Use What You Have Lentil Soup

I believe recipes are made to be ignored. In fact, some of my tastiest meals have been created using the “dash and test” method. Throw in a dash of this, a dash of that and taste before adding in a dash of anything else. The recipe below was created thanks to a dreary Sunday afternoon, and a mix of the “dash and test” method and the “use what you have” method –another favorite recipe practice I utilize on a daily basis.  Using what I had in the refrigerator and Martha Stewart as a guide, I created a simple lentil soup creation. It’s all about what you like, so, if you want to add in a dash or two of another spice, go for it. Enjoy!


photo 3

 

Use What You Have Lentil Soup
Adapted From Martha Stewart
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Serves 8 – 10 (maybe more)

Ingredients
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1 ½ cups chopped kale

½ cup of chopped broccoli

2-3 carrots, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped (optional – I didn’t use celery in my version)

1 garlic clove, minced

Coarse salt and ground pepper – to taste

Crushed red pepper (just a dash)

Thyme (just a dash)

48 ounces low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

1-2 cups cooked lentils (I recommend using Whole Foods 365 Every Day Value Green Lentils — They are about $2.99 and easy to cook)

2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar

 

Lentil Soup

Directions

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, (celery), kale, broccoli and garlic; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, 3 to 5 minutes. Add broth; bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Add lentils and cook until soup thickens slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper, thyme and crushed red pepper.

Don’t get discouraged if your recipe free for all is less than appetizing. Cooking without a recipe is an art. It takes imagination, creativity, practice, and you have to be willing to embrace the risk.

PS.  All of the ingredients used were purchased at Whole Foods Market. Organic is better!

 

Simple and Delicious Pumpkin Pancakes

Florida has two season – Summer and Fall.  Unlike other parts of the country, where seasons change by a drop in temperature and leaves changing colors, in Florida, we know it’s Fall when Dunkin Donuts introduces their pumpkin line-up. Pumpkin donuts, pumpkin lattes, and this year pumpkin cream cheese.  It’s always exciting and to celebrate the season, I decided to jump on the pumpkin band wagon and make some pumpkin pancakes.

I found this recipe on Epicurious.com and even though I hate following recipes, I pushed through and managed to make a delicious breakfast.

Simple and Delicious Pumpkin Pancakes
Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com

What you need:

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
a dash of cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups whole milk or skim milk
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
4 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

What you need to do:

Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend.
Whisk milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, melted butter and vanilla in medium bowl to blend well.
Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just until smooth (batter will be thick).
Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry.
Fold whites into batter in 2 additions.
Brush large non-stick skillet with oil; heat over medium heat.
Working in batches, pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls into skillet. Cook until bubbles form on surface of pancakes and bottoms are brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side.
Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with oil between batches.
Serve with syrup.
Enjoy!

Make Me A Crepe

I have a new obsession.  I’m not sure when I developed it but it doesn’t seem to be going away.

I started making crepes after I found the recipe in “Arcanum’s Secret Recipe” book – A collection of recipes from my mother-in-law’s Garden Club. Page 105 – The reason I need to spend an extra hour at the gym.

The recipe is super easy to follow and the crepes are amazing! You can fill them with an array of fillings from syrup to my all-time favorite Nutella - or if you want to keep them healthy, fresh strawberries or bananas would make the perfect addition.

I plan on making this recipe again this weekend with a ricotta filling I found online.  I will post a follow-up recipe if they come out delicious!

Crepes

What you need:
1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Milk
2 Eggs
2 Tablespoons Butter – Melted
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract (Optional)

What to do:
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Stir in milk, eggs, butter, vanilla and almond extract.
Beat with hand mixer until blended
Lightly butter a 6 to 8 inch skillet
Heat over medium heat
Pour 1/4 cup batter into skillet
Immediately rotate skillet until thin-film of batter covers the bottom
Cook until light brown
Turn and cook other side. Crepes will cook quickly.
Remove when cooked and fill with Nutella, Syrup or Fruit
Roll them up
Sprinkle with powder sugar
Enjoy!

Guinness Stout Cupcakes

Here is a recipe perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!

I hate baking. So I have no idea what came over me when I decided to embark on a mid-day baking adventure.  But I researched a recipe, bought the ingredients and sucked it up while I worked on my housewife skills.

My baked good of choice…The Guinness Stout Cake via at New York Times. Granted there are tons of variations of this recipe on the internet. I just felt that this one in particular was easy to follow.  I also decided to turn the cake into cupcakes.  enjoy!

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

For the cake:
Butter for pan (or just make cupcakes)
1 cup Guinness stout
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/8 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar
3/8 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

For the topping:
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream.

1. For the cake: heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar, and whisk to blend.

2. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely in pan.

3. For the topping: Using a food processor or by hand, mix confectioners’ sugar to break up lumps. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add heavy cream, and mix until smooth and spreadable.

4. Remove cake from pan and place on a platter or cake stand. Ice top of cake only, so that it resembles a frothy pint of Guinness.

Yield: One 9-inch cake (12 servings).