Saturday, November 21, 2015

Lentil soup

Well now... we now have the first snow of the 2015 season in Michigan, and a winter weather warning and a snowstorm too boot.. gosh for someone who has lived in Michigan my entire life, the older I get, the less I like this winter snowy weather.. not a fan...  So needless to say it's blowing, cold, snowy & yuck! So something yummy, warm and preferably a soup, or stew is just what this weather needs..

I like this with cornbread, so make your favorite, I cheated and used a box mix (gasp, I know.. I usually like homemade, but doctored it up.  I added extra cornmeal, and frozen corn to the batter to make it more "semi-homemade".  And I greased the pan with bacon grease, to add even more flavor.  When it comes out of the oven brush it with butter to add even another layer of flavor.. easy additions and so good. 

My local Kroger store has a soup starter kit.  It is located by the cut up vegetables.  I included fresh chopped up onions, celery & carrots, along with a fresh spring of thyme & rosemary, along with a bag of lentils.   It ran around $5, so it was great to grab for when your in a hurry.  I added extra stock, and lentils, but this would work out great.

I also made this with ham hocks, but you can use smoked turkey wings, or leftover smoked ham (I hate throwing away the ham bone when I make a bone-in ham, this is a perfect thing to make with that. You can also add any leftover, chopped up ham to this for extra flavor.

Leftovers are great, and freeze well (make sure you cool completely before freezing).   However you make this, make it soon and enjoy.

Lentil soup
2 ham hocks ( you get these in the refrigerated area, by the  hams)
1 cup , carrots & celery chopped small to medium
1 onion, ends removed and outside peel removed, chopped small to medium
1 sprig of fresh thyme & rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 T brown sugar
2 T molasses
1 bag of lentils
1-2 cans broth (can use, chicken, beef or vegetarian
**seasonings of your choice, I used kosher salt, pepper, about 1/2 t onion & garlic powder, 1 t of parsley flakes)
8 cups water

In large soup pan with lid, add water, ham hocks, celery, onions & carrots.  Add thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and seasonings. Bring to a rolling boil, turning down to simmer for around 1/2 hour.  Cover the pan and simmer for about an hour till veggies are tender.  Add lentils stirring well.  Place the cover back on the lid, and simmer slowly for around an hour stirring occasionally, checking to make sure the lentils are not dry, adding the broth one can at a time until the lentils are tender and cooked thru. When the lentils are almost done add the molasses, and brown sugar.  Check the seasonings and adjust adding more if needed.  If the soup seems like not enough liquid add the remaining can of broth.  Bring to boil, taste and if more salt & pepper are needed add it at this time.  Remove the thyme & rosemary stems & bay leaf.  Serve with cornbread or rolls. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Banana muffins

I always seem to have overripe bananas that need using up. It seems like when I buy less bananas we go thru them fast and then I never have any.  When I buy more, they just seem to sit there and get overripe & brown.  Every time I freeze them for smoothies they end up getting freezer burned before I use them up.  I can't seem to win for losing... I have been wanting banana muffins so now is the time. 

I topped mine with mini chocolate chips, which unfortunately makes it so you can't turn them upside down to get them out of the pan when they are done.  You have to carefully remove them from the pan ( I placed mine on a cookie sheet to cool then stored in baggies, for easy grab & go for lunches etc.).

You can add  nuts, raisins, chocolate chips or whatever you like to the batter and not top them.  I even thought an oatmeal streusel topping would be good too. If you add ingredients to the batter add at the end (and mix 1-2 t flour into the nuts, chocolate chips etc so they don't sink to the bottom of the batter when cooking)

My oven runs a little hot, so adjust your baking times as needed.  As always use what you like, and enjoy.

Banana muffins

2 cups flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 t baking soda
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla
1/2 t salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2-3/4 cup mini chocolate chips(if using)
3 mashed bananas

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray muffin tins (or use paper baking cups).
In large bowl add flour, baking powder, baking soda, regular & brown sugar, & cinnamon whisking gently until combined. Add butter, egg, milk, vanilla, and bananas mixing well. Add to dry ingredients gently mixing just until batter comes together.  Divide mixture evenly into 12 muffin cups.  Top with chocolate chips.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Immediately remove from muffin tins, and place on cookie sheet to cool.   Enjoy