This time of year is always busy. So many weddings, BBQs, birthday parties, and of course, work (work, work, work, work). Come the weekend, all I want to do is sleep in, wake up to birds chirping and a strong cup of coffee, and shop locally at our farmer’s market. In Wisconsin, we currently have a plethora of carrots, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, potatoes, and of course, green beans.
Green beans and wax beans as far as the eye can see. $3 for how many beans? Um, done. Goodness, I love summer.
Combine minced shallot, oil, vinegar and salt in a mason jar and set aside.
Bring several inches of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add beans. Boil until the beans are bright green and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the beans from the saucepan and submerge in an ice bath. Shake dry and place on a platter.
Spread the corn on top of the beans. Shake the dressing to blend and drizzle it over the vegetables. Top with fresh basil and pepper. Serve at room temperature or cold.
Recipe adapted from http://www.healthyseasonalrecipes.com/
During hot summer months, I try not to spend too much time cooking over a frying pan or near a hot oven. My body craves meals that can be served at room temperature or cold. So even though there is some “hot” work involved with pasta salad, this is perfect to whip up and enjoy later in the day after it has had time to chill.
It’s also time for the corn and zucchini harvest, so this pasta salad is light, fresh, and in-season. All good things in my book!
This recipe is very easy to throw together. It’s great as a meatless meal, a side dish, or served with rotisserie chicken for a more robust entree. This keeps well at room temperature so you can bring this to BBQs as well, especially if you use vegan mayonnaise, like we did.
Note, we are not vegans we but prefer the taste of vegenaise.
In a large bowl, toss the corn and zucchini with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large frying pan over medium heat. Saute for four to five minutes, until the zucchini browns slightly. Add shallot and cook for another minute. Pour vegetable mixture back into your large bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Drain well and pour into same large bowl.
In a liquid measuring cup, whisk the mayonnaise with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the lime juice, chile powder; season with salt and pepper. Add the pasta, corn, zucchini, tomatoes and mix well. Transfer to a serving bowl or individual bowls. Using a vegetable peeler or carefully with a knife, shave the frozen goat cheese all over the top and enjoy at room temperature or chilled.
If you’re anything like me, you tend to make way more rice than you need. I seem to ALWAYS have leftover rice in my fridge! This Spanish Rice is a great way to spruce up your leftover rice for your next taco/Mexican night.
I like peas and carrots in my Spanish Rice. Feel free to take a more traditional approach to your own rice and omit the veggies if you’d rather keep it simple.
This is my new favorite, quick and easy snack or side dish. This couscous salad is packed with bright flavors from the lemon, basil and fresh vegetables. It’s also light and refreshing, perfect for these warm days ahead of us. Plus it keeps for awhile, so you can prepare it ahead of time for parties.
I didn’t have any chickpeas or garbanzo beans on hand, but I bet a can of these would make this couscous salad more filling and packed with protein.
I love mashed potatoes. Love love love love them. Heck, I’m so in love with mashed potatoes that I would marry them if it were legal in this state.
Hi, I’m Mrs. Mashed Potatoes. How are you doing today?
Unfortunately, like many foods that I love, mashed potatoes are not very health conscious. Especially after I add loads of butter, heavy cream, cheese and sometimes bacon to them (yum). These Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes have the same smooth texture as mashed potatoes and the taste is so spot on that it’s close enough to make low carb dieters or Paleo dieters happy.
Plus you can eat seconds without feeling guilty. I like that.
I prepared these “potatoes” in a food processor. If you prefer chunkier “potatoes” simply mash the cauliflower with a potato masher and fold in the ingredients instead. Top with chives (or whatever you like putting on your taters) and you’ve got an all-star side dish.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Are you making anything for your sweetie?
Our Valentine’s Day tradition between my Mister and some of my friends is to attend some sort of violent sport each year. For some reason I always feel compelled to celebrate this Hallmark day even though I don’t consider myself a mushy romantic. A few years ago we attended a hockey game, found it wasn’t violent enough and attended a LaCrosse game the years following. Now V Day is something I look forward to every year for that very reason. Go sports!
Now, you’re probably wondering what violence has to do with this cucumber salad recipe? Good question. I’ll have to get back to you on that.
This cucumber salad is a great accompaniment to any heavy entree. It is light and refreshing with pops of crunch from the red onion. I made it even lighter (healthier) by using greek-yogurt and fat-free sour cream. The important thing to remember about making cucumber salad is that cucumbers have a lot of water in them. You want to remove as much water as possible before combining all of your ingredients or else your cucumber salad will turn out very watery (and nobody likes a watery salad).
Mix the cucumbers, onions, and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Pour them into a colander and suspend it over a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Discard the liquid that collects in the bowl.
When the cucumbers are ready, roll them up in a paper towel and press the towel lightly to remove most of the liquid. Place the cucumbers, yogurt, sour cream, vinegar, dill, remaining salt and pepper into a bowl. Toss well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld. Taste and add additional seasonings if necessary. Serve chilled.
Mister and I have a heck of a time cooking brown rice. It seems like every time we follow the package directions to a tee, our rice always turns out crunchy. We’ve compensated by adding more water to the pot but we still can’t seem to find the perfect combination. Now, I may be the only Asian in the world who doesn’t have a rice cooker (don’t judge me), but I can conquer white rice without any problems. I don’t know what it is about brown rice that gives us issues, but it does!
I finally tried a method of cooking brown rice that WORKS. I found this recipe on Skinny Taste (she mentions that she found this on Saveur). My rice wasn’t crunchy, or soggy, or burned… it was amazingly fluffy and perfectly cooked. I may never follow package directions again. Watch out world!
Yields: Makes about 3 1/2 cups (5 servings). Different rice varieties may yield different amounts.
Serving Size: 3/4 cup
1 cup natural brown rice
8 cups cold water
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Rinse the rice with cold water for 30 seconds. Bring the water and salt to a boil over high heat in a large heavy pot with a tight fitting lid.
When the water is boiling add the rice, stir and partially cover (don't cover completely or it will spill over) and cook on medium-high heat for 30 minutes.
Remove from heat, drain the rice in a strainer, then quickly return to the pot and cover tightly for 20 minutes so the steam finishes cooking the rice (place the pot on a cold burner). Uncover the rice and fluff with a fork.
On days when it snows I want a few different things:
A warm drink
A hot, filling meal
A wood burning fire (optional)
Macaroni and cheese definitely fits the bill for a hot, filling meal. Emeril’s mac and cheese is an expensive macaroni and cheese overall but it is one of the richest tasting recipes I’ve ever tried. I love Emeril’s addition of his own “Essence” spice in the breadcrumb topping (we always use crushed Goldfish and/or Cheez-Its instead). His seasoning blend was a nice touch and I will continue to use this combination of spices for any breadcrumb topping from here on out.
I like my mac and cheese super creamy so I added an additional 1/2 cup of half & half and reduced the amount of gruyere by 2-ounces. A personal choice because gruyere to my palette is a very strong cheese that I can pick out in any recipe even before I taste it. I served my mac and cheese with some fresh peas to add a bit of freshness to my plate. It also made me feel a little less gluttonous mentally. 🙂
In a heavy, medium saucepan melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over low heat. Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and whisk in the half and half little by little. Cook until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat, season with the salt, pepper, hot sauce and 4 ounces of the grated parmesan. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Cover and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt to taste and, while stirring, add the macaroni. Return to a boil, reduce the heat to a low boil and cook for about 5 minutes, or until macaroni is very al dente (slightly undercooked). Drain in a colander and return the macaroni to the pot. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the garlic and stir to combine. Add the bechamel sauce and stir until well combined. Set aside.
Using the remaining tablespoon of butter, grease a 3-quart baking dish or casserole and set aside.
In a large bowl combine 4 ounces of the remaining parmesan cheese, cheddar, fontina and gruyere cheeses. Toss to combine.
Place one-third of the macaroni in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with one-third of the mixed cheeses. Top with another third of the macaroni and another third of the cheese mixture. Repeat with the remaining macaroni and cheese mixture. In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs, remaining 1/2 ounce of grated parmesan, and the Essence and toss to combine. Sprinkle this over the top of the macaroni and cheese.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the macaroni and cheese is bubbly and hot and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
I have to say, squash can seem like an intimidating vegetable. It’s big and awkward and has a tough outer shell. Have no fear though because cooking a squash is super simple. Just put it on a cookie sheet, stab it a few times with your favorite knife and pop it in the oven. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am. After an hour that tough shell loosens to reveal a creamy, buttery center. Yum.
After you bake your squash, add lots of garlic, parmesan and a touch of cream then balance all of the savory flavors with a bit of sweet by adding some dried berries. This is an extremely easy recipe that’s dressed to impress. This smashed squash is unique enough to be a holiday side dish or simply served along side a casual entree, like these roasted chicken thighs. Do it. You know you want to.
Baked Butternut Squash with Garlic and Dried Berries
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Yields: Serves 6
1 small butternut squash (about 3-4 pounds)
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely minced fresh parsley (or basil)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup dried berries (I used cranberries and blueberries)
Preheat oven to 375F. Pierce squash a few times with sharp paring knife (to let steam escape). Bake squash for 60 minutes, or until a paring knife pierces easily through skin with little resistance. Let squash cool for 10 minutes.
Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove and discard the seeds. Peel the skin off and set aside. If the squash seem difficult to scrape, return the squash to bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Heat a large saute pan with the butter and the garlic over medium-low heat. When garlic becomes fragrant, add parsley, salt and squash. Toss well, sprinkle in the parmesan cheese and taste to see if you need additional salt. Add the berries and serve hot with butter.
What better way to start the work week with a recipe that calls for bacon. Yes you are absolutely right, this is not a breakfast recipe. As far as I see it, bacon should be enjoyed during all times of the day.
Over the last couple of years a few people at my workplace have given birth to a new nickname, The Doctor. Now I won’t go into the details on how I achieved this nickname (for fear that you will just fall asleep in your chair) but I will go into how a doctor’s advice should be taken seriously. This doctor (i.e. me) specializes in working hard, playing hard and eating hard. My best advice? Eat as much bacon as you can before this “bacon shortage” takes it’s toll.
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped into bite-sized pieces
4 small potatoes, diced
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Place the chopped bacon in a skillet, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until evenly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the bacon pieces on a paper towel-lined plate.
Melt the butter in the same skillet and add the potatoes. Cook the potatoes until they are almost fork tender and have a nice crust on them, about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes. Once the potatoes are mostly cooked, add the onion, green beans, garlic and chicken broth. Cover and simmer over low heat until the green beans are tender, about 8 minutes. Finish with a splash of vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
The first time I met my Mister’s family was a bit of a stressful experience for everyone. His sister was in the middle of planning her wedding and family members flew in from New York to lend a hand and attend the festivities.
Somehow we started talking about the celebrated New York State Fair. Of course, the conversation lead to food and Mister’s mom and sisters asked me (almost in unison), “Have you ever had salt potatoes?” I had never heard of salt potatoes prior to this conversation and they INSISTED that I tried these, acting like I had said something blasphemous toward the Potato Gods.
After doing a little research, it looks like salt potatoes are local to Syracuse, NY. No wonder I had never heard of them before! Well, being a good girlfriend (and an adventurous foodie) I made these for Mister and myself and I’ve come to the conclusion that vast amounts of salt and butter make any potatoes completely drool-worthy.
This recipe is super simple and the potatoes aren’t as salty as you’d expect. The salt acts like a brine, leaving the potatoes plump and juicy and begging to be drenched in butter. Which I did. And I added a little bit extra, because it’s good. And then we ate them all. Man I’m getting hungry…
Anywho, the wedding was a success, his family is absolutely amazing and I didn’t anger anymore Potato Gods. Phew!
Wash the potatoes and set aside. Fill a large pot with water; stir in salt until it no longer dissolves and settles on the bottom. Place potatoes in the pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender but firm, about 15 minutes. Drain; cover to keep hot.
While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter in a small pan over medium high heat, or carefully in microwave (butter loves to explode!). Toss the potatoes in the melted butter and serve hot.
I recently ordered a fresh pack of canning jars and I could not wait to break into them! I squealed like a little girl when Mister brought them into the apartment. I was finally going to pickle something!
Now, I’m not anti-pickling or anything. I understand that pickling is fairly simple (vinegar, sugar and various spices make a tasty batch of vegetables) but I’ve always imagined that you need loads of space in order to can anything (like a garage or a big pantry). One day it hit me – why don’t I just make small batches instead? Doy…
I’m a big fan of ginger and carrot flavors and had to try to incorporate ginger into this pickling mix some how. I added a few teaspoons of minced ginger to add that Asian zing. It’s only been 24 hours since I’ve pickled these carrots but I like how they turned out already. I can’t wait to see how the flavors meld as time goes on. One vegetable down, so many more to go. Watch out world!
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel, dill, or anise seeds (See Note)
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons minced ginger
Cut the carrots into stick approximately the size of your fourth finger. Bring a medium-sized pot of lightly-salted water to a boil. (Use a non-reactive pot.)
When the water boils, drop the carrots in and simmer for one minute. Pour into a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain thoroughly.
In the same pot, heat the remaining ingredients. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for two minutes.
Remove from heat and add the carrot sticks. Cool until room temperature, then put into jars and chill.
Carrot sticks should be made at least one day in advance, and will keep for up to four weeks in the refrigerator.
The original recipe called for 1 1/2 tablespoons dill or fennel seeds (in later incarnations.) I found the flavor way, way too strong and reduced it. But feel free to use their original quantities. Carrots will keep, chilled in an airtight container, 1 month.