“Domestic” – Minestrone Soup Recipe

The March Photo Challenge continues.

I would not consider myself very domestic. I love being at home, and creating a “cozy” atmosphere (especially with Yankee Candles; thanks, Mom) and feeling domestic, but I’m really not domestic. If I stayed at home all the time, cleaned the house until it was spotless, maintained this cleaned house, and cooked a warm meal every night, maybe I’d re-think it. But none of that happens.

As I’ve said before, cooking is not one of my strong suits. I didn’t cook when I was younger, and neither of my parents were big into cooking, even though my mother cooked every night. I learned to cook out of necessity, and I do know the obvious basics, and could put together a simple meal. Then N came along (I’m going to start referring to my husband as N, fyi, easy to type), and he loves to cook. His parents worked late into the evening when he was younger, so if he wanted to eat dinner, he had to make it himself.

In the past couple years, he has really turned into a chef. He loves all the cooking shows, puts on his apron and tries out new recipes. He will spend five hours cooking a meal on a weekend, and I can be overheard saying, “Why not just boil boxed pasta instead of making it from scratch? So much faster…”

However, I do make one dish. N does too, if I’m busy, but I’m going to give myself a little credit on this one. I am usually the one who makes this. I got it from our best man’s wife, who is an excellent cook, and it is one of my favorite recipes.

Minestrone Soup. What I love about it is that it’s healthy, first of all. I don’t feel guilty having a big bowl of it. Also, you can throw in any vegetable you’d like. If you’ve got something lying around you want to get rid of, throw it in there! It’s definitely an “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” soup. Here is the recipe:

1-2 zucchini/summer squash, sliced

1 shallot or onion, diced

A few cups of chopped carrots (I’ve also done celery)

A tablespoon of minced garlic

15 oz. can of green beans

15 oz. can of pinto beans

15 oz. can of lentils or black beans

1 package of fresh spinach, chopped

Small can of tomato paste

28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

One quart of chicken broth

15 oz. can-sized amount of water

Salt and pepper, to taste

Italian seasoning, to taste

Sauté the first four ingredients with olive oil, and add any other raw vegetable here if you’d like. Then, once it is soft enough for your liking, add in all of the cans of vegetables, beans, and broth, including the chicken broth. Add salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn it down to a simmer and add the fresh chopped spinach, as much as you’d like. Let it simmer for about 30-40 minutes and it’s done!

You can tailor this recipe for yourself. Feel free to change the types of vegetables and beans to something you’d prefer. The end result should taste the same. I also add Parmesan cheese to my soup, as I do most soups.

Finally, back when I was eating wheat, I liked to boil a little pasta (shells) and throw them in this soup, which makes it even more delicious. Then I went gluten-free, and that pasta doesn’t do very well in this soup, and after that I decided to be healthy and leave out the pasta. Either way, it is so delicious.

It takes about an hour from start to finish, so plan ahead. It’s worth it, though.

Pardon this crappy iPhone pic, but here it is, prior to the spinach step, in all its glory.

I give you…..domestic.

Let me know if you make this one at home; I’d love to know how it turns out!


Thankful Thursday, with a song

Okay. Yes, I am thankful. I will look at the glass half-full for the time being, ignore my crappy day, and focus on the positive. Here’s why.

1) I have not had angioedema in, oh, at least a week. Maybe a week and a half. You know why? I stopped eating sugar. As I’ve mentioned before, I do have it in my cereal in the morning, coffee creamer, and yogurt after school. Besides that, I gave it up. What a difference. I’ve put my body through a few tests, too. I got a container of this gluten-free, sugar-free ice cream:

Oh. My. Goodness. It’s delicious. I haven’t had ice cream in a very long time, and I miss it. This isn’t…exactly the same. But it is sooo good. I had that with no lip hives. I also put my body through one more major test:

I seriously can’t describe to you how delicious these are. They are gluten-free, sugar-free almond joy bars. Get the recipe here. My husband made them for the Superbowl, and I can’t believe how amazing they are. I took a picture of ours, but of course it didn’t look anything like this. Either way, the taste is amazing. Sugar-free doesn’t mean sweet-free. It has Stevia in it, which has never bothered me. The texture of the chocolate is like fudge…and with the sweet coconut on top, seriously. Best of all – no lip hives! I can’t believe it. So that’s really quite nice. Whip me up some sugar-free desserts, people. I can eat them with little guilt.

I’ll keep this post short, as I am doubling up today. I do have another reason to be thankful.

2) My husband and I have a song. We have had a few songs, over the years. The big “our song” has been Tim McGraw’s “My Best Friend”. My husband had that one picked out for us when we were teenagers, just dating, and he had introduced me to country music. It was our wedding song in 2009. It’s still my top pick, for sure. The other day, though, a song came on the radio and my husband said, “This is us, babe. This is our new song.” I thought – oh geez. He’s a prankster, who knows what it’s going to be. But here’s what it was, not so bad after all:

Lee Brice’s “A Woman Like You.” It’s a good song! And it was very sweet. I can’t help but think of it when I hear that song, my husband picked that one out. A song where he thinks of me. I’m very thankful for my husband!

Now off to trying for that baby…


Gluten-free granola cereal – yum!

Okay, I’m better now! My friends know this about me – one thing I do not ever care to be is needy. There are occasions when I do need others, of course, but the majority of the time, I want to be able to do things and feel emotions without needing other people to coach me through them. AKA – I want to be a positive person, or at least pretend to be. Growing up, I’d say I was optimistic 99% of the time. That has changed over the last year, but the core of that personality still exists.

I’ve noticed that too many of my posts are negative and whiny. I know that it’s my blog; I can say whatever’s on my mind, and I know you guys are super-supportive, which is wonderful. But for my own mental peace, I need to find the positives in my life, of which there are many. Tomorrow is my mind-dump, so I’ll save the little (happy) things I’ve been thinking about.

For today, I thought I’d post the recipe to the gluten-free granola I’ve made twice and made reference to. It’s delicious.

I got the recipe from here, but I’ll give it to you here as well. FYI – I doubled this recipe, and it made enough cereal for 2 weeks.

*1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
*1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
*1/3 cup raw sesame seeds (I didn’t do this)
*2 cups organic rolled oats ( I used gluten-free, by Bob’s Red Mill)
*1-2 teaspoons organic ground cinnamon
*3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
*3 tablespoons organic coconut oil, liquified in a pan of hot water, if necessary
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/2 cup organic raisins (Yuck, skipped this one)
*1/2 cup organic dried cranberries, unsulphured dried apricots, or other dried fruit (chopped, if necessary) (I love only a few specific kinds of dried fruit – dried pineapples, papayas, and banana chips..yum. That’s what I added.)
*1/4 cup raw cacao nibs- optional, but highly recommended (70% dark chocolate chips could be substituted, if desired)

I couldn’t reason with myself why something so close to chocolate should be in my breakfast, so I omitted it. That said, I also added some shredded coconut to this, and combined with the dried fruit, it’s very sweet. It’s also probably not the best for you. But it’s SO GOOD.

Here are the directions:

1. Preheat oven to 250°F.

2. Pour all ingredients except cacao nibs in a large bowl and stir well.

3. Spread the mixture evenly onto a baking sheet in a thin layer.

4. Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

5. Remove pan from oven, toss granola around, rotate the pan, and bake for another 15 minutes. Repeat until granola is completely dry and light golden brown (about 1 hour total).

6. Allow to cool and then stir in cacao nibs. Store in an air-tight container.

I’m not sure how many more times I will make this, because like I said, I don’t think it’s all that good for you, and it’s really sweet. I could eat bowls of it. But it is definitely worth you making at least once! I love how you can personalize it with whatever you’d like. It’s really up to you. Enjoy!