Slow Cooker Southwest Lentil Soup

I love crockpot meals. I love throwing ingredients in the morning and coming home to a delicious meal ready made for me. Joe and I like to make crockpot meals on Wednesdays (which is Dungeons and Dragons night) so that we don’t have to worry about cooking when we are also meeting up with a bunch of other people in different time zones online. Lately, I’ve really wanted to find more vegetarian slow cooker recipes, which lead me to try this soup. Joe and I both liked it a lot and because it’s so easy we will certainly make it again often!

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Flavor-packed Louisiana Creole Food – Jambalaya

Because Mardi Gras is such a big celebration is New Orleans, it’s not uncommon to see Cajun and Creole food prepared around Fat Tuesday, even if you don’t live in Louisiana. We may be past Fat Tuesday, but I’ve been thinking about making Jambalaya for the last couple weeks and finally had a chance to do so.

Jambalaya is a meat and rice dish traditional in the Creole and Cajun cultures of Louisiana. While they have a lot of similarities – both are spiced and rely on the “Holy Trinity” of onion, celery, and bell pepper – there are differences between Creole and Cajun food. The Creoles were descendants of French and Spanish colonists who had mixed French, African American and Native American ancestry. Creole food is considered “city food” and contains ingredients such as tomatoes, butter, and herbs. The Cajuns were French Canadians expelled from Nova Scotia who eventually settled in the bayous and intermarried with everyone there. Cajun food is considered “country food” and uses no tomatoes, oil instead of butter, and lots of peppers.

Jambalaya is one of my dad’s favorite foods to make, and I also love making it! Because my jambalaya is a mash-up of a number of different recipes, I don’t think I’ve ever made it the same way twice, but I have definitely overheard my husband bragging about how good my jambalaya is. This Creole-style “red” Jambalaya is the version I made most recently.* Every time I make this, I am flabbergasted at how flavorful it is – every mouthful is amazing. Maybe someday I’ll try a Cajun “brown” Jambalaya, but for now I love this version enough to keep making it again.

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Smoky Southwest Black Bean Soup

I first discovered the world of food blogs when I was in college. When my diet consisted mostly of ramen and peanut butter, I found reading about other people’s experiences with food fascinating. I lived vicariously through descriptions of dishes with all sorts of ingredients I couldn’t afford to buy (because anything other than the staples was too much.) Even now, reading food blogs allows me to attach an emotion to a recipe – that’s something more than a simple list of instructions can do.

This soup is the first recipe I made from a food blog for one simple reason: I could afford it. I was geekily excited to try something new. It didn’t look pretty, but it was delicious. Even now, years later, I love making this soup along with cumin roasted cauliflower for a delicious dinner that takes almost no effort at all.

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Turkey Sloppy Joes With a Side of Sweet Potato Oven Fries

I did not grow up in a house that ever served sloppy joes – they were one of the foods my mother considered junk food, so she never made them. I do remember going to my grandmother’s house and getting to eat Manwich sloppy joes and drink cups of Sunny D and loving every bit of it… even though my mom pursed her lips when we asked for Sunny D because it wasn’t real juice.

Now, as an adult, there is a restaurant near my house that serves a lentil sloppy joe and big plates of delicious sweet potato fries, which was part of the inspiration for my Sunday night dinner this week. While scrolling through an extensive back log of recipes I haven’t tried yet, a lighter option for sloppy joe sandwiches sounded like just what I needed, and I knew that sweet potato fries had to be paired with it.

Although coordinating two untested recipes at the same time is often a good way for my kitchen to become a disaster, I actually found it very easy to make these together: I cut the potatoes and put them in a bowl of water in the fridge before making the sloppy joe meat, then as the sauce simmered, I finished making the fries. All the food was done at the same time and I felt like a genius.

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Presidents’ Day Weekend: Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette

This weekend, my family came from Ohio to visit Joe and me in Milwaukee. Because I had taken some (very needed!) time off work to see them, I also made sure to take time to cook a lot of good food. I used this opportunity to make breakfast every day, since I actually had people to cook for who will eat eggs (Joe does not.) Eggs-in-Purgatory-Style Baked “Huevos Rancheros”; Bacon, Feta, and Scallion Frittata; Breakfast Burritos; I could eat eggs for breakfast, lunch, and midnight snack daily and not get sick of them. However, I know most other people do not share my enthusiasm, so I also made dinner the last 2 nights: a mouth-watering butternut squash galette and an easy! delicious! cheap! black bean soup. The black bean soup I have already made several times over the last couple months and will likely make several more times. The galette – well, I have only made it once before and I admit the only reason I don’t make this all the time is because I fear preparing winter squash. Every time I face my fears though, I realize that it’s really not as difficult as I’m making it out to be and what effort there is, is well worth it in taste. This has become a winter favorite at home. Continue reading “Presidents’ Day Weekend: Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette”

Camping – Spaghetti with Meatballs and Roasted Vegetables

This weekend, Joe and I went on a long-awaited camping trip with two of our good friends. We were very excited to spend the weekend hiking, sitting around a campfire, and enjoying the scenery that Kettle Moraine had to offer. All of this was brought to a stumbling halt, however, when Joe broke his foot earlier this week. We attempted 2 days at the campsite, before finally giving in and spending the last day of our vacation at home, playing board games. Before our slight derailment, however, I had the opportunity to make spaghetti with meatballs and roasted vegetables cooked over an open fire. We ended up eating in the dark (difficult, to say the least, when it comes to spaghetti,) but it hit the spot and was delicious just the same.

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Crunchy Chopped Salad with Feta, Lime, and Mint

It has been over a year since I have posted anything here! Joe and I  have been very busy lately with buying and moving into a new house, and neither one of us has had much time for anything else – including cooking. Tonight, however, I managed to make something other than frozen pizza and my taste buds (and love handles) are thanking me.

This is another brilliant recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I find myself craving it whenever I want something crunchy and green. I love the way the spicy lime dressing coats the feta and the way it elevates the vegetables. The mint and the sunflower seeds add complexity and balance the whole thing and… I really don’t know what I’m talking about, I just know that it’s good and worth making repeatedly every summer. I gave the recipe to my mom, who likes filling it out with barley and lettuce which turns it into a very different, but still very delicious dish!

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Simple, Tasty, Cheap – Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

El Yucateco hiding in the corner

A long while ago, my sister declared to the rest of our family that she was going to become a vegetarian. This led to a couple years of the rest of us eating one meal, while Renée munched on tofu and broccoli alone. Luckily, following this Renée put some effort into tracking down some vegetarian cookbooks and hunting for recipes online.

Brilliant colors, ready to be stirred together, with a splash of hot sauce on top.

Despite my initial trepidation at what sounded like a boring meal – cooked only when you were trying to hold out for the next paycheck – I now will scarf this tasty meal down and go back for seconds faster than blinking. This recipe has become a family favorite, and it’s also one my fiancé insists on having at home at least once every other week. Continue reading “Simple, Tasty, Cheap – Louisiana Red Beans and Rice”