Brown Rice, With Onions and Dill

This dish came out of nowhere and knocked the socks out of me last weekend, when we hosted two of our closest friends and their two visiting relatives. Out of the four dishes we served, this one was the stand out. It is a more interesting side than just plain rice (which we hardly do anymore). I like brown rice, I like dill and I like onions. Never thought about putting them together though.

Brown Rice, With Onions and Dill


  • 3 cups brown rice (rice cooker cups, not real cups)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste and/or for color

If you don’t have a rice cooker, go ahead and buy 2 or 3 6-ounce boxes of plain rice pilaf or just stop reading. Are you kidding me? Why wouldn’t you have a rice cooker? If you can make rice without a cooker, than do it. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium. Add the onions and cook, stirring once in a while until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in dill and add pepper (start small, like 1/2 teaspoon and go from there). Transfer the rice into a large bowl and then fold n the onion mixture.

Serves 8.

Here are the nutrition facts:

Cheese and Onion Pie

This is so gooood but so dangerous. Don’t try this at home. Or do, but don’t eat more than a sliver. The calories are actually not that bad considering but the make up of the calories are: It is all fat calories. I say all this but I have to say people love this pie. It is easy to make if you are not a pie dough newbie (heck, it actually is, even if you are). Just make sure you get the decent cheddar cheese. I found the recipe on NY Times. Made minor modifications… So good.

Cheese and Onion Pie


  • 1 and a 1/2 cup flour, plus more for dusting
  • 6 Tbsps unsalted butter, room-temperature
  • 4 Tbsps lard (yes, lard)
  • 3 Tbsps ice water
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 lb grated Cheddar or Chantal cheese
  • Milk, to seal and glaze
  • Salt to taste

Combine the flour and a large pinch of salt in a large bowl. Add 4 tablespoons butter and the lard, and use your fingers to gently rub the fat into the flour until it has the texture of coarse bread crumbs. Mix in just enough ice water to bind the mixture, about 3 tablespoons, and lightly knead the dough until well combined and smooth. When you can, mold the mixture into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Add 2 tablespoons butter to a large skillet over low heat. When the butter melts, add the onions, a pinch of salt and the ground white pepper; cook slowly for about 10 minutes, never browning. Turn the heat to medium and slowly pour in the water. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid cooks off, about 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the pan and place them on a plate to cool.

Grease the bottom of a 9-inch pie dish and sprinkle a clean and dry area on the counter top with flour.

Unwrap the dough and divide it into two balls, one twice as big as the other. Put them on the surface and sprinkle the tops with flour. Using light pressure, roll each one from the center outward, adding more flour as needed and turning them over once or twice during the process.

When the larger ball is roughly 10 inches in diameter, gently move it into the pie dish and press it firmly into the bottom and sides. Prick it all over with a fork.

Layer the onions and cheese on top of the dough in the dish, then carefully cover with the remaining dough — it should be about 8 inches in diameter.

Press the edges together, gently but firmly, and brush the top and edges with milk. Use a knife to make 3 small incisions in the top of the crust so steam can escape. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is nicely browned and the insides are bubbly, an hour or an hour and ten  minutes.

Cool a bit before slicing into wedges and serving.

Makes 8-10 small wedges.

Here are the nutritional facts for the pie:

Red Lentil Balls (Turkish recipe, Mercimekli Kofte)

When I was growing up, my mom had a group friends with whom she would hold “silver” days: Everyone in the group would chip in money to buy the host something lavish in silver (or gold sometimes) and the host in return would host a lavish Saturday afternoon gathering, rich with food and drinks. For women only. And sometimes with kids in tow.

It was in one of those Saturday afternoons that my mom dragged me to a ‘silver’ day at one of her friend’s house that I was introduced to red lentil balls… Very simple yet so very delicious. I tried several recipes before I found a version that I can replicate what I liked so much about this lentil appetizer.

Each ball is about 50-60 calories so eat with caution. They are highly addictive. Also, beware of the ‘bloat’: Bulgur expands in your tummy. Have one or two and wait for 10-15 minutes before you eat something else… Great for 20/20 lifestyles if you can stick to 2-3 of these along with some really good fish or chicken.  If you are allowing yourself some wine, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or dry Chenin Blanc would be awesome with it.

Red Lentil Balls (Turkish recipe, Mercimekli Kofte)


  • 1 cup red lentils
  • ¾ cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
  • 4-6 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon hot red pepper paste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Salt, pepper to taste

Rinse the lentils. In a 1-2 quart pan, cover the lentils with just enough water to soak in its entirety. On high heat, bring to boil and then let it simmer for 10 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on the water level. While you don’t want too much water in the pan, you also want to avoid burning the lentils. You can add more water if necessary.

Once the lentils are soft and mushy, remove from heat and add the bulgur to the pan and cover. Let it sit for 20 minutes until the bulgur expands and softens. If you find the bulgur too crunchy at the end of the 20 minutes, add some hot water, stir and cover again to allow the bulgur soak up the moisture.

In the meantime, in a sauce pan, heat the olive oil on medium and sauté the onions until soft, approximately 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the lentil-bulgur mixture with the sautéed onions, the hot red pepper paste, the tomato paste and cumin. Knead it until well combined. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. (I personally do not add salt since the hot pepper paste is usually quite salty. I do put some red chili flakes and black pepper though).

Add the green onions, the garlic and the parsley and knead to mix.

Take a small to medium size ball of the mixture (size of 2 walnuts, the shelled kid) and shape it into a football (American football, not soccer) with your palm and serve it at room temperature.

The individual portion should look be as tall as a roll of coins, but a little thicker, like 2-3 fingers together. You can serve it on a platter layered with lettuce, for looks if you’d like.

Here is the nutrition information I got by entering the ingredients on SparkPeople recipe calculator:

Slow-cooked Green Beans with Tomatoes (Zeytinyagli Fasulye)

I saw an article about braised vegetables on NY Times earlier in the month. It was dedicated to three vegetables dishes (served cold) from the Turkish kitchen. Pretty good article. I will have to admit that although I am very familiar with the ‘served cold’ vegetables of Turkish cooking (heck, I grew up on it and I even posted some here, like Barbunya, for example), I didn’t know about the three dishes in the article… I know familiar or similar ways of servings these dishes but with very different spice combinations… So, I decided to give it a try, for variety’s sake and also to make sure I can cook them with a 20/20 Lifestyles twist so they can be delicious and healthy. It only took one try to get this one right, in my opinion.

You can stick to the original recipes in the article or you can try mine. The difference is the calories and the serving method. By the way, I am getting good at taking pretty pictures of the food on my cell phone. I had two good ones for this one so I am posting both.

The flavors in the recipe are not bold (I prefer bolder) but they are fine.

Slow-cooked Green Beans with Tomatoes (Turkish recipe, 20/20 appropriate)


  • 3 Tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut in half widthwise
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt – OPTIONAL. DO NOT USE IF ON 20/20
  • Black pepper
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped mint
  • Thick yogurt, for serving – OPTIONAL
  • Lemon wedges, for serving – OPTIONAL

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions and stir occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes, 1 cup water, sugar, salt and pepper and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low, then cover and simmer until the beans are very tender, about 45 minutes.

Remove from heat, adjust the seasoning to taste and cool to room temperature, uncovered, about 45 minutes. Stir in the mint and serve with lemon wedges. You can serve with some nonfat thick Greek yogurt but I don’t think it needs it.

Makes 6 side-dish servings.

The nutritional information on the dish (without the yogurt) is as follows:

Turkey Breast Tenderloins with Kale, Faro and Mushrooms

This dish is a byproduct of desperation. I had purchased some turkey breast tenderloins (impulse) and some kale and mushrooms to do my standard kale soup. Well, I ended up not making the soup and I had to use the turkey breast tenderloins… So, after raiding the fridge for other ingredients, I made this dish. It turned out well. It is pretty tasty (not the tastiest dish ever though… it is after all turkey. Turkey meat is great the first day but, however you slice it, dries after that first day) and it is healthy (kale… so good) and low calorie (290 per serving) and essentially bests, in taste, calorie count and nutrition, any old boring sandwich you can get at lunch.

Turkey Breast Tenderloins with Kale, Faro and Mushrooms


  • 20 oz turkey breast tenderloins, (i used Jennie-O brand), cut into 1.5 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 medium yellow onion, 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 small green bell peppers, 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Pepper paste, 1 teaspoon – OPTIONAL
  • Rosemary, few twigs if using fresh, 1 tsp or to taste if using dried
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Red chili flakes, to taste
  • 1 bunch kale, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces white or brown mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup faro

Spray a 12-inch skillet or a 5-quart pan and heat on medium high. Brown the turkey slightly. Remove from pan.

Pour the wine in the skillet and add the onions and peppers. Saute stirring occasionally on medium high for about 10 minutes. Cover to retain juices when not stirring.

Add the pepper paste if using. I find that pepper paste adds some substance, spice and rounded-ness to some of my dishes. Break the paste and stir to make sure it colors all ingredients. Saute for another 5 minutes.

Bring the turkey back into the skillet and add the chicken broth. Add the rosemary, black pepper and the red chili flakes and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Add kale and stir to coat. Juices won’t be ample so work to wet the kale. Cover and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and the faro (if you’d like you can add more broth and faro to make more of a grain dish out of this… it sounds great because the faro taste comes across even in small quantities… I held back to avoid a carb explosion. In the future, I would put about a cup of faro and more broth, which would bring the calorie count from 290 to about 380 per serving).

Simmer for another 10 minutes. Wait another 10 minutes before serving to let faro fully cook. It should be firm but not hard.

If you can afford the calories, serve it with 1 oz of shredded cheese and several drops of lemon.

Serves 3.

Here is the nutritional information (without the cheese, extra faro or broth that I mention towards the end of the post):

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