Category Archives: Food

Recipe Sharing: Thai Curried Lentil Vegetable Stew


I’ve been wanting to try a curried lentil recipe ever since I spied a few on my cousin’s Pinterest board (and her Facebook page – social media, it’s how I set my menu) and this cold, snowy weekend was the perfect time. Two recipes stuck out to me and I decided to combine them into one, which could go very bad, or (in this case) very good. Above is the final product, created from these two recipes: Curried Red Lentil Soup with Chickpeas and Quinoa and Vegan Red Lentil Soup. My recipe is not vegan since I used chicken stock, but you could easily make it vegan with vegetable stock and our grocery store only sells the plain old green lentils so I used those.

Thai Curried Lentil Vegetable Soup
1 tablespoon oil (I used coconut)
1/2 cup onion (chopped)
1/2 cup carrot (chopped)
1/2 cup celery (chopped)
1 cup butternut squash, cooked (I used 1 box frozen winter squash)
1 tablespoon garlic (chopped)
1-2 tablespoon ginger (chopped)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch ground nutmeg (or garam masala)
1 cup lentils
3-4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable broth)
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup quinoa (cooked, you can cook it in the soup, but be sure to increase your liquid accordingly)
1 (19 ounce) can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
1/2 (14 ounce) can coconut milk (I used light)
1/3 cup cilantro (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
Juice from 3 limes (or 1/3 can frozen limeade)

  1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onions, carrots and celery and saute until tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add the squash, garlic, ginger, curry powder, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  3. Add the lentils, stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add the chickpeas, quinoa, coconut milk, cilantro and salt and pepper, simmer 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add lime juice, simmer additional 5 minutes. (If it seems too think, you can add more water and give it a good stir.)
  6. Serve with a garnish of cilantro.

This recipe makes 6 good-sized servings of 1.5-2 cups each (about 200-225 calories per serving). Serve with flatbread and you have a hearty, filling (and delicious) meal. Liam ate this along with me, just picked out the chickpeas but otherwise gobbled it up. Simon was more doubtful and did not partake. I loved the flavors and added the limeade as an afterthought as I thought the recipe needed a little something and another similar recipe I had pinned had mentioned squeezing lime juice over the top, but all I had was some left over limeade so I used that instead and it gave it the perfect zing.



Five Question Friday

Just for kicks, here are a couple of cute things Jack has been saying: instead of laughing he says “lapping” and when you tell him not to do something, he responds enthusiastically with, “I willn’t!” And my friend, Tracey, noted that when he says “coffee” it sounds like he has a Bostonian accent, apparently that’s what happens when you hybrid the Michigan nasal with the Australian accent.

That have absolutely nothing to do with anything but I wanted to share before I forgot.

Liam had a marvelous birthday, really, a birthday week since we have seen friends every day and gotten to hang out with some of our favorite people and eat lots of sugary things. His favorite present was a camouflaged wallet with a velcro closure (second favorite was the $1 bill he got from his cousin – the kid is currently obsessed with money which means we have some nice life lessons in store for us with saving/giving/spending).

Also, I’m having a good hair day today, at least I was until I left the house and when out into the rain multiple times to drop the kids off at two daycare locations (Liam’s daycare had to move for the last three weeks as they were using space that now needs to be used for a head start program).

How about a little 5QF?

1. Thunder storms- love them or hate them?
Love. My kids don’t wake up when it storms so I don’t mind at all when they come (that said, now they will totally start waking up because I dared poke the beast of announcing something to be true on the Internet). My only complaint about storms, or preference I guess, is that if a day starts out stormy, I want it to stay dark and gloomy all day – I don’t like it when it clears up and switches to sunshine after a few hours (probably because that usually means it is then humid and humidity I hate).

2. Do your kids get back to school clothes
Not really, I mean, I did buy Liam some new jeans and a couple shirts for his birthday but we shop throughout the year, hitting up good sales and stocking up when we see a good price (my husband is best at this and I believe we had Liam’s size 7 wardrobe done sometime in the winter). But as they get older, I know we will probably do this a little more, letting them pick out one special outfit that’s new for the first day of school. I remember what that was like when I was in school and I loved having something special for the first day.

3. Do you golf? Do you watch it?
I have golfed exactly once. It wasn’t a horrible experience but I’m not a natural. Growing up golf was always on the TV on Sundays (when there was a tournament) so I watched it then. I used to have a theory that only the guys who wore hats played the best, then the visors and then those with bare heads (which, really, I’m sure they are super happy about not wearing hats now that they have skin cancer on their noggins – and also because they always lost – sure, the white foreheads from hat-wearing looks ridiculous, but wouldn’t you rather be non-cancerous and a winner?).

4. Showers or baths?
Showers just because they are easier and more refreshing in the morning. But if I want to relax, then bathtub all the way – though I never feel clean after a bath. I don’t really enjoy sitting in a wet mixture of soapy water and sloughed off skin cells (you are welcome for that mental picture). For relaxing, I’d prefer a hot tub, at least then it doesn’t feel like a dirty soup.

5. What’s the strangest meal you ever ate?
In terms of the food, I’m certain the strangest meal I ever ate was in Kazakhstan when I was in college. There were quite a few things I ate that I don’t even know what they were (because I learned it was better not to ask). Actually, I felt like I answered this question already and I did a search and found that one week Mama M didn’t have a 5QF so I made up my own (please refer there – hilariously, I also noted that I was almost named Robin Renee and mentioned my dislike for that name, only to have someone comment who was actually named Robyn Renee – sorry).

And in terms of the whole experience, a meal I had in Kazakhstan to celebrate the 18th birthday of my roommate’s neighbor also ranks up there as the strangest (though most unique would be a better term); we ate for at least four hours, stopping at one point to take a walk around their backyard vegetable garden. And her whole family stared at me for the entire meal, asking endless questions and plying me with wine (from California – FTW) and vodka (from Russia – for the headache); for a few hours, I knew what it would be like to be a celebrity and it was a little heady. Then I sang Céline. And then the birthday girl’s parents and aunt and uncle sang Russian songs and made me feel like I wanted to stay there forever in that moment because I knew there would never be another one like it. I wish it were possible to relive that again with older, adult eyes and take it all in.

Linking up with Mama M for Five Question Friday.

Five Question Friday – DIY

Well, Mama M isn’t doing a 5QF this week due to creepy stuff (sounds ominous) so I’m just going to make up my own… you can join in too in the comments or on your own blog.

1. What’s your favorite sound?
Here are a few:
– Jack’s giggle
– Liam drumming
– Simon’s accent
– lawn mower (because then I get to smell fresh-cut grass)
– espresso maker brewing
– when a can of Diet Coke is opened (I realize this is the same as any other can of pop/soda/cola/soft drink)

2. What pet peeves do you have?
– People who drive slowly in the left lane on the highway when there is no reason for them to be there
– Dirty dishes left in the sink
– People who stand with their carts in the middle of the grocery aisle instead of off to one side
– Bad service in a restaurant

3. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
I ate quite a few strange things in Kazakhstan – fermented mare’s milk and these very hard cheese balls that had the consistency of chalk and tasted like strong, stinky cheese are at the top of the list. And one of the things I could have eaten but didn’t was a cow tongue sandwich. Yum. I also had some of the yummiest things there – fresh-baked bread (daily, sold from a vendor’s cart), honey cake, pelminis (no idea how to spell this, but they were like dumplings with a meat stuffing inside), Korean spicy carrot salad and borscht (soup made with beets).

4. Do you wish you had a different name/did you ever try changing your name in middle school/high school?
I have always liked my name, especially once I learned I was nearly name Robin Renee, a name I don’t at all like. But I very much like being Michelle Marie (apparently my parents believed in alliteration). I went by Shell and Chelle in middle school and high school (this makes me think of my friend who decided that instead of Melissa, she would be M’lissa – we were dorks). I very much dislike being called Shelly (though I know some perfectly nice and wonderful people that go by that nickname and it works for them, just not for me) but I have a couple people who call me that just to drive me nuts and I let it go because if it makes them happy to antagonize me, who am I to kill their fun? 😉

5. Do you have a meal you never tire of eating, no matter how many times you have it?
I’m rather partial to anything Mexican or Tex-Mex so I’d have to go with my pork tacos (recipe here), the carnitas style beef and roasted veggie tacos (recipe here) and my beef and bean burritos (recipe below).

Beef and Bean Burritos
1 pound ground beef (I often use ground turkey, or half turkey, half beef)
1 package taco seasoning
1 can refried beans (I typically use the fat free ones)
1 package burrito-size flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cheese
1 jar of taco sauce

In large skillet, brown beef until fully cooked, add taco seasoning and simmer 5-10 minutes. Add can of beans, heat until the beans have fully incorporated with the beef/taco seasoning. Add a large spoonful of the mixture to center of tortilla, top with cheese (I grab a large pinch of cheese), wrap up tortilla (fold sides in first then roll. Place rolled burritos in 9×13 pan and repeat until filling is gone. Top with taco sauce and bake at 350 for 15 minutes, top with remaining shredded cheese and continue baking until cheese is melted – serve with sour cream and any other toppings you’d like.

The burritos freeze really well, just put them in the freezer before you top with the taco sauce and when baking (after thawing them out), cook them for 15 minutes without sauce, then add the sauce for another 15 minutes, then add cheese for another 10ish minutes. You can also package them individually in foil and take them for lunches (microwave, without foil, for 2-3 minutes – from frozen; be sure to slit the top of the burrito).

Also, yesterday Sirius played a David Gray song that I’d never heard before – a cover of the song “Money (That’s What I Want)” – makes me super excited to think that maybe a new album is coming out. He’s doing a North American tour this summer but the Chicago show sold out too quickly so we didn’t get tickets – it would have been perfect since the show is the day before my birthday. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Dear David Gray – Please come to Grand Rapids. Thanks, mucho! Michelle

This Week’s Random List

  • When I got to work yesterday there was a woman getting out of her new Porsche and the alarm was going off and she seemed quite flustered. Does it make me a bad person because it amused me greatly that she was having a problem with it? To my credit I did not roll my eyes when she commented that she thought she was going to have to call her husband to help her with the car (the alarm turned off when she pushed the panic button her in key fob). She was on her way to go work out and turns out she is also one of the noisy worker-outers. [Her, I’m totally judging.]
  • Liam has to do a small research project for school. Pick an animal, report on what you already know about it, think of questions you have and research answers and creatively represent that animal. He picked sharks and last night we made his model and I had to restrain myself to keep from overly helping with it and fixing mistakes. Homework is going to be a painful endeavor – I need to resist my fixer tendencies.
  • Amazon has a new slew of $5 MP3 albums – I downloaded The Fray’s new album, “Scars and Stories” but I’d also recommend Amos Lee’s “Last Days at the Lodge”
  • I’m sort of loving the new show, Scandal, though I can’t decide for sure because well, the main character is sort of unbelievable but I like the rest of the cast and I’m eager to learn more about the secrets they have so I guess that’s a good sign. Plus Joshua Malina is in it and I LOVE him from The West Wing and In Plain Sight.
  • Liam’s been using the phrase, “Let’s stick with that” often in his chattering… it amuses me. He’s like a mini-politician trying to make his point.
  • Jack apparently thinks I know everything, including the lyrics to songs I’ve never heard. He was singing a song he learned at daycare the other day and stopped and asked me, “How does the rest go?” I had to clue but that didn’t satisfy him and he kept yelling at me to keep singing the rest of the song. I could have tried to make something up but he actually knows the song and would have yelled at me that it wasn’t right (we’ve tried this before). Alas.
  • There are only two more MOPS meetings for the year (today and in two weeks) and that makes me sad. It’s been a great year! I’ve only got two more left so I best enjoy them as much as I can!
  • Here’s a quick recipe for healthy soup that makes a ton. I’m not doing a whole post on this because I didn’t take pictures – you can make it all in a large Dutch oven or brown the meat and then put everything in a slow cooker on low for the day.
    Turkey Taco Chili: Brown 1 pound ground turkey, add 1/4 c. taco seasoning and cook until meat is cooked through. Add: 1 large bottle or can of V8; two cans black beans, 2 cans corn, 1 jar salsa. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese. Enjoy.
  • I need to get back on the exercise bandwagon
  • I also need a sugar/carb detox
  • My great-nephew turned 3 yesterday – I just love that I have a great-nephew and I’m not even 35 – and I love that Max! He has the cutest dimples and best smiles. Someday he and Jack are going to be marvelous buddies!
  • I have an iTunes playlist called “depressing music” and it makes me laugh every time I put a song in there, like I’m prepping for some future cryfest.
  • Do you ever tell a little white lie just not have an awkward conversation? We went out with friends on Saturday night for our anniversary and I offhandedly mentioned to the server that it was our anniversary, meaning more that we were celebrating our anniversary but she said, “Oh, it’s my birthday, too!” And rather than correct her and say that actually, our actual anniversary was on Monday, I just let it slide (I’m quite surprise that Simon let it slide because he’s a stickler for truthiness). But later she also commented about “April 28th being the best day…” and I just had to smile and nod, even though April 28th doesn’t really mean anything special to me. Whoops. I felt a little bad (which I think totally makes up for my feeling of happiness when Little Miss Porsche had car alarm troubles)
  • I really want to make fresh mozzarella sometime – we had it on our salads on Saturday night and I could just eat that always and be happy. But I feel like it would be fun to know how to make – I’ve watched someone make it before and it didn’t seem too hard if you have the ingredients. Though I wonder if touching the curds would gross me out – probably.
  • My SIL Lynn, posted the photo below on my Facebook wall and I thought, “What baby is Liam holding?”

But that’s not Liam, it’s my nephew, Andrew, holding my other nephew, Mitch, way back in the 90s (so very long ago). Apparently Liam does take after my family, just not me as much as my nephew (see below of Andrew and Liam last fall – at least we can see that Liam will still be handsome when he grows up).

And to complete the circle, Liam and Mitch from two summers ago… my how they grow. Mitch is graduating from high school this year and then there is a 13-year gap to the next grandkid (Liam).

Things We’ve Consumed (a.k.a., stuffed our faces with) in Australia

  • Flat whites (very common coffee with steamed milk, I don’t know why but in Oz, the coffee tastes better)
  • Lift (lemon sparkling soda)
  • Meat pies
  • Spinach rolls
  • Coffee milk (small carton milk with coffee in it – also comes in chocolate, strawberry and sometimes banana)
  • Passionfruit pop, yogurt and frozen yogurt
  • Fish and chips
  • Delicious Thai and Indian food
  • Queensland King prawns – Simon de-headed and peeled them for me, my hero
  • Good sushi at the mall with the cutest soy sauce in tiny, fish-shaped bottles
  • Kebabs also from the mall (or, the “shops” as they are called here)
  • Lamb roast with garlic and rosemary
  • Christmas pudding (spiced cake with dried fruits soaked in alcohol) with ice cream and custard
  • Peppermint and double chocolate Magnum ice cream bars
  • Two traditional Jordanian dishes prepared by my SIL Ola, so yummy!
  • Bacon and cheese rolls (Liam’s new favorite)
  • Chocolate mousse cake
  • Finger buns with frosting and sprinkles
  • Tim Tams
  • Milk bottles (white gummy candy that tastes like a marshmallow)
  • Oodles of Cadbury chocolate
  • Countless cups of Lipton Yellow Label tea (anyone who went to K-stan with me remember this? Tasting it brings be back there every time)

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but not intentionally… we are certainly well-fed and preparing ourselves for the detox, diet and exercise that will be in our near future when we get back to the States.