Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Turkish Stewed Green Beans and Bulgur Pilaf

I haven't really cooked with bulgur, but I see it in my future more because it's a quick-cooking and satisfying grain. This recipe combo is flavorful and the recipes are both simple, so this will probably wind up on regular rotation. It's a good bet for a night when you have a bit more time to spare. I rated it a 5 and Aaron gave it a 4.5. Emma won't touch it because of the tomatoes, but one day when she comes to the dark side, I bet she will like it!

 I used the green bean recipe here: Turkish Stewed Green Beans- the only change I made was to leave out the basmati. One helpful note: 500g of green beans is just over a pound and you absolutely must use fresh beans! I did use a can of  petite diced tomatoes instead of fresh, and that seemed just fine. Another note - 1/4 cup is a great deal of oil for this recipe. I'm not sure how critical it was in developing the delicious end result, but next time I make it, I will reduce it by 1/4 or 1/2 and report back!

In place of the basmati, I found this Turkish side: Turkish Bulgur Pilaf

My tweaks here were also limited: I used a Hungarian hot wax pepper instead of a banana pepper, I used 2 firm roma tomatoes, used olive oil for the fat, and I used 2 cups of water plus an un-chicken bouillon cube instead of the chicken broth. I opted for scant 1/2 tsp of salt, which seemed about right.  I could probably safely reduce the fat here by 1/2 as well. Hungarian hot wax peppers are not very spicy as far as spicy peppers go, but they add just a tiny bit of kick. If you do not like any spice, just use the banana peppers, which are in line with your average bell pepper in terms of heat.

It's important to note that the bulgur takes only about 15 minutes and the beans take about an hour, so start the beans, then prep your bulgur ingredients while the beans are cooking down, then get the bulgur on the stove when you're about 40-45 minutes into the bean-making process. This will get everything on the table at once with no over or under-cooking!

Nutrition (for 1/4 of the beans and 1/4 of the pilaf)

Calories: 439
Carbs: 57 g (28%)
Protein: 9.6 g (13%)
Fat: 21g (50% - this is why I want to reduce the fat in the recipes!)
Fiber: 13.9g (40%)
Vitamin A: 31%
Vitamin C: 47%
Calcium: 12%
Iron: 14%

Thursday, January 14, 2016

French and Beluga Lentil Soup

I had a half cup of French lentils and wanted to make a warming soup to help get the chill out of my bones on this cold, cold day! I decided that it would make sense to use more lentils to make it more satisfying, so I added some beluga lentils (aka black lentils) since they have about the same cook time. You can just use a whole cup of one of them and it should be fine. If you don't have either, type, be aware that the texture of other lentils is very different and will change the soup a lot! These lentils stay a little bit firm, and I like that.

I really enjoyed this! If you're not a cabbage person, you could substitute a cup of chopped celery or green beans, but the cabbage is really lovely here.

4 TBS olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
5 cloves of garlic
2 cups of sliced carrots
1 cup of chopped cabbage
1/2 cup French lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup beluga lentils, rinsed
4 cups of water
1 bouillon cube (I used Edward & Sons Not Chick'n)
4 TBS tomato paste
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp Parisien Bonnes Herbes (this is a blend of chives, dill, basil, tarragon, chervil, and white pepper - if you don't have it, you could do 1/4-1/2 tsp of each of the things on the list that you DO have)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper


In a pressure cooker: warm the oil on the brown setting and add the onion. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes and then add the garlic, carrots, and cabbage. Stir for another 5 minutes and add in the rest of the ingredients. Mix them well, put on the lid, and cook on high pressure for 14 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for about 15 minutes and serve with French bread.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, it'll take about 1-1.5 hours to get the lentils soft enough, but the steps would otherwise be the same. You'll also need to stir occasionally to prevent things from sticking and you may need to add additional water because it will evaporate as you're cooking. It should be a little bit brothy, like in the picture. 

Nutrition per cup (makes 8 cups)

Calories: 204
Fat: 8.1 g
Carbs: 25.4 g (8%)
Protein: 8.2 g (11%)
Fiber: 30%
Sugars: 5.6 g
Vitamin A: 104%
Vitamin C: 20%
Calcium: 3%
Iron: 4%

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Merlot Unchicken

This is a spin on chicken Marsala for people like me who don't really keep Marsala wine on hand. The sauce turned out SO good! I served it atop a Gardein Scallopini and a serving of cavatappi noodles. I made simple garlic butter brussels sprouts as a side vegetable, and it was a great combination.

1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS margarine
1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
12 ounces of button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly
1 cup of water
1 un-chicken bouillon cube (I use Edward & Sons)
1/2 cup Merlot wine (or whatever red wine you have on hand)
 1 TBS tomato paste
.5 tsp dried thyme
.5 tsp cracked black pepper
1.5 TBS cornstarch whisked into 2 TBS water

Heat the oil and margarine until the margarine melts, then add the onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and cook for another 10 minutes, until the mushrooms have released their juices. Set this mixture aside in a bowl and add the water, bouillon cube, Merlot, tomato paste, thyme, and pepper to the pan. Cook that for a minute, then add the cornstarch and whisk until is boils (if you don't keep whisking, it'll thicken into clumps, which you do not want). Add in the mushroom-onion mix and let simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring as needed until the flavors all come together.

Nutrition (for 1/4 of the recipe)

Calories: 132
Protein: 2.6 g
Carbs: 7.6 g
Fat: 7.9 g
Fiber: 1.5 g
Sugars: 3.4 g
Vitamin A: 1%
Vitamin C: 5%
Calcium: 3%
Iron: 3%

Nutrition for the meal
1/4 of the sauce, 1 serving of cavatappi, 3/4 cup of brussels sprouts with garlic powder and 1/4 TBS of margarine, and 1 Gardein Chick'n Scallopini

Calories: 522
Fat: 17.8 g
Protein 23 g
Carbs: 63 g
Fiber: 1.5 g
Sugars: 8.8 g
Vitamin A: 20%
Vitamin C: 133%
Calcium: 8%
Iron: 27%

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Fresh Bagels

Homemade bagels are SO GOOD. They're also pretty easy, albeit time-consuming.

4 cups bread flour
1 TBS sugar
1.5 tsp salt
1 TBS vegetable oil
2 tsp instant yeast
1.25-1.5 cups of warm water
Toppings! (I like kosher salt, caraway, dried onion bits, dried garlic flakes, and poppy seeds)

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl. I put it directly into my mixer's bowl to save time. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, you should use it.

Use the dough hook for 10 minutes (or knead on a floured counter for 10 minutes) until smooth and uniform.

Split the dough into 8 equal sized balls, and let them rest in the bowl for 10-20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 425.

Poke a hole through the middle of each dough ball and work until it looks twice as big as you want it - it'll close up. You could also roll it out into a long snake, then press the ends together, but honestly it's easier to poke a hole in the middle and stretch it out. I did it both ways and the ones I poked holes in turned out better looking (in the picture above, the nice round everything bagels on the left are the ones I poked holes in. The uneven-looking ones are my attempt at making a snake and pinching the ends).

Let your bagels rest in a warm place (I did it on top of the preheating oven) for about 20 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, and grease a large cookie sheet.

Your bagels should have puffed up by now (you can tell because the holes close up a bit). If so, it's time to boil them.

Add two at a time to your pot, boil for a minute, turn over, and boil for another minute, then take out with a slotted spatula.

If you're topping them, now's the time to do that. You can get a plate set up with the toppings and just plop the bagel onto it or you can sprinkle - whatever suits you better. I started with the plop method, but then the salt all melted, so I started sprinkling.

Place the bagels on the baking tray, bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for 10 more.

Let them cool for 10-20 minutes if you can resist.