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Posts published in “Vegetables and Sides”

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.

Butternut Squash and Carrot Puree

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By this time in the Fall, butternut squash and carrots tend to be "surplus" items in my pantry. They are two of my favorite root vegetables that I love to dice up to add to a vegetable soup, roast with herbs and olive oil for a side dish, or puree after roasting to create a versatile base that can be transformed into several dishes. When packaged in smaller containers or zip-top bags, this butternut-carrot puree can be thawed a little at a time to use as a quick sauce, soup, or side dish. The portions are flexible, so it's perfect to use up whatever you have on hand. Here are three quick ways to use butternut squash and carrot puree: As a healthier side dish alternative to mashed potatoes: Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup milk or heavy cream into 1 cup puree. Serves 2. As a quick sauce for pasta: Combine 1 cup puree, 1/2 cup vegetable stock, and 1/2 cup light cream in a saucepan. Heat through, and add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with 2 cups cooked pasta and top with Parmesan cheese. Serves 3-4. As a vegetarian or vegan soup: Combine 2 cups puree with 3 cups vegetable stock in a saucepan. Heat through and finish with 1/4 cup heavy cream. Serve topped with a drizzle of a flavored oil or sour cream, chives, and roasted pepitas or pumpkin seeds. Serves 3-4. Omit any suggested dairy to make a vegan soup.

Farmers Market Finds for June 2016

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Originally posted on Fuchsia-Revolver.org. The passing of the Memorial Day weekend means that some of my favorite times of the year are approaching. It’s not so much the summer weather, which tends to get too hot for my comfort, but the other things that come along with it that I enjoy. I’m talking, of course, of grilling outdoors, going to farmers markets and food festivals, taking trips to the beach to eat lobster rolls... the things that, for shameless food-obsessed people like me, make dealing with the hot weather a little more tolerable.