Sides and Salads


Broiled Baby Veggies

Angela Lopez - Monday, June 10, 2013

With warm weather coming in, I’m thinking more and more about spring vegetables. It’s great to have such an assortment of wonderful, fresh produce suppliers. And I try to push myself to look beyond the usual veggies I would normally purchase.

 

If you haven’t taken advantage of what’s available, next time you make a trip to the market, take note of all the different types of potatoes, mushrooms, even carrots and radishes, just to name a few.

We can easily bring new and interesting alternatives to our typical vegetable side dishes.

 

In this recipe, I’ve picked up an assortment of carrots and radishes with interesting, mild flavors and bright colors. Not to mention the fantastic nutritional value.

 

This would be an easy recipe to adapt to most any fresh produce you may be planting in your garden, as well. Enjoy food made fresh!

 

Broiled Baby French Carrots, Cincinnati Radishes, and Icicle Radishes With Raw Honey Butter

3 cups assorted carrots and/or radishes

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven broiler (500 degrees F). Clean and peel carrots and radishes. Trim off most of the green tops. Pat dry and place on baking sheet. Brush them with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Broil in preheated oven approximately 6 inches from heat source for about 7 to 9 minutes, shaking the pan about halfway through cooking time.

 

Remove from oven and brush with honey butter.  Recipe follows.

 

Raw Honey Butter

1 stick, or 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup raw, local honey

 

With electric mixer, mix butter and honey together until well blended.  Leftover honey butter can be kept in refrigerator for later use on tortillas, toast, biscuits, or your next batch of roasted or broiled vegetables or fruit.


Asparagus Casserole

Angela Lopez - Monday, November 19, 2012

Have you started to make your shopping list for Thanksgiving? This year, I’m adding asparagus to my list. Every year, I assure my family we will have the traditional dishes they all love and associate with the holiday but I will also make at least one offering that’s trendy or has a little twist to it. 

As you know, I love the challenge of making a dish with the freshest ingredients. A few years ago, my daughter took the idea of the traditional green bean casserole and broke it down into the very best ingredients. She made a home-made cream of mushroom gravy and used fresh green beans. I’m doing a take on that this year but I will be using asparagus in place of green beans.  

Do you make stuffing or dressing? And do you use primarily cornbread, or mostly cubes of white bread? My family tends to lean toward the southern traditional with cornbread. I don’t get a lot of wiggle room when it comes to dressing; they are pretty consistent about that. But hopefully they will be open to asparagus this year! If your family bulks at the idea, this recipe can be easily adapted to make a nice, fresh green bean casserole, if you prefer.  Enjoy food made fresh!

Fresh Asparagus Casserole

6 tablespoons butter, divided

2 1/4 pound fresh asparagus

1/2 pound button mushrooms

1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons flour, divided

1/2 cups half & half

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of nutmeg

1 onion, very thinly sliced

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

 

Rinse asparagus. Bend each stalk to snap off tough end; it will naturally bend I the right spot. Cut the good part into thirds, about 1 ½ inches long. Brush mushrooms with damp paper towel to remove any loose dirt. Cut mushrooms into cubes. Melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat in large skillet. Add asparagus and mushrooms. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until partly tender. Remove with slotted spoon and place in bowl; set aside. In same skillet, add the other 3 tablespoons butter cooking over medium heat. Once melted, add 3 tablespoons flour, stirring for a minute or two until flour turns light brown. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk in half & half. Continue whisking for a minute or two until it begins to thicken. Stir in a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, or ground nutmeg. Add vegetables back to pan and stir to coat (same 3 or 4 pretty asparagus tips to garnish the top of the casserole). Pour mixture into buttered backing dish. Cover with foil and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. 

 

Toss thinly sliced onions in remaining 1/3 cup flour. Heat vegetable oil in large skillet over medium heat. Once oil sizzles when small piece of onion is added, add remaining onions and cook, stirring often until light brown and crunchy. If you let one of them turn black, don’t worry, just pick that one out – I’m sure Durkees burns one once in a while. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

 

Remove casserole from oven after 30 minutes and top with crunchy onions. Return to oven without foil for 5 minutes. Serves 8.


Fig & Proscuitto Salad with Honey-Balsamic Reduction

Angela Lopez - Sunday, October 28, 2012

In September, we were smack-dab in the middle of fig season; Siri told me so. Growing up, I never knew much about figs except of the “newton” variety. But when I started searching for ideas to create a recipe that features honey my thoughts automatically turned to the pleasing combination of figs, honey and prosciutto. The sweet, tangy figs mixed with salty Italian ham and drizzled with a honey-balsamic reduction is flavor-packed. Top that with toasted walnuts or crumbled gorgonzola and it is perfection.

I went on a mad search to locate “cotton blossom” honey to feature in this recipe but didn’t have much luck. A good substitute is any mild honey, such as your garden variety clover honey. I am using my favorite fresh greens in this salad but if you are not crazy about the distinctive “bite” that Arugula has, use your basic spring greens and you will still have a great end result. Enjoy food made fresh! 

Fig & Prosciutto Salad with Honey-Balsamic Reduction

3 tablespoons mild honey, such as cotton or clover

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Pinch of salt

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

3 ounces prosciutto, cut into ½ inch strips

8 figs, cut into halves lengthwise

1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese crumbles

2 cups Arugula greens

Combine vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for approximately 8 minutes until mixture reduces to about ¼ cup. Let cool. Brown prosciutto strips in skillet over medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes until crispy. Divide greens among 4 salad plates. Arrange 4 fig halves in center of each plate. Sprinkle on prosciutto and gorgonzola. Drizzle each plate evenly with honey-balsamic reduction. Serves 4.


Ranchero Beans

Angela Lopez - Sunday, October 28, 2012
 

Rancheros, Charro Frijoles, whatever you know them by, I’m always experimenting with the seasonings and other ingredients. I’m crazy about pintos but we have recently been enjoying Anasazi beans. They are a beautiful dark maroon color with bright, white marbling, and cook up much like pintos. They are almost the same size as pintos and are tender and a little sweet. 

Anasazi beans were originally cultivated by the Anasazi Indians in areas like the dry land of southwestern Colorado. The ones I buy are packaged in Dove Creek, Colorado. I prefer the pintos that come out of there, as well. Dove Creek is the pinto bean capital of the world; the climate and altitude produce some of the best beans you can buy.

I have heard of several methods of preparing dry beans for cooking, such as soaking them overnight to speed up the cooking process. I have even heard that if you drain the soaking water and replace it with fresh water prior to cooking, it will help eliminate the well-known, unpleasant side-effect that beans can cause in our tummies. But, the best remedy I have tried for that problem is the one that my husband remembers his sweet mother using. She would cut a raw potato in half and place it in the pot with the beans while cooking. The potato will react with the other carbohydrates in the beans and calm the effect that the beans have on our systems. The potato should be discarded when beans are done. Enjoy food made fresh!

Ranchero Beans

1 pound dried beans of your choice (Pintos, Anasazi, or other)

6 cups water

6 slices bacon, chopped (chunks of ham or rinsed salt pork may be used instead)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 fresh or pickled jalapeño, chopped

1 – 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon oregano

 

Bring beans to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, adding more water as needed. When beans begin to soften a little, add all remaining ingredients. Continue cooking until beans are tender, adding more water as necessary. Total cooking time approximately 1 ½-2 hours is you have soaked dry beans overnight; if not, continue cooking until tender. Serves 6-8.


Roasted Baby Carrots

Angela Lopez - Sunday, October 28, 2012

As I planned the meal for Easter this year, I thought I would go a little lighter….I know…..this is not something I do very often for a holiday meal. But don’t worry, I’ll be sure to have something on the menu to offset it. I purchased cute little baby carrots with the green portions still intact (they seem to taste fresher, or maybe it’s my imagination) to roast in the oven as one of our side dishes. So if you are looking for a light, simple dish – give these a try with your ham and potatoes and wonderful desserts. Enjoy food made fresh!


Roasted Baby Carrots

2 bunches of baby carrots

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 pinch salt

1 pinch sugar


Whisk together orange juice, oil, butter, salt and sugar with a fork. Place clean, peeled carrots on baking sheet. Baste carrots with oil mixture. Roast in 450 degree preheated oven for approximately 10 minutes turning halfway through cook time.


Sesame Cole Slaw

Angela Lopez - Sunday, October 28, 2012

I always love our road trips to Austin and finding great places to eat. Austin is such a melting pot of eccentric and eclectic people. I love its contrast – you have the center of Texas politics and all that goes with it. You also have the University – and sports – and music – and film – and art of every kind. It seems to be a place that anyone can go and truly express who they are without judgment. Maybe I would even fit in there! And with eclectic people comes eclectic food. There is a vast array of Texas BBQ, authentic Mexican food, Italian food, Asian and Indian cuisine – you name it. The food in Austin has as much character as its people.

We tried some interesting Mexican food at Manuel’s on 3rd and Congress, and dined on Texas BBQ at The Salt Lick in nearby Round Rock.  Salt Lick had reasonable prices and the music was good, but the meat portions were not very large. However, I absolutely loved the coleslaw and I’m not usually a big fan of slaw. Here is my take on how I think they make it. If anyone knows their recipe, please let me in on it so that next time I can just go home and make some instead of finishing up what everyone at my table had left on their plates! I’m shameless.


Sesame Coleslaw

1 small head green cabbage, shredded

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sesame seed oil

3 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt


1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds (place seeds on cookie sheet and toast in preheated 350 degree oven until lightly golden brown – don’t leave the kitchen or you’ll come back to black sesame seeds which are an entirely different seed!)

Whisk together oils, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Pour over shredded cabbage. Add sesame seeds and toss to coat cabbage.

As I walked about Austin snapping pictures of beautiful, interesting food, I’m quite sure I was helping “keep Austin weird”, as the slogan goes!  Enjoy food made fresh!


Farm Stand Pasta Salad

Angela Lopez - Sunday, September 09, 2012

My resent trip to the apple orchard resulted in a couple of surprises. Besides apples, the orchard I frequent has loads of other fresh produce in the summertime. They sent me home with Armenian cucumbers, and fooled-ya-jalapeños. Well, I’m not real sure that was the actual name of the pepper, but it is a new variety designed to give us the same taste we love in the jalapeño, but without the heat. They are excellent. Another nice treat I took home was Kohlrabi. We peel it and slice it and eat it raw like radishes or jicama.

I chopped up my wealth of fresh, raw vegetables and herbs and tossed with a good vinaigrette for a refreshing, summery pasta salad. Enjoy food made fresh!

 

Farm Stand Pasta Salad 

1 pound box dry, large pasta shells – cooked per package instructions

1 small zucchini, cubed into bite-size pieces

1 small yellow squash, cubed into bite-size pieces

1 small red onion, diced

1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, diced

1 or 2 mild jalapeños, finely diced

1 large tomato, chopped

Handful of fresh parsley, rough-chopped

Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup rice vinegar or other vinegar of your choice

1 tablespoon good mayo

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 teaspoons fresh herbs, chopped – or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Prepare pasta per package instructions. Drain and cool. Toss raw veggies with pasta in large bowl. Whisk together all dressing ingredients and pour over pasta and veggies. Toss to coat. For a heartier version, we like to add a small package of pepperonis cut in half, and cubes of cheddar or a good sprinkling of parmesan.


Fruit Salad Yogurt

Angela Lopez - Tuesday, July 03, 2012

 

This time of year I start to think more about what I’m eating.  Is it figure-friendly, am I going to want to wear summer clothes or hide behind the big, loose sweater that winter wrapped me in?  And as summer rapidly approaches and the days get hotter, I’m reminded that I might just have an occasion that would call for putting on a swimsuit.  Somehow, each year I manage to avoid these times.  I crinkle my nose and say things like “I’m going to have to get one of those spray-on tans first.”  Consequently, I’m starting to get nervous as I hear of neighbors and family cleaning and filling their pools.  My mind goes back to happier, carefree swimsuit days when as a child one can get by with wearing a two-piece with a little Kool-Aide stained, pooch-y belly.

 

Each year I flip through catalogs looking at swimsuits that claim to “shrink” you by a whole size.  I guess they’re ok….if you can stand the tight feeling similar to what you might experience  if a Boa Constrictor wrapped itself around you.  I recall that when I was a little girl, my parents would put up a little pop-up pool for me and the neighborhood kids to splash around in on sweltering hot days.  My mom would come out in this old-fashioned turquoise one-piece….. which she rocked, by the way.  She looked fabulous without having to feel tight and clingy.

 

While we lived in Florida when my kids were young, I tried to keep a suit on standby in the bottom of my dresser.  We lived across the street from the Atlantic Ocean for crying out loud; I really needed to casually throw on a suit and skip across the street to the beach at any given moment.  One day, I must have felt particularly uncomfortable about exposing my soul – I told my little son that I could take him to the shore but I didn’t want to wear a suit.  “Why”, he sweetly asked.  I said, “Baby, I just don’t have a good one to wear right now.”  He replied, “Yes, you do – remember that great big red one in the bottom drawer?”  God love him.

 

Back then, on a hot day when I didn’t want to heat up my kitchen, I would try to entice my kids by telling them we were going to have “cold plates” for dinner.  I tried to make it sound exciting but I’m not sure they ever bought into the catchy name.  However, they always welcomed a cool meal on a hot summer evening.  I would slice cantaloupe and cucumbers, and roll up pieces of deli meat and cheese, then arrange them on their plates.  Or make tuna salad with a side of cottage cheese and pickles.  Another option I like on a sweltering day is a big fruit salad.  I had something similar to this one a few years ago made with sour cream.  But, I really like to lighten it up by using a non-fat, Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream.  Greek yogurt is thick and rich, and is high in protein.  There are many good ones on the market, now.  This is a dish I don’t feel guilty about eating.  It’s healthy and fresh, and may even help me wiggle into that swimsuit in the bottom drawer.

 

The tangy, smooth, creamy yogurt mixed with the sweetness of the coconut and fruit, and the crunchy walnuts make for a wonderfully refreshing, cool side dish or snack.  Enjoy food made fresh! 


Fruit Salad Yogurt

1 cup non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
1 cup green grapes, sliced into halves
1 – 11 ounce can Mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup flaked coconut

 

Fold fruit, nuts, and coconut into the yogurt and serve.  Makes 4 servings.  (Pineapple tidbits may also be added if you desire.)