Spicy Roasted Carrot & Red Lentil Ragout

When a family friend posted a link to this “tried and true” recipe on Facebook, I knew that I was going to make it for sure. Not only is she a wonderful cook, but she also endorsed it by saying that she’s been making it for ten years!

This hearty and healthy stew-like soup is really another wonderful variation of vegetarian chili. The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Molly O’Neill. I increased the amount of carrots, omitted the cayenne pepper, and cut the carrots prior to roasting in order to decrease the preparation time.

We ate it as a stew served over brown Basmati rice and topped it with Greek yogurt (others with sour cream) to temper the heat. The author suggested extending the ragout with either coconut milk or stock to give it a soup-like consistency, if desired. Yum!

Yield: 6 servings

  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled, cut in half and quartered
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • ¾ teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  • plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Lay the carrots in a roasting pan and toss with 3 tablespoons oil. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roast for 12 minutes.
  3. Turn the carrots, add the onion and roast an additional 15 minutes, until the carrots are brown and tender.
  4. When carrots are cool enough, cut them in 1/4-inch dice.
  5. Warm 2 tablespoons oil in a saucepan. Add the carrot-and-onion mixture, the chili powders and the cayenne pepper, if using. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the lentils. Add the stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the lentils are falling apart.
  7. Season with remaining salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with rice, or as a thick soup. Garnish with yogurt or sour cream to temper the heat.

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Mexican Street Corn Crostini

I was also able to celebrate my birthday on my special Charleston trip. 🙂 Although I enjoyed a lot of wonderful Southern food while I was there, my friends and I also went to Sean Brock’s Minero’s Restaurant for a Mexican birthday lunch. It was SO good.

Along with our various tacos, we had bowls of Mexican street corn which were absolutely delicious. I do plan on re-creating that dish, but for now these grilled corn crostini were another terrific variation. I made these as a Fourth of July appetizer. Unlike other crostini that have to be prepared at the last-minute, these are perfect to bring to a party or potluck because the topping can be placed on the ciabatta in advance.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit. I toasted the ciabatta until it was nicely browned and increased the garlic on the toasted bread. Great!

Yield: Makes 12 crostini

  • 2 ears corn, shucked
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 slices of ciabatta bread (I used most of a 1 lb. loaf, cut into 12 1/2-inch thick slices)
  • 2 garlic cloves, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup crema mexicana or sour cream
  • 3 T crumbled feta
  • lime wedge
  • cilantro leaves
  • chili powder
  1. Rub corn with vegetable oil. Season corn with salt and freshly ground black pepper; grill until slightly charred and tender.
  2. Slice corn off the cob in wide strips. (I grilled 3 ears just to ensure that I would have enough wide strips.)
  3. Grill or toast the bread slices until uniformly browned. While still warm, rub the top of each slice with garlic.
  4. Mix crema mexicana or sour cream with feta.
  5. Smear toasts with crema mixture. Top crema with grilled corn.
  6. Squeeze a lime wedge over each.
  7. Garnish with cilantro leaves and sprinkle with chili powder.

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Slow-Cooker Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

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I can’t believe it, but I am tired of pulled pork. What is even more surprising is that my husband is in agreement! This was a nice variation and the sauce was tasty with a subtle spicy kick; I omitted the liquid smoke as I am not partial to smoky flavor. The chicken was really moist even after five hours in the slow-cooker too. This recipe was adapted from Cook’s Country Magazine, via cookingwithauntjuju.com and talkingonmagazines.com. Perfect to feed a crowd. Perfect for guests because it can be made ahead of time and reheated in the slow-cooker prior to serving. We ate it with Provencal Tomatoes and corn on the cob but it may have needed coleslaw and potato salad (too?!?). Next time… 🙂 Nice!

Yield: Serves 10 to 12

  • 4 (10-12 oz) bone-in split chicken breasts
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 tsp chili powder
  • 2-3 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) tomato paste
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 2 T brown mustard
  • 4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tsp Sriracha or other hot sauce, plus more for serving, if desired
  • 3/4 tsp liquid smoke, if desired
  • 12 sandwich rolls (I prefer potato rolls)
  1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Generously season with salt and pepper.
  2. Combine onion, oil, garlic, chili powders, cayenne, and tomato paste in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until the onion softens slightly, about 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow-cooker and stir in the ketchup, molasses, mustard, and cider vinegar.
  4. Add the chicken to the slow-cooker and toss to combine with sauce. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours, or until chicken shreds easily with a fork.
  5. Transfer cooked chicken to a cutting board or rimmed baking sheet and loosely tent with foil. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Using a ladle or large spoon, skim the fat off the surface of the sauce. Discard.
  7. Stir the hot sauce and liquid smoke (if using) into the sauce. Cover to keep warm.
  8. Remove and discard chicken breast skin and bones. Coarsely shred the breast meat using 2 forks. Roughly chop the thigh meat into 1/2-inch chunks.
  9. Return the meat to the slow-cooker and combine with sauce. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve on sandwich rolls with hot sauce to pass at the table, if desired.

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One Year Ago:

Creamy Poblano & Ancho Chicken Tacos: Mix & Match Fillings

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When these two taco fillings were combined, this dish became a variation of our absolute favorite tacos (link posted below!). It is so boring to always make the same tacos… even if they are your favorite! (My husband disagrees…) These two fillings could be eaten separately or together, but we all chose to combine them. The creamy poblano filling would be a wonderful vegetarian option on its own though! This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit. We each constructed them to our liking at the table with rice and refried beans on the side. It was a wonderful reward after our first long day of spring yard work! 🙂

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For the Cumin and Ancho Chicken Filling:

  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder or chile powder
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt, to taste
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  1. Toss chicken with ancho chile powder, cumin, and 2 tsp. salt in a large bowl to coat. Cover and chill for 2 hours.
  2. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with a thin layer of oil. Working in batches, place thighs in skillet in a single layer (do not crowd). Cover and cook until a crust forms, about 5 minutes. Turn; cook, uncovered, until thighs are just cooked through, 3–4 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter; let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch cubes. Transfer with any accumulated juices to a medium bowl. Season with salt to taste.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool slightly. Cover; chill. Rewarm before serving.

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For the Creamy Poblano Filling:

  • 2 pounds fresh large poblano chiles
  • 1 white onion, quartered, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack
  • Kosher salt
  1. Preheat broiler, build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. If broiling, place chiles on a rimmed baking sheet. If grilling, put chiles directly on grill grate. Roast, turning occasionally, until tender and nicely charred all over, 15–20 minutes.
  2. Transfer chiles to a large bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 15 minutes. Peel chiles. Halve lengthwise; discard seeds. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips.
  3. Heat a large dry heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until beginning to char, 6–7 minutes. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add oregano and 1 cup water; simmer until onion is tender and water has evaporated, 5–7 minutes.
  4. Add chiles; cook until flavors meld, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in crème fraîche and cheese. Add water by table-spoonfuls if mixture is too dry. Season to taste with salt.

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One Year Ago:

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