Archive for the ‘Lunch Ideas’ Category


South of the Border Tomato Soup

August 30, 2010

The weather over the weekend was a sneak peek into fall – it was overcast in the mornings and I actually broke out a sweatshirt. I love Fall so much that I knew I wanted to find a soup recipe. My Mom is the “Queen” of homemade soups and it’s time I adopted a similar title.

I have stacks and stacks of magazines full of recipes and I decided I would focus on the latest Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine. There was a recipe for South of the Border Tomato Soup and apparently I still have an obsession with all things tomato.

I have always loved a good tomato soup teamed with a grilled cheese sandwich, but this had a different spin and I knew I wanted to give it a try.

The Ingredients:

4 Pints Grape Tomatoes – I had another container in the fridge – that’s a lot of tomatoes, thank God for Trader Joe’s and their cheap grape tomatoes.
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
2 Cups Chicken Broth – I used low sodium because I had some left from the Tofu Shirataki Ramen recipe
1 Teaspoon Honey
1 Ripe Avocado
1/4 Cup Plain Reduced-Fat Greek Yogurt – I used Fage 0%
4 Ounces Sharp Yellow Cheddar Cheese – Shredded (1 Packed Cup)
1/2 Teaspoon Ancho Chile Powder
1.5 Cups Lightly Crushed Baked Tortilla Chips – I used Trader Joe’s Spicy Soy and Flaxseed Tortilla Chips


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment and place the tomatoes on top. My parchment paper said it could withstand 400 degrees F. I was a little leery to try it at 450, but decided after consulting with Dan to give it a go. No issues, it worked like a champ.

Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Oven shot…

Roast the tomatoes until the skins begin to split and blister, about 15-20 minutes.

Transfer the tomatoes and any of the juices to a food processor.

I had to do mine in 3 batches – how sad is it that I had to reference my post on the minty pea and butter bean hummus recipe to see how the blender/food processor went together. Hah! I need to use it more often.

Add 1 cup of chicken broth to the tomatoes and process until coarsely pureed, about 10 seconds.

Force the mixture through a fine sieve/strainer set over a medium saucepan, discarding the seeds and pulp.

You are left with the above nightmare. Cleaning that puppy was not fun!

Add the honey and the remaining 1 cup chicken broth to the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally, about 5-10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mash the avocado; stir in the yogurt and season with salt and pepper. (You could also do this step while the tomatoes are in the oven)

I used a fork to mash the ingredients together.

I stored the avo mixture in the fridge and started on the cheese. Place the cheese in a medium bowl and sprinkle the ancho chile  powder on top.

Let the soup finish simmering and then ladle into bowls and serve with the avocado cream, cheese and tortilla chips.

This soup was incredible! Totally worth the extra work and steps of making it from scratch.

I was able to enjoy a rather large bowl, and I had 3 containers left for lunches or dinners this week.

Next time I think I will double the recipe – especially when I can get tomatoes on sale.

The mess was not equal to the fruits of my labor – a double batch and a full-sized food processor would have helped.

I look forward to many more soup recipes here on the blog and enjoying them all Fall/Winter long.

What’s your favorite soup?


Zucchini Patties with Dill Dip

August 11, 2010

I finally spent some time in the kitchen last night. It made for a very late workout, but I enjoyed cooking and pretty much destroyed every flat service with prep bowls, spoons, bowls, measuring cups, etc. Hmm, really wasn’t missing that part, hah!

Earlier this Summer I picked up Taste of Home’s Summer Appetizers Magazine while waiting in line at the grocery store. $9.99, ouch – but I did mark about 5 or 6 recipes, so that’s not too bad. I found a recipe for Zucchini Patties with Dill Dip and made some slight changes and was good to go.

I bought a bunch of zucchini for my slicer, but also wanted to try something different. I had picked up some yellow squash at the produce ranch I visited last weekend and wanted to use that as well.

Dill Dip Ingredients:

3/4 Cup Sour Cream
2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Dill
2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to Taste – I would say at least an 1/8 of a teaspoon for each

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate. ( The fresh dill smelled awesome).

Ingredients for the Patties:

2.5 Cups Shredded Zucchini – I did a combo of zucchini and yellow squash
1 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs – I used Trader Joe’s Organic
1 Teaspoon Seafood Seasoning – I used Old Bay
1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 Eggs,  lightly beaten – the recipe only called for 1, definitely needs two.
2 Tablespoons Butter – melted
1 Large Carrot – thought I would need 2, but 1 was plenty
1/4 Cup finely chopped onion – left my onion a little chunkier – used a white onion
1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Canola Oil

I got everything prepped on my lunch hour.

I got the zucchini and squash washed, shredded and then I removed the excess liquid by squeezing the shredded pieces between paper towels.

I got my carrots and onions chopped and to be honest, wasn’t very precise with the chopping or measuring. I was in a rush due to the time constraints. I got everything loaded into the fridge and waited to do the rest after work.

I started by combining my breadcrumbs, seafood seasoning and garlic powder in a large bowl. I got all of the dry ingredients mixed well and then I added 1 lightly beaten egg and the butter. I then blended everything before adding the carrot, onion, zucchini and squash.

I gave  it another good mixing…

This is when I realized I needed another egg. The mixture wasn’t holding together well enough to make the patties. I quickly added a second lightly beaten egg and that worked out great. I then placed the 1/4 cup of flour into a shallow dish to make it easier to coat the patties before frying. My hands were too gummed up to grab the camera for that step.

I started forming the patties and then got them coated with flour before putting them into the canola oil. I had the stove set to high at first and then turned it down to medium/high for the cooking. They sizzled as they entered the pan.

I cooked them for about 3-4 minutes on each side. I removed them with a spatula onto paper towels and then served them with the dill dip. The recipe said that it yielded 2 dozen – I made 5 large patties and then put the rest of the mixture in the fridge for future meals – probably had enough to make 5 or 6 more. I was eating them as a main dish, so I wanted bigger portions. I grabbed about a golf ball size of the mixture before forming the patties for mine.

They were awesome. I am thinking they would also be good as veggie burgers wrapped in lettuce…yum!

I don’t usually eat a lot of fried foods, but these weren’t greasy at all. They did not taste heavy and it was another fun way to incorporate zucchini and other veggies  into a main meal. Enjoy!


Foo’s Cucumber and Shrimp Bites

July 16, 2010

I’ve been trying to come up with fun ideas for my lunches. I think I’ve already mentioned this, but for any new readers – I go home for lunch every day. I have the luxury of working only a few miles from my house. I get to spend time with Higgy, save money and eat healthier – it’s a win, win.

The problem is that I keep running out of clever ideas. I stopped buying frozen meals when I started this blog and my time is limited. I came up with something yesterday that will definitely be in my weekly rotation –  not to mention, an awesome appetizer idea for parties.

A girlfriend introduced me to a shrimp dip at one of her holiday parties. I decided to make it this morning so I could have something new for lunch. The cans had just been sitting in the pantry for months. She serves the shrimp mixture on a plate surrounded by crackers. I wanted to go veggie, so I played off my love of sushi.


2 Cans of Shrimp – I used Geisha Tiny Shrimp – never had canned shrimp until trying the dip
2 Stalks Celery – finely chopped
3 Green Onions – white and green parts
2 Tablespoons Light Mayo
Several shakes of Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

You want to drain and then rinse the shrimp. I set mine between paper towels to dry. I added all of my ingredients and then gave it a good stir. 2 Tablespoons of mayo doesn’t seem like enough, but you want a chunky texture – you don’t want it to be wet like tuna can get.

I then peeled and sliced a cucumber, added salt and pepper to the cucumber slices, put a spoonful of the mixture on top and then drizzled a spicy island ponzu dipping  sauce on each one. (Two Sisters Gourmet by Partylite – my friend Michelle sells it and I love the taste and thickness, it’s awesome!)

Super low calorie – 200 calories for both cans of the shrimp, 60 for the mayo, 20 for the ponzu sauce, and if you’re a Weight Watcher – the cucumber is free right? Hah! – less than 20 calories for that. My serving size was 10 – because 9 fit on the plate and I had to test one with sauce before I did them all.  I have lots of the shrimp mix left in the fridge – one batch could easily make a tray of 20-25 depending how generous you get with the mixture. That makes them right around 15 calories each.

Yay for me – I stepped away from my slicer. Can’t wait to come up with other new lunch items.