BBQ Lentils aka Snobby Joes

When I went on the hunt for vegetarian meals, my good friend Molly came to the rescue and sent me a yummy list of unique meal options. This was one of the first recipes I tried out. I don’t cook with lentils often and the recipe sounded quite unique so it caught my eye right away. We also love sloppy joes so I thought it might bring some reminiscent flavors that Joel would appreciate.
BBQ Lentils
Lentils are packed with protein, iron and fiber while sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest veggies you could eat making this meal a nutritious delight. I also served it with steamed broccoli and carrots. Needless to say, when Joel walked in the kitchen and saw this spread he was not too thrilled. But once again, the only statement I said was “this was your idea.” I think when he decided he wanted to give up meat he just wanted to replace it with more seafood and lots of cheesy pasta but I figured if we were going to do this we should do it right. I have also informed him that after Lent ends we will probably have a couple meatless meals a week. He wasn’t thrilled.

The sweet potatoes and brown sugar helped balance out the zing of the balsamic vinegar in my opinion but Joel thought it was way to vinegar-y (mind you he doesn’t love the flavor of vinegar like I do). So, this is definitely a recipe you will want to taste and adjust according to personal preferences.
BBQ Lentils
BBQ Lentils aka Snobby Joes
serves 2 to 4, active time 45 minutes, total time 15 minutes

1/2 cup (4 ounces) black lentils (I used green and they worked just fine)
2 cloves garlic; 1 whole, 1 minced
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 3/4 cup)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, or more if needed
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, or more if needed
Dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)

1. Combine the lentils, 4 cups of water, and the whole (peeled) clove of garlic in a saucepan or Dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes, until the lentils are soft but still hold their shape. Toward the end of cooking, add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.

2. Drain the lentils, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and discard the garlic clove.

3. Wash and dry the pot you used to simmer the lentils. Heat the olive oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the onion and minced garlic, and sauté until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potato and cook until softened, 7 to 10 minutes.

4. Stir in the cayenne and the ginger. Then add the ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, if using, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a simmer.

5. Add the lentils and the reserved cooking water to the pot. Simmer until the sauce coats the lentils and the mixture is no longer soupy. Taste for balance of flavors, adding more brown sugar or vinegar if necessary.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday, What I Whipped Up Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday and These Chicks Cooked.

Lemon Hush

Lemon Hush
This shortbread, cream cheesy, lemon pudding, cool whip masterpiece is one of my top 5 favorite desserts of all time! And it’s perfectly refreshing and Spring-y for Easter! I really want to sit here and tell you about how wonderful it is but you just have to try it….and on Sunday night Joel and I spontaneously decided to go to the Final Four games in New Orleans (starting Friday) so all of my free time is being spent on searching for things to do there. I just can’t concentrate on anything else.
Lemon Hush
Growing up in Kansas, Joel has been a KU basketball fan his whole life so this is a lifetime dream come true for him and the spontaneity of it all makes it even better because this is something we never do. I’m mostly excited about seeing the sights and eating! If any of you live in New Orleans or have visited, PLEASE leave some suggestions for activities/sights/attractions/eats.

So, I’m sorry for the limited details on this dessert because it really does deserve the attention but I’m just too excited! Just try it, I promise you will like it!
Lemon Hush

Lemon Hush

For crust:
1 cup flour
1 stick butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup walnuts

For layers:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
12 oz. Cool Whip, divided
1 cup powdered sugar
2 packages instant lemon pudding
3 cups milk
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut together crust ingredients until crumbly. Press into a 13 x 9 pan and bake for 15-20 minutes.

2. Combine cream cheese, 8 ounces Cool Whip and powdered sugar until smooth. Carefully spread over cooled crust.

3. Mix lemon pudding mixes and milk until thickened. Pour on top of cream cheese layer and smooth out. Refrigerate until firm then top with additional Cool Whip and walnuts.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, What I Whipped Up Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday and These Chicks Cooked.

BBQ Chicken Salad

BBQ Chicken Salad

I have been trying to create light but satisfying lunches to eat during the week that are still quick and easy to prepare with a little man running around. And this was a total winner. The great thing about this meal is that it can all be prepared ahead of time then thrown together right before you are ready to eat. That’s my kind of weekday lunch!

You could either eat the chicken cold (if made the night before) or warm on this salad. I prefer it warm because for some reason it just seems more satisfying to me. But when summer comes around I’m sure I will like it cold for a nice, light and refreshing meal.

This actually isn’t too much of a recipe. It’s more of an idea featuring flavor combinations that I enjoy. You can switch out or add different ingredients to suit your taste. I think black beans would be a great addition to this salad. An extra little drizzle of barbeque sauce would be great too.

BBQ Chicken Salad

1 chicken breast, pounded thinly
3 Tbsp. barbeque sauce
½ head iceberg or romaine lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces
handful of frozen corn, thawed
¼ English cucumber
¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 Tbsp. red onion, thinly sliced (I don’t like raw onion so I skipped but thought others would enjoy them)
handful of tortilla strips (found by the croutons)
ranch dressing

1. Heat a skillet to medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook chicken on one side then flip and generously slather with barbeque sauce. Flip and slather the other side. Cook until chicken is done and juices run clear. Remove to cutting board and let it sit for a few minutes for the juices to redistribute. Slice chicken into bite size pieces.

2. Layer lettuce, corn, cucumbers, onion, cheese, chicken and tortilla strips. Drizzle with desired amount of ranch dressing.

Pizza Sauce

Pizza Sauce 5
 

After trying several pizza sauce recipes, I made this one and have never looked back.  Iron Mike’s sauce has a sweet background which is so unique and delicious.  The original recipe was a bit too sweet for our taste so I adapted it, using less honey and brown sugar.

Pizza Sauce 4
I simmer this sauce for about an hour and sometimes more as we enjoy a thick, rich sauce.  This is great to top pizza or dip calzones in. And it is just so easy to prepare that it seems silly that I bought premade sauce for so long. Another plus to the recipe is that it makes a big amount so I freeze the remainder in batches in freezer bags (makes about 3 pizzas worth).  And it thaws quickly in the microwave or on the counter.
Pizza Sauce 3
Pizza Sauce
recipe adapted from Iron Mike’s Sweet Tomatoe Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree
1 teaspoon dried onions, minced or chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cloves fresh minced garlic
1 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar fresh ground pepper, to taste

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic for a minute.

2. Add the tomato puree; watch for splattering.

3. Add everything else and simmer uncovered on low, stirring frequently, for 30-60 minutes, until desired consistency has been reached.
Pizza Sauce 1

The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

I don’t know about you, but whenever I made hard-boiled eggs for salads or deviled eggs I always ended up with a unappetizing gray ring around the yolk. This also meant overcooked, dryness that was hard to get past. Luckily, I came across this little tip a year or so ago in my Betty Crocker Bridal Cookbook and haven’t seen that nasty ring since. It yields a perfectly cooked hard-boiled egg.

Fill your pot with cold water and gently place your eggs in with about an inch of water above them (add more water if needed). Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Try not to boil them as it could crack the egg shells. Once the water is simmering, remove the pot from the heat and cover with a lid. Let the eggs sit this way for 20 minutes then immediately remove to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Peel, cut in half and see the awesome results!

Skinny Bang Bang Shrimp

Joel’s new favorite meal…and it’s a light version! It’s a miracle. As I’ve said before, I don’t really like seafood but this shrimp was to die for. The batter was light and crispy so that we were actually able to taste the shrimp and it was so refreshing over the lettuce.
Skinny Bang Bang Shrimp
This recipe is a copycat of Bang Bang Shrimp from Bonefish Grill. I have never eaten there as we don’t have one around these parts so I can’t really compare it to the original but I’m telling you, it was sooo good. The original recipe is battered and deep fried while this is lightly coated with cornstarch and cooked in a small amount of oil.
Skinny Bang Bang Shrimp
It was Joel’s absolute favorite new recipe that I have made in quite awhile. He actually hasn’t stopped talking about it and I made this about 2 weeks ago. I always think about changing out the seafood for chicken since that is what I prefer and I think chicken would be really great prepared this way too.

The calories, fat, protein and much more are all included with the recipe which is really great. It is from one of my new finds, Skinny Taste. There are so many great looking dishes that I am sure to try out soon.
Skinny Bang Bang Shrimp
Skinny Bang Bang Shrimp
recipe from Skinny Taste

5 tbsp light mayonnaise
3 tbsp Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
1 tsp Sriracha

Shrimp:
1 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp canola oil
3 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1 cup shredded purple cabbage (I totally forgot to pick up this at the store so we skipped it but I will remember next time!)
4 Tbsp. scallions, chopped

1. In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, Thai sweet chili sauce and Sriracha. Set aside. Combine lettuce and cabbage and divide between four plates. Set aside.

2. Coat shrimp with cornstarch, mixing well with your hands.

3. Heat a large skillet or wok on high heat, when hot add oil. When oil is hot add the shrimp to hot pan and cook tossing a few times until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan and combine with the sauce coating well.

4. Place shrimp on lettuce and cabbage then top with scallions.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, What I Whipped Up Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday and Fusion Friday.

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes
Chocolate, beer and cupcakes? I’m sure many of you are thinking it couldn’t get any better. I wasn’t sure at first since you all know I don’t really like chocolate cake and am not a beer drinker. Well, I am glad I tried them out because they were quite delicious.

You can definitely taste the beer in the batter which surprised me since the Blue Moon Cupcakes I made last month didn’t leave a boozy flavor behind after baking. Probably because Guinness is such a deep, strong flavored stout. I couldn’t find dark chocolate cocoa so I just used regular but I can imagine they would be even more amazing with the dark chocolate. Cause if I’m eating chocolate I always pick dark. The vanilla bean whipped frosting was light, fluffy and really complimented the unique flavor of the cake.
Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

This is the perfect cupcake for St. Patrick’s Day since they are made with Irish beer and all. I kept the decor simple since I made them for a friend’s housewarming party but they would be so fun dressed up with some St. Patty’s cupcake picks or course green sugar.
Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

Want another reason to eat these? They are good for you. Yep, you heard me right. Studies claim Guinness is good for your heart because of the antioxidants in it (like in some fruits and veggies). Drink a beer or eat a cupcake instead of your fruits and veggies. Maybe you shouldn’t take advice from me….it’s questionable.

And this is what happens when you have a not so steady setup….a mass cupcake suicide. I lost 5, so sad.
Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes
recipe from Sweetapolita

1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces) stout or dark beer (I used Guinness)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1  cup sifted King Arthur Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tin with liners (I got 32 cupcakes out of the batter).

2. Place the stout and butter in a large, heavy saucepan and heat on medium heat until the butter melts, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the sifted cocoa powder until smooth. Pour into a large heatproof measuring cup or bowl and let cool.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (flat beater), mix the eggs and sour cream on medium speed (I use #4 on KitchenAid) until well combined, about 3 minutes.

5. Add the cooled cocoa mixture, and mix on medium speed (I use #4 on KitchenAid)  until combined, about 1 minute.

6. Add the dry ingredients slowly and combine on low-speed (I use #2 on KitchenAid) until blended, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of bowl, and then mix for another minute.

7. Scoop batter into prepared cupcake tins. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes clean, about 15-20 minutes.

8. Let cupcakes cool on wire racks for about 10 minutes, remove from cupcake pan and cool completely on wire rack. Frost cupcakes.

Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting

3 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
3 cups sifted  confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.

2. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.

3. Best used right away.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, These Chicks Cooked, What I Whipped Up Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday and Fusion Friday.