With the arrival of Fall, I find myself craving foods with deep color. It’s as though the trees I can see changing subtly tell me that I need carrots and cranberries and spinach. I experimented with a few options for side dishes and while I like all my recipes, this one is by far my favorite.
You can change up the veggies according to your taste. The first time I made this dish, I used carrots, apples, onions and spinach. Since then, I’ve added in a parsnip as well. It amazes me how when you take the time to cook root vegetables slowly in butter and allow them to caramelize, they are so sweet and tender. Once the vegetables are cooked, the addition of red wine vinegar and soy sauce just finishes the amazing flavors and makes it so you can’t stop refilling your plate.
- 1 cup dry orzo pasta
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cups vegetables, diced (carrots, parsnips, apples, spinach, kale, squash; any combo that you like!)
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
- cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp. dry mustard
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
Boil a stockpot of water and add the dry pasta. Cook for about 7 minutes and taste for doneness. Drain the pasta and set aside.
In a large saute pan, melt the butter and add the onions and veggies. When they start to get tender, add the garlic,black pepper, dry mustard and paprika. Stir to toss and then lower the burner temperature to low and let the pan contents caramelize.
Add the cooked pasta to the pan and stir to combine. Pour in the vinegar and soy sauce and stir again. Serve as a side or cold the next morning as breakfast… if there’s any left, of course!
I feel like the summer just flew by. Not in a bad way and not really in a good way either. I woke up this morning and realized that tomorrow the last school in the district starts. I am starting Liam’s preschool schedule this week and I’m pretty darn excited. He’s just thrilled to have a no-holds barred pass at the crayons and paper while I am over the moon for the opportunity to teach him more and more.
Now that Fall is coming, I’m also excited that my shelves are filled with home-canned produce for me to pick from once the bounty from the garden is gone. There are dozens of jars of canned corn in my basement. Corn must be canned in a pressure cooker and for this reason, I only just learned to do it last year. I was still just as anxious over the process this year and I was last. Something about scalding hot steam… anyway, canned corn is delicious and so much more convient than thawing out a quart sized block of frozen corn. One caveat though, home canned corn does not have the same florescent color as those commerically done. The taste is the same, but the color is not so don’t be put off if you choose to try this method on your own.
I adapted this recipe from A Farmgirl Dabbles and am very pleased with the result. Lower fat and sodium content and a much less guilty side dish to go along with those end of summer grilled meals. It does keep well in the fridge for a few days, and it’s a wonderful comfort food!
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 1 1/2 c 2% milk
- 1 c. shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 c. diced peppers (hot or sweet, which ever strikes your fancy)
- 2 pints canned corn
- salt and pepper to taste
Saute the onions, peppers and garlic together until tender and fragrant. Add in the corn and heat through. Then, pour the mixture into a oven proof casserole dish or bowl and set aside. Using the same skillet you cooked the onions, etc. in, melt the butter until it crackles. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until it is combined and thick. Slowly stream in the milk and whisk until it thins out the sauce (you are making a roux) and then add in the shredded cheese bit by bit until it is thick and cheesy and gooey. (If you need, you can add in a bit more milk to thin the sauce out, but I preferred it thick.) Pour the sauce over the corn and mix so the corn is coated. Taste and season accordingly. Place the completed dish in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes to brown the cheese. Serves 8-10 as a side dish.
I’ve been having a rough time coming up with a good lunch plan for me and the kids. Liam is on a peanut butter and jelly only diet and I’m not quite ok letting Sylvi eat that day in and day out. And me? Well, I’m keeping an eye on my caloric intake. Not in the sense that I’m cutting hundreds of calories, but in the sense that I want what I eat to count. I hate eating a healthy meal and then being hungry 30 minutes later. That being said, I’ve spent a great deal of time scouring Pinterest looking for inspiration.
I happened upon a recipe that I thought would be excellent but when I tried it out, it was awful. So I scrapped it and started it again. This result was amazing. Sylvi and I ate it right up, but Liam turned up his nose. There wasn’t any jelly involved so I let it go. I can’t say that this recipe is the quickest to put together, but the time was worth it. This recipe makes enough to serve 4 as a main dish or 8 as a side. I would omit the chicken if I were to make this as a side dish. But that’s just me. I’d also eat this straight out of the pan…
Creamy quinoa and vegetables
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 crown broccoli, cut into small pieces
- 2 carrots, shredded
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 small zuchinni, shredded
Rinse the quinoa and then add it to a medium saucepan with 3 cups of water. (I add 1/2 tsp. sea salt to the quinoa and then don’t add any later since the base ingredient is already seasoned.) Bring the quinoa to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. While the quinoa cooks, heat a skillet over a medium burner and add the olive oil. Place all the vegetables and garlic in the skillet and cook until the broccoli is a crisp tender and still brightly colored. Stir frequently. Add the yogurt, chives and a few cracks of pepper and mix well. Finally add in the broth and the cooked quinoa and stir so that the vegetables are spread evenly throughout the quinoa. If you are using chicken, add it now. As an added bit of flavor when you serve, grate some Parmesan over the top.
Summer weekends are for adventuring in our house. Ever the list maker, I made a cute project for our family so we can not only our usual summer activities, but also remind me of all the things I’ve been anxious to get to do as a family now that Liam is old enough to enjoy them. One of the big things we like to do is take little afternoon trips and picnic. With picnicking comes quick and easy meals that sometimes need variety.
Since it’s summer, produce is in it’s glory and now is the time to enjoy a fresh, crisp BLT. BLTs don’t work so well for a packed lunch in my opinion, so I created this pasta salad. It’s hearty enough to be eaten alone, but can very easily compliment a sandwich. You can make this in advance, but I do recommend not adding the lettuce until right before you serve it, just so you have a good crunch!
BLT Pasta Salad
- 1 lb pasta, cooked and drained
- 1 c. Ranch Dressing
- 4 tomatoes, diced
- 8-10 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- Half a large head of Iceberg Lettuce, diced
- 8 ounces Colby cheese, cut into small cubes
Once the pasta is cooked, it should set long enough to be cool to the touch. Combine the rest of the ingredients, stirring so that they are evenly distributed. Serve cold.
Cooking rice has been hard for me. Generally speaking, it turns out a bit crunchy still and for the longest time I just made orzo instead. It’s taken me a while to get the hang of cooking rice in the first place, but I just wanted to make a pilaf that I could serve as a side dish instead of the ubiquitous potato. A pilaf is simply rice that is cooked in broth. Often people add vegetables or seasoning, but the broth will suffice. And I think that the broth makes the rice more tender in it’s own right. Since I make my own broth, minuscule bits of meat and the flavorings are also added into the rice. I made this to go with some Indian butter chicken the other night and Liam couldn’t eat it fast enough! In fact, Matt and I were long done with our suppers, just waiting for him to finish up so we could play! Recently, he’s been a little picky about textures, so I was super excited that he ate the peas as well. I made this dish with Indian flavors so it went well with our chicken, but you could leave those out, and put in some Cajun spices and have a totally different side! I love how versatile this dish is and have plenty of ideas for the future.
- 2 Tbsp. Ghee
- 1 1/2 c. Jasmine Rice
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 c. peas
- 3 c. Chicken stock
- 1 tsp. Turmeric
- 1 tsp. Garam Masala
- Cilantro, salt and pepper to taste
Melt the Ghee in the bottom of a 2 qt pan on medium heat. When the pan is coated, add in the onions and saute until tender. Then, add in the rice, turmeric, and Garam Masala and saute until the rice is coated with the spices and ghee. Carefully pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Once the rice boils, turn the heat down to a simmer, add the peas and cover. Cook, stirring from time to time for about another 20 minutes or until the stock is absorbed into the rice and is soft. When the rice is done cooking, fluff with a fork and season to your taste.
For your cheflet: This is a great introduction to spices for your little one! Depending on your tastes, you can use the rice and peas as a canvas to bring some variety into your little one’s palette. Since peas and rice are such simple foods, I would actually start this with a child as young as 6-8 months. Once they are at least 9 months, I would mince bits of tender chicken and add that to the mix as well. Warning: If you make this dish like I did, don’t be surprised if your little one’s clothes are stained yellow from the Turmeric. I always make sure Liam is wearing something dark and a large bib when we eat Indian food!
I think everyone has that one comfort food that soothes their soul no matter what. For me, this food is mashed potatoes. I love them so much and if you can make creamy, fluffy mashed potatoes you are my best friend if only by default. I would have to think that when people read down through my list of foods to master
, it may have been considered odd that I included mashed potatoes. How hard are they, really? Unless you’re all fancy and stuff, they’re simply some cooked tubers, butter, milk, salt and pepper. But for me the sign of a really good mashed potato is that they reheat nicely. You see, I don’t like to just make a few potatoes to be eaten for one meal and then forgotten. I like to be able to sneak into the fridge and have a bowlful at 2 in the morning. I want to be able to reheat them and not have a starchy mass settling on my plate. Finally, after literally years of experimenting with potatoes, add-ins, and utensils, I have found myself a winner.
The difference lies in the fact that there are 3 kinds of potatoes in this dish: regular baking potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes and sweet potato. The addition of the sweet potato gave me the consistency that I’ve been searching for, but it did change the color dramatically. I’ve decided that this makes my dish special and with the added Vitamin A, I’m willing to let go of the ideal white potato cloud.
- 1 lb regular baking potatoes
- 1 lb Yukon gold potatoes
- 1 large Sweet potato
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. sour cream
- salt and pepper to taste
Peel all the potatoes and then roughly chop them. Place them carefully in a stockpot of boiling, salted water and cook until they are easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, reserving the water in case you want thinner potatoes. Put the potatoes in a bowl and beat on medium with an electric mixer. Once they have mashed part way, add in the butter and sour cream. Continue to beat them until they are fluffy and smooth. Season to your taste. To reheat, simply warm and if desired add some butter!
For your cheflet: This is the easiest baby food ever and you have the bonus of 2 foods in one. Feel free to plop a spoonful on your little one’s plate (as long as you are certain they have no reactions to any of the potatoes) and watch them enjoy the sensations of squishing the potatoes through their fingers before they taste!
I find it amazing how my tastes can change so quickly. Last night, I wanted a roast chicken for supper. And I was going to make a rice dish… but then, somehow… my mind wandered to potatoes and I thought I’d make mashed potatoes… or baked… or broiled… or oh! I could make the Lola fries! Ever since having them this summer
, I’ve been meaning to make them, but hadn’t got up the gumption to deal with frying potatoes. Since we are getting the family into the kitchen as much as possible now, I thought it would be something fun to do with Liam running around. We ran 6 potatoes over my mandoline’s julienne cutter and I will tell you that it made far too many for just the 3 of us. Didn’t stop me from eating them though!
Liam was convinced that the julienned potatoes were cheese and kept reaching for handfuls to try. I lost count of how many he sampled before get gave up and believed us that they were potatoes, not cheese. I had read a report once that the main “vegetable” consumption of children in Liam’s age group was the french fry. I have really tried hard to not let him have too many potatoes, but when it’s literally my favorite comfort food, regardless of preparation, I just felt bad. So, we’ve varied the preparations of potatoes in this house and Liam loves them all. These fries were the perfect size for his sweet little hands to grab hold of. Instead of throwing whole pieces of rosemary on the fries, I ground dried rosemary up and mixed it in with the salt. I made far too much of the salt mixture, but it was a hit with both of my boys, so I’ll keep it on hand and try it with other things.
Michael says that it’s best to fry the potatoes once at 275, drain, rinse, pat dry and fry again at 350. Perhaps this is something you do when you have time. Not only did I decide to do fries right before the chicken was done, I have a toddler. He wasn’t up for waiting for the second frying. However, they were shear perfection and regardless of how we chose to prepare our potatoes from now on, I’ll be adding some rosemary to the seasoning! Stay tuned tomorrow for my adaptation of his spicy ketchup!
I am a vegetable girl. Generally speaking, I like them best when they are fresh from the garden and raw. I just need a little salt and we are on our merry way. And although a dash of salt is my favorite way to enjoy seasoning on these gems of the garden, I’ve also learned to branch out and try new things. Tonight was such a night. After a rather leisurely day, we decided to spend the afternoon in the apple orchard and take a hayride. While I was on this hayride, listening to a mother nag and belittle her children for the entire 15 minutes we were together, I began to think of my favorite things. I tried to order my top 5 favorite vegetables, but just can’t. So here in no particular order are my top 5:
- Green Beans
- Brussel Sprouts
(I also wanted to include Broccoli, but when it comes down to it, I prefer Green Beans. Namely raw, so since I’m not a big fan of raw broccoli except for in rare cases, the Bean won.)
While I was on this hayride, it occurred to me that I had some brussel sprouts in the crisper and it’s been a long time since I had them last. For Thanksgiving last year, my Uncle prepared them, sliced and sauteed with figs. I was the lucky one who got the leftovers! The weather is changing my friends, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so I was feeling festive. I’d have to say this preparation
of Brussel sprouts is now in close completion to this one.
- 1lb fresh brussel sprouts
- 3-4 slices bacon
- 1 small onion
- salt and pepper to taste
Chop the bacon into small pieces and cook in a pan until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain. Leave the initial drippings in the pan, though. Quarter or slice the brussel sprouts and dice the onions. Carefully place them in the pan with the bacon grease, being sure not to splash yourself, and cook. You’ll need to stir them frequently so they don’t stick and burn to the bottom of the pan. I cooked mine until the onions were softened, but the sprouts where still slightly crisp and bright green in color. Toss the finished brussel sprouts and onions with the cooked bacon and season as you see fit with salt and pepper.