Maple. Syrup. Ahh, luscious maple syrup. It has a rich, earthy caramel smell with woodsy hints of vanilla. One sniff, one taste, and I am sitting in a cozy log cabin in the snow-covered woods. Inside, the fire crackles and I take lazy sips of hot tea, snugly in soft slippers while fluffy pancakes sizzle on a hot grill in the kitchen, and a tall pitcher of maple syrup waits on the table.
I learned a long time ago that my love affair with maple syrup isn’t just limited to fresh pancakes, it’s so much bigger than that. Maple syrup can seriously make so many things that much better. For instance… carrots. These carrots, with the help of a little
time thyme, some syrup, and a little love become the perfect side to complement any Winter meal.
Maple-Thyme Roasted Carrots
recipe originally from Life Currents
6-8 large carrots, scrubbed and peeled
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
a generous pinch of salt
2 tbsp maple syrup
1. Depending on the size of your carrots, cut them in half lengthwise, and possibly in half or thirds width-wise. You want your carrot pieces to be roughly uniform in size so they all cook at about the same rate.
2. Heat oil in a heavy, oven proof skillet. Either cast-iron or a dutch oven should work well.
3. Once the oil is nice and hot add carrots, sauteing for 4-6 minutes until they begin to brown.
4. Don’t over-stir. The longer they’re touching the bottom of the skillet, the quicker they will brown.
5. Sprinkle with thyme and salt.
6. Pour maple syrup over the top and give the carrots a quick stir.
7. Place the pan in a 400 degree oven and roast for 8-9 minutes.
I love my Christmas ham. I truly do. It wouldn’t seem like Christmas dinner without it. Even more than a good ham, I love all the leftovers! Typically I dice them up and bag them in meal-sized portions and stock my freezer with them. Even the fat and bone gets saved for flavoring beans and the like. This healthy ham and lentil soup is one of my favorite recipes to use leftover ham in. Hearty and heart-healthy, it’s a perfect after the holidays meal. Once you’re done chopping, walk away while it simmers and relax as the flavors slowly combine. Are you sticking with yoga pants after indulging just a little too much in the past week? Lentils are low in fat, but high in protein and fiber. A perfect way to fill up and fuel up without worrying. Take a deep breath, enjoy a warm bowl of soup, and smile. You’ve made it through another chaotic holiday intact.
Healthy Ham & Lentil Soup
recipe originally from Closet Cooking
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups ham broth, chicken broth or chicken stock
1 cup lentils
2 cups ham, diced
1 ham bone (optional)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon thyme
pepper to taste
1 bunch spinach, rinsed, trimmed and roughly chopped
1. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan.
2. Add the onions, carrot and celery and saute until tender, about 10-15 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, a few minutes.
4. Add the stock, lentils, ham, ham bone, oregano, bay leaf and thyme and simmer, covered on low heat for an hour.
Remove from heat and stir in the spinach.
Grilling season, yes it IS a season, is my favorite time of the year. For those precious few months, I get to sit back at dinner time and take a break from cooking the family meal. Instead, my loving husband gets to slave away over the grill. It’s wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, that I’ve never bothered to learn how to operate the grill myself. I’m sure I could figure it out, but that might prove self-destructive to my seasonal dinner breaks. This recipe is incredibly simple, but the marinade gives the chicken an out-of-this-world flavor. The sun is shining, so pull out some chicken breasts, fire up that grill, and give these kabobs a try!
Honey Garlic Chicken Kabobs
- 5-6 bonesless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp garlic, minced
- 2 large onions, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 4 sweet bell peppers, cut into 2 inch pieces
- In a large bowl, add oil, honey, soy sauce, garlic, and pepper. Stir to combine evenly.
- Add chicken to the bowl. Make sure all chicken is submerged in the marinade.
- Let marinade in the refrigerator at least two hours. Keep in mind the longer it marinates the better.
- Preheat your grill to high heat.
- Drain the chicken and discard the marinade.
- Thread the chicken and the vegetables alternately onto the skewers.
- Lightly oil the grill grate.
- Place skewers onto the grill and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken juices run clear.
- Remove from the grill and serve on the skewers or off.
This convenient, creamy Crockpot Chicken And Pesto Soup features fresh veggies, chunks of juicy chicken, chewy barley, pesto, and Parmesan in a dish that leaves you savoring each and every bite.