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Archive for February, 2010

Lebanese Lentils

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Another dish my sister made for me while I was down in North Carolina is a Lebanese staple. We first had it at her place and then again while dining out at Neomonde in Raleigh (along with a ton of other Mediterranean food by way of their pick-your-own sample plates).

I’ll let her describe it, since — as was often the case — I was playing the role of sous chef that night. :)

The lentils, rice, and caramelized onion dish is a Lebanese dish called mjaddarah (Erin: also see mejadra or mujadara). The basic recipe is to cook equal portions of brown rice and lentils, then caramelize some onions (yellow onions are best since they tend to have the highest natural sugar content and are therefore good for caramelizing). Mix the rice, lentils and half the onions together and put in a baking dish. Top with remaining half of onions and bake to warm ingredients together and if you want to brown up the onions on the top. I used a 1 pound bag of lentils and 3 cups of brown rice (which obviously cooks to be more than 3 cups). I used 3 large yellow onions, but could have easily used 4 or 5 since they cook down quite a bit (and the onions add all the flavor to the dish). I cooked the lentils for about 40 minutes (you still want them to have some structure so they don’t smoosh when you mix up the ingredients). The onions take the longest…about 1 hour to caramelize the onions. I cut the onions in half rings and separated them into a pan, added less than 1 tbsp of olive oil, then let them cook on medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Towards the end of cooking, after they are very soft and starting to caramelize on their own, I added 1 tsp of brown sugar (could do it without this, but this helps to finish the caramelizing process). Continue to cook, stirring frequently until a nice brown color (need to be very careful not to burn the onions at any point during the hour of cooking or the flavor will be ruined).

simple salad of cilantro, tomatoes, green onions, and balsamic vinegar

Another tip from my sis:

Caramelized onions could make many dishes taste terrific. I read a suggestion on the web one day to caramelize a bunch of onions and freeze them in small portions to grab and thaw out for quicker use of caramelized onions on many different dishes. I haven’t tried this yet, but it is a good suggestion since it takes a long time to caramelize onions. This way you could just have them at the ready whenever you wanted to use them.

Thanks Amera, for keeping me well-fed while I was down there (both at home and while showing me around), for allowing me to share your words on the blog, for introducing yourself on the forums, etc.. :)

North Carolina to NH

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I’m back from my visit with family in North Carolina. Lots more pictures to show you, and even another recipe, but first a glimpse into the drive home.

I left at 5:30 AM and, according to my new GPS, I was due to arrive around 6:40 PM. Alas, with the recent snow storm in DC and Baltimore, the actual time was more like 9 PM.

Washington, DC

It wasn’t just the single lane, 25 MPH traffic that caused delays; there were also a few clean-up crews along the route, shutting down two out of three lanes in places and bringing things to a complete standstill.

Things eventually cleared up though, and it was smooth sailing from there on out…

George Washington Bridge?

And, it was sunny too, unlike on the way down, so I got some nice views of the skyline and river. (This picture doesn’t do it justice.)

The skyline from the bridge

What amazes me is all these photos were taken at speed, often just haphazardly pointing and clicking without looking through the finder! I’m pleasantly surprised. :)

A grueling 15+ hours on the body, but well worth it for the couple of weeks spent with family.

As it turns out, I enjoyed the car rides more than I thought I would too. I packed a bunch of raw veggies and hummus both ways and discovered some good radio stations along the way. Lastly, the TomTom was a life saver, taking away ALL the stress of navigation.

Stay tuned for more food pics and recipes.

Thai Food with Sister

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Back from a long weekend in Atlanta, Georgia, the southern-most point on this little vacation, about a six hour drive away from my sister’s.

As you saw a few posts back, it was mostly canned food, snacks, and fruit while there. Nothing exciting, but it kept me nutritioned (new word) and saved me lots of money.

The night before I left though, my sister made a delicious homemade Thai meal for us while we stayed in and watched Obama’s first State of the Union address. She’d tell you she cheated with some box mixes, but still. I just helped chopped veggies, she did the rest.

Summer rolls:

You can see the basil leaves, carrots, and noodles inside. The dip is a coconut milk/peanut sauce. (OK, not low-fat. Doing a fair bit of cheating myself this trip.)

Pad Thai:

Tip: We got a chuckle out of this… The peanut bits you see sprinkled on the top? They were from those little packets that come with salads at McDonald’s.

My Cookbook:

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