Posts Tagged '#easydinners'

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

Spicy Pulled Pork

Before summer is a distant memory and I have to go digging through my disorganized piles of notes, I need to do a catch-all for a few favorite recipes.

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Pulled pork so good you eat it cold standing at the refrigerator when you think no one is looking. This recipe always reminds me of my friend Glory and the delicious dinner she brought us years ago when our kitchen was down to the studs. Her sweet and spicy pork inspired this dish and remains to this day one of my favorite meals.

Full recipe HERE.

Which that reminds me, July marked one full year writing my Kitchen Captivated column for Yakima Magazine. It’s one of my favorite projects, I get such a kick out of people telling me they made a recipe and actually liked it.

Here are a few other recipes from the last couple months:

Spring Green Salad inspired by Shauna Niequist’s Green Well Salad

Pasta with Bacon and Brussel Sprouts

The Consummate Chocolate Chip Cookie: a recipe I’ve posted on the blog before

Homemade Mac and Cheese

This dish is some wicked good comfort food and the perfect antidote to the dark cold fall nights upon us. While this dish certainly falls under the umbrella of ‘every once in a while,’ when it’s served alongside a spinach salad with pears and feta and a big glass of red, you just can’t go wrong.

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Over the summer while vacationing in Ketchum, Idaho, I stumbled into the cutest little shop. I immediately honed in on the cookbook, Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes by Jeanne Kelly. I had some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket, so the cookbook came home with me. It’s the first cookbook I’ve literally read cover to cover.

Kelly’s recipe for baked ziti with cauliflower and cheese caught my eye the very first time I opened the book, but it wasn’t until just this week that I finally made the dish. I altered a few things based on what was in my kitchen, but seriously, make this dish. It is the perfect fall comfort dinner.

Baked Pasta and Cauliflower with Cheese

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups cold milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 ounces shredded parmesan cheese (plus more for sprinkling at the end)
  • 8 ounces Dubliner extra sharp white cheddar, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 pound pasta (ziti/rigatoni/shells…whatever you like or have on hand)
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets, florets sliced into bite size pieces
  • 4 slices center cut bacon, cooked, cooled and crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Stir in garlic. Add the flour and continue stirring for one minute. Add the milk all at once along with the bay leaf. Cook, whisking the mixture until it comes to a boil and thickens, about 5-8 minutes. Add the cheeses, turn the heat to low and simmer until melted. Stir in salt, cayenne, pepper and nutmeg. Remove the bay leaf and season with pepper to taste.

Boil pasta in a heavily salted pot of rapidly boiling water until almost tender. Add the cauliflower to the pasta and cook until cauliflower is barely tender, about 4 minutes. Drain very well and stir drained pasta and cauliflower into the cheese sauce.

Transfer the pasta mixture to the baking dish. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon, fresh parsley and a handful of parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with salt. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover the last five minutes to let the edges brown slightly and make sure the cheese is boiling.

 

Scarlet gave this meal a hearty two thumbs up. She has subsequently been eating it now for three days straight. Aaron and I both stood at the stove and ate second helpings straight from the pan. The boys ate it but didn’t rave. I’m choosing to ignore their neutrality.

 

 

Kitchen Captivated

I think I’ve professed my love for cooking and eating enough times on this blog that you all know that I like to…well…cook and eat. All that cooking and eating opened a fun little door and I’m now writing a regular column for a local magazine in my hometown. It’s small potatoes for sure, but it’s a fun project for me that I’m really excited about.

My first column was published a couple of weeks ago and I wrote about my newish obsession with grilling pizza. Seriously, it’s the best.

So, if you have a minute, check out my column here and the next time you’re in the mood for pizza, try this recipe:

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Pizza Dough

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 ½ tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 2/3 cup bread flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour (can be swapped for bread flour)
  • 2 teaspoons dry active yeast (or one packet of yeast)

Combine flour and salt in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand for a few minutes while the yeast activates. The yeast is ready when it gets frothy and bubbly. Add dry ingredients, oil and honey. Stir the dough until ingredients combine, then knead on lightly floured board until smooth and elastic (about 8-10 minutes). Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl and let rise until doubled in size (about an hour).  Divide the dough in half and using a rolling-pin, form the dough into two 12-inch circles.

My most favorite toppings are simply garden tomatoes, fresh basil, a little garlic and mozzarella. Nothing beats that combination and on the grill, the tomatoes soften and roast perfectly.

To cook your pizza, heat your barbecue to 500 degrees. Use a pizza stone or pizza pan to cook your pizza. You can use a cookie sheet, but it doesn’t work as well. You can also cook your pizza directly on the grill. Simply place your rolled-out dough directly on the grill, cook on one side for about 2 to 3 minutes, flip, add your toppings and finish cooking for an additional 5 to 8 minutes. Most pizzas will cook on the grill in about 10 minutes.

When your pizza comes off the grill, top with freshly chopped basil (doesn’t matter what kind of pizza you’re making, the basil will up its wow factor by 100 percent). Every spring, I buy a couple of basil plants at the grocery store and plant them in a pot on my back patio. All summer long, I’ve got lots of basil on hand for pizza, salads, pesto or whatever I’m making.

I’m a little bit in shock that August is just a few days away. It doesn’t seem possible July has come and gone so quickly. I think a few more pizzas on the grill are in order.

Roasted Cauliflower

Have we talked about cauliflower yet? It’s not exactly a wellspring for conversation, but around our house, its taken up prime residence on our dinner plates and in our garden.

I mean look at this beauty; all purple hued and gorgeous. I think you could tie a ribbon around the stem and make it a bouquet.

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I’m always looking for new ways to convince trick my children to eat vegetables. Luckily, everyone in our family loves this easy recipe.

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Roasted Cauliflower

  • 1 head cauliflower, rinsed and chopped into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I don’t really know how much… a glug? enough to lightly coat the cauliflower)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (again, I’m not really sure…a heavy sprinkle??)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a cookie sheet, spread cauliflower out, douse in olive oil and liberally salt and pepper. Roast the cauliflower for about 20 minutes, turning the vegetables halfway through. Pull out of the oven when toasty brown and fragrant. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Cover cookie sheet in tin foil and let rest for 5 minutes so the cheese can melt.

This might not be the best ‘summer’ recipe because who wants to turn their oven on, especially that high, when its already 90 degrees out? But, because we have an abundance of cauliflower growing in the garden (and I might have just planted more), we are cranking on the oven regardless.

How do you get your kids to eat veggies? Any recipes to share?

 

Pasta with Brussel Sprouts and Bacon

Hands-down my favorite meal right now. I crave it. I make it. We devour it. Lather, rinse, repeat. Can Not Get Enough.

Here is my version of THIS recipe:

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I altered the ingredients slightly to make it quick and easy. I don’t always have pancetta or a jalapeno on hand…but I almost always have bacon and red pepper flakes.

Sea salt

8 ounces penne

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling

3 or 4 slices of center cut bacon

1 large rosemary sprig

1 heaping teaspoon of chopped garlic

Generous sprinkling of red pepper flakes

Freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces brussels sprouts, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons butter

Fresh squeeze of lemon

Parmesan cheese

PREPARATION

1. Bring large pot heavily salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until pasta is just al dente. Do not overcook…repeat, DO NOT OVERCOOK.

2. Meanwhile, heat large sauté pan over high heat and add the olive oil. When oil is hot, add the bacon and rosemary, and sauté until the fat on the bacon starts to turn translucent and very lightly brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and sauté until garlic and bacon turn richly brown, about 3 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts, a large pinch of salt and a splash of water to pan, and sauté until sprouts just start to soften, about 2 minutes. Spread sprouts mixture in pan and press down to flatten. Let it sear for a minute, then stir it up and repeat. This helps brown the sprouts. Add the butter and squeeze half a lemon over the dish, sauté for another minute.

3. Drain penne and add it to pan with brussels sprouts mixture. Cook, tossing, until everything is well mixed. Spoon into pasta bowls and top with parmesan cheese.

One quick note:

Read the recipe! I stumbled on the recipe from Domestic Reflections and in the half-dozen times I’ve made this recipe the last couple months, I never caught that the brussel sprouts should be slices thinly! Duh! They can’t cook in three minutes, if they are only halved. I sliced them much thinner last night and they were delicious.

Enjoy!


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