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!

 

 

Oat Choc-Chip Banana Bread

That right there’s a long title, but a scrumptiously simple recipe. I’m sending a virtual high five to the lady who submitted this recipe. I found it from Taste of Home. Check it out! I made a few changes though, so below is my own adaptation of it.

Changes:

  • I didn’t have the mini-chocolate chips that she calls for, so I used 1/2 cup of regular chips instead.
  • I substituted shortening for good ‘ol butter.
  • She recommends using instant oats but I love the look, texture, and durability of Old Fashioned Oats – so I used those instead as well. They held up beautifully in the baking process!

My version of this recipe: 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted softened Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3 very ripe Bananas
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

Here’s what happened:

STEP 1

In a bowl or mixer (low to medium speed) combine the sugar, softened butter, and eggs all until smooth.

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STEP 2

Peel and add the 3 over-ripe bananas to the sugar/butter mixture.6O9C2517

STEP 3

Add in the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 6O9C2522

STEP 4

Gradually add in the flour, then the oats, then finally the chocolate chips. 6O9C2524

STEP 5

Pour the mixture into a greased bread pan, and place in a pre-heated oven. 6O9C2528

STEP 6

Your timer should  be set to 40 minutes, then check on it for 10-15 minutes. 50-55 minutes total should do the trick, but as ovens vary – just check on it starting around 40 minutes.

STEP 7

Check the center to make sure it’s fully cooked. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

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ENJOY! Hubby and I sure did. It should last the week if it’s just you and a spouse/roomie…but if you have a large household or lots of housemates, it’ll be gone by the end of the day.

Happy banana baking!

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

A Tale of Two Muffins

This morning I woke up, made myself a cup of coffee, and watched the 8:30 a.m. episode of The Pioneer Woman – pretty standard Saturday morning so far. Ree made her precious family  some cinnamon sugar muffins to kick off some hard work on their beautiful Oklahoma farm. And then it happened. My eyes widened…my caffeine-induced energy spiked…and I wanted to bake. There was no stopping me. I turned to Sean…

Me: So I wanna bake something. I think muffins.

Sean: Chocolate chip and banana.

Me: No bananas.

Sean: Chocolate chip and cinnamon.

Me: Hmmmm….I was thinking about apple cinnamon. I’m pretty sure I want apple cinnamon.

Sean: Chocolate chip…and….chocolate chip…….chocolate…….chip.

Hehe. He’s pretty cute. But oohhh it was ON! Who was gonna win this battle? Luckily – brilliance stepped in.

I researched a few simple apple cinnamon recipes scattered online and decided to adjust the basics to my own variation for the batter and then split it into two separate bowls right before adding the final key ingredient. Problem solved! One dozen muffins – 6 apple cinnamon, 6 cinnamon chocolate chip.

As Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, says, “Here’s the cast of characters:

Flour – 1 1/2 cups

White Sugar – 1/2 cup

Light Brown Sugar – 1/4 cup

Baking Powder – 1 1/2 teaspoons

Ground Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

Ground Nutmeg – 1/8 teaspoon (or…just 3-5 sprinkles if it has a filter)

Milk – 1/2 cup

Unsalted Butter (melted) – 1/2 cup

Salt – 1/4 teaspoon

1 Egg (slightly beaten)

1 Apple (pealed, cored, and diced up into little cubes)

1/2 cup of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Penzeys Spices

I’ve gotta add a little shout out here to my girl Jeanne for her contribution to this recipe. For my 30th birthday back in February she and her husband, Travis, gave me some AMAZING Penzeys spices. You better believe I packed these bad boys up carefully when we moved from MD to OK last month. It was time to break out the Penzeys nutmeg and cinnamon for today’s little tale. Jeanne’s fellow blogger who loves to try new recipes, so be sure to check out her delicious recipes here: Jeanne’s Kitchen!

And there you have it! The entire “cast of characters” needed for my own little adjusted recipe for 6 apple cinnamon muffins and 6 cinnamon chocolate chip muffins. Be sure to PRE-HEAT your oven to 375 degrees. Now, here’s how “the tale of two muffins” unfolded:

STEP 1

Combine the flour, white sugar, light brown sugar, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon and nutmeg together in a bowl/mixer.

STEP 2

Add in the milk, melted butter, and slightly beaten egg to the dry ingredients. Stir slowly, or have the mixer on low. Combine until it looks all fabulous…like this:

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STEP 3

Are you on the edge of your seat!?! Here’s where the magic happens. Separate the batter evenly into two bowls. In one bowl add as much chocolate chips as you’d like. In the other, yes – very good, add the diced up cubes of apple. I didn’t use the whole apple by the way. I only really used like, half of it. You can use as much as you’d like…but be mindful of how the apple will create way more moisture in the muffins depending on how much you add.

STEP 4

Grease or spray a 12-cup muffin pan. Fill 6 with the apple cinnamon batter and the other 6 with the chocolate cinnamon batter. Then, into the oven it goes for 18 minutes.

6O9C1974STEP 5

Check on them periodically, but 18 minutes at 375 degrees should definitely do the trick. Take them out and let them sit for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt a tablespoon of butter and brush it over ONLY the six apple cinnamon muffins. Then…sprinkle over a little sugar! Tehe!

STEP 6

Woooohoooo! Enjoy. We sure did. We each thought our original preference was the best. Sean loved the Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins, while I loved the Apple Cinnamon Muffins.

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The beauty of this recipe is that you can add anything to it. There are so many possible variations to the key ingredient that you could play around with, like…blueberries with a little lemon or orange zest thrown in there? Heck yeah! Or maybe go a little crazy during the holidays and make some white chocolate chip and cranberry muffins with this batter. Ooohhhh the possibilities 🙂

Happy baking, friends!

 

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

The most amazing dessert was just made, admired, and devoured. Made it from scratch. TOTALLY DID! Oh my golly. Hello happiness. Lemme set the stage real quick:

It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon over here in Maryland. Poor Sean has worked 75+ hours this past week, and is so relieved to have a weekend at home. We’ve run errands all morning, and as usual I’m crazy eager to bake something. Baking and cooking is on my mind constantly; especially now that I work for the world’s premiere culinary college: the CIA (www.ciachef.edu!!!). I’m so eager to learn everything I can about our world’s inspiring and ever-changing culinary industry. Soooo I’m thinkin this beautiful afternoon at home with my hubby is a perfect excuse to whip up a mid-afternoon treat for us.

Hands down – this is the best dessert I’ve ever made: chocolate molten lava cake. I researched recipes out there, and this one looked like a great choice: http://www.glorioustreats.com/2013/02/chocolate-molten-lava-cakes.html. Serious high fives go to “Glorious Treats” for this inspiration! I adjusted the recipe just a bit. Here it is below:

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

You’ll need:

  • 8 ounces of Chocolate ~ I recommend 4 ounces of Bittersweet and 4 ounces of Semisweet
  • 10 tablespoons of Butter
  • 1/2 cup of Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of Powdered Sugar
  • 6 eggs total ~ then put 3 eggs in a bowl, followed by 3 eggyolks in a separate bowl
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla
  • 4 to 5 Ramekins ~ these are oven-safe custard dishes 

Once you’ve got the ingredients armed and ready for this delicious creation…get ready for the easiest next steps you’ve ever experienced:

Step 1:

Melt the butter & chocolate together. You can totally just throw them in a bowl and microwave, but what’s the fun in that? No thank you…I’m in the mood to feel fancy. In which case – I like to melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler. So – ya just boil some water and place a bowl of the chocolate and butter overtop of it. This carefully melts it all together, and more importantly, the melting process with this method is way more gentle than the microwave.

Step 2:

Once the chocolate and butter looks good enough to swim in (…but please, don’t do that…) then it’s ready for Step 2! Simply just add the chocolate + butter liquid to the powdered sugar and flour in a mixer. Mix that in well, then add the eggs and vanilla. Let it do it’s thing from there until it’s all well mixed in evenly.

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Step 3:

Pour the batter evenly into each ramekin. This recipe calls for 6-8 individual ramekins…but I think 5 works better. I got a little pour-happy and ended up with 4. As long as you don’t over pour (which I did for one of them) then it’ll turn out beautifully. Pour each of them about 3/4 full, and them carefully place them in the center of your oven at 475 degrees for about 13 to 14 minutes.

Step 4:

Once they’re out…get ready because timing is EVERYTHING with this dish. I simply took a plate, placed it upside down over the cake, flipped it over and then gently slid off the ramekin so the cake rested upside down in the center of the plate. Dust it with some left over powdered sugar, and HOLD ON because this will be the GREATEST THING YOU’VE EVER TASTED!!!

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Sean and I sat there in the happiest daze as we tasted each bite. I made four because I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out. It was his idea to drizzle the chocolate syrup on top over the powdered sugar…pretty smart man, huh? It was so delicious.

Now go make them!

Happy Saturday 🙂

Office Space

Ladies and Gentlemen….my commute is over!!!

Last Friday was my final day working for George Mason University. It was hard to leave Mason…I just adore that university as well as the talented staff that I was fortunate enough to work with for nearly 3 years. But I was also ready to have my time and life back. No more commuting, and particularly no more stressful attempts to balance those very few hours at home before sleeping and then sitting in traffic again the next morning. (Out of the loop?! Check out my last post for an update on what I’m doing next: Newlie News: The “CIA”.)

I’m so excited (and we all know that my usual level of excitement is abnormally high) to start working with the CIA (www.ciachef.edu) in less than one week! In the meantime, I get to soak up this week of my own little “stay-cation” at home, allowing time to reflect on what’s about to happen.

Transitioning from one job to the next is usually both daunting and refreshing. Am I right? But having this week to set up my home office and enjoy a little bit of the easy life is such a treat! This was my day yesterday:

Woke up – made coffee & breakfast (egg whites, scrambled with sautéed mushrooms, topped with feta cheese) – snuggled with Stella while watching Good Morning America (TOTALLY my pick over the Today Show by the way…major new fan of “GMA”) – did laundry – ran 4 miles with Stella – made lunch (power salad! arugula, avocado, tomatoes, broccoli, and sprinkled with chunks of cheddar cheese) when Sean came home – went to Target – came home and cleaned up a bit – made a delicious dinner with Sean (spaghetti with sausage, and a side of garlic bread), watched T.V. … but got restless … so I made chocolate chip cookies from scratch (yep…same recipe from this post: cookie baking time lapse), finished the night laughing hysterically at our new favorite show, “Duck Dynasty.” End scene. 

Today I set up my new “office space” here at home. Now, this bad boy seen below is no ordinary desk – it’s my great-Grandfather’s desk. His name was William McKay, and he was from St. Paul, North Carolina. When my parents recently moved out of their home in Pennsylvania for their retirement in the North Carolina mountains, I was thrilled to inherit this beautiful roll-top antique desk. I’ve jazzed it up a bit to be a little more “Katherine” and girly…but I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am to get to work here.

Great Grandfather's Desk

I especially love thinking about how happy great-Grandaddy McKay would be if he knew that his desk would be home to three generations: his daughter’s family, and then her daughter’s family, and then even further to HER daughter’s new family (our little Mason home!). This desk has already brought me so much joy.

Here are a few goodies that I decided to decorate it with:

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I can’t even begin to tell you all how lucky I feel to have this new sense of career independence, such an exciting company to work for, the life I’ve been dreaming about for years, and a chance to celebrate our sweet family throughout our home. I can’t wait for all that’s in store for this life-changing switch.

And on that note…it’s time to get ready for my first ever mid-day Zumba class!!!

Happy living.

The Flippidy Flop

Well hello youuuu! It’s been a while, am I right? I know…I know…I started a blog, was faithful each week, and then completely neglected it for a month. What’s happened to me?!

Spring season in college admissions. That’s what happened.

Every career has its busy season. Ours is … well, every season. I’m serious. Primarily though, Spring in our office is the busiest on a whole new level. This is truly a necessary moment to raise the roof, give a special shout out, sing praises from the mountain tops, and high five anyone working in college admissions. Summer = “wish list” achievement + fall planning season, Fall = travel season, Winter = application reading season, and Spring…..ooohhhhhh Spring….Spring = crazy season. Not only is this the season to begin traveling again for recruitment, but it’s also the time of year when you’re hosting admitted student events on and off campus, answering questions to both happy families whose children have been accepted AND extremely unhappy families whose children have been wait listed or denied, and about a million other tasks. We’re all tired.

I’m someone who is incredibly protective of my “Katherine time.” My time with Sean, my time to eagerly “pin” new ideas and pretty things on Pinterest, my time to wedding plan while embracing a delicious cup of coffee with a peaceful grin, my time to call my family and giggle with my niece about how she has a strawberry on her hand, my time to catch up with my best friends on how THEIR lives are…not just mine, or my time to be innovative with delicious dishes. When work gets busy…I begin to feel like I have less Katherine time…and I don’t like that. So what do I do?

I completely flip my priorities, when the time is right.

I give it the good ol’ flippidy flop. I flip my perspective from inside out, to outside in. The work moments that used to be priority before I arrived home for the day, is flipped so that my life at home is now priority. I take the small amounts of my time that I usually overwhelm my thoughts with of what’s next, where am I supposed to be tomorrow, what did I forget to do, or who did I forget to return an email/call to…and instead I make that into what it’s already designated, by life, to be: only mine. I just have to do “the flippidy flop,” in order to realize that it was my own time all along. Well THAT’S refreshing! I mean really…we all go through this, but this “flippidy flop” is like a splash of fresh water to the face, from God. It’s exactly what I need. I’m me all over again in a snap. I even cooked tonight…wanna know what? Pizza! It required flipping the dough. How fitting 😉 Watch what happens…

When new seasons and new responsibilities happen…there will never be a bad moment to take in all the joys of life. Never. This is a good lesson, among others, for me to remember.

Lots of love to all of you tonight! Thanks for reading.