Navy Bean Soup

For a good chunk of my life, I was completely turned off by bean soup. Come to think of it, I was pretty much disgusted by all beans. Silly little girl. I’m happy to report that in the past couple years, beans have become a staple in my kitchen. I like to keep bagged dried beans on hand for meals like this, but also canned beans for a quick meal or side dish.

This navy bean soup is the first instance in which I “saw the light” in regards to how awesome beans can be. We were on a cruise, enjoying lunch in the dining room, and navy bean soup was one of the starter courses for the day. I tried it, and loved it. The flavor and texture just won me over completely. Not to mention how hearty and filling it is. Isn’t it funny with all the fancier things on the menu that day, I remember the humble bean soup? It definitely left an impression.

Anyways, I finally “borrowed” the Carnival cookbook from my mom (she’ll probably never see it on her bookshelf again), which has their navy bean soup recipe. After Christmas we were all kind of burnt out on ham leftovers, so I threw the bone into the freezer and took it out last week to make this soup. But, if you don’t have a ham bone laying around, then a smoked ham hock would work just fine. It doesn’t get much more filling, heartier, or economical than a big bubbling pot of bean soup folks!

Ahh, the arrival of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks. One of the first true signs of fall, right? Once September rolls around I look forward to anything and everything involving pumpkin – coffee and beer, first and foremost.

However, $5 a cup definitely puts a dent in the old pocketbook. Not to mention the fact that the closest one is 40 minutes away. So, what’s a gal to do? Why, DIY of course. Luckily, this wonderful homemade spiced simple syrup made it’s way around most of my blogging friends site’s last year, so I knew right where to turn.

It takes less than 5 minutes to pull together, and in less than 20 minutes you have a delicious, warm and spicy addition to your coffee that kicks the pants right off any store-bought, preservative laden variety. Don’t be put off if you don’t own an espresso machine either, just brew some regular Joe – but just make it double strength. Once it’s mixed in with the steaming milk – you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference anyway.

I’ve been making my own pita bread at home for a few years now. Finding them in my local grocery store can be hit and miss, so it started out as a necessity. But, like everything else – once I had them homemade, I couldn’t go back. I figured it was high time I shared it with you guys. These pitas are puffy, pillowey, and soft . Everything that you could possibly want in pita bread!

They’re easier to make than you’d think too. I’m able to put the dough together at 3 in the afternoon, and we’re eating gyros with the pitas I’d made by 6 in the evening. It comes together quickly, and is very workable. To shape the dough, I like to stretch with my hands (like you would a pizza) and then finish with the rolling pin. I don’t like a giant “pocket” in my pita, and this technique seems to help with that. I also like a slightly larger pita, so I roll it thin.  But, if a pocket pita is what you’re looking for, just make the dough circle a bit smaller and thicker.

The recipes make 8 pitas, which was perfect for the guys and I to have dinner. Then, we enjoyed pita pizzas the next day for lunch simply by topping with pizza sauce, cheese, and some fun toppings. The boys loved having their own individual pizza to decorate, and I always love turning leftovers into something new. Enjoy!

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it here before, but we’ve been incorporating more beans into our menu plans. I just can’t get enough of them. I’ve wanted to try the lovely Elly’s recipe forever now, as anyone who has ever made them raves and raves. After finally getting around to making them, I can see why. Creamy and delicious, with a huge punch of flavor from the seasonings. And, the kicker? They only took 20 minutes! You’d swear they’d been cooking all day…

I thought about doubling the recipe, but it was just enough for all of us to have with supper as well as a couple spoonfuls for another plate of leftovers. Next time I probably will, as I would like to enjoy them on top of some rice for a lunch or two during the week. It’s the perfect side dish for any Tex-Mex that comes out of your kitchen. I’d been in kind of a rut with Spanish rice, but it’s nice to have something new to switch things up with. Will definitely be making this one again and again. World famous, indeed!