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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The Taste of Summer: Burst Tomato Galette with Corn and Zucchini

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This time of year, I love eating everything with zucchini, corn, and tomatoes in it because they’re all in season and everywhere and at peak deliciousness… Eating any meal with these three ingredients will instantly transport me back to being a kid, walking through the garden with my mom, running around barefoot with my sister, shucking corn, and catching lightning bugs. The first time I made this galette, all I could think about what how every bite tasted like pure summer. I have made it three times already this summer, and I will likely make it again.

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Joe and my garden has been overflowing with zucchini and tomatoes, which is thrilling, but also terrifying because now we have to figure out what to do with so many tomatoes they completely cover our countertops. This galette has helped.

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Roasted Vegetable Baked Ziti

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Several years ago, I decided I was going to make a lasagna for my friend’s mom (which I like to do for births, funerals, Christmas gifts, get-well presents, and more). She eats very little meat, however, so I decided to make a vegetarian lasagna instead. And she keeps gluten-free, but the only gluten-free noodles I could find in the store were ziti. And when I tried to layer the ingredients they all just kind of smooshed together. It did not turn out like I expected, but my sister and I brought it over to her house, we all shared it while playing Eucher together, and we all had second helpings…

Now, shelter-in-place and limiting shopping trips to once every 2 weeks has made it hard to eat as many fresh vegetables as I would like, so I found myself thinking once again about that vegetable baked ziti and I decided to see if I could recreate it. I tried my hand at it this afternoon, and this evening Joe and I sat on our porch with a glass of red wine to accompany it and we both had second helpings. Continue reading “Roasted Vegetable Baked Ziti”

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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Chana Masala From The Pantry

Lunch buffets at Indian restaurants are among my favorite things. Or dinners at Indian restaurants. Or even the odd brunch. Basically, if you suggest going out for Indian food, my answer will be yes. One of my favorite dishes to get is chana masala, or chickpea curry. I have been wanting to learn to make it for myself for a long time, but was always a little intimidated. Today, I was hungry and set about to make it with only the ingredients I already had in my home. Although the spice list is long, it is astoundingly easy – just heat, stir, and eat. Continue reading “Chana Masala From The Pantry”

Moroccan Inspired: Butternut Squash with Cumin Couscous

Moroccan tagine is a slow-cooked stew made with meat, vegetables, spices, dried fruit, and nuts; it is named after the dish that it is traditionally cooked in. I have not always been familiar with Moroccan food, but the first time I was served tagine, I realized it was the inspiration for this aromatic vegetable stew. My mom used to make this in the autumn and when I moved out, I asked her to send me the recipe – back when I was in college, this stew would last me for many meals of delicious leftovers that were far more nutritious than Ramen! (And the leftovers taste even better when the flavors have had a day or two to really come out.) Recently, my mom gifted me a butternut squash from her garden and I immediately knew what I was going to make with it. Continue reading “Moroccan Inspired: Butternut Squash with Cumin Couscous”

Sausage Lasagna Makes a Wonderful Freezer Meal.

Ready to bake!

“You know, there’s a million fine looking women in the world, dude. But they don’t all bring you lasagna at work. Most of ’em just cheat on you.”

Early on in our relationship, Joe quoted Clerks while we were hanging out with some friends. One of my friends rapidly thereafter made a lasagna for her new boyfriend to prove she was a “lasagna girlfriend” and not a cheating girlfriend. I also happened to make Joe a lasagna for his next birthday… Lasagna is actually a wonderful freezer meal which is why I make it for: coworkers who are off work for a while for surgery, friends after they have a baby or after a loss, and every single year as a Christmas present for my brother-in-law (who is a single father of 3 and I’m sure welcomes a little break now and then!) It has been a long time since I’ve made one for Joe and myself, though, so tonight I put one together and stuck it in the fridge. Later this week, I’ll be able to have hot lasagna with no prep or assembly to do when I get home from work, which is the true miracle.

Continue reading “Sausage Lasagna Makes a Wonderful Freezer Meal.”

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

When I was in my middle school years, I was really into Scholastic’s Dear America diaries and the Royal Diaries series which give historical-fiction accounts from the point of view of teenagers.  The summer I turned thirteen, I read one on Jahanara (the daughter of Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal) and subsequently became obsessed with Indian culture for a season. I picked up all the books on India that I could from the library and asked my parents to take me out for Indian food as my birthday treat, initiating a long-abiding love for Indian cuisine.

This recipe is adapted from thekitchn – they say that it can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days or frozen for 3 to 4 months, but I’ve always had the entire pot disappear within a day. Every single time I make this my apartment smells amazing and Joe gets very excited because he can’t wait to scoop it up with naan and eat it. I made this for friends last night and they were equally enthusiastic. Continue reading “Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala”

Simple Chicken Cacciatora

This past year at the holidays, I received a cookbook from a friend (Hi Morgan!) Last weekend I spent several hours leisurely perusing the many recipes and imagining how good they would all taste if only I would ever take the time to actually make them. This weekend, I tried my hand at the first one. This recipe isn’t a traditional cacciatora in that it’s oven-roasted rather than braised; frankly, however, this method seems easier to me so I’m likely to make it on any given night of the week rather than one that requires multiple steps. This recipe is tart and yet has it’s own richness. Joe and I ate the whole thing. Continue reading “Simple Chicken Cacciatora”