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
Print
Ingredients
  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
Instructions
  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 http://www.mellieblossom.com/

Recipe: Sriracha Lentil Stew

Cranberry Chocolate Cake Recipe (with Candied Cranberries)

Cranberry Chocolate Cake

Thanksgiving is tomorrow!  It’s a flurry of last-minute baking and cleaning around here, getting decorations up and pulling chairs out from all over the house to make sure there are enough seats for everyone.  In the middle of it all, I remembered that I still had two quarts of fresh cranberries that needed to be put to good use.  So I made my way into the kitchen and spent the afternoon making a beautiful cranberry chocolate cake instead of finishing the cleaning.  Time well spent, I’d say!

Cranberry Chocolate Cake

I made my last trip to the grocery store yesterday in order to avoid the craziness of the before-Thanksgiving crowd, so I wanted to use the ingredients that I had on hand.  That’s why I improvised with some hazelnut coffee for a subtle undertone of flavor in the cake.  The candied cranberries double as a lovely holiday garnish and an edible treat, and the cranberry syrup infuses both the cake and the frosting with just the right flavor of the harvest without being overpowering.

Cranberry Chocolate Cake

My children were so excited as I baked this cake.  They had specifically requested a chocolate dessert for Thanksgiving, so this worked perfectly for all of us.  They tiptoed around the living room while the cake was in the oven whispering loudly to each other Don’t jump!  The cake will fall!  (Obviously we bake a lot of cakes around here.)  When the timer beeped, two little noses were busy sniffing the air and crowding around the oven door.  The cake turned out moist and delicious, and I had two very eager testers ready to give their own opinion.  In the words of my younger son: I can’t stop taking bites!  These small moments of creating memories with my children during the holiday season are those that warm my heart the most.  I hope they always remember these times with happy hearts.

Cranberry Chocolate Cake

 

Cranberry Chocolate Cake

with toasted walnuts and candied cranberries

 vegetarian * great for the holidays

Makes 12 servings

For this recipes, you’ll need about 2-1/2 cups of fresh cranberries.  I had about two pints, and that worked well for me.  Make the candied cranberries ahead of time (or the day before).

For the Candied Cranberries (plan ahead, these need time to chill and dry!)

  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 3/4 c water
  • 1 c fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 c sugar (for dusting) Cranberry Chocolate Cake

Slowly heat 3/4 c sugar and water together in a small saucepan over medium heat.  You want this to get as close to boiling as possible without boiling.  Stir often, especially as the bubbles start to form.  Right before the boiling point, remove from the heat and add the cranberries, stirring to coat.  Let sit for 10 minutes at room temperature, and then move to the refrigerator.  Chill for at least 2 hours.

After 2 hours, remove from the refrigerator and drain the syrup into a bowl – do not discard!  Place the cranberries in a bowl.  Take the 1/4 c sugar and whirl it in a blender to powder it (or use superfine sugar).  Roll the cranberries in the sugar and place on wax paper.  Let dry at room temperature for a few hours.

For the Chocolate Cranberry Cake

  • 1 c fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 c flour

              ***

  • 1- 1/2 c flour
  • 1-1/2 c sugar
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 c chocolate baking powder
  • 1/2 c melted and cooled butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c sour cream
  • 3/4 c hazelnut (or regular) coffee, brewed strong

For the cake, take another cup of fresh cranberries and chop roughly in a food processor or by hand.  Combine with 1/4 c flour (use more or less to fully coat).  Set aside.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda and chocolate baking powder.  Mix well.  Add floured cranberry mixture.

In another bowl, combine butter, eggs and vanilla extract.  Beat with mixers until light and fluffy.  Add sour cream and coffee, mix again until smooth.  Combine with the dry ingredients and mix well.  Pour into two greased and floured 8″ round cake pans.  Bake at 350* for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool completely. Cranberry Chocolate Cake

For the Frosting

  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c (reserved) cranberry syrup
  • 1/4 c half and half (or milk)
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 T butter
  • pinch of salt

Combine powdered sugar with cranberry syrup.  Slowly add half and half, beating constantly.  Add vanilla, butter and salt.  Continue beating.  Frosting should be the consistency of toothpaste; if it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar.  If it’s too thick, add a bit of milk, only 1/4 t at a time, beating well after each addition.

Assembly

To assemble, turn cakes out of pans.  Use 3/4 c of frosting to ice the top of one cake, and then place the other cake on top of that (like a cake sandwich with the frosting in the middle). Then use the remaining 1 1/4 c frosting to spread over the top of the cake.

Garnishes

  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  • candied cranberries (that was made above)
  • any leftover fresh cranberries
  • a sprig of green, such as rosemary or parsley

Place the walnuts in a dry skillet and toast over medium heat until fragrant.  Cool completely.  Sprinkle on top of the top layer of frosting and press down slightly so that they stick.  If you have any remaining fresh cranberries, chop them in half and sprinkle on the cake.  Take the candied cranberries and arrange them on top in a pleasing manner, and add a few around the bottom of the serving dish.  Add a sprig of green (such as parsley or rosemary) for a decorative accent, and serve for your Thanksgiving feast.  Or, if you’re like us, eat half the cake the day you make it and save a few leftover pieces for your Thanksgiving guests….

Cranberry Chocolate Cake

Wishing you all a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving tomorrow!

 

~ Mellie ★

Recipe: Roasted Squash Seeds

Roasted Squash Seeds

Roasted Squash Seeds

Thanksgiving is right around the corner now, isn’t it?  We picked up all sorts of delicious and traditional thanksgiving fruits and vegetables from our veggie co-op, including fresh cranberries, sweet potatoes, a small mountain of pearl onions and enough squash to last us through the New Year.  My kids were so excited to try the fresh cranberries; they talked about it all the way home.  I warned them that fresh cranberries didn’t taste like the cranberry sauce we have at Thanksgiving, but they wanted to try it anyway.  The expressions on their faces were priceless.  I wish I had gotten a picture!

Roasted Squash Seeds

Anyway, we got a good deal of squash, and that’s fine with me, because I’m a huge fan of winter squash.  I never ate them growing up – not even pumpkin pie!  But I acquired a taste for their slightly sweet and incredibly filling flavor as an adult and I have had a lot of fun over the years searching out, growing and sampling different varieties.  Delicata is one of my favorites with its very light flavor; another one I really like is Kabocha… and the classics like Acorn, Spaghetti, and Butternut are staples around here since they’re so easy to find.   I think one day I’d love to have a corner of the yard filled with all different types of squashes. Wouldn’t that be lovely?

Roasted Squash Seeds

Roasted Squash Seeds

If you’re like me, and planning on using winter squash for holidays this year – or making it anytime, really, don’t throw away your seeds!  Roasted pumpkin seeds seem to be a staple around Halloween, but roasted squash seeds are – in my opinion – even tastier.  I think a lot of people just toss them aside without even realizing that they’re not only edible, but delicious.  My kids will eat an entire bowl of roasted squash seeds, and it’s a great (free) snack since the rest of the squash is being used up otherwise.

Roasted Squash Seeds

Roasted Squash Seeds

vegetarian * makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

2 cups seeds from winter squash – any kind

1 T melted butter

Salt, to taste

 

Separate seeds from winter squash, but do not rinse them.  Remove any large pieces of squash sticking to the seeds, but don’t worry about the smaller pieces of pulp.  They add to the flavor of the roasted seeds.  (Here’s an idea of how mine looks before cooking):

Roasted Squash Seeds

Line a baking dish with foil to make cleanup easy and place seeds in.  Pour the melted butter on top and mix well.  Sprinkle liberally with salt.  Place inside an oven heated to 300* and let cook for an hour to an hour and a half, stirring every twenty minutes or so, and moving the seeds in the middle to the edges so as to cook evenly.  Baking times can vary quite a bit depending on how pulpy your seeds are.  More moisture on the seeds means a longer cooking time.  Just keep your eye on them. Seeds will be done when they are all brown and crispy (but not burnt).  We love salt here, so I usually sprinkle the finished seeds with a little more salt, but do at your own preference.

You can make these even more flavorful by adding seasonings prior to baking, too.  Garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce – just a dash each – are my favorites, but my kids won’t eat them that way, so we stick with the basic recipe.

Roasted Squash Seeds

These are a great addition to your appetizer table as well as a nutritious snack too.  Pumpkin seeds are high in Vitamin E, full of healthy amino acids and are a good protein source.  Plus, any kind of healthy snack that my kids willingly eat is a keeper in my book!  So, there it is – a great way to make a super snack while saving food scraps.

Roasted Squash Seeds

Roasted Squash Seeds

 

I wanted to snap a few photos of the roasted squash seeds once they were warm enough to share, but two very patient little boys (who had been counting down the minutes) came over and started snacking away before I got a chance.  They munched away, brightly talking about their day and making play plans for the rest of the afternoon to come.  After a second helping, and happy to have had their fill, they left just enough for me to have a good-sized serving tonight after they go to sleep… maybe with a big glass of tomato juice.  Or maybe I should make that a Bloody Mary?  Either way, at least there will be something healthy for me to munch on!

 

~ Mellie ★