Greetings friends! It feels so good to be back here at Relishing It. Turns out my Summer vacation from posting lasted a little longer than I intended. At any rate, I’ve missed writing and talking with all of you. I hope you’ve had a fantastic few months. Life has been great in my little corner of Minnesota. The holidays were good to us– we had beautiful traveling weather for our trip back to North Dakota, where we were able to spend time with our families. Everyone remains in good health, and that is basically all that I need.
Despite not writing as much lately, I’ve been very busy in the kitchen making new things. I’ve tried desperately to not bake quite so much, because frankly, we just don’t need all those sweets around. But…I’ve fallen short of keeping that vow every couple of weeks. Simply put, I love to bake. It makes me (and my kids) happy. So now I’ve modified the vow– we just share more.
I’ve spent the rest of my time in the kitchen preparing healthy and delicious meals. The pressure to ‘change your diet!’ and ‘lose weight!’ always amps up this time of year, but to be honest, I’m pretty content with where we are. While I do make foods with butter, oils, sugar, and flour, I do my best to use limited amounts, or find healthier alternatives. Not to sound too preachy, but there really isn’t a thing I’d change about my diet (especially with the ‘share baked goods vow’). And that feels pretty good.
I continue to try to learn about how various foods affect my body, as well as how the production of those foods affects the environment. And I feel lucky to have connected with so many people that feel the same way. I want to stay healthy and fit for me and for my family, so I stick with the mantra that whole foods and exercise are the key. If you’ve come here looking for healthy ideas for family meals, you’ll see there’s plenty to choose from. I love helping people figure out how to eat “clean”. It’s easier than you think. Just stay away from packages and long lists of ingredients, add more vegetables, and eat whole foods. You’ll be amazed.
This simple pot of beans is a good example of the type of meal I’m talking about. It’s not fancy, but is perfect for a cold night. This dish is creamy, comforting, and bold. The flavors can change dramatically depending on how you season this one, so play to your palate. If you like Dijon, add a bit more. Want more of a tang, be liberal with the vinegar. Play around with it a bit! The recipe below is how I enjoy it the most. I generally make a batch of these beans and we eat half of it served alongside roasted buttercup squash (they’re perfect together). I freeze the other half, and then use it in a simple cassoulet for a quick weeknight meal. For that cassoulet, prepare some kielbasa sausage and/or some leftover pork shoulder, cut it into chunks, place it in a shallow baking dish, cover with the thawed then re-warmed white beans, and top with some panko bread crumbs. Bake at about 375°F for 10-15 minutes (or until the bread crumbs are toasted). Sprinkle with fresh parsley, and voila!
The Recipe: Simple White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic
3 cups dried white beans (preferably cannellini, buy navy would work, too)
1/2 large white onion, chopped
2 bulbs garlic, peeled
2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, left whole
1 dried bay leaf
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and cracked pepper
1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
Begin by either covering the white beans with cold water in a large pot and soaking overnight (which I never do) or do a quick-soak method (which I always do) by placing the beans in a large pot or Dutch oven, cover with cold water and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Bring the beans to a boil. Boil for one minute. Remove pot from heat and cover with a lid. Let sit for two hours. Drain beans when ready to use.
In that same Dutch oven, to the beans add the chopped onion, garlic cloves (from the two bulbs), chopped rosemary, whole sprigs of thyme, bay leaf, a bit of kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Just barely cover the beans with fresh cold water. Then add a couple of glugs of olive oil — about 1/4 cup. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to a medium/low simmer. Let cook for about one hour, stirring every so often, or until the beans are your desired consistency. I like mine to be rather soft, but still hold their shape a bit.
When they are done cooking, remove from the heat. Remove the thyme twigs and the bay leaf. Using an old potato masher or a fork, mash a few of the beans to thicken them up a bit, 3/4 cup or so. Add the Dijon and red wine vinegar and stir a bit to emulsify. Re-season with more salt and pepper. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil when serving and some fresh thyme leaves on top. Enjoy!
Thanks for stopping by! xo