Beef and Vegetable Soup



I’ve been terribly ill the last week, but I attribute this delicious soup to my recovery. Real bone broth packs a ton of healing properties. Store bought broth is not cooked the same way, and therefore is used just for flavor – unfortunately it does not have much nutritional value. When we can, we follow the Nourishing Traditions recipe for making beef or chicken broth – but if you live here in the San Jose area, you can get already made beef broth from grass fed cows at the Campbell’s Farmer’s Market! But if you aren’t close, and don’t want to make your own broth, take heart. You can order “real” bone broth on the internet!

Check it out:

Andrew’s work shared this yummy recipe with us. I like to add quinoa or brown rice at the end (already cooked) to make the meal more filling.


Beef and Veggie Soup

1 beef chuck [cut into cubes]..[or you can buy already cut beef stew meat from a local grocery store]

1-2 cups chopped yellow onions

3 large carrots [peeled and diced] [you don’t necessarily need to peel carrots-they have waaay more nutritional value with their skin on  ]

3 celery ribs [diced]

Red wine [always cook with something you are willing to drink yourself]

1Ž4 c. minced garlic

Beef stock or broth [we use veal stock here..but beef stock or broth will work just fine]

1bunch thyme [chopped]

1 bunch oregano [chopped]

2 bay leaves

Salt and black pepper to taste

[again you can always up the ante on the vegetables]


Brown off beef in stock pot over medium high heat [in batches depending on how much you have-to achieve nice color] in oil [preferably vegetable oil, rice oil, or canola oil…olive oil will burn up too fast], remove from pot and allow to drain off any excess grease, reserve beef for later. In the same pot over medium heat, add in your diced onions, carrots and celery with your bay leaves. Allow to cook til onions become slightly translucent. Then add in your minced garlic [I personally LOVE garlic, so feel free to add in a lil more if you love garlic as much as I do] let cook for about a minute, try to avoid browning the garlic as it will become bitter once it hits that stage. Deglaze with red wine, about a cup or so and reduce out the alcohol. [You can always tell when the alcohol is cooked out by smelling it…if it burns your nose hairs…theres still alcohol left In the pot..if are good to move on to the next step J] add in about half of your chopped herbs and return meat back to pot. Add in your stock [to cover] and simmer away until beef is tender. Season up with salt and pepper as needed and at this point depending on how much you like herbs, you can finish with the rest of your herbs and skim off whatever fat or grease that may have been released over the simmering process…and viola!!!! You have beef and vegetable soup!! J

Things to keep in mind:

you can easily turn this into a stew by adding potatoes and letting them break down a lil to give the soup a thicker heartier feel.

You can also add in other seasonal vegetables such as sweet potatoes, parsnips [to give it a lil peppery taste to it], yams, the spring/summer time, you can add tomatoes, corn, peas, green beans..or any type of dried bean year round..the possibilities are endless!! J


Elderberry and Echinacea Syrup


Making your own elderberry and echinacea syrup is so easy! And cheaper too than buying it in the store. You can make this healthy immunity boosting syrup with just elderberries, or you can add the other ingredients. At first sign of illness, we drink bone broth, cut out all sugar, take some echinacea tinctures and drink herbal tea! Add this syrup too and you’ll put your cold dead in it’s tracks. Thanks to OhLardy website for this recipe and info! I buy all my herbs on Mountain Rose Herbs online.

Echinacea fights inflammation, bacterial and viral infections. It is good for the immune and the lymphatic systems. It is helpful for allergies, colds, flu and other infections.

Elderberry fights inflammation and relieves coughs and congestion . It enhances immune system function, lowers fevers and soothes the respiratory tract. It is very effective against flu viruses.

Cinnamon counteracts congestion, warms the body and enhances digestion.

Clove has antiseptic and anti parasitic properties.

Ginger fights inflammation and stimulates circulation and digestion. It is a strong antioxidant and has antimicrobial properties. It is helpful for headache, indigestion and vomiting, among other ailments.


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup elderberries
  • 1/4 cup dried echinacea
  • 1 inch or so of ginger
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 cup (or less) of raw honey


  1. Mix all ingredients, except honey, in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 45 minutes or so.
  3. Strain.
  4. Let cool.
  5. When cool, add honey in to taste.
  6. Then pour into jar.
  7. Keep in refrigerator and use within 2 months.

Kerry’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls



I’ve tried lots of cinnamon roll recipes, but Kerry’s is the best!! And the easiest!! This is what we eat every Christmas morning.

1 cup boiling water

3/4 cup butter
3/4 sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 beaten eggs
2 packages dry yeast
1 cup warm water

Boil 1 cup of water and add butter, sugar, and salt. Let sit and cool until luke water. In a separate bowl, add yeast and luke warm water. The water needs to be warm enough to activate the yeast but not too hot, which would kill the yeast. Let sit until bubbly. Add eggs and yeast mixture to the cooled water/butter/sugar/salt mixture. Then mix in flour, 3 cups at a time. Dough should be somewhat wet. Refrigerate and cover overnight.

The next morning, roll out dough. Smear generously with softened butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Roll up and slice. Place rolls in a large baking dish, bake at 350 until golden brown on top.

Cover top with a cream cheese frosting or powdered sugar frosting and serve!

Picture Step by Step Chicken Soup Tutorial

Here is a step by step picture tutorial on how to make your own nourishing chicken soup.  In our house, we use quinoa instead of noodles, but Chicken Quinoa Soup just doesn’t have the same ring to it ask Chicken Noodle Soup!  So, if you prefer noodles, go ahead and skip the quinoa prep parts, but I do highly recommend you try it with quinoa instead because of the wonderful nutritious value of this super grain.

Do youself a favor when you make this – make it BIG so that you have some to freeze for the future, when you are feeling under the weather, and you need a quick hardy soup on hand.  I always feel infinitely happier when I know there is frozen soup in my freezer!!

And forgive the quality of my pictures.  I’m not going for a food blog award here.  These are iPhone photos taken in my small messy kitchen with poor lighting.  It’s real life folks.  Real life.

And onward to the soup!!

Step 1: Peel and chop half an onion.  Ignore the Safeway receipt.  


Step 2: Sauté chopped onion with a few pats of butter in a stock pot or dutch oven.


Step 3: Peel and mince a few cloves of garlic, add to the sautéing onions


Step 4: Toast 1 cup of quinoa in a saucepan for about 6 minutes. Just quinoa in the pan, nothing else. You will know it’s done toasting when you can smell it. Don’t let it go too long or it will burn. If you need to, put a timer on it!


Step 5: Chop several stalks of celery

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Step 6: Add chopped carrots. These are extra carrots and green beans that I had over the summer, so I chopped them up and tossed in a freezer bag. Perfect and easy to put in soups when you are short on time! I put them in the soup completely frozen. Freezing pre-chopped veggies is amazing and so helpful.  How did I just learn about it?  Life changing!!


Step 7: Add herbs. Here I am using fresh parsley. If you have it, great. If you don’t, no worries. Allow veggies to cook until softened.  Also add some salt.


Step 8: By this time, you should smell your quinoa toasting up nicely. Measure 1 3/4 cups water, preferably boiling hot, but it’s ok if it’s not.


Step 9: Add the water to your quinoa

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Step 10: Add a tbsp of olive oil to the pot with the water and quinoa. I don’t measure, just a quick pour.

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Step 11: Add a tsp of salt to the quinoa. 


Step 12:  Bring quinoa to a boil, then down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.


Step 13:  Revisit your veggies.  Add spices.  These are my favorite cast of characters.  Just a pinch or two of the turmeric will give a nice flavor.  I like to be generous with the garlic salt and other seasonings.  Other yummies to add are dried onion, onion salt, thyme.


Step 14:  Add your cooked chopped chicken.  Stir to get them covered with the flavors and cook for a minute.  This is where already cooked chicken from the freezer comes in very handy – preferably if you made a roast chicken and shredded the extra meat!  Also another great way to save $, one whole chicken can make several meals if you roast it, then shred it, make broth, and soup.  Our family of 5 can use one 4 lb chicken for 3 meals.  You rock, roast chicken! 

(here it is out of the fridge)


(then chopped and in the soup!)


Step 15:  Add your homemade chicken broth until the veggies are completely covered, and then some.  Yes, homemade broth.  It’s where all the nutrients and healing “powers” of the soup come from.  Store bought broth does not have the same nutritional qualities.  But if you are pressed, store bought is OK.  Just promise me next time you’ll do homemade, ok?  


Step 16:  Bring to a boil.


Step 17:  Once your quinoa is done, it should look like this.  Add to your soup.  I like to add all of it.  I think it makes a hearty soup and keeps you full longer.  Of course, if you are doing noodles instead, add the cooked noodles now.


Step 18: Check your flavors.  Taste, adjust, taste taste, adjust more!!  I always end up adding more salt and seasonings.  Just use a clean spoon for every taste.   🙂  And voila!  Your soup is done!  Super healthy, warms up up inside (which helps fight germs, too!), veggies, bone broth gelatinous goodness to keep your immunity up, and all the delights of the complete protein, high calcium, magnesium, and iron of the lovely hardy gain quinoa.  Eat!  Enjoy!  (remember to stir well when serving because the quinoa is heavy and sinks to the bottom).


Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot



I just discovered this incredibly easy way to prepare a whole chicken! Seriously, no prep AT ALL! Love it. The chicken is tender and great for shredding into tacos, soups, salads, etc.

4 lb Whole Chicken

Salt Chicken

Place in crockpot, add in lemons and garlic if you have it – if not, no problem!

Cook on High for 3 hours. If 5 lb bird, cook 3.5 hrs.

Allow chicken to rest 10 minutes before cutting into it. The skin will not be crisp like a roasted chicken, but the meat will be moist and tender!

Don’t forget to use that chicken later for homemade chicken broth!!

Herbed Tomato Soup


Our family literally excitedly waits for this soup every year.  With tomato season happily upon us, this recipe deserves a repost.  It’s summer in a bowl – super tasty!  We picked 30 lbs of tomatoes yesterday at our CSA farm’s u-pick.  I plan on making as much of this soup as possible!  It also freezes great!  Seriously, it’s better than any restaurant tomato soup.  The flavor makes my mouth water just writing about it!

And, I’m happy to report, it’s non-dairy, practically carb free, and could easily be vegan (just swap vege broth for chicken broth). Yay for fantastic healthy tasty meals!

Herbed Tomato Soup

Martha Stewart New Classics

makes about 8 cups


1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
12 large garlic cloves
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp coarsely chopped lovage or celery leaves
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp coarse salt
6 lbs tomatoes, chopped
1 – 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup thinly sliced basil


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, celery, parsley, lovage, and salt.  Cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes and stock; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer until tomatoes are soft and mixture is slightly reduced, 15-20 minutes.  Stir in basil; cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Pass the soup through the medium of a food mill set over a large bowl; discard the solids.  (we don’t have a food mill, so I pushed the soup through a fine mesh strainer with the back of a wooden spoon or potato masher).  Reheat if necessary and serve with crostini bread.


heat oven to 400 degrees.  brush several slices of rustic italian bread with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.  bake until edges are golden, about 5-8 minutes.

Apricot Jam

Once or twice a year, Andrew and I embark on some sort of canning adventure. In the summer, usually it’s berry jam, in the fall applesauce. But this year, our CSA had a bumper crop of apricots! So off we went to pick 30 lbs of loving fruit and quickly after the kids went to bed, we got started jamming up these ‘cots. Each time I “jam” I learn something new, so I hope if you are a fellow canner, you can gleam some helpful hints! I highly recommend this site if you are looking for a great step by step how to on canning and making jam.

First of all, I discovered Ponoma’s Pectin – yay! This pectin allows you to make jam with as much or as little added sweetener as you want. I didn’t know this before, but normal pectin needs a 1/1 ratio (typically) to gel or set the jam. When you use a “low sugar” pectin, you can decrease the amount of added sugar. This can get tricky unless you have a solid recipe to follow. Hence, the Ponoma Pectin filled in nicely here. (I’m not making money on this product I promise!). I appreciated the instructions included in their box. There was a recipe for just about any type of jam you’d like to make, and a ration of how much pectin you need depending on how much sweetener you want to use. So, for example, I was able to make a few jars using honey instead of sugar, a few using maple syrup, and a few using just a juice concentrate. Each one was super tasty and we certainly didn’t miss the usual buckets of refined white sugar that I used to use when making jam.

And, we aren’t quite done with our apricots. Next we’re going to do some apricot nectar, apricot fruit snacks, and apricot purees. For the price of one of those baby fruit packets from the store, you can score a whole pound of apricots! That makes a lot of baby “food” puree. Woohoo!

Make Your Own Salad Dressing



Making salad dressing was one of those gnostic skills that I thought some people had and some did not. I was of the have not. The few times I tried to “throw together” a salad dressing, it tasted like oil. So I gave up and bought the bottles, trying to work around all the zillions of weird ingredients that goes into a simple salad dressing.

After getting more serious about what we were eating, I decided to chuck the salad bottles again. Saving money on dressing, as well as the health benefits of making your own, forced me to get back in the game.

I found with a little information, making your own salad dressing isn’t so hard. You just need a good base. You can jump off that base and get creative – as long as the ratios of oil and vinegar stay the same.

So here’s how to mix up your own! Super simple. Use whatever you have in your fridge.


3 parts olive oil
1 part vinegar (red wine, balsamic)

Chose some add ins:

Splash of Lemon/Lime/Orange Juice
Scoop of brown mustard
Scoop of hummus
Finely Fresh Herbs
Minced onion or garlic
Shredded cheese
Mashed avocado

Too Tangy?  Make it creamier – Add in some plain yogurt/mayo/sour cream

Homemade Chicken Stock



So, no, of course you don’t HAVE to make your own broth. You can easily get away with the store bought stuff. But in all honesty, once you do your own, you’ll have a hard time going back. Everything is so much more delicious and flavorful with homemade broth. Especially soups. And, it’s super good for you. The vinegar in this recipe helps leach the marrow from the bones, and that’s the good stuff that makes you feel better when you’re sick and boosts your immune system.

Homemade Chicken Stock
Bones from leftover roasted chicken

a few carrots roughly chopped

a few celery stalks roughly chopped and the end bits that you usually don’t use

some leaves from the celery (lovage) and carrot tops if you have them

quartered onion (no need to peel)

parsley – fresh is great if you have it

a few garlic cloves

lots of salt

a splash of white wine if you’ve got it

a few tbsp vinegar

Put it all in the biggest stock pot you have – add water to cover everything, and bring to a boil. Then simmer and cover for at least 24 hrs, if not longer. When the water cooks down, add more.

After simmering is done, drain the broth and discard the solids. Divide into 2 cups and freeze in plastic baggies. Voila!

Make you own Black Beans



Not so much a recipe, more of a great money saving tip. For the price of 2 cans of black beans, you can buy dried and cook them yourself – I was able to make the equivalent of 8 cans of beans. Measure them in 2 cup baggies (same as a can) and freeze – voila! Plus you can cook them however you like and don’t have to worry about the messy BPA debates with canned goods. The liquid leftover from cooking the beans is also a great addition to soup.

This is my favorite tutorial on how to cook dried beans:

BUT, if you are like me and forget to soak yours overnight, here is an easy way to bypass soaking …