Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Recipe for a Simple New Year

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It's almost New Year's. Can you believe it? Where did the time go?

What's your resolution? Do you really need to make one?  Resolutions don't need to make us feel like we're losers (or need to lose) or need fixing. Resolutions can be positive -- created to build up all those around us and make our community (family, friends, the world) stronger.  Can yours be simply to love a little bit more, to care a little bit more, to take just a tad more time to pay attention to someone?

Could it be to offer a kindly word? A word of support? To donate a dollar to a worthy cause?

One of my new year's resolutions is to make life a little simpler so that I'm not a crank or crackpot. [This would help a whole horde of people, believe me!] Over the holidays, I realized that the perfectionist I long to be must go. She gets in my way. She makes me tense. Martha Stewart can take a hike. I like simple. I like easy-to-make foods. I like simple decor. During the past few weeks, whenever I strived to do too much, it never failed that I fell behind or fell short [and got mightily snappy!].

So my resolution is to desk, my kitchen, my life.

And I really have to simplify this next month because I have a book due (#5 in the series) and a new book coming out, (Clobbered by Camembert), and travel with my husband and travel to tout the new book, and birthday celebrations and...

You get the idea. I've got to find time to BREATHE!

One of the best ways I simplify is by cooking something easy or cooking somthing I've made before so the recipe and instructions are almost by "rote" and doesn't require a lot of thinking or extra stops at the grocery store, etc. I'd like to share one of my favorite meals, perfect for New Year's or any time during the cool winter season!




2 pounds lamb stew pieces (bone in)
6-8 Roma tomatoes
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup arugula
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
8 fingerling potatoes
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded


Turn on slow cooker to 8-10 hour setting.

Put lamb in pot.  Add ½ cup arugula (reserve rest to adorn meal).

Peel and chop onion small bits.  Then peel and chop tomatoes.  Add to pot.

Add herbs, salt, pepper, potatoes, stock and water.

Cook for 8-10 hours. 

Serve with Parmesan cheese shredded on top of portions. Adorn with more arugula.  {Note: This is great served warm the next day.  Reheat in a slow oven, approximately 200 degrees for 1 ½ hours.}

To round out a great new year's meal, here are a few other suggestions using recipes we've had on Mystery Lovers Kitchen before:

Fall Pumpkin Seed Salad 

And choose from any number of desserts from our recipe file (It's on the upper left, see it??). That recipe file includes these scrumptious offerings (direct links provided here):

Butter Pecan Cheesecake by Krista Davis or
Charmed Blueberry Pie by Ellery Adams or
Frozen Yogurt Bites by Cleo Coyle

And for breakfast the next morning, 
I promised I would reprise this tasty 
Bacon with French Toast and melted cheese recipe:

Savory French Toast (my recipe)

Enjoy the day, the year, and your life.

Say cheese!

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And watch for CLOBBERED BY CAMEMBERT, coming out February 2012.

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  1. I'm looking forward to reading "Clobbered by Camembert."

    I love simplicity.

  2. Can't wait to read your new book, Avery! Hope you'll have a simplified New Year. I love my slow cooker--thanks for the recipe!

  3. Dru and Elizabeth, thank you. I love that both of you "love" simple things, too. :)


  4. Slow-cooked lamb sounds great. I love my slow cooker and would like to use it more. Brilliant to simplify life while a gadget does the cooking! Oh -- that reminded me to start the bread in the bread machine!

    ~ Krista

  5. Oh, Krista, I'm jealous. Real bread? Yum. But perhaps I should make a gluten-free loaf today. The bread machine is another simplifier, definitely!


  6. We do kielbasa and sauerkraut in a slow cooker for New Yer's Eve dinner.

  7. Kuzlin, sounds delicious! That slow cooker is something, isn't it?


  8. Keeping it simple(r) -- what a great resolution, Avery, and the cover of your new Cheese Shop Mystery is really beautiful. I can't wait to dive into it! That stew looks equally delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe today.

    I hope you and your family are enjoying the holiday week and, of course, have a wonderfully...

    Happy New Year!
    ~ Cleo