Archive for January, 2011

January 31, 2011

Life Lesson: Bulk

Buy in bulk. So many products can be bought in bulk. Lemons, Oranges, Apples, Onions bought in bulk, keep your wallet happy. Stock up and save.

January 28, 2011

Food and Thoughts: Got soybeans?

4 words.
Roasted. Soy. Beans. Salt.
I dove into these this morning after coffee.
Does this count as a healthy breakfast?
Happy Friday!

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January 27, 2011

Food: Gluten Free Banana Nut Muffins.

Brunch on Sunday was fabulous. Well, only as fabulous as a sick cook can make it fabulous. Never mind, I’m feeling so much better now.

What more can you ask for. A house full of friends. Little girls running around chasing Monkey’s tall. Bacon. Smoked paprika potatoes. and THESE muffins. And more bacon. My dear friend, Dede brought these over. She has been perfecting her sans gluten recipes. I had thought they had all been consumed before I could take any pictures but to my surprise I found these!


  • 2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 overripe bananas
  • 1 cups brown sugar
  • ¾ c (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup nuts, chopped (walnuts or pecans)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly butter muffin tin.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

3. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture.  With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together like you mean it, for a good 3 min.  Add the melted butter, eggs and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.

4. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula.

5. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins and fill about halfway.  Give them a rap (in Dede’s words) on the counter to get any air bubbles out.

6. Bake until a toothpick stuck in the muffins comes out clean, 16-20 min.  Let cool for a few minutes before turning out.  Serve warm or at room temp.

January 26, 2011

Life Lesson: Break-up’s.

You will live past your first break up. Live and learn. Cry and laugh. Wake up the next day with a new beginning.

January 25, 2011

Life Lesson: Listen to advice.

Listen genuinely to advice given to you. Even if you know you won’t follow that advice, listen!

January 24, 2011

Love: Look who’s cooking with me.


Pure innocence.

Endless excitement and curiosity.

Eagerness to measure the exact amount of salt for the eggs.

Making sure to lick clean the green teaspoon of all the leftover salt crystals. Yum.

Then we made hot chocolate.

January 20, 2011

Food: Lemon Basil Pasta and Grilled Chicken.

Mr. A had pasta on his mind. I had protein on my mind. Lemon Basil Pasta and Grilled Chicken was born. I was a little hesitant because of the lemon, since I didn’t know how Mr. A would react.

After one bite.  “Did you put lemon in this?”


“It’s really good”

Phew. He had seconds too. And took the rest for lunch at work the next day. Happy times.

Thanks to the Pioneer Women for this summer time recipe, during this week of single digit temperatures. I changed a few things up. Here is my version.

  • 2 whole Grilled Chicken Breasts, let rest then slice
  • 3/4 pound Penne Pasta, Cooked Until Al Dente
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1/2 lemon, Juice
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • ¼ cups Half-and-half
  • 3/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • 8-10 whole Basil Leaves, Chopped

1. Cook pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of hot pasta water. Set pasta aside in a colander.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium to large-sized saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Whisk together. Pour in cream and half-and-heat. Whisk until hot. Throw in cheese and whisk until melted. Add salt and pepper. Check consistency, adding some of the hot pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed. I added the hot pasta water after the pasta was mixed in – since the pasta soaks up the cheese/cream mixture.

3. Add pasta to sauce pan. Stir to combine. Add 3/4 of the chopped basil.

4. Dish it up. Add the sliced chicken on top and sprinkle more basil on top if desired.

January 19, 2011

Life Lesson: Crank it.

Crank the music and sing. Out loud, if you want to. I know you do.

January 18, 2011

Food: Beef Bourguignon/Beef Stew

Julie Childs eat your heart out. Okay, maybe not. I did use her recipe and one I found in the Joy of Cooking as a guide line for my version of Beef Bourguignon or what I call Beef Stew. Comfort. Food. To the max. Loaded with flavor from the wine and dash of brandy and of course the melt in your mouth beef.

*Note that this makes 3 quarts. I made this as freezer stock. You know so when you don’t feel like cooking you can just grab this out of the freezer and have a gourmet meal?!?!

(Recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking and Julie Childs Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 5 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into bite size pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1-2 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 carton of mushrooms, diced
  • 4-6 carrots (depending on size), peeled and cut diagonally into large bite size pieces
  • 1 6oz. can of tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 cups full-bodied red wine (Chianti is what I used)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 2-3 bay leaves

1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add bacon and a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir around while it’s cooking to brown all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. Pat meat dry. (*tip* place all meat on a cookie sheet). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour and shake off any clumps. With the same dutch oven pot with the heat on medium high heat, work in batches to brown all sides of meat. (It can be hard to brown all sides of meat – don’t worry if you see red/pink parts of the meat. Leave the meat in pot for 1-2 minutes then flip over. Remove and repeat until all meat is browned.

3. Turn heat down to medium. Throw in onions. Stir occasionally, cook until translucent about 7 minutes. Throw in mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes – or until brown. Throw in carrots and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add tomato paste, garlic, thyme. Stir to combine. *tip – stir frequently – you don’t want the onions or anything else to burn.

4. Pour wine, beef stock and brandy into pot. Stir. Turn heat up to medium high. Place beef and bay leaves into pot. Put lid on – can tilt lid a little so that some air escapes. Bring to a soft boil and lower heat so that it’s simmering. Let simmer for 2 hours. Checking half way through – stir and scrap bottom of pot at this time.

5. Let rest before serving with the lid off. Skim fat off the top – or stir to combine (like I do). Remove bay leaves. Serve with crunchy bread. Enjoy!

Step 4- after everything is added to the pot you can put in a preheated over to 400 degrees or the stove top method that I opted for.

*if the stew isn’t as thick as you would like it, take a ladle full of the hot liquid and combine with corn starch. Return to pot and stir to combine.

*if the stew is too thick – add equal parts wine and stock until you get the right consistency you desire.

January 17, 2011

Life Lesson: Ask.

Ask questions if you don’t understand. Don’t be embarrassed, just ask.

January 14, 2011

Thoughts: Friday Funny or makes you go hmmm.

*In an effort to change things up on Sensible Lessons, I’ve decided to add some photography that could make you smile, hopefully laugh. Could make you cry, in a good way. And could make you go hmmm. So without further ado let’s get started. Who knows maybe this week ending theme won’t last. Let’s give it a whirl.

January 14, 2011

Thought and Life Lesson: Happy National Organize Your Home Day!

What room is on your list to organize next?

I received this lesson from a friend. Guest Post: #1

We have a basement of stuff – mostly my stuff – which includes boxes of childhood stuff my parents shipped to me once we married. I made a dent in it over New Year’s weekend, but need to keep working on it.  It is a process (I don’t do this type of thing fast b/c it is like reliving the moments) but it is cathartic.  My life lesson is that I can’t hold onto the past or slow down time by keeping a bunch of STUFF.  It doesn’t help me enjoy the present. It is time to move forward and make room for the NEW! – kb

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