Pretty Simple Cooking Ideas

Sonja and Alex Overhiser are Indianapolis bloggers and authors of the Pretty Simple Cooking cookbook. Their goal is to help more people stop second guessing themselves and start cooking!

To purchase a copy of Sonja and Alex’s cookbook click here.

Smoky Red Lentil Stew

GF | V* | Serves 3 TO 4
2 large carrots
1 medium yellow onion
2 stalks celery
3 medium garlic cloves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
(pimentón), plus more for garnish
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1¼ cups red lentils
1 quart (4 cups) vegetable broth
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
(½ large lemon)
1 handful cilantro or Italian flat-leaf
parsley, for garnish
Plain Greek yogurt, for garnish


Peel and finely dice the carrots and onion, then finely dice the celery. Peel and mince the garlic. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery, and saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Then stir in the balsamic vinegar, smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne, and lentils and stir for another minute. Add the broth, kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Bring to a low simmer, then cover halfway and gently simmer until the lentils are just soft but before they start to break apart, about 7 to 10 minutes. Watch closely and taste to assess doneness. The finished soup should be brothy with the lentils just soft; cooking past this point yields a very thick stew (which is just as delicious but less soup-like). Stir in the lemon juice.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with torn cilantro or parsley leaves, Greek yogurt, and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

V* For vegan, omit the Greek yogurt.

Excerpted from A Couple Cooks | Pretty Simple Cooking: 100 Delicious Vegetarian Recipes to Make You Fall in Love with Real Food by Sonja and Alex Overhiser. Copyright © 2018. Available from Da Capo Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Bliss Bites
GF | V | Makes 24 Bites

Bliss Bites are hands down our most popular recipe. The term “life-changing” has even been thrown around for these no-bake treats. People often tell us they’re a mainstay in their refrigerator or freezer–and a little dangerous to keep around! Luckily, the danger here is a wholesome variety: they’re made with no refined sugars or flours, just coconut oil, peanut butter, maple syrup, cocoa powder, and oats. Essentially an inside-out mini peanut butter cup, they’re simple to put together–and pretty blissful.

• 6 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
• 6 tablespoons peanut butter, divided
• 5 tablespoons pure maple syrup, divided
• ¼ cup Dutch process or dark cocoa powder*
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 pinch kosher salt
• 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons rolled oats

Place cupcake liners into a 24-cup mini-muffin tin.

Make the bites: In a small saucepan over low heat, whisk together 5 tablespoons coconut oil, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 4 tablespoons maple syrup, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and kosher salt, until fully combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the oat mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner, then freeze the tin while making the peanut butter glaze.

Make the glaze: Wash the saucepan and return it to the stove. Over low heat, whisk together 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 4 tablespoons peanut butter, and 1 tablespoon maple syrup until fully combined. Remove the tin from the freezer and spoon the warm peanut butter mixture over the top of the chocolate oat mixture. Return the tin to the freezer for 15 minutes until the bites are set, or refrigerate until serving.


Storage: Store refrigerated or frozen.

For a twist, chop the bliss bites and serve them over vanilla ice cream.

*Standard cocoa powder can be substituted if dark is unavailable.

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