Saturday, March 24, 2012

slow cooker soups

Here's some good looking soups from  Will you be making soup?

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup
Cheesy Chorizo Chili
Two Bean Minestrone
Cheesy Potato Soup

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lentil Chili

Well, another 'Meatless Monday' has come and gone successfully.  I'm really starting to get the hang of this thing- and I'm happy to report that the boys are adjusting well!

Breakfast: Fruit smoothies
One part fruit, one part orange juice, one part vanilla yogurt (about a quarter cup each) and one banana blended until smooth.

Lunch:  Macaroni and Cheese
Cheap and easy- from the box.  Hey, sometimes you just need simple!

Dinner: Lentil Chili served over baked potatoes
This chili is vegan, unless you add cheese and sour cream as a garnish.  I adapted it from this recipe and served it over baked potatoes, although it would be a filling meal on its own.
Now, I am a big fan of beans.  My favorite by far though, is the lentil.  They are relatively simple to make.  They require little prep- you don't need to soak them like you have to with other dry beans which makes the cook time way faster (they cook in less than an hour).  And they provide a rich meaty texture and taste.  They'll fill you up because they are the second highest source of protein found in veggies, legumes, or nuts (behind only soy)!  They are also rich in fiber, vitamin B1, iron, and folate (source).  You can find them in the grocery store with other dried beans and often times in bulk sections. 

Lentil Chili
1T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2T chili powder
1t dry oregano
1/8t cayenne (more or less depending on your spice level)
1 cup brown lentils, washed
1/4c red lentils, washed
56 ounces vegetable broth
8 ounces tomato sauce
1/2 cup sliced green onion (more or less depending on your taste)
6 ounces sliced black olives, drained
12 ounces roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
Optional garnishes: lime slices, shredded cheese, sour cream, more olives and sliced green onion

In a large Dutch oven or stew pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and sautee until they start to soften.  Add garlic and sautee another minute.  Add chili powder, oregano, and cayenne stirring constantly for another minute or until the spices are fragrant.  Add broth, tomato sauce, and lentils.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cook until lentils are soft (over an hour).  When lentils are soft add green onion, chopped red pepper, and olives and simmer for another 20 minutes.   

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

True Friends

A friend is someone 
who knows the song in your heart,
and can sing it back to you 
when you have forgotten the words.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pesto Stuffed Shells

Here's to another week of Meatless Mondays!  I'm sorry I missed last week.  Time has a way of slipping away from me.  So, I'll just pick up where I left off rather than back tracking~

Peanut butter and banana sandwiches
Just like it sounds- whole wheat bread, a dollop of peanut butter topped with sliced banana. My favorite!

Black bean nachos
Pour one can of black beans (drained and rinsed) into a small sauce pan with 1/4 cup salsa and two tablespoons of water.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until beans are heated through.  If desired, you can mash the beans with a fork or a potato masher to get a creamier texture (they'll start to resemble re-fried beans).  Top tortilla chips with shredded cheddar cheese and warm in the microwave for 20-30 seconds or until cheese starts to melt.  Top with bean mixture, chopped tomato, shredded lettuce, and a dollop of sour cream.
Pesto Stuffed Shells, Green salad , and Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread
Pesto Stuffed Shells by Budget Bytes!

I have to admit, this meal was a lot of work, but it did come together rather quickly.  The pesto really flavored the filling well and the meal was well liked by all.  I think that the filling itself would be really fantastic in lasagna (thinking that's going to have to happen), and I'm starting to think that pesto makes everything better.  I doubled the recipe to feed 6 and ended up with two lunch portions left over and a ton of empty shells (which I chopped up and will make into a pasta bake). 

Hope you give these recipes a try~ enjoy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil Pesto Crostini

Three weeks of Meatless Monday's down! 

Breakfast: Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Squares
While these were tasty, they did not hold up like in the picture.  After cutting them and basically spooning them onto the dish, we topped the oatmeal with some (more) peanut butter and jelly (softened in the microwave for a few seconds so we could drizzle both).  Overall, I was impressed with the simplicity of this dish and with the fact that there wasn't a lot of sugar- making them relatively healthy.

Lunch: left over Tomato soup 
This soup lived up to every expectation I had.  It had a well balanced tomato-y (is that even a word?) flavor that blended seamlessly with the salty Parmesan.  It warmed us up from head to toe and filled our tummys.  I am also pleased to report that the young man (he with hatred of veg) gobbled it all up.  The trick is to make sure you cook it long enough for everything to get soft and then puree it until it's smooth. 
It even re-heated well in the microwave (although I would lean toward re-heating it on the stove if I had the time).

Dinner: Minnestrone soup, green salad, and Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Pesto Crostini

Crostini means ''little toasts'' in Italian.  Typically they are served as appetizers, the most common being bruschetta.  You can top crostini with a large variety of meats, cheeses, or veggies.  This is an easy rustic version.  This made an excellent side to minestrone soup and salad.
PS- it's great the next day too (warmed up in the toaster oven OR cold)!

Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil Pesto Crostini

1 Loaf crusty bread (I used an Artisnal Roasted Garlic loaf)
Mozzarella cheese (can sub monterey jack), shredded
Sliced tomato
1 teaspoon dry Basil or Italian seasoning
Prepared pizza sauce
Prepared Basil pesto
Grated Parmesan cheese


Slice Crusty bread into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Dollop a spoonful of pizza sauce and spread thin.  You don't want a lot of sauce, it'll just make the bread soggy.
Sprinkle dry seasonings. 
Top bread with shredded mozzarella cheese and a thin slice of tomato.
Top with a dollop of prepared Basil Pesto
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Place in a preheated 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly and starts to brown.  
Enjoy as an appetizer or along-side a big bowl of soup!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


All this time
The sun never says
To the earth
"You owe me."
What happens
With love like that.
It lights the

-Hafiz (fourteenth century poet)