Tuesday, February 10, 2015

cookin' up fun and food in my kitchen

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...


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.

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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!


MEDITERRANEAN RATATOUILLE
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
(Water)
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!

Sharing this post at Cozy Little House Tweak it Tuesday.


30 comments:

  1. I would love to join you for a crafty day or better yet, why don't you come to my house?

    Is your basement a spot you could fix up as a craft space? I know lots of people who have basements have them fixed up as extra rooms. A basement is a rarity around here.

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    1. I'd love to come to your house for a craft day! As for the basement, if I changed everything around - which I don't want to do - I could probably make part of it into a craft space. But I hate being down in the basement unless we're watching TV. It's very dark and claustrophobic down there due to the lack of natural light. No one would want to be crafting down there, believe me. ;-)

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  2. Great recipes, Melanie. The vegetarian ones are very like something Don would whip up. Now I'm getting hungry!
    Your scrapbooking day with family sounds like it turned out to be very fun and happy, too!

    xo
    Claudia

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    1. I love being creative with my cooking - glad Don does, too!

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  3. How nice of you to plan a fun day with your "girls"! It looks like they had fun!

    Your meals look yummy! Can you believe I've never eaten eggplant? It's on my list of foods to try. I'm trying to find new dishes that are gluten and dairy free. I don't eat beans because of my IBS, but I think both dishes would be fine without. Thanks for sharing, Melanie!

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    1. Yes, I can believe you've never eaten eggplant. I don't think it's a veggie one normally eats a lot of. Personally, I'm not a big fan. I can only tolerate little bits once in awhile. That's why instead of using more eggplant, I put in some zucchini (which I really like).

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  4. It's that perfect time of year for soup! I swear I could eat it every day. I made veggie quesadillas for dinner tonight, and the combination of yellow corn, purple onions, black beans, and red and green peppers sure made for a beautiful filling. Add in orange cheese, with fresh red salsa, green avocados and white sour cream, and it was a feast for the eyes and tummy both.

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    1. I love soup in the winter, too. We eat a lot of it during this season. Also love veggie quesadillas - and yours sound delicious!

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  5. Glad it turned into such a great fun day - mom and aunt look like they're enjoying it all!

    Love the soup with kale - I'd have to omit the sausage but think it would still be yummy. The ratatouille looks awesome - different for my recipe but may give it a try - colder weather coming here soon so need warming foods! We love soups and I make one almost daily this time of year - tonight was tomato and roasted red pepper - tomorrow, cream of roasted cauliflower.

    Hugs - Mary

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    1. Your soups sound so good...I love making all kinds of different soups in the winter.

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  6. There is nothing like crafty girl time and good food to warm the soul!

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    1. I agree, Jen! I wish we did this more often.

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  7. I've never made the Tuscan soup as I usually use other meat so I must try that. Looks good.

    It was a fun day. Hope to stop at Michaels today and pick up something to add to my tiny collection of scrapping. One tool a week is fine with a coupon. :-)

    xxoo Mommy

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    1. You would love that Tuscan soup, Mom. I'm glad you had fun scrapping. I know it's not really your "thing". It's more fun when we're all doing it together, isn't it?

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  8. The Mediterranean ratatouille sounds great for this summer's CSA! Thanks for posting!

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  9. Hi Melanie;
    I am so glad you had such a fun day with your mom and auntie! It looks like all are having fun. You need to post a page from your scrapbook that you did, we would love to see it! The recipes sound so good, I will have to see about making some. I would need to add some meat and omit the eggplant for the family tho (they don't know whats good.) Hope your weather is decent, this is our second nice day in a row, I could get use to this quickly! Love and Hugs, Nana

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    1. I didn't get much done in the scrapbook except for getting all the photos put in. No details, embellishments or words yet. Sorry to say our weather here is VERY cold right now - below zero wind temps again!

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  10. There's nothing better than girls getting together to craft, no matter who the girls are! Looks like you were having fun....your Mom's a cutey! I love your soup, but is one thing I can't eat and that's sausage....it no likey me.

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    1. This sausage was handmade from a local butcher - one of the only kinds I can eat. I don't buy commercial sausage. Don't know if that would make a difference for you.

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  11. I used to love scrapbooking, but I haven't done it in a while. That food looks so delicious. especially that soup with the kale. I'll have to try that, without the Italian sausages, though. Enjoy your evening... :)

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    1. I hadn't scrapbooked in a long time either, Dee. It felt good to at least finish putting photos in this little album that I'm making for a friend. You could always omit the sausage in the Tuscan soup recipe and just add more veggies.

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  12. I miss my scrapbooking nights. All the stores have closed. I am way behind. How much fun to have your mother and your aunt scrapping and having soup. I may have to try that. I might actually like kale that way.

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    1. All the scrapbooking stores here have closed, too. My favorite was Archivers. Good thing we can still buy materials at Michaels and Hobby Lobby! Although Archivers still sells online. I know what you mean about kale...it's definitely hard for me to like, too. I did like it in this soup. I also like a little bit of it in smoothies.

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  13. It's so nice to see your mom and aunt there. They both look like very nice people, just from their smiles. The recipes both sound delicious and just the kind of things I like to make. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. You're right, Jennifer - my mom and aunt ARE very nice people! You're welcome for the recipes.

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  14. It looks like you ladies had a good time :)

    I'm copying both of those recipes!

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    1. Thanks, Rue - I hope you enjoy them!

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