Lentil Soup with Lemon

Although I’ve tried a lot of lentil soups, there’s only one that I’m a big fan of. I come back to this recipe time and time again. It’s healthy and delicious, and incredibly simple to make. It also happens to be vegetarian/vegan. It has simple spices (cumin and mustard seeds) and lots and lots of lemon juice. Don’t skimp on it.

I originally got the recipe from 101 Cookbooks years ago. It was tasty, but took a few more steps than I liked. Here’s my simplified version. It’s originally a red lentil soup, but I always use plain brown lentils I find in the grocery store. (That said, the soup in these pictures used red lentils since they were the same price at the store. I also forgot cilantro.) I usually use bottled lemon juice rather than juicing lemons. Often I use frozen spinach (I usually microwave it first) in the soup rather than fresh greens. Since it’s a pureed soup, we always serve it over brown rice. We usually get 4+ generous bowls of soup from this recipe.

To demonstrate how much I like this soup, and how forgiving it is: Once I didn’t have enough lentils, and used chickpeas instead. It reminded me a little of hummus, and it was still tasty. Sometimes I’m out of turmeric, and it turns out okay (although it is better with it). Sometimes I use kale in the soup instead of spinach, and sometimes I forget about leafy greens entirely; the soup still turns out delicious. Sometimes I forget it takes cilantro. Even when I have to make substitutions, I love this soup.

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Chickpeas with Spinach

This recipe, Chickpeas with Spinach, has been one of my favorite quick meals to make recently.

Originally an appetizer, I decided it looked substantial enough for a meal. I felt the same way about the version of it I made several years ago, too. That version had more liquid than this, and took more time to make. Smitten Kitchen’s version as well had a few extra steps that I didn’t feel like doing. So I simplified it so it’s a one-pot dish, that involves no cutting (unless you slice your bread), that takes no more than 20 minutes to make from the time you begin to measure your ingredients to the time you place it on the table. This adaptation of Smitten Kitchen’s version omits the bread that you blend into it, uses tomato paste instead of sauce (which the bread used to soak up), and wilts the spinach in the pot at the end instead of cooking it first. (I tried frozen cooked spinach, but it wasn’t as good.) Oh, and this version uses much less olive oil.

The sauce is balanced with a dash of vinegar (I’ve used balsamic instead of red wine vinegar since that’s what I have), and there’s not so much sauce that it turns your toast to mush, which I can’t stand. It has negligible heat from the dash of red pepper, though you could boost that if you wanted to. You could probably omit the smoked paprika in a pinch, and the dish would come out fine. And you’re eating chickpeas and spinach, on toast – very healthy. This likely isn’t as rich as the tapas-version of Chickpeas with Spinach should be, but it’s very satisfying as a meal.

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Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

This month I made Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons with some egg whites I’d previously frozen. I’d made them once before – the day before I gave birth, in fact. They were the perfect snack for being in the hospital – rich, two-bite indulgences that were very chocolatey and yet didn’t seem too decadent thanks to lots and lots of coconut, which made them filling. These were my go-to snack – I’d grab a few in the middle of the night before heading to the NICU to feed baby. They were both comforting and practical.

The recipe is similar to the Raspberry-Coconut Macaroons I made before; both recipes were very simple to make. The chocolate macaroons were just as rich and satisfying now as they were when I first made them in February. They are like a Mounds bar, but better since the cookies are not as sweet. The macaroons provide a real fix for a serious chocolate craving. And not only are they amazingly delicious – making them only took me 30 minutes from start to finish.

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Gluten-Free Pita Bread

For Bread Week 24, I decided to try a recipe for gluten-free pita bread from Fork and Beans. It would be the perfect thing to go with hummus I planned to make for cool lunches for this week, when the weather promised to return full-force to summer. This turned out to be one of the easiest gluten-free bread recipes that I’ve made.

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Quinoa Pizza Crust

For Bread Week 23, I decided to try another non-wheat pizza crust.  Alex and I both loved the Cornmeal Pizza Crust that I made earlier this year, so I was hopeful that we’d both enjoy the Quinoa Pizza Crust that I found through my friend Kate.

It’s not as good as the cornmeal crust, but this was a solid, gluten-free pizza crust recipe that had its own advantages. It took little advance preparation. It’s particularly nice that the recipe doesn’t call for xanthan gum, so anyone can make it. Also, this recipe yields a single 9-inch crust that’s perfect if you only need to feed one person who can’t eat gluten.

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Chocolate Buckwheat Biscotti

Most of my posts start off with “recently I really wanted…” And really, why shouldn’t cooking and baking be that way? I’m fortunate that I can generally make whatever I want, and make it relatively well. Recently, what I wanted was biscotti. This surprised me, because I usually don’t choose hard cookies. I like tender, chewy, and soft. For a long time, that was all I ever looked for in a cookie. Over the past few years my palate has grown, and I’ve come to appreciate the variety of food that I can make and enjoy (even if it seems like I only make sweets based on the recipes I post). I can embrace gooey brownies and crisp biscotti without conflict.

Good biscotti can certainly be tender, and they don’t have to be rock hard. And that’s what I hoped the Chocolate Buckwheat Biscotti recipe I found would be. They were gluten-free without making any unusual substitutions, provided you embrace the buckwheat and almond meal included in the ingredient list. I only first tried buckwheat flour a few weeks ago, and based on my limited experience with it so far, I think I like it. It gives an earthy flavor that works well in these chocolatey biscotti.

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Gluten-Free Banana Bread with Coconut and Flax

Earlier this week we had some old bananas sitting around, which made Banana Bread with Coconut and Flax a very convenient bread to bake for Bread Week 21. I wish I could tell you that I make banana bread because it’s amazingly delicious, healthy, and exciting. But unfortunately, banana bread is not that exciting to me. I usually make it because it is easy and the bananas are there, waiting to be used, or else. (Don’t we all?) But, banana bread certainly does make for a good enough PB&J (or toast for chocolate peanut butter) and so I sometimes enjoy having it around for breakfast and lunch. This one had the added benefit of having flax meal (added fiber) and coconut (added flavor and texture).

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Gluten-Free Vegan Bread

For Bread Week 20, I decided to try out this Gluten-Free Vegan Bread recipe from Fork and Beans. I wanted to have something that I could have as toast for breakfast this week. Overall I’ve liked the recipes from Fork and Beans that I’ve tried, so I decided to give this bread a try, and I’m really glad that I did. It was hearty and satisfying.

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Gluten-Free Skillet Flatbread

For Bread Week 19, I decided to make a quick Gluten-Free Skillet Flatbread. I wanted something that would go with some finger foods that I had bought over the weekend, and this fit the bill. I wish I could tell you that I made them perfectly, but I didn’t. I think it’s a good recipe, though, if you cook them correctly, as I did not.

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Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes

My friend Kate was willing to sacrifice a birthday dinner so she could watch a co-ed softball game that her friends play on. That’s friendship. To show how special she is, I thought I would surprise Kate with cake!

Kate is also vegan, which makes baking a little, but not a lot, trickier. I also had to make something gluten-free if I wanted to make sure everything tasted okay, as any good baker will do. (How do you discover you forgot the sugar unless you taste the batter?) So I went to a website she shared with me, and found this recipe for gluten-free and vegan Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes.

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