Stracciatella with Chard and Stelline

Don’t judge me, but I made this soup for a late breakfast on a particularly chilly morning, and it was perfection. I’ve been really into Swiss Chard since I got it in my first CSA basket, and I’ve been putting it into everything I can think of (especially pizza, pasta, and soup), and as we all know I am obsessed with both eggs and soup, so this was really a winning combination for me.

A quick vocabulary recap: Stracciatella means “little ribbons” in Italian. That’s what the “wisps” of eggs   in this dish are (also seen in its cousin, Egg Drop Soup), and it’s also what the inside of burrata is called, expect those are mozzarella ribbons. Stelline is one of Barilla’s newest pasta shapes – little stars for soup! I love them! If you can’t find them, the O’s that look like Spaghetti O’s, Orzo, or any small Italian soup pasta would be a great substitute.

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Greek Salad

When my best friend Kristin studied abroad in Greece the summer before our senior year of college, she came back obsessed with Greek salads. I never really got it, because Greek salads in America are all canned olives, sub par feta, and probably contain lettuce and some kind of funky dressing. Well…Tim and I just got back from Greece, and I totally get it now. I am obsessed, I can’t get enough, I’ve had Greek salad (and only Greek salad) for dinner three nights in a row.

While we don’t have a Greek market in Paso, I have found olives and feta at the grocery store, and they have been more than acceptable (though still subpar to their official Greek counterparts). The trick is, apparently, to just buy the most expensive olives and feta that you can find. I think this Greek salad habit is going to get pricey…

The Greek word for what we call Greek Salad translates into “House Salad,” and as such, we had it prepared in many different ways. With green peppers and without, Feta crumbled or sliced or cubed, with parsley or without, already dressed or served with oil on the side… The salad in the bottom right photo was topped with capers (still attached to their leaves) that the owner had picked and jarred himself – they were amazing!

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Strawberry-Peach Smoothie

When I did my three-day raw cleanse this summer (read about it here!), I seriously got into smoothies. I don’t have a juicer and certainly didn’t have $350 to spend on the one I want (I’ll save that for the wedding registry). Since I couldn’t prepare any kind of green juice, I decided smoothies were the next best thing and have continued enjoying them for breakfast or lunch (and tweaking my recipe) all summer.

You will notice that the recipe calls for frozen berries and peaches – I want to point out that I do not buy frozen fruit at the grocery store. You totally could, but I prefer farmer’s market produce.

To freeze the fruit, I wash and core (strawberries) or roughly chop (peaches) and lay them out on a baking sheet lined with saran wrap. I let them freeze in a single layer overnight, and them move them to a big ziplock. This keeps them from sticking together.

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Poached Egg and Avocado on Toast

I used to be afraid of poached eggs. A, because they seemed impossible, and B, I didn’t even like egg yolks, ever (if you recall). Well, out of nowhere, poached eggs started to look amazing, so I figured out how to make one (got it right on my first try!) and I’ve been making them at least a few times a week since. …great story, I know.

You should make this. It’s healthy, filling, delicious, and a truly good start to your day.

If you’re afraid to poach an egg, check out my step-by-step directions below, and leave a comment if you have questions!

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Potato-Leek Soup

Living in wine country is pretty amazing, and working in wine country is even better. I get to help brides plan their weddings, coordinate big fancy dinners, and even host fashion shows! On December 11, Central Coast Fashion Week is coming to JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery! It is going to be spectacular. I spent yesterday in the barrel chai (aka cave) with the talent of three models, a producer, a photographer, a videographer, and a hair and makeup artist. Models in tutu’s among the barrels? Yes please! Be sure to watch their website and Facebook page for the photos.

sweet life laur

There is nothing like nine hours with teeny models to remind you that due to consuming an excess of fine wine and cheese more often than not, you maybe have a few pounds to lose. And that maybe you should ditch the croissants for a healthy and delicious soup…like this one.

This is the second time this year that I’ve posted a Potato-Leek Soup recipe (find the first here), but this one is so good I must share. I recently read through many, many pages of David Lebovitz’ blog about living and cooking in Paris, as another thing working at JUSTIN has done for me is make me realize that I am dying to learn French. So that’s that…enjoy!

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Detox Time: Spring Minestrone

asparagus and rice

Coming home from vacation means a few things.  It means snugging my puppy for a very long time because I missed him so much.  It means spending a couple hours catching up with my favorite food blogs.  It means doing laundry and putting all my essential things back where they belong.  It means uploading my pictures to Facebook and catching up with my friends.  It also means detox time.

It turns out the food on Carnival Cruise lines is, at best, sub-par.  That was a huge bummer for me, I got no inspiration from my plate!  However…sub-par food does not mean it was inedible.  The food was fine.  There were some great California Rolls, custom made omelettes in the morning, and of course 24-hour pizza and ice cream, which you can’t really go wrong with.  Sub-par food does not stop me from eating lots of it.  Sub-par food led me to gain three pounds…ha.

I’m not worried!  Sub-par food tends to be packed with sodium and other things that make you bloat.  A diet of whole grains, fruits, and veggies is the solution, and that’s my plan for the next few days, starting with this healthy and delicious soup.

spring minestrone

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Pesto Pasta with Peas and Ricotta Salata

Pesto pasta with peas and ricotta salata

I recently bought a bit of ricotta salata cheese at Di Raimondo’s Italian Market, a great local cheese shop located in Paso Robles, California.  Ricotta salata has the same basis as the ricotta you are probably thinking of – the delicious soft cheese that is used in lasagna – but ricotta salata is salted and aged, and it has a texture similar to feta.  Personally, ricotta salata doesn’t do anything for me on its own…BUT. In pastas and salads, it is amazing.  Inspired by this recipe from The Kitchn, I knew just what to do with it.

Pasta is something that can get very unhealthy, very easily.  In the past few years I have come to master the art of keeping pasta low-cal and healthy.

How to Keep Pasta Healthy:

1. What you get in a restaurant is not – I repeat not! – a normal serving size. Most pasta dishes probably should feed like six people.  A good tip for dining out is to eat half and get the rest to go.  This is better for the waistline and the bank account, because a large entree can make a couple more meals!  Yess.

2. When cooking pasta at home, a typical serving size is two ounces, which is more than it sounds like!  Pay attention to nutrition labels to make sure you aren’t overdoing it.

3. Add veggies! This is a very low-cal way to eat a lot more, bulk-wise, and it gets some healthy nutrients and fiber in there, too, so your body will thank you and you’ll stay fuller longer.

4. Fat isn’t bad if it is healthy fat.  A tablespoon of olive oil adds flavor, good-for-you fat, and (bonus!) fat helps you stay fuller, longer!  You can sautee garlic in olive oil, use it in pesto, add it to flavor tomato or other sauce, and even just have plain pasta and olive oil with a bit of Parmesan.  Yum!

5. Not all pasta is created equal. For a non-special occasions, I use Barilla Plus Pasta – it is made with legumes, egg whites, and whole grains, so it has more protein and fiber than regular pasta…so it’s not as carb-y and the taste isn’t much different.  I wish it came in a larger variety of shapes, but I’ll take what I can get.

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