On The Go Smart Snacks Seen In My 3TV Segment

Manic:  My metabolism since turning 50!  Sometimes I am quite hungry and other times not at all, but no matter what, it is way harder to drop a few pounds than it was when I was younger.  And I love snacks.  KIND Bar minis are my new favorite find, so that is a go to snack for sure.  But many other readily accessible unhealthy snacks tempt me when I am on the run.  I am on the go a lot, so grabbing a quick snack is many times necessary, but also tempting with so many unhealthy foods out there.  So what is a manic managed mom to do about snack attacks?

Managed:  I have taste tested some easy to grab snack solutions that work well when you are running around town.  Take a look at my yummy picks…

The Smartest Snack Solution

The smartest snack solution is to stick with good ol’ veggies and fruits.  I buy the precut veggie tray at my grocery store, but I try to get the tray without the tempting Ranch dressing.  Also try different fruit combos like blueberries and pomegranate seeds together.  I like to mix this colorful and nutritious combo in with my plain Wallaby organic yogurt for a nutritious yogurt that I sweeten myself.  Try it! Or freeze grapes and you will love how they tastes just like a popsicle.

Of course, there are times when we want snacky snacks instead of fruit and veggies exclusively, so here are some of the lower calorie snack ideas that work for me.  I have listed them in categories that include salty crunch, sweet tooth and coffee drinks/ice cream alternatives. Take a look…

Salty Crunch Busters

Want something salty and crunchy?  Say no to potato chips and instead try these ideas…

*Skinny Pop Popcorn – only 100 calories in the snack bag, non-GMO, gluten free and no artificial ingredients.  Yes please!

*Organic Himalayan Pink Salt Popcorn – at 100 calories a bag, this snack fills me up and I appreciate that only three ingredients fill my snack bag which include organic non-GMO popcorn, coconut oil and Himalayan salt.  Protein and fiber are also good byproducts you get with this snack.

*Blue Diamond Whole Natural Almonds snack pack – Only 100 calories per pack and these are easy to throw in my purse.  Only one ingredient is listed…almonds.  Perfect choice! 

*Skinny Quinoa Sticks – I just found these at Walgreens and I am hooked!  As the website says, these tasty snacks contain real ingredients like quinoa and omega-3 rich chia seeds that make this whole grain snack a smart choice. These crunchy sticks are a delicious and family-friendly snack with a big taste, minus the bad stuff.  These have zero trans fat, cholesterol, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives and this company boasts that the skinny sticks contain 30% less fat than the leading potato chip.  Sold plus they taste really good!

*Terra Real Vegetable Chips – These are my new obsession that keep me away from potato chips.  Non-GMO in original Sea Salt flavor, these guys contain a seasonal mix of root veggies that include sweet potatoes, yuca, parsnip, sea salt and beet juice.  At 150 calories a snack bag, my urge for crunchy chips is satisfied with this better choice.  BUT I must admit that after doing some research, these chips don’t add up to a healthy snack, but I eat these instead of potato chips now because I still believe that root veggies are better than white potatoes.

*Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Rosemary & Olive Oil Crackers – Gluten free, 100% whole grain with no artificial colors and flavors, these are my go to crackers now.  Perfect with a nice slice of cheese on top.

Sweet Tooth Treats

Oh, that tempting sweet tooth!  Instead of candy bars, cookies and ice cream, try these savory snacks…

In place of a candy bar, try these…

*KIND Dark Chocolate Almond Mint Bar – I especially like this flavor because of the yummy chocolate mint combination.  And there are several KIND varieties that only have 5 grams of sugar with ingredients that can be pronounced.  So, you know what you are eating.  This bar is 200 calories, so it is filling, and it also contains 5 grams of protein.

*Power Crunch is the protein bar that my trainer recommends.  He likes these because each bar only has 5 grams of sugar and no sugar alchols.  I love this bar because it is delicious and tastes like a wafer cookie without the chalky aftertaste that many other protein bars leave plus the Power Crunch bar won’t result in a sugar crash.  My daughter loves the chocolate mint flavor and my favorite is the peanut butter crème variety.

Instead of cookies, try this…

*Emmy’s Organic Coconut Cookies Dark Cacao – Starbucks sells these now in their snack section.  USDA organic, vegan and gluten free, these mini cookies are made with fair-trade cocoa powder and cold pressed coconut oil.  One cookie has 100 calories and 5 grams of sugar.  Not bad for a cookie and the coconut flavor and texture is chewy and satisfying, so one cookie takes care of my sweet snack craving.  I especially appreciate the whole ingredients in these cookies that don’t contain high fructose corn syrup.

 

Iced Coffee Craving/Ice Cream

Instead of a sugar filled iced coffee or blended shake at the drive-thru coffee shop, try this…

*Enlightened Cold Brew Coffee Chip – Buy a box of these yummy ice cream bars and only take in 90 calories a serving instead of the typical coffee shop blended coffee drink which can run as high as 340 calories and a whopping 47 grams of sugar for a drink like the 16 oz Starbucks Java Chip Frappuccino. That used to be one of my old faves before I gave that up!  I am especially happy to find the Enlightened ice cream bar that only has 5 grams of sugar.  Enlightened has other ice cream flavors as well like mint chip.

Interesting Curb Craving Product:  Meal Enders

*Try Meal Enders.  I heard about this interesting snack candy idea on social media.  So I ordered a bag of yummy chocolate mint flavored Meal Enders and I do think they sort of work.  I say sort of because they aren’t cheap, unfortuntely.  So you have shell out the dough for this snack solution and I can’t prove that they really curb your appetite and keep you from snacking and consuming dessert or if it is a mental thing.  But they do taste good, they do satisfy my urge to keep on eating and the tingly taste that is the aftertaste feels like an after dinner mint.  Somehow all of this signals the brain that eating is done.  Again, I am not a spokesperson for Meal Enders and I don’t know for sure if they truly work, but for me, they do the trick on a lot of days.  Not every day, but a lot of days if I pop a Meal Ender after my meal, that satisfies me instead of ordering a dessert.  That is a good thing.  I just don’t like the price.  One solo pack that contains 25 pieces costs $16.95 or get a 3-pack for $34.95 or a 9-pack bundle for $89.95.  Flavors include Citrus, Cinnamon, Mocha and Chocolate Mint.  I have only tried the Chocolate Mint and my daugther and I both like that flavor a lot.  I have ordered the Mocha, so I hope I like it.

What are your smart snack solutions?  Leave your yummy ideas in the comments section.  Happy snacking and happy summer shopping for fashions, too.  That is also a good remedy when you feel a snack attack coming on…try on last summer’s clothes or go shopping!  In any event, eat as healthy as you can!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Terra’s Kitchen Is My Favorite Home Meal Delivery Kit

Blue Apron.  Plated.  Purple Carrot. I have tried those and several other home delivery meal kits and I have found my #1 favorite.

It is Terra’s Kitchen.  And I can tell you why with five simple reasons that makes Terra’s stand out from the others, in my opinion.

  1.  They have the largest and most extensive weekly selection of all different types of dinner entrees that also include vegetarian options, Paleo and more.
  2. The food arrives in a mini fridge that is sent back right from your front door the next day.  Brilliant, no waste!
  3. The food is cut up for you already and is very fresh.  This cuts prep time extensively and the meal is still cooked from scratch.
  4. Once the mini fridge is emptied, simply take the label off to expose the new label, place it outside and it is picked up the next day.  No wasteful packaging and ice packs to dispose of, making Terra’s the most environmentally responsible, too.  The mini fridge is recycled and used to send out to the next customer.
  5. The food is good.

This is what the mini fridge looks like when it arrives in the box. Terra’s calls it the vessel and my cat also seems happy that it has arrived.

The inside of the vessel with pre-cut fresh foods ready to turn into a home cooked meal. Love this!

The recipe cards. Come with pictures and are easy to follow. Thank you!

I turned these ingredients into this…

Yum!

And the finished dish is delish!

Yep, I am a fan. Happy cook in the kitchen. Happy fed family. Happy mom!

So far my only complaint is sometimes they send skirt steak, which isn’t the best cut of steak in my opinion.  Other than that, I am very pleased with this service.

The meals are quick to cook since the ingredients are pre-cut, which I love!  I have ordered and enjoyed some of the additional salads, sides and a la carte proteins, which make a nice snack or lunch for me when I home doing my freelance work.  I have also tried some of the Paleo, vegetarian and vegan options and all are  very good.
On average, I spend about $75 a week for three Terra’s Kitchen dinners.  I find that reasonable since that aptly feeds myself, my husband and our daughter.  And not having to go to the grocery store as much is another added bonus for we busy multi-tasking gals!  I also love that I am cooking meals from scratch using whole food ingredients while following Terra’s Kitchen simple recipe cards.
With all of these positives listed above, I give Terra’s Kitchen a hearty and hungry thumbs up!
Have you tried Terra’s Kitchen?  Do you like this service and food as much as I do?  Share in the comments section your kudos (or complaints if you have them) as we love this blog to be a discussion forum to help each other to be a bit more managed in our manic world with helpful tips for all.
Bon appetit!

Fall Flavors: My Favorite Vanilla Latte Recipe

With autumn’s arrival, I bring out my bullet blender and blend up my favorite homemade quick and easy vanilla latte recipe.  Every time I share this yummy healthier (at least I think so) version of a hot vanilla latte, I get a good response from my readers.  Autumn has arrived, so here it is again…but first a short discussion about the recent controversy about whether or not coconut oil is healthy to put in your coffee.  finishI love to blend organic hot black coffee with organic virgin coconut oil, vanilla extract and a few other key ingredients that create a tasty hot latte that takes under a minute to prep and make.  Plus, a few years ago several fitness trainers I used to see told me that they believe that adding coconut oil to your coffee can help with cognitive function making one feel a bit more focused during the day. I had also read in several articles that the type of saturated fat in coconut oil is made up of medium-chain triglycerides that may help the body produce energy, which jived with my trainers’ beliefs. Yay and yum!

But then a few months ago, several articles on coconut oil questioned the health benefits and that had me rethinking this favorite recipe of mine that I especially love when the weather cools and fall arrives.

So I was happy to find a recent article that explains the pros and potential cons of too much coconut oil.  After reading this informative article in Health Ambition’s “Coconut Oil in Coffee: Is It A Good Idea?” I have decided to still enjoy my beloved Lusicious Latte, but in moderation, much like we should practice with a lot of the foods and drinks we consume.  Check out that article for more details and check out my recipe that I continue to love, especially now that autumn has arrived!  Hooray!

Here is how I made mine….

My Bulletproof Luscious Latte

What You Need:

latte ingre

1 cup of brewed black coffee

1 tablespoon of organic, unrefined, virgin coconut oil

dash of cinnamon

dash of nutmeg or try hazelnut

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

What You Do:

1.  Simpy brew your coffee. brew

2.  Pour coffee in blender.  I used my Bullet.  Add coconut oil, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract and then blend.add coconut oil

3.  Pour and enjoy.  So simple, healthy and tasty.  in mixer cupCheers to your morning latte!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Please note that I am not a nutritionist, physician or professional chef. I am a manic mom that likes to try and/or create different recipes to make my meals…and mornings…less manic and more managed in a tasty way, too.*

My Beautiful Birthday Chocolate! Had To Blog It!

You have got to check out this ahhmazing chocoate.  I have never seen anything like this in a box of decadent yum yums!  But first, a little birthday background…

Whoa….the big 5 0 came so fast, that it is hard to believe!  Just like how everything else in life comes so fast! For my 50 years, I asked pals to pay it forward instead of gifts.  I asked that they do something kind and I am hopeful that I will have 50 acts of kindness to share.  We are about halfway there! It has been so cool to hear about the different and unique ways that my friends have been paying it forward.  I will share in a future blog post once all of the 50 acts are collected.

So, my dear long-time friend, Jan (we were bridesmaids in each other’s weddings 25 years and more ago) did a beautiful act of kindness (more on that in that upcoming post)…and…she surprised me today with a delicious delivery of the most beautiful chocolates that I have ever seen!  This might be one of my favorite gifts!  Ever!  So incredibly cool!  And yep, the chocolate is good, too!

I decided to quickly blog about it because I am guessing that a few of my readers will want to know about the clever company, out of Austin, Texas, that creates such unique confections.  They serve up chocolates in all sorts of shapes, sizes, objects and more.  Love it!  So here is the information to have when you want to give a truly special, stunning and scrumptious gift!  Custom chocolate pieces?! I’ll take it!

Maggie Louise Confections can be found here at this link here. I know that this won’t be the last time I see her chocolates, as I plan to give these beautiful boxes of incredible confections as presents the next time I need a gift idea that will be cherished and remembered.  So fun!

 

Test Fork: Purple Carrot Plant Based Meal Service

As I blogged a few weeks ago, I have been trying to eat plant based foods about 85% of the time.  So far, so good.  And I do notice a difference in how I feel when I eat clean.  Much better in every way!  I decided to put my taste testing fork to work with a trial run of Purple Carrot.  Like many other meal service plans, fresh ingredients are delivered to my door and I do the slicing, dicing and cooking.  Unlike many other meal service plans, Purple Carrot delivers meals that are exclusively 100% plant based.

Pictured copied from Purple Carrot website.

This fits my new 85% plant based lifestyle, so I tried Purple Carrot.  Here is my review and the recipe I prepared, a Kale Cesar Salad with Crispy Butterbeans with Everything “Bagel” Croutons.  Did I like it? Tasty? Easy to prep?  My opinion of the overall service?  Read on to see what my test fork determined.

Let’s start with a picture of the entree.  Below is my finished dish.  It lies on top of the handy recipe card that comes with the ingredients, similar to most meal service plans.  Repeat or reject recipe?

I would definitely say that this is a repeat recipe!  The homemade dressing was delish and perfectly flavored the kale.  And the croutons…yum!  I will talk more about the specific flavors in a bit.  Let’s take a look at the food and prep. 

Here are the ingredients for the recipe as they came packaged to my front door. I especially like the little round containers with the white lids.  Easy to rinse out and throw in the recycling bin keeping our green lifestyle in tact.  Speaking of green, the kale is just beautiful and perfectly fresh.  The cute square loaf of whole wheat bread will become the homemade croutons. 

The nicely sized recipe card was easy to follow and took me step by step pretty effortlessly as I made the salad.  I appreciated the nutrition info, too.  

Look at that lovely green kale!  As instructed by the recipe, I gently massaged it with my hands. I had never heard of that tip prior to reading it on the recipe card. It makes the kale softer with a less rough texture. It worked and I am happy to know this kale tip now.

Yummy capers for the homemade dressing!

Look at the eye catching asparagus and red onion. I was now thinking that this salad was gonna be good.

This Caesar dressing is looking good…and it was! Flavors came together from the capers, tahini, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard and more. Really good!

For the “Everything” Bagel croutons…they went from this picture above to this one below…

Guilty as the recipe card charged, I did eat a handful right off the pan. Couldn’t resist!

While the croutons baked, I prepared the butterbeans, which would be the protein that tops off the finished salad. 

The very best part is this picture below of my teen daughter’s plate.  A clean plate because her palate was pleased, which pleases this Mama.  We do eat some meat and we definitely make sure that we are getting our protein, but it is so wonderful to see us eat more plant based foods. Purple Carrot makes this goal much easier to accomplish, so for that reason, as well as others, I highly recommend this plant based meal service plan.

Several plans are offered and can be seen on the website here. I chose the 1 – 2 person three unique meals a week option at $68 a week or $11.33 per plate.  I think that is a good value because we receive healthy clean whole foods with the recipes and without needing a grocery store run.

The Caesar salad dinner was delicious with the pleasing taste of crisp asparagus and the yummy crunch of the croutons topped it all off nicely.  The beans weren’t my favorite ingredient, but they were good enough and provided protein.  The dressing was scrumptious and may be my favorite when it comes to a good Ceasar salad dressing now.

I am anxious to cook and try the other two recipes that came in my box this week that include the Elote Bowl (I am a big corn fan) with Lime Chickpeas dinner and the Quinoa and the Seitan Gyro with Shaved Artichoke Salad and Tahini Yogurt.  Greek is good!

My test fork is seeing purple and I raise my fork to happily recommend Purple Carrot.

Nana Joes Granola Perfect For My Fab 50s Lifestyle Change!

Manic:  Me thinking about turning 50 next month! 

Managed:  With this milestone birthday on the horizon, I have decided to try to mostly eat plant based foods.  I am not going 100% vegan, but I am striving for 85% to be realistic with my lifestyle.  Plus, eating this way helps our bodies, earth’s animals and the environment as stated in this interesting Medical News Today article.  My thriving and healthy 72-years-young mother also eats mostly vegan and this lifestyle has served her well.

My mom with my girl at my daughter’s Wizard of Oz performance last month. Told you my Mama looks good!

I am certainly not criticizing meat eaters as I do occasionally enjoy a meat meal as well…which is why I am striving for a 85% change. Plus I will still have dairy from time to time as a decadent chocolate malt or coffee ice cream cone are a must have at least once during the hot summer!  Call me fickle, but partially vegan is my goal for now.

Great example of my plan…mostly plant based lunch…but with wild salmon.

I started the gradual dietary switch one week ago and I already feel a positive difference!  I was having bad allergies, left leg and ankle pain and sinus issues.  Not to mention bloating and a sluggish feeling after eating some foods.  I do believe in everything in moderation and after reading countless accounts of folks who went vegan, and marveling at their improved health, vitality and energy, I have decided, at almost 50, to give this mostly vegan lifestyle a try.  I am loving it so far and just in time for me, I discovered the awesome vegan, gluten free and super tasty Nana Joes Granola line!  Who says you can’t have treats on a healthy eating plan?  With Nana Joes delish granola, a little good sweetness can be added to breakfast, snacks and more.  Love this stuff! Check out my tasty breakfast vegan makeover today that I made in 10 seconds…so yummy!I replaced cow’s milk with almond milk (I truly taste no difference) and those sugary processed cereals with the Nana Joes Trifecta Blend Granola, which only has 5 grams of sugar (per half the packaged serving, so I used the one bag for two separate meals). This combo filled me up and I felt energetic and satisfied.  I am pretty impressed with the wholesome and real food ingredients.  Plus, I adore that this stuff is handmade in San Francisco (my hubs and I honeymooned in the City by the Bay 🙂 )

They also have granola bars, too. I am a fan!  My personal favorite is the Swell Bar with Coconut, Almond and Cocoa Nib.

Gonna have this snack tomorrow when I take a reading and snack break. Readers…another fab 50 accessory!

I highly recommend Nana Joes for your healthy gluten free and vegan go to breakfast, snack, smoothie ingredient, dessert topping and more.  I love how her versatile this stuff is, not to mention super delicious, too!

Have any of you gone vegan or semi like me? Share your experience in the comments section and I am wishing all of you good food, vibrant health and joy!  Those are my goals as I dive into the fabulous 50s next month!

 

A big thank you for the Nana Joes samples so I could test it out!  My opinion about how much I love this granola line is 100% my very own. 

Tasty & Light Savory Salmon & Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Clean eating has been our goal lately.  My daughter requests healthy homemade recipes as she works to keep herself in top shape to keep up with her community theatre audition schedule and high school honors class load. For myself, since I am just a few months away from my 50th birthday, I want to be as healthy as possible…and I am trying to cook that way for the hubs as well.  Our clean eating goals is not his favorite change around here since our son went away to college, but he grins and bears it, for the most part.  So when we find a recipe that meets all criteria that he also likes, I can’t wait to share my food find.  Today’s recipe is called Garlic Baked Salmon with Brussels sprouts.  I borrowed it, with permission, from my favorite online meal planning recipe guide, MealGarden.  This yummy recipe calls for some of my favorite ingredients like white wine and garlic.  And when it comes to Brussels Sprouts, when roasted with savory spices and pleasing olive oil, who can resist this healthy and tasty veggie that comes out of the oven a bit crisp?! Read on for this easy, delish and nutritious recipe that can be prepared from start to finish in a little over 30 minutes.  So good!

Garlic Baked Salmon with Brussels Sprouts

What You Need — Serves 3 

3 salmon filets – buy wild and select pieces close to the tail to avoid bones 

1/4 tsp pepper – grind it yourself for best results

3 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

7 garlic cloves

1/3 medium lemon cut into wedges

1 tbsp fresh dried oregano

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup white wine, preferable Chardonnay 

What You Do

  1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Mince 2 garlic cloves and combine in a small bowl with olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper.
  3. Halve the remaining garlic and toss with Brussels sprouts and 3 tablespoons of the seasoned oil on large roasting pan.
  4. Roast, stirring once, for 15 minutes.

    Looking tasty after 15 minutes of roasting

    Salmon hasn’t cooked yet and it already looks so good!

     

  5. Add wine to remaining oil mixture and when Brussels sprouts are done, stir and place salmon filets on top.
  6. Drizzle with wine mixture and sprinkle with more oregano, salt and pepper as desired.
  7. Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 5 to 10 minutes.

    Done and yum! I cut into the filet on the top left hand side to show that it is flaky and finished.

  8. Serve with lemon wedges.  So good!

Be sure to check out MealGarden for your healthy and tasty meal planning.  It has made our clean eating plan easier to follow with great recipes, grocery lists and more.  We love our MealGarden membership!

My Mama’s Healthy Homemade Vegetarian Spaghetti Recipe

My mother always spent countless hours in the kitchen cooking up healthy meals for us kids.  
I didn’t appreciate it then, but I do now!

And now more than ever, I am on a mission to keep my own daughter healthy as she balances her high school honors classes with her exciting community theater schedule. As the Queen of Hearts character in Valley Youth Theatre’s (VYT) Alice in Wonderland upcoming production, she has spent many hours rushing from school to downtown Phoenix for lengthy rehearsals.  VYT is a highly regarded professional children’s theatre with very impressive alums like Emma Stone.  So this is a big commitment that my girl was excited to make. She had rehearsal last Saturday from 10am to almost 10pm and again on Sunday.  We are now in tech week, so rehearsals go daily from 4:30pm to 10pm until opening night…happening this Friday.  Very exciting that the countdown to opening night is now on…and especially now, keeping her in top form is a top priority.

So, in the meantime, it has been my job to do the best I can to keep her healthy.  Some of my motherly deeds include a gentle nightly push to go to bed earlier than usual.  I also prepare as many nutritious home cooked meals as I can muster.  We are both working to keep her immune system strong and healthy.  She has also done her part and made good decisions like choosing to stay in a couple of Friday nights (her night off from her weekly rehearsals) to rest over going out with pals.  Next month, after having performed in over 20 shows, it will be over and will then be a cherished memory, so she can return to her Friday nights out.  However, we both hope to keep eating clean beyond the demanding show schedule.  My mother’s recipe accomplishes this clean eating goal. One surprise ingredient that makes Mom’s spaghetti sauce taste so good is the inclusion of cooked carrots. Carrots give the sauce a hearty, almost meaty consistency and taste. Give this recipe a try.  So good!

 

What You Need:

4 to 6 carrots, cooked…I boiled in water until tender

2 green or red bell peppers

1 large tomato

1 yellow onion

1 red onion

3 cloves fresh garlic

2 to 3 stalks of celery

2 jars Trader Giotto’s (from Trader Joe’s) Organic Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon basil

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of agave nectar (optional for sweeter sauce)

Parmesan cheese to taste

healthy whole grain spaghetti pasta

What You Do:

One of my Mom’s secrets is to cook the carrots first. Cooked carrots in the sauce give it a meaty taste.

1.  First saute the peppers and celery in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes or until they turn soft, being careful not to overcook.

2.  Then add all of other chopped up veggies (except the carrots) and saute until soft.

3.  Add chopped up tomatoes, bay leaf, cooked chopped carrots and the 2 jars of sauce and simmer for about 30 minutes.

4.  During the last ten minutes of simmering, add the basil and the oregano.  If you like a sweeter sauce, you can add the agave nectar.

5.  Pour over the cooked spaghetti and add grated parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!  This is one spaghetti dish that is super tasty and super healthy to boot!  Just look at all of the veggies that your family gets in each serving!  Thanks Mom!

Soup Season! Pleasing Potato Leek Soup Recipe

Lucky for me, it is soup season to nurture us during winter’s chilly temps.  And this is lucky for me since I have to eat soft foods as I recover from my gum surgery.  So I asked a few pals for their soup recipes.  I plan to share several here on my blog, starting with Sherry’s Soup:  Potato Leek Soup.  Thanks for the yummy recipe, Sherry.  Here is how you make it…

4 leeks, trimmed of tough tops, leave 3-4 inches of green on white of leek.
2 T. olive oil
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 potatoes, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper
6 cups chicken stock
1/3 lb. bacon, sliced and cooked crisp (keep grease and set aside bacon for garnish)
1 T. tarragon, fresh, leaves stripped from stems and chopped slightly, for garnish
2 TBS chives, fresh, chopped, for garnish

Optional add-ins:

Corn as much as you would like to add to soup

Half & Half cream

Sour cream for dollop serving per soup bowl

What You Do:

1. Cut leeks in half lengthwise and slice into 1/2-inch pieces. Place leeks in colander. Separate sliced leeks under cold running water and clean them. Drain well.

2. Heat medium soup pot over med high heat. I used my dutch oven because I am big fan of cooking homemade soup in it.  So good.  Add 2 tablespoons olive oil (or try Sherry’s trick and use the bacon grease from the bacon cooked instead of the olive oil to saute the leeks and potatoes), bay leaf and leeks. Season with salt and pepper. Peel potatoes and thinly slice them, adding them to soup pot as you go. Season potatoes with a little salt, add chicken stock to soup pot. Cover soup and bring to boil. Uncover and simmer 12-15 minutes, until potatoes are very tender. Break up potatoes to slightly thicken soup Remove bay leaf.

3. Serve with bacon, tarragon and chive garnishes. 

4. Sherry adds about 1/2 cup of fresh corn before simmering and about 1/4 cup cream at the end for a richer tasty soup. Along with the garnishes mentioned, she also adds a dollop of sour cream before sprinkling on the rest.  I was out of sour cream, so I missed that in my pictures of the finished soup. Next time for sure!

Finished soup without adding cream if you want more of a broth base.  But I like cream, so I added cream for my daughter’s serving later when she came home from school….

Here it is with the cream and the full fixin’s.  A perfect homemade after school dish for my daughter before she went off to her rehearsal. Good grub for our busy days.

Thank you Sherry Kline for your perfect and lovely potato and leek soup recipe!  Give it a try folks and stay warm and well through the winter months.

 

 

Homemade Holiday Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Who says ice cream is just for summer?  How about homemade holiday vanilla bean ice cream to serve with pie or all by itself with a little red and green flair. If you own an ice cream maker, this recipe is for you.  Your holiday guests will cheer when they see that ice cream is near, especially since it isn’t expected this time of year.  Here here I say.  Ice cream works on any day.  OK I am done with my rhyme as now it is time to make everyone’s favorite dessert.  Ice cream!  Homemade.  Vanilla bean with the real beans.  Even better! xmas-ice-creamI did this over Thanksgiving and it was a hit!  I like that the vanilla bean can be seen in the ice cream, too. I must admit that I am sharing this recipe from my Cuinsart Ice Cream maker recipe book that came with my delightful ice cream machine that Santa brought me last year!  cream-makerMy Santa would be my wonderful mother-in-law and father-in-law.  My family especially enjoyed our tasty ice cream recipes all summer long and adding some vanilla bean ice cream to my Turkey Day dessert table was a bonus for sure! 

And my decadent sweet tooth brainstormed simply adding red and green sprinkles to finished ice cream for a merry festive look with an extra dash of sweet!  I think Santa would approve!  santa-creamHere is how to make what I call Holiday Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (using an ice cream maker…I used a Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker). The coolest ingredient is the actual vanilla bean that comes in a jar like this one that sells at Walmart and other grocery stores.  This costs around $8 a jar, so it isn’t cheap, but it is the real deal bean that makes the vanilla bean ice cream authentic.  This recipe makes about 14 1/2 cup servings. van-bean

What You Need – The Good Stuff! 

2 1/3 cups whole milk

2 1/3 cups heavy cream

1 whole vanilla bean

3 large eggs

4 large egg yolks

1 1/8 cups sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

optional for Christmas Ice Cream – red and green sugar sprinkles

What You Do:  Work That’s Worth It! 

Combine the milk and cream in medium saucepan.  Use a sharp knife to split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise.  Use the blunt end to scrape out the “seeds” and stir the seeds and bean pod into the milk/cream mixture.

Bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in a medium bowl.  Use a hand mixer on medium speed to beat until the mixture is thick, smooth and pale yellow in color (similar to mayo), for about 2 minutes.

Remove the vanilla bean pod from the milk/cream mixture and discard.  Measure out 1 cup of the hot liquid.  With the mixer on low speed, add the cup of hot milk/cream to the egg mixture in a slow and steady stream.  When thoroughly combined, pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk/cream mixture and stir to combine.  Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.  Transfer to a bowl, stir in vanilla, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap placed directly on the custard and chill completely.

Pour the chilled custard  into the ice cream maker freezer bowl.  Turn the machine on and let mix, until thickened about 25 to 30 minutes.  The ice cream will have sort of a soft serve creamy consistency.  To make thicker, like typical ice cream, place in container with air tight lid and freeze for two hours.  This container was full to the top….I took the picture after our Thanksgiving dessert was consumed! v-bean-ice-creamTop with the red and green sprinkles for a splash of holiday cheer.  This also gives it a sweet crunch, too.

Absolutely yummy and crowd pleasing!  Great to add to your holiday pies for a la mode, too!ice-cream-santa