Sausage and Lentil Stew

This is another recipe that calls for an ingredient that I have never worked with before.  This time it was lentils, last time it was leeks and oddly enough, leeks are present in this recipe too.  I have wanted to try lentils for quite a while, but just never got around to it.  I’m glad I finally cooked with them.  We really liked this stew.  It has an earthy taste, but in a good way.

Due to poor planning on my part, I made this dish on a day that temps were near 70 degrees.  Who would have thought that would be the case in November?!  Especially when it was freezing in September this year! Anyway, it tasted great but would be better suited for a cold night.

I cut the recipe in half (approximately – I tend to wing it.) and the list below reflects my measurements.  I would say that my version serves 6.  Click the link for the full recipe if needed.


Sausage and Lentil Stew

{source:  Smellslikehome, originally from Ina Garten; Barefoot in Paris}


  • 1/2 pound lentils
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 large cloves)
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 medium diced celery stalks {I’ll probably use 3 stalks next time}
  • 3 medium diced carrots
  • 32 oz. chicken stock or broth
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pound kielbasa, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine or red wine vinegar  {I used the vinegar}
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving


  1. In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.
  2. In a large stock pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent and tender.
  3. Knock over the bottle of olive oil.  Watch in horror as it crashes to the floor in slow motion.  Cuss profusely for 60 seconds!
  4. Compose yourself and add the celery and carrots and saute for another 10 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and drained lentils, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, or until the lentils are cooked through and tender. Check the seasonings.
  6. Add the kielbasa and red wine and simmer until the kielbasa is hot.
  7. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan.



Shrimp and Penne

This is such a favorite of ours! I could not believe I hadn’t put it on the blog already!


Penne a la Betsy {named after her sister}

{Source: The Pioneer Woman}

  • ¾ pound Penne Pasta {or other short pasta, I used gemelli}
  • 1 pound Shrimp
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 small Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • ½ cup White Wine (or To Taste)
  • 1 can Tomato Sauce (8 Oz)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Fresh Parsley – to Taste
  • Fresh Basil – to Taste
  • Salt – To Taste
  • Pepper – To Taste
Preparation Instructions

Cook the penne pasta until al dente.

Peel, devein and rinse (under cool water) 1 pound of extra large shrimp. Heat about 1 tbsp. butter and olive oil in a skillet. Add the shrimp and cook for a couple minutes until just opaque. Do not overcook them. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Now, put the cooked shrimp on the cutting board and pull off the tails. Chop the shrimp into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Finely dice one small onion. Mince two cloves of garlic.

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally. After the garlic and onions have cooked a bit add your white wine. Let the wine evaporate for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. If you would rather not use wine, you can use low-sodium chicken broth instead (about ½ cup).

Now add an 8-ounce can of plain tomato sauce. Stir well until combined. Then add 1 cup of heavy cream. Continue stirring. Turn heat down to low and let simmer.

Now chop your herbs, about a tablespoon of chopped parsley and about the same amount of chopped basil, or if you’re feeling very proper, chiffonaded.

Now add your chopped shrimp back into the tomato cream sauce. Give it a stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Throw in your herbs and stir until combined. Finally add your cooked penne pasta and give it a good stir.  Taste for seasoning.  Serve in warmed bowls.


Broccoli Cheese Soup

I have been on a soup kick lately, making a batch at least once a week.  It is sooo much better than soup from a can and it is hard to screw up.  You can usually make substitutes and fudge on measurements and still get great results.

I strayed from the original recipe a little bit to use what I had on hand.  Overall, I thought this tasted fantastic!  Leftover soup was not as good as fresh, but was still okay.


Broccoli Cheese Soup

{source:  adapted from Sweet Tea in Texas}


1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup flour

1 can evaporated milk plus enough milk to equal 4 cups {original recipe calls for 1/2 and 1/2}

1 can chicken broth

1 tablespoon butter

1 onion, chopped

1 cup carrot, chopped very small {about 3 medium carrots}

1 box frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained

8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

dash of paprika

salt and pepper


In a large skillet, sauté onion in 1 T. butter for a minute or two, then add the carrots and continue to saute until soft.

Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven or stock pot, cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.   Stir constantly and slowly add the milk.  Then add the chicken stock. When it is thick and bubbly, add the broccoli, carrots and onions. {It will thicken more when you add the cheese.}  Cook over low heat for about 15 minutes.

Add salt and pepper, nutmeg and paprika.

Then stir in the shredded cheese.  Mix until well combined.


Menu 11-8-09

Well, last week’s meal plan didn’t work out so well.  lol.  I ended up only cooking Thursday night!  So, you’ll see that what I didn’t make last week is showing up again on this week’s menu.


sausage and lentil stew

take out fake out- Cashew Chicken or similar

homemade pizza

chili with jalapeno corn muffins

chicken piccata with pasta

brinner – Breakfast for dinner {possibly pumpkin waffles}


Dinner Rolls

Victory!  I had success baking with yeast!

In the past, I have mentioned a few times that I usually avoid yeast breads.  I’m all about the quick breads but with yeast breads, I’m always afraid that the yeast is going to be dead and they won’t rise, etc.  Well, no more.

I gave this recipe a chance and I’m totally sold.  I still may not bake yeast bread frequently, but when I do I won’t be afraid!

I should have cut this recipe in half, but I think I was concentrating too much on making them correctly that I didn’t think about the quantity.  {The full recipe is below as well.}  I also should have given them more than 15 minutes for each rise time to yield an even fluffier roll.  But I was, of course, short on time.

Is there anything better smelling than fresh bread?  In my opinion, No!   I think I’ll add these to my Thanksgiving dinner menu.


60 Minute Yeast Rolls

Source: Frantic Home Cook

  • 4-5 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (1/4 ounce) packages yeast (5 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine

In a warmed cup or bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water.   Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, stir milk, sugar, salt and butter together. Heat over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cool until lukewarm.  Add the water and yeast mixture to the milk mixture.

Pour into your mixer bowl and add 4-1/2 cups of flour.  Using your dough hook, mix on low speed for about 1 minute. With the mixer still going, add remaining flour, a little at a time and mix about 2 minutes or until dough starts to clean the sides of the bowl.  Keep mixing (you’re kneading now) on low speed for about 2 more minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic – the dough will still be slightly sticky to the touch.

Place dough in a greased bowl, turning it to grease the top. Cover the dough with a clean, dry dish towel, and let it rise in a warm place, free from draft, for about 15 minutes. {I place the bowl on my counter with a heating pad underneath.}

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 24 equal pieces.  Form each piece into a ball, and place in two greased muffin pans.  {If you’d rather,  you can simply shape the dough into 24 balls and set them side by side in a greased 9 by 13 baking dish.}  Cover the muffin pans with the dish towel, and let the dough rise one last time for about 15 minutes. {Again, I place the muffin pan on a heating pad.}

Bake at 425ºF for 12 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown. Remove from pans immediately, brush with melted butter and cool on wire racks.

I brushed them with honey butter and served them with additional honey butter on the side.  Heaven!

Honey Butter

1 stick of butter, softened

3 tablespoons honey

Place both ingredients in stand mixer bowl and beat until combined, smooth and fluffy.

Dutch Apple Pie

I worked at a small restaurant for about 6 years, mostly on and off while I was in college.  I was primarily a waitress, but also was a hostess and a manager and I even filled in in the kitchen from time to time.

Anyway, it was a great experience for me overall.  Even though I was young (I think I started working there at age 16 or 17), I obviously learned a lot about dealing with people.  Sure, I complained about the long shifts, hot kitchen, tired/sore legs and feet, and shitty pay on slow nights – but more importantly I learned valuable life lessons that will stay with me forever.  I truly learned the value of a dollar and about working HARD.  Restaurant work is very exhausting and difficult and I think everyone (especially young people) should work in food service for a time.

I could go on an on about working there, but I won’t bore you with it.  What I want to get at it is that that small restaurant was (and still is) famous for its homemade pies.  They offer over 20 different kinds every single day.   One of my favorites and one of their most popular was Dutch apple pie.  This recipe is as close to identical as I have been able to get.  It is fab!


Dutch Apple Pie

Fits a standard pie dish, not a deep dish.


dough for one pie crust

For the filling:

6 cups apples; peeled, slice and cored – that’s about 7 medium apples {Cortland or Jonathon apples are my favorite.}

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

3 Tbsp flour

1/4 cup lemon juice

Dutch apple topping:

{measurements are approximate}

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 stick cold butter


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly flour a clean baking mat on a work surface.  Roll out dough and place in a pie dish.  Flute the edges as desired.  Set aside.

Place the sliced apples in a large bowl and toss them with the lemon juice to coat.  Then add the sugar, flour, salt, and nutmeg.  Stir to mix thoroughly.  Pour evenly into the crust and lightly smooth them down.

In another large bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients.  Cut with a fork, pastry cutter, or 2 knives for several minutes or until the butter is incorporated and crumbly.  Carefully pour the topping mixture evenly over the filling and lightly press it to compact.  It may be dome shaped, but it will sink during baking.  Don’t worry if you have a little extra topping left over.  I have found that it is better to have extra than not enough to thoroughly cover the top of the pie.

Place the pie dish on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.  {The baking sheet is very important – unless you like to clean your oven.  I almost always have filling run over and the sheet catches it.} Leave the pie in the oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 30-35 minutes.  The filling will bubble and crust will be lightly browned when done.  Check pie midway thru baking and cover edges with foil if necessary.

Allow to thoroughly cool before slicing.


Split Pea Soup

Out of nowhere a couple of weeks ago, I had a craving for split pea soup.  This is beyond crazy because I have only eaten split pea soup once.  Ever.   It was at dinner before prom my junior year of high school.  Ten years ago people!  At the time, I didn’t even order it – it just came with the meal along with a salad bar that comes to your table on a giant tray. (Can anyone name that old Peoria restaurant?)

Why did I get a craving for a soup that I have only had once in my life?!  I have no idea.   I’m weird.

Anyway, I made a split pea soup today and it was fantastic!  I added a few other spices that the original recipe did not include.  I also omitted the carrots because I didn’t have any on hand.  It photographs like poo, but tastes great!

Now, will someone please tell me that they have random cravings for food that you ate 10 years (or more) ago.  Please make me feel normal again!


Split Pea Soup

{loosely adapted from Peabody , but I looked at numerous other sources as well that gave me the ideas to use chicken broth instead of all water and add oregano.}


1 pound of dried split peas

1 pound ham hock

3 large carrots, peeled and diced – I omitted

3 Tbsp butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

4-5 cups low sodium chicken broth plus about 2-3 cups of water

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper, or to taste

dash of celery salt

1/2 tsp dried oregano


Pick over the split peas and sort out any debris or tiny stones, rinse.  Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium high heat.  Add the onion, garlic and spices/seasonings and saute until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.  Then add the ham hock, peas, and liquid.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour.

After an hour has passed remove the ham to a cutting board and when you are able to handle it, chop into small 1/2″ pieces.  Return the pieces of ham {and carrots if you are using them} to the pot.  Return to a boil, cover and simmer for another 20 minutes or so or until thick enough for your liking.

Serve and enjoy!

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