Sugar Snap Peas & Sprouts

Sometimes the most difficult part of a meal is choosing the side dish. Often I know that I want something tasty but not too involved and perhaps something versatile that can be changed up every now and again while using the same basic recipe.  I give you Sugar Snap Peas & Sprouts-which is exactly that. A tasty, fast-cooking, minimal prep, delicious side that is easy to put different spins on. Perhaps silvered almonds, perhaps hoisin sauce, perhaps add cooked brown rice for more of a fried rice feeling without the guilt. Either way it’s a winner.

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Sugar Snap Peas & Sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 lb sugar snap peas
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup sprouts (I used a combo of chick pea, lentil and bean sprouts)
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

Instructions:

  1. Heat sesame oil in a large pan over medium-high heat
  2. Add ginger and garlic and saute about 2 minutes until fragrant
  3. Add the sesame seeds and cook for another minute
  4. Add the sugar snap peas and saute for about 3 minutes then add the sprouts and soy sauce and continue to cook another minute or 2 until the peas are crisp-tender.
  5. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Mary Ellen at http://mecookingcreations.blogspot.com/

Thanks again to Sarah @ http://tasteofhomecooking.blogspot.com/ for hosting this month’s swap.

Swiss Smashed Baked Potato

I’ve been on a baked potato kick lately and created a really super tasty one last night that I wanted to share with you. I’m always trying different toppings-salsa with sour cream, chives etc.. If you’re looking for something a bit different but amazingly tasty look no further. The swiss cheese makes it tangy yet incredibly smooth.

You can see in the photo below how light and creamy the potato is. It couldn’t be simpler to make.

swiss potatos

Swiss Smashed Baked Potato

Ingredients:

  • 1 Yukon gold potato
  • 1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss Cheese
  • Sprinkle of butter powder or pat of butter (I used the butter powder that we put on fresh home-made popcorn).
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Poke holes in the potato with a fork then wrap it in a paper towel. Microwave the potato for about 6 minutes (depending on microwave).
  2. Remove the potato from the microwave, discard the paper towel and put the potato into a small bowl. Cut into the potato crossways then the long ways going all the way through. Push the pieces apart to make room for the butter and cheese.
  3. Sprinkle butter over the potato then mash in the swiss cheese evenly. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Mash it all around again.
  4. Serve immediately.

I didn’t have any but I would imagine that sliced green onions would be fabulous on top of this potato.

SFTK original.

Pomodori Gratinati (gratineed tomatoes)

I hemmed and hawed over how to write this little blurb about this recipe. I thought of talking about how the perfect summer tomatoes are so delicious and how the filling is a bit crunchy and so so tasty from the different herbs and 2 cheeses. I must have written 10 drafts and deleted them all. They seemed too wordy for a dish so simple it’s almost silly.

But in the end, what came to mind the most, were my visits to Florence/Tuscany over the last few years. I mean-that makes sense since I found the recipe in my book, Twelve, which is a month by month Tuscan cookbook. But if you’ve been there you’ll understand what I mean when you taste these. If you haven’t been there you need to change that immediately.

It’s amazing how a bite of something can instantly mentally take you out of your kitchen and zip you into a chair at a table on the perimiter of a piazza with a gorgeous plate of cheese and veggies like these and a glass of chianti.

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Pomodori Gratinati

Ingredients:

  • 6 plum tomatoes, vine ripiened, washed and dried
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped small
  • 10 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp frehsly grated parmesan cheese, plus sprinkle for topping
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, plus sprinkle for topping
  • 1/4-1/3 cup fine breadcrumbs
  • 8 tbsp olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Slice the tomato in half from stem to stem and, very gently, using a spoon remove the flesh and seeds-reserving them. Put the tomato halves into a baking dish, cut side up. Chop up some of the reserved insides and set aside.
  3. In a bowl mix the parsley, garlic, basil, cheeses, breadcrumbs and 4 tbsp olive oil. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper if desired. If desired you can also add some of the chopped tomato insides (I added just a bit). Spoon the mixture into the tomato halves.
  4. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and bake int he oven for 20-30 minutes until they are lightly golden and cooked through.
  5. Sprinkle with extra topping cheese and serve.

Note: since it was only I eating I only made one tomato. It was very easy to scale the recipe down so don’t feel that you have to make all 6 tomatoes.

Adapted from Twelve, A Tuscan Cookbook

This simple and very delicious recipe fit in perfectly with this month’s What’s Baking challenge theme of ‘Italian’. For the other recipes in the swap click here here

WB

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Easy Quinoa with Roasted Mini-Bell Peppers

Sometimes it’s surprising how tasty something that is so easy and that has just a few ingredients is, isn’t it?   The title of this recipe doesn’t lie. It’s easy. But it’s also fab!!

For a recipe swap for ‘Summer Salads’ with some fellow food bloggers I was given this recipe from Jenni’s blog www.doughseedough.net and I’m so glad! As the recipe title suggests it is truly easy so it’s a snap to just put together in a flash.  I adjusted her recipe a bit (I roasted the peppers in the oven instead of in a pan on the stove to cut down on the oil) and I halved her original recipe as it’s just me eating it.

quinoa

Easy Quinoa with Roasted Mini-Bell Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinced well if needed
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped small
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1  bag of mini-bell peppers (mine had 6), sliced into 1/2 inch strips, seeds removed
  • 4 ozs feta cheese, crumbled
  • kosher salt and white pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped small

Instructions:

  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium/high heat add the broth and quinoa and simmer until cooked to desired consistancy (for me that’s about 14 minutes-I like it al dente), drain remaining broth if necessary. Set aside and keep warm.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking pre-heat oven to 375.
  3. On a baking pan lined with foil arrange the peppers in one layer, sprinkle with garlic and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and roast for about 15 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl combine the quinoa and peppers/garlic and stir. Top with feta and parsley and serve.

Check out the other great salads in the swap here!!

Flash Chicken Fried Rice

So last week my Wednesday night went a bit like this: home from work at 5:40, walk dog, make a dinner in 20 minutes and get to a meeting by 6:30 that ended up lasting until 11:00.  Yeah it was that kind of day.  And night.  I had to think of something that I couldn’t mess up, something that I could make in a flash (snicker snicker), and that had a bunch of good stuff in it and that was tasty too.  Thankfully Husband made up 3 cups of rice for me the day before so it was all ready in the fridge.  The rest of the recipe is a mish-mosh of stuff that I had in the fridge and freezer. And it was perfect! It was delicious, filling but not FILLING, and had a nice balance of tastes and textures.   It’s more of a stir fry than a fried rice really-but who cares-it’s good and FAR better for you than stopping for take out.

Next time you’re going to run short on time give this recipe a try.  It took me about 18 minutes from chopping the onion to when it was in the container ready to go.

rice

Flash Chicken Fried Rice

 Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked day-old rice (I used white-feel free to use any other kind you’d like)*
  • 1 large chicken breast, trimmed of fat, boneless and skinless cut into small bite sized pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into very thin strips
  • 2 cups frozen edamame
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 4 tbsp sesame oil
  • splash of fish sauce
  • a few tbsp low sodium soy sauce (to taste)
  • splash of hoisin sauce

Instructions:

  1. In one skillet over medium high heat warm 1 tbsp sesame oil. When hot add the chicken and cook until nicely browned and cooked  thoroughly. When cooked set aside. 
  2. While the chicken is cooking and in another pan over medium-high heat put 1 tbsp sesame oil. When hot add the onions and stir for a minute or two and then add the edamame and corn and cook until no longer frozen.  Add the fish sauce and stir for a minute or two. 
  3. In a 3rd and large pan (that can hold everything and be stirred) over high heat put the remaining sesame oil and, when hot, add the rice and stir to heat through.  Add the edamame mixture and cook until the rice and veggies are all mixed and the rice has a nice browned outside. 
  4. In the same pan used to cook the edimame mixture, over medium heat, crack the eggs, add a spoonful of the rice mixture and mix quickly to cook completely.  Add the egg mixture to the rice then add the chicken to the rice, stir to combine and remove from heat. Add the soy and hoisin sauces and stir to combine. Serve.

I admit I used a bunch of pans while throwing this together. I’m sure if I had more time I could’ve figured out how to use less–but my purpose was to make a great dish fast, not avoid dirtying dishes. 

This recipe makes quite a bit. I took one container with me to the meeting, had some for lunch the next day and still had a bit left over. I’d say about 4.5-5 cups total.

I think that this would also be great with some bell pepper strips, some snow peas etc…add at will-veggies are good for you!

*if you don’t have pre-made rice it will take that much longer to make this dish.

Roasted Green Beans

I love green beans. I always have. When I was little I loved eating them raw and I still do. Now that I’m old enough to use the oven I also roast them. Roasting is my preferred method of cooking them too as I basically like them cooked through but still very crisp. As you can see in the photo below I grated some cheese on top. YUM!  Could it be any easier? Cut each end off, throw them onto a baking sheet, sprinkle a little of this and a little of that and then **abracadabara** they’re done. The answer is ‘no’. It cannot be any easier. This recipe is a basic guide. Use your imagination. If you like spicy try a touch of hot sauce or cayenne pepper.  Try other salts. Try other peppers. Use onion powder instead of garlic powder. Or just leave them plain.  Green beans are totally fun.

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Roasted Green Beans

Ingredients:

  • As many fresh green beans as you (and whoever else is with you) will eat, washed and ends trimmed and beans relatively dry.
  • Olive oil to drizzle over them
  • kosher or sea salt to sprinkle
  • white pepper to sprinkle
  • freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
  • whatever else you think appropriate

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425F.
  2. Spread beans on one layer on a baking sheet.  Put them close together.
  3. Drizzle oil, salt, pepper and any other spices you like on them then toss with hands to evenly coast the beans with the oil and spices then spread them out evenly.
  4. Bake for about 10-15 minutes-until desired crispyness has been met.
  5. Put them on the plate or in the bowl and sprinkle with the cheese.

Apricot & Rum Dipping Sauce

Wow!! What a flavor this sauce has. Sweet and tart from the apricot and just slightly rummy-just enough to taste.   It’s delicious!  I wish I had made this earlier in the week when I made the baked sweet potato fries-it would have been delicious on them.

 I made this recipe for the a recipe swap that I’m involved in with some other great blogger friends which is hosted by Sarah from http://tasteofhomecooking.blogspot.com. This swap’s theme was ‘cooking with alcohol’.  The recipe below is from Jen at www.becomingpigzilla.com (what a cute name!!), originally from Food Network.

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Apricot & Rum Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 2 tbsp dark rum

Instructions:

  1. Put both ingredients into a small sauce pan.  Cook for 10 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Serve

I cooked this down longer than the original recipe instructed as I wanted it to be a little thinner-more of a glaze consistency as you can see below.  I heated up some spring rolls that I had in the freezer but you could put this on anything-grilled chicken, shrimp etc…

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Check out the rest of the swap recipes here:

whatscooking

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Every once in a while I get a taste for fries.  Since I’m not big on frying and since I like sweet potatoes more than regular ones I like to make these from time to time.  They’re crunchy and oh so tasty and guilt free-no frying!! They couldn’t be simpler and you can make a trillion combos with them-different spices on them, different dipping sauces etc… I usually just make them with olive oil, kosher salt, white pepper and garlic powder. Simple and very yummy!

This time around, on a small plate, I put a small bit of each of the following to dip the fries in:  ranch dressing, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, tomato ketchup, banana ketchup (brought home from St. Lucia in April and delicious) and some garlic chili sauce.  I like dipping variety I guess.  Each were tasty but the dijon and banana ketchup are my faves.

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Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into even 1/4 inch sticks
  • 1-1.5 tsp olive oil
  • sprinkle of kosher salt
  • sprinkle of white pepper
  • sprinkle of garlic powder

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425F.
  2. Place potato sticks in a bowl and toss with olive oil and salt.
  3. Lay the fries on a baking sheet so that they are not touching and sprinkle the pepper and garlic powder over them evenly and to taste.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes turn them over and bake for another 15.
  5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with additional salt if desired.
  6. Serve immediately.

Helpful notes:  the more uniformally you cut the sticks the more uniformally they will cook.  Sometimes the fries cook faster than the last time. Moisture level maybe? Who knows. In any case keep an eye on them for the last 15 minutes to make sure they don’t burn. Don’t line the baking sheet with anything.

Burrito Bowl

I admit I’ve never had a burrito bowl.  I hear a lot about them but never actually ate one.  I mean I guess, essentially, it is just really a salad of sorts but with the contents of a burrito without the actual burrito.  Ok. 

So for this month’s swap with the Mexican theme hosted by Sarah at http://tasteofhomecooking.blogspot.com I was given the burrito bowl from Jenni’s blog doughseedough I was pretty excited. It looked delicious and I love burritos! It didn’t disappoint. What a great recipe. It came together pretty quickly (it took less than an hour including all prep and rice cooking from start to finish on a weeknight) and was just good all around.  Jenni’s recipe called for brown rice but since I’m not really a fan I used white. I also added some green chilies and corn. That’s what was so nice about her recipe-the ability to add or remove something to taste easily. So go make one to your taste!!!

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Burrito Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white rice, cooked
  • 1/2 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped small
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast trimmed of fat and cut into evenly sized strips about 1 inch thick
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp granulated dried onion
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Goya Salsita Chipotle sauce (optional)
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped small, guts removed
  • 1/4 red onion chopped very small
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can yellow corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small can green chiles, drained and rinsed

Topping ideas:

  • Fat free sour cream
  • Freshly grated cheddar or monterey jack cheese
  • Sliced avocado
  • Hot sauce (same as  above or different)
  • Jalapenos

Instructions:

  1. Cook rice according to package instructions.  When cooked stir in half of the cilantro, half of the lime juice and half of the lime zest.  Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl mix the chili powder and other spices through the italian seasoning and set aside.
  3. In a skillet set over medium/high heat warm the oil. When hot add the chicken and cook until cooked through.  Place the chicken on a cutting board and chop into small pieces. Put it back into the same pan.
  4. Into that pan add the spices from step #2 and stir to combine for a minute until spices are fragrant.  Into the same pan add the beans, corn and chiles and lower heat to medium/low to heat the new ingredients and stir to evenly distribute the spices.  If desired add a few splashes of salsita for a kick. 
  5. In another small bowl mix the tomatoes, the remaining cilantro, zest and juice of the lime and the onion and stir. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  6. Assemble your bowl! Start with some rice on the bottom, some chicken and bean mixture, some of the tomato mixture and top with whatever you’d like!

I made mine this way: rice then chicken mixture then grated cheese (so it would melt-YUM), tomato mixture, sour cream. I sliced half of an avocado and put the pieces around the plate.

This recipe makes about 2 medium sized soup bowl’s worth.

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Check out the other great swap recipes here:

Baked Yukon Gold Poatatoes

In my opinion Yukon Gold potatoes are the best for baking because they’re so creamy and nutty tasting.  It couldn’t be easier to bake them either. I love cheddar cheese on these too.  Such a simple topping but it adds a nice extra bit of flavor.

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Baked Yukon Gold Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and dried and poked with a fork all over
  • vegetable oil
  • a few small pats of butter
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese (not pre-grated)

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400.
  2. Line a small baking dish large enough to hold both potatoes with foil.
  3. Rub the oil all over the potatoes and place them into the dish.
  4. Bake for about 1 hour or until fork tender.
  5. Remove, cut many times down into the potato and stick in the butter pieces and some cheddar cheese and then push it back together a bit so it melts in there.  Oh hell, sprinkle a little extra cheese on top too if you want to.
  6. Plate and serve.

I served these with One Great Steak and Roasted Green Beans

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