Sunday, March 1, 2015

Food for thought

"I often put boiling water in the freezer, then whenever I want boiling water, I simply defrost it."

-  Gracie Allen (1895-1964)

Photo by muratsuyur

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hearty (and Healthy!) Tortilla Soup

Healthy Tortilla Soup with Lime Crema | @TheBareMidriff
{The nice folks at Healthy Solutions sent me a packet of their Authentic Chili/Tacos seasoning as a part of their 2015 Blogger Recipe Challenge. I'm putting this recipe to the test against 99 other talented bloggers' creations. I can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with!}

Oh, how I love me some Mexican food. Perhaps it's a product of my childhood - every Sunday we'd go to Taco Bell for lunch and then to a local candy store for a sweet treat (my favorite was chocolate nonpareils).

Since then, my tastes have developed beyond fast food tacos (though I do still enjoy an occasional trip down memory drive-thru lane). I've gotten pretty darn good at creating my own Mexi-masterpieces at home.

The trick - lots of spice. A.k.a. Twice as much as your eyes tell you looks "right". It goes against your initial instincts to use one or two tablespoons of spices - it almost completely covers the meat at first. But then with a few flicks of the wrist, it settles in, soaks in, becomes a delicious extension of the meat. Sublime.

Speaking of lime, this soup benefits from a nice hit of acid thanks to fresh lime juice in both the soup itself and the lime crema garnish. I love using Greek yogurt in place of sour cream - you get tons of flavor with the added bonus of extra protein. Adding in the lime perks up the darker notes of the spices and adds a really nice zing. It's all about balance, eh?

Healthy Tortilla Soup with Lime Crema | @TheBareMidriff

I added fennel to give the ground turkey a sausage-y twist. Indeed, the floral spice of fennel makes this seem more like a chorizo or other spiced sausage, not just plain ground turkey - all without having to add in extra fat or miscellaneous animal parts that one normally finds in sausage. Bonus!

Another key element - crushed tortilla chips. I've heard about cooks using masa harina - basically corn flour - as a thickener in soups, so I figured Why not use tortilla chips? It's the same basic concept and result, without having to buy an extra ingredient.

Healthy Tortilla Soup with Lime Crema | @TheBareMidriff

All right, now that I'm done divulging all my little secrets to this soup, it's high time I just tell you how to make it. Enjoy!

Healthy Tortilla Soup with Lime Crema | @TheBareMidriffTortilla Soup with Turkey "Sausage" and Lime Crema

30 min | Serves 6

Tortilla chips, divided
Sandwich bag
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 lb lean ground turkey
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 Tbsp Healthy Solutions Authentic Chili/Tacos seasoning
1 Tbsp whole fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (more if you like it really hot!)
1 small red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 26-oz box diced/chopped tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1 15-oz can black beans (get a BPA-free can if possible), rinsed (set the can aside)
1 cup fat free (0%) plain Greek yogurt
2% Mexican cheese blend (or sharp cheddar)
Green onion, chopped

1. Crush some tortilla chips! Fill a sandwich bag about 3/4 of the way full with some of your tortilla chips. Press out the extra air and seal the bag. Lay it down and, using the black bean can as a roller, roll the chips to crush them. As they crush, you'll have some extra air in the bag. Open the bag to remove extra air, re-seal, and keep rolling. You should end up with about 1 cup of tortilla chip crumbs. Set aside.

2. In a soup pot, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground turkey and salt and cook the meat, breaking it up as it browns. Add in the Healthy Solutions seasoning, crushed fennel seeds, and cayenne pepper. Stir to coat the turkey. Cook for about 5 minutes, and try not to drool into your pot as you smell all those delicious seasonings working their way into the meat!

3. Add the red onion and garlic, stir to combine. Cook an additional 5 minutes.

4. Add the chopped tomatoes and chicken broth. Cut the lime in half and squeeze one half's worth of juice into the pot (it should be about 1 Tbsp of juice). Stir to combine. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 more minutes.

5. Add in the black beans and crushed tortilla chips. Stir in. The tortilla crumbs won't immediately disappear, they'll gradually dissolve into the soup. Fear not. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Simmer until you're ready to serve.

6. Prepare the lime crema. In a small bowl, stir together the Greek yogurt and the other half's worth of lime juice (again, about 1 Tbsp of juice). Revel in the fact that this fancy schmancy item was so easy to make (that's why we call it a crema - it's fancy like that). Set aside.

7. Soup's on! To serve, ladle soup into bowls, and top with lime crema, shredded cheese, and green onion. Serve with extra tortilla chips for breaking into the soup for an added crunch!

***Recipe Notes: This soup is like a fine wine - it only gets better with age. I had it the following day, the day after that - even four days later, and the flavors continued to develop. The leftovers may need a little extra liquid - it gets thicker as the days go on, as well. You can simply add in some more chicken broth, or just start calling it a "stew" instead of a "soup". No one will know.

Healthy Tortilla Soup with Lime Crema | @TheBareMidriff

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


pistachio chocolate donuts
{It's been...tough around here lately. No need to go into the details, since it has nothing to do with either food or fitness, though it has indeed been enough to temporarily derail my ability to "laugh my way to healthy." I know I'll laugh again, and I'll return to my role as the somewhat annoyingly positive and motivational person I tend to be. But for now, I'll have to settle for riding out whatever this is - a sort of limbo, where I struggle to find a way to fill the lines of this post. Gratitude. Remember gratitude.}

1. A warm place to call home. It's small cozy, it's crooked got character, and it's got noisy neighbors on three sides. Home.

2. A chef's knife. It's a solid, heavy extension of a hand that's lost it's confidence. I may be stumbling to find my balance again, but I can still dice a mean onion. Comfort food indeed.

3. Donuts. (Speaking of comfort food). I finally used my donut pan yesterday to make these. Hey guys - guess what a donut pan does? Makes round, flat-ish cupcakes with holes in them. Problems solved helped.

4. My favorite salon/spa. So my toes, hair, and face can sparkle and shine, even through the dark times. Expecto spa-tronum.

5. Puns. Always grateful for puns.

Sunday, February 15, 2015