Dragonfly Home Recipes

Recipes, Photography, Musings

Special K Energy Bites

Are you tired of snacking on foods with too many empty carbs?  These energy bites have lots of protein and other good vitamins and minerals to help carry you through your busy day.  I call them Special K energy bites because in addition to peanut butter, honey, oats, chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds, they contain Special K cereal.  Rich and peanut buttery with a slight crunch, these energy bites are a great combination of healthy and pleasingly delicious.

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Colcannon

Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made of mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale, milk or cream, and often leeks or green onions.  There are endless variations of this cozy, rustic, and comforting side dish, and it is a great accompaniment to ham, bacon or sausage.  In the recipe below, creamy mashed potatoes are mixed with shredded cooked cabbage, sliced green onions, salt and pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.  A square of butter goes in the center of the bowl to melt, infusing the potatoes with even more comfort and flavor.

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A Wind Storm and Power Outage

Last Wednesday a wind storm swept through Michigan and knocked over trees and power lines.  Over a million people across the state lost electricity.  Some had damage to their homes.  The storm caused so much destruction that many homes were without electricity for days.  My home was one of them.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~Viktor Frankl

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Spelt Focaccia with Rosemary

This focaccia is light and delicately flavored with olive oil and rosemary.  Spelt flour gives it a softly sweet, earthy flavor and packs in more nutritional value than conventional flour.  It is perfect alongside a bowl of  soup or a salad, as a snack, or as a base for countless toppings of vegetables, meat, and cheese.

Focaccia, an oven-baked Italian flatbread, is similar to pizza dough.  It is like a blank slate on which you can add a variety of toppings.  In this recipe, the focaccia is simply topped with olive oil, coarse sea salt, and fresh rosemary.  I based my recipe on one by Paul Kahan, which I found on the Food & Wine website.  His recipe calls for topping the focaccia with kale, squash, and pecorino cheese, which sounds absolutely delicious.  However, the other day, I was just looking for a simple, flavorful bread to use as a side with our dinner of leftover soups, so I left off the vegetable toppings in this case, since we already had a lot of vegetables in the soups, and I wanted just bread.

spelt focacciaThis bread is lovely.  It is easy to make.  Maybe a little time-consuming, yes, because it has to rise twice.  But the actual hands-on time is not much.  It’s good to make on a day when you will be home for about three hours, but the good part is you can do lots of things around the house while the dough is rising and baking.

Spelt flour comes from an ancient whole grain, and though it does contain gluten, its gluten is more fragile and water soluble, so it is easier to digest than conventional wheat flours.  Spelt also has more iron, fiber, and B vitamins than conventional flours.  I am not about to give up wheat flours, but it is really nice to add some variety to our diet, and I really like the slightly nutty, slightly earthy taste of spelt flour.

spelt focacciaThe spelt flour does not need to be kneaded as much as conventional wheat flour, and tends to create a stickier dough.  This surprised me a bit the first time I worked with it.  But don’t worry, even if it feels sticky when you are forming the dough on the baking sheet, it bakes beautifully.  And if your dough gets too sticky to work with, you can add a bit of all-purpose flour as well.  I love the flexibility of bread-making, because you can always add a bit of flour or a bit of water or olive oil, and things usually work out!  I also love the flexibility of focaccia, and I expect I will be making it again soon, either with spelt flour, conventional flour, or a combination, and maybe next time topped with some vegetables.

My fingers are soft from the olive oil and they smell wonderful, like rosemary.  As I was making this spelt focaccia with rosemary, I was once again struck by the primal comfort I feel when working with dough.  There must be something deep within my genetic makeup that calls me to the kitchen to bake.  It is deeply rewarding and comforting to me.  And everyone in my family enjoyed this bread–that is a bonus!

The other day, I came across a quote that struck a chord with me.  I was waiting for our car to be repaired, reading an online article on bonappetit.com.   The article is written by Jenny Rosenstrach and Andy Ward, known for the great blog, Dinner: A Love Story.  If you are ever tired, discouraged, or frustrated about making dinner for others, remember this quote from that article: “Don’t ever let someone convince you that cooking a meal for your kids–or anyone else for that matter–is one more thing to check off the to-do list.  Every time you feed someone, you’re offering love, security, comfort, therapy, and memories shrouded in happiness and warmth.  It’s no small thing.”

I just love that quote, and I agree wholeheartedly with it.  We all have our unique ways of cooking and putting meals on the table, and it’s not always easy, but never forget how important it is.  I hope you all have a great weekend!  It’s March! It came in like a lion, but hopefully spring will be here soon!spelt focaccia doughspelt focacciaNow it’s time to head over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Angie and Laura @ Feast Wisely.

Spelt Focaccia with Rosemary

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: about 3 hours total, about 15 minutes of hands-on time
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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of spelt flour
  • 1 envelope of dry active yeast
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt, plus coarse sea salt for sprinkling at baking time
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the spelt flour, yeast, warm (make sure your water is luke-warm and not hot) water, honey, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and 3/4 teaspoon of salt.  Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, not more than a minute.  If the dough is too sticky, you can add some more spelt flour or a couple tablespoons of all-purpose flour to make it easier to work with.

Clean out the mixing bowl or get another one and oil it lightly with olive oil.  Place the dough in the oiled bowl, cover it with a towel, and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for about an hour, or until it about doubles in size.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Punch the dough down and then transfer it to the baking sheet.  Gently press it into a 12 x 8 inch oval shape.  If it is too sticky, put some flour on your hands to make it easier to shape the dough.  Then brush about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of olive oil over the dough.  Press small indentations all over the dough with your finger and then sprinkle evenly with the coarse sea salt and rosemary.  Let the dough rise, uncovered, in a warm, draft-free place for about 45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake the focaccia for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Enjoy as a side for a bowl of soup or a salad, or as a snack!

This recipe is adapted from Paul Kahan’s recipe on the Food & Wine website.

White Bean Soup with Leeks and Greens

Nourishing and wonderfully fragrant, this  white bean soup with leeks and greens will chase away any chills in the air.  Sauteed onions, leeks, and garlic, plus white beans, dark leafy greens and a splash of lemon juice make up this very simple, healthy, and flavorful soup.

In the winter, I love a good soup full of greens to fill me up with powerful vitamins and minerals.  There are a lot of germs flying around this area right now (including in my own house!) and I want to make our immune systems as strong as possible.  This soup is a delicious step in that direction.  The purifying properties of dark leafy greens make me feel like I am taking good care of my body.  This delicious soup is also a light soup, so it is perfect if you want a lighter meal, yet still want lots of protein and iron.  It goes well with a nice piece of rustic bread too.

soup in potThe onions, leeks, and garlic are gently sauteed till they are nice and soft and fragrant, and then the broth, beans, greens and lemon juice come in.  The soup only takes about forty minutes to make, so it makes a great weeknight meal or a warm, cozy lunch, and it tastes even better the next day.  For me, the lemon juice is what really makes this soup.  The bright citrus flavor balances the earthy flavors of the other ingredients.

The weather has been unseasonably warm here the past few days, and all the sunshine has gotten me longing for the green of spring.  That is probably another reason I had a craving to make a soup with lots of greens in it.  We are a long way from spring here in Michigan, and it is actually supposed to snow here tomorrow, but this recent warm-up has been refreshing and energizing.  It’s amazing what a few days of sunshine will do for a person!

white bean green soupGetting outdoors has been so pleasant this past week.  It’s too early to start working in the garden (though my husband did churn up the soil last weekend), so we did lots of walking/biking on trails along a river near us.  Being around water is so soothing and inspiring to me.  The river water level is really high right now because of all the rain we got earlier in the winter, so the water is moving quickly, making lots of currents and carrying sticks and leaves along with it.  As I was watching the water flow so smoothly and naturally, I felt like I should try to be more like the river.  Flowing naturally toward my destination.  Not fighting my own inner nature, but going with it.  Navigating the rocks and bends in the earth with such natural grace.

This white bean soup with leeks and greens is in that same vein, in that it is natural and pure and nourishing.  I hope you all have a great weekend! I will be sharing this recipe over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Anugya @ Indian Curry Shack and Margy @ La Petite Casserole.white bean green soupwhite bean green soup

White Bean Soup With Leeks And Greens

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: about 40 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion (or about 1/2 cup), finely diced
  • 2 leeks, washed thoroughly and finely chopped (I used just the white bulb parts, not the leafy parts)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  •  1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt (or to taste)
  • 4 cups of your favorite vegetable broth
  • 1 can (14 ounces) of cannellini (white) beans, drained and rinsed
  • a couple of big handfuls of dark leafy greens, such as spinach or Swiss chard, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, leeks, bay leaf, and salt and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until very soft.  About a minute before the onions and leeks are soft, add the minced garlic.

Then add the vegetable broth and beans to the pot.  Turn up the heat and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, until everything is soft and the flavors are all nice and blended.  Discard the bay leaf.  With a wooden spoon, carefully smash some of the beans against the side of the pot to give the soup a thicker texture.  Add the greens and the lemon juice.  Cook over medium heat until the greens are just wilted, about 3 minutes.  Add some black pepper if desired and adjust the salt and lemon juice, if desired.  If it is too salty, add some water.  Serve warm with some rustic bread, if desired. Enjoy!

 

 

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