Lentil Bolognese over Garlicky Penne

A few months back I shared one of my entries into The National Lentil Festival’s Legendary Lentil Cook-off and thought it would be the perfect time of year to share another one of my entries.  This one is my Lentil Bolognese over Garlicky Penne and it is a real belly warmer.  Recipes for this contest had to specify at least 1/2 cup raw lentils, 1 cup cooked lentils and/or 1/2 cup of lentil flour and no more than 15 ingredients (not including salt, pepper or an oiled pan).

Lentil Bolognese over Garlicky Penne

Lentil Bolognese over Garlicky Penne

8 tbs olive oil, divided
3/4 cup small diced cut carrot
2/3 cup small diced cut celery
3/4 cup small diced cut sweet onion
8 cloves garlic, minced, divided
2 cans (14.5 ounce each) petite diced tomatoes with green chilies
2/3 cup red wine
1 cup raw lentils, rinsed
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
20 pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
7 tbs minced fresh basil, divided
Water for boiling pasta (2 – 3 quarts)
12 oz mini penne pasta
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
For Garnish: Additional shredded parmesan cheese and minced fresh basil

In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat 2 tbs olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the carrot, celery and onion and cook until onion is translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add in 4 cloves of the garlic, cook 1 minute. Stir in the canned tomatoes (with all juices), wine and lentils. Add in 3 cups of the vegetable broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (mixture should be at a low boil). Add in the olives, vinegar and 2 tbs basil and continue to cook until lentils are cooked through, adding in the remaining 1 cup of vegetable broth if Bolognese is too dry (lentils should be submerged).

While Bolognese is cooking, prepare the penne. In a large pot, bring 2 – 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add penne and salt to taste and cook according to package directions. Remove 1 – 2 cups of the pasta water and set aside for possible usage; drain penne. Place pot over medium heat. Add in remaining 6 tbs olive oil and remaining 4 cloves of garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add in the penne and 3 tbs basil, toss to coat.

When ready to serve the Bolognese, stir in the parmesan cheese, remaining 2 tbs basil and additional liquid to loosen, if necessary (from the remaining vegetable broth or reserved pasta water). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve: Evenly divide the pasta between serving bowls, top with the Bolognese, garnish with additional shredded parmesan cheese and minced fresh basil.

Serves 6


Shrimp and Bacon Flatbread Pizza

I was looking for something to make for the game yesterday and ran across this oldie but goodie.  The combo of shrimp and bacon is the perfect pairing. And I love using flatbread as a pizza crust…it makes it super easy and quick to get that pizza put together, cooked and in front of you pronto!   Plus, they are individual sized…so you can personalize them!!

Shrimp and Bacon Flatbread Pizza

Shrimp and Bacon Flatbread Pizzas

1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces large shrimp, peeled and veins removed
4 ounces grape tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 teaspoon grill seasoning blend
3 slices bacon
2 (7-inch) flatbreads
1/4 cup horseradish hummus
1/4 cup finely shredded Asiago cheese
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, shredded, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

Melt butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the shrimp, tomatoes, garlic, onion and grill seasoning, and cook until shrimp are almost cooked through, approximately 2 – 3 minutes depending on size of shrimp. Using a slotted spoon, remove shrimp and tomatoes from skillet to a large plate; set aside.

Wipe out skillet, place back over medium heat. Add in the bacon and cook until crispy, approximately 3 – 4 minutes per side; remove from skillet; set aside to cool for 2 minutes; crumble; set aside.

Place the flatbread onto prepared cookie sheet. Spread evenly with the hummus, Asiago cheese, 2/3 of the mozzarella, shrimp and tomatoes, bacon and remaining 1/3 of the mozzarella. Place into preheated oven and bake until heated through, shrimp are cooked through and cheese is melted, approximately 10 minutes.

Remove from oven, top evenly with chopped basil and enjoy!

Serves 2


Perfect Versatile Dish for the Holidays

With the holidays upon us, I wanted to share a versatile recipe to fit the bill for whatever type of party that is on your list this year. This recipe can be served at a fancy sit down dinner, it makes a beautiful platter on a buffet, and also makes great little sandwiches on a slider bun or small roll.

Pork with Raspberry Onion Jam

Pork with Raspberry Onion Jam
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large or 2 medium sweet onions, halved, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup berry flavored vodka
1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cayenne, mustard, and chili powder. Using a paper towel, pat the pork tenderloin dry. Season the pork with the spice mixture, being sure to cover entire tenderloin.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large, non-stick, oven-safe skillet, over medium-high heat. Add in the tenderloin and cook on all sides until browned, approximately 2 minutes per side.

Place the tenderloin, in the skillet, into preheated oven and cook to 160 degrees, approximately 30 minutes (or desired doneness). Remove from oven, tent with foil, let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add in the onions and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until tender and golden brown, approximately 30 – 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Place the raspberries, ginger, lemon zest, lemon juice and vodka into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, until berries have broken down and mixture has thickened.

When the onions have completed cooking, add in the vinegar, stir to combine and cook until absorbed, approximately 1 minute. Add in the raspberry mixture, mix to combine.

To serve, slice tenderloin into 1/2-inch slices, evenly divide between serving plates, staggering the pieces across the plate. Mix any juices from the skillet and cutting board into the raspberry/onion mixture, mix to combine. Evenly divide mixture over pork slices, garnish with parsley and enjoy!

Serves 4

Note:  To serve on a platter at a buffet, thinly slice the pork and place onto the serving platter, with the raspberry onion jam in a small bowl in the center.
To make into small sandwiches, thinly slice the pork and place onto the bottom half of the buns, top with a spoonful of the raspberry onion jam, then the roll top.


Bananas Foster Manhattan

It’s always a good time to share a good cocktail and this one is one of my favorites.  I’ve taken a standard Manhattan and put a bananas foster twist to it.  It does pack a punch, so tread lightly, but I think you will really like this one and it is guaranteed to be a huge hit at your next party!

Bananas Foster Manhattan

Bananas Foster Manhattan
2 ounces Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey
1 1/2 ounces banana liqueur
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes bitters
Additional whiskey for wetting rim of glass
Cinnamon Sugar for rim of glass
Maraschino cherry for garnish

Prepare glass:  Place the cinnamon sugar onto a small plate (but big enough to fit the rim of a martini glass). Place a little whiskey onto a second same size plate. Dip the rim of a martini glass into the whiskey, then dip into the cinnamon sugar; set glass aside.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add in the 2 ounces whiskey, banana liqueur, vermouth and bitters and shake well. Strain into prepared martini glass, garnish with a cherry and enjoy!
Makes 1 cocktail.


Easy Creole Stuffed Peppers

As cooler weather blows in, even here in Florida, comfort food comes to mind.  Something that will stick to your ribs and warm you to your bones.  But that doesn’t have to be a recipe that keeps you in the kitchen for hours, simmering away. 

These flavor packed stuffed peppers are super easy to make and need only five ingredients.  It was originally created for a contest that had to use Progresso soup (as you can see by the picture!).  The soup makes a great base, and the couscous actually cooks right in it, which really carries the flavor throughout the recipe.  

Easy Creole Stuffed Peppers

Easy Creole Stuffed Peppers

2 green bell peppers
18.5 ounce can Progresso Rich and Hearty Lentil and Andouille Sausage Soup
1/2 cup couscous
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
Additional fresh cilantro for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

Cut the top 1/4-inch off of the peppers, remove seeds and veins. If necessary, cut a very small slice off of the bottom of the peppers so that they sit flat. Place peppers onto a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high until they begin to slightly soften, approximately 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from microwave; set aside.

Place the soup into a medium saucepan with a lid. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the couscous, place lid onto saucepan and remove from heat. Allow to sit 5 minutes; stir. Mix in the chopped cilantro.

Fill the peppers halfway with the soup/couscous filling. Add 1/4 of the shredded cheese into each pepper; top with remaining filling. Place stuffed peppers into the prepared baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and place in preheated oven. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until heated through. Top peppers evenly with the remaining shredded cheese. Broil under high heat until cheese melts and begins to bubble.

Garnish with fresh cilantro and enjoy!

Makes 2