Saturday, February 22, 2014

Quick Lentils and Rice

1/4 cup dry lentils
1/4 cup uncooked brown rice
1 cup water
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
chili powder
red pepper flakes
black pepper
1/2 cup frozen corn
4-5 cherry tomatoes, cut up
1/4 cup shredded colby jack cheese
  1. Rinse and drain lentils.
  2. Combine the lentils, rice, water, onion, garlic, and spices. 
  3. Bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.  The lentils should be cooked through, and the rice will not be quite done at this point.
  4. Add the frozen corn and tomatoes.  Cook for 10 more minutes.
  5. Turn of the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
  6. Add salt to taste.  Stir in the shredded cheese until melted and creamy.
I threw this together today because I didn't know what I wanted to eat.  I had all the ingredients already.  Lentils don't require soaking, so they are quick to cook up.  I didn't really measure the spices.  It was probably about 1/8 of a teaspoon of each, but that is to taste.  It probably would have been good with some green onion added with the corn and tomatoes, but I didn't have any.  You could also use shredded cheddar cheese.  Check the lentils and rice as it is cooking to make sure they are the doneness you want.  This makes one serving, and it was very tasty! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lighter Creamy Pasta Salad

2 cups (dry) shell pasta
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped celery
2-3 green onions, sliced
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3/4 cup chopped ham

1/4 cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

additional plain yogurt
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Add the frozen peas to the pasta for the last minute of cooking time.
  2. Drain the pasta and allow it to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients together.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the pasta, peas, celery, green onions, hard-boiled eggs, and ham. 
  5. Add the dressing to the large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  6. Allow the pasta to sit in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
  7. Before serving, check the consistency of the pasta salad (the pasta will absorb some of the liquid from the dressing).  If it seems to need more dressing, just stir in additional yogurt a spoonful or two at a time until the pasta salad is the consistency you want.
I made this for a week's worth of lunches, and it was really good.  I like macaroni salad and creamy pasta salad, but the thought of using a whole cup of mayonnaise or something like that was just not appetizing.  I looked online for a lighter version, found Macaroni Salad with Bacon, Peas, and Creamy Dijon Dressing, and tweaked it a little.  You could always change up the vegetables, leave out the eggs, switch up the ham to something else, or adapt it to your taste in other ways.  It really got thick after I let it sit in the refrigerator, but it worked out really well just stirring in some more yogurt.  I think I used an additional 1/2 cup of yogurt, but I didn't measure.  The flavor was not affected by adding more yogurt, and it gave the creaminess without all the fat of mayonnaise.  I need to remember to make this again!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tomato Basil Soup

2 teaspoons butter
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons flour
1 cup milk
1 can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the basil, onion, and garlic.
  2. After about a minute, stir in the flour and cook for a minute or two.
  3. Whisk in the milk and heat to almost boiling, stirring occasionally (don't let it boil).
  4. Puree the tomatoes in a blender until very smooth.
  5. Stir the tomato puree into the milk mixture, and heat to almost boiling, stirring occasionally (don't let it boil).
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
This recipe is adapted from a Cream of Tomato Soup recipe from  I use the blended tomatoes instead of tomato juice, and I added in the dried basil and garlic.  I think I probably could have used a little more basil and garlic.  You could easily leave them out, too, as well as the onion.  It does have those chunks of onion in the soup, which isn't what traditional cream of tomato soup is like.  I didn't have any fresh onion, which is why I used the dried onion.  I might add the onion to the tomatoes when I puree them next time, to avoid the chunks.  I haven't tried it with fresh basil, but that would probably be better added at the end rather than at the beginning.  This is really easy to make, and I always have milk and canned tomatoes on hand.  I had it with some grilled cheese and topped it with the cheesy crackers I made yesterday!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

1-2-3 Cocoa

1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons water
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Mix the sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and water.  Bring up to a boil on medium heat.
  2. Stir for one minute (it'll start to look a little fudgy).
  3. Stir in the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts steaming and is as hot as you want it.  (Don't boil it!)
  4. Stir in vanilla.
This is my version of the two cocoa recipes on the Hershey's Cocoa Powder container.  I like it a little less sweet and more cocoa-y, so you could add sugar if you want.  This is perfect for after a walk in the snow!