Easy Summer Squash Soup


Oh summer, what would you be without the delicious squash?

Of all the summer vegetables available, squash is one of the ones that comes to mind first, besides being, quite possibly, my favorite (ssh, don’t tell the tomatoes!). I love squash sauteed with onions and butter. I love it grilled. And I even love it in soup.


I made this summer squash soup a couple weeks ago for lunch when I didn’t have time to hit up the grocery store on my lunch break. (Lunch break? What’s that?)


I only had time to pluck this yellow squash from my garden before scavenging my freezer for other items to cook with it.


When I don’t have fresh proteins around, I almost always have a can of beans (or previously cooked batch in a tupperware in the freezer) that I can rely on. I love beans for a quick and easy vegetarian protein. Not because I’m vegetarian. No, I’m obviously a meat eater. But I like to have protein with every meal so I’m not hungry 5 minutes after eating.


Easy Summer Squash Soup Recipe

This easy (and fast!) summer soup makes a great, light lunch served with whole grain toast. You could also leave out the beans and serve it as a lighter first course for a multi-course meal. Nom!

Freeze the leftover for an even easier emergency meal for later.

*Vegan/Vegetarian if you use appropriate broth/stock*

Serves 2


  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut into half moons, about 1/3 inch thick
  • sprinkle salt/pepper.
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion (I used frozen)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth/stock
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 cup frozen cooked pinto beans (or 1 can rinsed and drained)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped, optional
  • additional salt/pepper, to taste
  • fresh basil, ripped or chopped, garnish, optional


  1. Pre-heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add extra virgin olive oil, squash, onion, sprinkle of salt/pepper, and saute until onions are translucent and squash are starting to get tender, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add broth, corn, and basil and bring to a boil. Add beans and cook until beans are warmed through.
  3. Taste test and add parsley, if using, and add additional salt and/or pepper, as needed. Stir.
  4. Serve and top with fresh basil. Enjoy!



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What’s your favorite thing to do with summer squash?

Which do you prefer: yellow squash or zucchini?

Cookies ‘N Cream Rice Krispie Treats


With almost 50% of your votes, the Cookies ‘N Cream Rice Krispies are the next recipe going up on The Chic Life. Thank you everyone for voting. I had so much fun seeing all the votes come in and learning about what types of recipes you’re interested in seeing on TCL.


So, this recipe is a super-simple play on the class Rice Krispie Treat.

Me and Rice Krispies go way back. I don’t remember exactly how old I was the first time I had one, but when I did, boy was I hooked! I think they made them for us at (elementary or middle) school or something. Soon after tasting my first Rice Krispie, I was much like Allie trying with all her might to devour entire an entire birthday cake, except I was trying to eat a whole pan of Rice Krispies…or two…or three. And not just in one sitting. No, my sweet tooth mini self most likely harassed my poor mom for months, if not years. Poor thing. Eventually, I exhausted myself of the treat, but it still holds a dear place in my heart.


All the usual suspects are there: puffed rice cereal, marshmallows, and butter. But, I snuck something new in – chocolate cookies! The cookies add a nice depth of flavor to light and chewy Rice Krispie treats. As for the chocolate cookie, I used plain chocolate cookies (the cat cookies from Trader Joe’s, to be specific), but any chocolate cookie should work. Even Oreos would probably be good, though they’ll likely yield a sweeter result.


I decided to try using a natural type of marshmallow and puffed brown rice instead of the regular puffed rice. The rice tasted exactly the same, so I recommend upgrading to the brown rice, if you can. But, I’m not gonna lie…the natural marshmallows tasted a little weird to me. I think it was the kosher fish gelatin, perhaps.


Now, here is where you can utilize all your pent up aggression to properly break up the cookie cats.


Just take the back of a wooden spoon (or a small skillet would probably be more effective) and show those cookies who’s boss! *Whappp!* *Kapow!* *Swappp!* That’s right…get all 1960’s Batman and Robin on those cookies! ;)


Ok, feeling better? Now, if your bag is still intact, you should be able to see crushed little pieces of your chocolate cookies. You don’t want any big pieces, so if you see any, just toss in a couple extra taps with your wooden spoon.


Add your cookies to your crispy rice (and please, PLEASE use a bigger bowl than pictured here…I had to transfer to a larger one mid-process).


Once the chocolate cookies are evenly distributed, you can turn your attention to the marshmallows.


Heat the butter and marshmallows over low heat.


Stir occasionally as the marshmallows start to soften.


Soon enough, they’ll start melting (be patient and keep your burner on low or maybe medium low depending on your stove). Stir marshmallows to try to put the less melted on the bottom (closer to the heat).


Once the marshmallows have melted (turned into a large piece of goop)…


…add in the rice cereal and cookies.


Spray your baking dish with non-stick spray. Pour Rice Krispie mixture into the dish and use one (or two) spatulas to spread to an even layer.


Set aside for one hour to cool.


Then, you’re ready to cut!


Use a sharp knife to cut to individual portions. Ta-da!


Cookies ‘N Cream Rice Krispie Treats Recipe

This is a fun play on the class Rice Krispie with the simple addition of a Cookies ‘N Cream flavor. Not to mention, these would make wonderful holiday gifts, and the holidays are right around the corner, aren’t they? Bookmark me now! :)

*Vegan/Vegetarian if you use vegan substitutes below* FYI – Marshmallows are typically made with gelatin, which is usually made from animal products – check the label if you’re looking for the vegetarian/vegan kind ;)


  • 3 1/2 cups of crispy/puffy rice cereal (I prefer brown)
  • 1 cup crushed chocolate cookies (or sub Oreo-style cookies for a sweeter flavor)
  • 3 1/2 mini marshmallows (or sub vegan marshmallows)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or sub vegan butter substitute)


  1. Combine cereal and crushed cookies in a large bowl. Stir to mix well.
  2. Place marshmallows and butter in a large (nonstick) pan over low heat. Stir gently and occasionally encouraging even melting.
  3. Once marshmallows are melted (see photos in post), add cereal/cookie mix and stir to evenly distribute marshmallow mixture.
  4. Spray a 9”x12” baking dish with non-stick spray. Pour mixture into dish and use one (or two) spatulas to spread to an even layer. Set aside to cool for at least one hour.
  5. Use a sharp knife to cut into individual portions and enjoy!

You may also enjoy:


Om nom nom!


Project Think Positive

I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments on the Project Think Positive {Week 1} post so much, I read them twice! You guys are really encouraging me to keep up the positive thinking. Thank you so much for the inspiration! :)

It’s never too late to join in on the positive thinking fun. Click here (or the banner above) to learn more about this challenge for the month of August 2011.


Reader Question #1: How old were you when you had your first Rice Krispie Treat?

Reader Question #2: What’s your favorite Rice Krispie mix-in?

Warm Farro Salad (With Tomatoes, Spinach, and Shiitake Mushrooms) – An Easy Farro Recipe


The inspiration struck awhile back…

Hubby and I were with friends checking out a new restaurant and unsure of what to order. We saw a delicious chicken dish pass us by. Then the same dish again…and again. As I looked around the small dining room of the restaurant, The Wine Shop, I realized that at least one of those very chicken dishes was on every single table. It was obviously the regulars’ choice.

So, we chose it, too. And after enjoying a delicious arugula salad with beets starter salad, that very chicken dish finally made its way to our table. After one bite, I realized why the dish was so popular. It was spectacular! That crispy chicken was a real palate pleaser. But a surprise came on the same plate, and it was the side of warm farro salad. Being a fan of unique grains, I figured I’d like it, but I really, really loved this use of farro. The farro was tender and the flavor was rich with what tasted almost like a mushroom broth. I immediately started taking note of the features and flavors of the dish with the idea of recreating the dish (both parts of it – chicken and farro) when I had the chance.


The chance struck mid-last-week when I decided to see if I could re-create our amazing chicken and farro dinner. Yet, while I wanted to do some take on crispy chicken, the dish I really wanted to recreate as close as possible to the original form was the warm farro salad.


I started with some farro that I picked up from the bulk bin section of my local health food store. I cooked it in broth, added in shiitake mushrooms, and then at the last minute, I stirred in fresh baby spinach and cherry tomatoes from my garden.


The result, paired with crispy, oven-fried chicken, was all I wanted and more. I’ll share the chicken recipe in a separate blog post. For now…I give you a super easy way to enjoy farro. That’s right. I’m guessing most of you are unfamiliar with exactly how to prepare farro, but this is a great recipe to introduce you to the ancient grain.


Warm Farro Salad (With Tomatoes, Spinach, and Shiitake Mushrooms)

Wondering, “What’s the best way to cook farro?” or even “what the heck do I do with farro?”. Here’s an extra-easy recipe that will pair well with almost any protein. I like mine served with Oven-Fried Crispy Almond Chicken, but steak, a vegetarian or vegan protein, or even another chicken recipe should work just fine.

*Vegetarian/Vegan options included*

Serves 4


  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups broth or stock of choice (I used chicken)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup farro, rinsed
  • 3-4 shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed, chopped large
  • 2 cups baby spinach, rinsed and dried (I used a salad spinner)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, rinsed, halved
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Bring 2 cups broth to a boil in a large pan (with tall sides). Add salt, and farro and stir. Partially cover pan, reduce to simmer, and cook farro till almost tender, about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the mushrooms after the first 15 minutes. Add additional broth, if needed. Note: I added about 1/2 cup of broth after the first 30 minutes.
  2. Add spinach to pan, stir in and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add cherry tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, as needed. Stir to combine. Cook until cherry tomatoes are warmed through, about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Serve with something delicious like Oven-Fried Chicken, and enjoy!

You may also like:


I’ll be posting that Crispy, Oven-Fried Almond Chicken ASAP! :)


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Please take a quick second to vote for the next recipe I post (from the following):

Which recipe should I post next?

  • Cookies 'N Cream Rice Krispies (44%, 21 Votes)
  • Easy Summer Squash Soup (25%, 12 Votes)
  • Crispy Almond Oven-Fried Chicken (25%, 12 Votes)
  • Goji Berry Green Monster Smoothie (6%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 48

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Reader Question: Have you ever tried farro before? If not, what’s your favorite grain? If yes, how was it cooked/served and did you like it?

Figgy Green Monster Smoothie (Tastes Like Cake Batter!)


With my Green Monster madness going on recently, I’ve been coming up with some pretty interesting concoctions. Seriously, I have about 3 recipes queued up over here. Anywho, none had more interesting, or shall I say a surprising, taste than my latest – Figgy Green Monster Smoothie.


It’s a fig smoothie that tastes like cake batter.

The smoothie had zero elements that I would normally use to make a cake batter flavor and yet it tasted like cake batter! Ok, maybe it’s just me. You guys know I like to make my cake batters on the healthier side. But I honestly took the first sip after blending this smoothie up and thought…hmm…cake batter?


I came up with the idea to make a fig smoothie because my friend who has a fig tree brought in a bunch to give me. Score! Unfortunately, even without teaching Zumba, my schedule has been hectic, so I haven’t exactly had a bunch of free time to experiment with a cool recipe.

So…What could I do quickly with figs? Why not put it in a smoothie, right? And as it turns out, figs in a smoothie are a good thing.


Figgy Green Monster Smoothie (Tastes Like Cake Batter!)
Prep time
Cook time
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Have figs and don’t know what to do with them? The easiest thing you can do (besides eating them plain) is blend them into a delicious and healthy smoothie. Since I’m on a Green Monster kick, I decided to add spinach to mine to make it green. This Green Monster smoothie had an unexpected cake-batter-like flavor.
*Vegan if you use vegan milk*
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1
  • 1½ – 2 cups loosely packed spinach (or sub ¼ cup frozen spinach or fresh/frozen kale)
  • sweetener of choice, to taste, optional (you can add with the other ingredients or blend and taste first and add in at the end)
  • 1 banana (a frozen banana will give you a thicker consistency, but non-frozen works, too)
  • 4 figs, stems removed, halved
  • 1 cup milk of choice (dairy, non-dairy, vanilla non-dairy, etc.) – I used vanilla soy
  • 2 cubes ice
  1. Place spinach, banana, figs, milk, and ice in the blender.
  2. Cover and blend until banana/figs/ice is processed and smooth, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Enjoy!
Easily multiplies for additional servings.

Here’s a GM smoothie recipe that was actually designed to taste like Cake Batter…Nom!: Cake Batter Green Monster – Peas and Thank You

You may enjoy some of these other Green Monster smoothies:

*Click here to read my Green Monster 101 post* (it explains what a GM is plus some ingredient and blending tips)


Enjoy! :)


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Reader question: Figs were an ingredient that I never really expected to put into a smoothie. What’s the most unexpected thing you’ve put into a smoothie? Did you like it?

Green Monster Smoothies 101 + Basic Recipe


It’s sweet, it’s refreshing, and it’s…GREEN? Yup, it’s a Green Monster Smoothie!

If you’re a Green Monster (GM) expert or enthusiast, you may be wondering if you could learn from this post. I don’t think you’ll learn anything you don’t already know. But, I do think you could offer your GM expertise. You can share tips for those less familiar with the wonderfulness that is the GM.

This post is actually written more for my other friends and readers who are new to GMs. Many of my Zumba participants, “real life” friends, and blog/twitter friends aren’t as familiar with Green Monster Smoothies.

So, if you’re wondering what the heck a “Green Monster Smoothie” is, then read on. And if you’re a Green Monster guru, then leave some comment love. Please share some of your tips and favorite GM recipes.

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

{So beautiful and green}

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

What is a Green Monster Smoothie?

A Green Monster smoothie is a healthy smoothie. It is bright green in color, thanks to the star ingredient: spinach! Yes…I said “spinach.” Don’t cringe. Honestly, once it’s all blended up with other ingredients, you cannot taste it! Have you ever tried eating just a spinach leaf plain? I have. It didn’t taste like much of anything. So, especially when you blend the spinach up with fruit and milk, you won’t taste it. Mmmkay? ;)

Some people use kale instead, but I prefer spinach.

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Green Monster Smoothie Ingredients

There are endless combinations, but the most basic and common ingredients are:

  • Spinach/Kale – This is the KEY ingredient. You can use fresh or frozen (I’ve tested it – check out this post).  And, as I mentioned above, you can substitute the spinach with kale.
  • Bananas – usually 1 to 2 are used per smoothie. I go with 1 per serving, and I prefer frozen bananas because it makes the texture thicker. This is also a good way to save bananas before they spoil. Simply freeze and save for a smoothie later! Brown bananas aren’t just for banana bread!
  • Milk of choice – dairy milk, soy milk, vanilla rice milk. You can use your favorite milk, but  a sweetened milk will yield a sweeter smoothie. I prefer to use unsweetened and add a natural sweetener, like honey.
  • Ice – to help make the smoothie cold and frosty.

Other common GM ingredients:

  • Yogurt – makes the smoothie thicker and provides protein and add probiotics.
  • Honey/Agave – liquid sweeteners if you need more sweetness in the smoothie. I think the bananas are sweet enough. If you use a sweetened non-dairy milk, you probably won’t need either of these.
  • Chia Seeds – a health-food ingredient. If you let it sit in liquid for several minutes, it will plump up and become gelatinous (like a tiny tapioca pearl, for bubble tea fans).
  • Nut Butters – peanut butter, almond butter, etc. Add this for creaminess and healthy nut nutrition.
  • Other fruits – feel free to add your other favorite fruits. See the next section on ingredients to avoid when selecting (mostly for color).

Ingredients to use in small portions when making GMs:

*Edited: After reading some of the comments, I decided to edit this. Instead of avoiding them all together, I’ll warn against using too much of these ingredients. Thanks guys! :) *

  • Berries – blueberries, raspberries, etc. If you use too much, the berries will change the color of the smoothie. It won’t be green or as green. Sometimes berries turn the GM brown!
  • Other – Pretty much anything with a lot of color that will change the color of the smoothie away from green. Trust me, a brown smoothie is not as appealing visually, even if it still tastes amazing. Not to mention, I wouldn’t call a brown smoothie a “Green” Monster Smoothie. I’d call that just a smoothie with spinach in it. :lol: We should come up with a name for these, right?!)

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Once you’re ready to blend, there are a couple tips to keep in mind.

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Green Monster Smoothie Blending Tips

I like to layer my ingredients in the blender in the following order*:

  • Spinach/Kale – putting this at the bottom helps ensure the leaves are blended instead of flying around the blender and sticking to the sides. If I use frozen spinach/kale, I don’t always add that first since it doesn’t have the same texture as fresh
  • Dry ingredients – like flaxseed meal, matcha, etc. Add first for the same reason as spinach – so it doesn’t get stuck to the sides/lid
  • Nut Butters – so it’s less likely to fly up and stick to the sides
  • Liquid Sweetener – same as nut butters
  • Other small fruits – goji berries, etc.
  • Bananas – to weigh spinach down
  • Other large fruit – cantaloupe, etc.
  • Ice
  • Milk of choice

*All of these ingredients are not always used, but if I were using them, this is the order I’d follow.

And every blender is different, so settings will vary. I usually just blend away until all the fruit/ice is smooth and all the spinach leaves are blended so small. Instead of seeing individual pieces, I look for smooth greenness. This usually only takes 1 or 2 minutes for me.

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Why Drink Green Monster Smoothies?

First of all, they’re fun to look at and just plain delicious.

I spent a month with my Project Veg-Up challenge focusing on eating lots of fruits and veggies every day. I know that it can sometimes be a struggle to “eat your greens.” This is especially true on your busiest days. Smoothies are one of the easiest ways to consume fruit. And now thanks to the GM, they can be the easiest way to consume some vegetables, too!

So GM smoothies feature spinach, and here’s why spinach is good for you – a quote I’ve shared before from whfoods.com:

Spinach is an excellent source of bone-healthy vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, and calcium; heart-healthy folate, potassium, and vitamin B6; energy-producing iron and vitamin B2; and free radical-scavenging vitamin A (through its concentration of beta-carotene) and vitamin C.

Side note: This is just general info. I know some people are supposed to avoid spinach (doctor’s orders), so obviously, you may want to avoid the GM if this is true for you, too. And, you should always consult with your doctor before making dietary changes. But, I trust that you know what’s best for you. ;)

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

5.0 from 1 reviews

Basic Green Monster Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Green Monster smoothies are beautiful to look at and delicious to drink. And if you’re not sold yet, they’re good for you, too! Drinking GM smoothies is the easiest way I know to get a vegetable serving in for the day. Also, I don’t typically add extra sweeteners to my smoothies, but I’ve included directions below in case you would like to add some to yours. :)
*Vegetarian, Vegan if you use vegan milk* Serves 1
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1
  • 1½ – 2 cups loosely packed spinach (or sub ¼ cup frozen spinach or sub kale)
  • 1 banana (a frozen banana will give you a thicker consistency, but non-frozen works, too)
  • 1 cup milk of choice (dairy, non-dairy, vanilla non-dairy, etc.)
  • 2 cubes ice
  • sweetener of choice, to taste, optional (liquid sweeteners, like honey or agave, will work best)
  1. Place spinach, banana, milk, and ice in the blender.
  2. Cover and blend until banana/ice is processed and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Taste test and if desired, blend in sweetener of choice to taste.
  3. Enjoy!
This single serving recipe is easily multiplied to serve more!

Here are more fabulous GM smoothie recipes you may enjoy:

*And be sure to check out this site for hundreds of other tasty Green Monster recipes: http://greenmonstermovement.com/ *

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Green Monster Virgins: Are you scared of Green Monsters or do you think you’ll try one soon? Why or why not?

Green Monster Gurus: What are you favorite things to add to your GM smoothies? And if you have any GM smoothies (of your own or of others) that you love, please leave the link in a comment! :)

Lentil Kale Bowl (for One)


Here’s a easy, throw-pantry-stuff-together meal perfect for Meatless Mondays or days when you “have nothing to cook.” I love a meal that makes something out of nearly nothing. We all need a few more of those in our lives, right? Things to make when you stare blankly at your nearly empty refrigerator and think, “Geez, I really, really need to go the grocery store for realz!”


I present – the uber-simple Lentil Kale Bowl (for now – though you could easily multiply proportions)


Nearly all you need to do is saute some onion, add lentils and broth, cook…


…steam / saute fresh kale…


…serve over your favorite grain – cous cous is the fastest and easiest, though rice in the rice cooker takes the least effort.

Lentil Kale Bowl (for One)

This meatless meal whips up in a jiffy with mostly pantry ingredients. Unlike some vegetarian meals that open large packages of tofu or tempeh, you can easily portion out just enough lentils for you from your pantry. I used red lentils for the fast cooking time, but feel free to sub in whichever type you prefer – just adjust the cooking time, as needed. Serve over your favorite grain (or leftover!), though I suggest couscous or rice.

*Vegetarian and Vegan*


  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red lentils
  • 1 – 2 cups broth of choice
  • dash of tumeric (maybe 1/8 teaspoon or less)
  • dash of coriander (maybe 1/8 teaspoon or less)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 large or 3 medium (or about 2-3 loose cups) kale, cleaned and torn into small pieces (about 1-2 inches)
  • fresh parsley, optional


  1. Pre-heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add lentils and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add additional broth over the cooking time, as needed (somewhat similar to cooking risotto).
  3. Ensure the pan isn’t too dry (add extra broth if needed so lentils don’t stick to pan, to just cover) and add kale leaves and cover pan). Steam kale for 2 minutes, then remove lid and stir kale into lentils to continue cooking for 3 minutes. Add broth, if needed. Sauce should not be too liquidy, but lentils shouldn’t be too dry – just adjust to your preference. Add additional salt, pepper to taste.
  4. Serve over couscous or grain of choice and garnish with fresh parsley.
  5. Enjoy!


Do you participate in Meatless Monday? Why or why not?

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