February 19, 2013

Pesto Minestrone Soup with Turkey "Meatballs"

All right.  Get ready for it.  Minestrone soup with turkey meatballs, pesto and white wine.  Yes, you heard me right.  I made this soup, or rather  a variation of it, with my mom over the Christmas holidays.  It was absolutely delicious when we made it then...but I must say, it was even BETTER this time around.  Dare I say...the best soup I have ever made? Yes, I dare...  So Mom, make it again and you'll see what I mean!

It's a variation off of the Barefoot Contessa's Winter Minestrone soup, which I posted at Christmas time, but will repost now because it is quite different from the original version.

Pesto Minestrone Soup with Turkey "Meatballs"
inspired by the Barefoot Contessa's Winter Minestrone

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped sweet onion
2 cups diced carrots (~3)
2 cups diced celery (~3)
2 1/2 cups sweet potato/yam
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 tsp dried thyme (2 tsp fresh chopped thyme)
4 italian turkey sausages (cut into 1/2 inch wide pieces)
26 ounce diced tomatoes (partially drained)
6 - 8 cups of vegetable stock (depending on how think you want it.  You can always add more so I'd start with less)
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1 15 ounce can of cannellini beans/white navy beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 cups chopped spinach
1/2 cup good quality dry white wine (this is key)
3 tbsp basil pesto

1. Heat olive oil over medium high heat, add onion, carrots, celery, sweet potato/yam, garlic, thyme and turkey sausages.  Stirring occasionally, cook until vegetables begin to soften.  
2. Add the tomatoes, vegetable stock, bay leaf 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper.
3. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 25-30 minutes or until the veggies are tender and ready to eat.
4. Discard the bay leaf, add the cannellini beans, chopped spinach, white white and pesto.
5.  Cook for another couple of minutes until it is heated through.
6.  Serve and garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  

This soup is extremely comforting and satisfying, yet it is extremely healthy.  Because of this, it doesn't leave you feeling heavy.  The turkey meatballs add a wonderful element, as the sausage pieces puff up into small meatball like thingers as they cook.  For those local Victorian's out there, I bought my local turkey sausages from Lifestyle Markets.

If there is ONE thing you ever choose to make on my blog...this should be it.  It's THAT good!  This coming from a lady with very high standards when it comes to food...

Citrus Kale Salad

Salads.  Where do I begin... I seriously love you.  I love how simple, yet complex you can be.  You are versatile, delicious and can be extremely healthy and satisfying.  You also take a long time to eat...and let's face it, who doesn't love a meal that takes a long time to eat...unless of course you are in a hurry, then you might not be the best choice, but in general you are fantastic!

Last week I was having dinner at Rebar with my friend, Nicole and we got to talking about kale.  Vegetables and cooking usually take up about 80% of our conversations but kale hadn't been talked about much lately.  Now, I love kale...but I haven't bought it in months.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe I was just a little bored with it.  Regardless, as soon as she said the word "kale" I couldn't get it out of my mind.  I had to have some right away.  I bought a few heads of organic kale at the grocery store the next day and decided to make a large raw kale salad for my weekly lunches.

HOLYYYYYY I am so incredibly happy that I did.  I haven't been this excited about my lunches/meals in such a long time and it is really refreshing to feel that way.  I love looking forward to a yummy meal.  I wanted to incorporate some kind of citrus, because oranges are so delicious right now.  This isn't really a recipe because I made a large batch of the kale and a separate container of the hazelnut topping and have been making different varieties as I go along.  But, here's the recipe for the dressing I used.

Citrus Kale Salad
inspired by TumblrRumblr's Kale Salad

I started off by ripping up and washing my kale.  Then I drizzled some organic extra virgin olive oil on top, dusted it with course salt and freshly ground pepper and massaged it.  Yes, you heard that right...I massaged my kale.  Everyone needs a little lovin' from time to time ;)

I then mixed up the following ingredients in my magic bullet.  You can use a blender as well.

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1-2 dates (1 medjool)
1/2 tsp coarse salt

Next, I poured this on top of the kale and massaged again.  I let this sit overnight.  It breaks down the kale and makes it softer, not as chewy, and easier to digest!

In my magic bullet, again you can use your food processor or another blender, I pulsed 1/3 cup roasted, peeled hazelnuts (they can be raw with their skins on too) and ~6 dates until they were coarsely chopped.

In the morning, when I was putting my lunch together, I put the kale in a to-go container, topped it with some plain chicken breast, the hazelnut date mixture and some reduced balsamic vinegar. AMAZING. PHENOMENAL. TO DO FOR. FANTASTIC. INCREDIBLE... okay, I think you get the picture.

Today, I did the same, but I added on some basil vinaigrette, blueberries and feta cheese.  Seriously? Too good...I am craving it already and I ate it only a few hours ago.  Guess I'll have to wait until tomorrow...  Oh well, at least I have something to look forward to :-)

February 08, 2013


For some reason I really felt like writing an inspirational post.  So time for a little ramble...get prepared.  Sometimes I feel like we get bogged down by the pressures we face in our daily lives.  We let little things get to us and we stress ourselves out over things that really don't matter.  And for what? What's the point? Over the years, I have really gotten to know myself and understand how I function on a day to day basis. What makes me happy and what doesn't.  

I definitely try to incorporate the little things that make me happy on a daily basis no matter how small they may be.  I enjoy every single day because of these things.  Of course, I don't enjoy ever second of every day, and like many of you there are always things that I would like to change but can't.  I don't let any of these things bother me.  Things I have no control over.  Things that really don't matter.  If something like this does happen, I stop and think about what it is that is upsetting me at that very moment and ask myself "is it really worth it?" and my answer is usually "No."  

Not only do I no longer let the small things bother me, but I also try to approach every day and everything that happens throughout the day with a positive and optimistic perspective. 

I wake up every morning, some days a tad more tired than others, and know that today is going to be a great day.  How do I know it is going to be great? Because I am going to make it that way!  I have control over it.  I focus on positive thinking and enjoying the little things that make me tick.  My morning runs with awesome people (Britta and Max), the nice clothes that I am so lucky to own, having access to wonderful food, the great apartment I live in, my little Victoria family (shout out to Francis and Boston, my kitty), talking to my friends and family who live away from here, the delicious breakfast I always make myself, my health, my coffee/tea pitstop before work, my co-workers/owners smiling faces, watching my favourite shows, listening to great music...and the list goes on and on.  

I want to live a happy and fulfilled life and in order to do so I truly believe that we should stop and smell the roses.  It's amazing how the bad things start to fade when we focus on the good things in our lives.

So tomorrow, I urge you all to start your day on a positive note.  Tell yourself "today is going to be a GREAT day."  Be optimistic.  Find beauty in the small things and get out there and enjoy your life...it's the only one you have so make it the best it can possibly be :)

Ramble officially ended.