Red Lentil Coconut Curry Soup

A simple and delicious recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks.

Here’s what you need:

2 cups split red lentils

7 cups water

2-3 medium carrots, peeled and small diced

2 tablespoons minced or grated ginger

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons curry powder

2 tablespoons butter or oil

4 green onions, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons golden raisins

1/3 cup tomato paste

1 can coconut milk

Optional: chopped cilantro for garnish; plain greek yogurt for mixing into the lentils

Here’s what you do:

1. Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear. Place in a large pot with the water and bring to a boil.

2. Once the water is boiling, add the carrots, 1/2 tablespoon ginger, and the salt. Cover and reduce to a simmer, and cook about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. In the meantime, in a dry pan over low heat, toast your curry powder until it starts to become fragrant. Remove from the pan and set aside.

4. In the same pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the remaining ginger, green onions, and raisins, and stir constantly for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, and stir for another minute. Turn off the heat and stir in the toasted curry powder.

5. After the lentils/carrots have finished softening (see Step 2), add the tomato/curry paste and the coconut milk to the lentils. Stir to combine. Cook, uncovered, at a low simmer, another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking. Season with salt and pepper to your taste as needed.

When serving, I like to mix in some freshly chopped cilantro and a scoop of Greek yogurt.


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Drunken Beans

These are hands down my favorite beans. So good, in fact, that my self-proclaimed, bean-detesting husband couldn’t stop eating them. Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.

Here’s what you need:


1 pound (about 2.5 cups) dried pinto beans, soaked over night in cold water in the fridge, then rinsed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 poblano or pasilla peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup tequila

1 bunch cilantro

2 bay leaves

1 cup Mexican lager

1/4 cup tomato paste

Here’s what you do:

1. As mentioned above, soak your beans in cold water overnight. They will plump up significantly. You may need to add more water once or twice.

2. Cook your onion, poblano/pasilla, garlic and a generous pinch of salt in olive oil over medium-high heat, about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the tequila, turn off the heat, and allow to evaporate, about 3-4 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

4. Turn the heat back to high. Stir in 3.5 cups of water, the bay leaves, a teaspoon of salt, the beans, and all the cilantro. Bring to a boil uncovered.

5. Cover, transfer to the oven, and cook until the beans are softened, about 1 hour.

6. Remove from the oven, and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the beer and tomato paste and bringing to a simmer. Allow to simmer about 30 minutes, until beans are softened, and flavors are melded.


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Jewish Apple Coffee Cake

I checked out The Essential NY Times Cookbook from the library, and while I wasn’t drawn to the sweets in the dessert section, the ones listed under “breakfast” were quite enticing. I literally threw this one together the other night with a few changes, and it was so good that it’s already gone. Even my son who doesn’t like apples and doesn’t usually like cake ate it right up!

Here’s what you need:

3-5 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/8 inch thick chunks (you want four cups of apples) [NY Times said you could also use peaches or plums]

2 cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup neutral oil

1/2 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt)

3 eggs and 1 extra egg white, lightly beaten

1/4 cup orange juice (one orange will get you there)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1/2 cup almonds or pecans (optional)

Here’s what you do:

1. Toss the apples together with 3 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a Bundt pan.

3. Sift the flour, remaining 2 cups sugar, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the oil, sour cream, eggs, orange juice, vanilla and almond extract. Mix with a spoon until combined.

4. Spoon one third of the batter into the pan. Wet your spoon and smooth out the first layer. Top with half of the apples, leaving aside any excess moisture. Try your best to keep the apples from touching the sides, but not a big deal if they do a bit. Top with another third of batter, wet the spoon and spread again. Top with the remaining apples and sprinkle the nuts. Then, add the remaining batter, smooth again with a spoon.

5. Bake the cake about 60 to 70 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. If you notice the cake getting too brown around 40-50 minutes, cover with foil.

6. Remove from the oven, allow to cook to lukewarm, and then remove from the pan.


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Kenyan Chapati

I’m posting this recipe both to share, and for myself, so I don’t forget the ingredient ratios, or the tips my beautiful mother-in-law, Janet, taught me when we first made this together. Chapati is a traditional flaky Kenyan bread that accompanies any good meal, basic or extravagant. It’s used to sop up stew, to be eaten alongside grilled goat, or even, in our house, to be rolled with peanut butter and jelly. It’s a deliciously flakey bread, sort of a cross between a really good flour tortilla and Indian naan, that seems to get softer after it’s been cooked and sits in the fridge for a day. Full disclosure: it’s time consuming. But, it’s so worth it. The below recipe is an amalgamation of what Janet taught me, this recipe on Big Oven, and my own trials and errors.

Here’s what you need:

3 cups bread flour (or 2 cups bread flour and 1 cup whole wheat bread flour) plus several scoops more during kneading

Additional all purpose flour or bread flour for dusting as you roll

1.5 cups warm water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons oil, plus another 2 tablespoons oil, plus more oil for brushing and cooking (it’s best to use something neutral, but I only had olive oil and it still tasted great!)

Here’s what you do (note that my recipe is based on using a standing mixer, but you could replicate by hand):

1. Place the three cups of bread flour into the bowl of a standing mixer with the dough hook attached.

2. In a separate bowl, dissolve the sugar, salt, and two tablespoons of oil in the warm water. Stir to combine.

3. Mix the liquid into the flour until combined. Then, turn the standing mixer on to a low speed and allow the dough to knead for about ten minutes. Add additional scoops of flour as you go to make the dough less sticky. You can periodically turn off the mixer and scrape down the dough as needed.

4. Add the next 2 tablespoons of oil to the dough, and continue kneading until the dough is soft, about another 5 minutes. Again, you can periodically turn off the mixer and scrape down the dough as necessary.

5. Cover the dough and allow it to rest for 40 minutes to one hour.

6. After the dough has rested, divide the dough into 10-15 pieces. Dust a flat surface with flour, and do the first step of preparing the chapatis:

Roll the piece of dough into a flat shape. Brush lightly with oil. Then, roll inwards to form a rope-like shape. Finally, roll the rope into a coil-like shape. Press down with your hand. Place the dough on a lightly-oiled baking sheet, cover with a towel, and repeat.

7. Once all the pieces are coiled and pressed, you are ready to do the final roll and cook. First, spray or lightly oil a cast-iron skillet or other heavy, non-stick pan, and warm over high heat for 5 minutes. While the pan is warming, prepare the first chapati. Take a coil, and roll it out flat and round.

8. Turn the heat down to medium-high, and place the chapati in the pan. You are first going to “dry out” each side. Cook the first side for 30 seconds. The chapati will look almost like it’s getting “wet,” and may start to bubble a bit. After 30 seconds, flip the chapati. While the second side is cooking, brush the top lightly with oil. You will probably notice the chapati beginning to puff up even more. After those second 30 seconds are up, flip the chapati again, and cook for 2 minutes, so that the underside is lightly golden. While the chapati is cooking, brush a light layer of oil on the up-side. (Also, roll out your next chapati so you can begin cooking it once this one is done.) Once the 2 minutes are done, flip the chapati, cook another two minutes, and then place on a paper towel lined plate and cover with foil to keep warm. You may have to play with the temperature slightly as you go (turn up a little or down a little) to avoid burning, and you may have to increase or reduce the cooking times slightly.

This sounds like a lot, and has a lot of tips. Here’s how the rhythm looks in simple terms, once the pan is heated:

  • Roll chapati flat
  • Place in pan for 30 seconds
  • Flip, wait another 30 seconds, brushing top with oil while waiting
  • Flip, allow to cook for 2 minutes
  • While cooking, brush oil on top, and roll next chapati
  • Flip, allow to cook for 2 minutes
  • Move cooked chapati to plate and cover with foil
  • Add the next rolled chapati to the pan for 30 seconds and so on …


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Chickpea and Kale Pomodoro

For a slightly spicy, very satisfying tomato dish, excellent over brown rice, give this a try! Adapted from Food & Wine.

Here’s what you need:

1/2 cup olive oil

5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

28-ounce can of crushed or diced tomatoes

1.5 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

One bunch Tuscan kale, stemmed and chopped

Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Chunk of parmesan cheese

To top: Freshly grated parmesan cheese and thinly sliced basil

Here’s what you do:

1. Heat the olive oil in a pot over fairly low heat. Add the garlic and stir occasionally, until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, fennel, crushed red pepper, and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes.

3. Stir in the kale and cook over low heat, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and cook another 3 minutes. Add the parmesan chunk.

4. Cover the pot, and cook on low for another 25 minutes so the flavors can meld.

5. Season with salt, and top each bowl with parmesan and basil.


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Leek, Cauliflower and Gruyere Soup

This is a simple, flavorful and delicious soup! Adapted from Saltie: A Cookbook.

Here’s what you need:

1.5 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2-4 leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

Kosher salt

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

Chunk of gruyere, about 4 inches by 1 inch, cut into a few large chunks

4 cups stock or broth

1 teaspoon dried parsley

Here’s what you do:

1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, a pinch of salt, and sauté until the leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the cauliflower and another pinch of salt, and sauté another 3 minutes.

3. Add the gruyere and stir all together. Add the broth, cover and bring to a simmer, and cook for about 20-30 minutes, until cauliflower is tender.

4. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor with the dried parsley. Add some freshly ground pepper, taste for salt, and serve!

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Honey Buttermilk Bread (with or without Dill) (in the Bread Machine)

As I mentioned, I found two great bread machine recipes recently. Here’s the second. I added fresh dill because I had a lot on hand, but this would be great without too. And don’t be intimidated by the buttermilk. So long as you have milk and white vinegar/lemon juice on hand, you can make buttermilk in 15 minutes! Adapted from The Spruce Eats.

Here’s what you need:

3/4 cup buttermilk (you can make this by adding almost 3/4 cup buttermilk and 3/4 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice, and allowing to sit for 15 minutes)

1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature

3 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (optional)

3 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons yeast

Here’s what you do:

1. In your bread maker, add the ingredients in the order listed above (first liquids, then dry, then yeast).

2. All bread makers are slightly different, but here are the settings I chose: (1) white bread program, (2) medium sized loaf, (3) medium darkness.

3. Turn on your bread machine, let it do the work, and enjoy!

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Oatmeal Honey Wheat Bread (in the Bread Machine)

I recently found two bread recipes that are amazing in the bread machine. Here’s the first; it makes the whole house smell delicious! Adapted from King Arthur Bread.

Here’s what you need:

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup oats (regular or quick cook)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

2 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour

1/2 tablespoon yeast

Here’s what you do:

1. In a large bowl, stir together the water, oats, brown sugar, honey, butter, salt and cinnamon. Mix well, and allow to cool to warm, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. In your bread maker, pour in the oatmeal mixture, followed by the flours, followed by the yeast.

3. All bread makers are slightly different, but here are the settings I chose: (1) whole wheat program, (2) medium sized loaf, (3) medium darkness.

4. Turn on your bread machine, let it do the work, and enjoy!

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Pasta with Vodka Sauce

I filed this recipe away for a special time since the ingredients call for heavy cream, and I try not to use that too often in my cooking. But Thanksgiving rolled around, so I made it. And it was so popular I had to make a second batch! It’s actually quite easy to make, comes together quickly, and tastes delicious. Adapted from Serious Eats.

Here’s what you need:

3 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, roughly diced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

1 can (14.5 oz) whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup half and half

1 tablespoon white or brown sugar

1 pound rigatoni (or other tubular pasta)

1/4 cup vodka

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Here’s what you do:

1. Heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, crushed red pepper and salt, and cook until onion softens and starts to turn golden, about 15 minutes, stirring often.

2. Add the tomato paste to the pot, and stir to incorporate, allowing to cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the entire can of peeled tomatoes and juice to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then allow to cook for about 10 minutes, crushing the tomatoes with the back of a spoon.

4. Add cream, half and half, and sugar, and stir to incorporate. Turn off heat.

5. In a blender, puree the tomatoes until smooth. Return to the pot.

6. Bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for three minutes less than al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the rest. While the pasta is cooking, bring the tomatoes back to a simmer and add the vodka.

7. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the tomatoes, and stir in the pasta. Coat the pasta in the sauce, and allow it to cook the remaining 3 minutes in the sauce, adding the remaining pasta water if the sauce gets too thick. (I used it all.)

8. Turn off the heat, and stir in the parmesan until melted. Taste and add salt as needed.


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Roasted Garlic and Fall Squash Pasta

This recipe was posted on Instagram from Half Baked Harvest. I tried it, but modified a few things to make what I found to be an excellent dish!

Here’s what you need:

6 cups peeled and cubed squash (butternut squash, kabocha squash, or other sweet orange-fleshed squash)

8-10 cloves garlic, trimmed but unpeeled

salt and pepper to taste (don’t be shy with the salt)

crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, or rosemary, or a combination (or dried herbs, but cut the quantity in half)

glug of olive oil

8 slices prosciutto

1 pound pasta (I did big macaroni and it was like a delicious mac and cheese)

1 cup ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage (sage really gives this dish a special taste)

1 cup shredded gouda, or gouda and parmesan (or you can cut down the shredded cheese volume)

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Peel and cube the squash. Then toss in a large bowl with the garlic, salt and pepper, crushed red pepper, thyme/rosemary, and olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a large baking sheet, and place the slices of prosciutto around the squash. (If you want to go vegetarian, just skip the prosciutto.)

3. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Stir, flip the prosciutto, and roast another 15-20 minutes, so the squash is soft and browning and the garlic squeezes out of its peel.

4. While the squash is roasting, cook the pasta one minute less than the directions. Drain but reserve one cup pasta water.

5. From the baking sheet, set the prosciutto aside. Squeeze the garlic out of the peel and discard the peel.

6. In a food processor, combine the squash, garlic and ricotta cheese until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

7. In a pan, heat the butter and sage until the butter starts to brown. Add the squash mixture and half a cup of the reserved pasta water. Stir to combine.

8. Add the shredded cheese to the squash mixture and melt.

9. Add the pasta and remaining reserved water to the squash, and stir until fully combined. Serve as is, or topped with some crumbled prosciutto.


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