Turkish Red Lentil Balls

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Time to go back to real life.  Teaching, working, cleaning, grocery shopping, picking up the mail, showering within a socially appropriate interval, wearing real pants – Yuck.

What isn’t yucky?  These lentil balls.  This recipe comes from the Turkish cooking classes I have been taking (and one thing I am actually looking forward to starting up again now that vacation is over), and I served them at our Around the World New Year’s Dinner.   They also are an excellent way to keep up any health related new years resolutions.

They may look a little strange, but they are little bites of lentil-y, tomato-y, pepper-y heaven.   The taste is not super exotic if you are afraid of trying new foods, but it it just a little bit different than the food we tend to eat, a little special.   And I love ’em.  They serve perfectly as a side dish for dinner or as an appetizer for you vegetarian (they may actually even be vegan too- my first vegan recipe!) friends at parties.

TURKISH RED LENTIL BALLS
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

1 cup red lentils
3 cups water
2 cups extra fine bulgur
1 onion, minced
15 ounces tomato sauce
7 scallions, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons pepper paste*
1/2 cup olive oil
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons red pepper (aloppa pepper)*
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses*
1 bunch parsley, minced

DIRECTIONS

In a saucepan combine lentils and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine uncooked bulgur, onion, tomato sauce, and scallion. Mix lentils and remaining water in bulgur mixture. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, pepper paste, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, red pepper, black pepper, and pomegranate molasses. Let stand until cooled. Mix in parsley. Shape into balls by hand.  Serve with lettuce, tomato slices, pickles, and lemon juice.

Makes approximately 30-40 lentil balls, can serve 8-10 as a side dish.

*These ingredients may be difficult to find but I found most in the specialty aisle of my grocery store. You can always substitute as needed

Peanut Butter Cookies Dough Bites

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I am not a vegan, and I don’t make many vegan recipes. This is for several important reasons:
1) Vegan food supplements are expensive, and I am poor.
2) Sometimes vegan recipes taste a little…off.
3) I like cheese.

I once tried to make some vegan brownie bites to bring to a party since someone there couldn’t eat gluten. The raw brownie dough included dates for sweetness and chewiness So off I went to one of the town’s few speciality grocery stores for dates. Given my frugality/poorness, I saw two types of dates at the store. One was a few dollars cheaper and looked pretty similar to the dates listed in the recipe, so I figured a date is a date, right? No. My vegan brownie bites came together, and everything looked all right. However, when I took my first bite to test them out, they were a little weird. I took a second bite and confirmed that, yes, they were weird tasting. I couldn’t serve weird brownie bites to people- imagine the food blogger shame! So to the trash bin they went, and I ate the rest of the dates plain (they were pretty good, kind of tasted like licorice).

Lesson learned: buy the ingredients you are told to for a vegan recipe.

I have been seriously missing my Reeses Easter eggs, so I needed a peanut butter based snack to help me slowly detox myself. These peanut butter cookie dough bites are the healthy replacement I chose to make. They happen to be vegan but include no weird or foreign ingredients. You shouldn’t have any grocery mishaps or frugality decisions with these peanut butter bites. In fact, you may already have all the ingredients already in your pantry.

I cannot lie and say these are exactly like a Reeses peanut butter cup, but they are a delicious and healthy peanut butter snack that can be whipped up in minutes. And no one is stopping you from dipping them in some melted chocolate.

Also why does Memorial Day or Cinqo de Mayo not have any holiday candy? I don’t want to wait until October for novel candy. First world problems, people.

PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE DOUGH BITES
Slightly Adapted from A Pinch of Yum

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts
1/3 cup golden raisins
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-4 teaspoons water, as needed
2-4 teaspoons flour, as needed

DIRECTIONS

In a food processor, process peanuts until broken into small pieces. Add raisins, salt, peanut butter, and vanilla. Process until a soft dough forms. Add water if need to help the dough come together. Remove dough from processor If too oily, work in a little flour if needed. Divide dough into small ball. Press down into flat disk. Use a fork to create a criss-cross pattern if desired.

Makes 12-15 cookie dough bites.