Food From Home

Cooking at home for fun, health and frugality!

Fassolatha- Greek Bean Soup

Everyone in my house really likes Fassolatha. It is one of the soups we have in regular rotation. Since it uses dry beans, simple ingredients and no meat it is very economical and accessible to make. I have also seen it spelled fasolatha or fasolada.

I first made this soup after a death in the family 9 years ago when we had a lot of sudden house guests to feed and some were vegetarian. This soup was great for a large group and was warm and comforting. It reheats and freezes well.

Fassolatha

1/2 lb dry white beans- Great Northern, cannellini or Navy

8 c water

2 bay leaves

2- 3 oz carrots, sliced or chopped

1 large onion, chopped

5 stalks of celery, chopped (about 2 c)

1 can diced tomato

3 T – 1/2 c olive oil- to taste)

1 1/2 tsp salt- or to taste

1 tsp ground black pepper- or to taste

parsley, chopped

3 T lemon juice- optional

Rinse and soak dry beans at least 8 hours in a large pot of cold water. Drain.

Add 8 c of water to pot along with bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer  1 hour. Remove bay leaves.

Add chopped carrots, onions, celery and simmer 1 hour longer. Add tomato, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. I use about 3 T olive oil.

Serve warm with feta cheese, olives and crusty bread.  Makes about 10 servings

I have made this soup in the slow cooker. I just dumped everything in at the beginning after soaking and draining the beans and cooked it on low 8 hours.

 

 

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Simple And Frugal Mujadarra

This is a great tasting dish for a low budget. You need just lentils, onions, rice and a few spices. Everything is easy to get and keep around. It is super filling and is not high calorie. It is not fast food. It takes time to cook the onions.
http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2010/06/recipe-for-mujadarra-middle-eastern.html is the recipe I have used as the basis for mine. There are many mujadarra recipes on the internet with slight differences. I increased the seasonings a bit and added a dash of cinnamon to mine. Delicious!
We have packed this in lunches. It is good reheated or cold. It is great with a simple salad.

Mujadarra

Ingredients:
3/4 cup long-grain white rice
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
3 yellow onions, cut into quarter slices
1/3 cup olive oil (I have used peanut oil so if you don’t have olive oil use what you have)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp ground black pepper or to taste
Dash of cinnamon, optional

Instructions:

Cook rice in water following package directions. Set to the side. ( I cook this while I am cooking the lentils. If you have leftover cooked rice you could use it.)

Rinse lentils, then place in heavy pot with about 1 quart water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let lentils simmer  uncovered until they are soft- about 20-30 minutes. When lentils are cooked, cover and let them absorb any leftover water.
While lentils cook, chop onions. Heat oil in a heavy frying pan. Add onions and cook over medium heat, stirring every few minutes, until deeply browned and caramelized.
When onions are browned, remove half the onions to drain on a paper towel to crisp if you want. I don’t bother with this.  Stir 1/4 tsp cumin into the onions in the pan and cook 1-2 minutes.
Combine drained lentils with the onions in a pan. Season the cooked lentils and onions with salt, black pepper and cinnamon if you like and cook 1-2 minutes to blend flavors.
Mix cooked rice into the lentils and caramelized onions, heating for a minute or two if the rice is not hot. Top with crispy caramelized onions if you want. Serves 4.

Give this dish a try!

From my home to yours,
Lounmoun

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Chicken Caesar Sandwich for One

I have seen slow cooker chicken Caesar sandwich recipes floating around Pinterest and blogs. It looked tasty to Hagbard and me for a quick dinner or lunch. Amethesto does not want to try it at all so she is having a plain chicken sandwich.
Basically you will need some cooked chicken to start with. You can slow cook the chicken like they do in the other recipes but if you don’t have a slow cooker you could also just boil/bake some chicken, use leftover chicken or buy a precooked chicken from the deli and use that.
For a 4-6 serving recipe version using a slow cooker try this-> http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/2011/09/slow-cooker-chicken-caesar-sandwiches.html
I’m going to give you the ingredient list for my faster version with one sandwich. I added a bit less parmesan cheese and dressing to my mixture than the other recipes would have you do because I am watching calories. I used baby spinach instead of romaine lettuce for more of a nutritional punch. I had it all on a warm crusty ciabatta roll.

Chicken Caesar Sandwich for One
3 oz cooked shredded chicken
2 T Caesar salad dressing
1 1/2 tsp parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dry parsley
1/4 tsp black pepper or to taste
Lettuce or baby spinach (about 20g)
Bun or roll (58-85 g)

Mix chicken, salad dressing, parmesan cheese, parsley and pepper. Heat in pan on stove over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Put mixture on bun with lettuce or baby spinach.

Verdict: This is a keeper!
Hagbard- “This tastes like Caesar salad.”
Loumoun- “It is supposed to so that’s good I guess. Do you hate Caesar salad?”
Hagbard- “No, it’s fine.”
Lounmoun-  “Is there anything you would change?”
Habard- “The only thing I might add is some bacon. It is pretty flavorful and tasty as it is though. I would eat it again.”

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Full of beans!

Today I made Treebeard’s Red Beans and Rice as posted on Food.com. It was pretty simple, very filling and made a lot so if you have a group to feed or want some planned leftovers this is a good one to try.

I soaked my dry kidney beans in a pot of water overnight. The recipe states in big letters not to drain the soaking water from the beans. I didn’t see why so I drained it and added fresh water.  I’m just looking for something to rebel against!

I simmered my beans for 3 hours then added the seasonings and sausage and simmered it about 4 more hours.  For awhile it wasn’t looking too appetizing- kind of grayish water with bits floating around. Gradually it got pinker and the aroma was tempting.  You might have observed that I simmered my pot o’ beans way longer than the recipe instructed but I have my reasons! Firstly this was our second day of homeschooling 5th grade and secondly Hagbard didn’t get home until after 7 PM.  I think this recipe would go into a slow cooker very well if you want to use it that way- I know I will at some point.  (SAHM’s use slow cookers too!) I also think you could leave out the sausage for an even less expensive yet satisfying meatless meal. I served the beans and sausage over rice (of course) with the recommended shredded cheddar cheese and optional green onion.

Little Lulu decided no green onion for hers. She called this recipe Minnie’s Bean and Rice Curry.  She likes to rename things.  She ate everything but the sausage and declared that  it was yummy.  Yes! It actually won over my picky eater!  Hagbard and I both enjoyed this as well.  It was very filling so we have a lot of leftovers.

Leftovers often sneak into Hagbard’s lunch. I went ahead and packed it while I was putting food away tonight. I’m trying to be more responsible and pack his lunch at night just in case I oversleep again.   He also is getting a ham and swiss cheese sandwich, doughnut pudding (like bread pudding but made with old doughnuts), dried fruit mix and tomatoes.

The doughnut pudding was created because I spent a good share of Sunday making homemade doughnuts. I only made half a recipe but still had 6 or so full sized doughnuts plus many holes and now they were past their prime. So I had nothing much to lose if it didn’t turn out edible.

To make the doughnut pudding I cut up our old homemade glazed doughnuts into pieces- there were probably about 2- 2 1/2 cups. I dumped them into a greased 8″x8″ baking dish. I beat 1 cup of milk with 1 egg, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla and about 1/4 cup agave nectar. We are new to agave nectar but like it very much so far. I poured this mixture over the doughnut pieces and let it soak in for about 10 minutes. Then I baked it in a 350 F oven for about 25 minutes- until it was browning on top and set.

So what did the family think of my recycled doughnuts?  Little Lulu hates bread pudding so she wouldn’t even try it. Hagbard and I both enjoyed it though and  I liked not feeding my trash can the doughnuts I worked so hard on! I think it would also be delicious with the addition of apples.

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Luminous Lunchbox

Hagbard is back to the grindstone of work and school today. I got up early to pack his lunch in a laptop lunches box. Today’s lunch is ravioli with tomato & basil sauce, Caprese salad, broccoli filler, dried fruit and a granola bar (cut into squares to fit).

Ravioli Revelry

I think we got the laptop lunches box in January. I really like using it because there is less waste and the separate inner containers make it easy to pack a more interesting and complete meal. Around the time we purchased this box, I really started looking at making bentos.  There are some wonderful ideas out there to make a packed lunch appetizing and healthy.

I got a book Kawaii Bento Boxes: Cute and Convenient Japanese Meals on the Go at the same time that I got the lunch box. In the book there are instructions for making things like a rolled omelet or rice balls. There is also good information on how to pack your bento and nutritionally balance it. And of course there are ideas for making it cute! I was a bit surprised at how much ketchup was used. I’m not really a ketchup fan- I don’t even dip my fries in it- so I shuddered a bit every time it was mentioned but wondered if Japanese ketchup is different.

Hagbard doesn’t mind cute lunches but I don’t go overboard usually. I think even just using a cookie cutter on a sandwich adds appeal to ordinary lunch. Generally I spend 10- 20 minutes packing the lunch and making coffee. The most time I have ever spent putting together a lunch was probably an hour. That included cooking rice or pasta and fiddling with the box. I think having a plan before you start and having a stash of things that are ready to tuck into the box definitely cuts down on prep time. I frequently incorporate planned leftovers and that saves time.

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Morning Macaroni Mayhem

Hola!

This morning I got up early and started making the macaroni salad for our lunch today.  I used wacky mac instead of regular macaroni today. As everyone else was asleep my only helper today was our long haired Chihuahua, Sophie.

I first made  a deli macaroni salad recipe I found on the former Recipezarr- now Food.com- in April of last year. My daughter had expressed a fondness for macaroni salad from the grocery store deli and I’m always thrilled to find something she will eat but I was sure we could make it at home pretty easily.

My daughter won’t eat visible onions but I can get by with using onion powder. I have made a few other adaptions to the original recipe.  Since we are a small family I also made less than the original recipe would. We’ll be having this with Cajun seasoned chicken breast today.

Stirring it all together.

Macaroni Salad

(makes about 3 cups)

1 1/2 c macaroni or wacky mac

1T onion powder

1 dill pickle, diced

1/2 tsp salt and pepper or to taste

3/4 c mayo

1 tsp pickle juice

1/4 tsp dried dill weed

1/4 tsp garlic powder- or to taste

about 1/4 c diced cheddar cheese

Cook macaroni 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse.

Mix with diced pickle and onion powder in medium bowl. Add salt, pepper, mayo, pickle juice, garlic powder, dill weed and cheese and stir well.

Refrigerate a couple of hours before serving.

Takes about 20-30 minutes to make.

Review: Everyone ate and enjoyed the macaroni salad. Hagbard said that it complimented the Cajun seasoned chicken well. Little Lulu declared that it was delicious. There are probably 1 or 2 serving left.

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