January 31, 2013

Tortellini Vegetable Soup

It's still soup season! I'm loving the warmth of soup right now, especially ones like this that are full of veggies & have a flavorful tomato based broth.

This soup came together so quickly. While it's simmering, you have time to make a salad & slice some bread for with it. It's filling & hearty, especially due to the tortellini, but yet light enough to not weigh you down.

We had some snow early this week, which was perfect soup weather, but now it's getting warm again. I hope we get a few more cold spurts before the end of winter. I want all the bugs to freeze & the germs to die so we have less colds & flu going around!

Plus, cold weather means more time for eating soup. :-)

Tortellini Vegetable Soup
Serves 4-6

1 onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded & minced
6-8 white button mushrooms, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
2 c. water
4 c. vegetable broth
16 oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables*
1 T tomato paste
1/2 tsp. sea salt
12 oz. bag of frozen cheese tortellini

In a large pot, cook onions & jalapenos over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, stir, and then add tomatoes, water, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Add frozen vegetables and tomato paste. Simmer for about 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Add sea salt (taste first - the amount you need will depend on the saltiness of your tomatoes and broth). Stir in tortellini and cook for the length noted on the package directions (mine said cook for 3-5 minutes). Serve immediately.

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator & reheated either on the stove or in the microwave.

*I used the Hanover brand of frozen vegetables for soup, which included peas, corn, potatoes, carrots, okra, rutabaga, green beans, lima beans, onions, & cabbage.

January 29, 2013

Buckwheat Pesto Salad

This stuff is delicious! It's my first experience with using buckwheat in a savory dish & I'll definitely be using it more in the future. Cooked whole buckwheat groats have a consistancy similar to rice, with the slight chew, & it has a nuttier of flavor.

I first discovered buckwheat groats through another blog I read, Edible Perspective. Ashley introduced me to Buckwheat Bakes (like this Zucchini Bread Buckwheat Bake) as a breakfast item & I really like them! They're very filling & last me through the morning without hunger pains.

When I started making the bakes, I needed to purchase raw buckwheat groats. They were not available in our local stores, so I bought a multi-pack box from Amazon.com. That was best price I found & I knew I'd use them all! The basis for this recipe was on the back of the Bob's Red Mill bag.

Buckwheat is a fairly uncommon food to cook with. It's a little misleading, because while it has "wheat" in the name, it's actually not wheat at all. It's gluten-free, in fact! Even though it's used like a grain, it's actually a seed. It's also high in protein, manganese, magnesium & fiber. Lots of healthy goodness here!

We'll be enjoying this alongside leftovers or with a big salad. I hope you try it!

Buckwheat Pesto Salad
Adapted from Bob's Red Mill
Serves 6-8

1 c Buckwheat Groats
2-1/2 c water
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 Batch Parsley Walnut Pesto
4 cloves garlic
1/4 c fresh basil
1/2 c chopped Walnuts
1 c freshley grated Parmesan cheese
In a medium saucpan, bring water and salt to a boil. Add buckwheat groats, cover, and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from stove and leave covered for 5 minutes. Remove lid & fluff with fork.
In the meantime, make your parsley walnut pesto. Clean out the food processor and pulse the garlic cloves a few times to chop. Add basil & pulse again until it is chopped and mixed with the garlic.
Mix olive oil, parsley pesto, and the garlic-basil together. Stir this into the cooked buckwheat groats. Add walnuts and parmesan cheese. Salt to taste, if needed. Serve warm, or refrigerate in a sealed container & serve cold. It's great both ways!

January 26, 2013

Tasty Tidbits

We had a wonderful time finishing our vacation last weekend at the cabin. The snow was nice on Saturday & we went out for a ski. It had melted a bit by Sunday, so we hiked instead. We explored a new trail & crossed a bridge in danger of collapsing!

Then it was back to work, as usual. The week seemed to fly by, with catching up around the house, visiting with friends, & meetings at church.

Here's what we've been eating in the last week:

  • Strawberry yogurt with Almond, Cherry, & Millet Granola
  • Whole Wheat Pancakes with blueberry jam
  • Overnight oats
  • Baked Oatmeal with Raisins
  • Bananas & pb

  • Leftovers
  • Sandwiches
  • Tomato Vegetable Soup
  • Corn tortillas with hummus & cucumbers
  • Roasted cauliflower
  • Apples, oranges & clementines


Dinner at the cabin
  • Spinach & Roasted Garlic Raviolis & Artichoke Raviolis with stir-fried onions, bell pepper, asparagus, & mushrooms - Mom & Dad bought these at a small store in Vermont. They are made fresh & they're really good! Lots of flavor!
  • Mega Salad - lettuce & spinach topped with broiled tofu, kiwi, roasted coconut, carrots, red onion, roasted butternut squash & feta
  • Stir-Fried Rice - brown rice with onions, bell peppers, carrots, green beans, lima beans, peas, & soy sauce
  • Green Salad
Dinner with friends
  • Baked potato bar - baked potato topped with sauteed onions, garlic, fresh tomatoes, & pepper jack cheese
  • Tacos: Corn tortillas filled with pinto beans, guacamole, & salsa
  • Green Salad
Traditional choir night dinner at Mom & Pops'

  • Tortilla pizzas: Brown rice tortillas topped with tomato sauce, bbq sauce, onions, spinach, tofu & feta cheese
  • Green Salad

  • Mom's homemade nutroll
  • Homemade Fig Newtons
  • Trader Joe's Sipping Chocolate
  • Angela's Mini Peanut Butter Cups in a Jar - Triple yum! These were super peanut buttery & delicious!
  • Katie's Brownie Batter Frozen Yogurt - This required an ice cream maker (I used my KitchenAid attachment), but it's almost worth getting one just to make it! It had the tartness of yogurt plus dark chocolate flavor. Yum!

January 24, 2013

Healthy Living Survey

I found this “Healthy Living Survey” on the  Carrots 'n' Cake blog & it was interesting to read so I thought I'd do it also!

1. What did you eat for breakfast?
Overnight oats with chia seeds, blueberries, Super Chunky Teddie All Natural Peanut Butter & sliced banana
A mug of Almond Amaretto Teeccino Herbal Coffee with almond-coconut milk.

Breakfast is my favorite meal. It's like eating dessert. I look forward to it, even on those weeks where I wind up eating the same thing every morning.

2. How much water do you drink a day?
Several glasses - 1-2 in the morning, full water bottle+ during the day, 2-3 in the evening. I'm trying to drink more, but I get tired of always having to go to the bathroom. :-)

3. What is your current favorite workout?
roller blading & hiking & yoga

4. How many calories do you eat a day?
Around 2000. I haven't been counting lately, but that's always been about right for me.

5. What are your favorite healthy snacks?
  • Apples
  • Carrots with hummus
  • Nuts (usually almonds, cashews or pistachios)
  • a piece of super dark chocolate 
6. What do you usually eat for lunch?
Leftovers, most days. Very rarely do I eat sandwiches - I'd rather put together odds and ends into a meal. For example, this week one day I had leftover Italian herbed tofu, roasted cauliflower & an orange.

7. What is your favorite body part to strength train?
Lungs & heart - I like cardio the most. I've also just gotten into light lifting, & I really like doing yoga with weights because not only am I building arm strength, but it works the core, glutes & legs because of the full body movement.
8. What is your least favorite body part to strength train?
My back. I know I should focus on my lower back, especially, but it's the part I forget about the most. The exercises seem so isolated & I like to work more than one part at a time to make the most of my workouts.

9. What are your “bad” food cravings?
Ice cream!

10. Do you take vitamins or supplements?
Yes - 2 flax oil pills & a women's multi-vitamin most days. Sometimes I also take Vitamin D.

11. How often do you eat out?
Once or twice a month. I really like to cook, so usually I'm happier eating at home.

12. Do you eat fast food?
No, except Chipotle...but I don't consider that your typical "fast food."

13. Who is your biggest supporter?
The Bup! And my parents.

14. Do you have a gym membership?
No. We have an elliptical & I love to exercise outdoors, so I cancelled mine awhile ago.

15. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
8 hours, more if I can

16. Do you have a “cheat” day?
No. I do loosen up my eating when I'm having a night with friends; it's all a balance.

17. Do you drink alcohol?
Yes, mostly wine or beer.
18. Do you have a workout buddy?
No, I really prefer to do my daily work outs alone. Otherwise, I like to do things like skiing, hiking or biking with my hubby.

19. What is the best thing that has changed about your life since committing to a Healthy Lifestyle?
I feel much more empowered & I like that my body is getting stronger. Since I've been working on building more muscle, I love knowing I can do more than I would have been able to before. I also like the clean & refreshed feeling I have from eating a vegetarian diet.
20. What was the last healthy thing you did?
Went on the elliptical & did an arm workout! It was a good morning pump-me-up.

January 19, 2013

Tasty Tidbits

We spent the week at the Swiss Farm Inn in Vermont. During the day, we skiied & the rest of the time we slept, ate, read & played games. Not a bad way to spend a week!

Here's what we've been eating in the last week:


  • Raspberry Rhubarb Stuffed French Toast
  • Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
  • Vegetable Omelet
  • Veggie Scramble
  • Home Fries
  • Egg & Cheddar Sandwich on English Muffin



Gourmet Club Dinner at Mom & Pops'
  • Vegetable Tarts
  • Artichoke Dip with Pita Chips
  • White Bean & Black Olive Soup
  • Mushroom Strudel
  • Kale with Raisins & Pine Nuts
  • Roasted Red Beets & Turnips
  • Watercress Salad with Goat Cheese & Pomegranates
  • Cardamom Pear Crisp
Out to Dinner
  • Wasabi Vegetable Wrap / Grilled Tomato & Cheese Sandwich
  • Sweet Potato Fries
Dinner at Swiss Farm Inn
  • Corn Chowder
  • Green Salad
  • Manicotti
  • Broccoli
  • Lemon Blueberry Cake
Dinner at Swiss Farm Inn
  • Roasted Red Pepper Soup
  • Green Salad
  • Quinoa with Veggies
  • Sauteed Carrots
  • Apple Cake
Dinner at Swiss Farm Inn
  • Vegetable Quinoa Soup
  • Green Salad
  • Israeli Couscous with Veggies
  • Broccoli
  • Peach Raspberry Cobbler
Dinner at Swiss Farm Inn
  • Mushroom & Barley Soup
  • Green Salad
  • Eggplant Parmesan
  • Spaghetti with Broccoli Pesto
  • Peas
  • Chocolate Cake

  • Homemade Pizza
  • Green Salad

January 12, 2013

Tasty Tidbits

This was a super busy week for us. We had meetings at church on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday, plus choirs on Thursday. That topped with work, year end reports for church, & getting ready to leave for our ski vacation left little room for anything around the house. Tink tried to chip in, but as soon as she found the hammer she fell asleep.

Our living room is looking great, despite the lack of progress this week. It's insulated now, so the warmth stays in. The Bup put up 2 ceiling fans to circulate the air when we run the fireplace & it gets cozy in there. I can't wait till the drywall is up & we paint! I'll have more pictures later.

Anybody play Canasta? Last Friday night we played - it was a very close game! We both want to win, but are a little too nice because we know how it feels to be stuck with a handful of cards & not getting the chance to play them. (I ended up winning. Guess I'm just not as nice.) :-)

Here's what we've been eating in the last week:


  • Leftovers
  • Sandwiches
  • Arugula Salad with avocado
  • Roasted cauliflower
  • Grapefruit, oranges & clementines


  • Vegetarian Pad Thai
  • Green Salad
  • Brittany's Pizza with a Cauliflower Crust - Toppings: onions, mushrooms, kalamata olives, pineapple, avocado & a light sprinkling of gorgonzola - We really like the lightness & flavor of this crust. I think we should have baked it a little longer before adding the toppings, because it didn't hold together in the middle (still wet). I plan to try it again soon!
  • Leftover Tomato, Mushroom, & Ravioli Soup - Again. It was really good! Plus we didn't get to have dinner together on Tuesday night, so we repeated the food, but this time ate it together.
  • Green Salad
Traditional choir night dinner at Mom & Pops'
  • Whole wheat linguini with spicy tomato sauce
  • Green Salad

  • Trader Joe's Sipping Chocolate
  • Katie's Chocolate Chip Blondies - These are a favorite recipe that I've made many times. Yum!
  • Almond Amaretto Teeccino - I accidentally bought this, thinking it sounded like a great coffee flavor. Turns out, it's actually an herbal coffee, not made from coffee beans at all. I think it's great mixed with almost equal parts almond milk, but the Bup (a coffee lover) doesn't like it much. It's a bit sweeter & doesn't have that bitter endtaste like coffee does.

January 10, 2013

Tomato, Mushroom, & Ravioli Soup

If you like ravioli with tomato sauce, this is the soup for you! It's the soup version of the pasta dish, perfect for warming you up on a cold winter day & filling you up without you feeling heavy.

Several years ago (before we became vegetarian) I made this soup as the original recipe is written, with the ground beef. I hadn't thought much of it since, because though we liked it, it wasn't vegetarian. This week, however, we remembered it, & I thought I'd adapt it to be meatless.

The result is a hearty, flavorful soup that we loved. It would be a good tomato & mushroom soup even without the raviolis, but they put it over the top. The recipe makes plenty of soup, so this would be a good one to make when you're having guests. It's quick & easy, with minimal chopping required. While it simmered, I prepared a green salad to go with it. The whole meal came together in 45 minutes!

Enjoy & stay warm!

Tomato, Mushroom,& Ravioli Soup
Adapted from Taste of Home
Serves 8-10

1 1/2 c onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & diced
1 6 oz. package baby portobello mushrooms, diced

2 cans (28 oz. each) diced tomatoes
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 1/2 c water
1 1/2 T dried parsley
1 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 package (9 oz.) frozen bite size cheese ravioli
grated Parmesan cheese for topping, optional

In a large pot, saute onion, jalapeno, & mushrooms until soft & fragrant, about 5-7 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients except ravioli & parmesan cheese. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer & cook for 30 minutes. Add ravioli & cook another 5 minutes, or until raviolis are heated through. Serve hot, topped with parmesan cheese if desired.

January 8, 2013

Parsley Walnut Pesto

You know how sometimes you find a recipe that calls for fresh herbs, so you buy some, but then you have a whole bunch leftover?

This pesto is a great solution for that! I had a bunch of parsley leftover from a quinoa salad I made & I didn't want it to go to waste. This pesto recipe is perfect for small amounts of herbs. So many pestos call for 2-3 cups of a fresh herb & I rarely have that much on hand. You could also use this recipe with a different herb, like basil or cilantro for a different flavor.

While this doesn't make a large quantity of pesto (only about 1/2 cup), it's just the right amount to use on a pizza, as a sandwich spread, or mixed with pasta for 2. Plus, it's yummy & full of flavor & healthy fats!

Parsley Walnut Pesto
Yield: 1/2 cup

1 c parsley, washed & de-stemmed
1/4 c walnuts
2 T lemon juice
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in a small food processor & process until mostly smooth. You may have to stop a few times to scrape down the sides. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use (no more than a week). Pesto can also be frozen, either in one container or in small batches in an ice cube tray (once frozen, remove from tray and seal in a freezer bag).

January 5, 2013

Tasty Tidbits

Oh to have the life of a kitten. I'd like to carelessly sprawl out on my back, content that I'd be warm & well-fed as long as I was cuddly. Treats & snoozin', snoozin' & treats!

2013 is here! This week was a combination of celebrating & getting back into our usual routines (with plenty of glitches!). It's always a bit of a shock to go from the holiday excitement to the usual work mode.

Is anyone making any resolutions or goals? We decided that our goals this year are to complete all the ongoing home renovation projects that we've started & to clear out the accumulated clutter we have around the house. I want to get rid of the things we never use so we can have more open space.

Here's what we've been eating in the last week:


  • Leftovers
  • Sandwiches
  • Grapefruit, oranges & clementines


  • Broiled tofu nuggets
  • Baked sweet potato fries
  • Cabbage slaw
New Year's Eve fun with friends
  • Lisa's Cafe - We all got strombolis, which were delicious. The restaurant was serving complimentary sparkling apple juice & cheese plates in celebration of the new year!  
  • Evening snacks included: Taco dip, hummus, pomegranate seeds, chocolate pb dip, m&m's, & beer sampling
New Year's Dinner at Mom & Pops'
  • Leftover stromboli from Monday
  • Leftover baked sweet potato fries
  • Green Salad
  • Black Bean Wrap (Bup)
  • Taco Salad (me)


January 4, 2013

2013 Glitches

2013 is starting out with a bang. January 1 came & went uneventfully. We spent quality time with friends & family, plus had some time to relax by ourselves.

Then January 2 came...  I had to change the toner in the copier at work & I pulled out the waste cartridge by accident. Oops!!! (picture courtesy of a co-worker who gathered with some others to laugh) Thank goodness I was wearing black pants!

January 3 came & I had positive thoughts. But then I got in my car to leave for work & the battery wouldn't start. It was my own dumb fault, since when I took it for inspection in August they told me I'd need a new battery. I never replaced it, & here I was, stuck. Luckily, the Bup was able to come home from work to help me. We thought we'd jump it & be on our ways, but it was so dead it couldn't even be jumped. He took it out & we went to Autozone to exchange it for a new one. Thankfully that went smoothly & now my car is as good as new.

Here's to the year going up from here! It's all about perspective & laughing at the silly things that happen. I'm glad they weren't anything more serious. Compared to many of the tragedies happening around the world, my little mishaps are small.

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Here's to a happy & healthy 2013!
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