Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year Soup!


While 2011 has been a successful and fulfilling year full of love and laughter, adventures and surprises, and lots of delicious food shared with friends and family, it's always exciting to look forward to what a new year will bring.

Tomorrow, MD and I will be celebrating the first day of the New Year over a hearty black-eyed pea soup and warm, buttery cornbread. It’s a great meal for a fun tradition, even if it is a little superstitious.

It’s not too late for you to grab up some black-eyed peas and ring in 2012 with a traditional meal. 

(But I do encourage you trot over to your nearest grocer ASAP and pick up some peas before they are gone!)

This spicy soup is sure to warm your belly as you look forward to a new year ahead.


Happy New Year! 

Cheers,
Christi 


Happy New Year Soup 

Ingredients: 
16 ounces dried black-eyed peas 

1 1/2 cups chopped celery 

1 1/2 cups chopped onion 

1 1/2 cups chopped carrots

2 cups chopped cabbage

5 cloves garlic, minced


2 bay leaves (remove before serving) 

2 teaspoons salt, more to taste

1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more to taste 

6 cups vegetable broth 


Directions:
Soak peas in plenty of water overnight. 

Before cooking, drain and rinse. 

Place the beans and chopped carrots in a large pot to boil for 1 1/2 hours, or until tender. Drain water. 

Pour the cooked beans and carrots back into the large pot and add remaining ingredients. Boil on medium-high for 1 hour.



OR-- You can toss everything in a slow cooker on medium and let it do its magic for 6-8 hours. Check on it about half way through, give it a stir and turn up the heat to high.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wishing You and Yours a Very Merry Christmas!

This holiday season, we wish you icy cold snowflakes, steaming hot chocolate, endless belly laughs and plenty of warm hugs as you celebrate the year ahead.






Warmest thoughts and best wishes,
Christi, MD and Benjamin

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Gift Idea: myAgenda

I am quite obsessed with living my life through a checklist in my agenda. The moment something is planned, it’s quickly noted in my handy agenda. I refer to it on a constant basis. It helps me keep up with everyone's birthdays, anniversaries, dinner dates, and sweet or exciting things that might have happened during the day. 

Everything y’all. Everything.

Since I am so attached to my agenda, it needs to be one that I can easily tote with me throughout the day.

Fortunately, MD found the perfect agenda that he gifted to me on my birthday three years ago. An agenda that includes everything a list maker and checker could possibly dream of.

The myAgenda. She’s the Queen when it comes to agendas. 

Here are some of mine from years past. I save each one of them. They are almost like journals to me. 

The 'Caribbean sea' agenda pictured below is from the year we were planning our wedding. It holds every special detail of our wedding plans and appointments in there.


MD has now made it a tradition to have a new myAgenda wrapped up in birthday paper for me each October.


There is even an option to have it embossed with your name!


Super rad!

Here’s the 2011-2012 collection.


A peek inside.



They come in two styles, momAgenda and myAgenda. And, they come in two difference sizes; a 7" x 9" desktop, or a mini, which is perfectly sized at 5” x 7”.

I love the 5” x 7”. It fits perfectly in my purse, but still has plenty of room for your lengthy lists.

If you aren’t convinced yet, let me tell you some great news.

They are ON SALE right now. Grab one for your Mom, your Aunt, best friend and YOU.

Go visit and go soon!

Happy shopping,

Christi


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

Last Sunday MD and I hosted two of our dear friends over for a cozy dinner at MD’s Grandmother’s. It’s a little late in the pumpkin season, but there is a unique pumpkin recipe that I was dying to make. I was able to find a pumpkin at our local Co-Op, so I suppose it’s not too late for you to give this a try. If you can’t locate a pumpkin, flag this recipe for next November. It’s a keeper and a sure crowd-pleaser.

Before our friends arrived we prepared the main course, a delectable stuffed pumpkin. I came across this recipe while listening to NPR last November. It’s rather simple and extremely delicious. 

You begin by cutting out a cap at the top of the pumpkin. Then, stuff it with cheese, herbs, bread and a little cream and pop into the oven to bake for about two hours.

But before we began dinner, we started with a small plate of appetizers. We nibbled on a spicy bean dip with pita chips and brie cheese with Melba toast. It was the perfect starter to our hearty meal.


After nearly an hour of chatting by the fire, we moved on to dinner.



Isn't she a beauty?


Warm, cheesy, amazing.


It may seem odd to eat a pumpkin this way, but it’s totally not. Think of it like squash. It has the same texture and it perfectly healthy for you. Just don’t think about all the bread, cheese and half and half you stuffed it with earlier.

Bon app├ętit, my friends!

Christi



Makes 4 generous servings.

Ingredients:
1 pumpkin, about 3 pounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 pound stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 pound cheese, such as Gruyere, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2–4 garlic cloves (to taste), split, germ removed, and coarsely chopped
4 strips bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, and chopped
About 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives or sliced scallions
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
About 1/3 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Directions:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment, or find a Dutch oven with a diameter that's just a tiny bit larger than your pumpkin. If you bake the pumpkin in a casserole, it will keep its shape, but it might stick to the casserole, so you'll have to serve it from the pot — which is an appealingly homey way to serve it. If you bake it on a baking sheet, you can present it freestanding, but maneuvering a heavy stuffed pumpkin with a softened shell isn't so easy.

Using a very sturdy knife — and caution — cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (think Halloween jack-o'-lantern). It's easiest to work your knife around the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle. You want to cut off enough of the top to make it easy for you to work inside the pumpkin. Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper, and put it on the baking sheet or in the pot. Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, bacon, and herbs together in a bowl. Season with pepper — you probably have enough salt from the bacon and cheese, but taste to be sure — and pack the mix into the pumpkin. The pumpkin should be well filled — you might have a little too much filling, or you might need to add to it. Stir the cream with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper and pour it into the pumpkin. Again, you might have too much or too little — you don't want the ingredients to swim in cream, but you do want them nicely moistened. (But it's hard to go wrong here.)

Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours — check after 90 minutes — or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, I like to remove the cap during the last 20 minutes or so, so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown a little.

When the pumpkin is ready, carefully, very carefully — it's heavy, hot, and wobbly — bring it to the table or transfer it to a platter that you'll bring to the table.
Serving

You have choices: you can cut wedges of the pumpkin and filling; you can spoon out portions of the filling, making sure to get a generous amount of pumpkin into the spoonful; or you can dig into the pumpkin with a big spoon, pull the pumpkin meat into the filling, and then mix everything up. I'm a fan of the pull-and-mix option. Served in hearty portions followed by a salad, the pumpkin is a perfect cold-weather main course; served in generous spoonfuls or wedges, it's just right alongside the Thanksgiving turkey.