Soup & Salad Challenge: Weeks 6 & 7

Soup and Salad weeks 6&7.png

It’s weeks like these that I’m grateful to have a bunch of soup stocked up in the freezer.

Conversation with the person organizing the Teacher Appreciation Day lunch that I almost forgot about at my son’s preschool: “Oh, you still need a main dish for Teacher Appreciation Day Luncheon? No problem. I’ll provide homemade Caribbean Chili.”

Conversation with friend: “You just moved into a new house? Congratulations! Can I bring a meal over for you?” (In my head: All I have to do is grab some a batch of the frozen Hearty Chicken Stew and throw a salad together and I’ll have a meal for them. Woohoo!)

Conversation with myself after running around all day, feeling exhausted and coming home to an empty refrigerator: “What am I going to do for dinner tonight? Ah! Deep breath. There’s frozen soup in the freezer. Just run it under some cold water and heat it up on a pot. I’m off the hook…Whew! Mealtime just got a whole lot easier.”

Freezer Meals

So…yeah. It’s been that kind of week. It’s actually been that kind of month! The hubs is finally graduating with his MBA (this has been a long time coming) and is taking two super intense summer classes, which means I’m on super intense mom duty. It will all pay off when it’s over, but in the midst of the chaos I’ve realized I need to throw some of my ideals out the window until things slow down and we can catch our breath. Unfortunately, that means I’ve had to make the hard decision to end my Soup and Salad Challenge three weeks early. This is so hard for me, because once I commit to something, I’m all in. I’m an achiever and a bit of a task-oriented person, so going back on something to which I’ve committed feels like failure. Thankfully, I’ve received nothing but incredibly supportive feedback from all of you who have been in on this with me. Stuff like:

So glad you are stopping if it doesn’t work right now.  I have loved the meals and totally support your stopping.

and

No worries at all Jen, and sending a SUPER big hug and huge dose of grace for yourself. I’m really happy that you were true to yourself and have healthy boundaries and are not continuing something that was not sustainable for this season. You are a rockstar in my eyes…

So, I may just have the best friends and fam in the entire world. Thanks, guys. 🙂

In this final post, I’ll share the three salad recipes we have tried over the past two weeks (Yes, I’m behind):

  1. Apple Pecan Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
  2. Spinach Salad w/ Nuts Apples &  Bacon
  3. Bombay Chicken Salad

I must say Tiffany over at Creme De La Crumb has an incredibly delicious recipe for Apple Pecan Salad with Maple Vinaigrette. This went over well on Mother’s Day! Since I’m not a big fan of processed white sugar, I opted to replace the cinnamon and sugar which were supposed to coat the pecans with this recipe for Candied Pecans made with Pure Maple Syrup from Feel Great in 8. 

My hubs LOVED this Spinach Salad with Nuts, Apples and Bacon recipe from Mel over at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. There’s just something about bacon that makes everything better. Of course, I used high quality, nitrate-free and sugar-free bacon from Butcher Box, which made this extra delish. (You can use this link for $10 off your first order and free bacon!) I also replaced the processed white sugar in this recipe with pure maple syrup from my friend, Kristen’s family farm: Haynes Call Sugar Bush. Once again, I used this recipe for Candied Pecans made with Pure Maple Syrup from Feel Great in 8, but used walnuts instead of pecans and added a bit of cayenne pepper.

And finally, my Bombay Chicken Salad is a consistent favorite in our household. I took an old Weight Watcher’s recipe for Bombay Tuna, replaced the tuna with chicken and used a unique blend of Esther’s Seasonings to make this top notch. Enjoy the recipe below!

Bombay Chicken Salad

Instructions

  1. 32 ounce chunk white tuna (packed in water) Or 4 cups cooked chicken, cubed or shredded, Pastured/non-GMO is best
  2. 1 1⁄3 cup mayonaise I recommend Primal Kitchen's Avocado mayo
  3. 4 cup mirepoix (chopped celery, onion, carrots)
  4. 1 cup sliced almonds or chopped pecans
  5. 1 cup golden raisins
  6. 1⁄4 cup Lemon juice
  7. 2 tablespoon Esther's Seasonings: Jamaican Curry
  8. 2 teaspoon Esther's Seasonings: Gourmet Salt
  9. 2 teaspoon Esther's Seasonings: West Indian Pepper
  10. 1 head bibb lettuce or Spring Mix


Recipe Notes

Mix all ingredients. Refrigerate.

Serve on a bed of Boston or Bibb lettuce.

I won’t be posting as regularly until I can come up to breathe at the end of June. I may, however, get a moment to throw together a post entitled: Quick, Easy, Healthy Meals for the Mama Who Doesn’t Have Time to Cook. What’s that saying about necessity being the mother of invention?

Also, as promised, I will be sure to make time to tally up the comments during the past few weeks of this Soup & Salad Challenge. I will randomly pick a name from this collection of commenters and this person will receive a complimentary sampling of Esther’s Seasonings. Stay tuned!

Spring Soup & Salad Challenge – Week 1

Today was the perfect day to make soup! Outside, the Spring rain was falling. Inside,  I chopped vegetables while chatting with my sister who came down from NH to help me with the kids so I could cook.  She also served as my Chief “Taste Tester” while simultaneously keeping our two babies content. She’s kind of amazing, that girl..

This week we’re trying two awesome soup recipes: Loaded Split Pea Soup (recipe slightly adapted from Delish) and Coconut Curry Summer Squash Soup from Marcie over at Flavor the Moments). I slightly adapted these recipes to suit my taste buds (my changes are in italics below), but you can find the original recipe linked above as well us listed under “source”. I’d say both recipes were a “win”…

Note the colored bowls in the pic above from my attempt at getting my family to take a little more responsibility for their dishes. (It’s still very much a work in progress!) Also note the book Q & A a Day for Kids: A Three-Year Journal.We’ve started incorporating some of these questions into our family mealtimes and have been having great fun answering them as a family! It definitely makes for a more enriching dinner time experience.

One other important thing to mention: I LOVE using Esther’s Seasonings in all of my cooking. If you’re interested in getting ahold of her delicious seasonings, give her a shout out. You can also enter to win Esther’s Seasonings Variety Pack by participating in the Spring Soup & Salad Challenge in any capacity over the course of the next ten weeks. (Yep – that includes taste testing!) Your participation will be tracked by comments on blog posts. For every comment, your name will be entered into the “hat” (more comments = more chances to win)! I hope you’ll join the Nourishing Foundations community in this endeavor.

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Loaded Bacon Split Pea Soup

Would you like a side of split pea soup with your bacon? Kidding! But, seriously, this split pea gets its bold smoky flavor from a whole lot of bacon.

Source: delish.com

Course: Soup

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 40 min

Total Time: 1 hr

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. bacon
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 large carrots diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • kosher salt I used a mixture of Esther’s Gourmet Salt & Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper I used Esther’s Zesty Peppermill
  • 4 c. low-sodium chicken broth I used a mixture of homemade Chicken broth and store bought organic chicken broth
  • 12 oz. split peas rinsed
  • Freshly chopped parsley for garnish

Directions

  1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy, 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool, then crumble.
  2. Add onion, carrot, and garlic to bacon fat and cook until tender and golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Add broth and split peas and let simmer, covered, until split peas are tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
  4. Serve garnished with parsley and bacon.

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Coconut Curry Summer Squash Soup

Coconut Curry Summer Squash Soup has plenty of warm, curry flavor with creamy coconut milk to make it silky smooth. This is an exciting, delicious way to use that summer squash!

Source: flavorthemoments.com

Course: Soup

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 25 min

Total Time: 45 min

Yield: About 8 servings

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 34 teaspoon curry powder* I use Esther’s Jamaican Curry
  • 1 12 lbs. summer squash ends trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces*
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable stock I use water and Seitenbacher Vegetarian Vegetable Broth And Seasoning
  • 14 cup coconut milk (I used full fat) plus more for serving
  • 12 lime juice of – plus more for serving
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped fresh basil or thai basil, for serving
  • 1 tsp Esther’s Gourmet Salt Optional
  • 12 tsp Esther’s G.O.G. Optional
  • 12 tsp Esther’s West Indian pepper Optional

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and saute 8 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and curry powder, and saute 30 seconds. Add the squash and saute 2 minutes longer. Add the stock, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 15 minutes or until the squash is tender. Remove from heat.
  2. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor leaving the insert out of the top to allow the steam to escape. Pour into a large serving bowl and add the coconut milk, lime juice, and salt and pepper, to taste. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve the soup drizzled with a bit of coconut milk, chopped fresh basil, and extra lime wedges if desired. Enjoy!
  3. Instant Pot Directions (from Jen):
  4. Sauté onion in olive oil. Add Garlic, spices and a bit of broth/water. Cook for a minute or two, then add vegetables and cover with water/broth. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor leaving the insert out of the top to allow the steam to escape. Pour into a large serving bowl and add the coconut milk, lime juice, and salt and pepper, to taste. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve the soup drizzled with a bit of coconut milk, chopped fresh basil, and extra lime wedges if desired. Enjoy!

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Join the Spring Soup & Salad Challenge!

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What better way to make it through the Spring rains than with a hearty bowl of soup?  And when lettuce and vegetables are in season, there’s nothing more satisfying than a fresh plate of salad. I’ll be trying some delicious new recipes along with friends and family participating in my 10-week “Jen’s Test Kitchen” offering. We’ll focus the first  5 weeks on nutritious & delicious soups and weeks 6-10 we’ll turn our attention to fresh, meal-size salads.

You should join us! I’ll be featuring simple, delicious & nutritious recipes from some experienced cooks as well as tried and true recipes that have made my list of favorites. You can follow the Vegetarian track, the Meat Lovers track, or mix and match recipes as desired. A complete list of schedule meals can be found here. 

You don’t have to officially sign up to participate in this challenge, however all those who participate in any capacity over the course of the next ten weeks (trying one recipe or all of the recipes) will be entered into a drawing to win Esther’s Seasonings Variety Pack.

Your participation will be tracked by comments on blog posts. For every comment, your name will be entered into the “hat” (more comments = more chances to win)! I hope you’ll join the Nourishing Foundations community in this endeavor. Happy Spring!

P.S. This is not a belated April Fool’s joke; this was my car window this morning:

Nevertheless, I am determined to hold onto the hope of Spring! Sorry, Winter, you’re fighting a losing battle. Spring will come again!