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Turkish Red Lentil Soup (Corba)

I’m on the record as stating that soup is not a meal, in and of itself, with very few exceptions.

This is one of them. (My mom’s baked potato soup is basically the only other)

Delicious & easy Turkish red lentil soup, ready in half an hour

I also don’t like lentils usually.  That is, until I went to Istanbul last year and we ate in a Kurdish family’s house and were served corba as an appetizer.  Corba is a hearty red lentil soup, super flavorful and comforting.  When I returned to the States, I started pinning recipes right away so I could try it myself.  I learned that red lentils are very different than the dark ones I’d had before, and didn’t have as many texture issues for me.

I’ve made this recipe a few times, trying to get the texture and flavors just right.  For some weird reason I have issues with it separating a bit (so becoming a little watery), but since I like it better with crushed up crackers in it anyway, I decided to just let that go.  One time I even tore up half a bagel into the soup, and the texture was awesome!

Healthy & easy red lentil soup

One of the great things about this soup is that it comes together really quickly—like half an hour from start to finish.  So you can get home from work, get it simmering, and go about your business until it’s time to blend everything up and serve.  Efficiency FTW!
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“Crack” Beef & Cabbage Stir Fry

This was my first “back on the healthy train” recipe since coming back from quite a bit of travel over the past few months—including a week and a half inhaling pastries on the French Riviera.  So I didn’t need normal healthy, I needed SUPER healthy.  A sort of food detox, if you will.

Beef & Cabbage Stir Fry...healthy, easy, yummy

What I didn’t expect was for this to be SUPER yummy as well.

beef-cabbage-stir-fry-green-onions

And cheap and easy.  Fast, cheap, healthy, easy, and yummy is like a unicorn of a recipe.  I mean, it’s no mac and cheese, but it’ll do.

beef-cabbage-stir-fry

This is going into my regular rotation of uber healthy meals.  It’s got a ton of fiber from all the veggies, is surprisingly satiating, and still has just enough protein from the beef.  You could definitely use a whole pound of beef instead of a half-pound (or substitute turkey, chicken, pork, whatever), but I didn’t feel cheated by the amount of meat, and it lets you stretch your meat further.  This was lunch leftovers all week for me, and I didn’t get sick of it, which is a miracle in and of itself. [Read more…]

Chicken Massaman Curry

Massaman curry has somehow become my go-to comfort food.  When I’m cold, stressed, tired, or just annoyed, this particular curry—with its combination of soft and crunchy textures, its creamy sauce and slightly spicy bite—are like a warm, yummy hug.

Massaman Curry with Chicken

For years I went to the same Thai restaurant and ordered the same thing (Bangkok chicken, “baby mild”, no baby corn…it’s the BOMB), but then one day I decided that I needed to branch out, and this was the least spicy of the curries.  Plus, it didn’t have green peppers, which are truly disgusting, so that was a deciding factor.  One taste of this, with the silky avocado and the crunch of the onion, and I was in love.

Massaman Curry with Chicken cooked

I’m not sure what’s taken me so long to try making this myself.  Maybe it’s because I tend to find that ethnic dishes are just better at restaurants, so it’s worth shelling out for them on occasion.  Plus I’m lazy, and I tend to take one look at the long list of ingredients and get overwhelmed (not to mention my grocery store doesn’t just have this particular curry paste sitting around).

Massaman Curry with Chicken with Jasmine Rice

But you shouldn’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients.  Most of them are ones you already have around, and the others are easy enough to pick up once and have around for a long time (I ordered the curry paste on Amazon, because I’m also too lazy to drive around to a bunch of Asian markets looking for it).  Prepping the ingredients will take 15-20 minutes with one set of hands, but is quite easy, and then the dish comes together very smoothly.  It makes amazing leftovers, and can feed a serious crowd. [Read more…]

Risotto Primavera

This recipe is the perfect blend of hearty winter fare and bright spring veggies…

Risotto Primavera

It’s kind of weird that I’ve never made a risotto primavera, given my love of risotto. But when I was home for Passover this year, we were trying to come up with a delicious side dish and my mom mentioned risotto. We thought about all the veggies we had, and all the fresh herbs, and I decided that it was the perfect idea.

kansas lilacs

I’ve said this a million times, but people always think risotto is so difficult. But it’s not! It just needs a little TLC…you can’t rush it, but 90% of risotto is in gently stirring. You get too rough with it, try to turn the heat way up to rush it, and that’s when things go south.

Plan for an hour. But it’s an hour of stirring, drinking wine, talking to guests—it’s the perfect dinner party dish. [Read more…]

Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie with Drop Biscuit Topping

Last weekend I had a plan. I knew that I only had two days of work to get through before break, including two work lunches and a dinner with friends, so I didn’t need to cook enough on Sunday for leftovers. I also wanted to be healthy, so I had some brussels sprouts sitting around and I planned to pick up a salmon filet for dinner, call it a day.

Then this pot pie totally derailed my Sunday dinner plans.

Chicken Pot Pie with Drop Biscuit Crust done

See, last Sunday (and several days thereafter) was just relentlessly gray. Gray, misty, chilly. One of those days where the only then you want to do is curl up in your jammie jams on the couch and read a book, then watch TCM for hours. The kind of day where you get the idea of chicken pot pie stuck in your head and you’re unable to dislodge it despite your best efforts and lazier tendences.

Chicken Pot Pie with Drop Biscuit Crust dipped up

The thing is, I’d never made pot pie before. And honestly, I like pot pie just fine (anything with “pie” in the name, really), my mom’s is good, but pot pie isn’t a thing I’ve ever really craved. Pasta-as-comfort-food is more my style. So I didn’t have a triend-and-true recipe that I was willing to undertake, since I definitely didn’t want to deal with pie crust. In my mind, I was picturing making the filling in a slow cooker, and then topping with a drop biscuit crust—seemed easy enough. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a crockpot chicken pot pie filling recipe I liked (that didn’t include cream of chicken soup) or even a biscuit-topped pot pie for cooking times and so forth, so I decided to make it up as I went, pulling bits and pieces from some recipes and just using my brain for the other parts.

chicken pot pie with drop biscuit crust cooking

This chicken pot pie is probably the best I’ve ever had. Okay, not probably, DEFINITELY. It’s warm and hearty and comforting and feels decadent, but is secretly really healthy and easy and basically perfect. It’s great as leftovers. The biscuit crust is amazing. I could just eat the filling as a stew (which is saying something because I’m not keen on stew). What I’m saying is that you need to make this pot pie now. [Read more…]

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken & Veggies

Any time I’m home to visit my family, we’re always feeding a big crowd. Generally we stick with what we know—grilled burgers or chicken, taco salad or nachos, soup and chili, or something similar. But every so often my sisters and mom and I put our heads together and come up with something different.

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken & Veggies

When I was home in July, we had one night where we were only going to have like 15 people—a considerably smaller crowd than our usual 25 or more. My sister and I decided we were really craving Thai food, so quickly had Mom poke through her cabinets to see if we had the makings for a Thai peanut sauce pasta. Since my mom’s cabinets are better stocked than most small grocery stores, we had almost everything we needed.

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken and Veggies

Beyond the basics of the sauce recipe, we totally winged it (wung it??), adding all the delicious flash stir fried veggies we could find, chicken, and whole wheat noodles. This dish was meat, carbs, and veggies in one, so we knew we had to make enough to get the whole hungry horde through dinner.

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken & Veggies done

And it was definitely a hit! There wasn’t even a spoonful left after supper, the pan was scraped clean. Combined with the moist strawberry shortcake I made for the big group, I think everyone was stuffed. [Read more…]

Roasted Carrots with Smoked Salt and Thyme

My CSA box from a couple weeks ago keeps on giving. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with these beauties the minute I saw them. But the last couple weeks have been so nuts that I haven’t had the chance to carry out my nefarious plans.

And by “nefarious”, I mean “delicious”.

Roasted Carrots with Smoked Salt & Thyme

Roasted carrots are always amazing, because the natural sugars in the carrot really come to life. Thyme is a natural friend of the carrot, and the smoked sea salt (which you should be able to get at any grocery store) adds another layer of depth to the flavors. This side dish feels so fancy, and it literally takes five minutes, max. [Read more…]

Carrot, Parsnip, & Goat Cheese Mash Shepherd’s Pie

I’ll start this with a confession: I’m not sure I’ve ever actually had a traditional shepherd’s pie. I don’t know why exactly, though why have something topped with mashed potatoes when you can top it with piecrust (a la pot pie)???

Shepherds Pie with Carrot Goat Cheese Mash piece

But something about this recipe captured my imagination when I first found it. First, I love goat cheese. My sister can’t understand why I love it so much. Second, the combination of flavors in the filling just seemed interesting and so hearty. And the addition of carrots (and parsnips, which I added myself) made the filling so light and fluffy.

shepherds pie with carrot goat cheese mash in pan

This dish really was amazing. I had an impromptu dinner party and needed to fill a crowd. It got rave reviews, and I was sad I only had a small serving leftover for the next day. One guy actually pulled this out of the fridge and had it for dessert instead of the cake everyone was having! [Read more…]

Roasted Vegetable Mac & Cheese

I used to be really scared of making mac & cheese. I mean the legit baked kind where the sauce starts with a roux and there’s whisking involved. Whisking is one of those things that kind of intimidates me. I have no idea why, but it seems very serious.

Roasted Veggie Mac & Cheese

Luckily, I’ve tried a few recipes over the past year that have helped me get over my fear of making bechamel sauce, including some different mac & cheese recipes (it all started with the beer mac & cheese last Thanksgiving). But every time I make it, I still get this anxiety right before I start whisking like my life depends on it…

roasted veggie mac & cheese veggies chopped

For some reason I was really just craving some comfort food last weekend, but needed it to be healthy comfort food—I’ll be on a beach in a swimsuit in a couple weeks (vacay, finally!) and do have a little bit of vanity left in me. So this recipe, with its hearty roasted vegetables, whole wheat pasta, and olive oil-based cheese sauce, called to me.

Roasted Vegetable Mac & Cheese

One of the things that really intrigued me about this recipe is that the roux—basis for the bechamel cheese sauce—is made with olive oil instead of butter. Honestly, I don’t know that I’ve seen a roux recipe without butter, so I was definitely interested to see how that went. And I quite liked it. It gives things a little bit of an olive oil-y flavor that, when combined with the flour and whole wheat pasta, was a different twist on a regular mac & cheese.  [Read more…]

Ambrosia (Mom’s Baked Potato Soup)

In my world, soup is not a meal. Don’t get me wrong, I love soup, but it’s a prelude to a meal or something you eat *with* your meal.

Except this soup.

Best baked potato soup in the world...cook all day in the crockpot, easy and delicious! | FindingTimeForCooking

My mom’s baked potato soup is hearty and healthy and delicious and the best dang soup you’ve ever had. Even better? You make it in the crockpot, so it’s practically hassle-free.

[Note: I’ve edited below, I don’t use bouillon anymore, so I just replaced the water and bouillon with chicken stock instead]

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