Links I Love

Georgia O'Keefe

 I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free-Georgia O’Keeffe

The subtle art of not giving a f**k

Bone broth is the new coffee

This young photographer.  Whoa.

Literally no one is an insider (also, you really need to follow Orlando on Instagram!)

Drinking my way through this list of the 15 best beers to drink this winter

I’ve been living on soup this winter.  This idea for a soup swap (think holiday cookie swap, only warmer) sounds amazing!

We could all stand to be a little more polite

I get a lot of compliments on my magnetic knife rack, but I love this wooden one

Fashiondads on Instagram makes me laugh so hard

…speaking of laughing so hard, Ayn Rand reviews children’s movies made my son and I ROFL

How to properly frost a cake #lifeskillz

Let’s

12 most awesome wildlife crossings in the world

10 superfoods to add to your diet

Closet cleaning 101

I’m coveting these hand crafted chopsticks so hard

(photo credit)

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Couscous with Preserved Lemon and Pistachios

couscous

 

We are three weeks into 2015 and I’m wondering…how’s the new year going for everyone?

I feel like I’ve been on a blogging vacation for waaaay too long and I’m determined to spend more time in this space from here on out (if that sounded like a resolution, it’s not).  The truth is that for many years I didn’t believe in New Years resolutions…or intentions…or whatever you want to call them.  I think I get it, though.  A definitive time start to changing things for the better.

Taking action.

For the past several years, my resolution has been to be a blessing to others.  I thought this was a pretty simple and somewhat easy-to-achieve goal, but in reality it isn’t.  It’s such a general intention that without specific steps or actions, it’s been forgotten pretty quickly.  To that end, I came up with some more realistic steps I could take that would hopefully result in blessing others by more of a “trickle-down” effect:

1).  Make eye contact and say hello to people in public.  The cashier at the pharmacy when I pick up a prescription.  The mechanic when I take the car for an oil change.  The person checking out my books at the library.  It’s so easy when we have a huge list of errands to run to go about our business with the mindset of moving on to the next thing we have to do.  We all say “how are you doing”, but more times than not it’s just a pleasantry.  Making eye contact is the key.  When I engage that person for a few seconds (instead of looking down at my wallet or my phone), I see faces soften and smiles.

2).  Use all of the food and toiletries we have in the house before buying more.  This is hard for me (but so right for our budget) on so many levels.  Sometimes I want a roast chicken, but we have a freezer full of perfectly good stuff that isn’t roast chicken.   Sometimes I’m convinced the shampoo my hairdresser uses to wash my hair is going to make my life better and have to have it, but I already have two bottles of shampoo at home.  This is already impacting our budget and I’m only three weeks in.

3).  Finally, I’m going to stay off of social media (specifically Facebook) as much as possible.  I’ve written an entire piece (but decided against posting it) on why I dislike Facebook, but I continue to log in primarily to manage the blog page.  Narcissism, politics, mean-spirits, gaming invitations-I’m over it.

Moving on…

I decided to go back to clean eating and working out the weekend after Christmas so that I wouldn’t look like one of “those” New Year resolution makers.  The thing with clean eating and cooking at home is that you really have to amp up your condiment game to boost flavors in vegetables, whole grains, and meats.

Enter preserved lemons.

preserved lemons

Thin-skinned lemons cured in salt and lemon juice are used in a lot of Moroccan recipes.  After sitting in salt and juice for a period of time, the lemons develop a flavor that is bright, intense and a little funky.  They aren’t eaten straight up, though.  The preserved lemon peel can be chopped and added to salad dressing, seafood, or grain salads for a concentrated kick of lemony flavor.

To make your own, I refer you to the kitchn.  You can’t get much easier than lemons and salt.  The only thing I do differently is that I halve this recipe  and use wide mouth pint jars.  It’s hard to say how many lemons you will need to fill the jar because it depends on the size.  The lemons I purchased this year were almost the size of oranges and I only needed two for each quart jar.  Also, I add a few peppercorns and cardamom pods, but that’s totally optional.

Take note that you won’t typically see photos of the lemons after they’ve cured for a couple of months because they just don’t have that crisp brightness as when they’re first placed in the jar.  Truthfully, they’re not very pretty.

Couscous with Preserved Lemon and Pistachios

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups Israeli couscous, or other grain or small pasta cooked according to directions
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit-I used cherries, but you can use chopped dates, raisins, etc.
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, lightly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • black pepper

Place the butter in a large bowl. Separate and discard the pulp from the rind of the preserved lemon. Finely dice the preserved lemon rind and add to the butter along with parsley, dried fruit, pistachios, salt and cinnamon.

Cook the couscous: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the couscous and cook according to package instructions. Drain and add to the bowl. Stir gently until the butter is melted and the ingredients are well mixed with the couscous. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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couscous

 

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Smoky Pasta with Kale and Sausage

 

Smoky Kale and Sausage Pasta

A little bit of food prep goes a long way, especially on days when you have to throw dinner together quickly.

One of the things I like to stock in the freezer is cooked bulk sausage.  I purchase 3-5 pounds at a time from a local farmer (a delicious sage sausage-but you could do the same with sweet or spicy Italian sausage links after removing the casings), brown it, and freeze it in a large container.  It’s ready to add to pizza, sauces, or a weekend egg scramble.  This pasta dish gets its rich flavor from smoked paprika and beer.  I use slow roasted tomatoes (another staple I prepare during tomato season and keep in the freezer), but you can also use jarred sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil.

Smoky Pasta with Kale and Sausage

Ingredients

  • 3 sausages, casings removed and crumbled
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 12 sundried tomatoes (packed in oil in a jar), sliced
  • 1/4 cup dark beer
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 fresh sage leaf, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 pinch red cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 6 cups shredded kale or spinach
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound pasta (Yikes! I can't remember the name of the pasta I used in these photos, but choose a shape that will stand up to some skillet cooking such as orechiette or bow tie)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

In a large saute pan, heat 1 Tbsp of the oil from the jarred tomatoes. Add the sausage and brown completely. Add the tomatoes and garlic and sauté another minute. Pour the beer into the pan and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan (deglazing). Add the fresh herbs and spices and simmer one minute.

Add the kale and toss gently until just wilted. Add the cream and simmer for another 4-5 minutes to thicken and meld the flavors.

While this is simmering, cook pasta in a boiling pot of salted water according to package directions until al dente. Use a large slotted spoon to transfer the pasta to the sauté pan (don't worry about draining it well). If you need to thin the sauce a bit, add more of the pasta cooking water in small amounts until sauce is desired consistency.

Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Top with more parmesan for serving.

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Smoky Kale and Sausage Pasta

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