Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Life and Lentil & Sweet Potato Soup

So you know that thing you do every day?  That thing that jumps out at you as soon as you open your eyes in the morning and sits beside you as you fall asleep?  That thing that keeps us going going going alldayeveryday?

Yeah.  Life.  It's gotten a bit busy.

Sometime, when life is crazy, I have to take stock of what is making me busy and reorganize a little so that what's really important is what's making me go-go-go.

For me, as much as I love to cook, my little blog with recipes on it is not what makes my life go 'round.  And so, with my Bible study starting up again, getting more involved in playgroups now that both boys are "playing age", having 2 little tykes who are seemingly in constant need of being reminded what the "wise choice" is, being a wife and home-maker, too, the once-a-week posts will be replacing the multiple-times-a-week posting that had been going on.

I hope you understand.

Maybe sometimes I'll have more, but hopefully at least once a week I will have something new up here for you to try out.

For now, I tried out a new soup and we loved it!  It's all pureed, so if you have a texture thing this may not work well for you, but we loved it.  It was creamy and delicious.  The flavor blend was almost exotic and it was all healthy/vegan.  Just a little oil at the beginning that you could replace with some broth if you wanted to.

It was also super filling.  Scot had one big bowl and that was it!  Those lentils, I tell ya, they're sneaky!

Also, please don't be put off my the color.  Totally doesn't pass the aesthetic-test, but we'll let it slide since it taste so good!

Serve it with some sourdough bread and a salad.

Lentil & Sweet Potato Soup
Feeds 8
  • 2 large onions - 3 cups chopped
  • 5 t minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 t cumin
  • 3/4 t turmeric
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 5 c sweet potatoes - chopped (about 4 small/medium)
  • 7 c vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 c dry lentils - rinsed
  • 3 T lemon juice
-- In a large pot, saute the roughly chopped onion and minced garlic for about 5 minutes.
--Add the spices and sweet potatoes and cook for about 3 minutes
--Add the lentils and broth and bring to a boil.
-- Simmer, covered, over med/low for 20-30 minutes until the sweet potatoes and lentils are both tender.
-- Add the lemon juice and using an immersion blender (or traditional blender in batches) puree the soup until smooth and creamy.  Add more broth if you find it too thick to your liking.

Note - you can speed things up a little by pre-cooking the potatoes in the microwave.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Steel-Cut Oat Squares

So you know how Scot eats so much oatmeal made from steel-cut oats?  Well, that means I have a [used to be] 50 lb bag of steel-cut oats in an airtight container in my basement!  And I'm dying to find new ways to use them!

While sifting through different food blogs the other day, I happened upon this gal and a recipe she had for Cinnamon steel cut oat bars!  I was intrigued so I read further.  When I got done I had already calculated the fact that I had everything needed on hand and that these would make a nice after-dinner dessert-replacing treat!

I switched up a few things, like raisins instead of chocolate chips and PB in the bar instead as a garnish (since I didn't have pecans on hand).  They turned out well - a little crunchy/chewy on the inside due to the oats that took as all by surprise.  In retrospect, I think these squares make a great afternoon energy boost for the kids (or a tide-you-over snack pre-dinner), but they aren't hearty enough to be a breakfast substitute (unless you consumed about 4 of them!) and they are definitely not dessert martial for our house.

If you want a breakfast cookie- use these.  And if you want a dessert, try this or this!

Next time, I may add some chocolate chips to see what that does.

How do you use your steel cut oats?  I'd love to know!

Steel Cut Oat Bars
Makes 20 squares
  • 1 1/2 c almond milk
  • 1/4 c honey or brown sugar
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c steel cut oats - dry
  • 1/2 c flax seed
  • 1 T Cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1 c PB
  • 1 c smashed banana (2 bananas) OR 1 c apple sauce maybe?
  • Handful or two of chocolate chips (opt)
--Mix the milk, honey/sugar and vanilla together in a small bowl.
--In a larger bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together and mix well
-- Add wet to dry and stir until all combined.
-- Stir in the PB and banana until combined (and chocolate chips if using)
-- Spread in a greased 9x13 baking dish and bake for 50-60 minutes - until it's golden brown!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Carrot Apple Ginger Soup

Not much shouts FALL to me more than a good soup.  Make that soup creamy and full of vegetables and I'm one happy gal!  I have quite the collection of soups and this is another one to go in the box!

This thick and creamy carrot soup is robust and doesn't have a drop of cream in it -- but you wouldn't know it by tasting it!  Its rich taste leaves you cleaning your bowl with another slice of bread and then going and dirtying your bowl all over again.  After a few trial runs, we decided that frozen carrots were more "reliable" with their sweet taste.  If you have a bag of raw carrots you KNOW are sweet, go ahead and use those instead if you have the time to peel and chop them, but if not, enjoy the ease of frozen!

I got the base recipe from Angela, and as I have a tendency to do, I did some minor tweaking to please my taste buds.  But I'll tell ya what - the changes to this were minimal! I upped/added some spices and played with the proportions of the onion and apple, but that's it!

This soup is so easy and the taste is just wonderful.  Carrots with tart granny smith apples with a subtle hints of cinnamon and nutmeg to balance out the ginger!  Oh good!   It makes a ton, so serve to a large group or do what I did and freeze the leftovers for a cold night when cooking is less than appealing!

Carrot Apple Ginger Soup
 Serves 6 (9 cups)
Active time: 20 Minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Serving suggestions: For a lighter dinner, serve with some crusty bread and hearty green salad.   For a bigger dinner, use this as a starter or alongside a main dish.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp powdered ginger OR 2 TBLS grated fresh
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples
  • 1.5 lbs or 6 cups frozen carrot "coins"
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
What you’ll do:

  • Heat oil in large stockpot and sauté onion and garlic about 5 minutes (and ginger if using fresh).
  • Add the carrots and apples and ginger and stir for a few minutes.
  • Add broth, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • Add nutmeg and cinnamon and cumin.
  • Using a submersion blender (or carefully with a blender in batches), puree the soup until creamy
Crockpot – covered on high for 4 hours

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Curried Chickpea Mash

This recipe is strait from (never)homemaker and I'm so glad I made it!  I didn't make my own naan like they did, though -- maybe next time, right?  Because let's be honest, once you taste this, you'll realize there will be a next time.

This was quick and very simple.  I know it looks like there are a lot of ingredients in this, but don't be scared away.  Most of them are either items you have in your pantry right now or spices in your rack. :)

I served this with a wanna-be vegan  quiche that was a total flop.  Totally and completely flopped.  As in, I had one bite and tried to force a second bite in and it just didn't work.  For whatever reason, Scot liked it.  Granted, he drenched it in salsa, but still I won't be re-doing that recipe.  This is one of those times I am so thankful we're loosely vegan and I can make and enjoy real quiche once in a while.

Oh, the only changes I made were using powdered cardamon instead of seeds and powdered onion and ginger to speed things up.  Oh, and the maybe I tweaked more than I thought.  Sigh.  I do that a lot, don't I?  I guessed on the measurements for the cardamon but it worked.

Also - this could be a side or a main.  I think.  I used it as my main dish with a salad and I was fine.  But I had intended for it to be a side.   I think it could go either way.

Curried Chickpea Mash
Serves 4
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 1 can diced tomatoes - drained
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1/4 t ginger powder
  • 2 T OO
  • 2 can chick peas - rinsed and drained (3 cups worth)
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • 1/8 - 1/4 t cardamon powder (start small and then add, it's a strong spice)
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 1 t cumin
  • 2 t oregano
  • 2 t garam masala
  • 1 c almond milk
-- In food processor combine onion, tomato, garlic and ginger.  Puree.
-- In pot, heat OO over medium and add the ground cloves and cardamon.  Stir one minute.
-- Add tomato mixture to pot and stir/cook for 5 minutes.
-- Ad remaining spices, cook for a few minutes, then add the chickpeas and milk.
-- Simmer for about 10 minutes and then mash with a potato masher until desired consistency.  You want them mostly all mashed up, but not all all the way.

Eat with pitas, or naan, or lightly fried whole wheat tortillas! Or with just a spoon.

And don't forget the big salad!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Favorite Fall Soups/Stews

Fall is in the air.  The air is crisp.  Leaves are starting to change -- I can almost hear the crunch they'll make underfoot in about a month or two.

And as we gear up for Fall by taking out long sleeved shirts and jeans, unpacking candles and socks, turning the oven on for the first time since May (ME!!), and looking at that lovely crock-pot wondering what the first crock-pot meal of the season is going to be...may I present you with my all time favorite soups and stews for these colder months that are about to envelope us.

African Groundnut Stew

Funny name.  Amazingly hearty and tasty stew.  (And please don't mind the very dated picture, this was one of my very first blog posts.)

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Simply the best Broccoli Cheese Soup my taste buds have ever partied with.  One of my goals for winter: make this vegan.


 Everyone needs a good chili recipe, right?  This one is quick and easy and tastes amazing!  Another goal for the winter:  make a vegan/vegetarian version.

 Cowboy Stew

Totally NOT vegan or vegetarian, but life's about balance, right?  So when you want your meat intake for a while, make this!  You won't regret it.  I promise.  And if you do, call me up -- I'll eat your leftovers so you don't have to.

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

If you've been on the blog for any amount of time, I'm pretty sure you're well aware of my love for these amazing potatoes.  And what better way to eat them on a cold night (or afternoon) than in soup form?

Lentil Soup

If may not look like much, but believe me, this is not your momma's lentil soup recipe (unless your momma has this recipe!)  Make some cornbread and you're good to go!

 Orange Chicken Vegetable Soup

This is one of my top top favorite soups.  The combination of the orange with the vegetables and chicken is perfection in a bowl.  You have to try it!

Squash-Apple Soup

This was a "risk soup" that turned out extremely well and was even a contender on Thanksgiving for being "the soup" instead of the Creamy Sweet Potato soup.  It's another "must" for sure. 

Taco Soup

Ahhh...what's football season without chili or Taco Soup?  Umm...NOT true football season, that's what!  This is easy and has always gotten grand reviews!

Tortellini Vegetable Soup

This is one of the simplest soups in my repertoire.  It's not much, but it's my favorite in a pinch.  It's so quick and tasty and nutritious.  It last well in the fridge and the kids go nuts for it.

White Chicken Chili

This is the other top top favorite soup for fall.  The cinnamon in here sets it apart from any other White Chicken Chili soup/recipe I've tried.  It's warm and comforting and paired with some soft bread, it's a dinner-dream come true for this girl!

I hope these got you all excited about fall!  What are your favorite fall soups?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lentil Sloppy Joes

 One of the meals Scot misses from our "former eating days" is Sloppy Joes.  I miss them, too -- especially since I had such a great recipe for them.  Since we're not doing red meat anymore, I decided it was time to come up with a version of Sloppy Joes that I loved just as much as the sweet and thick meaty version.

So I took Mama Peas' Sloppy Josephine recipe and meshed it with my favorite Sloppy Joe recipe and came up with this!  I served it with some Black Bean Quinoa Salad and a regular green salad.  It was just what I was looking for.  Score!  We have also served this on top of baked sweet potatoes -- delish!

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Makes 8 "Joes"
Active Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serving suggestions: A hearty green salad, sweet potato wedges, a quinoa salad.

What you'll need:

  • 1 cup dry lentils + 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • ½ cup diced onion OR 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp minced garlic OR 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 TBLS chili powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 14-16 oz tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 TBLS apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 2 TBLS brown sugar
  • 8 whole wheat buns or sweet potato halves!
  • pickles for garnish (optional)

What you'll do:

  • Cook the lentils with the water until tender.
  • Heat oil in a pot.  Once hot, saute onion until tender, about 7 minutes.  Add garlic, and continue sauteing about 2 minutes.  Turn off heat and add remaining ingredients.
  • Once the lentils are done, add them to the pot and mix well.
  • Toast the buns and top with the sloppy joe mixture.

Time tip:  Make lentils ahead of time.
              Use the dry ingredients and skip the sauteing steps.

if doubling: (something great to do since this freezes so well) take a large can of your favorite pasta sauce (24oz) and use that along with a whole 6ox can of tomato paste.

Chocolate PB Banana Soft Serve

So Angela talks about adding Banana Soft Serve to her overnight oat breakfast creations all the time.  Each time, I pass over the link since I have yet to make an overnight oat breakfast.  (Shame on me, I know!)  Well, this past week, I finally clicked on the link, and WOW!  I knew I had to try it.  Creamy soft banana flavored "soft serve", and ohmygoodnessgracious it was good!  And beyond easy.

We had it for the first time Monday morning on top of pancakes.  The boys thought it was the greatest thing ever.  And since it was all banana, I had no problem giving them some extras!

After dinner, though, I was craving something sweet and creamy. Namely, ice cream.  Or frozen yogurt or sorbet since ice cream really isn't part of the diet any more.

I got to thinking, though -- I wonder what would happen if I added some melted chocolate and peanut butter to the banana soft serve?

I'll tell you what happened: ohmygoodnessgracious goodness!

Now it doesn't taste exactly like ice cream -- so don't go and whip this up and come back to me complaining that it didn't do it for you -- but it is creamy and sweet and if you liked the Chocolate Covered Banana Bites, then you'll love this just as much!  The boys thought it was ice cream, and I would have made another batch pronto except that I just used the last frozen bananas...

So here we go!

Chocolate PB Banana Soft Serve
Serves...4 small bowls or 2 large ones. 
  • 3 large frozen bananas (I found that leaving them on the counter for 10-15 minutes worked really well and was easier for my food processor's motor)
  • 1/3 c chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c smooth PB
  • Coconut flakes or chocolate chips for garnish
-- Break the bananas up into one inch chunks and put them in your food processor.  Turn it on and make sure the bananas are doing ok before you leave the scene.  You'll want to scrape down the side after about a minute and make sure you break up any unbroken chunks.  The mixture should just whip right up and start to expand.  Leave for about 4 minutes.
-- Meanwhile, gather your chocolate chips and PB.  Microwave the chocolate until melted and pour into the food processor.  Plop in the PB, too, and ship the "soft serve" for another 3-45 seconds until all combined.
--Spoon out into cups/dishes and garnish!

Friday, September 2, 2011


And the random winner of the cute little crust cutters is....commenter number 8!


She wrote a nice little write-up on her blog which gained her that 8th slot!

I hope you enjoy these, friend!  I'll put them in the mail just as soon as I can so you can work some magic!  I want to see pictures of these.  And Kj -- I'm sure she'll share with you.  :)

Thanks everyone for playing!  Hopefully I'll have more of these little giveaways!

ps - no one ever tells you how hard it is to have a giveaway (especially when you know almost everyone who comments) -- I really wish I could send you ALL these crust cutters

Healthy Mac n Cheese

I know.  A healthy Mac n Cheese?!  Is that even possible?

Well, yes.  It is.

Let me first say that when you're cooking almost-vegan, you can't expect the new healthier versions to taste exactly like the original.  The original tastes the way it does due to fat and calorie rich items used in the recipe.  The reason I like Mac n Cheese so much, is the creaminess of the noodles.

Ahh...I just love cream based noodle dishes - especially Mac n Cheese!  And this sauce is creamy!

I got this recipe from Angela over at Oh She Glows and it's amazing!  As is pretty much everything I try from her blog.

Not only is this sauce quick and easy, but it's also so tasty - even to my newly-heart-healthy taste buds!  I altered it just slightly to make sure there would be enough for a whole pound of pasta, and I'm so glad I did!

Very versatile recipe - switch up the spices or the items in the dish.  I'm imagining pureed broccoli in it or some sliced sweet cherry tomatoes with some spinach!

Now -- for what I did.

Healthy Mac n Cheese
Makes a little over a cup of sauce - perfect for a lb of pasta
  • 2 T butter (or, if you want to go vegan, a non-butter spread)
  • 1 c almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 6 T nutritional yeast (you can get this in the bulk section of Whole Foods)
  • 1 1/2 T flour
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1/8 t nutmeg (one of my favorite spices, it just adds a depth to the dish that is lovely!)
  • 1 lb pasta 
-- Cook pasta according to directions
-- In a small sauce pan, melt the butter.
-- In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, flour, and nutritional yeast.
-- Add to melted butter and continue whisking until it's thickened. (about 5 minutes)  Add more milk to thin it out, or more flour to thicken to your taste.
-- While mixing, add the spices (you can play with these all you want!)