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Recipe: Chicken Tortilla Soup (GF)

So, you might be wondering why I’m posting a recipe for soup at the beginning of June. Yes, it’s a bit unseasonal, but if you live on Long Island you’ll understand exactly why, as the weather has been cold, rainy and altogether dreary for the last couple of weeks.

I know that summer is on its way. Occasionally, we’ve had a tiny glimpse of it (very occasionally and a very tiny glimpse!?), but the truth is…the weather has been more conducive to soups than to salads, grilling and dining outside.

So, that’s exactly what I made this past week…soup. Chicken Tortilla Soup to be exact. It was a new dish in which I tried to replicate the flavors of a chicken enchilada (minus all of the heavy sauce and cheeses). I was inspired by a recipe in the cookbook, The New Slow Cooker by Brigit Binns.The broth is made with tomatoes, onions, garlic and various Tex-mex spices. The chicken thighs are so tender they practically fall apart and the whole, hearty bowl is topped with diced avocado, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

My kids also topped their soup with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of broken up tortilla chips. We all absolutely loved it and the best part is, this soup is cooked in the slow cooker. Which means that when you come home at the end of the day, it’s ready and waiting for you!

Here’s the recipe in case you, too, feel the need to cozy up with something warm and comforting these days.

Buon Appetit,

Karen

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 (15 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes

1 yellow onion, rough chopped

3 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped (OPTIONAL)

5 ½ cups of chicken stock (homemade or store bought) LINK

2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs (approximately 8 thighs)

2 limes

1 tsp. Red wine vinegar

1 tsp. Ground cumin

3 bay leaves

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 c. Frozen corn kernels

2 small avocados, diced

2 Tbsp. Cilantro, coarsely chopped

Sour cream (OPTIONAL, for garnish)

Tortilla chips (OPTIONAL, for garnish)

In the blender or food processor, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic and one cup of chicken broth and process until smooth.Then, pour into the slow cooker.

Add the chicken thighs, the remaining chicken broth, the juice of 1 lime, the vinegar, cumin, bay leaves, ¾ tsp. Salt and several grinds of fresh pepper. Cover and cook on the low setting for at least 5 hours.

Thirty minutes before serving, remove the chicken and shred the meat. Skim any fat from the soup (there shouldn’t be much, as the chicken thighs are skinless). Return the chicken to the pot and add the corn. Cover and continue to cook for 30 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and discard. Cut the remaining lime into wedges. Ladle the soup into bowls, squeeze a wedge of lime over top and garnish each bowl with some chopped avocados, cilantro, sour cream and/or tortilla chips.

Serves 6-8.

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Recipe: Frutti di Mare on the Grill

In my family, this dish is absolutely synonymous with summer! It’s a recipe that a friend shared with me years ago and I make it almost every time I entertain a crowd during the summer months. For one thing, it’s outrageously delicious and for another, it’s something that you can prep ahead of time, making it the perfect, no-fuss party food.

Mussels, clams, shrimp, garlic, shallots, grape tomatoes, lemon and fresh herbs – it’s a seafood lovers’ dream! Put all of the ingredients in a large aluminum roasting pan, cover it with foil and let the entire thing steam on the grill. In minutes, you’ve got a wonderful hot seafood appetizer OR an incredible seafood sauce that can be served over linguini. Take your pick – both are show stoppers!

My preference is to serve it as a hot appetizer with loaves of crusty bread for dipping in the tasty broth that develops when the seafood and veggies steam down. It makes a huge amount, but don’t expect to have any leftovers. I’ve been making this for years and guests always devour every last morsel. And they almost always leave with the recipe, determined to make it themselves.

Enjoy this little bit of summer on a plate! And please remember to post photos and tag me on Instagram. I love to see your creations!

xo,

Karen

Frutti di Mare on the Grill


2 lbs. mussels, cleaned
2 lbs. clams, cleaned
16-24 jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/3 c. olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 shallots, sliced thinly
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 lemons, sliced
1 Tbsp. salt
ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped basil

Preheat the grill until hot.

Place seafood in a large, aluminum pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, white wine, shallots, salt and pepper. Pour over the seafood. Top seafood with the grape tomatoes, lemon slices and fresh herbs, then cover with aluminum foil. Place the pan onto the grill and allow to cook for approximately 15-20 minutes (or until the mussels and clams open and the shrimp turn pink), stirring occasionally. Remove pan from grill and serve.

Serves 10-12.

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Recipe: Sweet and Sour Cabbage

How gorgeous is this dish? In my humble opinion, Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage rocks! The flavor is incredible; it pairs well with just about any type of grilled or roasted meat; it’s purple color brings any plate to life; it’s chock full of antioxidants and phytonutrients (you know how awesome those cruciferous veggies are!). Oh, and it’s extremely easy to prepare. It truly is a culinary home run!

Here’s my mom’s recipe, which I had forgotten about until quite recently. A few weeks ago, I roasted a pork tenderloin and served them together. It was pretty fabulous and, since then, I’ve made it several times and paired it with beef and chicken, as well.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy side dish that’s a little different from the usual suspects, give it a shot and please be sure to let me know how it turns out.

Buon Appetit!

Karen

Sweet and Sour Cabbage

2 Tbsp. butter

5 cups of thinly sliced or shredded red cabbage

⅓ c. Apple cider vinegar

3 Tbsp. Water

2 tsp. Salt

¼ cup of sugar (I prefer not to use sugar, so I use ¼ teaspoon Stevia instead)

¼ tsp. Ground black pepper

Place butter, cabbage and sweetener in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add vinegar and water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the cabbage is tender.

Serves 6-8.

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Recipe: String Beans with Shallots and Pine Nuts (GF)

String beans are one of my favorite vegetables. They’re so delicious and seem to pair well with just about everything. Not to mention the fact that they’re quick and easy to prepare. Most of the time, I do a quick sauté in a little olive oil until the skin is slightly blistered, add sea salt and freshly ground pepper and voila!

This time, I decided to play around with another favorite of mine, shallots. I diced the shallots, sautéed them, added the beans and finished with a sprinkling of toasted pine (or pignoli) nuts for a bit of crunch. It took minutes to prepare, tasted wonderful and, as you can see in the photo, looks quite fancy for a weeknight meal 😉

Buon Appetit!

Karen

String Beans with Shallots and Pine Nuts

2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. Shallots, diced

8-10 ounces of string beans (I prefer the thin French beans/haricot verts)

2 Tbsp. Pine (or Pignoli) nuts

Coarse salt and ground black pepper

 

Place the pine nuts in a small sauté pan over medium high heat. Tossing frequently, allow the nuts to toast until they are lightly golden. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. When oil is shimmering, add the chopped shallots and sauté 1-2 minutes. Add the string beans and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, for approximately 6 minutes, or until the string beans are crisp-tender. Remove from heat, sprinkle with pine nuts and salt/pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

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Recipe: Lemon Roasted Asparagus (GF)

Have you noticed the big piles of asparagus at the markets these days? It’s a sure sign that spring has arrived!

I recently interviewed Holistic Health Coach, Jen Klainberg (you can listen to the full interview here) and we spoke about the importance of eating with the seasons and lightening up our diet in springtime. Asparagus is one of those foods that really supports the body at this time of year; it’s extremely alkalizing, anti-inflammatory, and full of nutrients that our bodies crave as we move from the warmer, heavier foods of winter into the fresher, lighter foods of spring.

Here’s a recipe that I probably make once a week during springtime. It’s so easy and delicious, and it pairs well with just about everything. Once the weather gets a little warmer, I’ll cook the asparagus on the grill (minus the lemon slices), but for now…into the oven it goes.

Buon Appetit!

Karen

Lemon Roasted Asparagus

1 bunch of asparagus (I prefer the pencil thin stalks, but either thick or thin will do)

1 lemon, zested and then sliced

2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place asparagus on a cookie sheet and lay the lemon slices over top. Drizzle olive oil over it and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the stalks are fork tender and just beginning to brown at the tips (be careful not to overlook, as the asparagus can become very mushy).

Remove from the oven and discard the lemon slices. Salt and pepper, to taste, and sprinkle lemon zest over top.

Serves 4.

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Recipe: Easy Homemade Peppermint Patties

I’m a big fan of indulgences. I know that’s not a message that most people expect to read on a healthy lifestyle blog, but I firmly believe that indulging in a high quality treat from time to time is quite healthy. Deprivation is no fun and certainly doesn’t create a sense of balance and pleasure in one’s life.

But note that I used the term “high quality treat.” That means…have the good stuff – the good dark chocolate, the croissant from that French bakery you love, the homemade cannoli from your favorite Italian restaurant. Instead of wasting your indulgences on Chips Ahoy cookies or chips eaten in front of the t.v., choose your treats wisely and savor them fully. When you indulge in this way – mindfully – you’ll almost always find that you’re more satisfied and less inclined to overdo it. Not to mention, you’re not filling your body with the chemicals, dyes, additives and preservatives contained in store-bought, mass produced “junk food.”

The next time you’re looking for an easy, oh-so-good treat, remember this recipe. If you’re a fan of the Peppermint Patty or the Junior Mint (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t love a Junior Mint?! 😉 then this is one you’ll definitely want to try.

A few ingredients combine to form the peppermint “dough.” After hardening in the freezer for a few minutes, each little piece gets dipped in chocolate. In minutes, you’ve got an amazing little treat to be savored. Unlike the store bought version, this little candy is the perfect texture, rich in flavor and super satisfying (truly, one or two is all you’ll need!).

A high quality treat, to be sure!

Enjoy!

Karen

Easy Homemade Peppermint Patties

¼ cup softened butter

⅓ cup light corn syrup

2 tsp. peppermint extract

3 cups powdered (confectioner’s) sugar

2 cups dark chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli brand)

2 tsp. canola or vegetable oil

Combine butter, corn syrup, peppermint extract and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix with an electric mixer for approximately 2-3 minutes or until the dough comes together (I like to put a towel over the mixer so that the powdered sugar doesn’t make a mess).

Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into sections (about 2 tsp. each). Roll each section into a ball then gently flatten into a little patty. Place onto a pan lined with wax paper. Once all patties are made, place pan in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Add oil to the chocolate chips and melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals (stirring between). Be careful not to burn the chocolate. When the chocolate is smooth and completely melted, remove the patties from the freezer. Dip each patty into the melted chocolate and set back onto the wax paper to harden for about 10-15 minutes.

Makes approximately 30 patties.

Note: if you’d prefer not to prepare all the peppermint patties at once, simply store some of the frozen patties in a ziploc bag in the freezer for up to 3 weeks. When you’re ready to eat them, simply remove them from the freezer and, while still frozen, dip them in chocolate and allow the chocolate to harden.

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Recipe: Chicken Sausage with Tomatoes and Arugula (GF)

This dish is a little “one-pot wonder” that I’ve been making quite a bit lately. I absolutely love it when I can put a whole bunch of things into a pan, set it in the oven and forget about it for a while. This is just such a dish – very little work, yet it has great flavor!

Most of the time, I use chicken sausage, although it can certainly be made with pork sausage, as well. The tomatoes and onions caramelize in the oven and the addition of the arugula at the end provides a fresh, peppery pop of flavor.

I usually serve it over brown rice or with roasted new potatoes. It’s hearty, filling, easy and healthy. And if you’re cooking for a crowd, you can be sure that this meal will not require you to fuss over the stove all evening.

Buon Appetit!

Karen

Chicken Sausage with Tomatoes and Arugula

6 chicken sausage links

1 lb. grape tomatoes

1 onion, cut in half and then sliced

6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

3 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. White wine

1 Tbsp. Dried Italian Seasoning

2 cups of baby arugula

½ can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Ground black pepper, to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a roasting pan or oven-safe skillet (I love using my ScanPan), place sausage, tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, wine, and Italian seasoning.

Roast for 15 minutes, then turn sausages. Continue roasting for another 15-20 minutes, or until sausages are nicely browned and cooked through.

Remove pan from oven and stir in arugula. Allow the mixture to sit for 1 minute (arugula will wilt slightly), then add cannellini beans and black pepper, to taste.

Serves 2-3.

DID YOU GET YOUR GIFT YET ?  CLICK HERE to Grab your (FREE) guide –

Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!