Veggie Lentil Soup

It’s been a nice and easy weekend here in Oklahoma. I love weekends like this where there’s no agenda aside from cleaning a bit (but only “a bit”), guilt free laziness, and attempting to be healthy from time to time.

On that healthy note – I’ve heard lots of good things about lentils lately. So yesterday, when I was grocery shopping, I saw a bag of them sitting on the shelf just staring at me. Normally I’d just continue on my merry little way, but this time I checked the back and saw a good lookin’ recipe for lentil soup! It was a little dreary outside with rain due last night and all of today. “Hmmm……I can totally do this!” I thought. So I chucked it in my cart and off I went feeling all proud of myself 🙂

The back of the label was a recipe for Lentil Soup & Kielbasa. Since I was already planning a slow cooker heavy beef stew for tonight (Sunday), I just wanted to keep it veggies & lentils only; nice and light. I researched a few other recipes on the web and ultimately came up with this little number below. I hope you enjoy!!!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 4 Carrots (mine were on the smaller side), sliced
  • 4 stalks Celery, sliced
  • 5 small Red Potatoes, peeled + cubed (roughly the same length as your carrots)
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried Oregano
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried Basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon rubbed Sage
  • 1 can crushed Tomatoes OR 1.5 whole tomatoes chopped + crushed
  • 1 & 3/4 cups dry Lentils
  • 6 cups Water
  • 2 & 1/5 cups Chicken Broth
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

STEP 1

In a large pot, heat the oil then add in the onion, carrots, and potatoes.

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Let it all heat up & soften for a couple of minutes, then add in your seasonings: garlic, oregano, bay leaf, basil, sage, salt, and pepper.

Stir & let it all together and let the seasonings snuggle up and say “heeyheeey!” to the veggies for a minute or two.

STEP 2

I didn’t have a can of crushed tomatoes at home like I thought I did (womp womp) but I DID have two tomatoes ready to be messed with! Score! I chopped them up and used a potato masher to lightly crush them up a little (not too much though – I still wanted some chucks of tomato still in tact). I used one and a half tomatoes for this and it was perfect!

Add those crushed lil’ “toms” to your soup mixture and stir it on in.

STEP 3

Right after adding the tomatoes, go ahead and add in the water, chicken broth, and lentils. Stir it all up, cover, and lower the temp to allow the soup to simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally and add salt to taste if needed, but remember that the taste of salt really comes out at the end after letting it simmer for a while…so don’t go crazy ;).
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Enjoy!

Remove the bay leaf, pour, and enjoy!

Well goodness gracious. This was just about the most delicious, wholesome, healthy, and simple homemade soup I’ve ever made! Want some?!

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If you prefer your soup to be more brothy, you may want to add in more chicken broth or water towards the end. The broth gets absorbed by the lentils & veggies as you continue to cook it, especially when it also sits overnight in the fridge.

Can’t wait to have more for lunch todaaaaay! 🙂 Lemme know if you give it a try!

 

 

Thirty One

It’s my 31st birthday today! I’m spending the day with my hubby. He’s my favorite person 🙂 We’re exploring Austin, TX all weekend and are having the time of our lives!

A weekend getaway to a new place often heightens my senses to the world around me. The air, sights, and sounds all stand out a bit stronger because it’s new and different. That got me thinking – I hope I take enough time to appreciate the little things that I adore in life. I used to be better at that.

Throughout high school and college I’d escape for a few minutes (or hours) and add to a list of what I loved. Totally random things…like…how people tilt their head when they eat a taco, or a much needed outburst of laughter after something has gone horribly wrong and that poor moment needs some comedic relief. Before I knew it, my list had exceeded 1,400 things. The sad truth is that I have no idea where that book is now. But the idea of doing that, of writing down the little things that I love about life, well I think today’s a brilliant day to bring it back.

So, in honor of my 31st, here are 31 little random things that I love:

  1. Snuggling with my yellow lab, Stella.
  2. Stovetop popcorn.
  3. The entire experience of walking around an Anthropologie store.
  4. Slowly sipping red wine on a cold night.
  5. The 1st cup of coffee in the morning.
  6. Finishing a long run.
  7. Writing.
  8. Star gazing.
  9. Small town America.
  10. Getting positive results from using little pockets of time wisely.
  11. Country music.
  12. Cowgirl boots.
  13. An unforgettable culinary experience.
  14. Dark chocolate.
  15. Laughter from my favorite people.
  16. The distant smell of a campfire.
  17. Swivel chairs.
  18. HGTV & The Food Network.
  19. Needed hugs.
  20. A new dress.
  21. Baking.
  22. Stained glass windows.
  23. Coffee shops.
  24. Windows open, kinda weather.
  25. Sushi.
  26. Getting asked to take strangers’ group photos.
  27. When a baby smiles or yawns.
  28. Zumba. 
  29. Hearing perfectly beautiful harmony sung a cappella.
  30. People who don’t complain, appreciate life, and embrace each day.
  31. Choosing happiness.

More than any of these, more than anything in the world in fact, I love and adore my family and friends over all. I’m a very lucky lady to have such joy surrounding me all the time. Not quite sure how I got so lucky, but I thank God everyday for y’all.

So…what’s on your list?!

Happy day, friends!

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

First of all a HUGE thank you to all of you who submitted your slow cooker recipes over the weekend! Even though I have like 3720483 to choose from, keep ’em coming! You can submit your favorites in a form in this post: Slow Cooker Recipes, Please!  

Here’s the full recipe, and below are some pretty pictures of what you’ll need. You may notice that some of the ingredients didn’t make it to the photos. This was a work in progress, with the help of my hubby, so we adjusted the recipe as it was cooking. Here’s the final recipe that I (I mean…”we”…hehe) recommend…

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs of Beef, chopped…you can usually buy pre-cut beef stew at the grocery store. Be sure to look for beef that is well marbled with fat as that’s what will make it melt in your mouth with flavor after slowly cooking for 8 glorious hours!
  • 4 Carrots
  • 3 stalks of Celery
  • 4 small Potatoes
  • 1 large Onion
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 2 tsps Paprika
  • 4 Garlic cloves 
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 tsps Salt
  • 2 tsps Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Seasoned Salt
  • 2 Tbsps Soy Sauce
  • 2 tsps Worcestershire Sauce…I’m now exhausted from trying to learn the correct spelling of that, by the way.
  • 1 1/2 cups Beef Broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine…I used a Cabernet Sauvignon – slightly dry with just the right hint of sweetness.

Stew Beef

6O9C2402

garlic+bay leaf+salt+pepper+paprikaFlour6O9C2413

STEP 1:

Peel and chopychop up the onion, garlic, and veggies! This takes a while so get the music playin, wine pourin, and hips movin! This may sound odd, but peeling and chopping veggies are actually two of my favorite things about cooking in my kitchen. It’s…it’s kind of why many of us loved coloring in elementary school (or…um…last week) – it’s therapeutic. It’s simple. It’s also (usually) an un-rushed step that allows us to just zone out and relax while preparing something glorious. No T.V. or iPhones…we’re using our hands and creating something to feed our souls. I just LOVE it!

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STEP 2:

Mix your dry ingredients together: flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and seasoned salt.

Dry ingredients - 1Dry ingredients - 2

STEP 3:

Lay the beef across the bottom of the slow cooker, then drizzle the dry ingredient mixture over the beef. Then…get your hands ready…’cause you’re goin’ in!!!

BeefDry ingredients over beef

Rrrraaawrrrr…get on in there with your hands!!! You’ll want to coat the beef completely in the flour mixture.

6O9C2445Coated beefTadaaaah! It should look a little like this when it’s all coated.

STEP 4:

Add the chopped onion, veggies, garlic, and bay leaf to the top:

Veggies Onion Garlic and Bay Leaf

STEP 5:

Time to add in the lovely flavorful moisture of beef broth, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce:

Beef brothred wineworcestershire and soy sauceSTEP 6:

Mix it up a bit one last time, set the slow cooker on LOW, and let it do it’s thang for around EIGHT HOURS. Ahhhhh how glorious. I could drive down to Dallas, TX and BACK in that time! If you’re able to though, I recommend stirring it a couple times to make sure the flavor and juices are distributing evenly.

STEP 7:

Okay one last thing – ya gotta add a crunch to this. Get some toast or ideally a slice of a baguette, toast it up, and drizzle a little butter overtop. It was heavenly, and the perfect solution to soaking up the stew broth as you savor each and every bite. The beef just melts away with each bite, the veggies are perfect, and the spices marry beautifully!

Enjoy, friends! Let me know how the recipe turned out for you!

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Happy slow cookin 🙂

Katherine

Slow Cooker Recipes, Please!

Earlier this week as I meandered around Target, trying to keep my paws off of everything and stick to my shopping plan, my eyes suddenly landed on…a slow cooker. The Hallelujah Chorus suddenly erupted over the loud speaker. I vaguely recall confetti falling gracefully from the ceiling. Target shoppers everywhere stopped to applaud me on my brilliant decision to wrap my arms around it and place it into my cart. I waved at everyone, wiping away tears of joy. I then stepped up to a microphone which had magically appeared in front of a gorgeous sparkling banner with “WAY TO GO, KATHERINE!” written in bold, and I began to thank my blog, Newlie, for the inspiration to make this purchase. That’s what I remember at least…

I have the best memory.

Slow Cooker

But seriously, y’all…Hallelujah for a SLOW COOKER in my life! How have I not had one of these before? Before this bad boy, we did actually have a very tiny little red slow cooker that Sean randomly won from a night at Dave & Buster’s…but…I think that speaks for itself as to why I’m way more excited about this new purchase – the real deal.

I already have a gorgeous looking Beef Stew cookin’ away in there at the moment. It’s got about 4 hours to go, so I’ll probably post those step-by-step instructions & my thoughts on the outcome tomorrow for anyone interested. Our home smells amazing, by the way.

But this post isn’t my usual how-to story; it’s more of a call to action. Will you (please oh please!) share a favorite slow cooker recipe (or twelve) in the feedback form below? I’ll select a few favorite submissions and try them out here on Newlie, with cheers and praise back in your direction of course.

Ahhhh I cannot wait to try out your favorites. Looking forward to your submissions!

Happy slooooow cookin, Saturday!

Katherine

Homemade Sweetness

Has your home recently been taken over by the sweet smell of summer, with a hint of strawberries and sugar? No? WHAT?! Would you like it too? ‘Cause mine has, and I can’t stop smiling. Wanna know our secret? Our home recently experienced its first strawberry jam creation, and I am forever grateful to have learned how to make this traditionally store-bought item into a scrumptious homemade reality.

Wanna learn how to make this sweet jammy goodness? It’s easy as pie. But we’re not making pie, so it’s a little different (<–that’s a joke, for those of you who aren’t used to my old man humor yet). But seriously, folks, it’s very easy to make. Watch what happens:

Step numero uno involves boiling the Masons in hot water. WHAT?! No, not myself and my fiance, Sean Mason, but actual Mason jars. Apparently it’s recommended to boil the Mason jars (or whatever jars you choose to use) in hot water first, just to make sure that all germs are totally gone.

Step two is to get excited…because here come the STRAWBERRIES!!!! I got these gorgeous strawberries from Trader Joe’s. And if I haven’t said this a hundred times yet…then let me say it again…I LOVE Trader Joe’s. Freshest, most reasonably priced fruits and veggies in town. Take a look at how beautiful they are. They should win the next Miss America pageant:

Step three is to chop them up. This part took a while, but I think that chopping fruits and veggies is one of the best moments of cooking. It’s a rare moment where you get to appreciate what the meal/creation once was in its raw form, before setting it on fire or adding 4,738,890 ingredients to it to make a different outcome. It’s a chance to appreciate what you’re starting with. Here’s how finely I decided to chop the strawberries:

Step four relies on a masher of some sort. Now, when I look for recipes online for something this simple, I tend to follow three or more recipes at once, just to keep track of fun ways to spice it up a bit. As for mashing up the strawberries, some recipes recommended using a blender, while others just told me to mash it up and left it to me to figure out the process on my own. We have a blender, but I decided to get a little work out and used our metal masher:

Half way through mashing this stuff up I was pretty impressed to see how much juice it created! I get it, it’s fruit, but still…it’s sometimes not until you squeeze out the juice from a strawberry until you realize how juicy it is. Anywho…this is the consistency that I decided to stop at:

Step five may be a little terrifying. You MIGHT want to prepare yourself for this one. I had to take out tons of sugar from some of these recipes because, even I thought it was calling for too much. Basically, use your own judgement…but the sugar should be added gradually, and to taste. After chopping the strawberries, I had roughly 3 cups of chopped strawberries to use. Knowing that, I used about a cup and a half of sugar which, again, was HALF of what the recipes called for. Now…I love me some sugar…we all know that…but I really thought it was calling for too much. So to add a little more to the fun, I brought in my good friends: cinnamon and nutmeg! I just added a few dabs of each here and there until I was happy. Also, the recipes called for a 1/4 cup of lemon juice, but all we had was a lime. Good enough for me! Lime actually made it pretty tasty! I squeezed the whole lime for juice and added it right into the pot.

Step 6 – Fire it up! Start slow with a low heat, then once everything is mixed in properly, slowly bring it up to a “rolling boil” for a good 10 to 15 minutes. Stir it a lot. Thankfully this didn’t happen to me, but some of the comments from multiple recipes included people who burned the pan or found that it would all thicken too quickly. I luckily didn’t run into that problem, and just stirred it as consistently as I could:

Step 7 means that when it looks like the photo above – it’s time to stop boiling. Take your super clean Mason jars (they should still be warm at this point) and add the strawberry pre-jam mixture (more like thick syrupie mixture at this point) right on in. The amount I had fit perfectly into one jar:

Step 8 includes simply sealing this bad boy down, flipping it over onto a cloth since it’s “so hot right now” (<–hehe … another joke!), and immediately putting it in the fridge (yes, upside down).

Done and done in eight easy steps!!! And do you know what eight means?! “New beginnings.” This little creation was totally meant for Newlie! I’m so happy I made it, and I can’t wait to try it out with our new tuscany bread (also from Trader Joe’s!) tomorrow morning for breakfast. Apparently you have to let it sit in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours. I kept tasting it a little throughout the whole cooking process though, and it was so yummy.

Have any of you made this before? If so, do you have any new recommendations for me to perfect this recipe!? I plan on making this A LOT from now on, and would love to hear your thoughts. Let me know!

Happy cooking.

Engagement Chicken

Have you ever heard of the “Engagement Chicken” recipe? Legend has it (and apparently the legend goes back a only few years, but let’s just go with it) that if you’re dating a guy, and then you make this dinner for him, he’ll propose soon after. It’s a cute tale…and an AMAAAAZING recipe! So amazing, that my house was filled with the mouthwatering scent of fresh rosemary, lemon and roasted chicken on this fine summer’s evening. No, I don’t need my man to propose to me (because he already DID! Waaahooo!) but I thought:

What the heck. I have the day off. We’re engaged. It’s called ‘engagement chicken.’ The recipe sounds easy enough, and oh my goodness…there’s a full 2 1/2 lb chicken right there in Trader Joes just staring at me. That’s it….I’m making it!

And so I did : )

Well this is awkward.

I obviously don’t handle full chickens very often. If this seems a little much for you, and you thought about cooking it at first, don’t worry, you’ll get through it just fine! Just take out the baggie of “stuff” inside and rinse the chicken thoroughly.

This is where I started crying. No, it wasn’t for the chicken’s life. I said a little “thank you for this chicken” prayer, and remembered that the chicken we eat all the time has to be prepared somehow. So thankfully I was over that. The tears were brought on by these extremely fresh onions. Ahhhhh! I was a hot mess. I dried my eyes, then continued on.

Ooohhhhh yeaaaaa!!! I dressed up this bad boy with 3 whole lemons, 1/2 a cup of lemon juice, 3 small yellow onions, rosemary, salt, and pepper. I chopped the whole lemons into slimmer sections so that they could be stuffed in there, and then I also added the onions in there too. Whatever was left over was simply scattered around the chicken.

So while the chicken is cooking to perfection (350 degrees for an hour & a half), I toasted our favorite little zucchini bites up top! These are so delicious and simple to prepare. Check out the recipe, found it on Pinterest!

Ta daaaaaaa! Dinner was served, and Sean was in love all over again. I couldn’t get over how delightful my house smelled from this creation. It tasted pretty darn delicious too. SUPER tender. We threw on tiny red potatoes and those zucchini bites as sides. After dinner, Sean cleaned up the kitchen while I sipped my wine and thought about how much I love my life. Thank you, engagement chicken!

Happy cooking.

Day Off (Part I)

Ever need a day to yourself when the rest of the world is working? One that frees you from work, an agenda, and permits your heart and soul to truly define the day?

Today is my day.

That’s right! I have the day off. “HOLLERRRR!” What to dooo!? Well, last weekend was spent in both Westchester County and Long Island, NY for work, so I intend to smush a weekend full of my wish list adventures into today. Special shout out to my AMAZING team (Andrew Bunting, Daniel Zimmet, and Mark Mansdoerfer) who I traveled with. Our mission was to host two admitted student receptions in those areas over the weekend. It was a TOTAL success!

Today’s post will come in two parts:

1) Part I: What I want to do with my day.

2) Part II: What I actually accomplished (both productive, and delightfully unproductive). I’ll deliver Part II after New Girl tonight, so stay tuned. Both for that show (9 p.m. on Fox) and for my little day off report that is 😉 And just because I’m excited…let’s take a little looksie at a preview of tonight’s show:

A day off is typically a day to sleep in and do nothing if your schedule allows for it, am I right? Well, not today. I have a wish list of all-things-delightful to accomplish, and I intend to takle it head-on. Not an agenda…just a wish list:

  • My day-off breakfast. Tales of this deliciousness coming soon.
  • Target time! I’m convinced that shopping at Target is one of the greatest things in life. I have things to buy, Starbucks coffee to enjoy, discounts to get excited over, and new decoration ideas to be inspired by.
  • A clean house. I adore coming home to a clean home…and call me old fashioned, but seeing the smile on Sean’s face when he comes home from work and the entire house is clean (this only happens when I’ve had the day off – don’t be fooled), is priceless.
  • Running with Stella. Remember when I was a rockstar last weekend? If not, read my last post! I need to keep up the athleticism, and today just so happens to be beautiful again. SO beautiful, in fact, that the sunshine just smacks a smile right on your face the moment you step outside. It’s time to exercise.
  • Wedding Wishes. 9 months from our wedding day may seem like an eternity, but the list of things to both plan, and RE-plan is growing by the minute. News on that later.
  • Pinterest. I mean let’s be honest, we all know it’s going to happen. Might as well add it to the list so that I can feel especially productive later!
  • Cupcakes! I love to bake. Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, anyone? I think it’s gonna happen. Work friends at Mason’s Office of Admissions – if you cheer me on in this task… you’ll be “sweetly” rewarded when I return tomorrow!
  • New recipe. I’m loving the ideas in one of my new recipe cookbooks. Tales of this deliciousness coming soon as well.
  • Cute new dress. I LOVE dresses, and would love a new one. Let’s see if I can fit this task in as well.

Oh my…it’s already 10:43 a.m….time to go. Who’s excited!? THIS GIRL!

Stay tuned.