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10 Ways to Accessorize Your Soup

As a kid, tomato soup was a staple in my home. My mom always made it just a little more special by adding crackers smeared with butter. It was such a treat to see them floating delicately on top of a hot bowl of soup. It’s one of my first, and fondest food memories. Now I look for little ways to elevate my soup for my family and friends.

Believe me when I say there’s no need to be Martha to serve a picture-perfect bowl. These add- ins or as I like to call them, accessories, are easy and can transform a simple bowl of soup into something special in just minutes.

  1. For the kids– Offer fun add-ins like Goldfish, or grilled cheese fingers.
  2. Freshen up- Use fresh herbs like a sprig of Thyme, Oregano, Cilantro, Parsley or Rosemary, or pick the leaves off and sprinkle on top.
  3. Bruschetta for the win– Keep a baguette in the freezer for a fast add on to your soup. Simple toast slices and top with melted cheese, or a scoop of fresh ricotta sprinkled with salt and fresh ground black pepper for a hearty addition to any bowl.
  4. Drizzle It, Just a little bit– Drizzles of flavored oils like truffle oil, or even just a really good quality extra virgin olive oil make lovely layers of flavor in soup.
  5. Spice it up– Hot sauce, chili oil, chili flakes and sprinkles of cayenne are all good picks for kicking your soup up a notch on the heat index.
  6. Cheese please- Freshly grated hard cheese like Parmesan and Pecorino are great to top off a bowl of soup. You can also add some tuiles or crackers of the same cheesy flavor profiles for a nice crunch.
  7. Get nutty- Toasted nuts like chopped almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts are great for adding texture and flavor. Seeds are great add- ins too, like spiced pumpkin seeds.
  8. A dollop will do– A tablespoon of sour cream, Greek yogurt, ricotta cheese, or mascarpone make for pretty floats on a bowl of soup and create creamy texture when stirred in.
  9. Toast with toppings– I mentioned Bruschetta above, but you can also simply toast your favorite bread and smear with a variety of toppings for a complementary garnish. I recommend thinner slices and cutting into smaller pieces for easier handling. Pita toast points with hummus, whole grain toast triangles with goat cheese, or Texas toast with a sprinkle of salt, are just a few great toast options.
  10. Citrus –Citrus zest adds a great pop of color and flavor. Finely zested – lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit can all be used on top of soups or to sprinkle on top of the dollops, drizzles and toast points above for added flavor and color.

This post was sponsored by Campbell’s Well Yes Soup. All opinions are my own.

Active Girlfriend’s Guide to Lunch- Soup’s On!

Top Tips for a Happy, Balanced Day

Last week, my friend Julie and I spent lunch at our partner Campbell’s World Headquarters, chatting about how the small choices we make help us win the day. With so much on our plates, from work to kids to activities, it’s a challenge to consistently make good food choices, especially for lunch.

We aren’t nutritionists or dietitians, just real women trying to navigate the food pitfalls of our modern busy lives. We found these small changes have created positive results in our lives and can benefit you too.

Whether you’re trying to find great choices for lunch on-the-go, feed your picky eaters at home or just fit into your favorite jeans, here are our no- fail tips.

  • Wake up and get dressed in your work out gear. For me this is a must if I’m going to work out. And that means putting on your trainers too. For Julie- she sleeps in her gear- and that makes her workout as soon as she wakes up.
  • Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. It’s important to kick- start your day with a glass of water to get hydrated.
  • Stock your pantry and fridge for success. Aim to incorporate whole ingredients with nutritional and functional benefits like quinoa, wild rice, and beans into your meals.
  • Increased activities and exercise require increased protein in the diet. Well Yes! soups have 6 varieties that are a good source of protein.  Keeping these in the house, my fave being the Roasted Chicken with Wild Rice having 15 grams of protein per can, prevents me from ordering take out when I need a meal on the fly.
  • Prep as you unpack groceries. Cut peppers into strips, peel carrots and dice onions and place into zip top bags for easy access when prepping meals.
  • Travel with water bottles to stay hydrated and avoid choosing sugary drinks or too much caffeine.
  • Pack an insulated container of Well Yes! soup for an easy, on-the-go lunch option you can keep in your purse, in your car or at your desk.
  • Feed picky eaters balanced meals by introducing comfort foods with added benefits. Soups like chicken noodle or chicken and rice are flavors picky eaters usually like. The Well Yes! versions include added ingredients like white beans or wild rice, making it easy for picky eaters to try new ingredients.
    • Vegan or vegetarian eaters can get both protein and fiber from Well Yes! options like the Cajun Red Bean and Vegetable.

Can you tell we love soup?? For more info head to www.WellYesFoods.com

This post was Sponsored by Campbell’s Well Yes Soups. All opinions are my own. 

Basic Creme Brûlée Recipe

Creme Brulee is typically a vanilla custard topped off with a burnt sugar topping.

The absolute best part of this dessert is that to get the sugar topping all burnt and crackly, you get to scorch the top with a mini-butane kitchen torch (though you may want to think twice before you consume carcinogens). It’s also a dessert that is reasonably easy to prep and make, but super impressive when you serve it.

Cracking through the candy shell into the decadent custard below is what makes this dessert so much fun to eat. Once you have mastered the basic vanilla base recipe, you can start playing around to create your own masterpieces. Add 8 ounces of melted chocolate chips and you’ve got chocolate Creme Brulee. Or infuse the basic Creme Brulee recipe with fresh herbs like basil or spices like star anise or cinnamon. Then add a little citrus with zest of lemon, lime, or oranges, for an array of delectable creamy desserts.

Typically this is prepared in individual ramekins and eaten with a spoon (photo credit via avlxyz on Flickr)

Continue Reading “Basic Creme Brulee Recipe” on Food Republic.

Best Basic Chicken Salad Recipe

A classic sandwich filling or salad, now with bacon

Whether you eat it atop a bed of lettuce or stuff it into a sub with shredded lettuce and tomato, chicken salad is just one those things you need once in awhile. It’s tasty, filling, and easy to make.

And while all you really need is some chopped cooked chicken bits, some mayo, salt, pepper, and a crunchy element like almonds and/or celery, there’s a lot more you can do with chicken salad. 

Click here for the full recipe.

How To Make French Toast

The three-step technique to great French Toast

Food historians are still not clear whether French Toast is indeed French or if another nation deserves credit for this sweet, eggy delight. Either way, this brilliant rescue of stale bread has kept this moniker and lives on as a breakfast favorite. Typical accompaniments are butter and syrup, but these warm, fluffy slices of goodness can be filled with fruit compote (or stuffed with chocolate and marshmallows. We’re not judging, we’re just hungry).

Click here for the full recipe.

Easy Pulled Pork with Kale Slaw Recipe

This recipe is so easy and delicious. Basically you put a few things in the slow cooker and go about your day.  It takes 8 hours to cook but you only need to be actively prepping about 15 minutes. We make ours with Kale Slaw but feel free to serve with your favorite hot sauce, pickled peppers or just solo on your favorite bun.

2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced

4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

1 (4 1/2 to 5lb) boneless pork shoulder, any twine or netting should be removed

1 cup barbecue sauce

Kale Slaw

2 cups chopped kale

1 cup shredded cabbage

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon white vinegar

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1. Place the onion and garlic in an even layer in the slow cooker and pour in the stock or broth. Pat the pork dry with paper towels. Season pork with salt.

2. Place the salted pork on top of the onions and add the chicken stock and 1 cup of barbecue sauce. Cover and cook on high until the pork is fork tender, about 8 hours.

3. Turn off the slow cooker and using two forks pull apart the pork. It should easily shred if not you may need to cook longer.

4. Remove any big pieces of fat.

5. Add more barbecue sauce if needed. Serve with Kale Slaw.

For the Slaw:

1. In a bowl whisk the mayonnaise and the vinegar until smooth.

2. Add the kale and the cabbage and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes enough for 10 servings

Basic Bread Pudding Recipe

Kentucky bourbon caramel sauce tops off dessert

Let’s face it: Bread pudding is not the most exciting dessert in the world. It often looks like a gloppy mess, and its main ingredient is stale bread. In fact, bread pudding is essentially a conduit for leftover bread; in thrifty (or poor) households throughout the world, and in mindful restaurants, it’s a way to use bread whose crust has hardened but whose dough still has a bit of sponginess left, instead of merely throwing it out.

Click here for the full recipe.

Beach Bucket Trifle Recipe- The Perfect Summer Party Dessert


This simple dessert, featured on NBC’s TODAY show as one of Maureen’s Picnic Hacks, is a perfect treat for any summer cookout or picnic. Let the kids get involved in making and serving this whimsical dessert.

Beach Bucket Mixed Berry Trifle Dessert

2 containers of Cool- Whip

8 cups of cubed pound cake (about 2 loaves)

4 cups of sliced, hulled strawberries

2 pints of blueberries, de- stemmed

IMG_1243In a clean beach bucket layer the ingredients beginning with a scoop of Cool- Whip, then a layer of cake, then berries. Continue until you get to the top. With the last two layers being Cool Whip topped with mixed berries.

Serve with the shovel. 

Makes 12 servings

See this recipe live here on NBC.


Simple Caprese Salad Recipe

The tomato and basil Caprese salad, nice and easy

Caprese salad is said to have originated in the region of Italy that includes the Isle of Capri, but the only thing that matters about it nowadays is that the tomatoes are ripe, the basil is fresh, and the mozzarella is good. In fact, if you can get fresh mozzarella from an Italian market, and you’ve got a decent olive oil, the tomatoes and such, this will be one of the easiest dishes to put together.

Click here for the full recipe.