Oct 282014
 

Goodbye summer!

Fall is here. We were soaking up the sun in Hawaii when Fall officially arrived to the NW. We got back to cooler temperatures, leaves turning colors and pumpkin everything. It seemed too soon and out of place. But after a week or so of being home, I started to settle in and welcome the coming autumn weather. Cozy sweaters, fires in the fireplace, hot tea, and soup.

from http://livinginportlandor.blogspot.com/

from http://livinginportlandor.blogspot.com/

I found this recipe somewhere…it’s not a blog I’ve ever read and I honestly don’t know what search I did that brought me to it but once I found it I thought, I need to make this! I knew Michael would love it. He’s a huge fan of spinach and wants to eat more of it. I have not-so-fond memories of cooked spinach from my childhood. In fact, they were so horrible that I never ate spinach again until I met Michael. I remember we were first dating and he made me this Greek scrambled egg breakfast with spinach in it and I wrinkled my nose and said “I hate spinach.”

Lo and behold, I didn’t hate spinach. I just hated the frozen spinach slop defrosted in a microwave and used as a side dish at dinner. Ever since then I’ve found that I actually quite like it and it went GREAT in this recipe. It was one of the highlights I think.

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I cooked the veggies in a skillet and heat the tomatoes and broth in a separate stockpot. It’s actually a wedding gift! Le Creuset stock pot from Michael’s coworkers. Very generous gift that we will use often. This was the maiden voyage of said pot.

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So I cooked the onions, carrots and celery separately and then added that to the stockpot of broth. The recipe was vegetarian but had options to make it not vegetarian. I didn’t have vegetable broth so I used about 1 cup of leftover beef broth and the rest was chicken broth. I had some leftover hamburger meat I needed to cook up so we browned that in the skillet with the garlic and then added that to the pot, too. I’d say it was roughly about the amount you’d use for one hamburger. It wasn’t much and I wish it had been a little more.

Here is the recipe:

ITALIAN ORZO SPINACH SOUP

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4-6

Calories per serving: 300-400 calories depending on servings

From: http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/italian-orzo-spinach-soup-recipe/

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) DeLallo whole wheat orzo pasta, or other whole wheat pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 4 cups loosely-packed spinach
  • salt and black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 4 minutes, until soft. Add carrots, celery and garlic and saute for an additional 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, orzo (pasta), thyme, oregano, rosemary and stir to combine.
  2. Bring soup to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente.
  4. Stir in the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes until it is bright green and wilted.
  5. Season with salt and black pepper to taste (if needed). Serve warm.
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I’ve never had orzo before (shocking) and I liked it a lot! Kind of a cross between brown rice and tiny pasta…I got roughly 7 servings out of this recipe. I topped the soup with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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Michael said it was okay; I liked the recipe a lot but I’d make one change: I’d use spicy ground pork in it. I think the spice would go great with the rest of the flavors.

So while the evening darkened outside and we settled in to watch The Walking Dead, we ate our soup and felt it warm us from the inside. I love soup weather! We shared a few glasses of a sweet, smooth Malbec wine and it went perfectly with the soup.

I had some leftovers that I ate for lunch during the week. It was less soupy then because the orzo soaked up most of the broth. Despite that, it was still really tasty and it might even have been better the next day. I liked this dinner and would make it again. I’d probably also make some biscuits to go with it. Perfect fall meal for not many calories!

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Oct 212014
 

You know what’s nice? Going to a wedding you didn’t have to plan and you can just kick back and relax and enjoy it. :) It’s so nice not having ANY wedding things to plan or obsess about or think about. Suddenly I have all this free time and it’s SO NICE. Life feels calm and relaxed and just…nice. You really don’t realize how much it takes over your life until you’re in the middle of it.

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Over the weekend my cousin Joey got married here in Portland. Him and his fiance, Cat, had moved to Denver a few years ago but the wedding was here. The wedding itself was at a church in Lake Oswego (I was happy it was a nice, sunny day after a week of rain! As a recent bride I know how stressful it is checking the weather forecast!). Check out their sweet ride!

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Then the reception was at a country club in West Linn. The wedding started at 2pm because the drive from the church to the reception was kind of a long one. The country club was gorgeous and nestled in between farms and ranches and rolling hills. It was beautiful countryside I’d never seen before.

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The reception was actually in the tent-looking building next to the club (left in the photo). It was a big space and there were a ton of tables but still room to move around and not feel crammed in there. I’m not sure how many guests were there, I’d guess 200? Definitely bigger than my wedding. It was a cool space. There was a dance floor in the middle, too.

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My aunt, the mother of the groom, used to own her own floral business and she did the flowers for the wedding. She did a great job. They were really beautiful. Some of them were dahlias, like my wedding. Awwwww. :)

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The best part about the wedding was that we were guests! And could have fun and socialize and actually talk to people we didn’t have much time with at our wedding last month. It was nice. Things were so chaotic at my wedding and I felt badly that I didn’t get more time with each guest. This was the perfect opportunity to see everyone. I even got to see one of my cousins, sister of the groom, that I hadn’t seen in several years.

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And there was a photo booth! Michael and I actually got to enjoy it, too. Unlike our wedding where I never actually got to use the photo booth, I used this one. So did my parents.

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So did Grandma. :) The diva. She loves those photobooths.

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They had a live band, a pretty talented guy who I’m guessing was a Dave Matthews Band cover band? They played a bunch of DMB and then other songs and there was a DJ, too, that would play music when the band took a break. It was a fun vibe and everyone was dancing up a storm.

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Dinner was buffet, chicken or steak with blue cheese, two different kinds of salad, broccolini, potatoes, bread and fruit. I got the steak and a few potatoes. The salad had candied walnuts, blue cheese and apples in it. The cake was vanilla with I think raspberry filling? I didn’t eat a ton and I only had 2 glasses of wine and one glass of champagne for the toast. I don’t think I did too much damage to my diet..I guess I’ll know in a few days when I do a check-in on the scale. My hope is that all the dancing burned off some of those calories!

It was a great wedding and Michael and I had a lot of fun catching up with people, talking about our honeymoon and kind of reliving the best parts of our own wedding. Everyone was so sweet and complimentary about our wedding and that made me happy—all the planning had been worth it.

It was so cute seeing the new couple so happy, too. Made me a bit sentimental. :) Awww weddings.

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