Haven't made too many interesting dishes lately AND have had some pretty big bummers!  Been throwing stuff together without much thought and they really haven't tasted very good!  Ryan says I need to go back to the "old-faithfuls" but i want to keep pushing forward....however, I need some inspiration.  So, i have been looking through some cookbooks lately, which is not very typical in my food thought process.  One of my clients gave me a great cookbook called Nourish (from Canyon Ranch) and i pulled a couple of ideas from there.  I also got inspired by a dish Ryan got at The National, a restaurant here in Athens.   I have actually had the same dish a couple times before him, but they change the ingredients according to what is in season, it is called the Power Lunch.  here is a sample of what it could contain....
farro with feta and roasted red peppers, local sweet potato salad with pumpkin seeds, caramelized onions, arugula and dijon, grilled broccolini, sauteed local beet greens, local radishes with pomegranate, currants and mint.
the ingredient i got inspired by in the latest version was (roasted) chickpeas.  they were so simple, but absolutely amazing!  i'm not sure if they were roasted in the oven or toasted on the stove.  i ended up "toasting" them in my cast-iron skillet.  here is what i did....
1 (14oz) can chickpeas (garbonzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
after draining and rinsing, lay beans out on some paper towels and allow to dry for at least 15 minutes.  place in bowl and add oil and seasoning.  you could also add cumin, cayenne, and/or coriander for extra flavor.  toss around gently to coat beans.  heat skillet over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes.  add beans and allow them to "char" on one side for 3-4 minutes.  shake skillet to toss them around to cook on other sides.  do this a couple more times until desire color and crispiness is achieved. 
i wish i had left mine in a little while longer.  the flavor was good, but The National has me beat! 

i have also been doing a lot in my crockpot.  here is the latest combo...

i was inspired by a recipe in Eating Well magazine....crockpot veggie lasagna...BUT, i forgot to get lasagna noodles at the store, so i ended up doing a simple pasta instead with spiral rice noodles...and i added some meat.
1 large can (~28oz) plum tomatoes with basil
1 (14oz) can tomato sauce
3 links of chicken sausage cut into bite-sized pieces, i used sun-dried tomato flavor
8oz dry pasta, spiral noodles or penne (penne would probably hold up better)
1/4 cup parm cheese
4-6 cups greens, i used broccoli rabe...kale or spinach would work well too
goat cheese (optional)


place tomatoes in crockpot and squeeze with hands to break them apart a bit.  then add sauce, sausage, pasta, and parm and combine.  place greens on top, cover, and turn on low.  after an hour, stir greens into the rest of the mixture and taste for seasoning, add some salt if needed.  cook another 1-2 hours until pasta is tender.  this makes at least 4 big servings.  place on plate and top with some goat cheese if desired.  this was actually very good.  i over-cooked the pasta a little, but Ryan said he liked it a bit mushy....hhhmmm, not me!  next time, i will use penne! 

for the next few weeks, i plan to keep things super simple and hopefully this will be the best thing for me AND you!  i am going to try to share more sweet and dessert dishes as well! 
i was planning on doing some savory oat cakes to go along with pork stew tonight, but instead of getting plain frozen steel-cut oats at the store, i got maple-brown sugar!...that would not be good with onions and garlic!!!  so that was a bust, but i'll get um next time! 

getting some scallops this week, so hope to make a simple white bean and artichoke puree to go along with.

on another note....been running a lot more, up to 7.5 miles, legs are a little tight and angry, but plan to do another half-marathon in the spring if every goes well!