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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.
Salads/ Vegetables

Pesto Cauliflower with Arugula Salad

No boring cauliflower taste here.

A side dish or salad? You decide how you want to serve it.

I’ve really never been a cauliflower fan and it’s one of those vegetables and have to talk myself into buying because I know it is good for me. Not even a fan of raw cauliflower on a veggie tray even though I know it is going to get dipped into something really good.

I would like to learn to add the white flowery head to my vegetable repertoire especially since I’ve, for the time being, taken potatoes off the table. Cauliflower can actually be made into mashed potatoes by steaming or boiling it and mashing as if it were a potato. The mashed cauliflower is great when folded in with some mashed green peas. Beautiful combination.

In case you are trying to talk yourself out of trying this recipe, remember that cauliflower is one of the cancer fighting vegetables, is full of Vitamin C, low fat and high in fiber. Now, did that change your mind?

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Side dish/ Vegetables

Jalapeno Potato Salad

Some like it hot!

A roasted red pepper makes the perfect vessel for this potato salad. This may look like an ordinary potato salad but it has a lot of punch.

I know, we are having hot enough days as it is this summer and why make anything a little bit hotter.  BUT, it is summer and you just have to make potato salad once this summer even if you are trying to get into that swimsuit. You aren’t going to eat the whole bowl and a small serving of anything isn’t going to kill you.

Have you ever thought of all the things you can do with a potato. It has to be the most versatile vegetable ever. It is made into all kinds of dishes that are fried, baked, boiled, steamed, broiled, hashed, torted and even stamped (?). The potato is made into all kinds of chips, different shaped fries and even potato flour. They can be the star of a pot of potato soup or just have a supporting roll in a big pot of stew. Gnocchi is a great main dish and it is totally made of potatoes.

You can make vodka from a potato. A slice of potato will take away your puffy eyes. A potato can cure warts, help you sleep, relieve a headache, clean rusty knives, remove stains and I’m sure a million other uses. Hey, it’s the miracle vegetable.

As a kid I remember cutting a design into the bottom of a potato and using it as a stamp with an ink pad to make beautiful patterns on paper. Seems like we made do with what we had because we didn’t have all the nice craft stores to shop at like we do now.

You kind of wonder what more can be done with a potato that we don’t even know about. A potato contains no fat and 80% water. Now, how can that hurt us. I guess it is what we have done to the potato that makes it bad for us.

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Morning Foods/ Side dish/ Vegetables

Sweet Potato Hash

Hash of a different color.

Everyone knows how good sweet potatoes are for your health. They are full of potassium, Vitamin A, low in fat and high in omega 6 fatty acids. Did you know that one small sweet potatoes provides you with twice the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A. That’s amazing.

Several decades the sweet potato was introduced in the southern United States and since that introduction, oh what we have done with them. They are delicious mixed with herbs and spices and different flavorings. They are in every thing from baby food to main dishes, casseroles, salads, and pies like Sweet Potato or even Sweet Potato Pecan Pie. I have done an appetizer with sweet potatoes (coming soon). This past weekend, for my daughter’s birthday dinner, I did a Bobby Flay recipe that had sweet potatoes mixed in with grits and topped with shrimp. Just another delicious sweet potato recipe. This recipe for Sweet Potato Hash is good with just about anything.

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Side dish/ Vegetables

Grilled Vegetables with Balsamic Dressing

Can be prepared ahead of time and just waiting for your guests.

Whatever you are planning for your Memorial Day celebration, these vegetables are easy to make and will be a hit at your party.

I loved grilled vegetables mainly because I don’t have to cook them. Usually, anything grilled falls on my husband. For this recipe though, I decided to do them on my cast iron grill top inside because sometimes my husband tends to over grill vegetables leaving them charred and burned.

I did make a cool discovery doing these vegetables. I used my waffle cutter to cut my vegetables. So when I put the vegetables on the flat top grill, the waffle cut of the vegetables left marks on them like they had been done over a grill.

For some reason every time I make grilled vegetables (and I posted some roasted root vegetables back in the fall) I can never get a good picture of them. They taste wonderful but do not photograph well. I’m thinking if you see a beautiful picture of roasted or grilled vegetables in a magazine, the photographer must have waved his magic wand and created some magical setting that took a great picture of a heap of grilled vegetables. Maybe a little torching, painting with oils, I don’t know but I want to eat mine, not just look at them.

So I hope you will try this recipe even though the pictures don’t do justice to the recipe.

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Side dish/ Vegetables

Potatoes Colcannon

Poor man’s dish but fit for a King!

In honor of my husbands family tree I decided to make this potato dish this week for St. Patrick’s Day to go along with some corn beef.

Back before the Irish Potato famine the average Irishman ate 5.5 lbs. of potatoes each day. Potatoes were a staple diet for rich and poor and with dwellings being so small, there was not a lot of room for kitchens like we have today for storage of food. A meal of potatoes need only to be dug, washed and either boiled or roasted. Potatoes Colcannon is an Irish dish similar to the British dish Bubbles and Squeak and potatoes contain almost all the vitamins we need. We just can’t eat too much of a good thing.

Back when my husband was in college at the University of Missouri – Rolla, St. Pat’s weekend was one of the biggest party weekends of the year. The main street would be painted with a green stripe down the center and all the fraternities would work on these elaborate mechanical floats (this was an engineering school) for the St. Patty’s Day parade and like I said in an earlier post, they dyed everything green. If the guys didn’t have a nice beard grown by St. Pat’s, they would get a green beard painted on their faces. So, whenever St. Pat’s rolls around each year, it brings back memories of party weekends I attended while he was at school.

My sister gave me this recipe a few years ago. I love cabbage, I love mashed potatoes, and combine the two along with some milk, butter, onions, and cheese you have a wonderful side dish to your evening meal.

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