Instant Pot Creamy Red Lentil Soup

Hello friends! As you may have noticed, it’s been a while since we posted anything on here and that’s because life has been super hectic with both of us in graduate school. That doesn’t mean we haven’t been up to exciting things and now that the stress of last semester is behind us, we really wanted to start blogging again. We just miss it. So without boring you any further, I thought we would dive right in with a new recipe. This soup is a delicious Lebanese staple, nutritious, and very easy to make. You can certainly make it on the stove top if you wish but this almost hands-off version made in the Instant Pot delivers the same flavor while you can run around and check things off your to-do list. Anytime you can have a healthy homemade meal without having to be in the kitchen while it cooks is a win-win in my book.

img_7702

Instant Pot Creamy Red Lentil Soup

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:
2 cups rinsed red lentils
1 medium onion,  diced
3 medium carrots diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt (more to taste)
8 cups water/vegetable stock
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (more for serving)
parsley for garnish
olive oil

Directions:

  1. In the instant pot, drizzle a bit of olive oil and put on “Sauté” mode for 10 minutes. Sauté the diced onions, carrots, celery, and minced garlic.
  2. Add in the rinsed red lentils, cumin, salt, pepper, and water/vegetable stock.
  3. Turn the Instant Pot on “Soup” mode for 30 minutes. Once it beeps and the valve is released stir the soup, season to your liking with fresh lemon juice and additional salt if necessary.
  4. Puree the soup using an immersion blender until creamy and smooth.
  5. Ladle into bowls, drizzle with quality olive oil, and garnish with parsley. Serve with a side of fresh crusty bread or .

img_7721

If you try this recipe and like it, we would love it if you would share or leave a comment below. For more related content, you can find us on Instagram where we share more of our day-to-day and Pinterest where we share our ideas and inspiration. And as  always…

signature3

Chickpea soup with tomato pickle salsa (Hummus M’Sabaha)

Ever since I purchased an Inkwell Press Meal Planner back in January and forced myself to commit to meal planning, we have been pretty consistent about practicing Meatless Mondays. Having a set genre for each day has really helped narrow down the selection for the menu, which is something I had a hard time doing prior because I enjoy making many different things. Today I’m sharing one of our favorite meatless dishes that’s nutritious and simple to make. It’s very similar to another Lebanese dish called foul and hummus except it’s without the foul or fava beans. Foul and hummus is usually eaten for breakfast and while I enjoy it now, I used to HATE it growing up. It was just too heavy for me and it wasn’t nachos or pizza so I was understandably upset when I could smell the distinctive aroma of garlic and fava beans wafting through the air. My father, the negotiator that he is, would allow me to leave out the fava beans as long as I ate everything else and that’s how my love for this dish of hummus m’sabaha blossomed. Traditional Lebanese hummus m’sabaha is much thicker and creamier than what I show here. Usually it’s roughly mashed and a little bit of tahini is added for creaminess. This spin on my childhood favorite is like a mix of hummus m’sabaha and lablabi, a Tunisian chickpea soup. We personally enjoy the combination of the light lemony, garlicky broth with the texture of whole chickpeas.  And speaking of broth, please don’t use canned chickpeas. Technically you can but if you do make sure to drain the chickpeas well and simmer them in a vegetable stock or bone broth. Starting with dried chickpeas is essential for getting flavorful chickpea broth that is not a metallic tasting goop.

IMG_3682

I always soak the dried chickpeas on Sunday evening and boil them first thing on Monday morning. My recipe calls for two cups because that’s what I soak but we don’t necessarily eat all two cups unless I planned to eat leftovers the next day {usually we don’t because it’s Taco Tuesday ;)}. Whatever I don’t use I will freeze for a rainy day. I grew up learning to cook from my father who never measured ingredients so I’m still working on how best to write and share these family recipes. Anyways, I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

IMG_3708

IMG_3661

Chickpea soup with tomato pickle salsa (Hummus M'Sabaha)

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients
2 cups dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda
10-12 cups water
2-4 garlic cloves, minced*
1/2-1 cup lemon juice*
high quality extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
salt & pepper to taste

Salsa:
1 cup diced Lebanese pickled cucumbers
2 cups diced tomatoes
1/4 cup of fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped

To serve:
Radishes
Lebanese pickled cucumbers
Sweet onion, sliced
Pita bread
Lemon
Fresh herbs like mint and parsley

*Note: If you’re not afraid of flavor, you might consider adding more garlic and lemon juice.

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, add your chickpeas and baking soda and cover with water. Let the chickpeas soak overnight or for at least 8 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse your chickpeas and cover with 10-12 cups fresh water in a lidded pot. Bring to a boil then let simmer covered for 30-45 minutes or until tender.
  3. Using a mortar and pestle, mince your garlic cloves with salt until you have a smooth paste.
  4. In the meantime make your salsa by combining diced tomatoes, diced pickles, chopped mint, and chopped parsley.
  5. Once the chickpeas are tender, add in your garlic paste, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. You can use your pestle to give some of the chickpeas a quick mash for thickness if you desire. Let simmer for another 10 minutes then adjust seasoning to your taste.
  6. Ladle into individual bowls, drizzle with olive oil generously and top with sweet onions and salsa. Serve with fresh pita bread and garnishments of your choice.

IMG_3689

IMG_3739

Instagram



Banana Honey Walnut Toasts

IMG_2240

Although Ramadan ended over a month ago, we are still having a difficult time breaking some of our Ramadan schedule and habits. Not only do we still stay up pretty late (midnight is the norm for me), but we also eat like mice early in the morning because it feels strange to fill up right after we’ve woken up. With all the things we have going on in our life, we certainly can’t afford to skip out on the most important meal of the day so today I’m sharing a simple breakfast idea that’s sweet, crunchy, and filling. Banana sandwiches are something we grew up eating as a treat. My father would make it for us and share stories of his picky-eating days, growing up in Beirut, where all he would eat was bread and sugar to fill up. I guess you can’t really go wrong with bread and banana! Thankfully none of us turned out that picky but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the product of my father’s resourcefulness 🙂

When I got married, I was introduced to a whole different world of foods I had never eaten. One of those things was geimar, a creamy Iraqi spread similar to clotted cream. It’s thick and rich in just the right way and it’s unsweetened which makes it the perfect base for a sandwich like this. We don’t eat it often but when my in-laws are in town we make sure to get our fill of geimar, samoon (Iraqi flatbread), and honey. When I photographed this recipe, I used sourdough toast that I had on hand but you can use any bread you like. If you desire more substance and less bread, you can cut the banana length wise and roll it up in a thin pita bread just like my dad used to do.

Ingredients
Quality artisan bread/toast
Salted butter or clotted cream
Banana
Honey
Walnuts

Note: You can use unsalted butter if you’d like but I find the saltiness works wonderfully with the sweetness of the honey and banana.

IMG_2245

Directions
Toast the bread of your choice and generously lather on some butter while it’s still a bit warm. Layer on banana slices and walnuts and then drizzle on some honey. Serve alongside a nice cup of piping hot tea.

IMG_2251

IMG_2253

If you liked this post please follow us and share!

Instagram



Lebanese Green Bean & Tomato Stew (Loubya Bi Zayt)

IMG_0887

Gardening season is officially in full swing and you know what that means, right?  Fresh, delicious vine-ripened tomatoes hand-picked from your very own backyard. After putting all that hard work into growing your garden, you’ll certainly want to savor the fruits of your labor.  Fresh tomatoes are perfect for salads, salsas, and sauces but why not try something new? Loubya bi Zayt, a Lebanese dish of green beans, onions, and tomatoes cooked in olive oil, is the perfect way to showcase your garden harvest. The tomato and olive oil combination is delightful and if stewed properly, results in a satisfyingly gelatinous texture. My father, whom I learned this recipe from, would cook the green beans with fresh finger peppers or jalapeños for a spicy kick. Since I have two little ones who eat with us, I don’t add any heat during the cooking of this dish but instead top my own plate with red pepper flakes for a nice kick. This dish is delicious on its own served with pita, green peppers, and sweet onions but it can also be treated as a side to a sizzling barbecued steak. In the past when my acid reflux was too much to handle, I would make basmati rice to serve alongside the green beans to break up the acidity of the tomatoes. Whichever way you serve this dish, you will not be disappointed. The best part? It’s super easy to make and requires just 3 main ingredients.

IMG_0863

IMG_0867

Lebanese Green Bean & Tomato Stew (Loubya Bi Zayt)

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:
5 medium tomatoes, ripened
4 white onions, finely diced
2 pounds fresh green beans
2 tablespoons tomato paste diluted in 1 cup of water
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of olive oil, plus more
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)

Directions

  1. Clean and trim your green beans, cutting them into 1-2 inch pieces.
  2. Drizzle some olive oil in a large pot and sauté half of your finely diced onions until translucent and light brown. You can sauté all the onions at once to save time but the dish will be on the sweeter side no matter how much salt you add.
  3. While the onions are slowly caramelizing (careful not to burn), blend the ripened tomatoes in a blender with salt and pepper to taste. If you don’t want the tomato seeds or skin then strain before adding to the pot.
  4. To the pot, add in your green beans, garlic, and the rest of your onions and cook for 5-7minutes, stirring gently. You want the green beans to pick up flavor and color but make sure they don’t steam or they will taste rubbery.
  5. Finally, pour in the fresh tomato juice, diluted tomato paste, and 1/2 cup of olive oil and bring to a boil before turning the heat on low. Let it simmer uncovered on low heat for about 30-40 minutes until the green beans are tender and a thick gelatinous texture begins to form.
  6. Serve hot as the main dish or let it cool and serve as a side.

IMG_0879

IMG_0898

If you liked this post please follow us and share!

Instagram


Iraqi Eggs in Tomato Sauce (Makhlama)

IMG_0982

We pride ourselves in our diversity as a family so this post will touch on that a little bit. Together, my wife and I, have roots from six different countries including where we were raised: Albania, Iraq, Lebanon, Poland, Sweden, and The United States. This specific recipe has been a breakfast staple in my household growing up and my father used to make it for us as far back as I can remember. Although the ingredient list is simple, this dish is truly a labor of love; from the slow caramelizing of the onions to the bubbling and simmering of the fresh tomatoes with turmeric and pepper. It’s the spiciness and subtle sweetness of the scrambled eggs that really sets it apart from its omelet cousin. Served with warm, freshly-baked samoon or sangak and sweet, mint-infused black tea, makhlama is sure to brighten any morning.

IMG_0984

In 2014, we visited my family in Sweden and my wife was able to taste the epicness (made-up word) of my father’s makhlama for the first time. Since then, it has become a highlight of our weekend breakfasts together. While in Sweden, we would eat makhlama alongside räksallad, a creamy shrimp salad, and knäckebröd (Swedish crispbread) and it was simply delicious. At home in the States, we eat it with buttery croissants, sharp Vermont cheddar or creamy labneh, and arugula. We consider ourselves very blessed that we have such diverse tastebuds and culinary menus to draw from when meal planning. There is never a dull meal. We eat and enjoy dishes from all around the world and we get to share with each other (and hopefully one day with our children) the memories of what those meals conjure up.

IMG_0952

Iraqi Eggs in Tomato Sauce (Makhlama)

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients
4 eggs
1 medium sweet onion
4-5 small ripe tomatoes
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Note: Serves 2-4

Directions
1. Dice the onions very finely and sauté in hot vegetable oil on low until light brown and caramelized. This takes time so be patient and stir often so as to not let it burn.
2. In the meantime, dice your tomatoes and prepare your spices. Once your onions are slightly caramelized, add in the tomatoes and spices and cook off until thickened.
3. Crack your eggs into the pan and scramble them around until cooked.
4. Serve with warm delicious breads, cheeses, and fresh herbs. And of course a nice hot cup of chai!

IMG_0961

IMG_0967

IMG_0977

IMG_0991

What are some meals that remind you of your childhood growing up in a different culture?

If you liked this post please follow us and share!

Instagram


Lebanese Cauliflower Stew

img_6825

As the weather has started to cool down, I find myself turning more to preparing soups and stews for dinner. Particularly Lebanese stews, which are flavorful and hearty, and have always been some of my favorite meals growing up. No matter what the main ingredient is, I can eat the leftovers for a week and not get sick of it. They are that good! If you saw our post on the Lebanese Beef and Potato Stew, you’ll notice that this recipe is very similar. The only difference is that the star of this dish is sweet, golden-fried cauliflower or arnabeet and the broth is much tangier due to the extra lemon juice. I hadn’t made this recipe in a while but when I saw large cauliflower on sale at the local market, I decided it was time for this stew to make a reappearance on our table and an appearance on this blog as I continue to share our favorite family dishes. I hope you enjoy this one as much as we do 🙂

Lebanese Cauliflower Stew

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients
2 large cauliflower heads
1.5 lbs beef stew chunks
8-10 cups water*
2 small bunches cilantro
1 garlic head, peeled
2-4 lemons
Vegetable oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste

*I am very liberal when it comes to the amount of water I use in preparing the broth because I end up skimming a lot so naturally it gets reduced and concentrated as time passes.

Directions

  1. Thoroughly wash your cauliflower and cut them into medium-large florets. The smaller you cut them the more they break up in the stew and you definitely want some cauliflower bites.
  2. In a large stockpot, bring the beef stew chunks and water to a boil and then let simmer, skimming the fat and impurities continuously until the broth is clean. Once the broth is clean, reduce the heat, cover and let simmer until the meat is tender (about 2 hours).
  3. In a food processor, pulse the cilantro and peeled garlic until you have a rough paste. 1/2 of this will go directly into the clean broth. The other half you will save for step 6.
  4. In the meantime, prepare a pot for frying and a tray for draining the oil (paper towel works just fine).
  5. Once the oil is hot, begin frying the cauliflower in batches until they are a beautiful golden brown. Salt them as they come out and let them drain from any excess oil.
  6. Prepare a pan with a bit of vegetable oil and sauté the other half of the cilantro-garlic paste until fragrant. Do not let them burn. Fish out the beef stew chunks from the broth and toss in the pan with the sautéed cilantro-garlic paste. Once browned, return to the stock pot.
  7. Transfer your cauliflower into the broth and let simmer for another 30-45 minutes until the cauliflower are tender.
  8. Season the stew with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to your liking. The broth should have a mellow sweetness from the cauliflower and a vibrant kick from the lemon, garlic, and cilantro combination.
  9. Serve with a side of basmati rice and fresh crunchy radishes.

 

img_6797

img_9707

img_6821

If you liked this post please follow us and share!

Instagram


No-Waste Slow Cooker Vegetable Broth

IMG_1284

We are constantly trying to find new ways to recycle and reduce waste so when I attended a food demonstration at the healthcare system where I work, I was super excited when the cook revealed her secret for making use of unwanted vegetable scraps. Instead of throwing away the peels, ends, and cores of vegetables, she tossed them into a freezer bag until she had a nice collection and then threw them into a pot of boiling water to make vegetable broth. Since then, I have made this practice a habit and I have never needed to buy vegetable stock. All this requires of you is to be mindful during meal prep. Set aside any vegetable scraps you would normally throw away and store them in the freezer until you have a large collection. Once you’ve filled a bag or jar to the brim (over the course of however long it takes), toss the contents of the bag into a slow cooker or stock pot with water and the result will be a beautiful golden broth every single time. This broth is not only simple to make but it packs a ton of flavor, making it the perfect vegetarian substitute for chicken stock. You can use this broth to make soups, stews, rice, or even as a more flavorful substitute for water in your favorite recipe. Nutrient-rich, flavorful food, more savings, less waste. I think we can all agree this is a win-win-win!

Ingredients
1 quart freezer-bag or jar worth of clean frozen vegetable scraps (peppers, onions, garlic, squash, carrots, celery, etc..)
12 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
Sea salt (to taste)
2 Bay leaves

Note: Do not put any moldy, rotting, or bad vegetable scraps in your broth scrap bag. Before I am ready to make my broth, I also do a rundown of the fridge and toss in any parsley that is near expiration.

Directions
Place all your ingredients in a slow cooker, turn on high, and let it simmer for 6 hours while you do other awesome, productive things (Yay!).  If you’re using a stock pot on the stove, I would let it boil for two hours covered on low. Once the broth is done and has cooled, strain it into a larger bowl or pitcher and distribute evenly among your freezer storage of choice: glass jars or freezer bags.  Then, when you’re ready to cook, you’ll have delicious homemade broth ready at hand.

IMG_1285

IMG_1289

IMG_1304

IMG_1310

IMG_1347

What are the ways you try to reduce waste in your homes? We would love to hear from you! And as always, if you liked this post please follow us and share!

Instagram


Easy Chocolate-Walnut Biscotti

IMG_8775

We love our tea time and nothing beats tea time except tea time + yummy homemade goodies. These chocolate-walnut biscotti are the perfect accompaniment to tea and coffee: sweet, but not too sweet, and crunchy and nutty and perfect for dunking. They’re also super easy to whip up. We always have fresh walnuts on hand so that’s what I used but you can substitute any nut really. Just be prepared for these addicting treats to become a permanent feature (and highlight) of your cozy morning or evening tea-ventures.

IMG_8758

Easy Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients
2 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick of butter (room temperature)
2 large eggs
1 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In one bowl, beat the sugar, salt, butter, and eggs (one at a time) until smooth.
  3. Pour in the sifted flour and baking powder and mix well until it forms a dough-like consistency. As the mixing becomes more difficult, I flour my hands and knead until smooth.
  4. Add in the walnuts and chocolate and knead by hand for a few minutes until the nuts and chocolate are evenly spread throughout the dough.
  5. Place your dough on the baking sheet and shape it into a log (about 12 inches long, 2 inches thick) using your hands.
  6. Bake until light golden brown about 30-40 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes.
  7. On a cutting board, cut your log into 1/2 inch thick slices using a sharp serrated knife. I also cut these slices in half as I like my biscotti more bite size.
  8. Place each slice side-up on the baking sheet and return to the oven to bake for another 15-20 minutes or until a deeper golden brown.
  9. Move your biscotti to a rack and let them cool.
  10. Brew some delicious tea or coffee and enjoy 🙂

IMG_8824

If you liked this post please follow us and share!