Simple Semi-Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup – The Skinny Version

I recently discovered that my man friend really likes Broccoli Cheddar Soup.  Like to the point where if its on the menu anywhere, he’s going to order it. No questions asked.  Don’t know why it took me so long to this find out, but better late than never! That being said, I scoured the internet for recipes and was a little put off by so many of them. So many call for full-fat cream, loads of butter and even more shredded cheese! All that equals = not a happy/healthy waistline! So, I took a few recipes and honed them down to better ingredients, lower calorie and fat content, upping the serving of veggies while still tasting FANTASTIC!  How you say?  Well, you’re in luck, cause I’m willing to share!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. plus 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 cups skim or 1% milk
  • 3 cups low-salt chicken broth (I buy Campbell’s)
  • 4 fresh broccoli crowns (washed and chopped into bit sized pieces, stems included)
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese (I usually buy the “less fat” cheese, and found it tastes exactly the same!)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step-by-Step (ooh-baby…yes I’m channeling NKOTB)

  1. In a small frying pan, melt 1 tbsp butter and saute chopped onion until onion pieces are clear. Set aside.
  2. In a medium/large pot melt 1/4 c. butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir well. It’ll get clumpy, but it’ll all work out! Maybe 3-5 minutes here.
  3. With a whisk add the milk and broth to the pot and let it simmer for maybe 15-20 minutes.  Stirring quite a bit at the beginning to get the clumps of butter-flour mixed in well.  This step is quite like making a white sauce.
  4. Add in the already sauteed onion and all of the fresh broccoli and stir into the milk-broth until well covered.
  5. Continue to simmer and occasionally stir for another 25 minutes until the broccoli is tender.
  6. Take off the heat, and take an immersion blender to the soup and puree a bit. I like to leave a few chunks, but this makes for a smoother soup.
  7. Add the nutmeg and shredded cheese. Stir and let the cheese melt.  Serve and enjoy!

This made about 6 sizable servings. Two were eaten right away, two were packed up for lunches, and another two made their way to the freezer. :) IMG_0602IMG_0763IMG_0604

Crossbody Beach Bag – Sewing Pattern

Coming soon!

These amazing bags I made for my recent beach vacation.  Completely reversible and fits over the shoulder or cross body. I used fun colours and matching thread to make these easy casual bags that held everything I needed while spending a day at the beach (sunscreen, dress, snacks, books, trashy magazine, lip balm, kleenex, wet wipes etc.)

I’ll be posting the FREE pattern and instructions soon enough :)

Beach Bag

Easy One Hour Bread Recipe

Thank you Pinterest for allowing me to find this incredibly easy bread recipe.  I love the smell of freshly baked bread in the house, there’s nothing quite like it. (ok, except maybe cookies baking…we’ll call it a tie).  Regardless, I found this online yesterday and HAD to try it!

Now because I didn’t want two huge loaves of bread in the house, and my yeast is a little older then it should be (another great excuse for me to finally use up that jar in the fridge!) I had to modify the recipe a bit. But overall, I was really impressed.

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 heaping tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 heaping tbsp quick rise active yeast
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 c. hot tap water (a few tbsp extra just in case)

Lets go!

  1. Turn the oven on to 200F
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, salt and yeast for a few seconds to make sure everything is well dispersed
  3. Add the oil and hot water and use the dough hook on your beater (or like me, I couldn’t find mine, so I used one regular beater…) Mix for a few minutes. Feel free to get your hands in there to help move it along.  Dough should be sticky, so if its too dry add a tbsp or more of the hot tap water and keep mixing (beater/hands)
  4. Take the dough out of the bowl and gently knead with your hands for a minute (a few quick folds)
  5. Separate into two mini loaves (mine were super cute)
  6. Form into loaves and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet
  7. Turn the oven off, place the loaves on their cookie sheet with a tea towel over them and leave the door slightly ajar. (I find this easier to help the dough rise, especially in our cold winter months)
  8. Leave for about 25 minutes
  9. Take out of the oven and leave to stand
  10. Pre-heat the oven again to 350F
  11. Cut slashed into the top of the loaves to help it breathe
  12. Brush loaves with melted butter for a wash finish and leaves a nice salty taste on the crust (my fav)
  13. Once heated, place the loaves back in oven without the tea towel for about 25 minutes or until a nice golden colour and when tapped they have that hollow sound. Mine ended up being two adorable little 8 inch loaves.
  14. Let cool, and then ENJOY!
(I won’t lie, I ate half a warm loaf last night by myself… I couldn’t stop. SO good! and the whole thing took me less than an hour!)
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Simple and Delicious Potato Leek Soup

I’ve always loved potatoes.  Not sure how that love manifested, but I’ve loved them forever and in all of their many forms. From mashed, baked, broiled, pan fried, roasted, deep-fried, boiled, barbecued etc. (the list continues…). All that love, and yet, I’d never made them into a soup.  Now, I have always liked potato leek soup, and will order it frequently when out at restaurants, but still never sat down and figured it out for myself!  2015 is my year to figure out how to make things I’ve always wanted to, but never did.  So here goes!

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 leeks (the more white, the better)
  • 4 medium potatoes (any colour, I used red), peeled and sliced
  • 3 1/2 c. chicken broth (make your own, or cheat and use Campbell’s in the tetra pack)
  • 1 c. milk (I used 1%)
  • salt & pepper

Step-by-Step

  1. Place butter and chopped onion in a large pot over medium-low heat and slowly soften the onions (without burning them).
  2. Once soft, add your leeks. Using only the white part of the leek all the way up the stalk. Be sure to rinse them well once cut as I find they can be quite dirty sometimes. See photo for how much to cut into the leek. Continue stirring and cooking the leeks with the onions.
  3. After a few minutes add the sliced potatoes, broth, and a few quick shakes of salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for 25-30 minutes. Keep stirring occasionally.
  5. Once the potatoes are soft, take the pot off the heat and let sit for a few minutes.
  6. Using an immersion blender, delicately blend the ingredients while still in the pot.  How much you blend is up to you.  I like a few chunks of potato left in my soup, so I don’t blend it completely. But again, totally up to you. :)
  7. Add the milk and stir through.
  8. Add more salt and/or pepper to taste (I used a low salt broth, so I found mine needed a bit more salt when done).

You can serve right away, or put in containers for lunches etc.  I put a few freezer-safe containers in the freezer too.

ENJOY!!

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Handmade Reversible Apron – DIY

I came across this great pattern years ago and made one (see post from 2012) and figured recently it would make a great gift as well! Luckily, I was on the ball this time and made sure to snap some pics along the way!

Start off with printing, taping and cutting the pattern. Iron fabric and pin the pattern to the fabric (on the fold where necessary)IMG_0125IMG_0126Cut out two of each fabric of the pocket pieces. Iron flat and lay so that each of the “right” sides are facing each other:

IMG_0128IMG_0129Stitch together (leaving the necessary seam allowance), leaving space to turn the pocket right side out. (I like to leave an inch or so, cause it makes it a lot easier).  Clip notches in the corners. (helps it lay flat later)IMG_0130IMG_0131

Turn each pocket ride side out, iron flat, and finish with a top stitch each pocket in corresponding thread along JUST the top edge so you’re left with one pocket in each of the different fabrics.

Pin the pocket to the opposite fabric apron front (twice).  I like to hold the fabric on myself as if it was done, then pin the pocket where I’d like it.  The first time I just pinned it on, and they ended up being a little crooked… alas. Then sew it on! Being sure not to get too carried away and sew the top of the pocket shut (Yes, I almost did that once…no judgement)

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After doing that to both pieces of apron fabrics place both large pieces together with the “right” sides facing each other.  Pin together making sure to line up the scallops along the bottom edge. Sew edges and bottom together with a 1/2″ seam allowance leaving the top open for now.  I tend to really make the scallops a lot more dramatic than the pattern shows, so don’t be afford to make the seam further in on each scallop around the skirt.

IMG_0137 IMG_0138 IMG_0139 Clip notches where each scallop is, turn and press (this will take a long time, and try and really take care in the scallops as it will pay off later!).  Top stitch in corresponding colours the sides and bottom of the skirt, leaving the top open.

IMG_0142Do a gathering stitch across the top (one or two rows on a really really loose tension stitch), then take ends and pull slightly to “gather” the top of the skirt. Be sure not to pull too much.  TIP: I find it helps too if you have the waist band and ties already cut to try and measure against. :)

Cut your band and ties (two bands, one in each colour and same with the ties.) NOTE: I ended up using a different purple fabric for the ties because I wanted to add a bit more flare to it.

Lay both waist band pieces together (“right” sides together), and sew along the top only. Place one edge along the top of the now gathered skirt (making sure your skirt isn’t gathered too much or too little), again “right” sides together and sew along one edge of the skirt. See photo:IMG_0143

Next make your two ties.  Cut from fabric, either all in one colour, or you can continue making it the opposite/corresponding colours.  Totally up to you.

So, cut the ties, lay “right” sides together and sew along side, top and side, leaving the base of the tie open. Turn right side out, and iron flat. (DON’T top stitch yet…)

IMG_0144IMG_0147 The last step is the trickiest, and I won’t lie, it took me a couple minutes just staring at the fabric to try and figure it out.  So don’t worry if it takes you a minute or ten. :)

OKAY, place place skirt and the one sided attached waist band in front of you with the right side of the waist band opened and facing upwards.  Place ONE of the ties alongside the right side of the waist band with the long end of the tie facing into the middle of the skirt. (this was the complicated part…see Photo). Sew the raw edges together. Repeat the same thing on the other side and then turn the ties out, and fold the waist band back.  Its a bit of a flipping action. Like turning it right side out.

IMG_0148 IMG_0149 Final step is press the edge into the other side of the waist band that isn’t sewn in yet (using same seam allowance and pinning). Then top stitching along the ENTIRE top of the completed apron (waist band and ties). So starting near where the waist band meets one of the ties, go all the way around the tie, back to the waist band and then all the way across the to the other tie etc.  Being sure to watch that last seam on the waist band to make sure it doesn’t get wonky.

ALAS, you’re done!!!

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20 minute Nutella Gluten-Free Two Bite Brownies

Who doesn’t love two bite (I mean one-bite…) brownies?  Like really?  They are small, indulgent and oh so good!  So when we cut gluten from our diets I needed to find a little something to satisfy my notorious sweet tooth. One of my dear friends (who is celiac) sent me a link that I immediately knew was going to be perfect! I used a variation on the recipe from Gluten-Free Canteen (I tried to track down the original, but each page linked to another and another. haha).

So here’s my own:

IMG_0564Yum!

These seriously take less than 20 minutes to bring all together, which is perfect for those after dinner cravings…. This recipe makes between 12-16 two bite brownies.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. Nutella*
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp gluten-free flour**
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla

NOTE: * or use another hazelnut spread, I used a half & half tub recently that was part vanilla flavoured as well and it turned out divine!
** I switch this up between coconut flour and this great all-purpose gluten free flour from Red Mill

Step-by-Step

  1. Heat oven to 350F
  2. Put everything in a small bowl and mix away!
  3. Grease mini muffin pan, or use mini muffin liners
  4. Fill each tin about 2/3 full (make sure to put a bit of water at the bottom in the empty muffin tins to keep the pan from burning)
  5. Bake for about 10-12 minutes
  6. Let them cool a bit and then nom nom nom them all

For the really indulgent, you could sprinkle icing sugar on top, add mini chocolate chips, crushed nuts!  Be creative and enjoy!

IMG_0550IMG_0552IMG_0554IMG_0555IMG_0561YUMMY!!!!

Healthy Homemade Turkey Meatballs

Craving meatballs, but don’t want to added fat and empty calories of pasta, sauce AND the often time greasy meatballs, plus oodles of Parmesan cheese??  Well, I have an easy solution that uses lean ground turkey for a healthy option for this classic weekday supper. Its easy and fast enough to pull together and get on the table before the “hangry” side of myself comes out.

So hold on for the ride, and learn to make this easy healthy nutritious turkey meatball!

Meatball ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg lean ground turkey
  • 1 jar tomato sauce
  • 2-3 carrots (peeled and shredded)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. quick oats
  • 1/2 c. parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning/basil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper

Step-by-Step:

  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Quickly grease a baking sheet (I spray with a cooking spray cause its easy, and I like easy).
  • Combine ALL the ingredients in a glass bowl and smash together with your clean hands.  Really get in there and mash up all the stuff, making sure to mix thoroughly.
  • Form 24 equal sized balls and place on greased baking sheet.
  • Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes.
  • Place water on to boil for pasta (I prefer to use rice pasta or other gluten-free pastas). Cook pasta as you normally would. :)
  • Place tomato sauce in a mid-sized pot and place on low heat.
  • Place cooked meatballs in the tomato sauce, stir gently to cover and let simmer on low/medium heat with the lid on.  Stirring every couple of minutes just to keep everything moving.
  • When your pasta is done, and your meatballs have been in the warm sauce for at least 20 minutes, drain the pasta and serve!  Garnish with more parmesan or fresh basil.
  • Enjoy!!!

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