Monday, November 24, 2014

Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul

Brrrr! Today has been windy, rainy and chilly! The kind of wind that blows the rain in sideways, or your front door right open, and the kind of chill that you can feel right to the bone. The girls and I spent most of the day indoors, where it was warm and dry. It has been such a drastic change from the week before when we had white, fluffy snow that lured us outside and gave us a festive feeling. On the upside, the dreary weather does seem to make comfort food much more comforting. When you come inside to the smell of home cooking, after being out in this kind of weather, the house seems so warm and inviting. The smell of homemade chicken noodle soup makes my heart smile. It is the most soothing of all comfort foods and really is food for the soul. Here is my recipe for the classic comfort food. Stay warm and dry and if you can't, at least make some chicken soup!

Stock Ingredients

1 whole chicken, washed and giblets removed
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
4 carrots, peeled and cut in half
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns

Soup Ingredients

Meat from the whole chicken used in the stock
4 carrots, sliced horizontally 
1 onion, diced
1 cup brown rice noodles (any shape or size you desire)
1 cup frozen green peas


In a large pot place all the broth ingredients.  Fill the pot with water until it just covers the top of the chicken.

Over high heat bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and allow to cook for at minimum of 4 hours.  The meat on the chicken will fall off the bone when ready.

Remove from heat and allow to cool, until you are able to handle the chicken without burning your fingers.

Strain the stock into another large pot.  Go through the chicken and pull out all of the good parts, leaving all the bones, skin, fat as well as the vegetables and seasonings to be discarded.

Place the chicken back into the stock in the new pot and cook on medium heat.  Add carrots, onions and noodles and allow to cook for 5 minutes.  Add frozen peas and allow to cook for 3 more minutes.  Noodles should be cooked by now, if they are not allow to cook until they are done.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Green & Bean Salad with Avocado & Cilantro Dressing

This wasn't initially going to be a blog post. I was lucky enough to have both Annabelle and Jolene napping at the same time, something that doesn't happen often, and whipped myself something up to eat for lunch. I posted a phone pic on Instagram and since I had a lot of positive reaction, I thought I would put the recipe up for those that were interested.


1 cup baby spinach
1 cup kale
1 cup napa cabbage, sliced
2 carrots, julienne
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup chick peas
1/4 cup kidney beans
1 1/2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped


In a large bowl toss all the ingredients and top with Cilantro & Avocado dressing (recipe follows).

Cilantro & Avocado Dressing


1 lemon juiced
1/2 avocado, mashed with a fork
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper to taste


In a bowl mash the avocado with a fork.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined.  Alternatively you could use an emersion blender for a smoother consistency.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Papaya, Pineapple and Strawberry Smoothie

After a week in Costa Rica I am trying to bring some of our vacation home with us. Coming home to cold weather, light flurries and Christmas decorations makes me long for the tropical weather and foods from our vacation. Yes, I did say Christmas decorations. It's hard to believe, but there are a few houses in our neighbourhood that already have lights and decorations out!

While away I was able to make blender after blender full of fresh tropical fruit smoothies.  It was such a treat to have a steady flow of fresh papaya, pineapple, mango and watermelon.


1/2 papaya, seeds removed, peeled and cubed
1/2 pineapple, peeled, core removed and cubed
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup almond milk
1 cup ice cubes


Place all ingredients into a blender and fill with water until it reaches the top of the fruit.  Blend and serve!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Gallo Pinto with Sweet Potato

Just a few days ago I was walking the beach in Playa Negra, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.  We took a family vacation with my husband's side of the family.  We rented a house on the beach and spent the week having fun in the sun with the kids. What a beautiful country! The beaches were breathtaking, the countryside lush and green, and the people helpful and friendly. I had the chance to sneak away a few of times to submerge myself in the natural beauty and adventure the country is so well known for.

Playa Negra is a small surfing community. The only access to the small town is by dirt road, which puts it off the beaten track and therefore doesn't attract as many tourists.  The dark sand beaches and the quiet, laid back surfing vibe was just what we were looking for. With a surfing lesson being on a few of our bucket lists, we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to get introduced to this intriguing ocean sport.  As expected it is much more difficult than the professionals make it look, however we were all successful in getting up and experiencing the thrill of riding a wave. I suspect there will be more lessons in our future.

There are also many yoga retreats and lessons in Guanacaste. My sister in law and I joined an early morning class with a retreat in the area, Peace Retreat Yoga. What a wonderful class it was.  It was so different than what we are used to in Canada. The class was in a cozy jungle yoga hut, the sound of monkeys and birds chirping in the background. The class was much less formal than I am used to and it pushed us to our limit with every posture. I left the class feeling open, grounded and inspired.

The other excursion I was able to participate in was a SUP tour along a river, through the Mangroves. We paddled our way through the mangroves as the river narrowed. We could hear snails popping the mud as they dug and the birds singing. There was a calmness in the stillness of the river, but also an eeriness knowing there were crocodiles leering beneath the water.

Since we rented a house we prepared many meals ourselves.  We did have a local come in to prepare us authentic home cooking in the comforts of our borrowed home a couple of times, which was very relaxing and delicious I might add.  One of the traditional dishes of Costa Rica is Gallo Pinto or rice and black beans.  We ate these daily while in Costa Rica and I fell in love with them!

Here is my version of this simple, yet flavourful dish.

If you haven't had the opportunity to see this wonderful country, you should. We will definitely be going back to experience more of mother nature's playground and the delicious food.


1 1/2 cups rice
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can black beans
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil of your choice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

optional : 1 avocado, sliced, homemade salsa or Costa Rican Lizano Salsa


Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook rice in a large pot. While the rice is cooking bake sweet potatoes in the oven until tender.

While the rice is cooking and the sweet potatoes are in the oven sauté onions until they are golden brown. Add beans, garlic, cumin, coriander and turmeric to the pan and sauté for another two minutes.

When the rice is fully cooked, add the beans to the rice. Stir in the sweet potatoes and cilantro.

Top with sliced avocado and your favourite hot sauce to taste.