DIY Jeweled Rice Pilaf Mix for a Gift from Your Kitchen

December 8, 2014 in Holidays, Side Dishes

Jeweled Rice Pilaf Mix

Give a Savory Food Gift this Holiday Season

Persian Jeweled rice is a dish that is made for special occasions, I am guessing because it looks so festive, and the taste is exotic and unexpected. It’s not just plain old rice pilaf.

I love to give gifts from my kitchen for holiday gifts, but I wanted to make something that isn’t just the usual cookie or brownie mix in a jar. I wanted something savory that will require minimum fuss to go from jar to table.

This jeweled rice pilaf mix fits the bill perfectly. It only takes a few  minutes of prep time, and then your friends and family will think you have been slaving for hours.

I did substitute a few things to keep the cost down. Traditionally, saffron would be used, but I added a little curry powder for taste and color. And, the traditional nut is pistachios, but I like pecans. You can use whatever spice and whatever nut you like.

The flavors and textures are such an unexpected treat – sweet and salty, soft and crunchy – a party in your mouth!

Just put this mix in layers in a pretty jar and attach the directions and there you have it – the perfect food gift!

Read the rest of this entry →

Share

2014 Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

November 26, 2014 in Entrees, Healthy Fare, Holidays, Side Dishes, Techniques

We all need some 11th hour inspiration from time to time. If you’re still working out the kinks in your menu, here are some  favorite fun ideas.

What sweet little Thanksgiving Turkeys.

 

For starters, if you have a lot of kids in attendance, here are a few fun ideas to keep them occupied AND make some great contributions to the feasting table. As per the picture above, try making some adorable candy turkeys. Check out the video below:  Read the rest of this entry →

Share

Wild Rice Salmon Salad with Pine Nuts, Lemon and Parsley

November 19, 2014 in Dairy-Free, Gluten Free, Healthy Fare, Side Dishes

This wild rice and salmon dish is a perfect salad for your Thanksgiving lineup.

Wild Rice Salmon Salad with Lemon, Parsley and Pine Nuts

Wild Rice Salmon Salad with Lemon, Parsley and Pine Nuts

To mangle Robert Burns, the best laid recipe plans aft gang agly . . . but also sometimes turn out deliciously regardless. My original thought with this dish was to make a sort of wild rice maki, that would be fitting on a Thanksgiving table, rolled up in slices of lox-style smoked salmon. Round 1: Tastes great, but sliced salmon won’t hold the shape together well enough. Round 2: Chopped up salmon and mixed it into the rice, and tried using nori to wrap the whole mixture up. Not sticky enough to work. Round 3: Decide the tasty rice mixture does just fine all on its own. Tossed in a bowl it is!

As it stands, the salad is gluten-free (some would consider it grain-free as well, as wild rice is actually a kind of grass) and dairy-free, though I have it on good authority that some crumbled chevre in the mix is a lovely addition as well.  Read the rest of this entry →

Share

Winter Grape Salad Recipe with Toasted Walnuts

November 16, 2014 in Healthy Fare, Side Dishes

 Winter Grape Salad – a blend of sweetness and crunch.

Winter Grape Salad with Toasted Walnuts and Pomegranate

Winter Grape Salad with Toasted Walnuts and Pomegranate Seeds

Thanksgiving sides are on my mind these days, and on the minds of most of American cooks preparing for the Big Kahuna meal of the year: Thanksgiving Dinner.

One of my favorite childhood food memories is the fruit salad we made every year for Thanksgiving. You know the one: fruit cocktail (with some extra pineapple tidbits thrown in, and maybe some coconut) and then that very famous whipped topping stirred in. I liked to pick through the bowl while spooning my serving to look for the maraschino cherries hiding behind the pear chunks. So, every year since my childhood (NOT saying how many that is, BTW) I put a dish at my table that has some sort of fruit in it on Thanksgiving Day.

I wanted to update this fruit salad – so I subbed a fabulous new Australian style yogurt for the whipped topping, and I must say I like this version better.  Noosa is a brand I tried in Seattle at the International Food Blogger Conference in September this year. It is an Aussie yogurt – and so delicious that I swooned. Truly, truly smooth and creamy and so flavorful. I recommend you drop whatever you’re doing and run to the nearest grocery store to buy some. I used the plain Noosa in this – for the tartness, but their other flavors would work well, too. I must try the coconut with this STAT.

The Hubs is addicted to the Strawberry Rhubarb Noosa because he grew up with a mom that made fabulous rhubarb pie. He will even clean out the garage if I promise to buy him some of this. Takes him right back to his childhood!

For crunch I added walnuts – toasted first, of course. Toasting nuts is something I learned to do from other food bloggers – and now is a routine step in all my recipes using nuts.

SO pretty for your holiday table!

(( Read to the end of this post to see what is reflected in the spoon in this photo!))

– posted by Donna

Read the rest of this entry →

Share

Butternut Squash Anna

November 2, 2014 in Side Dishes

A butternut squash version of Pommes Anna.

Butternut Squash

Simple yet elegant – A butternut squash version of the classic dish: Potatoes Anna

Pommes Anna is a classic French dish that is a classic for a reason. It is the technique that makes this dish spectacular. There are only two ingredients in the classic French potato torte – potatoes and butter (a little salt, too).

I love, love LOVE butternut squash and so I wanted to do this classic dish with butternut squash – and I am so pleased with how this turned out. I even baked it in the oven and it still turned out so pretty on a platter. Try this as a Thanksgiving side this year – and you will get oooh’s and aaah’s galore, I promise!

Since squash does not have as much starch as potatoes, I decided a little cheese and flour were needed to hold the layers together. So, I tossed some Parmesan with a bit of flour to sprinkle in between the layers. This worked perfectly – and I will be making this dish again and again this fall. The only work is in the slicing – the rest is just assembling and throwing this in the oven.

 

Read the rest of this entry →

Share

Waffle Iron Winter Squash with Chipotle Maple Glaze

October 27, 2014 in Side Dishes

Winter squash done in a waffle iron. Yes, waffle iron!

Waffle Iron Winter Squash

Winter squash cooked with a waffle iron. Who knew?

Yes, you read that right: Acorn Squash Rings and Butternut Squash Slices cooked with a waffle iron.

When the weather gets cooler and your grill is covered for the winter, you can still get that “grilled” flavor – with a waffle iron. Last summer I saw things you can cook on a waffle iron by Buzzfeed – and they were mostly things cooked with batter, but I wanted to try some veggies. I tried a bunch of things and these squash rings were my favorite.

BONUS: This is a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving because it doesn’t use up your oven space!

This squash is cooked with the waffle iron in just about 5 minutes – with the perfect flavor and texture. And then I brushed them while still hot with a Maple Chipotle Glaze. The idea for the maple glaze came from Pantry Queen Lydia at Perfect Pantry.  ( I used 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 teaspoon chipotle pepper, minced, and a dash of salt. You just brush on the glaze as soon as these rings come out of the waffle iron. I sprinkled on a little chile powder as well.

This is not only easy and flavorful – this recipe is downright FUN. I promise you will be standing anxiously waiting, waiting, waiting to open up your waffle iron to see what magic has happened!

You will need to makes the slices fit your waffle iron – both in diameter and in thickness. Then, cook them checking frequently to see if they are tender.

You can even let little ones help with tossing the squash into the waffle iron – and then just wait to see their faces when you lift up the top of the waffle iron! Their eyes will grow big when they see the steam come out and the squash covered with checker board squares.

Happy Fall, Y’all!

waffle iron squash rings

The most fun you have ever had with your waffle iron. Guaranteed.

– posted by Donna

Share

Raw Beet and Farro Salad

September 16, 2014 in Side Dishes, Vegan Recipes

Yes, they’re raw. Beets in a whole new way.

Raw Beet and Farro Salad

I discovered raw beets about a year ago, and it truly was a revelation.

They are crunchy and delicious, and so pretty on a plate. I paired them here with the ancient grain farro – the flavor of cashews in a grain! This is my first time using the grain that is so popular in Italy, and I loved the results. I bought semi-pearled farro, which just needs to be simmered until soft. If you buy whole grain farro, you will have to give it a soak overnight first. Farro has the texture of wheat berries, but tastes like cashews.

And then, raw beets. I have used them raw before in a Beet and Butternut Slaw, and found out the key: make very thin slices. Paper thin. As thin as you can get. If they are thin, they are crunchy and delicious.

So here I paired them with celery, leaves included, farro, and a lemon vinaigrette.

Happy Fall Y’all!

Read the rest of this entry →

Share

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

September 9, 2014 in Side Dishes

Roasted cauliflower, Spicy Edition.

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower, Spicy Edition

This recipe was made by a person who doesn’t like cauliflower: me.

I know, cauliflower is good for you. I know, cauliflower has a ton of anti-cancer powers. I know, cauliflower is packed with fiber, and low in carbs, and low in calories. I know all of that. I just have never liked it. Until now.

This roasted cauliflower has won me over. The creamy flesh of the roasted cauliflower paired with the spicy crust is just the perfect combo of flavors and textures. So, so good. And so easy. Just bake, then slather, then bake again. Cinchy!

This recipe was inspired by Fine Cooking Magazine this month – and their Roasted Cauliflower. I tweaked it to add spice and heat.

Read the rest of this entry →

Share

Grilled Fig and Halloumi Salad

July 25, 2014 in Healthy Fare, Side Dishes

This salad gives a whole new meaning to Grilled Cheese.

What's better than grilled figs and grilled cheese?

What’s better than grilled figs and grilled cheese?

I just tried halloumi cheese for the very first time a few weeks ago and now I just crave it. When you sear or grill this cheese, the texture is truly remarkable: crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. Another foodie milestone: halloumi cheese tasted. Check!

I used a Finnish cheese similar to halloumi,I used juustoleipa, a word that means “bread cheese.” If you live in my neck of the woods, I highly encourage you to check out Heber Valley Artisan Cheese  – and their juustoleipa alone is worth the drive!

The flavors and textures of this simple summer salad mix together perfectly. I like to grill the figs, but I cooked the cheese slices in a skillet over medium heat – to get a nice crust on the outside of the slices and melt the inside of the cheese. This is a salad I will make again and again – and will definitely try new ways to use grillable cheese!

Grilled Fig and Cheese Salad

Grilled Fig and Cheese Sal

Read the rest of this entry →

Share

Lemon Tarragon Watermelon Salad

July 22, 2014 in Appetizers, Side Dishes

Watermelon Salad gets a new flavor profile with lemon and tarragon.

A fresh take on Watermelon Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Tarragon.

A fresh take on Watermelon Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Tarragon.

I love that classic watermelon and feta combo, and I make this salad often in the summer. So sweet/salty/tart – and few things are better in the summer than cold, crunchy ripe watermelon fresh in the summer.

So I decided to try out some new flavors with this salad. Lemon and Tarragon pair perfectly with this watermelon salad. You just whack up a little lemon vinaigrette – and Voila! – instant watermelon salad. I tried a new method of plating this salad as well – just lay a watermelon slice on a plate and then cut into cubes, leaving the round watermelon shape intact. Pretty and yummy for a light summer dinner.

Happy Summer all ~

– posted by Donna

Read the rest of this entry →

Share