Hello, friends! The beautiful weather streak continues in northern Illinois.
When I wake in the morning, it's quite cold in the house. I make my coffee
and check my email and Facebook while wearing a hoodie, but by the time
I take a shower and start my day, the house has warmed up and the sun is
streaming in the windows. And once that sun goes down...brrr, it's quite chilly
again. I'm more of a summer person, but even I admit that there's nothing
like a pot of soup simmering on the stove or a creamy casserole or roast
warming in the oven on those cold evenings. Brian mentioned yesterday that
he really had a taste for some warm, homemade bread so I have dough going
in the bread machine, then I'll take it out to rise and bake. I'm also making a pot
of black bean soup for dinner. Mmm, that bread will be so good dunked into
the soup! I will post those recipes at another time, since I don't have any
photos to go along with them right now.
In the meantime, here's some delicious warm-up-the-tummy meals that
I can share with you all. This first dish is Ribollita - or, Hearty Tuscan
Vegetable soup. It's loaded with veggies (including fennel - which I love in
soups) and beans and is so hearty and delicious. I found the recipe here
from the blog, A Food Centric Life.
This recipe piqued my curiosity. Pumpkin Mac and Cheese. I love cheese and
I love pumpkin, but the two of them together? I decided to give it a shot. Brian
and I really liked it, but it's rather "different". If you make it, do not skip the snipped
sage that the recipe calls for! I don't have any sage growing in my herb garden
and was going to buy some at the grocery store, but when I saw that a tiny
bundle cost $2.49, I said forget it. I used some snipped rosemary from my herb
garden instead and was glad I did. This is the kind of recipe that really needs
that little extra something. The recipe also calls for Fontina cheese, which is
hard to find. I substituted a Swiss/Gruyere mix. Serve this dish with a green
salad and you're good to go. The crunchy walnut topping is incredible, by the way!
Now for a meaty dish. I made this one last night. I normally don't eat ground
beef, but this dish was an exception! Wow, was it good. I had one small bowl
of it and I was absolutely stuffed. And this recipe makes a huge pot, so we
have a ton of leftovers. I put some in freezer containers to give to Tim next
time we see him. I was talking to him while he was walking home from school
yesterday, and telling him about this goulash I was making. He said, "Stop, Mom!
I'm starving!" He had forgotten to take a sandwich to school with him to eat
in-between classes and it was already 5 p.m. One good thing about adult
kids living away from home is that they certainly learn little life lessons and
how to deal with them without any hand-holding. We'll always be here for
guidance, of course, but our kids have to learn how to be independent. And it's
amazing how good it feels to know that your adult child is making it on their own
and is thriving and doing well. Oops, I just majorly digressed. Click here for
this awesome goulash recipe from Melissa's Southern Style Kitchen. Make it -
your family will love it!
Lastly, to leave you with a little something sweet. These cookies are
dairy-free and contain no sugar (except for the naturally occurring sugars
in fruit). I love a couple of them for breakfast with coffee. Since they're
packed with oatmeal, fruit, and nuts, they're almost like a granola bar,
except in cookie shape! Though they're very moist and not crunchy like
most granola bars. I made up this recipe, adapted from this one.
BANANA NUT BREAKFAST COOKIES
2 c. old-fashioned oats
1/2 c. golden raisins
1/2 c. dried apricots, snipped
1 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. mashed banana (about 3 med.)
1/3 c. coconut oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Combine oats, fruit, nuts, salt, and cinnamon in a large
bowl. Combine mashed banana, coconut oil, and vanilla in another bowl. Add
banana mixture to dry ingredients; stir to combine. Let stand 15 min. in the
refrigerator. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie
sheet. Bake at 350F for 15 min. or until lightly golden. Transfer cookies to a
wire rack; cool completely.
Happy cooking and eating!