Category Archives: Side Dishes
Remember when I said endorphins gave me creativity? I meant it.
They also make you happy and happy people don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t! (You’re in luck, Max!)
So I told you I was making fish and here I am to share with you all what I did and how it turned out. (hint: it was da bomb!)
I don’t really have a recipe for you because I just threw stuff together without taking note of how much I used. I’ll guestimate for you and encourage you to just wing it, also.
I got two tilapia filets from the grocery store and seasoned them.
I melted about 3 Tbsp. of butter in a pan and sauteed two garlic cloves in it and squeezed in about half a lemon’s worth of juice.
I poured that over the fish, topped each filet with two slices of lemon and stuck it in the oven at 375 degrees until done (10 min? 15? I have no idea how long it took.)
Meanwhile, I cooked up a serving of jasmine rice that I made with veggie stock instead of water and I threw in some petit haricot verts into a pan with EVOO, garlic, lots of red pepper and salt and pepper. Once the green beans were cooked through, I squeezed a couple teaspoons of fresh lemon juice over them (*Note: this will change their color from bright green to browny-green. Don’t be put off by this. They taste GREAT with lemon juice.)
When the fish was done, I threw a whole box of spinach into a pan that had EVOO, garlic and sriracha. I tossed to coat and then put the lid on top to wilt it for about a minute. When it was done, I gave it a generous splash of balsamic vinegar.
Then I simply put a pile of rice on the plate, topped that off with spinach and topped THAT off with the filet. I served the green beans on the side and scarfed.
The whole dish had a nice level of spice, thanks to the red pepper flakes and sriracha and the lemon added a nice brightness. It’s a repeat offender, for sure.
Have you guys thought up of any great fish dishes lately? Share them with me below!
I’m a huge grapefruit lover. I prefer fresh grapefruit juice to orange and I could eat the pretty pink fruit for breakfast (and lunch…and dinner) every day. I know some people are turned off by the bitterness of the large citrus, but I love it.
A nice farmer at the Coronado Farmers Market (you can read about his fruit here) gave me some free citrus this week—grapefruits and these lemon/lime/orange things (more on those later.) Well, thanks to Pinterest, I remembered seeing a picture of a broiled grapefruit. I was sold instantly.
It’s like creme brulee but healthy…and without all the custard…and not made with a fancy hand torch…and pink.
If it weren’t for Pinterest, I would’ve never even thought of broiling grapefruit, which is why I’m thankful for the online pinboard with a cult following.
And I’m thankful for broiled grapefruits because my mouth likes doing happy dances, and mine did after eating this. You even have to crack the top open like creme brulee. Woo hoo! A “healthy” dessert.
Broiling grapefruit is pretty straightforward:
- Make sure your grapefruit is chilled….I’d even consider popping it in the freezer 10-15 minutes before broiling.
- Then you slice it in half and cut the flesh all the way around the rim of the fruit and then cut the segments (like you’re going to be digging into one like you normally do.)
- Mix together some brown sugar and melted butter (I used 1 Tbsp. melted butter and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar for one grapefruit. I had enough leftover for another half).
- Sprinkle the sugar mixture on top of each grapefruit half and broil for about 3 minutes, until the sugar is bubbly.
- Take it out, break it open and enjoy!
Let’s look at it one more time, for good measure.
Psst…follow me on Pinterest by clicking the red icon at the bottom of the right-hand menu…scroll, scroll, scroll.
Bruschetta is one of my most favorite meals. I know it’s usually listed in menus as an appetizer, but for me, it suffices as a whole meal.
Bruschetta (brew-sket-uh) is an Italian thing–crusty fried bread with a tomato “salsa” on top. You can take the healthy route and broil the bread with just a brush of EVOO, but fried is so much better (isn’t it always?)
I make mine very simple. This dish is very much “less is more.” I use fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, kalamata olives and EVOO. I finish things off with a drizzle of balsamic. And that’s it! A couple slices of this and I can call it a night. It’s that satisfying.
Bruschetta is great on a night where you don’t really want to cook and you don’t want to weigh down your tummy. Here’s the very simple recipe for two (or just yourself if you’re
greedy hungry!) This is easy to double.
- 4 thick slices (sliced 2-inched thick) of crusty bread
- 2 large tomato, or 4 Romas, diced
- 1/4 red onion, chopped
- 3-4 basil leaves, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (plus one clove cut in half for bread rubbing)
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
- Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
Toss it Together
- Mix the tomatoes, onions, minced garlic, basil and olives together.
- Drizzle the mixture with 1 Tbsp. of EVOO and toss again. Continue adding EVOO until you get the right amount of “wetness” for you. *Note: You can always leave it completely dry and drizzle EVOO on top after the finished product.
- In a deep, heavy bottomed pan, pour enough EVOO to cover an inch of the pan. You can mix equal parts vegetable oil and EVOO to prevent the EVOO from burning (veggie oil has a higher smoke point.)
- Heat over medium heat for about 1 minute.
- Place the slices of bread in the oil and fry for one minute, then turn and fry the other side until golden brown.
- Rub the halved garlic on the hot bread, then pile on the tomato mixture.
- Eat and enjoy!
*Image above found here.
This is my not-so-secret ploy to get you to read some of my articles over at Coronado Patch.
My recent farmers market article revolved around three classic Thanksgiving side dishes and how I switched them all up with one ingredient from the Coronado Farmers Market. My Tuesday tips are found inside the article.
Click here to read all about it.
Trust me, you want to check the story out before Thanksgiving—especially those green beans!
disclaimer: the photo above is of persimmons from the Coronado Farmers Market. I really just needed some kind of media and it’s kinda relevant…forgive me?
So I got this email early this week from a new subscriber—my best friend Pam‘s mom. She shares my love of food but has a lot more experience than I. And, she makes this amazing dish called firecracker shrimp that she got from an LA Times article a while back. You should be so lucky to try it. It’s a lot of work and she makes it perfectly. My mouth is watering just thinking about. Her husband is also rumored to make a mean creamed spinach. I’m going to get my hands on his recipe one of these days.
“I was checking out your food blog and was wondering if you have any unique ideas for sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. I refuse to put marshmallows and brown sugar on them. I found a recipe for mashed that included blue cheese dressing that sounds sort of interesting. Let me know if you have any ideas!!”
What a challenge! Of course, I’m sure you’re all gasping “NO marshmallows or brown sugar?” I did, too. Then I recovered from my shock and went on a mission to find out some new twists on the sweet potato that didn’t add any extra sugar and instead made them a savory side dish for Thanksgiving.
Here’s what I found:
- 3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6)
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1” cubes, room temperature
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup mild blue cheese
- 1/4 cup store-bought candied pecans
Preheat oven to 350°. Roast sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly.
Remove skins and transfer sweet potatoes to a large heavy saucepan over low heat. Add cream cheese and butter. Mash until well blended and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Stir over low heat until hot.
Spoon into a warm serving dish and garnish with cheese and pecans.
I didn’t have time to test out the recipe this week, but I’m considering using it next Thursday on Turkey Day. Seems different!
Anyone here every make sweet potatoes with savory ingredients instead of the usual marshmallows and brown sugar?? Roasted perhaps?
I haven’t written a real post in quite a while. My days are busy and spent staring at the computer screen for hours on end and the last thing I want to do after I’m done making dinner is stare at the screen some more. And that’s assuming I take pictures of the food I make for dinner!
Anyway, I’m trying something new this week. Creating a theme for everyday posts just for you—my five readers! Today we’re back with Meatless Monday (remember when we had some adventures in tofu a while back?) Tonight’s recipe is for the potato and cheese lovers.
I stole this recipe from Food Network (I’ve bashed the magazine before for its inconsistency in recipes). Their recipes seem to be hit or miss and I’m happy to report that this one is a definite hit.
It takes a while to make—almost two hours from start to finish—so plan accordingly. I recommend getting a mandoline to slice the taters on. I’ve done this by hand and by nifty slicer and the mandoline saves so much time and makes everything even.
Smoky Scalloped Potatoes from Food Network Magazine, November 2011 Issue.
What You Need
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- Kosher salt and ground pepper
- 3 cups half-and-half
- 1-2 tsp. smoked paprika (I played it safe and used 1)
- 2 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
What You Do
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 1 Tbsp. butter.
- Melt the remaining 2 Tbsp. butter in a large saucepan. Once the butter foams, add the shallot and garlic and saute until softened–about 5 minutes.
- Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the half-and-half, smoked paprika and potatoes. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
- Carefully pour half the potato mixture into the buttered baking dish. Shake the pan to arrange the taters in a single layer.
- Sprinkle half of each cheese on top of the layer, then add the remaining potatoes and shake again to arrange in a layer. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on the top of that layer.
- Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove the foil and place back in the oven for another 15 minutes*
- Let stand 15 minutes before serving**
*I broiled my potatoes for the last fifteen. They weren’t getting browned enough just by baking.
**As hard as it is, you should definitely let the potatoes sit. It’s a runny mess if you don’t let them cool, first.
Anyone here love scalloped potatoes? Anyone think of seafood when they hear the word scalloped? Check out tomorrow’s new theme: Tasty Tip Tuesday!
Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, and my “Creamy Pasta” recipe is easy enough to make whenever you get the craving for it.
Steakhouses have started this trend of chipotle (let’s all say it together, now: chi-poht-lay) mac and cheese—and I like it. I’ve modified my creamy pasta recipe to turn it into a chipotle mac and cheese that’s to.die.for. and just one simple step more complicated than the original recipe. You can thank me later.
Chipotles in adobo sauce are smoked jalapenos soaked in a sauce with paprika, vinegar, garlic, among other components. They’re delicious and really versatile and can be found in the aisle with the Mexican ingredients, like chiles and salsas and enchilada sauce. I get the Embasa brand and recommend it, though I’m (unfortunately) not endorsed by them.
- make this mac and cheese
- use one or two in a pot of chili
- make a smoky grilled chicken breast out of them
- substitute your usual hot sauce for a teaspoon or two of this sauce
- use it in a gratin or baked potato
- make chipotle butter with some and slather it on grilled corn or shrimp
- make homemade chipotle mayonnaise
- stir some sauce into refried beans
- marinade some carne asada in the sauce
- freeze the leftovers individually.
Now to the good stuff:
What you need*:
- Cooked short pasta–macaroni, farfalle, penne, etc. I used cellentani, which are long corkscrews with ridges so the sauce really sticks. Use about 3 cups cooked.
- Cream (heavy whipping, whipping, or half and half. Whatever you normally keep on hand!). Useenough to cover the bottom of the pan completely.
- Butter. Use 1 1/2 Tbsp.
- 1 Chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped, plus 2 tsp. adobo sauce.
- Smoked Fontina, Cheddar or Gruyere. My favorite so far is the fontina. Use about 1 1/2 cups, shredded.
- Sharp Cheddar. Use about an ounce or two shredded.
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
What to Do:
- In a medium-sized pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Add the chipotle and adobo sauce and cook for about a minute.
- Pour cream until it covers the bottom of the pan. I usually tilt the pan and if I can see the bottom of the pan when I tilt it, I add a little more cream. Remember, you don’t need a lot, but enough to completely cover the bottom of the pan!.
- Once the butter and cream mixture starts to bubble (and it will! It’ll be a frothy bubble), turn the heat down slightly and add the cooked pasta. Stir to coat.
- Season liberally with salt and pepper. Stir again.
- Add a small handful of the cheeses and stir again to melt. I always taste the pasta here and see if it needs more anything–salt, pepper, or cheese. Then add as needed.
- Continue to heat, stirring constantly. It sometimes takes a while to thicken. Don’t worry if it looks thin. Just stop stirring, turn the heat OFF and let it sit for about a minute. The sauce will thicken on its own and you’ll have a really yummy creamy pasta!
*all measurements are an estimate, as I cook by sight and taste. Taste as you go and decide for yourself if you need more cheese. Always start off safe (read: less) and then add as you go. As far as the cream goes, I’ve never had a problem with my method of filling up the bottom of the pan and scraping a silicone spatula along the bottom to see if I can see the bottom of the pan or not. If you can, add a little more cream.
My college roomie (Stef) and I found a pretty awesome sushi place down in SD. It’s a hole in the wall (literally. I’m pretty sure the fire code only allows 12 people in there at a time) and their sushi is inventive, fresh and fun. I’m sharing the secret with you, so click here to find out the name of this amazing find.
I love Stef for many reasons–she’s been my cooking accomplice for years, her family owns the renowned Weiser Family Farms (have you tried their potatoes?? Look out for them in San Diego farmers markets.), and she loves the same foods I do, to name a few.
So Stef and I had no problem picking sushi to share between the two of us. And we chose a Japanese appetizer staple–edamame. Garlic edamame to be technical. We both agreed it was our favorite dish of the night, that’s how well done it was.
Edamame is a young soy bean that’s often served steamed in its shell with a generous sprinkle of kosher salt. It’s known as a health food, due to its high amounts of protein and omega-3 levels, among many other things.
I tried to recreate the garlicky, glazed edamame dish Stef and I had at this sushi joint. It’s not perfect, but just as delicious. And, per usual, it’s simple to throw together.
Teriyaki-Glazed Garlic Edamame
- One 16-oz package of frozen edamame
- 1/4 cup water
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. water plus 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, mixed together to form a slurry
- Toasted sesame seeds for sprinkling
- Bring the water and garlic to a boil over high heat in a deep pot.
- Dump the frozen edamame in and stir occasionally for about 5-8 minutes, until the pods are hot and softened. Most of the water will be evaporated at this point.
- Turn the heat to medium. Toss in the teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and soy and stir to combine.
- Let that cook down for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the cornstarch slurry and turn the heat to low and let thicken, about a minute.
- Serve on a platter and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.
- Tell wandering hands to get their own.
Tips and Variations
- After you steam them in the water and garlic, remove them from the pan and sprinkle with salt for a lighter version.
- Add some sriracha (spicy chili sauce) to the teriyaki sauce for a spicy kick
- Double the garlic for a health and flavor boost.
- Some people get snap peas confused with edamame. You can’t eat the shell of edamame like you can snap peas and…um…they’re just completely different.
- Frozen edamame is just as good as fresh–in fact, frozen food tends to be higher in nutritional value because they’re frozen when they’re nutrients are at their highest levels.
I admit I’m one of those people who gets hooked on things. I wouldn’t call it an obsession, though a therapist might. It’s just when I like something, I like it! I’ll let those profound words sink in for a moment….
So a couple weeks ago, my college roomie, Stef, and I went to this great Japanese BBQ place called Gyu Kaku (please excuse the unfortunate name). It’s a “cook your own food over this open grill” type of place. Which I both love and hate. Why am I spending a lot of money to COOK my own food, and perhaps run the risk of burning my own food? But we went for happy hour and sushi and spent only $34 between the two of us—including alcohol-laced drinks. Winning!
Anyway, my point here is that we ordered spinach and it came wrapped in a foil packet and we were instructed to cook it over the open flame in the middle of our table for 2-3 minutes on each side. Now, I LOVE SPINACH, and this might be the biggest understatement of all time (except when that one guy from that one church said the world was ending that “one” time and then when it didn’t, he said he miscalculated. Yeah).
For my own cooked spinach, I usually just heat up some oil, throw in a couple of smashed garlic cloves until they brown, then dump a whole package of spinach in, toss it in the oil, cover for 2 minutes. Toss and cover again for another 2 minutes. Then watch sadly as the whole package of spinach turns into two measly portions.
But recently, I took the Gyu Kaku route and made my spinach over the open fire.
Wanna recreate this delicious side? It’s super easy (and no clean up!)
- 1 package of spinach
- 1 Tbsp. butter, cubed
- 1 shallot, minced or grated
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Red pepper flakes, optional
Package it Up
- Arrange the spinach on a large piece of heavy-duty foil.
- Place the cubed butter evenly on the spinach. Throw the shallot on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper (and red pepper flakes, if using).
- Fold over the foil to create a “packet” and close tightly.
- Cook on one side over medium to medium-high heat on a gas grill for two minutes.
- Flip and cook for another two to three minutes.
- Open up your packet of grilled spinach and enjoy!
Each month, in Food Network Magazine, there’s a recipe for an “Almost-famous ____________.” They’ve done almost-famous onion blossom (Chilis/Outback), almost-famous cheese biscuits (Red Lobster), almost-famous broccoli cheddar soup (Panera). You get it.
Well, if you’re fortunate enough to live in Southern California (too snotty?), you’ve probably visited a Clearmans restaurant–more specifically, their Northwood’s Inn establishment.
Northwood’s Inn is a steakhouse that keeps the floor textured with peanut shells, the lighting low, and the food abundant and delicious. They’re famous for a couple of things:
1) Their cheese bread. This stuff is to die for. You can buy the spread at the supermarket and make your own. I highly recommend this, though I take no responsibility for your imminent addiction to it.
2) Their cabbage salad. It’s hard to believe something as simple as cabbage salad could be such a big deal, but it is. And after making it, you’ll understand why.
Northwood’s Inn serves this cabbage salad with their blue cheese salad. They’re absolutely stellar when mixed together, but they can each hold their own. The best thing about this salad, aside from bud-exploding taste, is how cheap and simple it is. Most of you will have all the ingredients on hand except for the head of cabbage—and if you DO have a head of cabbage on hand……why??
Northwood’s Inn Cabbage Salad (can easily be doubled)
- 1/2 head of red/purple cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. seasoned salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Combine all ingredients except cabbage. Whisk together until well-combined.
- Pour over the sliced cabbage in a large bowl and let soak for 24 hours, tossing once. The longer it sits, the better it gets. Day four of soaking is when it gets reallly good.
Enjoy a little piece of Southern California! Eat this with a blue cheese salad, a side to hamburgers or to accompany your tostadas. Also, if you think you don’t like cabbage, this salad will prove you wrong. Promise.
Have you ever tried this before? Ever heard of Northwood’s Inn?