Lentil Vegetable Soup

I remember when I first made this, the girls weren’t too excited to try lentils. But then I found alphabet noodles and they were suddenly thrilled to eat it. Now it is the most requested meal around here, whether it’s with regular old noodles or the special alphabet kind. This is our VERY favorite soup. All five of us love it  (it’s even been my toddler’s favorite ever since he started eating solids).

{Adapted from Giada’s recipe on the Food Network)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 organic carrots, peeled and chopped

3 organic celery stalks, chopped

1 can organic diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves (can do a more if you love it or want to make the most of thyme’s antimicrobial and nutritional qualities)

2 cups lentils

48 oz box organic vegetable broth

48 oz box organic chicken broth

1 cup noodles, cooked in salted water (we like De Boles organic whole wheat alphabet noodles)

Asiago cheese to top

In a soup pot over medium heat, cook onion, garlic, celery and carrots in olive oil, stirring often until vegetables start to become soft (5 minutes?). Add tomatoes and lentils and stir to incorporate. Add remaining ingredients (except cheese and noodles) and bring to a boil. Then turn down to simmer, covered, for about an hour until lentils are cooked. While the soup is cooking, cook your noodles separately so that they don’t absorb all of the soup broth. Add to soup when done. Top with cheese and more pepper if desired.




Quick and Tasty Tortilla Soup

Colorado weather is so strange. The kids were running around our yard in swimsuits and playing with the hoses earlier this week, and today it is COLD and snow is forecasted for the weekend. I love the addition of soups to our dinner menu as the weather turns chilly. Here is an easy tortilla soup recipe. I usually serve it with a salad and a muffin or blueberry cornbread. Make sure to add the fresh ingredients (cilantro, avocado, green onion) or a lot of flavor will be lost.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into small pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper
1 (32 oz) box organic chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

crushed tortilla chips (we like blue corn chips)
sliced avocado

shredded Monterey jack cheese
chopped green onions

In a medium stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic with seasoned chicken until chicken is about cooked. Add remaining ingredients (minus the garnish items), bring to a boil then turn down and simmer 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy! Don’t forget the fixings!


Pasta With Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Asparagus and Ricotta Salata

We love this fresh pasta dish! We are so lucky to have such wonderful neighbors who live behind us— our kids are all the same ages and are the best of friends. They had us over for dinner one night and made this dish for us. Ever since then it’s been on my regular dinner rotation. It is quick, easy and light; I love the fresh ingredients.

You’ll need:

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed or finely chopped

2 pint size containers of grape tomatoes, take about a third of them and cut in half

1  8-ounce container of mushrooms, gently rubbed clean and sliced

1 bunch of asparagus— remove and discard tough portion on bottoms and slice remaining stalks into 1½-2 inch long pieces (plus a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt)

1 lb. box of penne pasta

1 block of Ricotta Salata cheese (this is different from the soft Ricotta that comes in a plastic container).

1 ½ cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (the Italian in me feels the need to stress that good Parmesan is very important! No Kraft here ladies!)

Salt and crushed red pepper flakes, to taste.


All at once:

  • Bring salted water to a boil. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain (but do not {ever} rinse the noodles in cold water… take it from a true Italian!)
  • Preheat the oven to 400°. Place asparagus on a cookie sheet (I line mine with parchment paper for easy clean-up). Drizzle asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast in oven for 10 minutes. (As a side note, this makes a very easy and delicious side dish that we make often.)
  • Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic (and red pepper flakes if you want) and stir and saute for a minute. Turn heat down if needed so that garlic doesn’t burn. Add all tomatoes and the sliced mushrooms and stir. Salt to taste (I add somewhere around 3/4 tsp). Continue to cook over medium/medium-high heat, stirring often, until the whole tomatoes are about to pop and mushrooms are done.
While this is all cooking, chop Ricotta into small bite size pieces and put into a large serving bowl. As the asparagus and noodles finish cooking, add them to the bowl. Top with tomato/mushroom sauce and throw in the Parmigiano. Stir it all up well until all of the Parmigiano melts and everything is mixed together. Top with chopped fresh basil if you like it. Serve it up while it is hot. This makes enough for our family (2 adults/2 ½ kids) for two nights… or it will serve two families if you have a salad or fresh fruit on the side.





Fiesta (Southwest) Salad

This is one of my favorite healthy (and easy!) meals to make… it’s so tasty I consider it company-worthy. It is a quick and delicious dinner to serve your family or perfect when you are having your girlfriends over for lunch. The recipe is not precise— I always end up making a slightly different version of it, but it never disappoints!


1-2 heads of romaine lettuce torn, mixed with a handful of both spinach and mixed greens

1/2 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 small can sliced black olives, drained

1 ear of corn on the cob. Cook in microwave for 3 minutes, remove and husk, then cut kernels off of cob into a bowl and let cool before adding to salad.

Handful of chopped or shredded carrots

Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

1 avocado, cut into small chunks

2-3 boneless chicken breast halves, seasoned and cooked (we usually grill it), then sliced.

1 green onion, chopped

1 chopped red bell pepper (raw) or— my new favorite (thanks Alli for the idea!)— 2 sliced bell peppers (red and green), sautéed in a bit of olive oil, garlic and salt to taste. Let cool a bit before adding to salad.

Optional: top with some grated cheddar cheese (or I’ve been known to add crushed corn tortilla chips to mine!)

Serve with a southwest ranch, plain ranch, Catalina, or our favorite— Brianna’s Chipotle Cheddar dressing.


We are linking up here today:

Pecan Chicken and Wild Rice (A Mayo Free Chicken Salad)


(adapted from the Colorado Colore Cookbook)

This is a light and tasty chicken salad. After trying it at a cousin’s birthday party I was in love, so I fixed it for my friends the following week and have since added it to our dinner rotation. Serve it with crusty bread and fresh fruit. You’re likely to have leftovers- which I’m sure you’ll enjoy eating up for lunch!


½ cup rice vinegar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon each salt and pepper

¼ teaspoon sugar


1 cup wild rice or wild rice blend

2 cups chicken broth or stock

Juice of 1 lemon

3 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked

1 bunch green onions, minced

8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut into smaller pieces

2 ripe avocados, chopped

1 cup pecan pieces, toasted

(toast  pecans on cookie sheet in 350° oven for 5 minutes)

For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to mix.

For the salad, combine wild rice or  rice blend, stock and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered for 50 minutes or as per rice instructions. Drain any extra liquid when done. Chop the chicken into bite-size pieces. Combine dressing (I usually don’t add the entire jar- so add to taste), rice, chicken, green onions, and sugar snap peas in a bowl 2 hours prior to serving and mix well. Cover and chill. Add avocados and pecans just before serving and mix gently.


Linking up this post here: