Friday, November 14, 2008

More to Love

This has been a beautiful fall. I've had the privilege of enjoying the variety of color in three different states. Sadly, while I was hitting the peak in North Carolina, I was missing the peak in Arkansas. When we arrived home on Tuesday night, Matt and I discovered that the huge oak tree in our front yard, and the two oaks and two hickories in our back yard, had dumped all their leaves. There were tons of leaves on those trees when we left! It rained some on Wednesday, so I left the leaves to dry out a bit on Thursday. Today the kids and I dropped Matt off at work, and then broke out our rakes and tackled the front lawn. I don't care how much work it is raking those leaves! The kids and I had a blast! I got out the camera (of course) and took about 200 pictures. Here are my favorites.

So there have been some other things I have enjoyed since coming home. First off, I'll make a disclaimer by saying I rarely go to Starbucks. Not that I don't love it because I do--it's just so expensive for a cup of coffee! This time of year is the exception. Their Gingersnap Latte is just about my favorite thing! It is such a comfort thing for me, almost like drinking a hug. I go get one every time I can dig enough change out of my piggy bank! I had my first Gingersnap Latte of the season day before yesterday, and UMMM!!!!! Love it!

I also love making soup at this time of year. Somehow the shorter daylight hours bring my soup urge to the surface. When I was a kid, my mom used to make Navy Bean Soup. I loved that soup, but somewhere along the way, I lost the recipe. So I hit up my favorite cooking site,, and found another Navy Bean Soup recipe. I was a bit skeptical, because bean soup can be so gross. I didn't think I would ever find a recipe as good as my mom's. Well, this one topped it! My husband HATES beans. But since I was craving this soup, I made it anyway. Mr. Anti-Legume loved it so much he had two bowls! Who would'a thunk it! I also tried out a new beef stew recipe, and it was also fabulous! I think I must share those recipes. So here they are! Happy Fall! Enjoy the last few weeks of it.

Navy Bean Soup
1 (16 ounce) package dried navy beans (small white beans)
water to cover
7 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup margarine
4 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cups diced turkey ham
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp thyme

1. Clean and sort the beans. Place them in a large bowl with water to cover and soak for 3 hours. Drain and rinse.
2. In a large pot over medium heat, combine the beans and the chicken broth and allow to simmer.
3. Meanwhile, melt the butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots and onion and saute for 10 minutes, or until onion is caramelized. Add this mixture to the pot. Add the ham.
4. Transfer it all to a crockpot. Cook on low for 5 hours, or until beans are tender and soup has thickened.
Serves 8-10

Savory Beef Stew
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
3 pounds cubed beef stew meat
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
4 cups beef broth
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and ground black pepper to taste
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped

1. Combine garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoon pepper in a resealable plastic bag. Place the beef in the bag and shake to coat.
2. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat; brown the beef in the hot oil and remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Add the onion to the remaining oil and cook until browned. Pour the beef broth into the stockpot. Stir in the rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Return the beef to the pot.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil. Transfer to crockpot. Cook on low for 1 1/2 hours.
4. Add the potatoes, carrots, and celery to the pot. Cook on low for another 2 hours.
5. Whisk together 1/2 cup flour and cold water in a small bowl and mix into the stew. Cover and simmer 45 minutes more. Serve with biscuits or French bread. Serves 6-8

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