Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese

It’s finally kinda sorta cold in Virginia. It’s chilly and rainy at least, so it’s kinda sorta fall! My fave. I spent today thrifting with my mom, found a super cute antique coffee table, and found myself wanting a nice hot dinner. Butternut squash everything is all over Pinterest right now, and I had some other produce to use up, so this soup is what I came up with. A true “what I had in my fridge” recipe if there ever was one. Plus I got to use my immersion blender, which is always fun!

Serve this with some toasted bread and butter for dipping. If you have a snoring pug to sit next to while you eat, it tastes even better!

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Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese

1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 large sweet apple, peeled, cored, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper
olive oil
4 cups chicken broth

chilled goat cheese to top

1) Combine squash, sweet potato, apple, onion, and garlic with 1 tsp of salt  and two tbsp olive oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot. (I use a heavy dutch oven for soups, always!). Cook on medium for about 15 minutes, covered.

2) Cover with broth and add spices. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 15-20 minutes.

3) Remove bay leaf and transfer to blender. Blend until smooth. I use an immersion blender because you can safely blend hot soup right in the pan! They’re inexpensive and awesome. I have this one.

4) Serve hot with crumbled goat cheese on top. Relax. Your day is about to get better.

Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette

All I can say about this dressing is YUM!!! I found it here.  If you have a ton of basil in your garden like I do right now, this is a great way to use it up and is a bit more interesting than pesto, of which I already have too much. It’s also a nice way to change up my salad lunch routine while keeping everything healthy!

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Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

1 cup olive oil

1 cup basil leaves

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

Just buzz everything up in the blender. That’s it. You’re welcome.

With the rest of my basil, I was thinking about trying a lemon basil dressing next week. Yum. Or maybe this. Or this. So many options! I love basil season.

You’ll love it. Promise. What yummy lunch choices have you made this week?

Skinny-ish Chicken and Black Bean Quesadillas

Today was not a great day.

I had a very long meeting. I had a nasty run in with a rude pharmacist at CVS. Most importantly, I came home and realized that I had exactly 1/4 of an inch of wine. BOOOOOOOO. (Update: As I was writing this, boyfriend showed up with TWO bottles of my fave wine. He said “I always know how much wine you have left.” He wins the good boyfriend award.)

The thing that is going to turn this all around is dinner with the boyfriend. We’re having a crazy week and I’m seriously happy that we get to share a meal tonight. Something interesting about us: I am gluten intolerant and boyfriend has hypoglycemia. He’s literally so sensitive to sugar that he can’t even eat most fruits, some veggies, or any Splenda. This makes things challenging but fun and actually I realized this past week that this means we are basically on the South Beach diet!

Still on the healthy eating kick, I decided that I would like some Mexican food. High protein, low fat if you can stay away from overloading on cheese, it’s a great option. No tomatoes (sugar) means no enchilada sauce and no flour tortillas (gluten) means no burritos. So how about some corn tortilla quesadillas?! You’re welcome world.

I think that the taste of this dish really depends on the spices you use. They need to be FRESH, friends. You really shouldn’t be keeping spices so long that they don’t smell anymore…so take a sniff before you get started. I buy most of my spices at Penzey’s, which is a brilliant store with crazy good spices and blends. Check them out, I get nothing for promoting them and you’ll love their stuff. If you sign up for their catalog, you’ll get coupons for free samples on your next visit. Again…you’re welcome.

Chicken and Black Bean Quesadillas

The world’s worst picture of the most delish dinner….sorry

I didn’t exactly follow a recipe, so I can give you approximate amounts. So here is what I did:

Mexican Black Beans

1 can of low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic minced

1 tablespoon veggie oil

1 teaspoon Penzey’s chili powder (their chili powder has ancho chili powder, cumin, garlic and Mexican oregano in it)

1/2 c. water

Salt

Pepper

Saute your onions in the veggie oil. Whey they’re translucent, add the minced garlic. Once you start to smell it, add everything else and cook until you notice that the water is reducing and the beans are becoming a paste like consistency (kind of like refried beans. Set aside.

Spiced Chicken

I basically just sliced up some boneless skinless chicken breasts into small flat pieces, across the grain of the meat. I sauteed with some chili powder, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lime. These don’t take long since they’re small. Cut one open, check if it’s cooked, and then set aside.

The Quesadilla

Assemble! Take a corn tortilla, put some Mexican cheese  blend shredded cheese on it, then layer on beans, chicken, maybe some veggies (I didn’t have any others around) and then a final layer of cheese. Scoop the whole thing into a preheated pan with a little veggie oil and fry it up crispy on both sides. I made a quick little guacamole to go with and also tried some of the Chipotle Lime Sauce that I made to go with this week’s Zucchini Fritters….the sauce was AWESOME with these! Really tangy. The boy approved of these and actually stopped after one (first time ever).

So cheap, filling, and simple is a good way to go 🙂 What kind of quick Mexican food do you like on a weeknight?

 

Crispy Zucchini Fritters with Chili Lime Sauce

Another Pinterest win!

In the “Let’s try not to grocery shop till Saturday” budget control strategy I have devised for the week, I am getting a lot more creative with what I have on hand, which today was zucchini, eggs, and onions.  Stretching every food dollar is getting more important to me lately as I try to pay off my moving expenses and start saving. When all the bills are paid, not much is left over, so I’m trying to find cheap but really good recipes that will be healthy and good. Actually not too hard once you readjust your mindset to include more veggies!

One great thing about living in Northern Virginia again is the amazing number of Asian grocery stores. I love Super H Mart the most! They have amazing produce, including fruits and veggies I’ve never even heard of, crazy amounts of spices, oils, and grains, and really nice cuts of meat. The best part is that it’s all incredibly cheap, so I find that my money tends to go much farther there. If you can get past all the crazy traffic in the parking lot, the narrow aisles, and the weird fish smells, you’ll love it too. 🙂

When I was at H Mart last, I picked up some zucchini for super cheap, as well as some leeks. Yum. I made a ratatouille this weekend and used half the zucchini, so I was left with a half and had no idea what to do with it. Pinterest saved the day though, with this recipe from Family Feedbag for Zucchini Fritters.

Zucchini Fritters with Chili Lime Sauce

Zucchini Fritters with Chili Lime Sauce

Yummmmmmmm. They were delish. I made them gluten free by subbing in 1/2 white rice flour and 1/2 cornstarch for the flour. I also changed up the sauce by using Chobani 0% fat plain yogurt with 1 tablespoon of mayo for flavor, rather than all mayo.

Try them out and let me know what you think! What veggie dishes do you like during the summer?