Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower is such a fun vegetable to work with – you can mash it as a substitute for mashed potatoes, it’s absolutely amazing roasted, and I even like it raw from those grocery store veggie trays with cheap Ranch dip.  After doing a quick search, I realized I have never put cauliflower on Sweet Life Laur! So here is the first of what will someday be many recipes for broccoli’s cousin.

I had a lovely cauliflower soup at Buona Tavola in Paso Robles a few weeks ago. It was their special soup of the night, and I went home wanting to make it for myself. I gave it a try for lunch yesterday, and Tim and I both really enjoyed it. For the liquid, I used just a touch of chicken broth, but mostly water so the cauliflower’s flavor would shine though.

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Spicy Onion-Garlic Soup with Poached Eggs

2011 has been the year of the poached egg for me. It started simply this spring, for breakfast with avocado, and then made its way into couscous this summer. Now I have runny eggs in my soup and life is just perfect!

When I was getting over my cold from last week, I was craving soup of all kinds. This recipe from Food & Wine really called out to me – it’s basically like a quick version of an onion soup, with an extra-special addition of a poached egg. Onions, garlic, and eggs are all incredibly nutritious, and I think this was the best way to kick my cold for good.

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Pasta with Whiskey, Wine, Spinach and Mushrooms

I have been a huge fan of The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond’s cooking blog for years. I have mentioned her here before, and she even commented on my Poached Egg and Avocado on Toast recipe on Tasty Kitchen (eek!). I have loved watching her and her family in real life on her Food Network Show, and when I make her recipes, they are always boyfriend-friendly.

Tim loves whiskey (ha), and when Ree posted recipe for pasta with whiskey in it, I knew he would love it. The only problem is, we are trying to eat healthy, and with lots of carbs and cream, it wasn’t the best option. So I took matters into my own hands and adapted Ree’s recipe to be a little healthier, but still delicious.

This is my healthy take on The Pioneer Woman’s Pasta with Whiskey, Wine, and Mushrooms. I added spinach, used extra onion and mushrooms, and swapped out most of the cream for Greek yogurt. I left the alcohol proportions the same (why not?!), and swapped regular pasta for Barilla Pasta Plus. At 316 calories per serving, it was diet friendly and “cowboy-approved!”

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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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Vegetable Noodle Soup

Fall is barely here on the Central Coast, but I’ve already come down with my first cold of the season – I’m sure 20+ hours on multiple airplanes and sleep deprivation had something to do with it. Yesterday morning I woke up hurtin’, and I knew the only thing that would help would be a big bowl of soup.

I threw this together using the vegetables we had in our fridge (hence the baby carrots – use regular carrots if you can), so keep in mind that it is very flexible. This was quick to make, and it was just the thing I needed. The almost-raw garlic is a great cold fighter!

The positive thing? The first cold of the season means the first soup post of the season! Enjoy it!

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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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Roasted Tomato Soup

The calendar is telling me that Fall has officially arrived, though (as usual) the Paso Robles weather begs to differ – it’s been in the 80’s and 90’s! Despite the heat, I needed to use up some tomatoes (I’ve picked about 6 pounds from our plants in the past couple weeks) and decided to combine two of my favorite things: roasted tomatoes and soup.

I served this with an awesome grilled cheese made with Bravo Sage Cheddar – it was a classy take on the grilled cheese that surprised me with its mild sage flavor (I was worried the sage would be overwhelming, but it was just right).

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