Curry Lentil Squash Soup

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I just got back to Seattle after a wonderful long weekend with my family and friends at home. Just a couple more weeks of class before we break for the holidays, but I’m looking forward to the Seattle holiday activities while I’m here!

I made this soup a couple weeks ago during a cold spell, and it’s a wonderful, warming winter soup. The curry adds a great flavor to the squash, as well as a nice orange-y color, perfect for fall or winter! You can use whatever squash you like, I just decided to try it with acorn squash. If you want the soup to be a bit sweeter, I would suggest butternut squash or maybe kabocha. Either way, with soup,

I find that if you just add things to the pot and blend it all up and taste as you go, you can’t go wrong! Here’s the recipe I made:

Curry Lentil Squash Soup

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

2 acorn squash (about 4-5 lbs)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 sweet onion, roughly chopped

1 ½ cups dried brown lentils

4 cups vegetable broth

1 14oz can coconut milk

1 ½-2 tbsp curry powder

2 cups water (to desired consistency)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 410˚F. Cut the acorn squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Drizzle olive oil on the cut part of the squash, then place cut side down on the baking sheet, bake for 35-45 minutes, until the squash are easily pierced with a fork. Remove and allow to cool enough to scoop out the flesh.

While the squash is cooling, heat a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and saute until the onions start to become translucent. Pour in the lentils and toast them slightly, then pour in the vegetable stock and increase heat to medium-high.

Bring the lentils to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the coconut milk and curry powder and continue to simmer over medium heat for 10-20 minutes, until the lentils are soft. If necessary add more water (I added about 2 cups, maybe 3) to thin the soup enough to blend easily. Add the squash and heat through.

Use an immersion blender (or allow to cool slightly and carefully transfer in batches to a regular blender) and blend the soup until smooth. Add more water if necessary to desired consistency. Serve warm with some crusty bread. Enjoy!

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Spiced Brown Sugar Cutout Cookies

Happy Sunday! Fall is in full swing up here in the PNW, and we actually had snow last week, so winter is definitely looming. Which means it’s time for cookie decorating! We had Friday off classes, so I used some of the extra time to make these holiday cookies, then had a couple friends over for a decorating party! I took this recipe from Everyday Annie, and it’s a good one. I slightly increased the spices, as I usually do, but other than that kept the recipe the same.

These turned out wonderfully soft, but also sturdy enough to hold up to our decorating efforts. I like my cookies on the softer side, so I reduced the baking time a bit, but I did break a few while decorating, so you could keep the original bake time if you want crispier, sturdier cookies. I made a simple icing, and my friend brought buttercream frosting and lots of fun sprinkles, so had a nice variety of decorating options. In any case, these cookies were delicious on their own, but even more so with frosting, and provided us a great rainy day activity. Here’s the recipe!

Spiced Brown Sugar Cutout Cookies

adapted from Everyday Annie

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp allspice

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

Direction

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt,and spices in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until a smooth paste forms. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy.

Add the dry ingredients and stir together until combined. Divide the dough in half and roll into logs/disks, then chill for about an hour (if you chill it longer, give it a little extra time to soften up when you take it out of the fridge so the dough doesn’t crack when you roll it out).

When you are ready, preheat the oven to 350˚F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first portion of dough to about 1/4 inch thick, then use cookie cutters to cut out cookies and transfer to baking sheets. Repeat with second portion of dough.

Bake the cookies for 9 minutes (10-11 if you want crispier cookies), then remove and allow to cool completely. Then, decorate as you wish! Enjoy!

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Caramelized Onion Lentil Casserole

Well I’m back in Seattle after attending the most amazing wedding I will probably ever go to. My college roommate got married in Santa Barbara this weekend, and it was absolutely wonderful to celebrate with her and her husband, as well as hang out with all of our college friends. I’m currently ignoring the tests that I have this week and instead reminiscing about the weekend and writing this post about the lentil casserole I made for dinner last week. I adapted a recipe from The Kitchn based on my tastes and what I had available. I liked the idea of a casserole, but instead of using rice, I just used all lentils. Instead of mushrooms, I added some spinach for the leafy greens, but the mushrooms would also be a great addition. The result was a hearty casserole, perfect for the chilly fall nights that are about to become the norm here. Here’s my recipe!

Caramelized Onion Lentil Casserole

adapted from The Kitchn

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup brown lentils, dried

3 cups vegetable/chicken broth

1 sweet onion, sliced

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 cup milk (I used nonfat)

3 eggs

Herbs to

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

taste

Ground pepper, to taste

1 16oz package frozen spinach

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Directions

Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.

Combine the lentils and broth in a rice cooker and set to cook (alternatively, cook on the stovetop).

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions, and cook until the onions are caramelized, about 15 minutes. While the onions are cooking, preheat the oven to 375˚F.

Beat together the milk and eggs. Stir in the cheese and herbs and make sure to stir well.

Once the lentils are cooked and the onions are caramelized, combine the lentils, onions, and spinach in the pan. Pour the milk and egg mixture on top and stir to combine. Sprinkle the shredded Parmesan on top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Remove and allow to let cool before serving. Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Ginger Spice Cookies

It’s definitely fall here in Seattle, and I’m loving the changing colors of the leaves. As promised, here’s one of the fall-inspired recipes I’ve made recently. I took a recipe from Two Peas and their Pod and adjusted it a little based on my tastes and the amounts of ingredients that I had. The result was a cookie wonderfully flavored with pumpkin and spice, and deliciously chewy and soft, thanks to the molasses. I wouldn’t call them gingersnap cookies, since they’re soft through and through, but they do have a nice gingersnap flavor to them.

I did try baking a few of them without chilling, and they turned out much too cakey and fluffy, so unfortunately the chilling is necessary. But these cookies are worth the wait! I had a little more pumpkin left in my can than half a cup, so I increased the amount of pumpkin to 3/4 cup. I think that made the cookies turn out softer and fluffier than the original recipe, and the dough was also pretty sticky, so I omitted the extra step of rolling these cookies in sugar. They turned out sweet enough anyway, and it would have been difficult to do without getting cookie dough stuck to everything. Here’s the recipe I used:

Pumpkin Ginger Spice Cookies

adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Makes about 4 dozen small cookies

Ingredients

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup (half a 15oz can) pumpkin puree

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, until a smooth paste forms. Add the pumpkin, molasses, egg, and vanilla and beat until smooth and fluffy.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until well combined.

Chill for 2 hours, or overnight. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Drop small rounds of dough (about 1-1 1/2 tbsp each) a couple inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until the cookies are just set. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes before transferring to racks or plates to cool completely. Enjoy!

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Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well I’m officially back in Seattle for my second year of physical therapy school. After an amazing clinical internship in Eugene, OR in August, and a brief few weeks at home in sweet California, I drove straight from summer sun into fall clouds and rain. Fall is a wonderful time of year, with the changing leaves and the arrival of all the seasonal autumn goods at the grocery store. Which leads, of course, to baking adventures! I’ve baked quite a bit over the last week, and there are many fall-inspired recipes to come, but the one I have today is a variation of one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes with a matcha twist.

dscn8363.jpgI recently discovered that I really enjoy matcha tea, so I bought myself some matcha powder. However, it came in a rather large can, so I decided to think of some other uses for it other than making matcha lattes, and matcha-flavored baked goods are relatively popular, so I figured I’d try my hand at it. The results were great! The powder is pretty potent, so a little goes a long way in this recipe. You could also probably omit the chocolate chips for just plain matcha sugar cookies, but perhaps that’s a recipe I’ll try another day. In any case, here’s the recipe I came up with!

Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen small cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp matcha powder

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Cream together the butter and sugars until a rough paste forms. Beat in the vanilla and egg until light and fluffy. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and matcha powder, and stir until thoroughly combined. Add the chocolate chips and mix until the chips are evenly incorporated into the dough.

Drop scoops of dough, about 1 tbsp each, a couple inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake for 8 minutes, until just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a couple minutes before transferring to racks or plates to cool completely. Enjoy!

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Edamame Dumplings

Happy Sunday! It’s been a beautiful weekend in Seattle, and I went on two hikes this weekend, to two beautiful lakes. I’m trying to soak up as much Seattle summer as possible when I’m not in class! If you’re in the area, I highly recommend Lake Melakwa, which I hiked with a couple friends yesterday. It’s a great workout to get to the lake, and I jumped in to cool off. The water was quite refreshing (very cold), but it was quite peaceful around the lake, and lots of people had tents or hammocks, and it was nice to just chill for a bit before hiking down. Today, I went with a few other friends to Lake 22, which had very different scenery. We walked through rainforest to get to the lake, and Mount Pilchuck which is beside Lake 22 was shrouded in clouds and mist at the top. I didn’t get into the water on this one, since it was a little colder today, but it was quite a beautiful lake!

Now for the food. Last weekend I had a potluck and game night with some friends, and we all brought various Asian foods. I decided to try and replicate the edamame dumplings I’d had recently at True Food Kitchen when my parents took me, and I was actually quite successful! I used the frozen shelled edamame from Trader Joe’s, which made the process quite easy, then just threw in a bunch of flavors that I thought would taste good, sealed them nice and tight in dumpling wrappers, and boiled them in miso soup, and they turned out wonderfully! The basil flavor really came through, but the ginger and garlic were also great additions. Here’s the recipe.

Edamame Dumplings

Makes 50 dumplings

Ingredients

12 oz shelled edamame (About two cups, I used one Trader Joe’s package)

4 green onions, sliced

2 tbsp miso paste

1 tbsp fresh ginger, sliced

1 tbsp garlic, minced

1 tsp dried basil

1 tbsp marsala wine/cooking wine

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp white pepper

1 package round wonton wrappers (50 wrappers)

Optional broth for cooking (I used miso soup)

Directions

For the filling:

Bring a salted pot of water to a boil, then add the edamame and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

In a food processor, pulse together the edamame with the rest of the ingredients until a rough paste forms, leaving the edamame slightly chunky.

To form the dumplings, dip your finger in some water and run it around the outside of the wrapper, then place about 1 1/2-2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half and press the top together, then crimp the wrapper together starting at the sides, and forming a crescent shape. See here for a video of how I do it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjW_ntpIj2E but you can fold them any way you like. Repeat with all 50 wrappers. I got lucky and had exactly enough filling for the 50 wrappers, but depending on how full you stuff your dumplings, there might be slightly too much or too little filling.

To cook the dumplings:

Bring a large pot of water or broth to a boil. Drop the dumplings in, making sure they don’t touch and stick together, and boil for 3-4 minutes, or until they float to the surface. Remove from the water/broth with a slotted spoon and repeat until you have boiled the desired number of dumplings. Serve warm, with on a plate or in bowls with the broth, if you chose to cook them in broth.

If you don’t cook them all at once, lightly dust a baking sheet with flour, place the dumplings on the pan so they are not touching, then freeze. After they have frozen, you can remove them from the pan and place them in a bag or container for easier freezing, and they will keep well for a few months.

To cook these, you can also use the pan frying method, outlined here https://dinewithdeja.wordpress.com/2014/08/01/jiao-zi-chinese-dumplingspotstickers/

Enjoy!

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Red White and Blue Pinwheel Sugar Cookies

Happy 4th of July (one day late)! I had a great day off from class yesterday, which was a much needed recovery and chill out day after a weekend of ultimate frisbee. If you’ve ever heard of Potlatch, a big ultimate frisbee tournament held in Redmond, WA every July, then you know how much fun I had over the weekend. Unfortunately I missed the last day of the 3-day tournament for class, but we did have yesterday off, so I took advantage of it by going to a friend’s house for a barbecue, and I brought these patriotic themed cookies as my contribution. I found this recipe from Just a Taste, but I didn’t really have the time to wait for hours for the dough to chill, so I just did a combination of fridge, freezer, and improvisation. I added a little more flour to make the dough a little stiffer so I didn’t have to refrigerate it as long. I also added some almond extract to the dough to give it a little more classic sugar cookie flavor, and shortened the baking time to keep them nice and soft. They turned out wonderfully soft and chewy and although I didn’t get the colors exactly right, they were still pretty! Please note that I used about 20 drops of food coloring to get to the color in these photos, so to get a deep red and blue, you will have to use a LOT of food coloring, or it might be best to resort to the gel or something with a more powerful color. In any case, here’s my recipe!

Patriotic Pinwheel Sugar Cookies

adapted from Just a Taste

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

2 eggs

Blue food coloring (I used 20 drops to get to light blue)

Red food color (I used 20 drops to get to a dark pink)

Directions

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl or a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in both extracts and eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.

Separate the dough into three equal parts. The first part will be the white part of the cookies. Mix blue food coloring into the second part until the desired blue consistency is reached. Wash the bowl and mixer (or use a second bowl) and mix red food coloring into the third part until desired red color is reached. Wrap all the dough in plastic and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

After the dough has chilled, remove from the fridge and divide each third into two equal parts. Between two sheets of wax paper, roll each portion of dough into a rectangle of about the same size and shape, about 1/8 inch thick. Chill the dough in the fridge between sheets of wax paper for another 15-30 minutes.

After the second chilling, remove the dough and use the wax paper to put together the layers. I put the blue on the bottom, then white in the middle, and red on top. Use the wax paper to place the layers, peeling off the bottom wax paper first, laying down the dough, then peeling off the top layer of wax paper.

Roll the layered dough into a tight log, then roll out the log until it is the desired diameter of your cookies (mine was about 1 1/2 inches in diameter). Place in the fridge for another 30 minutes (or you can probably skip this step if you have a sharp enough knife and don’t mind the cookies not being entirely round, which is what I did).

Once you are done chilling the dough logs, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Cut the cookie logs into rounds about 1/4 inch thick, and place about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes, so the cookies are just baked but not yet browning on the bottom. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a couple minutes before moving them to cooling racks to cool completely. Enjoy!

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