Archive for ‘Sides’

02.28.2013

DIY Yogurt in 10 Simple Steps

I have been excited about making my yogurt since going to a fermentation demonstration for date night a few months back. Before some of you roll your eyes while imagining me dragging my boyfriend to a “boring” class on how to something else kind of “crunchy”, I should say that the activity was HIS idea (and a great one at that) and we both found the class to be not only informative, but also really interesting… and the resulting foods rather tasty which was a nice bonus!

The class was led at Denver Botanic Gardens by the owners of Five Points Fermentation. The couple is really knowledgeable about the fermentation process and they both had a way of explaining it that made it seem very accessible to any home cook.  I got so excited that I made my first batch of fermented food, sauerkraut, the very next evening.  But, it has taken me a few months to start making my own yogurt and I must say, I’m sorry I waited so long!

Yogurt making is a simple, straightforward process that only involves two ingredients, a few tools, and a little patience.

VLUU L210  / Samsung L210

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02.20.2013

Kale & Mushroom Polenta Pie

VLUU L210  / Samsung L210

I got this pie plate as a birthday gift from a cousin with exceptional taste. And, although I love it, I am pretty sure my two-and-a-half year old nephew could count high enough to reach the total number of sweet pies I have made in my life. But, I have refused to let that one little detail reduce this beautiful dish to a life of collecting dust in my cabinet.

I often find myself drawn to healthy, savory pies and tarts purely with the thought of serving it in this dish.  Crustless quiche, lasagna pie, baked vegetable gratin,summertime tomato pie, and numerous versions of this polenta pie have all been baked to (near) perfection in this little ceramic pie plate.

The polenta pie started with a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant Low-fat Favorites. I have changed it a little and used the easy “crust” as a base for many other savory dishes because it’s tasty and much healthier than a traditional pie crust.  Now I’m thinking that maybe I shouldn’t stop with savory pies… sweet cinnamon apple polenta pie sounds pretty tasty too…

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02.14.2013

Easy Peasy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Whether you have jumped on the brussels-sprout bandwagon, or you still consider yourself “brussel-phobic”, I urge you to try this recipe.

Nearly everyone I have made these for has been won over by the crunchy, salty-sweet flavor these mini cabbages take on during the roasting process. The flavor is only enhanced by the nuttiness a sprinkle of pine nuts in the last few minutes of cooking adds to the dish. These tender morsels make a great side for a weekday dinner or for entertaining. I have even been known to make them for myself as a main course on a night when I don’t feel like cooking.

The best part of this recipe is that it is easy!  A few minutes of prep and 20 or so minutes in the oven and the dish is ready to go with minimal fuss!

brussels-sprouts1

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02.05.2013

Roasted Chickpeas

I first found roasted chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) last year and, although I really enjoyed them, after a couple of batches, I forgot about them….until a few months ago.  I was reading the newest issue of “Whole Living” magazine, and ran across a recipe for honey-sesame candied chickpeas.  Needless to say, my mouth was immediately watering.  A combination of the little honey- sesame stick candies with the crunchy wholesomeness of chickpeas– I’ll take it.

It took me a couple of batches and adjustments to make this recipe work, but when it did, the results were great.  These are a great alternative to chips or nuts at a party (especially if you have guests with nut allergies on the invite list) and they are healthy to boot.  The chickpeas are high in protein and fiber and at 270 calories per cup, you can have quite a few before worrying about the caloric impact. Note: these make a cute hostess gift when wrapped in a decorative tin and tied in a pretty kitchen towel or with cute twine.

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11.11.2012

Pumpkin Yeast Bread

Once the nights begin to cool off and the leaves start to yellow and fall, it’s amazing how quickly I begin to crave hearty fall foods and flavors like chili….roasted veggies….

….and squash!  All forms of squash really with very few exceptions.  I feel indulgent when I cube butternut squash, saute it  and add it to salads in place of croutons.  I love the creaminess that turban squash adds to stews and chili.  And the presentation of an acorn squash stuffed with quinoa and veggies and then baked in its own shell always puts a smile on my face– it’s so easy and yet so elegant!

But, the one squash that first comes to mind each fall is pumpkin!  Of course it’s great for carving, or for adding to your fall decorations, but in my opinion, it’s still shines the most when added to food.

I know what you’re thinking, “Woo hoo, it’s pumpkin pie time!”  But, in all honesty, that’s my least favorite pumpkin dish.  Instead, I usually opt for adding it to savory dishes. It was this hunt for savory pumpkin recipe options that led me to this delicious yeast pumpkin bread.  This recipe isn’t your typical sugar-laden, dense, dessert-style pumpkin bread.

It’s a yeast bread that makes great dinner rolls or sandwich bread (I can imagine it would be wonderful with turkey and cranberry sauce the day after Thanksgiving for all you meat-eaters). The pumpkin flavor is prominent, but not overwhelming and although the bread is hearty, it has a slight sweetness with a hint of cinnamon and ginger that balance all the flavors nicely.  It’s also relatively easy to throw together quickly– especially if you have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer on hand.

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11.07.2012

Mexican-Spiced Polenta Patties

These little patties are a great alternative to soft polenta.  They are great served with eggs (think mexican “Benedict” with polenta patties in place of the english muffin and Pica de Gallo instead of hollandaise sauce), chili, or barbecued tofu.  I make a large batch and freeze the extras for a quick side for the days I’m too busy to cook.  These patties are also extremely kid-friendly.

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11.07.2012

Un-Fussy Polenta

Polenta (the Italian version of corn grits), is a versatile grain which can be eaten plain, but it’s also the base for many recipes.  If you have tried it soft, you might have been won over by its creamy consistency, but you can also grill, saute or bake with it creating a satisfyingly delicious crunchy crust on the outside.

You may have noticed prepared polenta in the grocery store next to the pastas in a sausage style tube. But the dry polenta can usually be found in the bulk grain section or the flour section of your grocery store (it might be labeled as coarsely ground corn meal).

Many people don’t make their own polenta and opt instead for the prepared version because they are under the assumption that it is time-consuming, but with these easy cooking instructions, you can prepare it at home with only a few minutes of hands-on prep time….I promise.

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09.28.2012

Spanikopita Triangles

I love the flavors of Greek food.  And I LOVE spinach.  So, last year when I went to a Greek-themed get together Spanikopita (Greek spinach pie) seemed like the perfect dish to make.  Instead of sticking with the traditional preparations for this dish, I began brainstorming fun, cute ways to make and serve it easily at a party. I came up with making handheld pies.  A quick search on Google confirmed that I wasn’t the first person to come up with this idea (darn), but it was nice to find examples of what I was imagining before heading to the kitchen. This version, rather than being made in a 9 x 13 baking pan, is folded up into individual, appetizer-sized servings.  These little cheesy spinach “puffs” in no way fall under my Healthy eating lifestyle, but life is all about balance.  And that means sometimes straying from your everyday eating style and indulging.  And, when you do, these bite-sized spinach pies are a delicious way to do it!

These are great for parties and entertaining.  And, although they are time consuming to assemble, you can make a lot and store the rest in a Ziploc to be quickly baked for surprise guests or a last-minute get-together.

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09.10.2012

Roasted Cumin-lime Carrots

This recipe, from the Family Style Food blog, is a great way to celebrate the fall harvest.

Roasting brings out the sweetness of the carrots while the cumin and paprika add depth to the flavors.  The acidity from the lime freshens the dish and helps blend all the other flavors together. I’ve served this as a substantial side dish with Mexican entrees, but it could also be paired with Middle Eastern or Moroccan food.  

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