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Side dish

Side dish

Cream Spinach with Glazed Mushrooms

Very tasty spinach dish!

Thanksgiving is over but this dish would be perfect anytime of the year and I think it would be great served with prime rib for Christmas dinner.

Every Thanksgiving I tend to do the same foods — turkey, dressing, gravies (two kinds), cranberry relish, two kinds of potatoes and something green. Years ago for holidays I would do green bean or asparagus casseroles but my kids would never touch those dishes. This year I decided to do something with spinach. I’m probably the only person out there that likes canned spinach. Of course, I would choose fresh or frozen over canned for serving to anyone other than me and my husband; and this dish is made from frozen for two reasons; one is that I would have to cook 4 containers of fresh spinach and wash and stem it to get the same size dish I got with two large packages of frozen spinach.

Who does love mushrooms and browning them and topping the spinach with them makes the dish so mouth-watering good. If you want to add a fried bacon to the dish or some baked prosciutto, crumbled I think that would be delicious.

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Entree/ Side dish/ Vegetables

Spinach Dal (Dhal, Dhall)

I think this might actually be my first Indian dish to make (other than naan).

Halloween is gone but this is kind of a trick or treat recipe. Kind of looks like corn in above picture (trick) but the treat is if you like Indian flavors you will enjoy this dish of yellow lentils and spinach.

I can actually remember the first time I ever had Indian food and it was at an Austin restaurant, the Clay Pit and it was one Christmas and my daughter-in-law, Brooke was pregnant with our first grandson, Milo. Our kids have always encouraged us to try different types of food and Indian food was always one we resisted.

I think that day started with my daughter and daughter-in-law Missy massaging Brooke’s feet because they had read that was suppose to start labor. Everyone decided we should eat Indian and when we stepped inside the restaurant I knew what we would be eating was going to be delicious because of the spicy aromas that smacked us in the face when we walked through the doors.

When we have eaten Indian in Chicago, we usually rely on son and daughter-in-law there to help us in ordering. Of course the naan is always a favorite; how could any kind of bread be bad and after having naan for the first time I did made it with great success.

I really want to try some other Indian recipes so if you have any favorites, please leave a comment below.

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Appetizers/ HotApp/ Side dish

Grilled Shishito Peppers with Garlic Aioli

These are very tasty little peppers.

Several years ago we stopped in Vigo, Spain on a cruise. It was a very rainy day. How do I remember that? Well, I write down everything from trips we have taken, especially the food and restaurants. So, when we had the day to kill in Vigo, we walked, with our umbrellas and ponchos up and down the streets where all the restaurants and food vendors were located. I remember stopping at this particular place and we ordered frites and these fried green peppers. I never found out what peppers they were but I’m sure it was these shishito peppers. (Found out they are Padron peppers). The Shishito pepper is a Japanese pepper and a close relation to padrone.

Right before the 4th of July I saw were our “Veggie Lady” had some of these peppers, so I scooted up there to buy a bunch to do for the 4th. What would the 4th of July be without something hot and spicy. The Veggie Lady sold these for $12.00 a pound then I found at Whole Foods for $3.99 a pound. (So, I know where I will be buying these from now on.)

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Pasta/ Side dish

Pesto Pasta with Peas

A day in the garden.

Does this pasta look like it was born in a garden. Fresh basil and parsley from my garden, fresh spinach and English peas.

This year I was co-chair (with my friend, Linda) for arranging programs for our garden club. We had been told about this garden up in Conroe, Texas, Hope Farms Gardens and knew we just had to see it. Barbara Lopez opens her home gardens for one month in April/May for people to tour and buy her plants. Her gardens are a fun place to shop because you know exactly where the plants belong. If the plants for sale are placed in her shady parts of her yard that means they belong in the shade. Same for the sunny parts of her yard and that will be where she has the plants needing sun during the day.

So, we decided to see if our Hospitality Chairperson would like to take a look at her gardens to see if she thought our members would like to have our end-of-year lunch there instead of a restaurant or country club. Everyone agreed so for all of last year I had been thinking about what I wanted to do for lunch.

After a trip to the dollar store, I came away with 45 $1 rectangle baskets perfect for our French inspired luncheon. I have literally hundreds (not really) French looking cloths (I do have about 175 cloth napkins though that I accumulated while working at Williams Sonoma). The menu started taking shape about a year in advance with the baskets to hold all the goodies. Nancy’s Chopped Salad from Smitten Kitchen caught my eye early on and I knew I wanted to put this in a wide mouth pint jar. I also knew I wanted to do a fruit crumble dessert in the wide mouth 8 oz. jars. This Pesto Pasta with Peas is a recipe I have been thinking about for a while because I knew I wanted to use these tinsey tiny bow tie pasta noodles. Homemade focaccia bread and some baby bell cheese rounded out the basket.

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Side dish

Candy Striped Beet Greens

Treasure from the farmer’s market in January.

A day at the farmer’s market back in January rewarded me with these beautiful candy striped beets. They had been promising me all fall that once it got cold they would have beets. The first time this winter I bought the candy striped beets from them I roasted them but was disappointed they didn’t keep the red and white rings.

If you didn’t know this; the beet greens are just as good as the beets. Most grocery stores are going to just have the beets without the greens because, I guess, they take up too much room in shipping. My beets and greens were about 2′ long.

I knew I was going to be cooking the beet greens; how could I throw away greens that beautiful and only keep the root end of this vegetable and had planned on just slicing up the candy striped beets and eating them raw in salads. But, at the last minute, I decided to throw in a few slices at the end of cooking the greens to see if they would retain their unique coloring and they did. They could probably take a quick saute in a little olive oil and not fade too much.

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Side dish

Grilled Asparagus with Egg and Bacon

Let’s hear it for St. Pat’s and a green vegetable recipe.

First day of Spring is March 20 but I couldn’t wait to make this recipe using one of Springtime’s favorite vegetables.

And, besides, it’s St. Pat’s Day and I had to do something green. Back in my husband’s college days at University of Missouri-Rolla St. Pat’s Day was a really big deal. Everyone started growing their beards months in advance for the big green holiday. At the time I would say the majority of the campus was engineers; so you imagine what their floats looked like, all mechanical with a different theme each year. I even remember one year stuffing tissue paper in the float to help. The fraternity he was in served up green milk, green mashed potatoes, green beer; you name it, it was colored green.

So, what would St. Patty’s Day be without a green vegetable.

I happened up on this recipe after I download a new app “Tasting Table”. On that site I read about bar food not to miss….. and Dirty Habit in San Francisco was one of them and I found this recipe from one of the chefs on the site. This is Chef David Bazirgan’s recipe and the sauce is his take on a gribiche sauce. A sauce gribiche is a mayonnaise-style cold egg sauce in the French cuisine. David did his version of a deconstructed gribiche and I really like the results which look much better than pictures I saw of a gribiche sauce which has pickles in it.

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Side dish

White Mash with Crispy Shallots

White Mash, and you thought I was talking about white lightening I bet.

I wanted to make my Osso Buco again that we made for a dinner party a few months go, but without the potatoes. I still had stashed away in my refrigerator a rutabaga,turnip and half head of cauliflower that I picked up at the market last week.

Ina Garten was just on Sunday Morning news program and since I hadn’t looked at her blog in a while I scooted over to it and looked around for something that resembled potatoes. Ina has a recipe called Mashed Yellow Turnips with Shallots and I decided to hijack that recipe and use my turnip, cauliflower and rutabaga for a mash topped with crispy shallots.

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Side dish

Bacon Cheddar Green Chili Grits

Braggadocio grits with bacon.

Last time we were back home my sister’s cousin-in-law, Kaye (McKaskle Family Farms) gave me some of their new products. I have tried their popcorn cornmeal and popcorn, and their rices, but now they have their very own mill to grind their polenta and grits. I’m always excited to try new products and products made by someone I know makes it even more special.

I didn’t get to see the mill on this visit but will the next time we are up that way.

I’m going to do another give away for a bag of their polenta, and popcorn corn meal (I used all my grits, so sorry about that). All you have to do is leave any kind of note below in the “comments” section and at the end of two weeks I will draw a name and will mail you the products to try. The first thing you have to try is to make my popcorn cornmeal muffins. They are great.

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Side dish

Sauteed Cabbage and Kale

Start the New Year off with a lot of greens.

Did you start your New Year off with black eyed peas and cabbage? And, did you add in some hog jowl. I love Southern traditions and I would never think of NOT eating those foods on New Years day. I need all the luck I can get.

The black eyed peas are eaten for luck and I have read that if you want to have good luck every day, you must eat at least 365 peas. Not sure if I got that many peas into my mouth, but I tried. The cabbage greens represent money and who wouldn’t want more money in the new years. The truth about the cabbage or other greens is probably the fact that they are late garden crops and may have been the last thing left in the garden at the end of the year to put on the table.

Friends came over for New Years day and she brought the BEP and cabbage so I had some in the refrigerator that had not been cooked. I had the intentions on New Years day of adding in some baby kale and instead of boiling my cabbage I was going to sauté it. So, by Monday I was ready to cook my peas and cabbage and knew that we were going to the movie and even though we always eat popcorn, we are always hungry when we get home. What better to rewarm than a pot of peas and some sautéed cabbage.

My secret ingredient to this recipe is Bangkok Blend spice from Penzeys Spices that a friend gave me for Xmas. I did maybe 1/4 teaspoon of the blend and it really transformed the cabbage dish to something a little more special. Maybe that means I will get a little more money than normal this year. Oh, I forgot, I do get 1.5% increase on my social security check. I will try not to spend it all in one place.

If, you have not tried sautéing cabbage (instead of boiling it), give it a try, it’s quicker and retains more of the green color and for this recipe the kale just barely cooks.

Here is what is in the Penzey Spice Bangkok Blend in case you can’t find it –ancho chili pepper,garlic, ginger, Tellicherry black pepper, galangal, crushed red pepper, lemon grass, cayenne, paprika, basil and cilantro. Wow, that’s a lot of stuff in one little jar.

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Entree/ Fish/Seafood/ Side dish

Israeli Couscous with Tarragon

With or without the seafood you should try this.

Tarragon is one of those herbs that I never use. Besides putting it in chicken salad for sandwiches (which I’m not crazy about) I don’t really know what to do with it. We did add it to our herb garden this year but I have to admit I just watered it and looked how pretty it was growing but never got out and snipped a little for a dish. (*NOTE– big confession below.)

One night in Vancouver CA (hub) had that wonderful Green Pea Risotto with pan seared Halibut; I had scallops and tiger prawns with a chili citrus butter sauce and it was perched on top of Israeli couscous. Normally I feel like I can pick out all flavors in a dish. Every bite I took of this dish got better and better, and I could never identify the flavor that I was loving in this pile of tiny pearl shaped pasta. The pancetta was easy (it was listed on the menu) but I could not come up with that mystery ingredient. Finally I flagged down the waiter and he said he would ask the chef. Surenuf, it was tarragon. Both our plates had roasted golden beets, baby carrots (with green tops) standing up on the plate and mine had broccolini, which all really went well with the couscous.

When I was buying the ingredients for this, I bought a container of tarragon, totally forgetting we had planted it this year. Well, maybe after the tarragon I bought withers and gets thrown away I can find a new use for what I have growing outside.

Blue Crab Restaurant in Victoria was where we had both of these wonderful meals and what made it even better is that we were perched right on the water where we could watch all the ships and cute little water taxis come and go. So, another toast to our 45th anniversary.

Some info on couscous.  It was voted as the third-favorite dish of French people in 2011. It is known as a North African dish and is made from two different sizes of husked and crushed semolina and is normally cooked by steaming but can also be cooked in a liquid.  You know when it is done when it is tender, not al dente and not mushy.  The grains should be separate and taste moist, not wet or dry. So, now that you have that information, venture out and try this recipe.

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Side dish/ Vegetables

Brussel Sprouts with Squash, Bacon and Raisins

And butternut squash too….

The beginnings of this recipe came from an old March 2012 Bon Appetit magazine. I upped the bacon, added more shallots and the butternut squash. I like the idea of what they did with the chicken broth and raisins so I used that part of the recipe.

I made brussel sprouts twice while cooking for my daughter and her husband after the baby came. (Wow, that means Thomas is already 5 months old.) One day I made a Brussel sprout salad and the next night I just winged it and sautéed some quartered BS’s, added some dried cranberries, almonds, shallots and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

So, for the ease of pronouncing this vegetable I will probably always call it Brussel sprouts instead of Brussels sprouts. That’s kind of hard to say isn’t it, two words side by side ending in an “s”. So, whether it’s correct or not, I’m doing what a lot of others do and calling them just Brussel sprouts. I will capitalize the Brussel since it is thought that Brussel sprouts came from Brussels, Belgium. Just try saying Brussels sprouts ten times and see if you don’t get tongue tied.

Seems like I was in speech class forever when I was younger. My sister and I had a problem with “r’s” and I think one of my most embarassing “pronouncing something wrong” moment was in class when I was suppose to say BRAZIL and it came out brassier.  Maybe that’s why I never like hearing a bra called a  b-r-a-s-s-i-e-r.  It gives me the shivers just thinking about it. 

It’s kind of like when I want a glass of Pino Noir and I can’t quite get that Noir part out right, I just say give me the such and such Pino and they usually know what I’m talking about.

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Entree/ Fish/Seafood/ Side dish/ Vegetables

Green Pea Risotto (with Pan Seared Halibut)

Not only is this risotto beautiful, it’s delicious too.

Our 45th wedding anniversary was August 16th, followed the next day by my husband’s birthday. He married an older woman (by 9 months); I was 21 and he turned 21 the next day so his mom had to “sign” for him to be able to get married.

So, to celebrate our 45th we took off for Seattle/Vancouver/Victoria/Seattle. We called this our “planes, trains, and automobiles” trip (after the movie) but it turned out to be planes, trains, automobiles, water taxis, whale boat, ferry boat, tour bus (to Butchart Gardens), hop on hop off bus trip.

The trip started in Seattle, one night there and then caught Amtrak for a beautiful 5 hour ride to Vancouver which was almost totally overlooking the water. Once in Vancouver we walked the Calpilano Suspension bridge, tree top adventure and cliff walk along the edge of the park.

A whale watching boat took us on a 4 hour trip across to Victoria where we saw lots of whales. While there we saw Butchart Gardens and of course had to have tea at the Empress Hotel where we were staying.

One night we had dinner at the Blue Crab Restaurant and took a water taxi over to the restaurant since the walk was a little long with the sore foot I developed while hiking through the Cilpilano Park (:() ) It seems like ever dinner we had (they were all great) we called our anniversary dinner.

That night at the Blue Crab, GA (hub) had a pan seared halibut with summer green pea risotto and tarragon butter sauce. It was so beautiful I almost wanted to trade but I had Sea Scallops and Tiger Prawn with pancetta and garden pea couscous and chili citrus butter sauce which I did not want to share. (We did share a bite.)

This was definitely one of our favorite trips and ranks right up there with trips to France, Spain and Italy.

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