Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Red Lentil Soup with Carrots and Sweet Potatoes

My kind of meal...barely have to be awake to prepare it, comforting, and nutritious.  Green Kitchen Stories blog comes through with another winner.  Easily adapted to use any veggies you may have lingering in the fridge, we first ate it topped with kale braised in broth with spices (turmeric, fresh nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, pepper...adding a splash of cider vinegar and Tabasco at the end), and I just had leftovers topped with grated raw zucchini, toasted walnuts, avocado and a touch of Tabasco.  So basically, just do whatever you want to the base and it's sure to be delicious!  I'm gonna call it Orange Soup from now on, since everything that goes into it is just that.  Check out Green Kitchen Stories blog post for pretty pics and a topping with eggplant added to the kale (eggplant is not Monster-friendly, hence it's absence in our meal).

Red Lentil Soup with Carrots and Sweet Potatoes:
(Green Kitchen Stories blog)

1 Tbs coconut oil, or ghee
1 large onion, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, diced ~3/4" (I buy organic sweets and don't peel them)
4 carrots, chopped
4 sprigs of fresh thyme (just toss them in whole and fish the stems out before pureeing, stripping them of any remaining leaves)
1 cup uncooked red lentils, well rinsed and drained
4 cups water
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot, add onions and saute for about 5 minutes on medium-high.
Add sweet potatoes, carrots, thyme and cook for a couple more minutes.
Add rinsed lentils, water, sea salt, and pepper, cover and let simmer for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables and lentils are soft.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.  Add braised greens to top (or whatever you like veggie-wise)

Braised Kale:
1 bunch of kale, ribs removed, torn into bite sized pieces, rinsed
pat of butter
~1/2 cup vegetable broth
~1/2 tsp turmeric
~1/4 tsp cinnamon
~1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg (if you only have pre-ground use less)
~1 Tbs cider vinegar
splash of Tabasco if desired

Heat butter over medium-high heat in a large pot.
Saute kale until wilted.
Add veggie broth and spices through salt and pepper, cover, reduce to simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes.
Taste for doneness, add vinegar and Tabasco and remove from heat.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

This is some seriously delicious grub people.  This photo was taken the 3rd time I made this recipe found on Kalyn's Kitchen, and I've got another butternut on my counter awaiting the same fate.  It's squash season and I'm loving it.  The Aleppo pepper is most awesome on top, so don't skip it.  You can get it through Penzey's or I've even found it in the bulk spice section at Central Market here in Austin. Now go forth and roast/bake/steam some gourds!

Roasted Butternut Squash with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce:
(recipe originally from Bon Appetit, Dec. 2012, adaptation found via Kalyn's Kitchen)

1 large butternut squash (about 3 lb.)
2 T olive oil
2 tsp. ground cumin
kosher salt to taste
1 1/2 T Tahini 
1 T lemon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 T water
1/2 tsp. Powdered Sumac (or more; the Sumac is optional in the sauce, but good)
1/2 tsp garlic paste (finely minced/ground garlic...orig. recipe calls for 1-2 tsp, but I use less)
1/4 cup 2% Greek yogurt
Aleppo Pepper (or other spicy red pepper flakes) to taste (about 2-3 tsp.) 
2 T thinly sliced green onions

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Spray a large baking sheet with olive oil or non-stick spray.

Cut off both ends of the butternut squash and then use a large knife to cut it in half lengthwise. If the squash has a long neck, you might want to cut each piece in half again crosswise. Peel squash with a sharp vegetable peeler and then cut into wedges about 1 inch thick. (If some pieces seem too long, cut them in half again.) Put squash wedges into a large bowl and toss with the olive oil and then the ground cumin and salt.  I save having to wash a bowl by just mixing everything on the baking sheet. :)  

Spread out the squash wedges in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes. Turn each piece of squash over and continue to roast for 25-30 minutes more, or until squash is soft and each piece is lightly browned.

While the squash roasts, whisk together the Tahini, lemon juice, water, sumac, garlic, and Greek yogurt to make the sauce.  I actually add some Aleppo pepper to the sauce in addition to sprinkling on top of the finished dish, your call.  

Serve squash hot, with the Tahini-Yogurt Sauce drizzled over and sprinkled with Aleppo Pepper and sliced green onions. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Summer's End BLT with Corn Salad

A final (ok, not really since it's still 104 out there...) hurrah to summer, this salad is chock full of all of my favorites when it comes to this season's produce.  I found the recipe on Joy the Baker's wonderful blog and this is the second time I've made it.  First time I did make it as lettuce wraps, but this second go I had a bunch of Romaine lettuce to use, hence the full on salad.  Buy good nitrate-free bacon (we like Applegate Farm's bacon), the freshest smelling tomatoes you can know, the ones that actually SMELL like tomatoes, and some juicy sweet corn, and you'll thank yourself when sitting down to this goodness on a plate.

Summer's End BLT with Corn Salad:
(found on Joy the Baker's site imagined as lettuce wraps)

3 ears of fresh corn
1 cup of organic cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 large avocado, diced
3+ slices of bacon, cooked crisply and chopped (someone I know lurves bacon and needed more)
juice of 1 lime
~1 Tbs oil
chili powder to taste
smoked paprika to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Romaine lettuce, chopped
hot sauce (we like Cholula brand a lot on this)
sour cream

Place your broiler rack in the topmost position and set broiler to High.
While that heats up, shuck your corn and cut it off the cob.
Spread corn on a foil-lined sheet pan, spritz with a little oil and salt.
Broil for about 5 minutes then check to see if you're getting any color on it.
Really you just want some of the kernels to start browning a bit, then stir and spread out again to get more browned bits on the other sides...go maybe 3-5 more minutes.  Not an exact science. :)

before roasting
after roasting


Place corn in a medium bowl and add tomatoes, onions, avocado and bacon.  Toss with the lime juice, olive oil, chili powder and paprika, adding salt and pepper to taste.

I like to plate individual portions by mounding up a pile of Romaine tossed with more lime juice and a little olive oil, and a wee bit of salt and pepper on each plate, then spooning the corn/tomato/avo mixture on top.  Dollop sour cream onto the middle of each serving and a good lashing of hot sauce, or let each person add their own.  Delish!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Herbed White Bean Salad with Olives

I found this recipe on Beyond the Peel's blog the other day and have made it twice now.  First as written, next time subbing fresh mint for the fresh basil and using fresh lemon juice for the vinegar.
Great both ways, but my preference was the second time round.  Great paired with Lamb Meatballs for a mini Mediterranean feast!

Herbed White Bean Salad with Olives:
(slightly adapted from Beyond the Peel's recipe)

1 can of cannellini beans (or 1 1/2 cups), drained and rinsed
1 cup Italian parsley, minced
~1/2 cup fresh mint, minced
zest and juice of 1/2 a large lemon
~1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives
salt and pepper to taste
~1 Tbs olive oil
1-2 raw zucchini sliced into very thin rounds (I use my mandoline), tossed with a little more olive oil, lemon juice and a touch of salt

In a bowl, mix together beans through olive oil.
Serve over the top of thinly sliced zucchini rounds.

Really great with Lamb Meatballs

NYT 20-Minute Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt-Tahini Dipping Sauce


I grew up in a family of lamb eaters...the lone dissenter.  I have no idea why on earth I felt compelled to make this the other day, but I saw the recipe, bought all the fixin's, and did just that.  I have to confess to softening my anti-lambie stance to some small degree as an adult.  Served hyper-spiced, I seem to be better with it's typical gaminess.  These meatballs come together in no time, have no fillers, and are great paired with nothing more than a simple bean salad I'll post next.

NYT's 20 Minute Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Tahini Dipping Sauce
(slightly adapted from NYT recipe)

1 lb natural ground lamb
3/4 tsp smoked salt (original recipe calls for 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt...sounded like too much)
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp Aleppo pepper (soooo good!  I subbed this for the 1/2 tsp of chili powder in original recipe)
1/2 tsp hot sauce
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced, divided (use most in the meat mixture, but save a little for the sauce)
1 green onion, minced
black pepper to taste
2 Tbs minced parsley, divided
Olive oil, or a good cooking spray

1/4 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt, and added a little water to the sauce to make up for the thickness)
1/4 cup tahini
touch of reserved minced garlic
lemon juice to taste
salt to taste
I added some more Aleppo pepper so that's an option
use a little water to thin if necessary

Yogurt Tahini Sauce

Mix all of the sauce ingredients together and set aside.

Set broiler to high, with the rack placed about 3 inches from flame.

In a large bowl, mix together lamb through black pepper, then add 1 Tbs parsley.  Combine well, but don't overmix.  Form about 12 meatballs.  They'll be around 1 1/2 inches.  Don't get fussy with this step.

Place meatballs on a lightly oiled sheet pan evenly.  I spritzed the tops of the meatballs with a light spray of oil to help brown them.
Broil meatballs for about 4 minutes, turn them over, then broil another 2-3 minutes more.  Try not to overcook them, since there are none of the usual fillers in there to keep them moist.

Garnish with extra Tbs of parsley and serve with sauce.

Serve this with this easy herbed white bean salad and you're good to go.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Engine 2 Plate


One of our favorite things to do after sweating our butts off running, or walking Town Lake in Austin is to go to the vegan food counter at the flagship Whole Foods for a delicious lunch.  A while ago, I got it into my head to make my own knocked off version of our favorite E2 Plate.  This always consists of some kind of bean over brown rice and a green.  Without fail we pay an extra buck to sub the raw kale salad for our green...soooo worth it!  Get the plate "all the way" and they'll plunk some pico de gallo and "sour cream" made of cashews on top.  *swoon*
I got bold and served this to company the other night and thankfully they liked it just as much as we do!

If you make nothing else in this recipe, know that the raw kale salad takes no time or cooking ability to make and if you're anything like us, you'll soon become an addict.

Looks like a lot of pieces parts, but most or all can be done in advance.  Even easier if you've got brown rice cooked and stored in the freezer.

Serve up a mound of kale salad with brown rice piled up with your seasoned beans, topped with pico and then drizzled with cashew sour cream.  Take a bite and see if your eyeballs roll back in your head like mine do. :)

Cashew "Sour Cream":
1 cup raw cashews, soaked a couple hours, or overnight covered in filtered water
1/4+ cup extra filtered water
juice of a small lemon, or to taste
1-2 tsp cider vinegar (start with a little and add to taste)
salt to taste (about 1/4 tsp)
optional: sometimes I add a pinch of onion powder

Drain soaked cashews and add all ingredients to a high-powered blender (I use a BlendTec) and blend until smooth and creamy, adding more of anything you think it needs taste-wise.

I like to keep this in a generic ketchup squeezy bottle.  Refrigerate until needed.

Raw Kale and Avocado Salad:
1 bunch of organic curly kale, washed, torn into bite-sized pieces
~1 1/4 large avocados
~1/4 cup finely diced red onion
juice of a lemon
salt to taste
optional: sometimes I'll add a couple Tbs of hemp hearts

Place all in a large bowl, remove your rings, and mash with your paws until the avocado is smoothed out into a dressing of sorts.  That's it!  Won't brown up, so you can rest easy about making this ahead.

Get your paws in there and mush.
Green goodness

Seasoned Black Beans:
olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
~1 tsp dried Greek oregano
1 large diced jalapeno, seeded
1 29oz can of black beans, or homecooked beans, drained and rinsed
~1 tsp ground cumin
~1/2 tsp of dried corriander
~1/2+ cups veggie broth
~1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
lime juice if desired

Saute garlic, oregano, jalapeno in olive oil until fragrant.
Add beans, cumin, coriander, veggie broth and cilantro.
Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat and simmer for ~10 minutes.

Mash some of the beans with a potato masher to thicken.
Add some lime juice, and or salt to taste.

Pico de Gallo:
tomatoes, chopped
serrano pepper, minced (I leave the seeds in)
sweet white onion, diced
cilantro, chopped
lime juice
salt to taste

Add any amount of these ingredients you'd like together til you get a nice balance of flavors.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Two things happened in the last two days to bring about our dinner last night.  First, my friend who hosted book club on Friday night served a lovely gazpacho for all of us.  Second, our neighbor's mom was unloading her car as Scott walked out the front door the next morning and she gifted him with the most amazing bounty of fresh homegrown tomatoes AND a cucumber.  Well that was dinner set for the night.  Many thanks to Joelle for the idea, and to Sidonie for the ingredients to make our light refreshing meal...that I again, didn't have to turn on the oven for! :)


2 lbs tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped (I used a small homegrown + a bit of an English cuke)
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped (I probably used less)
1/3 cup olive oil (I'm sure I used less of this, but I also added a drizzle on each bowl at serving)
1/3 cup almonds
3 Tbs sherry vinegar (I was out, so used red wine vinegar...also used less than 3 Tbs.)
1 large serrano or jalapeno pepper, mostly seeded, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves (I went light on this)
handful of chopped cilantro if you like it
salt and black pepper to taste
optional: avocado slices to serve

Blend all ingredients together (you might have to work in several batches if it won't all fit in your blender) and process until smooth.

Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Refrigerate for up to a few hours before serving or serve immediately, garnished with the avocado if desired.