Soups & Salads

Croutons

Last night was another one of those nights that I just had no idea what to make for dinner and I didn’t feel like fighting with the boys about what restaurant to go to.  I found a flank steak in the freezer, of course, and thawed that.  I made the boys favorite, Steak Caesar Salad.  I found some old bread on the counter (can you tell that I haven’t been to the grocery in a while), so I decided to make some croutons. They are super easy and so much better than the bag kind. Don’t get me wrong, I have several of those bags in my pantry, but homemade are really so much better and it’s not rocket science-I really do think a monkey could do this.

I was not feeling fancy last night so this batch of croutons just got olive oil, salt and pepper.  The whole process takes about 10 minutes, but be sure and set a timer so you don’t forget them in the oven.  I have done that many times and burnt bread really makes the house smell awful.

 

2018-02-15T21:28:16+00:00January 24th, 2017|Soups & Salads|0 Comments

Beef and Beer Stew

Beef is the most requested meat in my house!  My boys would eat it everyday if I let them, but I try only make it a couple times a week. Since it is winter I made a Beef and Beer Stew today.  Who doesn’t love stew?  There are a million variations of stew and every culture has their version.  A stew is basically a tough cut of meat, think cheap, that has been cooked low and slow in a liquid (beer, wine, broth..).  You can add any vegetables you like, but normally they are hearty root vegetables such as parsnips, carrots, potatoes, turnips…

The good thing about stew is you can make it early in the day and let it go all day in a low oven or in a crock pot.  Just make sure you have enough liquid in the pot so that it doesn’t evaporate and become a burnt mess-I’ve done that before and it really sucks when you open the lid expecting a fabulous stew and find burnt pieces of meat.  
Another note about stews or soups, do not […]
2018-02-15T21:28:17+00:00January 9th, 2017|Soups & Salads, Meats & Fish|0 Comments

Arugula Salad

I love arugula!  Not everyone does because it has a very strong flavor, but hey its not stronger than the it’s hip kale counterpart.  You can put arugula in everything!  Wilt it in a soup, serve it raw with lemon and olive oil, put it on a sandwich.  It’s just so good! It’s peppery and kinda lemony.  Give it a try.

I don’t know about you, but if I get the main course cooked I feel like I won a prize! I can barely think about sides and salads, especially if they take any brain power.  This salad is an awesome no brainer salad.  It literally takes about 4 minutes.  And, you can make it while you are preparing the main course and yelling at your kids to help set the table or feed the dog or do their homework, is that only my house? Anyway, you can put this salad together and because the arugula is so hearty it can sit with the dressing on it for 20-30 minutes and it won’t affect the taste.  I have to do things […]
2018-02-15T21:28:17+00:00January 9th, 2017|Starters, Soups & Salads, Sides|0 Comments

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Ok, I think the country is finally having fall weather or maybe winter for some, but it has FINALLY cooled off in Texas. This is my favorite time of year!  I love Thanksgiving!  It is such a laid back, relaxing, comforting holiday.  You don’t have to worry about gifts or holiday cards or picking out outfits for parties.  It’s just family, football and good food!  

For some, the idea of having family in town gives them hives.  I think family, meaning in-laws, is like fish-it is only good for about 3 days. So, if you are hosting relatives at your house and the idea of going out to dinner and trying to get a table in the restaurant that the older people can hear, trying to order, keeping the kids entertained, not drinking too much to deal with all that, makes you want to curl up in a ball…then try to make a few quick meals at home.  It’s so much easier to just stay at home with a warm fire, a bowl of soup, the playstation upstairs entertaining the kids, a […]
2018-02-15T21:28:18+00:00November 17th, 2016|Soups & Salads|0 Comments

Texas Chili

Halloween 2016 is in the books! I have to say I kinda liked it being on a Monday.  It was such a laid back night.  We got together with friends and had chili and maybe a little wine while the kids roamed the neighborhood.  We are very fortunate to live in an area where we can let the kids walk around alone. Now these are not toddlers roaming alone, but the 10 year olds did take over the neighborhood Monday night.   

And, while the kids were trick or treating the parents were enjoying chili! Yes, it is chili season!! I brought a pot of my Texas chili to the party and everyone really like it. I have made this recipe for years and it is so good. Since it is TEXAS chili there are NO beans!  We do not put beans in our chili in the Lone Star State so if you have chili with beans it is not true Texas chili.  
This chili recipe is all about the meat.  I use chunks of sirloin along with ground beef and chorizo.  I don’t […]
2018-02-15T21:28:18+00:00November 3rd, 2016|Soups & Salads|0 Comments

Autumn Brussels Sprout Salad

When Fall hits we want comfort food.  Who does not love warm soups, stews, pot roast….? Yes, I love those things also and so does my family, but my waist does not.  It is so hard to find healthy Fall recipes that still taste like comfort foods. 

This recipe is such a great salad to serve as a main course or as a side dish or to take to a holiday party or Thanksgiving dinner.  It saves in the fridge for about 3 days and it still tastes great and has a wonderful crunch.  I love crunch so anything that gives me that crunchy texture in recipes I am a fan.  
You can alter this recipe to fit what you like or what your family likes.  I have to be honest and say that my boys are not huge fans of this recipe, but that does not stop me from making it.  I figure one day they will begin to love veggies. But, if your kids love veggies then make this salad.  You can add shredded chicken, blue cheese crumbles, pomegranate seeds, […]
2018-02-15T21:28:19+00:00October 10th, 2016|Soups & Salads, Sides|0 Comments

Roasted Tomato Cognac Soup

They said that a cold front came through yesterday, but I guess you need to be in South Dakota to actually be feeling the effects of it.  It is still 90 degrees in Texas, but true Fall is getting close!  Fall weather calls for soup so thats what I made. In general soup does not fill my boys up- it’s kinda like the appetizer.  I need to have a meat following, unless it is a really hearty like Tortilla Soup or Chili.  So, the soup I made was really for me and my husband. It was so good!  My youngest son had friends over and I asked them to all try it and they loved it!  Slurped down three bowls. I knew it was good then!

I do think that everyone in the world has a tomato soup recipe.  It is a pretty basic soup, but I have added a small addition to mine with help from my Dad.  He made this soup a million years ago and I have made it this way ever since. I use an immersion blender to […]
2018-02-15T21:28:20+00:00September 12th, 2016|Soups & Salads|0 Comments

BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad

We eat a lot of salads in our house. I know that sounds strange with a house full of boys, but they all really love salad.  I should probably mention that they love steak salad the best (that is another entry to come), but they will eat almost any salad that I put in front of them.  
Salads are easy and normally do not take any time at all. And, if you think about it before the monsters get home from school and start demanding everything from a snack to needing graph paper to help with a salt map to driving them to basketball, you can make this salad ahead of time.  Just keep in the fridge and leave the dressing off until ready to serve. 
Of course, my boys drown their bowls in ranch dressing, but hey, whatever gets them to eat all the veggies I put in this salad, right? My philosophy has always been to let them put as much cheese or dressing on salads/veggies and as they get older start backing off on the dressing.  I think […]
2018-02-15T21:28:20+00:00September 6th, 2016|Soups & Salads|0 Comments

Wedge Salad

A really good blue cheese is something to be beholden, but cheap blue cheese is something that will make you gag.  I am sorry to say, but I think that most restaurants that serve wedge salads use jarred blue cheese dressing and frankly I I think it is awful.  I will soon write a post on amazing cheeses of the world that will include blue cheeses that will make you cry they are so good.  

But, today we are talking about avoiding the nasty jarred dressing. I always order my wedge salad with ranch dressing instead of blue.  A cold, crisp, salty, crunchy wedge salad is SO good.  It’s simple, basic and just good! Here is my version of a wedge salad.  I do not like raw tomatoes so I use red bell peppers for that sweet element.

 

Serves 4-6

1 head of iceberg lettuce
4 slices thick cut bacon
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1-2 cups ranch dressing 
Cut off the very end of the core of the the iceberg. Cut into 4-6 equal wedges leaving the core intact.  
Cook bacon in a […]
2018-02-15T21:28:20+00:00September 5th, 2016|Soups & Salads|0 Comments

Ranch Dressing

I am not sure who invented ranch dressing, but that person should be put into the food hall of fame. Everything tastes better with ranch!  You can put it on pizza, burgers, carrots, tortilla chips and, oh yeah, salads. There are two things that gets kids, and frankly a lot of adults, to eat vegetables-cheese and ranch. So let’s take a moment to honor the ranch inventor. 

Now, with all that being said, good ranch is very hard to find.  There is something about the dressing that comes in the bottle that tastes plastic. It’s not bad in a pinch, but if you have time and you have ranch connoisseurs in your house try this recipe. It will last about a week in the fridge. 
 

 

Makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Mix all ingredients in a mason jar and shake until well combined.  If you […]
2018-02-15T21:28:20+00:00September 5th, 2016|Soups & Salads|0 Comments

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

I don’t know about you, but this for me summer was full of bad, bad things, like queso, chips, pizza, tacos, hamburgers… There is just something about vacation that makes you throw all your good eating habits out the window. And let’s face it that once June 1 hits we all think we are on “vacation” until September 1, or until school starts for the little ones. 

Well, school has started! And yesterday was not a “good” day for the Hood family.  It was the first day of school and everyone was half asleep during breakfast.  I literally gave my kids a few slices of bacon and a smoothie and shoved them out the door. And, for dinner I was even a better mom!  We had study group and parent meetings and my husband had a business dinner so my family, lovingly, got Chic-Fil-A for dinner.  Can I get a woo hoo! I really do hope and promise to do better this week. But, hell we can only do so much.
Back to eating healthy (I’ll have you know I got a salad at […]
2018-02-15T21:28:21+00:00August 23rd, 2016|Soups & Salads, Sides|0 Comments

Quinoa with Summer Vegetables

I am up in Colorado with the family for some cool weather and relaxation.  But, of course having three boys, two of which are teenagers, relaxation is hard to come by.  My oldest broke his elbow and had to have surgery, while on vacation.  Needless to say, it has put a bit of a kink in our plans.  I am basically in the house playing nurse.  But, my sweet husband did most of the heavy lifting and took him to the hospital, which was 2 hours away, for the surgery and I stayed back with the other two boys. So, while I was going crazy waiting for updates on the surgery, I cooked!  It took my mind off of the idea of my son having 3 screws put in his elbow.  

I had a ton of vegetables in the fridge and I found some, dare I say, quinoa, in the pantry.  So, I came up with a side dish or a main meatless dish.  It would be great for lunch.  

 

Makes 6-8 side servings

1 cup cooked […]
2018-02-15T21:28:22+00:00July 23rd, 2016|Soups & Salads, Sides|0 Comments

Watermelon Basil Salad

There are a few things that scream summer like the smell of fresh cut grass, corn on the cob, ripe tomatoes, watermelon, wet screaming kids in pool towels… I know a lot of you have your house full of kids and are trying to feed them ALL day. And peanut butter and jelly, hot dogs, pizza, turkey sandwiches gets old, for you that is. 

So, if you noticed I said “a lot of you have a house full of kids” because my house is QUIET!!! HAHA! I only have one kid at home right now. The two younger ones are at camp and my teenager doesn’t get up before 11:30am and then is roaming the neighborhood all day. So my house is quiet and clean.  It only lasts for three weeks, but man is it heavenly. I mean, I miss my babies so much (tears rolling down my face).
Back to feeding the kids… keep feeding them peanut butter and jelly and hot dogs!!  But, for you adults here is a salad that is light, summery, different and delicious!  Serve this with a piece […]
2018-02-15T21:28:22+00:00June 26th, 2016|Soups & Salads|0 Comments

Spinach Strawberry Salad

Everyone wants a salad in the summer, but good salads are hard to find.  And, while I am on salads… can we please let the Kale trend go?? I mean how many ways can you eat kale?  I know, I know it is good for you and you definitely look very healthy eating a cold kale salad in Lululemon, but honestly I think it tastes like vegetable leather-you know like fruit leather? I am so happy to eat a nice kale salad every now and then, but it seems like every menu has kale on it. Food, just like clothes go through trends and I really think the kale trend needs to move on.  But, thats just me. I will now get off my soapbox:)

We eat a lot of salads in my house-my boys actually love salad.  And… if I put a big piece of steak on the salad they are even happier.  But, I cannot in good conscience serve steak every meal. First, it is not good for them and second, they need to learn to eat all kinds of […]
2018-02-15T21:28:22+00:00June 23rd, 2016|Soups & Salads|0 Comments

Chicken Salad

I could live off of pimento cheese and chicken salad.  And lucky for me those are two of the most healthy and low fat things I could love!  I mean why couldn’t I love quinoa pancakes- a friend of mine was talking about these amazing quinoa pancakes that she just loves and I just looked at her, like, really? I am not doubting they are good and she does have an amazing body, but that’s just not me.  Maybe in my next life?? 

You are probably wondering why I put in my bio that I like to cook healthy for my family, but then put things like chicken salad and pimento cheese recipes on this blog.  Well, when I say healthy I am talking about meals that are made mostly from scratch that you know what the ingredients are in the dishes.  I am talking about cutting down on the salt and cutting down on the fat when possible.  You cannot control those things at a restaurant unless you order a piece of grilled chicken and bowl of lettuce.  Trust me I have begged […]
2018-02-15T21:28:25+00:00April 20th, 2016|Soups & Salads|0 Comments

Baked Potato Soup

What to make for dinner after you have built your ark?  Here in Texas the weather has been so dreary and WET.  I just hope we see the sun soon.  I keep singing that song “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow”, tomorrow…  Anyway, I asked my kids what they wanted for dinner last night and they all said Baked Potato Soup.  Soup normally is not enough to fill them up, but this soup is very hearty, meaning, not low calorie. But is so good!
It is called Baked Potato Soup because, I have in the past, baked the potatoes then mashed them.  But, last night I did not have time so I grabbed a bag of “pre-made” mashed potatoes at the grocery at about 5pm.  This is my new favorite find!!!  It cut about 45 minutes off my cooking time and we truly could not taste the difference.  
Let me know your thoughts!

 

Makes about 5 Full Servings

3 strips bacon
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups chicken broth
2018-02-15T21:28:25+00:00April 19th, 2016|Soups & Salads|0 Comments

Chinese Chicken Salad

I know this will sound strange and I have said it before, but my boys love salads.  So, I try to make a couple meals a week a salad. I have made this salad for years and years and have given the recipe to a million people.  It is just a good go-to easy weeknight salad that is healthy and filling.  

It is also a great way to “empty out” your refrigerator and sneak in some veggies for your family.  Use whatever you have on hand-do not make a special trip to the grocery store if you realize you forgot something. There really is nothing worse than the grocery store at 5pm. 
Here is the Broccoli Slaw I use

 

Serve 4-5

1 bag of coleslaw (omit the dressing packet)
1 bag of shredded broccoli mix
1/2 bag shredded carrots
1 bag sugar snap peas, blanched or steamed in the microwave in one of those fancy steam bags.  
1/2 bag bean sprouts
1 packet Chicken flavored Ramen noodles, crushed (hold on to seasoning for dressing)
3 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 rotisserie chicken, […]
2018-02-15T21:28:26+00:00April 6th, 2016|Soups & Salads, Meats & Fish|0 Comments

Grilled Caesar Salad

I know you are thinking grilled caesar salad?  It sounds very, uck, but I promise it is wonderful. Every summer we go to Colorado for as long as we can.  The days have turned into weeks and now months. It’s just so beautiful and cool. And when it’s 110° in Texas the 75° in Colorado is fabulous.  Anyway, there is a restaurant we eat at several times every summer.  They have an amazing view, great wines, buffalo steaks that my middle son begs for and they have this grilled caesar salad that I love.  So when I am home I try and recreate it.  

Grilling the romaine gives it a smokey flavor and warms it up so it’s not so cold and crisp.  It’s just different and so good.  You can add grilled chicken or flank steak or shrimp if you want to make it more hearty.
There really isn’t a recipe for this dish. But here goes.
 

 

4 Romaine bunches, cut in half lengthwise

Olive oil
Homemade croutons (recipe to follow)
Parmesan Cheese, grated or shredded
Caesar Salad dressing (recipe in salad […]
2018-02-15T21:28:28+00:00March 30th, 2016|Soups & Salads|0 Comments

Caesar Salad Dressing

It is spring, yay!  Actually I’m not sure we had a winter this year.  I think I wore my winter, hide the fat, clothes twice. Spring is a double edged sword. You look forward to it, but then you realize that you have not worked out and that you are no where near ready for swimsuits.  
So…we all try to eat more salads, right?? Well, in my house my boys really do like salads and they ask for them all the time.  Don’t get me wrong, there has to be a crap load of meat on them, but they do like salads.  And Caesar Salad is an all time favorite.  
After many, many, many failed attempts at making a homemade Caesar dressing the monsters would eat I have landed on this one.  It is creamy, yet has more of a vinaigrette quality.  In other words, tangy.  

 

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 garlic clove, minced 
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons mayonaise (you can use light or no fat or full fat)
1 large lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2018-02-15T21:28:28+00:00March 30th, 2016|Soups & Salads|0 Comments

Tortilla Soup

I love tortilla soup, but there are MANY variations and finding the one that you like can take years of hard work:)  I like a more broth based soup with lots of vegetables.  

I was picking up my son at my friend Brittany’s house and walked in and smelled this amazing soup simmering on the stove.  I asked her what it was and demanded the recipe!  I made it for the family and they LOVED it and now ask for it all the time.  It is so easy and healthy.  

 

1/4 cup vegetable oil

4 yellow corn tortillas, chopped very small
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 can (28oz.) diced tomatoes
1 1/2 Tablespoons cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
2 large chicken breasts, cut into small bite sized pieces
1 large zucchini, diced
1 cup corn (fresh off the cob or from a can, drained and rinsed)
1 teaspoon salt
Shredded Cheddar Cheese, for garnish
Sour Cream, for garnish
1 Avocado, chopped, for garnish
In a food processor or blender, puree onion and […]
2018-02-15T21:28:29+00:00March 25th, 2016|Soups & Salads|0 Comments
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