Red Lentil Soup

Savory like chili, but not as spicy, this soup is both comfort food and health food all in one delightful bowl. Lentils’ health benefits include fiber, of course, but they contribute significant amounts of folate, iron and magnesium, too.

What I like best about lentils? They are super easy to prepare. No long pre-soaks like other beans.

Red Lentil Soup

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 (32 ounce) carton chicken broth
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • sour cream for garnish

Directions

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, kosher salt, black pepper, and chili powder. Cook and stir 2 minutes more until the spices are fragrant.

2. Stir in the chicken broth, lentils, and carrot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.

3. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the cooking pot, or use a conventional blender, pureeing the soup in small batches and returning to the pot. If desired, do not puree all of the soup. This will leave it a little chunky. I prefer it pretty smooth.

4. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro, then season to taste with salt. Drizzle with additional olive oil and a dollop of sour cream to serve.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

These decadent treats taste just like the brand name peanut butter cups, only butter I mean, better!

This is one of those recipes that I feel necessitates a disclaimer. These are so, so good, but…the butter. Oh, so much butter. How could they not be good, right? I make these on special occasions (Christmas, Father’s Day, and most recently, Super Bowl Sunday) and cut them into small rectangles or squares so I can savor a little treat and then give the rest away or serve them at a party. Because, seriously. If these stayed in my house for too long, there’s no telling what would happen.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

(makes 3 dozen or more depending on the size of squares/bars)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups peanut butter
  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs, finely crushed
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

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Melt 1 cup butter over low heat. Remove from heat.

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Crush graham crackers (I used the ziploc/spatula handle smash technique this time, but sometimes I use the food processor) until they are fine crumbs and measure 1 ½ cups.

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In a large bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar and graham cracker crumbs. Add peanut butter, pour in melted butter, and stir thoroughly to combine.

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Spread mixture in a jelly roll pan. Pat down evenly.

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To Make Topping:

Melt together 1/2 cup butter with 1 cup chocolate chips. Spread this mixture over peanut butter mixture.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Refrigerate 1/2 hour. Cut into squares. Savor the yumminess.

Slow Cooker Cola Pot Roast

It’s cold outside! I’ve been in comfort food mode lately, and this is the perfect cozy, cold weather main dish. Assemble this roast in the slow cooker in the morning or at lunch time. Savor the aroma all afternoon, or be greeted by the yumminess as you come home from work. The sugar from the cola adds sweetness to the meat and helps to tenderize it.

Slow Cooker Cola Pot Roast

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 cup cola-flavored carbonated beverage
  • 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce seasoning mix (a store bought packet would also work)
  • 1 coarsely chopped onion
  • ¾ cup chopped celery (about 3-4 stalks, give or take)
  • 1 additional teaspoon salt (the sauce seasoning mix has salt in it as well – so you can omit this if you’re watching your salt)
  • Additional garlic, minced, if desired (there’s dry minced garlic in the seasoning mix, too)
  • 3 lbs. beef chuck roast (the roast pictured above is bottom round)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, break up tomatoes in their juice. Stir in cola, spaghetti sauce seasoning mix, celery, and the additional salt and garlic if desired. Stir until spaghetti sauce mix is dissolved.
  2. Place the onion in the crock pot and put the roast right on top. Pour the sauce mixture over the roast and cover.
  3. Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours.

So how about you? What’s your favorite cold weather comfort food? Link to the recipe in the comments – I’d love to check it out!

Homemade Hot Cocoa

This is a rich, creamy, and (most importantly) easy homemade hot cocoa recipe. You will never want to go back to instant packets again.
Homemade Hot Cocoa
The Hubberman likes to joke. Not in the “a penguin walks into a bar” sense, but more in the “I’m pulling your leg” sense. So when he looked at his phone yesterday morning and said, “Hey, they’re saying six to eight inches of snow for tomorrow,” I thought for sure he was joking. You see, he pulls this stuff so much (at least once a day) that I have to sift everything through my gullibility filter before responding. Well, imagine my surprise when Hubberman brings his phone over and shows me his weather app. Six to Eight. As the afternoon progressed, the projected totals increased. Now as I sit typing, the snow is falling and they are now predicting up to 18 inches. It is a hot cocoa day for sure. Sipping Cocoa

Homemade Hot Cocoa

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ½ gallon whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, chocolate chips and salt.
  2. Over low heat, add 1 cup hot water and stir well until chocolate chips have melted and ingredients are well blended.
  3. Slowly add milk, stirring continually. You can add more or less to taste.
  4. Slowly warm over low heat, then add vanilla.

Note: This makes 8 mugs of hot cocoa. If you don’t want to make this much at once, mix the sugar, cocoa, and chocolate chips in a bowl. Divide the dry ingredients roughly in half, using half in your saucepan right away and saving half in an airtight container in a cool dry place. To the saucepan, add ½ cup hot water, 4 cups of milk, and 1/4 tsp. vanilla according to above directions. This will make 4 mugs of cocoa.Almond milk can also be used instead of cow’s milk. Just be sure to heat slowly.Almond milk will take on an even nuttier flavor when heated, so keep that in mind. We think it tastes quite yummy.Garnish with whipped cream or mini-marshmallows! Happy sipping!

Our Thanksgiving Table

We’re in full scale planning mode for Thanksgiving over here! Hubberman has purchased the turkey, I’m gathering ingredients for our side dishes, and I’m putting the finishing touches on the Thanksgiving decor around the house.

I thought I would share our Thanksgiving “tablescape” (and the little helper I had as I was arranging things.)

Autumn Table

Autumn Table

Autumn Table

Cat Centerpiece

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving next week!