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Recipe Makeover — Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

19 Dec

Christmas is less than a week away!!! I finished my holiday shopping on Monday. (Thank you, Amazon!) I had everything shipped to my in-laws houses, so fingers crossed all of the gifts will be there when I arrive this weekend.

I really do try to eat healthy during the week and get to the gym 5-6 days/week. It’s an active effort everyday and trust me, there are days when I think to myself, “It would just be easier to pick something up to eat.” Or, “Gosh, I have so much work to do. I should just skip the gym.” But I know that’s just my lazy inner self just getting the best of me. There are a few strategies I use to keep me on track.

  1. Packing a gym bag in my car prevents me from coming home and keeping me there.
  2. Find others who can be support you and help you to be accountable — Find a gym buddy. Sign up for classes. Write down in your planner when you’ll be going to the gym each day.
  3. Plan meals ahead of time and look for healthy substitutes.

I can’t help you with making sure to pack a gym bag everyday, but I can help you with a getting involved with a community and healthy meal planning. Emily from Sweet Bella Roos has started an online community called Counting Cupcakes. (How cute!!) This group is for anyone who wants to start (or continue) to live a healthy lifestyle. There will be a weekly newsletter which will feature a healthy recipe, a sweet treat recipe and a weekly meal plan. Click on the cute lil cupcake to sign up!

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When you look at your favorite recipes, try to find new ways to make it better for you. Add more vegetables so you get fiber and stay full longer, skip butter & cream and use olive oil & skim milk instead, use fresh herbs and seasonings instead of salt or fat. It takes some practice, but I know you can do it.

There is a local restaurant in town and they have the best chicken & rice soup I’ve ever had. It’s creamy and delicious. I really wanted to recreate it at home and make it a lighter option. I added vegetables & brown wild rice. Instead of cream, I used skim milk and reduced fat cream cheese to give it a creamy texture. It totally worked! And since I made it at home, it wasn’t loaded with salt and I wasn’t tempted to dunk a huge loaf of bread into the soup. (this restaurant gives you huge portions and a loaf of bread which every order. It’s a total calorie bomb.)

Recipe Makeover Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup the Tasty Fork

I know with Christmas & New Years right around the corner, you might not be in the mood for a soup makeover recipe, but pin it and come back when you’ve started your new years resolution to get healthy. It doesn’t taste like a “diet” meal, which is important to me! 🙂

Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice (I used Uncle Ben’s and included the spice packet.)
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups skim milk
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 4 to 8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 2 cups cooked skinless boneless chicken breasts, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Parsley, chopped for garnish

Directions:

  1. Cook rice according to package directions. When cooked, set aside. 
  2. In a large dutch oven, bring the heat to medium and add oil. When the oil is warm, add onion & thyme. Stir & cook for 2 minutes. Add celery, carrots, and garlic. Saute for another 5 minutes. Add potatoes and stock; bring to boil. Cover pot; reduce heat to a simmer until potatoes are tender.
  3. Combine milk and flour; stir with a wisk and make sure there are no clump. Pour milk mixture into soup and let simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in cream cheese. When all of the cream cheese has dissolved, add in rice & chicken. Let all of the ingredients fold into the soup and warm up. Taste and season with salt & pepper if needed. Garnish soup with parsley.
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Tomato Based Vegetable Soup

12 Dec

Tomato Based Vegetable Soup

Christmas is less than two weeks away and I’m already entering sugar coma status. Holiday lattes start off my morning. Everyday seems like a cookie swap party at work…and it’s rude to turn away treats people have baked, right?? And for the past few nights, I’ve been having these as dessert — they’re sooo addicting. I know I’ll have to make more once they’re gone.

Since I’m eating so much sugar, I’m really trying to balance out my diet with some healthy meals like this soup. It’s filled with vegetables and has a rich tomato base. If you like tomato soup, you’ll want to try this! By blending a can of diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and basil, each bite you take is full of flavor. Not even a pinch of salt went into the soup!

If you’re a sugar addict like me, make this soup so you can enjoy all the holiday treats the season has to offer.

Tomato Based Vegetable Soup

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • ½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can small white beans or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes. Get the ones that aren’t packed in oil. They come packaged in a resealable bag, can be found in the produce section.
  • 8 basil leaves, torn plus more for garnish
  • 8 oz bag baby spinach

Directions 

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook 1 minute, or until garlic is fragrant. Stir in onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, and thyme.  Cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until onions are soft.
  2. Add broth, 1 can tomatoes, and beans. In a blender, add remaining can of tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, torn basil leaves and 1/2 soup liquid. Purée until smooth. Add more soup liquid to get the consistency you want.  Stir mixture into soup, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Add baby spinach and simmer 1 minute more. Remove pan from heat, and stir in basil garnish.

Creamy Mushroom Chowder with Bacon

3 Dec

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Something really exciting happen to me. Pillsbury’s social media team shared my Biscuits, Sausage & Gravy Casserole on their Facebook & Twitter pages. The amount of activity I got on my blog and Facebook has been so amazing! I’m so thankful for all of my new visitors. I can not stop smiling. 🙂 It’s really nice to be recognized and know people love my recipes. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Creamy Mushroom Chowder with Bacon @ The Tasty Fork

For all of my soup lovers, I got a great chowder for you to try. And guess what? You won’t find a touch of cream in this recipe. (just reduced fat sour cream.) The chowder get’s it thick consistency by adding diced potatoes and using an immersion blender. I’d say it’s healthy but the night I made this I was craving bacon….which is like every night. If you’re vegetarian or looking to cut calories, you can omit the bacon.

Like most of my week night meals, this soup will be ready for you to eat in less than 40 minutes. I enjoyed this chowder with some crusty bread. It’s great for dipping and rounding out the meal.

Creamy Mushroom Chowder with Bacon The Tasty Fork

This chowder has everything I love — Veggies & bacon. Creamy texture. Lots of flavor. Quick ready meal.

I hope you give it a try!

Creamy Mushroom Chowder with Bacon

  • 8 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 oz container sliced mushrooms, cleaned
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups stock (I used beef)
  • 2/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Parsley for garnish
  • Crusty bread

Directions

  1. In a large cast iron dutch oven or stock pot, cook bacon pieces. When the bacon has browned, remove pieces and set on a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
  2. In the same pot, add onions to the bacon fat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add garlic and continue to stir & cook for 5 minutes. Pour mushrooms and cook until slighty soft.
  3. Add potatoes and stock. Add more stock if the potatoes aren’t covered with liquid. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Using an immersion blender, puree half of the chowder. (You can also use a blender if you don’t have an immersion blender.) Add sour cream. Stir to incorporate into soup. Add bacon to the chowder. (I saved a couple pieces to garnish.) Taste chowder, add salt & pepper if needed. When you’re ready to serve, garnish with parsley and warm bread.

Creamy Mushroom Chowder with Bacon via The Tasty Fork

Beef & Butternut Squash Stew

26 Nov

Wow – Thanksgiving weekend flew by so fast! I can’t believe it’s over. I woke up on Monday morning feeling completely drained and wishing I had one more day to relax. I probably should have gone to bed earlier on Sunday night….but I got sucked into a terrible Lifetime Movie, Liz & Dick. Everything about it was just bad, but I was laughing at all of Lindsay Lohan’s ridiculous turbans and bad makeup. I wasn’t alive for the Liz Taylor era, but I don’t think she looked as haggard as Lohan did playing her. Oh well, it was a train wreck and I wasted 2 hours watching it.

Since Thanksgiving is over, I need to stop eating like it is Thanksgiving. No more leftovers. No more desserts. When I was brain storming what I wanted to make, the thought of poultry or potatoes never crossed my mind. I wanted beef. Beef Stew. Beef Stew with lots of veggies and herbs.

I know stews are a dime a dozen, but this beef stew was so flavorful! Do not skip on the fresh rosemary or thyme. Dried herbs just wouldn’t provide as much taste to this delicious meal. You hardly need any salt, so use fresh herbs! I also used some pinot noir — I know you can usually substitute stock or water if you’re looking for a non-alcoholic option to deglaze your pan, but this is another element I wouldn’t change. Buy a pinot noir you would drink and cook with. Buying a crappy wine just to cook with will give your stew a crappy taste.

I’d make this beef stew on a weeknight if you’ve got some time to spare because it needs to simmer for an hour. If you don’t have that kind of time, make it on the weekend and warm it up during the week. The stew gets more flavor the longer it sits.

In Tasty Fork news, I’m in the process of under going a make over!! Meg from VintPrint Designs is creating a new blog design and moving my page to WordPress.org. I’m hoping this process will be seamless, but you never know. If there are any interruptions, I hope it will be brief. Once the make-over is complete, expect a fun giveaway to celebrate. 🙂

Beef & Butternut Squash Stew

  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 pounds stew beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup pinot noir
  • 1 pound butternut squash, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 to 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped flat leaf parsley

Directions:

  1. In a large soup pot heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, rosemary, and thyme and saute until the onions are tender, about 2 minutes. Toss the beef cubes in salt and pepper and flour. Turn up the heat to med-high and add the beef to the pot. Cook until the beef is browned and golden around the edges, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add wine. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir up all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the butternut squash and sun-dried tomatoes and stir to combine. Add enough beef broth to just cover the beef and squash. Bring the stew to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Season the stew with additional salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

Inspired by Giada De Laurentiis

Loaded Beef Chili Verde

14 Nov

I woke up on Tuesday morning to ice on my car. ICE. What??!! I now have to start getting up a little earlier just in case I have to clean off my car?? I’m sooo not ready for this. I just got used to idea that I have to blow dry my hair because summer is gone. Umpf.

My office at work is always cold. The facility usually stays around 50 degrees. That’s the best temperature for herbs. I have a space heater snuggled up against me, but it’s never enough. By the time I got home from work, all I wanted was to be warm. Like overly warm. Fuzzy socks, yoga pants, sweatshirt – check! And nothing warms me up more than a bowl of hot chili.

I like to call this recipe green chili because it gets a lot of its flavor from salsa verde. You don’t need to make this, it should be available if your grocery store. It could be called a few names — salsa verde, tomatillo salsa or green salsa. It’s not a spicy salsa, so don’t be scared to try it.

But since I am a spicy girl, I added some serious spice to this chili. Hot chili powder, cumin and paprika. Go easy on the spices if you don’t love heat like me. Chili gets hotter the longer the chili sits. Don’t say I didn’t warn you….

The BEST thing about chili is it’s easy to make it your own. If you don’t want ground beef, try using ground turkey or chicken. Add more vegetables, like a variety of beans or frozen corn. Have a toppings bar.

This is a great weekday recipe. It comes together quick and full of flavor. When you need some extra warming up, this Loaded Beef Chili Verde recipe should do the trick!

Loaded Beef Chili Verde, makes 6 cups

  • 1 pound 93%-lean ground beef
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Up to 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • Up to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 16-ounce jar green salsa
  • 1 14 oz can beef broth
  • 1 10 oz can Rotel (diced tomatoes and chilis), drained
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Toppings – diced avocado, cilantro, cheese, sour cream, chips. Pick you favorites!

Directions:

  1. Cook beef, bell pepper and onion in a large saucepan over medium heat. Meat will take about 8 to 10 minutes to cook. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin and paprika. Stir frequently to distribute seasonings.
  2. Stir in salsa and broth. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in canned tomatoes and beans. Cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Taste — add salt & pepper if needed. Top with your favorite topping for chili.

Vegetarian Recipe: Corn, Sweet Potato and Poblano Chowder

1 Nov

How is everyone’s sugar hangover today? Are you in the need of some healthy food to detox? Well look no further..

As a child, I loved trick or treating and my favorite candy to get was Snickers. I was the type of kid who would save the “good” candy, like only allow myself to eat a few pieces a day. We always had sweets in our house, but there was something about Snickers candy bars. I wanted to keep those treats around for as long as I could.

As an adult, I rarely buy candy bars. “Too much sugar, too many calories” always runs through my mind as I’m gazing at candy in the check out line at the grocery store. But with it being Halloween season, I caved and bought 3 bags of treats — Kit Kats, Milky Ways & Peanut Butter Cups.

And guess what? We had 5 trick or treaters. Guess who lost all will power and ate a TON of candy?? (This is an obvious answer.)

Today I’m feeling the effects of a sugar coma… and the best way to get rid of my sugar guilt is to eat something healthy. Hello Corn, Sweet Potato and Poblano Chowder.

It might be hard to believe, but this is a healthy chowder. No cream or loads of butter. An easy way to give this chowder a thick consistency is to  puree a bag of frozen corn with some stock. Not only will give your chowder a creamy consistency, but it gives the soup a sweet taste. I couldn’t believe a bag of frozen corn had so much flavor!

Make this soup when you’re looking to stock up on some veggies into your meals. This recipe makes a lot, but luckily, it gets better the longer it sits. Freeze smaller portions or enjoy it for lunch for a few days.

When it comes to eating healthy, I don’t want to feel like I’m eating rabbit food. This is the type of chowder you can feel good about eating…and maybe have a piece of Halloween candy for dessert. 🙂

Corn, Sweet Potato and Poblano Chowder, makes 8 cups

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and diced
  • 2 bags of frozen corn (16 oz), defrosted
  • 2 32 oz cartons of stock (veggie if you want to keep this soup vegetarian)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeds removed and diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • cilantro for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a stock pot, add olive oil. When the oil is at a medium heat, add onions, garlic and jalapenos. Stir and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. In a blender, add 1 bag of defrosted corn and 1 cup of stock. Puree until smooth. Add more stock if needed.
  3. When the onions are soft, add flour and cumin. Stir consistently for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the rest of the open container of stock. Stir to make sure there are no clumps (from the flour).
  4. Add potatoes. Add 1 to 2 cups of stock. Bring to boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. When the potatoes are cooked, add 1 bag of defrosted corn, poblanos and carrots. Stir in the corn puree and 1 cup of milk. Bring back to a simmer. Taste and season with salt, pepper and cumin. Garnish with cilantro.

Smokey Chipotle Black Bean Soup

11 Oct

Well, hello Fall.

I will admit, I’m happy to see you. I’m ready for jeans, cute boots and chunky scarves. If you’re a follower of my Pinterest page, you’ll see I have a one track mind for all things fall.

Has anyone tried Meatless Monday? I’ve got some Veggie Friends out there who told me about this concept. Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. All good things in my book.

I made this Smokey Chipotle Black Bean Soup on Monday and I was sad when the Hubby finished it off on Tuesday. This recipe will definitely be in rotation a lot for me this fall & winter. The smokey-ness from the chipotle peppers and cumin just warmed me up. Pureeing a small portion of the soup allowed thick chunks of peppers and black beans to make it a hearty meal, but not weigh me down. Also, this soup comes together really fast which is great for a weeknight meal.

So when you’re planning your meals for next week, skip the meat on Monday. This soup will make you forget about anything mooing, snorting or clucking any day of the week.

Smokey Chipotle Black Bean Soup, serves 4 -6

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-4 chipotle peppers in adobo, diced & with sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 (29 ounce) canned black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 4-5 cups of vegetable stock or water
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Cilantro
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • Greek Yogurt

Directions:

  1.  Warm a soup pot to medium heat. Add olive oil, diced onion & the peppers. Saute until the onions are soft. Add garlic and chipotle pepper, stir for 2 minutes. (You may want to add a few chipotle peppers at a time, depending on your spice level.)
  2. Add black beans, cumin and lime juice. Stir until the cumin distributes.  Taste and add more cumin or chipotle peppers if needed. Pour in stock/water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. If you have an immersion blender, blend about 1/4 of the soup. If you have a blender, puree about 1 cup and add it back to the pot. If you want a smoother soup, feel free to puree more. Simmer for 5 minutes. Give it a taste – add S&P if needed.
  4. When you’re ready to serve, top soup with cilantro, diced tomatoes and a dollop of greek yogurt.
  5. Go back for seconds 🙂