Lentil “Pilaf”

lentils winning picture

 A few days ago, I made the decision to enter the Lentil Recipe Revelations Challenge. I discovered the beauty of lentils in my adulthood and I enjoy a good lentils recipe. In preparation for this contest, I researched what spices and other ingredients compliments lentils. I discovered that bacon, bell pepper, cumin and garlic are great with lentils. I love all of these ingredients. Below is my creation. It’s my take on a “pilaf”. My lentil pilaf is great as an appetizer or as a side dish served with seafood. I even think this lentil pilaf would be great in a burrito.


1/2 cup of green lentils, rinsed
2 cups of Lipton tea broth
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 cloves of garlic, pressed or smashed
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 cup of bell peppers, medium dice (red, yellow and green)
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of sherry vinegar
2 -4 strips of bacon, cooked, crispy (preferably center cut)
1 tablespoon of sour cream
Chives, chopped


1. Wash lentils thoroughly. Place lentils in a pot with onion broth. Add a generous pinch of salt and 3 cloves of garlic pressed or smashed and simmer over moderate heat until al dente, about 20-25 minutes.  Drain liquid from lentils and set aside.

2. In a pan, melt butter. Add the remaining pressed garlic and saute. Add the peppers, salt and black pepper to taste and cook for 3 minutes. Add the lentils and stir.  Add just enough leftover onion broth to be seen and cook until most of the broth is absorbed. Add half of the the cumin and stir. Drizzle the sherry vinegar over the lentils. Plate the lentils and garnish with bacon and chives. Finish the plate with a dollop of sour cream seasoned with with remaining cumin to taste.

 lentils winning picture

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The Perfect Side Dish for the Holidays or Anytime: Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Apples

Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Apples

I recently saw Ina Garten for a talk and then bought her book: Barefoot Contessa Parties! The very first recipe I made from the book was Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Apples.

This side dish invites everyone in the kitchen because of the wonderful aroma. It’s delicious. I served the smashed sweet potatoes with apples with sauteed ground turkey with chives. You can serve this dish with grilled sausage or with BBQ short ribs and brussels sprouts. Ultimately, smashed sweet potatoes with apples is the side dish at Thanksgiving. I also think this dish could be wonderful as a soup.

Here’s the recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Parties Book:

4 pounds of sweet potatoes (about 6)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 McIntosh or Macoun apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
3 tablespoons light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Scrub the potatoes, prick them several times with a knife or fork, and bake them for 1 hour, or until very soft when pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven and scoop out the insides as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Place the sweet potato meat into the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and add the orange juice, cream, butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Mix together until combined but not smooth, and pour into a baking dish.

For the topping, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apple wedges and brown sugar and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes until lightly browned on both sides. Place on top of the sweet potatoes.

Bake the sweet potatoes and apples for 20 to 30 minutes, until heated through.

Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Apples