I mean, who would I be if I didn’t share at least one thanksgiving themed recipe this week? Of course this should have been shared on Monday, but life has been a little busy, as you can expect.
Adjusting to my new job has been both exciting and difficult. I knew going back into the workforce was going to be hard after 3 years at home, but I guess I never really gave myself time to think about how different it would be. You know I’d be lying if I didn’t say I missed wearing yoga pants and baking all day, because I definitely do. But there’s those little things I miss too, the things I never thought about while I worked from home.
I miss my quiet mornings. The hour I had after Elliot left for work, before the pups were really up and out and while the sun was still halfway hanging in the sky. The moments it was just me and my thoughts (and a warm cup of coffee, of course). The time I had to just sit and prepare myself for whatever I had coming at me that day. As you can imagine in an office with hundreds of people, the mornings aren’t quiet. They’re hectic, loud and buzzing. But to switch things the other way, that was something I missed when I started working from home. I missed the brainstorming, the chatter of people and the sounds of new ideas and projects.
I miss Oscar. Even though we had our moments where I wanted to scream at him (like those times he peed on the couch, nearly bit the mailman or cohorted with cinnamon to knock a full slab of burgers on the ground), he became my little partner in crime these past three years. When a recipe failed or I was having just a rough day, he always, always made me feel better, just with a puppy snuggle or kiss.
I miss cooking. Which is exactly what I hoped would happen, so I can’t say I’m remiss about this feeling. For full transparency, I’m still relieved I don’t need to rely on it the way I used to and there are moments I’m definitely glad my merit isn’t weighted on whether or not a souffle rose or frosting whipped. But there are moments, like right now, where I actually miss chopping the onions, peeling the potatoes and whisking the batter.
Now, among those things I miss, there are things that will require a bit of adjusting too. Like finding my new rhythm. As you can imagine, going from having my own schedule to one that is completely reliant on things like buses, metros and meetings is a little taxing, scary and a little confusing. After 3 years, I had my schedule down pat. I woke up, had my “me” time, started cooking, staging and photographing then I’d have my afternoon to write. It’s hard to jump into an entirely new world that differs so vastly from the one I had for 3 years.
But with all of these things that I miss, I have to say, I’m truly loving where I’m at right now. I love waking up and having somewhere to go. I love having meetings where my voice, my experience and my expertise is valued and recognized. Plus it’s nice to have awesome colleagues to talk to. I mean, Oscar was an awesome work from home buddy, but he wasn’t exactly the world’s best conversationalist, ya know?
Roasted Brussel Sprout & Beer Cheese Soup
Serves about 8.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 1/2 cup Brussels sprouts, chopped
- 1 (12 ounce) bottle beer (I used an amber ale)
- 1-1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded colby jack cheese
- 1 cup cooked Brussels sprouts, chopped
- Crispy bread
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the directions on how to make this amazing soup, check out the full recipe on SheKnows.com!
Nutritional information per serving:
Fat: 16.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 11 grams
Fiber: 4.5 grams
Protein: 13.83 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 7
If there’s one dessert I simply can’t get enough of, it’s pie. All kinds, all sizes, all fillings. I’m not picky when it comes to a freshly baked pie (well, except for the kind served on Sweeney Todd, I might not entertain those). As much as I love this dessert, my husband hates it just as much. It starts with his “disdain” for cooked fruit and then moves to the fact he just doesn’t like pie crust.
That’s my life, friends. I live with a man who doesn’t really like pie crust.
But marriage is learning to compromise and make desserts not just you’ll like, but they’ll like to. Which frankly sucks because it’s Thanksgiving and how on earth can one possibly enjoy this holiday without pie.
Before I break out into a tangent on that, let’s go back to the cooked fruit. You may have noticed I put “disdain” in quotation marks because it seems he only dislikes cooked fruit when it’s in a pie. Apple cake, upside down cakes, fruit filled muffins and the like disappear the same day I make them around here and I’m DEFINITELY not the only one eating them.
So, armed with this knowledge, I decided to whip up a little holiday cake this season that is filled with luscious cooked fruit. And yesterday when he got home, he went right to my studio set up (which is where I leave the desserts I’ve made for the day), cuts a slice and eats it right from his hands. I couldn’t help but laugh because this cake is LOADED with fresh and juicy cooked plums.
My next plan of attack now is to somehow disguise cooked fruit into a pie made entirely of chocolate with a shortbread crust. Don’t ask me how, but that’s my next mission. If he eats it, this whole “hatred of pie thing “will be officially thrown out the window and every night until Thanksgiving I’ll be forcing pie down his throat.
I promise he lives in a safe environment, no need to call a domestic report on us. Yet. We’ll see what happens after this pie-force-feeding experiment, though.
Fresh Plum Upside Down Cake
Serves about 10. Slightly adapted from My Recipes.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 32 – 35 minutes
- 1 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 2/3 cup brown sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2/3 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tablespoons honey
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup 1% milk
- 1/4 cup full-fat Chobani Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 4 plums, rinsed and thinly sliced
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup chopped mixed nuts (I used this blend from Harry & David)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Liberally spray a bundt cake pan (this is my favorite!) with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flours and baking powder together. Mix in the pumpkin pie spice. Mix in the honey. In the same bowl, add two tablespoons of cold butter and cut in using a pastry knife. Then add the two tablespoons of applesauce and stir to combine.
- In another bowl, mix the milk, yogurt, vanilla extract and egg, whisk to combine. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir to combine until a thick batter forms. Arrange 95% of plum slices over the cake batter (you want the rest for the topping).
- Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Mix in the brown sugar and stir to combine. Pour the sugar mixture over the plums.
- Bake for about 32 -35 minutes, or until cake is browned and the topping is bubbling and sugar is crystalized. Let cool in plan completely (for about an hour).
- Once cooled, carefully remove from the pan and place on a wire cooling rack.
- To make the topping, whisk the powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla until a thick glaze forms. Pour over the cake and garnish with chopped nuts and remaining plums, chopped. Serve immediately.
Nutritional information per slice:
Fat: 10 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 8
Thank you to everyone for the kind words about my new job! I’m so excited for this next big chapter, and every time I talk with my new boss (who is awesome), I get even more excited. I’ve loved spending these past three years doing what I love, but if I’m going to be honest with you guys, I have to admit something.
I don’t get the same love from cooking that I used to. In fact, I rarely want to do anything in the kitchen when I’m “off the clock” from my blog and freelance obligations. When I first started freelancing, I was in heaven. I had all of these amazing ideas, I was pumping out recipe after recipe and I couldn’t wait to wake up the next morning and do the same thing. My feelings now are vastly different. Now I can’t wait until I’m done cooking. My creativity when it comes to recipe development has disappeared and I feel like I can’t string a sentence together to save my life.
And I know exactly why this happened. It’s not because food isn’t still the love of my life, because it very much is, it’s because sometimes when you depend on something for your living, to pay your bills, you start to lose the passion. It also doesn’t help that the amount I’ve been making has dwindled from the very beginning (by a hefty chunk) so even paying for the recipes I do have to make has become a challenge. Even in those rare moments now that I get a new and exciting recipe idea, I quickly realize that I can’t buy the ingredients I need because I’m completely budgeted out for the recipes I’m getting paid to write.
Total buzz kill, I know, but I have to sit here and be honest about things. Being a freelancer and owning your own business isn’t easy, despite what the blog world may make it seem. And you know what? Sometimes people fail, and although I didn’t completely fail in the total sense of the word (I’m still financially afloat and make enough to get by), but I failed because I stopped loving what I did. And I want to love to cook again and I think starting this new job will do that.
I won’t have to rely on food to pay my bills anyway. Every recipe I make will be made from the heart and I won’t have to worry about how much traffic it’ll get, if it’ll go viral and all of that BS that comes behind the scenes. Instead, I can go back to cooking things I want to cook and buying ingredients I couldn’t afford to before. Not only that, I’ll have the extra income to really invest more in my craft, which means new camera equipment, new photo props and boards and amazing lenses.
But don’t worry, I won’t be going anywhere. I still have a few recipes I made just for you guys, ones that brought a little spark back to my heart, recipes like this easy roasted chicken noodle soup, which is completely inspired by my friend Ashley and this old-school chicken noodle soup recipe. You really can’t get much better than this!
Easy Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves about 8 – 10.
Prep time: 40 – 50 minutes
Cook time: 1 1/2 hours
For the roast chicken:
- 1 whole chicken (3 1/2 pounds), defrosted
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 bunch of fresh herbs, like thyme and rosemary
- 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted and melted
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, cut in quarters
- 4 carrots, cut into quarters
- 2 stalks celery, cut into fourths
- Salt and pepper
For the soup:
- 3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1/2 cup of fresh herbs (like parsley, rosemary, thyme & dill)
- 2 cups cooked egg noodles
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Remove the giblets from the inside of the chicken and discard.
- Rinse the chicken thoroughly inside and out. Pat dry. In the cavity where the giblets were held, add 1 lemon half, two quarters of the onion, 2 quarters of carrots and 2 fourths of the celery. Stuff in an assortment of the fresh herbs and add salt and pepper. Using kitchen twine, tie the legs together and carefully tuck the wings to the body of the chicken.
- Rub the melted butter all over the skin of the chicken. Liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the chicken into a roasting pan. Add remaining vegetables and herbs around the chicken and drizzle with olive oil.
- Roast for about 1 1/2 hours or until the juices run clear. Remove from the oven and let rest for about 20 – 25 minutes.
- Once rested, slice the chicken and then shred the meat with two forks. Save the drumsticks and wings for later, but use all of the shredded meat for the soup.
- To make the soup, bring the chicken broth and water to a boil. Toss in the chopped carrots, mushrooms, celery, onion and a bunch of fresh herbs. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to low and simmer for about 20 – 25 minutes. Toss in chicken and noodles and simmer another 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and serve with additional herbs for garnish.
Nutritional information per serving (about 1 cup):
Fat: 7.2 grams
Carbohydrates: 8.2 grams
Fiber: 3.4 grams
Protein: 22 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 5
This weekend was one for the books, my friends and it was all I needed to fall madly back in love with this city I live right outside of.
We had two of our friends from college come up to visit so in between the bloody marys, the games of Cards Against Humanity, the bottles of wine and pop up dance parties, we spent most of Saturday and Sunday doing the touristy thing in downtown DC. I honestly can’t remember the last time E and I spent two days visiting the beautiful monuments, museums and statues in the district. Although it was a little cold on Saturday, we couldn’t have asked for better weather.
Oh and don’t even get me started on the foliage. It’s in prime viewing pleasure right now around the city and I probably took about 16,000 photos of trees on my iPhone. But what can I say, I love fall. Plus, the differing colors of the trees go so well with my favorite tri-color quinoa, don’t you think?
Oh and anothing reason this weekend was so amazing is that I found out some pretty awesome news late on Friday. I got an AMAZING job!! I can’t say what I’ll be doing and for who yet, but I can say that it combines my passion for travel, FOOD and social media. Not to mention my new colleagues are incredible and I can already see myself plenty at home there.
After months of feeling lost and in need of something to make me happy again, this couldn’t have come at a better time. Plus this weekend really showed me how lucky I am to live (and now work!) in a city millions of people vacation to. I guess it was my DC wake up call, but I couldn’t be more excited about it.
As much fun as the weekend was, I over indulged MAJORLY. We polished off bowls of queso, ate birthday cake at 2am, drank far too much wine and ate way too much bacon. That’s why meals like this roasted vegetable and quinoa stuffed squash, inspired by my talented friend Rachel, will be made nearly every day this week and I’ll be replacing my beloved grape juice with pressed almond milks. I’ll also be replacing the epic dance parties with long runs outside of my house.
I mean I have to somehow fit back into those pencil skirts again, am I right? I’m not sure my new colleagues will appreciate my standard pancake batter stained yoga pants and grease splattered hoodies.
Roasted vegetable and quinoa stuffed squash
Serves 2. Inspired and adapted by Rachel Cooks.
Prep time: 15 – 20 minutes
Cook time: About 1 hour
- 1/2 large butternut squash
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup tri color quinoa
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 large apple, chopped
- 2 slices cooked bacon, chopped
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh cilantro or herbs for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a standard size casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Scoop out the seeds from the butternut squash and discard. Liberally sprinkle the squash with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Roast for about 35 – 40 minutes, or until fork tender. Let cool slightly then carefully scoop out the flesh from the inside of the squash. Chop the flesh into bite size pieces and set aside.
- In a saucepan, bring the chicken broth and quinoa to a boil. Add a dash of salt. Reduce to medium low and simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is soft and fluffy. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Mix in the softened butternut squash.
- In a skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium high heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until just translucent, about 3 – 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir into the quinoa and squash. Toss in the chopped apples, chopped bacon and salt and pepper.
- Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. Scoop the quinoa mixture into the the hollowed squash. Top with parmesan cheese and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
- Garnish with more cheese and fresh herbs.
Nutritional information per serving (1/2 squash):
Fat: 15.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 64 grams
Fiber: 6.8 grams
Protein: 18.5 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 13
It’s November 6th and I’ve already watched every single Christmas movie on the free section of our On Demand programming and have watched almost every one on HBO & Shotime. Much to my husband’s dismay, of course, because he’s a firm believer in no Christmas until after Thanksgiving. Not that he doesn’t have any holiday spirit, but he likes a little downtime between holidays and we did Halloween BIG this year.
I get it, I love a little downtime too, but I’m really ready for the holiday season this year. I had a really hard year, full of stress, weight gain, financial burdens and more arguments with my husband than I’d like. I’m ready for a few months of happiness, a few months where you spend your time buying gifts for your loved ones, decorating your house with bright lights and festive garlands.
Truthfully though, I’m just ready to spend some serious time with my family. I’m lucky, you know. I have the world’s best family. I know everyone says that, but I really do. Our time together is what gets me through those hard months in between. We laugh constantly, we eat & drink too much, play games and make jokes. There’s very little drama, no hateful words or snide remarks. We’re all just so happy to be together that nothing else matters.
I need that right now.
The best part about the holidays is the Christmas Eve party my grandma throws. My mom spends all day cooking a giant beef roast, a ham, three kinds of salads, multiple cheesy dips and bite-size little hors devours. Helping her whip the potatoes and stir the spinach artichoke dip has become one of my favorite memories. I only get to spend a few days a year with her in the kitchen, so I savor each and every second (and every single bite I sneak).
This super cheesy kale & artichoke dip is inspired by the one she makes, but is clearly not as good. I don’t know what she puts in hers to make it taste so incredibly good. Don’t get me wrong though, this dip is amazing and it’s made with frozen kale, which I can’t get enough of. In fact, a study down by the University of California Davis and the Frozen Food Foundation found that frozen vegetables (like my beloved kale) are more often nutritionaly equal to, and sometimes better than, their fresh counterparts. Which rocks when your favorite veggies are out of season. Plus most frozen veggies are loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals like B2, C and E, plus lots of calcium, zinc, copper and dietary fiber.
For the nearly 90% of Americans who don’t get enough vegetables in their diet, this dip is the perfect way to enjoy them this holiday season. Just ask my friend Melanie how good this dip is. She came over last Sunday and the two of us nearly polished off this dish over a Lifetime movie marathon.
Super Cheesy Kale & Artichoke Dip
Serves about 10. Inspired by My Recipes.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 22 – 25 minutes
- 1 can (11 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained
- 1 block (10 ounces) frozen kale, thawed
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup low-fat Mayo
- 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) low-fat cream cheese
- 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 8 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Chop the artichoke hearts. In a large bowl, mix the artichoke, spinach and onion together. Mix in the mayo, sour cream, cream cheese, parmesan cheese and 2/3 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Mx in salt and pepper.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 22 – 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and dip is warm.
Nutritional information per serving (about 4 tablespoons):
Fat: 5 grams
Carbohydrates: 6.7 grams
Fiber: 2.7 grams
Protein: 6.5 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 2