QUICK and DELICIOUS RED LENTIL SOUP

This quick and versatile soup is excellent for any occasion,  summer or winter. It goes together in a snap and feeds a crowd.

This is an entire meal in 30 minutes!!


In a large pot, sauté the following in one tablespoon of vegetable oil:
1 cup of sweet onions (small chop) I use Vidalia onions
1 cup carrots (small chop)
1/2 cup celery (small chop)

After the veggies have cooked for about 3 minutes, stir in the spices:
 
1 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
 
Let the spices heat up for about a minute (stir) this will allow the spice flavors to wake up.

Add 1 cup red lentils  + 3 slices of crumbled bacon (optional) + 4 cups chicken stock (not bullion)  + 2 cups of water

Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer slowly for about 20 minutes and IT IS READY TO EAT!!


NOTE: You can use any color lentils in this soup, but each kind cooks at a different rate, so keep that in mind.

NOTE: I like to add a little bacon to this soup if I have some already fried up, but that is totally optional.

NOTE: I like to freeze this soup in individual containers for a quick and satisfying lunch.

ENJOY !!!
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PINEAPPLE COLESLAW

This quick and easy coleslaw recipe is light, refreshing and slightly sweet from the pineapple.  It is the PERFECT accompaniment to ANY and ALL grilled meats.  This one is a winner!!


1 small head of green cabbage (or half of a large one)
2  carrots
1   8 ounce can of crushed pineapple (drained and squeezed dry)

1/2  cup mayonnaise
1/4  cup sugar
1/2  cup milk
2  teaspoons white vinegar
pepper to taste  (I use about 1/4 teaspoon)
healthy pinch of cayenne pepper

Peel the carrots and cut them into medium size chunks. Pulse them in the food processor a few times. I do this "do ahead' step so that the carrots and cabbage end up about the same shred size.  You can also just shred the carrots if you want.

Without removing the carrots from the food processor,  add the cubed cabbage and pulse the two vegetables until you get nice small pieces (but not super fine).  Put the cabbage-carrot mixture into a large bowl, add the super-drained pineapple and stir to mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, milk, vinegar, pinch of cayenne pepper and the black pepper. Whisk until smooth.

If you are going to serve the coleslaw right away, pour the dressing over the vegetable-pineapple and stir well then chill (covered). 

If you are going to serve the coleslaw later (like the next day, or even several hours later), chill the vegetable-pineapple separately from the dressing.  Just before you want to serve, pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.


NOTE: Since we are "empty nesters" and large salads like this often go to waste, I've started to make up the full recipe, but I don't mix the dressing into the salad until dinner time. That way, I can make just two to three servings at a time, with no waste!!

 
ENJOY !!!
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HOMEMADE CRACKERJACKS

Crackerjacks are a very easy to make...... require common pantry ingredients..... and satisfy almost EVERYONE's sweet tooth!!

This recipe is always a hit at birthday parties and can be made ahead of time. I hope you like them as much as we do!!

 



1 bag of microwave popcorn (see note)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup Karo corn syrup (the clear kind)
2 teaspoons molasses
1/2 cup butter cut into cubes
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 250° and lightly spray a large baking sheet (with sides) with vegetable spray and put it in the oven while it preheats (see note below).

In a medium size sauce pan, bring the brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, butter and salt to a simmer. Cook (and stir) until this mixture reaches 250° on a candy thermometer (it only takes about 3 or 4 minutes). Just make sure you stir it the whole time.

While the mixture is simmering, pop the bag of popcorn in the microwave then spread it out on the prepared (warm) baking sheet and put it back in the oven to stay warm (add nuts at this stage if you are going to use them). (Tip: make sure to remove any un-popped popcorn "duds"). (see note below)

When the caramel mixture reaches 250°, remove it from the heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. Stir until very well mixed (it will turn the mixture a lighter tan color and get foamy which is what you want..... takes about 20 seconds).

Pour over the warm popped corn and gently stir to coat. Bake coated popcorn in the 250° oven for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

After it has baked one hour, turn it out onto some waxed paper and let it cool (it cools VERY fast). When completely cool, break apart any large pieces. Make sure you store these completed crackerjacks in air tight container (I use Ziplocks).




NOTE: I use one bag of lightly salted microwave popcorn. Personally, I don't think the heavy butter flavored variety would taste right, although I'm sure it would work.

NOTE: Make sure the baking sheet that you use has sides. I used my roaster pan and it worked well. You just want the sides to be tall enough, so that, when you stir the coated corn you won't lose any pieces over the edge.

NOTE: Instead of spraying my baking pan with vegetable spray, I like to use the new-ish  "no stick aluminum foil". Either way works well.

NOTE: Be careful while you are stirring this caramel sauce so you don't get it on your skin (it is dangerously hot).

CLEAN UP TIP:  This cooked caramel sauce gets VERY hard as it cools, so I suggest that you put your dirty utensils (and pan) in hot soapy water to soak a little while before you try to wash them. It makes clean up a LOT easier.
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