Tag Archives: side dishes

Summer Eating, Lazy Cooks, and Tomatillo-Corn Sauté

Someone asked me today if this was the end of the Hungry Monkeys. Definitely not! I’m still here. Admittedly I’ve been excessively lazy this summer when it comes to writing my blog, or cooking, or well, lots of things. It’s summer, and it’s hot. The kids are out of school, we have been out and about (mostly trying to stay cool since our house has no air conditioning) and cooking has just not taken a high priority lately.

I’ve been doing about 75% of my grocery shopping at farmers markets. Most of my shopping trips look something like this:

Summer shopping.

Summer shopping.

And most of the meals I make at home look something like this:

Veggies, fruit, sauteed peppers and poached eggs. Breakfast, lunch or dinner of champions!

Veggies, fruit, sautéed padron peppers and poached eggs. Breakfast, lunch or dinner of champions!

Or this:

Tomatillo-corn sauté, three bean salad and sliced tomatoes with goat cheese.

Tomatillo-corn sauté (recipe below), three bean salad and sliced tomatoes with goat cheese.

If I’m eating like a rabbit, why am I not jumping up and down at having reached my fitness and weight goals this summer, you might ask?  Because…in between my very healthy and wonderful farmer’s market meals I’ve been eating out waaaaay too much, and the other 25% of my grocery shopping is mostly made up of Trader Joe’s buckets of cookies and other goodies.

So. Kids go back to school next week, a regular routine will once again be established to some degree, weather will be getting cooler and my oven will once again be in constant use. And I am looking forward to all of that!

In the meantime, as I look through the photos on my camera that I’ve accumulated over the few times I have cooked something this summer (ahem, 124 photos, yikes!) I will endeavor to remember how I made the delicious food pictured therein and post a few blogs.

For now, I’ll give you the very simple but delicious recipe for the tomatillo-corn sauté pictured above. This is a recipe invented by my Aunt Debi which she made for us when we went to visit her and paint on her wall a few weeks ago. It was so delicious I just had to make it two or three more times when I came home. I add a little red onion to my version. The three bean salad was something that Trader Joe’s was sampling the other day that I was all too happy to copy at home. Simply a can of garbanzo beans (drain and rinse), a can of kidney beans (drain and rinse), and raw green beans chopped up. Combine all three kinds of beans and add a generous splash of rice vinegar and some salt and pepper.

Tomatillo-Corn Sauté

Tomatillo-Corn Sauté

Tomatillo-Corn Sauté
(slightly modified from the original recipe by Debi Hiltenbrand)

6-8 ears of sweet corn
1 cup chopped tomatillos (about a half pound)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
Salt & pepper
1 heaping spoonful of coconut oil

Heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and tomatillo to pan. Using a sharp knife, slice kernels off of corn cobs. Add corn to the pan. Add paprika and salt & pepper to taste. Sauté over medium heat for at least 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally, until tomatillos and onions are very soft.

And there you have it! Am I the only lazy cook out there this summer? What have you guys been making on hot days?

 

 

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Creamy Orzo Pilaf

I like rice pilaf.  It goes with anything. I’ve always thought “pilaf” was just a fancy way of saying rice with stuff in it to make it more interesting. Some rice pilaf (particularly the kind you get in a box) comes with not-rice that looks like rice, but it’s actually a noodle! And that lovely stuff is orzo. It is always my favorite part.  So I figured I would make my rice pilaf with orzo instead. And to get really decadent, I finished it with a little cream just to make it a little more saucy.  The result? A cross between pilaf and alfredo, with some fresh veggies and herbs thrown in for brightness.

I threw this together as a quick side dish the other night, but we all liked it so much, next time I’m going to add some grilled chicken or shrimp to it and call it dinner!

Creamy Orzo

Creamy Orzo Pilaf

Creamy Orzo Pilaf

1 cup dry orzo
1-2 tomatoes, diced
Small handful of basil, chopped
Small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup whipping cream
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan

Cook orzo according to package directions (usually 8-10 minutes, until tender). Drain well and add to a bowl with all other ingredients (start with 1/4 cup of cream and add more if you want it more saucy).  Mix well and serve hot or cold.

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Zingy Purple Potato Salad

One of the things I love best about farmer’s markets are finding things you don’t ever see in the grocery store.  This week I found bright purple potatoes!

Aren't they pretty?  I'm told they are called Purple Vikings

Aren’t they pretty? I’m told they are called Purple Vikings.

Now, I thought these were just too pretty to waste on something normal.  Some time ago I came across an idea for a lighter potato salad that used greek yogurt and lemon so I decided to incorporate those flavors with my lovely potatoes.  Roasting the potatoes added another dimension with a firmer texture and deeper flavor.  You can make this more or less lemony depending on how much zing you want.  As much as we love traditional potato salad, this fresh and summery take on an old favorite was a real winner at my house!

Zingy Purple Potato Salad.  Perfect for summer!

Zingy Purple Potato Salad. Perfect for summer!

Zingy Purple Potato Salad
(adapted from bevcooks.com)

2 pounds purple potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
1 tbsp. olive oil for roasting
Salt & pepper
2-3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. greek yogurt
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tbsp. fresh dill (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. fresh mint, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400˚.  Toss potatoes with 1 tbsp. olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until tender and browned, stirring halfway through.

Zingy Dressing

Normally I would just eat them like this.

In a large bowl whisk together 2 tbsp. olive oil, greek yogurt, lemon juice, zest, and dill.

Zingy dressing!

Zingy dressing!

Add potatoes and celery to bowl.  Toss to combine with dressing.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Sprinkle fresh mint over the top.

Mmmmm!  You need some of this.

Mmmmm! You need some of this.

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Vinegar Roasted Potatoes

Vinegar has long been used in many home remedies, for everything from easing arthritis pain to curing hiccups.  This winter I used some to make homemade cough syrup.  But what I really like to do is cook with it.  Vinegar adds a ton of flavor to dishes without adding calories and there are so many varieties it makes it fun to experiment.

I wanted to add a little twist to my basic roasted red potatoes.  I won’t claim any great health benefits, but as far as I’m concerned, this zippy little side dish was just what the doctor ordered.

Vinegar Roasted Potatoes

Vinegar Roasted Potatoes

Vinegar Roasted Potatoes

1-2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
Salt & pepper
2-3 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400˚  Toss potato wedges with vinegar and oil.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Drizzle, toss, sprinkle.  Pop in the oven!

Drizzle, toss, sprinkle. Pop in the oven!

Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring once after about 15 minutes.  Cook until potatoes are tender and a bit browned.  If you want more of a vinegar taste, sprinkle a bit more on top when they are done.

When they look like this, you are ready to eat!

When they look like this, you are ready to eat!

Looking for other easy potato sides?  Try Downright fancy baked potatoes, or homemade garlic fries!

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Roasted Cauliflower “Fries”

If you can’t eat french fries every night, the least you can do is cook your other veggies up in a way you can pretend they are fries.  This is my favorite way to cook cauliflower (closely followed by my Cheesy Cauliflower Bake but this one is a LOT healthier).  It turns out tender but with a little crunchiness on the edges.  No mushy veggies here.  Even your pickiest vegetable haters will go for this one.

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower “Fries”

Roasted Cauliflower “Fries”

1 head cauliflower
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. olive oil

*All of the above measurements are completely open to interpretation.  I sprinkle, I pinch, I drizzle.  But some people like to measure so I guessed at how much I put on there.  Feel free to adjust to your tastes.

Preheat the oven to 400˚.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Break up or chop cauliflower into bite sized pieces and spread on the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with spices.  Drizzle with oil.  Toss around a bit with your fingers to coat all of the cauliflower.

Raw cauliflower tossed with spices and a bit of oil.

Raw cauliflower tossed with spices and a bit of oil.

Bake for 30 minutes until cauliflower is tender and starting to brown on the edges.  I usually stir around once or twice in there during the cooking time.

Roasted cauliflower, fresh out of the oven.

Roasted cauliflower, fresh out of the oven.

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Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

I’m always on the lookout for interesting side dishes.  Anything to keep dinner fun, right?  I came across a recipe for Twice-Baked Cauliflower on Pinterest.  I believe it was called that because it’s reminiscent of twice-baked potatoes, but you don’t actually bake the cauliflower twice so that title is a tiny bit misleading.  I originally saw this touted as a “healthier” substitute for the potato dish, but seriously, with all the cream cheese, cheese and sour cream in it, I don’t think I can call this a healthy recipe and keep a straight face.  It is lower carb, I’ll give them that.  I just made it because I like cauliflower.  And cheese.

You could make this a little lighter by using the lower fat versions of the dairy products (don’t use the fat-free products, they do weird things when they are cooked).  I don’t personally care for the lower fat versions (and I don’t really think they are any better for you).  I prefer to use the full fat stuff but I use a little less than the original recipe calls for.  In fact, I could probably cut it back even more than I did here.

This was a huge hit with my kids.  True, they like their veggies, but I’m betting even veggie haters will like this one.  It’s a pile of cheesy goodness.  I don’t think anyone will actually be fooled into thinking it’s potatoes, but they might change their minds about liking cauliflower.

I paired this with my Apple-icious Pork Chops and the sweet and salty combo was amazing.  I highly recommend it.

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

1 large head of cauliflower
4 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1/4 cup green onions
1/2 tsp. black pepper
6 strips of bacon
1/3 cup cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350˚.  Chop up the cauliflower and boil until tender.  While it is boiling, cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp and drain on paper towels.  Drain the cauliflower and mash with a potato masher.  I left quite a few chunks for texture.  Add cream cheese, sour cream, parmesan, green onions and pepper.  Mash or stir together until well combined.  Add 2/3 of the bacon and stir in.  Spray a small baking dish with cooking spray.  Spread cauliflower mixture in the dish.  Sprinkle with the remaining bacon and the cheddar cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 10 minutes.  Serve hot.  Makes 4-6 servings.

Perfect on the side of just about anything!

Perfect on the side of just about anything!

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