Vegetable Soup

Happy Meatless Monday!

Snowmagedon 2019 is here!!  We hardly ever get snow – now we have 12″ and some places of 20″!!  This does not happen in St. Louis very often.

Of course this means SOUP!  I wanted a warm, healthy bowl of soup I could eat and eat and not feel guilty.  Here is your no guilt soup that can be easily modified for ZERO weight watcher points.  I added beans for fiber and protein, but you could use edamame instead.  I used a mixed vegetable frozen mix, but you could substitute green beans instead and again it would make this zero points for the soup.

Serve with a grilled cheese, or Parmesan on top, or baguette or totally on its own or with a quick protein drink.  I tried out 1st Phorm Caramel Latte and it is SOOOO good!!!!  They even have Ice Cream Sandwich, Milk Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream flavors!!!   I know I know protein drinks taste terrible.  But I am a huge skeptic and it is actually good.  I was even skeptical of the reviews because you know those can be faked and I think they are real because it is really that smooth and creamy.

This soup makes a LOT so feel free to cut it in half or just eat it throughout the week like I did!

Vegetable Soup
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups cabbage, shredded (1 bag of coleslaw mix is more than enough)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 2 cups frozen vegetable mix: green beans, carrots, peas and corn
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 cups vegetable, chicken or beef broth
  • 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can of red kidney beans or white, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 3 cups broccoli florets (frozen or room temperature)
  • 1 Tb. lemon juice or red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a stock pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and celery. Cook 5 minutes or until translucent
  2. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
  3. Add cabbage, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, frozen vegetables and mushrooms. Cook 5 minutes.
  4. Add broth, tomatoes, beans, and all of the spices/seasonings. Bring this to a boil and boil 5 minutes.
  5. Add broccoli and boil 3-5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and add lemon juice or vinegar, salt and pepper. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Image result for chicken tortilla soup

https://www.flickr.com/photos/emiline220/

Happy 2019!!

I hope everyone had  a safe and fun New Year’s Eve!!!  2018 was a pretty good year overall.  I am still teaching 6th grade Gifted and Advanced Mathematics, the food blog is still running, I stopped doing paid photography, we are planning to go to Yellowstone National Park later this year, family is healthy and happy – so couldn’t ask for anything more!

I have been re-making many of our family’s favorite recipes using the Instant Pot.  I really do not seek out “new recipes” any longer, but re-make the meals we already love.  Most of the recipes on this website have been cooked 3 or more times and revised so that they come out perfect every time – so that is why I use them most of the time.  This recipe is an oldie but a goodie and I just knew the Instant Pot would cut the cooking time in half while keeping the flavors robust.

To make this recipe without the Instant Pot – My original recipe can be found here

I have had the Instant Pot for 5 years or so and really wish I had written a book or something before the device exploded in popularity!
Here is what I find it best for:

-Soups
Beef: roasts
-Stews
Yogurt making
-Cooking Hard Boiled Eggs
Chicken breast
-Dry Beans

Homemade Yogurt in the Instant Pot

I have not liked the Instant Pot for Pork roasts, pork tenderloins or any meat that is lean like those cuts of meat.  Chicken is good – because you can cook that in water and it doesn’t bother it.  Water keeps the pork a little more hydrated, but the texture is different.  And less water makes the meat dry.  And pizza.  It doesn’t do well with pizza 😉

 

Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Diced Onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (or mix of green, red or orange)
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste (freeze the remaining in the can, it will last a long time)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt (optional)
  • 1 can (10 Oz.) Diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies, not drained
  • 32 ounces Low Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 2 cans (15 Oz. per Can) black beans or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 Tbs. cornmeal
  • Toppings: tortilla chips, shredded Cheddar cheese, lime, diced red onion, cilantro, salsa, avocado
Instructions
  1. Select Saute on the Instant Pot and add olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add onion and peppers. Stir about 2-3 minutes or until translucent. Add minced garlic, spices (cumin, chili powder, garlic powder), and tomato paste and cook 30 seconds – stirring constantly.
  2. Turn Instant Pot off. Add the salt (optional), diced tomatoes and green chiles, chicken stock, beans and chicken breast. Put on the lid to “seal” and program for “Poultry” and increase time to 18 minutes for thick chicken breast or leave it at 15 minutes for smaller size.
  3. Use Quick Release once the Instant Pot is done cooking. Add the warm water and cornmeal. While the pot keeps the soup warm, shred the chicken with forks in the pot or remove and shred (you can shred it in the mixer too!).
  4. Serve with toppings and enjoy!

 

Skinny Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Look!  A recipe with NO pumpkin in it!  Wild huh?  Didn’t think that was possibly didja?

Well, when we are not making pumpkin (there is pumpkin oatmeal in my oven right now! LOL)

Here’s my weekends so far:  rehearsing for “It’s a Wonderful Life” the play and dinner theatre which is now SOLD OUT.  3 weeks until showtime!

This is a soup I have been tweaking and making for many years now.  It is now soup season since we have snow on the ground.  I know many people love the Panera version and this does not look like their soup… but it does taste similar to their soup.  It is still awesome tasting with a broth base of cooked onion, broccoli and cheddar.  But not quite as lengthy in ingredients as their version which contains: Water, Milk, Broccoli, Cheddar Cheese ([Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes], Water, Sodium Phosphate, Milkfat, Salt, Apocarotenal [Color]), Heavy Cream, Carrots, Contains 2% or less of: Seasoning (Modified Corn Starch, Flour [Wheat Flour, Ascorbic Acid Added as Dough Conditioner, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid], Salt, Spices, Extractives of Paprika), Onions, Chicken Base (Chicken Meat and Chicken Juices, Salt, Hydrolyzed Soy and Corn Protein, Sugar, Flavoring, Potato Flour, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Carrot Powder and Turmeric), Butter (Cream, Salt), Modified Food Starch, Soybean Oil, Dijon Mustard (Water, Vinegar, Mustard Seed, Salt, White Wine, Fruit Pectin, Citric Acid, Tartaric Acid, Sugar, Spice), Nisin Preparation and Hot Pepper Sauce (Vinegar, Red Pepper, Salt).

 

You can make my original version.  I prefer this one now since it easier to prepare and I almost always have these ingredients on hand to make a quick batch for the week’s lunches or dinner paired with homemade bread.

Skinny Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Serves: 5 servings
Ingredients
  • 1Tb. unsalated butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds frozen broccoli florets
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup milk, cream or fat free evaporated milk
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tb. mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • Toppings optional: bacon bits, extra cheese
Instructions
  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and allow to cook 3-4 minutes or until translucent.
  2. In the meantime, microwave your broccoli in a steam bowl or other microwave safe bowl. You may need to do this in two batches for about 4-5 minutes each. Depending on the strength of your microwave. This will thaw the broccoli.
  3. Add garlic to the cooked onion and stir for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the thawed broccoli, broth and water. Simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 8 minutes or until broccoli is cooked through.
  5. Puree the soup using an immersion blender to get some chunks-some pureed soup. Or use your blender. Add the soup back to the pot and add the milk, cheddar and mustard. Stir until melted and soup is hot again. I like chunks in my soup so I do not blend it all – but that is up to you.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add cooked bacon if you would like to add some meat. Serve hot and enjoy!
Calories: 260 Saturated fat: 6
Notes
Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen “Comfort Food Makeovers”

 

Smoked Pork Salad & Book Review

smoked pulled pork salad

I hope your summer has been awesome!!  Here in Missouri we are at 100 degrees or more every day and 101 on Saturday without the heat index!  So instead of swimming in the bathwater temperature pool, we had a family reunion on Sunday.  For the main meat, I purchased 10 pounds of pork shoulder to smoke.  I love this electric smoker!  It makes everything taste good.  Alton Brown had one in his episodes and I have been hooked ever since.  Thanksgiving will never be the same – we liked the smoked turkey better than the roasted.

Book Review:

Book review time!

I have been reading “Positive Discipline: Tools for Teachers” although many of the skills would work for parents as well.  Each section is very thoughtfully laid out and peppered with many real-life examples.  The chapters begin with the discipline tool such as “Greetings,” describes the tool, highlights several examples of using the tool in real classrooms, gives 3-5 tips on using the tool and finally – my favorite part – explains the research behind the tool.  The tools in the book remind me of “Teaching with Love and Logic” and “Discipline with Dignity” if you are familiar with those books and programs.  There are 281 pages of tools and examples in the book, so there is something in it for every teacher.  I would highly recommend this book for any brand new teachers and teachers that would like more discipline tools to use and try in the classroom.  In my experience, every tool does not work on every student.  Each child is different and some respond differently than others due to family history or simply personality.  One chapter in particular explains Curiosity Questions.  Instead of barking at the student to finish the worksheet, it begins with a conversational question.  This question starts a discussion and I know many of us have had those “Aha!” moments when they had a short discussion with the student: I can’t focus, my mom is in the hospital, my little brother cried all night, etc.  Of course, learning objectives do need to be met, but a little grace goes a long way when trying to start a conversation and make a plan on how to overcome those obstacles.

In short, there is something for every teacher in this book.  The cartoons and quotations peppered throughout the book break up the text well. The author’s tone is conversational and easy to read and understand.  I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

 

Recipe:

Leftovers to the rescue!  I have made this with leftover restaurant smoked pork and homemade.  Both are equally delicious!  Scale this up or down for a huge BBQ or a small family dinner or a healthy and tasty lunch!!

This is my all time FAVORITE BBQ SAUCE recipe.  I whip it up in a jar, shake and good to go!  No high fructose corn syrup and preservatives necessary.  There is enough vinegar in my sauce to keep it in the fridge for quite a while.   I don’t use liquid smoke too often, but the price is cheap and it lasts a long time in the pantry.

The corn bread muffins were from my favorite corn bread recipe, too.  Feel free to use store bought.  Or make these and freeze the leftovers for another day.

 

Smoked Pork Salad & Book Review
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 corn muffins
  • 4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 cups smoked pulled pork
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup ranch dressing, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice the corn muffin into small cubes. Spray with olive oil cooking spray. Place on a cookie sheet and toast for 6 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Divide the lettuce into 4 bowls.
  3. Add about 1/2 cup pork to each bowl. Add tomatoes, some sliced onion and corn bread croutons on top. Now drizzle BBQ sauce or combine ranch and BBQ sauce together if that floats your boat.
  4. Enjoy!

 

 

White Chicken Chili | Instant Pot

Hey Everyone!  I’m still alive 🙂  Just took a long pause to continue my photography and teach 4th grade full-time for a few months.  Next month I will be a full-time student at the University of Missouri and possibly part or full-time teacher as well… we’ll see how this goes.  🙂

But hey, we are here for the recipes, not my opinion on the last presidential election that we missed on the blog.  Whew!  Maybe that’s a good thing we missed it….

Book Review: 

Rosalind Wiseman has written a comprehensive guide to helping girls through the teenage years and even the tweens. This is a must read for any parent that has a daughter! The author delivers in a conversational tone a plethora of advice from years of clinical experience. Quotations from teenage girls are scattered throughout the book giving firsthand knowledge of the world of “queen bees.”

The first section is about friendships, groups of friends and the roles friends play. Next, parents and parenting styles are discussed. Then, anger management and what to do about parties. Online communication and boys are included in the chapters as well. The book is lengthy… which is a blessing and a curse. “Queen Bees and Wannabes” has so many scenarios that it will probably have what you are dealing with or what you will be dealing with in years to come. All 412 pages will not apply to everyone. But I can guarantee that some of this book will apply to all parents and help them – and their daughters – through whatever physical or emotional hurdles they may have to face and guide them through facing it together.

I received a sample of this book to read from Blogging for books so i can give my honest and unbiased opinion/review.

Recipe:

My Instant Pot is still my new favorite toy!   Check out this blog post with more things to do with the Instant Pot like:  make yogurt from just milk, make a 10 hour roast in 1 hour, cook chicken without drying it out, make chili in 10 minutes, hard-boiled eggs where the shell comes off in one piece, make perfectly cooked brown or white rice.

Now to the chili… we have tons of deer meat and been eating chili like crazy the past few months.  To shake things up a bit, I made white chicken chili.  I have tried several ways and finally came across some ingredients that help a lot:  Trader Joe’s fire roasted diced green chiles.  YUM!  Try to find them if you can.  If not, that’s okay and find the Mexican food aisle in your store and they will have canned green chilies.

*If you want to use dried beans – that works too!  1/2 cup dried beans = 1 can of beans.  So, I used my Instant Pot the previous day to pressure cook the soaked beans.  They were done in 12 minutes on high pressure using natural release.

White Chicken Chili (and Instant Pot Option)
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 and 1/2 cups diced chicken breasts or tenderloin (with tendon removed)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tb. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
  • 4 cups chicken broth (reduced sodium preferred)
  • 2 cans (3 cups) Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 ounces canned green chiles, diced
  • 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. For regular pot: Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add the diced chicken and onion. Cook until no longer pink – about 8 minutes. Add garlic with the spices and cook 30 seconds.
  2. Once the garlic and spices are fragrant, add the broth, beans, chiles and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer 10-15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste
  3. For Instant Pot: Turn on the Instant Pot to “Saute” on Normal/Medium. Add oil and once hot add the chicken and onion. Cook until no longer pink – about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and cook those another 30 seconds. Turn Instant Pot off.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the Instant Pot back on to Manual mode and set for 10 minutes. Or press “Chili” and reduce the cooking time to 10 minutes. Make sure the vent is sealed of course!
  5. Release the pressure and your chili is finished! If you want it thicker, put the Instant Pot on saute with the lid off to reduce the chili.

 

 

Chicken Melts

chicken melts recipe, homemade, copycat

Good morning everyone!  It has been for- EV- UH!  I wish I could post more 🙁

I have been working 50-60 hours per week between substitute teaching and photography while the hubby looks for a new job.  The cleaning and cooking still need done… so the blog was put on the back burner.  Currently, I will be working toward applying for a full-time job when the new school year 2017-2018 opens up.

I am still reading Ron Chernow’s Washington and it is STILL one of the best biographies.  Which probably explains that little Pulitzer Prize that it won.  The most recent tidbit I did not know is that Washington really wanted to go back to Mount Vernon and be home after the Revolutionary War.  He was happy to help with the Constitutional Convention and get the new government on its feet.  From his personal letters, it can be deduced that he only really expected to be president a couple of years.  He was there to get the ball rolling so to speak.  If Washington had known he was going to remain president for 8 years, he may never have volunteered in the first place.

chicken melts recipe, homemade, copycat

Recipe:

This recipe has a short story!  So, about 6 months ago the kids and I discovered these delicious Chicken Melts at Costco.  “Really….Really Tasty Sandwiches” is their motto and they are right!  For the price and time, they are really good and really tasty.  There are 15 chicken melts in one box and all 4 of us really like them.  Plus, they are so tasty and low in calories that we want to eat one or two!!  A box of 15 of them goes super fast!

So – I decided to try and make a copycat recipe.  It would taste almost exactly the same, but perhaps have more chicken so that it felt more like a meal than a snack.

The kids gave them 4 thumbs up!!

Woo hoo!  Eureka!

What do we do with this recipe??

  1.  You can freeze them like the Sandwich Bros. do!  Just seal in plastic and reheat in the microwave (out of the plastic bag of course!).  Start at 60 seconds per sandwich and wrap in a paper towel first with the cheese side UP.  Or you will have a cheesy microwave!
  2. Eat them for lunch!  The kids are in school and cannot heat up their own meal.  So, I send the sandwich cold to school and they still love it.  More like a deli type feel.
  3. Eat them for dinner!  Yum!
  4. Have the fixin’s stashed in the fridge for any time.  I make a large batch and then keep the chicken with cheese in a large container in the fridge.  If someone wants to make a chicken melt, they just have to add the cooked chicken to the pita pocket.
  5. Easy and cheap and tasty!  My favorite triad 🙂

Here is a photo of the whole wheat pita pockets that I purchased for making the chicken melts.  You can purchase pita pockets almost everywhere now!  Since Trader Joe’s avoids preservatives and such, I try there first.  **IMPORTANT** When opening up their pita pockets, heat them first a little.  I store my bread in the fridge and the pockets would tear when I opened them up.  BUT, they won’t tear if you heat them up for like 15 seconds in the microwave!

trader-joes-pita-pockets

This recipe is a new staple in our household and I hope you enjoy it!

Chicken Melts
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Serves: 16 sandwiches
Ingredients
  • 1-2 Tb. olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose or white whole wheat flour
  • (about) 1 tsp. garlic powder (add to taste, we like it and I cover the flour with a layer of garlic powder)
  • (about) 1 Tb. paprika (I used smoked paprika and increase or decrease based on how fresh it is)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 slices of American Cheese
  • 8 round pita pockets
Instructions
  1. To start, I heat up my large 12″ cast iron skillet on medium heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. I add more if it doesn’t cover the bottom of the skillet.
  2. While that heats up, slice the chicken in half LENGTHwise. You now have 8 chicken breasts. Now, cut those to fit you pita pocket. I cut mine in half again the other way to fit into the pita pocket. Now, I have 16 pieces of chicken.
  3. In a shallow bowl or baking dish, mix the flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Dredge each piece of chicken through the flour mixture on both sides until coated. Repeat on all the chicken.
  4. Add chicken to the skillet one layer at a time. Mine holds 4-5 pieces of chicken. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Flip. Cook another 3 minutes and make sure the chicken is cooking nicely. About 2 minutes before it is done, add the cheese. Melt the cheese for 2-3 minutes and remove the chicken from the skillet onto a wire cooling rack over paper towels. This will keep the chicken crispy on the bottom and the top.
  5. Repeat by adding a little more oil to the skillet if necessary and repeat with the remaining chicken.
  6. Heat up the pita pockets for about 15 seconds in the microwave. This will allow them to open easier.
  7. Slice the pita pocket circle in half to get two half circles. Fill the pita pocket with the cooked chicken and eat while hot!
  8. Or assemble and freeze in the freezer. To reheat from frozen, wrap in a paper towel and place in the microwave with the cheese side on top. Heat for 60 seconds and check to see if it is done. If not, add a few more seconds until heated thoroughly.
  9. Or keep separated in the fridge and assemble any time you are hungry.

 

 

Homemade Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

Homemade Honey Roasted Peanut Butter FB title Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

There are few foods yummier than peanut butter.  Covered in chocolate, hidden in smoothies or eaten straight out of the jar, many people eat it even on a daily basis.  Entire cookbooks are dedicated just to this one ingredient!

Today my friends, we take it up another notch.

Homemade Honey Roasted Peanut Butter 2fb Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

Another reason to consider making homemade peanut butter:  the deforestation of the earth because of palm oil.  This is why Trader Joe’s natural peanut butter will state “palm oil sourced from sustainable sources” on the back.

Plus, homemade peanut butter can be made crunchy or smooth.  You can whip up peanut butter any time of day you have a craving… and the best part is?  We found something even tastier!  Honey Roasted Peanut Butter!

Whole Foods and Fresh Thyme grocery stores have their own peanut butter machines.  You press the button and freshly made peanut butter oozes out into the empty container for all your peanut butter needs.  Honey Roasted runs $3.99 per pound.  Regular peanut butter runs $2.99 per pound (at Fresh Thyme).  The savings are pretty negligible to say the least when making your own peanut butter with just peanuts.  But, these stores are far away and the drive is no where near where I drive.  So – to save gas and time, I make my own.

Homemade Honey Roasted Peanut Butter 4fb Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

Made too much?  Fresh peanut butter on sale?  NO worries.  Freeze it!  Peanut butter will freeze just fine 🙂  Just like real butter!  I always freeze real butter.

So, buy that jar of Honey Roasted peanuts for about $3 (less than $3 at Aldi!)  and try making your own honey roasted peanut butter.  It will be hard to go back to regular.

Homemade Honey Roasted Peanut Butter 3fb Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

Storage:  Store in an airtight container.  You can use the peanut butter immediately.  You can store it in the pantry for up to 1 week.   Ours never lasts that long, but for longer storage than 1 week keep it in the fridge.  For even longer storage, keep airtight in the freezer for a few months.

Don’t like peanut butter?  Need almond butter?  Cashew butter?  Try the same recipe with different nuts!  Or your own combination of nuts.

Mary Ellen’s All Time Favorite Lunch Sandwich:

Homemade Honey Roasted Peanut Butter 5fb Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

Homemade Honey Roasted Peanut Butter
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Serves: 1 and 3/4 cup peanut butter
Ingredients
  • 3 cups unsalted roasted or honey roasted peanuts
  • Optional: peanut oil, honey, salt
Instructions
  1. Put the nuts into your food processor or high speed blender like Vitamix.
  2. For the food processor: turn the machine on for 1 minute. Scrape the sides down if necessary. Run the machine for 1 more minute. Scrape the sides down. Run the machine for just 1 last minute. During this last minute, add a tablespoon of peanut oil or drizzle of honey or 1/4 tsp. of salt if you wish. The peanut butter will be soft, thick and glossy.
  3. For the Vitamix, turn the machine to 1. Slowly, turn the machine up to 10. Use the tamper to press the peanuts towards the blades. In about 1-2 minutes, you will have yummy creamy peanut butter! Once the peanut butter becomes smooth and the blades move freely, turn off the machine. Scoop out with a scraper.

 

Crockpot Lentil Soup

Detox Lentil Soup

What’s so awesome about lentils?

Lentils are cheap.

Lentils can be stored a long time because they are dried.

Lentils are a great source of potassium, calcium, niacin, zinc and Vitamin K.

Lentils are rich in fiber and lean protein.

Lentils are a super food!  We love our super foods here on Whisk Together!  🙂

Lentils are like chicken… they take on the flavor of whatever ingredients they are cooked with.

Detox Lentil Soup 3

 

This soup is great for those of you trying to lose weight!  Lots of protein, fiber and veggies.  Or trying to maintain weight.  Or just need a nice warm bowl of soup.  It is a nice blank canvas for anything you would like to add to it.  Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, lemon infused grapeseed or olive oil, red wine vinegar, etc. all taste great as a finishing touch.  If you are trying to add a “Meatless Monday” to the dinner menu, this soup would definitely fit the bill!  Simply add a side salad or whole grain bread.

Detox Lentil Soup 2

To keep the week going smoothly, I try to get a few things done on Sunday.  One of those is making a big batch of soup and one large bowl of salad.  That way I always have something to grab for lunch or a back up for dinner.  Especially since these soups and most of my salads don’t contain meat or dairy mixed in, then I don’t feel like it is going to turn bad in 6-7 days.

Crockpot Lentil Soup
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash (peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (peeled and cut into 1/2″ silces)
  • 2 cups chopped potatoes (Yukon Gold works well) or sweet potatoes (peel if you prefer and chop into 1/2″ cubes)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 5-7 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced (more garlic for more garlic flavor)
  • 1 and 3/4 cup dried green lentils
  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1-2 handfuls baby spinach or kale chopped into 1″ pieces, optional
  • 1 lemon, squeeze the juice into the soup
  • Optional garnishes: fresh parsley, dried parsley, Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Into a large slow cooker, add all of the ingredients from butternut squash through ground pepper.
  2. Cook on high 4-5 hours or low for 6-7 hours.
  3. Add baby spinach and squeeze lemon juice into soup. Allow to wilt about 5 minutes.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste! I added quite a bit of salt and pepper. I also added Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute because it tastes great on everything.
  5. Add 1-2 cups of additional broth for a thinner soup. I like my soups on the thick side.
  6. Serve warm and enjoy.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Grace and Salt[br]http://graceandsalt.net/lentil-vegetable-crockpot-soup/

 

 

Homemade Baguettes

Quick Baguette-4527 on Whisk Together

Okay, I should call these “Quick Baguettes” because true French baguettes require a very long overnight rise time.  If you have that kind of time, here is a good French Baguette recipe.  Great for sandwiches, side dishes and soups!

As for me and my house…. we will be making fast baguettes.  🙂  These are super delicious and super easy – especially when you have a bread machine.  You can make them without a bread machine as well!  The kids and hubby LOVED these baguettes.  They didn’t have a super hard crust on them like some baguettes do.  They were nice and soft and chewy.  Plus…. there is the fact that all-purpose flour tastes like CANDY after eating 100% whole wheat for the past 7 years.

Why make your own?  There are only 4 ingredients.   No preservatives, no caramel color, no polysorbate 60, no anything but flour, water, yeast and salt.  If you have those things in your pantry, then you CAN make these.  This is a great yeast recipe to start out on.

Quick Baguette-4528 on Whisk Together

Tips for Yeast Bread Making (or any baking!):

1.  Preheat the oven 25 degrees higher than baking temperature.  This is because once you open the oven, it will reduce in temperature anyway.  Preheating higher allows for more initial “spring” in the baking process.

2.  Test your yeast if you aren’t 100% positive it is alive.  It is a bummer to wait 2 hours and find out right before dinner that the yeast was dead.  To test the yeast, I use active dry yeast.  I add the yeast, water and a little bit of sugar if the recipe calls for no sugar.  If the recipe does call for sugar, like a pizza dough, then simply add the sugary substance to the water and yeast.  After 5 minutes, you should see a little foam on top telling you the yeast is burping carbon dioxide and alive!

3.  Weigh your flour.  On a scale.  And pay attention to the author of the recipe.  King Arthur Flour thinks that AP flour weighs 4.25 ounces per cup and scales their recipes based on that.  America’s Test Kitchen think s that AP flour weighs 5 ounces per cup.  Most places and most recipes will yield 5 ounces per cup of all purpose flour.  King Arthur Flour weighs and scoops their flour differently.

4.  For a shiny crust, brush a mixture of 1 egg and 1 Tb. of water on top before baking.  It will be a little crisper, too.

5.  Pay attention to the bread more than the time!  Sometimes bread can get a little crazy and proof too fast.  Just look at it once in a while.

6.  I like active dry yeast.  I’m not patient and neither is this yeast.  It is fast and great for bread machines or bread that you need made in 2 hours or less.

Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Cheesesteak-4521 on Whisk Together Label

Ok, really….  The reason I made my own baguettes is because I was too lazy to go to the store and buy sandwich bread for the Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches.

Homemade Baguettes
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Ingredients
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 and 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 3 cups (15 oz.) all purpose flour (plus more on hand)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Instructions
  1. For bread machine: Throw everything into the machine per the machine’s directions and hit “dough cycle”. Shape the resulting dough into 2 or 4 logs. Make shallow diagonal slashes on the top. Cover with plastic and preheat the oven to 400. Once up to temperature – reduce the oven to 375 degrees and bake the bread for 15-25 minutes.
  2. For by hand: Add yeast to the water and let sit for 5 minutes. I would recommend adding a pinch of sugar too if you are not sure that the yeast is alive. If bubbles form on the surface because they ate the sugar, the yeast is alive.
  3. Add flour and salt. Mix together by hand or in a mixer with the paddle attachment.
  4. When combined, switch to a dough hook and knead for 5 minutes. (or knead by hand for 8-10 minutes). Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Rise 1 hour or until doubled.
  5. Punch down the dough and break into 2 or 4 pieces. Roll into a log about 6″ long for 4 baguettes. Use a serrated knife to slash 2 to 4 shallow slices on the top diagonally.
  6. Place baguettes on a cookie sheet covered with parchment or silicone. Or on a baking stone. Cover back up with plastic wrap and rise another 20-30 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees while the bread rises.
  8. Remove the plastic wrap and REDUCE THE OVEN to 375 degrees. Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on if you made 4 small ones or 2 big ones).
Notes
*If the dough is not coming together, add a little more flour. [br][br]*For a pretty and shiny crust, brush the top right before baking with a mixture of 1 beaten egg and 1 Tb. water.

 

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