Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy One Year Blogiversary!

First of all, today is my first blogiversary :)  It was one year ago today that I nervously googled  "how to start a blog" and found my way to  I secretly sat in my mom's blue chair and started my first blog post on my phone (yes it took me forever to type it out).  I told no one for a week or so, and then it was only immediate family.  By April, I let the cat out of the bag on Facebook, and before I knew it, people I hardly knew were stopping me in the grocery store to ask why I was buying tow bags of flour- was it bagel time again?  Now don't get too excited; the majority of my readers are my aunts, coworkers, and friends.  But it's still pretty cool when people tell me that they have tried one of my recipes, or when they ask for my advice on what to bring to a party. 

To be honest with you, I am still entirely shocked about how the past year has gone. A year ago today, I was making cupcakes that called for lime zest, and hacking the peel into large, bitter chunks because my grater was dull.  I wasn't sure I was going to succeed with my New Year's resolution, since let's be honest: who ever does?  How many Januaries have I joined gyms for two months?  But this time, I really wanted to succeed.  I wanted to learn how to cook and bake, and blog, too, but I never really thought I would keep up with it.  And yet I have!  Over 3,400 page views and 162 posts... what a year!

And the best part about the whole thing is that I learned this year that I absolutely adore making food for the people I love.  This is not something that I would have expected; I thought I might get through the year, but never thought I would find my new favorite hobby.  There is nothing I love more than bringing a piece of cake on a plate to my cousin Pat, who will eat any and everything I make.  I adore serving my family a steaming hot casserole, watching and waiting nervously to hear their thoughts.  I like to search for the perfect carbless recipe for my diabetic uncle Tuck.  I love when Kenzie pins recipes and writes "Bridge, get on this."  I love pot lucks, parties, and dinner guests.  I love to cook and I love to  bake.

Ironically, I do not love to blog.  I have always loved to write, but I find myself sometimes inwardly groaning when I have had an intense day in the kitchen; I know I still have a lot to write about before I can hit the hay!  I considered stopping the blog today on my blogiversary, but after backlash from my "fans" (AKA my aunts and sisters!) I have decided to continue the blog, but only post when I have a new recipe to share.  No one needs to hear every time I make another baked Alaska or another batch of bagels.  The point of this blog is still the same: I want to keep a list of recipes that I have tried, and I hope to be able to share my favorites with you.  But I will only post when I have tried out something new.  I hope this new format works for you, because I am pretty excited about it :) 

Thank you to everyone who has read, commented, pinned, or even asked me the quickest way to chop cilantro.  It has meant a lot to me to hear that you have tried my recipes or even looked at this page at all.  I am looking forward to 2013 like you wouldn't believe!

Now, on to the recipes!

Last night was freeeeezing.  It was about 23 degrees and no matter how high we got the woodstove going, nothing made us warm, so it was the perfect night for soup.  Mark got me another soup magazine - I think for Christmas?  To be honest all I can remember that he gave me is the ring ;) Anyway, in the magazine is an intriguing recipe for a vegetarian Indian soup called spinach lentil.  I have never cooked with lentils, but I was reading about them and wondered, why the hell haven't I!?  They have no cholesterol and hardly any fat or calories; plus they are full of protein (a vegetarian's best friend!), folate, dietary fiber, and iron!  Hello, perfect little legume!

This soup has a lot of dicing and mincing, which took a while (even with my amazing new knives), but I was surprised just how quickly dried lentils cook.  The whole soup was ready in about an hour.  A note about the lentils - it called for yellow lentils, but I couldn't find them so I bought red and it worked just fine.  The final result is a soup that Mom said may be the best I have ever made.  It is very flavorful, with cumin, coriander and turmeric (a new spice for me!), not to mention garlic, onions and fresh ginger.  Right at the end, you toss in tomatoes, spinach and cilantro, so there are lots of veggies in there.  The lentils get partly mashed with a potato masher to help the soup be a little thicker and creamier, but not so smooshed that it loses texture.  This is a delicious, filling, warming soup.  I recommend serving it with the ginger-cilantro basmati rice like the recipe suggests; while it was far more labor-intensive than normal rice (more dicing and mincing!), it makes a delicious accompaniment.  I suggest spooning a bowlful of soup, and then plopping the rice on one side of the bowl.  You can mix them up if you like (Rachael did), but I liked taking a bite of each to fully appreciate both flavors!  Enjoy :)

Happy New Year, and bring on 2013!


Spinach and lentil soup
from Cuisine's Splendid Soups and Stews Magazine, January 2013

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sliced onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced jalepeno (clearly I skipped this!)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup yellow lentils (I used the entire little bag)
7 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 dried bay leaves
1 cup seeded and chopped Roma tomatoes (I used more like 2 cups)
1 bag fresh spinach, chopped
2 tablespoons butter (skip this; it isn't needed.  I didn't add it and didn't miss it at all)
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


1) Melt two tablespoons butter in a large saute or saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, ginger, jalapeno (or not), cumin, coriander, and turmeric; saute until onion is softened, 3-5 minutes.

2) Stir in lentils to coat with spices and butter.  Add broth and bay leaves.  Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook until lentils are tender, 5-10 minutes.  Mash mixture until about half the lentils are smashd for body, but the soup still has texture.  Remove and discard bay leaves.

3) Add tomatoes and spinach, stirring until spinach wilts.  Stir in the butter at this point if you are using it, but I recommend not.  Season soup with salt and pepper and garnish with cilantro.

Ginger-Cilantro Basmati Rice

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sliced onion
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup dry basmati rice ((I used Jasmine)
2 cups water
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste


1) Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion, ginger and garlic; cook 3 minutes.

2) Stir in rice to coat with butter, then add water and bring to a boil.  Reduce mixture to a simmer, cover, and cook rice for 20 minutes.

3) Let rice stand 10 minutes; stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds and looks amazing. If I had known about this I wouldn't have eaten at Bootleggers!!