Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Italian Chicken Lentil Soup

There were two recipes in the Roanoke Times that I decided to make this week.  I changed them both to suit ME.  Cause it's all about me.  This is my version of their soup.


Italian Chicken Lentil Soup

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup fire roasted corn
1 medium zucchini
1 pound chicken breast, diced in bite size pieces
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning herbs
2 14.5 oz. fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup dried lentils, sorted and rinsed
4 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced or 4 Tablespoons dried basil
Parmesan or Italian blend cheeses


In a Dutch oven, sauté the onions and carrots in the olive oil.  After 2 minutes, add the corn and Italian seasoning and cook for another minute. 


Add the diced chicken and the zucchini and cook until the chicken is no longer pink. 


Add the chicken broth and the two cans of tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer and add the lentils.  Cook for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the lentils are soft.  I like them with a bit of bite to them.  Can you cook lentils al dente?  Well, I do.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Serve with the basil and some cheese.  The heat will melt the cheese and give an added bit of flavor.


It was a nice meal, which is good.  It made a BIG pot of soup and we will be eating this for a few days.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sweet and Spicy Vegetable Couscous

I really should be dieting.  We have our daughter's wedding soon and those photos will last forever.  But I am so tired of diet food that I made a recipe I found in the Roanoke Times.  I changed a few things, because I do not believe in plagiarism.  Plus, it called for red pepper flakes and they are too hot for me.  Add some in if you like some heat in your meal.

Sweet and Spicy Vegetable Couscous

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red or yellow onions
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots from baby carrots.  Or shred a big one.
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup fire roasted corn  I found a can of these, so I grabbed them up.
1/2 cup frozen tiny sweet peas  The local Kroger's does not carry petite pois, so get what is available.
2 Tablespoons Craisins
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
pinch of salt
a few grinds of fresh pepper
1 cup couscous
2 Tablespoons slivered or sliced almonds, toasted


Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium.  Add the onions and the sliced carrots.  Cook for a few minutes until translucent and then add the corn and spices.  Cook one more minute. 


Increase the heat to medium high and add the broth, peas, Craisins and bring to a boil.  Stir in the couscous, cover and slide the very heavy Dutch oven to a cool burner.  Let it stand for about 6 minutes. 


I used this time to toast some almond slices, because I didn't have any slivered almonds.  Then, because I wanted to use this for a main dish and we are omnivores, I diced up some chicken breast and onions and sautéed them in some olive oil. 


I added some shakes of the cumin and curry and cooked until the chicken was no longer pink.


I served this on top of the couscous with the almonds.  Very yummy.  If I had thought about it I would have added some thinly sliced cilantro.  But it was still delicious.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Black and White

My most recent basket is playing with black and white.  I like them together and they can complement any decor.


I bought some pretty black and white fabric and cut it into strips. 


You never know how the fabric will work up when cut, so I was pleased that it looked nice when wound around the clothesline.


Sometimes I leave the rim unfinished, but this time I wrapped it with the same fabric.  This involves a lot of hand stitching and is not my favorite thing, but I wanted this basket to have a finished look.


In keeping with that desire, I added a few embellishments.  Black and white, of course!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cake in a Cup

I having been saving a recipe for chocolate cake in a cup for MONTHS.  I haven't  been eating dessert lately, so it has sat on the counter, waiting for me.

I broke down last night and made a couple of mugs of cake.  It was a fast process and now you, too, can have a bit of dessert without having leftover cake calling to you in the middle of the night.

Cake in a  Cup

1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon vegetable or coconut oil
3 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

powdered sugar for garnish



Mix all the dry ingredients in a mug. 


Then add the liquid ingredients and stir until smooth.


Microwave for 40 seconds.


Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.



WAIT!  I forgot to tell you to let it cool...cause it is REALLY hot.


NOW eat it.

I liked the cake.  It wasn't too sweet, but it was really dense.  Almost a brownie type texture.  I chose large mugs, but a smaller mug would allow the cake to puff up over the edge of the rim and look more appealing.

Still, it is hard to not like a mug of chocolate cake.  And if I was a college kid living in a dorm, this would be my new go-to study treat.  But because I am a grown up, I don't need a sugar laden snack to top off my day.  Way too mature for that kind of behavior.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Tossing III

In keeping with my flower girl theme, I made another basket.  This one is for a friend who has chosen white and navy as her wedding colors.


I started with a white basket made from a white background with wee little flowers.  You can't see them unless you look closely.


This navy background with white stars looks great with the white basket.


I zigzagged three rows of clothesline together and covered it with the navy fabric.


I chose to use white thread to attach the fabric to the handle and like that effect.


All it needs now is a little girl!  Oh.  And some flowers!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Tossing II

I am in the groove for flower girl baskets.  Or petal tossing baskets!  My new favorite term. 

This time I chose to experiment with a flared rim.  I did a basket with a slight flare recently.  This time I wanted a definite rim to the basket.


Because of the rim, I placed the handle inside the basket.


This gold and ecru basket can now be decorated with any colors that a bride wants to have.  Or just let the flowers be the decoration!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Petal Tossing Basket

I am trying my hand with a flower girl basket.  Or as my friend's granddaughter called it a basket for a "petal thrower."  Or something like that.  I like petal tosser the best.


I started with some off white fabric with bits of gold all over.  It is almost like glitter, but stays in place.  For some reason this fabric doesn't fray like the other fabric I have used.    I found it at Jo Ann's with the quilting fabric, so I don't think it has any polyester, but it could.  I didn't look.


In certain light it looks yellow and that is not the look I am going for.  Our daughter's wedding is coming up and I thought I could try a few baskets in her colors and see how they turn out.  Those colors are cream, gold and hints of raspberry.


I made a large basket and did a row or gold ribbon around the top.  The handle is made from gold and white cording, also found at Jo Ann's. 


It may be too big.  It would hold a LOT of petals (for tossing), so the next one is smaller.


I tried several variations of raspberry ribbon on top, but it wouldn't lie flat and kept puckering.  I tried to add a border on the outside and didn't like that either. 


I removed the ribbon and put a row of the same fabric across the top.  I zigzagged three pieces of cording together and covered it with the same fabric as the basket. This had to be hand stitched.

I like this one the best so far.  I think a bit of ribbon can be added to either one of these baskets to match any bridal colors.