French Lentil Soup

French Lentil Soup
Sometimes it’s a challenge to find foods that fit the No Six diet (no: dairy, wheat, eggs, fish, soy or peanuts) I’m on for Baby A. Luckily, I have a forever patient husband who is willing to search things out. He found this wonderful French Lentil Soup recipe, originally from Bon Appetit and with a few tweaks, it was wonderful.

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French Lentil Soup
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat bacon in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Leave the bacon grease in the pan and add the olive oil.
  3. Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic.
  4. Sauté until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes.
  5. Add 4 cups stock, lentils and tomatoes with juice and bring to boil.
  6. Reduce heat to medium–low, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes.
  7. Using a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth.
  8. Season with salt, pepper and the Balsamic vinegar.
  9. Ladle soup into bowls.

My opinion:
Like any good soup, this isn’t much to look at, but it is delicious. It is hearty and filling and all around wonderful. I can’t wait to be able to eat warm pita with it!

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Egyptian Lahma Bil Basal and Homemade Pita Bread

Lahma Bil Basal

It’s been raining here for a few days. When it rains, we often make dishes that require long simmer times. J was feeling adventurous and decided to try an Egyptian peasant dish he found on Food.com. I wanted to try my hand at homemade pita bread. Surprisingly, the bread turned out well. As usual, J’s dish was fantastic. It was an amazing meal.

Lahma Bil Basal ingredients:
1 lb stewing beef
4 yellow onions (sliced super thin, we used the food processor)
2 chicken bouillon cubes (yes, chicken. I promise this works)
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (do NOT use olive oil for this)
water
salt & pepper (we used a couple of turns of each)

Lahma Bil Basal directions:
Put the meat in saucepan over medium heat with butter and oil. Cook until lightly browned. Add all sliced onions, bouillon cubes, salt and pepper, bay leaf and stir around cooking on medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Add water, about 1-1/2 cups, turn to low, cover and cook for at least 2 hours. (We cooked for about three total hours.)

Lahma Bil Basal
Check during cooking, add more water if too dry. Don’t be afraid to let a few bits brown, those add extra depth to the flavor. But the onions should give enough liquid with initial water you added. For the last half hour remove the lid and allow the dish to thicken. When finished you should have super tender beef with a thick oniony sauce. The onions cook down to create a thick rich sauce. Serve with rice, pita bread or your favorite pasta.

Pita Bread ingredients:
This is originally from this website and was super easy. (Note: your yeast packet might have slightly different directions. Follow those directions first.)
1 1/4 cup warm water (not boiling or hot, apparently it kills the yeast. Yes, I learned this the hard way.)
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. oil

Pita Bread directions:
Add the warm water and yeast together. If your packet calls for adding sugar, add the sugar at the same time.
Homemade Pita Bread

After about 10 minutes when the yeast water is frothy, add the salt, oil and flour. Mix well.
Homemade Pita Bread

Turn the dough onto the counter and knead well to bring it all together. Feel free to add more flour as necessary. Divide the dough into eight equal parts. Roll each part into a ball and flatten into a six-inch circle with a rolling-pin.
Homemade Pita Bread
Flour a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place each rolled out circle on the floured surface and let rise for at least a half an hour. Heat your oven to 500 degrees. Peel the dough off the foil and put onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 4-8 minutes, (we cooked each side for 5 minutes) flipping halfway through. Stack on top of each other and cover loosely with dish towel to let steam escape.
IMG_4844

My opinion:
This was the perfect dish to have with a nice glass of syrah. The meat is fall apart tender and the gravy is melt in your mouth delicious. I thought it was best with the pita bread.

Philadelphia Cheese Steak Sandwich

Who knew it could be so easy to make a Philadelphia Cheese Steak Sandwich at home? I always thought it was too complicated until J found this scrumptious recipe. The hardest part was slicing the meat!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced as thin as possible and rings separated (we didn’t keep them in rings)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (canned is fine! We used the little can)
2 green peppers, sliced
12 ounces chipped steak (very thin-sliced eye of round, ribeye, or sirloin tip roast cut into 1-inch slices) We used boneless ribeye.
Salt and coarsely-ground black pepper
Provolone cheese slices
4 hoagie rolls (we got them from the bakery section of our favorite grocer)
Dill pickle spears (side)
Peperoncini (side)

Directions:
In a large frying pan over high heat, add olive oil and heat so that a drop of water will sizzle when you drop it in the oil; lower heat to medium. Add onions and mushrooms, stir and cook until mushrooms darken and onions start to look transparent. Add steak slices and cook for approximately 3 minutes or until meat is lightly browned.

Add salt and pepper to taste.  Slice bread lengthwise. Using a spatula, scoop 1/4 the meat mixture on to the bread. Top with 2 slices of Provolone cheese for each sandwich. Put in a warm oven on low broil. Monitor the sandwiches.

When the cheese is melted into the sandwich and the bread is starting to brown, remove from the oven.

My opinion:
So good. So filling. Next time we’ll caramelize the onions a little longer and toast the hoagies before adding the filling.

Tortilla Soup

The best tortilla soup is either at Luby’s in San Antonio or Magnolia’s in Austin. Seeing as how I no longer live in Texas, it was high time I learned to make this amazingly tasty, wonderful, cold winter night meal. As Emeril Lagasse has never led me astray before, we decided to try his Favorite Tortilla Soup.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 cups chicken stock
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (we were out, it is winter after all!)
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 avocado diced
tortilla chips, broken

Directions:
In a large heavy pot, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, peppers, salt, cumin, and coriander for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cilantro and lime juice, and stir well. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

My Opinion:
We modified and put everything in the crock pot minus the tortilla chips and avocado. Let it cook on medium for about 6 hours. In the future, we’ll up the spices and use more jalapenos. It was very close to Luby’s version.

Don’t forget! #cookchat this Thursday, January 20 at noon! Hope to see you there!

Homemade Pasta Sauce

Last week J and I challenged ourselves to not go grocery shopping and use up the items in our pantry, freezer and fridge. That experiment led to some pretty creative meals. One of the best was our homemade pasta sauce.

Ingredients:
small can pasta sauce (plain, no seasoning)
tomato paste
can whole or crushed tomatoes (you can also use fresh! 2 cups of fresh equals about 14.5 ounces chopped tomatoes. When we use fresh we don’t peel, but you may want to!)
Italian seasoning (we used oregano, basil, marjoram, sage and white pepper. You can use whatever you like!)
Burgundy wine
garlic

Directions:
Combine everything in one saucepan. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat to medium low or low. Let simmer for about an hour. This will cook down.

My opinion:
This was wonderful! Easy and filling. We actually originally used too much Italian seasoning, but by adding the wine and a can of tomato sauce, everything blended very well. In the future, we’ll add onions and maybe some green peppers to add variety as well as some red pepper flakes.

This week’s food posts are brought to you by #cookchat. My co-moderator, Matt LaCasse and I are announcing #cookchat’s triumphant return on Thursday January 20, a noon. CST. Join us for an hour of food filled conversation.