Dinner at Home

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit: Red Lentil Soup

Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup

This is one of those recipes that I have to confess I came up with by throwing together pantry ingredients when I was looking for a quick and easy supper to make. I had some red lentils leftover from another recipe and thought, “What can I do with those?” A quick look around and I saw a can of diced tomatoes, chicken stock, herbs and the usual mirepoix (onion, celery, carrot) and thought they’d make a great hearty soup, especially in the slow-cooker, which really shines for cooking beans.

The soup (or stew—it’s thick) was amazing, if I do say so myself. Very flavorful and even better when reheat it a day or two later. I also had some Irish banger sausages in the freezer that I threw in, but you could substitute a different kind of sausage and still come up with a great main course soup. You could even go vegetarian—just leave out the meat and swap the chicken stock for vegetable.

½ onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced (or do what I do—use baby carrots already peeled and ready)
2 stalks celery, sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 quart chicken stock (homemade is best, but who has time for that?)
2 cups red lentils (I suppose another color would suffice too)
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder
½ lb. sausage (I used bangers, but a good chicken sausage or Andouille, would also work well—just, for God’s sake—don’t use breakfast links)
Salt and pepper to taste (I am generous with my S&P); the best way to do salt and pepper is be conservative at the start of the recipe and taste and adjust just before serving.

Really, this couldn’t be easier. Simply dump all the above into a slow cooker, stir, cover and set to low for 8-9 hours. The great thing about dried lentils is they need no pre-soaking or prep (you might want to pick through quickly to make sure there are no stones mixed in).

At the end of cooking, remove sausage, halve lengthwise, then slice, and return to soup.
(Serves 4-6)

I served with grated cheese and more freshly ground black pepper. A loaf of crusty bread is almost a must-have with this.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Cover Reveal: Dinner at Home


My "romance with recipes" just got a new face, courtesy of cover artist extraordinaire, Reese Dante. I'm just thrilled with it. Here's the blurb for the book, which comes out in May:

It only takes a few days for Ollie D'Angelo to lose his boyfriend, his job, and his home. Instead of mourning what he doesn’t have, Ollie celebrates what he does: the freedom to pursue his real passion—cooking. He begins Dinner at Home, a home-catering business, and it takes off.

Late one night, Ollie catches Hank Mellinger, a street-wise hood down on his luck, about to rob his car. Ollie soon discovers that appearances aren’t necessarily what they seem. Hank isn’t a criminal caught red-handed but a hungry young man trying to make a life for himself and the four-year-old niece he’s trying desperately to take care of. 

Instead of calling the cops, Ollie offers Hank a job and a way to pull himself up by his bootstraps. Together, they discover they can really cook... and that their shared passion for food just might lead to a passion for each other.

Dinner from Home will appear soon on Dreamspinner Press's Coming Soon page and you can pre-order. It will be widely available beginning in May.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Guest at the Table: Reader & Mom Kari Higa Makes Shares Her Recipe for Chocolate Waffles

Kari says: I love making chocolate covered treats for special occasions.  It's not an indulgence I allow myself often but these are so good.

Sometimes, I make way too many treats for one day.  I had leftover ganache and chocolate cover fruit.  So the next day, when trying to decide what to make for breakfast, I decided to make chocolate waffles. It turned out so much better than I'd hoped.

No need for syrup. Just sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar and top with chocolate covered fruit!

Chocolate Waffles 

4 tbsp chocolate ganache (see recipe below)
1 1/2 cups waffle mix (Bisquick or see recipe below)
1 large egg
Milk (about 3/4 cup)
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp sugar
Berries (I used chocolate covered strawberries and raspberries)

Preheat the waffle iron.  In a large microwaveable bowl, warm the ganache (mine was refrigerated). Add the waffle mix, sugar, egg, oil, and stir enough milk until the batter is cake-like batter consistency.

Fill the waffle iron with batter and cook until done.

Top with fruit and sprinkle powdered sugar.  Enjoy!

Makes 6 waffles

Chocolate Ganache

The ratio for ganache is 1 cup heavy cream to 8 oz. chocolate chips.  I like dark chocolate so I use Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips.

Warm the cream in the microwave for about a minute in the microwave.  Keep an eye so that it doesn't boil.  Add the chocolate chips and stir until shiny and the chocolate completely melt.

Waffle Mix

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder

This can be stored in an airtight container. I make a huge batch so I can use it during the week to cut down on preparation time.

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