Creamy Vegetable Lentil Soup


I know that January is the month to detox and get your body back on track after the holidays, however this hasn’t been the case for me.  There is actually a great reason – I haven’t felt like it.  The shock to my system (both body and especially mind – HA!) would just be too much and I wasn’t ready.   But now I have regulated my taste buds and I am ready to get back on track with some delicious and satisfying food.  Yesterday I made this Creamy Vegetable Lentil Soup that is so good you would never guess there is no cream, is low in fat and super simple to make.

The ingredients for the soup are basic and I love that these are items I always have on hand.   The soup starts with a chopped onion and carrots followed with a couple of cloves of garlic and some pantry staples.  Even though there is no cream in the soup, it is made creamy by putting all the softened, caramelized veggies in the blender for a minute or two.  The result is a velvety, delicious base for your soup.  Add the lentils and you have a delicious meal that is protein packed as well.

If you have been having trouble getting back on track after the holidays (or anytime of the year) try this soup.  Oh and I have to add that if your kiddos aren’t a fan of vegetables this is the perfect way to sneak in those healthy goods.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Banana Muffins, Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins – nothing new, nothing fancy, but oh so delicious. I have tried numerous recipes looking for the perfect muffin and this is it and I have to add that my boys love them.  Like, really, really love them.  Whenever I ask them what they want for breakfast these Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins are in their top three items they will ask for.  And….I have to admit they are one of my favorite breakfasts as well.

I was given this recipe by a teen that used to watch my boys.  He was telling me about these amazing muffins that his mom always made and actually had the image of the recipe on his phone. He said that so many people asked for the recipe after tasting the muffins that this is how his mom would give out the recipe.

These are a basic banana muffin – but a really, really good muffin. There is no fancy ingredient or big secret, just the perfect combination and proportions for a scrumptious treat.  They are moist and fluffy, but not dense or dry.  I attribute the perfect, moist texture to using oil instead of butter. While butter gives great flavor and I would never use anything else for cookies, these muffins benefit in a major way from using oil.  I also find that the rich, delicious flavor of the bananas is elevated by using oil.

These are great any time and keep well, but are especially fantastic right out of the oven.  There is nothing like watching the steam escape the inside of the fluffy muffin as chocolate chips slowly melt onto the delicate crevices.  When I feel like being a real rebel I love to slather mine with butter. Nothing like some additional fat added to the all-purpose white flour baked goodness to really put you into a full on food buzz.

Try these, you won’t regret it.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Crust Crackers

I love the Fall season for so many reasons.  I love the beautiful colors of the changing leaves, I love the crisp mornings and I love that football season has arrived.  However, by far my favorite part of this season is the food!  Oh my gosh, the food!  All the stick to your ribs, comforting, delectable dishes that are so inviting it feels like a warm hug.  Well this dish is a doozy – Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Crust Crackers.  Think Chicken Pot Pie in soup form with crusty pie crust pieces to dunk into this amazing soup.

The genius and inspiration for this soup comes from Chrissy Tiegen’s cookbook, Cravings.  If you haven’t bought it, do it.  Not only is every recipe amazing, she has some of the best, most creative intros to every recipe that you will ever find.

 I did have to make some changes to appease the picky palettes in my house though.  First off, I omitted the peas and pearl onions.  I opted to sauté onions at the beginning of the dish along with the garlic to infuse the onion in the dish there.  Although peas are traditional in all pot pie dishes I just didn’t feel like adding them in because I don’t like ’em so I didn’t.  In the end I opted to use half & half instead of the heavy cream that is used in the original recipe.  Oh…and I cheated. I didn’t make my own crust, I bought it.  Some may call it lazy, I call it great time management, so there.  If you have a great pie crust recipe go for it, if not I like the Trader Joe’s Pie Crust.  The TJ’s version is awesome and will always pass for a homemade version that isn’t just good, but dynamite!  One last thing, I like to make extra crust for extra dunking but if you are not a crust junkie like me than just use half of the recipe.

Stay tuned for many, many more soup recipes.   Soups are a fave in my house.  They make great leftovers, lunches and freeze well. What else could one ask for?  Enjoy this one!

Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Crust Crackers (inspired by Chrissy Teigen’s recipe in her cookbook, Cravings)

Ingredients
6 c. chicken broth
2 c. whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely minced
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 bouillon cube or 1 Top Ramen Chicken Flavor Seasoning Packet
1 1/2 t. fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 c. diced carrots
1/4 pound deli ham, thinly sliced
3 c. rotisserie chicken meat, shredded
1/2 c. half and half
1 package Trader Joe’s Pie Crust, cooked according to package directions and broken into pieces

Directions
Turn your stovetop to low and add the milk and broth.  Bring to a low simmer.  Note do not  bring this to a simmer over high heat, this will make the milk taste funky, hence your soup taste funky.

In a big soup pot, heat the butter over medium-high heat until foamy.  Add the onion and sauce until soft, then add the garlic and stir constantly until toasty for about 1 minute (do not burn the garlic, if you do start over.)  Add the flour, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring for about 2-3 minutes.  Whisk in the broth-milk mixture once cup at a time and then add the bouillon and salt & pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until thickened about 5 minutes.

Add the potato, carrots, ham and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the chicken and half & half for an additional 5 minutes.  Season with salt & pepper to taste and serve with pieces of broken pie crust.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies from the Nordstrom Cafe

Living in the Northwest my entire life, I grew up shopping at Nordstrom and eating at the Nordstrom cafe.  To this day, one of my favorite dishes to get is still the kids grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup.  If you haven’t ever experienced Nordstrom’s creamy, slightly space tomato soup – you must try it. I have so many amazing memories being a little girl and cruising through the little girls department with my mom shopping for the latest in Guess Jeans and Esprit sweatshirts after devouring my luscious lunch.

In recent years I have come to love more than just the grilled cheese and have found their Lemon Ricotta cookies.  Nordstrom came out with a  cookbook called the Family Table Cookbook and once while waiting for my takeout order I picked up the book and noticed that the recipe for these delectable cookies were in there.  I was sold!  I purchased the cookbook and the rest was history!  These cookies are so soft and delicious it is almost like having a cake in cookie form.  As you can see from the pictures these are not crisp cookies.  They are soft, creamy and luscious. See inside one…

Now I have to warn you – PLEASE read the directions for these cookies.  The first time I planned on making these cookies I made sure I had all the ingredients but had no idea all the steps you had to take with the dough prior to actually putting them in the oven.  Unfortunately these are not cookies that you can easily whip up in one afternoon – these take planning due to having to let the dough rest, then freeze, etc.   On the plus side, these can be made in advance and you can bake them the day of and have a fresh treat that people will be in awe of.

I hope you try making these cookies.  They are delicious minus the frosting – but if you are a frosting lover like me, frost them and you will find them OUTSTANDING!

Super Simple Spaghetti Bolognese

Super Simple Spaghetti Bolognese

Have you ever slaved over a meal only to have your family either not eat it or simply give you that indifferent look while they force it down?  If you haven’t you’re lucky, however unfortunately I have had this scenario happen to me more than once. I can’t begin to explain my shock when I made this Super Simple Spaghetti Bolognese that my crew loved.  In fact they claimed this was the best bolognese I have ever made.   Uh, ok…noted, I will never slave over my more complex bolognese sauces in the future.

So let me explain how this Super Simple Spaghetti Bolognese recipe came to be.  I became discombobulated and dizzy on Monday.  I thought I was just experiencing a bad headache, however when I continued to feel like I was on a moving boat on Wednesday I decided to go to the doctor.  I can’t tell you how relieved to find out I had vertigo.  All I can say is I was sooooooo happy to be diagnosed with a medical condition and know that this was not all in my head.

Since I wasn’t able to get to the grocery store for some fresh ingredients (and because my family had not had a home cooked meal in days) I decided to throw together a spaghetti bolognese. Ingredients are simple pantry staples and there is no lengthy simmering of sauce and because I used 93% lean ground turkey the meal was low fat as well.

So here is my recipe for Super Simple, Fast, Budget Friendly Spaghetti Bolognese.  I hope you enjoy!