Lentil Soup

I was looking through my Kitchen Captivated column archives over the weekend realizing just how much soup I make. It’s for sure my go-to meal. Soup accomplishes several important tasks: generally healthy (as long as its not cream or cheese based), lots of vegetables, one-pot meal and most importantly, its something tasty, comforting and typically the entire family will eat it.

So all that to say, whether it’s vegetable, tomato or chicken noodle, I would say my big orange pot gets put to pretty good use each week.

This winter I’ve been making a ton of lentil soup. I wasn’t sure if the kids would like it but they gobble it up. It’s not much to look at, but it is so delicious and hearty and a great meal to help combat the winter blues.

020

Easy Lentil Soup with Ham

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2 red potatoes, diced
  • 1 28 ounce can of organic diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup red lentils (rinsed)
  • 1 pound ham hock
  • 2 boxes organic chicken stock
  • 1/2 bag (2 big handfuls baby spinach)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

In a large pot, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Sauté onion, carrot and celery for 5 minutes until onions are translucent and the veggies start to soften. Salt and pepper. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add tomatoes and potatoes. Sauté for an additional five minutes. Add the ham hock, chicken stock, lentils and spices. Salt and pepper. Cover the pot and cook on low for several hours or put into a 300 degree oven for several hours. Stir occasionally. When the ham begins to fall off the bone, your soup is ready. Remove the bone and any fatty pieces of meat. Stir in spinach and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes while spinach wilts a bit. Before serving, remove bay leaves.

You can also use a ham steak in place of a ham hock. Just dice it into bite size pieces.

Chocolate Chocolate White Chocolate Cookies

It’s officially February. January is gone for another year (oh thank goodness) and I need a break from green smoothies, salad and constantly feeling hungry.

Besides, February is the month of love and all that mushy stuff and what goes better with romance than a big plate of chocolate goodness? Nothing, I tell you.

Make a double batch of these treats. Trust me. Put some in the freezer. You’ll be so glad you did the next time your husband comes home grumpy from work, or you need a treat to take to a friend or your day just blows up in your face. Not that I would know anything about any of that…

039

This recipe is a bit of a mash-up between a cookie recipe from The Pioneer Woman and The Farm Chicks.

Triple Chocolate Cookies:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a mixer, cream the butter for 1 minute. Add the sugars and vanilla until creamy and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Lower the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. With a spatula mix in the chips until well-combined. Bake for about 8 minutes. It’s easy to over-cook the cookies because its hard to tell how brown they are getting. Err on the side of undercooked. Allow to cook on a wire rack and try not to eat a dozen in the first hour you bake them.

Enjoy!

Taking Stock

I’ve been fighting the winter blues for weeks. January is notoriously hard but this year probably takes the cake. Lots of looming questions about the future, short days, cutting out sugar; it can make everything feel terrible so quickly. The fog and damp cold gray days feel like a wet blanket clinging to everything and my tendency to brood has obviously gone into overdrive. After yelling at EVERYONE this morning, even the poor dogs didn’t escape my fury, I realized I need a new perspective. As soon as possible.

010

So I cleaned my carpet and washed my windows. Two things I really didn’t want to do, but when I finished it felt like I’d scrubbed away a little of my bad attitude.

I went to bible study. I didn’t really want to go. But I went and I was encouraged and listened to and I noticed I felt a little better.

We talked about being grateful. About saying thank you and making that the focus of life…not all the stuff that makes us feel bad or consumes us with worry or draws us away from the truth. And the truth is that God is love and He never changes that way.

208

So I’m wrestling with that, wondering how to change the way I think and drinking a cup of tea and listening to Mumford and Sons. Little by little my life is coming back into perspective. Just a little.

Today I’m grateful for a clean slate to start over. For random phone calls from my husband and texts from friends. For the peace lily on my kitchen counter and the sweet toddlers sleeping cozy in their beds.

When I take stock in my life, I am overwhelmed by its goodness. And I feel sheepish for being so cranky. Here’s to holding onto a simple truth: gratitude beats out brooding every time.

243

Lemon Vinaigrette

I’ve been making salads like crazy the last couple of weeks. Maybe because its January or because its gray and foggy almost constantly where I live and a big plate of crunchy veggies somehow makes me think of spring. Ok, let’s be real, it’s January and I could use a few more salads and a whole lot less of just about everything else.

I discovered caramelizing sweet onions ahead of time, saving them in the fridge to use throughout the week, after reading Shauna Niequist’s, Bread and Wine and now I can’t get enough.  They are so good in a salad, and now I feel like I HAVE to have them all the time.

Anyway, this blog isn’t really about onions, it’s actually about the salad dressing. My friend gave me the recipe to a lovely lemon vinaigrette that is bright and acidic, a tiny bit sweet and perfect over greens, veggies and a little goat cheese or feta  (and don’t forget the onions)!

I think the original recipe is from Betty Crocker and as I almost always do, I improvised a little based on what I had. It’s hands down my favorite dressing right now.

109

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice of one lemon (between 1/4-1/3 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • a splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a lid. Shake it up until well combined and store in the fridge for a couple of days.

My favorite salad:

  • baby spinach
  • carrots
  • English cucumber
  • red pepper
  • goat cheese
  • sunflower seeds
  • garlic croutons
  • caramelized onions
  • grilled chicken or turkey deli meat

To make the onions, slice up two large walla walla sweet onions. Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat with 1/2 tablespoon butter and a tiny splash of olive oil. The key with onions is low and slow. As they begin to soften and change color, lower the heat a little and stir often. Salt them halfway through. When they are a nice caramel color, take them off the heat and let them cool. Store in the refrigerator to use all week-long.

Birthday Post Number Two

Jack is SIX!

001

226

258

028

054

045

It seems impossible that this boy could be six, but all signs point towards him being a full-fledged kid. He is doing great in kindergarten, learning new things every day and treating recess like a boss. He’s playing on two soccer teams and loving every second of it. He can often be found in the backyard or driveway kicking a soccer ball around, begging anyone who is willing to play with him for a few minutes.

He loves legos, movies, riding bikes, football, drawing and being read to.

He is so smart, physical, determined, generous, silly, intense, sensitive and thoughtful.

***

Happy birthday Jackson. You made all our dreams come true six years ago. You made your dad and I a real-live family and we thank God every single day that He chose us to be your parents. We love you so very much and can’t wait to see what the next six years and the six years after that bring. Because so far every day with you has been awesome. Even the hard days.

You are a boy so full of potential and giftedness. God is going to use you for mighty things in life. My prayer is that you grow up knowing and trusting in a God who loves you and walks alongside you.

You make us proud every day because you are you. Sometimes being the oldest isn’t easy, case in point, your birthday party just got rescheduled because your brother is sick as a dog, but you, and only you, could be the biggest brother in this family. You were made for it and do it so well. Your brother and sister are lucky to have you and they know it.

Love you so much.

A Couple of Birthday Posts

Scarlet turned two a month ago. We had a quiet day at home celebrating our girl and enjoyed a family party the following weekend. The weather has been downright glorious this fall so we played in the backyard basically the whole day doing a couple of her favorite things: swinging, changing her shoes 17 times, pushing the lawnmower and yelling at the dogs.

All in all a great time of celebration for our girl.

Oh. And pink cake, because I may not be the ‘girliest’ of moms, but turning two definitely requires pink cake and sprinkles.

148 125 122 181 250

Oh this girl. She brings so much joy to our family. I wish I could accurately capture this little nymph. Funny, sweet, stubborn, a shrieker, shy, loving, gentle but spunky all at the same time. She is going to move mountains one day.

She loves to hold hands walking along the curb on our way home from dropping Jack off at school. She carries pictures of the family around, constantly pointing out who is who. She dresses and undresses her babies 100 times per day. She wrestles, runs, jumps and climbs right alongside her brothers. She gets her feelings hurt easily and at the same time is resilient and determined when it comes to accomplishing what she wants. She is a lover; she loves to be held, kissed, hugged and to hold hands.

***

Happiest of belated birthdays my sweet sweet Scarlet. I hope you read this someday and feel the love we have for you coming off this page. You might be the youngest, and with that sometimes comes hardships or sacrifices, but you are loved beyond reason. And greater than our love is the love of your Heavenly Father. A God who made you, loves you and protects you. He walks with you now and will every day of your life.

We love you darling.

Kinder Transition

Well.

The day finally arrived.

Kindergarten.

032

One of those cheesy lines about your heart walking around outside your body would be appropriate right here.

It was just so…hard. Good hard, a little yucky hard, but as the week goes on, a little better.

There were tears. A few from him, mostly from me (after I dropped him off…I at least made it to the parking lot). It breaks my heart into a million pieces when he curls up in a chair and begs to not have to go. But today he was ready, no tears, and he played on the playground before school like a boss, lining up for the teacher when the whistle blew.

Luke, Scarlet and I walk home a little forlorn, feeling tangibly that we are missing a crew member.

We watch the clock, Luke asking several times throughout the morning if it’s time to pick up Jack. Finally, the morning winds down and we head out again. This week we’ve had it easy, just half days. Next week the full days begin.

036

We are greeted by a happy boy. He is thriving already.

And my grief over missing him and worrying about how he’ll spend his days loosens just a bit. So many tiny moments of tender grace already sprinkled throughout our week. Encouraging text messages and phone calls from friends. The discovery of a new friend just down the street. Warm afternoons to play and swim and just be. A kind teacher who is understanding of high-maintenance worried parents.

I saw a bumper sticker a week or so ago that said ‘Fear Not’ with a verse attached (I can’t remember the actual verse. whoops). And at first, I didn’t give it a second thought. People’s religious or political opinions displayed on their vehicles don’t usually get a rise out of me, but for some reason I found myself thinking about that bumper sticker all week.

And now I’m laughing, because I hope the lady that plastered it to the back of her SUV knows that somehow that sticker actually did some good. Because, for me, it’s been this wonderful freeing reminder that I don’t need to worry. I just don’t.

So I’m trying to pray when I start to worry. And then I laugh a little to myself because I think of the bumper sticker and then I pray a little more and all of a sudden I remember that everything is going to be ok.

Jack will be ok. Our family will be ok. Whatever comes: the good and the bad, because there’s no escaping any of it, we will just take one day at a time. And in the midst of the grind and the hard, whether its the good hard or the yucky hard, we’ll just do our best to ‘FEAR NOT.’


March 2015
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Categories

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 483 other followers


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 483 other followers