Category: Vegetables, sides & appetizers

Easy caprese salad

easy caprese salad

Caprese salad is one of the easiest and most delicious salads, appetizers, starters or first courses ever simply because the ingredients do most of the work for you. Good quality ingredients = amazing caprese salad. The rest is just assembly and making it look pretty.

I serve caprese salad often for parties or small get togethers because it’s simple to throw together, can be served at room temperature, and almost everyone loves it. In fact, I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like caprese salad and I’m not sure I want to.

Also, it’s pretty. (more…)

Quinoa with lemon and herbs

quinoa with lemon and herbs

Sorry I’ve been MIA this past week. Things have been pretty hectic lately but the main reason for my lack of posts is that I’ve been on this crazy 11 day diet / cleanse. Now, I know there are a lot of opinions out there about dieting and cleansing, especially diets that only last 11 days, but the truth is I’ve wanted to lose weight for a while now and it just hasn’t been happening. I’ve lacked the motivation to do it on my own. Plus, the scale can be frustrating. It takes days, sometimes even a week for any evidence of a diet to show up on the scale, at least for me. That always discourages me and I quickly resort to my old eating habits. So, when a friend at work lost 22 pounds in 30 days, I was quick to listen in on how she did it. She told me she used a program called Isagenix. After listening to her explain the Isagenix system, I thought the 30 day program sounded a bit grueling for me but when she mentioned there was a 9 day program (it’s really 11 days), I decided to try it. (more…)

Carrots with cumin and coriander

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI’ve recently become hooked on Amy Thielen’s show on Food Network, Heartland Table. Although I’m not a gardener nor do I always have access to all of the ingredients she uses, most of her recipes are simple enough and always unique. She often combines ingredients I would never think to put together and she uses some really interesting cooking techniques. The other thing I like about the way she cooks is that she knows how to get the most flavor out of each ingredient she’s using and that’s definitely the case in her recipe for cast-iron carrots with curry. My recipe for carrots with cumin and coriander is an adaptation of this one. When I saw her make it on her show, I knew I had to try it or create something similar. (more…)

Hot ham dip

hot ham dip

Happy Easter Monday everyone! For those of you who celebrate, I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend. We spent Sunday morning at church and then spent the afternoon at my parent’s house for Easter “dinner”, if you can call it that. My husband pointed out that on holidays, for some reason, we never eat at a normal time. We always eat at 2 or 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Does anyone else’s family do this? Anyway, this Easter was no different. We ate at 3 o’clock and we called it Easter “dinner”. In my family, we divide up the food and each person is usually responsible for one of the courses. My favorite, and the one that usually gets assigned to me, is the appetizers. After some thought, I finally settled on making a tomato, mozzarella and basil salad (aka caprese), my famous guacamole (its really only famous amongst my family, but it’s good! I promise!), and hot ham dip. (more…)

Polenta rounds topped with creamy mushrooms

polenta rounds with mushrooms

Polenta is one of my new favorite items to pick up at the grocery store. I usually buy the precooked polenta “logs”, cut them into 1/3 inch rounds and then sear them in a pan with a little olive oil. Once the polenta rounds are seared you can top them with almost anything. One of the reasons I love cooking with polenta is because it’s a blank canvas and works well with so many different flavors. It’s an easy way to be creative in the kitchen. I’ve made many variations, but this recipe is probably my favorite polenta recipe.

Matt has been sick with the flu and hasn’t had much of an appetite the past few days so last night I was cooking for one, myself. I’ve mentioned before that Matt prefers meals that include some type of meat. I, on the other hand, can take it or leave it and try to eat meat free a few times a week. Since he wasn’t really hungry last night and it had been an incredibly busy day, I wanted to make something quick yet satisfying for myself, preferrably meatless. Enter polenta and portabella mushrooms. I suppose most people might consider this to be a side dish but last night it hit the spot as a main course for me. The creamy mushroom topping was the perfect accompaniment to my seared polenta rounds. (more…)

Make potato cakes with leftover mashed potatoes

potato cakes with leftover mashed potatoes

I love mashed potatoes but I often make too much for just Matt and myself and then we wind up eating mashed potatoes for days. Not that there is anything wrong with leftover mashed potatoes but sometimes they can get a little boring. These potato cakes are the perfect way to spruce up those cold, leftover potatoes.

You guys, these are SO good. I form small patties with the leftover cold mashed potatoes, coat them in crispy breadcrumbs and salty parmesan cheese and then pan fry them until they turn a golden brown color and the coating gets crisp. These take comfort food to a whole new level. They are the perfect side dish for almost any meal. Last night I served these alongside a mediterranean stuffed chicken breast I picked up from Trader Joe’s on the way home from work and Ina Garten’s green beans gremolata. (more…)

Buffalo Chicken Dip

buffalo chicken dip

There must be a thousand different recipes for buffalo chicken dip. This one is by no means healthy but it’s pretty much the most delicious thing you could eat and it’s incredibly easy.

On Christmas day my sister in law asked me to help her get some of the appetizers ready. She worked on the bruschetta and I worked on the buffalo chicken dip. I also made Ina Garten’s stuffed mushrooms which are to die for, just fyi. This is essentially my sister in law’s recipe for buffalo chicken dip. I may have changed some of the measurements but she is the true mastermind behind this dip. To be honest I was never that thrilled by buffalo chicken dip. I mean it’s good and all but there are definitely other appetizers I’d rather be eating. But for some reason I couldn’t stop eating this one on Christmas day. So, I decided to make it again for New Year’s Eve and just as I suspected, it went over really well. (more…)

Roasted Delicata Squash

delicata squash

Del – a – what?? I had never heard of delicata squash either but when I stumbled upon this lovely little squash in the grocery store I was intrigued. I wish I had taken a picture of the squash before I chopped it up and cooked it so you could see what it looks like. I didn’t think ahead. Plus, to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would share this recipe because I had no idea how it would turn out. A delicata squash is a white or cream colored oblong squash with green stripes. They are pretty AND turns out, they are delicious. Delicata delicious. If I had to describe the taste and texture I would say that delicata squash taste like a combination of butternut squash and sweet potato.

The other awesome thing about these squash is that they are so much easier to prepare than butternut squash. The skin is thinner and the squash is smaller so it doesn’t require a lot of dangerous hacking with a sharp knife. I don’t know about you but preparing butternut squash is always a challenge for me. The knife always gets stuck in the squash and I wind up having to use all my strength to pull it out, all the while praying that it doesn’t go flying out of my hand. It’s a stressful process. Preparing delicata squash as opposed to butternut is a cinch. You still need a sharp knife but you can definitely cut into these little guys without risking your life or your fingers. (more…)

Roasted vegetable couscous

couscous 3

I truly love couscous and if you follow my blog you probably already know that (I have posted quite a few couscous recipes). I love cooking and eating it. It’s so versatile. You can flavor it with so many different things. I almost always put lemon juice in mine, and this roasted vegetable couscous was no exception. This was the perfect accompaniment to my chicken with wine and thyme sauce (recipe to come). The lemon juice brightens the flavor so it’s still light and fresh enough for summer, but the roasted vegetables give the dish a nice depth, so it also works for fall.

You can really use whichever veggie combination sounds good to you, whatever you have on hand, as long as they roast well (obviously don’t use veggies like cucumbers or celery). I happened to have asparagus spears, sliced baby portabella mushrooms (another item I cook with frequently), red bell pepper, leftover yellow squash, and some red onion. All the veggies should be cut into bite sized pieces. (more…)

%d bloggers like this: