Sheet-Pan Chicken Meatballs with Charred Broccoli

Red Lentil Soup with Warm Spices

I absolutely love red lentil soup. I have made several versions and I have always been pleased with the results. It’s easy, healthy, and delicious. This version was incredibly creamy. I loved the pop of color from the flavorful toppings too.

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. I modified the proportions. We ate it with a green salad and warm naan- a perfect light dinner. Vegetable stock can be substituted for the chicken stock for a vegetarian version.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Soup:

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped fine (I used a food processor)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups chicken stock (I used 4 cups chicken stock & 4 cups homemade turkey stock)
  • 4 cups water
  • 21 ounces (3 cups) red lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 4 T (1/4 cup, about 1 lemon) freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning

For the Topping:

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp dried mint, crumbled (I omitted it)
  • tsp paprika
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

To Make the Soup:

  1. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and 2 teaspoons salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Stir in broth, water, and lentils and bring to simmer. Simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and about half are broken down, about 15 minutes.
  6. Whisk soup vigorously until it is coarsely pureed, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste. Cover and keep warm. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Thin soup with water, if desired, when reheating.)

To Make the Topping:

  1. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in small skillet or in the microwave. (I only did 1/2 of the topping because I froze 1/2 of the soup!)
  2. Remove from heat and stir in mint and paprika, as desired.
  3. Ladle soup into individual bowls, drizzle each portion with spiced butter (about 1 teaspoon), sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Pecan pie bars are a favorite Thanksgiving dessert in our house. I chose this pumpkin pie version to serve along with a tried and true brown-butter and vanilla bean apple pie for our intimate Thanksgiving feast. (Yes, we had leftover dessert for at least a week!)

This recipe was adapted from a “staff favorite” Food and Wine recipe, contributed by Sarah Jordan. I appreciated the press-in crust and we all absolutely loved the consistency of the bars. Pie bars have the bonus of easier portion control too- which is crucial on Thanksgiving. 😉 Great.

Yield: Makes on 9×13-inch pie

For the Press-In-Crust:

  • 2 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour sifted with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter with the sugars at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  2. With the mixer at low speed, beat in the sifted flour-and-salt mixture.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
  4. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of overhang on the 2 long sides. (I used a pyrex pan.)
  5. Transfer the dough to the pan and press it over the bottom and 1 1/4 inches up the side all around. (You can cover the dough with plastic wrap and press with the bottom of a measuring cup.) Be sure the corners are not too thick.
  6. Refrigerate until firm.
  7. Bake the crust for 25 to 35 minutes, until golden brown; halfway through baking, use the back of a spoon to smooth the sides and corners of the crust.
  8. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the crust cool before filling.

For the Filling:

  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom, optional (I omitted it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree
  • One 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • Baked Press-In Crust (above)
  • crème fraîche or whipped cream, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°, preferably on convection.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the sugars with the spices and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs.
  4. Whisk in the sugar mixture, then whisk in the pumpkin puree and the evaporated milk until smooth.
  5. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Lower the oven temperature to 350° and bake for about 25 minutes longer, until the filling is fully set.
  7. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool completely.
  8. Cut into bars and serve with whipped cream or crème fraîche, as desired.

Note: Bars should be stored in the refrigerator. Serve chilled or at room temperature. (I prepared them a day prior to serving.)

Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

I do have a favorite pumpkin loaf but I can’t resist trying another recipe- especially if it involves cinnamon-sugar. 🙂 This one incorporated lovely spices as well.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. I increased the amount of cinnamon-sugar topping and baked the batter as muffins rather than a loaf. I love the portion control of a muffin.

Makes: 18 standard muffins or 1 large 9×5-inch loaf

For the Batter:

  • 1 15-ounce can (1 3/4 cups) pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable or another neutral cooking oil or melted butter (115 grams)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 (330 grams) cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • heaped 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • heaped 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • two pinches of ground cloves
  • 2 1/4 cups (295 grams) all-purpose flour

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons (24 grams) granulated sugar (use 1 T for a loaf)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (use 1 tsp for a loaf)
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter 18 muffins wells or a 6-cup loaf pan or coat it with nonstick spray. (I used 8 outer wells in one pan and 10 in another.)
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, butter or oil, eggs and sugar until smooth.
  4. Sprinkle baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinanmon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves over batter and whisk until well-combined.
  5. Add flour and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula, just until mixed.
  6. Using a 3 tablespoon scoop, ration the batter into prepared muffin wells, or scrape into a loaf pan, and smooth the top(s).
  7. In a small dish, whisk or stir sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle over top of batter. (I sprinkled 1/2 teaspoon over each muffin top.)
  8. Bake muffins for 15 to 17 minutes, and a loaf for 55 to 75 minutes, or until a tester poked into all parts of cake (both the top and center will want to hide pockets of uncooked batter) come out batter-free, rotating the pans once during the baking time for even coloring. (I rotated the oven racks between the two muffin pans as well.
  9. Cool in the pan(s) for 10 minutes and then remove, or cool completely in the pan(s). The latter provides the advantage of letting more of the loose cinnamon sugar on top adhere before being knocked off. 

Note: The muffins (or loaf) keep well at room temperature. The original recipe recommends covering the cut edge of the loaf with a piece of foil or plastic and leaving the top exposed to best keep the lid crisp as long as possible.

Pumpkin Crumb Cake

I woke up on a cold and rainy morning and read a post about this delicious coffee cake…had to have it. 🙂 My daughter and I started making it almost immediately.

The recipe was adapted from Nancy-C.com. She makes all sorts of crowd-pleasers. I modified the technique used to make the streusel topping, making it with melted butter to replicate my favorite New York-style crumb cake. The original recipe makes one 8 x 8-inch coffee cake.  I doubled the recipe and baked it in a 9 x 13-inch pan. Next time, I may make two 8 or 9-inch rounds so that I could freeze one to enjoy later.

Yield: One 9 x 13-inch cake or Two 8 or 9-inch cakes, about 16 to 20 servings (see note)

For the Coffee Cake:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 15 oz can pumpkin purée

For the Crumb Topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • powdered sugar, for serving

To Make the Crumb Topping:

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon.
  2. Melt the butter in the microwave or small saucepan.
  3. Pour the butter mixture and mix until all the butter is absorbed and you have a uniformly moistened crumb mixture.  Set aside while you make the cake batter.

To Make the Cake Batter:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease or spray preferred baking pan, line with parchment paper, lightly spray parchment; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, sugar, and pumpkin puree, blending everything well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry flour mixture, stirring until just combined.
  5. Spread batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Crumble the crumb mixture over the top, until the batter is completely covered.
  7. Bake at 350˚F for 20 to 25 minutes for 8 or 9-inch rounds, 30 to 35 minutes for a 9 x 13-inch pan, or until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or almost clean. (I rotated the pan halfway through the baking time.) 
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a rack; dust the top with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. (I let the cake cool completely before dusting with confectioners’ sugar.)

Note: Half the recipe will fill an 8×8-inch pan. Use 1 cup of pumpkin purée. (Refer to the link above to the original recipe for proportions.)

Coconut-Creamed Corn & Farro

In contrast to the fresh corn dish in my last post, this dish was quick and easy to prepare. It was an “out of the box” vegetarian meal that we all enjoyed. We ate it with roasted broccoli on the side. Nice.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I modified the proportions. The crispy onions were a fun topping- my son has been adding them to his sandwiches ever since. 🙂

Yield: 4 servings

  • 6 ears of corn, kernels removed and cobs discarded
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 serrano or jalapeño chile, thinly sliced
  • 1 3″ piece fresh ginger, peeled, sliced into matchsticks
  • 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 cup farro or other grains, such as freekeh or quinoa, cooked
  • 3/4 to 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 T store-bought crispy onions
  • lime wedges, for serving
  1. Cook 1 cup farro according to the package directions. (I cooked 1 cup of Trader Joe’s farro in 2 cups stock for 10 to 12 minutes.) Let rest for an additional 5 minutes; set aside.
  2. Cut kernels from corn; set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium until shimmering. (I used a 12-inch stainless pan.)
  4. Cook chile, ginger, garlic, and 2 sliced scallions, tossing, until softened and fragrant, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add turmeric and cook, stirring frequently, just until darkened and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add reserved corn and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, tossing occasionally, until corn is beginning to lightly brown, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add cooked farro and cook, tossing often, until heated through and beginning to crisp around the edges, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add 3/4 to 1 cup coconut milk; season with salt, to desired consistency. Bring to a simmer and cook, adding 1–2 T water if needed to loosen, until flavors have melded, about 3 minutes.
  9. Transfer corn mixture to a plate. Top with crispy onions and sliced scallions. Serve with lime wedges alongside for squeezing over.

One-Skillet Hot Sausage and Napa Cabbage Stir-Fry

This was a crowd-pleasing dish to make with my beautiful CSA Napa cabbage. As suggested in the original recipe, we ate it in flour tortillas but it would also be delicious served over rice. It was reminiscent of one of our family favorites, Thai One-Pot.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I modified the proportions, used scallions instead of chives, and wilted all of the Napa cabbage.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 16 to 18 ounces hot Italian sausages, casings removed (I used 6 sausages)
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 6 to 10 cups very thinly sliced Napa cabbage, divided (I used 1/2 of a large head)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions or chives
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 8 large flour tortillas or mu-shu wraps, warmed (I used Trader Joe’s handmade flour tortillas)
  • hoisin sauce and Sriracha, for serving, as desired
  1. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, work ginger and garlic into sausage in a medium bowl.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron (I used a 14″ stainless skillet), over medium-high and cook sausage mixture, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned, crisp, and cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage mixture to a clean bowl.
  3. Increase heat to high and cook mushrooms in the fat in the skillet, tossing often, until browned and starting to release their juices, about 4 minutes (if skillet looks dry at any point, add a bit more oil).
  4. Add half of cabbage and cook, tossing often, until cabbage is wilted and tender, about 4 minutes. (I incorporated all of the cabbage, a handful at a time.)
  5. Drizzle in vinegar and soy sauce and cook, tossing, until liquid is mostly reduced and skillet is dry in spots, about 2 minutes.
  6. Remove skillet from heat and incorporate sausage and remaining cabbage (if reserved) into stir-fry.
  7. Drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with scallions/chives and sesame seeds.
  8. Serve stir-fry with tortillas, hoisin sauce, and Sriracha for making individual wraps.

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