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Tag Archives: side dish

Pepperoni & Basil Tortellini Salad

Usually, I’d argue that this dish makes a perfect salad for Summer, whether it’s as a side dish or a meal itself. And it does. But when it’s unseasonably warm weather-wise on the home front and were less than two weeks away from Christmas, I’m not going to rant or rave. I mean I can’t actually do anything about it, so why not just go with it?

Tortellini & Pepperoni Pasta Salad 2

Just picture it, your favorite cheese tortellini with ripe grape tomatoes ready to burst with flavor, fresh basil, a generous helping of chopped pepperoni, and all mixed up with your favorite creamy Caesar salad dressing. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, or anybody on a diet, but if neither of those apply to you, it’s a dreamy combination.

Tortellini & Pepperoni Pasta Salad

Trust me you want in on this dish. In a month filled with warm, rich comfort foods and chaos and (if you’re a parent) kids home on break needing more lunch options than the typical brown bag variety, run headlong toward this ‘salad’. This is pasta salad, 2.0, and it’s just the change of pace we enjoy. With the roller coaster weather, us and our meals have to roll with the punches.

Pepperoni & Basil Tortellini Salad

Tortellini & Pepperoni Pasta Salad 3

1 (20 oz) pkg cheese tortellini, or about 3-4 cups frozen tortellini
1 cup pepperoni slices, chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup cubed, or shredded, mozzarella cheese
1 cup caesar dressing
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

Directions

  1. Cooked the tortellini according to package directions. Drain and transfer the tortellini to a large bowl.
    2. Stir together the dressing and the cooked tortellini. Add in the pepperoni, basil, cheese, and tomatoes and gently stir together, so that the tortellini don’t fall apart, until everything’s evenly combined.
    3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Not Your Mama’s Green Bean Casserole

I feel like most people have heard of green bean casserole by now. It’s been around as long as I can remember, and it’s a Thanksgiving & Christmas dinner staple for us. And who’s had it who doesn’t just love it, with its creamy veggies and crunchy onion topping?

 Not Your Mama's Green Bean Casserole

But the version I serve my family, with my own indulgent spin on it is definitely not my Mama’s classic recipe. Don’t let the looks of it fool you, it packs some secret ingredient punches that will make it an instant hit with any crowd, holidays or not.

Everybodys gonna want your recipe. You know what? Just go ahead and bring extra copies, that way everybody leaves full and happy.

Not Your Mama’s Green Bean Casserole

1 can (10 1/2 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
1/2-3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp soy sauce
1 pinch of black pepper, 1/4 tsp garlic powder
4 cups cooked, cut green beans
1 1/3 cups crispy French Fried Onions
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
6-8 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh (washed and scrubbed) mushrooms

Directions

  1. Stir together the soup, cream, soy sauce, spices, beans, cheese, bacon, mushrooms, and 2/3 cup of the onions in a 1 1/2-quart casserole.
    2. Bake the casserole, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes , or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the beans. Sprinkle the remaining onions evenly over top of the casserole.
    3.  Return the dish to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes, or until the onions are golden brown.

French Onion Soup Casserole

Let me tell ya’ll about this here casserole. It’s not just any old ‘veggies in a dish with cheese’, anybody can do that. This one’s a game changer.

I love a good bowl of French Onion Soup, especially one topped with a sprinkling of croutons and melted Swiss cheese. But I’ve got a lot on my plate most day, so basically … ain’t nobody got time for that, at least not often.

<Enter this heaven-sent side dish>

For real though, like the name implies, this tastes just like the iconic soup, but it’s so much easier to make.

French Onion Soup Casserole

Serve this at your Thanksgiving dinner this year, for a fun new side dish that’s sure to be gobbled up.

French Onion Soup Casserole

French Onion Soup Casserole 2

4 medium onions, sliced
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
salt, to taste
1 dash pepper
3⁄4 cup beef broth
1⁄4 cup sherry
1 1⁄2 cups croutons, plain
2 tbsp butter, melted
1⁄2-1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions

  1.  In a large skillet melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the onions and cook until they’re beginning to caramelize, stirring often, about 6-8 minutes.
    2. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper until the onions are evenly coated.
    3. Whisk in the broth and sherry.
    4. Continue to stir, cooking until thickened and bubbly.
    5. Turn the onions out into a 1 quart casserole dish.
    6. Toss the croutons with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and spoon them out evenly overtop of the onion mixture.
    7. Sprinkle the Swiss and Parmesan cheeses evenly overtop.
    8. Put the casserole in the oven under the broiler and broil for about 1 minute, or until the cheese melts and just begins to brown.
    9. Serve immediately.

Esquites ( Mexican Corn Salad )

Do you have a Mexican food stand at your local Farmers Market? Or a local food truck claiming authentic Mexican street fare? If the answer is yes to either of these, then you’ve probably come across this dish before. If not, you’re in for a treat.

The name literally means ‘toasted’ corn.

 Etiques (Mexican Corn Salad) 2

And it’s the smokey, sweet, spicy, and tangy off the cob cousin of elote (creamy, cheese coated corn on the cob), and it’s packin all those same feisty flavors. So, it does not disappoint.

Were just loving all these de-constructed versions of things recently, aren’t you? Convenience is priceless.

Even better this corn salad can be served hot or cold, so it’s perfect for a toasty, comforting side dish in the Winter months, and also easily adaptable for a cold corn salad to bring to any Summer barbecue.

Esquites ( Mexican Corn Salad )

Etiques (Mexican Corn Salad) 3

2 tbsp butter
2 cans corn, drained or 4 ears fresh corn cut off cob
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp Cojita cheese, finely crumbled (or shredded Mexican blend cheese)
1/8 tsp chili powder, to taste
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, melt the butter.
    2. Add the corn to the pan and allow it to slightly char on the bottom of the pan, then give it a good stir and let it char one more time.
    3. Stir in the jalapeno and remove the skillet from heat.
    4. Transfer the corn mixture into a medium/large bowl and add in the mayonnaise, garlic, onions, cilantro, lime juice, cheese, chili powder and avocado.
    5. Gently stir everything together just until evenly incorporated.
    6. Serve immediately (warm) or cover and refrigerate, serving when chilled, your choice. Both ways are great.

Mexican Street Fries with Salsa Ketchup

Today we’ve got another recipe with South of The Border flavors, but today’s isn’t quite as ‘authentic’ as our Papusas with Salsa Roja from last week.

 Mexican Street Fries & Salsa Ketchup 2

We love a good fry recipe. The crispier the better! And while I often use store bought frozen fries, I always keep a bag or two of a variety of potatoes on hand for those times when I’m craving a little something down-home and starchy, and I’ve got the time not only to make it from scratch, but also to do a little bit more.

These Mexican street fries fit the bill perfectly. Sliced thin, so they are extra crispy, and seasoned to fiesta-flavored perfection they’re the perfect embodiment of technique and flavor working hand in hand. Pair them with the salsa ketchup, for the perfect bit of heat and sweet.

One bite, and you might just find yourself saying, ‘ole’!

Mexican Street Fries with Salsa Ketchup

Mexican Street Fries & Salsa Ketchup

2 medium russet potatoes, roughly 1 lb
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chipotle chili pepper, or sub a dash of cayenne

Salsa Ketchup

3 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp salsa
hot sauce, to taste (optional)

mayonnaise (optional)

Directions

1.Cut the potatoes into thin fries, no wider than 1/4 inch.
2. Add all of the ingredients except the cut fries to a large bowl and stir together until evenly incorporated. Add the fries and gently toss until they’re evenly coated.
3. Spread  the seasoned potatoes out evenly over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Toss and stir the fries, making sure to keep them in a single layer, and return them to the oven to bake for an additional 10 minutes. If you like crispier fries, then place them under the broiler at this point, just until they’re sufficiently golden and crispy.
4. To make the ketchup, stir the ketchup and salsa together in a small bowl. Taste it, you can leave it as is or add more salsa for more of that ‘salsa’ flavor, or add more ketchup for more of a ‘ketchup’ taste. Add in the hot sauce, to taste. You can also add mayonnaise for a creamy version, a salsa ketchup fry sauce of sorts.

recipe adapted from Carlsbad Cravings

Grilled Caesar Asparagus

I always find myself trying to keep things simple in the summer time. Maybe it’s the way everything seems to slow down, and for the most part, take a more leisurely pace. Of course, that could just be the heat. Or the fact that all the kids are home, and for people who don’t drive they sure do make a lot of plans to go all over the county, and everything takes us twice as long to get our little butts around to doing. And that we essentially throw our traditional school year schedules out the window. So yeah, summer meals. I’m in no rush, but everybody’s still got to eat.

In the evening’s, I’d much rather be sitting around outside with a good book, their play and laughter the perfect back ground music, than inside in the kitchen.

 image

That’s where asparagus enters into our meal-time picture. Grilled with a little oil, salt, and pepper, asparagus makes for a simple summer side dish. Top that beautiful grilled green bounty with your favorite caesar dressing, croutons, and some shredded Parmesan cheese, and you’ve got a perfect meatless meal that’s filling without weighing you down, and ready in a breeze. Serve stalks as is, or chop them into quarters for a more traditional, ‘tossed-salad’ type dish.

Grilled Caesar Asparagus

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing
croutons
shredded parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Toss the asparagus spears in the oil, salt and pepper them, to taste, and grill them over medium-high heat (turning once or twice) until crisp-tender and slightly charred.
2. Serve topped with the caesar dressing of your choice, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and another round of fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Carrot Zucchini Feta Fritters

Fritters are such a wonderfully fun finger food. They make a great, not to mention satisfying, vegetarian main meal. They’re a great party food. Heck, they’re even great when taken on a picnic. Yes, my picnic baskets often include foods that are ‘out of the back’. Fried chicken and ham and cheese sandwiches are for sissys, my picnic needs some action. Flavor action to be specific, and these are packin it.

Carrot, Zucchini, Feta Fritters 2

Shredded carrot and zucchini, a handful of diced sweet peppers, and a little bit of batter, and you’ve got these lightly (pan)fried golden veggie patties that are too good to put down. Seriously, I need a reminder or something. A ribbon tied around my finger, a remembral, something. Sharing is caring and one serving, or two ‘patties’ IS enough. Serve these things with a little sauce of your choosing, but we’ve found they pair best for our palettes with plain, creamy yogurt for dipping. Want to really treat yourself? Serve em up hot with a mint yogurt sauce and prepare to be floored. As in your jaw is gonna drop, and you might need help picking it up off of the floor.

Carrot Zucchini Feta Fritters

Carrot, Zucchini, Feta Fritters

2 cups coarsely grated zucchini
1 cup grated carrot
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 eggs
5 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt, depending on how salty your feta is
5 tbsp crumbled feta
1/2 cup olive oil, for frying

Directions

1. Salt the zucchini and carrot with about roughly 1 teaspoon of salt and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
2. Take a handful of the veggies and remove the excess juice from them by ringing them out with your hands.
3. Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl.
4. To the eggs, add the flour, grated veggies, diced pepper, salt and feta in this order and stir together just until evenly combined.
5. Finally add in the baking powder and stir to combine.
6. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
7. Drop 1-2 tablespoons of the batter into the skillet. Drop as many mounds as your skillet can take.
8. Flatten slightly and fry 3 minutes on each side or until golden-brown and crispy.
9. Transfer them onto a paper towel to soak up any excess oil, and repeat with remaining batter.
10. Serve warm or cold, with yogurt.

recipe adapted from Give Recipe

Sweet Strawberry Broccoli Salad

So it’s become apparent, undeniably apparent at this point, that the youngest son does not like dinner. We’ve verified that he likes food. He eats every other meal. He will be for food between his afternoon snack and dinner. But no matter what you put on his plate at dinner time he will insist he doesn’t like it, or that he’s full. The older sons enjoy fighting over his leftovers. While at any other meal, even if not happily or even willingly, he will eat his veggies, this whole dinner time protest thing has left me struggling to find new ways to re-present some of his A.M. Favorites.

Sweet Broccoli & Strawberry Salad

All the sons, and I do mean ALL have inherited there Daddy’s sweet tooth. Even the hubs is a picky veggie eater, but I figured if I knew him then anything, no matter how ‘good’ for you, in the guise of something sweet would be a surprising hit. And I know our little apples didn’t fall for from the paternal tree. So, this is what I came up with. Totally tasty, with some ‘tiny trees’ as they’re known around these parts tossed with some farm fresh fruit, and a sweet (but good for you!) yogurt-based ‘dressing’.

My game must still be good, because the sons all ate it, and I watched the hubs as he kept eating bite after bite, talking in between about how he doesn’t even like broccoli or strawberries, but he just couldn’t stop eating it.

Sweet Broccoli Strawberry Salad

Sweet Broccoli & Strawberry Salad

4 cups of fresh, chopped broccoli florets
2 cups of chopped fresh strawberries
¼ cup of chopped pecans
1/3 cup of goat cheese, crumbled
5 oz plain Greek yogurt
2-4 tsp maple syrup or honey, to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
salt, to taste
½ tbsp poppy seeds

Directions

1. Combine the broccoli, strawberries, cheese, and pecans in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, maple syrup or honey, and lemon juice, stirring until everything’s evenly incorporated.
3. Fold the dressing into the broccoli and strawberry mixture until all the fruit and veggies are evenly coated.
4. Add some salt and the poppy seeds and stir them in.
5. Refrigerate until ready to serve. I also like to omit the pecans and instead garnish with slivered almonds.

recipe adapted from Will Cook For Smiles

Pesto Potatoes

Sausage, eggs, and hasbrowns. Grilling and potato salad. Burgers and fries. Steak and baked potatoes. Notice a common theme here? There’s a reason it’s known as a ‘meat and potatoes’ kind of thing. The two just go hand in hand. Seriously. Can’t you just picture them, hand in hand happily skipping down the aisle in wedded bliss?

Curiously, I don’t ever really hear anybody spilling the beans on the seasonings that make the match. For us, it’s a bit of pesto tossed with our potatoes, and then cooked until they’re crunchy and, well, crunchier.

Pesto Potatoes

4 Sons 'R' Us:  Pesto Potatoes

1-2 lbs russet, or red, potatoes
1 (10 oz) jar Pesto sauce
3/4-1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Scrub and wash the potatoes, pat dry, and (leaving the skins on) roughly chop them up into ‘chunks’.
2. Place the cut potatoes in a large zip-locking bag. Add the pesto sauce to the bag as well, seal, and shake everything around until all of the potatoes are evenly coated.
3. Pour the pesto potatoes out onto a baking sheet and spread them out evenly. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over top.
4. Bake at 450 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes are golden.

Skinny Buffalo Potato Salad

If you’ve followed us for any amount of time you know that I’ve got a thing for traditions. Every holiday has its own little nuances and little things that, come hell or high water, we are going to adhere to. Another Easter just came to pass, and it’s no exception to the ‘mom is a crazy lady who is dying to make memories’ rule.

For example, every year we go to a local historical park that features a variety of animals and gorgeous gardens and views. It’s a big affair, complete with grandparents and aunts too. Each year we kick the whole shebang off with a picnic lunch. Really. Every year. Sadly though, like everything else it seems, I was pretty sure the older sons had aged out of caring this year, and I purposefully didn’t bring it up because I didn’t want to be all emotional when it was time for us to argue about it and for me to finally have to force them to go by pulling the ‘because I said so, and you’re gonna like it dammit’ card. I mean family time is family time. Right? Non-negotiable. But, to my surprise and utter delight, when I didn’t bring it up and Easter was creeping closer and closer, the older sons started to have a mild freak out.

Umm, excuse me? Of course we’re having an Easter picnic/park day. Duh. How could you doubt me? I was prepared to drag you there by the scruff even if you complained the whole way there, because tradition! But it made my heart so happy that you were that adamant about going yet again.

So, with that emotional crisis averted for all parties involved, we got back to the next most important thing. The food. After all, that’s our biggest tradition and the memories made around it one of our greatest legacies. For us no picnic lunch, especially an Easter Sunday picnic lunch, is complete without potato salad. It’s a staple. We’re not even real picky on the kind as long as it has the same style base. Potatoes, and something creamy, like mayo.

This lightened up, buffalo style version is one of our favs. Soon it’ll be one of yours too 😉

Light/Skinny Buffalo Potato Salad

Light Buffalo Potato Salad

recipe adapted from The Weary Chef

2 lbs red and/or russet potatoes, diced into 1/4″ cubes
generous 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
generous 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2-4 tbsp buffalo wing sauce, we prefer a mild sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup diced red onion
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced (optional)

Directions

1. In a medium sized pot, add the potatoes and add water until it just covers them. Add about 1 tsp salt, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Allow the potatoes to boil for about 10 minutes, or until fork tender. Transfer the potatoes to a colander to drain, and gently rinse with cold water for about one minute to stop the cooking process and cool them off.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, buffalo sauce, and salt and pepper. Using a spatula, gently fold in the remaining ingredients, stirring just until everything is evenly incorporated. 3. Serve as is, or refrigerate until chilled.

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