year-old longhaired mini weiner dog went to heaven. (Most dogs do go to heaven, you know.) She slept with us every night. I still miss her. I will need to have another weiner dog in the near future.

It's rarely calm, never quiet, sometimes clean and usually fun at our house. I am thankful for another year of God's blessing on our family. Matthew and I kicked off 2017 with the Whole30! It's so much fun (well, maybe "fun" isn't the most accurate descriptor, but I'm trying to be positive). I will probably post some Whole30 recipes on here just in the event that we do this again, I'm not reinventing the wheel trying to remember what we ate for the month!

(In case you're curious, Whole30 is a 30-day elimination eating plan where you get to eat meat, eggs, nuts, fruits, vegetables & certain healthy oils (like olive & coconut). No dairy, sugar, grains or legumes. It's not a diet. It's a nutritional "reset." Or so I'm told.)

These are 2 peas in a pod...

Happy New Year, y'all!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Grilled Corn Salad

I've been making this salad this summer and everyone loves it everywhere I take it. I know it's technically not summer anymore because Labor Day has passed and we're not supposed to wear white shoes (I don't actually own any white shoes) or summery dresses. But it's 94 degrees here and I'm really pregnant so I'll eat corn salad and wear summery dresses if I feel like it. Just sayin'.

Have you grilled corn? It's smoky and sweet and absolutely delicious. Mixed with the other salad ingredients - like feta cheese - downright addictive.

That's probably all I need to say about this.

Go forth and make it while the corn is still fresh-picked and delicious.

Grilled Corn Salad

8 ears of corn, grilled until slightly charred (I usually brush it with olive oil before grilling)
3 avocados, diced & tossed with the juice from one lemon (to prevent browning)
2 cups tomatoes (I use garden-fresh heirlooms or grape tomatoes), chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 (heaping) cup crumbled feta cheese
English cucumber, peeled and diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

6 T apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Cut the corn from the cob and toss it with the other veggies and feta cheese. Whisk the vinaigrette together and mix it with the salad. Serve this immediately at room temp (yum!) or chill it in the fridge for up to a few hours. Best served the same day you make it.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kale & Quinoa Salad

There's something about summer and pregnancy that makes me crave salads like crazy! I can't get enough salad. I've made this kale & quinoa salad several times (and I've eaten Panera's Greek Kale & Quinoa salad several times…delicious…and Malone's kale & quinoa with salmon…fabulous). No one else in my family is wild about this combo of flavors/textures, but I think it's awesome. (Matthew is not a picky eater but raw kale is a bit too…chewy for him. And that's okay. More for me.)

So you just cook the quinoa (takes only about 15 minutes), throw in the minced kale and Craisins, toss it with the vinaigrette and top with the sliced onions and goat cheese. Hello delicious.

I've eaten this warm, room temp & cold. All 3 ways are my favorite.

Kale & Quinoa Salad

1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed well in a sieve
2 cups water
1 bunch kale, leaves stripped from stems and finely chopped
heaping 1/2 cup Craisins
Sliced almonds, toasted (about 3/4 cup, but do as many as you like)
Goat cheese, crumbled (about a cup, maybe more)

Lemon Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons, juiced)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Cook the quinoa in the water in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until water is absorbed. Stir in the chopped kale and Craisins. Toss with the vinaigrette. Add the almonds and goat cheese to taste - you can sprinkle on top or mix them into the salad. (I tend to sprinkle them on top because goat cheese tends to dissolve into salads if you mix it too much.)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Tex-Mex Fried Rice

It's summer and I am thankful for that. I love having my kids home with me! It's wild and crazy and loud (did I mention that it's loud?) and dirty and messy but it's fun. We play outside (a lot). And I've even had time to make a few new yummy recipes.

So I have another Pioneer Woman recipe to share…I added a few things to it to make it work for our family and everyone LOVED it! It was pretty delicious and easy…and good left over. I'll definitely make this again.

Tex-Mex Fried Rice
Adapted from Pioneer Woman

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
15 oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
4 oz. can chopped green chiles
10 oz. can Rotel tomatoes
3-4 cups cooked white rice (leftover rice works well)
1 T cumin
1 T chili powder
1 T garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 T worcestershire sauce
4 green onions, sliced thin
Juice of 1 lime
1 bunch cilantro, chopped fine

Brown the ground beef with the onion and bell pepper in a large deep skillet, crumbling as it cooks. Drain any excess grease. Stir in the corn, black beans, green chiles and Rotel. Cook for a minute. Stir in the rice and remaining ingredients and heat through. Ready to serve! Delicious by itself or topped with cheese, salsa, avocado (or guacamole!) & sour cream.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Heavenly Hummus Wrap (PW Recipe)

Hi y'all. This is not my original recipe, and it's so delicious exactly the way it's written that I really haven't changed anything. PW knows what she's doing. Which is, I guess, why Food Network deemed her worthy of her own show. And she has several cookbooks. And her own line of KitchenAid mixers. And dishes.

Let's face it. She's an empire. So who am I to mess with one of her recipes.

I have a thing about wraps, so when I saw her make this veggie wrap on her show, I knew I needed one. It's really delicious. There's just something about the cool and creamy hummus, the warm and sweet caramelized onions, the cool veggies, the salty bite of feta and the balsamic-dressed greens.

Mmmmm...I'd like one right this moment. But I've de-prioritized cooking this week year while I finished up my painting projects. I've nearly finished painting the main floor and gotten a start on the second floor. Whew.

Heavenly Hummus Wrap

Spinach wrap (sold where the tortillas are)
Hummus (I make it but you can buy it)
1 onion, sliced thin
2 tsp butter
Roasted red peppers, sliced
Canned quartered artichoke hearts, drained
Feta cheese, crumbled
Handful of leafy greens (spring mix, arugula, spinach, etc.)

Smooth a generous amount of hummus on the center of the tortilla. Caramelize the onions in the butter over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or so until sweet and browned and delicious. Spread desired amount of onions on top of hummus. Next layer the roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts on top and sprinkle with feta. Toss the greens with balsamic dressing and place on top of the wrap. Roll it and enjoy!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

(How to) Can Fabulous Salsa

Last summer my dad grew more tomatoes than I can even describe to you. No lie. Buckets and buckets.

This is my Bitty Baby. She's 19 months old. Hurts my heart. 
I was thrilled. I made tomato sauce and froze it. We ate fresh tomatoes every day. I made fresh pico all the time. And (drumroll please) I canned salsa!

Canning salsa has been on my bucket list for quite some time. (Remember, we're not to judge others' bucket lists.)

You're gonna wanna do this, peeps. Eat it with a spoon, drink it with a straw, just get it in your mouth.

I shared it with my family and my brother said it was the perfect amount of "sweet and heat." Mission accomplished.

Once I became a pro at canning salsa, I went to town canning pears & apples from our orchard. By next summer, I'm going to be a canning machine. Watch out. It's juicy, messy & sloppy but so worth it.

Here's how I did it.

(How to) Can Fabulous Salsa

8-10 cups of peeled, chopped & drained tomatoes (I used Roma tomatoes & plum tomatoes)
2 large sweet onions, chopped
2 green peppers
1/2 cup jalapeno peppers, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 T cumin
2 tsp pepper
2 T kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
15 oz. can tomato sauce
12 oz. can tomato paste
Juice of 2 limes
Bunch of cilantro, chopped fine

Place all ingredients except for lime juice & cilantro into a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to create the consistency you want. I like it pretty pureed (though not completely). Taste it and see what you think. You can always add more heat, salt, sugar, whatever, to suit your taste. Stir in the cilantro & lime juice. Ladle into canning jars, seal with lids and cook in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

*Just a canning tip: the jars may not feel completely sealed on top when you remove them from the water; if the lids don't pop after the jar has cooled, you know you have a good seal. If it still pops, process in the water for another 10 minutes.