winter minestrone & my favorite cookies

What do you do when you return to Kansas City from sunny Florida with 4 inches of snow on the ground?

You pull on your big girl sweat pants, grab a glass of wine, and cook a batch of winter minestrone with a side of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. And binge on House of Cards.

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Winter Minestrone (from Eat, Live, Run)

1 cup dried cannellini beans

1 yellow onion, small dice

4 carrots, small dice

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped

1 small butternut squash, small diced {or any other winter squash}

1 fennel bulb, small dice

2 cups loosely packed spinach leaves, rough chopped

2 bay leaves

3 tbsp olive oil

3 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 tsp salt

pepper

parmesan cheese for serving

Directions:

The night before, soak the beans in cold water in a large pot. In the morning, drain the beans, add fresh water {about 3″ above beans} and simmer until very tender – about 1 hour. Drain cooked beans and reserve cooking liquid.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and fennel and saute for about 15-20 minutes until veggies are soft and onion has started to turn golden brown. Don’t skimp on this step because it adds so much flavor for the soup later!

Add the garlic, rosemary, bay leaves and salt and saute for another 3 minutes. Then, add the water and the squash. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender – about 15 minutes.

When the squash has become tender, add the beans and enough bean cooking liquid until you reach desired thickness. Keep in mind that this soup is supposed to be very thick so don’t add to much liquid here! Less is more. Add the spinach and cook just until the spinach has wilted.

Adjust seasonings if need be and serve soup topped with a tbsp {or more!} of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Bread is always a good idea as well.

Time: 1 hour

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies 

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar on medium high speed until smooth, fluffy and lightened in color. Stir in the peanut butter, vanilla and egg and beat on medium speed until well blended.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt and add to the batter, mixing at low speed until just combined. Mix in the oats and chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets – either nonstick or lined with parchment paper or a baking mat.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges start to become golden brown. They will still seem uncooked in the middle. Cool on cookie sheets for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 18 cookies

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Pryde’s Old Westport

Everyone has a happy place. Mine is Pryde’s.

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Pryde’s Old Westport is a family-owned kitchen and home accessory store in Kansas City, Missouri dating back to the 60’s. The historic store sell just about anything you need for your kitchen – from sponges to knives, baking pans, towels etc. – and is housed in a creaky two-story brick building that exudes charm.

The holidays are my favorite time to peruse the store. Despite the over-crowded aisles and busy shoppers, the store gives me an odd sense of comfort. My routine is to arrive around 1 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, accept a free hot tea from a friendly salesperson, and munch on a cookie from The Upper Crust Bakery (hidden in the back of the store) as I roam from pots & pans, to placemats, and cookbooks. I usually only walk out with one or two small kitchen gadgets, but that hour to myself is way too underrated.

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Locally-owned stores have become a rarity, and it’s easy to favor ease over quality. I fall for it every year – giving profits to a chain brand rather that supporting entrepreneurs in our community. I’m not great at keeping resolutions, but if there is anything i’d like to challenge myself with in 2015, it’s to be more mindful where I spend my money.

And to eat more cookies.

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cheese & ice cream

Did I have you drooling with the post title? If not, you will when you see what kind of cheese and ice cream i’m talking about.

Exhibit A: Fervere‘s Cheese Slipper

During the summer, a local bread bakery dishes up what they call, “cheese slippers,” each Saturday night. Doors open at 6 p.m., but die-hard fans start lining up way beforehand to make sure they get their hands on these. This is a Kansas City bucket list item. Just do it. Thank me later.

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Exhibit B: Glace Artisan Ice Cream

Glace Ice Cream is a Christopher Elbow venture, KC’s premier chocolate maker. Using only the freshest, natural ingredients, Elbow creates the most delicious, unique flavors known to man. Chocolate covered potato chip? Check. Goat cheese and fig? Check. Caramelized pineapple? CHECK. #treatyoself

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summer

You might be asking yourself, is it safe to consume that many carbs/dairy/fat in one night? My only answer is you just have try it to find out.

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bam!

Well, here it is. My first blog post.

Not sure where this internet space will take me. If all else fails, it will be a collection of random, delicious meals. And I won’t complain about that.

Hopefully it will also be a source of recipes, travel tid bits, and thoughts – both wise and completely ridiculous.

I’ve read my fair share of blogs, and my main goal is to keep this authentic and not forced. The blogsphere does not need another girl sharing her spinach smoothie recipe or overnight oats innovation. I’ll keep it simple with bacon and ice cream. Preferably together.

Thank you for stopping by!

–LZ

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