Saturday, February 27, 2010

Souper Saturday: Garbanzos...Spanish Bean Soup

In my home, winter chill means Garbanzos... otherwise known as Spanish Bean Soup. Every Cuban/Spanish restaurant in Tampa has a version of this soup. It's a flavor explosion of garbanzo beans, potatoes, chorizo (dried sausage), onions and garlic. It's best eaten with a loaf (can't stop at one piece) of Cuban bread dripping with butter. (Any crusty bread will work...if you cannot find real Cuban bread.)

My mother and grandmother had their own ways of making this soup...and no restaurant version I have ever tasted comes close to their "recipes". Mama's soup was so jam-packed with goodies that it was more like a stew... and she learned this from her mama. Often the soup had to be thinned a bit to stretch it. But it never lost it's flavor. Why thin the soup? Why add the cabbage? Well, my grandmother had 10 children to feed...and my mom had football players and their friends who were always hungry. And me...I had the high school soccer team, the garage band, and a houseful of "lost boys" least at dinner time!!! Now please understand...neither of these ladies wrote their recipes down. When I asked Mama to teach me how to make it, she had me stand with her...and showed me, using her hands to measure ingredients. (Now you know where I learned the "by guess and by gosh" method of cooking.) This soup recipe makes a lot... but it freezes well.

Garbanzos (Spanish Bean Soup)

1 pound dried garbanzo beans (chick peas) OR
3 LARGE cans of chick peas

1 medium onion, diced

Garlic to taste (I use 4-5 cloves), peeled and diced

Olive Oil

1 meaty ham bone or 2-3 ham hocks with lots of meat
(*or 1/2 lb. ham, cut into bite-sized chunks)

1 pound stew beef, cut into bite-sized pieces

Chorizo Sausage, sliced (I use 2 - 4, depending on their sizes)

2-3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes

Cabbage (I use 1/2 of a small, tightly packed head), sliced really thin!

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Sazon or Vigo seasoning, 2-3 pkgs. (This is a saffron-based tiny
package of seasoning... used for yellow rice and innumerable
Hispanic, Jamaican, Cuban, and Creole dishes.)

Soak garbanzos overnight.Discard water and rinse the "dried" beans.
Set aside (or use canned beans, drained and rinsed.)

In a large soup po
t, saute the onions and garlic in a little olive oil, until translucent. Remove from the oil and set aside. In the same oil, brown the beef, adding a little salt and pepper. Set aside. Add the ham bone/hock to the pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the ham falls off the bone. Remove the bones and ham from the water. Cut ham into bite-sized pieces. To the ham stock, add the ham, beef, onion, garlic, and beans, chorizo and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer. Add the Sazon...and simmer until the soup thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Add a little corn starch if needed, to thicken.) Add cabbage and cook until the cabbage is softened.

**This broth should be pretty thick and a golden color. This is one of those recipes that gets better, the longer it cooks.

Have a fun-filled weekend... Jane

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night...

The plan was to have dinner at the beach...enjoy the sunset...and celebrate Becky's birthday.

Now this was to be a special evening for was the place her husband had planned to take her for her birthday. They talked about how much they loved the view...and the fire pit on the beach, surrounded by Adirondack chairs.

Sadly, a few weeks before her birthday, Becky's husband lost his 2 yr. battle with the horrible cancer that invaded is body. So the neighborhood girls filled in the gap... All the way there, Becky talked about the sunset and how gorgeous it would be. She knew Bob would be there....watching over her. Oh how she wanted a sunset....

On our drive to Clearwater Beach and the Sand Pearl Resort, we were hit by a great thunderstorm. The rain came down so hard we could hardly see the car in front of us. The chance for a sunset was looking mighty dim...

At "the Pearl", a valet took our car and we ran inside where the concierge handed us umbrellas for the walk to the beach front restaurant. It was quite a meandering hike through the gardens, around the pool, under a waterfall...and through the pouring rain. Sunset today? Nope....

That is...until the very last rays broke through the black clouds... just as we sat down at our table.

The rain was still falling...but the clouds opened just enough for the sun to peek through. Becky was thrilled!
Just seconds after we spied the first opening, we saw this sky...

The rains finally drifted off, and the wait staff kindly wiped down the chairs around the fire pit, and lit the fire. They brought out drinks for us and we toasted Becky...and our friendship.

And Becky had her sunset...

(This photo was taken while standing in the rain. The white expanse is the beautiful white sand of Clearwater Beach...the dark area just under the sunset is the Gulf of Mexico.)

Happy Wednesday!

A great big thanks to Susan for hosting Outdoor Wednesday. Be sure to visit her to view all the wonderful outdoor posts.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quick! I Need Pillows...

My decorating style is constantly changing. (Yep, I'm ADD - as they used to call it when I taught school, oh so long ago.) I change my accessory colors on a whim! (the furniture moves too!) Now the fact that I am frugal (cheap!) and I really cannot sew makes this a real challenge. That is, until I saw an idea (who knows where I saw it) for using placemats as pillows.

Well, I stored this idea in my brain for a very long time...until I found the most adorable placemat at Steinmart...

Thankfully, this cool abaca cloth and raffia mat had a loose back and was easy to open up a small part of the stitching and stuff. Then all I had to do was hand sew it back (just don't look at my stitches!)
Voila...a cute pillow!

Well, my success with this got my creative juices flowing and I began the GREAT PLACEMAT HUNT.
Here are a few of my finds...

These two place mats actually had fusible webbing between the front and back, but with careful "pulling", they separated...and made a beautiful, albeit a little stiff, pillow. They are good accents on the bed in the guest room.

Pillows in waiting...

Not one of these placemats shown cost more than $3.00. Which means that each PILLOW cost no more than $5.00 to make...including stuffing. All the placemats were found at Steinmart, HomeGoods, and TJ Maxx.

Happy hunting!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


It's Foodie Friday!! Thanks to designsbygollum for hosting this event.

Today, I am sharing a Spanish dish that is quick and easy to prepare. And it's delicious! It's good for a family meal...or for a company dish. This dish is among my favorites to order at our local Spanish and Cuban restaurants.

Chicken Salteado

As I have said before, I rarely use recipes so my ingredient portions are "by guess and by gosh". This is truly a dish that can be prepared according to taste. Just be sure not to overdo the salt and pepper. Chorizo has a LOT of flavor.


3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
Olive Oil, 2-3 Tbsp.
Butter, 2-3 Tbsp.
4-5 Cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed (or dice, if you prefer)
1-2 Potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 - 1 medium Spanish or Sweet Onion, quartered and sliced or chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Oregano, to taste (I use about 1/2 - 1 tsp)
Wine, to taste...I prefer to use a Spanish White Table Wine, but most any inexpensive wine will do.

In a large skillet (I use an electric frying pan), saute the garlic and onion in olive oil and butter.
Remove from pan and set aside. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken and saute, adding additional olive oil and butter, if needed. Remove and set aside. Add potatoes and cook until tender. Add chorizo and the chicken, garlic, and onion. Toss together. Add oregano and a splash of wine (I use about 1/2 - 1 cup wine.) Simmer until flavors blend.

Serves 4-6
*** You can substitute STEAK for the Chicken...thinly slice lean sirloin and follow the same directions as for the chicken. However, substitute red wine for the white.

Serve with yellow rice, Cuban-style seasoned black beans and Cuban bread. A crisp green salad is a nice addition.

If you cannot find the rice, beans and chorizo in your market, you can order from

For the wine, I use a particular wine I buy at a Cuban/Italian market....Tres Rios is a Spanish table wine...very inexpensive (under $5) and excellent for cooking or for a Sangria base. When I prepare the Steak Salteado, I use the Tres Rios Red Table wine.

Cuban Bread is the perfect accompaniment with this meal. But I know it is unavailable in most locations. For those who are bakers, there are some recipes available online. I would suggest that you look for "Tampa Style" recipes. They are the best. Otherwise, use a crusty baguette. Below is a link for a good recipe...and information on the differences of Cuban bread. Interesting reading!


Monday, February 8, 2010


I cannot resist... I have to post these photos.
Today, I could not find the "small ones" grandpuppies, Hurley and Hannah. Now that is rarely the case...they are usually under my desk or work table while I am painting. But today, I was out in the the family room...sweeping by the pool...and the dogs were no where in sight. Panic swept through my whole body! I kept thinking that DrummerBoy and his wife were going to kill me... (that's what they get for dropping the dogs off when I am in "project mode".)

I walked through the back of the house and this is what I found...
Two little angels curled up with each other on the daybed (inspiration couch) in my studio.

Now if they would only remain this quiet for the next hour.....

Have a peaceful day!

Wanted to let you know about a beautiful give-away... kat@lowtidehighstyle is giving away these beautiful sea glass earrings. Visit her to see how to be added to her drawing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Time for Lunch!

This is Bubba. He is a resident of Dunedin, FL, a quaint community along the Gulf of Mexico, near Clearwater.

Bubba is an EGRET
...notice his dark legs. My husband told me how he learned, as a child, to distinguish egrets from herons. "E (for egret) = earth (meaning dark legs)" and "H (for heron) is close to G for golden". (Yes, this sounds a bit odd, but it works!

(Shellbelle wrote to tell me that Snowy Egrets have black legs, but their feet are yellow/gold. Great Egrets have black legs and black feet. So if you see an egret wandering around, you now know what kind of egret it is. Pretty cool, huh?)

While taking a short cut through the alley behind Casa Tina, a "gourmet Mexican and vegetarian" restaurant, my friend, Becky (Lace and Lures), and I met Bubba. He was walking toward the back door of the restaurant. Obviously, Bubba was quite accustomed to humans. He totally ignored our presence as he made his was to the door.

Bubba walked up to the kitchen door and appeared to "knock".

EVERYDAY, around noon, he arrives at Casa Tina for his snack. Bubba has an affinity for fried chunks of PORK! His friend in the kitchen comes out with a bag of these tasty treats. She explained that she had tried various meats and fish, but Bubba really seemed to prefer the pork.

(This is a really GOOD restaurant! Bubba has great taste!)

Bubba certainly stands out against the turquoise backdrop!

(Notice the pork in his beak... I wish I could have caught him in the act of swallowing...but he was TOO FAST for me!)

Thanks, Susan@ A Southern Daydreamer, for hosting Outdoor Wednesdays.