Friday, February 27, 2015

20 Soups I Love!

I am convinced come March warmer weather will finally come to the Northeast.  However we have 2 more days of colder temperatures to deal with and possible snow.  I plan to do very little this weekend except hibernate inside.

Surviving this year has been a bit rough.  Soup has made it feasible. I always say it warms me from the inside out.  

Of course I love soup anyway. I am the weirdo in Panera enjoying a bowl full of soup when it is 101 degrees outside.  Soups are definitely in the favorite food category. Here I rounded up some of my favorites over the years in case you need a little warmth this weekend.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup {Panera Copy Cat Recipe}

Slow Cooker Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Spinach and Tortellini

Baked Potato Soup

Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo

Olive Garden's Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Mexican Chicken Corn Soup

Turkey Veggie Chil

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

Cheddar Cheese Soup

Red Curry Thai and Beef Soup

Thai Green Curry Chicken Soup

Tomato Basil Soup

Escarole and Bean Soup

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Baby Update: Week 39

Nursery art!
I have one week left!  However Mr. J informed me that new research shows that baby's full term are now at 41 weeks and not 40.  I kind of wanted to hit him.  

In general I am doing alright. Things are quite difficult at this point. The belly is just in the way.  Mostly it is the little things I find the most aggravating. In a public bathroom there is barely enough room in the stall to shut the door and even then I am pretty much awkwardly leaning over the toilet to make room.  I pretty much fall into cars and then cannot shut the door.  Shoe tying is almost a no go. Getting on and off the couch. 

This picture does not convey how big I actually am or feel. 

She is content to kick all day and night long. I really am not sure how there is any room left but she finds it.

Each day I think this is the day. And then think of what I want to get done in case it really is the day. Should I go grocery shopping to stock up on last time? a quick load of laundry? clean the bathrooms? Some of them are kind of crazy but it makes me feel better knowing they are done.  

The nesting thing is real. All of a sudden I want to do several house projects. Some big and some small. This weekend when Mr. J went out to shovel snow I wound up cleaning up the basement and vacuuming. 

Overall we are all set for her to come. I have some freezer meals and other go to ready made things to help us out the first couple of weeks. I plan on posting a more detailed description of how we got ready soon. 

Other than that it is kind of a waiting game. And I am not good at those. Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I am not very patient and #WIAW

So here I am still pregnant. Which is good I guess? Tomorrow I will be at 39 weeks. I suppose she wants to stay in a bit longer. I don't really blame her given that it is still very much winter in the Northeast.  Each day I think what if she comes today, and then I make a list of everything I want/need to accomplish before she comes.  Its not a huge list but little things like that favorite pair of yoga pants is in the laundry I should wash them kind of thing. 

Yesterday for breakfast I switched things up a bit. I was really hungry so I had toast with smashed avocado and a little sea salt on top.  Best. Meal. Ever.  This filled me up way longer than my smoothie. And although I know avocados are super good for you I kind of felt lacking in my veggie intake all day without my spinach.

Lunch was a special treat. A good friend was in our office and we not only went out for food, something I rarely do, but we chatted it up for an hour.  So much fun!  I got two slices of gigantic pizza - A chicken Caesar salad and the Godfather - meatballs, chicken and artichoke. It took the full hour but I ate them all!

Snacks for the day were all fruit. I cannot get enough of those little Mandarin oranges this year. They are so sweet.

Mr. J and I were both beat from the day. I had a meal all planned out but neither of us could muster the energy to make it.  I ended up with my smoothie after all followed by a late night snack with a corn muffin. I think with all of my green I was practicing for St. Patrick's Day.

What did you eat Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Broccoli Cheddar Soup {Panera Copycat}

Time seems to be slowly ticking away. I haven't decided if I want the days to speed up or slow down. I know I don't like leaving the house for any reason. And this nesting thing is for real.  I cleaned out a huge section of the basement this past weekend. Afterwards I was tired but it looks so nice. 

We also made soup. The cold weather and snow have been constant. And although I have been running really hot - I can sleep in shorts and a tank top above the covers with our heat set at 64 - Mr. J is feeling the cold winter temperatures. 

Soup seems to do the trick.  I have made Broccoli Cheddar soup before but this Panera copycat is much more rich and decadent.  Funny story - Panera Broccoli Cheddar soup is one of my favorite things to eat. I love not traveling for work but I haven't had my Panera fix in quite some time. Broccoli Cheddar soup from Panera is the last thing I ate before the first time I got motion sick on one of my trips. I thought I would never be able to eat it again. Lucky for me though it didn't last long. 

You can certainly lighten this soup up a bit but really why? It tastes so good just like it is for a bit of extra indulgence on these cold, winter days. 

Broccoli Cheddar Soup {Panera Copycat}

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Keywords: soup/stew broccoli cheese
Ingredients (4 large servings)
  • 1 tablespoon + 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 small/medium sweet yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced finely
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 to 3 cups broccoli florets and stems, fresh or frozen
  • 2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and sliced into very thin rounds, about 1/16th-inch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
  • 8 ounces grated high quality extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • Additional grated cheese reserved for garnishing bowls
In a small saucepan melt 1 tablespoon butter, and then the diced onion. Sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent and barely browned, about 4 minutes. Stir intermittently.
Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. Remove from heat and set pan aside.

In a large heavy-bottom pot add remaining 4 tablespoons butter and flour. Cook over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until flour is thickened.
Once thick and slightly brown slowly add the vegetable stock and half-and-half, whisking constantly.

Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently.

While mixture is simmering, chop the broccoli and carrots. As the liquid simmers for 15 to 20 minutes, add the broccoli, carrots, and the onion and garlic you previously set aside.

Add the salt, pepper, paprika, dry mustard powder, and cayenne. Stir to combine.

Allow soup to simmer over low heat for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, and the broccoli and carrots have softened.

When the veggies are all softened add most of the cheese, reserving a small amount for garnishing bowls. Stir in the cheese until melted and incorporated fully, less than 1 minute.
Transfer soup to bowls and garnish with reserved cheese. Serve immediately.
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Pis­ta­chio Dark Choco­late Tof­fee {SRC}

I am kind of sad that it is time for the February Secret Recipe Club posting. I am taking next month off with the pending arrival of our baby.  I look forward to each new assignment and having a month without a posting will be weird. Of course if baby Morris makes her appearance as planned I am sure I will have other distractions. 

If you didn't know the Secret Recipe club is a group of bloggers that each month are assigned a "secret" blog. We then pick and make a recipe for the monthly posting.   This month I had Nicole of Hapa-tite.  If you were wondering about the blog name, I was, Nicole gave a nice definition that really sums up her blog.

ha•pa (hä’pä) adj. 1. Slang. Of mixed racial her­itage with par­tial roots in Asian and/or Pacific Islander ances­try. n. 2.Slang. A per­son of such ancestry.

Hapa-tite is a com­bi­na­tion of two words: hapa and appetite. I think that it encom­passes my appetite for all things food-related in life: restau­rants, recipes, o-bento, cook­books, tea, and cock­tails (as well as web-design and blogging).

There are many interesting posts and you are in for a treat if you like teas and cocktails. I am not a huge drinker and cocktails aren't really look well upon for a 9 month pregnant lady so I stuck to the food. I was eyeing the pistachio dark chocolate toffee and the banana pudding cupcakes.  Since I had just made some banana bread granola I went with the toffee. Plus I haven't made toffee before so I took a bit of an adventure. 

Pistachio Dark Chocolate Toffee

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Keywords: dessert chocolate pistachios candy
Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces chocolate chips, 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup pistachios

Have a ungreased jelly roll pan ready near the stove.

In a saucepan, combine butter, sugar, water, and salt. Whisk constantly until it reaches 300°F. The color should be a medium caramel brown.

Pour immediately on the pan.

While the sugar layer cools, melt the choco­late in a dou­ble boiler. Once the choco­late is smooth and shiny, pour over the now-cooled sugar, using an off­set spat­ula to dis­trib­ute evenly.

While the chocolate is still melted, sprin­kle with the pistachios. Gen­tly press the nuts into the chocolate.

Let toffee stand 2-3 hours at room temperature or chill 30 minutes until firm.

Using a knife, break into bite-size pieces. Package in small bags for gifts or a tin for yourself.
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Friday, February 20, 2015

Banana Bread Granola

Do you ever have a recipe that you know you want to make and then for whatever reason it doesn't happen for days...weeks...or even months?  This happens all of the time to me. Eventually I stubble over it again and realized that I really should get on my game. Well this granola is just that recipe. I don't recall the first time I saw banana bread granola but I remember thinking what a clever idea. I love banana bread. And granola. Why yes please?!?!

Mr. J has been begging for some better breakfast options and we decided having granola on hand would be a good thing for those quick mornings. We had it just about every week for a while but I slacked off the last few weeks and switched over to muffins.  Anyway, I have my smoothies in the morning. Mr. J has his granola.

I happened to have one ripe banana and it dawned on me that it was the perfect time to test out this banana bread granola. At first I was a little skeptical that one banana would do the banana bread flavor justice. But you know what? It really does taste like banana bread. There are definitely clumps where there is really strong banana flavor.  Love granola clusters. 

This has now become my new favorite granola recipes. And I might just be the one eating it for breakfast the next few days. 

Banana Bread Granola

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Keywords: bake breakfast banana oatmeal walnuts
Ingredients (serves 12)
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp flax seed
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 medium ripe banana, mashed (~1/2 cup)
Preheat oven to 350.

Mix the oats, cinnamon, sugar, salt and nuts together in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan over medium low heat, warm the coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Once the coconut oil is melted and combined with the other liquids, remove from heat and whisk in banana puree until well combined. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.

Spread the mixture evenly onto one baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. The coconut oil will help it crisp up well, but be sure to watch it carefully as it can brown quickly.

If you don’t toss the granola while baking, it will make get clumpy, But if you want a more crumbly granola, toss/stir a bit at the halfway point to break up the clumps. I toss once in the middle of the baking time to ensure the edges don't burn.

Once the granola is browned, remove from the oven and toss just a bit to let the heat escape. Cool completely on the baking sheet. Store in a container with an air-tight seal.
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Baby Update: Week 38

The house has become overwhelmed by baby things. Every where you look there is something baby related.  I find this funny since she isn't even here yet. I wonder what it will be like once she does come.  Clear it will be even more exaggerated. It a way I like it. It is our new norm.

Here are the stats for the week:
Total weight gain: 23 pounds
Maternity clothes? Yes! Sadly my winter coat is at the breaking point. I can barely get the zipper to go up around my belly. Mr. J has a coat I can wear but it is super ugly. Two weeks, two weeks!

Nursery: Hopefully some of the decorations I ordered are coming today!!
Stretch marks? Nope.
Sleep: I was doing much better and then last night I couldn't sleep at all. Besides the bathroom breaks I am in general just uncomfortable. When I lay on might left side my leg hurts when I lay on my right side my arm falls asleep.  I just switch back and forth all night long. This is not an easy process with all of my pillows and gigantic belly. 
Movement: She still moves all of the time but it definitely feels different. There is no extra space so even the slightest difference is very impactful. And oh do I have to pee a lot. I am trying to stay really hydrated even if I have just gone to the bathroom if she starts moving I am back up again within minutes.
Food cravings: Nope but I am all about meal planning and prepping for after she comes.
Anything making you queasy or sick: Nope, in fact I have felt pretty good for a while now.
Belly Button in or out? Still in.
Wedding rings on or off? On and fitting loosely.
Happy or Moody most of the time: Exhausted and anxious.  This whole unknown due date is driving my type A planning persona crazy!

Annoyances: It is not OK for strangers or really anyone to ask me if I am dilated yet. That is just wrong. Also when my Dr. tells me the baby isn't coming any time soon. Although I don't want her to show up today. That statement makes it seem like forever away. Ahh!
Looking forward to: Sleeping on my belly again. Date night on Saturday!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Learning the Art of Doing Nothing and #WIAW

Happy Wednesday!

I had my weekly check up today and all is good. No baby anytime soon.  Mornings seem to be getting earlier and earlier. I have my first smoothie in the dark.

This was the stash of food I brought for the day. Sorry for the blurry picture. The bagel happens around 9-10 am. I brought carrots and a cucumber to try and add a little extra veggie to my life.  Otherwise it would be carb on carb with the leftover mac and cheese. 

Dinner was compliments of Mr. J with pepper steak and rice pilaf.   I haven't been nearly as hungry in the evenings but if I don't have a snack I still wake up in the middle of the night wanting to eat.  Two more weeks...

What did you eat Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Vanilla Dutch Baby

A fluffy dessert like pancake  with this vanilla dutch baby to make any morning a bit more special.

Today is Pancake Day. Nowadays it seems like they have a special day for every food imaginable. Normally I am about 2 days behind the actual day.  However I got wind this weekend that Tuesday, today, was Pancake Day.  So here we are with this gorgeous pancake treat.

This is my first Dutch Baby and it will not be my last. I don't know what I haven't attempted this easy breakfast treat till now.  It was super simple to put together. Ideally this could feed a family. You would remove the whole pancake from the pan and slice in to reasonable servings like a pie piece.  However if you are like Mr. J and I. You simply put the pan in front of the fire.  Cover with maple syrup and dig right in.  We were civilized enough to use forks.

A Dutch Baby looks and tastes way more complicated and complex than it actually takes to put it together. You simple melt butter right in your pan in the oven. All other ingredients are whipped together via a blender.  When the butter is completely melted in goes the batter.  The whole pan goes into the oven and presto a Dutch Baby comes out. 

I overcooked this one by about 30 seconds. I checked at 20 minutes and thought the center was just a tad doughy. I put in it for another two minutes and before the timer was up the edges on one side were a bit crisp.  Next time I will be a bit more careful. And there will definitely be a next time.

Vanilla Dutch Baby

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Keywords: bake breakfast vanilla
Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk, heated 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the butter in a large saute pan and place in the oven to melt.

Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the eggs, flour, hot milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, vanilla extract, and pinch of salt, and blend on medium-high speed until uniform.

Carefully, remove the hot pan from the oven. The butter should be melted. Swirl the butter around the pan to coat completely, and then pour the remaining butter into the batter and whisk to blend. Pour the batter into the hot pan and return the pan to the oven.

Cook the pancake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pancake is puffed in the center, and golden brown along the edges.

Using a spatula, remove the entire Dutch baby from the pan and place on a cooling rack for a few minutes to allow the steam to escape without condensing along the bottom and rendering the pancake soggy.

Slice the pancake into wedges on a serving platter or cutting board and sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar through a sieve. Serve with maple syrup.
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In case you wanted a few other options to celebrate Pancake Day!

Elvis pancakes {bacon+banana+peanut butter+chocolate chips}

Raspberry Almond Pancakes


Carrot Cake Pancakes

Gingerbread Pancakes

Pumpkin Pancakes


coffee chocolate chip pancakes

 Blueberry and Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Strawberry Banana Pancakes


Monday, February 16, 2015

Creamy Mac and Cheese with Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Trying to stay warm with this creamy stove top mac and cheese topped with crispy Brussels Sprouts.

Yesterday was by far the coldest day yet. And we had snow. I had already planned for a day of nothing. Sitting by the fire was my main objective. Let's just say I accomplished that and managed stay in my pajamas all day long. 

The one activity I did get done was to make this gigantic pot of mac and cheese. I was feeling like we have been lacking veggies lately (with the exception of potatoes) so I added some Brussels Sprouts. These were baked in the oven at a high temperature so they were all crispy, adding a nice texture to the creamy mac and cheese. 

Mr. J got a huge bowl full after he finished shoveling the driveway. We only got about 4- 5 inches but it was so windy and cold even being outside for 30 or so minutes was brutal. This was the best way to speed up the warming process. 

Creamy Mac and Cheese with Crispy Brussels Sprouts

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Keywords: saute bake entree cheese pasta brussels sprouts winter
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup butter, (1 stick) unsalted
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup Parmesan
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the Brussels Sprouts:
  • 12 oz Brussels Sprouts, cleaned and cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425. Place Brussels Sprouts in a small baking dish so they lay in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes until browned and crispy.

While the Brussels Sprouts are baking, cook macaroni according to package directions. Set aside when done.

In a 4 cup liquid measure cup, measure out milk and cook in microwave until just warm, about 1-2 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper until thick and smooth.

Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 1-2 minutes longer or until thickened. The mixture should coat the back of a spoon.

Stir in cheese until melted and smooth. Stir in mustard if desired.

Drain macaroni; add to cheese sauce and stir to coat.

Dish each serving of mac and cheese into a bowl. Top with crispy Brussels Sprouts and serve immediately.
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Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day Chocolate Round Up

Are you ready for Valentine's Day? This year our Valentine's Day will be spent in our baby class followed by a tour of the hospital.  Romantic huh?  In a way it kind of is.

We are going to be running around all day but hopefully will have a semi special meal on Saturday night. If not thing else there will be a chocolate dessert. Each time I decide on said dessert I find about 5 others on the internet that are simply irresistible. Decisions, decisions. Not a strong suit for me currently.

If you are still searching for something special here are some of my favorite chocolate treats.

White Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Chocolate Dipped Sugar Cookies

Peanut Butter Blossoms 

Chocolate Chip Funfetti Sugar Cookies

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate Pudding Cookies 

Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookies

Oreo Chocolate Pie

Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

Oreo Monster Bars 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars 

Brownies with Cookie Dough Frosting

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies 

Fudge Topped Brownies

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Other Desserts:
Chocolate Expresso Pots de Creme

Red Velvet Cake

Chocolate Chip Waffles

Profiteroles with Old Fashioned Cream Filling

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

Double Chocolate Muffins

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Baby Update: Week 37

Baby things are slowly taking over our house.  It makes me excited and nervous all at one. Today I am officially 37 weeks and full term.  It seems like I have waited for this moment for eternity.  I am still not convinced I am ready for our little one to make her appearance but I know if she did we would be alright. 

Since we are nearing the end I thought I would give you a little update.

Total weight gain: 21 pounds
Maternity clothes? Yes and no. I can still wear some of my workout and lounge wear and do all weekend long.  Anything else though doesn't fit. In fact some of the maternity shirts I got back in October/November are a bit too small lengthwise. The gap between your pants and shirt is just not good in general but practically speaking it isn't comfortable either when it is freezing outside. 

Nursery: The only thing left is some art work for the walls. I love how it all came together. Is it weird that I go and sit in it each night before bed?
Stretch marks? Nope.
Sleep: Not well. I pretty much get up every night from 1-2 am and don't fall back asleep till around 4 am.  From then on it is restless sleep where I flip from side to side till 6.  Since I go to bed from 8-9 pm I still feel like I am getting enough but I feel pretty useless during my 2-3 hour awake time. 
Movement: She moves all of the time. I find it so distracting not just the feeling but the fact that my stomach bulges each time.  I don't think I am ever going to get use to this sensation. 
Food cravings: Not really. If there are sweets around I will take them, ice cream sounds best.  I still like all things bread and cheese although this week we branched out and had a real meal plan with chicken and veggies one night and chili another night. 
Anything making you queasy or sick: Anything that would have made me gag in the past still bothers me.  We had smelly trash this week that one morning sent me over the edge.
Belly Button in or out? Still in.
Wedding rings on or off? On and fitting loosely.
Happy or Moody most of the time: I am pretty neutral. Mr. J is helping out big time and I am super appreciative of everything extra he is doing for the baby and to help me out.

Annoyances: Having strangers make horrible comments to me. I went to the mall the other day and left my coat in the car since I didn't want to carry it around. I was outside for maybe a minute and some woman commented that she hoped I wasn't making the baby sick.   I also have completely lost my mind. I am normally 100% on top of things but lately my pregnancy mind has gotten worse.  I think I routine wash my face twice in the shower because I am never 100% sure if I did it the first time.  Also, yesterday at the gym I apparently put my coat in one locker and my bag in another locker. When it was time to go I got my bag and realized my coat was missing. After 5 minutes of opening every other locker I finally found my coat. I had no recollection of where it could have been.  Arg! 
Looking forward to: Being able to put on my shoes with less effort and not getting winded after a flight of stairs. 

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