Hi Everyone! The seasons are changing and Spring is arriving before long in my part of the world, and while I can't wait for it to get here (I'm already dreaming of fava beans and big, lucious strawberries), I try to remember that it's important to live in the present and enjoy these last weeks of winter and wintertime food and experiences before they fade away...curling up under warm woolen blankets, reading books while sipping steaming hot cups of tea, cuddling in front of a crackling fire in the fireplace and the cozy comfort that sweaters and jeans and scarves offer against the crisp air. I know the incredibly diverse entries for this month's Heart of the Matter will help carry me through and give me something to curl up and relish these last few chilly, gray weeks of Winter with. I hope they give you some heart-healthy ideas for winter warming too!
A big thank you to everyone who participated this month, welcome to all of the new participants as well, and a special thanks to Bee at Jugalbandi who brought it to my attention that in my scattered-brained way, I posted the wrong email address on the announcement (my apologies for the inconvenience)! I've posted the entries in the order they arrived, and separated them into two catagories based on the titles you sent in - first "stews," followed by "casseroles," so that you can find whatever it might be that you're craving. Next month will be hosted by Ilva, which will be our 1 year anniversary for Heart of the Matter! Keep those wonderful recipes coming!
So without further adieu:
The Food Monkeys (and very cute couple), Joel and Amy, let us into their kitchen as they tried lentils for the first time - and fell for them! For their entry, they shared their yummy sounding recipe for a low-fat and low sodium Turkey Lentil Stew.
My co-host Ilva from Lucullian Delights sent in a comforting dessert stew, her Gingery Fruit Stew with Barley, which sounds like the perfect end to any winter meal!
Laurie is really in the heart of winter up in chilly and beautiful Alaska, and she takes us to Greece with her blog, Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska, as she shares her story and a Greek village dish called Chicken Kikkinistos with Potatoes.
Bee and Jai, the masterminds behind the vegetarian blog Jugalbandi, shared with us their recipe for Canary Beans with Fenugreek, filling us up on tidbits about the interesting ingredients too!
Tania, from The Candied Quince, offered up a recipe for a healthy and hardy version of a vegetarian Zuni Stew. This is her first time participating and we hope she'll keep coming back!
The three ladies over at Peanut Butter Etouffee, Doodles, Moon and the Maltese Parakeet (don't you just love those names?) sent in their recipe for a Mushroom Barley Stew that looks like it could warm up any heart.
Chris, from Mele Cote, really got to the "heart of the matter" with her step-by-step photographs and instructions for her heart-healthy Fish Stew (even served up on a very cute platter!).
Ann, over at Redacted Recipes, shared with us a recipe for her low-fat, low calorie and spicy Green Chicken Pazole and in her post, she goes into even more depth and shares some interesting health facts about hominy, one of the main ingredients!
Kimberly, a brand new blogger began her blog, Seasons Without Salt, with her very first post as an entry for this event (how's that for making us feel special!?). She'll be showing us all how to eat a low-sodium, heart-healthy diet on her blog and if her entry, Morrocan-Spiced Sweet Potato and Chickpea Stew is a taste of what's to come, then it sounds delicious!
Sally sends us a one-dish meal that is gluten-, casein-, soy-, and egg-free, her Spaghetti Squash Casserole. Her blog, Aprovechar, is full of many allergen free recipes as well as a hefty dose of inspiration.
Anke, from the blog Vegan Bounty, presented us with her vegan Spinach-Squash Lasagna recipe. Believe it! This lasagna is actually 100% cholesterol free and very low fat, and it looks positively delicious.
Ilva also sent in a casserole in true Lucullian Delight form, using a few simple ingredients and coming out with a beautiful-looking dish. Check out her Oven Cooked Vegetable Casserole with Farro and Mushrooms.
My namesake, Michelle, at Greedy Gourmet sent in another one-pot dish with a fabulous- sounding recipe for Pork Sausage, Leek, Carrot and Butter Bean Casserole.
The hilarious Katie, from Thyme for Cooking entered her recipe for very comforting looking Italian Beef and Cabbage Casserole, even though she was traveling in chilly Minnesota! What a trooper! ;)
Johanna, from the vegetarian blog, Green Gourmet Giraffe, offered up her recipe for her Spicy Prune and Bean Casserole. I love the idea of using dried fruit in this hearty, savory dish!
From the Southern U.S. and food blog, Food for Laughter, Astra gives us a lightened up version of her childhood favorite, Grown-Up Tuna Casserole. This was her first time participating too and I hope we'll be seeing more of her in the future!
Miri, the author of the blog Peppermill, sent us her tagine recipe (which you can also cook in a casserole dish or even a slow-cooker!)f or Chickpea, Raw Mango and Apricot Tagine with Couscous. As an added bonus, she even tells us all about the benefits of apricots and chickpeas for heart health.