Roasted Pear-Butternut Squash Soup with Stilton

This is one of our all-time favorite soup recipes...I first made it a few years ago as a starter for Thanksgiving but it’s been popping up a few times a year since.  The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it is so easy...chop up some veggies, roast them at a high heat, cool and puree.  Done!  And any soup that has a little cheese sprinkled on top has a fan in me...I love me some cheese, the stinkier and stronger the better! Makes ~ 4 entree sized servings, serve along with warm crusty bread
Salmon Panzanella

Summer is here, summer is here! This is one of my all-time favorite Summer recipes, and I've been making it for years. It is THE taste of Summer to me. The original recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Eating Well in Season and it's honestly so perfect I don't think I've adapted it too much...primarily just the bread preparation. This is one of those dishes that is perfect for a romantic dinner for two out on your patio on a warm evening or great for a Summer party since it scales up well and doesn't need to be served warm.  It's easy to make, healthy and super delicious...this is one recipe that you'll keep in your Summer rotation for years to come.
Christmas Eve Fondue Party!

There are two Christmas Eve traditions in the SavoryGirl household:  Everyone gets to open one small gift and we celebrate the night before Christmas with a 3-course intimate fondue party, complete with board games, crackling T.V. fireplace and all! I know a 3-course fondue party sounds like it may be a bit of an effort, but to be honest, beyond cutting up all of the things you want to dip in the fondue it's a super easy and very festive  meal.
Lucky New Years Day Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Good luck for the year if you eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day!

Good luck for the year if you eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day!

Every New Years Day for years now I've been making something with Black-Eyed Peas.  It's a Southern tradition that eating them on New Year's Day brings good luck for the year, and while I'm certainly not Southern I like fun food traditions so I've adopted this one as one of my own. Unfortunately, most of the recipes I've tried over the years have underwhelmed me.  They've either been too complicated for the end result, too unhealthy with loads of bacon, or just downright bland.  Until last year!  So since I've finally found a go-to Good Luck recipe I thought I would share:
Garlicky Red Lentil Soup

This is one of our favorite lentil soups. If you've never cooked with red lentils before, they may be a bit harder to find but they are worth the hunt. They cook up softer than green or brown lentils and I think they have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Most health food stores carry red lentils these days, including Whole Foods.

This soup recipe is from the cookbook, Soup; Superb Ways with a Classic Dish, and is super easy to make...well beyond mincing up two onions. Get out those swim googles so you don't cry like a baby and risk chopping your fingers. It does take about 90 minutes to cook though, so best to make it on a weekend and eat it as leftovers during the week. It holds up well for about a week and also freezes perfectly...I often make a double batch. 
Ligurian Pesto & Pasta Making Night!

Ligurian Pesto & Pasta Night

While I haven't been cooking as much as I like to lately, when I do have time to cook I'm trying to make the most of it. There is nothing I enjoy more than opening a bottle of wine, putting on some music and making homemade pasta. And that's exactly what I did last weekend!

It makes me feel connected to my Italian roots and think back to the amazing two trips I've taken to Italy. I'm fortunate enough to have actually visited the Ligurian region of Italy and enjoy truly authentic Ligurian Pesto while there...so I'm excited to bring a taste of that amazing vacation back home with this recipe! Since heirloom tomatoes are in season right now (along with all of that basil I needed for the pesto!) I tossed some chopped tomatoes into this dish to brighten it up a bit. Sometimes pesto can feel a bit indulgent with all of that olive oil and cheese. Add a glass of Pinot Grigio and you have a happy Italian SavoryGirl!

The pesto recipe that I used can be found here.  I typically use the pasta recipe right in my Kitchen Aid manual, but this is a pretty similar recipe.  Mangia!
Mom’s Vegetarian Lasagna

Mom's Vegetarian Lasagna

This is one of the first meals that Christian's mom made that I absolutely fell in love with...so after watching her make it a couple of times I've created the recipe below.  It's healthy in terms of being vegetarian, but it is heavy on the Alfredo sauce and cheese...so not that healthy.  Hence the yumminess!

The original recipe calls for topping the lasagna with herb  feta cheese, but over the years we've decided that we like it better the traditional way so we just put lots more mozzarella on top.  We also always make our own lasagna noodles vs. buying store bought...which means no pre-cooking of the lasagna noodles required!  That was always one of the biggest pains of lasgna to me...cooking the noodles, then keeping them moist enough while you layer so they don't all get stuck together but also waiting long enough so your not burning your hands.  Issues!  So homemade noodles are the way to go in my opinion...preferably wheat.
The Key to My Healthy Eating…Sunday Prep
Sunday prep sets every week up for success!

Sunday prep sets every week up for success!

It's really easy to fall into the trap of "too busy" and let the simple but important things in life get left behind.  You know what I'm talking about...the gym, taking walks, reading for pleasure and most importantly for me, healthy home-cooked food. It happens to the best of us, but the Girl Scout in me knows that preparation is your best friend for these situations.  So over the years I have developed what I consider a fool-proof plan to ensure that at the very least I'm eating healthy, homemade breakfasts, lunches and dinners throughout most of my week (leaving room of course for spontaneity and fun!). I'm not going to go into the dinners...because honestly that's what my weekly menus that I post every Sunday are all about so I think you all get my strategy there.  Plan the full week of dinners in advance, do all of the grocery shopping at once and then just stick to it ensuring you plan your leftovers for the busier nights of the week. If you're new to SavoryGirl here is my original post explaining my weekly dinner menu philosophy. What I haven't shared is what I do for weekday breakfasts and lunches...it's pretty simple and many might call it boring but I figure weekends, dinners and eating out are where I get my variety so if being a bit boring during the weekdays keeps me healthy so be it!

Breakfast...my go-to  choice here is a smoothie and a hard-boiled egg.  The beauty of this plan is that I make a full batch of smoothies up and boil/peel all of my eggs on Sunday so all I have to do is grab them out of the fridge in the morning and enjoy while I'm getting ready (see - efficient with morning getting ready time too!).  My smoothies are pretty straightforward...for 5 smoothies I puree 2-3 bananas, a mix of 2-3 frozen fruits (blueberries, pineapples, peaches, mangos, whatever you prefer), about a cup of OJ, another 1-2 cups of almond milk, a Tablespoon or so of wheat germ and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.  If you want higher protein then you can also add a couple spoonfuls of almond butter or peanut butter. Basically you want a full blender to make 5 servings...then pour them into 3 glasses (freeze the other two so they last until the end of the week) and put saran wrap on the top, making sure to push the saran wrap down to the surface of the smoothie so no air gets in and pop them in the fridge.  For the eggs I simply boil them up, peel them, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and pop them in an air-tight container in the fridge.  In the morning I just microwave my egg for about 20 seconds (I prefer them a bit warm, stir up my smoothie  (they can separate a bit in the fridge) and enjoy!  All of this prep takes 20 minutes max once you get in a routine.  Easy breezy.

Chicken & Chickpea Stew

I love chickpeas, soups and pretty much anything spicy...so seeing that this dish has all three going on it's really no surprise that it's one of my favorite winter dishes. It's one of those rustic dishes that kind of tastes like home, no matter where you're from.  Super simple ingredients, relatively easy preparation and delicious. One thing to note though...I would consider this more of a soup than a stew because the broth is thin, but since it's served over bread I've stuck with calling it stew.

The original recipe, shown below, is from the Bon Appétit February 2012 issue and I've pretty much been making it consistently since then. Usually when I share recipes here I like to share my own adaptions that I think make them even better, but to be honest this one is so good in it's original form that it's pretty much identical to what you'll find here on the Bon Appétit website.

Two changes I do usually make though;  I double the recipe below since it only makes about 4 servings and I roast my own peppers instead of buying pre-roasted peppers. Roasting your own peppers is so easy, cheap and makes your house smell so good that I strongly recommend it. As long as you have a gas stove you can follow my tutorial for how to do it included in this recipe...and then I promise, you'll never pay a premium for roasted red peppers again!

Clafouti

We just made about our 5th clafouti of the summer when I suddenly realized that I haven’t yet shared this favorite with all of you!  If you’ve never had the pleasure of eating a clafouti it’s kind of a cross between a custard and a cake and is simply delicious.

There are two reasons we love the clafouti so much in our house (besides how fun it is to say!)...the first is because it is one of the fastest and easiest desserts you can possibly make and you often have all of the ingredients in the house, meaning you can even whip it up on a weeknight or if guests surprise you!  The second reason we love it is because the mild vanilla, cinnamon and lemon flavors are so versatile that it works with almost any fruit you have on hand...especially summer fruit like berries, Italian plums, figs or cherries (the traditional fruit of choice).  Versatile, easy and beautiful to serve, what more could you ask for?  Gotta love those French bakers!