Tag Archives: side dish

Refreshing Tomato Salad

Let me say right off the bat that if you don’t like the taste of mint you can leave it out to this salad. My friend Doll does not like anything with mint so before she makes the “ewww” sound after reading the recipe I want her and all mint haters to know the mint is optional. Doll claims to be a southern girl but how can she really be southern if she doesn’t like the taste of mint. Come on! Mint julpes are a southern staple. At least where my family comes from and they are southern.

Hubby and I both like the flavor of mint in salads. I think it adds a refreshing taste to quite a few dishes. My favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip and I love an ice cold peppermint patty. The creation of my Refreshing Tomato Salad was my welcome spring and summer gift to the family. It is packed with olives, feta cheese, cucumbers, artichokes and of course Tomatoes!

I was fortunate this year to have a good crop of tomatoes so I was able to add our homegrown tomatoes to this salad. I have not tried growing cucumbers yet but maybe next year I will. I prefer English cucumbers because regular cucumbers have too many hard seeds. But, that is just my preference. Use whatever type of cucumber you like or have handy.

During these last days of summer I have been making this recipe a little more frequently. It is always sad to see the warm weather turn a little cooler because it means the end of short sleeves, sandals and shorts. I for one will miss the warm days but I also look forward to the beauty of fall weather. Good thing for me my Refreshing Tomato Salad is delicious no matter what the weather may be.

Refreshing Tomato Salad

Ingredients:

4 – 6 small tomatoes large dice cut

1 English cucumber diced

1 jar marinated artichokes drained and slightly chopped

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

½ cup Italian black olives

¼ cup olive oil

juice from ½ lemon

½ tbsp red onion diced small

½ tsp chopped fresh mint (optional)

½ tsp dried dill

½ tsp dried basil

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently. Refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the flavors to marry. Remove from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Serve as a side dish or add a little bow tie pasta to make it a meal.

 

 

 

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Zucchini, Tomato and Sweet Potato Gratin

Eating with your eyes is just as important as tasting with your tongue. I know I have mentioned this in the past but it is worth mentioning again. If you are going to prepare a dish for family, friends or yourself, you want it to look appealing. Combining different colors is an easy way to create visual beauty with food. This recipe is a nice blend of green, red and orange. Layering the vegetables in a circular pattern also made this a very attractive dish.

Gratins originated in French cuisine and has been adopted in many other culinary cuisines. I wasn’t sure exactly what gratin was until I saw one made on a cooking show. On this particular show the chef made potato au gratin which was gorgeous because of the crispy brown topping. Turns out a gratin is considered the technique of topping a dish with breadcrumbs or grated cheese then browning it.

While most of the gratin recipes I have seen are made with sliced white potatoes I wanted to think outside the box and combine potatoes with other vegetables. Plus, I wanted to make the dish pop with color. Hence, my Zucchini, Tomato and Sweet Potato Gratin. A ring of beauty and a delightful dish.

Zucchini, Tomato and Sweet Potato Gratin

Ingredients:

2 plum or vine ripe tomatoes sliced

1 large zucchini sliced

1 large sweet potato peeled and sliced

½ red onion sliced

½ cup shredded Parmesan or mozzarella cheese

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp salt

½ tbsp ground black pepper

½ tsp dried thyme

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Coat bottom of a large iron skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil.  Add minced garlic and spread around the skillet. Alternate slices of zucchini, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes in a circular pattern around the iron skillet. Place red onion slices over the other veggies then season with salt, ground black pepper and thyme. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Place on the lower shelf of the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Move to top rack and back for 20 – 25 minutes more. Test potatoes with a knife to make sure they are cooked and soft.

 

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Simple Slaw

With the warm weather rolling in to say for a while, I thought it was time for me to create a few light dishes for the blog. Simple Slaw is just that …. simple. No fuss. No cooking over a hot stove. This recipe is as I said, just simple to prepare.

Summertime is my second favorite time of the year. My favorite time of year is fall because I love wearing sweaters and fall weather allows me to do that. Summertime, is the other favorite because I don’t have to wear a coat and I can wear sandals instead of shoes. I am a southern girl at heart so wearing shoes is the last thing I want to do in the summer. Plus, summertime forces me to paint my toenails to add that cute factor to the sandals. In the winter, what’s the point of painting your toenails if nobody can see how cute they are. Some may say “well why not paint them for hubby”? To that I say, he barely sees my toes in the house since we all wear socks to walk on the hardwood floors. Besides, winter is cold and you need to wear socks. But, I digress. Back to summertime and recipes.

Simple Slaw pairs well with just about any entree. I have prepared it with steak and potatoes as well as with hot dogs and baked beans. I think this would be a great dish to take to a picnic or barbeque because it travels well. There is no concern about mayo in the dressing so the slaw will keep much longer if sitting out. I know I have said this on a few occasions and I will say it again, colorful dishes are important to me. Besides the wonderful smell of food, the appearance of food helps to make a meal taste delicious. We first eat with our eyes then with our tongues. So the beautiful bright orange of the carrots and the deep purple of the cabbage will entice you to want to dig in. Go on. Try it! I am sure you will enjoy this light summertime dish.

Simple Slaw

Ingredients:

1 8oz pkg red cabbage shredded

1 8oz pkg carrots shredded

¼ cup golden raisins

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

¼ tsp parsley chopped or dried

¼ tsp cilantro

Dressing:

¼ cup Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing and Marinade

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp sour cream

½ tbsp spicy brown mustard

Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine red cabbage, carrots, raisins and seasonings into a large bowl. Pour dressing over slaw and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and allow flavors to marinate for 30 minutes. Stir again prior to serving.

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Lemony Potatoes

Lemony Potatoes is one of those quick side dishes that compliments any entree. I am the potato lover in the family so although I don’t prepare this dish often I enjoy making it in a pinch when I am lost for dinner ideas.

I like using fingerling potatoes in this recipe for a couple of reasons. One: fingerling potatoes have an interesting shape. They are small with a tubular shape and a thin skin so there is no need to remove the skin prior to cooking. Two: Fingerling potatoes are waxy which means they are lower in starch and calories compared to other types of potatoes. Starch, as we all should know, turns into sugar so eating a potato low in starch is a plus for me. Three: The flavor of fingerling potatoes is delightful. The Russian Banana fingerling potato is the one I usually cook because I can easily find them at the local grocer. These potatoes have a buttery and nutty taste. Who could ask for more? I could. These potatoes are also good in potato salad because they hold their shape when cooked.

Fun Fact: Russian Banana potatoes are nicknamed “salad potato”.

The best thing about my Lemony Potatoes side dish is that you can control the degree of lemony flavor. To make this a very lemony dish add more lemon juice or use a little less lemon juice (juice from ½ a lemon) if you only want a hint of lemon. Either way, pucker up because this is one delicious dish.

Lemony Potatoes

Ingredients:

1 small bag fingerling potatoes sliced in half

1 clove garlic minced

2 tbsp water

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp salt

½ tbsp black pepper

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp capers

1 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp fresh basil chopped

juice from 1 lemon

Melt butter and olive oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and stir around the skillet for 1 minute. Watch closely to make sure garlic does not burn. Add potatoes then season with salt and black pepper. Pour lemon juice over potatoes and add water. Sprinkle with lemon zest, basil and capers. Stir to mix. Let simmer until potatoes are fork tender.

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Panzanella Salad

I had never heard of a Panzanella Salad until I saw a cooking challenge on television. The amateur chef was Italian and decided to make a Panzanella Salad because ingredients were limited and time was short. After all, it was a challenge.

Salads in general don’t take long to pull together and Panzanella Salad fits that bill. The most time consuming part of making this salad is crisping up the bread cubes. Of course, if you are really short on time you could use prepared toasted bread cubes or even croutons. In a pinch use whatever is quick. I like crisping up my own bread cubes because I like to use different types of bread when making this salad. Ciabatta, sour dough bread or even a french baguette are a few of my favorites. One day I want to try and use cornbread but I am afraid it may come out mushy. I will let you know once I figure it out.

I took a few liberties with my version of Panzanella Salad by adding vegetables not included in the traditional versions (there are many versions of the traditional salad in the universe). The straight forward version does not use peppers or meat. I wanted the salad to be colorful since we often eat with our eyes. My family and I are meat eaters. Plain and simple. We love veggies and can go a few days without eating meat but we always go back to eating fish, fowl, pork and sometimes beef. I offer no apologies to my vegetarian friends. Adding meat is optional.

Like I always say …. make this recipe your own. I did!

Panzanella Salad

Ingredients:

2 – 3 cups cubed ciabatta, sour dough bread or french baguette

3 pearl tomatoes cut into wedges

3 slices prosciutto torn into pieces (optional)

1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half

1 English cucumber

3 oz fresh mozzarella torn into pieces

3 oz fresh feta cubed

½ red pepper seeded and cut into chunks

½ yellow pepper seeded and cut into chunks

½ orange pepper seeded and cut into chunks

½ cup kalamata olives pitted

¼ cup red onion thinly sliced

¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese (garnish)

4 tbsp olive oil

Dressing:

½ cup olive oil

½ cup red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic minced

1tsp salt

1 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp dried basil

½ tsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp ground black pepper

pinch red pepper flakes

Place ingredients into a small jar and shake to blend. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bread cubes and allow to crisp up but not toast. Shake and toss the bread cubes to make sure they do not burn. Let cool and set aside.

Cut cucumber in half and scoop out the center then cut the cucumber into chunks. Place vegetables in a large bowl. Add prosciutto, feta, mozzarella cheese pieces and bread cubes. Shake dressing then pour over salad and gently toss to combine all the ingredients. Set salad aside for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours so that the flavors blend together. Sprinkle with shaved parmesan cheese for garnish.

 

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Kale and Sweet Potato Remix (Baby Girl’s Recipe)

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The holidays are over but I still have a story to tell about our last Thanksgiving celebration. My daughter-in-law came up with the idea of having the ladies make new dishes out of our holiday leftovers. Nat made a delicious pasta dish out of leftover steamed broccoli ( Nat’s Broccoli and Pasta Remix ) and my daughter made a tasty dish using leftover roasted sweet potatoes and fresh kale.

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Baby Girl’s Kale and Sweet Potato Remix was pretty impressive and quite simple to prepare. Leftovers are great. At least in my book. I think the seasonings blending together overnight make some dishes taste even better the next day. That was true for the sweet potatoes we used for the Kale and Sweet Potato Remix. Of course using all fresh ingredients is fine too. You don’t have to wait until you have leftovers to make this yummy dish. If you need a recipe for leftover kale or sweet potatoes this is a wonderful recipe to pull together.

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When Baby Girl thought of this recipe she decided to step it up a little by using two types of kale – red kale and curly green kale. I don’t remember ever seeing red kale in the grocery store or maybe I did see it but did not know it was kale. Anyway, the red kale was beautiful and had a sweeter and more delicate flavor than the curly green kale. The combination of the two types of kale created a nice balance between the slightly bitter and sweet flavors. Adding sweet potatoes only elevated the dish and made it blog worthy.

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Nice going kiddo! One more recipe to add to your repertoire and mine.

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Kale and Sweet Potato Remix

Ingredients:

4 cloves garlic chopped

3 lg sweet potatoes peeled and cubed

1 bunch Redbor kale clean and remove stems

1 bunch curly green kale clean and remove stems

½ jalapeno pepper seeded and diced (leave a few seeds for spice)

¾ cup white cooking wine

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place cubed sweet potatoes on a greased cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil over sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with jalapeno peppers, salt and pepper then toss to coat with olive oil. Place in oven and bake for 35 – 45 minutes until sweet potatoes are slightly browned and fork tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir constantly for 1 minute to prevent garlic from burning. Pour in white cooking wine and stir for an additional 2 minutes.

Increase heat to medium high and add Redbor kale. Cook for 6 – 8 minutes until the kale is wilted. Add the remaining kale. Season with salt and black pepper then cook for 15 – 20 more minutes until tender. Stir occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and add sweet potatoes to the kale. Gently toss to mix kale and sweet potatoes. Transfer to a serving dish. Top with grated parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

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Nat’s Broccoli and Pasta Remix

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During the holidays families often have to split time when their adult children are married. Our family is no different than any other family. Every year we share the kids with the in-laws. Last year my daughter-in-law came up with a great idea so that my hubby and I did not feel left out on Thanksgiving day since it was not our turn to host the family. Instead of having a big Thanksgiving celebration with all the kids and grand-kids, we had a big after Thanksgiving family leftovers celebration.

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All the ladies were charged with coming up with a dish using leftovers from Thanksgiving. Besides being able to spend time with my kids and mom I got a few new ideas to share on my blog. Nat created a tasty pasta dish from leftover steamed broccoli. This was a very simple dish but was packed with flavor from the garlic, white wine and parmesan cheese. I knew Nat’s Broccoli and Pasta Remix would be a good recipe for my blog when my youngest grandson jumped right in and gobbled up the pasta. Who could argue with a pasta connoisseur like little Ant?

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Thanks Nat for creating a new family tradition and a way to still share the holidays with our kids and grand-kids.

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Nat’s Broccoli and Pasta Remix

Ingredients:

1 box gemelli pasta

4 garlic cloves chopped

2 shallots diced

1 small onion diced

1 lemon

3 cups leftover steamed broccoli or 2 lg broccoli heads cut into florets

1 cup white wine

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

4 tbsp olive oil

1 ½ tbsp salt

½ tbsp black pepper

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp thyme

Prepare pasta according to package then set aside in a large bowl. Reserve ½ cup pasta water.

Place 6 cups of water along with 1 tbsp of salt and bring to a boil. Blanch broccoli then drain. Place into a cold water bath to stop the broccoli from cooking. Reserve ½ cup of the broccoli water.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and cook 3 – 5 minutes until onions begin to soften. Add shallots and cook for 1 minute then add garlic. Cook until vegetables begin to brown stirring constantly so that garlic does not burn. Pour in white wine and cook for 1 minute. Add broccoli to the pan season with salt and black pepper. Stir to mix then remove from heat.

Pour broccoli mixture to the pasta along with broccoli and pasta water. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and gently toss together.

Optional: Red pepper flakes to add a little kick!

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Roasted Tomato Salad

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Fruits and vegetables all have a “season”.  Meaning, there are certain times of the year when fruits and vegetables are at their best and taste fantastic. Living on the east coast, I find tomatoes are at their best during the summer and early fall months. I grow a lot of different types of tomatoes in the summer and miss them when they are gone.

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Of course, just because the seasons change it does not mean you cannot get good tasting vegetables. However, you have to be careful because “out of season” vegetables like tomatoes can lack flavor and may not have a nice texture inside. Even tomatoes imported from warmer climates may not live up to east coast summer tomatoes. For that reason, I sometimes like to roast tomatoes to bring out their natural sweetness. Roasted Tomato Salad is wonderful because the roasted tomatoes add a nice kick of flavor to the salad.

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My Roasted Tomato Salad is nutritious and full of savory and slightly sweet flavors. Salads are a very personal dish because you can combine all of your favorite vegetables, fruits, nuts and meats. Or, you can keep it simple with only lettuce and roasted tomatoes.

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Roasted Tomato Salad

Ingredients:

2 bunches romaine lettuce chopped

6 -8 plum tomatoes cut into wedges

3 slices prosciutto chopped (optional)

½ red onion sliced thinly

¼ cup black olives

¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese

¼ cup Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing and Marinade

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp oregano

1 tsp salt

1 black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss tomatoes with red onion slices and season with olive oil, salt, black pepper and oregano. Spray a rimmed cookie sheet with cooking spray and then spread tomatoes and onions on the cookie sheet. Roast for 30 – 45 minutes until browned and/or slightly charred (based on your preference). Let cool for 10 minutes.

Toss cooled roasted tomatoes with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Serve as a main dish or nice appetizer.

 

 

 

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Riced Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts

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As she often does, my daughter turned me on to a new food I had never tried or heard of before. This time it was riced cauliflower. When she first told me about it I thought it was some kind of rice that had been processed out of dried cauliflower. So, when I asked one of the folks at Trader Joe’s if they had it riced cauliflower they said no based on my description. My daughter said it could be hard to find so I was not really surprised when Trader Joe’s looked but could not find it among the rice and pasta nor in the freezer section. Of course, when I told D about my trip to Trader Joe’s she put me on the right path and let me know that riced cauliflower isn’t really rice. Instead, the fresh cauliflower is “riced” and cut down to resemble rice. On my next trip to Trader Joe’s I found riced cauliflower in the fresh vegetable section.

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Cauliflower is plentiful in the warmer months and is great in salads and soups. I decided to create a different kind of recipe for my cauliflower by pairing it with brussel sprouts. Hence, my Riced Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts recipe. If I do say so myself the dish was pretty tasty on the first try. One thing to remember when preparing cauliflower is to not overcook it. I learned the hard way just how mushy cauliflower can get if you cook it too long. Riced cauliflower cooks even quicker than cauliflower florets so this is definitely a quick and easy recipe to make.

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For my vegetarian friends this recipe is wonderful as both a side dish or a main course (just leave out the bacon). I had a nice sized bowl of Riced Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts for lunch which was quite filling all by itself. The next time you are searching for a new cauliflower recipe take a chance on making Riced Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how delicious it tastes.

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Riced Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts

 Ingredients:

1 16 oz pkg of riced cauliflower

6 – 8 brussel sprouts sliced thin

2 shallots sliced thin

2 slices bacon cubed

½ tsp salt

½ tsp cracked black pepper

¼ tsp lemon zest

¼ tsp garlic powder

juice from ¼ of a lemon

Place bacon in a large non stick skillet over medium high heat. Brown bacon until crisp then drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Drain off all but 1 tbsp of bacon fat. Reduce heat to medium then add shallots and brussel sprouts. Cook until slightly softened. Add riced cauliflower and stir to mix. Sprinkle with bacon (reserve enough bacon to garnish dish). Cook cauliflower until tender but slightly al dente. Top with reserved bacon.

Bon Appetit!

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Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad

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Lately, I have been eating a lot of cauliflower which means I have to come up with different ways to fix it so that we don’t get bored with cauliflower. I really like broccoli salad so I thought I would add cauliflower and a few other ingredients to my standard recipe to create a new fresh salad.

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The spring and summer seasons call for light flavorful dishes. Cauliflower is big, pretty and plentiful during this time of year. As the seasons progress, cauliflower becomes less expensive so it usually ends up in my shopping cart.

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My biggest surprise after making my Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad was that my youngest son really liked it. He can be picky when it comes to eating raw vegetables so I was taken aback when he dipped his fork into the bowl and scooped out some of the salad. His reaction surprised me even more and I suddenly realized I may not have any Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad left to take to work for lunch. No worries. I would rather see T enjoy eating raw veggies than worry about lunch the next day. Besides, I quickly put aside a little salad in a container then put it way back in the frig before hubby and T could polish it off.

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This is one recipe I am sure I will be making all summer long. Bring on the BBQ!!! I have a dish I think everyone will love.

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Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad

 Ingredients:

1 large broccoli crown cut into small florets

1 large head of cauliflower cut into small florets

6 slices bacon fried and crumbled

1 cup carrots shredded

1 cup red cabbage shredded

½ cup sour cream

½ cup mayo

½ cup golden raisins

¼ cup Colby jack cheese shredded

½ tbsp seasoned salt

½ tsp cracked black pepper

½ tsp sugar

¼ tsp chopped parsley

Combine broccoli, cauliflower and raisins in a large bowl. In a medium bowl blend together sour cream, mayo and seasonings. Pour over veggies and gently mix to coat. Sprinkle with bacon (reserve a little bacon for garnish) and cheese then gently toss.

Chill 30 minutes. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Top with bacon crumbs before serving.

 

Combine broccoli, cauliflower and raisins in a large bowl. In a medium bowl blend together sour cream, mayo and seasonings. Pour over veggies and gently mix to coat. Sprinkle with bacon (reserve a little bacon for garnish) and cheese then gently toss.

Chill 30 minutes. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Top with bacon crumbs before serving.

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