Category: featured recipes
Wednesday, April 23
One of the very first recipes I ever made was lentil soup. And it was terrible. It was just not a good recipe and, as an inexperienced young cook, I had no idea how to make it better. Sadly it convinced me that lentils were a bad thing. Then, about a year later, my friend Amy made lentil soup and insisted that I try it. She swore it was the best ever. I was skeptical but gave it a go and, much to my utter amazement, I discovered that lentil soup can be wonderful. I owe it all to Amy. If I ever win a lentil academy award, she’ll be the first person I thank. After the Weinstein brothers, of course, because that seems to be an academy award thank you speech requirement, especially when lentils are involved. (Sorry, I think that was a case of stream of consciousness gone wrong.)
The moral of the story is that I have had this lentil soup recipe hidden away on my blog since Day 1, when I added a bunch of random recipes to the site from my recipe box (you know, the real live recipe box with notecards inside). But I’ve never actually written about this recipe because, well, I have no idea why! It’s about time because it really is a gem of a recipe. Plus, the soup looked gorgeous served in my new Q Squared dishes, which I was planning to write about anyway, so it was kismet!
As you know, I’ve started working with a great company called Q Squared NYC. When I first received my Montecito dishes, I didn’t think I could love any of their other dishes more. But for Easter I decided to use the Heritage line for all of our serving dishes and decorated the table with a blue and white theme to match, including the flowers. The table was simple and so pretty, if I do say so myself. And I really fell in love with the Heritage dishes. I don’t know, I might even love them more than Montecito. It’s just so hard to decide!
Last night when I was photographing the orange-hued soup that complemented the blue in the dishes so beautifully, the girls started fighting over who would get to use the fancy bowl. I think I’m going to have to buy more of these dishes because I don’t think I’m the only one who loves them. Even Nate commented on how pretty they were after dinner on Easter and he’s a guy.
In addition to the color and pattern, the Heritage dishes have a really great texture, with sort of a hammered look to them. I tried to capture this in the photography so hopefully you can see it. The dishes really are stunning and, like the Montecito line, you can tell they are really high quality. I could go on and on and ON about these dishes.
One last note on the recipe: you probably won’t like other lentil soups after trying this one. At least not as much! Honestly, whenever I have lentil soup at a restaurant I just end up disappointed. I now save all my lentil soup-ing for home, it’s just better that way. Oh, and one more last note: this soup is easy to throw together and is done in 30 minutes!
Without further ado, I give you the soup! Everyone say thanks to Amy!Lentil SoupCook timeTotal time“This is the BEST.” – Amy KroffAuthor: Amy Kroff, Jane Maynard’s FriendRecipe type: SoupIngredients
- 1 cup dry lentils
- 1 cup shopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 4 cup beef broth
- 1 15 ounce can petite-diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme or oregano (I usually use oregano)
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup chopped carrots (I usually do more carrots because my kids love them)
- ½ cup chopped celery
- ½ pound fully cooked smoked sausage links, sliced – or chopped ham
- Rinse lentils, drain, then soak in water and set aside while you prep the soup.
- In a large pot, cook onion garlic in hot oil over medium heat until tender but not brown.
- Once the onions are tender, add garlic and stir. Drain off any remaining water from the lentils. Stir in the lentils, beef broth, undrained tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, thyme or oregano, pepper, cumin, and bay leaf. Bring to boiling then reduce heat to low but so that soup is still simmering.
- Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add carrots and celery. Return to boiling then reduce heat again and simmer for 15-20 mins or until lentils and veggies are tender.
- Stir in meat and heat through. Discard bay leaf.
This post was sponsored by Q Squared NYC. As always, all opinions are 100% my own. The flatware pictured is also from Q Squared, part of the Provence Blue set.
Thursday, April 17
Okay, I know it’s Spring and everyone is thinking about carrot cake and lemonade. But my friend Nikki CB shared the coolest tip for easy hot chocolate with me and now I need to share it with you, too. RIGHT NOW. So, today we’re having hot chocolate. Hopefully you’re experiencing unseasonably cold weather wherever you are so you can enjoy this recipe pronto!
Get ready for the yummiest easy hot chocolate you’ll ever have. No finely chopping chocolate with a knife necessary!
Nikki was saying how you can visit Lindt chocolate stores or something and they make hot chocolate simply by dropping Lindt truffles right into hot milk. That’s it. As soon as she said it I realized how genius it is. After all, that is some darn good chocolate. Also, think about how those truffles just melt in your mouth. If they melt in your mouth, you better believe they’ll melt in hot milk.
I finally tried the trick and it worked like a charm. The other fun part of Lindt hot chocolate is that you can easily make different flavors of hot chocolate. White hot chocolate, caramel hot chocolate, dark hot chocolate, extra dark hot chocolate, milk hot chocolate. Whatever your favorite truffle flavor is, now it can be your favorite hot chocolate flavor.
Thank you, Nikki. And you’re welcome, everyone else.
Tuesday, April 8
For our very first date, Nate and I went to the Davis Square Bertucci’s in Somerville, MA. Once we were married, if we ever went out to a restaurant (which was rare), it was usual to Bertucci’s or John Harvard’s. I think one of the reasons I love Bertucci’s so much is because of our personal history associated with it, but I still love going to that restaurant whenever we can because they do make some good food. Those dinner rolls and that margherita pizza…YUMMMMM.
One of those times early in our marriage when we went to Bertucci’s I ordered a tortellini dish that was served with sausage, mushrooms in a light cream tomato sauce. This was one of the very first restaurant copycat recipes I created at home and definitely one of the first things I cooked that gave me some confidence in the kitchen.
It’s been years since I’ve made what we call Bertucci’s Tortellini, but I threw it on the menu a few weeks ago and IT WAS SO GOOD. I made sure to write down measurements for you since the recipe I had posted on the site was pretty lame and directionless.
This is a nice and easy dinner to prepare that tastes wonderful. (I think I had thirds the other night.) The only thing missing from this recipe is Bertucci’s dinner rolls!
Tuesday, April 1
Years ago my friend Liz hosted a cheese party at her home. If you showed up with a bottle of wine, she gave you a plate of cheese! Okay, so it was actually a little fancier and more involved than that. She had gone to who knows how many cheese shops and gathered who knows how many cheeses and had them set up at different tables, organized by strength. Have you ever been to a cheese tasting? It’s really fun! You start with the mildest cheeses and work your way up. And you JUST EAT THE CHEESE. Leave the bread and crackers at home, this experience is about really tasting the cheeses, appreciating the nuanced differences of each type. It was a delicious, educational and fun night that obviously left an impression on me and changed the way I looked at cheese.
There truly is an art to cheese, one that I am woefully uneducated about but also very much appreciate. Nate lived in Paris for a few years back in the day, so we have a bias towards French cheeses. When I had the chance to work on a post for Président, trying out one of their recipes and sharing it with you, I jumped. We love brie and camembert and love to buy Président when we indulge!
A few years ago, Nate and I went to Paris together. We ate so many wonderful foods, including cheese of course! As I was looking through Paris photos this morning to include in this post, I laughed when I discovered the very first photo I took in Paris was of a small round of Président camembert we bought on our first day in that marvelous city! No wonder that’s the cheese I always buy – we can enjoy a bit of France right here in California!
By the way, les crèmeries are to Paris what Dunkin’ Donuts are to Boston. I couldn’t believe how many cheese shops there were, and they all looked like this. No wonder the French have mastered the art of cheese.
The recipe I am sharing with you today comes from Président’s website, where you can find all kinds of easy gourmet recipes. I chose this particular recipe because it not only sounded delicious but it was downright pretty. This beautiful torte would be perfect to serve at any party, but a cheese party would be especially lovely. It can serve as a nice alternative to the straight-up cheese tasting but still fit into the theme of the evening. Also, even though the torte might look intimidating to make, it actually is quite easy to throw together. You can totally impress without the stress!
Also, this food looked gorgeous at every step of the cooking process. Sorry for all the pictures, but I just couldn’t help myself.
Wednesday, March 26
Apparently it’s still snowing in some places. CRAZY. It’s even chilly and drizzly here in San Diego (don’t worry, I am not complaining), so I think we’re all probably in the mood for some cozy food.
My sister-in-law Cora made beef stew for the family this past summer and it was sublime. I make a pretty good beef stew, but hers was definitely better. I finally got around to bugging her for the recipe and, as usual, she obliged. She’s good like that.
Cora sort of follows Ree’s seef stew with beer and paprika recipe but changes a few things up. I followed her lead and ended up with this most delicious stew. The sauce is so rich in flavor, the meat so tender, the veggies cooked to perfection.
Yes, it’s called Boozy Beef Stew. Because there are two bottles of beer in the pot and how can you not name it Boozy Beef Stew with all that beer involved? Never fear, it doesn’t taste like a bottle of beer with a few chunks of meat thrown in. It just tastes good. So good.
Also, this recipe gives me an excuse to use one of my most favorite items in the kitchen – a bottle opener we got from Nate’s great-grandma Rose’s home when she moved into assisted living at age 99. We don’t drink around here, so this cute little bottle opener doesn’t get much action. But when I do take it out, it always makes me happy.
I modified the recipe just a bit so it is quite literally a one-pot dinner. I hate washing dishes. A lot. You’ll be able to cook it all in one pot, no extra dishes required! (Well, you will have to use a knife and cutting board, but that doesn’t count, right?)
Now, go booze up your beef.
Monday, March 24
If you live in the western U.S. (and now Virginia or Maryland, too!), you’ve probably heard of Cafe Rio. It’s a Mexican food chain with the best darn pork barbacoa and creamy tomatilla salad dressing you ever did eat. Seriously, that dressing is downright drinkable.
My cousin Jamie and her family visited us last week. One night we made fajitas for dinner and Jamie whipped up some of the Cafe Rio dressing. It was mighty fine! Honestly, I can’t remember exactly how Cafe Rio’s dressing tastes, but Jamie says this recipe nails it! I did a google search and there are a bunch of blogs and websites with almost the exact same recipe posted, so I have no idea who the source is. But Jamie and I discussed the recipe and realized that she regularly changes up some of the proportions, so we made it our own. Also, I am changing the amounts because the original recipe makes about 30 ounces of dressing! That is a whole lot of dressing that, quite frankly, is more than our family needs.
This dressing is delicious served over salad or as a sauce topped on tacos, fajitas and burritos. Go crazy!
(>> Find out more…)
Wednesday, March 19
I grew up in New Jersey, just a couple hours from Amish country in Pennsylvania. Amish country was one of the spots we would frequently take visitors, as well as New York City. About the only thing those two places had in common was that they both served giant pretzels! And, you know what, the pretzels in Amish country were 10,000 times better than the ones in New York (sorry, street vendors).
Those Amish pretzels really were to die for. Warm, soft, buttery, with a nice slightly crisp exterior. Heaven. Needless to say I am perfectly fine with the explosion of Auntie Anne’s and Wetzels Pretzels in every mall in America – saves me a trip to Pennsylvania when I get a craving.
My kids also love Amish-style pretzels, so I decided we should try making them at home. We made the recipe below for my column 3 Kids, a Mom & a Kitchen on Babble and it was a great success! Not only were the pretzels soooooo good, but this is a really fun and painless cooking project to do with kids. Check out my post on Babble for details on how to get children of all ages involved with this recipe.
A few notes on the recipe. First, I basically cobbled together a bunch of different recipes to make this one, with most of the best tips coming from this video series by Jay Stewart of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. Second, I used a mix of bread flour and self-rising flour and really like how the texture came out. I give instructions in the recipe below for how to make self-rising flour (which is a combination of cake or pastry flour with baking powder and salt). I’m sure some of you will ask if you can use all-purpose flour – you probably can, but then you’d need to figure out how much baking powder and salt to add to the recipe and also the protein levels will be different. So, basically, you’re on your own if you go that route!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 12:37 pm 11 Comments
Categories: featured recipes, Recipes, side dishes, way gourmet Tags: amish pretzels, copycat auntie anne's pretzels, copycat wetzel's pretzels, homemade pretzels |
Tuesday, March 11
Remember my pretty blueberries from last week’s menu post? I’m finally sharing the recipe for what I used them in! It’s a family recipe, complete with a newspaper clipping from the 80s. Total awesomeness.
The recipe is for whole wheat blueberry muffins. They are soooo good and completely addictive, which isn’t too terrible since the muffins use all whole wheat flour and are filled with healthy blueberries. (Sugar? What sugar?)
It may be a family recipe, but it’s not actually from my family. A few years ago my friend Anna had made some delicious blueberry muffins, of which I ate an embarrassing amount. I started gushing about the muffins and she told me how her mom had a won a contest with the recipe when Anna was a kid. Their family even ended up getting their photo in the local newspaper with a short article about her mom and the recipe. Anna is awesome and of course had a scan of the article and happily shared it with me, knowing full well I would publish her adorable 7-year-old face on my blog. I am such a sucker for recipes from old newspapers or handwritten on recipe cards. They just make me happy, especially when they are as delicious as this one.
So, we all owe Anna’s mom Pamela Worthen a great big thank you for this recipe. Thank you, Pamela!
Tuesday, March 4
Tacone is one of my favorite take-out food joints. They have great wraps and the best homemade potato chips EVER. Sadly, there are very few Tacone restaurants in the world and I hardly ever get my fix!
While I know I’ll never be able to replicate their potato chips, I can copycat my favorite Tacone wraps. My most favorite was always the Malibu Melt. It’s simple but oh-so-delicious. And the homemade version is just as good as the restaurant. Bonus: this recipe is super quick and easy, which is always my favorite kind of recipe!
Happy wrapping!Malibu Melt WrapsPrep timeTotal timeInspired by the restaurant Tacone, one of our favorites!Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- Flour tortillas
- Cooked chicken breast, chopped, either grilled or breaded (I personally love the Bread Chicken Tenderloin Breasts from Trader Joe’s in the freezer section)
- Chopped tomatoes
- Chopped romaine lettuce
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Avocado, cut into chunks
- Honey mustard salad dressing (click here for a homemade recipe; I also love the Ken’s Steakhouse honey mustard from the store)
- Lay out the flour tortilla and spread some honey mustard dressing down the center. Add the chicken, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and avocado. Top with another drizzle of honey mustard then wrap it all up like a burrito!
Wednesday, February 26
As a kid my favorite dinner was beef stroganoff. My mom didn’t make it often and she only liked to make it when she could get the meat from a particular butcher in town, so when we did have stroganoff it was such a treat. I suppose I’ve been a sucker for sour cream and mushrooms since the early days!
I also rarely make beef stroganoff and, until now, always just used those dried sauce packets from the grocery store. I must admit that I liked how it tasted and it didn’t require any thought. But what I like more is cooking food from scratch whenever I can, so I decided it was time to try completely homemade beef stroganoff. And, in all honesty, it wasn’t any harder than using one of those sauce packets!
This recipe is simple but delicious. I researched tons of different recipes as I thought about how I wanted to put the dish together and this is what I came up with. The sauce was creamy and tasty, the meat was tender and I totally had seconds (just like the old days). I also love meals that use meat sparingly. This recipe makes a ton of food with just 1 pound of steak – I love that!
In the interest of full disclosure, Anna did not like it, but I think she just doesn’t like stroganoff to begin with. (She also doesn’t like chicken pot pie, so can we trust her? I think not.) Owen only ate two bites, but that was more a function of Anna giving him a giant granola bar 5 minutes before dinner without telling me. Soooo helpful. Cate said it was really good and worthy of sharing on the blog and Nate agreed. At least I have some supporters in the family!