a balanced plate with room for dessert

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Easy Japanese Chicken and Rice Soup

Here I am again, yelling from the rooftops about easy dishes. It seriously doesn’t get easier than this. Broth + leftover rice + chicken = dinner. Nice, huh? Simple enough that even Mike could make this ūüėČ I used leftover rice from the California Rice & Beans and that cut down on cooking time considerably. Brown rice takes about 40 minutes for us to cook, but the broth for this dish was ready in about 10 minutes. Having the leftover rice meant that I didn’t have to putz around for another 30 minutes waiting on the rice to finish!

Easy Japanese Chicken Rice Soup |

Easy Japanese Chicken and Rice Soup
adapted from Eating Well

2 cups cooked brown rice
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
4 eggs, beaten
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed into 1/2-inch pieces
1 yellow squash, quartered lengthwise and sliced
4 green onions, sliced and divided

  1. Heat broth in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour in sugar, soy sauce, and mirin and bring to a simmer. Add chicken and squash to the broth. Gently pour in eggs and let cook for 2 minutes before gently stirring with a pair of chopsticks or a spatula. Stir in 3 of the green onions and allow to cook for 1 – 2 more minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked.
  2. Divide rice between 4 deep bowls and top with the chicken mixture. Garnish bowls with remaining green onions and serve immediately.

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Hearty Guinness Stew

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a good weekend full of good food, good company, and perhaps a drink or two!

If you like drinking Guinness, you will love this stew. If you’re like me and prefer whiskey over beer, you will still love this stew. So,¬†if you happen to have a bottle or two of Guinness left, give this stew a try. And if you don’t have any Guinness left, go out and grab yourself a 6 pack of the stout because you will definitely want to make this.

I’ll let you in on a little secret – I didn’t actually use Guinness when I made this. The Irish stout I used was actually home-brewed by Mike! It was the first beer he made and he reluctantly sacrificed one for the stew. I thanked him by giving him a bowl of the stew ūüôā

guinness stew

Hearty Guinness Stew
adapted from Cooking Light

1.5 pounds boneless chuck roast, cut into 1″ pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bottle Guinness or other Irish stout
4 cups beef broth
freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ pieces
4 stalks celery, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
3 medium potatoes
flat leaf parsley for garnish, optional

  1. Sprinkle beef with salt and then dredge in flour. Heat canola oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add half the beef and cook, turning until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Repeat with other half. Remove beef from pan and set aside. 
  2. Add onion and garlic to pan and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in broth and stout, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in pepper and beef and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Uncover and bring to a boil. Add mushroom, carrot, celery, and potato. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and bring to a boil and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 more minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.


Chicken Pot Pie Soup

I love pie crust.

Love it.


I don’t even like pie that much, but I will take a slice of it just to eat the crust. Then I’ll mash the rest of it around on my plate to make it seem like I ate it. Or I’ll shovel it onto my husband’s plate (while at the same time stealing his crust).

I’m that crazy person that will sit and stare at your piece of pie and then creepily ask if I can eat your crust.

Needless to say, this is my kind of soup. It’s filling and creamy and flavorful and… Real talk though. This dish is mainly about the crust. This soup is what makes it acceptable for me to eat massive amounts of pie crust for dinner. As an added bonus, this was super easy to whip together and it made for a ton of leftovers. Leftover soup that is. There will be no leftover crust. Oops.

chicken pot pie soup

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

for the crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup skim milk

for the soup:
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (2 cups)
3 celery stalks, diced (1 cup)
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (1 cup)
1 medium onion, diced (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
5 cups chicken broth
2 ears of corn, kernels removed or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. To make the crust: in a large bowl, stir together flour and salt. Cut in shortenings until well blended and mixture is crumbly. Gently stir in milk with a fork; mix until just combined. Pat dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 425¬įF. Roll dough out on a well-floured surface to 1/8″ thick. Cut into 15 3″ circles with a biscuit or cookie cutter. Lay dough on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 12 – 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Set aside.
  3. To make the soup: heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add in potatoes, celery, carrots, and onion and cook until onions are soft and translucent.
  4. Stir in flour to coat vegetables well. Slowly stir in chicken broth 1 cup at a time. Bring soup to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until soup thickens and add in corn and peas. Stir and cook until peas are heated through.
  5. Serve soup hot with pie crust.

recipe adapted from Food Network

P.S. Be a crust monster like me a bake up the extra scraps left over from when you’re cutting out the pretty circles. They’re just as tasty ūüėČ

pot pie soup with crust


Chicken Curry Rice Noodle Soup (Kow Boon)

We were blessed with the opening of Basil Cafe a little over a year ago. This place is one of my favorite restaurants in the Fox Cities; I haven’t eaten a bad thing there yet. Mike and I went here for Valentine’s Day last year and went there again this year. I tried something new this time – Kow Boon, a noodle soup with a coconut broth and a perfect amount of spice. I got the large (duh) and had leftovers for dinner the next day and breakfast the day after that (don’t judge).

It was so good that I wanted more. But, I realized that 3 visits to the same restaurant in 2 weeks was a little embarrassing, so I decided to try to make it at home. After all, what would I do if this place closed down? Or if we moved? What if I never got to eat this again? 

I labored over this recipe, tweaking ingredients over and over and over to try to match the flavors of Basil Cafe’s dish. All I had to go by was their menu description – “traditional¬†Lao¬†vermicelli rice noodles in a slightly spicy chicken coconut curry soup topped with bamboo shoots, fresh bean sprouts, mint, and cilantro” and the faint memory of how it had tasted.¬†Hours later, I ended up with a huge pot of this delicious soup. Perfect. I will have breakfast, lunch, and dinner set for days. Now, I’m not claiming that this is as good as Basil Cafe’s soup, but it definitely hit the spot.

Chicken Curry Rice Noodle Soup (Kow Boon) |

Chicken Curry Rice Noodle Soup // Kow Boon

1/2 pound of rice vermicelli noodles
2 chicken leg quarters, skin removed and fat trimmed
1″ piece of ginger, chopped into 3 pieces
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
4 cups water

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red curry paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
19 ounce can of bamboo shoots, sliced into strips
14 ounce can coconut milk

For garnish:
2 cups bean sprouts
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 bunch green onions, sliced

  1. Cook noodles in a large pot according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, combine chicken, ginger, salt, pepper, and water. Bring to a boil and cook until chicken is cook through. Remove chicken and strain out solids, reserving the soup base. Return soup to the pot and keep warm over medium-low heat. 
  3. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones, shred, and set aside.
  4. In a medium pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add in onions and garlic and saute until onions are lightly browned. Stir in curry paste and fish sauce and mix until well blended. Add curry to soup base and stir in bamboo strips and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer before assembling bowls.
  5. To assemble: place a “nest” of noodles on the bottom of the bowl. Ladle in soup and bamboo shoots. Top with bean sprouts, chicken, lime wedge and cilantro. Serve immediately.

kow boon


Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce

Mike has been an absolute lifesaver on Mondays and Wednesdays. Why? Because he cooks, folks. He cooks and it’s dang tasty.¬†These two days are go go go for me. I’m in rotation from 8 – 4:30, go for a run, and then go to Pilates Reformer. I don’t get home until close to 8 on Mondays and Wednesdays and it’s so nice to come home to a delicious meal.

I don’t always know when I’ll need him to make a meal, so I try to menu plan easier dishes. This particular stew came from Food & Wine’s 2008 annual cookbook. I’m trying to get a good mix of internet and cookbook recipes into our meals just to mix it up a bit. After all, I do have a¬†lot of cookbooks and I should probably use them instead of letting them collect dust on my bookshelf.

This particular dish was phenomenal. I loved the tanginess of the red wine in it. I honestly could have eaten the entire pot.. don’t judge me – running makes me hungry! I’ll probably try making it in the slow cooker next to make it even easier.

Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce
slightly adapted from Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2008

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds lean beef chuck roast, visible fat trimmed, roast cut into 8 pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 bottle dry red wine
2 bay leaves
1 thyme sprig
1 5-ounce piece of pancetta
2 1/4 cups water
20 pearl onions, peeled
15 cremini mushrooms, wiped clean
15 baby carrots
Dash of sugar
Chopped fresh leaf parsley, for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 350¬įF. In a large cast-iron pot over moderate heat, belt butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Arrange the pieces of beef in a single layer in the pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook beef over high heat for about 8 minutes, turning to brown pieces on all sides.
  2. Stir in onions and garlic. Reduce heat to moderate and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the flour, stirring well so it doesn’t form lumps, then stir in the red wine.¬†Add bay leaves, thyme sprig, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Stir well and cover the pot.
  3. Transfer the pot to the oven and braise for about 1 1/2 hours until the meat is soft and tender and liquid is reduced to a thick sauce.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the pancetta with 2 cups of the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer over moderate heat for about 30 minutes and then drain. Cut pancetta into 1/2 inch slices, then cut the slices into 1-inch wide strips.
  5. Combine the pearl onions, mushrooms, baby carrots and pancetta strips in a skillet with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 cup of water and a good dash of sugar, salt, and ground pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, over moderate heat for 15 minutes, until most of the water has cooked off. Uncover and cook over high heat, sauteing the vegetables until well browned all over, about 4 minutes.
  6. Stir some of the vegetables and pancetta into the stew and sprinkle the rest on top. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprig before serving. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.



Warming Up with Chinese Noodle Soup

Before I went to bed on Friday I checked the weather for Saturday at 8 am. 4¬įF and an inch or so of fresh snow on the ground. I had an 8 mile run scheduled and I couldn’t decide which was worse: running for 8 miles in the unbearable cold or 8 ¬†miles on the dreadmill.

I woke up Saturday at 6:45 and checked the weather as I ate my pre-run Greek yogurt. Currently -6¬įF and¬†1¬įF at 8:00 am. I grumped around the house until 7:30 when I decided to just suck it up and at least try. Worst case scenario? I run the shortest loop with the running group (4 miles) and run the other 4 at the Y.

I quickly searched the world wide web for guidance on what to wear.¬†I normally peek at the Runner‚Äôs World¬†What to Wear Running¬†App, but that never seems to work out for me. And guess what? There¬†aren’t¬†a whole lot of people out there talking about running in the cold. Some blogs talked about running in the ‚Äúcold‚ÄĚ where cold = 30¬įF. Pfft! To me, that‚Äôs¬†nice¬†running weather.

So, what did I end up wearing and how did it work?

There ya go. For my top, I wore my Under Armour ColdGear Mock as a base layer. I added my Zoot 1/2 Zip on top of that and ended with my super thin Hot Chocolate 15k jacket to block the wind. I decked out my bottom half with Reebok Cold Weather Compression Tights and some DryMax Socks. I wore a neck gaiter and a performance fleece hat and headband. I slipped on YakTrax Pro over my shoes and stuffed my hands into my Nike Thermal Fleece Gloves and put a pair of Wooly Mitts on top.

Basically, I looked ridiculous. It turns out that I dressed pretty darn well for the weather. I was cold at first, but warmed up after about 2 miles. I kept slipping the Wooly Mitts on and off. I think the only part of me that was a little too cold were my thighs. My shins were pretty well covered between the higher socks and my tights, but the tights alone were not enough for my legs! Maybe next time I’ll try compression shorts under the tights.

I’m proud to say that I made it the entire 8 miles in the cold. I might even dare to say that I was¬†enjoying¬†the cold by the end. Moral of the story? Get outside and just run; you will end up loving it ūüôā

The best bet after a nice, cold run? A warm bowl of soup and a long, hot shower. Sick of the soup you’ve been slurping down? Try this Chinese Noodle Soup!

Noodle soup, or as my family calls it – noup. Inspired by a Kung Fu Panda viewing with my lovely family last Christmas.

Every bite of this put the biggest, goofiest smile on my face. It’s so hard to get us all together ¬†now that we’re growing up. It’s little things like this that bring joy into my life (and my stomach). It’s just a bonus that this is soup-er (har har) easy to throw together!

I entered this into ¬†fellow blogger Branny Boils Over‘s Souper Bowl, Round 2 fundraiser. For every entry she receives, she will donate $1.00 to the ASPCA. As a dog owner (and lover) I couldn’t resist.

Chinese Noodle Soup
serves 6 

8 ounces dried Chinese noodles
1 pound lean ground turkey
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon hot chile sauce, such as Sriracha
1 bunch green onions, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger root
6 cups chicken broth
4 cups thinly sliced bok choy
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks, for garnish

  1. Cook noodles according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey, scallions, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, breaking up the turkey. Cook until turkey is no longer pink. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add broth, bok choy, soy sauce, vinegar, 1 tablespoon sesame oil and chile sauce to pot. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until bok choy is tender.
  4. Return turkey to pot and stir to combine.
  5. To serve, place noodles in bowl and top with broth. Garnish with cucumber and serve.

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Beer and Cheese Soup

What comes to mind when you think of Wisconsin? Beer. Cheese.¬† More beer. What better way to celebrate Wisconsin than with this beer and cheese soup? Mike absolutely loved it. I didn’t like it as much, but I’m not a fan of beer so that’s no surprise.

Make this with Wisconsin cheese and beer for bonus points ūüėČ

Beer & Cheese Soup

Beer and Cheese Soup
serves 2

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large potatoes, diced and separated
1 cup chicken broth
1 12. oz beer
1/2 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
sour cream

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
  2. Add 1 diced potato and brown 8 – 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add the beer and chicken broth and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  3. Cook remaining potato in a separate small pot.
  4. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Stir in salt, pepper, paprika and vinegar. Add cheese and blend until smooth. Turn heat to low and stir in the second diced potato.
  5. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.