Panera Bread Potato Soup

I have never had potato soup at Panera (I am pretty sure it isn’t vegetarian). But, this soup was good! My 8 year old (shockingly) didn’t like this, but my 5 year old did. This was super easy, although the (lite) cream cheese I used didn’t want to blend thoroughly. Easy, relatively fast soup!

rating: 9

Panera Bread Potato Soup

4 cups chicken broth (I used vegetarian “chicken” broth)
4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
8 oz cream cheese (I used lite cream cheese)
2 cloves of garlic
½ teaspoon seasoning salt
½ teaspoon of paprika
¼ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (I omitted)


1. Combine broth, potatoes, garlic, and spices.
2. Boil on medium heat until potatoes are tender.
3. Smash a few of the potatoes to release their starch for thickening.
4. Reduce to low heat.
5. Add cream cheese.
6. Heat, stirring frequently, until cheese melts.

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Spinach Pasta With Asparagus Pesto

I couldn’t find spinach spaghetti, but I did find one that was made with various veggies and was reddish in color. Husband LOVED this pasta. My 8 year old didn’t care for it, but my 5 year old liked the pasta part only. I thought it was pretty good, and was a nice change.

rating: 9

Spinach Pasta With Asparagus Pesto
(Real Simple)

serves 4
time needed: 35 min.


1 pound spinach spaghetti (I used a spaghetti made with veggies)
1/2 pound green asparagus, peeled and trimmed
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 ounce pine nuts (2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 cup chicken broth ( I used vegetarian “chicken” broth)
1 ounce Parmesan, freshly grated (about 1/4 cup)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions until al dente. Drain.
Meanwhile, place the asparagus in a pot of lightly salted boiling water. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender-crisp. Drain and run under cold water to stop cooking.
Cut the spears in half. Roughly chop the stalk bottoms; cut tops into 1-inch pieces. In a food processor, combine the bottoms, garlic, ¼ cup basil, pine nuts, and ½ teaspoon salt. With the motor running, add 1 tablespoon oil and process until finely chopped.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the shallot; cook until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the asparagus mixture and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and asparagus tops and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is thickened, about 5 minutes.
Tear the remaining basil leaves and add to the skillet, along with the pasta, Parmesan, pepper, and remaining salt. Toss well. Serve immediately.

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Product Review: Beyond Meat Beastly Sliders

I was so excited to see these at Whole Foods! I read about The Beast Burger last year in Outside magazine, and have been anxiously awaiting their arrival. Man, was I disappointed. I didn’t see the regular Beast Burger in Whole Foods, but grabbed the slider. There are 6 sliders in a package and they are frozen. I pan-fried them in a little oil, and I have to say, they smelled great while cooking! They even looked like real meat cooking (it was a little scary). I couldn’t get them on the plate fast enough. But, the taste just wasn’t there. They had a very strange aftertaste. Husband said they tasted like the hamburgers you would get in high school (mystery meat, anyone?). I can’t believe with all of that hype, that’s what I got. I am truly bummed about this.

rating: 3

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Two-Cheese Veggie Nachos

I saved some time making this by using premade tortilla chips! I also kind of forgot about them and they burned a little! :) These nachos were okay. I forgot the corn, but they also needed something else to jazz them up. Not sure what they were missing. We ate them, but weren’t wowed.

rating: 8

Two-Cheese Veggie Nachos
(Cooking Light, Aug. 2015)

serves 4


1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup chopped red onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup fresh corn kernels (I omitted)
2 tablespoons thinly sliced jalapeño pepper (I omitted)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (14.5-ounce) can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into wedges
Cooking spray
2 ounces shredded reduced-fat Mexican-blend cheese (about 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup diced peeled avocado (about 1 small)
2 ounces crumbled queso fresco (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 medium tomato, diced
4 lime wedges


1. Preheat broiler to high.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add zucchini and next 5 ingredients (through salt); cook 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add beans; cook for 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

3. Arrange tortilla wedges in a single layer on a large jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat tortilla wedges with cooking spray. Broil 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and crisp. Sprinkle shredded Mexican cheese evenly over tortillas. Broil 1 minute or until cheese melts.

4. Top chips evenly with bean mixture, avocado, queso fresco, cilantro, and tomato. Serve with lime wedges.

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Artichoke-Spinach Lasagna

This turned out to be really good, although next time I make it, I will use another pasta sauce. I couldn’t find either of my favorites, and I didn’t love the one I picked. This wasn’t too difficult to put together, but be aware, it does take some time to cook. Thumbs up from everyone!

rating: 9.5

Artichoke-Spinach Lasagna
(All Recipes magazine Sept./Oct. 2015)


cooking spray
9 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (I used dried and less of it)
1 (14 ounce) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 (28 ounce) jar tomato pasta sauce
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 (4 ounce) package herb and garlic feta, crumbled (I used plain feta)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium-high. Saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes, or until onion is tender-crisp. Stir in broth and rosemary; bring to a boil. Stir in artichoke hearts and spinach; reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in pasta sauce.
Spread 1/4 of the artichoke mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking dish; top with 3 cooked noodles. Sprinkle 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese over noodles. Repeat layers 2 more times, ending with artichoke mixture and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle crumbled feta on top.
Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover, and bake 15 minutes more, or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

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Pumpkin Soup

We are heading into soup weather! Although for me, any time is a good time for soup. This recipe is super easy, and tasted great! There’s not a whole lot to it, so to jazz it up, maybe you could add some croutons to it? It might need a little crunch or something. But, it is also good on its own.

rating: 8.5

Pumpkin Soup
(All Recipes magazine, Sept./Oct. 2015)


6 cups chicken stock (I used vegetarian “chicken” stock)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups pumpkin puree (1 29-ounce can)
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley (I omitted)


Heat stock, salt, pumpkin, onion, thyme, garlic, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered.
Puree the soup in small batches (1 cup at a time) using a food processor or blender.
Return to pan, and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Stir in heavy cream. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.

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Roasted Mushrooms on White Bean Puree

I thought this would be so much better than it was. :( The mushrooms could have been cooked longer (they were very watery). The white bean puree was really good. I like the idea of this, but I probably won’t make it again.

rating: 4

Roasted Mushrooms on White Bean Puree
(Cooking Light)


4 large portobello mushroom caps, stemmed
1 cup thin zucchini slices
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
4 garlic cloves, minced and divided
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup fat-free milk (I used almond milk)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans unsalted Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme


1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Combine mushrooms, zucchini, and 1 tablespoon oil. Set zucchini aside. Arrange mushrooms, gill sides down, in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 425° for 4 minutes. Turn mushrooms over; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 2 garlic cloves. Carefully layer zucchini slices over mushrooms. Bake at 425° for 6 minutes. Top evenly with cheese. Bake 2 minutes or until cheese melts.
3. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, oregano, and tomatoes.
4. Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 2 garlic cloves, milk, peppers, and beans in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Place mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure lid on blender. Place a towel over opening in lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Add parsley and thyme; pulse 5 times or until well combined. Divide puree among 4 plates. Arrange mushrooms over puree; top with tomato mixture.

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