Posted on Apr 21, 2014 in Lifestyle

flower tulip stock

Thinking…that I should really get up and go cook dinner. But that sounds like entirely too much work. And I’m really comfortable in this chair.

Feeling…excited about meeting Baby J! For the first 2/3 of my pregnancy, I was feeling so rough, that I admittedly struggled to get excited, but now that I’m feeling a bit better, I’m starting to get so excited to meet my daughter. Crazy excited. 48 days until my due date!

Watching…Stanley Cup hockey, of course. Go Hawks!

Excited…for our baby shower this weekend! I’m so excited to see my family and friends.

MissingUpland Wheat. Margaritas. Gin and tonics. Basically, all the boozy things I like to drink when the weather is warm.

kittyface sookie

Reading…a lot about babies! Switching off between The Baby Book and The Happiest Baby on the Block currently. I also just finished The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

Wondering…what kind of parent I’ll be.

Working…on my second cookbook, mostly. I’m deep in the middle of recipe development and writing. When I get sick of that (or can’t stand on my feet to do another recipe), I’m also working on a few cookbook cover designs for my publisher, a few freelance writing gigs, and doing all kinds of stuff for our photography business (right now, it’s sorting through the 3000+ photos we took at a wedding this past weekend). I’m also trying to take a few minutes each day and work on some pre-written posts so BTHR doesn’t go dark after Baby J is here.

Stressed…about the balance between the things I have to do before Baby J shows up (pack a hospital bag, get our will done, finish my cookbook) and all the things I want to do before she shows up (finish the nursery, make more freezer meals, deep clean the whole house). I feel like I’m running out of time.

fish pond stock

Proud…of the collection of recipes I’ve done so far for my second cookbook. Like, really proud. I was proud of my first cookbook, but I think this newest set of recipes is out-of-this-world delicious (and healthy). It’s a really, really great picture of what it’s like on a daily basis in our kitchen.

Wanting…a million dollars to do landscaping and other outdoor projects on our property. We have so many ideas. And such a little budget. Baby steps, I suppose.

Wishing…I had remembered to put sunscreen on before I spent yesterday morning working in the garden. I forgot how powerful Mr. Sun can be!

Eating…cookbook leftovers, nut butter packets (the protein helps me from getting morning sickness on the go), sweet potato fries, green smoothies, yogurt bowls.


Drinkingflavored water, sun tea, and sometimes a virgin margarita (which just isn’t the same).

Loving…fresh flowers, my command center printables, tulips, this lens, open windows, baby kicks, hand-me-down baby clothes, sunshine, warm weather, my adorable pets (who make me laugh daily) and my hard-working, kind, loving and creative husband.

What are you currently feeling, loving, thinking, eating, etc.?

Slim Pickins Lentil Veggie Soup


Posted on Apr 16, 2014 in Food

lentil soup

I’m usually pretty good about menu planning, which means that we almost always have something yummy on the docket for dinner throughout the week. And usually, before we run really low on groceries, I make another menu and head out to the store. But every now and again, life gets in the way (for all of us, right?), and I don’t end up getting to the store before our menu is “out”.  And that’s when I hit up some of my favorite pantry recipes. And this soup is one of those staples—even if our fridge is almost empty and the pantry is looking sad, we almost always can scrape together enough stuff to make a big pot of this vegetarian soup.

lentil soup

I love this soup because it’s kinda impossible to mess up. I have a basic combo of spices and veggies down in the recipe, but really, you can experiment, add and change this recipe without worry of messing it up. And that’s what makes it such a good recipe for when the groceries are dwindling. Add more peppers, put in beans, add some spinach, throw in a handful of rice, add some sliced mushrooms, toss in a bag of mixed veggies—it’s pretty much always going to turn out. Which makes this not only a great dish for when your kitchen isn’t full-stocked, but also for cleaning out a fridge that is stocked with some not-so-perfect produce. In fact, I save our sad little baby celery stalks (you know, the ones from the middle of the bunch that are mostly leaves) just for using in soups like these.

lentil soup

If you haven’t done a lot of cooking with lentils, I highly recommend stocking them in your pantry. They are a cheap and healthy source of protein that work really well in soups like this because they have such a mild-flavor. Depending on the type of lentils you buy and how long you cook them, they can either completely dissolve into a creamy, mashed consistency, or, like these brown lentils I use here, keep their shape a little bit. They have a really nice “chew” that I think us carnivores can appreciate in vegetarian dishes. You can leave this soup in tact, or do what I did, and blend up a few cups of it to make the base creamy and thick.

Yum! Enjoy. I promise I’m going to the grocery store today.

Slim Pickins Lentil Veggie Soup

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

This hearty, flavorful vegetarian soup is a great option for when there are slim pickins in the pantry. Serve it with a big hunk of whole grain bread and you've got a dinner that is full of a complete vegetarian protein (and darn delicious)!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large stalks celery, diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1-14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1-7 ounce can mild diced chiles
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. In a stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the red pepper flakes, onion and garlic, and cook until tender and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in the celery, carrots, and bell pepper. Continue cooking until vegetables begin to soften slightly, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add in the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, diced chiles, lentils, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender and the veggies are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, discard the bay leaves, and serve.
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  • Feel free to adjust and change the recipe to fit with whatever veggies you have kicking around. It’s really hard to mess this one up!
  • I almost always try to keep canned diced tomatoes and canned diced green chiles in my pantry. They’re a great addition to soups and casseroles to add flavor.
  • We always have big zip-top freezer bags full of diced bell peppers in the freezer from our garden. But even if you don’t have a garden, freezing peppers in the summer (when they are cheap at the store or farmer’s market) is a great way to save some cash on winter and early spring produce—and it means you always have something to put into a veggie soup when your pantry is empty.
  • If you want a thicker, creamier soup, remove two cups of the soup after cooking, puree until smooth and the stir back into the soup.

What are your go to recipes when the pickins are slim?