Recipe: Sriracha Lentil Stew

Recipe: Sriracha Lentil Stew

Recipe: Sriracha Lentil Stew

It’s officially fall, and therefore, time to start making all the hearty soups and stews that warm the soul.  I’m a little late in jumping on the sriracha bandwagon.  I bought a bottle on the insistence of a friend several months ago who assured me that I would absolutely love it.  Now to explain my hesitance, when I was growing up, even mild salsa would break me out into a sweat.  I don’t know if it’s just getting older, or if my chips and salsa addiction gradually led me to spicier and spicier preferences, but nowadays I find myself wanting a little zip in everything I eat.  So when I finally got around to trying out sriracha sauce on some of my meals, I was in love.  It’s got the perfect balance of heat without the “on fire” feeling that so many other hot chilies can leave me with. 

Recipe: Sriracha Lentil Stew

I’ve been adding a bit of sriracha here and there to different tastes and textures, trying to find out what it blends well with.  This stew was one of the first ones I made once the cooler weather started hitting here (yes, it’s already been in the 30s at night!).  It turned out to be so delicious, even my kids ate it – and liked it!  That’s saying a lot, since they’re at that picky phase where they won’t touch anything besides pizza and PBJs.  I didn’t add quite as much sriracha knowing they would be eating it, but if your taste likes, add a little extra for some zing.  And if you’re worried about it being too spicy, start with the lower amount and then add more once it’s been cooked  – it will taste just as good, I promise!

Recipe: Sriracha Lentil Stew

This recipe for Sriracha Lentil Stew is vegetarian and can be made vegan if you omit the cheese and mayo at the end.  It is also gluten-free.  This is is another crockpot recipe, as well.  If I haven’t mentioned it before (which I’m sure I have), I love having my crockpot going most days.  The kids love how wonderful our home always smells and I like the ease of not having to stand over a stove.  Because there’s no meat in this, you have a bit more flexibility on the cooking time too.  If you cook it for 6 hours, the taste and texture won’t be much different than if you cooked it 10 hours. 

I used Chana dal, a split pulse in this recipe.  You can find this in the grocery store among Indian food or among the dried beans.  They add a nutty flavor and a great texture to the dish.  If your supermarket has a Bob’s Red Mill section like mine does, you may be able to find it there (or here, if you look on Amazon).  If you absolutely cannot find any, you can substitute with another dal, yellow split peas or pigeon peas.

Recipe: Sriracha Lentil Stew

Purists take heart, I mixed all sorts of cuisines for this stew.  But I promise, it turns out wonderful.  The toppings at the end are optional.  Without the mayo and cheese, this would count as a dairy-free dish.  But I must say that they add an extra touch to the recipe.  I am a mayo lover (especially when combined with sriracha!) but you can also use a Greek yogurt or sour cream. 

Finally, I always encourage creativity with my recipes!  Please don’t feel like you have to follow it exactly – as I always say, baking is chemistry, but cooking is an art.  If you want less onion or more garlic, go ahead!  If you want to add peppers or omit the carrots, or add a ton more sriracha, or use BBQ sauce instead or whatever, go right ahead!  Experimenting in the kitchen is great fun and only makes you a better cook in the long run.

Recipe: Sriracha Lentil Stew

And finally, if you find yourself consistently making more than you or your family can eat before the food starts to go bad, remember that crockpot meals like this freeze very well.  I usually put mine into 1-1/2 cup portions in freezer bags (once they’ve reached room temperature), label them, and store them in the back of the freezer for up to 6 months for an instant, healthy TV-dinner on days when I’m feeling too lazy or busy to cook!

Now, without any more of my blabbering on, here’s my recipe for Sriracha Lentil Stew.  Enjoy!

~Mellie ★


Sriracha Lentil Stew
Serves 10
Write a review
  1. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 1/2 cup chopped onion
  3. 3 minced garlic cloves
  4. 1 c diced carrots
  5. 1/2 c chopped celery
  6. 1 c dal, rinsed and drained
  7. 2 c red lentils, rinsed and drained
  8. 1 can (14 oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained
  9. 1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies, drained
  10. 1 can (4 oz) chopped mushrooms, drained
  11. 1 1/2 c marinara sauce or pasta sauce
  12. 1 c vegetable broth or water
  13. 1 t cumin
  14. salt and pepper
  15. 1/4 - 1/3 cup Sriracha sauce (depending on how spicy you like it)
Optional Toppings
  1. shredded cheddar cheese
  2. dallop of mayonnaise
  1. Saute onion, garlic, carrots, and celery in olive oil with salt and pepper. If you're in a hurry, you can do this on a stovetop and then place into the slow cooker. If you're not in a hurry, just add the olive oil to the crockpot with the vegetables and heat over low heat for a half hour or so, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add remaining ingredients through the Sriracha sauce. Cover and let cook for 6-8 hours on low.
  3. Top with shredded cheese and mayonnaise if desired.
Nutritional Analysis
  1. (without cheese or mayonnaise and with homemade, rather than store-bought vegetable broth)
Per Serving
  1. Calories - 168
  2. Fat - 5.1g
  3. Cholesterol - 0mg
  4. Sodium - 387.3mg
  5. Potassium - 250.3mg
  6. Carbohydrates - 24.3g
  7. Protein - 6.7g
  8. Vitamin A - 38.4%
  9. Vitamin C - 18.6%
  10. Iron 15%
mellie blossom

Recipe: Sriracha Lentil Stew

Crochet Cross and Sugar Starch Recipe for Crochet Doilies

Crochet Cross with Roses -

There are some times when thank you’s just aren’t enough.  Not long ago, a friend of mine went out of her way to help me out with something, and even though I thanked her then, I wanted to go out of my way to show her my gratitude.  This is one of the best uses of crochet, I think  – being able to tailor-make things for certain people.

This said friend is very religious, and so I looked around and found this gorgeous crochet cross pattern.  It was lacy, it was pretty, and I thought it would make a great thank you.  The cross part itself was actually extremely simple to make up.  You wouldn’t think so by looking at it, but I had the entire cross part done in one afternoon.  The roses were a little more effort, but they turned out really lovely.  Weaving in the many ends of the roses and leaves is what took the most time (and is my least favorite part of crocheting!), but overall, I was pleasantly surprised that such an delicate and complicated looking pattern was so easy overall.

Crochet Cross with Roses -

I made a sugar starch solution to stiffen the crochet cross up, and within a couple of days it was in the mail, arriving safely and happily at its new home (where it was much loved).  The pattern is called “Pineapple Cross with Red Roses” and can be found for free here (though you need to register before you can download it).  I used basic thread yarn in white, dark red, and green.  My Ravelry project page is here.

Crochet Cross with Roses -

Making a sugar starch solution for thread crochet is relatively simple if you don’t have a starch solution on hand.  It’s a little bit sticky, but if you wring your crochet work out well, it won’t be clumpy.  It’s  actually very simple to make:

Sugar Starch Recipe for Crochet Doilies

1 part water
2 parts sugar

These can be as small or large in quantity as you like.  I think I used 3 cups sugar to 1 1/2 cup water (and I probably didn’t even need to use that much), but any other quantity (2 cups sugar to 1 cup water or 5 cups sugar to 2 1/2 cups water, for example) would work just as well.

First, you’ll want to dampen your doily.  Get it throughly wet and then wring as much water as you can out.  

Next, heat the measured water, but don’t boil it.  Add the sugar and stir until it’s dissolved.  Once the liquid is clear, place your doily in the mixture.  Remove it and lay it on a towel, gently removing any excess.  Shape the doily with your fingers or tack it down, and then allow it to dry (which can take several hours).  Your doily should be stiffened up and ready to use!

Crochet Cross with Roses -

Crochet Cross with Roses -

 Anyway, with the holidays coming up, I think this would make a great Christmas gift.  Whew, and speaking of holidays… well, I’d better get back to work!

~Mellie ★

Pioneer Days

We’re coming up to my favorite season of the year… fall.  And with fall comes all the fall festivals.  I sometimes feel like there aren’t enough weekends in the whole of autumn to go to all the celebrations.  So I do my best to make it to a few of my favorites each year, and then try a couple of new ones too.


This past weekend was Pioneer Days, which is always one of my favorites.  I love to tour the old homes and imagine what it would have been like raising a family with no indoor plumbing or electricity in these very small houses!  Sometimes I look at it from a romantic perspective of “the good old days”, but then I remember the stories my mother told me of my grandmother’s old home, including the snakes in the outhouse and the hauling of water, and I’m once again extremely grateful for indoor plumbing, and all the other options we have in the modern world.  

19th century brick-heated stove -

Another thing that I remember my grandmother telling me about, growing up in rural Pennsylvania was the wood burning stove and fire pit that were used for cooking.  This brick stove here worked by making a fire in the fireplace which would then heat up the bricks.  In the bricks to the right of the fireplace was hollowed out to make a stove, which they’d then use for baking. 

19th Century Dress and Spinning Wheel


I always bore my kids by spending way too much time taking photographs of the spinning wheels, and noting all the differences in them.  It’s amazing to think back on how long women have been spinning, spinning, spinning, and then turning that yarn into clothing and blankets for their families.  I cannot even imagine the amount of time it would take if I had to spin the yarn for every crochet project that I do – no wonder they had so little clothing.  

19th century spinning bobbins

wool fiber for spinning

Clock Reel - used for measuring out hanks of yarn -

There were some really interesting things that I learned too.  For example, this is a clock reel, and it was used to measure yarn in the 1800s.  These wheels were always 54” around and had a counter, which was used to keep track of how many times the yarn was spun around it.  After it hit 40 rounds, it made a noise to let the spinner know that a hank had been measured out.

Crushing Corn into Cornmeal

The boys really enjoyed the sights and activities as well – there were a bunch of children’s crafts.  My boys played with a wheel, using a stick to push it along.  They helped build a barn, and pressed apples into cider.  Here’s my boy using a small log that was hung on a tree to crush corn into cornmeal.  The heavy log bounced on the tree branch and was like a primitive grinder.  (And yes, that is him wearing a sweater in the middle of September!  We’re usually sweating in 90 degrees when we go to this, but this year it’s really felt like fall!)

Great Wheel or Walking Wheel

And here is an old-time general store.  It’s so funny to see the original version of some of the products that are still around today!  In the upper right hand corner is “Wheat Krispies”, and Quaker Oats oatmeal is the the left of it (which still looks the same).  My kids recognized the baking soda label s well, and the coffee container in the center looked very familiar to me – I wonder if there was a version of it around when I was growing up. 

All in all, we had so much fun!  It’s as close as we can get to a time machine, taking us back to the old days.  And I was very happy indeed to come home to electricity, indoor plumbing and refrigerator and spend some time crocheting for fun.  I was inspired to pull out my spinning wheel and start practicing spinning my own yarn again.  I’m pretty rusty, but as long as I’m swooning over everyone else’s, I might as well make better use of my own!

~Mellie ★

19th Century Bonnet - Pioneer Days


What I’ve Been Up To…

Apologies all around!  I posted last week how I was going to share all this stuff with you, and then I disappeared again.  I had a bit of a bad reaction to some of this new medication I started and ended up exhausted and sick the whole week.  But I’m finally starting to feel better from that, so thank goodness for the small things!

It seems like everything coincides at once, doesn’t it?  I got sick right at the same time as our back to school year (as homeschoolers) started!  And then we’re still unpacking and settling in from our move.  I’ve been desperately trying to fit in bits and pieces of crochet here and there, but I miss spending a good hour or two crocheting away.  Hopefully I’ll be getting back there soon!  But in the meantime, let me share what I *have* accomplished in these past couple of months.  

First, and it’s an unpleasant reminder, I know – but there are 100 days left until Christmas!  And since the plan was for me to make everyone in my immediate family an afghan for the holidays… well, I have some work to get to!

The blankets I’m making for my mom and my sister are similar.  They’re both going to be sampler afghans.  That makes it more interesting for me as well, since I’m not making a hundred of the same squares, but it presents its own challenges as well – that’s a lot of patterns to follow and make!  But it definitely improves my crochet technique with all the new and different patterns.  I’ve written about my sister’s colors and squares, which are those chosen by the BAMCAL.  For my mom’s afghan though, it’s all about purple!
To say that my mother loves purple is an understatement  – we’re talking about someone who painted her office at work purple!  So the coordinating colors of Caron’s Simply Soft line with their deep and majestic shades of purple were the perfect choice.  I’ve been making a few squares here and there for her, and I’ve also started what’s going to be the centerpiece, but now I need to buckle down and get more of these together so at least I feel like I’m on top of my game.

  Merganser Duck Square - crochet- ~**~

So here are my  latest squares for her purple sampler afghan.  This first one is called Merganser Duck Square, which was written up by one of my favorite Ravelry designers, Margaret MacInnis.  I use a smaller hook with the Simply Soft, because it’s more of a sport weight than worsted, so I usually end up altering or adding rounds to my squares to bring them up to 12”.  For this round, I repeated rounds 6-8, which brought it right up to the size I wanted. The pattern is $2 on Ravelry, and my project page is here.

Migration Square - crochet- ~**~

Next up is this awesome square that I fell in love with as soon as I saw it.  And you’ll have to excuse me as I CANNOT for the life of me properly photograph purple.  Bad news considering I’m doing the whole afghan in these colors, right?  I took photos of these in the same sunlight, in the same spot and both turned out different colors.  I don’t have the slightest clue what I’m doing wrong.  But I digress.  Besides being pretty, it’s the Migration Square is easy to make, so beginners shouldn’t be intimidated.  It’s called Migration (see how it looks like little birds flying?).  This pattern is a free Ravelry download.  The pattern page is here, and here is my project page.

Finally, I’ve been working on a centerpiece for the sampler afghan.  Sophie’s Garden Mandala has been all over Pinterest, and one day, while a little bored with all my other projects, I thought I would start working on one.  Well, one turned into two as I started to envision this great masterpiece at the center of the sampler afghan, and then decided that I couldn’t simply have a centerpiece in one – it would have to be in both.  So I started two different sets of Sophie’s Garden with two different colors.  It’s definitely not a boring project – all the color changes and different stitches make each round interesting.  But doubling the project by making two at once was a little bit repetitive.  Nonetheless, after a short break, I got back to work on it, and while it isn’t done yet, I’ve made good progress.  I still have yet to figure out what its final size will be, and then I’ll need to adjust the sizes of all the other squares, since it won’t be looking like my original plan. I’m sure it will turn out lovely, though.  Now the next thing to get started on is the making of a hundred or so little granny squares… and to think I was complaining about repetition!  No photos yet… the project is in the works!  But it’s coming, I promise!

On another note, all over Facebook has been this Gratitude Challenge, have you heard of it?  For a month or so, you post one thing that you’re grateful for.  It’s a way to keep your blessings in mind, rather than focusing on life’s daily challenges.  And who couldn’t use a little more gratitude in their life?  So I’m motivated to start documenting some of my daily blessings as well.  Let’s see if I can consistently make it through a month!  If you want to follow my progress, you’ll be able to find my Gratitude Challenge photos on Instagram or Facebook - and do join in if you’d like, too! 

mellieblossom ~*~Gratitude Challenge~*~ Day 1: rain

Today, I am grateful for rain.  While most people associate rain with gloomy days, I just love rainy days.  I love the way everything turns green and lush; I love the way the rain sounds as it splatters on my roof.  I love the smell of rain, and the cool, windy breeze it brings in the moments before its arrival.  I love the uncertainty of never knowing how much or how little rain we’re *really* getting.  I especially love being safe and warm inside when it’s wet and chilly outside.  During my days on the road as a Deadhead, there were plenty of times when a random awning or a particularly thick patch of trees was my best protection from downpours.  I have been forever grateful since then for the warmth and dry comfort that home provides when it’s dark and stormy.  So for my Gratitude Challenge today – I am grateful for rain!  What are you thankful for?

~Mellie ★

A Little Update!

… has it really been two months since I last updated here?  

I faced a little bit of a health crisis, which is fully under control now, and I’m feeling great, but it definitely knocked me off of my feet for a couple of months.  And of course, getting sick coincided perfectly with moving into my new home.  Doesn’t it always work out like that?  It took a little bit of time for me to get settled in, feeling better, and back on track.  My crochet work sat on the back burner for a few weeks – oh, how I was itching to pick it up again!  I’m still settling in, but I’m excited to pick up where I’ve left on (on several projects) – and I’m also looking ahead to Christmas, one of my favorite times of the year.  I can’t wait to piece together some of these afghans that I’ve been planning to give for the holidays.

I also have plenty of new recipes to share with you – my new kitchen is so dreamy, I just love being in it.  Plus, all the summer harvests that are going on now make everything taste even better than usual!  I’ll be back here on Monday with a full update and some projects to share with you.  Thanks for your continued support and all your kind messages!

~Mellie ★