Pasta and Lentils

Hey you guys.  Hope everyone is having a nice relaxing weekend, and staying nice and warm.  Here’s a recipe to warm you up.  I made it for the first time on Friday, and it’s a keeper.  Pasta and Lentils.  It’s super-simple, and healthy and delicious.  Almost too good to be true!  Almost.  Here it is.

Pasta and Lentils {serves 1-2}

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound tubular pasta  {like penne or rigatoni}
  • 3/4 cup uncooked lentils
  • 28 oz can crushed/chopped/diced tomatoes/tomato puree
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups mushrooms, cleaned and quartered {stems removed if you’re picky}
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • butter and olive oil for the pan and the pasta
  • salt for the pasta water

Directions:

  • Saute mushrooms in a little butter and oil over medium heat in a large frying pan.
  • When mushrooms are fairly browned, add garlic, tomato paste, and lentils.
  • Cook a few minutes, until lentils look a little brown and nutty.
  • Add entire can of tomato {in my case puree} to the pan.
  • Fill up the empty tomato can halfway and add to the cooking lentils.
  • Meanwhile, heat a pot of water for the pasta.  Add salt.  It will make the water boil faster, and flavor the pasta.
  • When the water and the tomato sauce in the lentils cooks down and thickens, your lentils should be done.  You can shut the heat off at this point.
  • Cook your pasta according to package directions for al dente.
  • Drain.  Don’t rinse your pasta.  Try to get the pasta back in the pot before all of the delicious pasta water drains away.  It will help everything come together.
  • Return the pasta to its pot.  Add a tbsp or so of butter and stir.
  • Add the pasta to the lentils.  Stir until combined.  Top with cheese if desired and serve.

*Use a damp paper towel to wipe off your mushrooms instead of submerging them in water.IMG_2777Feb 22, 2015 IMG_2781Feb 22, 2015 IMG_2782Feb 22, 2015 IMG_2789Feb 22, 2015 IMG_2791Feb 22, 2015 IMG_2792Feb 22, 2015

Salted-Caramel Brownies

Hi guys!  Happy Wednesday!  Hope everyone is getting through the week.  This weekend, I decided to try new brownie recipe!  First I made my own salted caramel {yum!}, and then I whipped up a batch of brownies.  Separately they’re both pretty good.  Together, they’re amazing!  Even better, if you were slacking off on the Valentine’s Day front, these would be a great way to show someone you care.  That someone could even be yourself 🙂

The homemade salted caramel sauce really makes things gooey and delicious with these brownies, but if you’re pressed for time I’m sure you could use sauce from a jar.  If your sauce looks like mine, it might be a little less lumpy than the homemade version.  Either way, I’m sure it will be delicious on these brownies!

Salted Caramel Brownies:

Salted Caramel:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk {heavy cream is probably recommended here}
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter {3.5 if you use heavy cream instead of milk}
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Measure the sugar and the water into a large saucepan over medium-low heat, big enough to contain the caramel sauce when it bubbles up later on.  Do not stir.
  2. When the sugar dissolves, increase the heat.  Bring to a boil and still don’t stir.  You’re looking for a dark amber color.  When this happens, remove the caramel from the heat.
  3. Carefully mix in the milk/cream and butter.  The mixture will bubble up, so be careful.
  4. Transfer to another vessel to cool.  I’ve seen recipes calling for dishes, but I poured my caramel into my Pyrex measuring cup, because I knew I’d be using it soon.

Brownies:

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla {If you don’t have real vanilla, skip it like I did.  No vanilla is better than imitation vanilla.}
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour {Totally makes this a healthy dessert.  But really, I think it’s good to sneak in whole wheat flour when you can.}

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F, 176C.  Prepare your 9x9ish pan {slightly bigger or smaller will work too!}
  2. Pour butter/chocolate into a large bowl.
  3. Add sugar and eggs and mix well.
  4. Add vanilla.
  5. Add cocoa powder and flours and combine until evenly combined.  Try not to over-mix.
  6. Pour half of the brownie batter into your baking dish.
  7. Top with half of the salted caramel sauce.
  8. Add remaining brownie batter.
  9. Bake for approx 30 minutes.  They will be very gooey when you take them out.
  10. Top with remaining caramel sauce, pouring it evenly over the brownies.
  11. Let cool and set overnight, preferably refrigerated, if you can wait that long.

These are brownies that you need to eat with a fork.  They are very rich and fudgy!!  If it’s too much for you, you could cut down on the caramel sauce, and/or bake them a little bit longer.  Either way, I think these will become one of your favorites!  They’re now one of mine!!  I took lots of pictures of the caramel process in an effort to be helpful… feel free to scroll past them if they’re a bit excessive 🙂

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Sugar and water Step 1.

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Waiting for the boiling action.

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Something’s happening.

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Finally some color.

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Big bubbles. I decided to call this dark amber.

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Pouring in the milk. Lots of bubbling.

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My pretty Mediterranean sea salt flakes!

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Adding the butter. You can see how it got kind of globby. Not sure why, but it was still delicious.

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Ta-da! Homemade salted caramel sauce.

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I know you’ve seen me make brownies before, but I love how the eggs here look in pictures! They’re so much fresher than supermarket eggs at home.

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Brownie layer 1

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Middle layer of salted caramel sauce.

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Brownie layer two.

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Post-bake.

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Salted caramel topping.

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This is why you let it set overnight. I got impatient. Still delicious but not quite right.

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Here you go! Overnight they really firmed up, and the caramel and chocolate flavors got even more intense.

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Worth the wait. To quote Chandler Bing, this brownie would be “perfection”. {10 points to whoever knows which episode I’m talking about}

What’s your go-to brownie recipe?  How do you jazz it up when you want something more?   Have you ever made salted caramel sauce?  How do you keep it from being lumpy?

*Friends Season 1 Episode 7, The One With the Blackout.  Chandler is trapped in an ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre.  “Gum would be perfection.”

February on Mallorca

Hi guys!!  Still no new recipes, but I thought you’d enjoy pictures from a run I took {or went on.  Not sure which is correct.  My English is really abandoning me at an alarming rate over here} the other day.  60+ degrees for mid-February really isn’t bad.  The last two weeks before this one have been brutally cold… into the 30s at night, which, I know is not that cold, but I swear I was warmer living in the Arctic Circle in Montreal.  There at least they had things like indoor heat and… insulation.  Needless to say I loved every minute of the balmy, sunny weather this week.  The sun even rises before 8am now, and sets after 6pm.  I’m getting hopeful that we might be through the worst of it here.  Spring might be on the way.  In the meantime, enjoy these beach views.

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La Bella Luna

I’ve missed you guys!!  I haven’t been far and I’ve been checking in, but I haven’t had anything new to say this week, and then, my Internet was out all day.  You don’t realize how dependent you are on something until it goes away.  That’s not to say I can’t fill my days without my computer.  In fact today I made two trips to the supermarket, mailed some very important stuff at the post office, bought new pillows, made three trips to two different banks, and baked muffins.  All in the pouring rain.  Again I say that the rain in Spain absolutely does not fall mainly on the plain.  Whoever made that up was seriously misinformed.

The thing is though, a big part of my fabulous Wednesday morning-no work routine is making a nice cup of coffee in a quiet house and reading through all of my favorite blogs.  And today I couldn’t do that.  I couldn’t Skype anyone from home, or watch TV online, and while I did read books for fun for a good hour this evening, there’s a certain amount of isolation that comes from living in a foreign country and being unwillingly cut off from your lifeline for a while.  I practically bounded up to my roommate like a puppy when she got home today, I was so happy for human interaction.

In honor of my newly reinstated interaction in society via the Internet, I’m sharing some pictures I took last night of the moon.  I don’t know why it was so spectacularly big and beautiful last night, but it was.  It’s hard to pick just one moon photo, so here are a few.  After seeing it, I even went home and started watching Moonstruck again over dinner.  That movie never gets old.  I hope your week has been good {and if not, you’re more than halfway done}.  Enjoy the moon, and take the time to reach out to someone you don’t talk to enough, if for no other reason than because you can.

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