Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Marinara Smothered Porterhouse Steak

Yes, I feel guilty...but I'm sharing the recipe anyway, it was delicious, the deep, nutty saltiness of the cheese combined with the marinara sauce that's infused with a little extra meaty flavor...It was like an extra amplified meatball without all the fillers, lol. Enjoy!

  • (1) 8oz. thin sliced porterhouse steak
  • 3/4 cup good marinara sauce
  • good Parmesan Reggiano cheese, a little grated and some thinly sliced
  • freshly ground black pepper

Pour the marinara sauce into a heavy bottomed pan that has a tight fitting lid. Place the steak on top of the sauce and cover. Bring to a simmer on high heat. Once it's bubbling away, lower the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, using the 5 minute mark as a guide for a well-done steak. Allow the steak to rest for a few minutes. Place your steak on the plate with a nice amount of sauce on it, placing the extra sauce on the side. (This is especially great to top a pasta or potato side dish.) Sprinkle the cheese and arrange the thinly sliced cheese on top of the steak. The thin slices gives it an extra nutty and salty flavor. Grind a little fresh pepper over the steak and the sauce. Serves 1 or 2 to share, as a light meal.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mellow Monday Music

It's what I call a "Mellow Monday." It's gray outside, overcast with occasional showers and on top of that, it's chilly. Everything is wet with no signs of the sun peeking out today. On days like this, I like to play a little Mellow Monday Music, a little slower, deeper, with a few classics thrown in and I just love it on days like this. What's on your "Mellow Monday" play list?

This is on mine, in no particular order...

Animal Collective- "No More Runnin"
Cults- "Go Outside"
Depeche Mode- "Precious"
John Mayer- "Half of My Heart"
Michael Jackson- "Man in the Mirror"
Modest Mouse- "Float On"
Pink Floyd- "Wish You Were Here"
Peter Bjorn & John- "Young Folks"
The Strokes- "12:51"
The XX- "Shelter" (The whole cd is Mellow Monday perfect)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Asian Inspired Wild Rice Salad

I love a nice Asian inspired salad but I'm trying to cut the calories without sacrificing flavor. I would have loved a nice plum sauce to sweeten this dish up but instead used a pear infused white balsamic vinegar for a little bit of the sweetness and it did not disappoint! Adjust the seasoning of the dressing to your liking. And topping it with a wasabi flavored sheet of seaweed adds an extra bit of flavor, without the added calories. They are so addicting, I just love them and at only three calories per sheet, they pack a lot of flavor. Serve with grilled salmon on the side for a nice meal. Enjoy and have a great weekend, it looks like it's going to be a beauty!

  • 1 cup wild rice, cooked and cooled
  • 1 cup shelled edamame, cooked and cooled
  • 3 scallions, use the pale part, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pear infused white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Gomasio (a mix of black & tan sesame seeds)
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • pinch of wasabi powder*optional
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • flavored roasted seaweed, for garnish

In a small separate bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, ginger, wasabi, salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the rice, edamame and the scallions. Use scissors to cut the seaweed into shreds, to save a little on time. Garnish with the seaweed shreds. Serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as a side dish.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chamomile & Lavender Tonic

It's National Stress Awareness Month and I'm sure we are more aware of it than we would like. We all know how bad stress if for our body and if we take small steps to keep it at bay everyday, it can help in the long run. Deep breathing for a few minutes, a nice hot shower or a nice cup of  tea is always calming and soothing. We all know the calming effects of chamomile and lavender. A steamy cup of chamomile tea at night is just what I need to relax and to melt some of those stressors away.  And I just love a few satchels of lavender tucked into my pillow cases to help me fall asleep. Why not combine the relaxing duo into a tonic? Enjoy by candlelight and melt that stress away...
  • 4oz. chamomile tea, cooled
  • 4oz. lavender kombucha ( I used GT's Kombucha Lavender No. 3)
Combine in a glass and give it a little stir. (If you like, you can add in a shot of vodka if you are in the mood for a cocktail.) Serves 1, double the recipe as needed.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Plant A Tree

With Earth Day, just a few days ago, it seems we should naturally talk about planting trees. I won't be of much help with what tree to plant or where but just a story to share that has given me much joy that is connected to a few trees that were once brought to being, with the simple yet profound thought of planting a tree. Was it to my surprise, as I walked out the door last spring, that I would meet the original owners of this house that I live in now. They were looking for my neighbor and asked if I knew when she would be back. I don't remember the details of that part of the conversation but then it progressed to a complete surprise, the son said, "We used to own that house that you live in" and gestured towards his mom. I was so shocked. I invited them in, thinking it would be fun for them to see the house that was once theirs. As they walked in, the son exclaimed, "Those were our end tables and our lamps!" As we walked into the sun room, "That's our dining room table and chairs!" I think they were in as much disbelief as I was. I was in such a wonderful shock, if I can describe it that way. And the biggest shock was that my three favorite pine trees were once about a foot tall and planted by the same family that was standing right in front of me. I couldn't stop thanking them. I love these trees. Somethings feel like they were always a certain way and as silly it may sound, the pine trees felt like they were always this strong and had such a presence here. The appreciation that I feel towards this family for the trees that were planted many years ago, I can't even express. As weird as it sounds, I don't think I would love this house as much as I do, if there were no pine trees hugging it at almost every corner. So, plant a tree for you but also for the joy that it will give to one person one day. I am forever grateful.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Glass Bottle Garland

My husband surprised me with roses this morning, for no reason! I love flowers given just because. It's the simple things in life that can bring us such joy on an ordinary, gloomy, overcast kind of day. It was just the thing I needed. Another simple thing that I L-O-V-E is garland made out of tiny glass bottles. This is just perfect, especially with the warmer weather coming. (It has to come right? It was a brisk 37 degrees this morning! I'm beginning to wonder...) I've been waiting for the right moment to use this garland and once I saw that bunch of red roses, I knew it would just brighten the grayness of the day. This is so pretty draped across almost anything, as long as there is a supportive wall behind it. This is sweet on a simple fence. Perfect for summertime birthday parties in the backyard. Bring it indoors to hang against the mantle, on a wall in the bedroom or in any part of your space, that needs a little brightening! Enjoy!

This glass bottle garland holds a dozen tiny buds. It stretches about 6 feet across and the wires are easy to manipulate with the bottles, so they stand upright. Use nails to hold the garland in place and check that it holds the weight securely. Once you add water to the vases, it can get a little heavy. Happy decorating!

Here is a close-up of the way it's held in place...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Linguine & Smashed Tarragon Peas with Pistachio-Panko Crumbs

Happy Earth Day! What a great day to renew some vows to take care of the earth, whether it be to recycle more, shop at the local farmer's market, start a composting bin or to make more veggie meals. Here's a great veggie meal that is tasty and doesn't take a lot of time. The smashed peas adds the creaminess of this dish, so you won't even miss the cream and what I love about making pistachio-Panko crumbs is they are a great substitute for grated cheese. And the best part, you have a great meal on the table in no time, which is great on a day like today, so you can spend some time outdoors. Enjoy!

  • 4 oz. linguine, cooked al dente
  • 1 heaping cup petite peas, cooked and roughly smashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon julienned sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain Panko crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon raw pistachios, minced to the texture of Panko
  • a few leaves of fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
  • sea salt

First, start off by making your pistachio-Panko crumbs. They can easily burn, so they require a little extra attention. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil on low heat, when the oil is not quite sizzling toss in the Panko crumbs, give it a good stir and add in the pistachio crumbs and a nice amount of sea salt. Keep stirring the crumbs allowing them to lightly brown. Once they are golden, allow them to dry and drain on a paper towel. While you cook the linguine, in a heavy bottomed pan on low heat, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil and the sun-dried tomatoes until the oil is sizzling, add in the smashed peas until heated through. Toss in the tarragon and season with sea salt and keep warm, until the linguine is cooked. Once the linguine is done, drain, reserving a tablespoon or more of the pasta water. Toss the linguine and water with the peas. Divide among plates, or share from one and top with the crumbs. Serves 2, double or triple, as needed.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Recycle: Adopt a Shelter Pet

I saw this as a bumper sticker and I just loved it. It's just such a great message to spread. Although I didn't get Daisy from a shelter, she was there twice and in the chain reaction of it all, I'm her fourth owner. I found her in the newspaper, free, of all things. I made the call, went to visit and meet her. She had the terrier in her, that spunk and playfulness about her. After meeting her, I couldn't get her out of my mind and made the call. I wanted little Daisy, to love and to cherish. Her owner and I, decided to meet in an ice skating rink parking lot on Friday night at eight-o'clock, only a few days away. I couldn't wait. It was a fateful, dark and rainy kind of night, it was actually pouring, appropriately, like cats and dogs. We met in the parking lot and the exchange was pretty quick as in my newfound happiness, there was sorrow on his. I promised him that I would take good care of her. He had to find her another home as Daisy is a jumper and their two year old ended up on the floor quite a bit and with his wife, pregnant with baby number two, it was the right thing for their family and perfect for mine. It was a bad night to be out, so I drove slow and couldn't wait to cuddle with her. On the ride home, the crate rocked along, and I would soothe her and tell her we were almost home. She would relax and then the rocking would begin again, until she heard my voice and at red lights, I would poke my hand through the opening of the crate, in an attempt to pet her. I still can't forget how hard it was raining but we finally made it home. I brought her inside, let her out of her crate to make an inspection of her new home, while I went to get some groceries out of the car. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a black cat walking hesitantly across the yard. The grocery bag I was holding, slipped out of my hands, it being filled with glass jars, broke. I was completely soaked and as I took a closer glimpse of that black cat, it was Daisy! I must have left the door slightly ajar and the wind blew it open and she escaped. I shrieked, "Daisy!" And would you believe it, she froze and I was able to pick her up and carry her home. We spent that night, hip to hip. When I got off the couch, she watched my every move. I found it so endearing and would tell her, "I'm coming back, don't worry." I was so happy to wake up in the middle of the night to see her by my side. I fell head over heels in love with her. She is the funniest dog, imitating The Princess and the Pea with the way she manages to gather all the pillows on the couch, stack them one on top of the other, to not feel the pea, lol. (This, of course is done all within a matter of minutes, I don't know how she does it.) I think she has magical powers, especially with the spell she put over me. Happy weekend!

Daisy doing what Daisy loves best, curled up and sunbathing...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Creamy Beet, Potato & Petite Pea Salad

Don't limit your potato salads to summer barbecues, add in seasonal peas and beets and it puts a nice spin on the humble tuber salad. Yukon Gold potatoes are my favorite potato, golden in color and just deliciously creamy. Last night, I had one right out of the pot, sliced and steamy hot with a little butter and salt. It was so satisfying that I didn't even need anything else. Sometimes, I just love simple dinners. But today is another day and it's a salad day! Enjoy your creamy beet, potato and petite pea salad with anything from sauteed portabella mushrooms to grilled fish on the side. Enjoy!

  • a little more than half a pound beets, (about 1 large), cooked until fork tender
  • a little more than half a pound of Yukon Gold potatoes, (about 1 large), cooked until fork tender
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh petite peas, cooked until tender
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • small handful fresh dill, finely chopped and a little extra reserved for garnish
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

Cool all of your ingredients. (I cooked them the night before and let them cool so they are easier to handle.) Cube your beets and potatoes and add in the egg, mayonnaise, heavy cream, dill and seasonings. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Makes 3-4 side salads.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Container Veggie Garden

One of the best tomatoes I ever had was one that I grew myself, from a container. At the time, I lived in an apartment that had a token front yard with perfectly green grass that looked so inviting to be digged in but I don't think the landlord would have been too happy with me if I did that. So, I stuck to a few containers that sat in the sun most of the day, just what tomatoes love. I got so much satisfaction from those three pots that summer. This spring, I'm growing some veggies from seeds, so it should be interesting! With Earth day, this upcoming Monday why not honor it by investing  in a little veggie garden, whether it be in your backyard or in a few pots, the reward is a juicy tomato, grown just a few feet away from your front door. Happy gardening!

For containers, I like to use terra cotta pots because they are durable and I just love their rustic quality. When container gardening, always allow for good drainage. Depending on how big of a a container, placing a few inches of gravel on the bottom of the pot works well. Once the time comes, you can always pick up a few veggies plants at your local flower nursery, if you haven't started them from seeds. Check for the frost dates in your area and talk to your neighbors that garden for any tips. Don't forget to add in your garden gnome to help your veggies grow! ;)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Recycling Basket

Earth day is a little less than a week away and it's not too early to start the earth-loving vibes! One of the best ways to show the earth some love is recycling. It's something I'm really passionate about. I recycle everything possible, from toilet paper tubes to separating packaging down to their recyclable parts. I forgot where I saw this but I just loved it, it was a split garbage can, one side that had "Recycle" on it and the other side that had "Landfill." That's the type of mentality that is needed to really "Save the earth," even though it does take more than the simplicity of recycling. It's a step in the right direction. In our home, a recycling basket is always out, having it out versus hidden really encourages the recycling efforts. (When it's time to go to the recycling center, I grab one or two roomy, durable and reusable IKEA bags to sort and to carry out. Once the job is done, they easily fold away for the next time.) As with decorating for your home, match your recycling bin/basket with your decor. Have a more modern look? Rectangular metal bins are a sleek look. Love vintage? Vintage ice boxes or apple crates are a great look. More of a naturalist? Woven baskets are great, like shown like below. Happy decorating and recycling!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bee Pollen - Dark Chocolate Bark

Just in case anyone is in the mood for a sweet treat after mailing in those taxes...I've got just the thing. We all know the soothing effects of chocolate, giving us those good feeling, in-love vibes and what better day to enjoy a special piece of decadent chocolate than today? (Even though every day is a good day for having those good-feeling-vibes.) I've been obsessed with 90% dark chocolate but you can use whatever percentage of dark chocolate you like. The bee pollen gives it a light sweetness, so keep that in mind. I think this makes a nice gift also for that chocolate lover in your life. Take a deep breath in, exhale, take a bite and enjoy!

  • (1) 3.5 oz. 90 % dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon bee pollen granules

Melt the chocolate in a double broiler or a glass or metal bowl sitting securely in a pot of boiling water. (Please be careful when choosing this method. Use pot holders and don't add too much water into your pot.) Pour out the melted chocolate onto a piece of parchment or wax paper, it will pretty much spread out naturally, you can always help it out by smoothing it out with a spatula. Sprinkle the bee pollen evenly over the chocolate and allow to harden, in a cool pantry or in the refrigerator. Break into pieces. Makes about 3 servings. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cupcake Martini

Standing at the bakery, asking for a cupcake with the frosting on the side may be a little odd but it's just what you need when a birthday is coming up. And you need it deconstructed, so you can spike it! And birthday cupcakes need to be spiked, lol. You can spike your cupcake with whatever flavored vodka or liqueur you like and you can always use a little more. ;) The amount used here is enough to get a little flavor without it being soggy. And fresh whipped cream would be a dream but something about the sweetness and thickness of cupcake frosting, I just love and it reminds me of happy days. And birthdays are happy days especially when you have a spiked cupcake to help with the celebrating. I'm beginning the celebrating a little early, so happy weekend everyone!

  • 1 regular size vanilla cupcake, cake part
  • cupcake frosting
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla vodka
  • nonpareils
  • small martini glass

Cut your cupcake in quarters. Lay them on a plate, cut side up and sprinkle with the vodka. While the cupcake soaks up the vodka, using your finger tips, run the outer rim of the glass with a little water and dip into the nonpareils. Arrange the cupcake in the glass, pressing against the sides, so there is an opening in the center for the frosting. Next, using a decorating tip, pipe the frosting into the crevices and on top of the cake. Top with sprinkles. Serves 1 birthday girl or boy. Double and triple the recipe as needed and adjust the recipe according to how big your cupcakes and glasses are. Enjoy!

                           No matter how old I am, I will always love sprinkles!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Micro Trail Mix

I have been obsessed with bee pollen lately, especially when the clock strikes 3 P.M., an internal clock goes off, where I need a little pick-me-up. I go through phases, one month it's coffee to get that energy boost, the next, it's a square or two of dark chocolate and lately, when three o'clock hits, it's micro trail mix time. It started out with a teaspoon of bee pollen and has evolved into combining it with chia seeds, flax seeds and adding in cocao nibs. Sometimes, I add in a few raw walnuts or almonds and even that square of dark chocolate. Nothing beats that cup of coffee but this is a great energy booster to have with you, when you need a little pick-me-up at work, home or even on the trail. Have fun making your own combinations. Enjoy!

  • 1 teaspoon bee pollen
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts (raw shelled hemp seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon raw cocao nibs

Combine all of the seeds and nibs together. (One cup glass storage containers are great for storing this at home or on the go.) Serves 1.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Black Beans with Guanciale

Guanciale...I had no idea what it was until this past Sunday, when I googled it; found out and was confused, yet excited enough to put it in my basket for purchase. Pork cheeks. Hmm...Standing in the supermarket staring at this package with a little bewilderment, I thought to myself, this fatty piece needs to be in a pot of black beans, even though I never tried it or have even cooked with it before. But it somehow reminded me of authentic Spanish black beans with pieces of pork and thought this new discovery could be a very nice substitute. Boy, was I wrong in leaving this guanciale in a dicey chunk form. Thinking that I love a good chunk of pork in my beans, why not a chunk of pork cheek? This is a creation of another form, flavorful but only in thin slices or in small bites, not chunks. And when I started cooking with it, thinking it was similar to bacon that it would melt and give off a fat to saute the garlic and onions in, I was wrong. It strangely stayed in chunk form but turned translucent, almost like frying jello. I never saw anything like this before and it required a slight do over that was worth the extra effort and made a magical pot of beans. Enjoy!

  • 1 pound dried black beans, soaked overnight
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 pound finely diced guanciale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion, (1 medium)
  • 5 cloves of garlic or more
  • 1 cubanelle pepper, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch dried epazote
  • 1 teaspoon fruity balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

The package that striked my fancy in the first place that was laying among an assortment of cheeses, salamis and sausages:

The piece of meat that they call "Guanciale" that had me at hello:

The chunks that were a mistake, despite their initial allure:

To make your black bean magic, in a large Dutch oven, combine the guanciale and the olive oil, saute until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Next add in the onions, garlic and cubanelle pepper and saute another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in your beans and add in the water, bay leaf, sea salt and the epazote. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat. Once your beans have come to a boil, lower the heat to low and simmer covered for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally as once the water reduces, your beans can stick to the bottom of the pot. Stir in your balsamic vinegar, (I used an apple balsamic vinegar) and adjust the seasoning adding salt and black pepper as needed. Simmer for another 10 minutes. This is even better the next day! Serves 6.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Saffron Lemonade

The first real warm spring day, where the birds are singing, pointy green tips are coming up and a lemonade would be just perfect; not quite over ice yet but a nice room temperature lemonade. It's tart but not too tart and has that special touch of saffron flavor and just perfect to drink while you enjoy the crocuses finally blooming...It's been a long winter, pull up a lawn chair and enjoy!

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 jasmine green tea bags
  • 1 teaspoon xylitol
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • tiny pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt
  • squeeze of half a lemon

Brew your tea for the recommended time and remove the tea bags. Next stir in the xylitol, sea salt and the saffron and stir well. (You can substitute any kind of sugar that you like, in place of the xylitol. I like to use it because it's guilt free.) Allow to cool naturally and squeeze in the juice of the lemon. Serve at room temperature or over ice, if you like. Garnish with lemon slices. Makes 4 cups.

Friday, April 5, 2013

National No Housework Day 4/7

One of my favorite days of the year is coming up...National No Housework Day! And I am going to thoroughly honor it, as it's my duty. (Although I think I honor it a little more than I should.) I wish I was the type of gal that liked to clean but I don't really, or didn't really I should say, until my friend shared a method with me that has got me actually beginning to enjoy it. This method has been a life saver when it comes to the dreaded thing we call house work. When I have a daunting task in front of me, such as organizing the junk drawer, I set the timer for fifteen to twenty minutes and I go to town. Making a game of beating the clock has helped me tremendously. And if I ever do need an extension, I just add on another five to ten minutes. It's the satisfaction in the combination of the task complete and the timer going off at the same time that makes the "game" so much fun. (Did I actually write that?) This works great for individual tasks, such as tidying up the living room, giving the bathroom a quick cleaning, doing the dishes and cleaning the stove up after dinner and even putting away groceries. Or if your space is pretty clean already, you can use the fifteen-twenty minute method for a quick tidying up of your entire space, fluffing the pillows, shining that sink and stove, putting away the mail and Fido's toys back into his toy bin. It's a great method for kids to clean up their toys also. Enjoy your weekend and taking it easy!

I couldn't resist. It made me laugh out loud and was a whole dollar or two at a garage sale! It still hangs by the door, giving me a good laugh now and then, while I dust it, trying to beat the clock.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Strawberry Greek Yogurt Granita

Okay, so not all is lost with the frozen strawberry yogurt! It came out great, but not exactly super creamy like a traditional frozen yogurt, more like a creamy granita? Is there such a thing? I'm not too sure, but it sure beats all the calories of a creamy soft serve ice cream cone, that I have been fantasizing about. (Can you tell that Dairy Queen has opened up again? It has. And it's so tempting every time I pass it by.) So, I had to find an alternative to that creamy ice cream cone and thought this would be nice with all ingredients being pretty healthy, especially with it being sans sugar. It's a nice treat to have in the freezer. Enjoy!

  • (1) 17oz. container of full fat Greek yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons coconut milk creamer
  • 3 cups roughly chopped strawberries
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon xylitol or more to taste
  • pinch of sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper*optional

In a small sauce pan combine the strawberries, water, xylitol, salt and the pepper. (Add more xylitol if needed, depending on the sweetness of the strawberries.) Bring it up to a simmer for about 10 minutes over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. You want the strawberries to break down a bit. Adjust the seasoning once more. Allow your strawberry mixture to cool. Once cool, with an immersion blender, combine the yogurt, coconut milk creamer and the strawberry mixture. Place in a freezer overnight. Once ready to serve, thaw in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, until it's not rock solid and you can break it up with a fork. (You can also freeze in individual containers and you can also, alternatively let it thaw in the refrigerator.) Serves 3.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It's Our Anniversary!

It's Bliss House Happiness's first year anniversary and to celebrate I was going to have a token mini cupcake and hot cup of coffee but I am having such a bad coffee withdrawal headache, that the coffee seems like a bad idea. (I indulged a little over the weekend.) Still wanting a sweet treat, I decided to make a frozen strawberry yogurt to share with you instead but it's not frozen yet. And I think it's going to be a while and to be honest, I don't even know if it's going to be a worthwhile recipe to share. (It's, yeah, one of those days, lol.)

But the celebrating must go on!

I just can't believe that a year has gone by! And I wanted to thank you for stopping by and I hope that some of the posts have put a smile on your face and have made you a little happier along the way.

Here's a little walk down memory lane. These have been some of my favorite blog posts. Enjoy!

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Praying While Washing the Dishes

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Ricotta Cheese Platter

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Push Pin Necklace Board

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Oven-Fried Rosemary & Garlic Chicken Wings

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Snowball Wreath

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dilled Bean, Collard Green & Kielbasa Stew

You wouldn't think that spring has arrived here on the east coast. It feels more like February today more than anything else. I took Daisy for a walk and were my hands freezing, as I forgot my gloves! But it's April, so I didn't think I really needed them anyway. And at one point of our walk, I wish that I had a hat on, also. But this kind of chilly weather is perfect for a stew! This is a nice stew that will use up any leftover ham from Easter and use a quick soak method for the beans, if you want to make this for a late night dinner. While this stew is really hearty, the dill gives it that touch of spring. Enjoy!

  • 1 pound Great Northern beans, soaked overnight.
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 bunch of collard greens, about 8 loosely packed, heaping cups. (Remove the center stem of the leaves, just cut down alongside the center stem and pile the leaves on top of each other cutting them roughly)
  • 1 cup chopped kielbasa
  • 1 cup chopped ham
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 Campari tomato, minced
  • 3 heaping tablespoons minced dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon tomato paste
  • about 5 juniper berries
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

In a large Dutch oven, combine the olive oil and the garlic and on low heat lightly saute for 5 minutes until the garlic is soft, you don't want to let it brown. Stir in the beans, juniper berries, a pinch of sea salt and the water, cover and bring to a boil on high heat. (You don't want to add too much salt, because it depends on the saltiness of the kielbasa and ham.) Once it boils, lower the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Next, toss in your collard greens, kielbasa, ham, tomato and tomato paste and simmer for half and hour, stirring occasionally. (You can use either kielbasa or ham and it will be equally delicious. And if you have leeks on hand, you can also throw in a cup of finely chopped leeks.) Adjust the seasoning, adding pepper and salt if needed and stir in the dill. Discard the juniper berries and garnish with fresh dill. Serves 6.