Lentil Soup

Original Recipe HERE

1 cup dry lentils
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 cups beef broth [can substitute chicken or vegetable]
15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 pound fully-cooked smoked sausage links, sliced [can substitute chopped ham]
1 to 2 cups ditalini or other small pasta [optional]

(1) Rinse lentils; set aside.
(2) Add olive oil to medium pot.  Cook onion and garlic over medium heat until tender but not brown.
(3) Add lentils, broth, undrained tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, thyme/oregano, pepper, cumin, and bay leaf to pot. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
(4) Add carrot and celery. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer for 15-20 mins or until lentils and veggies are tender.
(6) Prepare pasta if using.
(7) Stir meat into soup; heat through. Discard bay leaf before serving.

Notes: I didn't like the particular sausage I used and would use ham - or no meat - next time.

Kid Participation: None.

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Original Recipe HERE

I'm saving this recipe solely for the dressing that comes with it.  While I made the accompanying coconut chicken, it wasn't anything special and won't be repeated.  However, the vinaigrette was good and can be either a typical salad dressing, tossed with vegetables, or used as a dipping sauce for meat.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon white or balsamic vinegar [I used balsamic] 
2 teaspoons dijon mustard

Thoroughly whisk all ingredients together (preferably several hours before).  Heat in the microwave to serve warm.

Notes: Perhaps a finely chopped shallot added next time.

Kid Participation: None...I don't like mixing children and olive oil.

Couscous & Feta-stuffed Peppers

Original Recipe HERE

I was nervous about this dish because I don't always like cooked peppers.  Roasted, yes.  But so often they're served as part of something else and are mushy, limp, and almost bitter.  I'm pleased to announce that this dish has assuaged my fear and will be made again.  I assume the trick is to use sweeter peppers instead of green.

*J* ate the filling but didn't like the pepper shell, which was not a surprise.  What did shock me was how much *N* loved the entire thing, even asking for seconds.  I was so excited that she was eating peppers for once, instead of fastidiously picking them out of her meal, that I even let her use a "grown up knife" (under eagle-eyed supervision) to cut the pepper into bite-size pieces.

Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1 1/4 cups fat-free chicken or vegetable broth
2/3 cup couscous
4 extra-large or 5 large bell peppers [red, yellow, or orange]
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 zucchini or yellow squash [or a combination of both] peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced across thinly
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half [or one large tomato, diced with seeds removed]
15 ounces canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons tomato paste

(1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a small baking dish with cooking spray.
(2) Bring the broth to a boil in a small pot.  Add the couscous; cover and remove from the heat.
(3) Cut stems and top half inch off peppers.  Scoop out seeds and membranes.
(4) Place peppers upright in the baking dish.  Roast for 15 minutes or until they soften.  Remove from the oven.
(5) Heat oil in a nonstick skillet. Add onion, zucchini, squash, oregano, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened.
(6) Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes, chickpeas and tomato paste. Scrape the couscous into the skillet and toss with the vegetables. Stir in crumbled feta.
(7) Fill peppers with the couscous mixture. Bake 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Notes: Only change I would make is to make the tomato flavor more pronounced (via pasta sauce or more tomato paste) to fit my personal preference.
Kid Participation: None.

Bulgur Pilaf

Original Recipe HERE

Not much to say about this besides it being a quick and easy side dish that can be easily transformed into a full meal with the addition of various spices, grated cheese, spinach, tomato paste, shredded chicken, sauteed vegetables, and so on.  Let your imagination run wild.

Neighbors stopped by unexpectedly, so I wasn't able to be as attentive to the preparation as I'd have liked.  The end result was a bit clumpy because I let it sit, covered, too long.  The serving size seemed pretty accurate - I had a bowl of it for dinner, and the two kids ate three small bowls between them.  There was plenty left for Husband to eat for lunch.

1 Tablespoon butter
1 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups chicken broth [can substitute vegetable broth]
1 large onion, diced
salt, pepper, or garlic salt to taste [optional]
1/4 cup pine nuts

(1) Melt the butter in a medium pot. Add the onions and cook over medium heat until caramelized, about 15 minutes.
(2) Add the bulgur and toast for 1 minute. Pour in the broth and seasonings.  Stir and cover.  Simmer for 15 minutes (do not remove the lid).
(3) Remove the pot from heat and set aside, covered, for 10 minutes.
(4) Toast the pine nuts in a skillet (add butter if desired) for a minute or two until fragrant, stirring frequently.
(5) Fluff the bulgur with a fork.  Divide into serving dishes; top with toasted pine nuts.
Notes: Just to experiment with add-ins.
Kid Participation: None.