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!
[Read more…]


Heirloom Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

I have to squeeze in one last burst of summer!

Heirloom Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

I got these beautiful heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market and I wanted to do them justice. After thinking about different ways to use them, I decided that the best way to taste them would be a simple tomato and mozzarella salad.

heirloom tomato & mozzarella salad tomatoes

A burrata would have been the best cheese choice, but it’s basically impossible to find. So good ol’ buffala mozzarella did the job. I would have liked basil in there but couldn’t find any at the store so I chopped up some spinach instead—for color as well as a little healthiness. [Read more…]

Rosemary & Garlic Roasted Salmon

It feels like spring! I think the weather is finally turning for good, and this weekend was truly glorious. I was tempted to pull out my grill, but instead went for a meal that was bright and happy—salmon and okra. If that doesn’t say “spring in the South” to you, I don’t know what does.

Rosemary & Garlic Roasted Salmon

Bright red wild-caught sockeye salmon from Alaska is dusted with freshly-ground salt and pepper, then packed with minced fresh garlic and rosemary (from my own herb garden!) and roasted for a few minutes to bring all the flavors together. Fast, easy, and healthy. Add a side of roasted okra, and that’s a happy Sunday night.

rosemary & garlic roasted salmon garlic rosemary whole

rosemary & garlic roasted salmon garlic minced

rosemary & garlic roasted salmon rosemary minced

Peel and finely mince the garlic, then strip the rosemary leaves and mince them as well.

rosemary & garlic roasted salmon assembled

It’s good to leave your salmon out of the fridge for 20 minutes or so, to let it come to room temperature. Place in a pan or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the salt and pepper on the salmon, then add the rosemary and garlic (press down a little to keep it from falling off). [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…]

Frittata with Beets, Leeks, & Feta

Sometimes you just need to go back to basics.

A few (very insane) weeks ago I was still figuring out how to do things for myself after my surgery, just coming back to work (officially) full-time, rehabbing, and getting ready to head out of town for over a week. In short, I was pretty dang tired and feeling very “meh” about cooking or anything else that required even an iota of non-essential energy.

Beet Leek & Feta Fritatta

But I was also trying to get back to a normal life, including eating a lot healthier. While I was recovering from the surgery, convenience became a huge focus, so I ate a lot of Kashi pizzas, rotisserie chicken, and packaged ravioli. Not terrible, but not great either. So I told myself that ordering Thai food wasn’t an option and tried to find the next-easiest thing. That’s when I thought about a frittata.

The thing is, they feel kind of fancy, but they’re so simple. And you can make them out of almost anything. Seriously. Dump a bunch of leftovers in there, it’ll be great. I made it with leftover mac & cheese once, and it was awesome.

Beet Leek & Feta Fritatta closeup

Honestly, the only thing I had to actually pick up at the grocery store that Sunday was the beet and the leek, because I wanted to try something a little different. You may remember the frittata with goat cheese, sweet potato, kale, and red pepper, wherein the diced sweet potato and leek kind of caramelized on the bottom of the pan, forming a delicious crust. I’ve been meaning to try cooking with beets, so figured this was a great opportunity. But I had spinach in the fridge, a little bit of leftover feta sitting around, eggs, and cheese. What more do you need??

beet leek feta frittata beet

The beet was interesting in the frittata. One thing I didn’t anticipate was that it’s a little more watery than a sweet potato (so not as much caramelization), so I should have maybe patted the diced beets dry before cooking. Or even maybe roasted them. My first choice would have been a golden beet, but all they had was red (which stains everything). It was still great, and a nicely-different flavor combination. [Read more…]

Grilled Chicken with Fresh Herbs

It’s really starting to feel like I’m back!

I’ve spent the last two months being almost singularly-focused on my hip surgery. I had two weeks to get everything lined up for my out-of-state surgery and being out of work for a month and a half. Then after the procedure my world initially was a fairly regimented schedule of pills, injections, ice packs, braces, weird machines on and around me, and those absolutely terrible anti-blood clot stockings that were the bane of my existence. My mom and then my sister (and baby niece) came down to help take of me, and I worked a ton from home, but the scope of my world basically shrunk to my living room.

fresh herb grilled chicken

My mom and sister left three weeks after the surgery, when I was able to start driving again (I’m still driving left-footed out of fear for my right hip). Since then I’ve basically just been trying to do the bare minimum, getting up and down my condo stairs, starting to wean myself off crutches, getting all my physical therapy in, working from home, and then collapsing at the end of the day. I’ve re-watched two seasons each of Bones and Castle, and devoured three seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix (Buffy + Angel 4EVER, amirite??).

I haven’t been making anything new lately (as you may have noticed), surviving on pre-made food and leftovers from when my sister was here. And cheese. But now, finally, I seem to have turned a corner.

fresh herb grilled chicken closeup

Beyond throwing pasta with various fixings, this recipe was a first try at really cooking something (besides boiling up ravioli or baking a Kashi pizza). I knew it would need to be fast and easy, since I didn’t want to spend lots of time on my feet—I still tire really easily. And I’m still obsessed with my grill and want to use it as much as I can before it gets cold out. Plus, my mom planted me this awesome indoor herb garden while she was here.

herb garden

Isn’t that the BEST?! The only places in my entire condo (including the patio) that get direct sunlight are the two bedroom windows, so we put this in the guest bedroom. She planted tons of basil (my favorite!), rosemary, oregano, sage, and thyme. I’ve been doing my darnedest to keep them alive since she left, though I think the sage has shuffled off this mortal coil. It wasn’t terribly hardy. It’s not my fault!

Mom, if you’re reading this, I promise I took care of it…the sage just had no will to live.

fresh herb grilled chicken herbs

Man, fresh herbs are the best. I used a combination of the rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage for this dish. I was worried the basil would be too overpowering, so I left it out. [Read more…]

Tomato Grilled Chicken with Barley Corn Salad

I couldn’t quite figure out what title to put on this post, because “tomato grilled chicken” just sounds weird, and “barley corn salad” doesn’t exactly scream “party in your mouth”. But trust me, this dish is not at ALL weird, and is TOTALLY a party in your mouth.

chicken barley corn salad finished closeup

This was my first time cooking barley, and I was a little nervous. It turned out well, though I didn’t quite follow the instructions and forgot to drain the barley (I just kept cooking it til the water evaporated).

chicken barley corn salad chicken grilled2

The chicken was interesting but didn’t try to overwhelm everything else, and was super moist. I was worried that it would dry out because I had to cook mine longer (accidentally bought the super fat chicken breasts), but it kept the juice in very well.

chicken barley corn salad finished

And wow, barley was a revelation! It just had this amazing texture—chewy and nutty, which paired perfectly with the crunchiness of the onions and corn, the juiciness of the tomatoes, and the creamy avocado. [Read more…]

Grilled Balsamic Chicken…on my own grill!

I’ve wanted a grill for as long as I’ve lived alone. In my head, a grill was all that stood between me and these awesome meaty dinners every night of the week. Now, I can privately admit that that’s not entirely the truth—let’s not pretend I’d actually make dinner after a 12-hour day. But, I WOULD cook meat way more often, and it would open up a whole new world of culinary possibilities. Plus, who doesn’t love that freshly-grilled flavor?!

grilled balsamic chicken finished

However, my apartment complex would never let me have a grill, and my new condo complex is the same. But there’s this nice patio just begging for a grill! What’s a girl to do? Well, I did some digging, and apparently electric grills are a thing—not a very well-known thing, but a thing nonetheless. I knew I didn’t want to go the oversize George Foreman route. I found a few that got good reviews, and lucked out at Target a couple weeks ago and found a great CharBroil one on sale. This recipe was its maiden voyage.

grilled balsamic chicken full plate

Isn’t that an amazing plate of food?! Look at me, making dinner on a work night like a grown-up BOSS.

grill patio

Ain’t she gorgeous?! Putting it together wasn’t super fun, but totally worth it.

My patio, on the other hand, looks a little rough since my dad and I pulled up the tile a couple weeks ago… [Read more…]

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries & Gorgonzola

To continue the semi-healthy kick I’ve been on, we have this really interesting main dish/side dish/salad option, chock-full of different flavors and textures just begging to be devoured. I’d found this recipe on Pinterest a long time ago and always meant to get to it, but then months passed and it just lingered there. Decided to finally give it a try recently and was pleasantly surprised how much I liked it, though honestly the cranberries were a little too tart for me—I’d swap them out for something else.

brussel sprouts cranberries finished2

You’ve got brussels sprouts, fresh cranberries, salty Gorgonzola, crunchy pecans, and a sweet maple balsamic dressing with a bite. The recipe calls for cooked barley as well, since it’s meant to be a main dish. I didn’t have the time or inclination to do that this time, but will definitely try it some other time.

brussel sprouts cranberries finished

I also loved this tip from Cookie + Kate…brussels sprouts are best cooked flat-side down because the heat gets trapped inside the sprout and, in effect, steams it. It’s the best way to get crispy flat sides and cooked insides. It’s one of those things you kind of do intuitively, but knowing WHY helps. [Read more…]

Kale & Quinoa Salad with Feta & Pecans

Healthy fooooooood!

That’s right, after biscuits, creamy chicken pasta, and more pasta (con pesto), I bring you this deeeelicious fiber-full, protein-stuffed gem.

kale quinoa salad finished

I know, you think I’m insane and that weird green leafy thing with the little sprinkling of grain doesn’t look remotely appetizing. But that’s where you’re wrong! It is sweet and salty and crunchy and chewy and super filling. Give it a try. Go on.

kale quinoa salad kale leaves

We’ve already discussed my love of kale. If you don’t share that love…well, you’re wrong. But I forgive you. Just give it a few chances—it just has to be prepared correctly.

kale quinoa salad kale leaves torn

[Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: