Sides

Artichokes with Roasted Garlic & White Wine Sauce

Artichokes were on sale the other day at the grocery store (four for five dollars!) and I wanted to experiment.  I hadn’t had whole artichokes in such a long time and honestly had never cooked them myself.  To be completely honest with you, these things really aren’t that scary at all.  Don’t be intimidated my friends, there’s just just one good whack with a knife to trim the top off and then some boiling action in a large pot.  Tada: Artichokes for dinner!  I served mine with some whole wheat spaghetti tossed in fresh pesto.

How do you eat them?  Simple!  Rip off the leaves and drag your teeth along the inside edge, scraping away the soft flesh.  As you get closer to the center, you can actually eat the leaves entirely.  Whatever you do, do NOT discard the center of the artichoke!  Seriously, the center is the grand prize – its the heart and is fabulously delicious!

I got this recipe from Cooking Light…shocking, I know.  I’ve got some new stuff coming for you soon!  I’m finally finding some time to spend in the kitchen again and have been up to some yummy stuff (spoiler alert: I’ve got THE BEST carrot cake coming your way).

Enjoy!

  • 2 whole garlic heads
  • 4 medium artichokes (about 3 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 1 c. organic chicken broth
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°

Remove white papery skin from garlic heads (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap each head separately in foil. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins.

Cut off stems of artichokes, and remove bottom leaves. Trim about 1/2 inch from tops of artichokes. Place artichokes, stem ends down, in a large Dutch oven filled two-thirds with water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until a leaf near the center of each artichoke pulls out easily. Remove artichokes from pan.

Combine half of garlic pulp and wine in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes. Add broth; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 8 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in butter and salt. Pour mixture into a blender; add remaining half of garlic pulp. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Sprinkle dip with parsley, if desired. Serve dip with warm artichokes.

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Categories: American, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Quinoa & Onion Risotto with Crème Fraîche and Hazelnuts

I hardly ever cook dinners these days that aren’t one dish entrees.  It’s not that I don’t like dinners with side dishes, I just really like the simplicity of my meals being one complete dish (USUALLY it means less clean up is involved).  I also have a big issue with food touching that shouldn’t be (you know, like gravy spilling out of your mashed potato boat and getting all over your green beans?  Ick).  All said, I found a side dish recipe that I found worthy of my time since I had some salmon and asparagus I wanted to make for dinner: Quinoa Risotto.

The ingredients sound really weird but I have to say, this was an excellent side dish!  It had tons of flavor and Branden and I both scarfed down a second helping (it reheats well too the next day!).

Don’t expect this to be super creamy like rice risotto but definitely cook it with the same method and you won’t be disappointed!

Enjoy!

  • 1 1/2 c. uncooked quinoa
  • 6 c. water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. finely chopped Oso Sweet or other sweet onion
  • 2 TBS white wine vinegar
  • 3 TBS crème fraîche
  • 3 TBS chopped hazelnuts, toasted

Place quinoa in a fine sieve; place sieve in a large bowl. Cover quinoa with water. Using your hands, rub grains together for 30 seconds; rinse and drain. Repeat procedure twice. Drain well.

Combine 6 cups water, salt, thyme, and bay leaf in a large saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook 5 minutes; discard thyme and bay leaf. Keep warm over low heat.

Melt butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add quinoa; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add warm seasoned water, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion of warm seasoned water is absorbed before adding the next (about 30 minutes total). Stir in vinegar. Spoon 2/3 cup risotto into each of 6 small bowls or plates; top each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons crème fraîche. Sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons hazelnuts.

Cooking Light

Categories: American, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

White Chile con Queso Fondue with Chorizo

Game Day is COMING!  I can’t believe its here already!  Sadly, couldn’t tell you who’s playing but I know I’m excited for the social opportunities that come with the “big game.”  Its all about the parties.

Part of the reason why I can’t believe its here already is because it marks the one year anniversary of correcting my feet – surgery numero uno was the day after the Super Bowl last year. Its been an interesting year with the feets but I’m happy to say that they’re at about 90% and I even wore heels TWICE last week.  That’s a huge deal for a vertically-challenged, shoe-lovin’ woman!

But you probably don’t care so much about my feet and my love for shoes as you do about food.  So onwards…

To me, the Super Bowl is a big giant excuse to eat really unhealthy for a day.  Anyone share that sentiment or am I just looking for excuses?  Regardless, I’ve got an awesome dip for you!

Looking to “theme” your game day food (it drive me BONKERS if foods don’t at least kind of go together, even finger foods.  I’m OCD you could say), then check out these posts from my Mexican-themed New Years that could/should be prepared for game day!

Tamales

Avocado, Orange, and Pomegranate Salsa

Mexican Fruit Salad

You might as well throw in some pico de gallo, guacamole, and of course some quality tortilla chips.  These are my FAVORITE (heck, I even eat them without dips!).

Enjoy!

  • 12 oz. spicy Mexican chorizo sausage, crumbled
  • 12 oz. queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 c. Mexican crema or sour cream
  • 1 c. pico de gallo
  • 3 TBS tequila
  • 1 TBS cornstarch
  • 2 TBS water
  • Mexican hot sauce to taste (optional)

Place the chorizo in a large fondue pot over medium heat.  As the sausage begins to cooks, stir frequently to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  When the sausage is almost cooked, add the cheeses, crema, pico de gallo, and tequila.  Keep whisking until the cheese melts.  The mixture should become smooth after about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water and add the mixture to the fondue.  Stir until slightly thickened.  Taste and add hot sauce if desired.

Serve immediately over low heat.

Adapted slightly from Hallie Harron’s Not Your Mother’s Fondue

Categories: Appetizers, Mexican, Recipes, Sides, Snacks | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce

Oh gosh, Branden’s aunt gave him one of the most incredible cookbooks for Christmas, called Plenty.  If you’re a vegetarian, this book is a must to liven up your life.  Even if you’re not a vegetarian but appreciate vegetables, you should probably consider this book, too (we also made these sweet potatoes out of the book).  Seriously, if nothing else, the pictures are to die for.

This particular recipe jumped out at us right away…because it was on the cover!  It just looked SO good!!  And it was; we were not disappointed at all!

We served this as a side to grilled lamb chops and garlic bread that I rubbed with garlic and dusted with Za’atar before toasting.

Enjoy!

  • 2 large, long eggplants
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. lemon thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs to garnish
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 tsp. za’atar

Buttermilk Sauce

  • 9 TBS buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 400º.  Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise.  Use a small, sharp knife to make three or four parallel incisions in the cut side of each eggplant half, without cutting through to the skin.  Repeat at a 45 degree angle to get a diamond-shaped pattern.

Place the eggplant halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet line with parchment paper.  rush them with olive oil – keep on brushing until all of the oil has been absorbed by the flesh.  Sprinkle with the lemon thyme leaves and some salt and pepper.  Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavorful, and nicely browned.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool down completely.

While the eggplants are in the oven, cut the pomegranate into two horizontally.  Hold one half over a bowl, with the cut side against your palm, and use the back of a wooden spoon or a rolling pin to gently knock on the pomegranate skin.  Continue beating with increasing power until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl.  Once all are there, sift through the seeds to remove any bits of white skin or membrane.

To make the sauce, whisk together all of the ingredients.  Taste for seasoning, then keep cold until needed.

To serve, spoon plenty of buttermilk sauce over the eggplant halves.  Sprinkle with za’atar and plenty of pomegranate seeds on top garnish with lemon thyme.  Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Categories: Middle Eastern, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

BBQ Ribs and Sweet Potato Wedges with Lemongrass Creme Fraiche

Did you know that you can cheat and make BBQ ribs in the slow cooker?  Yup, true story.

I got an All-Clad slow cooker for my birthday a few weeks ago (thanks Mom & Dad!!) which has been much fun!  I had never had one of these gems before and now I’m hooked.  How great is it that I can throw a bunch of stuff in there, turn it on as I’m frantically running out the door at 6:45 and have dinner ready to serve when I get home 11 hours later?  Let me tell you, its pretty stinking amazing.

Enter my really fast but gourmet looking dinner the other night.  First, I’ll let you in the the painfully difficult challenge of cooking ribs in the slow cooker (seriously, you’re going to wonder why you’ve never done this before) and then I’ll introduce you to a new fancier version of sweet potato fries.  YUM!

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

  • 3 lb rack of pork ribs, split into two racks
  • 1 can of Coca Cola
  • Spice Rub

The night before, generously rub the ribs down on all sides with the spice rub.  Cover and refrigerate over night.  In the morning, place the ribs in the slow cooker and pour 1 can of Coke over top.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove ribs from slow cooker and place on a baking sheet.  Place ribs under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until they begin to crisp on top.

Serve immediately with your favorite BBQ sauce.  We really like this one.  Like, a lot (choose the Hickory one).

Sweet Potato Wedges with Lemongrass Creme Fraiche

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs)
  • 4 TBS olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 fresh red chile, finely diced (shockingly, I couldn’t find a red chile so I used a seeded jalepeno)
  • 1 c. cilantro, leaves picked

Lemongrass Creme Fraiche

  • 1 lemongrass stalk
  • 3/4 c. creme fraiche
  • grated zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Wash the sweet potatoes but don’t peel them.  Cut each lengthwise in half.  Cut again lengthwise into quarters and then once more in the same way, so you have 8 long wedges.

Place the wedges in a roasting pan that has been lined with parchment paper and brushed lightly with some of the olive oil.  Brush the wedges with the remaining oil and sprinkle with a mixture of the ground coriander and salt.  Roast for about 25 minutes , or until sweet potato is tender and golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  The wedges can be eaten warm or at room temp.

To make the sauce, very finely chop the lemongrass and grind finely in a spice grinder.  Whisk with all of the other ingredients for the dipping sauce and set aside.

When ready to serve, place the wedges on a large, flat serving dish.  Sprinkle with the diced chile and cilantro and serve with the sauce on the side.

Sweet potato and sauce recipe courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi

Categories: American, Appetizers, Recipes, Sides, Snacks | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Lightened Up Samosas

One of my co-workers is from India and treats us every once in awhile to samosas that he makes the night before. They.  Are.  Incredible.  Like seriously.  I don’t know how he does it, but they’re even good reheated in the microwave.  What fried food is actually good reheated in the microwave?  None…accept for these.

Unfortunately for you, I don’t have that amazing recipe, BUT I did find a recipe for some lighter ones that are pan fried rather than deep fried.  The filling tasted pretty similar and I have to imagine these were easier to assemble than the treats I often look forward to.

Oh and make sure you make the chutney, too – its delicious!

Enjoy!

Chutney

  • 1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 c. fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 c. chopped red onion
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TBS water
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. sugar
  • 1 serrano chile, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger

Samosas

  • 1 1/4 c. mashed cooked peeled baking potatoes
  • 1/4 c. cooked yellow lentils
  • 1 TBS minced fresh mint
  • 1 tsp. Madras curry powder
  • 1 tsp. butter, softened
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 c. frozen petite green peas, thawed
  • 10 egg roll wrappers
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

To prepare chutney, combine first 9 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Set aside.

To prepare samosas, combine potatoes, lentils, mint, curry powder, 1 teaspoon butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cumin. Gently fold in peas.

Working with 1 egg roll wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers to prevent drying), cut down middle to form 2 long rectangles. Moisten edges of wrapper with egg. Spoon 1 tablespoon potato mixture near bottom edge of wrapper. Fold up from 1 corner to the opposite outer edge of the wrapper, making a triangle. Fold over to opposite side again as if folding up a flag. Repeat fold to opposite side to form a triangle. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Lightly coat samosas with cooking spray. Add samosas to pan, and cook 1 minute on each side. Drain on paper towels. Serve with chutney.

Cooking Light

Categories: Appetizers, Condiments, Indian, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Pumpkin & Goat Cheese Risotto

Oh hey, guess what? I found another yummy risotto recipe.  Surprised?  You really shouldn’t be.

This one is a bit different – its got this awesome combination of pumpkin and goat cheese (I really, really love goat cheese) all topped with applewood smoked bacon.  Oh gosh, I’m salivating!

Enjoy!

  • 4 c. low-sodium organic chicken broth, plus extra for moistening, as needed
  • 1 c. canned pure pumpkin
  • 4 slices applewood smoked bacon, chopped
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 leek (white and pale green part), thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 ½ c. Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
  • 2/3 c. dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
  • ½ c. freshly grated Parmesan
  • ⅓ c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. (generous) freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 ½ c. coarsely crumbled soft fresh goat cheese (about 6 ounces)

Whisk together the broth and the pumpkin in a heavy medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low to keep the pumpkin broth warm.

Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until brown and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel with a slotted spoon to drain.

Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook until almost tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the thyme. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until completely absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the pumpkin broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to absorb before adding the next. Cook until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite, and the mixture is creamy, 20 to 25 minutes, adding additional warm broth by 1/4 cupfuls if risotto is dry. Mix in the Parmesan, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, the remaining salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove from the heat. Add more salt to taste.

Divide the risotto among 6 shallow bowls. Sprinkle each with the bacon, goat cheese and remaining parsley and serve

Giada DeLaurentis

Categories: Entrees, Italian, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

FAIL: Baked Avocado Fries

Ugh.  This is just sad, but I feel like I have to post things that don’t go as well because let’s face it, we all make things that just don’t go the way we hope they will so why not compare battle stories?  Here’s one of my recent fails…Baked Avocado Fries.

I’ve been hearing about avocado fries for the last few months and I’ve been intrigued.  Really intrigued.  Everyone’s been raving.  It sounds so amazing…avocados…fries.  YUM.

Well, I try not to fry my food because my body just doesn’t handle that very well, so I was pretty excited when I found a recipe for baked avocado fries that claimed to be as good as their fried counterpart.  Not so much (assuming these taste differently than the fried ones).  Let me defend this recipe a bit by saying the avocados I had were as hard as rocks (which is blowing my mind still).  I had these things in my fridge for weeks and figured they were probably on the back side of good.  WRONG.  They were not even close to ripe.  I had to work so hard to get the darn things out of their skin…and let’s not even talk about trying to remove the pits!  Annoying.  Their “raw” state is what probably led me to my qualm with this recipe…they had no flavor.  Bummmmmmer.

No flavor at all.  I tried fashioning a quick dip out of Greek yogurt and adobo sauce I had on hand that tasted awesome on its own, but still didn’t really help the fries.  I also think the panko I used was to coarse.  Who knows…

I still want to try to fried version of these guys though because I love avocados.  Since there’s so much hoopla around the fried version, I feel like I have to try it before I form an official opinion.

SO what about you?  Have you jumped on the avocado fry train?  Did you like them?  I’m still curious…

Categories: American, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

Navel Orange, Pomegranate, & Avocado Salsa

Happy New Year!!

I’m starting this year fresh with a new, cleaner look to the blog.  I was never a huge fan of my old look, but despite having an IT degree, I really have had no desire to design and host my own site, so I picked a generic look from WordPress.  Nothing has changed this year – I still don’t have the desire to design my own site yet, but I did find a new design that I like better…and I hope you do, too!  I also got a photo booth for Christmas so hopefully I can improve my photo skills in the new year, too (please don’t judge my photos in the next few weeks…I’m learning!!).  I shoot everything for my blog right now using this guy, but the lighting is too inconsistent and quite frankly terrible in our house that I really struggle making my pictures look decent despite really loving this camera for what it is – an indestructible point and shoot (p.s., we went snorkeling in Saint Lucia with this thing and the pictures were AMAZING – I highly, highly recommend this camera, especially if you’re not very nice to technology like I am).

Okay, so enough jib-jab about “improvements” to my blog – how about an awesome and healthy salsa that looks like a party in a bowl?!  Great!  I made this for our Mexican-themed New Year’s celebration at our house and it was a huge hit!  The flavors were incredible and so fresh – the oranges really added something different.

Serve this with some hearty chips or on warm flour tortillas…or throw it on a salad with grilled shrimp (you won’t need dressing!).

Enjoy!

  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large navel oranges
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 2 large hass avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 2/3 c. diced red onion
  • 1 jalepeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 2 green onions, including green tops, cut on the diagonal into thin slices
  • 1/2 c. chopped cilantro

In a large bowl, whisk together he lime juice, salt, and pepper until the salt dissolves.

Working with one orange at a time, cut a slice from the top and bottom to reveal the flesh.  Stand the orange upright and slice away from the peel from the sides in wide strips, cutting downward, following the contour of the fruit, and removing all the white pith.  Holding the orange over a bowl, use a sharp paring knife to cut along both sides of each segment, releasing the segments and allowing the juice and segments to drop into the bowl.  Discard any seeds that might adhere to the fruit or drop into the bowl.  Repeat with the remaining oranges (this technique is called “supreming”).  Drain the juice into a measuring cup and set aside.  Cut the orange segments into 1/2″ pieces and add to the bowl containing the lime juice.

To extract the seeds from the pomegranate, cut the fruit into quarters.  Fill a large bowl with cold water and place it in the kitchen sink to contain any squirting pomegranate juice.  Using your fingertips, break the seeds away from the pith under water.  The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl.  Discard any pith, drain the water, blot the seeds lightly with paper towels and add to the bowl with the orange segments.

Add the avocado, red onion, jalapeno, green onions, and cilantro to the bowl.  Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the ingredients together, being careful not to mash the avocado.  Add the reserved orange juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the salsa is moist but not soupy.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Transfer to a serving bowl, cover, and set aside for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld.

By Diane Morgan, Skinny Dips

Categories: Appetizers, Condiments, Mexican, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Cast-Iron Corn Bread

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas- I know we did. We were able to spend time with both families which was is always a blessing!

So how about some classic cornbread made in a cast iron skillet greased with bacon fat?  Um, okay!  And put down that butter, you’re not going to need it since the pan is greased with awesome.

We always  have a jar of bacon fat hanging out in our fridge.  Its awesome for greasing our cast iron and makes the best popcorn ever!  So please don’t ever throw it away…

Enjoy!

  • Bacon Fat (for greasing)
  • 1 c. Fine Grind Cornmeal (Bob’s Red Mill works perfect)
  • 1/4 c. Butter, softened
  • 1 c. Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 TBS Sugar
  • 4 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (I love King Arthur Flour)

Preheat that oven to 425º F.  Lightly grease a 12″ cast iron skillet with bacon fat or lard (bacon fat is going to give you the better flavor).

Sift dry ingredients together.  Stir in egg, milk, and butter until smooth (careful to not over beat).  Pour into prepared to skillet and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden and the sides begin to pull away from the edge of the pan.

Adapted slightly from Bob’s Red Mill

Categories: American, Breads, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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