Hello! I have been cooking up a storm over the last week. Why?? Because I can. ☺ Sometimes I just feel like playing in the kitchen, and doing some experimenting. This was definitely a week like that, so I cooked a lot. In addition to all the yummies listed above, I also made 2 other batches of cookies (chocolate chip and double chocolate chip), 2 batches of salsa, a kale bread casserole, and I experimented with a recipe for vegetarian puttanesca sauce. YUM! The three-step veggie soup was a recipe I read about a few months ago in my “Good Housekeeping” magazine. It is actually actress Melissa McCarthy’s recipe. She was featured in the magazine, and discussed this healthy and simple soup that she usually has in her fridge. It sounded good to me as I do love vegetable soup, so I decided to try it. Additionally, I got an immersion blender for Christmas, and I was dying to try it out. I immediately thought of this soup so I decided to give it a try. It came out great, and really is very simple to make. I did have to make a substitution though. I never ever have frozen succotash in the freezer, so I substituted a bag of Trader Joe’s “organic foursome.” It contains frozen organic carrots, green beans, corn, and peas. The soup was delicious and I would definitely make it again. I forgot to take a picture of this dish, but mine looked exactly like the picture in the link. Here is the link to the recipe http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/family/celebrity-interviews/melissa-mccarthy-interview-soup-recipe
The second recipe I tried was for chocolate pizza. Yep you read that right, chocolate frigging pizza! DELICIOUS! I saw this recipe on an episode of “Everyday Italian” hosted by Giada De Laurentiis about 7 years ago. I actually made this pizza shortly after I saw it on television, but I haven’t made it since. I decided to make it again when my Dad came over for dinner. We were having a “pizza party” meaning I decided to let everyone make their own pizzas. Given the pizza theme, I thought this would be great for dessert. When I say everyone made their own pizza, I, of course, do not mean Ryan. I made him pasta. In fairness, he did try the chocolate pizza and he actually LOVED it. He loved it so much that he said that the next time I make pizza for dinner, as long as I don’t include sauce and only use his favorite Parmesan cheese, he would try it!!! Holy cow!!! SWOON!!!
He hasn’t eaten pizza in 6 years!!! It’s been so long that the last time he ate pizza, I had cut it up in pieces for him. This time he ate it, I actually had to teach him how to hold a piece of pizza so the toppings didn’t fall off. At first he held it upside down, and all the chocolate chips started to fall onto his plate! Crazy kid ☺ I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but if Ryan would eat pizza, even pizza without sauce, I would be one happy mama! Anyway, this recipe is ridiculously easy, and it includes one of my favorite sweet ingredients… Nutella. I love love love Nutella, so much that I have been known to eat it with a spoon right out of the jar! Heavenly! Here is the link to the recipe…it really is divine! http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/chocolate-pizza-recipe/index.html I only made one substitution. I didn’t use chopped hazelnuts on my pizza.
My third recipe was for “blockbuster cookies.” The elementary has a movie night every year. All kids and their families are invited to attend. They have a concession stand and everything…it is so cute. The problem is that it is always on a Thursday night. I work on Thursday’s so we were not planning to go. Unexpectedly, I had a few cancellations and my night opened up. That said, I still didn’t want to go. Movie night at school is cool, but movie night at home?? Even better. For starters, I can make all the yummy treats myself. Also, I’d rather stretch out on the couch at home, than sit on a blanket on the school cafeteria floor.
I decided to make our movie night really special, so I searched for some yummy themed movie night snacks. I settled on “blockbuster cookies.” I had seen the recipe a few months prior in my “Family Fun” magazine, so when I came across it again, I knew I was fated to make them. The recipe is unique in that the cookies include popcorn and “Raisinets” in the batter. Holy cow are these cookies good! Ryan didn’t care for them, which shocked me as he LOVES popcorn and raisins! I guess it was the combination of the two that he didn’t prefer. Anyway, there were super yummy, and I would totally make them again. Here is the link to the recipe: http://projectrealife.com/blockbuster-cookies/
My final recipe for the week was for lentil burgers with lemon basil mayonnaise. I love love love a good veggie burger, but I am trying to limit how much soy we eat. I have read conflicting reports on soy, so to be safe I am trying to limit how much we eat. In lieu of my soy conflict, I am always on the look out for a good veggie burger recipe that doesn’t include it. I saw this recipe on an episode of “Giada at Home.” I DVR the show every week, and then watch the show if the recipes appeal to me. This one totally did. Giada was making these burgers as part of her “meatless Monday” dinner. I knew right away that I’d give them a try. I always have lentils in my fridge, but you could just substitute the same amount of canned beans if you don’t have any in the house. I am super glad that we tried these because we LOVED them. Ryan didn’t try them of course, but the rest of us really enjoyed them. I will definitely be making these again…probably sooner verses later. Here is the link to the recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/lentil-burgers-with-lemon-basil-mayonnaise-recipe/index.html I made a few substitutions to the recipe. First, I omitted the mushrooms. We are not mushroom fans in our house, so I deleted them from the recipe. Also, I was completely out of fresh basil, so I used dried basil in the mayonnaise. Lastly, I didn’t have any shallots, so I just used an onion. Incidentally, this recipe could be made vegan simply by using egg free mayonnaise.
Last week, I included a link to and the transcript for a really cool commercial about modern-day princesses. I have been thinking a lot about that message. I love the notion that kindness equals strength, and that compassion equals bravery. I think for far too long strength meant being stoic. In my life, I know people who are stoic, and I also know people who are not. I don’t personally feel that the “stiff upper lip”type of person is any stronger than the person who easily shows their emotions. I just think that the “stiff upper lip” type of person is better at hiding their feelings. Granted there are times when it is advantageous to not be really demonstrative with your feelings. In my experience though, most people are comforted by appropriate displays of emotion. I know I am. Anyway, in keeping with that theme of kindness and compassion equaling strength, I have been thinking a lot about the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi. It goes like this:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life
I love this prayer. Those of you who know me well, know the struggles that I’ve had with faith. This prayer is very different to me though. It is really a script for how I’d like to live my life. Where there is darkness and despair, I’d love to be viewed as light. Where there is injury, I’d love to be able to help others find peace. Most of all, I’d love to be able to spread as much as love as I can while I am here. Some people spread love with their kind words and deeds. Others spread it through their compassion and understanding. I try to spread love to “my people” with yummy recipes that are always ALWAYS baked with care, tenderness, and most importantly lots and lots of love. ♥♥