Monday, April 28, 2014

18 Bean Soup

Eighteen Bean Mix by"Beautiful Star"
Bouquet garni - included
Bean mix - sort through and wash thoroughly
8 cups water
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
10 oz. ham hock
2-14 oz. whole tomatoes, chopped, reserve juice
2 cups onions, chopped
2 cups, celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 lb. andouille sausage
1/2 lb. fresh, boneless chicken breast

Place the beans, bouquet garni, 8 cups water and ham hock in a large dutch oven pot (I used two ham hocks since I didn't have andouille sausage).

Sprinkle with pepper.  Since I didn't have broth, I had plenty of creamy bouillon chicken base

It comes in this jar and they also make it in beef.  Once I stirred in the chicken base, I covered the pot and brought the soup to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Add tomatoes, onions, celery, garlic, sausage and chicken.  Cover and bring back to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook for an additional 1 1/2 hours.  During the last 1/2 hour, stir the bottom of the pot as the soup should thicken.  I cooked it a little longer uncovered until it got thicker as that's the way hubby loves it.

Remove ham hock, bouquet garni from soup.  Discard the bouquet garni.  Place both meats on a clean surface, I personally like to use a pie plate as it keeps the juices from spilling.  Carefully locate and discard bones and fat.

Dice ham hock meat and return to soup (I was a little disappointed that I only got about a 3/4 cup of ham meat from the ham hocks)

Do the same with the chicken.  Stir and simmer the soup an extra 10 minutes, serve immediately.

I had on hand some cooked barley so I added it to the soup to give it more substance. Hubby loves to have rice with his soups and chilis but instead of using rice, I used a cup of cooked barley.  Just the perfect addition to any soup in my opinion.

Yum!  This was the best bean soup I've had and it was even better the second day.  I bought it at Fresh Market and I think I'm going back to get some more.  Beans are so healthy and so good.  I can't believe there were 18 types of beans in the mix so I counted them and sure enough, they're right!  Here's the list:
  1. Navy Beans
  2. Great Northern Beans
  3. Pinto Beans
  4. Black Beans
  5. Red Beans
  6. Light Red Kidney Beans
  7. Yellow Split Peas
  8. Baby Lima Beans
  9. Brown Lentils 
  10. Green Split Peas
  11. Pink Beans
  12. Black Eyed Peas
  13. Cranberry Beans
  14. Large Lima Beans
  15. Dark Red Kidney Beans
  16. Garbanzo Beans
  17. Whole Green Peas
  18. Red Lentils

Serve with your favorite bread and savor!

Have a great week and remember to savor every moment!

No Knead Peasant Bread

(copy cat from alexandracooks)

4 cups all-purpose flour (do not use bleached all-purpose)
2 tsps. kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tsps. active-dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
2 tbsps. butter, room temperature

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour . . .

then add the kosher salt . . .

and the sugar . . .

and then the yeast.

Whisk together.

Add the lukewarm water.  Mix until the flour is absorbed.

Cover with plastic wrap or a warm damp tea towel.  Set aside in a warm spot to rise (I placed it in my sun room where it was very warm today) for at least an hour.  If you have time, let it rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  I had time so I let it rise 2 hours.

In the meantime, butter two 1.5 qt. oven safe bowls.  Preferably Pyrex or any other glass ware.

After the dough has risen, use two dinner forks and punch down the bread

With the forks, separate the dough in half . . .

and flop each half into the buttered bowls

Loosely cover with plastic wrap (she didn't say to cover the dough and since I wasn't sure, I went ahead and did it).  Place the bowls in a warm spot (I used my stove top since my oven was heating up).  Preheat oven at 425F degrees.

Let rise for 20 minutes.  Gently remove plastic wrap and place in pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.  Turn heat down to 375F degrees, bake for another 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and place on cooling rack for 10 minutes.  They practically slip out of their bowls.

Don't they look fantastic and oh so good?!?!

Hubby wanted some Tomato Soup with his fresh out of the oven baked bread.  It did not disappoint.  I had some with my chocolate milk.  I had a bite a few hours better and I must say it was much better the 2nd time around.  The crust is crispy but the inside is so soft, thick and moist.  Indeed, it is much better than any bread I have ever made.  This one's a keeper folks.  Thanks Alexandra!  Please click on the link to her blog (at the top underneath the main image).  She gives a lot of background information behind this recipe.  Very interesting and informative!

Hope you had a great weekend and savored every moment!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Pork Chops, Thyme and Carmelized Apples

2 thick pork chops
Salt & pepper
Fresh thyme
1 orange, cut in half
White wine
2 Grenadine apples, peeled, quartered (my grocery store didn't have Grenadine apples so I just bought whatever apple they had)

Heat some olive oil in a non-stick skillet.  Salt and pepper the pork chops on both sides

Place fresh Thyme sprigs on top of pork chops.

Brown both sides.

Add juice from one half of orange and the 1/4 cup of wine.  Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes until 1/2 of liquid has evaporated.

While the pork chops are simmering, cut apples into thick slices.

Remove pork chops to warm plate.

Add sliced apples to pan drippings and the other half of orange juice.  Sprinkle a pinch of sugar.

Stir until completely cooked through, soft and carmelized.

Serve with pork chops (remove thyme stems) enjoy!

Hubby loved this and I'd love to take the credit but I told him to thank "Martha Stewart".  I watched her make this on a rerun show of hers the other day and as much I love pork chops, I decided to try it.  It was good, wasn't great but perhaps I just need to work on it some more and find some real Grenadine apples. 

This meal is also considered a "quick meal", can be done in 30 minutes!

Have a great weekend and remember to savor every moment!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Peter Rabbit & Friends Run Amuck @ Spottswood PL

 It's true what they say that bunnies do multiply.  I'm finding that out at Spottswood Place.

It started with this collection.  I purchased these bunnies at Pier1 last year and the year before.  At the same time I started to develop a fascination with Beatrix Potter drawings as well as her Peter Rabbit stories.

Last year I vowed that I would start a Peter Rabbit collection of some sort.  This box of Peter Rabbit Postcards were the first item I purchased and received.  They are made of exquisite heavy paper cardstock.  I can frame these,  I can even use them as a postcard if I wanted to but I'll wait to do that when the grandkids are a little older.  What a treat to get in the mail if I were a young'un.

 I also ordered two mini-Peter Rabbit figurines.  There are so many to pick from, at least 20.  This is Jemima Puddle Duck - remember her?   She's a few fries short of a happy meal.  She friended a sly fox thinking he was a very nice gentleman but the only one thing on his mind, was having her for dinner.

Here we have Peter Rabbit and Mrs. Rabbit.  She's buttoning his jacket just before he goes out to play.  She reminds him not to play in Mr. McGregor's garden unless he wants to end up in baked pie like his father.  But does Peter listen??

This bunny hopped his way into our front lawn from across the street.  Guess he just wanted to check to see if the grass was greener on the other side.  ;)

 My grand-daughter greets him every time we go outside.

This bunny is on the opposite side from the other bunny.  He belonged to my mother in law and there's no telling how long she had him but I plan to keep him as long as I can.

 I love drawing bunnies and lately have drawn quite a few.  I drew this picture specifically for my sister.  It's not a copy from anyone's drawings, just created it in my head and drew it by hand with my Wacom art tablet.  If you look at those house shoes, they are the exact replicas she and I own.  We will be drinking a lot of tea together once I move near her.  I love my sister very much and we are very close.

 This is a curio shelf that I fell in love with and bought it for pennies back about 30 years ago when we lived in Germany.  For years I had placed in it a hodge-podge of German trinkets that we bought.  Lately I've hung it up with a few seasonal items and always dissatisfied the way it looked.  But now I know what I will begin to put in it, my new Peter Rabbit mini-figurines.  If I buy two a year, it will take eight years to fill it up and I'm okay with that.

This is a quote from Beatrix Potter herself.  They are also the first words you hear in the movie titled, "Miss Potter" (a must see movie about Beatrix Potter if you haven't seen it yet).  I used this framed quote when I created a Peter Rabbit mantel vignette which I copied from the blog, "Be Book Bound".  I blame this blog for the reason and beginning of my Peter Rabbit fascination.

These bunnies are multiplying at my house, how about yours?

Have a lovely and wonderful week and remember to savor every moment!

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