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Baked Sweet Potato Fries

11 Apr

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

You know what I love about spring? Yard sales.

Now you may be thinking this is completely old-ladyish of me. And that may be true. But it may also just be really smart/cool of me, too.

I remember going to yard sales with my grandma when I was a kid. I loved it. I would scour the tables full of musty clothes, one by one, until I found the perfect treasure. I still remember my first purchase from when I was five or six years old. It was a jean mini skirt that I got for fifty cents. That’s right, just two quarters, people.

I’ve always loved good deals.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Want a good snack deal? How about baked sweet potato fries?

All of these fries came from one big sweet potato. Yum.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

This recipe comes from Joy the Baker, who I pretty much trust with my food life. As soon as I saw these, I knew I had to make them.

This was the first time I made any type of fries, and they turned out great. Tasted delicious. Easy prep work. Win win.

The hardest part is thinly slicing the sweet potatoes, which are awfully difficult to slice. I recommend an extremely thick knife and a strong arm. Be careful!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Slice lengthwise in 1/3-inch thick slices.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Cut slices vertically to make…you guessed it…fries!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

What do you love about spring? (more…)

Twice Baked Potatoes

13 Mar

Twice Baked Potatoes

These twice baked potatoes are heavenly. Whenever I feel truly proud of something I’ve cooked, I always say, “This could be restaurant food,” because that’s my compliment of choice.

Twice Baked Potatoes

These are full of bacon, freshly grated cheeses, and potatoey goodness, a.k.a. the trifecta of flavors. The original recipe called for sour cream, but all I had was buttermilk, and I’m glad I used it because the potatoes didn’t feel quite as heavy that way. (Still wonderfully heavy, though—don’t get me wrong—just not AS heavy.) Feel free to use whatever cheese and other ingredients you have on hand. These potatoes don’t have to be made with an exact science or precise measurements to taste delicious.

Twice Baked Potatoes

In a large bowl, combine bacon pieces, butter, and cheeses.

Twice Baked Potatoes

After the potatoes finish baking, slice them in half. Use a tea towel to hold the potatoes—they’ll be piping hot!

Twice Baked Potatoes

Scoop the innards into the bacon/cheese bowl

Twice Baked Potatoes

Keep those potato skins nearby.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Add the buttermilk, onion powder, seasoning salt, and pepper, and start mashing and mixing until combined.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Tasty filling!

Twice Baked Potatoes

Fill each potato half with the filling and top with reserved cheese.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until cheese melts. Ready for scarfing. (more…)

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

6 Mar

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Did I ever tell you that I hate vegetables? Hopefully I haven’t, because I don’t hate them. But I used to. Oh, how I used to.

As a stubborn, indignant child, I would refuse to eat vegetables at all costs. This would start out as simply as me eating around my vegetables on my dinner plate. Then I would move the vegetables around my plate with my fork. (Because in child’s logic, when you spread them out, they look fewer and farther between, right?) I would sit at the table until everyone else was done and my vegetables were cold. Now cold, they probably did taste almost as gross as I imagined they did.

My utter loathing of vegetables mostly came from stubbornness. But. BUT. I also think there are loads more interesting ways to prepare vegetables than heating up a watery can of green beans (still ick).

Cauliflower is an easy vegetable for me. It’s not a crazy color or a crazy taste. It’s just cauliflower. I was quite pleased when I stumbled upon this recipe because Alfredo is a great addition to most vegetables, and it’s even better that this Alfredo is a healthier version than most out there.

Also, can we talk about roasting veggies for a minute? It makes them soooo good! I don’t know the science behind the roasting magic, but it really does do wonders for vegetables.

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Chop a head of cauliflower, and sprinkle with olive oil. Prepare to roast.

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Combine ingredients for Alfredo sauce in a small saucepan. Whisk until it thickens.

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Heat up those silly frozen peas.

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Combine it all in a nice, big bowl. Reserve some of the Alfredo sauce for topping individual portions.

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Pat yourself on the back. I feel healthier just looking at this.

(more…)

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown Cakes

6 Feb

hash brown cakesMan, I love free stuff. I can’t help myself—I’ll do anything for a free treasure or even a free piece of junk (except pay, of course).

I probably discovered the best Twitter hashtag today: #giveaway. This is golden my friends. Golden. I was so caught up in entering giveaways that I even entered to win a homemade, wooden mermaid someone whittled (read: I WAS GOING CRAZY). I bestow upon you this hashtag in the hopes that it makes you as happy as it made me.

I also have a happy recipe to share. This is the first recipe I tried from my Joy the Baker Cookbook that I got as a Christmas present (thanks, hubs! you know what I like!). It did not disappoint. I basically ate these cakes as a savory snack.

I will warn you that they took a bit longer to make than I was anticipating, but once I started, I was all in. Hope you enjoy!

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown Cakes

Grate your potato and zucchini, sprinkle with half the salt, and drain in a colander for 10 minutes.

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown Cakes

Cook the diced onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 5 minutes.

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown Cakes

Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute.

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown CakesStart the “cake” mixture by combining the eggs, flour, baking powder, and remaining salt.

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown CakesFinish making the cake mixture by stirring in the onions, garlic, and drained grated potato and zucchini. Stir gently until combined.

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown Cakes

In a large pan over medium heat, drop batter by rounded tablespoons. Flatten slightly with a fork. (If you look closely in the oil, you can see my self-portrait. Eep!)

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown CakesCook on both sides.

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown CakesTop with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with paprika to make it look pretty before serving. Huzzah! (more…)

Broccoli Cheese Soup

5 Dec

My grandma is old-fashioned. That’s putting it mildly. She has a very ’50s-housewife mentality, bless her heart. Now you might think that since I have a cooking blog, that I, too, am old-fashioned, cutesy, and housewifey. You’d be wrong (although I don’t mind the cutesy part).

No matter how many times I try explaining to my grandma that it’s actually not necessary for me to fold my husband’s laundry, cook his favorite meals every day, and go to bed with curlers in my hair, she never stops trying to make me change (again, bless her heart).

On Black Friday, we were eating Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch like happy little turkeys. We were taking turns reheating our individual plates. My husband heated his plate up first, so he was almost finished eating by the time I was just sitting down. Seconds after I sat down, my grandma addressed my husband.

Grandma: “Now if you want any seconds, just tell Adrianne and she’ll go get them for you.”

Husband: Says nothing; stares at me.

Me: “Nice try, Grandma, but actually he can get them for himself.”

This is a typical scene when we’re at  Grandma’s house. She always laughs my comments off and thinks I’m being cheeky. I am amazed at her tenacity to make me a doting servant. She puts up a real fight, though—I’ll give her that.

This soup is one of my personal favorite meals. I make it a lot (whether or not my husband approves). He likes it, too, though, so I don’t think Grandma would get on my case too much.

Broccoli cheese soup is one of my favorite things to order at restaurants. It usually never disappoints. It’s hard for me to recreate it exactly at home, but this version might even be superior. It’s easy and even heartier with the addition of potatoes and carrots. It’s thick, chunky, and even has a creamy base—just like restaurant-style.

Chop broccoli, carrots, and potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Cover with water and the bouillon cube. Simmer veggies about 10 minutes, or until tender.

Stir in cream of chicken soup, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese. Mix until smooth. (more…)

Roasted Broccoli

8 Aug

I love watching the Olympics. Watching the Olympics has myriad benefits. For one thing, watching muscly, toned, healthy people compete starts to motivate me to workout and get fit. (“Starts” is the key word here.) Then as I watch eight of the best swimmers in the world compete for a gold medal by swimming as fast as they can, my heart beats faster in anticipation and a sort of nervous empathy. (Then, I think that since I’ve elevated my heart rate, that counts as a workout, and I can comfortably continue to sit and watch the Olympics for three more hours.)

I also feel really patriotic watching the Olympics. I can’t help but yell, “Go USA!” and I dig the red, white, and blue uniforms.

I don’t know if this roasted broccoli will make you feel patriotic, but it sure does taste magnificent. After roasting broccoli for the first time, I decided that this is truly the best and only way to cook broccoli. If any of you angrily disagree, try this recipe, and then get back to me. I’d love to find another way to cook broccoli that is as delicious and simple as this.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Chop your head of broccoli into small florets and scatter over the cookie sheet.

Toss with a generous amount of olive oil and stir to coat.

Chop about 4 cloves of garlic, and sprinkle the pieces over the broccoli. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Roast in the oven at 425 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. You’ll know the broccoli is done because some of the tiny pieces will be completely brown and the larger pieces will be brown only on the tips.

Garnish with the grated lemon peel and the juice of one lemon. Serve immediately or keep warm an oven of 275 degrees F until ready to serve. Best when eaten on day 1. (more…)

Creamed Spinach

26 Jul

We have two adorable kittens. (OK, I guess they’re officially cats because they’re a year old, but I still think of them as my baby kittens.)

One of the cats is good and one is bad. One of them is mine and one of them is my husband’s. Can you guess which is which?

The best part about having two cats rather than one is that they are sisters and are incredibly affectionate with each other. Even though I love my good kitty more than my husband’s naughty one, it just fits having both of them.

Sometimes it’s genius to combine good and bad (a.k.a. in food-speak to combine “healthy” and “unhealthy”). Creamed spinach is one of those combinations. Obviously spinach is healthy and desirable, but what’s up with the delicious creamed part? Probably not so healthy.

Here’s my adapted version of creamed spinach. It’s not as unhealthy as you might guess—in fact, there’s no actual cream in this recipe (just whole milk). The onion, shallot, and garlic add some subtle flavor that take this up a notch.

Because spinach shrinks so much when cooked, don’t expect this to feed a crowd of people; plan on it feeding about two.

Wilt spinach in batches and cook until tender.

Heat milk just until it simmers.

Get your chopped onion, shallot, and garlic ready. Then add it to the pan with the melted butter.

Whisk in your flour.

Gradually pour in the heated milk and cook until thick and creamy.

Stir in the spinach and cook just until heated through.

Top with salt and pepper. (more…)

Plantain Tostones

12 Jul

Some people might say I was a picky eater as a kid. That would be putting it mildly. I was stubborn and unyielding. I refused to eat some of the most basic food groups, such as fruits, vegetables, and anything remotely healthy in appearance. What kid doesn’t like STRAWBERRIES or CORN? Well, me.

It’s a wonder I survived at all. I attribute my survival to my mother’s kindness. Most dinners would end with me sitting alone at the table until I “finished all of my food” (which, mind you, normally consisted of the tiniest portions of vegetables and meat you can picture). I would sit stubbornly at the table for at least an hour—sometimes more—until one of my parents would walk by, shake their head in disgust and resignation, and tell me to “just throw away your plate.”

Then I would head to my room and invariably get hungry before bedtime. My mom would save me by bringing me some toast and hot cocoa (something I actually loved to eat). This went on for years.

I look back now and have to wonder why I was so picky. I like to think that I have a sensitive, refined palate, and I was simply prepping myself for the gourmet, tasty foods I crave today. It’s probably that. Or I was just picky. We’ll never know.

This recipe for Puerto Rican plantain tostones is one I refused to eat as a kid. They are even fried, but I still refused to eat them. They are a salty snack (as good as American french fries). Enjoy!

Start with green plantains.

Slice them up and let them sit in salt water.

Fry them in your fat of choice.

Drain on paper towels and flatten them with the palm of your hands.

Fry a second time until golden brown and crispy.

Sprinkle with salt and serve hot. (more…)

Cheesy Cauliflower

7 Jun

Car salespeople are really good at what they do.

Lately we’ve been looking into buying a car. It’s pretty exciting, thinking that in a matter of months I could be driving around in a car made after the 1990s.

We’re in no hurry to buy a car, though, and we have a flexible timeline in place. Try explaining this to a salesperson at a car dealership. You’re suddenly from Mars if you aren’t prepared to buy the first car you show interest in on the spot.

The tricky part is, the more time you spend at car dealerships test-driving cars, the more you are convinced that you need to buy a car ASAP. Suddenly your timeline vanishes and you don’t want to be the sorry sap who misses out on this once-in-a-lifetime car/deal/gift of the earth.

Now would be a good time to take a breather from test-driving and visiting car dealerships. After you step back, the brain washing dissolves and you remember your timeline, you remember you’re in no hurry, and you remember all is well. You also remember car salespeople are really good at what they do.

Sometimes I’m good at what I do. When I first ate this cheesy cauliflower, I fell in love with it. Then I found out what it was made with (mayonnaise), and I felt sick and confused. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some mayonnaise on a BLT or tuna sandwich, but 1 cup of it seemed rather excessive.

Enter plain yogurt. The perfect swap. More healthy and more delicious—it really is possible.

This cauliflower is delicious—a real treat. If your kids say they don’t like any vegetables, then they haven’t tried this yet.

Start with a whole head of cauliflower. Chop off the leaves and thick stem. Then boil for 12 minutes.

Melt butter with chopped onion in the microwave.

Add yogurt and shredded cheese to butter and onion. Mix until smooth.

Spread mixture over cauliflower.

Bake until golden and bubbly on top. (more…)

Fresh Salsa with Beans, Corn, Avocados, and More

2 Jun

Yesterday we locked ourselves out of our house. We walked to the market less than one block away, came home, and realized we were locked out.

It was also raining.

We weren’t terrified, we weren’t angry, and we certainly weren’t shocked. Mostly we couldn’t stop rolling our eyes at ourselves. (This is not the first, second, or third time this has happened.)

Are there foolish things you do over and over again? You don’t want to keep doing them, but you somehow have a mental block stopping you from learning your lesson. Does this ever happen to you? Don’t sweat it. It clearly happens to me, too.

Now on the other hand, this salsa recipe is one of those tasty snacks you want to keep making over and over.

This isn’t your traditional red, smooth jar salsa, but you won’t care about that after you taste this. It’s colorful, fresh tasting, and so easy you can assign it to your husband without looking over his shoulder the whole time.

Toss together your drained beans and corn.

Mix in your chopped tomatoes.

Throw in the green onions and cilantro.

Pour Italian dressing over the top, and gently mix in your avocados. Serve with tortilla chips. (more…)