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White Beans and Tuscan Kale

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

I love to spend a few hours cooking on Sunday in order to set myself up with healthy, satisfying meals for the week. One dish that I often cook on Sundays is a large pot of beans. Canned beans are convenient but there is something special about cooking dried beans which you can infuse with your favorite flavors. Plus, cooking them at home also allows you to control the amount of sodium that you put into the beans.

Heirloom Beans

Recently, I have become obsessed with heirloom beans. Luckily,there are few companies that are preserving the incredible diversity of beans beyond what you will find canned in the grocery store. There are two companies whose gorgeous beans I haven’t been able to resist in the past. With names like Tongues of Fire, Orca, and Rattlesnake, these heirloom beans are really beautiful, like little works of art. They make me want to buy all the clear glass containers to store them in my pantry. #pantrygoals

Rancho Gordo is a California-based company that specializes in dried heirloom beans. The other is Zursun Heirloom Beans, an Idaho-based company that also sells an amazing collection of dried beans, many of which, you may not have ever seen before. I know I haven’t seen them available anywhere in regular grocery stores. I encourage you to check out the selection of beautiful beans that both companies sell.

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

About This Recipe

In this recipe, I used Zursun’s Flageolet beans which are a favorite of the French for their cassoulet. These white beans are prized for their delicate flavor and pretty pale green color. You could use any dried white beans and they would be perfectly fine.

While the beans cook, they soak up the favors of the sage, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. The beans cook until they are creamy consistency. You add the kale, spicy red pepper flakes, and more cheese right at the end and cook until the kale wilts.

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

You end up with a stew-like consistency. You can ladle it into a bowl or spoon it on top of slices of toasted crusty bread. This meal is so hearty and satisfying; I guarantee that you will love how it warms you up from inside on cold winter days. If you have any leftover they will taste even better the next day in your brown bag lunch. I promise!

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

Elegant (but Easy) Dark Chocolate Bites

Festive Dark Chocolate Bites

I am in love with these homemade dark chocolate bites. Don’t they look practically gourmet? Many of my friends and families received a bag of these beauties as part of their holiday gifts last year.

Best of all, you can make a batch of these in less time than it takes to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls. I know this because I did and you can too. They are that easy!

Festive Dark Chocolate BitesAnother great thing about these elegant dark chocolate bites is that you can customize them to match your tastes. The ingredients that you add to the chocolate can be intentional and match a theme for the season or use whatever ingredients you happen to have in your pantry.

I made these last year for the holidays and used pepitas which are roasted pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries for their green and red colors. I added candied ginger because of its warm spiciness, coconut chips and hemp seeds for crunch and visual interest. They turned out pretty, right?

Festive Dark Chocolate BitesBut you could swap out pepitas for pistachios or almonds. Or, you can use dried blueberries or apricots instead of cranberries, or any other flavor or color combinations that you fancy.

The process for making these candies couldn’t be easier. This is a perfect project for beginning candy-makers. You melt the chocolate in the microwave, spoon the melted chocolate onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and then add the topics. Chill in fridge until the chocolate hardens. Seriously, that is all it takes to make these elegant and easy chocolate candies.

Festive Dark Chocolate BitesI like to package these chocolates in small cellophane bags and tie them up with pretty ribbon or string. Add a festive tag and you have beautiful and tasty holiday treats ready to give (or eat)!

Festive Dark Chocolate Bites

Easy Kimchi Fried Rice

Easy Kimchi Fried RiceDon’t bother with take-out when you can make fried rice at home in no time at all. The secret is to cook your rice ahead of time. I usually cook it the day before I want to make fried rice but sometimes I will prepare a batch of rice and once it is cool I put it in a freezer bag and freeze it for future use. When you make fried rice you want the rice to be cold and a little dried out, so, it is preferable to not cook it just prior to making fried rice.

I adore kimchi. Kimchi is a Korean condiment of fermented cabbage. I love its funky flavor but know that it can be a bit of an acquired taste for many.  One benefit of kimchi is that it is full of probiotics from the fermentation process.  You can find kimchi in a glass jar in the refrigerated cases in the produce section of many grocery stores. Oftentimes, it will be placed near the tofu, egg roll and wanton wrappers. Adding kimchi to fried rice gives it great flavor but doesn’t overwhelm the dish.

Easy Kimchi Fried RiceAnother great thing about preparing fried rice at home is that you can customize it so it is exactly the way you like it. Add the veggies, protein, or flavors that you love. You can use this recipe as a base and then make it your own by preparing it just the way you want.

Sometimes I will scramble a few eggs and add them into the rice just as I am finishing it up. Other times, I will fry a few eggs sunny-side up and serve one on top of each serving of the fried rice. You can add shrimp, leftover pork or chicken, or pineapple or cashews!

See what I mean?  Once you try this recipe I hope you will be hooked.

Kimchi Fried Rice

Garlic Ginger Baby Bok Choy

Garlic Ginger Baby Bok Choy | Veggie | Asian | VegetarianBroccoli and cauliflower sometimes bore me. I need novelty. I like to mix things up a little in order to keep it interesting. Once the garden is done and farmers markets have packed it in for another year I crave variety in my produce. One way that I satisfy that craving is to grocery shop at ethnic markets.

Garlic Ginger Baby Bok Choy | Asian | Vegetarian | Easy | Healthy

On a recent trip to an Asian market I picked up a large bag of baby bok choy for about $2.50. Baby bok choy is tender, mild, and can be substituted for any other green that you typically use like spinach or Swiss chard.

Garlic Ginger Baby Bok Choy | Asian | Vegetarian | Easy | HealthyI used the baby bok choy in noodle soup, sautéed with onions, peppers, and mushrooms in a frittata, and stir-fried in a delectable sauce of garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Baby bok choy is easy to prepare by rinsing it under water in a colander and let it drain. It can be chopped into thin ribbons or in this recipe the bok choy is sliced in half lengthwise.

Another item I like to pick up from the Asian is the spice blend Furikake which is a mix of sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, and salt. It adds a  wonderful flavor to rice, vegetables, and yes, popcorn! I am a little bit obsessed with this stuff.

Garlic Ginger Baby Bok Choy

Clean Out the Fridge Frittata

vegetarian frittata

Don’t you hate getting ready to leave town with a drawer full of veggies in the vegetable drawer of your fridge? Or, sometimes you have leftovers vegetables that you just can’t face warming up again.

In these cases, I like to whip up a veggie frittata. Making a frittata is a workhorse skill in the kitchen that you will want to master. Frittatas can be served warm or cold. For breakfast or brunch, I would serve with fresh fruit and oven roasted potatoes. You can easily pair the frittata with a salad or soup and bread for a satisfying lunch or light supper.

Frittatas travel well for potlucks and make fabulous leftovers. Have I convinced you that you should start making frittatas? I hope so.

Clean Out the Fridge Frittata

Zucchini Pie

zucchini pieMy grandmother and Great Aunt Mary used to make zucchini pie every summer. Zucchini pie is not quite a quiche but not really a frittata either. The recipe that they used called for Bisquick baking mix and ½ cup of oil.

It smelled great while it was baking and was also a great way to use up garden zucchini. It packs well for picnics, potlucks, or brown bag lunches. Served with crusty bread and a salad it can be a light supper.

zucchini pie ingredients

This recipe is mash up of the zucchini pie I remember from growing up but lightened up with inspiration from the Crust-less Summer Zucchini Pie recipe from the Skinnyaste blog. I prefer the zucchini sliced rather than shredded and use only Parmesan rather than a combination of mozzarella and Parmesan. Although, I am sure the combination of both cheeses would be delicious too.

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