Curried Lentil Soup

 

Hello! This is my first month participating the the Recipe Redux! This month’s theme is “spooky spices.” This recipe for curried lentil soup fits the theme because it uses several spices that I pulled out from waaaaay back in my pantry because I’m rarely brave enough to use them. Well, this soup turned out so well, I’ll have to incorporate Turmeric and Calcutta Heat into my cooking more often!

Calcutta Heat

Sometimes I cook a dish just because I have leftovers. In this case I had a little bit of chicken stock base left after making garlic butter shrimp for my husband and client. I don’t like shrimp, so I made myself a different dish on a whim. I had almost everything on hand to make this lentil soup by The Traveler’s Lunchbox. The only thing missing was cardamom, which is a fairly expensive spice that Colby and I buy EVERY year to make his German mulled wine for Christmas. It’s called feuerzangenbowle and I’ll be sure to post his signature recipe for it as the holidays approach. It involves lighting sugar and rum on fire, so it’s lots of fun to make! Anyway, we’ve bought cardamom at least twice before, yet it’s nowhere to be found in the pantry… so I improvised with spicy curry powder! The kind I use is called Calcutta Heat, which is a spicy curry blend. I suspected that the lentil soup would be strangely sweet (with nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves), I don’t like my entrees overly sweet. Without the cardamom, the soup was missing something, so swapping in Calcutta Heat actually enhanced the soup. Try it out! It’s incredibly flavorful and warming for a chilly day.
Curried Lentil Soup

Ingredients (serves 2):

1/2 cup dry lentils
2 cups chicken stock
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Calcutta Heat or curry powder & cayenne pepper
Pinch of each: nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves
1/4 – 1/2 cup coconut milk (depending on how creamy you like your soup- I opted for 1/4 cup)
Large handful of fresh spinach, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Combine lentils, chicken stock, thyme, and turmeric in a small/ medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Discard the spring of thyme.

2. While the lentils are cooking, heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. When melted, add onions and stir around until tender and golden (about 2-3 minutes). Add fresh garlic, curry powder of choice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground cloves. Stir around until fragrant.

3. Scrape the onions and seasonings into the saucepan (if you want to get every last bit, like me, add the lentils and stock to the skillet instead). Add the coconut milk and fresh spinach.

4. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 more minutes. Adjust the flavor to your liking with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Check out other Recipe ReDux recipes below!

 

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Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips

Ahhh!! I’m so excited about my new camera! I can’t wait to learn how to use it well! I got the Nikon D3200 because it seemed like a solid beginner DSLR at a great price. The photos in this post were shot indoors just before sunset with no diffuser or reflector, and no post-processing or filters. Not bad for my first food shoot with this camera!
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I’ve had several failed attempts at kale chips, but I think I’ve finally figured out the right way to make them! Here are some tips:

1. Use curly kale

2. Cut the leaves from the tough stalk of the kale.

3. Do not over-oil the kale (use an oil mister)

4. Do not over-crowd the baking sheet

5. Watch the kale closely as it bakes so it becomes crisp but not burned

Before:

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Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale
Olive oil in a mister
White vinegar in a mister (or vinegar powder, such as this one)
Finely ground sea salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Tear curly kale into 2″ sized pieces and scatter over a baking sheet lined with lightly greased aluminum foil. Work in batches instead of crowding the baking sheet.

2. Lightly mist the kale with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with a dusting of salt.

3. Bake for 8 minutes, flip the kale leaves, and bake for several minutes more. Monitor closely- you want the kale to be crisp, but not burnt.

Enjoy the kale chips warm or allow to cool and store for a couple of days in a sealed container. Experiment with other kale chip flavors as well. Try salt + curry powder, garlic salt, grated parmesan, or simply salt + pepper as tasty alternatives! Oh, and definitely brush your teeth after eating these or you might scare people off with your green breath :)

After:

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Brown Butter Sage Spaghetti Squash

Mmmmmmm…. brown butter! Ever since I had an amazing, melt-in-your mouth pasta dish with brown butter sauce at Scarpetta a while back, I’ve been wanting to recreate something rich and buttery like it at home. Unlike me, you probably already knew that brown butter sauce is actually a breeze to make! Just heat some butter and let it caramelize. Pair the easy sauce with autumn’s best squash and you have a winning combination of indulgent and nutritious!
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Ingredients:

1 large spaghetti squash
3 tablespoons butter
3 sage leaves, slivered
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chicken stock
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Slice the spaghetti squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and place cut side down in a large glass baking dish filled with 1″ of water. Microwave for 5 minutes, followed by 2 minute intervals until the skin of the squash is tender enough to pierce with a fork. (approx. 8-10 minutes)

2. Allow the squash to cool down. Once it is cool enough to handle, scrape out the insides with a fork into a bowl. The strands should come out easily. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and sage leaves. Stir around for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add the chicken stock and boil about half of it off.

4. Add spaghetti squash strands to the skillet and stir to coat with butter sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the squash as a side dish or play around with accompaniments, such as bacon or grilled chicken.

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Enjoy!! For a sweeter, nuttier variation, skip the garlic and add a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to the butter and sage sauce.

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By the way, I’m finally getting a nice camera to do these tasty foods justice on the blog! Stay tuned for better photos as I learn to use my Nikon D3200 :)

Sriracha Cauliflower

I was definitely skeptical about the idea of “hot wing” cauliflower until I actually tried it. This is by far the most delicious way I’ve eaten cauliflower! Even if you’re not a big fan of this cruciferous vegetables, I strongly suggest that you try it this way. The roasted flavor with the spiciness of the hot sauce is really on point. You might even eat a whole head of cauliflower in one sitting like I did.

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Ingredients:
1 /2 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
Olive oil, in a spray bottle (such as the Misto)
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste
1 tablespoon butter + 1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons (or more!) Sriracha chili sauce

Directions:
1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with olive oil. Lay the cauliflower florets on the aluminum foil in a single layer and spray with additional olive oil until lightly coated.
2. Bake the cauliflower at 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and starting to brown slightly.
3. Melt the butter with olive oil in a large skillet. Add the cauliflower and cook until it’s browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.
4. Turn the heat off and add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and hot sauces. This part can be adjusted to your taste preferences. If you like it saucy, add more Frank’s. For a spicier cauliflower, get heavy handed with the Sriracha squirt bottle.

Enjoy!

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Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad

This chilled recipe makes a perfect snack or appetizer on a warm day. Enjoy a refreshing cucumber in this simple salad.

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Ingredients:
2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 tbs shallot or red onion, minced
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sambal olek (hot chili paste) or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sugar, honey, or a few drops of stevia
1 tsp sesame seeds

1. Whisk together all the ingredients except cucumbers and sesame seeds in a bowl.
2. Combine sliced cucumbers with the dressing in a large bowl or ziplock bag. Toss to coat and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
3. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.

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Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Hey there! Colby and I moved into our first home! I’ll have to show you a photo tour soon. It’s been a lot of fun getting everything set up, but it’s been taking up all my free time. Just before we moved, I made a massive batch of Brussels sprouts to snack on throughout the week. The recipe is easy and delicious- it’ll make Brussels sprouts your new favorite vegetable.

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Ingredients:
-2 lbs trimmed Brussels sprouts
-1/3 cup olive oil in a spray bottle (such as Misto)
-2 tbs balsamic vinegar
-Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 or 500 degrees (depending on how charred you like your veggies). Slice Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise and place cut side up on a lightly greased baking sheet in a single layer. Use an extra baking sheet if necessary.
2. Spray the sprouts generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 8 minutes.
3. Flip the sprouts over cut side down, spray with olive oil again, and bake for another 8 minutes.
4. Flip one more time and bake 5-10 minutes more or until golden and tender.
5. Transfer the sprouts to a mixing bowl and toss with freshly ground pepper and balsamic vinegar. Serve warm or store in the fridge for up to a week.

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It’s amazing to me how good roasted cruciferous veggies taste! Broccoli and cauliflower cooked this way are excellent too. Enjoy! One last look because they’re so pretty!

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Zucchini and Sausage Medallions

When I was a kid, I could eat 20 Pizza Rolls in a single sitting and still be hungry. I’m sure I could still do that, but I would probably feel sick to my stomach afterward. Here’s a healthier way to indulge in bite-sized pizza -like snacks! These zucchini medallions are delicious and filling. A single zucchini and link of chicken sausage make 20 mini “pizza bites.”

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Ingredients:
1 zucchini
1 fully cooked chicken sausage link (I used Casual Gourmet red pepper and spinach sausage)
1/4 cup finely shredded cheese (I used Colby jack)
1/3 cup marinara sauce (I used La Victoria brand)

Instructions:

1. Slice the zucchini into 1/4″ thick slices, or about 20 pieces. If you’re in a hurry or really hungry, save time by cutting the zucchini lengthwise into 4-5 strips instead.

2. Broil the zucchini on a baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then flip the slices and broil for 2-3 minutes more on the other side.

3. While the zucchini slices are broiling, slice the sausage link carefully into 20 slices. If you’re making zucchini strips, you can just cut the sausage into 4-5 strips lengthwise instead.

4. Top each medallion or zucchini strip with a thin layer of marinara sauce, a sprinkling of cheese, and a slice of chicken sausage.

5. Broil for 2 minutes more, or until the sausage is heated through and cheese is bubbly. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Look at all that food! All for under 300 calories and ready in less than 15 minutes.

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I hope you’ll enjoy this healthy alternative to Pizza Rolls and Bagel Bites as much as I did! I had them for dinner a few nights in a row since zucchini was only a dollar a pound at the grocery store.

Cabbage with Chicken Sausage and Apples

Are you ready for a hearty autumn meal? This will hit the spot and it’s really easy to make. Cabbage, apples, cider vinegar, and chicken sausage complement each other beautifully in this dish. The lightly sautéed shredded cabbage is reminiscent of noodles- gotta love that!

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Ingredients:
1 fully cooked chicken sausage link (I used apple sausage)
1 small apple
1/2 medium onion
2-3 cups shredded cabbage
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
Up to 1/4 cup Water, white wine, or chicken broth
Salt, pepper, and sriracha hot sauce to taste

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Chop apple, onion, and chicken sausage. Add to the oil.
2. Sauté the apple, sausage, and onion for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the cabbage and apple cider vinegar.
3. Stir the cabbage around in the pot until it begins to cook down. Cover the saucepan and reduce heat.
4. Stir the cabbage every few minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. Add water, white wine, or chicken broth as needed.
5. After about 10-15 minutes, the cabbage should be tender. Season to taste and serve!

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Quick and easy meals are the way to go now that it gets dark so early. I just want to curl up near the fireplace by the time I get home from work, so dishes like this are wonderful. Enjoy!

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Yellow Squash Noodles with Pesto and Turkey

Have a healthy, easy meal on the table in minutes with this simple recipe! Spaghetti squash, zucchini, and yellow squash all taste wonderful with pesto sauce. Add a little ground turkey for protein and you’re ready to dig in!

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ingredients:
4 oz ground turkey
2 small summer squash
1/4 c pesto (I like the one at Trader Joe’s)
1 tbs shredded parmesan

1. Spiralize the summer squash, or use a vegetable peeler to make noodles out of it.
2. Brown the ground turkey in a skillet.
3. Add the summer squash and pesto to the skillet and mix until heated through. Serve with shredded parmesan.

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I love this easy, lazy meal! If you cook a pound or more of ground turkey at once, you can keep it in the fridge for several days to make this meal even faster to put together.