Saturday, March 12, 2011

Slow Cooker: Turkey Veggie Soup

     This soup smells so good while it's cooking.  I have a hard time keeping my hands off of it while it's simmering in the slow cooker--a quick taste to make sure it's coming along just right.  A cook has to do her duty.

     I also had a neat discovery with this soup: okra that isn't slimy and actually tastes good!  My previous experience with cooked okra has been pretty gross.  You know what I'm talking about.  Green chunks of a weird looking jalapeno pepper swimming in snot.  C'mon, you've thought the same thing. 

     However, there's no slimy okra in this soup!  Hurrah!  And amazingly, I enjoyed the actual taste of okra.  In this soup, it had the texture of zucchini and it had a mild flavor reminiscent of green beans.

     This soup is chock full of veggies but it's not overwhelmed by them.  The main texture and flavor comes from the meat--I used ground turkey but the original recipe uses lean ground beef.

     This is a really thick soup--more like a Rachel Ray "stewp"-- you could certainly eat it with a fork!  It would pair well with a side salad or a good crusty bit of bread.

     This post is linked to Souper Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen.  Click on the link and share the love!

Slow Cooker: Turkey Veggie Soup
Adapted from Slow Cooker Veggie-Beef Soup With Okra

Serves 4

1 lb ground turkey
pinch of salt
1/4 cup onion, chopped
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, no salt added
14.5 oz can of Italian diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 cup sliced frozen okra
2 cups cubed frozen potatoes (sometimes sold as Southern style hash browns)
1 tbsp ketchup
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a sauce pan over medium high heat.  Spray with oil (I use a Misto oil sprayer).  Add the ground turkey and the onions.  Break up the ground turkey into bite sized pieces.  Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the mixture. Cook turkey and the onions until the turkey is lightly browned.  Drain the grease.  Add the turkey and onions to the slow cooker.

2. Add the diced tomatoes, Italian style diced tomatoes, okra, potatoes, and ketchup to the slow cooker.  Mix everything thoroughly.

3. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for four hours.  Mix everything once again and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a salad and/or bread.

Nutrition Information:
Calories: 413, Total Fat: 14.1g, Cholesterol: 69mg, Sodium: 589mg, Total Carbs: 44.2g, Fiber: 9.6g, Protein: 27.3g

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Good Eats: Durham, NC

    In two weeks, I say goodbye to my beloved city of Durham, NC.   I was not born or raised here but I've called it home for four of my seven years in NC.  I'll be starting a new job in Greensboro, NC.  I'm excited about my new home but I will miss the Bull City. 

    Durham has a wonderful history, hidden architectural gems, and friendly residents.  While it's widely known as the Town That Tobacco Built, much of its industry revolved around textiles.

    The downtown area has undergone a wonderful revitalization, with the American Tobacco District (shops/restaurants), the Durham Performing Arts Center,  and Historic Brightleaf Square (shops/restaurants).   It was listed in the NY Times "41 Places to Go in 2011." (#35, page four of the article).

    One of Durham's many charms are the awesome local, independent restaurants.  This town has some Good Eats! This area is home to residents from many cultures and the international cuisine adds to the variety and spice of traditional Southern food culture. 

    If you live here or if you're visiting, check out some of my favorite good eats...listed in no particular order.

1) Watt's Grocery: The chef focuses on local, seasonal ingredients so the menu is ever-changing but the food is guaranteed to be amazing.

2) Nana's: The one and only time I went to this restaurant was on a date.  The food was far more memorable than the guy.  Nana's has a world-class wine list and a menu devoted to local, seasonal foods.  Come hungry.

3) Baba Ghanoush: Excellent, inexpensive Mediterannean food.  You can't go wrong with the lunch buffet.

4) Sitar India Palace:  I love, love, love Indian food and I'm lucky enough to live down the street from a great Indian restaurant that has reasonable prices.

5) Firebirds Wood Fired Grill: This is a chain restaurant but I had to include it because it has the best steaks ever.

6) Rue Cler: A cozy French cafe in downtown Durham.  Bring an out-of-town guest here and color them impressed.  Definitely order the beignets. The seating is limited and fills quickly, so make reservations.

7) Lime & Basil: This is actually in Chapel Hill, on Franklin Street.  However, it is the BEST Vietnamese food I've eaten in the Triangle.  I took my Mom here when she came for a visit and she gave it her stamp of approval.  Authenticated by a Vietnamese mama, do you need any more persuasion??

8) Mama Dip's Country Cooking Restaurant: Holy amazing hush puppies, Batman.  I brought two friends here for dinner about four years ago...and they STILL remember it with awe and reverence!  Southern food at it's deep-fried best. (Located in downtown Chapel Hill.)



Friday, March 4, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

     Doesn't this look delectable?  A hearty winter soup to warm you up for sure.

     I wanted some comfort food that wasn't going to expand my waistline and I found this recipe at Gina's Skinny Recipes.  (One of my favorite food blogs.) For those who are on Weight Watchers, she always includes the WW points.  I like her blog because her recipes are good AND she includes the nutrition information!  

     The recipe looked like it would be easy to double; it is easy to double so but you need a huge pot.  Half of it went into the freezer.  Soups are easy to freeze: ladle single servings into a resealable bag and place them flat in the freezer.  Once they are frozen, they stack easily to save space.

     This was a "use up what's in the veggie bin" recipe, so I used three fresh carrots instead of frozen and I left out the green beans because I didn't have any.  I'll admit that I'm not a fan of green beans in soup so that's the other reason why I didn't include them!

     The original recipe also called for portabella mushroom--these can be expensive but it is worth it to buy one large strongly flavored mushroom to add depth to the flavor of the soup.  You can also use one dried, rehydrated mushroom.  (Rehydrate by soaking in boiling hot water for 5-10 minutes).  You can then use button mushrooms for filler.  

      The soup is everything it promises to be: creamy and savory with hearty chunks of chicken and vegetables.  I will admit that I added more than a teaspoon of coarse Kosher salt but that was my personal taste.  Overall, this was a good find!  
      This post is linked to Foodie Wednesday Blog Hop at Daily Organized Chaos, hosted by Bibi.  Please click on the link and check out her blog! 

Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Adapted from Chicken Pot Pie Soup from Gina's Skinny Recipes

Makes 6 servings,  1 1/2 cups each

16oz chicken boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
4 cups skim milk (I used lactose free skim milk)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cups water
1 large celery stalk, sliced
8oz mushrooms, sliced
10 oz frozen mixed veggies: peas, corn, carrots, and green beans
2 cups of frozen, cubed potatoes.  (These are often sold as hash browns)
2 teaspoons Wyler's Sodium Free, Fat Free Instant Chicken Boullion
Ground black pepper to taste
Pinch of dried thyme


1. Put about 2 inches of water into a medium size pot.  Place the raw chicken breast in the pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Cover.  Cook the chicken until they about 1/2 cooked.  Drain the chicken, lightly salt it, and set it aside.  (You can fully cook the chicken but I really hate overcooked chicken, so I partially cook my chicken breasts and finish cooking them later on in the cooking process.)

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and 2 cups of the skim milk.  Set aside.

3. Heat a large pot or a large, deep sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Mist with oil. (I use a Misto Oil Sprayer).  Saute the onions.  Remove the onions from the pot and set them aside in a bowl.

4. Re-whisk the flour-milk mixture.  Pour it into the same pot you used to saute the onions.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Add the remaining 2 cups milk and the water.  You must constantly stir the milk mixture or the milk will scald on the bottom and you get a really ugly brown "skin' on the bottom of the pan.  (It doesn't taste great, either.)

6.  Add the sauteed onions, celery, mushrooms, frozen mixed vegetables, frozen potatoes, and the Wyler's Instant Boullion.  Stir constantly and bring the soup to a simmer.  Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the frozen vegetable are thawed.

7.  Add the cubed chicken.  Again, stirring everything constantly, cook for another 5-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Add a pinch of dried thyme.  Add pepper to taste.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:
Calories: 225.6, Fat: 1.5g, Total Carbohydrates: 25.1g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 27.1g, Cholesterol: 47.1mg, Sodium: 406mg,


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Homemade Twix Bars

 (Photo from

    Suzanna, author of the Firefly Blog, has created a perfect, homemade Twix bar!  Genius!   This recipe was featured on Today's Top 9 over at  If she comes up with a home version of a 3 Musketeers bar, I want her to adopt me.