This first entry is a valuable lesson in saving money and eating right.
Yesterday after school, I was starving, and this past week I have been craving a You Pick Two from Panera. I am in love with their Greek salad and baked potato soup. We have a Panera downtown in State College, but it was super cold out and I did not want to park at a meter to run in and get food (lazy I know). Not to mention that I went to the grocery store Wednesday and stocked up on tons of fresh food to cook with this week, cue guilt. So, instead of going to Panera, I went home and decided to create something in the kitchen.
The minute I got home, I busted out my Moosewood Cookbook and I started chopping, sautéing, and simmering. I made a hearty chipotle apple and sweet potato soup . WARNING: Healthy recipe alert! This soup is completely vegetarian and only has 109 calories a cup- hello 2011 weight loss resolution! Once completed, I vacated the kitchen and headed for my huge comfy couch, hot soup and fresh salad in hand.
While watching Say Yes to the Dress it hit me; this was my home made version of Panera’s You Pick Two. Then I started thinking, how much did my soup and salad cost in comparison to Panera’s. Well, the You Pick Two with tax runs around $8.50-$9.00 (or at least last time I was there). I took my grocery store receipt out of my wallet and totaled up my soup and salad. Mine totaled to $12.00, assuming your pantry has the essentials, but that is a whole other blog. The big difference- I am eating soup for lunch today, dinner tonight, and possibly lunch tomorrow. I will probably be sick of this soup before it is even gone! So, I really did not spend more money seeing as I got more meals out of this one dish. The only thing I lost doing it my own way was time, but hey I got an iHome for Christmas. I can’t complain about jamming out to John Mayer while chopping apples. It was a nice release after a long day at school!
So, like the title of this post says: Pick to go home and make your own dinner. You will not regret it in the end.
* Chipotle Apple and Sweet Potato Soup courtesy of Moosewood cookbook- Moosewood Restaurant, Cooking for Health
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 ½ cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup thinly sliced celery (I used two large stalks)
5 cups thinly sliced sweet potatoes (I used two big potatoes)
2 cups chopped apples
1 tablespoon canned chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, minced
1 quart (4 cups) vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
Warm oil in a soup pot. Add the garlic and onions and stir continually until onions are soft, three minutes or so. Add celery, sweet potatoes, apples, chipotle peppers in adobe, vegetable broth, water, salt, cinnamon, and black pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes and apples are soft. Add the apple juice. Puree the soup in a blender in batches until smooth. Add more chipotle peppers and/or black pepper to suit your taste. Enjoy.