Beef, Vegetable, and Wild Rice Soup

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Oh hey.

I’m still alive you guys.

I’m sorry I’ve been off the grid.  College, you know?

But on the bright side, I got an A on my Econ exam and I made the dean’s list for the spring semester.  Hard work pays off, you guys.  I promise that it really does.

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I make soup in the middle of summer.  I don’t care that it’s 100 degrees out and that I’m sweating inside of my house.  Soup is 100% worth it, at all times.

Luckily, it’s getting colder here in Reno so soup is much more justified.

Plus, this has everything good about the earth in it.  Beef and vegetables and wild rice?  Hell yeah.

Make this and serve it with bread and I promise all of your wildest dreams will come true.

Well maybe I shouldn’t promise impossible things, but at least you’ll have soup.

Ingredients:

Olive oil

1 lb. stew meat, cubed

1 carrot, sliced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2-1 qt. beef broth, low sodium (depending on how much broth you like)

1/2 c. red wine

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. marjoram

1/2 tsp. parsley

Few drops Tabasco

1 beef bouillon cube

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 c. wild rice, cooked according to directions

1/2 c. frozen peas

1 zucchini, sliced

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot.  Brown the beef for a few minutes.  Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook until it starts to sweat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Pour in beef broth, red wine, marjoram, parsley, Tabasco, bouillon cube, salt, and pepper.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes, to infuse flavors and cook vegetables further.  Lastly, add wild rice, frozen peas, and zucchini.  Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

*Notes*

You can use full sodium beef broth and exclude the bouillon cube if you prefer.  I just like being able to control how much salt goes into the soup, and I found this yields the best results.

You can add the wild rice dry and cook it in the broth, but you will definitely need to use a whole quart of beef broth if you do.  Also, prepare for the wild rice to take a good hour to get soft.

Zucchini and peas are added last so that they do not get too soggy,

*To make in a crockpot*: I have actually never done this, but I do not think it would be too hard.  Just ad all of the ingredients excluding the rice, peas, and zucchini.  Cook on high 4-6 hours or low 8-10 hours.  Add rice, peas, and zucchini 30 minutes-1 hour before serving.

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This soup rocks, and it has tons of veggies which are pretty good for you, I’ve heard.

Also, it makes a bunch so serve it to your friends or roommates or whoever you live/associate yourself with.

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Go friends.  Be happy and eat soup and enjoy fall.

XO Sara

(Crockpot) Light Zuppa Toscana

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I have been surprisingly social all weekend.  I went to a football game on Friday (we won!) (Go Wolfpack!) and then my roommates and I spent the rest of the night with Schofferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen and Cards Against Humanity.  If you have never played Cards Against Humanity, let’s just introduce you to their slogan : A party game for horrible people.

And that it is.

Just take a look at their website.  Or check out this and this.

I also spent my Saturday night bar hopping with one of my best friends/pseudo cousin.  Except that I had to drive home so my bar hopping experience was mostly just me getting leaned on by a bunch of drunk people.

Good times right?

The whole drinking and Cards Against Humanity thing ties together because:

1. Most of the time, if you’re playing Cards Against Humanity, you are simultaneously drinking.

And 2. When I told my roommate, “The only two games I know how to play are beer pong and Cards Against Humanity.  What does that say about me?”, his response was, “You’re an evil alcoholic.”

So there’s that.

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And now about Zuppa Toscana.  It is that delicious soup at Olive Garden with sausage, potatoes, and kale.  The broth is lightly creamy and a little spicy.

It is also 220 calories for a bowl of it at Olive Garden.  That doesn’t seem tooooo bad, until you consider that it has 15 g of fat and 990 mg of sodium in it.  And when you consider that you’re going to have another bowl of it.  And a glass (or two) of wine.  And probably some type of pasta.  And that salad, which also doesn’t seem too bad until you see that there are 150 calories, 10 g of fat, and 760 mg of sodium in it. Also, don’t forget that you’re going to eat like, 4 of those bread sticks (140 calories, 2.5 g fat, 460 mg sodium)

Holy shit, what is in this stuff?

Anyways, I definitely recreated the recipe and lightened it up quite a bit.  I calculated it all up and it was about 350 calories per serving.  The recipe serves 4, so you get quite a big serving of soup for less than 400 calories.  Also, you just throw it in a crockpot.  So easy guys.

Ahem.

*thunderous applause*

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*The recipe was originally from Fix it and Forget it, but has been changed dramatically*

Ingredients:

6 c. low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 c. whole milk or half and half

2 carrots, grated

3 russet potatoes, sliced

4 cups kale, chopped slightly

1 lb. turkey Italian sausage

Dash salt and pepper

Sprinkle of garlic powder

Sprinkle onion powder

1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

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Grate 2 carrots into your crockpot.

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Pour in chicken broth.

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And the whole milk/half and half.

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Slice up your potatoes.

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Add them to your broth.

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Brown the sausage.

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Add it to your broth.

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Sprinkle your spices!

Cook for 3-4 hours on high, stirring every once in a while.

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1 hour, I REPEAT, 1 HOUR before serving, stir in kale.  If you do it any earlier, it will be grossly soggy.  Do you want soggy kale?  Do you?!

No.  You really don’t.

Serve with a light homemade salad and some whole wheat rolls.  Sprinkle it with a little parm.

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Yum yum yum.  This is definitely going to be my fall favorite.

Bonus: It’s gluten free naturally!

It doesn’t taste exactly like the Olive Garden version, but it’s pretty damn close for a light version.  Sometime (when you feel really naughty) go ahead and use regular chicken broth, cream, and pork Italian sausage.  Or just go to Olive Garden and really go all out.  I’m normally not a fan of chains, but I still love Olive Garden every once in a while.

But just make this, okay?

XO Sara

Chicken Satay with Coconut Peanut Sauce

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What do you do when you don’t have any bamboo skewers in your BBQ drawer in your kitchen?

You just make chicken satay without the skewers is what you do.

The moral of this story is that nobody is perfect but you should do what you do anyways.

Like yesterday.  I went to the grocery store and got my groceries for the week.  I then proceeded to pay at the checkout line, smile at the bag boy, get in my car and drive home.  I walked through the door with my bags of groceries, put them away nicely in the fridge and pantry, and went to my bathroom to get a hair tie.  It was at that moment that I looked in the mirror and noticed that my (very cute) button down flannel was unbuttoned all the way to the bottom of my bra.  My boobs were hanging out.  You could see my whole bra.

How long did I walk around like this?  Good question.  I have NO idea.  None.  At all.

I like to think that maybe some nice lady at the grocery store would have told me about my fashion faux pas had the whole dilemma happened in the store (as opposed to the car or at home).

I also like to think that if somebody was not that nice, at least I made a few peoples’ days hopefully.

The mystery remains unsolved, but at least I always have chicken satay to make me feel better from embarrassing moments.

Because if coconut peanut sauce doesn’t make you feel better after a rough day, something might be wrong with you.

Or maybe not, but I do question your morality.

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Chicken (Serves 2):

1 chicken breast

1/2 c. low fat coconut milk

1/2 tsp. yellow curry powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tsp. soy sauce

1/4 tsp. siracha

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 tsp. ginger, grated

2 tsp. brown sugar

Sauce:

1/3 c. low fat coconut milk

3 Tbs. natural peanut butter*

1/2 tsp. soy sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 Tbs. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. yellow curry powder

*Use natural peanut butter, like the stir kind with the natural oils.  The kind made without any sugar.  If you look in the ingredients, it will only list peanuts.  I promise, it tastes so much better (and it’s better for you!)

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Cut chicken into long strips.  You want them to be fairly thin.

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Place them in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

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Pour coconut milk over chicken.

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Add curry powder, soy sauce, siracha, garlic, ginger, and brown sugar.

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Stir together.  Wrap with plastic and marinate for 1 hour to overnight.

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Once they’re nice and marinated, grill until juices run clear, about 2 minutes per side over medium heat.

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While the chicken cooks, combine sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and cook on medium heat until warmed through.

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Serve with brown rice, broccoli, green beans, or Thai marinated cucumbers (coming soon!).

I personally serve mine with tons of peanut sauce, because I’m practically obsessed!  I may or may not have eaten the leftover sauce with a spoon.  But that’s another unsolved mystery.

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Also, this would be great to serve to a crowd.  Super easy and super quick!  One of my favorite last minute meals.

XO Sara

Cinnamon Rolls

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Holy balls.

These are so good.

Have you ever had like, a really really really good cinnamon roll?  Not like a Cinnabon one, but a really delicious cinnamon roll?  I don’t think there’s anything quite like it.

I’m happy to report that you may now make your own if you truly wish to experience the phenomenon of eating an out-of-this-world cinnamon roll.

I have truly done it.  I have created the perfect cinnamon rolls.

They take pretty much all day to make, but they’re super easy.  I promise, you can make these!  Just make sure you have new yeast and everything is going to be okay.  You can do anything.

Sara: motivator and cinnamon roll goddess.

Maybe that’s a little dramatic.  Maybe it’s not.  Maybe you should make these cinnamon rolls and let me know if you think that I’m a cinnamon roll goddess.

A disclaimer about the following pictures:

1. My nail color randomly changes from red to sparkly pink because I got my nails done while the dough was rising.  I highly recommend you find something time consuming to do while you wait because cinnamon rolls take a long time to rise and a long time to make in general (but still so worth it).

2. The pictures change from good quality to bad quality because, again, they take a while to make and I ran out of daylight.

Shall we get started?

Cinnamon Rolls:

1/2 c. warm water

1 package instant yeast

1/2 c. + 1 Tbs. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. buttermilk

1 egg

1/3 c. melted butter

4 1/2 c. flour

Filling:

1/2 stick butter

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. white sugar

2 1/2 Tbs. cinnamon

Pinch salt

Icing:

4 oz. cream cheese

2 Tbs. butter

1 1/2-2 c. powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you like your icing!)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2-3 Tbs. milk, to thin

Pinch salt

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First, you’re going to want to mix together your warm water, yeast, and a tablespoon of sugar.  Set it aside to double in size!

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Mix 1/2 c. sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl.

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Nice and doubled!  Yay!

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Mix together buttermilk, egg, and butter.

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Add half of the flour mixture until it’s incorporated.

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Add the yeast mixture and stir together.

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It might not mix very well because it’s going to be very lumpy and thin like pancake batter.

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Mix in the rest of the flour and knead a few times with your hands.

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Knead until smooth and beautiful.

Set aside in a warm place covered with plastic wrap or a towel.  Let rise for 1-2 hours.

*insert random photo and nail color change*

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Once it has risen, punch the dough a few times.DSCN4128

Roll until about 1/8 inch thick.

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Brush with melted butter.

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Mix together cinnamon, sugars, and salt for your filling.

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And spread it all around!

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Roll it up.

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Brush it with more butter (sorry cholesterol).

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Cut into rolls that are about 2 inches wide.  You should have about 8 pretty ones.

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And a few not so pretty ones :-(  Oops!

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Brush a parchment lined casserole dish with more butter.

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Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon and sugar.

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Line the cinnamon rolls in the casserole dish.  Set them aside, covered, to rise for another hour or two.

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Look how pretty!!!  (That top left one is so sad.  Poor little guy.  Still delicious).

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Bake at 350* F for about 14-16 minutes, or until a light golden brown.

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Meanwhile, mix together the icing!  Whip butter and cream cheese together until incorporated.  Add sifted powdered sugar and vanilla.  Thin with milk.

(Uhm, is this not just the worst picture you’ve ever seen?  Did I even try?  Just trust me, it’s a delicious icing).

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Yay, they’re baked and beautiful!

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Spread frosting over warm cinnamon rolls.

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Hell yeah.

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Serve warm, with tea preferably.  If you’re obsessed with tea like I am.  How could you not be?

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Do you see that cinnamon filling?  Oh my gosh.  I might go grab one of my extras from the freezer right now.  They’re sooooo good.

Which reminds me, if you have too many because you made 11 cinnamon rolls and you live by yourself, just go ahead, wrap them in some plastic wrap individually and then place them in freezer bags.  They’ll stay good for a few months and you can indulge in cinnamon bun goodness whenever you want!

Go make these.  Right.  Now.

XO Sara

DIY Wire Headbands

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Do you love American Apparel?

*raises hand*

Do you cry every time they ring up your total?

*sob* *raises hand*

American Apparel is one of my most favorite stores in the whole world.  I bought two dresses last time I shopped there.  I don’t have anywhere to wear these dresses (I wear them all the time actually.  Better overdressed than underdressed or something like that).  I think I had the whole “I’ll wear this on a date!” idea in my head.  Until, you know, I didn’t go on any dates.

I have a whole point to this guys.  I saw these wire headbands at American Apparel (when I was buying said dresses).  I fell in love with them.  Especially a white one with black polka dots.  It spoke to me.

But the price did not.  Maybe if I only wanted to buy 1.  But I wanted to buy all the prints.

And then I realized how incredibly easy they would be to make!  Please keep in mind: I am no advanced sew-er.

(I was going to write “sewer” until I realized that made it seem like I was a dark underground tunnel full of waste and then I got sad.  When I say “sew-er”, I mean somebody that sews.)

(In case you couldn’t figure that out.)

To hand sew mine, it took an hour.  It would probably take half that time with a sewing machine.  Which I have.  Which is in the back of my closet.  Which may or may not work depending on the day (and how the user handles the situation).

So I opted to hand sew.  It’s up to you.

Materials:

1/4 yard of fabric–I recommend cotton or something easy to sew!

Matching thread

Needle or sewing machine

Tape measure

Pencil or white colored pencil

22 gauge (floral) wire

Scissors

Jewelry pliers (optional)

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Got it?!  Good!  You’re ready to go.

First, begin by measuring and cutting fabric.  Measure it at least 32 inches long and about 4 inches wide for a 2 inch wide headband.  It may be a little under 2 inches for seam allowance.  If you’re dead set on the final headband being 2 inches wide, make it about 4.5 inches wide at first.

 NOW BE SMART UNLIKE ME.  Keep it one piece and fold it over so you only have to sew up one side.  I was dumb.  I cut it in half.  I had to sew up two sides.  DON’T DO THAT GUYS.

Just fold the fabric in half so that the good sides of the fabric are touching (you know it’s the good side if it’s the pretty side.  If it looks faded, it’s the bad side.  Hard to tell with black!).  Make sure to fold it hotdog style.

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Now measure your wire about two inches longer than your fabric.  Twist each side into a loop.  You can use pliers or your fingers.  I used my fingers which is a little pokey, but you could probably live through it.  Make sure there are no sharp points on the wire that could pierce through your skeleton and into your brain.

Wow, sorry.

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Cut each side into this shape, at an angle.  You don’t really have to do it, but it looks better.  I traced one side with a white colored pencil, cut it out, and then used the scraps to trace the other end and cut it out.  Make sense?

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Sew it up!  But not all the way guys.  Just chill.

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Sew it until there are about two inches left in the middle.  Make sure it’s the middle so that when you finish sewing it up, the stitches are less noticeable.

Then flip it the right side out.  Just push the fabric through the middle hole and use a chop stick or your fingers to get it all the way through.  It’ll work.  I promise.  It might just take a few minutes.

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Put the wire through the hole in the center.  Bend it around so that the loops are at the end points.

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Stitch up the hole in the center.

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At this point, you’re going to want to find the loops through the fabric.  Then make a little stitch inside the loop so that the wire doesn’t move around to the middle of the headband.  This is optional, but very helpful.  If you use a matching thread, you won’t even notice the little stitch!

Then just twist is around your head!

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You can twist the little end points into a knot…

*queue sultry look apparently*

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…Or put the endpoints under your hair so that it’s flat on top…

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…or wear it Matilda style!  Which is my fave.

Reasons why these headbands rock:

1. They can be manipulated into many different styles.

2. They’re easy and you can pick your own fabrics.

3. They actually stay in place all day.

4.  The best reason.  No headache!  They don’t squeeze your noggin.  It’s a frickin miracle!

Let me know what you think of these you guys.  If you have questions, please ask.  Sometimes it can be difficult to explain these things over a blog!

XO Sara

Black Bean and Corn Guacamole

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“Hey, Sara.  Why are you taking pictures of that guacamole?”

“Errrrrrr, uhhhhhm, weeeeelllllllll…..”

I feel like that just summed up my life in two sentences.

That was a quote from one of my roommates.  Sometimes it takes a while to openly admit that you’re a food blogger.  Not that I’m ashamed.  Just that it’s not something that just comes up all the time.

Until your roommate walks in, practically smacking you in the head with the front door while you “rap squat” with a camera pointing directly at a bowl of guac.  Don’t know what the “rap squat” is? Check this out here.  That should sum it up for you/give you a good laugh.

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Anyways, yeah, guac.  I’m pretty sure that I’m allergic to avocados considering I never feel all that great after eating them, but I don’t care.  Because they’re worth it.  Why are they so good?!

This guac has corn and black beans in it, like that really great salsa, except that it’s in guacamole!  Yes, please and thank you.

But Sara, doesn’t regular guacamole have tomatoes and onions in it?

Uhm, don’t you have something better to do?  Shouldn’t you be watching Netflix or something?  I recommend It’s Always Sunny. (No, Netflix is not compensating me for that comment.  But I am interested Netflix.  Need a cute little redheaded spokesgirl?  Sorry, was that conceited?).

But for real, the answer is yes.  But I hate raw onions and I forgot tomatoes at the store.  You may add them if you want.  I just did not have the necessary ingredients with me.  Sorry ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

1 avocado

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 lime, juiced

1/4 tsp. onion powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 drops Tobasco, or to taste

1/4 c. corn (fresh, frozen, canned, your choice)

1/4 c. black beans (I used canned.  Make sure to drain and rinse!)

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Cut your avocado in half, around the pit.  Jam your knife into the pit and yank it out.  Just twist a little, it’ll come out.  Don’t cut your hand!  You can do this guys.

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Put the avocado in a good mashing bowl with your garlic, lime juice, onion powder, salt and pepper, and Tobasco.

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Smash it with a fork!

Screw the fork, this is taking to long.  Use a potato masher.

Oh yeah, I don’t have a potato masher.

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The fork works.

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Stir in black beans and corn!

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Serve with these!  They’re way healthier than regular corn chips and they’re way more delicious!

Again, not being compensated.  Again, interested.

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This should serve 4 regular, healthy sized portions.  But we all know you’re going to eat half of it like me.  Don’t be like me, kids.  Do yourself a favor.  Learn portion control.

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You know what, avocados are really good for you, eat however much you want.

And let me know how that goes.

Tips:

1. To find a good avocado, take the little stem off.  If it’s green, it’s ripe!  If it’s creamy white/tan, it’s not ripe.  If it’s dark brown or black, it’s bad!

2.  To keep guacamole from going brown and goopy, cover it with water.  Then just dump it out and stir whenever you want to eat it.  Kind of sounds gross, but it’s not (it’s just water) and it’s better than brown clumpy guac.  The reason it works is because food can’t oxidize in water!  Yeah, science bitch!  (Breaking Bad, anyone?)

XO Sara

Song of the Day: Honestly?–American Football

Yarn Wrapped Letters

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Once again it’s a work night and I am up wayyyy too late.

Aghaghaghaghaghuhhhhh.

I haven’t posted in a long time and I don’t have any excuses other than my internet hasn’t been working for the past week or so.  No matter how much it bothers me to admit this, wifi is a really good thing.

Also, for some reason my speakers on my laptop haven’t been working for about a week as well.  What are you doing to me technology?!

*takes deep breath because she doesn’t want her readers to think she’s a psycho*

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At this point in my life, I’m starting to know people getting married and having babies.  Since I’m only in college, I was hoping this would wait a few years at least, but that seems to not be the case.  The transition between childhood and adulthood is crazy fast isn’t it?  Time flies when you’re having fun.

Anyways, I went to my first baby shower a couple of weeks ago.  There was no registry for gifts so I figured I would get the baby pajamas or a cute outfit when I realized that’s what everyone and their mother (literally) would be getting the baby.

And then I thought of this idea.  Okay, I didn’t really think of it, but I remembered seeing something about it on Pinterest a few months ago and it happened to pop into my head at that moment.  And I figured it couldn’t be too hard.

I was right!

This is a super easy DIY craft!  So easy, that my brain decided taking pictures would be unnecessary.  Yeah, I know.  I say that a lot.  But I promise, I can explain with words!

Directions:

1.  Gather your materials: yarn of choice (you don’t need anything too expensive–trust me), a cardboard letter (found at JoAnn’s), hot glue, any decorations you may want (I made my owl by hand out of some felt).

2.  Cut out little strips (about 2 in. long) of yarn and glue them across on all of the flat parts:

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This will make your life way easier!

3.  Then wrap the rest of it gluing it periodically so that it stays in place.  Make one side your gluing side because it might show and you want a nice side!  Glue it at the end really well!

4.  Attach your decoration with glue.  I just traced the owl, cut it out and glued/sewed on details (the eyes, wings, beak, etc.).  I don’t really have instructions for that because it was so homemade!  If you’re interested, I could try to explain better :-)

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Super easy, frugal, and cute!  I used the colors/theme for their nursery, so it’s easily customizable.  If you do not know the first name of the baby, you could always use their last name initial.  Or the whole name if you’re up for it!  This would also be perfect for a wedding shower gift, birthday gift, etc.  This letter took me about 2 hours but probably would take less since I know what I’m doing now :-)

Let me know what you think of this cute craft!

XO Sara

Crockpot Baked Potato Soup

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I know that it’s June.  I know that it’s in the 90s and even reaches the 100s.  But I can’t get over soup.

However, it was 75 degrees in Reno all day today, which is totally acceptable soup weather if you ask me.

Especially if you’re making baked potato soup.  Baked potato soup is special.  Believe me.  I made it for a group of friends.  One claimed it was “the best she’s ever had”.  Now that’s a compliment if I’ve ever heard one.

Ahem.

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On another note, do you fellow food bloggers ever notice random things in your photos?  Like a reflection of you taking a picture in the spoon?  Ha.

Before I give you this recipe, please note that I do not normally use “cream of anything” soups.  I really prefer to make most of my food from scratch, but sometimes it’s nice to have a semi-homemade meal.  If you also do not like using cream soups, just give it a chance, you’ll thank me ;) (Also, this soup definitely should only be eaten on occasion, for the sake of your waistline!)

Ingredients:

1-30 oz. package frozen hashbrowns (the cubed kind)

28 oz. chicken broth (may want more for thinner soup)

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cheddar cheese soup

8 oz. cream cheese

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

Toppings: bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions

In a crockpot, combine hashbrowns, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, cheddar cheese soup, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.  Cook on low for about 8 hours.  30 minutes before serving, add cream cheese and stir until melted.

Top bowls of soup with bacon bits, cheese, sour cream, and green onions, or whatever you feel like :)

Serves about 6-8.

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I personally like to add lots of bacon and cheese.  Weird right?  Also, I served these with pretzel rolls from my local bakery.  Ah-may-zing.

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As I mentioned earlier, this is not a soup for those on a diet.  But it’s so easy, and so good for a crowd that you should make it for family dinner or movie night sometime.  And then let me know how you like it (or love it?).

*Bonus:  If made with gluten free cream soups, this recipe is perfectly gluten free!  Remove the bacon and it’s vegetarian!*

XO Sara

Mascarpone Pudding Filled Strawberries

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This weekend I have a Moulin Rouge party I’m going to for my friend Molly’s 30th birthday so I’ve been spending the majority of my day baking a gluten free cake and a hundred cupcakes and making a bunch of sugar diamonds.

*deep breath*

But now I’m lounging in bed watching Friends and blogging.  Also, my left contact is super blurry but I’m going to ignore that for the time being.  And by that, I mean it’s staying in there until I take off my makeup and go to bed.

I’ve been up since 6 a.m.  I’m losing the power to care about little annoying things anymore.

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Completely shifting topics here, strawberries are in season right now which means I’m going through an obsession with them.  They’re just so sweet and red and beautiful in the late spring.  And they’re the perfect start to summer.

I’m sure you’ve seen those cream cheese filled strawberries before.  They’re pretty popular, and they’re super delicious.  This past weekend I considered making them, but right now I’m kind of over cream cheese frosting (since that’s pretty much what the filling is).  Cream cheese frosting to me is just completely overused, and I was looking for something a little lighter.

Enter mascarpone pudding filling.  Yeah, like in tiramisu (without all the coffee and chocolate and stuff, of course).  Also like in canolis.  Honestly, how amazing can this cheese be?

The store I shop at actually only has mascarpone creme which has the consistency of cream cheese and is super smooth.  If you can find this stuff, use it.  Trust me…just use it.

Ingredients:

1 lb. strawberries

3 egg yolks

1/3 c. sugar

Dash of salt

1/3 c. cream or whole milk

8 oz. mascarpone cheese

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pistachios and chocolate chips for garnish!

First make the pudding: This is where I goofed and forgot to take pictures.  Yep, sounds like my brain right?  Luckily, it’s super easy.  Just whisk the eggs, sugar, salt, and milk in a medium sauce pan.  Heat over medium high heat until it starts to boil.  Boil for a few minutes, or until it is thick like pudding.  Remove from heat, and bring to room temp.  Using a hand mixer, beat in the mascarpone and vanilla extract.  Refrigerate it until ready for use.

Now for strawberries!

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Begin by washing the strawberries.  Here’s a tip so their juices don’t start running: wash them by rubbing them with a wet paper towel.  It takes a little longer but it’s way better than runny strawberries!

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Now remove the stems and cut a little off the top!

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Cut each strawberry into quarters, BUT DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH.  Otherwise they won’t make very good mascarpone pudding holders (;

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Arrange them nicely on a pretty plate.

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*Blurry picture alert*

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*Blurry picture alert again oh my* Fill the strawberries with the pudding.  I just cut a little tip off of a ziploc and filled it with pudding, but it would be pretty with a little tip too.  However, I kind of like my rustic looking filled strawberries.  (Rustic meaning slightly messy).

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Top them with pistachios or chocolate chips or both!  I personally loved the pistachios myself, but the chocolate chip ones were also popular at the BBQ I brought them to (:

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Overall, I would say these took anywhere from 40 minutes-1 hour.  Not too bad if you ask me!  (Plus, they were a HUGE hit).

Try them out and let me know how you like them!

XOXO Sara

Healthy Dirty Rice

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I know, it’s been like, a month.

But on the bright side, I got great grades from all of the finals I was studying for.  When I say that, I mean that somehow I got a full 100 on my calculus exam.  If you’re sitting here stunned, just know that I have been feeling that way since I found out two weeks ago.

I seriously don’t know how that happened.

Another plus is that I’m doing great in my three week mini class.

Three weeks, three credits.  No biggie.

(Kind of a biggie).

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On the bright side, I have definitely not forgotten all about the blog.  I actually have a bunch of great stuff coming up for you guys.  And in approximately a week and a half, I will be completely off of school and lots of great stuff will be coming your way!

But first, let’s start off with dirty rice.  I can recall a few times when I was little where my mom made the boxed Zattaran’s stuff on super busy nights, but we realized pretty soon after that we were not huge fans of the boxed dinners.

Luckily, dirty rice is super easy to make at home and tastes 10x better than Zattaran’s.  This is easily a 30 minute meal (excluding the rice prep but still…).  And, if you didn’t already expect this, the recipe is healthy.  Shocker right?

*Disclaimer:  This is NOT traditional dirty rice.  Traditional stuff uses chicken gizzards and livers and other leftover chicken parts.  Now, I know that they’re just some chicken parts, but they are just chicken parts I can not wrap my head around eating.  So therefore, I went the Zattaran’s route and used ground beef.  Also, this recipe was created completely according to taste/whatever I had in my kitchen so the spices may or may not be traditional.  End of disclaimer.*

Ingredients:

2 c. cooked long grain brown rice

1/2 lb. ground beef

1/2 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 tsp. ceyenne pepper, or to taste

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. dried mustard

1/4 tsp. dried marjoram

1/2 tsp. parsley

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 beef bouillon cube, dissolved in 1/4 c. hot water

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Cook rice according to package directions.  Set aside when finished.

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Chop up veggies!  Yes, those are dried onions.  Yes, I forgot to buy a real onion.

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Saute the veggies until soft.

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Brown the beef.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  (Blurry picture alert.  Whoops!)

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Oh yeah, and dissolve that little guy.

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Add rice and spices to the mixture.

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Mix it all together and add beef bouillon mixture.  Let simmer until the liquid is absorbed!

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Serve to a group of very happy peeps.

Also, please note that you should adjust spices as needed for your tastes.  I decided to not use much salt since I used a beef bouillon cube.  Just taste and adjust accordingly.

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Serve this with a nice little side salad and you have a delicious dinner that will make the whole family happy!

*Vegetarian/Vegan: Replace ground beef with zucchini, tofu, eggplant, and other veggies.  Replace beef broth with veggie broth.

*Gluten Free: This recipe is gluten free

*Paleo: Replace rice with cauliflower “rice”.

XOXO Sara