Sleepy Lettuce Soup

I’ve been dying to try this recipe since I saw it on BBC.  Lettuce in soup?  Actually looked amazing, so we’re giving it a try this week.  We are out of millet, so we will substitute barley for it.
According to blogger Diana Hartman, “lettuce has diuretic qualities, so it’s great for weight loss. It is also good for sufferers of oedema, swollen ankles and yeasty problems such as thrush. It also contains a compound that is relaxing to the nervous system, so will help you sleep.”
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 450g potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 litre filtered water
  • 2 teaspoons wheat-free vegetable bouillon powder
  • 8 tablespoons millet
  • 1 large romaine lettuce, washed and roughly shredded
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh chervil or fresh parsley

Heat the oil with a little water in a large saucepan. Add garlic & onion and cook for 3 ” 4 mins, stirring occasionally.  Add the potatoes and cook for a further 2 mins.

Add 1 litre of water, together with bouillon powder and millet.  Bring to the boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 mins or until vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife.

Add the lettuce and cook for 2 ” 3 mins or until just wilted.  Allow to cool before blending in a food processor or with a hand held blender until smooth, along with half of the fresh chervil or fresh parsley.

Return to the pan to re-heat, adding a little water if necessary.  Divide between warmed soup bowls and serve garnished with the remaining fresh chives or fresh parsley.

382 calories, 5.88g dietary fiber, 11.87g protein.

Irish Lamb Stew

Here’s an excellent slow cooker recipe from

Lamb stew is Irish penicillin: a rich stew full of potatoes, leeks and carrots that’ll cure whatever ails you. In traditional fashion, nothing here is browned first, just all stewed together. To keep it healthy make sure to trim the lamb of any visible fat before you cook it.

  • 2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 3/4 pounds white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 large leeks, white part only, halved, washed (see Tip) and thinly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped

Combine lamb, potatoes, leeks, carrots, celery, broth, thyme, salt and pepper in a 6-quart slow cooker; stir to combine. Put the lid on and cook on low until the lamb is fork-tender, about 8 hours. Stir in parsley before serving.

266 Calories; 7 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 3 g Mono; 65 mg Cholesterol; 27 g Carbohydrates; 23 g Protein; 4 g Fiber; 427 mg Sodium; 803 mg Potassium

Tips & Notes

  • Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Equipment: 6-quart slow cooker
  • To clean leeks, trim and discard green tops and white roots. Split leeks lengthwise and place in plenty of water. Swish the leeks in the water to release any sand or soil. Drain. Repeat until no grit remains.

Vegan Vegetable Barley Soup

Did you know that one cup of barley has over 3 times the amount of fiber of oatmeal?
We have been trying to use a variety of grains and healthy starches in our meals, and my mission this week was to use barley in a main course as it’s full of dietary fiber and offers numerous heart-healthy benefits. Here is a truly filling soup that is almost a stew and rivals a restaurants’ top vegan dish. Only 150 calories per serving.  If you do not need the dish to be vegetarian, a couple of good dashes of Worcestershire sauce adds a hint of warmth. (for those who may not know, Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies!)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth (vegan)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked barley
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 stalk celery and its leaves, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can sodium-free diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup navy beans (rinsed if from can, or dried and soaked over night)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon natural sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper
  • juice from 1/2 fresh lemon

Pour the vegetable broth into a large pot. Add the barley, carrots, celery and leaves, tomatoes, zucchini, navy beans, onion, garlic and bay leaves. Season with the sugar, salt, pepper, curry powder, paprika, chili pepper and lemon. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 90 minutes. Add water if soup thickens too much, and remove bay leaves prior to serving.  We served this with Angela’s E-Z Drop Biscuits.  Enjoy!

Dotty’s Bacardi Rum Cake – The Best You’ll Ever Have

Now for a wicked recipe. We’re all human and I try to make this blog realistic by including a few treats the occasional indulgence.  Also note that this is the only recipe on the entire site that is based on a pre-made mix that you can get at the market.  Though I try to keep our menu as clean and natural (i.e., from scratch) this recipe is a winner that our family has been sharing with others for over 30 years.

Scroll down for instructional photos.

The foodie romance behind this recipe: This will be the moistest rum cake you’ve ever had. The difference is by pouring the glaze onto the cake whilst still in the pan and letting it soak in for an extended period. All other recipes I’ve seen call for piercing holes on the top of the cake and then drizzling the glaze over the top, where most of it will drip off of the cake. You will enjoy this, I promise. Bon Appétit!

  • One package Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Cake Mix
  • One 6-Ounce package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted (one stick)
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • pecan halves

The Glaze

  • One stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup rum

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare the pan, spray a Bundt pan (or two small ones) thoroughly with cooking spray. Place pecan halves in bottom of pan in decorative fashion. Sprinkle on top of that the chopped pecans. To prepare the cake, in a large mixing bowl combine cake mix, pudding mix, water, butter and rum. Mix thoroughly. Add eggs, one at a time, beating in well. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes (approximately 30 minutes if using two small pans), or until toothpick comes out clean.

Perfect crown. Remove from oven once toothpick comes out clean

About five minutes before the cake is done, prepare glaze. Heat in small pan the butter, water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Cook for a few minutes until thickened a bit. Pour in rum and stir constantly for about a minute. Remove from heat.

Prepare the glaze five minutes before taking the cake out of the oven.
Pour the glaze evenly over the cake whilst still in its pan. Use up ALL of the glaze

Remove cake from oven and keep in Bundt pan. Pour ALL of the glaze over the cake immediately and let cool for 40-60 minutes in its pan. You may feel that you’re drowning the cake but it will absorb completely.  Invert onto cake plate and wrap tight.  The result will be a heavy cake that will be surprisingly light and versatile — perfect for dessert with coffee or for breakfast in place of coffee cake.

Please share your comments if you give it a try this holiday season. Merry Christmas!

Toasted Goat Cheese Ravioli with Red Pepper Dip

This is one kickass gourmet recipe that is super easy to assemble and bake. Ready in 20 minutes (including prep) and you’ll look like a super star to your guests.  And it’s healthy!  These also freeze very well, so you can stock up.  To freeze, spread ravioli out on a cookie sheet and freeze for 20 minutes before putting them into a ziploc or other container.  Enjoy!
  • Olive Oil Cooking Spray
  • 24 wonton wrappers
  • 1/3 cup soft goat cheese with herbs (I like the herb & garlic goat cheese from Trader Joes)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers (from water-packed jar), patted dry & chopped
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

    Preheat oven to 400° F and coat a baking sheet with oil spray.

    Arrange wonton wrappers on flat surface. Spoon a bit of the goat cheese slightly off-center onto each wrapper. Using your fingers, wet the edges of the wrappers. Fold wonton over and press to seal.

    Place wontons on baking sheet and coat with oil spray. Sprinkle grated cheese over tops.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes until wontons are golden and toasted.

    Meanwhile, make red pepper dip: place red peppers and sour cream in blender. Purée until smooth. Transfer dip to bowl and fold in basil. Season with salt and pepper.

    A Tip from J – Bison in Place of Beef in Tacos

    Love tacos as much as I do? Try making them with ground bison. Remember, bison is leaner than even turkey.

    And if you like Americanized/TexMex tacos (meaning loaded with seasoning), please forego the grocery store packets of sodium-chemical-what-the-hell-is-in-this taco seasoning, and try this mix. You’ll thank me, trust me. Thanks to Bill Echols for introducing me to this

    • 1 tablespoon chili powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper

    In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.