Split Pea Soup – #thegirleats

This soup has been a family favorite and staple for decades. It’s a recipe I have been meaning to share for a long time because it has been appreciated by so many throughout the years.

So here it is:

Split Pea Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Momma

Ingredients

  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2L water
  • 2 Tbsp. salt (to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup green split pea
  • 1 small carrot
  • 2 small yellow potatoes (new and fresh makes a difference)
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano (or omit)
  • 1 tsp. cumin

Directions

  1. Cook the finely chopped onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add minced garlic.
  2. >>In pressure cooker
  3. Add the peas, veggies, and seasoning.
  4. Add water and close lid. Cook in pressure cooker for about 30 min.
  5. Remove lid and check if everything is cooked/adjust seasonings.
  6. Serve with crackers, fresh bread, cayenne pepper and/or a drizzle of olive oil.
  7. >>In soup pot
  8. Add the peas and seasonings.
  9. Add water and cook the peas at a rolling boil for about 40 minutes. Cover with lid off-center.
  10. Once peas are soft, remove from heat and blend with a hand blender until smooth.
  11. Add medium chopped carrots and potatoes. Cover with lid off-center and cook until veggies are tender. Add 1/2 cup water if needed. Stir often so peas do not stick to bottom.
  12. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  13. Serve with crackers, fresh bread, cayenne pepper and/or a drizzle of olive oil.

See? It’s so simple that we’ve taken it to potlucks and people have taken the taste of the soup and feeling it evokes home and made their own interpretations of it. Make it once as written, then make it again giving yourself more liberty, and soon it will be your own version, your staple, your comfort.

Shepherd’s Pie – #thegirleats

Ah, Shepherd’s Pie. An ultimate hearty, comforting, and easy dish that shines through its simplicity. This is just one version of Shepherd’s Pie. Feel free to use this recipe as a guideline. Make your substitutions based on what you have at home. Season everything just the way you like it. Make it yours and enjoy!

Shepherd's Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

    For mash:
  • 1 medium yam* cleaned and chopped
  • 1-2L water
  • salt to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. cream (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • For TVP:
  • 1 cup dry TVP
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. cooking oil
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup corn
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili paste
  • 1 tsp. salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds
  • dash of paprika
  • *you can use 4 large yellow potatoes or the equivalent in pumpkin/squash of choice.

Directions

  1. Prepare vegetables (wash, peel, chop, etc.) and set aside a deep baking dish.
  2. Cook yam in water until very soft.
  3. While it cooks, add oil to saucepan and sweat onions. Then add the carrots and 1 cup vegetable stock. Let cook.
  4. Add dry TVP to bowl and pour boiling water to cover. Let soak.
  5. To the carrot, add the garlic and red pepper. Let cook until carrots and peppers are tender, adding a second cup of stock if needed.
  6. In the meantime, place cooked yams in a bowl. Mash with a potato masher, leaving no lumps, and season. Set aside.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F.
  8. Add remaining ingredients to the vegetables: TVP (drained), corn, seasoning, and remaining stock. Let cook for 2-3 minutes.
  9. Place vegetable and TVP mix at the bottom of a deep baking dish, spread evenly. Top with mashed yams and smoothen.
  10. Sprinkle sesame seeds and paprika for garnish.
  11. Bake in pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes until top begins to brown.

In a hurry? Here are some ideas:

  • Use frozen veggies instead
  • Reserve the water in which you cooked the potatoes to use if you don’t have vegetable stock on hand
  • Use ready-to-go TVP from brands like Yves or Gardein. Use a 312g package.
  • Or substitute TVP for finely diced mushrooms!

If there’s something you don’t like or don’t have, just substitute. Add some celery, a sprig of thyme or rosemary in step 3, or use cauliflower instead of yams/potatoes/pumpkins in the mash. Have fun and happy eating!

Potluck Polenta – #thegirleats

Are you ready for something warm and comforting? For some healthy, guilt-less comfort food? How about some gluten-free goodness?

Well, then. Here we go! Let’s give this homemade polenta with thick, chunky sauce a go.

Potluck Polenta

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Momma

Ingredients

    For Polenta:
  • 3-4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 2L water
  • 2 tsp. salt (to taste)
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • For Sauce:

  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • salt to taste
  • cumin to taste
  • chili sauce to taste
  • 2 cups TVP (soy protein)*
  • 1 jar tomato sauce (if using homemade, add tomato paste to thicken)

Directions

    Polenta
  1. In a tall pan, sauté garlic in oil. Add water.
  2. Add salt and let reach a rolling boil.
  3. Add the cornmeal slowly to avoid clumps, stirring with a wooden spoon. (If small clumps form, smash them against the pan edges with spoon while polenta boils.)
  4. Let boil until thickened (20-25 minutes), stirring periodically. Meantime, make the sauce.
  5. In small saucepan, sauté onion in oil until transluscent.
  6. Add garlic, then the TVP. Stir and season to taste.
  7. Add sauce and let boil fo 3 minutes.
  8. Taste the polenta and add salt if needed. Pour polenta into 28x18cm (11x7in) dish. There should be about half an inch of room to pour the sauce on top!
  9. Let polenta set for at least half an hour before adding the sauce. It should be set enough by then to press a fork through it to allow some sauce through.
  10. Top polenta with sauce (it will finish setting).
  11. Reheat in oven before serving.

My favorite thing about this way of preparing polenta is how easy and fast it is. It’s also filling, creamy, and a warm alternative to soup.

Extra tips:

  • This recipe is for set polenta that you can cut into individual portions, but if you want soup-y polenta (as per photo) don’t overcook and eat it hot. It will likely set once cooled, but you can always thin it back up by re-heating and add water.
  • If you want the polenta to set and be able to cut, it’s better to overcook and boil it for a bit longer to ensure it will set completely than to have a runny mess.
  • Transportation is easier if you take the polenta and sauce separately. Place the sauce over the polenta right before reheating it in the oven.
  • It can take a while to get hot. Put it in the oven early.
  • The salt in the recipe will likely be too little, but it’s best to start with a little and add salt until you’re happy with it.
  • *TVP is textured vegetable protein, a substitute for ground meat. It can be bought dehydrated (soak 1 cup in very hot water for five minutes; squeeze water out and use the two cups of hydrated TVP) or already hydrated and seasoned.
  • Alternatively, use chopped red peppers and mushrooms to add texture in place of TVP.

Highlighting Daily Faithfulness

My mother had an older brother who died when I was a toddler. Growing up, my parents would sometimes talk about Uncle Vicente. I knew about the accident in which he died.

I also knew from them how he lived. How much he loved music and to play his guitar. How hard-working he was. How he liked to tease. How infectious his joy was. I also knew he was almost blind.

Surgery didn’t help. He wore thick glasses, but still only managed to barely see. Uncle Vicente and his brother, my Uncle Daniel, took over a health food store the same year I was born. They sold natural products and fresh whole wheat bread baked daily. During that time, they stayed with my parents who lived several blocks away from the store. One evening, Uncle Vicente walked from the store to the house to tell my mom he’d be home late because he was waiting for the bread to finish baking. She was five months pregnant and home alone. He didn’t want her to worry.

Back at the store, he sat down in the back room alone to have his supper when his chair slipped, and he hit the inventory shelf which stocked jars of syrup and other products. The jars crashed and shattered.

He couldn’t leave cleaning it to the morning because it’d be opening time, and the back would have to be clean. But he also couldn’t see. So to make sure the glass was completely swept up, he used his hands to feel for the shards. In the morning, my mother saw his bandaged hands, and he told her what had happened. Why hadn’t he come to get her? She would have helped.

Every few years I remember that story and my heart cuts. I wish I could be there to help him sweep up. I think of losing sight and making the way through streets and through life seeing only silhouettes, and I wish I could have been his eyes. And I wish I could balm my own mother’s heart, who is left with only memories of a sibling with whom she should have had decades more.

Today on my way home from grocery shopping, this memory popped into my head. What usually happens when my heart is heavy with memories of loved ones who are gone, or when I read about daily injustice, or just the state of this world in general, is I find myself whispering prayers.

“Oh God…just come soon. Just end this world. Take us home, please. Whatever I can do to lessen the suffering, whatever I can do to hasten Your coming, show me.”

Sometimes that trail of thinking leads me to believe I’d be willing to live in remote places, dedicate my life to teaching, going to foreign fields. But today I stopped myself and chuckled. What makes me think I could do all of that when I fail so often here at home?

In a way, it seems easier to make big sacrifices. You get support from outsiders, you get acknowledgment that what you’re doing is worthy, noble. You may even get obvious results: churches built, patients healed, the good news spread.

Giving one’s life to missions, dedicating time to aid, giving resources to teach are all worthy and those who do this should be encouraged. And, yes, God will equip those who are willing, no matter how failing they are.

But sometimes we forget to highlight the dying daily. How often do we consider our daily choices as powerful tools for the hastening of His kingdom? How often do we consider those who spend their lives teaching, preaching, reaching, as the ones responsible, without considering our own part through how we live?

We have our part to play. And we have to play it every single minute. When we eat, dress, speak, share, think on the Kingdom, that’s when we are preparing for it and playing an active part in hastening its coming.

Not all of us are called to big sacrifice. Our role is to bind up the hearts and wounds, to be the eyes to the blind, to comfort those in our families, churches, communities through the way we live. Through every step, act, word.

It’s a work often over-looked and taken for granted by others and ourselves. But every private decision, every unseen nicety and good thought is observed and written down. These are the powerful agencies that accumulate to bring Heaven nearer.

Encouragement to the self-sacrificing men and women who make this world a better place are merited and ought to continue. But this week, I challenge you to observe in at least one person something they are doing to bring Heaven to this Earth. Maybe it’s the meals they prepare, the hospitality they extend, the ready smile, the way they dress, the way they speak.

Look for how the people around you are hastening His kingdom and acknowledge them. Let’s become inspired to, through daily tasks, do our part to bring Heaven a little bit closer, because my goodness if ever that was needed it’s now.

Friday Eats- an Introduction

Do you cook something special for the weekend? Growing up, my mom always made sure there was something special for Sabbath (Saturday). Whether it was for dinner on Friday (when Sabbath begins) or for potluck lunch at church, every Friday she would decide on something special.

It’s become woven into who I am, and every Friday it’s almost an act of self-care to make something special. But…

I often spend so much time actually deciding on what to make that I lose momentum. Scrolling through Pinterest, my favorite recipes, the ingredients I want/need to use, and the fact that I don’t have much time all narrow down the dishes I can make to, oh, about a hundred or so. I wish there was a Pinterest I could scroll through with recipes I knew would work well for Fridays—a repertoire.

So I decided to create one. And why not share it, right? Every week I will add to my recipe repertoire here, thus building a little list of my tried and true. The photos won’t be perfect as I’d like them to be, but I’m hoping you can give me some grace on that end?

Reform friends: If you also cook something for Sabbath, these will be potluck friendly, quick, vegan(ish), and I will post the recipes on Thursday so you have enough time to pass by the grocery store in order to pick up last minute ingredients if needed. These will amount to a list of ideas to stick to, or to riff off of.

Carnivore friends: These recipes will all be vegetarian, many vegan. So if you’re trying to incorporate more meatless dishes into your meals, hopefully, these will help.

Now, I’m going to be honest with you. I do not use expensive or hard to find ingredients. I cook every day, and I cannot always afford organic, local, unicorn horn shavings, and Jupiter teardrops. None of these recipes will have fancy, expensive, hard to find ingredients. Ingredients should already be in your pantry, or definitely in your grocery store. I will tell you where you can buy them if you need!

These dishes are simple to make, and I will include tips I use to make them easier. Increase your options for meatless meals, conquer these easy sides, and you may find you enjoy them more than your mains! Substitute these for fast meat dishes when you need a quick dinner. It’s that easy.

I don’t know how long these posts will last, or where they’ll go, but for now, I’m excited to use this space as a little recipe box.

“And let the meals, though simple, be palatable and attractive. Provide something that will be regarded as a treat, something the family do not have every day,” 6T 357.