Roasted Tomato Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Whew! What a weekend! I was lucky enough to spend my Saturday in Fredericksburg, Texas with my Mother and Sister in law. What a nice day of shopping, sipping, and enjoying some awesome company!

I woke up Sunday relaxed and ready to take on some cooking in the kitchen. I started my day off with this delicious roasted tomato basil soup.

To add a touch of smokiness and extra sweetness, I added a red bell pepper to the mix and it made for a tasty experience. I like to let my tomatoes roast until they start to flatten out and release their juices. This will help bring home the tomato flavor and add the much needed sweetness since we are not adding sugar of any kind.

The crunch of the croutons adds the needed texture while getting the pop of salt from the cheese.

I specifically asked Troy if he would not take this to work for fear that I wouldn’t see it again this week! This is a must try recipe!

Enjoy and Happy Eating!


10 Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise

1 red bell pepper, de-seeded

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper

1 head of garlic

1 onion, diced

2 tbs tomato paste

1/2 cup basil

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock

For the Croutons

3 slices of bread, cut into crouton sized squares

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 tbs Italian seasoning


Preheat oven to 400. Place tomatoes and red bell pepper on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper onto them.

Cut the top off of the garlic, exposing the tops of the cloves. On a small sheet of foil, place cut garlic and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Close the foil around the garlic completely. This will roast in the oven along with the tomatoes and red bell pepper.

Place baking sheet on bottom rack of the oven and roast for 40 minutes. Remove the bell pepper and garlic bundle. Continue roasting the tomatoes for 20 more minutes.

While the tomatoes are roasting, saute onion in a skillet with olive oil until soft. When the onions become soft, add the tomato paste and saute for 3-4 more minutes.

Once the tomatoes are out of the oven, combine 4 roasted garlic cloves, tomatoes, red bell peppers, and the onion and tomato paste mixture into a high speed blender. Pour into a pot, add the parmesan, and simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes.

Blend until you reach your desired consistency. Add the basil and pulse 5 more times.

Salt and pepper to taste.

For the Croutons:

Toss the cut bread with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and place on the top rack under broiler. Keep a close eye on them! They can burn quickly. Remove once they are crispy and toss with cheese, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Place back under broiler and broil for 1-2 minutes longer.

To plate: Spoon soup into bowl and top with cheese croutons, basil, and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning.

Everything Bagel Hash Browns with Smoked Salmon and Capers

My husband loves breakfast. In fact, that may be a bit of an understatement. We have a running joke in our house about how different Troy and I approach breakfast.

I am complete savory girl. I like any and all things savory with my breakfast-bacon, sausage, grits, toast, or hash. On the other hand, Troy is more on the sweet side-berry oat meal, french toast, and pancakes.

Today was an unlikely compromise. Although it isn’t sweet, there is one thing Troy will always choose if it is available: Smoked Salmon. I decided to make a play on our favorite Bagel and Lox combination by having our hash browns mixed with Everything Bagel seasoning. It was everything we wanted…and more!

Whoever started bottling and selling Everything Bagel seasoning is definitely someone after my own heart!


And happy eating!


5 cups frozen hash browns, thawed

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 tbs salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 tbs Everything Bagel Seasoning

2 tbs avocado oil

1 tbs ghee

4 oz smoked salmon

Fresh dill


Creme fraiche


In a bowl, combine the hash browns, salt, pepper, Everything Bagel Seasoning, and eggs. Mix until completely combined.

In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, place avocado oil and ghee and heat until it glistens.

Using a spoon, spoon a dollop of the hash browns and spread into a thin even layer. Cook on first side until nice and golden, about 3-5 minutes. Flip using a spatula and continue cooking for a few minutes more.

Place them on a paper towel lined plate to drain off excess oil.

To plate: place Everything Bagel hash browns onto a plate. Layer the smoked salmon on top of the hash browns. Top with fresh dill, capers, and creme fraiche.

Tacos al Pastor with Mexican Street Corn

If there is one cuisine that Troy and I could eat for the rest of our lives it would be Mexican. We love the spice and heat in these dishes. Thankfully, living in San Antonio we are never at a loss for amazing Mexican food.

I wanted to take the flavors I grew up on and turn them into one of our favorite tacos. It is a play on Tacos al Pastor-but with steak.

If you are short on time, marinate for at least an hour. It took everything in me to let these marinate overnight! Next time I might not have as much will power…. 🙂

Happy Eating!

Tacos al Pastor with Mexican Street Corn


For the Steak

2lbs beef skirt steak

salt and pepper

1/4 cup coconut aminos (or low sodium soy sauce)

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 orange, zested and juiced

2 limes, zest of one and both juiced

1 jalapeno, de-seeded

3.5 oz Achiote paste

1 tbs cumin

1tbs oregano

4 garlic cloves

1 bunch cilantro

1 package grain free tortillas (I use Siete)

For the Street Corn

12 oz frozen corn

1 tbs Avocado oil

1/2 cup white onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, de-seeded and diced

1/2 cup water

2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbs cream cheese

1 lime, zested and juiced

salt and pepper to taste


Salt and pepper steak on both sides.

In a food processor, combine the coconut aminos, vinegar, oil, orange and lime zest and juice, jalapeno, Achiote paste, cumin, oregano, garlic, and half the cilantro leaves. Process until completely combines.

Place steak in a gallon zip top bag and pour in marinade. Close and message the meat until completely covered. Let marinate 4 hours to overnight.
Place oven on high broil. Place meat on a foil lined baking sheet and broil on each side for 5 minutes for medium rare.

Take out and let rest for 10 minutes. Dice meat into small pieces for tacos. Squeeze lime juice over and toss with cilantro. Top tacos with pico de gallo.

For the Corn

In a skillet, saute the onion and jalapeno in oil.

Add frozen corn and water and bring to a simmer.

Add chili powder, cayenne, cream cheese, and lime zest and juice.

Simmer until cheese melts. Salt and pepper to taste.

Mint and Pistachio Farro Risotto with Roasted Mushrooms

Happy meatless Monday everyone! Every now and then Troy and I like to lighten things up and today we replaced our meat for some meaty mushrooms. I found oyster mushrooms, chanterelles, Maitakes, and Enoki mushrooms at Whole Foods. You can use any variety you can find at your grocery store. Have fun with it and try something new :).

Roasting mushrooms concentrates their meaty flavor and has you forgetting that you left off the meat. Since the mushrooms are earthy and the farro has a nutty flavor from the toasting, adding the mint and pistachio chimichurri adds a pop of freshness and acidity that elevates the flavors.

Happy Eating!

Now it’s time to go and grade some papers-1st grade teaching never stops! 🙂

Mint and Pistachio Farro Risotto with Roasted Mushrooms


For the mint and pistachio chimichurri:

1 cup fresh mint

1/2 cup parsley

1 cup pistachios

1 garlic clove

1/2 cup light olive oil

1 tbs apple cider vinegar

splash of water

salt and pepper to taste

For the mushrooms:

2 pints mushrooms, cleaned and halved

2 tbs Olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbs fresh thyme

salt and pepper

For the Farro:

5 cups chicken stock

2 tbs Avocado oil

4 garlic cloves, divided

1/2 red onion, diced

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 cup sherry wine

2 cups farro (I used Central Market quick cook grains)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

salt and pepper to taste

Pistachios, garnish

In a food processor, add mint, parsley, pistachios, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and splash of water, and pulse until combined. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 450. Clean and chop mushrooms and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Toss mushrooms in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme. Spread to an even layer and roast for 15-20 minutes.

Place chicken stock and 3 cloves of smashed garlic in a small pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer.

In a heavy bottom skillet, saute onions, 1 minced garlic clove, and red pepper flakes with avocado oil until soft and translucent. Add in the farro and lightly toast. Once the farro has toasted, add in the sherry and stir to combine. When the wine has been absorbed into the farro, add the chicken stock, 2-3 ladles at a time, and stir continuously until absorbed. Repeat until all the stock has been used. Add in the Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the mint and pistachio chimichurri with the farro.

Plate mint and pistachio farro and top with roasted mushrooms. Garnish with Parmesan and pistachios.

French Onion Soup

What a week back at work it has been! I missed my Firsties like crazy. I feel like in just the 2 weeks of winter break they have grown 10 inches! Their excitement to be back matched mine and we had an amazing week together.

I have faced my reality with being back at work too…. blogging is going to be something that I need to make time for. It feels so natural to devote my extra time to my Firsties- the same could possibly be said for many of us teachers- but I want to continue cooking up dishes that my husband and I love and sharing them with you!

This weekend I wanted to take advantage of the weather and make a comforting soup. Troy and I eat clean on a daily basis, but we definitely never skimp on our cheese. This is one area where we both agree that indulging is worth it every now and then. French onion soup is such a deep, rich, and flavorful soup- slightly sweet from the caramelized onions and nutty from the Gruyere and Asiago cheese. It is a weekend must have that Troy thoroughly enjoyed. Happy eating!

French Onion Soup


1 tbs ghee

1 tbs avocado oil

5 sweet onions, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup water

2 tbs tapioca starch

6 and 1/2 cups low sodium beef broth

6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only

1/2 cup sherry, plus 2 tbs

Salt and pepper to taste

8 slices Gruyere cheese

2 cups shredded Asiago cheese

1 bag of garlic croutons (or bruscetta)

In a heavy bottom pot, saute onions in ghee and avocado oil on medium heat. Add 1 tsp of salt to help the onions soften.

After the onions have become translucent, add in minced garlic, 1/2 cup of water, and thyme and saute for 30 minutes. If you would like to caramelize them more, continue sauteing to your liking.

Add 1/2 cup of sherry and saute for 10 minutes more.

Add in 6 cups of beef broth and simmer for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, add 1/2 cup of beef broth and tapioca starch. Mix well to combine and stir into soup. Add in 2 tbs of sherry and simmer for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer soup to oven safe bowls on a baking sheet. Add 2 slices of Gruyere cheese over each bowl followed by croutons and shredded Asiago cheese.

Place under broiler until golden and bubbly.

Lamb Chops with Mint Gremolata and Roasted Broccolini

Winter break is over and school is returning which means it is back to the education grind. Before my return, I wanted to use my last day of winter break to create something special for my husband that was simple but yummy. For our anniversary, Troy and I went to a local steak house where I ordered lamb chops. They were delicious! In this recipe I take simple ingredients but combine them in a way that will have your loved one thinking your spent hours cooking the night away! The brightness of the mint gremolata elevates the earthiness of the tender lamb. And it sounds more daunting than it actually is, I promise! This is one of those dishes I rate low risk, high reward!

Happy Eating!

Lamb Chops with Mint Gremolata and Roasted Broccolini


1 bunch broccolini

1/2 tbs avocado oil

salt and pepper

1/2 cup parsley

1 cup mint

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 clove garlic

salt and pepper to taste

3-4 double cut lamb chops

1 tbs avocado oil

1 tbs ghee

3 cloves of garlic, smashed

salt and pepper

pomegranate seeds


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place broccolini on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and toss with 1/2 tbs avocado oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

In a food processor, place parsley, mint, and garlic and pulse until ingredients are finely chopped. Add the lemon zest and 1 tsp of lemon juice. Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste.

In a heavy bottom pan on medium heat, add avocado oil, ghee, and smashed garlic. Heat until the oil is glistening. Take out smashed garlic when starting to turn golden brown.

Pat chops dry with a paper towel and season generously with salt and pepper. Place chops in the hot pan and brown on both sides. Once browned, add to broccolini and place in the oven for 15 minutes or until a meat thermometer reaches 155 degrees**. Let rest for 5 minutes to redistribute juices.

Drizzle with Mint Gremolata and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

**Note: Invest in a probe digital cooking thermometer. This is a game changer when cooking meat in the oven. You can monitor your meat temperature from your counter top and take all the guesswork out of it!

Winter Squash Tart

One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is visit the Pearl Farmers Market. I enjoy the feel of it- the music, the aromas from the food vendors, and the hot coffee in my hand that I sip as I travel from vendor to vendor.

I love going to the different farm tables and seeing what fresh produce they brought to sell. My mind starts imagining the different dishes I can make-and honestly, nothing beats fresh produce!

Last week I visited the Braune Farms stand. I have been playing around with a tart recipe in my head for a while but didn’t know what kind of filling I wanted to make. Then there they were-her butternut squash. I instantly knew I could play with their flavor and push the recipe in a winter direction.

I came home and started brainstorming what flavors I wanted to pair with them. Butternut squash takes on a slightly sweet flavor when roasted and I love warming spices during the winter, so why not marry the two?

Alamo Gristmill and Spice is another vendor I shop with at the Pearl Farmers Market and they make a delicious Ginger Basil Dressing seasoning that I like to use in different recipes. I liked the idea of ginger and pomegranate and ran with it!

If you live in or near San Antonio and haven’t been able to check out the Pearl, I highly suggest a visit. Fresh and local produce and goods are amazing and supporting our local farmers and small businesses is so important. And you can grab some killer bites while you’re there too! Happy Eating!

Winter Squash Tart


2 small, or one large, butternut squash-peeled and sliced into thin disks

1 tbs avocado oil

2 tbs Alamo Gristmill and Spices Ginger Basil Dressing seasoning, divided

1 tsp fresh thyme

Salt and pepper, to liking

1 sheet of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry

15oz Ricotta

Juice of half a lemon

1 egg, beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

Ginger-Pomegranate molasses (see below), pomegranate seeds, and toasted walnuts to garnish


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, toss butternut squash with 1 tbs of Ginger Basil Dressing seasoning, thyme, salt and pepper. Toss until squash is fully coated.

Mix together ricotta, 1 tbs of Ginger Basil Dressing seasoning, and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste.

Roll out pastry to 1/4 inch thickness and spread ricotta mixture evenly onto pastry.

Shingle squash in the center of the pastry leaving 1 inch of pastry exposed around each side. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill the pastry before going into the oven.

Fold over each side and brush with egg wash.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry becomes golden brown. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses and top with pomegranate seeds and toasted walnuts.

For the Ginger-Pomegranate molasses

In a small pot, pour 2 cups of pomegranate juice, a 1 inch knob of ginger (peeled and smashed) and 1 tbs honey. Whisk to combine. Simmer on medium low until the mixture has reduced and can coat the back of a spoon. Remove ginger and serve warm.

Toscana Soup

Today felt like a very lazy day in our household! I think mine and Troys internal clocks are still trying to figure themselves out from our late night/early morning New Years Eve celebration.

With it being a bit chilly outside, I wanted to warm us up with one of our favorite dishes, Toscana Soup! This Italian soup feels like a warm hug on a cold day….MmmMmmMmm

I substituted Swiss chard for kale because of the earthiness it gives the soup. But if you have kale on hand, or like the taste better, use it. Live your best life! 🙂

I also like to add nutritional yeast at the end to help round out the soup and add a hint of cheesy flavor. If you are lactose intolerant or don’t eat dairy, give nutritional yeast a try. It amazes me every time I use it for its cheesy goodness! If you are able to eat dairy then 1/2 cup grated Parmesan will work too :). Just add the Parmesan at the same time the nutritional yeast was added.

Happy Eating!

Toscana Soup


1 lb hot Italian sausage

1 tbs Braggs Organic Sprinkle Mix

1 tsp salt

1 yellow onion, diced

pinch 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

4 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups low sodium chicken stock

2 russet potatoes, cubed

5 slices of bacon, sliced into 1 inch pieces

1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, chopped

1 cup Nutpods Original creamer (or heavy whipping cream if you eat dairy)

1 tbs Braggs Nutritional Yeast

salt and pepper to taste


In a heavy bottom pot on medium high heat, saute the sausage with 1 tsp salt for 3-5 minutes. Add in onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes and saute until onions are translucent.

Add Braggs Organic Sprinkle Mix, chicken stock, and potatoes and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to medium heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a knife.

While soup is cooking, add sliced bacon into a saute pan and cook until crispy. Add bacon, bacon fat (yes, you read that right), Swiss chard, creamer, and nutritional yeast and mix to combine. Let simmer for 3 minutes more to soften the Swiss chard. Taste for seasoning.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Spanish Tapas- Potatoes Bravas with Lemon Garlic Aioli

New Years Eve in our household was full of relaxation, watching the countdown, and comforting our fur babies from the sounds of the fireworks.

Our last appetizer of the night were these tasty fried smashed potatoes. Fried in herb infused oil and topped with a smokey tomato sauce, it was just what the hunny wanted! My spin on this classic Spanish Tapa is smashing my potatoes. Smashing the potatoes allows for more of everyone’s favorite part- the crispy edges! The smokiness from the smoked paprika plays nicely with the bright acidity of the lemon garlic aioli.

I hope 2020 brings you more yummy food, laughter, and happily ever after!

Potatoes Bravas with Lemon Garlic Aioli


For the potatoes

10 small red potatoes

3 tbs avocado oil

3 garlic cloves, lightly crushed

2 sprigs rosemary

2 tsp smoked paprika

salt and pepper to taste

For the Bravas Sauce

2 tbs avocado oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves chopped

2 tsp smoked paprika

2 15 oz cans crushed tomatoes

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you like a kick!)

salt and pepper to taste

Lemon Garlic Aioli can be found here


In a large pot of salted (like the sea) boiling water, drop potatoes and cook until fork tender-about 15 minutes.

While potatoes are boiling, prepare the rosemary and garlic infused oil. In a large saute pan, put avocado oil, garlic, rosemary, and smoked paprika on medium low heat. Let the ingredients simmer until the garlic and rosemary become nice and crispy. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, roughly chop them (remove leaves from stem and discard), and reserve for garnish. Remove pan from heat as you wait for the potatoes to finish.

Once potatoes are tender, drain, and place them on a paper towel to remove excess moisture.

Now it is time to smash the potatoes! Using the bottom of a coffee mug, gently press down on each potato. They should resemble fat disks- this allows for more surface area to crisp up when pan fried in the infused oil. Salt and pepper them before placing in the pan.

Bring the infused oil to medium high temperature. Once the oil in glistening, place potatoes in the pan and fry on both sides until nice and brown. Remove from pan, finish with salt and pepper, and garnish with reserved rosemary and garlic.

For the Bravas Sauce: In a medium pot, saute onions, garlic, and smoked paprika until onions have softened. Add in tomatoes, cayenne, salt and pepper. Taste, taste, and taste again- do not be afraid to experiment with your food! I am a big supporter of seasoning to your liking. In my recipes you will notice that I do a lot of “salt and pepper to taste” and that is because our love of salt will always differ. So go on, do your thing! 🙂

Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before blending into a smooth sauce.

To assemble: Spoon Bravas sauce to the bottom of a small serving dish. Place fried herb potatoes on top. Finish with a drizzle of Bravas Sauce and Lemon Garlic Aioli.

Extra Bravas Sauce is super yummy when spooned over fried eggs, omelets, fish, and chicken. OooOoo I might need to play around with this more and add a leftovers recipe :).

Spanish Tapas- Cherry Pepper Rellenos

When Troy and I thought about our plans for New Years we decided to stay in and bring in the new year with our fur babies, a glass of wine, and an array of small bite appetizers. One of our favorite places to go here in San Antonio is a Spanish tapas bar. Every single item we have tasted there has been amazing! Guys, Every.Single.One! Since we decided to stay in, we thought it would be fun to recreate our experiences from there for New Years Eve.

Cherry Pepper Rellenos is a spin on a dish that I absolutely love. Traditionally used with piquillo peppers, I swapped them for cherry peppers because their shape makes it easier to enjoy as an appetizer. This dish marries different flavors and textures. They are sweet from the peppers, salty from the Serrano ham, creamy from the different types of cheese used, and crunchy from the bits of toasted walnuts. I picked up my peppers from the olive bar at my local grocery store.

Tonight we opened a bottle of Becker Vineyards Cabernet-Syrah and it paired perfectly with our appetizer extravaganza!

Spanish Tapas-Cherry Pepper Rellenos


14 cherry peppers, de-seeded

2 oz garlic and herb goat cheese

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

2 tbs almond milk (or regular milk)

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and crushed- reserve a bit for garnish

4 slices Serrano ham, diced

salt and pepper to taste

chives to garnish


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cherry peppers into a small oven safe dish.

In a small bowl, mix together goat cheese, mascarpone, and milk. Whip until smooth and slightly fluffy.

Fold in the toasted walnuts and Serrano ham. Salt and pepper to taste.

To fill the cherry peppers: spoon the filling into a zip top bag. Push the mixture into one of the bottom corners of the bag. Snip the tip of the bag and squeeze the mixture into the cherry peppers.

Place peppers into the oven for 5-8 minutes until heated through.

Garnish with reserved walnuts and chives.