Oh, South Carolina. It's October 27th, and it was 80 degrees today. EIGHTY. This is so wrong on so many levels. It should be 60 degrees right now, TOPS. This 80-degree nonsense should have ended in August. But I digress.
Regardless of whether the weather is doing what I want it to, it really is soup weather. It's so easy to make healthy tweaks so that you're getting a better balanced meal, but it's warm so it's really filling and satisfying.
I found this recipe in Southern Living, and we made it last Friday night. It was a huge success. We agreed it needed less celery than called for, and it needed some herbs added. It was spicy, all right, but it didn't have a great depth of flavor. I say throw a little dried basil and thyme in there, and you'll be good to go.
It made a lot, so we had some for lunch the next day, and we probably STILL have a few meals left over. I may throw some of it in the freezer to heat up on a busy weeknight. I'll never stop searching for soups to make...so tell me, what's your favorite? If I decide to make it, I'll give you a shout-out here on the blog!
Italian Turkey Meatball Soup
1 14-ounce package frozen turkey meatballs
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/4 cups chopped carrots
3/4 cup sliced celery
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, drained and crushed
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
7 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 6-ounce package baby spinach
Sauté meatballs in 2 tablespoons hot oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, about 6 minutes, or until browned. Remove meatballs.
Add remaining oil and reduce heat to medium. Sauté onions, carrots, and celery for 5 minutes or until slightly browned.
Stir in garlic, salt and red pepper and sauté one minute.
Stir in tomatoes, beans, chicken stock and meatballs; bring to simmer over medium heat.
Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in spinach.
Eat and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Southern Living.
We're in that exceedingly awkward time of year here in South Carolina. When you leave for work in the morning you need pants, a coat and possibly a scarf. By lunchtime, you could be in shorts and a t-shirt. And my office is about 20 below ALL the time, so I have to factor that in, too.
Cooking isn't any easier. I personally don't think it's quite cold enough for the hearty chili, soups and stews I so desperately want to make, but a salad and fresh fruit just isn't going to cut it either. So this weekend our challenge was finding a Sunday night meal that was hearty but not too heavy, something satisfying but still reasonably healthy. Thankfully, I ran across this recipe in Southern Living as we were driving to go grocery shopping. Talk about last-minute.
It was easy to make and a big hit. We served it over rice with roasted broccoli and roasted cabbage, and it was delicious. I think it could use a little more flavor, so I might up the wine next time and dial down the milk, and maybe add in a few spices, too. I also liked this recipe because it was still good left over, which is a big consideration for us.
We made a few tweaks from the original recipe to keep it a little lighter. We also used parsley per the recipe, but next time I wouldn't bother with it because I hate parsley and it doesn't really add anything to it, anyway.
If you're stuck in an awkward October dinner rut, check out this chicken!
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter (original called for 2 tablespoons)
1 8-ounce package sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup skim milk (original called for 1 cup heavy cream)
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350.
Place chicken in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
Melt butter over medium-high heat and saute mushrooms until golden brown.
Add wine and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often.
Add soup and milk and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.
Pour mixture over chicken and bake chicken for 40-45 minutes.
Once finished, let stand 10 minutes, then sprinkle with almonds.
Serve and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Southern Living.
To say that we've been "out of a routine" doesn't begin to cut it. We're so far out of a routine that I don't even know what one is anymore, especially when it comes to eating healthy and exercising regularly.
We are trying, so desperately, to return to something resembling normal, but every time we think we've gotten close, B gets sent to Dallas for work for two weeks. Or my brother gets married. Or one or the other of us has to work late, has a doctor's appointment, or the weather's a nightmare, or we have allergies...I mean, you name it, it's been going on.
But B returned last night for hopefully a nice, long while, and we don't have anything going on in the upcoming weekends, so I'm hopeful we can start eating well again (ie, not eating Taco Casa every other meal because I'm too lazy to cook), and maybe even go out for a bike ride on the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
To celebrate his homecoming, I decided to make this recipe, which has been haunting my "To Make" Pinterest board for a while. I ran home at lunch yesterday, threw everything in the Crock Pot, and dashed back to work. It was worth the harried lunch hour. The chicken was flavorful and not dry, and it made an AMAZING sandwich. I layered mine with Tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, red onions, the chicken mixture, and lettuce. B used Tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, chicken mixture, and feta cheese. We both loved them.
Further, I realized this is one of those great Crock Pot meals that can be utilized even in the summer - who doesn't love a good chicken gyro in June? You could even use leftover chicken on a Greek salad if you wanted to go really healthy. Basically, you have options. You just have to make the chicken first. Get to it.
Crock Pot Gyro Chicken
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used frozen)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 onion, diced
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice (I just used a couple of dashes)
Spray Crock Pot with nonstick cooking spray or an olive oil spritzer. Place chicken in slow cooker.
Mix rest of ingredients and pour on top of chicken.
Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours (I did low).
Shred chicken and serve in pocketless pita bread with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, feta, and Tzatziki sauce.
How to re-cover a chair
When B goes out of town for two weeks for work, I get very, very bored. There's only so long you can talk to a Labrador, after all. So aside from crocheting and Gilmore Girls-watching, I often delve into craft mode.
Aka the danger zone.
Don't believe me? I texted my husband last week and asked, "Do we have a staple gun?" About an hour later, I simply got a text in return that said, "Should I be worried?"
Probably. He should probably be worried. And now I bet you're wondering what I need the staple gun for.
See, I originally hail from High Point, N.C., and to say that I'm familiar with furniture is a gross understatement. My father has worked in the furniture industry since I was about 5, and some of my greatest childhood/pre-teen memories are of dressing up and going "to market" with Mom and Dad every April and October. He would take us around and show us all the showrooms with all KINDS of furniture, accessories, lighting...you name it, they had it. The showrooms were also filled with complimentary candy and soda (and usually booze, too, but at age 11 I had yet to appreciate that).
But I digress. I love furniture. It makes a house a home, and I LOVE cozy, warm, homey places. Unfortunately, I don't always love my own furniture. My table and chairs are hand-me-downs from my parents, and they've served me well these past 8 years since I graduated from college. Aesthetically, though, I just do not like them. For starters, the tabletop is glass, and keeping it clean is a pain in the ass (see, I can rhyme!).
Mostly though, they're...well, they're green. Don't misunderstand me. Green is one of my favorite colors. I love it on grass, and on my dog's leash, and on sweaters that I wear with my skinny tan corduroys and riding boots. I do not like it on furniture. My tastes in interior decorating tends to run to the French Country-style, and I've always tolerated/ignored my dining room table.
But I'm married now, and even though we're still living in the midget condo, I think it's time for an upgrade. So I'm going to take my newly purchased staple gun and re-cover the chairs. And paint them, too, but B is relieved I won't be using any kind of gun for that.
Here is a before picture. Aren't they ugly?
GREEN. Like, bad-Statue-of-Liberty green.
And here is a before picture of the fabric that was previously on the ugly chairs. Is that not GROSS?!
But here is the "After." I was very pleased with the outcome. B is very pleased that I did not injure myself in ANY way, and when he returns home it will be to a wife in one piece. No staples in a finger, nothing. I'm pretty proud of myself, come to that.
And I'm really proud of the way it turned out. I think I'll wind up giving it one more coat of paint at some point, but overall I'm SUPER happy with the finished product.
Of course, now I've been bitten by the bug and want to paint/re-do everything in my house. We'll see what the next project is...
Want to do it yourself?
Paint: Rust-Oleum Universal Forged Hammered Chestnut
Fabric: Nexxus Beige