Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Savory Couscous

I want to share with you one of my favorite side dishes on this earth... OK... my favorite healthy side dish. Have you ever had couscous? It's granular semolina... which is the flour that's used in a variety of pastas. You usually find it in the rice section of your grocery store... or the organic and health food sections. 

I grew up eating couscous with my mom. My favorite kind is parmesan... yum yum! I could eat a whole pot of it in one setting but I didn't have to with this recipe because the husband actually loved this stuff! He asked me what it was and I said, "It's a type of pasta"-- hehe he ate it!

This is SUPER fast... start to finish I'd say 10 min.  Here is what you'll need! 

organic chicken broth, 3/4 cup chopped fresh mushrooms, 1/4 cup shredded carrots, 1/4 cup sliced green onions, 1 TB butter, 1 tsp basil, 1 tsp thyme, 1 cup quick cooking couscous (I like Near East)

*I put slightly more carrots and mushrooms in mine and it was fine! 

Put all ingredients except for couscous in the pot. Bring to a boil.  

 It should only take a couple of minutes to start boiling. Then add the couscous and stir it up! 

Cover. Remove from heat. Sit for 5 min. I know... it's soo difficult.  

Time's up! Looks great! If for some reason there is still liquid... cover it for a couple more minutes.  

Fluff with fork.  

 Taste. I added about 1/4 tsp of kosher salt. (Organic low sodium salt has hardly any salt in it so I can control how much I want. You probably won't need to add any if you use non-organic broth)

Serve it up with some chicken for a savory dinner. Or eat a bowl by itself for a satisfying lunch! 

I really really hope you will try it because it's soo tasty! 
5 WW plus points per serving

Savory Couscous
Better Homes and Gardens Anyone Can Cook

1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1 TB butter
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1 cup quick cooking couscous

1. In a 2-2.5 qt sauce pan bring all ingredients but couscous to boil Stir in couscous. Remove from heat.  

2. Cover and let stand for 5 min or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with fork. 

Makes 4 servings 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

I want to share with you a new soup recipe I tried. It's perfect to keep in the freezer for those relaxed Saturdays or Sundays when you need a light lunch. It cooks pretty quick too! 

Here's what you need! 

1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves of garlic (I didn't have any so I used 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
1 TB olive oil
42 ounces of chicken broth (or veggie broth)
1, 12 ounce jar of roasted, red sweet peppers
1, chopped and peeled potato
1tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 cup of Light Sour Cream
1 TB snipped fresh chives or green onion

 First, drain your peppers and cut them into strips. 

Next, cook onion and garlic in the oil for about 4 min to get the onions soft. 

Now I'm going to take a minute to talk about chicken broth. Use organic. Swanson low sodium chicken broth contains 570 mg of sodium per cup. 365 Organic broth from Whole Foods contains 140 mg. So you do the math.... organic broth is clearly a lot better for you.

OK... that's settled. So after the onion and garlic have cooked down, add the broth, peppers, potato, oregano, and thyme. (When you add your dry herbs, rub them in your hand before you add them. This "wakes them up".) Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 min. 

After 15 min are up you could either blend in small bathes in the blender or food processor OR use a handy dandy immersion blender. Remove from stove and blend the soup until it's at your desired consistency. (Note: If you use an immersion blender in a dutch over it WILL leave sliver marks all over your pan... to remove them simply sprinkle Bar Keepers Friend on it and rub with a wet paper towel until it's all off... then wash your pot really really well)

Ahh.... pretty soup! It's looks like tomato soup... and so it was sort of interesting eating it because I was expecting it to taste like tomato soup. It doesn't though! It tastes like red peppers! Taste it... add some salt to your desire. 

Serve with sour cream and chives. You can also sprinkle in a little cheese. I ate mine with tortilla chips, but I think half of a grilled cheese sandwich or a hunk of french bread would be fabulous. Don't leave out the sour cream what ever you do! The soup really needs the creamy bite that the sour cream adds. 

For 1 cup of soup and 1 TB of light sour cream it's 3 WW plus points.

Here's the recipe in quick view:

Roasted Red Pepper Soup 
Better Homes and Gardens: Anyone Can Cook

1 cup chopped onion 
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 TB olive oil
3, 14 ounce cans veggie broth or chicken broth
1, 12 ounce jar roasted red sweet peppers, drained and sliced
1 cup chopped peeled potato
1 TB fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried 
1tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
1 TB fresh snipped chives or green onion

1. Cook and stir onion and garlic in the hot oil for 3-4 min. Stir in broth, roasted red peppers, potato, oregano, and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 min. 

2. Let soup cool slightly. Transfer mixture, one-third at a time, to a blender or food processor. Cover and blend or process until nearly smooth. Return all of the soup to the pot. Heat through. Or use an immersion blender. 

3. To serve, ladle soup into bowls, topping each with sour cream and chives. 

Makes 5-6 cups of soup. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chicago Road Trip

 This past weekend, both Blake and I had Monday off for President's Day. We'd talked about going on a short road trip, but decided to just stay home and chill. I was also off work on Friday and Blake came home early. We talked for a little while and decided we wanted to go somewhere.... but where! We talked about Mount Rushmore, The Grand Canyon, and Memphis. The weather didn't seem to be good for traveling to those places though. Randomly we said, "How about Chicago?". Neither of us had ever been there before- it would be perfect! So 30 minutes later we had our things packed and we were on the Turnpike.

We drove a little over 7 hours on Friday afternoon/ evening bringing us just outside of St. Louis. We stopped for the night at a Double Tree Hotel and drove the remaining 4 hours or so on Saturday morning. We found this place from our favorite show, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It's called Charlie Parker's and we stopped in for breakfast. (In Springfield Illinois) We loved it!

We got to Chicago and checked into the historic Hilton Chicago. (Blake is standing in front of it down below) We had a beautiful room, on a very high floor, with a full view of the Lake Michigan. We took in the wonder of it and then decided we go walk around and go to the aquarium.

There is the aquarium.... it's huge! Well... we got there and noticed the line was way long. We thought we'd go back in the morning. Here is where I share the wonderful story of the gal being right! I thought we needed to get there before opening time the next day.... Blake didn't think so... so I went along with what he thought. We arrived 30 min after opening the next morning... and the line was even longer! It was a 2.5 hour wait! We didn't have time to visit the aquarium... but I did get the satisfaction of being right. Which makes up for it a little bit. (:

So on Saterday night, when we decided not to go the aquarium we walked down to the Sear's Tower... known today as the Willis Tower. The tallest tower in the country. We had to wait for an hour and a half to ride the elevator, but it was a great view! We stood on the famous ledge.... 3 layers of glass. We actually got a professional shot but I haven't scanned it to my computer yet. So please bare with this really awful picture some random person took shot below.

 By the time we got down and bought us a cup and coffee mug it was dark out. So we walked around down town for a while and found a great pizza restaurant. We waited an eternity for a very small table that was surrounded by people waiting for a table. It was the best pizza we've EVER had. It makes all other pizza seem disgusting... to me anyways. We shivered back to the room and ordered dessert from room service... because you know... we hadn't eaten enough.

The next morning the aquarium didn't work out so we decided to go see Wrigley Field and get an earlier start out to St. Louis. We were surprised that there was like no extra space around the field. We drove through a lot of downtown on the way out of town and it was a really fun drive. Chicago is a very beautiful city full of character and things to do. We definitely would like to go back someday.

We arrived in St. Louis on Sunday evening and checked in to the Hilton at the Ball Park. Because we are Hilton rewards members we got a $5 upgrade to a room on a very high floor with a very good view of the ball park... plus we had "club status" so we got to eat free snacks and breakfast in the club lounge. We walked around and took some pictures... it was cold though... so we didn't walk around too much. We ate dinner and watched the Thunder game. We won! So it was a fun game to watch!

We got home about 5:00 on Monday evening, only to leave at 6:00 for the Thunder game that we had to tickets too... so the fun wasn't over! We had an great time at the game!

We had a wonderful weekend and even though we feel it now, we are so glad we took the trip. What could have been a weekend of scrapbooking and video games turned into a weekend of great adventure. Lots of time to talk and play 20 Questions, see God's creation, and see some things we've never see before!

Take road trips my friends--- there is nothing like them!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Snow Day

I had a snow day today! Thankfully, the conditions were not really that bad... most of the public schools in the metro were open. We just have a great school that sees nothing wrong with using a snow day at the end of winter I guess! 

When Blake left for work in the dark of the early morning I was quite nervous for him, so I woke up and watched the news.... rather than sleep in. The traffic seemed to be moving good everywhere so that's definitely something to be thankful for! I was scared they would be showing cars sliding everywhere!!

So the first thing I did was watch Good Morning America from start to finish (7AM-9AM). I love watching GMA... and I usually watch bits and pieces of it anyways but today I was in no hurry. It was lots of fun... except over half of it was about Whitney Houston.... sorry but I'm not going to miss her... I didn't know her... and it's not like she's still contributing to the music industry... her voice was fried from drugs... and prob singing through her throat too much.  And half her songs were about marriage affairs. But I watched it.. and felt sympathy for her friends and family. 

Next I cleaned myself up and did chores for a couple of hours. I dusted everywhere, vacuumed, mopped, organized the cabinet under the bathroom sink, cleaned the shower, did lots of laundry. Then at about noon I stopped to read my bible and pray for a while. Can I just say.... it feels so nice to stop and think about God instead of my own little world. Reminds me there is so much more to life than me. 

Next I watched P.S. I Love You.... with Hilary Swank- my favorite female actress. As I watched it I ate lunch, did my nails, and made choc marshmallow cookies with frosting. 
I wanted to make them for 3 reasons: 

    1. I got to use my new cookie scoop.
    2. I got to use my new frosting bags and tips.
    3. They looked amazing and I've been craving them all week. 

I think it was by the grace of God that half of my cookies burned. I don't need all those cookies around me. Besides... Blake will prob only eat one. 

I wrote a devotional thought that hopefully will get printed in our church's monthly ladies newsletter. 

Boy... I've had quite a day! And after all this... I don't even have to cook dinner.... because we have leftover chicken spaghetti from home group last night!!!


Now I just can't wait for my boy to come home! 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My January Book Revealed!

Our trip is booked and I can now officially tell you that I've been reading
  The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2012!

To say I'm excited would be a huge understatement. I'm thrilled! Before I get into that, let me share with you a little about this handy book.  

This "must read if your going to WDW" book is a whopping 854 pages. It contains very meticulous details about every aspect of "the world". Something I never knew about WDW was how complex of a place it is.... and how HUGE it is. I've learned that in order to get the most for our money, and have a more enjoyable trip, we will need a detailed itinerary. And as the book says on the cover... it will help us cut our waits in line by 4 hours a day! This book talks about everything. I could go into detail but I'd be here forever. It's definitely been consuming lots of my time! So I'm going to count this as my first book of the year. 

Blake has wanted to take me to Disney World for a long time. He would have taken me for our honeymoon if I had let him. We really want to go before we have kids so that we can experience it in a different light. For me, this will be my very first time. I want you to watch this commercial from 1995.
(Click on the underlined portion) I was in Kindergarden when this came out and I've known every word to this commercial for as long as I can rememebr. It was on many of my disney movies. I feel so blessed to have the resources to go right now! 

We are taking our trip the last week of May (26th- 1st) because Blake has Memorial day off. We have park hopper tickets for 5 days! We plan on staying at the Port Orleans Riverside Resort. We've booked the important stuff... now comes the fun part! Making reservations for restaurants and planning our itinerary! Do you think it would be acceptable for me to dress up like Belle when we visit Magic Kingdom? I might need some type of intervention on how excited I am! Can't wait!