Yesterday I finished up a two-week ‘cleanse’ where I didn’t eat any dairy, sugar, gluten or soy. It was an interesting experiment and it forced me to really think about what I ate. With the exception of a couple Larabars, everything I ate was made from scratch which naturally included a lot of vegetables. For the most part I didn’t crave too many foods, but I was really excited to pour a splash of milk over my oatmeal this morning!
I love pesto and it was great on these roasted potatoes. When I made the pesto I left out the Parmesan cheese, but it is included in the recipe below.
Roasted Pesto Potatoes
- 2 cups packed basil leaves
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- salt & pepper
- 5 red potatoes, cut into cubes
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Use a food processor to chop and combine the basil, garlic and pine nuts. Slowly add the olive oil while the food processor is running and continue processing until smooth. Add the cheese and pulse a few times to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine the potatoes and pesto in a bowl, then pour into an ovensafe pan (I used a 9 x 9 inch pan, but size isn’t very important)
- Cook the potatoes for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and slightly crisp on the outside.
Makes: About 3 servings as a side dish
I’m still waiting for spring to arrive this year, I keep thinking we’re almost there and then we have a day like yesterday when it’s cold and windy. I didn’t make it on the hike I had planned for Sunday, but I finally got around to organizing a ton of recipes that I’ve bookmarked, so at least it was a productive day!
I also made these green beans which turned out great. Once you get the vegetables prepped it’s pretty ‘hands off’. This would be a great recipe when you’re cooking for a group and need an easy side dish. The beans came out full of flavor and just the right texture, they were soft but still had a bit of crunch.
Fresh Green Beans
- 1 lb. fresh green beans
- 2 tbl. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
- salt and pepper
- Pour the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. While the oil is warming up, trim the ends off the green beans (if necessary). Once the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic and cook for a minute. Add the green beans and cook until the beans turn bright green.
- Pour in the vegetable broth, red pepper, salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low and cover the skillet with a lid, leaving it slightly ajar so the steam can escape. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the beans are softened but still crisp.
Makes: 4-6 servings
Boomer and I spent a great weekend visiting my second cousins who live a few hours away from us. I hadn’t actually met them before, but Boom and I instantly felt at home in their lovely house with all their dogs. Boom had a lot of fun playing with the other dogs on their farm and is pretty worn out. He has been sleeping quietly ever since we got home!
I didn’t have much in the house to make for dinner tonight; I should have gone to the store but it was raining really hard and, well, I was being lazy. I decided to improvise with some ingredients I had on hand and I’m really pleased with how this dish turned out. Orzo is one of my favorite types of pasta, I love how it turns so creamy with just a bit of Parmesan cheese. If you end up with leftovers, add a splash of milk to the pasta before you re-heat it to help retain the creamy texture.
Cheddar Broccoli Orzo
- 1 tbl. butter
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz. orzo
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
- 2 tbl. parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup milk (optional)
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes then stir in the garlic and orzo. Continue stirring for 2 minutes.
- Add the broth and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in the broccoli and continue cooking for several more minutes until the orzo absorbs the broth and the broccoli has softened. Stir in the parmesan and cheddar cheeses then salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/4 cup of milk if desired to give the pasta a creamier texture. Enjoy!
Makes: About 3 servings as the main course, about 5 servings as a side dish
I made this recipe for the first time for Thanksgiving several years ago. Ever since, it has been a staple dish on our table for the holidays. The creamy sweet potatoes contrast wonderfully with the sweet, crunchy topping.
One of the great things about this sweet potato casserole is that the components can be made the day before and refrigerated until you need them. I wait to put the topping on the casserole until I’m ready to bake it to make sure the topping doesn’t get soggy. If you’re feeding a big crowd I would recommend doubling the recipe, it’s always a hit at our gatherings and the leftovers are delicious!
Sweet Potato Casserole
- 4 medium sized sweet potatoes
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/2 cup flour
- 6 tbl. butter
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Poke each potato with a fork before placing them on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender then set aside for several minutes to cool.
- When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh into a large bowl. Use a potato masher or pastry cutter to mash the potatoes to your desired consistency. Add the sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla and salt. Stir to combine then set aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour and butter. Use a pastry cutter to cut the ingredients together, then add the pecans.
- Pour the potatoes into a baking dish, I use one that is about 9 x 13, then crumble the topping over the potatoes. Bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden brown. If you refrigerated your potato mixture, it might need to bake longer until the mixture is hot all the way through.
Makes: About 8 servings
Boom and I spent the last week house-sitting for a family with two yellow labs. Their dogs are super cute and Boom and I had a great time hanging out with them. For the most part I think Boom enjoys being an only child and getting all of my attention, but he definitely has fun when there are buddies for him to play with too.
The ‘kids’ waiting impatiently for breakfast!
One of the things I love about staying at this house is their big, beautiful kitchen. The big kitchen does come with two extra dogs who like to hang out and ‘help’ with the cooking but all the counter space makes up for the additional tripping hazards!
I really enjoyed the last orzo dish I made and this one turned out just as well. The flavors from the caramelized onion, sweet potato and kale are delicious with the light balsamic vinegar dressing. Anytime a dish involves caramelizing onions you know you’ll need to plan to spend some time in the kitchen, and this is no exception. But, if you’re looking for an excuse to be in the kitchen for a little while and you want a tasty, healthy dish at the end, this is a great option!
Orzo with Caramelized Onion, Sweet Potato and Kale
- 2 1/2 tbl. olive oil, divided
- 1 medium sweet potato (about 1/3-1/2 pound), diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1/2 pound orzo pasta
- 2 cups sodium-free broth, vegetable or chicken
- 2 tbl. Parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 big leaves kale, stalks removed and leaves chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Pour 1 tbl. olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the sweet potato. Cook and stir occasionally for several minutes then add the onion. Continue to cook and occasionally stir until the onion is soft and beginning to caramelize.
- While the vegetables are cooking, add 1 tbl. olive oil to a medium-sized pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, stir in the orzo. Stir frequently for 3-4 minutes until the orzo is lightly toasted then pour in the broth. Simmer until the orzo has absorbed the broth and is tender. If necessary, add an addition 1/4 cup of water or broth to allow the orzo to fully cook. When the orzo is done, turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Cover with a lid and let sit until the vegetables are finished.
- When the onions are beginning to caramelize, add the garlic and cook for several minutes. Whisk the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil together. Pour into the skillet with the vegetables and stir to combine. Add the chopped kale and stir for a couple of minutes until the kale wilts.
- Add the vegetable mixture to the cooked orzo and stir to combine. Salt and pepper as needed. Serve and enjoy!
Makes: 3 servings as main dish, 5-6 as side dish
I’ve been eating a lot of soup the last few weeks. This is my last week of grad school and it has been busy to say the least. Soup is my go-to meal for busy weeks since I can make one batch and just re-heat it each night. Luckily I love soup, so that works out pretty well but eventually you get to the point where it would be nice to eat with a fork.
I didn’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, but I wanted to whip up something tasty and comforting and this definitely fit the bill. This orzo dish came together in no time and is really creamy, even though it’s made with broth not cream. I put peas and spinach in here, but you could certainly throw in addition vegetables if you’d like.
I served this as the main dish, but it would be a great side too. If you have leftovers, I suggest adding a splash of milk to the pasta before you re-heat it. Pasta sometimes gets dry in the fridge and the milk will help the leftovers stay creamy.
Orzo with Peas and Spinach
- 2 tsp. butter
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 8 oz. orzo
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 8 oz. fresh spinach
- 2-3 tbsp parmesan cheese (or more if desired)
- Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
- Melt the butter with the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes then stir in the garlic and orzo. Continue stirring for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the broth and cook until the orzo absorbs the broth, about 15 minutes. Add the spinach and frozen peas and stir until the spinach wilts and the peas are hot. Stir in the Parmesan cheese then salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
Makes: About 3 servings as the main course, about 5 as side dish
This is my last semester of grad school and it’s been… busy. Since I haven’t had much spare time to make complicated dinners, soup has become my go-to meal. I’ve been making a big pot on Sunday afternoons and then enjoying the leftovers throughout the week. Most of the time I’m pretty content just eating soup on its own, but every now and then it’s really nice to have some cornbread to go along with it.
I made a batch of this Cheddar Jalapeño Cornbread over the weekend and it’s delicious! The jalapeños add a little spice without being overpowering and it’s perfect crumbled up on top of some soup, or on the side with a pat of butter.
Ideally this recipe should be made in a cast iron skillet. My skillet is a little on the small side, so I baked half the batter in there and divided the remaining batter up between some mini-muffin tins. I froze the little cornbread muffins so I can pull them out of the freezer the next time I’m eating soup that could benefit from some tasty cornbread!
Cheddar Jalapeño Cornbread
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cups of cornmeal (yellow or white)
- ½ cup sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 cups buttermilk (or 2 tbl. white vinegar + enough milk to equal 2 cups)
- 2 jalapeños, diced
- 1 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put the oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet and place in the oven for several minutes until it’s hot and sizzling.
- Mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
- Whisk the buttermilk and egg together, then add to the dry ingredients. Fold in jalapeños and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.
- Take the skillet out of the oven and pour the hot oil into the batter, stir until combined. Pour the batter back into the cast iron skillet and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over the top.
- Bake for 20 minutes until the top is brown and beginning to pull away from the sides of the skillet. Let cool for a few minutes then cut and serve. Enjoy!
Admittedly, this isn’t a beautiful or colorful dish. But what it might lack in the appearances category, it more than makes up for in taste. This pineapple casserole is a family recipe from Kentucky, and it’s one of my favorite side dishes to have around the holidays. It sounds like an unusual mix of flavors, but they combine for a wonderful mixture of savory and sweet.
Thoughts about this recipe
- A total of 40 oz. of pineapple is necessary for this recipe. I like to use 20 oz. of pineapple chunks, and 20 oz. of pineapple tidbits for some variety in size and texture, feel free to use all chunks or tidbits if you’d prefer.
- You can modify the amount of sugar, from 3/4 to 1 cup, depending on the level of sweetness you like.
- 40 oz. pineapple tidbits, chunks, or a combination; drained, reserve the juice
- 3/4-1 cup sugar
- 5 tbl. flour
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- 1 1/4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 1/2 cups Ritz crackers, coarsely crushed
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Pour pineapple in a 9 x 12 pan
- In a small bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Add to the fruit and stir together.
- Combine the melted butter and 1/4 cup pineapple juice, pour over the fruit.
- Sprinkle cheese over the pineapple, and then top with the crushed crackers
- Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until lightly browned on top.
Source: Aunt Beth
I have to be honest and say that I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms. However, everyone who does like mushrooms loves this recipe. The filling is rich and creamy and it’s delicious with a flaky, buttery crust. This is a great side dish for a holiday meal or potluck!
I’m participating in a holiday recipe exchanged hosted by My Baking Addiction and Good Life Eats. This week is focused on delicious holiday side dishes and is sponsored by OXO
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1 1/2 onions, chopped
- 1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 2 tbl. flour
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 tbl. sherry
- salt & pepper
- fresh rosemary, diced (optional)
- 2 pie crusts (homemade or store-bought)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees and adjust the rack to a low position.
- Heat butter in a sauce pan until melted and hot. Saute onions until translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes until slightly softened, but not mushy.
- Stir in the flour and then add the cream. Boil lightly until the mixture thickens. Add salt, pepper, sherry and rosemary if you’re using it. Set aside to cool.
- Place the bottom crust in a pie pan and prick with a fork, bake for 10 minutes. Pour in the filling and top with the second crust. Bake for 20 minutes until the crust is lightly browned.
Source: Family friend, Karla
I’m not sure where to start in describing how fantastic these roasted vegetables are. Delicious and healthy? Check. Quick and simple? Check. Colorful and beautiful? Check. The roasted vegetables make a great meal when paired with a thick slice of crusty bread. This recipe makes a ton of food which is perfect since it re-heats wonderfully and the leftover veggies are good on their own, over rice or pasta or, my favorite, mixed with some scrambled eggs. I made this meal for dinner last night and spent all day looking forward to having the leftovers for lunch!
I’m participating in a holiday recipe exchanged hosted by My Baking Addiction and Good Life Eats. This week is focused on fall meals that can be made in one pot and is sponsored by Le Creuset.
Roasted Autumn Vegetables
- 2 red potatoes
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 dark red beet
- 1 squash
- 1 sweet onion
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 2 cups broccoli
- 1 cup asparagus
- 1-2 peppers (red, green, or yellow)
- 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Italian seasoning to taste (I used about 2 tsp.)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Wash, peel (if necessary), and coarsely chop the vegetables into large, bite sized pieces.
- Place vegetables in a large roasting pan
- In a small bowl, combine olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and garlic. Pour the mixture over the vegetables and mix to combine.
- Cook in the oven for about 35-45 minutes. Stir the vegetables once or twice while they are cooking. Check a piece of potato for doneness, continue roasting until thickest vegetables are al dente.
- Serve with a bit of butter (if desired) and crusty bread
Makes: 4-5 large servings
Adapted from our family friend, Bets’ recipe