Monthly Archives: February 2018

Soup (Book) Week: Clean Soups


Welcome back to Soup Week, where I review the 5 latest Soup Cookbooks I’ve read.  Let’s get right to it.

But in case you missed it:

Clean Soups:
Simple, Nourishing Recipes for Health & Vitality
by Rebecca Katz (cookbook) – worth a flip

I really prefer soups made with real food. That is one of the reasons I chose to check this book out from our local library. What I didn’t know was that this book is really about how to do a soup cleanse! I feel they didn’t go with a title indicating such because the soups in this book are worth enjoying even if you aren’t doing a cleanse. The cleansing is a mere suggestion. The author just wants you to incorporate more healthy, revitalizing soup into your life!


Katz states that once you make your own broth, you’ll never go back.

I have, but based only on suggestions on the interwebs to use up any leftover veg, bones or carcasses and throw in some herbs, spices and salt. I’ve never found my versions quite as flavorful as the box stuff. I think I know why. Katz’ recipes for broths are detailed – very detailed! I think the hardest thing about these broths for me is knowing that the ingredients to make them are then discarded and, in mind, WASTED! I guess I’m going to have to get over that. 🙂

That being said, there are still a number of ingredients in these broths I would never buy {like in this soup book}. Of her seven broth recipes, I could see myself making two of them. Her Magic Mineral Broth requires an 8-inch strip of kombu <–what? and 4 whole allspice or juniper berries. They aren’t listed as optional. I don’t know why, but whenever there is an ingredient listed that I’m not intrigued enough to venture out and try, I either need:

  1. The author’s extra encouragement to really give it a try because the ingredient will make it amazing or
  2. Their permission to skip it and it’ll still turn out lovely.

Otherwise, I shy away from the recipe completely.

She also indicates earlier in the book, which broths work best for which soups, but that they can usually be interchanged. I find this difficult to believe when her Thai Coconut Broth requires a coconut milk! I’m either going to have to suck it up and go find some lemongrass and kaffir leaves to make this broth or just skip the soup recipes that suggest it as the base. Or perhaps I could just add a can of coconut milk at the end? Hmm…


She describes soups as blended or traditional. Blended soups are when all or part of the soup is put in a blender to create a creamy paradise. She goes one step further to call these velvety concoctions cashmere soups. I love that! I giggle now because I think about the time when I learned that my father-in-law prefers traditional soups. When we were on a family trip to Ireland, by the third or fourth lunch, he said, “Sure, I’ll try your vegetable soup, but you guys tend to pulverize the hell out of them!”

I know a lot of the soups in this book I’m shying away from because I don’t think I’ll ever make their accompanying broth base. Maybe it’s my intimidation that actioned me to put this book on my wish list at PaperbackSwap and Thriftbooks {<–referral links}. The photos really are alluring and taunting me with all that comforting goodness that comes with the warmth and aromatics of a good soup. It seems the chicken soups are the ones I marked most and the clean-out-the-fridge soup might be a staple in a pinch.


Here’s the thing… I did give one of the recipes a shot using regular boxed broth anyway: Provencal Lentil Soup. I pretty much already had the ingredients for it and instead of making the Many Herb Drizzle recipe listed in the back of the book, I substituted some deli pesto. Let me tell you, this soup was divine! This was supposed to make 6 servings, but since it was so low-cal, I divided it into 4 and the portions were very generous. I gave my husband a half-serving, just to taste… He wasn’t sure if he could eat lentils… and HE ATE THE ENTIRE BOWL!

I’ve since returned this book to the library. But it’s still on my wish list. I might have to give some of the other soups a try…

Have you made your own broth?
If so, what method do you use to ensure something flavorful?


Soup (Book) Week: Magic Soup


Welcome back to Soup Week, where I review the 5 latest Soup Cookbooks I’ve read. Depending where you are, you may be still putting up with bitter cold… If things are looking up and getting warmer, chances are, it’s still a bit chilly, at least when the sun goes down. A nice bowl of soup is still a comforting way to get that chill out.

In case you missed it:


Magic Soup
by Nicole Pisani & Kate Adams 
(cookbook) – worth a flip

Isn’t the cover of this book just beautiful?! I was drawn to it. I am not sure where I found it; but it was not at my local library. I had it in hand and was determined to find some new-to-me-recipes.

I love the introduction and learned many things in this book! Like did you know that the “first restaurants in Paris served restauratifs (restoratives), in other words, bone broths”?

The title of this book came from the name of a soup made in Mauritius that women traditionally eat after the birth of a child to help her with the nutrition she needs to heal her body and be strong. But we all know that soup can be magical in its own right, the way it warms us, makes us feel comforted, basically nurturing and healing us from the inside out.

However, there were very few recipes in this cookbook that I can realistically see myself attempting to make. 😦

There are a few reasons for this. One is that this book was ultimately written for Brits, even though this version is adapted for an American audience. I know that shouldn’t be an excuse because I’ve overcome all of the odd-to-me (Australian) measurements in the best cookbook you’ve never read, fairly easily. The measurements have been adapted in this book, but are sometimes just odd… like 1 lb, 2 oz of tomatoes or 2 tbsp of quinoa.

Some of the ingredients are confusing or strange, too. I thought maybe 1 tbsp of tomato puree might actually be tomato paste because a lot of recipes only called for that amount. But then I ran into a recipe with an odd 10.5 oz amount of this ingredient.

Maybe I’m not open-minded enough to try some of the unusual ingredients, or maybe I’m just too lazy to search for them. Maybe if there was something that was totally intriguing or if I’d could make a variation or swap, I’d give it a go; but that didn’t happen so much as I flipped though the book. I mostly admired the photos! Although Nicole and Kate say that many of these ingredients can be found at specialty markets and online now, if I read one odd-ball ingredient, I pretty much admired the photo and moved on. Though, now that I’m sitting at a computer I can look a few of these items up!

Just to name a few of the bizarre ingredients:

  • lovage leaves – I’m finding fennel leaves as substitute, but that’s not something I’d normally buy either
  • white miso paste
  • one green chile – this could mean anything!
  • black onion seeds
  • calçot onions
  • sumac
  • nettle tops
  • sundried tomato puree – they make this? or is this sundried tomato pesto?
  • Hojicha green tea
  • umeboshi plum
  • lily bulb flakes
  • samphire
  • asafetida (To be fair, this was listed as an optional ingredient, so it shouldn’t deter me from making the recipe. It was the mung beans that did.)
  • chicory heads
  • curry leaves – I thought curry wasn’t actually a spice, but a spice blend or dish?! I didn’t know these existed.
  • air-dried mountain ham – I’ll just go out back to my mountain and get this. (Joking, I am pretty sure I could have substituted prosciutto here.)
  • runner beans
  • umami paste

Most of the recipes call for hot stock. I’m not sure why the stock has to be hot before adding it to the other ingredients. It was never explained.

Recipes I do want to try from this cookbook, though, include:

  • Greens & Grains – I can see this one as being highly adaptable
  • Herb Soup – This is one of the few that looks so easy! Stock, rice, mixed herbs, soy sauce or lemon juice. Done. No wasted herbs ever again.
  • Magic Soup – I have to try this namesake of this book!
  • Garlic Soup – I tried one version of this {see above from 300 Sensation Soups!} and it was horrible. Here’s to giving it another shot!
  • Portuguese Chicken, Lemon & Mint – As far as herbs go, mint is not one I usually buy or grow. But I am intrigued here.

If you are really adventurous in the kitchen and want to amp up your soup game, this book might be for you! I’m sure that I’d go crazy over many of these soups if I’d had them in a restaurant or someone else had served them to me; but creating them with some of these unfamiliar and intimidating ingredients is what’s holding me back.

UPDATE: I did make a couple of soups from Magic Soup before I published this post!

Portuguese Chicken, Lemon & Mint Soup

This soup was so good and refreshing! I was just wanting some extra veg like carrots or celery. It’s quite low cal and the servings seem small until you start shoveling in that quinoa that falls to the bottom. 😉


Greens & Grains Soup (no photo)

This soup didn’t come out at all like I had expected. By the time the farro was finished, there really wasn’t any broth left, making it not much of a soup. I did end up adding a little later, but still ate this “soup” with a fork! However, I still loved the extremely nutty flavor I got from the farro, tahini and almonds. I’ve never had anything like it! If I made this again this is what I would change:

  • I would add more hot broth and/or water after the farro is cooking to make it more of a soup.
  • Instead of topping the soup with kale or spinach, I would put the greens at the bottom of the bowl and top with soup so that the greens have time to wilt.
  • I’d add some any other leftover veg I had on hand, perhaps carrots, zucchini or bell peppers.


I now have all the ingredients to make this soup’s namesake. I’ll report back as soon as I do so.

What new-to-you ingredients have you shied away from or are happy you tried?



Soup Week! Books on Soup


I must tell you, at this time of year, soup just sings to my soul. My original post on Books on Soup ended up being entirely too long because I wrote at least some of my thoughts and sometimes a full review after I read each book. There is no way you’d want to sit down and read 4000 words on soup books in one sitting. I know I wouldn’t.

But I’m kind of obsessed with soup right now! So I thought a Soup Week, with one post per book would be better. I’m going to start you off with a short one.


300 Sensational Soups
by Carla Snyder & Meredith Deeds
 (cookbook) – on the fence

Remember back when I checked this book out from the library and I was so overwhelmed that I decided to just get my own copy? Well, I did snag a copy from either or (<– referral links!). We have several recipes flagged, but I’ve only made all of one!  It was a Garlic Soup with Aioli and it was not a success. It was such a weird texture and didn’t really have that much garlic. That being said, this book of soups was highly recommended by a blogger who makes one of my favorite lasagna soups. And it is chock full with all different kinds of soups from creamy, to broth-based to all sorts of different ethnic soups that I have never even dreamed exist. The Cheddar, Beer and Kielbasa Soup remains on our wishlist. But we’re waiting until we pick up some kielbasa up from the Polish Wisconsin town where I grew up.

In the meantime, here are few other posts I’ve done on soups:

What is your favorite soup cookbook?


Five for Friday: 5 Things I’ve Cooked This Week


Whenever Racheal at Running with Racheal does her Thankful Thursday posts, she always lists at the end the recipes she made, along with what was liked or what she changed. I love that after all these years she continues to list things she’s thankful for every day!

But there is something to be said about including and being grateful for those tried and true recipes that always seem to work out for your family as well those new ones you’ve attempted to add to your rotation. (I do know that when she posts a recipe often, that it’s one I really need to action soon!)

I occasionally post new recipes I try and have, in the past, posted my plans for the upcoming week. It’s been a while, though. Today, I thought I’d just give a shout out to those recipes that treated us well this week.


Here are 5 recipes I made this past week:

Spicy Ground Pork & Zucchini Stir Fry

You guys. Where has this recipe been all my life? If you want to make some healthified Asian food at home, go for this recipe. In my opinion, though, it isn’t spicy {we add sriracha for that!}, but it does have flavor. This go round, I ground my own pork from pork sirloin. It really is the way to go so you don’t get any I-don’t-know-what-that-hard-thing-I-just-bit-into moments in the supermarket ground pork.

Want to make this recipe even easier and more versatile? You can adapt this it with what you have on hand by doing 1 part sauce (see recipe) with 1 lb ground meat of choice {but I think any thinly sliced, quick-cooking meat could work!} and 1 lb chopped vegetables of choice. The first two times I made this recipe, I stuck to the zucchini. But the last couple times I’ve added carrots and bokchoy. Whatever you’ve got and/or like will work!


White Bean and Avocado Salad

You guessed it… I’m still cooking my way through the Best Cookbook You’ve Never Read aka 5 Ingredients, 10 Minutes by Jules Clancy. I guess you can’t call this “cooking” so much as throwing a few ingredients onto a plate!

Ingredients: lemon juice, can of white beans, baby spinach, avocado, roasted almonds

Here are my notes, with what I changed in blue:

  • I didn’t time it like I often do for these “10-minute” recipes from the book, but I bet you can guess how quickly one can put some spinach on a plate, empty and rinse a can of beans and top a salad with olive oil, lemon juice and a bit of crunch!
  • This served two. Instead of mixing everything together, I kept the spinach separately, so I could save the marinated beans atop another bed of velvety goodness the next day.
  • Instead of roasted almonds, I went with some sunflower seeds.
  • Lots of S&P, maybe a pinch of red pepper flakes is all that’s needed here!
  • I’ve made a few salads from this cookbook before and you’d be amazed how great beans are in them!
  • Will make again. 


Mexican Lentil Soup

This was a brand new one for us! You guys may know by now that my husband is allergic to the meat of animals with fins and feathers. Lentils are something we’ve been trying out as another protein source since it’s pork and beef he’s mostly eating. And that gets old. {Did I mention he’s allergic to most beans, too?!}

In any case, I did add just a bit of leftover barbacoa beef we had in the freezer to his bowl to amp up the protein for his lifting workouts. My bowl? Avocado was added! Because Mexican. And because… avocado, duh! Rob said this soup was seasoned perfectly; but I think a little heat would have been nice. Maybe throw in some jalapeno or red pepper flakes next time’ round? It made 7 well-rounded servings!


Crockpot Italian Chicken, Quinoa & Vegetable Soup

I made this one for the girls on Girls Dinner Night In. I’ve made a few crockpot recipes from Chelsea’s Messy Apron before, so I looking forward to a home run on this newbie. It was! I added it to my recipe arsenal! Here is a not-too-pretty photo of an almost-empty bowl.

There is no spinach in this recipe. But lately, to get a little more veg in my diet, I’ve been putting some spinach on plate or in a bowl and topping it with my meal. I served a nice hunk of oven-baked baguette alongside. The girls and I loved it! And I attempted dessert, too…


Unbaked Cookie Dough Bars

This one was way out of my comfort zone. I’ve been following Chocolate Covered Katie‘s blog for as long as I’ve known about blogs and I’ve only made one or two recipes! But I had all of the ingredients on hand and wanted a sweet treat for the girls. This dessert is made with – BEANS! I didn’t tell the girls. But they did suspect coconut and Jen guessed correctly on the flaxseed! She said they reminded her of her energy balls she makes sometimes.

Katie offers a lot of substitutions and variations in her Unbaked Cookie Dough Bars recipe. Here are the options I used based on what I had on hand: Great Northern Beans, almond butter, coconut oil, pure maple syrup, ground flaxseed and for the topping I went with the second option. Mine didn’t come out as pretty-looking as hers did, but they tasted good, if a bit rich.

What did you make this week that you loved?



Trout Diaries: The Final Chapter


Wow. That title sound so dramatic!

This seems to be the last edition of the Tuesday Trout Diaries. This is the last email I sent to my dad about the trout I cooked up for myself as a result of our our Charter Fishing Trip to Duluth last summer. I was trying out approximately one new recipe each week since I’m not in the habit of cooking fish and I wanted to make sure it didn’t sit in freezer for years!


In case you missed them, here are the past installments:

I do know that I did cook at least one more dish with the last of my trout, but perhaps I did not send my dad an email about that one. In any case, I’ll try to post my version of that recipe next week. In the meantime, here is what I sent my dad:


Date: 9/5/17
From: Carrie
To: Dad
Subject: Trout Recipe of the Week

If I wasn’t making a point to try new trout recipe every week, I don’t think I’d ever eat it up!
This week, I tried Trout Baked in Foil with Tomatoes with Garlic. It’s similar to other ones I’ve made, but I don’t think as flavorful. NYTimes won’t let me pull up the recipe any more without paying for it; but I did print out. Still, I think I’m going to just chuck it because I liked my other ones better.
I opted for this recipe because I wanted to be able to just throw it in the oven while working; I didn’t want too much hands on time. Also, I had a lot of tomatoes. I took my 6 oz of fish, seasoned it with S&P, piled on some chopped fresh tomatoes from the Farmers Market tossed with garlic and olive oil. (I think I should have used more garlic!) I threw on a sprig of oregano and baked at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. 
I served it with a side I made up myself – cut up some tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata Olives, diced red onion and tossed with a little EVOO and S&P. Easy! It is loosely based on this “salsa” I make; but instead of dicing everything, I kept them in bigger chunks so it was more salad-like. If I hadn’t eaten the salad first, I bet this could have tasted yummy if I topped the fish with it instead.
Happy short work week!



I didn’t do an adaptation this time since I preferred my previous recipes more! I still would like to try that Mediterranean Salsa as a topping sometime, though. I do plan to post my last one or two recipe trials for the rest of my trout, even though it doesn’t seem I sent those to my dad. I can guarantee you that my dad hasn’t tried any of these recipes that I sent him. He never did the cooking while I was growing up and when he does cook, he is more of a “wing-it” type of guy.

So why did I send these to him? Maybe to prove to him (or myself!?) that I would actually cook up the fish we caught! It sure did help me hold myself accountable. I also know that my hubs doesn’t like anything in the freezer longer than 6 months. 🙂

Do you ever add a topping to your fish?


Trout Diaries: With Potatoes


Welcome back to the Tuesday Trout Diaries! It’s a series of emails I sent my dad after our Charter Fishing Trip to Duluth last summer. I was trying out approximately one new recipe each week since I’m not in the habit of cooking fish and I wanted to make sure none of our haul went to waste.

Each week, after the diary entry, you’ll see how I adapted the recipe to make it my own and to cook just for me.

In case you missed them, here are the past installments:

And my next email:


Date: 8/17/17
From: Carrie
To: Dad
Subject: Trout Recipe of the Week

I had some potatoes leftover from the farmer market, so I thought I’d give this salmon recipe a try. I halved this recipe, of course, for just one trout filet. I did about 4 oz potato, only about 1.5 Tbsp total of olive oil and that seemed like a lot. I didn’t have an orange on hand, so I just did the lemon juice, but half a lemon seemed like a lot of juice any way. I was right about that because the potatoes actually picked up the lemon flavor, which I didn’t really like; but the fish was cooked perfectly!!!



Here is my adaptation of Easy Salmon and Potato Foil Packets from

Foil-Packet Lake Trout with Potatoes for One

  • 1 small to medium-sized potato (about 4 ounces), sliced thinly
  • 1 to 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 trout fillet, about 6 oz
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh herbs (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place potato slices in a row, overlapping slightly, on a sheet of aluminum foil.
  • Drizzle the potatoes with the half of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place trout fillet atop the potatoes and squeeze juice with half of a lemon on top, finish with the remaining olive oil
  • Top with herbs of your choice, if desired
  • Fold up edges of foil to create a seal so that no steam will escape, but leave a bit of room for the steam to circulate within the packet.
  • Place packet on a baking sheet or in an uncovered casserole dish and back for 25 minutes or until potatoes and fish are cooked through.
  • Cook for approximately 12 to 13 minutes or until fish is cooked through.
  • Be careful when opening your foil packet, as steam will escape.

*I added the herbs to this recipe since the lemon juice seemed to overpower it. I think it would be great with garlic, too!

I could have called this a healthy fish and chips recipe!
Maybe that would have been a little far-fetched.
Do you have a recipe for a healthy version of fish and chips?
Please share!


The Trout Diaries: Salmon Edition


Welcome to my Tuesday Trout Diaries! It’s a series of emails I sent my dad after our Charter Fishing Trip to Duluth last summer. I was trying out approximately one new recipe each week since I’m not in the habit of cooking fish and I wanted to make sure nothing went to waste!

Each week, after the diary entry, you’ll see how I adapted the recipe I tried to make it my own and to cook just for me.

In case you missed them, here are the past installments:

But I have something different in store this week!

While the rest of us on that Charter Fishing Trip caught lake trout, my husband caught a nice Coho Salmon! This is what I was cooking up this week…


Date: 8/9/17
From: Carrie
To: Dad
Subject: Trout Recipe of the Week

Trout  Salmon Recipe of the Week

This week I had the girls over for dinner. We plan a dinner night in once a month, taking turns who has to do the cooking so that at least once in a while someone cooks for us! I knew I wanted to make the salmon that Rob caught!

Tomato Basil Coho Salmon

I don’t have a true recipe this week, but took some cues from a couple of other recipes. I knew I wanted to make pesto with the basil in my herb pot. I made this Skinny Pesto version – really freaking easy. I covered a baking sheet with foil and spread the pesto over the top of the salmon and then topped it off with some grape tomatoes from the farmer’s market. (I halved the tomatoes first.) I got my inspiration from this Salmon with Pesto and Tomatoes recipe and this Pesto Salmon with Asparagus & Tomatoes recipe. I set the oven for 450 degrees and… 

As I was making it, I got nervous that there were bones because Kim was bringing over her 6-year-old daughter. I decided to cut up a chicken breast and zucchini, tossed it in some Fat Louie’s Tuscan Olive oil and put it on the foil baking sheet with the salmon because there was plenty of room. I put it in the oven for about 20 minutes.

The salmon came out perfectly, the chicken a little dull and dry. (I cut the chicken in tiny pieces because I didn’t want it to come out under cooked.)

Kim said that although tedious, I can always remove the bones before cooking – they are all in a little row. I might think of that next time if I have more time.

Until next week!



Here is my recipe instpired by this Salmon with Pesto and Tomatoes recipe and one for Pesto Salmon with Asparagus & Tomatoes: 

3-Ingredient Tomato Basil Coho Salmon

  • 4 fillets Coho Salmon, skin on the bottom (but I’m sure any kind of salmon will do)
  • prepared pesto (I like the prepared kind in the deli over the jarred stuff on the shelf. Or make your own Skinny Pesto.)
  • approximately 1 cup  grape tomatoes (halved)


  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Cover a baking sheet with foil and place salmon on top, skin side down.
  • Spread desired amount of pesto on top of salmon and top with grape tomatoes.
  • Bake fro 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Serve with any delicious side, but I’d recommend this Zucchini & Onion Saute, as this dish also has Mediterranean flavors.

What is your favorite easy way to prepare salmon?