Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Savory Butter Bean Soup

It's November 13th and when I woke up this morning, it was 7 degrees with a below zero windchill.  PEOPLE - THIS IS NOT OK!  Even for sturdy Minnesotans, this is WAY TOO EARLY for winter to be digging in its heels.  I keep forgetting we haven't had Thanksgiving yet.  There is snow on the ground and I am heading straight for Christmas. The only problem is, my mums are permanently frozen in their pots.  Apparently, I missed the one day window between summer and frozen.

In addition, I had to go to the dentist today.  For some, this is no big deal.  For me, this is a HUGE deal.    These are my three top fears in order: SNAKES, DENTISTS, HEIGHTS. Or maybe, DENTISTS, SNAKES, HEIGHTS.  I'm still deciding.

So 5 hours after my dentist appointment, the left side of my face is still numb and I'm trying to find my happy place. Here it is. You guys. You guys and soup.  After two years of blog silence, I realized that rambling on my blog and cooking this amazingly comforting soup might be what it takes to come back from my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. So here I am,  reposting this amazing, comforting soup that I just made for dinner. Between the heat of the red pepper flakes, the slight sweet of the brown sugar, acidity of the tomatoes and the comforting texture of the butter beans, your family will never even notice that they've just eaten a bowl full of vegetables. I used a quart of homemade turkey stock this time (you know, because it's almost Thanksgiving again and I'm trying to make room in the freezer) and it brought the flavor depth to a whole new level.

Now, a word about butter beans. If you've never had them before A) You are obviously not from the South and B) Prepare to fall in love.  Butter beans are big and meaty and smooth and creamy and melt-in-your-mouth buttery all in one bite.  Their size and texture make them an instant comfort food component, even if you are not a fan of other, ordinary beans.

Start the butter bean soup with your basic mirepoix. (That's a french word for carrots, celery and onion.) I like to say it out loud because it makes me feel fancy.  For this soup, I used 2 cups of each. Saute' the veggies in 3 tablespoons of olive oil until softened.

When the mirepoix has softened, add 1/4 cup of flour and stir.  The flour, combined with the oil will create a light rue which will give the broth just a little bit of body.

Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a few minutes. It is really that easy.

The result is soup for the body and the soul - perfect for a cold, January November day.

Butter Bean Soup
By Rachel @ Simple Girl

2 cups carrots, diced
2 cups celery, diced
2 cups sweet yellow onions, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup flour
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
2 15-ounce cans butter beans, drained
1 14-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes plus a pinch of red pepper flakes
or Rotel tomatoes with Green Chiles (mild)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt

Soften carrots, celery and onions in olive oil over medium low heat.  When softened, mix in flour until in forms a paste. Slowly add stock, mixing so no lumps form.  Add beans, tomatoes, sugar and basil.  Adjust salt to taste.

Simmer for 10 minutes.  If the leftover soup gets to thick, add more stock.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Story Behind National Donut Day

Today is National Donut Day and lest you think this is just another marketing ploy to sell more sweet fried bits of heaven, think again.

The idea for Donut Day began on the battlefields of France during World War I when Salvation Army workers served coffee and donuts to soldiers in the trenches. Rations were poor, so the donut idea was conceived as a means of bringing the soldiers cheer. Donuts were not the main reason Salvation Army workers were in the fighting zones of France. Those men and women were there primarily to give spiritual aid and comfort to the American soldier and his allies. They were there to be a link with home and family.   National Donut Day commemorates the "donut lassies," female Salvation Army volunteers who provided assistance to the soldiers by writing letters, mending clothes, cooking home-cooked meals, and of course, frying small batches of donuts for soldiers on the front lines.

During the Great Depression, The Salvation Army started National Donut Day as a way to raise funds and bring awareness to The Salvation Army's social service programs.  

Donuts with a Kingdom Cause.  Now that's something I can support!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy Pi Day! 3.14.16

Happy Pie Day!  (Or Pi Day, if you're into math.)  You know, that magic number....  3.14.16. Usually I'm not much of a pie person.  I'd rather eat cake. Or cookies. Or brownies.  But in honor of Pi(e) Day, and to celebrate southern cuisine, I thought I'd make a Peanut Butter Pie.

This recipe is a vegan recipe, which means that it doesn't contain the usual dairy or eggs.  It's not that I have anything against meat (or dairy or eggs), it's just that after being told that I have an allergy/sensitivity to dairy and eggs (WAAAHH!!), I thought that incorporating a few vegan recipes into my existence would allow me to enjoy some of the things that I love in a new and more healthful way.

In this recipe, tofu takes the place of cream cheese and whipped coconut milk takes the place of whipped cream.  But don't worry.  It has absolutely no tofu-ey taste at all.  Really.  I promise.  And since you just added tofu to the pie, it pretty much qualifies as lunch.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Vegan Peanut Butter Pie
by Rachel @ Simple Girl

1 pre-made Oreo Crust
8 ounces silken Tofu
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup natural creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt
1 can coconut milk (not lite)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
chocolate chips, melted for drizzling.

Mix together tofu, peanut butter, sugar, vanilla and salt.

Chill a separate bowl in the freezer.  Pour 1 can of coconut milk into a class container and refrigerate until it separates.  The "milk" will be white and rise to the top and the "water" will be clear and stay at the bottom.  Skim off the "milk" or "cream" and put into chilled bowl, being careful not to add any of the water.  Add 1/4 cup powdered sugar and beat like you would whipped cream.  Fold whipped coconut milk into the peanut butter mixture and pour into a pre-made Oreo Crust.  Drizzle with melted chocolate chips.  Freeze or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls

About a year ago, I rekindled my love/hate relationship with the gym.  I supplemented that with regular jog/walks around the lake and the net result was this:  The dog lost 8 pounds.  I'm not joking.

Going to the gym in the morning always presents me with this dilemma; what to eat.  If I don't eat anything, I get light-headed.  If I eat the wrong thing, I feel like I'm going to throw up.  Finally, Travis the Trainer suggested these protein balls.  They not only taste good, but they seem to get me through his workouts!

These Peanut Butter Protein Balls have just a few simple ingredients and will easily last you a week in the fridge.  I found this dairy-free protein powder at Costco which is super chocolatey and very delicious.  Yep.  Just one more reason to love Costco.

Just combine all the ingredients in a bowl, or, better yet, use a food processor if you have one, which I don't.  Believe it or not. Don't forget the chocolate chips, because I wouldn't ask you to put anything in your mouth that wasn't delicious.

Three of these in the morning and I am out the door!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls

2 cups rolled old-fashioned oats, raw
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey or agave
2 scoops chocolate protein powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Combine ingredients in a bowl or food processor.  Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Roll about 1 1/2 tablespoons into balls. and place on a cookie sheet.  Chill for another 30 minutes and then place in a ziploc bag.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I recently saw this on The Today Show and I thought, how great would it be if eating your vegetables could be like eating pizza?

To start, you don't even need to chop up a head of cauliflower, although you could if it made you feel better.  Cauliflower is now available all chopped up for you in a microwaveable bag.

Just steam it in the bag and let it cool on some paper towels.

Put the cauliflower in a bowl and add all the other ingredients.  
Beat it with a mixer until it all comes together.

Shape the dough on a piece of parchment into a 10" - 12" round. Place the parchment and dough on top of a cooling rack which is sitting on top of a baking sheet. You need to get some air circulation around the dough so the crust gets crispy.  A crispy crust is key.

Bake the crust at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Like I said, you want the crust to get crispy.

After the crust cools, slide the crust, which is on the cooking rack, off of the cookie sheet and put down a clean piece of parchment.  Carefully invert the clean parchment and cookie sheet over the crust and do a quick inversion.  The crispy top of the crust is now the crispy bottom of the crust.

Top the crust with your favorite pizza toppings and bake for another 12 -  14 minutes.  Don't get sidetracked looking for a nice vacation spot in Naples, or your cheese might turn just a teensy bit too brown.  Don't ask me how I know this.

Now, I'm not going to say that you absolutely can't tell that there is cauliflower in this crust, but it really tastes like pizza!  the thickness of the crust gives the pizza some heft and makes even a single slice fairly filling.  The daughter agrees.  It's a keeper!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust


1 16 ounce bag chopped cauliflower
1 egg
1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper
1/2 cup corn meal

  1. Tear the microwave pouch at the notch.  Close bag and microwave for 4 minutes
  2. Let stand one minute and pour out cauliflower to cool on paper towels.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until combined.
  4. Place mixture on a piece of parchment and form into a 10" - 12" round.
  5. Put parchment and crust on a wire cooling rack and a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.
  6. Cool 10 minutes.
  7. Carefully flip the crust onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment.
  8. Top with your favorite pizza toppings and bake for an additional 12 - 14 minutes or until toppings are hot and cheese is melted.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Rice Krispie Trees

These Rice Krispie Trees were the favorite of everything we made this year.  We made them even simpler by taking the shortcut of buying the GIANT pre made Rice Krispie Bars at Target. We made these with both the high school girls and the little girls. We served them at the high school kids party, the homeless shelter, and, tonight, for Christmas Eve.

  1. Cut a giant Rice Krispy bar into three inch strips.
  2. Cut each strip into triangles, making sure to eat the end scraps.  (We cut 35 trees out of each sheet.)
  3. Insert a stick into the bottom of each tree.
  4. Dip one side of the tree into melted chocolate wafers.
  5. Drizzle accent colors on top.
So Easy!  So cute!  So delicious!

Wishing you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

3-Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Pancakes

It was a dark and stormy night (well, technically, early morning) when I had to wake the kids up for school today.  It was the kind of morning when nothing could really persuade you that getting out of bed was a better option than staying in it. In a heroic attempt to get the kids out the door in time to catch the bus, I reached deep into the pantry and rustled up the three ingredients needed to waft aromas of autumn to the stratospheres of the second floor: Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake Mix, canned pumpkin pie filling and chocolate chips.  These three pantry staples, combined, create the sapidity of fall.  Even my non-breakfast eater managed to down a short stack!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

3 cups Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake Mix
2 cups water
1 cup Libby's Canned Pumpkin Pie filling (not pureed pumpkin)
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix first three ingredients until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Heat a greased, nonstick skillet on medium.  Pour 1/4 cup of batter portions onto the heated skillet.  When the pancakes begin to bubble, flip and cook the other side.