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

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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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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DIY Crochet Infinity Scarf

Love infinity scarfs? Love colour? Looking for an easy-beginner level crochet pattern that you can whip up in no time while watching tv!?  Well well, I have a solution for you!

I started making crochet infinity scarfs about three years ago as Christmas presents, then got a little carried away last Christmas and I made them for almost everyone!IMG_0437

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looks cozy right? So right! Well this is incredibly easy to make and is just a bunch of back and forth and back and forth row after row after row with a twist and a connection at the end once its long enough.  I usually make the scarfs long enough to wrap around the neck twice and put a twist in it to make it look fuller when worn. IMG_0443

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While it has come to my attention that I should perhaps post a tutorial on the essentials of crochet, that’ll come after the weekend when I’ve got some time to sit down and take step by step photos of the basic stitches 🙂  But for now, here is the way simple pattern (no joke…too easy).

Usually I stock up on yarn at Michael’s when it goes on sale.  I can typically get a scarf out of two regular sized balls of yarn.  I’ve used these brands in the past with great success: http://canada.michaels.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-MichaelsCanada-Site/default/Product-Show?pid=C_nw0435 and http://www.lionbrand.com/yarns/vannaschoice.html  Both have great colours and are the same weight/texture so its easy to work with. I tend to work with 4-5oz weighted yarns. And the softer the better, as no one wants to wear an itchy scarf!  I’m not a fan of working with really thin or light weight yarn as I usually end up in a tangled mess!

I also like to use varying crochet hooks to get different gauges and thickness. Most of the time I’ve been using a size 5 hook, but the blue one up top I think I used an 7or8.  For the purpose of this post, we’ll stick to size 5.

  1. chain 25-30 (or more, this will be the width of the scarf.  You’ll want it wide enough to have a fold for warmth).
  2. chain one extra (as its the first dc for your second row)
  3. starting in the second “V” from the end, double crochet (dc) all the way across, making sure not to miss any stitches.  I find the first row always the hardest, and sometimes have to redo it if I made my initial chains too tight!
  4. when at the end chain two (which is again your first dc for the next row)
  5. flip over and dc all the way across again
  6. Repeat repeat repeat: chaining two, flipping, dc starting in second stitch all the way across, chaining two, flipping,dc starting in second stitch all the way across etc….

Occasionally I like to stop and count my stitches across. (You can count the “v” shapes across the top) to make sure you haven’t missed any. If you’re missing one, don’t despair just do two dc into one space on the way back.  If you’re missing a whole bunch, you may want to rip out some rows to get back on track.  Don’t sweat it, it happens.

Once you’ve gone back and forth what seems like a billion times, and the scarf can wrap around your neck twice with the ends touching and its not too too tight, you’re ready to finish it off.  Here there are two options. Both simple and easy.  But first: take the scarf so far and place one twist in it and take the ends to meet

ONE: With the edges touching and lined up all the way across, single crochet into all the spaces all the way across, tying off and weaving in the ends.

TWO: With the edges touching and lined up all the way across, take a yarn needle and stitch a seam all the way across, tying off and weaving in the ends.

Ta-da! You’re done! Easy wearable handy craft that can be done while binge watching Friends on Netflix…

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