Three Bean Vegetarian Chili with Meat

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It can be hard to cook for my family.  Everyone likes different styles of cooking.  Davis is a meat and potatoes guy.  Olivia is vegetarian.  My mom likes casseroles and I like any of it. Today I made a vegetarian chili so that everyone could embellish it to suit their own taste.  Davis added meat.  Olivia added hot sauce.  My mom added sour cream and chips. And I added cheese.  Everyone was happy.

We were supposed to get some snow last night but we didn’t.  Instead we got some freezing rain in the tops of the trees.

But I got out of school two hours early yesterday so I’m not complaining.

Mostly we have clumps of broken off frozen pine needles because the ice made them too heavy to stay on the branch.

Don’t forget to tune into the Berry Eagle Cam.  So far, there is one egg and the mom is dutifully tending to it even in the snow.

I have been doing some top secret sewing today.  I will share soon.  So far I have made one item and the zipper is in upside down.  I am NOT ripping it out.  If you stick your finger in and wiggle it around you can get the zipper open.  Closing it is a breeze.  I’ll just be sure not to put anything in there that I need out speedy quick because the finger wiggle technique is not the most expeditious.

Have some chili and forget your marginal domestic skills.

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili (which you can add ground beef to and make it not vegetarian)

1 cup chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce

1 16 ounce can kidney beans

1 15 ounce can black beans

1 15 ounce can Cannellini beans

2 teaspoons chili powder (or more to taste)

1 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper

Cook onions and garlic in a nonstick pan until softened.  You may need to add a teaspoon of oil but I didn’t, and calorie count at the end reflects this. Place the onions and garlic in a stockpot and add the rest of the ingredients, stir to mix.  Adjust seasonings to preference.  Simmer 30 minutes.  Serve with ground beef, shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped onion, corn chips, etc.  One cup chili without garnishes is 185 calories.

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New Year’s Resolution

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Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? I did not.

However, today I received an email from a colleague and she is having her students do a one word resolution.  Sounded interesting to me.  There is a hashtag on Twitter where people are sharing their one word resolutions.  It is #myoneword.  The purpose is to find one transformational word and you can focus on the change you want to make.  This is based on a book by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olson in 2012.

Any word will do.  Find a quality that you want to develop this year.  Some choices might be:

Healthy

Intentional

Disciplined

Joyful

Positive

Caring

Simplify

Strong

Release

Go to this site for even more words.  http://myoneword.org/pick-your-word/

You can make an inspirational poster at this site  https://pablo.buffer.com/

Your poster can remind you of your word and help motivate you  to achieve this resolution.

Here is an example I made:

 

And here is another:

And another.

 

And the last:

I’m enjoying making these posters.  The hard part is choosing my word.  Has anyone out there read the book or chosen a word?  Sounds like a great way to make a resolution.  Simple but powerful.

Good luck with your resolution!   I’m going to go and decide upon my own one word.

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Party Mix

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I enjoy homemade Party Mix.  I like the taste but I also have many memories tied to it. Growing up we seemed to only make it around Christmas time but I personally have been known to make it other times in the year, too. I guess I’m living on the edge.

There aren’t really as many seasonal foods as there used to be since we get produce flown in from around the world.  It no longer seems odd to eat watermelon in December or pears in June.  I used to remember waiting very impatiently for grape season to come around in the fall and then eating lots of them because they wouldn’t be back for a year.

Candy manufacturers are jumping on that bandwagon, too.  I remember how special it was to get a Cadbury Cream Center Egg at Easter but now they make them for Halloween and Christmas.  Or Peeps.  You can get Halloween Peeps, Christmas Peeps, Valentine’s Peeps.  We are an instant gratification society and a marketer’s dream. Repackage the classics and they will sell anytime.

Do I like this new don’t-have-to-wait-for-anything mentality?  I’m not sure.  Although I do like to eat a Cadbury Egg whenever I want to, it does take a little of the specialness out of them.  Just a little.   And tomatoes.  It is nice to have a BLT in January rather than eating stewed tomatoes that were canned with the summer’s bounty, but nothing beats a warm, ripe summer tomato fresh off the vine.

I’m thinking seasonal foods are a thing of the past so I guess I need to embrace it and join the instant gratification society, but it does make me a little sad.  Anticipation is appealing and fun and brings a sense of excitement. I think we are missing out when we deprive ourselves of anticipation.  When we don’t have things to look forward to then life becomes a dull place.  So make this Party Mix and then put the recipe away for a while.  When you get it out later, you can savor it and secretly rebel against the mainstream.  It will be worth it.

Party Mix

2 sticks butter

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 rounded teaspoon garlic salt

1 rounded teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoning Salt

4 drops Tabasco sauce

2 cups Corn Chex

2 cups  Wheat Chex

2 cups Rice Chex

2 cups Cheerios

2 cups pretzels

2 cups potato stix

1 1/2 cup mixed nuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Melt butter and add Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, garlic salt, and Tabasco. In a large bowl, stir together cereals, pretzels, potato stix and nuts.  Pour butter mixture over cereals.  Mix thoroughly.  Place on 2 cookie sheets and place in oven.  Stir frequently and alternate racks in oven once during baking.  Bake 45 minutes or until browned.  Cool, uncovered, then store in an airtight container.

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Cupcake Fail

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In response to a reader from the Monkey Bread Post I made some lower carb carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for the blog today.

The recipe called for whole wheat flour to provide more fiber, yogurt and applesauce to replace the oil and much less sugar to help lower the carbs.

I took some over to my mom to let her try some.  She texted me back, “What’s the story on the cupcakes?”  That’s mom-speak for “those are horrible” but I knew that already.

I think the story is that they are better to look at than to eat.  The flavor was fine but the texture was a bit gummy from the yogurt and applesauce and also a bit tough from the whole wheat flour.  This recipe needs some work, for sure!  But I will try again another day.  I like carrot cake and I think it should be an easy recipe to adapt to make lower in carbs.

School started back for me again today.  Unfortunately no one seems to want to pay me to sit at home and play with my dog and cat all day so I had to go in.  But fortunately it was a staff development day so it was nice to talk to adults and learn some new educational strategies.

Now it is raining in Atlanta with tornadoes to the west of us in Alabama.  I may be heading to the basement shortly whether the teenage man cave inhabitants like it or not.  I can bring the carrot cupcakes while we hunker down.  Desperation and fear might make them taste better.

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Happy New Year 2017

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I hope your new year is off to a better start than these little guys! Ha!

I found this yard art on the way to my New Year’s Day Kai.  A Kai is an event where people gather together to weave or spin, eat a meal, and share ideas.  I went to this Kai at HanDen Studio which is conveniently located in my neighborhood.

Michaela shared her scarf. It’s actually still on the loom but she later cut it off and wore it home. I guess that’s Weave-and-Wear or maybe Weave-and-Leave.

Another project was a cross-body purse made from previously woven cloth.

And the back has a pocket.

A whimsical project was this very textured garland/scarf.  The weaver is planning to use it as decoration at a show he’s putting on in Alabama. (There’s a towel on the floor because it was raining all day.)

Some people were spinning in addition to weaving.  I haven’t tried spinning yet.

After the Kai, I came home to make a traditional New Year’s supper.

We had the traditional Southern black eyed peas and collard greens (for dollars and pennies) and then to satisfy my northern heritage, we also had sauerkraut in my vegetarian Reuben sandwiches.  Instead of corned beef I used fried green tomatoes. They are a little messy to make but delicious.  Olivia made homemade Thousand Island dressing and I will have to say that these sandwiches were outstanding!

Then for double good luck and extra fortune, I used the last of the fried green tomato batter to coat and deep fry some of the black eyed peas.

I sprinkled them with Lawry’s Seasoning Salt.  You really need to try it sometime.

With four traditional New Year’s foods, I know that 2017 is going to be a great year!

Happy New Year!  Thanks for reading the blog!

 

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing 

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 small clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon grated onion

2 tablespoons pickle relish

1/4 teaspoon salt

dash hot sauce

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate.

 

Fried Green Tomato Batter

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup all-purpose flour plus additional flour for coating tomatoes

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat 1 – 2 inches of oil in a skillet to 375 degrees.  Slice tomatoes  and dip in batter then in flour.  Fry tomatoes on each side until golden. Drain on paper towels.

 

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Chicken Soup and Hallmark Movies

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I’m still taking down decorations, cleaning house, and watching Hallmark movies. Anyone else out there seen all of them like I have?  You have to ask…do parents really give their single daughters such a hard time that they need to rent boyfriends for the holidays?  Does every small town love Christmas?  If you sit beside a man with a white beard on an airplane, is he really Santa?

Apparently I fit the demographic because all the commercials feature people my age but fortunately I don’t yet need adult diapers, AARP life insurance, or a “Hurry Cane.”  All these movies come to an end on Monday and then it won’t be long till they start the Valentine’s movies.  Alas, I still won’t need psoriasis cream, hemorrhoid cream, or sexy whipped cream.

Hallmark definitely has the formula for love and I tune in to all of them.  I’m not sure why.  They are as much depressing as they are affirming.  Maybe deep down I’m just waiting for my handsome leading man to appear although with my luck he will most likely come scooting up on a Hoveround offering rheumatoid arthritis pills so we can ride up to the Cialis bathtub on the hill of flowers….not quite what I had in mind.

Oh well, eat some soup.

Chicken Soup

4 tablespoons butter

1 1/4 cup chopped onion  (1 medium onion)

3 stalks celery, finely chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon dillweed

6 cups chicken broth

2 cups diced cooked chicken

1 cup whole milk

8 ounces pasta

Cook pasta according to package directions.  In a separate stock pot, melt butter.  Cook onion, celery, carrots, and garlic until tender.  Stir in the flour and seasonings.  Add the broth slowly and bring to a boil.  Stir in the chicken and cooked, drained pasta.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes more.  Add the milk, heat through but do not return to a boil.  Makes 10  (1 1/4 cup)  servings.   210 calories each serving.  Freezes well.

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Walk of Doom

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I want to share these photos of a walk I took the other day.  I have been cooped up inside decorating, undecorating, cooking, or shopping so I decided to get outside and enjoy our unseasonably warm weather.  I went to Lake Peachtree and took a walk around the lake. It is typically about an hour walk and is very nice with paved paths and sidewalks the whole way.

My view as I start the walk.

Lovely day.  A few puffy clouds.  I walked on up into the wooded area and texted my friend Terri to exclaim how excited I was to be walking and that everyone should now call me Cardio-Cathy because of my motivation and zippy pace.

I make it out of the woods and look back over the lake.  Serene…beautiful.  It reinforced my motivation to commune with nature.

I get another text and Terri said that she wanted to walk, too, but it had starting raining where she lived.  I felt so special that we had dodged the rain in our fair city.

I continue walking and make a turn on my circular walk around the lake and just happen to look over my shoulder. YIKES!!!

Cardio-Cathy was about to demonstrate her new speed walking skills, however she was demonstrating to no one because everyone else had apparently looked at their phone weather apps and cleared the heck out of Dodge.

Cardio-Cathy was really in a dilemma because as mentioned earlier the trek around the lake is an hour and the trip was exactly half way through.  Does she go back the way she came or finish the lap?  Cardio Cathy noticed the wind was picking up and really gusting so she decided to back the way she came which had the least amount of trees to walk under with the peril of falling limbs.

Back to the bridge.  Here is a 30 minute before and after.

Cardio-Cathy made it back to her car clocking in her fastest walk/run/terror-jog to date.

Judicious-Julie will now check the Weather Channel before her next walk.

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Monkey Bread with Sass

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Years ago I tried Monkey Bread and thought it was the greatest treat ever.  Then as all things go, people weren’t content with this humble little pull-apart bread and soon created Gorilla Bread.  My friend Gina brought Gorilla Bread to one of our friend gatherings and we have all been hooked ever since.

Today I made a cross between a Monkey Bread and a Gorilla Bread so I’m calling it Monkey Bread with Sass.  I made this with canned biscuit dough but one day I want to try it with homemade biscuit dough.  Takes the “easy-peasy” out of the recipe but I think I would love the homemade taste. For now, it is just a plan for another day because I’m using the canned dough today.

This Sassy Monkey Bread goes together in minutes but takes about 45 minutes to bake in my pan.  You have to get up early to get this on the table.  Part of the length of cooking is my pan.  I bought a Williams Sonoma Monkey Bread Ceramic Dish and the sides are incredibly steep so I think it probably takes longer to bake than a conventional Bundt or angelfood pan.

Time to take down all my beautiful Christmas decorations so this bread is perfect for picking as I’m packing!

Monkey Bread with Sass

1 can biscuit dough (10 biscuits)

4 to 5 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 stick butter

3/4 cup nuts (pecans or walnuts are good)

(Double this recipe to make Gorilla Bread in a traditional Bundt pan or when making for a large group.  Add more cinnamon to taste. I cut it way back from the original recipe.)

Grease a Bundt pan or Monkey Bread Dish.  Open biscuits and slice each into fourths. (For Gorilla Bread you can leave the biscuits whole and cut the cream cheese into larger pieces)  For Monkey Bread, score the cream cheese into 40 pieces – about 1/2 teaspoon. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar; set aside.  Heat the butter and brown sugar; keep warm.  Take a piece of the biscuit dough and press it larger with your fingers.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Place a piece of cream cheese in the center and wrap and seal the dough around the cream cheese.  Roll in sugar mixture.  Repeat with remaining dough.  To assemble – place 1/3 of the nuts in the dish, top with 1/2 of the dough pieces, 1/2 of the butter mixture, and sprinkle with 1/2 half of the remaining sugar mixture.  Repeat layers ending with nuts on the top.  Bake for 30 – 45 minutes depending up what type of pan you are using and whether you double the recipe. Test for doneness by looking down into the biscuit balls and making sure the middle layers are cooked through and not gummy.  When done, remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Place a plate on top and invert.

Thank you, Chupa, for your assistance, however it might be nice to be able to use the decorations again next year although you do look fetching with your beard garland.

 

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Adventures in After Christmas Shopping

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I have scored some pretty good deals after Christmas – wrapping paper, tape, bows, a $3 candy cane necktie for Davis, a storage bag for my fake silver trees, Christmas Peeps, and two tree-shaped candle tapers.   All your basic grab and go after Christmas bargains.  Or were they?  Might I ask why a drone is following me on my excursion?   I thought I was a pretty good bargain hunter but this takes shopping to a whole new level.  Just send out your drones to seek the bargains and unnerve the competition.

I have a video of it but for now you will have to see a photograph.  (I am not set up to add videos on the blog but it is in the works and hopefully videos will happen soon.) You can see the drone by the middle section of lights taken from the parking lot at Publix. Too bad for the drone shopper because I got all the Chocolate-dipped Peppermint Peeps at half price anyway.  No drone is stopping me from this once a year delicacy.

Next stop is downtown.  Here is a photo of Atlanta on my way to Ikea.  Atlanta looks pretty in the winter with its gray skies and gray bridges and buildings.

And last,  I found myself at KMart.  My shopping is coming to an end.. Gray skies in the daytime lead to gorgeous sunsets in the evening.

With all that shopping I pulled a soup from the freezer for dinner.  I like to have individual servings on hand for just an evening such as this.  No garnishes tonight…just a quick and easy soup bowl reheated in minutes.

I have the recipe and photos from the last time I made this soup so I will include them  now. This year I have been making quite a few soups to freeze for my lunch or for a quick supper.  I am replenishing my stash over the holidays.

Butternut Squash Soup

2 medium sized butternut squash (4 1/2 cups cooked squash or about 35-40 ounces cooked squash)

6 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger (powdered from a bottle not gingerroot)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 32-ounce box chicken broth

1/2 cup water from boiling the squash

1 cup half and half

salted cashew pieces

Use a sharp vegetable peeler to remove the hard covering of the butternut squash, discard. Scoop out the seeds from the inside.   Cut the squash into pieces and boil in water until tender.  Drain and keep the liquid for later.  In a stock pot, melt the butter.  Add the garlic and cook until garlic is softened.  Add the ginger and stir until mixed.  Add the flour and stir until smooth.  Slowly add the broth stirring until all the broth is incorporated.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes until slightly thickened.  Add the drained squash.  Use an immersion blender or stand blender to puree the soup.  Add additional squash cooking water to desired consistency.  Reduce heat and cook 10-15 minutes.  Add the half and half and heat but do not boil.  Serve with chopped, salted cashew pieces.

When you add the squash it doesn’t look as appetizing but wait for it…..

Keep blending….

Soon it is creamy and delicious! One serving (1 1/4 cup) is approximately 190 calories not including the cashews.  This is a delicious winter soup that freezes well and is tasty and filling.  Now go forth and shop.  You will have plenty of extra time because your dinner is already prepared and waiting for you.

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Christmas 2016

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No complaints around here from Christmas.  We showered each other with gifts and we spent time with the family on Christmas day.  Here are a few highlights.

We start our morning with a present hunt. 7:30 was our Christmas wake-up time this year.   Each year, I hide 12 of their gifts with an ornament from one of the 12 Days of Christmas.  After they have found 12 gifts around the house, they know to head back to the family room for a few more gifts and of course, stockings full of goodies.

I pretty much always hide a gift in the oven.  This year I hid a gift in each oven thinking that they might stop after the first one.  They didn’t and both hiding places were discovered in quick succession. I can see I’m going to have to up my game next year.

I love my new laser light.  It is the kind you see on the fronts of every other house this year.  I guess we were all excited about this new style of outdoor lighting.  I decided to bring mine inside into the front living room.  I love it inside better than outside because I get to see it instead of the neighbors and passerbys!    This reminds me of Beauty and the Beast dancing in the ballroom.  It is over the top and fun.  Just what I like best!

After gifts we had breakfast of coconut toast, scrambled eggs, and bacon,  and then headed off to church.  By now it was daylight and the stained glass windows were beautiful inside.

After the service, we drove back to my mom’s house to meet Steve and his family.  Here are round robin photos of almost everyone. Davis had his eyes closed in his and I looked goofy in mine so you will get 75% of the family plus a bonus Christmas kitty.

Steve

Diane

Nick

Elyse and Sally

Olivia

Bonus Christmas Kitty

We played games and ate lunch at my mom’s house.  Then it was time for Steve and Diane to head to her mom’s house so our day was done. Time to clean up and enjoy our new gifts.

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

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