Monthly Archives: September 2013

Homemade Chunky Tomato Basil Soup

I know this is going to sound redundant but I cannot help myself, the weather has been so perfect lately! We drive or take recycling out in the evening and can’t help but notice that the  sky is so clear and cloudless and the air is just so crisp . I’m absolutely smitten with this time of the year…as if you couldn’t already tell.

The chill in the air has been delightful and perfect for homemade soups. I have a few new recipes I have found lately that caught my eye, but Mr. B beat me to it this time and whipped up a batch of his homemade chunky tomato basil soup. What a catch my guy is! Now only if he’d do the dishes afterwards.. wink-wink.

Nothing like a hot bowl of soup to soothe the soul.


Weekending Recently

Unless the weather decides to make a rather abrupt U-turn in the next few days (I really don’t foresee this happening), we have written off summer and bid farewell to her for another couple of months.

We’ve been sleeping with the large windows slid open and it makes our sheet so comfortably cool when we slip into our bed at night. Robes and slippers have become almost mandatory and are hung near the bed to be slipped into, cheerfully greeting us for our early morning awakenings. We have been burning our apple and pumpkin candles, scenting our home in the most sumptuous fall smells. Strolls in the evening require a sweater or layers. Mums are proudly displayed all over our cute country town in stunning shades of yellow, burgundy, and gold (Are you ready for your blog feeds to be jam-packed with gorgeous outdoor shots of all things fall?). Oh! I almost forgot, most excitingly we received our order of Starbucks pumpkin spice flavoring for endless heavenly homemade pumpkin lattes, mornings have never been so sweet!

Continuing on with our love of fall, I found a fun new recipe that made me think of fall, comfort, warmth, and being bundled up inside. A yummy veggie shepherds pie!

Watch out, our fall fever is highly contagious….Luckily it’s treatable and you just have to give into all of your fall fever desires.

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

Source: Thoughts by Natalie


3 Medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
A dash of nutmeg
A drizzle of fruity olive oil, to taste
2 Cans vegan chili
1 Onion, roughly chopped
4 Cloves of garlic, chopped
4 Small to medium zucchini, trimmed, cut into pieces
1 14-oz Can artichoke hearts, drained and cut up
1 14-oz Can fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles, drained
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Teaspoon dried thyme
1 Teaspoon dried basil
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon


Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the sweet potatoes in a pot of fresh salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until under fork tender and mashable.

Meanwhile, sauté onions and garlic; stir and cook for five minutes or until the onions are soft. Add in the zucchini; stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Add in the artichokes and tomatoes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, dried herbs and cinnamon. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid is reduced a bit. Remove from heat.

Once the sweet potatoes are ready, drain and mash them lightly. Season with sea salt, ground pepper and nutmeg. Drizzle with a little fruity olive oil if desired.

Now it’s time to layer the casserole dish. Start with the two cans of chili, followed by the veggie mixture, then top with the mashed sweet potatoes. Bake in the center of the preheated oven until bubbling and hot—about 25 minutes.


Sunday Cooking

I didn’t realize until recently that I collect cookbooks. I didn’t set out to do so…it sort of just happened. I can always remember fussing to look at my grandmothers red binder of hundreds of recipes she collected over the years. It’s so silly, I still sort of fuss to see that red binder when I visit her, I chalk it up to being sentimental. To this day I really enjoy reading new cookbooks almost like a chapter book. It might sound a little strange but I can start from the very beginning and work my way to the very end. Each new page making me think of a new meal idea or challenge. I also enjoy books on culinary school…I’m often swept off into a daydream of what if’s and thoughts of wouldn’t that just be incredible to attend Le Cordon Bleu?

I grew up not really knowing how to properly cook. I think it is safe to say that I was fairly spoiled because I always had someone making me a meal. I believe that is where the intimidation of cooking started for me. I loved the idea of end result where the food was served, admired, and enjoyed like a piece of beautiful art. It was just getting to that end result that I lacked for many years.

Thankfully as I’ve grown so have my taste and curiosity to make and create something new. The fear is still sometimes there looming in the back of my mind when a recipe looks very challenging, however I keep that little voice in check by reminding it that I wont get to enjoy or share something that could be incredibly delicious unless I try to make it first.

Can you relate? Have you ever been intimidated by cooking? Do you find it easier and have more confidence to cook with friends rather than alone? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. For now, no Le Cordon Bleu but I’ll leave you with two very simple but delicious recipes that I pulled from two of my cookbooks.

Blueberry Crisp
From: Bread & Wine


4 Cups blueberries (or any fruit, really)

Crisp topping:

1 Cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 Cup pecans
1/2 Cup almond meal (available at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, health food stores, or made by putting almonds in food processor until fine, but before they turn to almond butter)
1/4 Cup maple syrup
1/4 Cup olive oil
1/2 Tsp salt


Pour four cups fruit into 8×8 pan. Spread crisp topping over the fruit. Bake at 350 degrees 35-40 minutes, or longer if topping and fruit are frozen, until fruit is bubbling and topping is crisp and golden.

Serves 4

Basic Hummus
From: The Super Baby Cookbook


1 Can chickpeas (or the equivalent amount of chickpeas you have cooked yourself)
2 tbsp tahini (omit this altogether if you prefer)
2 to 3 tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 to 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


Drain the chickpeas and combine all the ingredients in a food processor.

Blend on a low-speed until the hummus is completely smooth. If the mixture seems very thick, add in some extra olive oil or water to loosen it up.

Let me know how they come out for you. Enjoy!


Jeju Island Getaway

This past weekend we got the opportunity to again enjoying a brief getaway on the beautiful volcanic island of Jeju, only this time for a low-key friends meet up/ no real game plan kind of weekend.

Summer is officially over and clearly Fall is knocking on the door. Even on the tropical like island of Jeju the much brisk temperatures are starting to settle it. Saturday was dreary and rained, or misted rather, but we made sure we didn’t let the weather stop our fun. We took full advantage of checking out all the places that our group didn’t get to see the first time each of us visited Jeju in the past.

Get ready for some Korean cheesiness. Ready? Jeju Island Teddy Bear Museum….yes… told you.. we are clearly all about the cheesiness here, O’ Sulloc’s tea Plantation, Manjanggul Cave, Cheonjiyeon waterfalls, Jeju Starlight World Park and Planetarium, and Jinjie Cave.

We sipped green tea, coffee, ate some bingsu, ate green tea frozen yogurt, hiked part of the island coast where we got to check out 15 man-made caves ranging 15metres wide and 20metres long leftover from the period of when Korea was under Japanese rule, had the hubby believing that some of the teddies in the teddy bear museum were recovered and came from the Titanic, visited chocolate land where we later discovered we overpaid and were taken on the price of our boxes of chocolate (live and learn), and of course ate the Jeju speciality Jeju Black Pig (heuk-doe-ji). Overall a good time!

So, What were your plans over the weekend?

Feel free to check out photos and follow along on Instagram too!


Other Side

The original plans were to dive this weekend at the east coast, relax, stroll on the beach and get carried away with a good book. That fickle mother nature had other tricks up her sleeve. The waves and wind were definitely ideal for a surfer, not a diver. We decided to improvise, road trip and meet up with a new couple along the way.

Part of our unplanned road trip led us to visit the most northern point of South Korea’s east coast. The area we traveled was the Goseong Unification Observation Centre. If you recall from past post, we’ve seen the DMZ from the west coast along the 38th parallel, however this was the opportunity to check it out from the east coast. The observation platform is a small educational center about the North with the history about Korea’s divide. I felt like it was much more relaxed and less tense (if that is even possible) in comparison to the west coast observatory. For example you can drive your own almost right up to where you will get to view North Korea!

From the platform you get to see Mount Geumgangsan, Haegeumgang, and islands of the coast in the distance. I stood there for a long time just staring through the telescopes to the other side of Korea. I couldn’t stop thinking about how beautiful the beach and view were but how ugly the other side truly was.

The holiday weekend wasn’t a complete bust, Sunday the sun greeted us bright and early, Mr. B got in some diving while I returned to my original plan of getting wrapped up in my book and taking a stroll along the beach. This day was truly a reminder of how life is good.

Happy Labor day to everyone out there, enjoy! No cookouts on the grill for we Bees this year…but I do see Johnny Rockets in our near future… 😉

Goseong Unification Observation Centre address:
457, Tongiljeonmangdae-ro, Hyeonnae-myeon, Goseong-gun, Gangwon-do
강원도 고성군 현내면 통일전망대로 457

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