photo of artichokes - unsplash Judy Lamont

Cannellini Bean, Artichoke and Cucumber Salad

photo of artichokes - unsplash Judy Lamont

Artichoke, Cannellini Bean and Cucumber Salad

Maryann
Fresh from your pantry, this salad can be the perfect side for any picnic or a healthy side dish from items you probably already have in the house!
Prep Time 15 mins
Course Salad, Side Dish

Ingredients
  

  • 1 can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can whole artichokes drained and chopped in halves
  • 1/2 med onion chopped
  • 2 small cucumbers thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped/smashed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp parsley I had dried on hand, but fresh would be great here
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Put beans, artichokes and cucumbers, garlic, and onion in a large bowl.
  • Next, add the lemon juice, olive oil, and vinegar over the top and toss with salad tongs or two big spoons. Be gentle so you don't smash the beans too much.
  • Add parsley, salt/pepper to taste.

Notes

Refrigerate the leftovers, this salad is even better the next day!
Keyword artichoke, cannellini beans, cucumber, garlic, white beans
Camano Island Coffee Roasters Logo

Do you want better COFFEE?

Starbucks Fail

We used to drink Starbucks coffee at home. We bought our beans from one of their shops every week or so starting about 15 years ago. Back then, the quality was great. We were extremely satisfied with the coffee we brewed at home with their beans. Then the bux got HUGE. They started mass roasting beans in huge facilities. When that happened, we started seeing a noted decline in the coffee quality we brewed at home. Think over-roasted, burned coffee taste no matter what roast we bought (medium or dark).

So we started looking around for a new coffee source. We love to brew at home, we have an awesome Bonavita drip maker. It’s a super simple machine, but it makes amazing coffee. It’s worth the slightly higher price than your every day Mr. Coffee machine. I like the simple parts and the insulated carafe that keeps the coffee hot for a couple hours without losing quality. We tried a couple local coffee roasters, and were disappointed each time. Over-roasted, burned coffee taste.

Our New Coffee Home

Enter my now-former-coworker Jeff who showed up at the office with a giant 2-lb bag of coffee beans from the Pacific Northwest, where he’s originally from. He gifted me this bag of coffee from Camano Island Coffee Roasters because he was the only one in his house who drank coffee, and needed to off-load the mass amounts of coffee beans he received from his parents as a gift. I brought the coffee home, we made a pot the next morning, and WHOA – best.coffee.ever. So me being me, I jumped on their website and signed up for more.

Since then, we receive coffee every few weeks on a ‘coffee subscription’ service. They ship within 24 hours of roasting, so you know your coffee is fresh, and we’ve not ever been disappointed. (Try the Brazil, or you can choose one of their coffee of the months each month to get a suprise!)

#CICR is involved in the lives and livelihoods of their coffee producers, and they work hard to fair-source their coffees from around the world. They also offer a coffee-roaster facility tour, which if I’m ever out that way, I’m definitely going to check it out. Their customer service is also super great – they will even help you choose a coffee if you don’t know what to order!¬†

Below is my affiliate/rewards link – if you want to check it out, use the link below, and if you sign up, you get $20 instantly off your first order, and I get $20 off my next order. Win-win, right? I did not receive any compensation for this review nor am I affiliated with the company in any way, other than loving their coffee and their business model!

Chicken and Vegetable soup

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Here is my take on Chicken Soup! I usually make this once a week on Sunday, and take it for lunch for the week. I use a rotisserie chicken and store-bought chicken stock, so it’s a quick and easy meal you can make ahead to have for the week! It’s a warm, comforting meal in the cold weather. You can modify this easily with any veggies you have on hand, but onion, celery and carrot are the best base for this soup, in my opinion. This is my winter go-to meal. So filling and warm.

Chicken and Veggie Soup

Maryann
Super easy, one pot soup. Add noodles or rice of your choice if that makes you happy. 
Course Soup
Servings 8 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 3-4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups leafy green of your choice, roughly chopped (I had bok choy in the fridge)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp dill I use Penzeys
  • 1 tsp Mural of Flavor from Penzeys
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded or use 3 cups cooked chicken breasts shredded

Instructions
 

  • In a medium stock pot, heat the oil and butter til melted. Add vegetables and saute about 5 minutes. You saut√© the veggies in butter/oil mix to give it flavor and richness - it makes a big difference in your soup! Season with Salt and pepper.
    Chicken and Vegetable soup
  • Add the chicken stock, dill and spices. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. 
  • Add shredded chicken and simmer til chicken is hot.
  • check taste and add more salt/pepper if needed
  • Serve with crusty bread, add a little cooked pasta or rice of your choice if you'd like that addition.

French Onion Soup in a Crock

Gene Stopha’s French Onion Soup

This is my dad’s french onion soup. It’s simple, delicious and can be served as an appetizer, or a whole meal served with a salad (it’s that good).

French Onion Soup

Gene Stopha
This is my dad's french onion soup. I can't order this soup in a restaurant (except for the one that uses his recipe) - as there isn't one better!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Soup
Servings 6 people

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs yellow onions
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4-6 cups beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • high quality cooking sherry
  • 1 lb gruyere cheese, shredded
  • large bread crumbs or crusty bread such a baguette, sliced

Instructions
 

  • Slice the onions into thin strips. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet on medium heat, I use a large cast iron pan. You don't want the pan too hot, as we want to caramelize the onions. Add the onion and cook over medium/low heat for 20-30 minutes. Caramelizing takes a while, so when the onions get very soft and take on that nice brown color, you know it's ready for step 2. Take your time, there's no need to rush.
  • Once onions are caramelized, in a medium/large stock pot, add the onions, beef broth and bay leaf. Bring it to a rolling boil, then lower heat and cook for 20 minutes. The broth should cook down a bit and the soup should slightly thicken. I don't generally add any thickener, but if you want a thick soup, you could add a tbsp of corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp water in a bowl before adding to soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove bay leaf.
  • Turn on oven broiler.
    On a baking sheet/tray with sides, place oven-safe bowls in the tray. Ladle the soup into the bowls, leaving about 1 inch at top. Add 1 tsp (or a splash) of cooking sherry to each bowl. Place about 1/3 cup of bread crumbs or 1-2 slices of bread on top of soup, then cover with gruyere cheese. Place under broiler until the cheese is melted and browned a little on top. Carefully remove from oven and serve. Remember the bowls are HOT, so use a plate under each to serve. 
Keyword french onion soup, soups
Whole 30 logo

What I Learned from my Whole30 journey

I just finished a Whole30 – 30 days of whole food, proteins, vegetables (some fruit), and good oils. Program rules are here. Here’s what I learned:

  1. I’m way more addicted to sugar that I thought, and this diet helped me overcome that!
  2. I can get a handle on my pain with eating better. This diet is anti-inflammatory, and I’m seeing a huge difference in the way I feel.
  3. I love coconut milk in my coffee (with a sprinkle of cinnamon)
  4. Zoodles have changed my life, I can eat a TON of veggies in noodle form!
  5. Cutting out sugar will improve your complexion, my acne is almost gone and I’ve been plagued with it my whole adult life.
  6. I love to make my own mayonnaise! (Here are some of my fav recipes on my Pinterest Board)
  7. It’s HARD to say no to goodies at the office, I’ve learned to be prepared by having almonds stashed in my desk.
  8. I actually saved money from not eating out (even though it seems like you spend a lot more at the grocery store)
  9. I’m stronger than I thought!

On that last note – I never believed I would make it through the first week, let alone the whole 30 days, honestly. But I did. I feel so much better, better than I have in a very long time. A friend added me to a Facebook group that all did the program together, so it was a great source of encouragement and ideas for food. Eating on this diet can be a challenge if you eat out a lot, so take that into consideration and prepare yourself by reading as much as you can, and find meals that you love in this program, b/c there are a TON of great things to eat!

My results were that I lost 9lbs and 2 inches. I’m ready to keep going and stay accountable to myself. It’s not really about weight loss for me, it’s about feeling better, and not being in pain all.the.time. Tell me about your experience if you’ve ever done this, and what worked best for you!

Here’s a great resource on getting started!

Braised Chicken thighs photo

Braised Chicken Thighs

My husband has asked me to start posting how I cook certain things that he and the family like. I like to cook simply, with easy ingredients that I can throw together and have a meal in 30 minutes or less.

Braised Chicken Thighs

Ingredients
  

  • 1-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (or as many as your skillet will hold)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oil in a skillet over medium/high heat til the oil shimmers. Place chicken in pan and brown each side for about 4-5 minutes. You want a nice crisp brown on both sides. Lower the heat to low, and pour in chicken broth until it comes up 1/2 to 3/4 up the sides of the chicken, do not submerge. Cover with a tight lid and cook for 12 minutes. You can check for doneness with a meat thermometer. (165 for chicken thighs)
  • Move the chicken to a plate and tent with foil to rest for 10 min. Serve with rice, vegetables, etc.