When me, my mom, and my aunt planned on a scrapbooking day at my house, I wondered just where we were going to do this. I have a small house. No dining room to temporarily convert to a craft space. I decided on the kitchen, but we have a small table that certainly wouldn't do for three women and all their crafting supplies. I moved the kitchen table into the living room, Brian brought up the 6' long table from the basement, I dug out my scrapbooking supplies from my office and voila! We were in business. That's my cute little mommy on the right and her sister - my aunt - on the left. We scrapped for several hours on Saturday and then went out to lunch. Such a fun girl's day.
While I'm talking about my kitchen, I thought I'd share a couple of my latest recipes. I love being creative in the kitchen! I think these are dishes that anyone can make and the ingredients are adaptable. You don't have kale? Use spinach. No white beans on-hand? Use pinto or kidney beans. Out of veggie broth? Use chicken broth. Experiment with your favorite seasonings, too. If you have kids, have them help you chop the vegetables. (Of course, only if they're old enough to be handling a knife, and with your supervision.) First up is Tuscan Soup...
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
2 links fresh Italian sausage
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
Dried basil, oregano, thyme & freshly ground pepper, to taste
Couple handfuls fresh kale
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion, carrots,
celery and garlic. Saute until veggies are soft and aromatic, about 7 minutes.
While the veggies are sauteeing, in a separate frying pan, cook the sausage
links on all sides until browned and no longer pink inside. (Spray the pan with an
olive oil spray - you may find you need to add a little bit of oil to the pan, too.) When
the sausages are done, remove to a cutting board and cut into 1/2" slices. Add
to the veggie mixture in the soup pot. Pour in the vegetable broth and the white
beans. Add seasonings. (I don't add any salt, but you can do so, to taste.) Bring
to a slow boil, then reduce heat to low, put lid on pot, and let simmer for at least
30 minutes. Add fresh kale and let simmer another 5-10 minutes. Serve with
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
Next is a wonderful vegetarian dish that will please even meat lovers. It's a hearty, "meaty" dish because of the eggplant and garbanzo beans. Tammy of T's Daily Treasures was my inspiration behind this dish. Tammy said in this post that she took "eggplant, tomato and onion sauteed in olive oil and slowly simmered with tomato paste, a little water, salt, pepper and allspice." So I took it from there and made a Mediterranean Ratatouille...
Sauteeing the beautiful vegetables...
Finished product (before I added the garbanzo beans) - yum!
2 T. olive oil
2 small eggplant, cubed
2 small zucchini, cubed
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. kalamata olives or 1/8 c. olive tapenade
1 small can tomato paste
Cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (or allspice)
Sriracha sauce, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and then add the eggplant, zucchini
and onion. Saute for about 5 minutes, until the veggies are starting to soften
up, then add the tomatoes and olives (or tapenade). Cook for 1 minute longer.
Add 1/2 can tomato paste and enough water to make a medium-thick sauce.
Cook on low for a few minutes, then add sriracha sauce, salt, pepper, and
cinnamon and nutmeg or allspice - all to your taste. Stir in garbanzo beans.
Let your kitchen be filled with tantalizing Mediterranean aromas and your mind
drift to faraway lands...
You can serve with warm pita bread or over quinoa. Makes 4 servings.
I hope that I've inspired you to try these dishes. Happy cooking!
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