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Posts published in “Vegetables and Sides”

Basic Italian Dressing

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I'm willing to bet that many of us have made an Italian dressing from a packaged seasoning mix. It's a staple in many American grocery stores and a convenience food, no doubt.

Add the powder dressing mix to oil and vinegar, and in some cases shake it up in a glass bottle that comes with the seasoning mix, and you get a yellow dressing that's flecked with various red, black and green herb and pepper bits.

Sounding familiar? Bringing back some memories of either loving (or loathing) salad in years past?

I thought so... and I know I've personally poured it over plenty bowls of green salads made with romaine or Iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and sometimes black olives growing up.

Pantry Raid: Tex-Mex Casserole

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It was a snowy week here in the Northeast and I'm not a cold weather-loving person. Looking at the snowfall is all well and good, but I prefer to stay inside and do that. It's not that I'm necessarily scared about driving in bad weather—been there, done that—but everything that goes with said weather adds up to be a royal pain.

Cleaning off the car and walking on ice both suck...

Letting the car windows defrost for what feels like an eternity before it is possible to see clearly to drive anywhere is annoying...

And don't get me started on what it feels like to be in wet clothes after getting caught in the snow or trudging through feet of it after it's drifted across the driveway.

Ugh, ugh, and ugh.

As far as I'm concerned, on an icky day nothing beats staying toasty in the house, crafting or playing board games with plenty of time for cooking or baking in between breaks. When nobody has to venture out to get anything for dinner, thanks to leftovers or a well-stocked pantry and freezer, it's even better.

This is a vegetarian main dish that includes pantry-staples like salsa, tomatoes, and beans, and takes advantage of the oven—which helps to warm up the house on a cold day, too. Feel free to add chicken or cooked ground meat to the vegetable mixture, if you want added protein, and season to a heat level of your liking. As a happy compromise when I'm cooking for most of my friends and family, I sautee jalapeños (seeds and ribs included) with the rest of the vegetables and serve more fresh ones served alongside as an option, since there are different heat preferences ranging from no heat at all to spicy as possible (with myself preferring something towards the upper end of the heat spectrum.)

Spiced Raita

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A creamy, spicy take on the traditional Indian cucumber salad to accompany Eggplant and Red Lentil Daal—or you could eat it plain with naan bread or pita chips, too.

I added just a pinch of some really, really spicy dried and ground Jamaican chocolate pepper chilies. Dave has had these probably a few years now and I sincerely doubt they have lost any of their potency. Just a little bit packs serious heat. Fortunately, dairy helps to cool off spicy things, and I find as it sits over time the flavor develops nicely. Certainly, you can omit it for a more traditional taste; use cayenne pepper, which is more readily available; or use a fresh, seeded and diced Serrano pepper.

Quick Tips for Cauliflower Rice

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Along with the rest of the world, Dave and I recently discovered cauliflower rice, and it has become something that we really enjoy eating now as a side dish with pretty much everything. It's easy to make and the same "blank canvas" as rice to which a variety of flavors and ingredients can be added. Unlike rice, though, it's much quicker to cook—a big reason why I like it—fewer carbs, and more nutritious. Here are a few quick tips for how to make it.

Cobb Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

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Confession: I have a "thing" about Cobb salad.

I've always appreciated the various tastes and textures within it—crunchy lettuce, refreshing tomatoes, crispy bacon, creamy hard boiled eggs and blue cheese—but it was ever since I tried the Green Goddess Chicken Cobb at Panera Bread, believe it or not, that I've been really hooked.

Panera's salad is a perfect combination of traditional Cobb salad ingredients with a few unexpected extras. Pickled red onions add a nice, sweet and sour tang and a herby Green Goddess dressing adds a another refreshing final layer of flavor to the salad. All-in-all, it's pretty yummy.

Big, main course salads are a perfect meal to make during the summer. They are light and refreshing, and they don't take a lot of effort or time. Just chop up ingredients—or buy pre-chopped ingredients to make assembly even quicker—and quickly assemble on a bed of lettuce arranged on a big platter, family-style, to allow everyone to help themselves.