Chicken Tortellini Soup

My friends, what’s better that chicken noodle soup?

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Swapping out the noodles for cheese-filled pasta goodness. Allow me to introduce to you chicken tortellini soup.

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Soup has always been my comfort food. When I was younger, I would heat up a can of chicken broth, throw some canned garbanzo beans in it, and call it a soup. While I still use those two ingredients in the soups I make now, I would like to believe I got a little more sophisticated with my soup recipes.

Chicken Tortellini Soup (makes 4-6 servings)

Ingredients:IMG_5299

  • 1 white onion
  • 5 celery stalks
  • 5 medium carrot sticks
  • 2 cups cooked chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups kale
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 package cheese tortellini
  • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add minced garlic.
  2. Dice onions, and slice carrots and celery and add these three ingredients to the saucepan. Stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Strain liquid out of the canned corn and kidney beans. Rinse both corn and kidney beans in a colander. Add to saucepan and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add entire can of stewed tomatoes and all of the chicken broth to the saucepan. Add chopped kale. Cover saucepan and allow soup to cook for 4 minutes. Taste, then add salt and pepper to taste (I added about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper).
  5. Add chopped chicken and tortellini. Heat soup until tortellini is cooked (about 6-8 minutes). Soup should be bubbling softly.
  6. Label soup into bowls. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
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Apple Butter Banana Bread

Attention, everyone: I have a new banana bread recipe.

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While I am sure all of you are craving something with pumpkin in it right about now, I am all about sharing a recipe with bananas and apples and you have to try. This banana bread is so delicious, and the apple flavor is present but not in any way overpowering. And with no butter and no all-purpose flour, the recipe is pretty good for you too!

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Apple Butter Banana Bread (makes 1 large loaf or 2 mini loaves)

Ingredients:DSCF1017

  • 2 medium-sized bananas (about 3/4 cup worth when smashed)
  • 1.5 cups oat flour (made by blending/food processing rolled oats)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/2 cup apple butter (make it at in your slow cooker using 3 ingredients here)
  • 1/4 canola oil
  • chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease baking pan(s).
  2. Mash bananas in a medium-sized bowl. Add the apple butter, oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oat flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture while stirring. Mix until just combined.
  5. Pour banana bread batter into baking pan(s) and top with chocolate chips.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool before enjoying.

Oven-Roasted Eggplant Caprese Salad

I love a good Caprese salad. It’s refreshing and just makes me feel so healthy and Italian! But this week when I was making Caprese salad as a side dish for dinner, I wanted to make it a little more hearty. Digging through my refrigerator, I happened to find an eggplant that I purchased the week before at the farmer’s market. What a great new ingredient to add to the Caprese salad!I thought, as I sliced it up and threw it in the oven. And you know what? It was delicious and so easy to make! The oven does all the work for you while you slice up your tomatoes and mozzarella. A simple salad that’s easy to make, delicious, and looks amazing? Get your Mediterranean on and make this for dinner tonight.

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Oven-Roasted Eggplant Caprese Salad

IngredientsIMG_5129

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1-2 tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella                       (1 mozzarella ball)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic graze
  • Fresh basil leaves, optional
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Clean and cut eggplant into slices that are about 1/2 inch thick. Place slices on a cooking sheet covered with non-stick spray.
  2. Brush eggplant slices with olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper. Place cooking sheet in the oven to bake for about 25 minutes.
  3. While your eggplant is baking, clean tomatoes and slice them. Slice mozzarella as well. (The thickness of your slices is up to you. I sliced my tomatoes and mozzarella almost 1/2 inch thick.)
  4. When the eggplant is golden brown and soft (you’ll notice the difference in texture when you see it), remove the eggplant from the oven and allow it a few minutes to cool.
  5. Layer eggplant slices, tomato slices, and mozzarella slices on a serving plate. If you have basil leaves, sprinkle them on top. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic glaze over the top of the salad, and sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top.
  6. Eat and enjoy! Mangia!

Thai-Inspired Shrimp Noodle Bowl

When asked where I get ideas for recipes, I usually say Foodgawker. It is probably the most-used app on my cell phone (sorry, Facebook) and it makes me want to cook all the time. Which is understandable because all of the chefs featured on the website are crazy-talented and super creative. Hence, the perfect inspiration.

Though there is another website I frequent often, one that is not necessarily known for its food recipes but IS known for chomping up ample amounts of free time worldwide: I’m talking about Buzzfeed.

I did not realize Buzzfeed has a Food section until a couple of weeks ago, but now that I know it exists my internet surfing has gravitated towards it, clicking on articles such as “How You Eat On Instagram Vs. How You Eat In Real Life” and “23 Easy and Inexpensive Meals You Can Make With Pita Bread” until I forget what time it is and that I should have been in bed hours before.

The article that I received this inspiration from happened to be “25 Dinners That Are Basically Impossible to Mess Up“, and the dish that made it to the dinner table was the Asian Noodle Bowl from Minimalist Baker. The recipe really is extremely simple, and completely versatile. For example, the original recipe calls for tofu but we decided to grill some shrimp. We also added some sliced red and yellow bell peppers for the extra kick of color, and cucumber just because.

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When we dug into our Asian Noodle Bowls for dinner, my fiancé and I went silent. We quietly devoured our bowls, not speaking until we went in for seconds. And when we did speak we both said something along the lines of “Wow this stuff is unbelievably good“. It’s the combination of crunchy vegetables, warm noodles, and that peanut ginger dressing! Ah, so yummy, and such a quick and healthy homemade meal.

Don’t wait another day. Make the Asian Noodle Bowl tonight!

To get the recipe, click here.

 

 

Big news: I got engaged and my fiancé can cook!

Apologies for taking (yikes!) a month away from writing, but I promise I have a good excuse.

As the title of this post entails, I have some VERY exciting news to share with all of you: my boyfriend of 5 years proposed! Feel free to scroll down if you do not want the engagement details, but if you wanna know how he did it, please read on.

My fiancé has been telling me for the past couple of months that he wanted to do a carriage ride through Central Park before we move out of NYC and move in together. He told me that afterward we could go have a nice dinner in one of the Central Park restaurants. I happen to love dressing up and going out for a nice, long dinner, so I took very little convincing. In fact, I think I jumped up and down with excitement because the plan sounded so romantic. I had no idea that was just the beginning. While on our carriage ride, my fiancé asked if we could stop by Bethesda Fountain (in the middle of Central Park). Still oblivious to what was going on, I happily jumped out of the carriage and strolled towards the fountain. Upon arriving at the fountain, my fiancé gave me a penny and told me to close my eyes and make a wish. I was happy to oblige, and still had no idea what was going on…until I opened my eyes. There, on one knee, was my now-fiancé holding a ring box, asking me to spend the rest of my life with him. There was no hesitation; with tears of joy pouring down my face, I said yes (I don’t even remember if I let him finish his proposal!).

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Here I am, still oblivious to what’s going on

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The proposal

The area surrounding the fountain exploded with applause and cheering. I felt like I had won the Super Bowl! It was then that I realized that there was someone snapping photos of us, and that a guitarist sitting at the fountain’s edge was playing a familiar song…a song that my fiancé and I consider our song. I was such a magical moment, better than any fairy tale or movie scene, and I will cherish that moment for the rest of my life. The next week was a whirlwind of celebration and moving in together, and after weeks of eating out for every single meal we finally got to make dinner at our new place. As if my fiancé weren’t amazing enough, he showed that he can cook too! In all of our years of dating, we have cooked together only a handful of times, and I had never really let him take the reins and cook something all by himself. Well, let me tell you, that is going to change!

Start reading here if you wanna go straight to the food-talk…IMG_4843 For the first dinner in our new place, my fiancé made Chipotle Shrimp Tacos. I love this dish for many reasons: (1) I think soft tacos are one of the best foods in the world, (2) seafood (shrimp especially) is delicious, and (3) you can add heaping mounds of avocado or guacamole to it. Not only is the dish crazy-delicious and flavorful, it is packed with wholesome ingredients (the only things not made from scratch are the chipotle sauce and the tortillas). Shrimp is also a good source of lean protein, and the avocado salsa contributes all sorts of health benefits. This is a dish you can feel good about eating. So go ahead and showcase your culinary skills! And fair warning: you will definitely be asked to make this again.

Chipotle Shrimp Tacos  (Serves 2) Ingredients

  • IMG_484625 shrimp, fresh or thawed, deveined
  • Chipotle sauce (or seasoning)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 avocado
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 4-6 flour or corn tortillas

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mix shrimp with the Chipotle sauce, set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, add the diced avocado, diced tomatoes, diced onion, lime, cilantro, and minced garlic. Fold ingredients together to avoid mushing up the avocado too much. Add salt and pepper to taste, set aside.
  3. Warm a skillet and add olive oil. Cook shrimp for 2 minutes on each side, then remove from heat.
  4. For perfect tortillas: stack tortillas on a microwave-safe plate and drape a damp paper towel over them. Microwave for 30 seconds, or until warm,
  5. On your now perfectly warmed tortilla, layer avocado salsa and shrimp. Squeeze fresh lime juice on top. Serve with beans and rice for a complete meal.

Light Tuna Avocado Salad

Ah summertime, what a wonderful time of the year! Even someone like myself who lacks air conditioning in a sweltering season like this one has to appreciate how nice it is to have sunshine and warmth. The weather just makes me want to listen to reggae music and be outside more. 

Specifically, the weather makes me want to go to the beach. Last weekend and this weekend were my first real beach weekends, and despite the fact I did not go swimming in the water (I like the beach, I’m not particularly fond of super cold ocean water), I really had a wonderful time. Even have the tan lines to prove it.

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There are plenty of things about being close to the coastline that are enjoyable to me. From a food standpoint, its definitely all about the sea food. I love fish. Not only is fish tasty, it is a lean protein and a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

This Light Tuna Avocado Salad is made to bring the seafood to you, wherever you may be and especially if you fear cooking seafood. This recipe uses canned tuna because its inexpensive, stores well, and can be incorporated into the salad in no time. And I added avocado for obvious reasons: avocado makes everything better.

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Makes this salad, eat healthy, and have yourself a little beach day no matter where you are!

Light Tuna Avocado Salad (Serves 1)

IngredientsIMG_4584

  • 1 can of tuna fish in water, drained
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (I used Fage 0% fat Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/2 avocado, peeled and diced
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 cup of greens (mixed greens, Romaine, spinach…pick your favorite!)
  • Optional: a dash of Sriracha adds a nice spicy kick!

Directions

  1. Mix drained tuna with yogurt and avocado. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. 
  2. Place tuna salad on top of greens of choice OR spread salad onto bread for a delicious and flavorful sandwich!

Mediterranean Seven-Layer Dip

A dish so good I made it twice!

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Seriously, this dip is that good. I had a potluck to go to a couple of weeks ago and wanted to bring something that everyone could snack on, and that was easy for me to throw together. This dish accomplishes those two goals and so much more: it is also beautiful to look at (you have to admit even though it’s in Tupperware those layers are gorgeous), and healthy to boot! Plenty of vegetables in this powerhouse of a party food. And it looks so fun and festive that people will enjoy eating it without even realizing that they are making a nutritious choice.

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I know it does not necessarily look fancy in plastic but we must take a moment to admire the pretty layers!

It was enjoyed so much the first time that I made it again for my brother’s graduation party the next week. And it looked even prettier in the serving bowl my mom had on hand. Served with some multigrain pita chips or fresh pita bread, this appetizer is certain to be a crowd-pleaser that everyone enjoys.

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Mediterranean Seven-Layer Dip (adapted from Jackie’s recipe at Domestic Fits. All of her recipes are amazing and I highly recommend checking out her blog )

Ingredients:IMG_4448

  • 16 oz. hummus (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1/2 of a large red onion
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato
  • 1 large cucumber (or package of smaller cucumbers)
  • 1/4 cup olives (Kalamata olives are the best for this dish)
  • 1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts
  • Feta cheese (how much you add really depends on how much you love Feta-and how large you want that layer to be…I used 3/4 cup)IMG_4423
  • Bag of pita chips, or slices of pita bread, for serving

Directions

  1. Dice the tomato into small pieces and set them on a paper towel. Lay another paper towel over them a lightly press to release juices. This will get rid of excess fluid and keep your hummus layer from becoming watery. (Another option: put the tomato pieces into a colander and let the juices strain into a glass. Now you have fresh tomato juice!)
  2. Pit and dice the olives.
  3. Dice all the ingredients into small pieces. You want your pita to be able to withstand the weight of all seven layers!
  4. Assemble the dish (I recommend this order from bottom to top: hummus, cucumber, tomato, onion, artichoke hearts, olives, and feta).