volunteering at Pixie Project

Thyme for Fall Food

How was your weekend? Mine was pretty good. A mix of fun and low-key. On Saturday Michael and I volunteered for the Pixie Project. It’s been awhile since we’ve volunteered there because they changed the hours they needed dog walkers. 🙁 It didn’t work with our work schedules so we stopped. And then we got Bella…but I still wanted to help out when I could. The Pixie Project was having a charity dinner and auction to raise money for the shelter so we spent about three hours Saturday helping them set up at the Left Bank Annex. It was a really cool looking space!

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We folded like 300 napkins and then helped set up all the tables–the cutlery, the plates, etc. It was so much fun and I felt really good that I could help them. It looks gorgeous when we left and I wished we could have afforded to go to the benefit!

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At least we were able to do our part. I hope they raised a lot of money for the puppies and kitties at The Pixie Project.

On Sunday I woke up to blue skies and dry air. The fall leaves were covering the grass and there was a slight wind rustling in the trees. It was warm and cozy inside the house and I was feeling lazy and craving comfort food. I put some Sarah McLachlan on the iPod and set to work making a childhood favorite: Navy Bean Soup.

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The best Navy Bean soup I’ve ever had is my aunt’s. However, she’s the type of cook that just throws things together and the end results is magic, so I didn’t have a recipe to follow. Instead, I combined two recipes I found that sounded as close to what I remember her making. Instead of posting both of those recipes, I’ll just share my adaptation.

Slow Cooker Navy Bean Soup with Bacon

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 10 hours

Category: calories, Cravings, Crockpot, Dinner, Dogs, food, Food Memories, Food update, Low Calorie Recipes, Pixie Project, recipes, volunteering, Weekend Update

Servings: 8-10 servings

Adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe and this recipe: http://www.sisboomblog.com/2013/05/slow-cooker-navy-bean-with-bacon-soup/

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of dry navy beans (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 4 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 pound cooked ham, diced
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • Dried thyme, to taste but more is better 🙂
  • Fresh rosemary springs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Rinse and soak the beans overnight. Drain and rinse the next day.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet and add bacon, cooking until lightly crispy. Save some aside for topping later, if desired. Add garlic and onions to the rest of the bacon, cook until golden and soft (about 10 minutes).
  3. Transfer onion-bacon mix to the crockpot.
  4. Add the water, chicken stock, vegetable broth, beans, and spices.
  5. Mix in the diced ham and the carrots and celery.
  6. Cook on low 8-10 hours or until beans are softened all the way through.
  7. Top with some shredded parmesan cheese and the reserved bacon.

Nutrition Facts

Slow Cooker Navy Bean Soup with Bacon

Serves

Amount Per Serving
Calories 300-400 calories depending on servings
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0
Saturated Fat 0
Trans Fat
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 0
Total Carbohydrate 0
Dietary Fiber 0
Sugars
Protein
Vitamin A Vitamin C
Calcium Iron

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

http://www.110pounds.com/?p=40842

I realized making this recipe that I need a bigger crockpot. I suppose I could have halved the recipe to make less, but that kind of defeats the purpose of a crockpot meal. I wanted enough for dinner, some lunches for the week and I’ll freeze the rest to have later when the craving for navy bean soup returns. But my crockpot was filled to the very brim. I’ve never had it that full before. I checked on it throughout the day and mixed everything around to make sure it was all cooking evenly.

I like soups with vegetables in it so I’m glad I combined the two recipes to include two vegetables I don’t eat very often: celery and carrots. I don’t know why, but it’s hard for me to eat and enjoy celery…

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I sauteed the onions, bacon and added garlic at the very end and then put it all in the crockpot on top of the veggies. The rest of the ingredients went in. Bella was helping me in the kitchen, or rather she was waiting patiently for things I might drop on the floor that she can hoover up as quickly as possible.

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After it was all shoved in the crockpot I took off for the pool. I got in a really nice swim in a mostly empty pool (score!), came home to have lunch, raked some leaves in the yard and then played ball with Bella who had the Puppy Crazies and was doing laps around the yard. Back inside, the kitchen smelled wonderful!

Towards the end of the 9 hour cook time, it was still a little too “brothy” for what I was looking for so I mixed together 2 tablespoons of gluten-free flour and 2 tablespoons of water and added that to the pot. That thickened it up nicely!

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The soup was perfect. It wasn’t exactly like my aunt’s soup but it was close and it was delicious, and that’s what matters. I loved that it had the vegetables in it. As I ate it I realized that the bacon wasn’t necessary, and it actually made the dish slightly saltier than I was expecting. When I voiced this to Michael he disagreed. He loved the bacon in there. So to each it’s own. If you make this dish, the bacon isn’t necessary but it’s tasty. 🙂

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I got about 11 servings out of this recipe, which makes the calories even less than it already was! I was surprised at how low calorie it was.  I even had seconds because it was so hearty and delectable.

Michael’s mom is remodeling her kitchen and supposedly we are getting her old fridge. As soon as we make room in our garage, we’ll get it. It’s going to be great! We’ve talked about getting a big freezer since our freezer is so tiny. This will work nicely. I expect to have a lot of frozen homemade meals in there for later! I know I have three large tubs of Navy Bean soup ready to go in there!

After dinner Bella and Michael cuddled on the couch, complete with Bella snoring. It’s not very lady-like, but it’s adorable. Usually I try to work on her puppy-training homework in the evening while we chill and watch TV but I decided to give her a night off to nap.

Anyways, this recipe is a winner. If you don’t want soup for a month, half the recipe. 😉

Kitten Season

The Pixie Project doesn’t just rescue dogs. The also have cats! They foster cats and kittens waiting for adoption and the also have a small room with a few cats at the actual shelter. The last time Michael and I were there to walk dogs, I saw that they had TWO KITTENS! Two tiny kittens that must have only been about 8 weeks that were the cutest things I’ve ever seen. Next to my babies, of course.

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The little tabby was pretty shy and didn’t really like me holding him. But the orange kitt was a little love bug. She was playful and hilariously uncoordinated. She let me pick her up and cradle her in my arms like a baby. She looked up at me with her pretty little eyes and just gazed.

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The little bugger discovered my braided hair, too. She started batting at the braid and the realized there was a hairtie on the end of it that was removable and by golly she removed it. I grabbed it just in time before she ate it. Stinker.

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Have you died from the cuteness yet? Don’t worry, I have two more pictures to share that will send you over the edge.

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The little baby was tuckered out! All that playing. So yes, it is indeed KITTEN season! Consider rescuing some babies if you’re in the market for a cat. Kittens are a lot of work, though. Don’t disregard getting an older cat. There was one 8 year old tabby that looked a lot like Fat Kitty (but skinnier) and she plopped right down on my lap and started purring.

After the kitten play time, it was time to walk some dogs. Michael and usually end up walking a pair of chihuahua named Cindy and Tiki. I’ve written about them in the past. They are adorable and a little odd. They are older and Tiki has some gray hair on his face. Tiki is a great dog. He just wants to smell everything on his walk. He has his nose to the ground and just goes. Cindy is goofy. She tends to pull on the leash and when she stops to pee she does a hand stand.  It’s the funniest thing!

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They were rescued from a crackhouse so they are very socialized. Nothing bothers them –bikers, kids, other dogs, nothing. They aren’t fazed one bit.

After Cindy and Tiki, we walked Chewy! Chewy was the dog I walked last time I volunteered at Pixie Project on my own, so I’m glad that Michael got to meet him. He’s the goofiest looking dog but SWEET. So affectionate. Chewy has a lot of energy but knows some commands like “sit”.

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It was a hot sunny day and the dogs were SO HAPPY to be outside playing in it! After walking the dogs we were hot and sweaty and hungry so we went back downtown for dinner. Michael had a Groupon for Via Tribunali, a pizza place in Old Town. What I love about Groupon and Living Social is that it gives us the opportunity to try new places I haven’t heard of. I never would have known Via Tribunali was even there!

The place was really cute and had a perfect location– right next door to Voodoo Donuts. There was outdoor seating and plenty of people-watching opportunities. The wait staff was really friendly and quick. It was a pleasant experience.

We ordered the “SALSICCIA E CIPOLLA” pizza. It was Italian sausage, oven-roasted onions, fresh mozzarella, basil, grana padano cheese. It was a white pie, no mozzarella and they brought out sweet chili oil to go with it. Loved the chili oil!

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It was a smallish pizza, perfect for two people to share. I had three pieces and that was perfect. It was thin crust and the crust was smoky and crispy. They also brought out scissors to cut the pizza! I’ve never seen that done before but Michael said that was how his grandma cut pizza.

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The had a huge, gorgeous pizza oven that looked like a piece of art. It was a great place and we had a good dinner together. I’d definitely go back to this place!

Man, what a post! Kittens, dogs, pizza. The trifecta of happiness.

QUESTION: Are you getting kitten fever?