Archive for the ‘Sides’ Category

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Mango Medley Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

August 29, 2015

When you just eat a mango it’s a get messy, sweet juice dripping down your chin experience that  you might not want to have in front of a crowd, kind of fruit. For that reason it’s best cut up in neat pieces. Mango is a friendly fruit. It plays well with fish, chicken, other fruits and vegetables. I found a perfectly ripe and ready to use one while hurricane supply shopping yesterday. I wasn’t much in the mood for a salsa, so looked for things that  would make it more salad-y. However, if you chop the ingredients finer and squeeze just the lime over it instead of making a dressing, , you would have a salsa that would perch nicely on tortilla chips. Refreshing  and tangy the dressing is rice wine vinegar based. Rice wine is one of my favorites on fruits. Many citrus based dressings have sugar in them, but I omitted it. Between the sweet tone of the rice wine and the fruit itself, there is just no need. This was a side for us for dinner, but as you can see the next day we piled it in a soft tortilla for fish tacos.

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The Dressing

1/4 C. rice vinegar
1/3 C. light oil, not olive- I used grape seed
Juice and Zest from 2 limes
2 garlic cloves, grated
pinch salt

Whisk all your dressing ingredients together. Set aside while you prep your other ingredients. This dressing was so good, even before it sat for a bit. I recommend making extra.

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The Salad

1 large mango , cut in cubes
1 large cucumber, peeled, halved seeded, and sliced in semi circles
1/2 large purple onion, thinly sliced
1 can corn, drained and broiled
4-5 small red and yellow peppers, cut in rings
1 large jalapeno, seeded and diced,
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 C. chopped fresh parsley

Drain the corn well and spread it on a baking sheet. Add just a tiny bit of oil and toss to coat. Broil for about ten minutes until it chars just a bit.

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Begin your salad assembly while the corn is broiling. Add your peppers and jalapeno to a large bowl.

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Next, your cucumber semi circles and  thin slices of onion.

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Top off with your mango cubes, the charred corn and the parsley.

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Mix them up. Isn’t this one of the prettiest salads ever?

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Wake up those flavors with  a rainfall of that luscious dressing. Use it all. Let sit for at least two hours,if you can stand to wait. It’s worth it. Twist some black pepper over top, just because.

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Serve it on the side of just about anything, have it all by itself ……………

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or pile it inside a warm spicy fish taco.

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Baked Feta

August 29, 2015

Not too far from our home, there is an area by the water called the Sponge Docks. It’s a special place for celebrations, or to take visiting family. Fairly self explanatory in that it’s a fishing town famous for the collection of sea sponges. We love going there as it’s a cultural experiences that satisfies all the senses. Quaint little stores line the streets,some carrying souvenirs, some emanating the scent of beautiful handmade soaps, and some  filled with things imported from Greece, as the area has a heavy Greek influence. Along these streets are some of the best Greek restaurants and pastry shops. When we go one of the things we always order is the flaming feta. I tried to think of a fancy name for this baked version which includes earthy Kalamata olives, and sweet little tomatoes…but nothing came to mind that really describes this melding of flavors. You’ll just have to try it for yourself! It’s simple and quick, from start to finish shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes. A lovely appetizer, served with a crusty bread, encased in a pita or just eaten right off of your fork.. mmmm…Opa!!

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1/2 cup marinara tomato sauce, so the cheese doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn,

8 oz. block of feta cheese, drained

1/2 cup pitted and chopped Kalamata olives (I used my fingers to tear the pit out, then tore them in pieces to give a rustic look)

1 1/3 C.grape or cherry tomatoes,cut in half

2 cloves garlic,grated

1 t.dried oregano

2 T. fresh basil

fresh ground pepper, to taste

Pre heat the oven to 400 Degrees. Combine your sliced tomatoes, roughly chopped olives, basil, oregano and grated garlic in a small bowl and toss to combine. Let sit while you get the feta ready.

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Pour the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 6″ or so baking dish.Turn the feta on it’s side and cut in two equal pieces. .Place the slices side by side, with a bit of space in between.(This dish merits a reason to get a special pan for next time, something smaller and square….)

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Spread the tomato mixture evenly over the feta slices.

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Top with a few twists of fresh black pepper.Bake approximately 15 minutes.

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Tear off a hunk of crusty bread and prepare to enter feta heaven…..

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Spaghetti Squash Genovese

October 28, 2014

There is a delightful Italian recipe called Spaghetti Genovese, I never quite understood pasta and potatoes in the same dish, but being the pesto lover that I am, I never questioned it too far. To cut down the carb content it only made sense to use spaghetti squash, and size down the potatoes to those creamy flavorful minis. A must try adaption of an classic Italian favorite.

1 small spaghetti squash, roasted

12-15 small red, yellow and purple potatoes (usually called tri color, in a mesh  bag)

1/3 lb. fresh green beans

1/2 C. pesto ( made with fresh spinach tonight)

3-4 T. freshly grated parmesan

Prepare pesto.(I substituted spinach for kale- no need to salt and macerate spinach)

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Roast the squash. Cut potatoes in half.  Cut off tips of  green beans, and cut them in half  as welI .

I boiled the green beans and potatoes together,in a small amount of water, until fork tender.

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Drain well. Strand the squash and mix with the potatoes and beans.

Toss with pesto. Grate cheese over top and serve immediately.

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Cauliflower Tabouli

October 6, 2014

Tabouli  or Taboulleh is a traditional vegetarian  Middle  Eastern dish, most closely classified as a salad. Usually made of tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Some type of grain like bulghur  is often added to the dish. This is my variation of it. It’s a pretty flexible recipe. I added some jalapeno because…well because I add jalapeno or some kind of heat to most things we eat! Tomatoes, unless straight off the vine or green and fried, also don’t do it for me in most dishes. In this I have substituted red pepper, which also makes it less watery than tomato. I am not much  a bulghur fan (but  then I also haven’t given it much of  a chance) and I wanted to keep this grain  free. Quinoa would make a tasty addition and add  a nice texture contrast and I might try it another time with that. Crumbled feta took the place of salt in my version, but if you are looking to make it dairy free it can be omitted.

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1/2 head cauliflower grated

1/2 red pepper. diced

1 finely minced jalapeno

1 medium cucumber. seeded and diced

3 diced scallions. including green tops

1/3 C. chopped fresh mint

1 C. chopped fresh parsley

1.4 C. olive oil

1/4 C. fresh lemon juice

1/2 C. crumbled feta (optional but will need salt if this is omitted)

1/2 t. pepper

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 Here is a close up of your cauliflower. You want it “grainy” not mush. I grate it rather than process it.

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Combine your lemon juice and oil and whisk a bit.Mix all your veggies together. Pour the olive oil and lemon over all. Stir to coat all of the vegetables. At this point you can add in a 1/2 cup of cooked bulghur, quinoa or couscous. Lastly stir in your feta if you are using it.This is best if left to sit a few hours. but it is  really hard  not to keep  tasting it! This didn’t last very long and I would definitely double it all next time.

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This dish is so colorful, and it tastes as happy as it looks.

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Cranapple Sweet Potato Casserole

November 20, 2013

Thanksgivukkah. This  year  Chanukah begins on Thanksgiving. A once in a life time occurrence , this event calls for some  different  festive combinations. Here is one that will be on out table this year. A crispy on the outside, tender on  the inside  sweet potato and apple combination, kicked up  with the  tart and tangy cranberry.

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes

2 Granny smith  apples

3/4 C. fresh cranberries

1/2 lemon , juice and zest

2 T. olive oil

1 T. fresh grated ginger

1 t. salt

1 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. nutmeg

Sunflower seeds,

almonds or candied pecans for garnish (optional, but nice texture contrast)

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Peel and grate potatoes and apples. I keep my ginger cut in one inch pieces in the freezer. When I need some I grate (or cut)  them frozen. Toss with lemon juice and zest. Stir in cranberries. Add oil and seasonings, and combine well. This smells amazing before it’s even  cooked, and looks so pretty too.

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Lightly oil a 9×9 pan or equivalent and spread mixture evenly in pan. Leave it loose, don’t pat it down in the pan so it gets crispy, almost like a latke.

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Bake in a 400 degree oven for approximately 30- 40 minutes, until nicely browned.

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Slice into squares and top with sunflower seeds, or almonds …or even candied pecans  if you have no allergies in your family!

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Baked Avocado

April 4, 2013

Avocado is the new wonder food. The health benefits are tenfold,along with it being  a  very versatile fruit. In a typical avocado, most of the calories you receive come from monounsaturated fat. The monounsaturated fat in an avocado is healthy for you. They  contain both insoluble and soluble fiber. Very few  foods can brag about containing both kinds of fiber.  Avocados are high in  B vitamins along with vitamin K and vitamin E.  It pairs well with foods that  are  sweet or savory. You can add it to shakes, make salsas  with it, add it to salads and make chocolate mousse` with it. Baking it  with hot pepper sauce and topping with a bit of  shaved parmesean is my new favorite way to eat it. It makes a great appetizer,side or have a whole one and  call it a meal!

1 medium avocado

1-2 T. of your  favorite hot sauce (mine is Moore’s)

2 T. shaved parmesean ( I like a dry  cheese but you can use any easy melting type)

2 wedges lemon (or lime)

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Slice the avocado in half. Having  trouble  removing that   slippery pit? Holding the  avocado in one   hand, hit the  pit with the  sharp  edge of  a knife.

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Twist the knife,keeping the avocado still, and out comes the pit.

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Score the flesh of the avocado, so that the hot sauce  seeps  down in it. Fill the center of each half, with a  tablespoon or so of hot sauce.The amount is up to you but  that should be more than  enough.You don’t want it overflowing, or overpowering.

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Sprinkle the  cheese on top and add some  fresh cracked black pepper if you like.

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Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Just enough to warm it and melt the cheese. Serve with lemon or lime wedges, to be squeezed on top right before eating.

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Latkes Two Ways (Potato Pancakes)

December 12, 2012

Making potato latkes  on Chanukah is a tradition. The smell of the onions and oil,maybe some home made apple sauce on the stove too,the shadows of the  candles dancing on the walls..it really only makes me think of happy times. The deep frying in oil represents the miracle of light. If you are unaware of the history, here is a quick breakdown. Fried foods are  traditionally eaten on Chanukah in commemoration of the oil that miraculously burned for eight days when the Maccabees rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem.They came across a Menorah in a temple. The problem they had was they only had enough oil for one night. When the Menorah was lit, it stayed lit for eight straight days. A miracle sent from above many felt, and still do to this day. It is for this reason that when celebrating Chanukah,we fry many of the traditional foods in oil. Every family has “their” own way of making them, and of course we always love the way  our Mom’s made them best. I’ve made a few changes over the years for a more crisp, less oily version, and  mix the potatoes with  veggies sometimes (zucchini and potato are awesome).In this recipe,I am making  traditional potato and onion, and  a sassy version with shredded apple. Whichever you decide to make, or attempt two  on one  night, as I did..they are an indulgence everyone should try once, no matter what your  religion!

4 med.-lg potatoes,scrubbed well

1 1/2 sweet onions,pureed in blender or processor

3 T. fresh dill

3 t. dried dill

1 large granny smith apple

3 eggs

1/2 C. Peanut oil

1 C. sour cream

1 T maple syrup

3 t. cinnamon

1 T. kosher salt and 1 T. black pepper mixed together

applesauce,caviar (optional toppings)

large bowl of ice

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Finely puree onion. You can grate them if you like, but I find that the pancakes hold together better with almost a paste of onion. You will also need to remove one tablespoon of this for your sour cream topping.

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Make sour cream toppings now so the flavors can intensify. Add to 1/2 C. of sour cream: 1 T. pureed onion,1 T. fresh dill and 1 t. dried dill, and 1 t. s&p mixture.Stir well. To the other 1/2 C. of sour cream add: 1 T. maple syrup and 1 t. cinnamon. Stir well. Cover and put  in fridge while you make latkes.

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I leave some of the peel on the potatoes. Sometimes I don’t peel them at all.Just make sure  they are well scrubbed if you aren’t peeling.Once peeled immediately put in the ice bath to prevent oxidation and  the ominous browning. You can add a splash of lemon juice to the water to prevent further browning of the pancake batter.

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Start grating! I grate by hand.Most certainly you can use a food processor. I prefer the old fashioned way,just like my Mom did it.Once you get going it’s almost fun ( ok so it’s not really fun but if you switch hands you get a mini workout of the arms, and pre burn some of the calories you are about to consume) I grate the potatoes length wise to have more of  a hash brown texture. Finer grating will give you a more dense pancake. Put shreds into ice bath immediately. ( I really don’t like the browning!)

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Drain well in a  colander,squeezing as much water out as you can. Dump potatoes into a clean kitchen towel. Witha a twisting motion, wring as much water as possible out of the potatoes. When you think there is no more water, give it one  more twist. The more water you get out, the more crisp your latkes will be.

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Put potatoes in large mixing bowl.Combine your potaotes,onions,and eggs.If you are making two versions,split them now into two bowls.To one, add a peeled and grated granny smith apple, 2 t. cinnamon and 1 t. of the s&p mix.To the other  add 2 T. fresh dill and 1 t. dried dill.You may notice I add no flour as some recipes do.There is more than ample starch left after the ice bath to bind the potatoes.Flour makes them heavy, adds unnecessary gluten, and..calories!Heat  your large frying pan before adding oil.Always put oil into a hot pan. The pan is hot  enough when the oil shimmies when poured in.

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Time to fry!Add a few tablespoons of oil to the HOT pan. I prefer peanut oil for this,which can withstand high temperature and has no added taste. Olive oil is alright but make sure it is very light. I prefer to make these small,more on the appetizer size.Drop by large teaspoonfulls into very hot peanut oil.Spread out a bit and then let them brown! When frying, go for one  flip only! Allow to brown completely on one side, and then turn.This makes for a less oily latke. Please do….not… SMASH them with your spatula! This only causes oil absorption. Also, use a nice thin spatula to flip, as the pancakes are very delicate.Place a cooling rack over a paper towel line cookie sheet.Laying the fried latkes directly on  a paper towel allows then to sit in the oil that drains off.By placing them on a rack, excess (which won’t be much) drains but is not reabsorbed into the pancake.You can also keep them warn amd crisp in a 300 degree oven while you are frying the rest. This makes about 40 small to medium latkes.

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Serve with toppings,any which way you like. The onion dill sour cream goes well with the traditional latke,and the maple cinnamon sour cream takes the apple pancakes to a new level.

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Whichever you choose,enjoy this labor of love, and the holiday season. L’chaim!

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