Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lentil and Sausage Soup

Last winter my friend Nancy made this soup for me for lunch. She mentioned that it was a Junior League of Seattle recipe, so when I got home I searched for it online. I didn't find the recipe, but I found a few with similar ingredients and I've combined them and tweaked the recipe over the last year.

This is Madeline's favorite soup. I always send leftovers in her thermos for lunch at school. She actually prefers it when I overcook the lentils a bit so they are "dissolved" in the soup. That is one thing I do love about this soup--unlike rice and pasta, the lentils are still yummy after they continue to soften in the soup liquid.

Lentil and Sausage Soup

1 lb. spicy italian sausage
1 yellow onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced carrot
2 cups of dry lentils, rinsed
6 cups chicken broth
6 cups water
1 T. garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme
1/4 teaspoon dry basil
1/2 tablespoon of salt (+ more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 1/2 cups zucchini, diced
2 cups spinach leaves, shredded
Parmesan cheese, shredded

Cook sausage in a heavy stock pot until browned. Drain, reserving 1 T. of drippings, and remove sausage from pan. Set aside. Cook onion, carrot and celery in tablespoon of reserved drippings over medium heat until onion is translucent. Return cooked sausage to the pan and add all but the last three remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer gently for about 60 minutes, until lentils are soft. During last 10-15 minutes of cooking, skim any fat from surface of soup and add zucchini. Add shredded spinach leaves and parmesan cheese to individual bowls when serving. Serve with baguette.

Makes about 12 servings. (??)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lemon Artichoke Chicken

I got this recipe years ago from Sunset magazine, which is my go-to place for new recipes. Every recipe I've made from that magazine is delicious as written.

This is an easy meal for a mid-week dinner, and it's also delicious and pretty enough to make for guests. I made it tonight for just us and served with these baked zucchini fries and a spinach salad.

Lemon-Artichoke Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves pounded to even thickness (1/4-1/2 inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 can (14oz) quartered artichoke hearts, drained
2 tablespoons dry sherry (or white wine in a pinch!)
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. In a frying pan over medium-high heat melt the butter. Add chicken in batches and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 4 minutes each side. Transfer to a 9x13 baking dish and add artichoke hearts.

Add sherry, lemon peel, garlic, and lemon juice to remaining butter in frying pan; stir over medium heat until well blended and hot, 2-3 minutes. Add cream and stir. Remove from heat and pour sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake until sauce is bubbling and golden brown on top, 20-25 minutes.

Baked Ziti

This is hands down my family's favorite pasta dish. I usually make a big batch and freeze some for later. You can make it with your favorite homemade marinara sauce or use your favorite jarred sauce. It's a great one to make for company. Serve with caesar salad and garlic bread.

Baked Ziti

1 lb. spicy italian sausage
1 lb. dry ziti pasta
1.5 jars of marinara sauce (about 36 oz.)
6 oz. sliced provolone cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup ricotta (I don't always have ricotta on hand--it tastes just as good without it).
6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13 baking dish with olive oil.

Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, brown sausage in a saute pan. Drain if needed, then add marinara sauce and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Drain pasta it is done cooking.

In a baking dish spread 3/4 cup of meat mixture on bottom of dish. Layer 1/2 of the cooked pasta, provolone cheese, sour cream, ricotta and a little less than 1/2 of the remaining meat mixture. Layer the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, meat mixture and parmesan cheese.

Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and cook another 10 minutes until heated through and cheeses are melted.

To freeze: cover dish with foil and freeze. Once it is frozen you can pop it out of the pan and put in a freezer bag. To heat--thaw first. Allow an additional 20 minutes baking time.

Optional: Omit sausage and add mushrooms and diced/shredded zucchini in its place. Or just add them to sneak in some veggies!

Serves 6-8

Orecchiette with Mozzarella and Tomatoes

My mother-in-law came to visit last week and brought this delicious and simple recipe with her. Like most pastas, it was even better as lunch leftovers the second day. It uses really basic ingredients I usually have on hand, so I'm adding it to my repertoire of "Oh Shit Meals" (as in "Oh, shit! It's 6:00 and I haven't figured out dinner!")

Orecchiette pasta look a little like slightly smooshed pasta shells. I think shells could be used in a pinch, but the orecchiette look a little fancier, sound a little fancier, and maybe hold the sauce a little better? At least that's what we tell ourselves to justify our trips to three different grocery stores to find it. I bought a few extra boxes for the pantry.

Orecchiette with Mozzarella and Tomatoes

1 lb. orecchiette pasta
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
4 to 5 large roma tomatoes, seeded or
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved or
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced
kosher or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Optional: spicy italian chicken sausage

Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. When pasta has about 5 minutes left to cook, heat olive oil over medium low heat in a large saute pan. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant and softened. Add tomatoes and red pepper flakes and heat through, stirring often about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add basil. Add drained pasta directly to the sauce pan and stir to coat. Pour into serving bowl. Add mozzarella and toss to combine. Season to taste and serve.

Optional: If using sausage, start with browning italian sausage in the saute pan. Drain if needed. Then add olive oil and cook garlic. Continue with directions for sauce above.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jamaican Jerk Chicken w/ Mango Salsa

This is one of my favorite dishes for cooking for my family, but it's also great for entertaining, partly because it's pretty, but mostly because it's so damn good.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Stacks
For the chicken:
1 bottle of Jamaican or Caribbean Jerk Marinade
2-4 chicken breasts (1 breast per 2 people)
Marinate chicken in jerk sauce for 24 hours. Grill or broil the chicken breasts. Or if you are lazy like me, throw it all in the crockpot for a couple of hours. When the chicken is done, cut it up into cubes and add a little of the jerk sauce to coat the chicken.
For the mango salsa, dice the following:
2-3 mangoes (I use frozen cubed mangoes from Trader Joes)
1 ripe avocado
1 red bell pepper
1/2 red onion
handful of cilantro
Mix together the ingredients below and then pour over the diced ingredients, mixing gently.
1 T. sugar
1-2 T. olive oil
1-2 T. white wine vinegar
pinch or two of kosher salt
juice from half a lime
If you are making the salsa ahead of time, hold off on the avocados until the last minute.
You can totally get away with regular white or brown rice. But I usually make a batch of coconut rice with some coconut milk, chicken broth, and minced ginger.
Other ingredients:
black beans, rinsed
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream
So to make this masterpiece--layer on each plate first your rice, then your chicken, beans, and cheese. The mango salsa. And some sour cream on top to finish it off.
Leftovers are great as a wrap!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tortilla Soup


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup whole corn kernels, cooked
  • 1 cup white hominy
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • crushed tortilla chips
  • sliced avocado
  • shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • chopped green onions


  1. In a medium stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft. Stir in chili powder, oregano, tomatoes, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in corn, hominy, chiles, beans, cilantro, and chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Ladle soup into individual serving bowls, and top with crushed tortilla chips, avocado slices, cheese, and chopped green onion.
I read every single review (all 114) prior to making this soup, so I changed a few things. It turned out wonderfully!! Here's how I did it: I diced two boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cooked them prior to starting with the olive oil, 2 cloves garlic and 1/2 cup diced onion. Then I added 4 cans condensed chicken broth (many people said the soup was very thick - chili-like consistency, and I wanted more of a soup). I also added a can of water (filled a broth can with water). I added the crushed tomatoes (28 oz), the hominy (15 oz), the diced green chili peppers (4 oz), 1 tsp each of cumin (instead of oregano as many reviewers suggested), lime juice and garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp of chili powder. I brought to a boil and let simmer for 1 hour (as others also suggested). Top with shredded monterey jack cheese and garnish w/ tortilla chips.