Friday, September 18, 2009

A Potluck Dinner Invitation Contribution: Lentil Soup with homemade bread

Today, in reading the list of blogs that keep me informed and inspired, i found an entry about a woman have a potluck dinner, of sorts, for guests of her blog. It's a really grand idea, i think, because of all the potentially wonderful recipe ideas to be gleened from the experience!

So here are my two pence, as it were: a doctored up Lentil Soup recipe from WW (to make it more like my favourite lentil soup at my new favourite restaurant, The Comfort Food Cafe) and some delicious homemade bread from my friend, MacD's recipe stash on her blog (click"homemade bread" above to link to that recipe.)

Heck, some nights i might even throw in a roasted chicken a la Nigella. :o)

Lentil Soup

10 cups reduced sodium broth
1 pound lentils, French green variety if you can, as they hold their shape the best
carrots, chopped
leeks, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 c. crushed toms with basil
1/3 to 2/3 c. tom sauce (dependent on how tomato-y you like your lentil soups)
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
ground pepper
other fresh herbs (optional)
1 Tbsp olive oil

In olive oil, saute' the leeks (amt: to your liking--i used two the diametre of half dollars in this recipe), carrots (amt: to your liking, i used 6), bay leaf until leeks are wilted. Add lentils, and stir to coat with oil. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to bring a covered pot to simmering, for 30 minutes.

Stir in all the tom varieties, vinegar, pepper and other herbs you may like (i love the marjoram we grow around here, so i flood our soups, sauces, usw. with it.) At this point, check the thickness of your soup--if you like a thinner lentil soup, add up to a cup to 2 cups of water and adjust flavours accordingly.

Notes: I've tried the "Better than Boullion" instant stock--if using it, cut down to 8 cups and use plain ol' water for the rest, otherwise it's really ever too salty!

What's really handy too (especially if you have wee ones who might have rather wishy-washy views on lentils) is to roast up some of Nigella's's the jist from my blogpost about it:

"Basically, dressing your chicken how you like (evoo and herbs or citrus or garlic, what have you...), place it, covered with alum. foil tent, in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes per # + 10 minutes extra. After retrieving it from the oven, you let it to rest for 10 minutes before you carve it.

And the *WHOLE* trick to a moist and tender breast of chicken every time is:

roast it upside down--breasts on the bottom. "

Throw some of this chick in the lentils soup--nummy!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Slow Cooker Lasagna from Kraft's Food & Family magazine

Don't know how many people actually subscribed to this free magazine, but it's chock full of recipes and every once in a while i gleen an idea from it. Granted, i don't use the Kraft ingredients called for the in recipes, or the low fat options, because we buy mostly organic, however, none the less, the recipes can be really yummy.

A couple months ago, i received notice that they would no longer be sending them, unless you paid for them. Well, truth be told, i don't find them that great. So i skipped it. This month, i found another in my mailbox, with "helpful tips" for cutting time and expense of making meals. (Both of which i still think has a drastic impact on the family table....but i digress.)

One recipe i found intriguing was lasagne slow cooker style. Here it is....

Brown 1# ground beef in a skillet and drain. (I also added onions and garlic to the mix, because personally, no spaghetti sauce is worth eating unless it has the flavours of these two ingredients.)

Add 26 oz bottled sauce and 1 c. water and let simmer.

In another bowl, mix 15oz ricotta, 1.5 cups mozzarella cheese, 2TBSP parmesan, 1 egg, and
2 TBSP fresh parsley.

Into crock, add 1 cup meat sauce, break 3 lasagna noodles to fit in crock and arrange to cover sauce. On top of noodles, spread half of the cheese mixture. Repeat (2 c. sauce, 3 more noodles, and rest of cheese mix.) Finish off with the rest of the sauce and put on the lid.

Cook for 4 to 6 hours on LOW heat or until the liquid is absorbed. Then sprinkle with another 1.5 cups of mozzarella and let stand, covered, until cheese is melted (10 + minutes.)

Easy, eh? The recipe says you can make it even easier by making it up ahead of time, refrigerating it, and then cooking it by the following day.

I can't wait to try my Dad's homemade spaghetti sauce recipe in place of the jarred sauce used in this recipe! With the Italian sausage and spices. Eewwww wee!