Golden Coconut Lentil Soup

This soup was just okay. I also had it for lunch the next day, and it was a tiny bit better. I did use the jasmine rice as more than just a topping. I served about 1/4 rice to 3/4 soup. Anyway, everyone ate this, but we didn’t LOVE it.

rating: 7

Golden Coconut Lentil Soup

time needed: 45 min.


1 Tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 inch fresh ginger (about 1 Tbsp grated)
½ Tbsp ground turmeric
Pinch red pepper flakes
2-3 carrots
½ lb. red or yellow lentils (about 1 cup)
4 cups water
13.5 oz. coconut milk
½ Tbsp salt (or to taste)
⅓ cup large, unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ bunch cilantro
2 cups cooked jasmine rice


Add the olive oil to a large pot. Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and grate or mince the ginger (I use a small-holed cheese grater). Sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger in the olive oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are soft and transparent. While the onions, garlic, and ginger are sautéing, peel and slice the carrots.
Add the turmeric and red pepper to the pot and sauté for a minute more. Add the carrots to the pot, sauté for a minute more, then add the lentils and water. Place a lid on the pot, bring it up to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Toast the coconut flakes while the soup simmers. Add the coconut flakes to a dry skillet and place it over medium-low heat. Stir continuously as the flakes heat until they are about 50% golden brown (1-3 minutes). Remove the flakes from the hot skillet immediately to stop the toasting process.
After 20 minutes the lentils should be soft and broken down. Stir the coconut milk into the soup. Use an immersion blender or carefully blend the warm soup in small batches until about half of the soup is puréed (or all of it if you want it completely smooth). Once blended, begin adding salt, ½ tsp at a time, until the soup is properly seasoned. I used 1.5 tsp or ½ Tbsp of salt. Also adjust the red pepper flakes, if desired.
To serve the soup, ladle about 1.5 cups into a bowl and top with ½ cup cooked rice, some fresh cilantro leaves, and a sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes.

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Spaghetti Marinara

This recipe was excellent! We ate it ALL! My son and husband doctored theirs up with hot sauce.

rating: 9.8

Spaghetti Marinara
Food Network magazine, March 2017)

time needed: 40 min.
serves: 4


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cube


Combine the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat until the garlic is golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, oregano and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and 1/2 cup water; continue cooking until the sauce is slightly reduced, about 20 minutes. Stir in the basil and season with salt. Keep warm over low heat.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain.

Add the pasta to the sauce along with the butter and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water. Increase the heat to medium and toss to coat, adding the remaining cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce. Transfer the pasta to bowls and drizzle with olive oil.

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Summer Corn Chowder

Happy first day of Spring! I made this soup last week. I have come to this conclusion: I don’t like corn chowder. I keep trying it, and I haven’t found one that I love. I am sure that if you DO like corn chowder, you will like this recipe!

rating: 8

Summer Corn Chowder
(Food, Health and Happiness, Oprah Winfrey)

serves 8
time needed: 1.5 hours


1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 med. carrots, peeled and cut into small dice
1 med. yellow onion, cut into small dice
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1.5 tsp salt, plus more if needed
kernels from 6 ears of corn, or 4.5 cups thawed frozen corn kernels (I used frozen)
1 medium baking potato, peeled and cut into small dice
6 cups chicken stock, plus more if needed (I used vegetarian “chicken” broth)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup canned evaporated milk
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper


4 thick slices great-quality bacon, cut into small dice (I used Morningstar Farms veggie bacon)
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into small dice (I omitted)
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
1/2 tsp ground chipotle chile (I omitted)
2 canned pimientos, drained and cut into small dice
2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh chives
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon (I omitted)


In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the carrots, onion, garlic, and salt, and cook for about 10 minutes, until softened, but not browned. Add the corn and cook for 5 minutes more (if using frozen corn, no need to cook). Add the potato, chicken stock, thyme, and bay leaf, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes: cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Add the sweet potato to the pan and cook until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Add the corn and chipotle and cook for 2 minutes more. Place the bacon in a medium bowl, add the sweet potato, corn, and pimientos, and toss in the chives and tarragon. Remove from the heat and set aside while you finish the soup.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme from the soup. Wtih a mesh strainer or large slotted spoon, remove half of the solids from the pan and place in a blender. Add the evaporated milk, hold down the lid with a towel to avoid escaping steam, and blend until smooth. Return the puree to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes more. Add the pepper, taste, and add more salt if needed. Ladle into bowls, garnish with the sweet potato mixture, and serve.

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Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole

This is probably the unhealthiest thing I have ever made. And you know what? My family LOVED it. SIGH. I used McCormick Bac’n Pieces for the bacon bits (they are vegan!) and I used Beyond Beef crumbles in place of the ground beef. I kind of hate that my family loved it, since this dish is nothing but chemicals and additives, but, hey, what can you do?

rating: 9

Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole

serves 6-8


1-1/2 pounds ground beef (I used Beyond Beef crumbles)
1 (3-oz) package real bacon bits
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 (32-oz) package frozen tater tots
1 (10.75-oz) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
16-oz sour cream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
Cook ground beef in a large skillet until no longer pink. Drain fat.
In a large bowl, combine cooked beef, bacon bits, cheddar cheese, tater tots, cheese soup and sour cream. Mix until throughly combined.
Spread mixture into prepared pan.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until bubbly.


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Pasta Primavera

I checked out Oprah’s new cookbook, and this is the first recipe I tried. It was good! It was even better the second day! Don’t leave off the pine nuts, it’s so much better with them!

rating: 9

Pasta Primavera
(Food, Health and Happiness, Oprah Winfrey)

serves 6
time needed: 50 min.


2 tbsp sea salt, plus more to taste
3 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 cup tiny broccoli florets
8 ounces pasta
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cremini mushrooms, stems removed and very thinly sliced
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 small yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finley diced
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper




Fill a large bowl with ice and water to make an ice-water bath. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the salt. Add the carrots, zucchni, and broccoli and cook for about 3 minutes, until crisp tender. Scoop the vegetables out (don’t drain the water) using a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice-water bath to cool completely, then drain.

Return the water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente according to the package directions. Drain.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, or until softened and aromatic. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened, adding a tiny bit of water if they start to stick. Add the tomatoes and juices and red papper flakes and cook for 10 minutes. Add the blanched carrots, zucchini, and broccoli and the past and stir to fully coat them in the tomatoes; cook just until everything is heated through. Remove from the heat, stir in the bell pepper and Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and top with the basil and pine nuts.

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Tortilla Chip Casserole

This recipe turned out to be a little dry for me. Maybe next time I will add more sauce? Or bake it for a little less time? My son and husband liked it, and my daughter picked out all the chips and ate those.

rating: 8

Tortilla Chip Casserole


1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock (I used vegetarian “chicken” stock)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1 cup organic canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (I used 2 bags of Morningstar Farms Chik’n Strips)
4 ounces baked tortilla chips, crushed
1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped
8 ounces lower-sodium green chile enchilada sauce (such as Frontera)
2.5 ounces shredded cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese blend (about 2/3 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped green onions


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook 6 minutes. Add garlic and flour; cook 2 minutes. ­Gradually add milk and stock, stirring constantly; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and cream cheese.

3. Spread 1/2 cup milk mixture over bottom of a broiler-safe 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Layer beans, 1 1/2 cups chicken, and 2 ounces chips. Top with 1/2 cup milk mixture. Layer 1 1/2 cups chicken, bell pepper, and 2 ounces chips; top with 1 cup milk mixture and enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with green onions.

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Gnocchi Mac and Cheese

My son loves gnocchi, and my daughter loves mac and cheese. They both thought this dish was pretty good, and husband and I really liked it! It’s pretty simple to make and doesn’t take too long to make. Husband said it was a great “comfort food” dish.

rating: 9

Gnocchi Mac and Cheese
(Southern Living, Dec. 2015)


2 (16-oz.) packages potato gnocchi
1/4 cup plus 2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
4 ounces extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated
Vegetable cooking spray


1. Preheat oven to 375°. Bring 3 qt. water to a boil in a stockpot or large saucepan. Add both packages of gnocchi and 1/4 cup kosher salt. Boil about 3 minutes or until gnocchi float.

2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, and sauté 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add flour and chopped thyme, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture is golden brown and smooth. Gradually whisk in milk. Increase heat to high.

3. Bring mixture to a boil, whisking occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until slightly thickened and mixture coats the back of a spoon. Stir in mustard and hot sauce. Remove from heat.

4. Add sharp and extra-sharp Cheddar cheeses, and stir until melted. Stir in gnocchi and remaining 2 1/2 tsp. salt, and transfer to a lightly greased (with cooking spray) 11- x 7-inch or 2-qt. baking dish.

5. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until gnocchi is puffed and sauce is golden and bubbly. Increase oven temperature to broil, and broil 2 minutes or until top is slightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes, and serve immediately.

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