Red Lentil Soup from the New York Times

Soup seems so perfect for lunch. Quick and easy, yet very filling. This soup starts by sauteing onions and garlic in olive oil. A few seasonings are thown in and cooked a bit longer. The liquid, lentils and carrots are added, and the whole thing is simmered for about 30 minutes. Can it get any better than that?

We didn’t have any chicken broth or tomato paste. I think the soup would have been much tastier if we had. I still liked the flavors from the garlic and cumin. I’ll have to try it again, with the proper ingredients.

You can find the recipe here.

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Devil’s Food Cake

Monday was my sister’s Birthday. I knew she would like chocolate cake in some form, so I made her this. It is a very good basic chocolate cake recipe for you to play with. Frost with mocha icing and fill with vanilla pudding, or frost with peanut butter frosting, or transform it into a Coffee Toffee Trifle (as we did for my sister’s Birthday), or whatever you please!

My version is slightly healthier (surprise!) than the original recipe. I substituted half of the AP flour with whole wheat, and used a natural sweetener in place of the refined granulated white sugar. And it came out of the pan so easily, even without the use of parchment paper. This is certainly a keeper.

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:: Devil’s Food Cake ::

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Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Ingredients:

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Sucanat, Rapadura or Demerara sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoonsΒ  pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) natural cocoa powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) milk or water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350Β° F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans, two to three 8-inch round pans, or a 9 x 13-inch sheet cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, and vanilla until fluffy and light, about 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa.
  3. Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low, blend 1/2 of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, then half the milk, another third of the flour, the remaining milk, and then the remaining flour. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes ( a bit longer for the sheet cake, shorter for the 8-inch pans), or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, and the sides of the cake begin to pull away from the pan.
  5. Remove the cakes from the oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Wrap the cake in foil and store at room temperature or in the freezer.

Kitchen Tip: Hands-Free Bag

Have you ever been frustrated when attempting to pour something into a zippered bag? Try this head-smackingly simple trick.

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  • Fold the top of the bag down around the outside of the bag, like a cuff. Open the bag wide.
  • As the bag becomes full, pull up the cuff and continue to fill the bag until completely full.

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Do you see those funny markings on the bag? We like to decorate our bags when we label them.

P.S. It’s Kitchen Tip Tuesday…

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P.S.P

No-Fuss Focaccia

This bread really was extremely simple to make. Just mix all ingredients for 60 seconds, scoop into a pan, let rise, and bake. The taste is excellent as well, even with my changes to the recipe (replacing half of the AP flour with whole wheat)

Confession: I had a bit of a mishap when I was mixing the dough. The recipe instructed me to mix the dough with an electric mixer. My gut told me it would be better to mix it in the stand mixer. But a recipe (especially KAF) doesn’t lie, right?

Wrong. The dough was just too much for our little electric mixer. Bits of dough flew out of the bowl and onto the floor. The mixer made noises it shouldn’t.

Not to worry! I scraped the dough into the bowl of our stand mixer and finished mixing it there.

Lesson: when cooking, listen to your gut. πŸ™‚

The finished product reminded me of the texture of bread sticks: crispy crust, soft crumb. It’s definitely a keeper.

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:: Focaccia ::

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Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) warm water
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) olive oil (plus additional for drizzling)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour

1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) hard white wheat
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon onion powder (optional)

1 tablespoon dried chopped onion (optional)
pizza seasoning or dried herbs of choice, optional

Directions:

1) Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan, and drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all of the ingredients except the optional seasonings. Beat at medium-high speed for 60 seconds.

3) Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan. Cover and let it rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, till it’s become puffy. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375Β°F.

4) Gently poke the dough all over with your index finger. Drizzle it lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with pizza seasoning, and/or the dried herbs of your choice, if desired.

5) Bake the bread till it’s golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Chocolate Chip Cookies

This morning, the desire to make cookies suddenly overcame me. So this afternoon I found a reliable-looking recipe, gathered my ingredients, and made these delicious cookies.

I knew I wanted to make the original recipe a little more healthy. Thus I replaced half of the AP flour with whole wheat and used Demerara sugar instead of granulated. The large crystals from the Demerara sugar give the cookies a pleasing crunch.

We had used up the last of our pure vanilla extract, so I was forced to use *horrors!* imitation. Yes, that’s a bottle of pure vanilla in the picture. I just couldn’t bring myself to take a picture of GV imitation vanilla extract.

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Then, after all of the cookies were done baking, our order of vanilla arrived.

Oh well.

They are still excellent cookies, if I do say so myself. Mom thinks they’re a little on the sweet side, and I agree with her. Maybe next time I’ll use only 1Β½ cups of sugar instead of 2.

And maybe next time I’ll use a full tablespoon of Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract.

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:: Chocolate Chip Cookies ::

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Adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups Demerara sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1Β½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1Β½ cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup toasted chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts are good choices)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Cream together the butter and Demerara sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts.
  3. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.
  4. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes on pan. Transfer to cooling racks to cool completely. Store in airtight containers at room temperature or in the freezer for longer storage.

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