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Salads/ Side dish/ Vegetables

Potato and Green Bean Salad

No mayonnaise in this potato salad.

What would a picnic be without some type of potato salad. It’s a given we will probably have some ants, flies, and a few mosquitoes; and I’m just as sure that there will be someone bringing potato salad. I mean, who doesn’t like the creamy stuff and this would would be great for a Labor Day cookout.

I’m sure everyone has had their favorite potato salad recipe that they have prepared for years. Seems like you never go to a backyard bbq that there does appear at least 2 varieties of potato salad and most of which will probably have mayonnaise as one of the main ingredients.

I love this recipe because it actually has a good healthy green vegetable in it — green beans; and along with a few other ingredients this is a very light tasting cousin of the old traditional mayonnaise/mustard based potato dish.

The next time I make this dish I plan on baking some potatoes scooping out the pulp and then filling the shell with this potato salad. I think it will look so cool that the potato salad has it’s own little container.

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Entree/ Side dish/ Vegetables

Aloo Bainsan (Eggplant and Potato)

My first Indian dish.

Normally I have an endless flow of ideas for recipes to blog. This time though, I found myself staring at white and graffiti eggplants (I bought because they were so darn cute), one potato and a Serrano pepper and thinking what could I possibly make with this. So I did what I do best and I googled the ingredients. One of the first recipes that caught my attention was a Eggplant and Potato Curry recipe from Food & Wine magazine and my first thought was that I could do better than that. So I dug a little deeper and found this wonderful video from Manjula’s Kitchen (Indian vegetarian recipes).

Don’t you just love YouTube. I use it for anything I don’t know how to make and watching Manjula do this recipe I just knew it was going to be good. (One of these days I’m going to YouTube knee replacement surgery and see exactly what was done to my knee.)

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Side dish/ Vegetables

Elote (Spiced Mexican Corn)

Corn for the 4th of July

A squirt of lime makes this even more delicious.

What is it a backyard bbq without some type of corn. Whether it is corn on the cob, corn relish, corn casserole, corn fritters, or corn and black bean salsa…. I could go on and on about the many uses of corn.

Don’t you just love the summer months where so much of your time is spent outside either tending your flowers, gardens or getting ready for a party. I tend to go overboard in the amounts of food I prepare but what the heck, it’s a holiday, a family gathering or a party with of friends coming over for something delicious to eat and that’s what I like to do.

My motto has always been it’s better to have too much food than not enough and if someone doesn’t want to eat EVERYTHING I make, then they can make the decision on which of the foods to pass on.

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Side dish/ Vegetables

Baby Bok Choy with Brown Butter Garlic Sauce

Bok, Bok, Bok, doesn’t that sounds like some kind of strange bird?

Ok, so it isn’t a bird. I don’t think I have ever eaten this vegetable until back in February when we had our annual dinner of golf husbands and their wives. Our golfers have come to call this “wife appreciation dinner” because we let them play so much golf. Not that they really need our permission to do so, but it’s always nice of them to take us to dinner.

(I’ve been saving a few recipes so while I’m having the knee surgery and the first couple of weeks of rehab I can use some things from my draft folder — so here’s the first, hope I’m up and walking soon.)

I used the bok choy under the mashed potatoes here and then topped the potatoes with a little brown butter.  For our dinner that night we had a beef fillet on top of the potatoes. Really nice.

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Morning Foods/ Side dish/ Vegetables

Parmesan Baked Tomatoes

Campari — The tomato lover’s tomato.

Campari tomatoes are one of my favorite types of tomatoes. They are known for their juiciness and extraordinarily sweet taste and low acidity. They are deep red, bigger than a cherry tomato and so cute to boot. As baby bear said, Not too big, not to little, but just right.

Brunch for my daughter’s birthday on Memorial day consisted of ham, bacon and mushroom quiche, tiny cinnamon rolls, these Baked Parmesan Tomatoes, and some pork belly that was fried up by my husband and of course a bunch of mimosas.

These tomatoes are great to add into any menu. I’ve never been accused of not having enough food but I like to cook and I’m not force feeding anyone. Guest can always pick and choose what they want to eat with no retribution from me not even a hurt feeling or two.

It does take me awhile to get over failures. I tend to dwell on something for days (don’t know why) if it doesn’t turn out like I expected. I think I am far, far from a perfectionist but when someone doesn’t like a recipe I know I should have tried it before serving the dish. I feel like if I read a recipe and know the ingredients the end results will be good. Anyone that knows me is aware that I’m not a taster. Never tasted raw cookie dough, can you believe that?  All the years of catering did not change that. Now if I was making something chocolate I would probably taste it (after it is cooked, of course) but I guess I feel like if I like the ingredients then I don’t need to be picking on it the whole time taste testing it. Sometimes I do not hit the nail on the head with a recipe and it may need to be tweaked at another time but most of the time I think I do pretty well without sticking my fingers in the pot.

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Side dish/ Vegetables

Asparagus with Orange Sauce

Inspired by French cooking class to try this recipe.

My favorite part of France was walking around the markets that were in our neighborhood in Paris and also in the small towns we visited while in Provence.

It is hard for me to imagine (except I was there and saw it) what it would be like to shop daily for your food, to see just picked vegetables and know that they probably still have an earthy smell to them. One day we saw the most beautiful turnips (see picture below), they still had green stems attached and looked just minutes picked from someone’s field.

One of the things we prepared in our cooking class was a simple sautéed asparagus (see pictures below) with salt and pepper and when it was done, Erick, our chef teaching the class, took a jar of orange oil (I think this is the kind sold in a pharmacy) and with an eye dropper, carefully dropped just a few drops of the oil over the cooked asparagus.  Having this that day reminded me of a recipe of Laura Calder’s that I had been wanting to try – Asparagus with Orange Sauce. When I saw her make this dish, I wasn’t sure about orange and asparagus but after tasting our dish in our class I thought, why not give her recipe a try.

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Side dish/ Vegetables

Spring Peas with Dates and Walnuts

Just love those little sugar snap peas!

Are you old enough to remember your mother or grandmother sitting in a chair with an apron cupped in her lap and a bowl of peas. I remember my dad’s mother doing just that and she was in a rocking chair rocking away the afternoon shelling peas that she was probably going to be cooking for dinner that night. My mother shelled peas and so did my other grandmother. Do we have time for that now in our busy lives? Maybe we need to make the time and slip back to a more relaxed day where our mother’s and grandmother’s did such a simple task and how they probably benefitted mentally just to chill and think of the day’s activities.

I actually did try to find English peas in the shell, but no luck. Now if I was still in France, I probably could find them in one of the local market places. I loved this recipe before I even had it on my dish. Sugar snap peas are one of my favorites with a good dill dip and snow peas I have been using for years. I actually use to stuff each one for an appetizer — Honey Pecan Stuffed Snow Peas. My kids were never a fan of English peas when they were young, but I’m sure they would like this dish. I plan on making this for my daughter-in-law in Chicago in a couple of weeks; she loves English peas.

I found this recipe in Food Network magazine and all I added was the pancetta. And I would only make one change in the cooking directions and that would be to add thawed English peas at the end so they don’t overcook and become too dark.  I would prefer them to stay bright green.

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Side dish/ Vegetables

Balsamic Cippolini Onions with Tomatoes

Pronounced chip-oh-LEE-nee.

Another side dish to go with any meal. Not too many calories either.

These were great with the pulled pork sandwich and the cheese grits. You can’t see much of the onions in this picture but there were more onions than tomatoes in the dish.

While in Houston a few weeks go, I was at Central Market grocery. I love walking around in specialty grocery stores, especially this one because they have so many different kinds of produce than you would ever see in your corner grocery. They have more than 100 kinds of fish and have so many kinds of bread and cheeses it makes you just want to stand and drool over them. I am always looking for something different to try for the blog and I knew this store would have it. At first I saw this “budda’s hand” fruit (see below)

and thought that that might be interesting to try, but frankly it was a little scary looking and I had no idea what I would do with it.

I was looking at their selections of onions and they had so many to choose from. The cippolini onions were so cute I couldn’t resist them.  These onions are specific to Italian cooking and a smaller, flat with a yellowish skin and are sweeter onions that have more sugar than the garden-variety of yellow or white onion.  This onion is great for roasting. Cippolinis are actually the small bittersweet bulbs that come from the grape hyacinth.

Using balsamic vinegar when roasting these at high heat makes for a perfectly beautiful glaze and the onions become caramelized and the tomatoes soft and sweet. This makes a great side dish with just about anything you are putting on the table.

We use to grow both onions and tomatoes and did so quite successfully until we moved to Texas and got a dog. We could always tell when the tomatoes and onions were ready to be picked because our dog would return to the house after doing her business smelling like either tomatoes or onions.  She enjoyed them quite often; and two dogs later (we now have no dog) I buy my onions and tomatoes at the grocery. Maybe some day we will give them another try — that is if we can keep the squirrels from eating them.

When we went up to my sister’s back in January, I took these tomatoes and onions. One of her friends brought over a smoked pork butt for us and I decided that the onions and tomatoes would be a great side dish to go with our pulled pork sandwiches with creamy cheese grits.

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Side dish/ Vegetables

Cauliflower Mash with Kale

Oh how I love mashed potatoes.

Very good side dish for my roasted chicken.

I’m really trying to be good with this new year just beginning. I’ve been going to the gym 3 times a week and have drug out my Zumba tapes that I paid a fortune for and clumsily trying to do the dance steps in my kitchen (with no one watching of course).

I do dream of mashed potatoes (not really). We never eat potatoes much since our kids have left home because we really don’t need to be eating them. I remember as a kid loving to lick the pan. In fact, I would rather have licked the mashed potatoes out of the pan than have a big heaping pile in my plate.

Mashed potatoes are great for holding all kinds of gravy and even sauerkraut (for my sister) or to put on top of a shepherd’s pie.  I always loved the little lumps my mother would leave when mashing the potatoes. Sure way to tell that she did not use instant potato flakes. There’s just something about cold weather (and we are having some now here in Texas) that makes me crave something mashed and smooth and comforting to go with roasted chicken and this cauliflower mash with kale hits the spot and not too many calories either.

I know a lot of people have mashed cauliflower to make mock mashed potatoes, but they don’t fool me. We had Giada’s recipe for mashed potatoes with kale with our prime rib for Christmas dinner and it was wonderful; but this recipe is healthier and I have added parsnips to the cauliflower mash to give it a little more character. See what you think of this recipe. If you try it, please leave a comment below.

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Side dish/ Vegetables

Baby Carrots with Dried Apricots

Looking for a new carrot dish? Here it is.

Apricots and carrots compliment each other and look so pretty together.

Rainnnn, we finally got it yesterday and it lasted all day long.  I was stranded at the mall for an extra hour and while there discovered that to get the new iPhone I will have to get in line at least by 7:00 a.m.  What I won’t do for the new gadget.

So, back to this recipe.

Several years ago when in Napa we visited the Goosecross Winery. I love Napa and could go back again and again. A lot of my favorite wineries have recipes on their websites and this recipe came from Goosecross.

I have to admit that I haven’t tried a lot of carrot recipes. Besides maybe eating them raw with some kind of yummy dip or simply boiling them and then adding some butter and parsley, that’s about it. I do remember from a class in culinary school where we cooked the carrots in a flavored water like lemon or grapefruit water and that does flavor them somewhat.

So, this is my attempt to try something different. I think the colors are so fallish and I hope will be another recipe I add to my menus in the future.

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Appetizers/ Side dish/ Vegetables

Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potatoes

The Good, The Bad and The Delicious!

I have to say The Good, The Bad and The Ugly was one of my husband’s favorite movies. He loves Clint Eastwood and actually wanted to name our first son, Clint. I vetoed that right away because I imaged seeing a baby walking around in cowboy boots, hat and a stick horse saying yee haw.

Come fall, and I start thinking sweet potatoes sound pretty good on any menu. How many ways have you done sweet potatoes? I have mashed, of course, and have folded the mashed sweet potatoes into mashed white potatoes, very pretty and good. Who hasn’t made sweet potatoes with marshmallows all toasted on top or a nut crumb topping. Other than those recipes, I have baked sweet potato wedges with olive oil and rosemary and that’s about it.

These sweet potato fries are “Good, Bad and Delicious”. Of course, everyone knows that sweet potatoes are good for you. They are full of Vitamin C, B6, complex carbs, fiber and beta carotene. The bad part is the bacon. BUT, it’s so little bacon and unless you eat the whole pan of potatoes, I think you’ll will be ok.

This recipe actually came from one of my daughter’s paelo websites. I can’t say I have a paelo lifestyle (far from it)  but these potatoes are delicious. I made a few adjustments and added a sage leaf out of my herb garden and some maple syrup on the plate for dipping. And, when I put one in one of my Asian soup spoons with a syrup for dipping, I thought — Wow, another Amuse Bouche recipe. Or, just make a big pan full and pile them on a platter and watch them disappear.

Some of these I used a toothpick to hold the bacon on and some I just used more bacon so it would cover more of the sweet potato. Hope you will try some of these for your next party. Everyone knows that bacon in/on anything makes it taste oh so good.

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Side dish/ Vegetables

Hatch Corn and Chile Cheese Pie

It’s that time of the year again.
This time of the year I wait with anticipation for the Hatch chiles to start appearing in our local grocery stores. They are wonderful peppers whether you buy chiles that are freshly roasted over a hot open fire outside the grocerry store or if you buy the fresh ones and roast your own.
There are all kinds of products made with Hatch chiles from Hatch chili flavored popcorn, to Hatch chili pesto, canned Hatch chiles. You name it, they make it with Hatch chile peppers.  Hatch green chiles come from Hatch, New Mexico and they are know for being the home of “The World’s Best chili pepper”. They are best prepared by roasting oven an open flame, which is the type I bought at our local HEB grocery.
Each  year during chili season dozens of chile vendors can be found lining the streets of Hatch roasting the local chile. On Labor Day weekend the annual event of The Hatch Chile Festival kicks off in Hatch New Mexico. I think next year maybe I want to make that trip.
This dish is great as a side dish or it would be wonderful for a vegetarian meal of just the Corn and Chile Cheese Pie, some sliced tomatoes and a nice green salad.