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This week I acquired a Crockette, and this was the first meal I made in it. Even though we don’t need our usual type of “Friday Night Dinner” this week because of spring break, I have a feeling this will quickly become a favorite in our Friday-night rotation!

(You can make this in a regular crockpot on the low setting)

Crockette 13-Bean Stew

2/3 cup Lucky 13 Bean Soup, soaked overnight and drained

1 large carrot, cut into 1/4″ pieces

1 medium bell pepper, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 Tablespoon dried Parsley

1 Tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 cups vegetable broth

Combine all ingredients in Crockette and cook for 10-12 hours. Serves 3.

***

Happy Spring!

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Friday night dinner: a satisfying, yet fun meal to end a week of work and kick off a weekend.

That said, I work Friday night and early Saturday morning, so in our home “Friday night dinner” also has to be quick and easy, yet enjoyable.  By the time I get in the door on Friday nights I’m too tired to cook, so dinner is usually prepared earlier in the day so we can eat when I get home (and then go to bed, because 5:30am Saturday comes around mighty quick).

I made this tuna dip a few weeks ago when we were low on groceries, and it was a big hit! Such a big hit, in fact, that I’ll be making it again this weekend for Super Bowl festivities. This recipe was inspired by my mother’s Buffalo Chicken dip (known in our family as “Mad Awesome Chicken Dip”), with a few modifications to make it vegequarian-friendly. It’s very easy to make; and my darling husband put it in the oven as my classes were ending so it was ready when I got home. 🙂

Ingredients:

2 5oz cans of tuna, drained and chopped

8oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup of Chipotle ranch dressing

1/2 cup of finely diced bell pepper (whatever color you have handy, though red seems to work best)

2 Tablespoons Chipotle Hot Sauce

Process:

Mix all ingredients together. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. For best results, serve with “scoop” tortilla chips (you can use any chip, of course, but if you want the perfect tuna-dip-eating experience, I strongly suggest Tostito’s Scoops). Enjoy!

It doesn’t get much easier than that, folks. Have a great weekend!

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I need three things to get my day going so early: A tall glass of iced coffee, thirty minutes of gentle yoga, and some protein and whole grains.

I’m not hungry when I first get up, nor am I in the mood to heat up the skillet before sunrise. These breakfast bars have been a lifesaver: I just toss one in my bag and nibble on it later on in the morning.

The protein powder is optional– if you’ve got some on-hand, it’ll give your bars a little nutrient boost. I use Vega Complete Whole Food Optimizer in Vanilla Chai, which adds a nice flavor.

Simple, Hearty Breakfast Bars

The Base:

1/4 cup honey

3 Tbs strawberry jam (here’s an easy no-cook recipe for your convenience)

2 Tbs peanut butter

1 Tbs coconut oil

1- 2 Tbs protein powder (Optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

The Goods:

2 cups whole grain oats

1/2 cup nuts or seeds of your choice

3/4 cup raisins

2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat Oven to 300°F and grease and 8×8 cake pan.

2. Combine the ingredients for the base in a large bowl and mix well. If you’re using the protein powder, the finished result will look like something found in a diaper but smell like a PB&J. This is normal.

3. Mix in the dry goods. Stir for about 2-3 minutes to get everything equally coated.

4. Pour the mixture into the pan and press with a spatula to distribute it evenly. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour (depending on your oven/pan), until the top is golden brown.

5. Cool completely and cut into 9 squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week (they’ll be eaten before then).

One of these little bars keeps me going strong until lunchtime; combined with good coffee and a good stretch, they give me plenty of energy to do what I do. They even taste wholesome. Enjoy them!

***

I’d like to close this post with links to some other breakfast- bar recipes that I’ve tried and really enjoyed. If you’re looking for something a little sweeter, my friend Beth over the thedailygalette has got a fantastic recipe for granola bars on her blog. For a protein-packed bar that you don’t need to bake, Oxygen Magazine has a fast, easy recipe using whey protein. Both are delicious!

Sorry the posting’s been sporadic lately– got quite a bit going on right now. I’ll post later this week. Have a happy 4th of July!

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I grew up in Northeast Pennsylvania, where most folks eat pork and sauerkraut with mashed potatoes on New Year’s Day (for good luck). Here in the south, the New Year’s tradition is black-eyed peas, greens, and cornbread. Being a vegetarian, I have to say I like the south’s tradition a lot better. 🙂

I decided to combine both traditions for our New Year’s day meal. I made a pot of mashed potatoes and sauerkraut for lunch, and for dinner we’ll have peas, cabbage, and my fabulous Mexican cornbread (I still don’t really “get” the allure of cornbread, but I’ve learned to make it really well). The cabbage at dinner is a little redundant (what’s the sauerkraut made of?), but hubs insisted on it.

In my effort to get as many important vitamins into us as possible, I’ve started slipping extra vegetables into just about every dish. Not only is healthy, but it adds a little extra color and flavor to our meals. The mashed potatoes I made came out so colorful and festive-looking that I dubbed them “confetti potatoes.” Give them a try sometime!

8 small red potatoes, unpeeled

1 large carrot, diced

1 large stick celery, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 or 2 vegetable bouillon cubes

3 tablespoons minced fresh spinach

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup buttermilk

salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes, carrots, celery, garlic, and cubes in a large pot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Boil uncovered for 20-25 minutes (until vegetables are very soft), then drain.

Mash up the veggies with a potato masher or wooden spoon. Add the spinach, butter, and buttermilk. Mix well, and beat until smooth (I used an electric mixer). Serve with warm sauerkraut and enjoy!

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I was flipping through my recipe cards on Sunday afternoon and came across a recipe for a spinach and stewed-tomato soup. While I love me a good tomato soup— and it was certainly “soup weather,” given that it stormed all day– the rest of the recipe didn’t appeal to me very much (a major ingredient was meatballs. Ick).

I took the basic idea of a spinach/stewed tomato soup and altered it to suit our culinary tastes…and Hubs just happened to be smoking one of his redfish at the time. The result was our Sunday dinner. And Monday dinner. And my Tuesday lunch (it makes seven servings).

In other words, it’s delicious. Here you go!

Smoked-Vegetable Soup with Spinach and Tomatoes

1 medium carrot
1 stalk celery
2 cloves garlic
1/2 yellow or vidalia onion
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
4 cups vegetable broth
1 15-oz an stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 9-oz package frozen spinach, thawed and drained completely

1. In a small bowl, gently toss carrot, celery, onion, and grape tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper* until all vegetables are coated. Slice grape tomatoes in half.
*…and any other seasonings you might want. I also used dried thyme and a little garlic powder for mine.

2. Prepare 2 small foil trays. Place he carrot, celery, onion and garlic in one tray and the sliced grape tomatoes in the other.

3. Place trays in smoker. The amount of time will vary depending on your smoker and how much smoke flavor you want, but the tomatoes tend to cook faster then the other vegtables.

4. When vegetables reach your desired temperature/flavor, remove them from the smoker. Chop the carrot, celery, garlic cloves and onion half once they are cool enough to handle.

5. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir well, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes (stirring occasionally).

6. Eat.

7. Enjoy.

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(We’ve been without internet for a week. I’m now writing posts in a word processor and saving them to post when I have the opportunity. This entry was written August 5th, 2011.)

I’m sure you’re wondering what we did with all that okra.

Most of it was blanched and then frozen (about 7 of the 9 pounds my husband brought home). Here’s what we did with the rest:

– Sliced up several okra and put them in a bottle with extra virgin olive oil, plus some black peppercorns and a piece of green garlic. It’s made a great dressing for roasted vegetables and warm bread– so great, in fact, that most of it is gone already!
– Reserved a bunch of okra seeds for planting
– Made a big batch of stewed okra with tomatoes.

The stewed okra was a big hit with my husband– he raved about it! This is a fast, easy dish to make and it freezes well.

Stewed Okra with Tomatoes
Ingredients (in order of appearance):
– 1 Cup celery, sliced
– 1/2 cup carrots, sliced
– 1/2 cup onion, chopped
– 1/2 large red papper, chopped
– 1/4 cup tomato juice
– 1 pound fresh okra, sliced ;engthwise with tops removed
– 4 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
– 1/3 cup white wine
– 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes (or use fresh tomatoes)
– 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp rosemary
– 1/2 tsp oregano
– 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
– 1/4 tsp garlic pepper
– fresh black papper, to taste.

1. Spray a non-stick skillet with olive oil & heat over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, & onion and saute for 3-4 minutes, adding the tomato juice about halfway through.
2. Add the okra and garlic and cook, stirring, for another 9-10 minutes; stirring in the white wine about halfway through
3. Stir in remaining ingredients, reduce heat to low, cover & simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
4. Serve alone, with garlic bred, or over basmati rice. Enjoy!

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My husband’s friend alerted him to a great deal on fresh okra at a local market; and my husband came home today with nine pounds of okra.

(photo ganked from Wikipedia)

Aside: I have never eaten an okra in my life, and know nothing about them other than “They’re green and popular in the south.” Now, with nine pounds of the stuff inhabiting my sink, I have to school myself on this green flowering plant really quickly.

Nine pounds of okra is way more than two people could ever possibly need at once, so I’ve looked up how to can them, freeze them, and preserve them with a Foodsaver system. For the rest, I need some good recipes involving the stuff– preferably of the vegetarian, non-fried variety. I know okra with tomatoes is popular, but does anyone have a particular recipe to recommend?

Okera-dokera, that’s all for now.

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