Saturday, November 13, 2010


Can you guess where I am this weekend?

I'll be back Monday night.  Blogging will resume upon my return :)  Happy weekend!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Grit's Tomato, Basil, and Feta Soup

Check out Tina's blog today to join in on the Blogger Holiday Gift Exchange!  I can't wait for Christmas cheer with my fellow bloggers :)

For a chance to win a great Amazing Morning kit from Quaker Oatmeal, head over to Anne's blog here and enter to win!

I will be visiting my friend Audrey in Seattle this weekend and I can't wait!  I've never spent any time in the city, though, so if you know of any spots we must hit up please let me know :)

I love soup.  To me there's nothing better than a hot bowl of goodness on a cold day.  It's like eating a big bowl of love for your belly.  Enter my desire for a nice bowl of soup last week.  That fall crisp is definitely in the air now here in SoCal, so soup was in order.

Lindsay, my best friend from college, went to grad school at the University of Georgia in Athens.  I lived in Atlanta my first year of seminary, and Athens is only a short drive from the ATL, so I made a few road trips to Athens to visit Lindsay.  She introduced me to the gloriousness of The Grit - an awesome vegetarian restaurant popular with the students and locals alike, especially many of Athens' famous music groups like the B-52s and R.E.M.  The Grit is fabulously funky and serves delicious, healthy vegetarian food - one of those places you go to hang out with friends and catch up on life.  If I had to pick a dessert to have at my last meal, it would be their Mint Chocolate Chip Grasshopper Cake (layers of devil's food cake with green mint buttercream frosting studded with chocolate chips).  To DIE for.  Literally :)

Anyway, on my soup-making quest I turned to The Grit Cookbook gifted to me by Lindsay for my birthday a few years ago.  I found their Tomato, Basil, and Feta Soup recipe and got to work.  Here we go!

Chop an onion and sauté it in your soup pot.

Add garlic and chopped red bell pepper, and sauté until everything is softened.

It will look like this.  You could probably just eat this as it is but then you'd miss out on the soup part :)

Add S&P, tomatoes, and the soy sauce mixture (yes, soy sauce! See recipe below).  Stir it all together and bring to a boil.

After a few minutes, reduce the heat and add fresh chopped basil and balsamic vinegar.  Enjoy your steam facial.

Simmer for 15-20 minutes, and serve.  I enjoyed my soup with a lovely grilled Laughing Cow swiss cheese panini on wheat.  Heaven!

The soup, sans feta.  Still awesome :)

The Grit's Tomato, Basil, and Feta Soup - from The Grit Cookbook
serves 5-7


  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. onion powder (I omitted this because I didn't have any, no biggie)
  • 2 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • Water
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup finely crumbled feta cheese (I forgot it, but it's delicious either way)
  • Thoroughly combine water, soy sauce, and onion powder in a small mixing bowl; set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in large stockpot and add onion.  Sauté until softened.
  • Add garlic and red bell pepper; sauté 3-4 minutes.  
  • Add salt, pepper, diced tomatoes, and soy sauce mixture.  Stirring often, bring to a boil.  
  • Reduce heat and add basil and vinegar.
  • Blend cornstarch into just enough water to dissolve without lumps and stir into soup.
  • Simmer for 15-20 minutes and remove from heat.
  • Stir in lemon juice and crumbled feta cheese.  Serve hot in warmed bowls.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Giada's Salmon Baked in Foil and Sautéed Zucchini & Spinach

First of all, a shout out to my fellow Foodbuzzers who attended the 2nd annual Foodbuzz Festival last weekend.  Hope you all had a fantastic time!  I wish I could have gone, but it wasn't in the cards for me this year.  Perhaps next year? :)

Second, a random side note: do you ever have days when there's a box or bag of something in your pantry, and there's just a little more than you should actually eat in one serving but not enough to keep it there longer?  I totally finished off a box of Triscuit Thin Crisps just now since I didn't want it taunting me anymore :p

And now to your regularly scheduled blogging...

Since things have been so busy around here, blogging has not been at the top of my to-do list.  When I started my blog, I was all about being on top of it and writing at least every other day.  That wasn't too difficult, given that I was home a lot and not working yet.  Now that my job keeps me fairly busy, I felt a little guilty at first not writing more.  Then I realized, I blog for me, not for anyone else, and I shouldn't have to follow other people's schedules of when I'm "expected" to post...if you know what I mean.  Blogging is FUN but it's just a hobby for now.  There are so many other important things, like spending time with my hubby, exercising, and grocery shopping (especially since none of this blogging would happen without the grocery store!).  I'm not going to feel guilty about life getting in the way happening.

Alrighty, 'nuff of that.  Thanks for listening, erm, reading :)

As I may have mentioned before Hubby has a bit of a chef crush on Giada de Laurentiis.  Why wouldn't he?  She's beautiful, talented, and down-to-earth.  As a bonus, her recipes are simple and delicious.  Love it.

I received Giada's Everyday Italian as a bridal shower gift and it is fabulous.  Most of the ingredients can be found in your pantry already, and the recipes are quick and easy to prepare.  Since Hubby and I have been splitting our cooking responsibilities, he made up a list of the recipes he wanted to make from Giada's book (how cute is that?).  This one, however, was one I picked.  I was hungry and we had everything on the list, so there ya go :)

To start off, chop a tomato and mix with herbs, salt and pepper, and EVOO.  Easy enough, right?

Tear off a few pieces of foil for your salmon fillets.  Drizzle with EVOO, salt and pepper, and turn to coat.

Then divide your tomato mixture evenly between your salmon fillets.  Fold the foil into little packets, kinda like making an envelope.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Good stuff is coming, people, let me tell ya :)

To round out this healthy dinner, heat up some EVOO and garlic in a saucepan...

Shred/chop/deconstruct an entire zucchini.  You won't be sorry :)

Add a large package of frozen spinach to the pan.  Yep, straight outta the bag :)

Add your zuke and stir it all up!  Isn't all that green pretty?  Season as you wish (I used salt and pepper).

Keep stirring until you get a nice steam facial and the veggies cook down.  That's it!  Super easy.

My spouse eagerly anticipating the yumminess to come.  He's hot just like this dinner :)

When your salmon is ready, open up the foil packets and serve with your spinach/zucchini mixture.  Yummers!

This meal was really easy, really delicious, and quick.  And, of course, healthy :)  All my favorite things rolled into one!

Giada's Salmon Baked in Foil - from Everyday Italian
Serves 4

  • 3 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes in juice, drained
  • 2 shallots, chopped (I omitted these and it turned out fine)
  • 2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano (or 3/4 tsp. dried)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 3/4 tsp. dried)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 salmon fillets (about 5 oz. each)
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together tomatoes, shallots, 2 tbsp. oil, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  
  • In the center of each of 4 large sheets of aluminum foil, spoon 1/2 tsp. oil.  Place 1 salmon fillet atop each sheet of foil and turn to coat with the oil.
  • Sprinkle the salmon fillets with the remaining 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper.  Spoon the tomato mixture over the salmon.
  • Fold the sides of the foil over the fish and tomato mixture, covering completely, and seal the packets closed.  Place the packets on a large, heavy baking sheet. (These can be prepared and refrigerated up to this point 6 hours in advance.)
  • Bake until the salmon is just cooked through, about 25 minutes.
  • Using a large metal spatula, transfer the foil packets to plates and serve.  Enjoy!

Bonus recipe: Hubby made this delicious Mexican chopped salad from Self magazine the other night.  It's easy and healthy - try it!

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