This was pretty good, but was a little bland if you didn’t have some of those fried onions on your fork! My kids thought it was okay. Leave off the yogurt and it’s vegan!

rating: 8.5

(Cooking Light)


serves 8
time needed: 1 hour 30 min.


7 cups water, divided
1 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
3 large yellow onions
1/4 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1 cup uncooked brown or green lentils, rinsed
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Plain whole-milk yogurt (optional)
Chopped fresh mint (optional)



Step 1
Bring 4 cups water to boil in a small pot over high. Add rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and boil for 10 minutes. Drain. While the rice parcooks, halve and thinly slice the onions horizontally.

Step 2
Heat a medium pot or baking dish with a lid over medium-high, and then add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add sliced onions, thyme, and remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until onions are softened and quite browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add a sprinkle of water if needed to keep from burning. Remove half of the onions (about 1 cup), and set aside. Add the parcooked rice, cumin, bay leaf, and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to pot. Cook, stirring often, until toasted and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add lentils and remaining 3 cups water. Increase heat to medium- high, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a very low simmer. Cover and cook until rice and lentils are tender and water is absorbed, about 40 minutes.

Step 3
While mujadara cooks, put reserved half of onions in a small pan, and cook over medium-high, stirring often, until fried and crisp, even blackened in places, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Step 4
To serve, stir pine nuts into mujadara, and sprinkle with fried onions. If you like, drizzle with additional olive oil and a dollop of yogurt, and top with mint.


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Cheesy Polenta Skillet

This was something different for us, and it ended up being pretty good! I don’t cook with polenta too much (and I am not sure why, because I love it!). I left off the mushrooms because my 10 year old hates them. I substituted vegetarian beef crumbles (Trader Joe’s brand) for the ground turkey. This was just really tasty. I served it with a green salad and some crusty bread.

rating: 9

Cheesy Polenta Skillet
(Cooking Light)

serves 4
time needed: 20 min.


4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces tube polenta, cut into 4 (3/4-inch thick) slices (about half of an 18-oz. tube)
6 ounces ground turkey (I used vegetarian beef crumbles instead)
2 cups sliced fresh cremini mushrooms (about 6 oz.) – I omitted
1 cup finely chopped red onion
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups lower-sodium marinara sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 ounces preshredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 cup)
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)



Step 1
Preheat broiler with oven rack in top position.

Step 2
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a 10-inch oven-proof skillet over medium-high. Add polenta slices; cook slices 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove pan from heat.

Step 3
Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add turkey; cook 7 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic; cook 6 minutes. Stir in marinara sauce, oregano, and vinegar; cook 5 minutes. Pour turkey mixture over polenta in skillet. Sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over pan. Place pan in oven; broil 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned.



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Chicken-and-Kale Alfredo Bake

This casserole was pretty good. My one complaint is that there wasn’t enough pasta! It only calls for 6 ounces, and I think next time I will double it! I used 1 bag of Quorn Chik’n Tenders in place of the meat. I served this with a green salad.

rating: 9

Chicken-and-Kale Alfredo Bake
(Cooking Light, Dec. 2017)

serves 4
time needed: 40 min.



6 ounces uncooked whole-wheat penne pasta
2 cups stemmed chopped kale (about 2 oz.)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 (6-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces (I used 1 bag of Quorn Chik’n Tenders)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups fat-free milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated and divided (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chopped shallot
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Cooking spray
2 ounces preshredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3/4 cup)
1 1/2 tablespoons whole-wheat panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)



Step 1
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Step 2
Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil. Add pasta; cook 6 minutes. Add kale; cook 2 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain. Place pasta mixture in a large bowl.

Step 3
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Sprinkle chicken with pepper and salt. Add to pan; cook 8 minutes or until done. Add chicken to pasta mixture (do not wipe out pan).

Step 4
Combine milk, flour, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese in a bowl. Heat pan over medium. Add shallot to drippings in pan; cook 2 minutes. Stir in rind and juice; cook 1 minute. Add milk mixture; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Add milk mixture to pasta mixture; toss to coat.

Step 5
Spoon pasta mixture into a 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, and panko. Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes or until browned.


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Patti and Lora’s Awesome Soup

My friend Patti posted on Facebook the other day a recipe for a super easy soup. She said that her friend Lora made it for her when she visited her in Seattle recently. It’s only 3 ingredients! It sounded so good that I raced out to Trader Joe’s to buy the ingredients. I tell you, I want to always have the makings for this soup on hand. It can be made in just a few minutes. My kids were out riding bikes in the cold, and they came in and had some warm soup and told me all about their day. Soup IS good food. PS: the directions are straight from Patti’s Facebook page.

rating: 9.8

Patti and Lora’s Awesome Soup


Trader Joe’s Miso-Ginger Broth (2 boxes)
Trader Joe’s Vegetable Gyoza dumplings (I used 2 bags)
spinach or kale


Pour two boxes of TJ’s miso ginger broth into a soup pot and warm it up.
Once the broth is warmed, crack open a bag of TJ’s vegetable gyoza dumplings and pour it into the broth. Warm over a medium-low heat and the frozen dumplings will thaw and fall apart with abandon.
Open a bag of TJ baby kale and/or baby spinach and put into the broth to wilt. Warm on low.
Eat that and you will feel comforted like you did when your mother used to make you noodle soup as a child when you were sick. And if your mother never did that for you, you are now doing it for yourself, which is awesome.


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Crispy Potatoes with Garlic Lemon Avocado Aioli

These potatoes were great! And the dipping sauce…wow! I could just eat that plain! I did leave off the chipotle powder, but they were still good. 😉

rating: 9.2

Crispy Potatoes with Garlic Lemon Avocado Aioli


time needed: 40 min.
serves 4



1 lb small red potatoes, quartered
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp chipotle powder (I omitted)
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp onion
parsley, minced for garnish

Garlic Lemon Avocado Aioli (Dip or Dressing):
½ cup vegan mayo
1 small avocado
½ – 1 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp parsley, minced
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
black peppercorn, to taste



Preheat oven to 425 F.
Combine potatoes with olive oil and spices. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the potatoes out, cut side down.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, flip, and cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until crispy, golden-brown, and tender when poked with a fork.

Garlic Lemon Avocado Aioli:

In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
Optional: Add a splash of unsweetened non-dairy milk to thin to your desired consistency, from a thick dip to a thin dressing.
Taste and adjust the amount of salt, pepper, and lemon juice, if needed.
Serve potatoes plain with a side of dip, or serve drizzled with thinned dressing, and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.


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Slow Cooker Butternut Squash + Apple Soup

I thought this soup was great! It made the house smell great, too! My 7 year old loved this, but my 10 year old didn’t. Husband thought it was pretty good. Bonus, it’s vegan!

rating: 9

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash + Apple Soup



1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed (about 4-5 cups)
2 large apples (just use your favorite)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 a yellow onion, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 cups broth (I used vegetarian “chicken” broth)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon OR 3 cinnamon sticks – I used ground
2 bay leaves
1 can full fat coconut milk



Combine all ingredients except coconut milk in slow cooker. Give it a stir to mix everything, cover, and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
Once the soup is done cooking, remove bay leaves and cinnamon sticks (if using).
Using a immersion blender, blend the soup until it is very smooth and all of the apple and butternut squash pieces are pureed. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can also puree the soup in your blender in batches. Just be very careful when transferring the soup to blender, as it will be very hot.
Add the coconut milk to the soup, blending or stirring for a minute or two to combine.
Enjoy immediately garnished with a little olive oil and/or additional salt and pepper.


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Product Review: Lucky Foods Potato Stix

I can’t remember where I got these, either Aldi or Harris Teeter (maybe?). These are like little egg rolls, but they are vegetarian and filled with various potato fillings. There are four flavors: original, curry, jalapeno, and wasabi. I bought the original and curry. You bake these in the oven for about 15 minutes, turning once. We all thought these were great! I didn’t even think about a dipping sauce, but these would be great dipped in sour cream, ranch, etc. These are a nice little side dish!



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