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Lentil Salad – 2 ways

Both versions of this lentil salad are delicious. It serves two as a side dish or light lunch with some bread or something to go along with it. It can be served warm or at room temperature.

lentil salad with mint, feta and olives

Lentil Salad with Olives, Mint and Feta:

1/2 cup lentils (brown, French green, or black beluga), picked over and rinsed

3 cups warm water (110 degrees F)

1 cup chicken broth

2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled

1 bay leaf

2 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar

1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1 shallot, minced

2 Tbsp crumbled feta

salt and pepper

Soak lentils and 1/2 tsp salt in 2 cups warm water for 1 hour. Drain, add 1 cup water, broth, garlic, bay leaf and 1/4 tsp salt in medium saucepan or small casserole. Cover and bake at 325 degrees F until lentils are tender but not falling apart, 40 to 60 min.

Whisk oil and vinegar. Drain lentils and remove garlic and bay leaf. Toss with dressing, olives, mint and shallot. Sprinkle with feta.


lentil salad with hazelnuts and goat cheese

Lentil Salad with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese:

1/2 cup lentils (brown, French green, or black beluga), picked over and rinsed

3 cups warm water (110 degrees F)

1 cup chicken broth

2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled

1 bay leaf

2 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 shallot, minced

1 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

2 Tbsp toasted skinned hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

salt and pepper

Soak lentils and 1/2 tsp salt in 2 cups warm water for 1 hour. Drain, add 1 cup water, broth, garlic, bay leaf and 1/4 tsp salt in medium saucepan or small casserole. Cover and bake at 325 degrees F until lentils are tender but not falling apart, 40 to 60 min.

Whisk oil, vinegar and mustard. Drain lentils and remove garlic and bay leaf. Toss with dressing, parsley and shallot. Sprinkle with goat cheese and hazelnuts.

(Recipes from America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking for Two: 2013)

Cherry Walnut Granola

My other favorite granola…

cherry walnut granola

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup unsweetened coconut

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup toasted wheat germ

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp coarse salt

1/2 cup (or up to 2/3 cup) maple syrup

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 egg white

1 1/2 cups dried cherries

Combine everything but the cherries and egg white. Whisk the egg white until frothy and stir into the granola mixture. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees F for 45 to 55 minutes, turning the granola over halfway through with a large spatula (try not to break it up too much as you turn it in sections). Bake until browned and dry to the touch. Cool pan on a rack until completely cool. Break into clusters and add the dried cherries.

cherry walnut granola

(Recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman)

Granola with Orange, Walnuts and Currants

Another delicious granola. It’s so hard to choose a favorite!


4 cups rolled oats

1 ½ cups walnuts (and/or pecans)

1 cup large flake coconut

½ tsp sea salt

zest of 2 oranges

1/3 cup butter

½ cup maple syrup

2/3 cup currants

Melt butter and whisk in maple syrup. Combine the rest and mix in butter/syrup mixture. Stir until well coated and divide between 2 baking sheets. Bake at 300 degrees F, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 40-50 min. (I usually add fruit after baking the granola, so that is what I did here, but the original recipe included the currants before baking.)


(Recipe adapted slightly from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson)

Mr. Nicka’s Peanut Butter Oreo Pie

John makes this dessert for his top performing class every grading period. They always vote on what treat they want as a prize, and every time they vote for this one. I can’t blame them. It is delicious. It’s very rich, so just a small slice will be plenty, but if you are serving this to a whole classroom of teenagers, you’ll need to double the original quantities and use a 9 x 13 pan.

peanut butter oreo pie

3 oz. package cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp milk
2 cups thawed frozen whipped topping (Cool Whip)
18 Oreos, coarsely chopped, divided
1 (9-inch) prepared Oreo pie crust (see note below if making your own)

Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy.  Add peanut butter and milk; beat 2 minutes more or until smooth. Fold in whipped topping and 1 3/4 cups chopped cookies. Spread into pie crust. Sprinkle with remaining chopped cookies. Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

Note: To make an Oreo pie crust for a 9 x 13 pan, crush 1 pkg. Oreos in a food processor until they are crumbs. Add 5 Tbsp melted butter until combined and press into the pan. (Use half this much if you want to make your own 9-inch crust.) Refrigerate the crust until set before adding the filling (2-4 hours).

sample size

Bagels with Lemon-Dill Cream Cheese and Cucumber

I had these delicious little tea sandwiches at my bridal shower and finally decided to make them myself. For a little twist, I put the extra cream cheese and cucumber on a homemade bagel instead of squishy store-bought white bread and it was extra delicious. (And it looks just as fancy, I think.)

cucumber bagels

4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

zest and juice of 1 lemon

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

6-8 small plain bagels, sliced and toasted (or you can used white bread)

about 1/3 of an English (seedless) cucumber, sliced very thin

Mix the cream cheese, dill, lemon zest and juice and season with salt and pepper. Spread over bagels or bread and top with slices of cucumber. If making sandwiches, cut each into 4 pieces. Serve with tea.

cucumber tea sandwiches

(Recipe adapted from

Horchata with Milk

Horchata is traditionally made with rice milk, but rice milk doesn’t cut spiciness the same way that cows’ milk does. So, the occasional times when I’ve had horchata after spicy Mexican food, I was disappointed that my mouth was still burning. It looked so much like milk. So, while this may not be the authentic way to make horchata, I like it even better.

horchata with milk

4 cups milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup rice flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

optional: 1/2 cup dark rum

Bring milk and cinnamon stick to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and add the sweetened condensed milk, rice flour, vanilla and ground cinnamon. Chill until cold. Pour through a sieve and add rum if using. Serve over ice.

(Recipe from Martha Stewart via

Lentil Tacos

These were good. You wouldn’t mistake them for beef tacos, but they are definitely lighter and still tasty.

lentil tacos

1 tsp oil

1 cup  onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 cup dried lentils, picked over and rinsed

1 Tbsp chili powder

1-2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth

To serve:



shredded lettuce

chopped tomatoes

lime wedges

guacamole or chopped avocado

shredded cheddar (optional)

sour cream (optional)

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet. Sauté the onion until softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic, tomato paste and spices and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the lentils and cook for a minute. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cover, lower the heat, and cook until lentils are tender, about 30 min, stirring occasionally. Serve with your favorite taco toppings.

lentil tacos and toppings

(Recipe adapted from Taste of Home: Dinner on a Dime)

Rice Pudding with Cherries

The original recipe has raisins, but I was out of raisins and tried it with cherries this time. I like it even better this way. It’s good warm or cold.

cherry rice pudding

1 cup long-grain rice

2 cups water

1 cinnamon stick

4 cups milk

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup, or more, dried cherries (or raisins)

1/4 tsp salt

3 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla

Bring the rice, water and cinnamon stick to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 min. Remove the cinnamon stick and add the milk, sugar, cherries, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently (uncovered), stirring often, until thick (about 15-25 min). Before the pudding gets too thick, beat the egg yolks and vanilla in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the hot pudding and mix well. Stir back into hot pudding and heat for 1 min.

(Recipe adapted from Company’s Coming Home for the Holidays by Jean Paré)

Sushi (the easy way)

If you want to have sushi at home, or serve it at a party, a really easy way to do it is to have little squares of seaweed, a bowl of seasoned rice, and then whatever toppings you want all set out. Everyone makes their own with whatever toppings they want and just eats them out of hand.

You don’t need to roll them and cut them or make them ahead of time. And, as a bonus, the seaweed stays nice and crisp. I remember reading about this in Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food, but when I took a class a few months ago on how to make sushi, the instructor told us that this is something that is very common in Japan, especially if you are feeding a lot of people. It also works just as well for one…

sushi for one

Make the seasoned rice:

It’s best with sushi rice (a short-grain rice), but in a pinch, long grain rice will also work for this, since you aren’t having to roll it up and make it hold together.

I was making this for a party recently and when I opened the brand new bag of sushi rice … well, let’s just say it was … unusable. There was no time to get back to the store, so we used the only rice available — Uncle Ben’s Boil-in-a-Bag rice. And no one seemed to mind. :)

To make 4 cups rice, measure 2 cups sushi rice. Add 2 1/4 cups water.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil, reduce the heat immediately to low and cook for 15 min. Remove from the heat and let sit another 10 min. (If you use a different kind of rice, you’ll need a different amount of water and possibly cooking time, so follow the directions on the package). Or, use a rice cooker.

When the rice is done, pour over it 1 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar. (If you have plain rice vinegar, mix it with 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar until dissolved.) Stir gently until the rice is evenly coated and let it cool a little before using.

Some toppings you might want to have are:

crab sticks, cut small

crab salad

cooked shrimp

smoked salmon

(if you really want to serve raw fish, make sure you get sashimi grade, which has been processed for eating raw; don’t use just any raw fish)

little cubes of cream cheese

cucumber, cut in small sticks

diced avocado

roasted sweet potato sticks (sweet potato fries would work)

roasted green beans with sesame oil and chili flakes (I used this recipe for technique and this one for seasoning)

maybe little pieces of diced mango or pineapple

or even cooked asparagus and thin strips of cooked beef (I had sushi like that once and it was delicious)

the sky’s the limit!

Also, you’ll want:

soy sauce (a must)


sriracha mayo (mix mayo with sriracha to taste and add a few drops of toasted sesame oil), put in a squeeze bottle, or lacking that, a zip lock bag with a little corner snipped off will work

sesame seeds

and maybe some pickled ginger


Ginger and Dried Cherry Scones

This recipe makes a lot of scones (16), and since they don’t keep very well, you might want to cut the recipe in half. They can also be frozen, but they taste best warm from the oven. With a warm cup of Irish tea with milk.

scone and tea

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups rye flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp coarse salt (or 1/2 tsp regular salt)

3/4 cup dried cherries, chopped

1 cup crystalized ginger, finely chopped (spread a bunch of sugar on the cutting board to keep the ginger from sticking to the knife)

1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the top

3/4 cup buttermilk

grated lemon zest, from one lemon

course sugar, for topping

butter, for serving

Combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add cherries and ginger and toss to coat. In another bowl combine the cream, buttermilk and zest, then pour into the dry ingredients. Stir until flour is just moistened.

Kneed until the mixture comes together (4 to 6 turns). Divide in 2. Pat each portion into a circle or square about an inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into wedges or squares and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops with cream (or milk) and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake until tops are browned, 30-35 min, rotating the pan halfway through. Remove scones to a rack to cool. Serve with butter or clotted cream.


(Recipe from Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass Region Feb/Mar 2014)