Tag Archives: sides

Busy.

Hey. Um, World? Yeah…can you just slow down for me? Like just a tiny bit? I’m getting dizzy. Oh boy. Get the sawdust out. This isn’t going to end well.

I’ve been busy. Can you tell? And while I’m busy at work (oh, man SO busy at work) busy at home (SOOOO busy at home), I should really take a lesson from myself and make things like this delicious fresh salad to get me through these packed to the brim days.

Let’s not talk about that three straight days of takeout pizza this past weekend. Don’t you judge me! 😉

I made this delightful fall-inspired salad for my Project Food Blog dinner party. We’re more than a month past this event and I’m STILL trying to get you the recipes from the party. That should be proof enough how busy I’ve been as of late. Sheesh! I’m dropping the ball here.

This salad is light, refreshing and flavorful. I’m a sucker for citrus flavors so I thought the dressing was the perfect compliment to the bold greens and sweet pears. The goat cheese adds a bit of richness and makes it taste and feel hearty. Love that creamy bite. I could easily make a meal out of this with some crusty sourdough bread on the side. YUM.

MIXED LETTUCE, PEAR AND GOAT CHEESE SALAD WITH CITRUS DRESSING (Recipe Source: Cooking Light via MyRecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS:

For the dressing:

  • 1  tablespoon  finely chopped shallots
  • 1  teaspoon  Dijon mustard
  • 1/4  cup  fresh orange juice
  • 4  teaspoons  fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 4  teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:

  • 2  tablespoons  fresh orange juice
  • 2  firm ripe Bosc pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • 6  cups  mixed baby lettuces
  • 1  head Boston or butter lettuce, torn (about 2 cups)
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Make the dressing: Combine shallots and mustard in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in 1/4 cup orange juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in oil, stirring constantly. Dressing can be made ahead. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Whisk well to combine before using.
  2. Make the salad: combine 2 tablespoons orange juice and pears, tossing to coat. Combine lettuces in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing; toss gently to coat. Arrange about 1 cup lettuce mixture on each of 8 salad plates. Top each serving with about 1/4 cup pear and 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese. Serves 8.

ENJOY! 🙂

One Year Ago: Stella Cookies (Cinnamon Pecan Crescents. My favorite Christmas cookie)
Two Years Ago: I was NaNo-ing and therefore not cooking much. 🙂

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Roasted Roots

One day a couple of friends found a Rusted Root CD in the street. Just lying there. Unclaimed and unloved.

They picked it up and thought: Score! Free CD!

It was the mid-nineties and along with a fondness for baggy jeans (slit at the ankle to properly cover the Doc Martin. Duh.), the friends were fond of a song on the album:

Well, kind of. It was all right. They wouldn’t turn it off it came on or anything. But it’s not like they jumped up to hit record on the boom box to capture it on their latest radio mix tape with as little annoying DJ talk over the music as possible.

They brought the CD in the house, all set to pretend like they knew the words before the chorus and sing along (No, seriously. What are the words? That’s not English, right? That’s what I thought…)

The CD wouldn’t play. Scratched. Sliding across concrete does that to things.

Bummer.

The disappointment was palpable for about 3 seconds. So much for free music. (For all you youngsters out there, no, Napster had not been invented yet.)

And then the friends went off in search of candy. Or something similar.

Now for the shocking plot twist: I was one of those friends.

True story.

The roots in the recipe below are not rusted. That would require a side of tetanus shots, which would not be good for anyone. But they are roasted, which turns some ho-hum, forgettable vegetables into little gems of golden brown deliciousness. That’s good for everyone. Even for people who swear they don’t like vegetables.

I served up this smorgasbord of dirt-dwelling delights at my Project Food Blog luxury dinner party a few weeks back. They were a huge hit. They were also a huge pain in the…ass.

There, I said it. Don’t tattle on me now.

Kidding. They’re not that bad. Although if you don’t like breaking out your biggest, baddest, sharpest knife and hacking away at tough, dirt-covered balls of frustration perhaps this recipe isn’t for you. Celery root. Rutabagas. Leeks.

I feared for the safety of my fingers.

BUT! It is all worth it in the end. These little nuggets are a little bit sweet, a little bit savory and all warm and satisfying. There is something about slightly crunchy, deeply caramelized vegetables that just soothes the heart and soul as the cold weather sets in. My guests really enjoyed them. Even Eric, Mr. Veggie Hater himself. These would be a delightful addition to any holiday table. Make ahead and then just toss back in the oven for 15 minutes or so and serve.

The prep here, once you get past cutting the tough skin away from your celery and washing the weird waxy coating off your parsnips, is really simple. Toss the cut vegetables with a bit of olive oil, season liberally (and I mean liberally…you’ve got a ton of food here) with salt and pepper), toss with fresh rosemary and throw in the oven. Now, the recipe calls for adding whole cloves of garlic to the roasting pans about halfway through the roasting time. I ended up removing them from the finished product because I didn’t think anyone would want to crunch down on them. The garlic flavor was pretty subtle. I’m sure if you wanted a more intense flavor, you could mince the garlic and add as the veggies near the end of their time in the oven. Otherwise, the small flecks of garlic will burn and taste bitter.

ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES WITH FRESH ROSEMARY (Recipe Source: Bon Appetit, December 2001 via Epicurious.com)

Note: This recipe makes a TON and serves about 8 generously. Feel free to scale back to meet your needs.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 pound red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound rutabagas, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1-inch-thick rounds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Position 1 rack in bottom third of oven and 1 rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Spray 2 heavy large baking sheets with nonstick spray. Combine all remaining ingredients except garlic in very large bowl; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Divide vegetable mixture between prepared sheets. Place 1 sheet on each oven rack. Roast 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reverse positions of baking sheets. Add 5 garlic cloves to each baking sheet.
  2. Continue to roast until all vegetables are tender and brown in spots, stirring and turning vegetables occasionally, about 45 minutes longer. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Let stand on baking sheets at room temperature. Rewarm in 450°F oven until heated through, about 15 minutes.)
  3. Transfer roasted vegetables to large bowl and then serve.

ENJOY!

One Year Ago: One of the most popular posts on the blog: Snockerdoodle cookies!
Two Years Ago: Cinnamon Crispy Squares

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Finally Friday!

We made it! TGIF! As my husband would say, doing his best George Jones impression, “It’s finally Friday, free again, got my motor runnin’ for a wild weekend…”

Don’t you just LOVE that song? Heh…

So anyway. I have one last sweet corn recipe to share with you to wrap this thing up. Thanks for hanging with me this week! It’s been real and it’s been fun. It’s even been real fun.

I’m ending the week with a classic – grilled corn 0n the cob! It’s the perfect weekend food. Whether you’re keeping it low key with just you and the fam, or inviting all your friends over, you really can’t go wrong with grilled corn.

I LOVE corn smothered in tons of butter. It’s heavenly. Although I typically try to keep the fat/calories in check by just adding a bit of Smart Balance and a sprinkling of salt, I just couldn’t resist making a butter bursting with tons of fun flavor to smear all over it at least once this summer.

A stick of butter is a blank canvas. You can mix in any spice, herb or flavor you want. This particular recipe features lime juice, tequila and chili powder. It’s got a nice kick from cayenne and the tequila and citrus flavors really pop. I’m a big fan of citrus and corn, the flavors compliment each other very well.

Now, grilling corn. Super easy. There’s a couple ways to do it. You can shuck it and just toss right on the grates. My husband thinks it gets too blackened and dry like that and doesn’t care for it that way so I don’t typically go that route.

You can also grill it in the husks. I pull the husks back and get as much silk off as I can then pull the husks back up over the ear. The corn has to be soaked for a good 20 minutes before throwing it on the grill less you want to start a massive  inferno in your grill. 😉 Doing it this way eliminates the over-browning but it’s an awful lot of work. Usually, I go for the best of both words by shucking the corn and then wrapping it in foil. Works great!! It still gets a little golden brown and kind of steams in the foil, leading to perfectly tender and delicious corn. Slather with your favorite toppings and enjoy the weekend! 🙂

GRILLED CORN WITH TEQUILA LIME BUTTER (Recipe inspired by: my local paper)

INGREDIENTS:

  • Fresh corn on the cob, grilled to your preference
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 to 2 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons tequila
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Beat butter, lime zest, chili powder and cayenne together in a bowl with an electric mixer. Add lime juice and tequila and beat until combined. The mixture will be soft but there should be no liquid showing. Beat in salt. Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference.
  2. Spoon butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap in the shape of a log and roll it into a cylinder. Twist ends of the plastic wrap in opposite directions to firm the cylinder and roll it gently on the counter to eliminate air pockets in the center. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Note: the longer it sits, the better it tastes. I’d make the day before, if possible.) Melt over hot corn and serve.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Is this heaven?

So. Let’s be honest. What do you know about Iowa?

Not a whole lot, right?

You’ve probably heard about that crazy presidential caucus thing that goes on here once every four years that makes the media nearly wet their pants with excitement.

Yes, there’s that.

You are probably picturing miles and miles of cornfields, stalks reaching high toward a crystal blue sky dotted with puffy clouds and shivering in the summer breeze. Weather-worn barns with quaint, red-shuddered farm houses watching over fields of happily grazing cattle. Gravel roads. Pick up trucks. Country music on the radio. Oh, and stars! Millions of them overhead, brighter than you’ve ever seen.

Yes, there’s all of that too. But, wow, there is so much more!

Maybe you’ve never been to Iowa. Maybe you have no reason to come to Iowa and never will. That’s okay. We understand….

But we, all three million or so current residents of the great state of Iowa, want you to know that if you do find yourself around these parts, you will be welcomed with open arms and warm hearts. Because in Iowa, in this the very heart of America’s Heartland, people still smile when they pass on the street. They still reach out a helping hand to a neighbor in need. In Iowa, small town main streets thrive, pulsing with life, laughter and a sense of community and pride. Everyone is invited, everyone is welcome, and everyone can feel at home.

I am not a native of Iowa, but it has been my home for more than five years now. I still long for sunshine and beaches when the wind blows, and the snow falls, keeping the temperature outside well below the freezing mark. I grumble and scowl when my favorite bands don’t stop within 200 miles of me on their concert tours. I still miss my Nordy’s and H&M when I step into my much smaller shopping mall.

Despite all that, Iowa is a great place to live. I can see why people who grew up here and leave and want to come back. It’s homey and comforting. Iowa is like a family that wraps their arms around and you and won’t let go. As the famous line from Field of Dreams goes:

“Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.”

I am especially grateful to call Iowa home this time of year. Right in my very own backyard, I have access to some of the most delectable and delicious sweet corn you have ever tasted in your life.

I wait for it oh-so patiently every year. As we start creeping up on the end of July, I know it’s coming. Sweet corn season. Farm stands with hand painted signs pop up in parking lots and along rural roadsides. Farmer’s market vendors pile entire truck beds with hundreds and hundreds of ears, packaged by the dozen and ready to go. There really is nothing like it in the world. Sweet corn IS summer in Iowa. Golden like the sunshine, and sweet like the breeze. It is literally bursting with juice. It may even shoot across the table and hits someone else in the eye when you take a bite. It’s okay, though. There’s never any hard feelings when that happens. 🙂

As a special treat, I’ve decided to take some time and share with you a recipe featuring sweet corn every day this week.

It’s just a way for me to showcase my absolute favorite thing about summer: CORN! There will be a few surprises, maybe a few things you haven’t thought of before, but there is sure to be something to help you use up all the EARS of corn that are coming out your EARS. Heh. That’s a pun. 😉

First up, a truly fresh and delicious summer side dish. This Roasted Corn Salad from the Pioneer Woman’s cookbook is colorful and vibrant, bursting with everything that’s great about summer. Fresh sweet corn off the cob, yellow squash, tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, basil. The homemade balsamic vinaigrette really takes it over the top. I literally could not stop eating this. I topped grilled chicken with it for dinner and then ate the rest cold for lunch all week. It’s great warm, at room temp or cold and would be a great make-ahead option for a summer get together or potluck.

A few changes from the original recipe – first, I cut it in half. If you’ve made a PW recipe before, you know they feed a crowd. I also cut the amount of garlic, but that’s just a personal preference. I find raw garlic can be really overpowering and I really wanted to taste the veggies here. Feel free to add more if you like. The original recipe also called for drizzling the veggies with olive oil before placing on the grill. I figured there was enough oil in the dressing, so I skipped that step so I could maintain some good crunch on the vegetables after grilling. Worked out well. My changes are noted below. 🙂

Stop back tomorrow for another great sweet corn recipe!

ROASTED CORN SALAD (Recipe adapted from: The Pioneer Woman Cooks)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut in half and seeds/rib removed
  • 3/4 quarters of a cup fresh diced tomatoes (use whatever kind you like. I used grape tomatoes, cut in half)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 6 large basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 very small, or half a large garlic clove, pressed or finely minced

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat outdoor grill to medium heat.
  2. Place corn directly on the grill and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the kernels begin to brown. Add remaining vegetables (except tomatoes) and grill until softened but not overcooked, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from grill and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Roughly chop the veggies and scrape the corn off the cobs with a sharp knife (you’ll make a mess doing this, just be ready). and place in serving bowl. Add the diced tomatoes and toss.
  4. Make the dressing: Mix olive oil and balsamic vinegar together in a small bowl until combined. Add the the basil, salt and garlic and whisk again. Pour the dressing over the veggie mixture and toss until coated. Serve at room temp or chilled. Makes about 3 cups.

ENJOY! 🙂

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The Amazing Shrinking Pastry Crust

In all my adventures in cooking and baking, I hadn’t yet tackled a baked egg dish. What could be better for a Sunday brunch/lunch than fluffy baked eggs, loaded with cheese, veggies and meat? For my introduction to this wonderfulness, I decided to go with a classic – Quiche Lorraine. On the side, I served up a simple green salad dressed with homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Delicious! Light but satisfying at the same time. 🙂

Quiche Lorraine is a classic French dish that combines a flaky pastry crust with eggs, milk or cream, Swiss or Gruyere cheese and bacon. Some recipes call for onion as well. It’s all baked in the oven until warm and golden and then sliced and served like a piece of pie.

Here’s an example of where I had every intention of taking a store bought shortcut but ended up making everything from scratch instead. How often does that happen? It’s usually the other way around! I debated back and forth about making my own pastry. After much consideration, I decided I would use store bought pie crust this go round and save the pastry for another time. Well. I forgot to BUY the pie crust. D’oh! But I had the butter, flour and ice water necessary to make my own so rather than go back to the store, I decided I’d just make it myself.

I baked my pastry and quiche in a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom as suggested in the recipe because I thought it would make for a prettier presentation than a standard pie plate. I ran into a pretty major snafu – my crust SHRANK LIKE CRAZY! Blast!

I noticed it the minute I took it out of the oven – a HUGE gap between the pastry and the pan on one side of the pie. I had one of those “this can’t be good” moments, but moved forward anyway thinking I could somehow carefully pour the egg mixture into the crust and NOT have it overflow and run into that space.

Um. Yeah. That’s impossible. Can’t be done. I poured the eggs into the crust, where they immediately spilled over the pastry like a river flooding its bank and started leaking out the bottom of my tart pan, which luckily, was already on a baking sheet covered in foil.

Eep. 😐

I tossed that thing in the oven to bake and immediately set out to find out what in the world causes insane pastry shrinkage. Ha. That makes me think of Seinfeld. Maybe my pastry decided to go swimming and the water was too cold?

Anyway…

I couldn’t really come up with a definitive answer. I got everything from the dough wasn’t cold enough, to it was too wet, to I stretched it too much in the pan. I swear I didn’t make any of these mistakes along the way, but maybe I did. Oh well.

In the end, the half of my quiche that was not overrun by runny eggs was quite good! The pastry actually had a really great flavor and flake to it. It paired very well with other ingredients, all of which brought their own flavor to the table – salty, crispy bacon, creamy cheese, a slight bite from the scallions. We both enjoyed it very much. The other half…well…it was a little more frittata-like than quiche-like. It still ate, but the crust just got lost inside the egg and it certainly wasn’t as pretty.

So, pastry experts! Any tips for a Newb? Is there a way to insure butter pastry won’t shrink? Any tricks of the trade to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

QUICHE LORRAINE WITH A SIMPLE SALAD (Recipe Adapted From: Emeril Lagasse via Foodnetwork.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 recipe for Flaky Butter Crust, recipe follows
  • 6 ounces thick cut bacon, cut into narrow strips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cups half-and-half (I used fat free)
  • 3 scallions, white and greens, chopped.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss
  • 1 recipe for Simple Salad, recipe follows

DIRECTIONS:

On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry dough in to an 11-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and trim the edges. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the crust is set, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

In a medium skillet, cook the bacon until crisp and the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Discard the fat or reserve for another use.

Arrange the bacon evenly over the bottom of the baked crust.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, yolks, and half and half. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine. Pour into the prepared crust and bake until the custard is golden, puffed, and set yet still slightly wiggly in the center, 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with Simple Salad.

FLAKY BUTTER CRUST:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed (I needed about 4)

To make the dough in a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and butter in the processor and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube and pulse quickly 5 or 6 times, or until the dough comes together and starts to pull away from the sides of the container. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface according to the recipe, fit it into the pan, and allow to rest again in the refrigerator before baking.

Yield: one 9-inch tart or pie crust

SIMPLE SALAD

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, optional
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Assorted salad greens, for accompaniment

Beat the vinegar in a bowl with the sugar, garlic, salt and pepper until sugar and salt dissolves. Then beat in the oil by droplets, whisking constantly. (Or place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake to combine.) Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Toss a few tablespoons of the dressing with the salad mix and serve immediately.

If not using dressing right away, cover and refrigerate, whisking or shaking again before use.

ENJOY! 🙂

One Year Ago: Chicken Piccata

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Against the (S)law

I let the cat out of the bag a couple weeks ago about my past lunchtime coleslaw-induced breakdowns. Would you be shocked and appalled to learn I’m about share a slaw recipe with you?

No, no. My feelings toward coleslaw and its white and creamy hell haven’t changed. I didn’t wander into a dark alley and come face to face with a giant, maniac Hellmann’s jar dressed as cupid wielding heart-shaped arrows ready to strike me down and make me fall head over in heels love with his thick, gloppy innards.

Whoa. Ew, right? Crazy bad mental picture. My apologies to anyone who may have nightmares about giant, winged, diaper-clad Mayo jars with WEAPONS strapped to their backs.

ANYWAY! (I say that a lot, don’t I? Ha.)

The idea of a slaw side is a good one. Crunchy, cool, colorful, a plethora of other “C” adjectives I can’t think of right now. (Where’s a thesaurus when you need one?!) It’s a nice fresh alternative to your typical cold lettuce salad.

The problem is Coleslaw Tunnel Vision – the idea that it MUST be covered in a thick, mayo-based dressing and left out in the hot sun for a few hours to spoil all the fun at your family reunion. Wait. Scratch that last part. :-p That doesn’t REALLY happen.

Or does it? That mayo is a snake in the grass. He’ll bite ya!

I’ve been looking for an excuse to try a coleslaw alternative that was dressed up all fancy-like in a flavorful vinaigrette instead of the traditional mayo dressing. Something that would make people ooo-and-ahh like coleslaw’s hip, urban dwelling cousin came to town and is down at the corner tavern making a scene in her designer duds while regular BORING coleslaw sits in the corner and sulks out of jealousy. Or something.

Ahem. Enter Peppery Coleslaw with Orange Chili Vinaigrette!

This is a GREAT alternative. Fresh and crunchy with just the right kick of citrus and spice. The vinaigrette is has a great bright flavor that I just loved! And it’s versatile too. It’d be great topper for any of your favorite salads. I made this for a crowd and I was concerned about the heat level. I know I love spicy, but I wasn’t sure about everyone else. This go round, I eliminated the chopped jalapeno and decreased the hot chili oil from 2 tablespoons to one. It wasn’t really spicy at all with these modifications – downright mild, actually. In fact, I MISSED the kick of heat. I will make the recipe as written next time and if you’re a spice fan, I suggest you do the same! Try this for your next picnic or potluck! 🙂

PEPPERY COLESLAW WITH ORANGE CHILI VINAIGRETTE (Recipe Source: Paula Deen, Foodnetwork.com)

INGREDIENTS:

For the slaw:

  • 1 (16-ounce) bag 3-color slaw mix
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup light olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons hot chili oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium serving bowl, combine the slaw mix and the peppers.
  2. In the container of an electric blender, combine the orange zest, orange juice, lime juice, mustard, sugar, cumin, salt, and pepper and process until smooth. With the blender running, add the oils in a slow, steady stream. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Just before serving, add the Orange Chili Vinaigrette, tossing gently to coat. Serve immediately.

ENJOY! 🙂

One year ago: Orange Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Big Girl Snacking

Eric and I have a slight….problem.

See, according to the miracle of life, biology and the fact that we both entered this world in June 1982, solid fact implies we are both approximately 27.5 years of age. Here’s the problem – we are living an outrageous lie.

Sure, sure…every day our alarms go off and we get up, make ourselves presentable and skip off to work. While we are there we act completely professional and appropriate as we do our very best to contribute to the overall success of our respective organizations. But we can’t help but wonder….how long until someone, anyone, realizes we are nowhere near as mature as our biological age implies?

We watch old cartoons on YouTube.

We think it’s hilarious to sneak up on each other and yank down pajama pants while someone is washing their face at the bathroom sink. “You’re defenseless!” Is the standard battle cry.

We have every Nintendo and Super Nintendo game ever made on our Wii and play our old faves regularly (That’s really fun! It’s just like being 10 again…only with more cursing. Ha.)

We dance around. And rock out with our bad-ass air guitarin’ selves. And sing into hairbrushes.

And one of Eric’s favorite nighttime activities is to get into bed, take off his nasty, sweaty socks that have been stuffed in his smelly boots all day and put them on my face. Nice.

So needless to say, somewhere around the age of 12, we just kind of stopped growing up. Go ahead and judge away. I’m sure everyone else is a lot more sophisticated, but, really, we don’t care. Neener, neener, neener. (I’m sticking my tongue out right now. HA!)

We just like to laugh. A lot. With each and at each other. And frankly, we wouldn’t have it any other way. All that real world, bill paying, adult stuff we do all day long is BORING. In this house, it’s come as you are. And if you are a teenager in a twenty-something body, you are welcome here! 🙂

There is one area we have grown up at least a little bit. FOOD! Despite our fondness for depantsing and other such nonsense, you won’t find blue box mac and cheese, chicken nuggets or Kool-Aid in this house. I’m all about trying new things and new flavors and if it’s healthy, well, that’s even better!

I’ve been seeing roasted chickpeas pop up in various places and I found myself immediately intrigued. What a brilliant idea for a healthy, crunchy, protein-packed snack! I couldn’t wait to give it a try. I actually made these chili-roasted chickpeas to take to a New Year’s Eve gathering but I ended up forgetting to grab the jar before we left. Oops. Oh well, MORE.FOR.ME. Mmmm. I’m hooked.

These are going to be my new go-to Big Girl snack. I’m always on the hunt for something healthy and filling to keep on hand while I’m pretending to be a grown-up at work. There’s no excuse to hit the vending machine when you can bring these from home. They are SO easy and can easily be customized. I’m looking forward to experimenting with other flavor combos.

One note on this particular recipe – while I enjoyed the crunchiness and the flavors of the chili powder and cumin, I missed a bit of heat. If you use mild chili powder (as I did) and want a bit of a bite in the background, I’d add a bit of cayenne. Not too much, maybe a 1/4 teaspoon or so. A little goes a long way. Other than that, this is a tasty, healthy snack, I’ll be making again and again.

CHILI ROASTED CHICKPEAS (Recipe Source: MyRecipes.com, originally from Southern Living)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2  (16-oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  chili powder
  • 1  teaspoon  pepper
  • 3/4  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425°. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased 17- x 12-inch jelly-roll pan. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until crispy and dry, stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Sweet! Potatoes!

I was one of those people who swore up and down they didn’t like sweet potatoes. Nope. No, thank you. Don’t want ’em, won’t eat ’em, PASS.

Boy, am I glad I gave them another chance here now that I’m a bit older. Turns out, I really, really like sweet potatoes! A lot! The problem was, I just didn’t like them loaded with sugar and oozing with melted marshmallows. Yuck. I don’t care for marshmallows on my dessert plate, let alone my DINNER plate. Blech. For some reason, it never occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, there’s other ways to prepare them. Ways that are bit more modern, a bit more sophisticated and every bit as delicious.

This is kind of  hybrid of a couple recipes. There were elements of both that I wanted to try, so I kind of just combined them into one tasty side dish. These smashed sweet potatoes get a flavor boost by being roasted in a hot over until fork tender. Then kicked up a notch with hint of sweetness from pure maple syrup and a hint of spiciness for chipotles in adobo before being smashed into a puree. We both enjoyed these a lot. Anytime I can get my husband to eat something that’s not the color of meat or bread, I call it a win.

Speaking of win, I’m proud to report that I knocked the 30 day NaNoWriMo challenge out of the park for the second year in a row! Crossed the 50k mark on Thanksgiving afternoon. Now, thank GOODNESS that’s over. I can get on with my life and back to my regular scheduled blogging. Whew!

Hi, I’m Tangent! Have we met?

Okay, back to the food. 🙂

MAPLE-CHIPOTLE SMASHED SWEET POTATOES (Recipe inspired by: These two recipes by Alton Brown and Claire Robinson

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 of a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon adobo sauce from can
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel and chop the sweet potato into one inch chunks and spread onto a cookie sheet in an even layer. Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup. Toss to coat. Roast in oven, stirring occasionally until just fork tender, but not crisp; about 15 minutes.
  2. Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add butter, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, salt and cinnamon. Smash with a potato masher or fork until combined. Garish with copped parsley and a bit of freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

ENJOY! 🙂

One Year Ago:
Texas Chili – this is my favorite chili recipe. YUM!
Rigatoni All’Amatriciana – Past in a bacon and onion sauce. Spicy and delicious!

 

 

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He’s Gone

My husband left me.

Yup, you heard that right. Last Friday he packed his bags and walked out the door. I begged him stay, pleaded with him to reconsider, professed my love, graveled, cried, whined. Nothing worked. He still left. There may or may not have been tears. The horror! The heartbreak!

Oh, three days later, he came back, of course. You didn’t think I meant he left for good, did you? Like LEFT me, left me. No, no, no, of course not. He went to see family and friends for the long weekend and I stayed behind. I could have gone with him, of course, but all my summer travels had left me tired and craving a little bit of me time. Just because I decided to stay home doesn’t mean I didn’t pout a little bit when he left. I just tend to be a little…overdramatic when he leaves. Why? Because I’m needy like that.

Just call me a Stage Five Clinger very loving wife. 😉

The only plus side of my husband leaving town with out me is the opportunity to cook up something I know he wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. I love him and I miss him terribly when he’s away but it’s nice to cook for me. I have a tendency to put his tastes before mine in my cooking because, well, it’s just easier that way. All that goes right out the window when he’s gone.

The first thing I did when he left was run down to the farmer’s market and stock up on fresh veggies to eat over the weekend. Tomatoes, zucchini, red peppers, oh my! And let’s not forget eggplant – cute and purpley eggplant! Yum! I love to enjoy a nice meatless meal loaded with veggies when he’s away. I’m STILL waiting for him to get just a TINY bit better about eating his vegetables. He’s gotten a million times better in the last year but there is room for improvement (sorry, babe, it’s true. but I still love you!)

When I saw this recipe for Spicy Sesame Noodles over at Joelen’s blog What’s Cooking, Chicago, I immediately thought Mmmmm! Then I thought, boo, Eric won’t like that. Bummer. It immediately got pushed into the never ending Recipes to Try when Eric’s Not Home file.

With the abundance of late summer veggies available, I thought this would be a great recipe to load up with freshness and turn into a main dish instead of a side. Turns out, I was right! I added a chopped red bell pepper, a zucchini sliced thinly into long ribbons and planks of delicious grilled eggplant. Mmmmm…

For the noodles, I was going to scope out the Asian foods aisle at the store to see what kind of noodle offerings they had. I forgot. I do this a lot. I don’t think I have once in my life ever been to store without forgetting SOMETHING. Even with my list I can’t seem to remember everything. So, needless to say, I had to go with my usual store-brand 100% whole wheat penne that I always have on hand. In the end, I think the nuttiness of the whole grain pasta paired well with the sauce.

Speaking of the sauce – I really enjoyed it! I did end up adding about of a cup of the starchy pasta water to thin it out a bit before tossing with the noodles, but that’s just my personal preference. I don’t care for really thick, goopy sauces. Since this sauce has a peanut butter base, it was pretty thick. The pasta water was the perfect addition. In the past with similar recipes I have used a dark toasted sesame oil and I think that it really provides an intense sesame flavor. I didn’t have that on hand this time and used a regular light sesame oil. While still good, I did miss the really intense sesame flavor. I also knocked back the cayenne at bit because I didn’t use quite a whole pound of pasta. Next time, I’ll go ahead and do the entire 1/2 teaspoon. I’m not afraid of little kick! Overall, this meal totally hit the spot. Perfect comfort food when I’m missing my hubby. And tasty cold for lunch all week! 🙂

SPICY SESAME PEANUT NOODLES WITH GRILLED EGGPLANT (Recipe seen at What’s Cooking, Chicago, adapted from About.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 box whole wheat pasta
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • juice from one lime
  • 1/2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 1 smallish zucchini, cut into thin ribbons
  • 1 smallish eggplant, cut into diagonal slices 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook pasta, reserve one cup of cooking water, drain and set aside
  2. Heat canola oil in small saute pan. Cook red pepper until tender. Set aside.
  3. Combine peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, green onions, sesame oil, ginger, cayenne, and lime juice in a sauce pan, stirring until smooth.
  4. Brush a tablespoon or two of sauce on eggplant slices. Prepare outdoor grill or grill pan to medium heat.
  5. Add red pepper, zucchini ribbons, and cooking water to sauce mixture. Stir to combine.
  6. Grill eggplant for about a minute per side until just tender.
  7. Toss pasta with sauce, add eggplant and garnish with sesame seeds

ENJOY! 🙂

One year ago: A MANLY meal – Bacon Cheeseburger Calzones with Spicy Cajun Ketchup

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An Apple-y Alternative.

So, the traditional side with my family’s delicious roast pork and dumplings is, of course, sauerkraut. Ehhhhh….I don’t love it. And I know for sure Eric would have no part of that. So I reached back in my memory file and remembered that you could often get applesauce as a side with a meal like this in Czech restaurants. Yum! That was what us kids always chose. I decided to try my hand at making my own.

This stuff is sooooo good! I can’t wait to eat it all week. Roasting the apples in sugar really brings out the flavor! And it’s so easy! The perfect accompiantment to my Bohemian bounty.

ROASTED APPLESAUCE (Recipe Source: Marthastewart.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 pounds small assorted apples, such as Gala, McIntosh, or Fuji (about 10) (I used all Gala – 3lb. bags were on sale at the store this week! Woo!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine water, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  2. Scatter butter pieces over mixture, and top with apples. (I sprinkled the apples with a little cinnamon before putting in the oven…I like my applesauce extra cinnamon-y.) Roast until apples are very soft, 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Working in batches, pass apple mixture through the medium disk of a food mill and into a bowl. Stir in spices. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Applesauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

ENJOY! 🙂

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