Slow Cooker Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Crockpot Lentil and Vegetable Soup

What’s that? I’m posting a vegetarian dish? Yes, believe it or not, I actually like a lot of vegetarian dishes. It’s just hard to find a vegetarian dish that my picky “meat and potatoes” son will enjoy as well. So I have to take baby steps with him and made a vegetarian soup. And slow cooker recipes are the best. Just prep your ingredients, put into your slow cooker and let it do all the work! Hopefully, my friend, Sue T. will approve. This recipe makes 6-8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups lentils (green or red)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bag (5 ounces) baby spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 6 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place all ingredients but the baby spinach, in your slow cooker. And pour in the vegetable stock.
  2. Cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 8 hours.
  3. Stir a few times throughout the cooking.
  4. Add the baby spinach during the last 10 minutes of cooking cycle.
  5. If you like a more brothy soup, add in 1-2 cups additional stock.
  6. If you like a more creamy soup, carefully ladle out 1/3 of the soup into your blender and puree. Add back blended soup to slow cooker and mix well.
  7. Salt to taste and garnish with chopped parsley.

Crockpot Lentil and Vegetable Soup 2

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Egg Cups

Egg Cups PlatedThese were so much fun to make. If you have young children and want to introduce them to cooking I think these would be an ideal beginner’s dish. There are so many different variations you can make depending on what ingredients you like or what you have on hand. I made vegetarian ones and for my son I did a take on a Denver omelette using ham, cheese, bell pepper and green onion.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 eggs (will make 12 egg cups)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

FOR VEGETARIAN EGG CUPS:

  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 2 large shiitake mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup baby spinach, diced

Egg Cups 1

FOR HAM AND CHEESE EGG CUPS:

  • 1/2 cup diced ham
  • 12 tablespoons shredded cheese, divided (I used cheddar and mozzarella mix)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 green onions, diced

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Meanwhile, generously spray muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. (For easier clean up, use baking cups instead of cooking spray.)
  2. Break eggs into a large bowl or 4 cup measuring cup. Add milk, salt and pepper. Whisk until ingredients are combined.
  3. Add equal amounts of your vegetables (or ham and cheese) into each cup of your muffin pan.
  4. Pour in egg mixture into each cup about 3/4 of the way up for each.

     

  5. Bake egg cups for 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes up clean.Egg Cups 6
  6. Let cool for a few minutes before taking egg cups out of pans.Egg Cups 7
  7. Serve with your favorite condiments or none at all.

You can keep these in an air tight container for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave.

Egg Cups Plated 2

Bacon, Chicken and Spinach Linguine

Bacon and Chicken Linguine PlatedSo one of the ways I get my son to eat things he normally says he doesn’t like to eat is to disguise them. Well more like hide them by mixing them with other foods he really likes. For instances, bacon. By adding bacon to this dish he doesn’t seem to notice the spinach or tomatoes or the cream sauce. But at least he gets one of his favorites in this dish. I remember when I was little and my mom tried to pass of cooked daikon radishes as potatoes. She straight up lied and said they were potatoes! Right then and there I told myself if I ever had kids I wouldn’t lie to them about food. Disguise maybe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounces linguine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 6 slices cooked bacon, cut up in pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (14.5 ounce) Italian style diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups reserved pasta water
  • grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • Italian parsley or basil for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook linguine noodles according to package until al dente. Drain and reserve 2 cups of pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium high heat, add the olive oil. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with kosher salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cook chicken until cooked through. Depending on thickness, 4-5 minutes per side.  Set chicken aside on a cutting board and cut into bite size pieces or strips.
  3. To the skillet, add garlic, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning and spinach. Stir well.  Add heavy cream and the reserved pasta water. (Use 1 1/2 cups pasta water to start. Add more if needed.) Combine and season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Lower heat to simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add linguine and toss until noodles are fully coated.
  5. Add chicken and bacon to skillet and toss.
  6. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and Italian parsley or basil.

Bacon and Chicken Linguine

One Pot Lasagna Soup

Lasagna SoupHappy New Year everyone! I wish you a year of health, happiness and tasty food!

It’s been mighty chilly here in Northern California. We are having a week of much needed on and off rain showers. So today felt like a hearty soup kind of day. I know, lasagna soup doesn’t sound like the healthiest way to start your year. But eat in moderation and you should be fine. Right?!

Okay, will it make you feel better knowing I added spinach and mushroom to the recipe and used low fat cottage cheese instead of ricotta to make this soup a little healthier and lighter?

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 medium size red or yellow onion, diced
  • 4 ounces of white or brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (32 ounces) box chicken stock
  • 2 (14.5 ounces) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 10 uncooked lasagna noodles, broken into 2 inch pieces
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • low fat cottage cheese (1 tablespoon per serving)
  • chiffonade of basil for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Turn heat to medium high. Add olive oil to Dutch oven or heavy bottom large pot.
  2. When oil ripples, add ground beef and Italian sausage to pot and stir occasionally until meat is browned.  Add onions, mushrooms and garlic. Mix and continue to cook until onions become translucent.
  3. Drain any excess fat from pot.
  4. Add chicken stock, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce,Italian seasoning, sugar, kosher salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese and lasagna noodles. Mix well.
  5. Bring soup to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. During last 5 minutes of cook time, add spinach to soup and stir.
  7. Serve soup with a tablespoon of cottage cheese and basil for garnish.

Lasagna Soup 2

One Pot Pasta with Sausage, Spinach and Mushrooms

One Pot Pasta PlatedA one pot meal done in 30 minutes? Challenge accepted. All those years of watching Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals must have rubbed off on me in more ways than I like to admit. For one, EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) is my oil of choice. Always. And if there is a way to make a complicated dish easier (and in less than 30 minutes) I’m all over it. I’m no Rachael Ray, but I think even she would approve of this recipe.  This recipe makes 4 generous to 6 small servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage (or mild your choice)
  • 2 cups Cellentani (corkscrew) pasta or small pasta shape of your choice
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 package (6 ounces) baby spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated Parmigano Reggiano cheese

DIRECTIONS:

In your skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. When oil ripples, add onions and mushrooms. Saute for 3-5 minutes. One Pot Pasta 1

Once onions are translucent and the mushroom have browned, add Italian sausage to skillet. Mince the sausage and brown until sausage is cooked through. About 5 minutes. One Pot Pasta 2

Add pasta to skillet. Yes, uncooked pasta. We are going to let the chicken stock cook the pasta. One Pot Pasta 3

Add the chicken stock to skillet and stir to mix ingredients. The stock will cook the pasta and all the flavors from the onions, mushrooms and sausage will infuse with the pasta. Stir occasionally until pasta is al dente. ( Add 1 extra minute to pasta package instructions.) One Pot Pasta 4

When pasta is cooked to your preference, add spinach and incorporate into pasta mixture. Don’t worry, all that spinach will magically fit into your skillet.One Pot Pasta 5

Once the spinach has wilted, your pasta is ready to serve. Salt and pepper to your taste. Garnish with grated Parmigano Reggiano cheese. One Pot Pasta 6