Monthly Archives: March 2013

Best Baked Beans!

Hi Everyone
Happy Spring! 
It’s a bright sunny day in Cary today (50 degrees!) and our home is filled with beautiful flowers and excitment as we ready ourselves for Easter.  After a long walk with Mick and our dog Koda yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel this incredible sense of celebration fill the air. 

The cardinals were our guides.  Singing out from the tree tops their songs lifted our heads so that we might find them, brilliant reds on the highest of branches!  And the sandhill cranes were our fellow journeymen, fluttering above as they circled the conservation district we were hiking!  The snow is melting and the ground is thawing and I’m thrilled to be entering into a new season! 

Like the cardinals, I’m singing inside!  I’m excited to get out and move my body more and breathe the warmer air . . . .  and grow!  I love that all things are made new in this season and I can’t wait to see what great opportunities lie ahead!  I hope that you too are feeling a bit of Spring anticipation and excitement! 

So, while I’ve been writing to you I’ve been enjoying this amazing bowl of beans.  I’m calling it lunch!  I couldn’t wait!  I love these beans and I make them every Easter.  It’s one of those dishes I indulge in just a few times a year.  But they do make for a wonderful side dish to an Easter Ham – or in my case for lunch today, the main event – so I thought I would share them.

I think what I really love about these beans is they’re made with molasses, apple cider vinegar and a varitey of beans.  They do have quite a bit of brown sugar in them and they’re made with bacon.  I use the nitrate/nitrite free kind.  I did try pulling back on the sugar a bit but it seemed to really affect the flavor so I decided to leave it alone for the few times a year I make this recipe.  This recipe serves about 8-10 people as a side dish.   

Here they are just out of the oven . . . . all rich, savory-sweet and hot!  Enjoy!  

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Happy Easter!

Best Baked Bean’s
8 Strips Bacon Cubed
2 Cloves Garlic Pressed
1 C Brown Sugar
1 -2 large Onions (per preference), cut into rings and then in half
(we like a lot of onions)
¼ C Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Dry Mustard
2 TBSP Molasses
1 Can Drained & Rinsed  Red Kidney Beans
1 Can Drained & Rinsed  Green Lima Beans
1 Can Drained & Rinsed Butter Beans
1 Can Undrained Pork & Beans 

  1. Sauté bacon until done.  Remove the bacon from the grease and set aside. 
  2. To 1 Tablespoon of the bacon grease add onion, garlic, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard and molasses and cook for 10 minutes until onions are tender. 
  3. Add beans & cooked bacon.
  4. Pour mixture into 8×8 inch baking pan & bake one hour  at 375 degrees – (covered for first half hour).
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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Hi Everyone!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 
A quick post today and wishes for a Great Green Day!

Had a craving yesterday for some Irish Soda Bread . . . . . so visited an old post from last year and quickly pulled a few loaves together.  It really is quite simple and a great treat to accompany any variety of spring dishes or salads!  You’ll find the recipe in the archives under February! 
Here’s a pic right from the oven . . . . 

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And since today is about all things green, I thought I’d share an easy salad I discovered at Weeklybite.  I’ve already enjoyed this salad 3 times in the last few weeks with a few of my own adjustments.  Since my new favorite salad drizzle is Brianna’s Home Style Dijon Honey Mustard, I couldn’t wait to pair the two up!  I served it for my mom’s 80th birthday (and we put it together as part of a small cooking class I taught last weekend) and on both occasions it was a hit!  I love the combination of flavors Estela put together.  
Bright Blessings!  Only 3 more days till Spring!    

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Kale, Edamame & Cherry Salad
4 Cups Chopped Kale (Or try a combination of Kale and Spinach)
1-2 Cups Edamame (per preference)
1/2 Cup dried Montmorency Cherries (sweet/tart cherries)
1/3 Cup Sliced Almonds
Thinly Sliced Red Onion
4 Tbsp Honey Dijon Dressing (Or favorite vinaigrette)

Combine above ingredients and toss! 

Recipe Adapted From;  www.weeklybite.com

Chicken Pot Pie

Every once in awhile I get off track.  It usually happens slowly . . . subtly.   Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a reason for it.  I simply step out of my rhythm for a few days until I realize I need to wander back.  Sometimes though it’s bigger.  You know, when there’s just too many busy days in a row or life stresses pile up . . . . and it takes a little longer to get your groove back.  

Life here in Cary has been cold.  Then warm.  Then cold, windy and icy.  Typical Chicago weather that makes it challenging for a runner to get out every day.  Despite the beautiful snow tipped evergreens that tempt me, I’ve found it’s wise to exercise caution when deciding to head out!  One day a few weeks ago I went down on the ice . . . slipped on what I thought was just a wet sidewalk and landed on my backside.  Ok, my butt!!  I’m good though.  But that was just one more reason to NOT get my runs in.   

So that’s when I decided it was time to dig out my yoga matt.  Again.  During the holiday rush my matt had found it’s way back to our storage room.  How did that happen!?  But I found my matt (under all the wrapping paper) and the yoga schedule and took my achy (ice-fallen) body to class.   And the very first thing I noticed when I walked in the door (beside the fact that I was already breathing easier) was a rock, with the word practice on it.  hmmm . . . .I left  the studio committed to at least one yoga class a week. 

On the food front I’ve been stirring up pots of comfort food like chicken chili, stew and spaghetti sauce.  That’s how it seems to go for us in the Winter when we’re hibernating! 

PK loves a good casserole – the cheesy, creamy (not a lot of vegetable) kind.  So I decided one day that I’d better find a few healthier options that would satisfy us all!  We were a bit off track with eating too . . . . missing the usual amount of fresh produce.  Easy to do in Winter (in the midwest).  So I found this recipe for Chicken Pot Pie at eatingwell.com, and it was perfect!  A much healthier version of the traditional creamier, loaded with fat kind we’re all used to!  But more on that in a moment cuz I really want to share this idea with you.

One day right in the middle of all this, while we were at Mick’s violin lesson, I had an aha moment.  Mick was working on a new song, and for the first time he needed to learn a 4-note slur.  It’s tricky.  With one sweep of the bow (either up or down) you play 4 notes.  It’s beautiful, but it takes practice.  So during this particular lesson, Miss Karen said, “Mick, let’s put in the stops.”  So over and over Mick played one note at a time, with a stop between each one.  And then he played them faster and closer together, until finally . . . . he was ready to play them as a slur.  And I smiled this really big smile, because that’s how I feel it is for me sometimes too!  I need to put in the stops.  To pause and go back to the tools that work for me.  Especially, when I’m off track.   

So I started making lots of salads (to go with all the comfort food) as this is one of the best-tasting things I know to do when I’m craving something fresh – And great tasting greens are always available!  I started playing with spinach, mustard greens, arugula and spring greens.  And then I added the toppings.  Here are a few of my favorites these past few weeks:
Roasted Beets – Golden and Red
Edamame
Quinoa
Jicama
Avocado
Sweet Peppers
Garbanzo Beans
Broccoli Slaw (shredded broccoli, carrots & cabbage)
Citrus – Vinaigrette’s & Navel Orange Slices
Sweet Potatoes (Roasted)

Then I found this quote that said, As long as you live, keep learning how to live.  I love that!  So I put it all together . . . . the life stresses, the fall on the ice, the chicken pot pie, and the rock at the yoga studio – and made peace with getting off track.  Because life is really all about practice isn’t it . . . . and finding what works for us.  My love for yoga and fresh food are tools that work for me.  They keep me in balance.  So every once in awhile, when I lose my rhythm, I just need to remember to put in the stops . . . . and go back to what I know. 

Here’s the Chicken Pot Pie out of the oven.  It’s topped off with these wonderful buttermilk biscuits made with whole wheat pastry flour !  

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And ready to enjoy!  

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Happy March to Everyone! 

Chicken Pot Pie

  • 3 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth 
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken (or turkey)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Biscuit Topping

  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 2-quart baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside. 
  2. Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots and allow to soften, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes.  Then add the onions and saute for another 3-4 minutes. 
  3. Add 2 cups broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Mix cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 cup broth; add to the pan and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Stir in chicken (or turkey), peas, sour cream, salt and pepper. Transfer the filling to the baking dish and set aside.
  4. Next, wisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Using your fingertips or 2 knives, cut butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly. Make a well in the center and add buttermilk and oil; stir until just combined. Drop the dough onto the filling in 6 even portions. Set the baking dish on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake the pot pie until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Adapted From:  www.eatingwell.com

Prep Notes:  I’ve adapted the original recipe a bit in order to accommodate preferences in our house.  The recipe originally called for pearl onions and mushrooms in the pot pie and thyme in the biscuits, not PK’s favorites, so I left them out – but you can find this recipe at the above link.         
Also – I  roasted a chicken the night before and had leftovers so this is what I used.  For simplicity,  a store-bought rotisserie chicken always works well!