Curried Coconut Lentils

Curried Coconut Lentils

Last week was Thanksgiving, which means it’s officially the holiday season. I have mixed feelings about this, and a few rants come to mind. I will share a few, just so you can see what’s running through my crazy mind. There’s the “are we really playing Christmas music in November” one, and the “I will be spending half my life in traffic since I live by the mall” one. I will discuss those at a later time….or not 🙂 For now, I will focus on the issue at hand. Christmas is a month away, and I have decided that despite the fact that it is the time for parties and all things food… I would like to be a few pounds lighter for Christmas. That being said, sensible meals are now gracing our table. The good news is, healthy does not have to be bland. I was looking for a way to make use of some lentils that have been sitting in my pantry for a few months now. I was trying to think up a tasty meatless meal that would win over my meat loving family. (Last week, we had a big HONKING ham that we re-purposed for days, and we are definitely in need of some meatless meals to compensate). This recipe kind of evolved as I was cooking, so I apologize for the lack of step by step pictures. I had not planned on using the coconut milk, but when I got to the end and tasted it, it was OK… but something was missing. I found a can of Coconut milk in the pantry and figured it couldn’t hurt. JACKPOT! It totally transformed it. That and the cilantro at the end are key.
Just a few thoughts before we begin. First, I added about a 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper. I could have done with more since my kids are OK with spice. It wasn’t overly spicy, so if you like spicier food, add more. You could also leave it out all together. The other thing to mention is that I used chicken broth. To make it truly vegetarian, you could use vegetable broth. If you have no broth, just dissolve some bouillon cubes in water. The last thing is the cooking time for the lentils. I cooked mine for an hour after adding them into the pot, and stirred them every few minutes since I wanted them to have some bite to them, not totally mushy. I started with 4 cups of broth and in the last 15 minutes added about another 1/2 cup as needed. I didn’t want to have too much liquid in them.
Let’s get started on these lentils. They are tasty and comforting, and perfect for a cold day. They definitely will not be winning any “best looking dish” award, but trust me… the flavor by far makes up for that. It’s a big plus that they are high on the nutrition scale. I served mine with some homemade wheat chapatis (an Indian flat bread), but rice would go really well with this dish too. Here we go!

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
2 Stalks Celery, diced
2 large Carrots, diced
1 Green Pepper, diced
2 Large Tomatoes, diced
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Ginger root, grated
3 tsp Curry Powder
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
11/2 tsp Salt
1 Pound Green Lentils, washed and rinsed (about 2 Cups)
5 Cups Chicken Broth (plus more if needed)
1 Bay Leaf
1 (13.5 oz) Can Coconut Milk (about 11/2 cups) You can use Fat Free
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped

1. In a pot over medium high heat, heat the olive oil and add the onion, celery, carrots and green peppers. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until veggies start to soften up. Add in the tomatoes and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute stirring constantly. Add in the curry powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne and salt. Stir and cook for about 3 minutes to allow the spices to start to smell nice and fragrant.
2. Now add in the lentils, broth and the bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

Cook until the lentils soften, and the liquid is reduced

3.At the very end, once the lentils are to the desired softness (add more broth if needed during the cooking process), add in the coconut milk and the cilantro, and cook for a minute. Taste for salt. Depending on the salt content in your broth, you may need more salt. Discard the bay leaf.

Discard bay leaf and add coconut milk and cilantro

Serve with Chapatis (or naan), rice or a toasty slice of bread. Enjoy!

Devotion For The Day:

Compassionate Lord:

My devotion reading today was from John 11, on the death of Lazarus. It is a story we have all heard before, so I will just highlight the parts of the story that really jumped out at me today. I remember in Sunday School having memory verse competitions, and one of the top 5 quoted verses was always John 11: 35, Jesus wept. I knew the verse, but I could not have told you the context of the verse. I had no idea why he wept. Well… Jesus was a good friend of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus received word that Lazarus was gravely ill, but he did not go to see him then, he waited a two days before he returned to Judea. By this point, he already knew that Lazarus was dead.

First Martha, then Mary run to meet Jesus before he reached the village. They both had the same thing to say to Jesus. Verse 21 and 32: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died”. Jesus response to the grieving family and friends is what was most striking to me today. Verse 33-35: When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord”, they replied. Jesus wept. We know the rest of the story.. Jesus went to the tomb, asked Lazarus to rise up, and he raised from the dead. He had been dead 4 days.

What struck me the most was thinking about WHY Jesus wept. The sisters and the crowd were weeping because of the sadness that they felt because they had lost a beloved brother or friend. Even though Jesus loved Lazarus, he already knew that he was going to raise him from the dead. It was why he waited to come until Lazarus was already dead and buried (read Verse 4). He knew that he would raise him from the dead so that the people seeing would believe in him, and so that it would glorify God. The reason he wept was one that I had not understood. Simply, it was COMPASSION. He saw the deep sadness of the people, and he was moved. Jesus, who was all knowing and knew how this would end was still moved by the suffering of his friends, to the point that he wept.

It really encourages me today, and I hope it encourages you. The same Jesus who wept for his friends more than 2,000 years ago is still the same Jesus I know and love today.I’m humbled and encouraged to know that when I approach God’s Throne in my weakness, Jesus  my intercessor is filled with compassion. He sees our deepest feelings, and he understands them. How amazing is that!

Apple Stuffed French Toast

Apple Stuffed French Toast

Ladies and gentlemen…. I have another one of “THOSE” recipes for you! You know those recipes that you would not make except for special occasions? I have another one to add to your list. Those recipes that fall in the category of “it definitely took more time than I would spend on a regular breakfast but sooo worth it!“, or in the “I would totally be as big as a house if I ate this everyday” or the “I’m so glad I have no idea what the word calorie means, and please do not explain it to me“. Yup! It’s one of those recipes. In my defense, it was a holiday at my house this past Saturday morning. What holiday?? I’m so glad you asked! It was “the kids are going to their Aunt’s, and I have two whole days to myself” holiday. See…… I knew you would all understand why we had to have a special breakfast. Because it was only fitting that I pump my precious beloved daughters with all the nutritious sugar and goodness that I could get them to eat before I sent them to her house. It is my duty as a loving, diligent mother 🙂 Seriously though… as a stay-home mom, there is no better gift that you could give me than the gift of a few quiet moments to myself. I’m truly grateful for my family who are so mindful to create those moments for me. Of course the kids love it too, so it’s a win-win.

Anyway, now you see why we HAD to have a special breakfast. Despite the fact that I was battling a cold, I willingly trudged into my kitchen to make these (much to my hubby’s amusement). They were just what the doctor prescribed! Sweet, crunchy, a little creamy, and since apples were involved, totally healthy 🙂 I knew the doctor would approve. I got rave reviews from the family, and I definitely plan to make this again sometime. I’m excited to try out a few other combinations, such as bananas and cream, peaches and cream, blueberry and lemon, strawberries and cream…… The options are endless.

Here we go…..

Ingredients:

Ingredients for the apple stuffing
Other ingredients (Phase 2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Apples, peeled, cored and sliced

3 Tbsp Butter (divided)

1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon(divided)

4 Tbsp Brown Sugar

3 Tbsp Cream Cheese

2 Eggs

!/2 Cup Heavy Cream

1/2 Cup Milk

1/2 Loaf French Bread, cut into 4 Pieces (end piece removed)

Confectioner’s Sugar for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat Oven to 375 Degrees F. In a pan over medium high heat, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Add in the apple slices, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and the brown sugar.  Stir and let cook for 7-8 minutes until the apples start to soften. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add in the cream cheese. Set aside.

Cook the apples, cinnamon and sugar in butter
Cook apples until they start to soften

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. In a rimmed dish (a 9 by 13 dish works best) beat together the eggs, cream, milk and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Take each slice of bread (they were about 2  inch thick) and cut a slit into one side of the bread, only going about 3/4 of the way through it. You want to form a pocket with the three sides of the bread still intact.

Apple Mixture and bread with pocket cut into it

3. Take the apple/ cream cheese mixture and stuff  into the bread pockets. Put the bread into the egg mixture and soak for 3-4 minutes. Turn the bread occasionally to let both sides soak in the liquid.

Bread soaking

4. In a pan (I used the same one for the apples, just rinsed off), melt a Tbsp of butter. Remove the bread from the egg mixture, draining off the excess liquid. Cook the toast on the pan for about 3 minutes per side ( till brown). I did my toast two at a time. Once browned, transfer to a cookie sheet and cook the rest of the way in the oven. The extra cooking time in the oven allows the liquid to cook off, which makes the toast nice and crispy. This took 10 minutes.

Fry both sides of toast until brown
Transfer to cookie sheet and bake for 10 min

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and drizzle with some maple syrup if you are like me, and are totally in party mode. Enjoy!

Devotion For the Day:

The Bread of Life:

I actually thought it was a little ironic that right after stuffing myself to the gills with the french toast, I retreated to my corner to do my devotion and the reading was about Jesus: The bread of life. I have been reading through the book of John, and one of my favorite things about it has been that to this point, a lot of the verses are red letter words.. the actual words of Jesus.

I was reading John 6, which has 71 verses. It starts off with Jesus feeding the great crowd of 5,000 with 5 loaves of bread and two fish. Needless to say everyone was totally astounded and amazed at the miracle of him not only feeding them to their fill, but also having 12 baskets of left overs. After this encounter, Jesus separates himself and retreats to the mountains alone, but  the crowd sought after him because of the miracle he had done. In verses 26-27,when they found him, this is what Jesus had to say “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God theFather has placed the seal of approval”. He later continued on in verse 35 to declare “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty”.

This reading ties in with a series at my church we have been doing for the past few weeks, titled “LEGACY” (click on the link to view). It has centered around what our legacy as a person is, as well as our legacy as a church. To say it has been life changing is an understatement. I feel like God has been challenging me as far as what my legacy to my children and the future generations will be, but more so what my legacy is as HIS child. I so easily forget that my legacy is to shine my light that others can come to know the saving grace of Jesus. This reading and the series remind me that we can meet the physical needs of others all day long, but if we do not point them to the God who will fill the deepest yearning of their soul, our work is not eternal. Jesus first saw the physical need of the crowd. They were hungry. He didn’t teach them first, he FED them. But he also didn’t stop there, he offered them the bread of LIFE.  What a model to emulate!

Cilantro-Lime Rice

Cilantro_Lime Rice

October is usually a super crazy month at our house. We have an anniversary, and then my oldest daughter and my hubby share a birthday on the 27th. I still cannot believe that child is 7 now. Where has the time gone! After having to plan a princess party and juggle all the October insanity, last week I went through serious cooking block. This very rarely happens to me. I usually have my meals planned out ahead, with new recipes in queue to be tested, but last week I was totally blank. So blank that we are eggs for dinner one of the nights (gasp…. and I actually enjoyed it). Anyway, for days like those that I do not want to think too deeply about meals, chilli always ends up in my crock pot. To accompany the chilli, I made this cilantro lime rice that we love from one of our favorite fast food joints Chipotle. We do not eat out a whole lot, but our family loves this Mexican place.  Their food is fresh, quick, delicious and actually healthier than most places. They have this rice that is sooooo good. It took a couple visits of trying to peek into the kitchen before we figured out what goes in it.  I now make this rice pretty often at home.

Since I am making a huge batch of chilli to last us a couple days, I made a lot of rice to go along with it. Feel free to cut the recipe in half (I made 3 1/2 cups of rice).

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Oil

3 1/2 cups Rice

6 cups of Water

Salt to taste

4 Limes, Juiced

1/3 Cup of Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Cilantro Leaves, Chopped

1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a pan. Add the rice and toast for a few minutes, until the rice starts to change color. Stir often so as not to burn. Add in the salt and water and bring to a boil. Put a lid on pot and reduce heat to medium. Boil for 18 minutes. Without taking the lid off, take the rice off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. This produces perfectly cooked, fluffy rice.

2. In a bowl, mix together the lime juice, cilantro and olive oil. Toss the mixture into the cooked rice, and adjust for salt if necessary. Enjoy!

We love ours with Mexican food.

I also think that changing the ingredients to lemon juice and a mix of basil and parsley would give it a nice Italian inspired twist.

Devotional For the Day:

David’s Offering:
Today I had one of those moments during my devotion time where I wanted to stop, put my phone down (I use a bible app my phone) and burst into applause. I was reading about David, and though there are plenty of really awesome hero stories of David, this was not one of them. I love David’s story for many reasons. He is a man that was hand picked by God to be king. He was courageous, passionate in his love for God, but also highly flawed. The verses I was reading today are on his response to a major transgression on his part. He had ordered a census of the Israel and Judah, which was against God’s laws. After the census, he realized he had messed up big time, and as a result, God sent a plague against Israel. Gad the prophet instructs David to go and build an alter on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite (this is where God had stopped the death angel from taking any more lives. In total, 70,000 died that day).
David set out in obedience to build the altar. As soon as Araunah saw him approaching, he bowed down before him. David explained to him that he had come to his land to purchase it and build an altar for the Lord. As any humble servant would do, Araunah told David that he did not have to buy the land, he could have it. Now comes the verse that made me want to give David the biggest Hi-Five ever. 2nd Samuel 24:24  But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels[a] of silver for them.
Seriously people… this was the beloved king. He could have any piece of land that his heart desired for free, but his insistence on paying really made me think. It was a true reflection of his heart. As much as he was not perfect, he is documented as being a man after God’s heart. Verses like this one show me HOW he did it. He did not want to offer a sacrifice out of convenience or ease. He wanted it to cost him. Hmmm… do I live my life this way? Do you? Just a thought to ponder. May our offerings to our loving Father be real sacrifices, that are costly to us. After all, didn’t He give the ultimate sacrifice for us?