Meatloaf! (But not really)

I have received some requests for a meatloaf recipe. Here’s the thing about that: I just can’t do it anymore, guys. In my transitioning-to-vegetarian stage, I sometimes made things with meat in them for omnivorous family members and friends. There are many wonderful meat-loving people in my life. I want them to be happy, and I don’t care what they eat. But after all this time, the thought of filling a loaf pan with ground meat just kind of grosses me out. In other words, as Meatloaf himself once said, “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.”

Here’s what I will do:


That is a magically delicious meatless meatloaf, made of lentils, millet, and just a few other wonderful things. Yes, lentils. Don’t look at me like that, Baconator. I daresay this is my favorite blog recipe to date. That is a bold statement, especially after last week’s pumpkin cookies, but I am quite in love with this stuff. Great with a baked sweet potato for dinner, great crumbled over a salad for lunch the next day, cheap, simple, and it won’t give you the meat-sweats. (<——–I just googled that. Totally a real thing.)

The only part of this recipe that might seem like a drag is cooking the lentils and the millet. But fear not–both of these things don’t require much attention once you get them going. You can easily cook them ahead of time if you want. Here’s an excellent post that will tell you everything you need to know about millet, including how to cook it. For the lentils, first make sure to pick them over a bit before cooking them. Because of the way they’re harvested, very rarely there will be a teensy pebble or other non-lentil object in the bag, and nobody wants to eat pebbles.


For this recipe, I used 1/2 c. lentils, cooked in 1 1/2 c. veggie stock. Cooking them in water is fine, but using stock adds a little extra flavor. Just use a 3-1 liquid-to-lentils ratio, bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer until tender but not mushy–mine took about 25 minutes.

Once you have your cooked millet and lentils, everything comes together in a snap.


You’ll add a sweet glaze about halfway through the baking time…


…and once it’s done, you can enjoy a slice while sitting in the fall leaves like a J.Crew model.


Lentil Millet Loaf (serves about 6)

  • 1/2 c. lentils (uncooked)
  • 3 c. vegetable stock (may also use water)
  • 1/2 c. millet (uncooked)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 c. diced onion
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
  • 3 tbsp flax meal (ground flaxseeds)
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 c. ketchup

For the glaze:

  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Pick over the lentils and remove any small bits of debris. Bring the lentils to a boil in the 3 cups of veggie stock (or water). Lower the heat, and simmer until the lentils are tender but not mushy (start checking after about 20 minutes). To cook the millet, toast it for a couple of minutes in a bit of olive oil in the bottom of a saucepan. Then add two cups of water, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes. (See the post linked above for more detailed millet-cooking info.)

Mix the flax meal with the 1/2 cup of water and set aside to thicken for a few minutes. (This will create a flax “egg” that will bind the mixture.) Sautee the onion and garlic with a drizzle of olive oil until softened (about five minutes). Add the walnuts to the onion and garlic and continue to sautee for about 2 more minutes before removing the pan from the heat. Pulse the cooked lentils in a food processor until very few whole lentils remain. (This will keep the loaf from being too crumbly.) In a large bowl, mix the lentils, millet, sauteed onion/garlic/walnut mixture, flax “egg”, salt, pepper, and ketchup. Press firmly into a loaf pan (mine is 5″x9″, which I think is pretty standard) and bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes. About halfway through the baking time, spread the glaze on top of the loaf and return to the oven until finished.


Have a great week, folks! I’m doing a half marathon next Sunday, so if I don’t make it back here next Monday, just assume I’m too sore to walk to my computer.

Homeroom Mothering

While searching for a lawyer job, I’ve been making some money by subbing as an associate teacher. It’s a pretty fantastic way to pass the time, let me tell you. Kids are hilarious, and we get to do awesome stuff, like take field trips to the grocery store and learn about explorers, tectonic plates, and good character.

Last week I was working in a first grade classroom where one of the students was having a birthday, so we got treats in the afternoon. The treats were those round, frosted sugar cookies you can buy in the front of pretty much every grocery store, Target, Walmart, etc. There is no love in those cookies, my friends–just sugar, flour, food coloring, and probably some partially hydrogenated lard. You can’t blame the birthday girl or her parents, though, because home-baked treats are a no-no in most schools today. I assume this is because of food allergies, which makes sense, but the rule still bums me out because it pretty much crushes one of my childhood dreams.


You see, when I was but a young lass at Jefferson Elementary School (pictured above with my bro, wearing my MC Hammer pants), we had something called a “Homeroom Mother”. This was a parent of one of the children in your class who was responsible for bringing treats, juice boxes, and favors for the various class parties. (There were no Homeroom Fathers, but seven-year-old Darcy wasn’t concerned because she hadn’t yet been told about the evils of patriarchy.) For context, please see this photo of one of my mom’s class Halloween parties (she was a first grade teacher):


Doesn’t that look like a can’t-miss party? I knew, deep in my heart, that I would one day be a Homeroom Mother. It was clearly the part I was born to play, and I would have thrown some rad class parties, let me tell you. I would have dazzled the classmates of my hypothetical future children with meticulously decorated baked goods. But ALAS! It can never be. Score one for the store-bought sugar cookies.

But let’s pretend, just for today, that I was in charge of treats for a Halloween/fall party. I would make these…..


…and you should too, because they’re light, pillowy, pumpkin-y, and deeeee-licious. They look like cookies, but the texture is much more like cake. The frosting has a nice little hint of cinnamon. And of course there are sprinkles, because I conducted a focus group of sorts with my group of kiddos while we ate our birthday treats last week, and we all agreed that sprinkles are AWESOME.

Happy baking, and happy Monday!

Pumpkin Cookies (makes 18-20)

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. canned pumpkin (Make sure it’s just plain pumpkin, NOT the pumpkin pie filling. I make that mistake at the grocery store about once every year.)
  • 1/2 c. canola (or vegetable) oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 c. confectioners sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 and grease your cookie sheets (I used parchment paper in the picture below, but later found that just greasing the cookie sheet worked better). Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In another bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for about 30 seconds, add the vanilla, oil, and pumpkin puree, and mix until completely combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mix until just combined, and then drop a bit less than 1/4 cup of the dough onto the cookie sheet for each cookie. Flatten each one out a bit with the back of a spoon, so they look like this:


Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. While the cookies cool, mix the frosting ingredients until there are no lumps. (If you’re using an electric mixer, start on low speed to avoid a giant cloud of confectioners sugar.) When the cookies are completely cool, frost them and add sprinkles or chopped pecans.

All about Herbie (+ a little about chili)

Generally speaking, I don’t care about football. I don’t have a team that I follow, and my grasp on the rules of the game is tenuous at best. However, there are two things about football that I like:

1. It is no secret around this house that I am quite taken with ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit (or “Herbie”, as he is known to those of us in his inner circle). Why? Well, he is always impeccably dressed. He’s handsome, but not too handsome. When he talks about foreign concepts like “the BCS” it’s almost as though I understand and/or care, and whenever they have to take some injured player off the field on one of those little golf carts, I feel like the concern Herbie expresses comes from the very bottom of his golden heart.

Now, listen–I know that Kirk is probably married to some beautiful, poised woman who sits on the board of several non-profits and never eats cookie dough. I am well aware of that, and my moral compass points due north, so I will not show up at his house with a batch of freshly-baked scones and force him to resist my many charms. I will be content to admire him from afar and write creepy things about him on my blog.   

2. While watching the games (and waiting for Herbie sightings), I also enjoy cozy, football-friendly food. Here’s a charming little idea for when your next chili/cornbread craving hits. Make a pot of your favorite chili. (Might I suggest this one?)


Then mix up some cornbread batter. (I used this recipe. It was good–but, as she says it’s not very sweet at all, so I added another tablespoon of maple syrup. I also added 3 chopped scallions.)


Then layer the chili and cornbread batter in glass pint jars like this:


I can’t be too specific on baking guidelines here, because it will depend on what cornbread recipe you use and how thick your layer of cornbread batter is. I would suggest a thinner layer than the one pictured above, because mine rose more than I expected it to and I wasn’t entirely happy with my chili-to-cornbread ratio. Live and learn, eh? It was still delicious.


The jars will obviously be really hot when you go to eat out of them, so please use an oven mitt on your non-spoon hand. (OOOOH, this just occurred to me: you could make these for a football-watching party, tie some folksy gingham ribbon around all the jars before serving, and then give everyone a matching oven mitt as a party favor. A-DORable.)

I suppose that’s probably enough of my innermost thoughts for one day. I hope you all have a wonderful Monday!

Monday musings

Greetings, all! So, I have read approximately two articles in the last year about how to be a “better blogger” and they all say you should have a consistent posting schedule. I decided I would try to post every Monday (because doesn’t everyone need a little diversion at the beginning of the week?), but here we are on Monday, and I didn’t cook anything worth sharing with you last week. I thought I would be all set for my Monday blog post when I made this little take-off on spanakopita triangles with butternut squash and kale inside:


I even had numerous photos of me stacking sheets of phyllo dough, so I could type out an exhaustive guide to phyllo technique. But alas, they just weren’t that delicious. So instead, Monday musings! And a craft project! Lucky you.

First, I think this is the most beautiful song ever.


(Well, my opinion on “most beautiful song ever” changes about every week, but this is the current title-holder.) I printed the sheet music off the internet a few days ago and decided I would perfect it in case I ever needed to declare my undying love for someone in song. (You never know, guys. You never know.) It’s almost ready.

Secondly, I started thinking about Halloween, because I love Halloween costumes. I had worked out in my head the perfect Ruth Bader Ginsburg costume, and then I realized I have a wedding to go to that weekend, and I think I’m supposed to just dress like myself. Bummer. Feel free to take my costume idea.

Finally, look at this crafty platter!


A closer look:


I got this idea because I used to put the sticker from my daily apple on my Con Law casebook, and I thought they looked kind of pretty all layered together. My mom picked up an unfinished wooden plate at Hobby Lobby and we started covering it with the stickers back in January. Now that it’s done, it just needs a few coats of decoupage glue and some sort of waterproof coating. This is the craftiest thing I have done since I was a seven-year-old at Vacation Bible School.

Alright, carry on with your Mondays. I promise pretty food next week 🙂

Andre Spumante, Esq.

Friends, I come to you today with flour in my hair and joy in my heart. Guess which unemployed-yet-hopeful cupcake enthusiast just found out she passed the Iowa bar exam?


It was me! MEEEEEEEEEEE! (That is not my usual attire, FYI–I had some bizzzness to take care of this week.)

I got the joyous news this morning, and it was not long before I had a batch of celebratory cupcakes and a nearly depleted bottle of bargain “champagne”. (Don’t worry–some of it went into the cake batter, and I did not operate any heavy machinery, just the stand mixer.) I made up a new cocktail recipe: one part Andre Spumante, two parts Pom juice. I call it the “Paula Franzese”, after a particularly effervescent professor from the bar exam review course. Cheers, Paula. You will always have an easement in my heart.


For the cupcakes, I used a champagne layer cake recipe from a cookbook, piped on a bit of fluffy frosting, and decorated each one with a strawberry slice. Then I took them to my dad’s office, where I did most of my studying for the exam, because they were all such lovely and encouraging hosts during that time and never once commented on how I probably looked sort of like death warmed over.


As if this weren’t enough excitement for one day, you Des Moines residents can check out Juice magazine, available on metro-area newsstands tomorrow, for a page about me and the blog, and a picture of me looking very cheerful (with cupcakes, whaddya know). If you live elsewhere, you can check it out online. To all of you new visitors….thanks for stopping by! Are any of you hiring lawyers? (Never hurts to ask.)

The recipe for the champagne cake is below. It tastes very classy. This is not health food, clearly, but it is light and fluffy due to the egg whites, and I didn’t feel the need to switch to stretchy pants after I tried one. When buying the bubbly, feel free to go up a step from the Andre–I just happen to love the “sophisticated flavor profile” and the $4.79 price tag.

Champagne Cupcakes (adapted from the Champagne Layer Cake in “The Boozy Baker” by Lucy Baker <——–This book is so much fun, by the way. Nothing but dessert and cocktail recipes. Highly recommended.)

Makes about 18 cupcakes

  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2/3 c. champagne
  • 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. cake flour (This is lighter than regular flour–good for recipes with beaten egg whites–and should be available at most grocery stores.)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 large egg whites

For the frosting:

  • 6 tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 2 c. confectioners sugar
  • 2 tbsp champagne

Preheat the oven to 350, and fill two cupcake pans with paper or foil liners. Mix the butter and sugar in a large bowl, until fluffy and well-combined. In a smaller bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture and the champagne to the butter and sugar mixture, alternating between the two, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer in another large bowl, until they form stiff peaks. Stir a small portion of the beaten egg whites into the champagne batter to loosen it up a bit, and then fold the rest in carefully (you want to combine everything while deflating the egg whites as little as possible). Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them just slightly over half full. Then bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

While the cupcakes cool, combine the frosting ingredients with an electric mixer–slowly at first, to avoid being covered in confectioners sugar. Then raise the speed on the mixer to incorporate air into the frosting, so it becomes light and fluffy. Wait until the cupcakes are completely cooled. Frost them with a butter knife or small spatula, or, if you want to be fancy (and who doesn’t?), put the frosting into a zip-top plastic bag, snip off a corner of the bag with scissors, and pipe the frosting onto each cupcake. Garnish with something colorful–I used strawberries.