Facebook Food; dill pickle soup and grilled cheese dippers

Life has been unusually busy for us these past few weeks as we continue to adjust to a new foster placement and maintain our already hectic schedule. 

These are the days I find the morning coffee I didn’t get to drink in the microwave in late afternoon. 


The days I am thankful that an old top entertains four children for long periods of time. 


I am thankful for friends who lend helping hands in so many ways, whether it be for our children, our non-profit, or for our larger community. 

These are the days that pass so quickly, but that I will one day miss and long to re-experience. 

In the meantime, I sit with our littles as they drift off to sleep. To stay awake myself, I read articles and often scroll through Facebook to catch up on friends and the rest of the world. I’ve been saving recipe links my friends have shared on Facebook. Tonight I made a combo of two I was most excited about, dill pickle soup and grilled cheese dippers.

The original recipe for the soup can be found here.  

Since we eat a mostly Whole Foods plant based diet, I adapted the recipe, but I can assure you the original would taste quite fantastic as well! Here’s the recipe with my changes. The whole family loved it! 

Dill Pickle Soup

5 cups vegetable stock

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small-ish pieces

4 medium carrots, washed but unpeeled, chopped small

1 cup chopped baby dill pickles 

(I skipped the butter altogether)

1 cup all purpose flour

1&1/4 cup unsweetened unflavored plant-based milk

1&3/4 cup dill pickle juice

Old Bay seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

Method: Pour the vegetable stock into a large pot and add the potatoes and carrots. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add chopped dill pickles. Mix the plant-based milk and flour in a gravy shaker and shake well. Pour into soup pot, stirring continuously and vigorously. This will thicken quickly. 

Add dill pickle juice and seasonings. Cook and stir another five minutes. 


Fabulous!!!!! 

The other recipe I was excited to try was the grilled cheese dippers. I know that these grilled cheese include dairy, but we are not a teetotaler Whole Foods plant based family. You can also substitute vegan cheese and butter for these if you’d prefer. I want to try the tomato soup included in the post, but haven’t yet. Grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup have long been one of my favorite fall suppers. 

The recipe for the grilled cheese dippers can be found here. 


I’d love to know if you try these either with the original recipes or my adaptations and what you think. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did. 

“Sick Soup” and Turmeric Tea

Or “On the mend spiced red lentil-kale soup.” 


With cold and flu season on the horizon you will want to keep these ingredients for the soup and the tea handy! This is our family’s favorite “sick soup.” It’s a little spicy for the kiddos so adjust seasonings according to taste. It is also a good preventative from even getting the crud. 

The recipe is from “The Oh She Glows Cookbook” by Angela Liddon. 


On the mend spiced red lentil-kale soup

1 teaspoon coconut or olive oil

1 sweet onion, diced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

3 stalks celery, dived

1 bay leaf

1&1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4-1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juices

5-6 cups vegetable broth (more as needed)

1 cup uncooked red Lentils, rinsed and drained

Salt and pepper to taste

2 handfuls destemmed kale leaves or spinach (I’ve used both)
Method: In large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5-6 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and celery, season with salt and sauté a few minutes more making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. 

Add the bay leaf, cumin, chili powder, coriander, paprika, and cayenne and stir to combine. Sauté a few more minutes until fragrant. 

Stir in tomatoes with juices, the veggie broth, and Lentils. Bring mixture to boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes until Lentils are tender and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf. 

Stir in kale and cook for a few more minutes until kale has wilted. Serve immediately. (I like to make a double batch and freeze half.)


Turmeric Tea

In a saucepan, bring four cups of water to a boil. Add 2 inches of sliced fresh turmeric root OR 1 teaspoon ground turmeric. I also add about 1 inch of fresh sliced ginger root. (You can leave the peel on both roots.)

Summer for about 10-15 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh or cheesecloth. 

Enjoy as is or add raw honey to taste. 


Here is a link to the health benefits of Tumeric tea. Turmeric Tea Benefits  

Stay well, my friends, and enjoy! 

Herbed lentils and rice, African influenced spinach, and apple cake

I try to vary my recipe sources to keep cooking fun, but sometimes for something different I make a whole meal using recipes from one cookbook. Tonight was one of those nights. 

I used a personal favorite, Mennonite Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley (Phyllis Pellman Good and Kate Good.) Besides being filled with delicious choices, one of the pictures inserted is actually my family’s very own horse and buggy! 


That picture was taken by our local celebrity photographer, Allen Litten. He knows our family well, but had no idea that was our buggy until we told him. We have that same picture framed. That was our beloved horse, Charger, bringing mom home from church one fall day. He was a faithful steed. I’m almost weepy thinking of him as I write this. I got my first car at 18 years old, but until that time my mode of transportation was horse and buggy, bicycle, or walking. 

Now you know why this cookbook ranks high on my list of favs. 

The first recipe is a family favorite. 

Herbed Lentils and Rice

Submitted by Leanna Yoder Keim 

She included this recipe note


Herbed Lentils and Rice

2&2/3 cups chicken, beef, veggie broth, or water (I used veggie broth)

3/4 cup dry brown lentils 

1/2 cup brown rice

3/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed basil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed thyme

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded (optional for vegans)

Paprika (preferably smoked)

Method: mix together broth, lentils, rice, onion, wine, basil, salt, thyme, garlic powder, and pepper. Pour into 1&1/2 quart greased casserole dish. 

Bake covered at 350 degrees for 1&1/2hours. (If omitting cheese, test at this point to make sure lentils and rice are cooked and if so, the casserole is done. If adding cheese, remove the cover, sprinkle cheese over casserole, then sprinkle paprika on top. Return to oven for another 15 minutes or so until cheese is melted. 

This is a dish every single person in our household enjoys, which makes it that much better! 


(I left cheese off the one end for those who don’t eat cheese, but the rice got a little dry without the cover on.)

Next was a brand new recipe, but was such a hit it will become standard fare as well! 

African-Influenced Spinach

Submitted by Edith Shenk 

2 Tablespoons butter (I just used veggie broth, no butter, adding a tablespoon at a time so the onions didn’t stick.)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium tomato, chopped

1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter

2-10 ounce packages frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, or 1&1/2 pounds fresh spinach, lightly steamed and drained

Salt to taste

Nutmeg

Method: In frying pan, sauté onion in butter, veggie broth, or water, cooking until soft 

Stir in tomato and cook for 5 minutes

Stir in peanut butter and salt. Cook for a few minutes until sauce forms. 

Stir in spinach, heat through, but do not overcook. Pour into serving dish and sprinkle with nutmeg. 


I promise this is FAR more appetizing than it looks. My husband said he could eat the entire dish in one setting. I said the same thing. The nutmeg is a MUST to finish it off. 

Lastly, we splurged with “Elsie’s Fresh Apple Cake.” I know the Elsie that submitted the recipe. Our 5-year-old daughter’s name is Elsie, so when we came across this recipe she really wanted to make it. I’m glad she did! She put all the ingredients into the mixing bowl for me. We healthified it a bit so I will include those notes as we go along. 

Elsie’s Fresh Apple Cake 

Submitted by Elsie Rohrer Terry

1 Cup oil (I used 1 cup unsweetened pear sauce I’d made this summer, I’m sure unsweetened applesauce would be great too.)

2 eggs (I used eggs, but vegans could use ground flax meal/water)

2 cups sugar (I cut it to 1&1/2 cups and used raw sugar)

1 teaspoon vanilla 

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon salt 

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2&1/2 cups flour (I used 1 cup oat flour)

3 cups peeled, chopped fresh apples

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup flake coconut (I used unsweetened)

I also added 2 Tablespoons ground flax meal

Method: Mix together oil (or pear or applesauce), eggs, and sugar and beat well. 

Add vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, and beat well. 

Add 1 cup flour (this is where I used pat flour) and mix well. 

Fold in apples, nuts, and coconut. Add rest of flour (and ground flax meal if using) and stir well. Pour into greased and floured tube pan. 

Bake at 325 degrees for 1&1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

Elsie’s note says this is a great breakfast cake or a satisfying dessert. We loved it for dessert this evening and the kiddos are excited that it is on the breakfast menu for tomorrow morning. It was a huge hit. 

Let me know if you make any of these recipes and what you think! 

Vegans can potluck too!

Wait! Carnivores! Before you dismiss this post. This dish was a hit with people across the board, except for my one friend who merely tolerated a taste for my fancy. And you can always serve meat with whatever vegan/vegetarian dishes you make. You won’t regret giving this recipe a go. 

Mung Bean and Coconut Curry over Brown Rice

I bought a bag of mung beans without having a clue what to do with them. 


I searched the www and eventually came across this recipe at www.themuffinmyth.com. 

I tried it Monday and we loved it so much I made it again Wednesday for our church picnic potluck. I came home with an empty dish and multiple requests for the recipe. 

Mung Bean and Coconut Curry over Brown Rice

I hope I didn’t mess this recipe up too much by all my comments throughout. I just like to let you know if I made any changes or what I found to be essential. For a cleaner version, click on the original link above where it says, “this recipe.”

Here we go. Happy cooking… And eating!

4 TBSP coconut or canola oil (or water if avoiding oils.)

1 Tbsp whole cumin seeds (I used ground cumin the first time and added it when I added the other spices. It was still fabulouso!) 

9 cloves of garlic, crushed (about 3 Tbsp crushed garlic) yeah! You read that right. Don’t skimp! You should also mince the garlic about 10 minutes or more in advance as it releases more nutrition that way. 

1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes

2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger (I always add a little extra fresh ginger because I have a love affair with fresh ginger.)

2 Tbsp ground coriander (This is a necessary ingredient for this dish!) 

1 tsp turmeric (I messed up first time and added 1 TBSP and it was still awesome)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cayenne pepper (I didn’t add)

(For this next step, I skipped the four cups of water entirely because I had pre-cooked the mung beans. If you precook the beans, simply add the cooked beans when the recipe calls for adding the water and uncooked beans. You just won’t need to cook the dish as long.)

4 cups water

1 cup mung beans, picked over for stones and well rinsed

1 can coconut milk

juice of 1-2 limes

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Method: 

In a large pot, heat the cooking oil over medium-high heat.

Add the cumin seeds and cook for about 1 minute, until they just begin to darken. Add the garlic, and sauté just until it has browned. Watch very carefully so that it doesn’t burn. (1 minute or so.)

Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine, then add ginger, coriander, turmeric, salt, and cayenne.

Sauté this mixture for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the water and mung beans. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring the mixture once or twice. (Here is where I omitted the 4 cups water and just added the pre-cooked beans.)

Taste a few mung beans to make sure they are cooked. If they are, stir in the coconut milk, and increase the heat to medium-high.

Once the curry comes to the boil turn off the heat. Stir in the cilantro and the juice of one lime. Taste and decide whether you’d like to add the second lime as well.

Serve hot.

I served this over hot brown rice both times. For the potluck, I placed the cooked rice in the bottom of a casserole dish and added the curry on top. 

Watermelon Soup and Cheese Muffins

I love friends and cookbooks. Last week combined both. During a wonderful visit with a long-time friend, she gave me a cookbook she’d bought at a thrift store. I’ve already used it multiple times and will reference it below. 

We ventured way out of the Harlow norm last evening and had “Watermelon and Blackberry Soup” for supper along with “Cheddar Cheese Muffins.” We served this as a meatless meal, but you could easily add a side of grilled chicken breast. Whatever your palate persuasion, carnivorous, vegetarian, whole foods, this soup will delight your senses. For vegans, replace cheddar cheese muffins with bread of choice. 

This was a perfect summer evening meal and was a BIG hit with the kiddos. Let me know if you make it and what you think.

Both recipes come from “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” by Deborah Madison. I will share variations and simplifications. 

Watermelon and Blackberry Soup

No cooking required. Serve chilled. 

  • 6 cups seeded chunks of watermelon
  • Fresh lemon or lime juice (I used lime)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Cups fresh Blackberries
  • 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar (I used Sucanat, but found the sugar addition to be a little too sweet. Next time I will half or omit the sugar)
  • Rose water or orange flower water (I had rose water I’d purchased at the International market. Even though it lends a beautiful floral flavor, I’m sure you could substitute with regular water) 
  • 1 pound each red and yellow watermelon (I used red watermelon and a Lemonburst melon which is green in color with a slightly lemon flavor. It went fabulously with this dish. I’m sure you could use cantaloupe or honeydew in place of the yellow watermelon, too)
  • 1/4 Cup pomegranate seeds if they are in season (would have loved but didn’t use)
  • Mint sprigs for garnish 

Method: Purée the 6 cups watermelon chunks and pour into a bowl. Add lemon or lime juice and pinch of salt. Cover and refrigerate. Toss the blackberries with a few drops of rose water and the brown sugar, cover and refrigerate one hour. Seed the remaining melon and cut into bite-size chunks. 

At serving time, flavor the puréed watermelon with rose water to taste, starting with one teaspoon. (I must have used at least two tablespoons) 

Divide the purée among chilled soup bowls and add the melon pieces and then the berries. (If using pomegranate, add one tablespoon seeds to each bowl and a splash of the juice.) Garnish with mint leaves and serve. 

Lazy time-constrained chef tip: throw it all into a big glass dish and serve. 

Serves 4


Cheddar Cheese Muffins

  • 1&1/4 cups flour (I used whole wheat pie and pastry flour)
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 2&1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons corn oil (I used olive)
  • 1&1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1-2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Method: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil or spray muffin tin. Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the eggs, milk, oil, and honey in a second bowl. Wisk the wet ingredients and pour into the dry. Stir briskly but do not over stir. Add the cheese and stir just until incorporated. Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full with the batter. (Made 12 for me) Bake about 25 minutes until browned and springy.

Cheers!

Vegan Whole Grain Pancakes with Fresh Berries and Coconut Cream! (With non-vegan alternatives)

If you are not vegan, please don’t let that word scare you from trying this recipe! It is fabulous for all eaters. I’ve also included non-vegan alternatives. 

Ever since we’ve had children I’ve made breakfast for supper one night a week. For the past few months, about ninety percent of the time, our family has been eating a whole foods plant based diet. Pancakes are so easily adapted to plant based recipes and they are one hundred percent fabulous! 

Vegan Whole Grain Pancakes

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (can also use oat or buckwheat flour or plain old white flour)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sucanat or Raw Sugar (of course you can use regular sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (almond/coconut) or just plain dairy milk for non-vegan
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce (or vegetable oil)
  • Chocolate chips for the children (of all ages.)

Mix all dry ingredients together and add the non-dairy milk and applesauce. Stir until incorporated, but not too much. 

Heat a non-stick griddle or skillet to medium-high heat. Drop 1/3 cup of batter into preheated pan. Cook until bubbles appear on the top and middle. (If you are adding chocolate chips, now is the time to sprinkle a few on the pancake before flipping.) Flip and cook for a few more minutes on the other side. 

Toppings:

Of course you can used dairy whipped cream, but the whipped coconut cream was delish and worth it! 

Whipped Coconut Cream

  • 1 (14 oz) can full fat coconut milk 
  • 1-2 Tablespoons sweetener (maple syrup/honey/raw sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chill the can of coconut in the fridge overnight. An hour before whipping, chill a bowl in the freezer.  

Open can and pour off coconut water (save water for smoothies and other yummies)

Scoop the solid coconut into the chilled bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add sweetener and vanilla. Beat until mixed through. 

Layer a pancake on a plate. Drizzle with pure maple syrup. Spread a dollop of whipped coconut cream on top and add fresh sliced strawberries. Repeat layer if desired. 


Delicious! 

Taco Soup (Meat & Meatless Options)

This is one of our favorite soups and its super easy to pull together with frozen or canned beans and veggies on hand. (Tip: I buy dried beans, cook the entire bag at one time, and freeze them in pint or quart freezer bags.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb browned hamburger (If meatless, just add an additional can/bag of beans.)
  • 2 cans/or 1 bag(s) whole kernel corn
  •  1 (16oz) can/bag kidney beans, rinsed and drained (you can add a can/bag of black beans as well.)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes  
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar (can use raw sugar, brown sugar, or Sucanat)
  •  1  jar of your favorite salsa or an additional can of diced tomatoes. I skip the salsa and use a second can of diced tomatoes with green chilies.) 
  •  1 package bought taco seasoning or about 5 tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning.
  • Add water if you want a thinner soup
  • Adjust seasonings to taste

Method: Mix all ingredients together and cook in crockpot for several hours or put in a large pot and heat through on stove top.

Top with your favorite taco toppings. Excellent with corn bread.