Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Lentil-Vegetable Soup

This soup is sort of like half vegetable soup (carrots, sweet potatoes, and kale), and half lentil soup (with both red lentils and brown or green lentils).  The brown lentils keep their shape better when cooked, while the red lentils almost dissolve in the soup and give it a creamier texture.  Overall, the soup is warm and comforting - perfect for a chilly evening.  I used a really tasty spice blend from Penzey's that has both lemon and orange peel, and smells amazing.  But, you can use any favorite spice/herb blend -- I think curry would be pretty fantastic too.  The original recipe calls for pureeing part of the soup for a creamier texture -- I skipped this, and still thought the soup was excellent, but you can add this step if you prefer a smoother soup.  Definitely don't skip the lemon juice at the end -- it brightens things up and really brings the flavors together.

Lentil-Vegetable Soup (adapted from Sprouted Kitchen, original recipe here)

2 T vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, minced
2 medium carrots, peeled and minced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and minced
2 stalks celery, minced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 tsp Mural of Flavor spice mix (or any other favorite spice blend)
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup brown or green lentils
1/2 cup red lentils
3 cups chopped kale leaves
Juice of 1 lemon

To serve: grated Parmesan and crusty bread

1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, sweet potato, celery, and garlic, and stir to combine.  Cook for 6-8 minutes, until softened.  Add the spice mix, Aleppo pepper, and salt, and stir to combine.
2. Stir in the chicken broth and lentils.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for about half an hour, or until everything is tender.  Turn off the heat, and stir in the kale and lemon juice.  Taste and adjust seasoning.
3. Serve topped with grated cheese and crusty bread.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Buffalo Mac and Cheese

The Kitchen is probably my favorite Food Network show, and a while back they made Buffalo chicken mac and cheese.  It looked amazing, so I adapted my usual mac and cheese recipe to include all the flavors -- blue cheese, Buffalo sauce, rotisserie chicken, and panko on top for crunch.  The sauce is super creamy and just a little spicy.  Totally addictive!

Buffalo Mac and Cheese (inspired by Food Network's The Kitchen)
Serves 4

12 ounces dried pasta
2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup crumbled blue cheese, divided
1/4 cup Buffalo sauce
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt, to taste
2 cups shredded chicken (from a rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup panko

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Put on a big pot of water to boil. When the water boils, add some salt along with the dried pasta, and cook until the pasta is al dente. Drain and keep ready until the cheese sauce is done. (You can cook the pasta while you prepare the sauce to save time)
3. Heat the milk in the microwave until it is hot but not boiling.
4. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter in the skillet, and then add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown, about 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk, using a silicone-coated whisk to protect the coating on the pan.  When the milk is incorporated and the mixture is smooth, cook for another 30 seconds or so.  The sauce should be thick and just bubbling.  Remove from the heat.
5. Stir in the grated Monterey Jack cheese, half the blue cheese, Buffalo sauce, and mustard.  Taste, and add a little salt if necessary.  Stir over low heat until everything is melted.
6. Add the pasta, shredded chicken, and reserved blue cheese to the sauce, and stir until combined.
7. Scrape the pasta into a 9x13 baking dish.  Sprinkle with the panko.  Pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the panko is lightly browned.