Kale Soup

I don't know very many good tasting recipes for kale, but this soup is one that I do happen to have up my sleeve.  This is perfect for the current fall weather!

Kale Soup
adapted from Rachael Ray

2 carrots, thinly sliced crosswise
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 bunch (8 oz) kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1-2 cups cooked brown rice
Salt and pepper to taste

Water saute* carrots and onions until tender.  Add garlic and saute with carrots and onion for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the kale and about 1 cup water.  Cover the pot and cook until wilted, about 10 minutes.

You might want to check that enough water remains in the pot so the kale doesn't burn (one drawback to not using oil...but not a deal breaker).

Stir in cannellini beans and their liquid, tomatoes and their juices, the parsley and crushed red pepper.  Lower the heat, cover partially and gently simmer for 10 minutes.

Add brown rice and 3-4 cups of water (more or less of each according to what you want).  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

*If you don't want to/know how to water saute, then use oil as you regularly would.

Whole Wheat Bread

Remember how I was talking about my kids eating "Healthy Peanut Lettuce Wraps"?  They were so excited about eating them...and now it seems this past week has been pulling teeth to get them to even taste some things!  Granted my beet soup last night left something to be desired (the original recipe was good, but with my healthy changes, not so much), it takes one bite to qualify that you've tasted it.  You would have thought I asked them to eat some fuzzy moldy cheese.  The mission was accomplished, but with SO much complaining.

These are the times that we have to stick to our guns.  These are the times they will test if we are serious.  I know kids ebb and flow with attitude and I hope the flow returns quickly.

That being said, they put up no complaints gobbling this bread down!  There was a local deal at our Great Harvest of buy one get one free on Monday and Tuesday mornings, but then they decided to discontinue it.  It's not worth it for me to shell out over $10 for 2 loaves of bread.  I decided to try my hand at baking it, something I've wanted to do for a while.
Before this I was overwhelmed with the bread making idea.  It all sounded super time consuming and involved lots of hands-on.

Thanks to a friend, I have a recipe that requires no hand kneading, does not use a bread machine, and will be done it about 2 hours without any intense labor on your part.  Plus it tastes awesome!

I have really enjoyed making this at least once a week (sometimes more if I'm giving some away).

I've tried this with and without added gluten (thanks to Winco bulk section).  The gluten does make it airier but the non-gluten version doesn't make it a brick either.  So pick your version.  :)
Whole Wheat Bread
from Sierra Abel

1/2 cup warm water
4 1/2 tsp yeast (or 2 packets)

2 cups hot water
1 Tbsp salt
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup oil
6 cups flour, divided
6 Tbsp gluten (1 per cup of whole wheat flour - omit this if using white flour)

Put 1/2 cup warm water and yeast in a bowl.  Stir lightly and let dissolve.  This mixture will not poof.  

Mix 2 cups hot water, salt, honey, oil, 3 cups flour, and gluten in a mixing bowl and combine until smooth.  Mix in yeast mixture until smooth.  Add the additional 3 cups of flour.  Turn on your mixture (dough hook) and add additional flour until it reaches the right consistency (the sides of the bowl should clean themselves but the dough should still have moisture to it).  

Once the dough ball is the right consistency, turn off your mixture (leaving dough hook, dough, etc. right where it was) and cover the bowl with a towel.  Set a timer for 10 minutes.  When the timer goes off, remove the towel and turn the mixer on long enough to disturb/punch the dough down (5-10 seconds).  Replace the towel and set the timer for another 10 minutes.  Repeat this process until you have set the timer 5 times.  

This could also be done by hand with a wooden spoon, leaving the spoon in the dough until completely done mixing.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Divide the dough into 2 loaves and place in bread pans that have been sprayed with oil.  Let rise 20-60 minutes, or until doubled.  Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on your oven hotness...mine cooks a little hotter so I cook mine about 15).  

Once cooked, remove from pans to prevent further cooking on the sides of the bread.  Cool on cooling rack.

**I make this with 100% whole what flour.  My friend has done lots of combos with whole wheat and white flour with great results.  If you are looking for a non-honey recipes, you could sub 3 Tbsp sugar.

(The picture above is a loaf without added gluten, the one above that is with it.)

Green Veggie Curry

This is a dish that never grows old.  I've made it probably 4 times, each little different, and enjoyed it in all ways.  Thanks to my foodie neighbor Carrie for this one!

Green Curry
Adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Foods

1 onion
8 oz frozen/fresh green beans
8 oz asparagus
16 oz mixed frozen/fresh veggie mix
(use whatever veggies you like)
1-2 Tbsp green curry paste (I found mine at New Seasons)
2 cups chicken broth, divided
1 can (14.5 oz) coconut milk
1 Tbsp cornstarch or flour
2 Tbsp lime juice (from 1 lime)
Salt to taste
Cooked brown rice

Saute onions and fresh veggies in a water saute until they begin to soften.  Add the green curry paste, I like to add the full 2 Tbsp.  It doesn't add heat to the dish, but flavor.  Use 1/2 cup chicken broth whisked with the cornstarch/flour, set aside.  Saute veggies with the paste for a couple minutes, then add the remaining chicken broth, coconut milk, and cornstarch/flour chicken broth mix.  Simmer until veggies are tender and sauce thickens.  Add lime juice and season with salt.  Serve with brown rice.

*You can adjust the amount of veggies you want and may have to add/take away the amount of broth you use.  I prefer my dish a little saucier.  :)

My Closet Revamp

Our coat closet and office closet were two spaces that were driving me crazy!  I felt like they were crazy "dump zones" that I tried to not look at.  I'd open the doors to get something out or put something in and then quickly close them up again.  I finally decided that things needed to change.  

First, they were still painted brown like the original house color when we moved in.  They needed to be painted white (the trim color Dover White from Sherwin Williams).  And on top of that, they needed to have more function.  

The problems with the coat closet: too crowded, being used as kid's crafting storage, needed space to store backpacks, coats, and shoes for kids.

The problems with the office closet: too crowded, unused space because off small bookshelf, and couldn't reach things without unloading 15 others first.

The Before and After of the Coat Closet

The Before and After of the Office Closet

I love the results!  I'm still storing the same things in them that I was before (although some of it has swapped closets), but the space is used soooo much better!

In the office closet I added shelves: screwing the wood supports into the studs, caulking around all edges, and painting the whole closet white.  Then I put in the shelves and metal support rod.

In the coat closet I screwed support beams into the studs, caulked, painted everything white, and then positioned the coat hooks where I wanted.  I put 7 along the back wall and 3 along the wall to the right.

I don't know why I didn't do this sooner!  Every time I open the closets I sigh with relief.  Function usually always wins with me.
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