Sweet Onion Lentils and Rice (Mother’s Day 2017)

For our Mother’s Day celebration this year we made a delicious recipe courtesy of Buzzfeed. Get a large pasta pot for this if you’re going to double the size! I’ve included the doubled ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 3 red onions (2 will be thinly sliced, 1 will be diced)
  • 4 T olive oil, divided in half
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups green lentils
  • 2 cups long grain rice (we used Basmati)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, for serving
  • 2 lemons, for serving

Directions:

  1. Make the caramelized onions: Heat 2 T olive oil in a large skillet on low heat. Add the onion slices, stirring for about 30 minutes, until they are caramelized and brown.
  2. In a large pot, saute the diced onion and garlic in 2 T olive oil until soft and translucent. This will take about 5 minutes.
  3. Add 7 cups of water, salt, and the lentils to the pot. Bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and simmer 10 minutes.
  4. Add the rice, cumin, cinnamon and bay leaves to the pot. Stir well and replace the lid. Cook covered on low for 15 minutes, or until rice is soft and cooked through.
  5. Fluff the lentil-rice mixture and serve topped with the caramelized onion slices and lemon slices. Top with parsley.

Steak and Bell Pepper Fajitas with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I usually buy the pre-sliced steak and bell peppers at the grocery store, but this time I wanted to find a recipe that I could make from scratch. Here it is!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds steak (skirt, flank, sirloin–I used flank)
  • 2 peppers (red, green or yellow), sliced into strips
  • 1 onion, sliced into strips
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper (I used red pepper flakes)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Tortillas

Directions:

  1. Combine the olive oil, lime juice, spices, and garlic in a bowl and whisk until incorporated.
  2. Place the sliced vegetables in a container with a lid or a resealable plastic bag. Place the meat in another.
  3. Pour 1/3 of the marinade onto the vegetables and another 1/3 onto the steak. Seal the containers or bags and shake. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour or longer.
  4. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and drizzle with olive oil. Add the sliced vegetables and saute for about 5-10 minutes, or until vegetables are starting to get soft. Remove the vegetables from the skillet.
  5. Drizzle a bit more olive oil into the skillet and add the steak. Cook, turning every few minutes, for about 15 minutes or until steak is desired temperature. Add the reserved 1/3 marinade and vegetables and toss.

Serve on tortillas with: avocado slices or guacamole, black beans and cilantro rice, sour cream, cheddar cheese, mashed sweet potatoes (see recipe below), or plantains. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves!

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • A pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400F. Scrub the sweet potatoes and dry them. Wrap each potato in foil, making sure to crimp the top and sides so steam does not escape when cooking.
  2. Place potatoes on a lined baking sheet and bake at 400F for 1 hour 20 minutes. When done, remove from oven and let sit about half an hour.
  3. Once the potatoes have cooled, slice them lengthwise and scoop out the potato, discarding the skin. Mash in a bowl with the butter, nutmeg, and salt.

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Chicken Pot Pie (Milk-Free)

I can’t believe I found such a great recipe for a milk-free chicken pot pie! I used Puff Pastry as well, and it came out great.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped (I used 2)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter (you can also use dairy-free butter)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 12 oz. bag frozen mixed veggies, thawed
  • 3 1/4 cup chicken broth (I used 3 cups)
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook the chicken first. Marinate the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic powder, and olive oil. Place in a baking pan, cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 400F for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove half of the puff pastry (for the bottom layer) from the freezer and leave out on the counter to thaw, about 40 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken from the oven, remove foil cover, and let cool.
  4. Spray a square baking pan (2 quarts) with Pam or other cooking spray. Press the puff pastry sheet onto the baking pan, prick holes in it with a fork, and cover with foil. Pie weights would be good for blind baking here. Bake at 400F for 25 minutes.
  5. While the puff pastry is baking, remove the second sheet from the freezer and leave out on the counter to thaw.
  6. Chop the chicken into small chunks and set aside.
  7. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and add the onion, celery, and bay leaf. Cook for 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft, stirring often.
  8. Discard the bay leaf. Add the flour to the saucepan and cook for another 3 minutes or so, until the mixture turns golden.
  9. Add the chicken broth and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and add the chicken and thawed mixed vegetables, stirring well. The mixture will be thick. Remove from heat.
  10. Once the baked puff pastry is out of the oven, remove the foil and let it sit for a few minutes. When the chicken mixture is ready, pour it into the baking dish, making sure to spread it in an even layer.
  11. Place the second puff pastry sheet over the chicken mixture, pressing the sides down to meet the sides of the bottom sheet. Bake at 400F for 30 minutes, or until mixture is bubbly and the top is golden brown.

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French Lentil Soup

This lentil soup recipe doesn’t take too long and it tastes great. I used an immersion blender to get it chunky and thick. If you like tomato-based soups, you will like this one. The recipe is from Epicurious.

Ingredients:

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery stalks
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/4 cups lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic and saute until the vegetables start to brown, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add 4 cups of vegetable broth, lentils, and tomatoes in juice and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes.

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Beef and Potato Stew (Slow Cooker)

This hearty beef stew comes from one of my favorite food blogs. This is the best beef stew I’ve ever tasted!

Ingredients:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 pounds stew meat, cut into chunks
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound baby red potatoes, quartered
  • 4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 T chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the beef chunks and cook for about 5 minutes, until browned. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place beef, potatoes, onion, carrots and garlic into the slow cooker. Add the beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and dried herbs, including the bay leaves. Season with more salt and pepper if you want.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. I cooked this for 4 hours on high heat, and it came out delicious!
  4. Once the 4 (or 8) hours are up, combine 1/2 cup of the beef stew broth with the flour and stir well. Add this to the slow cooker, cover, and let cook for another 30 minutes.
  5. Garnish with fresh parsley if you want.

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No-Milk Shepherd’s Pie

This is a great Shepherd’s Pie recipe that can be made without milk! You make the mashed potatoes with butter, and you can even add in a bit of chicken broth to thin it out.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds potatoes (3 large ones), peeled and quartered
  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, chopped (About 1.5 cups)
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables (I used a mixture of corn, peas, and carrots)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground round beef
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt, pepper

Directions:

  1. Place the potatoes in a large pot and fill with salted water, covering the potatoes by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Melt half the butter (4T) in a large saucepan on medium heat and add the onion. Cook 6-10 minutes, until onion pieces are soft and tender.
  3. Add the frozen vegetables and saute for a few more minutes.
  4. Add the beef and cook until it is no longer pink, about 15 minutes. Season the beef with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the Worcestershire sauce and beef broth to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. While the meat is cooking, drain the potatoes and mash them in a bowl with the other half stick of butter (4 T). Season with salt and pepper if you wish. Add chicken broth to thin it out if you want.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat a baking pan (8×13 casserole) with cooking spray and transfer the meat/vegetable mixture to the baking pan. Spread out in an even layer. Cover with the mashed potatoes.
  8. Bake at 400F for 30 minutes.

Note: This dish can be easily frozen and reheated!

Since the top layer consists of mashed potatoes, I’ve include what my bottom layer looked like when I scooped it out onto the casserole.

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Cream of Broccoli Soup

This soup is delicious. I’ve made it twice so far, and I’m obsessed. Martha Stewart’s soup recipes can always be counted on! I usually split the recipe in half, which yields 3 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter (I use 2 T when I split it in half)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (I use half)
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour (I use 2 T)
  • 4 cups chicken broth (I use 2)
  • 1 cup water (I use 1/2)
  • 1 pound broccoli, cut into florets, chopped (I use about 4 cups; a small head of broccoli)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (I use 2 T)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly, for 8 minutes.
  2. Add the flour and stir, 1 minute.
  3. Add the chicken broth and water, stirring. Bring to a boil and reduce to low. Let simmer 10 minutes.
  4. Add the broccoli and simmer 20 minutes.
  5. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is the consistency you want.
  6. Add the heavy whipping cream and stir. Serve!
  7. Note: This recipe calls for seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, but I find it does not need it.

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