Speedy Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

I love lingering over the stove coaxing ingredients into slow-simmered goodness, but sometimes I need a quick fix — an elixir, if you will.

(When your tastebuds are clamoring to jump on the express lane to flavor town, it’s best to appease them.)

Here’s my favorite 20 minute panacea.

Speedy Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

(adapted from this recipe. Thanks, Jenna!)

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. curry powder
2 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. diced canned tomatoes, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium sweet potato
1/4 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. Garam Masala (optional)

Combine oil and onion in a saucepan over medium-high heat; sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and curry powder; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Pour in chicken stock and tomatoes; bring to a boil and stir in black beans. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer.

Meanwhile poke the sweet potato several times with a fork. Microwave 7-8 minutes until just this side of done. (Or use a leftover baked sweet potato for a quicker fix!) Cool slightly, then peel and cut into cubes.

Transfer sweet potato cubes to broth, simmer 4-5 minutes, and season with salt & pepper. Add Garam Masala if desired and enjoy!

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup 2

What’s your favorite “fast” food?

Enjoying quick fixes,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Random Playfulness

Time To Play

I won’t bore you with further details of my recently all-too-busy-life (insert maniacal laughter here), but things are finally starting to slow down and it’s time to play!

Everybody deserves a break now and then, especially a playful one.

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a random question & answer type post, but my friend, Nolita from M*O*R*G*A*N*I*C — another Oklahoma blogger, woohoo! — tagged me… teased me… tempted me to break out of my ‘profound’ writing rut. (Thanks, Nolita!) Sometimes ya just gotta bust loose.

Before I get to that, I have to add a lil’ girly infusion (thanks for bearing with me, guys) and an explanation for my “you deserved it” dinner — which I thoroughly enjoyed! I figure every woman/wife/mom/girlfriend (and yes, guy!) can appreciate the “busy” background in my photos. Such is our lot in life at times. (And I was hungry.)

It’s not every day I cook up a seafood fest for myself, but I felt the need… especially since The Man of Few Words (TMOFW) stance on Mother’s Day is/was/and always will be: “You’re not my mother!”

Yup… no card, no flowers, no dinner out. (Gotta love that man, xo.) That holiday and a few others continue to be an entirely on-my-own affair — and what better way to celebrate “my day” than with goodies that don’t often cross “our” table? By the way, I was nice and shared. (Except for the lobster and drawn butter…) Bwahahaha! ;)

Time to Play 3

First up was shrimp cocktail. It may surprise you to learn that I didn’t like shrimp until last year. (Gasp!) For some reason these succulent crustaceans didn’t appeal to me taste-wise, texture-wise, or otherwise until I made an umpteenth batch of Shrimp Scampi for my beloved (his favorite) and finally tried one. What do ya know? I liked ‘em!

Better late than never.

Next up were the fabulous crab cakes shared by my friend, Jeanne. (Forever in your and your son’s debt, my dear.) Your three-ingredient dipping sauce was to die for, too!

Not to be outdone by an abundance of butter and mayonnaise (did I mention I have naturally low cholesterol?) I had to make Easy Curry Hollandaise Sauce with Asparagus by my Chef pal, Larry Fournillier… soooooo tasty. (Thanks, Larry!)

Belated Mother's Day Dinner

Now… back to those random questions. Here’s the deal. If you want to participate, do. If you don’t, don’t! I totally understand time crunches! (I think I was supposed to make up some new questions for you, too, but I kinda liked these… and if I started tagging folks, this post would be ten times longer than it already is.)

You know who you are!

Leave your answers in my comment section or start a whole new trend on your blog. ;) Mostly, have fun!

1. What has been your favorite vacation to date? My initial answer was “every day TMOFW and I spent on the road together while we were trucking,” but let’s not mix business with pleasure. Final answer? Our trip to Niagra Falls. When we got married (almost 15 years ago), we were both ‘starting over’ if ya know what I mean, and we couldn’t afford a proper honeymoon.

On our 5th anniversary we made up for lost time and did a “Great Lakes Tour” — I’m talkin’ drive around, over, and past every one of the Great Lakes in a car — which was a welcome change of pace from our semi(s) — and it included the long-awaited stop at Niagra Falls on the Canadian and U.S. sides. Corny, hokey… and entirely memorable!

2. Do you prefer big city life, suburban life, or life in the country? See header photo.

3. What is your favorite type/genre of food? Edible — preferably home-cooked.

4. How would you typically dress for a weekend night out? We don’t go out very often (see header photo…) but when we do, I tend to “fancy up.” (TMOFW not so much.) The pearls in my photos serve more than one purpose. :)

5. Do you like to wear accessories? If yes, what are your go-to accessories? I’m not much of an “accessories” person, but I do like scrunchies (in every color of the rainbow) to doll up my ever-present pony tail.

6. How do you typically fix your hair? (Blow dry and straighten/curl? Air dry? Wash and go?) See #5 above. The less time I spend on my hair, the more it leaves for other stuff.

7. What makeup do you wear on a daily basis? Do you have a preferred brand of cosmetics? I’m a “wash your face and get on with it” kinda gal, but I have a weakness for mascara and lipstick. (My eyelashes and lips tend to disappear without them.)

8. What is your preferred workout? (Gym? Outdoor running? Yoga? Group classes? None?) Stirring vigorously, chopping food like I mean it, and running back and forth between my kitchen, computer, and piano. (Walking also ranks right up there.)

9. Where is your favorite place to shop? Thrift stores and flea markets.

10. Do you enjoy entertaining guests in your home or would you prefer to be a guest and leave the hostessing to someone else? I love to entertain, but if anybody wants to invite me over, I’m game…

11. What quality do you really value in your significant other? His ineffable ability to be himself (even if it means cooking for myself on holidays now & then…) and his quiet encouragement for me to be “me.” Life doesn’t get much finer!

And this?

Random Playfulness

This is the flower he picked for me yesterday… for no reason at all.

Enjoying random playfulness,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

The Mad Dash ~ Smoked Salmon Canapes

Smoked Salmon

When I was a kid, one of my favorite games was Musical Chairs.

(Remember that one?)

There was something thrilling about circling those chairs — minus one — while trying to appear calm & in control, one ear tuned to perceive the slightest pause in the music. (The other was listening for covert plans by my circle-mates; elbowing and edging-out were entirely acceptable.) My eyes were constantly riveted on the passing prospects for my imminent future… a familiar tale.

Then, there was the inevitable mad dash. The scrambling and the squealing — the flailing of arms and legs (with more than a few nudges) — as everybody tried to find their place in this world, at least temporarily.

Minus one…

(I don’t recall if I was a winner or loser at musical chairs or not.)

More than likely I had a distinct advantage with my finely tuned auditory nerves. (Big fan of the Bionic Woman in later years!) My latent memory is rather fuzzy when it comes to traumatic childhood events masquerading under the guise of games.

Conclusion?

Shuffling between chairs (and piano benches) seems to be my lot in life.

I hadn’t really given much thought to that from a posterior perspective… in fact, this is the first time it even occurred to me. But (no pun intended), wherever I’m ‘parked’ is pretty much what I’m doing at any given moment.

At least it’s less random…

And I get to pick the music. ;)

My concert is finally behind me (no pun…) and I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief. Much as I love performing, rehearsals were taking a big bite out of my… time.

You don’t just whip off excerpts from Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique or Debussy’s Clair de Lune or Schumann’s Concerto in A Minor (among others) without a lil’ preparation — or at least I don’t.

I’m tickled to report though that it was a resounding success. Fun, too!

I added a lighthearted segment at the end including such favorites as “Moon River,” “Over The Rainbow,” “Besame Mucho” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” — which seems to be my theme song these days. Ahem…

All in all, enough funds were raised to send ten teenagers to camp this summer (hallelujah!) and in appreciation, they presented me with this:

(Ain’t it gorgeous?)

Thank You Bouquet

And… notice any resemblance to this?

Smoked Salmon 2

Smoked Salmon & Lemon Pepper Avocado Creme Canapes

4 oz. smoked salmon, flaked
Crackers of your choice (I used Glutino gluten-free multi-grain crackers)
1 ripe avocado
Juice of half a lemon
2 T. butter, softened
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pink Himalayan salt (or sea salt), to taste
Fresh thyme for garnish

Peel & seed the avocado; mash pulp in a small bowl. Add lemon juice and mix thoroughly to prevent discoloration. Stir in butter, pepper, and salt until creamy.

Place a dab of Lemon Butter Avocado Creme on each cracker. Top with smoked salmon and garnish with thyme. Easy, peasy!

(Believe me, I was ready for a lil’ “easy peasy” at this point!)

Life and fabulous food always have a way of coming around…

Like musical chairs.

Enjoying the mad dash,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

In My Kitchen ~ May 2014

Baby Basil

In my kitchen… a garden is trying to grow. Allow me to rephrase that: I’m trying to grow a garden!

Since I’m not a green thumb by any stretch of the imagination (and I seriously underestimate the time it takes from planting to plate), I went to the local “feed & seed” store to get some plants that were a little further along in the nurturing process. Then the outside temperature dropped 60 degrees and I was forced to keep them alive indoors.

Group hug?

Whatever Works

Once the weather warmed up again, everybody got their own special place on the “picnic table garden”…

Picnic Table Garden 1

… mostly because the actual garden was in sore need of weeding, pruning, and everything else I meant to do before I bought the plants.

Mission accomplished!

Back Porch Baskets

In my kitchen (or close to it)… these obviously not homegrown herbs are nestled contentedly in their hanging baskets. They also seem to put up with frequent leaf stealing and dinner tastes all the better for it.

Coconutty

In my kitchen… are coconut sugar and coconut flour — my latest gluten-free “experimental” ingredients. I love coconut, therefore it stands to reason that I’ll love these, yes? (Or am I just nutty?)

Two Degrees Food cherry almond bars

In my kitchen… is my new favorite snack. Not only are these Cherry Almond Bars delicious, they’re benevolent. I like that in a snack.

Musical Flowers

In my kitchen… is a musical bouquet that’s been cheering me on as I do the final rehearsals for my concert tomorrow. They wish you a melodic Happy Mother’s Day!

Whatcha Cooking

In my kitchen… is one of the irises from my last post — and a curious one at that. Looks like it’s asking, “What’cha cookin’?” (Or what’s in your kitchen?!)

This world-wide hodgepodge of kitchen goodies is hostessed by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial — and it keeps growing!

(At least something is.)

Enjoying trying…

~ Kim

© 2011-2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Flowergram VIII

Dogwood blossoms

(Hover over the photos for the full effect…)

Spring is in full bloom and it’s time for another Flowergram!

(Can’t tell you how good it felt to wander about at will again, ahhhhh…)

I feel like I’ve been playing catch up here forever and a day, but the truth is: there’s no catching up with right now. You’re either in it or you’re not.

Lavender

Lately I’ve been re-prioritizing things, or at least re-scheduling them. Sometimes my creative soul doesn’t want to be confined to a time slot, but it’s necessary for me to discern measurable progress. (Plus I don’t get a dang thing done — or at least the important ones — if I don’t!)

That means making time for regular exercise (did I just admit that in public?!!), enjoying the beauty & benefits of “small plates” (more on that in an upcoming post), getting back to writing on a regular schedule, and practicing the piano like I just got booked at Carnegie Hall! I’m giving another concert in less than a week, I had a dual speaking & musical engagement yesterday, and life has been an all around profusion of activity.

Last month, The Man of Few Word’s son (my step-son) moved in with us temporarily, and with two fellas needing to get to work at different times and places (with one vehicle), guess who’s been designated taxi driver? I run TMOFW to work at 5:30 a.m. (10 mile round trip), take my step-son to work at 7:30 a.m. (20 mile round trip), pick up TMOFW between noon and 4:00 (such fun not knowing “for sure” what time) and, as things turned out last week, had to make the final pick-up of the day at 4:00 (four days in a row) to get my step-son, too. (Whew!) Thankfully, all of that will change soon (if Mama ain’t happy… tee hee!) and normal life will resume shortly.

Please.

Speaking of “profusions”… here’s one of my favorites:

As for the writing part, I’m thrilled beyond words to have an official part-time, work-at-home job as an editorial assistant/copywriter on a BIG project. (Details are confidential as of yet, but I’m doin’ the happy dance!)

If a picture could describe my elation, it would be this “homegrown” contribution to my Flowergram…

Color me tickled pink — with a lil’ bit of purple for fun. ;)

Flowerbox

How will you spend the hours you’ve been given today… backtracking or living?

It’s a delicate balance sometimes, and as fragile and fleeting as Spring blossoms.

Never be “too busy” to do the things that make you happy!

Dogwood Tree

Enjoying re-prioritizing,

~ Kim

© 2011-2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Kaleidoscope Cooking

Kaleidoscope

Did you ever play with a kaleidoscope as a kid (or as a grown-up…) and marvel at the changing colors? I seem to have latched onto that multi-hued fascination without realizing it until now.

Some nights dinner consists of a subdued (albeit tasty) palette, followed by a several-night streak of blast your eyeballs, popping off the plate color.

(Twist… click; twist… click.)

It finally dawned on me that I’m a kaleidoscope cook.

When I was a young ‘un, I used to dig through Grandma’s toy box in search of that cardboard tube with the plastic lens. Then I’d carry it to the nearest window and rotate the cylinder to my heart’s content. (The Man of Few Words still asserts that I’m easily entertained…)

Somehow that toy ended up in my recipe box, and I’m glad it did.

Whether mind-blowing or bordering on blasé, food (and colors) bring me great delight, and a childlike mindset keeps things interesting on our plates.

Now go… play with your food!

Enjoying kaleidoscopic cooking,

~ Kim

© 2011-2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Cheesy Potato & Rosemary Galette

Potato Galette

Two year olds are a wonder to behold.

Recently I spent five days in ‘Grandma mode’ marveling as our lil’ grandson zoomed about, climbed, danced (me, too!), made faces, sang songs, jumped, stomped, and figured out more settings on my digital piano than I knew it had.

Between fielding full body hugs (as only a two year old can give) and answering “What’s that?” (as only a two year old can ask), I couldn’t help but think we should all live life with so much intensity and curiosity.

I also took more naps than usual. ;)

After he and his lovely Mama and proud Papa headed home, the house seemed quiet. Too quiet. So did my brain. Since words weren’t readily forthcoming, I decided to poke around in my “idea file.”

When was the last time you looked through your drafts? I mean really looked? I tend to squirrel away recipes and ideas until later. Much later. (This one was from 2012!) Gotta love two year olds…

Earlier I’d published a post extolling the virtues of galettes, and judging by the searches it continues to generate, folks are intrigued by these flavorful layered beauties. (One bite transports me to a French country farmhouse, too.)

Then my friends at Cooks & Books & Recipes featured a potato galette and I knew I had to make it. Spuds in any way, shape, or form are a favorite, but the prospect of thinly sliced potatoes laced with fresh rosemary and cheese intrigued me.

The challenge, however, was to slice ‘em without a mandolin. Mandoline?

Whatever works.

Without a Mandolin

Not too shabby for slicing by hand!

Cheesy Potato & Rosemary Galette

(adapted from this recipe)

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan & drizzling

6 medium Russet potatoes, unpeeled

2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped (reserve some for top)

1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for sprinkling

1 c. shredded ColbyJack cheese, plus a handful for the top

Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375° F. Brush the bottom and sides of a spring form pan with oil; place on a baking sheet and set aside.

Thinly slice the potatoes with a mandolin — or a sharp knife and a lil’ patience. :) Place slices in a large bowl; toss with olive oil and rosemary.

Assemble the galette by forming a ring of potato slices around the edge of the spring form pan. Then cover the bottom, overlapping the slices. Season with salt & pepper and sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheeses.

Continue layering twice more — potatoes, S & P, and cheeses. Finish with a final layer of potatoes. (If you end up with extra, reserve for another use.) Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and additional rosemary and Parmesan.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes until the potatoes are tender and edges are golden brown. If your heart desires (mine did) sprinkle a handful of ColbyJack on top; return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Run a sharp knife around the inside of the spring form pan before removing the ring. Gently loosen the galette from the base (aided and abetted by a lil’ coaxing with a spatula) and transfer to a serving platter. Slice into wedges and have at it!

Forgot to mention those crispy edges! Ahhhh...

Crispy edges…mmmmmm

Some ideas are worth revisiting… and some visits become etched in our hearts.

Enjoying the wonder of two year olds,

~ Kim

© 2011-2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch