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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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…]

Pasta with Fresh Sweet Corn Pesto

This is seriously one of the best things I’ve eaten in a while. I had such high hopes for this recipe, and am inordinately happy that I wasn’t disappointed.

Pasta with Fresh Sweet Corn Pesto

Sure, traditional pesto is made with basil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan, but the word basically comes from the Italian verb pestare, which just means “to pound or crush” (i.e. what you do with all these ingredients). Typically you’d make pestos with a mortar and pestle (from the same verb) but most of us are way too lazy to do that on a regular basis. Because food processors are magical.

pasta with fresh sweet corn pesto corn ears

While I’ve tried kale pestos, spinach pestos, and all kinds of different nuts in the sauce as well, this is a very different take on the traditional dish. You start with sweet, juicy fresh corn cut right off the cob. Cook some bacon and leave the drippings in the pan to start the flavor profile. Saute some minced garlic in it to release its amazing aroma. Add a dash of red pepper flakes for just a hint of bite. And finish it off in the food processor with pine nuts, fresh parmesan cheese, and olive oil to make a creamy sauce that clings to the noodles like its life depends on it.

pasta with fresh sweet corn pesto corn sliced

This dish doesn’t take long overall—the longest part is cutting the corn off the cob, which I’m pretty slow at (partly because I value my fingers). Once that part’s done, the rest moves quickly and you can have it on the table in less than half an hour. While you could use many different kinds of pasta, I think a long flat pasta like linguine or tagliatelle is best for this (though I break most of the noodles in half before cooking). [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…]

One-Pot Farro with Tomatoes

Like 98% of the Pinterest-verse, I’d seen and pinned the ubiquitous “one-pot pasta” recipe where you put dry spaghetti, tomatoes, onions, and garlic into a cold pot of water and cook it all together. I thought it sounded like a great idea and planned to try it at some point, until the ever-reliable Smitten Kitchen posted about how she’d tried it but the pasta had turned out all soft and gummy.

One-Pot Farro

That’s when reason prevailed and I realized that what she said made total sense from a chemistry standpoint. And given my hatred of over-cooked pasta (one of our nation’s great failings), this wasn’t going to work. Instead, she submitted this recipe instead, and she never steers me wrong. It uses the exact same technique but substitutes a hardier grain—farro in this case—for the soft processed pasta. Farro is better able to stand up to this kind of cooking process.

one-pot farro tomatoes

This dish was like a harbinger of fall—while the grape tomatoes were still bursting with summer flavor, the rich, silky sauce that formed around the nutty, chewy grains was like a warm hug. I’m not ready for fall just yet, but this is working on forcing me to get there. [Read more…]

Balsamic Beef in the Crockpot

Prepare yourselves, folks. My family came and visited me for a solid week, so we cooked and baked up a storm—so you’ll be inundated with recipes in the next couple weeks. We’ll start with this absolute gem, a flavorful and easy main dish that’s perfect for big groups (provided you make enough of course!).

balsamic beef finished

I’ll let you in on a secret…I’ve never liked roast. I find it weird and kind of blah usually. I do like my mom’s beer roast once in a while and I love barbecue beef, but otherwise it’s just not my thing. I’ll make an exception for this balsamic beef, however. It was moist and chock full o’ flavor, and was way easier than I’d expected. In fact, it was probably the easiest, least time-consuming dish we made all week! [Read more…]

Homemade Taco Seasoning

I believe in making condiments and such from scratch (peanut butter, jelly, etc.). But I don’t really use taco seasoning all that often—maybe three or four times a year—so I never really paid attention to all the Pinterest posts about making your own.

When I decided to try a Mexican crockpot chicken recipe last weekend though, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and try making my own taco seasoning. While I’m not technically allergic to the MSG that’s usually in store-bought seasoning, it usually gives me bad headaches and makes me stuffed up, and it’s super high in sodium. So it’s just not worth it.

The ingredients are basically all ones you’d have in your cupboard. I think the only thing I needed to buy was onion powder. It took me all of five minutes to mix up the seasoning, and it should last indefinitely.

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