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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Divine Dinners!

I simply must share these culinary dee-lites with all of you, as they are simple to make and 'oh-my-goodness' yummie. Enjoy!
Last night's dinner:
One-Pot Creamy Spinach Peanut Lentils
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4
Serving Size: 1
  • 1/2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 Cup Lentils
  • 2 13 Oz Cans Reduced-fat Coconut milk *
  • 1/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp Natural peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 Tbsp  Fish Sauce
  • Juice of 1 Large lime
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of salt (optional) **
  • 1 Large bunch of fresh spinach
  • Chopped peanuts, for garnish
  • OPTIONAL serving ideas:
  • Rice, Quinoa, Cauliflower rice etc. *** (I served mine with brown rice and a side of roasted Brussels sprouts. Yum)
  1. In a large sauce pan, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add in the onion and garlic and cook until lightly golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add in the lentils plus 1 whole can of coconut milk and only 1/2 CUP (not half the can!) of the additional can, stir and reduce the heat to medium or medium low, so that the coconut milk is just lightly simmering. Simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are tender, about 35-40 minutes.
  3. Once the lentils have cooked, add in 2 additional Tablespoons of the coconut milk along with the peanut butter, coconut sugar, paprika, fish sauce, lime juice, red pepper flakes, and optional salt. Stir well and then add in the spinach. Cover and cook until the spinach has wilted.
  4. Serve was desired and garnish with cilantro and chopped peanuts!

And tonite?

Pasta e Ceci
Serves 4-6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 medium sweet onion, finely diced
• 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
• 6 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 cups dried ditalini pasta
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a large pot, over medium heat, warm the butter and olive oil; saute the onion, carrot, and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the tomato paste, oregano, thyme, the chickpeas, and 2 cups of veggie broth; stir to combine. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Add the remaining veggie broth, bring it to a boil and cook the pasta in the soup until just al dente, mixing occasionally so it doesn’t stick, about 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Mix in the Parmesan cheese.
Ladle into bowls and sprinkle a little more Parmesan on top.

(My five year old has been snacking on this right out of the pan as it's been cooking. His comment on seeing all the ingredients piled on the counter? "Oh, I like carrots!" This after saying he didn't like what I was making. ...not that I've ever made it before...)

Enjoy these one-pot wonders!!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

A kool freebie from Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy!

Modern Mrs. Darcy is such a fun blog. Anne's posts and updates are great. And she gives us gifties. Like this reading journal.:
As a rule, I’d rather be reading than recording what I’m reading.
But I do it anyway, because I love having a record of what I’ve read, and what I want to read.
While Goodreads is nice, I have a soft spot in my heart for paper. I like to touch, browse, and jot notes in the margins. Besides, there’s nothing worse than intending to read, grabbing your phone or your laptop to plug in the book you’re about to start, and falling down the social media rabbit hole. 20 minutes later you forgot why you got online in the first place and you forgot all about your book. (That can’t be just me.)
reading journal 1
There are great reading journals on the market (this is my favorite), but ready-made journals lack flexibility. Blank books are nice, but some of you (and that includes me) need a template to get started.
That’s why I’m delighted to introduce the printable MMD reading journal.
reading journal 3
Here’s what you’ll find in the journal:
• a blank “books I want to read” list
• a blank “books I abandoned” list
• 30 full two-page book entry spreads, to record thoughts, quotes, and opinions at length
• 12 3-per-page book entry pages, for when you want to remember you read a book but don’t want to journal about it
• 8 pages of reading inspiration
• 16 pages for note-taking
• lots of bookish quotes for your enjoyment
reading journal 5
This journal is designed to be flexible. (Hat tip to Lauren of Santa Clara Designs who worked hard to make it easy to use.) Print all the pages, or just the ones that interest you. Print as many or as few book entry pages as you desire. If you love to take notes print plenty of notes pages.
reading journal 2
Here’s how to use it:
1. Check your inbox. The journal is free to all subscribers (blog or newsletter). All current subscribers should have a journal ready and waiting for them. Not a subscriber? Sign up here.
2. Download the journal. (I recommend downloading it instead of printing from a preview pane.)
3. Print the journal (or selected pages, as you choose). The PDF is designed for single-sided printing. The cover page is in color (it’s not necessary to print it in color, but it sure is pretty); the rest is black and white.
4. You can leave the journal full size (8.5 x 11), but I cut mine in half to create a 5.5 x 8.5 journal. (I love the deckle-edge effect I got from cutting the pages in half.)
reading journal 6
5. To finish the journal, either:
• Hole punch it and place it in a 3-ring binder. I love the binder option because you can easily add and remove pages and dividers. (My Avery polka dot binder is from Target: this is the same binder in a pretty floral design. These are the dividers shown.)
• Have it spiral-bound at an office supply store. Kinko’s did mine for $3.99. (They also printed my cover page in full color; I used thick cardstock for the front and back covers.) The spiral-bound version looks terrific and is more compact, but it’s not as flexible. (I use book darts in my own spiral-bound journal for keeping my place.)
I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback on this Journal 1.0 project. Thanks for subscribing, using, and sharing!
I never travel without my reading journal

Making friends...

   I have made a new friend. She is intelligent, witty, observant, and sadly, deranged. She is also dead.
   On a recent trip to the Montague Bookmill I found a copy of Jean Strouse's Alice James: A Biography. I know who Alice James is: she is the sister of author Henry James (Portrait of a Lady) and William James, considered by many to be the father of modern psychology. So why is this sister worthy of a biography of her own? Because she is (was) an incredible person: she was an avid writer of charming, witty letters to friends and family, letters that allow her personality to shine; her diaries (published in 1964) show a woman of deep, complex thought who saw, heard, and processed everything around her; finally, she taught history from 1873 to 1876 for the Society to Encourage Studies at Home, a Boston-based correspondence school for women founded by Anna Ticknor. So how is it that this person has been shrouded in shadows through history?
   The first (and probably main) reason is that she was a woman. As much as I love the society and culture of the nineteenth century, if I had lived it, I too probably would have been considered one of those 'unsettled' women whose minds were sadly offset by too much reading. (How that was justified as a basis for female insanity I have yet to figure out.)
   The second reason, of course, being that she was mentally ill. I haven't read enough of the biography to find out exactly what Strouse thinks the issue may have been, but internet sources say that Alice (she and I are on a first-name basis at this point) had at least two major breakdowns by 1882, and would experience several more before her death from breast cancer in 1892.
   For years my scholarly focus has been on Louisa May Alcott and the struggles she had with her father that drove her to create both exquisite happy childhoods and violent threatening worlds in her writing. Last summer I read the diary of Dorothy Wordsworth, another famous sister to an even more famous brother, also suffering from the Victorian 'female complaint.' Alcott herself recorded similar low points in her diary, though never succumbed to the title of 'invalid' until her physical health finally gave way as a result of lupus. These three brilliant women are barely a fraction of the women that Victorian society deemed unstable (actually, Alcott managed to avoid that stigma) and are only known to us through their literary works. Even this may not have happened had someone not seen the value of their thoughts. How many other women have been lost?

Photograph of Alice James