Home-shredded cheese melts the BEST

Functional Foodie Friday: Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Hot, hot, hot. It’s the only way I can eat my food in the Iowa winter. Plus I read somewhere (on the internet, maybe? It must be true) that hot peppers keep the germs away. So far it’s working.

I can sum up the healthy attributes of this pizza in two phrases:  real food and portion control. The latter was made easier by the fact that I used a  crust from Gluten Free Bistro and they’re not very big. Delicious, but only about a  12 inch crust. BUT (hear me out here) – the ingredients are whole grain and real food. Not a stinkin’ chemical in there! My druthers would have been P-Dub’s Pizza Crust, which is infallible, but unfortunately gluten is not my friend any more and I continue to experiment with alternatives. And the hot new cauliflower crust? It’s awesome, trust me, but alas, I had no cauliflower….

And RB had no idea he ate a gluten-free crust. I sort of wish he’d have hated it – more for me.

I also used homemade ranch dressing, but you could certainly use bottled, if you have a propensity toward a bunch of unpronouncables. Yes, that’s a word – now. Lots of preservatives in what I call “bottles of regret.” I like to use a mix from Erin Chase of $5 Dinners with light mayo, which has only one unpronouncable. And you only need to make a little at a time.

Side bar: I ROASTED A CHICKEN!! They were on sale at Fareway and I thought, dang, I could make that pretty and I know Ron Burgundy would clean off the running gears, so LOOKEE!! I brined him and everything! It wasn’t until I started cutting him up, that I realize I’d roasted him upside down. Or breast-down anyway. In all of these years of cooking I’ve never roasted a chicken, but I know turkeys go the other way. Still, it was tender and delicious, even with his hind end up in the air. Duh.

Sort of give a whole new meaning to the term “chicken plank.”

I will also tell you that it probably wasn’t that cheap, since after RB noshed on it for a day or so, I sliced off the breast meat and ended up with only a 2 1/2 cups of chicken for the freezer. But it looks pretty! (If you don’t mind running gears and blood vessels).

Keep in mind you may need more of the ingredients if you use a larger crust than I did.

Do-overs? I would have added a bit of gorgonzola or Maytag blue cheese on top.

And you just can’t beat that Emile Henry pizza stone.  Best there is. Guess someone reads these posts after all.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Pizza crust of your choice
1/3 cup ranch dressing
(about) 3 tablespoons buffalo sauce (to suit your taste) – divided
1/4 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
4 oz jack cheese (please, please shred from a block. No bagged stuff allowed!)
2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Mix dressing and about 1 tablespoon of the buffalo sauce in a small bowl. Like hot? Add more buffalo. Sprinkle celery on top.

Toss the chicken with the remaining buffalo sauce and spread over the top of the pizza. Top with cheese, and bake in a preheated oven at 450°. Bake for about 15 minutes or until crust is brown and cheese is well melted. Top with cilantro and serve.

Tea today: China Green (still a lot left over from the wedding!)
Da corn.

This, or nothing at all.

Feel like I should post more and having rambling thoughts – probably because I’m doing anything in my power to not implode because my phone is broken and I haven’t my calendar handy for meetings for three days.

Phone fail. “Your insurance doesn’t allow you to get an immediate replacement if your phone stops working, only if you break it.” Well ok then, perhaps I should have smashed it on the cement floor. In the meantime, I’m carrying a circa 1999 “replacement” that smells like old, stale cigarettes, won’t let me pick up voice mail, and I have no access to email or my contacts. Thank you, carrier that rhymes with “Glint.”

Upside: I get to write a post about it. Wahhh, WAHHH. And I fully realize this is a First World Problem.

The annoyed gym rat: I’m slugging along on the elliptical at the gym last night and this pretty ponytailed older lady (my age and wearing way fewer clothes) comes up to me and asks me how much longer I’m going to be on the machine. Told her I’d be done in about 25 minutes. She took her Coach gym bag to a treadmill, changed her shoes and proceeded to walk. Fifteen minutes later she went to the weight machines (toting her gigantic Coach bag – they make gym bags??) and changed into another pair of shoes and lifted for a bit.  After the elliptical, I grabbed my water bottle and Walmart fleece and hopped on a treadmill, and she finally got to the elliptical that was right in front of my treadmill. But..

…not until she changed into another pair of shoes! Taken from (you guessed it) her COACH BAG. I was feeling rather like a slob in my oversized hot pink “Knock Out Breast Cancer” t-shirt and old warm-up pants.

Redemption: The gleam of the price tag swaying in the breeze on her spiffy little tank top. She was obviously new at this game, but I don’t know how she figured she needed four pair of shoes. But I guess I do know why she needed that huge bag. And the fact that we were  both at the gym gave us something in common. Perhaps we’ll become BFFs.

The overachieving husband: I needed some frozen corn for a dish I’m making for Bible study. The study is “Made to Crave.” The irony is not lost, but the requirement is healthy food. I was out of corn. I emailed RB “Any way you can stop and pick up a bag of frozen corn for me on the way home? Just one.” I put “just one” on purpose, because he always gets two of everything. I needed about a cup of corn. We all know what size bag one would normally get.

I found this in the freezer this morning.

FOUR pounds of corn. Walmart corn. I love how they show it in a colander and with the disclaimer “serving suggestion.” I don’t believe I’ve ever thought to serve corn in a colander before.

Shameless granddaughter promotion:

Harper got her first tooth yesterday. You can’t see it, of course, but I needed an excuse to post a Skype shot, along with her sweet mom and Sophie the Giraffe who returned from her unfortunate escape after eating Mexican food,  just in time to welcome that first tooth.

Tea today: Something green that didn’t have a label – the last of the bag. We shall call it “China Mystery”

Functional Foodie Friday: Cilantro and Lime Chili

Editors note: this was scheduled to autopost on Friday. Um, yeah. I guess I need to tell it that, or it will sit in the post hopper forever!

The chili at my house is awesome. Ron Burgundy always said my chili was even better than his dad’s, and that’s going some. So why change a good thing? One reason.


It’s like crack to me. I swear if there was such thing as cilantro brownies, I just might start liking chocolate.

I stole this recipe from Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour, switched it up just a bit because I thought it could use some heat. (But of course). It’s starting to get cold here these days. I was thinking that I’d leave the ground beef out next time, but I mentioned that as I was typing this and I got a solid “NO” from across the room, so maybe not, unless I want to eat the whole pot myself. (I do. I could). I really love the way the broth and beans come together for the soup base, and the lime and cilantro add a freshness that just makes your palate dance.

That’s like jazz hands to a foodie.

Cilantro Lime Chili

1 lb 96% ground beef
2 large onions, chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
32 oz low sodium beef broth
3 15oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained (or 5+ cups if you’re cooking from dry)
1 15oz can refried pinto beans
2  15 oz cans  fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 jalapeño pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (cut this in half if heat frightens you)
4 tbsp. chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
shredded cheese for topping

Brown ground beef and onion in a large dutch oven until beef is brown and onion is transparent.

In large bowl, whisk refried beans with beef broth until well blended. (Seriously, this is a genius idea). Pour into dutch oven with meat and onions. Add beans, tomatoes, jalapeno, red pepper, cayenne, chili powder, and cumin. Simmer for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.

Stir in lime juice and cilantro and cook for another 30 min. Season with salt and pepper, top with shredded cheese.

Eat. Enjoy. Repeat. Hide a bowl so you have some for lunch the next day.

Tea today: Genmaicha

Functional Foodie Friday: Spicy Tomato Soup

This soup was stolen from Giada, but there’s a back story. Isn’t there always?

Apparently my cooking has been a bit too healthy earthy for Ron Burgundy. What with my many Ball jars of grains and rice and pasta, he was obviously craving some good old fashioned (what he calls) food. I got home late from the gym and he had stopped at the local grocery and bought canned soup – tomato and chicken noodle. Yes, those were always comfort foods to me growing up, too, until I read the labels. Apparently he wanted to live in the past. No big deal. At least he was cooking!!

Open can! Add water! Heat! He COOKS!

But I shuddered when I saw the big box of salty white poison saltines. I don’t think we’ve had them in the house since the kids left – a long, long time ago, and he uses about a half a sleeve in his soup. Surely I could come up with something a little more healthy for my aging maturing husband, who so nobly gave up pop this year. And if you know him, that’s BIG. We’re talking 6-8 cans of Mountain Dew or Sundrop a day, but it was rarely consumed in my presence.

(He dislikes the eyeroll).

The next night I took some healthy cans from my pantry, armed myself with the Google, and set to work looking for something that would mimic that disgusting soup that rhymes with Rambles, but would still be healthy. Can you pronounce the things on the label? I didn’t think so. They were hard enough for me to memorize in chemistry class. Replacing the crackers with sneaky protein and whole grain pasta was brilliant, and quite obviously not my idea.

Win! He loved this. Ate two big bowls, and didn’t even mind the kick of the red pepper.

But I did see him throw a few crackers in it. He thinks I don’t notice things like that.

Spicy Tomato Soup (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can Trader Joe’s Marinara Sauce (read the ingredients! Real food!)
24 ounces unsalted chicken stock (Kitchen Basics is the BEST)
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup small pasta (I used brown rice elbows; next time I’ll use a smaller one like anellini)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
a few fat shaves of pecorino romano cheese


Warm the olive oil in a soup kettle over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the marinara sauce, chicken broth, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Ladle into bowls, top with shaved cheese and serve. This is even better the next day. It’s the law of soup.
Tea tonight: Mystic Dragon
Hoppin John

Functional Foodie Friday: Hoppin’ John

Black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day – we ate them twice and I can’t wait to see what kind of luck that brings us for 2012.

If I believed in luck….which I don’t.

This recipe is adapted from the infamous Pioneer Woman (of course, why wouldn’t I pick someone famous?) and even if you don’t think you like some of the ingredients, I guarantee this finished product has a blend of flavors and textures you’ll adore. Add bacon, if you must, but it really doesn’t need it. I loved the pork in here, and the entire dish was extremely inexpensive because I had a small chunk of pork in the freezer and the only thing I needed to buy that I didn’t have in my pantry/frig was the kale.

Lunch and dinner for 3 days? $1.29 out of pocket. (cheep cheep) And loaded with healthy protein.

Our appetizer-turned-lunch was P-Dub’s Zannie’s Black-Eyed Pea Dip. I had to make it, because I’d soaked more black-eyed peas than I needed for the main intent. Who wastes thirty cents worth of dried beans? (I am my mother’s daughter). NO! Divine intervention! Add cheese and proceed! This was also delicious, and the two of us may or may not have eaten the entire batch in one sitting. So it makes a good lunch as well as an appetizer, and thus the Hoppin’ John cooked a little longer because we were stuffed for hours.

Starting out New Year’s on the wrong foot – too much of a good thing, but all for the sake of luck.

If you believe in that sort of thing.

Hoppin’ John

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 lb pork butt, trimmed of fat, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 Tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1-2 jalapeños, diced (I guessed, because they’re diced & frozen in bags from last summer)
2 stalks celery, diced
4 1/2 cups soaked black-eyed peas
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 15 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
3 cups chopped kale
salt and pepper


Soak black-eyed peas overnight then rinse thoroughly. Mix paprika, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, salt and pepper together. Toss with pork and allow to sit for at least 30 min in refrigerator. (I let mine sit overnight).

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Brown pork pieces on all sides quickly; remove to plate.

Add onion, garlic, green pepper, jalapeño, and celery and stir. Cook for 5 minutes. Add pork back in pot, stir in black-eyed peas. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and cayenne. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover the pot for an hour.

Stir in vinegar, then taste for seasonings. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in kale until just wilted.

Serve over chewy brown rice with a nice chunk of skillet cheddar-jalapeno corn bread (which I also had in the freezer).

Tea today: Organic China Green


Alive by gitz

#OneWord365: Alive

Lamenting to a(n) (imaginary) friend that I’d miserably failed my 2011 word (Seek), I went back and read that post. Failed? No. Still in seek mode? Yep. Just because the year’s over doesn’t mean I stop focusing on that word, and I feel like I’ve come a long way. I just haven’t blogged about it; about much of anything, really.

I’m OK with that. It’s not like blog was my focus word.

My word this year?

Sara was one of the reasons I chose this word, because she truly was one of the most joyful, alive people I’ve ever known, even as she edged toward Heaven’s gate. She died with grace, dignity, and humility. But she remains alive in spirit as I frequent her words that continue to lift me.

I have also been inspired and moved by the lovely Shauna Ahern, as I sought out cooking/baking ideas when gluten reared its ugly head within my body. In that seeking process, I fell in love with her zesty passion for life, love, and community as written so eloquently in this post. I’ve dog-eared her cookbook, which reads like a novel, but is her true story of love and sacrifice.

Today I sit on the edge of the unknown, waiting for a diagnosis of a loved one with a potentially life-stealing disease. I think of all He gave to the world through Sara who embraced her own disease by giving glory to God. Her one word last year? Praise. My prayer is that our remaining days, months, or years (only God knows – only God decides) we all choose to be alive, keeping our spirits and attitudes awake,  animated, sensitive. Each of us has numbered days. Let us not be the walking dead.

Just like the visual thesaurus that guided me to Seek last year, I look there again for direction: “mentally perceptive and responsive,” “capable of erupting,” (nailed that one!), and “full of life and spirit.”


Whatever my circumstances.

Tea today: Marrakesh Mint
Look at that thick, chewy crust!

Functional Foodie Friday: Caramelized Onion and Shiitake Mushroom Pizza

The only thing that would have made this pizza more perfect is IF I HAD A PIZZA STONE instead of a cheap tin pizza pan, but alas, a son-who-shall-not-be-named (but rhymes with Duke) apparently missed the physics class that said you don’t run cold water over a hot stone. That was over 10 years ago. The promised replacement has yet to arrive.

The one I want is on my Amazon wish list. Emile Henry. Best bakeware ever. You can even put this one on the grill.

Now go.

(I’m talking to a wall – my family doesn’t even read this).

I picked up some local (as in 40 miles away) Iowa Shiitake mushrooms from “anything but green gardens” at the new RiverLoop Public Market Coop the other day. They were gorgeous, and I knew they had to be showcased. What better than pizza?

Bring on the fresh mozzarella from the local dairy store (though the cheese was from Wisconsin). It’s the very best for pizza for it’s meltability, which I’m certain is a word in some foodie dictionary. The other stars of the show were caramelized onions and a few leftover artichokes that I’d been putting on my salads for a week at were near-end-of-useful-life.

I used a Bob’s Red Mill GF pizza crust mix – made it like the package directions except I threw a handful of ground flax in the dough with the flour mix. I like the mix because it’s whole grains: brown rice, millet, and sorghum. Good stuff. But you could use any crust – even pre-made if that’s what trips your trigger. For the sauce I just used plain tomato paste that I mixed with Italian seasoning. Roasted garlic would have been good, too. I forgot.

This was SO good.

But it would have been better baked on a stone. An Emile Henry stone.

(There I go, talking to that wall again).

Tea today: Marrakesh Mint Green (Spice and Tea Exchange)

The corn puts the CHOW in CHOWDER

Functional Foodie Friday: Potato Corn Chowder

Let’s make this clear: this is pretty much “starch soup.” But oh, it’s so yummy on a cold November day in Iowa, and don’t forget that moderation thing. By the time the clock strikes 12  bells, I’m absolutely starving (which is how you’re supposed to be at lunchtime) and I stare at my carefully packed colorful salad and can only envision a plastic container of regret. A warm cup of this complements that well, warms me up, and makes a pretty decent lunch.

I used 1% milk in this only because I bought it by mistake. They changed the lid colors on me at the store. You could easily use skim milk, and if you like a thicker soup, mash the potatoes a little at the end, or even thicken it with a slurry of cornstarch or flour and water.

As with most soups, it’s better the next day. Why is that??

Potato Corn Chowder

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, shredded
2 pounds potatoes, diced (I used Yukon Gold and left the peels on. Fiber).
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
2 cups frozen yellow corn
1 tablespoon dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Sweat onion in oil until tender. Add carrots, potatoes, and chicken broth. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, then cover and simmer over low heat until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in milk, corn, parsley, and seasonings (and some bacon if you must). Let simmer for about 30 minutes and enjoy!

Tea today: Sencha



The Wedding

A million posts about our daughter’s wedding have rattled in my head before I could even venture to click on “new post.”

Just get started.

The few weeks leading up to it flew faster than I ever thought it was possible for time to fly. One of my favorite parts was that I would hear from Kate almost every day about something related to the planning. I love having her name pop up on my phone. Long gone are the days it sent a panic through my gut, fearing drama. Her personal, spiritual, and emotional maturation have far exceeded what I once thought possible.

I should have known better.

The three days preceding the wedding are a fog. Luckily there are some brain-jarring moments and photos to help me out.

The days were guided ever-so-gracefully (despite aforementioned near-beheading) by my awesome daughter-in-law, who was also Kate’s Matron of Honor. I heard from her almost every day, too. Loved that. And really, how beautiful is she? That beauty runs deep. Truly, my son married up.

I was kept on track by a spreadsheet of endless lists, including the one that said “Pack Spanx.” Because in the midst of this wonderful sacrament of marriage, one must remember to wear Spanx. Turns out the Spanx sort of argued with the shutter pleats on my dress and I had pleats a-flipping most of the night, but who cares? Checking “pack Spanx” off the list was cathartic.

A moment that grounded me in the meaning of the day was after the clamoring and giggling of the girls getting their make-up done in the hotel room. Sara, a dear friend and bridesmaid, offered to pray with us as we sat around the table cluttered with water bottles and M & M’s. In that moment, it all came together and I felt a peace that only conversation with God can give. I want to be like Sara when I grow up – never too busy or distracted to pause for a prayer of gratitude and praise. I’m not very good at that sometimes.

My cousin Ellie, who is Kate‘s namesake and was also my Maid of Honor, made the jewelry for both Kate and me. Kate chose her as one of the reception hostesses. She was an ever-present source of support, and left a sweet note on my pillow the night of the wedding, a gesture that blessed me and reminded me again how much thicker blood is than water. And how cousins can be best friends and near-sisters. Even though you still bicker about who gets to hold Harper next.

I really don’t know what I envisioned for the day, but it was perfect. Oh sure, there were last minute changes for the ushers, but being seasoned at their jobs they handled it well. My boys are awesome. I was at the mercy of the planning, coordinators, and organizers, and it was all unfolding as it should. My assignment was to greet, walk down the aisle, listen, cry, walk back down the aisle,  greet some more, go to reception.

I felt comfortably inconspicuous.

A bit alone.

Everyone had a job to do. Everyone was busy. My work was done, on many levels. I’d birthed, prayed, nursed, raised, taught, fought (yes, we fought), prayed, mentored, instructed, prayed, cried, advised, prayed, and loved this beautiful girl from the moment she arrived on Mother’s Day 32 years before. I’d left her in God’s hands long ago, knowing I was powerless to do only what He can do.  So I spent the several hours before the wedding just sitting in the chapel, alone, bare feet on cold cement, reflecting on this beautiful daughter of mine, never really mine to begin with, but loaned to me by Him. I thought about this God-breathed marriage, not merely a wedding. Ann Voskamp’s A Prayer for a Daughter had long been memorized, and I pulled the lyrical words randomly out of my memory throughout the day.

If you have a daughter, I dare you to pray that prayer and not weep.

May her vocation in this world simply be translation.
Translating every enemy into esteemed guest
Translating every countenance into the face of Christ
Translating every burden into blessing.

~Ann Voskamp

Kate was radiant the entire day, captured beautifully by skilled photographers, one of them Ryan’s cousin. Looking back at the videos, I am so proud of the person she has become, though she did not arrive there without trials, heartbreak, and tears. That’s how God shapes us. (Well, that and her Bridal Boot Camp which didn’t hurt her physical image one bit).

But the little girl woman I saw greeting guests as they exited was gracious, kind, and loving. The gratitude she expressed for them for was straight from the heart. I loved that they chose for us all to praise Him as one family, singing Hosanna along with the worship leader from their church. In the moment of silence after the song, a child in the congregation yelled “YAY!!!” Yes, that said it all. I love the look on Kate and Ryan’s faces as captured by Steph.

I’ve been dying to rehash the entire day with her. Every minute. Every thought. After dropping them at the airport early the following Monday as they jetted away on their honeymoon, I’ve thought of a million things I want to tell her or ask her. My restraint has been phenomenal. I won’t be that mother, or mother-in-law. God’s always had her first, but Ryan just took over second place.

Sigh. I may have lost that position a long time ago. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. I am eternally grateful for that Third Strand among them that will be the foundation of their marriage.

I pray their marriage will be blessed with God’s love, defeated trials, continual forgiveness, mutual submission, forever love, and cousins for Harper. Because Grandma’s house is the place cousins go to become best friends.

Just ask Ellie and me.

Tea today: China Green, leftover from tea satchels they had as wedding favors


MMmmm - soup.

Functional Foodie Friday: White Bean Stew with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

There shall be a wedding post coming soon – I know you’re all on pins and needles. ALL THREE OF YOU….

But, it’s officially soup season here which means several things:

  • I’m chilled to the bone
  • It’s below 65 degrees and the Snuggie is out of the closet
  • There’s snow on the ground
  • It’s November
  • Did I mention I’m freezing?
  • It’s cold out

Cold weather redeems itself around here with soup season, and bean soup in particular is one of my favorites. Especially crock pot soups – I slave all day over those, or at least it looks like I did when I’m not even home. And when I walk in the door, it’s like my imaginary maid Florence has taken a break from scrubbing my floor spotless (obviously) and paused to make soup that fragrantly fills my kitchen and eventually my gut.

I usually prefer to keep soups lean, hearty, and filling, but someone around here is a meat lover.


I discovered Al Fresco chicken sausages several years ago and love the different flavors they have because it tricks me into eating … chicken. I’m not totally down on chicken, but I still like more plants than meat. I also love the ingredient list in these – it’s short and all natural, good lean protein. I do remove the casings, however, because, well, they’re natural too and I don’t “do” casings. You could use any flavor of their sausages, but I picked the sun-dried tomato and basil for this soup – more vegetables. Yay. Also? Gluten-free, for those of you who care, yet still mighty tasty for those who think GF can’t be.

And this passed the Ron Burgundy “I don’t know how to heat leftovers” test. That’s saying something yummy.

White Bean Stew with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

1 pound dried great Northern beans
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups chicken stock (can use up to 7 cups or add water if you like it “soupy”)
15 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (do not drain)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large sprig fresh rosemary, chopped fine (or about 1 teaspoon dried)
3  links Al Fresco Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Chicken Sausage (9 0z)
4-6 cups fresh baby spinach (chopped kale would work too)

Soak beans covered in water overnight, or use the quick-soak method. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the beans, onion, garlic, chicken stock, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and rosemary. Stir well to combine

Slice sausage lengthwise, then in 1/2 inch slices. Stir into soup. Cover and cook at least 8 hours on low, or 5-6 hours on high. Stir a couple of times while cooking.

When ready to serve, stir in spinach (0r kale) leaves until well-wilted and they turn bright green.

Tea today: Genmaicha