Weeknight Greek-Style Lentil Stew

Many evenings I want to talk myself out of cooking and order in. Then I realize there’s usually a bunch of food in my fridge, freezer and pantry that even if it doesn’t make sense, I’ll make it make sense. Plus to be honest, it’s a slow time of year for me real estate wise, the spring season is picking up and I have a couple of deals going, but that payday is still a way’s away. 

Lentils are one of the most versatile pantry staples you can keep on hand. They are a cheap and easy source of protein and fiber, and they can take on so many flavors and forms – soups, stews, salads, patties, etc.

This particular stew was just a weeknight meal that came together in about 45 minutes and is great leftover for lunch. Eat it on its own, or carb it up with some nice crusty bread, some grilled pita, serve over polenta, mashed potatoes, pasta, etc. 

Remember, this was a fridge clean out kind of meal. You don’t have to follow my ingredients or quantities – play around on your own.

WEEKNIGHT GREEK-STYLE LENTIL STEW

2 cups dried Lentils, rinsed 
2 links Loukaniko (Greek sausage with orange peel – I like the Old Neighborhood brand)
8 ounces Ground Pork
1 medium to large Sweet Onion
4-5 cloves Garlic
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup chopped Carrots
2 cups Strained Tomatoes
2-3 Bay Leaves
2 tablespoons Greek Seasoning
1 tablespoon Oregano
Dash of Celery Salt
Salt and fresh ground Pepper, to taste 
Parsley, for garnish

1 – Boil the lentils separately in lightly salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside. This process takes at least 20 minutes, so you may start next steps.
2 – While the lentils are boiling, using a food processor, pulse the onion and garlic until minced.
3 – On a medium setting, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or small stock pot and add the onion mixture, stirring occasionally.
4 – While the onions are heating, place sausages in the food processor and grind into granules. Add the sausage and pork to the onion mixture. Heat until pork is browned. Add the tomatoes, carrots, and seasonings. Be careful not to over-salt as the mixture will reduce and increase the salinity. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
5 – Add the lentils to the stew. Continue to simmer, about 30 minutes, until the carrots are softened. If the stew feels too thick, you may add a bit of water, up to one cup.
6 – You may serve immediately, or chill and serve at a later date. The stew may be stored in the fridge and re-heated up to one week, or frozen and thawed at a later date, up to 6 months. Garnish with parsley before serving.

Carnitas 3 Ways – Part 1 – Street Tacos

In pre-pandemic times I would host many dinner parties and cook for others. It’s obviously been increasingly difficult in the past year to cook for more than just myself and my boyfriend (Who isn’t even with me seven days a week to have all our meals together).


I enjoy batch cooking but I also do not enjoy eating the same thing over and over again. I like variety so one of the things I enjoy doing is reworking leftovers. One way I do this is by making a bit batch of some sort of protein, so then dinners come together quickly with this base already done.


I was in the store the other day and there was a nice price on pork butt so I decided to take advantage. Even though I got one of the smaller pieces it was still over 3 pounds. One of my favorite preparations for pork butt is Carnitas and specifically preparing it in a pressure cooker. I cannot take credit for the recipe that I use, you can find that recipe from My Lilikoi Kitchen here.


I probably made 4 to 5 different dishes this week with all the Carnitas I made. Just my luck that the boyfriend is on a diet so he is reluctantly avoiding some of my cooking. I’m sharing the three ways I enjoyed this protein dolled up most.

The meat after it was finished in the pressure cooker
The meat shredded and finished under the broiler for some crispy edges


FIRST UP – CLASSIC STREET-INSPIRED TACOS

This recipe is not really about quantity but what I like to have on hand when I making tacos. I am a huge advocate of soft corn tortillas, they are my favorite for a taco. Remember you cannot take those puppies straight out of the package and enjoy them they must be heated up. Are usually just warm mine up in a skillet. I have yet to find that Abuela who is going to give me homemade tortillas and right now I don’t have the time to make them myself.

For tonight‘s tacos:

  • Soft corn tortillas
  • Carnitas
  • Cilantro
  • Lime
  • Fresh Guacamole (not pictured)
  • Quick Pickled Red Onion
  • Queso fresco

The picture is pretty self-explanatory assemble with your desired ingredients. I like red or white onions on tacos but when they are completely raw I don’t like having bad breath for days. As I’m getting the rest of my dinner ready I take the diced onion and let them soak in a bit of white vinegar, orange juice, and salt. This takes the “bite” out of the onion while still maintaining crunch and enhancing flavor.

Weeknight Steak Tacos with Citrus Slaw

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By now if you have been reading any entries in this blog since March 2020, you know that like most Americans, I am quarantined at home and I am cooking a lot more than before. I made a vow not to order any takeout or delivery until the worst of this is behind us. I might make an exception for a holiday like Greek Orthodox Easter, but I’m not there yet. Also, I have been a terrible Greek Orthodox Christian, I have barely fasted at all this lent. In any case, I digress…

After nearly two weeks of not going to a grocery store, I am extremely limited on fresh produce. As explained in my post about smarter grocery shopping, I did have coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage with a touch of shredded carrots) on hand.

Corn tortillas are another one of those products that I keep on hand as they have a long shelf life, especially in the fridge. Overall, I prefer street-style soft corn tortillas over crunchy or flour tortillas, particularly for tacos (flour tortillas I feel are best for quesadillas). With a few more ingredients, I was able to put together some tasty and fresh-tasting Steak Tacos.

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Steak Tacos with Citrus Slaw – makes 6 tacos

For Steak:

  • 6-8 ounces Steak (ribeye, sirloin, etc all do), seasoned with salt and pepper and wrapped in dish cloth or paper towels to dry
  • Tajin Seasoning

For Slaw

  • 1 cup Coleslaw Mix
  • 2 tablespoons Chopped Scallions
  • 1/4 cup Orange Juice
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Tajin Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Queso Fresco

For Tacos

  • 6 Corn Tortillas, heated (This can be done lightly brushing the tortillas with a very small amount of olive oil, wrapping in aluminum foil, and place in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can heat the tortillas in a skillet in a bit of oil and wrap in foil until ready to serve)
  • Salsa Verde, optional (I like the Herdez brand)
  • Lime Garnish, optional

Heat a skillet on medium to high heat for about five minutes. Unwrap the steak and sprinkle both sides generously with the Tajin. Cook in the skillet for 6-10 minutes, flipping once, to desired temperature. Remove from skillet and set on a cutting board to rest.

In a medium bowl, add coleslaw mix and scallions. You can create a dressing on the side with the remaining ingredients (minus the queso fresco), or you can add them directly into the bowl. Mix the slaw and taste, adjusting seasonings as desired. Mixed in crumbled queso fresco.

At this point you may assemble your tacos. On two plates, lay 3 tortillas flat on each plate, not overlapping. Top each tortilla with about 1/4 cup of the slaw mixture.  Slice steak against the grain into thin (approx. 1/4 inch) slices. Add 2-4 slices of steak, top with lime and salsa garnish, as desired. Serve and enjoy immediately.

Chicken Meatballs Piccata

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I often have frozen chicken breasts in my freezer, as well as chopped parsley. Pretty much everything in this recipe are common staples in my kitchen, and many folks have in their kitchen. I often get bored of grilling chicken breasts or making them tenders, so I will grind the meat in my food processor and use it for ground meat recipes. You can freeze meatballs to use at a later time, and this is a super fast weeknight dinner.

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Chicken Meatballs Piccata

Makes 4-6 servings
MEATBALLS
1 pound ground chicken breast
1/4 – 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs, as needed
1 egg, beaten
Handful chopped parsley
I small onion, finely diced or grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Mix ingredients until fully incorporated, starting with 1/4 cup breadcrumbs. If mixture feels too wet, add a bit more. Shape into 1.5 – 2 inch balls. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Broil on high about 10 minutes, turning halfway through cooking for even browning. Set aside. Note – these can be done ahead of time and frozen or chilled.

PICCATA SAUCE
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 lemons, juiced, plus zest from one
1.5 cups chicken broth, warmed
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons capers, or more, as desired

SPAGHETTI
1 pound – cook to package directions.

GREENS
Greens – spinach, arugula, kale, etc – as little or as much as you want. You may also substitute additional vegetables for a more complete meal.

Mix lemon juice, zest, and broth. Heat until warm or hot, set aside. On medium heat, butter in saucepan and whisk in flour about one tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated. Cook about 3-4 minutes, do not brown. Slowly whisk in broth mixture, a little at a time, sauce will thicken immediately. Cook 2-3 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Add capers and meatballs. Remove from heat.

For greens, heat a small amount of sauce and sauté until soft. To serve, arrange a serving of spaghetti in a bowl, top with sauce, some greens and then a few meatballs. Enjoy!