Turkey Tortellini Soup

You know those weeks when your brain just doesn’t work? This was one of those weeks for me. On my meal plan Thursday night we were supposed to have 3-Bean Turkey Chili  but late on Wednesday night (AFTER I had defrosted my ground turkey and was about to start browning it) I realized I had only bought half of the ingredients that I needed…doh! I worked a full 9 to 5 day and obviously came home to zero chili in the CrockPot. If that’s not an opportunity to get creative and build a new recipe I don’t know what is. From the ashes of my malfunctioning brain rose…. Turkey Tortellini Soup. I can’t even tell you how wonderful and comforting this soup is! It’s my new chicken noodle. Now when Chris and/or I are sick, this is what we’ll be making. This is the kind of soup where you can really use any veggies you have on hand (which is what I did). It was so quick, so easy and so delicious. I hope you enjoy!

Turkey Tortellini Soup

Half an onion, chopped

One stem celery, thinly sliced

One clove (or more!) fresh garlic, chopped

Two handfuls of chopped mushrooms

1 lb ground turkey (we always buy the organic, hormone & antibiotic free kind)

A handful or two of shredded carrots

6 cups chicken broth

9 oz packet of (non-frozen) cheese tortellini (we used Buitoni’s 3 Cheese Fresh Tortellini)

Salt & Pepper

Ground Coriander Seed (I found that this flavor worked so well with the other ingredients, but you could really use any kind of seasoning, or none at all!)

Half a lemon

– In a bit of butter, saute the onion, celery, and garlic until soft. Add the mushrooms and carrots and saute for a few more minutes. Add the turkey and cook until browned. We left ours in big chunks, kind of like meatballs. Add the chicken broth and seasoning, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the tortellini, reduce the heat to medium and cook until done. 

Squeeze your lemon juice in there, to add some freshness to the flavor – although the soup wasn’t lemony-tasting, this made ALL THE DIFFERENCE to the flavor. At this point, I was going to add some fresh spinach to the party but I forgot. It would be SO GOOD with some wilted spinach, you should definitely add some to yours. Serve in bowls and grate some fresh parmesan on top.

Advertisements
Turkey Tortellini Soup

Must-Haves 6-8 Months Old!

This post is about our experience with our 6,7 and 8 month old – what worked for us may not work for you, and what I deem a necessity may seem like a luxury for you (or vice versa!). To see all the posts in the ‘Must-Haves’ Category, click here

Bumbo Seat – When Eleni was much smaller, it was fun to sit her up in her Bumbo and watch her observe the world from a different angle. However, with my especially independent and inquisitive child that luxury did not last very long! Gone are the days where I can sit her in it and turn away – she has been known to pop right out of it trying to get to the nearest toy. So now, we use the Bumbo in our very own way. Since Eleni has grown out of her baby bath my husband had the genius idea of suctioning her Bumbo to the floor of the bath (you just have to push down real hard – without the baby already sitting in it) and she loves to splash about in it. It’s nice for me too because I’m not struggling to keep her from slipping and sliding all over the place. (Please note that it was not designed for this purpose and I cannot be held responsible for any mishaps!)

Baby Hair Clips/Hair ties – If I only had a dollar for every time someone commented on my baby’s hair. She was born with a lot of hair and never lost it. It has just kept growing and growing and I absolutely love it! I even braided it the other day. While I knew when I was pregnant that I would buy plenty of hair accessories for my baby girl, I didn’t imagine it would be out of necessity so soon! Eleni’s hair is constantly in her eyes – enter hair clips and hair ties! Often I will pull her hair into a pony tail (or a ‘sprig’ as her Grandaddy calls it) on the top of her head. I love these fabric hair ties that pull her hair less than regular ones. I found some at Walmart, but I’m sure any drugstore would have them. I also use a lot of hair clips – you can find really cute ones with bows, flowers, anything! The ‘snap’ ones are really good too.

Eddie Bauer Classic Wooden High Chair – This has been an absolute LIFESAVER now that Eleni is big enough to sit comfortably in it. We’ve found ourselves scooting this chair all over the dining room/kitchen when I’m cleaning or cooking. I put soft toys on the tray, or give her a wafer or a carrot stick to chew on and she will sit happily for 10 minutes or more as long as she can still see/hear me. She sits happily while I cook our dinner and when Chris and I eat it, she sits happily in the mornings while we’re waking up and sipping on our coffee – she is just so comfortable in this chair! I am equally comfortable leaving her sitting in it – even when she’s being energetic and a bit wild – because it is so sturdy (thanks to the real wood). I chose this one because I know it is sturdy, I know it will last for more than one child, and I chose a gender-neutral pattern for the cushions just in case we have a boy next. Another feature that I love about this high chair is the detachable snack tray and the actual tray underneath – both of which are dishwasher safe, and also the little shelf at the back in which I keep some of her bowls, bibs and spoons. So handy!

Winter ‘Bundle Up’ Clothes – We have had unusually cold temperatures this year, and a lot of snow too. I absolutely love winter and cold weather, but I had to give some thought on how to keep my baby comfortable yet warm at the same time. Our lovely friend Laurel, who is an absolute gem, bought Eleni a sweet winter jacket that has been such a blessing! It is waterproof and blocks the wind, and it has a big fleeced hood with fur trim – so cute and so practical! The other thing that Eleni has worn on chilly days which is not quite as bulky, so better if we’re driving somewhere and she has to be in her carseat, is a full body suit which I bought in South Africa (in the middle of summer – bizarre!). It is fluffy and adorable. She looks like the abominable snowman and I love it! Last the list of things to mention is a good hat (we lose tons of heat through our head, especially as babies) and a good pair of boots to keep those little tootsies warm. We were fortunate enough to have a matching set passed down to us. Both the hat and the boots are from Baby Gap and they are fleece-lined and gorgeous!

 

Netflix – Oh, this is going to make me sound like a terrible mother in the world of PPPs (Perfect Pinterest Parents) but let’s be honest, we all do it. And if you don’t yet, you probably will. It might not be Netflix, but you will find whatever it is that makes your child sit still without you for a minute so that you can go pee/put on make up/grab a bite to eat…I promise you, you will find something and you will use it. Now I am not a fan of plopping your child in front of the TV for hours but I really don’t think that 15 minutes here and there is going to do my baby any harm, and if it helps me to regain what’s left of my sanity for the day then I’m all for it! Her attention span at this age is not that expansive anyway. I am also quite adamant that even at this age, the shows that she does watch need to be educational. Eleni loves to sit in her high chair and watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood which is an updated version of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and it is full of sweet lessons relevant to toddlers from potty training to going to the doctor to sharing toys with friends. While she is still too young to understand any of that, it makes me feel good.

Plum Little Yums – Eleni LOVES these! Even though she mostly plays with them, she’s learning to suck on the wafers and get some of the flavor and texture in her mouth. Eleni has always preferred finger food to me feeding her pureed fruits and veggies (although we are still pursuing that avenue as well) and so these are perfect. In the beginning I had to watch her quite closely but now I feel like she has somewhat of a handle on how they work (ie she doesn’t shove them down her throat!) I love that these are affordable, organic and packed full of flavor.

Boogie Wipes – Eleni has had a couple colds/sniffly moments in her 8 month old existence. The first time she got a cold we were so worried, but now we’re quite used to it. I love these Boogie Wipes because they allow me to wipe her nose/face without worrying that I’m going to irritate her skin with a normal wipe or make it raw with a tissue. They are gentle saline wipes, and you can also get them infused with menthol which helps to clear up noses too.

Paci Wipes – These have been an absolute LIFESAVER. Eleni only started using a paci religiously a month ago, and since then I cannot tell you how many times they have been thrown/dropped on the floor! These wipes are safe enough to use on anything that Eleni is going to put in her mouth – pacifiers, toys, bottles etc.

Toys: We are having so much fun now that Eleni is old enough to play with her toys! Not to mention the fact that it is so nice for me to be able to leave her on the floor (on a big fluffy blanket, since we have wooden floors) and get on with chores while she plays happily to herself. These are three of our absolute favorite toys that she plays with at home. When we go out I always pack her Sophie Giraffe, her soft ‘My First Doll’, and at least one set of teething play keys. 

Fisher-Price Musical Lion Walker – Although Eleni is not quite at the stage where she can use this to walk behind, since she got it for Christmas she has played with it every single day! She loves to sit in front of it and push all the buttons, and she’s figured out that if you rock it back and forth it plays a song or two! I can’t wait to see how much fun she has when she’s learning to walk too.

Activity Cube – The activity cube that we have is Playful Basics from Little Tikes, and Eleni absolutely loves it! I bought at a very cheap price from a consignment event (which, by the way, is where I get all of her clothes) and she loves to sit there and explore. I’m so proud that she’s already learnt how to spin, push, shake all the little parts on it!

Fisher-Price ‘Go Baby Go’ Crawl Along Drum Roll – I swear, Eleni is going to be a drummer. This is another toy that I got at a consignment event and Eleni beats on it like it’s going out of style! The drums light up and play different beats, and they also fold together to roll around on the floor.

Must-Haves 6-8 Months Old!

Basque Piperade – An Experiment in French Cuisine

This was really the first time I’ve ever made a completely French dish. I have eaten a lot of French food, my French teacher in high school taught me so much about the culture and I have been to France and absolutely love it. So naturally when I came across a Buzzfeed Food article listing French foods that will basically change your life I pored over it for a while. One of the recipes that stood out the most at first seemed intimidating, but as I researched further it’s actually delightfully simple and packed full of beautiful flavor – Basque Piperade. My husband liked this so much that we had it for dinner and then for lunch the next day (he hates leftovers, so this is saying a lot!)

The original recipe is from the Cured By Bacon WordPress blog and I stuck to it fairly closely, although I wasn’t able to get some of the exact ingredients. Still, my version was a huge success and something I will be making again. Chris even had the idea to buy mini cast iron skillets and serve it as an appetizer at a dinner party – how cute (and impressive) would that look?!

photo 2

28oz can whole peeled tomatoes

1 can tomato puree

4-6 whole roasted sweet red bell peppers, sliced

10-15 cloves fresh sliced garlic (Don’t be put off by the amount of garlic, it really is important to put so much and because the flavors blend so well it is not overpowering at all)

1 yellow onion, sliced

3-4 large eggs

1 tsp chili powder

2 bay leaves

salt & pepper

1 cup olive oil (I eyeballed this, I just know that it looked like a lot!)

A good loaf of crusty bread for dunking and scooping

– Preheat oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit. Saute the garlic and onions in the olive oil on medium-high heat until soft and see-through. Add the spices and saute for about another 30 seconds or so. Add the whole tomatoes (break them up a little with a spoon) and add the peppers. Season to taste with salt and pepper and throw the bay leaves in there. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes. Re-season if necessary. 

Ladle 2 or 3 cups of the ‘soup’ into an oven proof cast iron skillet. Crack one egg into a bowl or pouring jug, make a little well in the cast iron skillet with a spoon and pour the egg into that allocated space, like so:

photo 3

Repeat with the other 3 eggs and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes, watching closely, until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still yummy and runny. 

While the piperade was cooking in the oven I whipped out my panini press, sliced and buttered some thick pieces of bread and grilled them. What a delight it was to pierce one of those delicious eggs with a piece of warm, buttery, crispy-on-the-edges bread and sop up the runny yolks and the amazing flavors of that tomato/roasted red pepper stew/soup/sauce. 

Now that I think about it, minus the eggs, this would also make a fantastic sauce for pasta. Really, this is such a seemingly intimidating dish that is so easy to execute – you absolutely must give it a shot.

Basque Piperade – An Experiment in French Cuisine

Easy Sweet Potato Soup

Did someone say ‘comfort food’?! This is a recipe that I concocted a week or so ago on a chilly winter’s day. It has sweet potatoes and normal potatoes, since that’s what I had on hand. Whenever I make a soup like this I always make loads more than we need so that we can have leftovers for lunch the next day – is there anything better than leftover soup for lunch?! We soaked up this deliciously chunky sweet potato soup with some crusty bread and went about our evening with warm, satisfied bellies. I was so excited about this soup and so ready to eat it that I forgot to take a picture both times that I ate it! I will try and take one next time.

8 small russet potatoes (peeled, cubed)

2 large sweet potatoes (peeled, cubed)

Half an onion (chopped)

1 or 2 stems of celery (finely chopped)

5 cups chicken broth

2 small bay leaves (or 1 large bay leaf)

Ground coriander

Curry powder (just a small dash – this is not a curry soup but I found that a teensy pinch of curry powder brought all the flavors together beautifully!)

Salt + Pepper

– In a big saucepan or Dutch oven saute the onion and celery in a bit of olive oil until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20-25 minutes until potatoes are cooked. 

Discard both bay leaves and transfer to a food processor or blender and blend until desired consistency. Chris likes his soup to be chunky so I didn’t blend the soup for too long and actually kept some potato aside, mashed it by hand and then added it back in. 

Return everything back to the saucepan and heat through. Re-season as needed. Serve with crusty bread, croutons or grilled cheese sandwiches! I’m sure you could freeze this soup too and save it for a rainy day.

Easy Sweet Potato Soup

Sticky Asian Drumsticks

A few weeks ago, I found some organic, hormone & antibiotic free chicken drumsticks at an incredibly low price. I bought them, but was somewhat apprehensive as I’d never cooked drumsticks before! Before this recipe I was not a fan of chicken ‘on the bone’ and of the darker meat but now I can’t get enough! I may even try wings before long. I made up this recipe according to what I already had in my kitchen one Saturday, and I’ve already made it again since then! Chris loved them, I loved them, and other people have asked to try them. This recipe serves two (to be honest though, Chris could have eaten all 6 drumsticks!)

1798781_10151889364576080_1606688465_n

6 large chicken drumsticks (or 8 regular size)

4 tbsp butter

About 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

2 (or more, depending on what you like) cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

Honey (to taste)

Soy Sauce (to taste)

– Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the red pepper flakes, honey and soy sauce. Stir until combined. To get the flavor just right you need to keep tasting, and keep stirring. I stirred mine on med-high heat until it started bubbling and then reduced it to low heat. Once you have the flavor that you want, put the drumsticks in an ovenproof dish and pour the sauce/marinade over. Marinade for at least two hours. The second time I made this recipe I marinaded overnight and it was delicious! 

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and bake for 40-45 minutes or until done. Halfway through I like to spoon some of the sauce/marinade back over the chicken. After that I leave it alone so that the skin can get nice and crispy. 

Serve with anything you like – rice, egg fried rice, salad, potatoes, steamed veggies… the options are endless! This would also be a great dish to make a big batch of and take to share at a cookout.

Sticky Asian Drumsticks

Dark Chocolate Energy Bites

photo 1

YUM. What’s better than dark chocolate? Dark chocolate with a purpose. These dark chocolate energy bites give you a little boost between meals and I never feel guilty about having more than 1 (or 2, or 3, or 4!)

I got this recipe from Undressed Skeleton, and I was so excited because mine looked just as good as hers did – that means that these must be super easy to make!

I bought 1 bag of dark chocolate chips, 1 bag of my favorite trail mix which included dried cranberries, almonds, raisins & pistachios (it was cheaper to buy trail mix than to buy all those ingredients separately) and my shopping was done!

– Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl for 20 seconds at a time, stirring in-between until melted completely. Lay out some waxed paper on your work surface and plop down a circle of chocolate about the size of a quarter. Press whatever kind of nuts and dried fruit that you want into the chocolate, and leave to set. Alternatively, you can put the waxed paper onto a baking sheet, and then transfer your energy bites to the fridge to set. 

Once they’re set, peel them off the waxed paper, put them in a tupperware (or a pretty packet with a ribbon – would make a great gift!) and take them with you wherever you go for an extra boost throughout your day.

Dark Chocolate Energy Bites

All About Quiche

Chris and I love quiche. Especially when it involves feta cheese, therefore both of the quiche-varieties that I make regularly include feta cheese. I am going to share the base recipe for a good quiche, and then add some ideas for fillings below.

Base Recipe for a Good Quiche:

1 pie crust (9 inch)

5 large eggs

1 cup milk

salt/pepper

– Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Lay the pie crust in your pie dish and trim the edges if needed. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and salt/pepper. Pour the egg/milk mixture over the pastry into the pie dish and bake for about 45 minutes or until the egg is set and the pie crust is golden. And…. you’re done!

Possible Fillings:

Butternut, Feta Cheese and Peppadew: I just boil or steam small cubes of butternut squash until it’s tender, and add it to the egg/milk mixture in the recipe above with some cubes or crumbles of feta cheese and some thinly sliced peppadews (peppadews are a sweet pepper that is imported from South Africa. I get them at my local grocery store here in North Carolina.) Season with whatever herbs you want, follow the recipe above to bake it and done!

photo 1 (1) photo 2 (1) photo 3 (1)

Spinach, Feta Cheese and Mushroom: I saute the spinach and mushroom in a tiny bit of olive oil until wilted/soft, then squeeze all the excess moisture out before adding it and the cheese to my egg/milk mixture. I like to add just a small handful of grated cheddar cheese to this one as well, to add a little bit more flavor. So good!

photo 5

Some more ideas that I have thought of but not cooked yet:

– You could do a breakfast quiche, perhaps with some cooked onion, some cooked bacon and then some slices of tomato laid on top

– I think feta cheese, shallots and roasted red pepper would be good

– Zucchini, mushroom, onion, tomato

– Canadian bacon (it’s a little meatier than bacon), baby tomatoes (sliced in half), mushroom, cheddar cheese

All these ideas are to inspire you – you really can put almost anything in a quiche. It’s something you can make all year long with whatever’s in season. I often make a quiche or two on Monday or Tuesday and we eat on them for lunch throughout the rest of the week. Happy ‘quiche-ing’!

All About Quiche