A Time to Begin…a Time to End

As I close out 2011 and reflect on the past year, I am amazed in a new way of the love and faithfulness of my Heavenly Father. He has provided and sustained us through the passing of my beloved father and reminded us of the brevity and uncertainty of life. We moved from our tiny apartment into our home and our children and grandchildren continue to bless our lives. Although I have continued to blog sporadically, I have found that the care and upkeep of a home and small acreage is much more time consuming. I began my Sweet Basil Kitchen blog while living in tiny cramped quarters and enjoyed the challenge of preparing healthy meals without any perks of a large modern kitchen. The time spent photographing and writing the blog was fun and yet time consuming. I had no intentions of building a business or attracting hundreds of followers, it was just a way to record my recipes for myself and our children. I hope to keep the blog online, although it will no longer stay active. A special thank-you to each of you who encouraged me with your comments…the 18 months of recording the happenings in my kitchen was great fun! God’s blessings to you all!

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Ham & Bean Soup

Sweet Basil Kitchen is kicking out a lot of soup these days! We both love soup with a side of a muffin or crusty bread and a green salad. Today’s recipe is an old tried and true family favorite. My dad perfected this recipe and we are enjoying it today in honor of him! This preparation starts the night before when you soak your beans. I use the small white beans.

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The next morning drain and rinse the beans. Gather the following ingredients…celery, onion, carrot, thyme and parsley…

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and this fantastic product!

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Add the chopped veggies and thyme to the drained beans (about 4 –5 cups). Add 1/4 c. ham base and 6 cups of water. Dice 1-2 c. of ham and add to the pot.

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As the soup begins to boil, skim the foam from the top. (this will help with intestinal gas!)

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Simmer until beans are tender, about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper. Using a potato masher, give it about 6-8 good mashes. This will smash some of the beans which will in turn thicken your soup.

Garnish with chopped parsley.

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Ham & Bean Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 T. parsley, chopped
1-2 T. chopped fresh thyme
1/4 c. ham base
4-5 c. soaked beans
6 c. water
Salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients into a large soup pot. (except parsley, save that for garnish) Bring to boil, skim foam from top, reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender. (about an hour) Using a potato masher, give the soup about 6-8 good smashes. This will mash some of the beans which will in turn thicken the soup. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

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As most soups, this is even better the next day. This soup will also freeze beautifully.

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Meatless Monday…Mushroom Quinoa Loaf

Quinoa is my new favorite food! It boasts the most protein of any grain, is a great source of vitamins & minerals – iron, magnesium, Vit E, potassium, amino acids and fiber which makes it ideal for vegetarian or vegan diets. It is simple to cook, much like rice and takes 15 minutes from start to finish. When I prepare a pan of quinoa, I usually make a large amount and then freeze it in one cup increments for various recipes.

My honey loves meatloaf, and often orders it in a restaurant. I, on the other hand, am highly suspicious of ordering meatloaf not knowing what all is hidden in the mix! When I first made this recipe, I was skeptical of the outcome, figuring my honey would moan and groan. However, both he and I love it and have made it several times since! It is even better made into meatloaf sandwiches the following day!

I have the Whole Food app on my iPhone and came across this wonderful recipe! Thank-you Whole Foods…although I wished you lived closer!

Start by sautéing one medium chopped onion and 1/4 c. chopped bell pepper in 2 T. olive oil.

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Add 8oz. of chopped button mushrooms. Sauté until tender, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

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While veggies are sautéing, add 1 (15oz) rinsed and drained garbanzo beans, 1/2 c. water or vegetable stock and 3/4 c. rolled oats to food processor and process until almost smooth.

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Place in bowl along with 2 c. cooked quinoa. Click here on directions to cook quinoa.

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Add 1 c.. frozen peas to veggies mixture and stir until thawed.

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Finely chop 3 T. parsley, 1 T. thyme and 10 sun-dried tomatoes.

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Add to veggie mixture until heated through.

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Add veggie mixture to quinoa and oat mixture, stirring until completely mixed. Place in oiled loaf pan and bake in 350 oven for 60 minutes. Remove from heat and let set 5-10 minutes before slicing loaf.

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While loaf is in oven, prepare a mixture of equal parts of apricot fruit spread and soy sauce. Whisk together.

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I served this over a bed of spinach with a side of bake sweet potato fries, with a little of the apricot sauce drizzled over all of it.

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This is a hearty loaf and trust me, you will not miss the meat! The flavors are amazing and it makes an attractive plate presentation. If you don’t like peas, you could substitute with more chopped bell peppers. The garbanzo beans adds the glue that keeps this loaf together. I think next time I will add a clove of minced garlic.

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Quinoa Loaf with Mushrooms and Peas

2 T. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
1 med. onion, chopped
1/2 c. bell pepper, chopped
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 c. rolled oats
2 c. cooked quinoa
1/2 c. water or vegetable stock
1 c. frozen green peas
3 T. chopped fresh parsley
1 T. minced fresh thyme
10 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup (about 1 onion) chopped red onion

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch loaf pan with oil; set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, pepper, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, put beans, oats and 1/2 cup water into a food processor and pulse until almost smooth. In a large bowl, combine veggies and bean mixture. Transfer mixture to prepared loaf pan, gently pressing down and mounding it in the middle. Bake until firm and golden brown, 1  hour. Set aside to let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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