Monday, October 24, 2016

Marinated Lentil Salad

Chances are right now you have in the back of your pantry somewhere lurking a bag of lentils.  You don't know what to do with them, you don't even know what they are - How did they get there - did the previous owners leave them?? 

I have felt that way about lentils for a good part of my life. Strange little bean-pea things, I think I may have used them for fillings in a bean bag for primary class. 

But you are going to cook them and you are going to LOVE them. This salad is amazing, and I have been eating it non-stop all week. In fact, I made the recipe then portioned it into containers to take around to people who I thought might enjoy it. I wasn't sure I was going to eat that much of it, and I didn't think my family was going to eat it at all  (in fact, I didn't even offer it to them)

But as the week rolled on, each day around lunch, I would think.. OH YEAH! I have lentil salad, and then another container would get eaten. I ate them all. I did! And I have absolutely no regret. My mom has asked a few times, are you going to bring up that lentil salad you made, so I am going to make another batch and I'll have lunch all week, and be able to take my mom some.  You are really going to like this recipe. 


Lemon Garlic Dressing:
1 lemon 
¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ Tbsp dried oregano
½ tsp salt 

1 cup dry brown lentils
½ bunch parsley
1 pint grape tomatoes
¼ small red onion
2oz. feta, crumbled


Cook the lentils according to the package directions. For most brown lentils, bring 3 cups of water to boil in a pot, add the lentils, then continue to boil for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Drain the lentils in a colander and rinse briefly with cool water until they are cooled.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the lemon garlic dressing. Use a microplane, zester, or small-holed cheese grater to remove about 1 Tbsp of the lemon's zest (the thin, yellow, outer layer of the peel). Set the zest aside. Juice the lemon and measure ¼ cup of the juice to use for the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, oregano, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Set the dressing aside.

Rinse the parsley well, shake off as much water as possible, then pull the leaves from the stems. Roughly chop the parsley leaves. Cut the grape tomatoes in half. Finely dice the red onion.

When the lentils are cooked, cooled, and well drained, transfer them to a large bowl. Add the chopped parsley, tomatoes, red onion, crumbled feta, lemon zest, and the prepared dressing. Stir to combine the ingredients and coat everything in dressing.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat. Always stir the salad just before serving to redistribute the dressing and flavors.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Thai Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

I could eat this soup every single day of my life. I get so excited when I make it, and I made a ton, so that I can have it for lunch the next day .... (and the next and the next). 

It keeps getting better and better in the fridge as the flavors meld together and I love adding the fresh ingredients to it, so it never feels like leftovers. 

I always feel so fancy eating it too, isn't it gorgeous?! 


1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
1½ tablespoons Thai red curry paste
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1" cubes
1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk


Juice of ½ lime
½ teaspoon Sriracha, optional
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
⅓ cup cilantro, chopped, to garnish
⅓ cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, chopped, to garnish

Naan, to serve


Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add in the garlic and onion, and saute until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add in the ginger and curry paste and stir to combine with the onion and garlic. Cook for 3 more minutes, stirring often.

Add in the raw butternut squash cubes and slowly pour in the broth, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, or until butternut squash is tender. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Pour the soup into a blender in batches and blend until smooth. Pour the blended soup back into the soup pot over medium heat and warm through, stirring occasionally.

Before serving, remove from heat and mix in the coconut milk (saving a few tablespoons to garnish), lime juice, salt, pepper, and Sriracha (if using). Mix well. 

Pour into bowls and drizzle the remaining coconut milk on top. Swirl the coconut milk with your spoon or a toothpick. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts. 

Serve warm with Naan bread.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brookies

I hope that these pictures and description will have you running to your pantry to make these as soon as possible. They are the most fantastic combination of pumpkin cookies and brownies and they are so rich and delicious you'll be making them again before you know it. 

They are a more work than I really like a dessert to be - mostly because you are making two seperate things and then combining them, but I think they are worth the trouble.  If you make them late at night, like I did, you can eat quite a few of them without having to share you goodies. 


For the Cookie Layer:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dark brown sugar 
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon  ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the Brownie Layer:

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chocolate chips


Make the Cookie Layer:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13” pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Place melted butter, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in the bowl of a strand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (You can also use a hand mixer.) Mix until combined. 

Continue mixing and add the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Add the baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice and mix until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. 

Slowly mix in flour until a smooth dough forms. Press dough evenly into the bottom of the pan.

Make the Brownies:

Put the baking chocolate and butter in a large, microwave safe bowl. Heat on HIGH power for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate is smooth. 

Stir in sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and cocoa and stir well. Add flour and stir carefully. 

Pour the brownie batter over the cookie layer and spread evenly. Sprinkle the top with chocolate chips.

Bake for 25-35 minutes until the of the brownies look set. 

The toothpick test in the center will come out with some crumbs on the toothpick. Cool before slicing into bars.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Thai Sweet Chili Chicken Rice Bowls

I am in love with the flavor combination of sweet and spicy. You can throw the words Thai and Sweet in front of any recipe and then I'm for sure going to be making it. 

This dish was a wild success on all fronts at our house. I was able to use a lot less chicken that I would have normally because I could stretch the protein with the addition of the black beans. It had two fruits in it - and with the exception of the cilantro and the jalapeno that I added for fresh taste and garnish, the entire thing can be made from my pantry and freezer. 

If you wanted to boost the healthy factor, you could serve it over brown rice instead of the jasmine rice that I used. You could also add additional veggies like bell peppers in various colors, fresh spinach or other greens. 


1 (20 oz.) crushed pineapple in juice
1 (15 oz.) can black beans 
1 medium mango (I used 1 cup frozen mango chunks)
3 cloves garlic, minced 
2 inches fresh ginger, grated
1 medium lime 
¾ tsp salt
¼ cup sweet chili sauce 
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 cups cooked jasmine rice 
¼ bunch fresh cilantro (optional) 
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (optional)

Add the crushed pineapple (with juice), black beans (rinsed and drained), cubed mango, minced garlic, grated ginger, juice from the lime, salt, and sweet chili sauce to the slow cooker. Stir to combine the ingredients.

Add the chicken breasts to the slow cooker and cover it with the fruit and bean mixture. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours (or low for 8 hours).

After cooking the chicken will be very tender. Use two forks to pull the chicken apart into shreds (it will fall apart simply upon touching it). Stir to evenly distribute the shredded chicken throughout the mixture.
Spoon one cup of cooked jasmine rice into a bowl followed by one cup of the sweet chili shredded chicken. 
Add fresh cilantro and slice jalapeno on top and serve.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Healthy Broccoli Cheese Soup in the Crock Pot

I know that the idea of a healthy broccoli cheese soup doesn't make sense in your head. It really doesn't - how can all that cheese and the creaminess be healthy. And then I tell you that you can make it in the crock pot, it sounds like it couldn't even be possible. 

But it is!

And I'll be honest with you, it is delicious. The process is Strange! You are going to read this recipe and gasp... "Kerry! this is insanity, what are you having me do?!?"

Trust the process, this soup is amazing. I couldn't believe how good the flavor was and the texture was spot on. You're going to be making this soup twice a week before you know it. 


5 cups chopped broccoli florets, they have to be fresh not frozen
1 cup sliced carrots 
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces reduced fat cream cheese (do not use fat free)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 (15-ounce) can 2% evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (8-ounce) block sharp cheddar cheese, grated (Please grate your own cheese for this - It's worth it!)


Place the broccoli, carrots, onion, and garlic in the bottom of 5-to-6-quart slow cooker. 

Top with the cream cheese, oregano, nutmeg, and chicken stock. Stir to mix all the ingredients. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4-6 hours, until the broccoli is tender.

Remove the lid and stir in the evaporated milk.  Then with an immersion blender, puree about 3/4 of the soup, so that it is mostly smooth but still has a few chunks of broccoli remaining. If you don't have an immersion blender (like me), you can do what I did and puree the soup in 1 cup-sized batches in a food processor or blender. (Be careful—it's hot and prone to splatter!)

Recover the soup and let cook on low for 10 minutes until warmed through. 

Stir the salt, pepper, and grated cheese. ** Do you remember when I told you about This and how cheese that buy grated in the bags can be coated in starches to keep the shreds separate, while that is awesome and convenient, it will prevent your soup from melting into a smooth and creamy joy and leave you with a clumpy lumpy mess -- and trust me -- when you are putting broccoli into a blender, you don't want to have to worry about your cheese ** 

Recover and cook on high until the cheese is fully melted and the soup is hot, about 5 additional minutes. 

Serve warm.