Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different. ~ Katherine Mansfield

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tonight, we eat like kings.

The best thing that has happened to our house since I stopped working full-time, besides the fact that I am no longer a raging psycho of stress, is that we eat well. Like really, really well. There is something to be said for having the Food Network on in the background 24/7 - you can't help but absorb some of the information.

An increase in my overall time to devote to cooking is also a huge factor. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to cook better food when I worked full-time. I often rushed through a dinner prep and turned out something sufficient, but I didn't have time to experiment. To perfect. To play. Now that I do, I can share the particularly successful recipes with other time-crunched parents. I cook for the greater good! (And, it's delicious.)

Finally, quality ingredients really help. A large portion of our weekly budget goes towards food, but we don't do anything anymore (yeah kids!) so we still come out ahead. Not to say that I am not shocked when 2 bags of groceries at Whole Foods tops $125, but the beauty of homemade is that leftovers become lunch. And sometimes dinner again. So, we splurge on pricey organic eats. You get what you pay for. And since I make 90% of our food I don't EVER worry about low fat. That's right. We are a full fat family when it comes to dairy and meat. And I am going to guarantee that we are still healthier than most Americans. The key is getting rid of the processed foods. I bake all the time, and Jude is very familiar with the scent of bacon, but we are in better shape than we've ever been. A valuable lesson from my Grandma's kitchen.

So, without further ado, here is last night's dinner - on the table 30 minutes after I started making it. The leftovers today were even better.

(adapted from Mark Bittman's "Kitchen Express")

4 slices bacon (I prefer applewood smoked uncured)
chopped garlic (a jar of Christopher Ranch organic chopped garlic is always in my fridge)
1 can petite diced tomatoes with their juice
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups organic chicken stock
salt and pepper

Slice the bacon into 1-inch pieces and brown in a large skillet. Remove bacon and lower heat. Carefully add a heaping teaspoon of chopped garlic (approx. 4 large cloves) to the bacon grease and saute for 30 seconds.

Pour in the tomatoes with juice. Be careful! If your bacon grease is too hot, it will splatter like something crazy. (This is where a sexy apron comes in handy. Save your clothes from the grease stains while channeling your inner 1940s homemaker!)

Add 2 cups chicken stock. More if you like extra juice, less if you want a thicker stew. Add rinsed and drained cannellini beans. Salt and pepper to taste.

Once liquid is simmering add a few handfuls of chopped kale and stir until wilted.

Add bacon back to pot, saving some for garnish.

Toddler tip: If you, like me, have a child who only likes macaroni and cheese you can still make this dish! Puree a ladle of the tomato/chicken stock mixture before you add the beans. Heat this in its own skillet. Add some of the cannellini beans and season to your child's liking. For Jude we skip the kale - he only likes that roasted. (And then only because I tell him they're green potato chips...)

I serve this over baguette slices. Cut them 1-2 inches thick, drizzle with EVOO, and rub with a cut garlic clove. Place under the broiler or in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes until toasted.

The final product, I must say, is amazing, hearty family-fare. And the fat from the bacon allows your body to absorb more of the cancer-fighting lycopenes from the tomatoes - yeah bacon!

Voila! Enjoy your dinner.

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