Simply Supper – Artisan Favorites

Ah, the question of what to fix for supper? I have a small bookcase filled with cookbooks. I use Pinterest to capture “Someday Recipes” and also keep track of what actually works. The options really are endless. However, in the craziness that is life most days, I find that I appreciate having a “standard” set of recipes that are sure fire wins for simple and satisfying suppers (& leftovers for future meals).

Favorite simple suppers

Favorite simple suppers

  •  Brussels Sprout Hash – One of my most frequent “meals” is a Brussels Sprout Hash. I first started making this on my first Whole30 experience. It’s less of a recipe & more of a framework – the specifics vary basically every time I make it. Start with melting a bit of coconut oil in a large skillet. Add a chopped onion & soften it. Add in chopped chicken sausage (or ham or bacon). Add in 1-2 peeled & diced sweet potatoes. Add a splash or 2 of liquid if pan is dry. Stir & cover for a couple of minutes until the sweet potatoes have softened. Add in shredded Brussels sprouts. Add in 1-2 peeled & diced apples. Shake in a seasoning. Stir it all together – add a splash of liquid if need be. Cover & cook for a couple of minutes. The sprouts should still be green. Serve in bowls – I like to top it with a bit of a brown or spicy mustard. The flavors get better as leftovers – makes a great reheat for lunch, too. (For Whole30, I just use water – otherwise, I’ll use beer or hard cider as the liquid which adds an extra layer of flavor)
  • Lemon Chicken Florentine – A favorite dish from childhood…a simple combination of chicken, onions, spinach & turmeric; I think it’s even better cold the 2nd day.
  • Italian Squash Soup – Another Artisan Mom “recipe.” Brown & drain a pound of Italian sausage. Add in 24 oz tomato sauce, a couple of zucchini & yellow squash diced, some chopped mushrooms, & Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, pepper, garlic, etc) to taste. Bring to a boil & simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Chocolate Chili – Another Whole30 discovery is my new favorite chili recipe is from the great Well Fed cookbook. I frequently double the recipe & will throw it all in the crockpot once I’ve browned the meat.
  • Roasted Shrimp & Veggies with Curry Aioli – A bag of frozen shrimp & whatever veggies I have on hand. Thaw the shrimp in water. Spread all on a baking sheet & drizzle with a bit of olive oil (flavored if you have it) & roast at 425 for about 12 minutes (until the shrimp are pink). Depending on the veggies, sometimes I start them about 10-15 minutes before adding the shrimp. For the Curry Aioli – mayo (homemade, if possible) with a bit of a citrus juice, some crushed garlic, a bit of curry powder – mix together & adjust to taste.
  • Slow Cooker Pulled Pork – My “recipe” is to put a pork roast in the crock pot with some salt, pepper, maybe some garlic & a bottle of whatever beer or hard cider I have in the house. Low and slow for at least 8 hours. I frequently pair it with a Sriracha Coleslaw I discovered. Wrap a tortilla around the pair for a simple taco.

This post is inspired by recent posts from Kelli & Sarah about their “in rotation” & “back pocket” meals. Thanks ladies for the nudge to share these recipes!

What are some of your favorite “Go To” recipes for a simple supper?

The Curious Gal & The Curious Book

The first Saturday of this month, I put everything on pause & sat down with a new book and the plan to just read the day away. Earlier in the week, I heard a radio show on NPR that was interviewing Ian Leslie about his new book: Curious: The Design to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It. The hour was a fascinating discussion about how curiosity shapes our lives and it really resonated with me. Within an hour, I had ordered the book and looked forward to diving into it. Saturday started off gray and rainy – perfect for a reading day. From the introduction to the book I was enthralled and by the time the book was finished later that day, I had scribbled 6 pages of notes and quotes from the book and the titles of several books to add to my unending reading list.

Settling in on a Saturday with a good book & good coffee...

Settling in on a Saturday with a good book & good coffee…

As I read the book, it seemed to explain some of the “how & why” of me…I have always been a collector of “random” knowledge…someone to connect dots between seemingly disparate things…a lover of trivia. Jeopardy has long been a favorite game show – Trivial Pursuit a favorite board game – the networked trivia screens at Buffalo Wild Wings a fun diversion. As a child, I devoured the “Value Tales” story collection – many school projects/reports later on were inspired by the stories in those books and even today when I hear about some of the people who filled the books, I’m taken back to knowledge bits I learned in those stories. I’ve never lost a love of reading – and my reading list is normally pretty eclectic and filled with many new topics and facts to discover. A week doesn’t go by that I don’t follow-up on something I heard on NPR on my commute. My curiosity continues…seeking out “adventures” and unknowns/unexpected discoveries in travel…collecting notes and facts in paper & virtual notebooks…

The book compiles a lot of research and thoughts on curiosity and presents it in a very readable manner – the importance of curiosity being encouraged as a child; the Need for Cognition (NFC) as a measure of intellectual curiosity; the types of curiosity – epistemic (deeper, more disciplined and effortful curiosity) and emphatic (curiosity about the thoughts and feelings of others); how the instant access to information online may actually limit our curiosity (here, an article from him on the topic); how curious adults can help to achieve innovation within an organization; the concept of a “foxhog” – a hybrid of the fox who knows many things and the hedgehog who knows one big thing; and so many more interesting facts that tell the story of how this curiosity shapes us.

Like all good books (in my opinion), there were several nuggets of new knowledge to tuck away…maybe for a round of trivia…

  • I don’t believe that I knew that a favorite word, serendipity, came from the Persian Fairy Tale: The Three Princes of Serendip…as Horace Walpole wrote, they were “…always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of…” Indeed, I have been researching since reading this book – next, to read the fairy tale. Growing up, our family had many a Serendipity Saturday – plans were unknown but we knew fun would be discovered.
  • Curiosity cabinets – who knew that curio cabinets of today trace back to curiosity of years gone by? “The curiosity was a way of saying “Look – scientific know-how, refined cultural tastes, technological expertise, and a witty sensibility – I contain all this.”

This book has stayed with me since I closed the cover on it that Saturday evening. A friend at work had heard the same radio show & found the topic interesting so we have talked about it. I’ve mentioned the book to several other friends. I actually think I’ll be giving copies to several dear ones to read and enjoy. I’ll continue to ‘bug my kids in TX and WI‘ with questions of “did you know…” and seek out more info about things that engage them.

Among my favorite passages that I keep coming back to:

 “A serendipity deficit make innovation harder, because innovation relies on unexpected collisions of knowledge and ideas.”

“Whoever you are and whatever start you get in life, knowing stuff makes the world more abundant with possibility and gleams of light more likely to illuminate the darkness. It opens the universe a little.”

“There is one [step] on which I would place greater emphasis – the store of general materials in the idea-producer’s reservoir – …[T]he principle of constantly expanding your experience, both personally and vicariously, does matter tremendously in any idea-producing job.” – James Webb Young

“When you live somewhere boring – and we all live somewhere boring – then we have a choice about the way we will see that place. We can spend our days thinking like everyone else, seeing the same thing over and over, and never once wondering about how they got that way, or why stayed that way, or how they could be better. Or, we can learn. And if we make the choice to learn, and to be curious about the things around us, then we are essentially making the choice never to be bored again. – Laura McInerney

The author closes the book with this call to action – a choice that we each can make as we travel through our days.

“…we have a choice. We can decide to explore the worlds of knowledge that present themselves to us. Or…we can turn our face from the beauty and mystery and make for the next appointment.”

What choice do you make? What keeps your curious?

How has your curiosity helped you recently?

Currently…September

As summer transitions to autumn…the morning & evening skies have been brilliant with the hues to match the leaves that are starting to turn…days are definitely shortening…long sleeves and hand knits are being readied for the new season…iced begins to give way to steaming in some beverages…in the midst of it all, these are some of the things that filled my September days…

The view one morning that had me heading to NJ

Reading…not a whole lot of progress since I shared books earlier in the month – time to dive into “my” stack of books & get them read…before you know it, Christmas will be here & that normally means a new stack of books in our family…at lunchtime today I heard a fascinating hour with the author of a new book – it has now been ordered & I may drop all other books to read it – indeed, I am very curious about the new book Curious

Listening…no new discoveries/acquisitions this month…just enjoying assorted faves from my collection…on a particularly frustrating day at work, a silly playlist from another project provided the absurdity to power me through the rest of the day and the tasks at hand…

Watching…finished out the Honorable Woman series…wrapped up the Under the Dome season…enjoying the first episodes of a couple of new shows: Madam Secretary, Scorpions…glad for the return of favorites including Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The return of a Sunday afternoon routine...knitting & football!

The return of a Sunday afternoon routine…knitting & football!

Crafting…I restarted my Brewers Crackerjack scarf during the Packers home opener – I was overthinking the pattern before…now a simple 2 knit rows for each game – this makes for easy knitting while watching football…

Browsing…Pride & Prejudice tweeted by an author in advance of his new book release…another great installment of “It’s Aaron” where Aaron Rodgers spotlights charities that make an impact – this one will get you…

App-ing…I finally installed Timehop & have enjoyed chuckles as moments from years past have come back…using the Shutterfly Photo Story app on my iPad to build some memory books of recent adventures…

Cheering on Mercer @ VMI

Cheering on Mercer @ VMI

Cheering…This past Saturday was a gorgeous day for a road trip to VMI to cheer on Mercer Football! (Since they moved to the Southern Conference this year, this was the closest they were to PA) Nonstop full & intense sun beating down for the entire game means I’m dealing with quite a bit of sunburn. But it was very fun to be there to cheer on “the team” as they achieved their first SoCon win (& on the road, no less).

A favorite simple supper

A favorite simple supper

Cooking…my Mushroom Caviar was requested as the “what can I bring?” for a friend’s Labor Day cookout…My Brussels Sprouts hash is back in my rotation of quick meals…time to bring out the crockpot & get back into the routine of some of my fall favorites (chocolate chili, pulled pork, and more)…

Sipping…pumpkin & cinnamon are flavoring my coffee…iced peppermint green tea has been a thirst quencher

Signs of the seasons changing at the farm stand

Signs of the seasons changing at the farm stand

Noshing…great seafood while in FL…introducing a work colleague to Philly cheesesteak while he was in the office for a week…local apples make a great afternoon snack…

Treating…myself to a hot stone massage after a crazy couple of weeks!

Liberty + Vans = Awesome!

Liberty + Vans = Awesome!

Wearing…fun new kicks: classic Vans in a classic Liberty of London print – a perfect combination of California roots and a favorite stop in my London travels! They make jeans & a sports team polo on Fridays even more fun.

Seeing…a bit more clearly now with new specs. It had been way too long since I got new glasses – I’m please with the new “bolder” frames. (I’m sure they’ll be popping up in posts soon)

On the roads in September

On the roads in September

Traveling…a quick surprise trip to celebrate with WI family…a couple of days in Florida for a business meeting…700+ miles round trip in 1 day for the Mercer football game – so glad that I have a comfortable & efficient ride for trips like this!

Looking Ahead…October means time to see my girlies down in TX…November includes birthday celebrations & the family celebrating Thanksgiving here…

Morning sun on the changing leaves

Morning sun on the changing leaves

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for the monthly “What I’m Into” round-up. What are you into these days?

As the seasons change, are you embracing the return of pumpkin in food & drink? Do you cheer for any football teams? What TV shows (new or returning) are you enjoying?

Recently Read – September 2014

So, the library reading challenge ended weeks ago – I think I managed to log 12 (of their 25 goal) in the short, short “summer” they chose. My reading continues…and my stack of books continues to far outweigh the available reading time…

My plans for library book reading recently may have gotten ahead of myself and I’ve had to return several books without reading them…I need to figure out the right pace for requesting books & realize that 8 books out from the library at once just isn’t realistic for me these days.

As the seasons are starting to change & a whole slew of tv shows will be starting up, I’m reevaluating my approach to tv & reading…I want to be reading more & watching less…

browsing vintages kids books at the used bookstore in the Milwaukee airport

browsing vintages kids books at the used bookstore in the Milwaukee airport

From my August & September reads, a few highlights:

  • The Lincoln Myth by Steve Berry – The latest from a “new favorite” author – this installment of thriller + history + long buried secrets focuses on the legality of seceding from the US during the Civil War.
  • The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon – A book club read for the women’s growth network at work. A quick business parable read – it felt like it might have been trying too hard to have a similar feel to “Who Moved My Cheese?” – but it was a good reminder of the positive focus to have as you approach work and life.
  • Playing for Pizza by John Grisham (audio) – A quick listen – a breezy story of a washed out pro football player who is given “one last chance” with a team in Italy.
  • A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips (audio) – Captain Phillips’ memoir of his road to becoming a merchant marine & captain and then the detail of his days of capture and dramatic rescue while in command of the Maersk Alabama.
  • Bleachers by John Grisham (audio) – The story of a former high school football star who returns “home” as everyone gathers in vigil ahead of their legendary coach’s death.
  • No Easy Day by Mark Owen (audio) – A SEAL team member’s account of the Bin Laden raid. I chuckled as I heard him also talk about the rescue of Captain Phillips (see above) – a reminder of how connected things can be.
  • The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – I bought this quite a while ago for my Kindle & then it sat unread. I “picked it up” as my read for my “Meet me in Milwaukee” travel & quickly devoured it. Set in 1930s New York, the tale of young adults finding their way in life and love against the backdrop of life in the city never sleeps and in the midst of money and no money.
  •  The English Assassin by Daniel Silva – the 2nd in a series that I am working my way through…a big part of the storyline was around the art stolen from Jews in WWII – I think it’s time to read Monument Men now.
  • Black Flagged by Steven Konkoly – a free title via Book bub – first in a series – fast moving thriller that was a good travel read – a slightly different twist on the deep cover government agent & the attempt to leave that life behind.
  • Arnco by Ben Muse – another free Book Bub title – The “can I go home again” story of a best selling author experiencing a quarter-life crisis and returning to the small town in Georgia where he spent many happy moments at his Grandmother’s house while growing up and reconnecting with “the girl” of his childhood

What are you currently reading these days? As the seasons change, do you find your reading time increasing or decreasing?

Once again, linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for the Twitterature round-up. (And most likely adding to my to-be-read list as I check out other blogs…)

Beachfront Business

After my “kwik trip” to Wisconsin to celebrate Bre’s confirmation, I was home for just a few hours before heading back to the airport. As has been the case several times this year, a business trip ended up being scheduled right against a bit of fun. This time, my early Monday morning travel was to Florida – on Tuesday I was facilitating a workshop.

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The hotel where our meeting was held included “beachfront” in the name and was very aptly named, the view from the balcony of my hotel truly was stunning…morning, noon and night! Needless to say, when in my room I spent a lot of time staring out the window or out on the balcony. At night, the gentle sound of the waves coming through the sliding glass door made for excellent sleep.

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After a successful day on Tuesday, my goal for Wednesday morning was simple: be on the beach for sunrise. I am so glad that I did that! The 40 minutes I spent on the beach watching the sun, clouds & waves was so restorative – as the light started to emerge and play against the clouds and water my head was filled…with favorite verses, with lyrics to songs & hymns (morning has broken, anyone?), with reflections on the last couple of years since I made the decision to change jobs and relocate…In the midst of it all, I was thankful for the technology held in my hand that allowed me to capture pictures & even videos of the sunrise to share with dear ones far away.

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Midday on Wednesday, it was time to leave the spectacular beachfront views and begin to journey home. As I drove back towards Orlando, I saw a sign for the Brevard County Stadium – a lightbulb went off that this was the home of the Brewers farm team: Brevard County Manatees. I had plenty of time before my flight so I took a 3 mile detour to the stadium. I walked around & snapped a few pictures to share with friends. Staff cars were in the parking lot so I found the main phone number & called. “Hi, I’m a Brewers fan in the area on a business trip – is it possible for me to stop in & get some Sea Cow Swag?” I was given instructions to take the elevator to their office & someone would meet me. In just a few minutes, we were in the team store (which was already torn down for the season) & I was picking up a couple of ball caps from the storage closet. All told, I maybe added 15 minutes to my time to get back to the airport – and now I have a fun new hat to add to the collection (sidenote: manatees have been a favorite animal since a 5th grade report on them – still have yet to see a live one up close…)

The workshop was a success…the beach views restorative…the baseball stop a fun serendipity! Once again, it was fun to work a bit of extra fun into a few road warrior days.