Saturday breakfasts are sorta my thang now. Sundays are usually donut days, and weekdays are quick toast and egg or oatmeal days. Saturday mornings, despite the pancake debacle, have become a special time of week for us. I usually wake up an hour before everyone and get things started without any interruption. It’s a glorious time – no screaming, no asking for anything, and total control of my kitchen.
I have attempted home fries many times in the past. I have usually been left with something of a mish-mash that resembles coarse mashed potatoes. Nothing about that is right. I recently attempted it again determined to get it right. And, huzzah – going into the repertoire. Under a farm fresh over-easy egg, it’s just heaven.
barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- Arrange potatoes in large microwave-safe bowl, top with 1 tablespoon butter, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave until edges of potatoes begin to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes, shaking bowl (without removing plastic) to redistribute potatoes halfway through cooking.
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional two minutes until the onions are golden brown. Transfer to small bowl.
- Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and pack down with spatula. Cook, without moving, until underside of potatoes is brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn potatoes, pack down again, and continue to cook until well browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring potatoes every few minutes, until crusty and golden on all sides, 9 to 12 minutes. Stir in onion, seasonings of your choice and salt and pepper to taste. Try not to mess with the potatoes too much because you don’t want to break them apart.
I can’t walk and drink at the same time. Even with a straw it’s awkwardly done. I can’t really even walk straight for that matter. I zig and zag a lot, and have blamed many a missteps on my poor dog. While I accept that I am clumsy and prone to any accident you can think of, I really just can’t handle the basics. Whether I subconsciously will myself to fail or if I just can’t understand it, certain basic things are just really hard for me.
If you will entertain me, rice is one of those things. I don’t know why but I had a propensity to mess it up. Too dry. Too mushy. Undercooked. Whatever you want to say, it was always off. And, then I baked it, which I thought was the answer. It was perfectly cooked and tasted wonderful the day of. However, leftovers were back to being slightly dry.
Then, I went to my mother. Why was she the last resort? If you met my mother, you would understand that I would never hear the last of it. I haven’t. But, it was well worth it. Unlike most people and sites I have checked, my mom does not let the water absorb into the rice (the way I make quinoa). She boils the rice and strains. Never mushy. Perfectly cooked. And, the test that it works – leftovers are perfect, as well.
Perfect Brown Rice
from my mother
- 1 cup brown rice
- 5 cups of water
- Clean the rice by rinsing it thoroughly under cold water.
- Bring water in a large pot to boil on high.
- Once boiling, add rice, bring back to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to medium and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the rice is tender.
- Once ready, remove the pot from heat. Drain the rice and put the drained rice back into the pot (off heat). Cover with a lid until ready to serve.
*You can increase the water if you want more rice, of course. Just make sure the rice is completely and utterly covered and has enough room to boil. Think similarly to pasta and water.
With summer coming to a close, I’m desperately clinging to all the seasonal fruit I can get my hands on. Bar none, mango is my absolute favorite fruit. I rarely cook or use it in a dish because I always end up eating it just as it is. However, when I recently tried a mango salsa, I was motivated to start using it in dishes to give a vibrancy to capture the essence of summer.
I developed this recipe to satisfy my sweet tooth and also to add to my breakfast/brunch options. Combining mango and mint with earthy quinoa, raisins and nuts offers different dimensions of flavor in a dish that packs a nutritional punch. Adding the orange-honey-cardamom dressing is just the icing on the healthy cake.
Fruity Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups water
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/8 cup golden raisins, roughly chopped
- 1/4 nuts (I used a mix of chopped almonds, pecans, cashews and walnuts)
- 1 large mango, peeled and diced
- 2 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
- Cook the quinoa. Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Roast the quinoa for about 3 minutes in the hot saucepan, stirring occasionally. Add water, stir and turn up heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to simmer and cover with a lid. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off stove and remove from the heat for about 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- In a pan, melt butter and add raisins and nuts. Stir to coat and cook until the raisins plump up a bit and the nuts a roasted, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, add the quinoa, nut mixture, mango and mint.
- In a small bowl, mix together the orange zest, orange juice, vanilla extract and cardamom. Pour over salad until fully coated.
- Let mixture sit for about 15 minutes before serving.
Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables that I don’t eat nearly as often as I should or would like. I prefer it plain with a dash of salt. As I’m more comfortable using my oven than attempting to steam something into mush, roasting is my favorite way to cook this beautiful vegetable. In addition to being easy, the flavor is just outstanding. Hit with a bit of kosher salt and olive oil, this has become a go-to side dish to pair with many types of cuisines.
I know this is not a complicated recipe or really even a recipe for that matter as much as it a how-to on a basic dish. But, sometimes we just have to be reminded that the simplest things are usually what makes it into the weekly menu rotation. Easily modified and adapted to whatever main course you are preparing, this is a great base recipe.
adapted from Ina Garten
- 1 bunch of broccoli, cut into florets (I also keep the stems)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Toss the broccoli with the olive oil.
- Lay out an even layer on a cookie sheet.
- Sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Bake for 20 minutes, until the florets are tender and some may have browned edges.
We all have our happy places, don’t we? It’s slipping into your favorite pajamas and socks after a long day’s work and just planting it in front of the TV. Or, the spot between my puppy’s neck and shoulder that seems to be the best place for a nuzzle. Lately, watching my kid belly laugh while I ‘gobble up’ his feet. And, a big bowl of macaroni and cheese.
I’m quite picky about my macaroni and cheese. So many people make it incorrectly, don’t you think? Sometimes it’s too watery (the worst) or too dry (big no no). The best mac and cheese has cheese – and, a lot of it. Not just cheese sauce, but the cheese blend that coats each nook and cranny of a macaroni.
While I have only enjoyed the traditional macaroni and cheese, with my new pesto stash, I wanted to experiment and give one of my favorite dishes a different flavor profile without sacrificing the creamy-cheesy foundation of the dish. And, while I wanted to stop at several steps ahead, proclaiming it’s perfect, keep going. Adding the roasted red bell pepper and the crunchy buttery topping will only build upon the flavors. But, for some reason if you didn’t have the ingredients or didn’t want to mix in the red peppers or the Panko crust, just know that it’s delicious on its own, as well.
Pesto Macaroni and Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Peppers
loosely adapted from Aida Mollenkamp
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp basil pesto
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 8 ounces goat cheese
- 2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup basil pesto
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 4 roasted red bell peppers, drained and diced (recipe below)
- Heat a large dutch oven over low heat. Once melted, add the shallow and garlic and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the 1 tbsp of pesto, red pepper flakes, bread crumbs and 3 tbsp of Parmesan and mix to combine. Place the crumb mixture in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a large pot of heavily salted water, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
- Using the same pan, add the half and half and bring to a simmer on the same low heat. You want the mixture to simmer, thicken and reduce, about 5 minutes. Add the shredded mozzarella. Whisk until the cheese has melted and no clumps remain. Add the goat cheese to the cheese mixture and whisk until smooth. Stir in the remaining Parmesan cheese and whisk until melted.
- Add the cooked pasta to the cheese mixture and stir until incorporated. Mix in the 1/2 cup basil pesto, pasta water, salt and pepper. Mix gently to ensure it is evenly distributed and coated. Add additional salt and pepper if you need.
- Gently stir in the roasted peppers until evenly distributed.
- Top with the crumb mixture.
- Place under the dutch oven broiler for no more than 2 minutes until the crust has browned. (If you haven’t been using a dutch oven, just transfer the pasta to a baking dish and place in the oven.) Remove from broiler and let it cool about 5 minutes before serving.
Roasted Red Bell Peppers
adapted from Ina Garten
- 4 red bell peppers
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 500F.
- Arrange bell peppers on a baking sheet.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until skin is charred and wrinkled. Turn them twice during cooking.
- Remove from the oven and immediately place in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.
- Let it sit for about 30 minutes, or until the peppers are cool enough to handle.
- Once cooled, remove the stem, seeds and skin, and place the peppers in a bowl with any juices. Pour the oil over the peppers and store in the refrigerator.
Summers in Texas yield quite a bit of squash as it is quite easy to grow in Texas. Luckily, squash is so versatile that creating dishes from appetizers to desserts are well within its ability. Zucchini squash bread is one of my favorites and makes great gifts. For my Foodbuzz 24×24 menu, however, I wanted to stay on the savory side adding a bit of crunch.
This gratin makes the perfect side dish to almost any meal. Each piece of squash in this dish is perfectly coated with a beautiful herb/oil/butter mixture. I ate plenty of raw pieces and knew this dish would be fantastic. These squash are garden fresh so we only had access to green, but feel free to use whatever type you get your hands on. I’m sure a mix of yellow and green would be beautiful, as well.
This recipe is quite fool-proof yielding now one of my favorite summer side dishes.
Summer Squash Gratin
adapted from 101 Cookbooks
- zest of one lemon
- 1 and 1/2 pounds of summer squash, cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, adjust to spice preference
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Rub a 9×9 or equivalent baking dish with olive oil and lemon zest, and set aside.
- Place the squash slices into a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp kosher salt, mix and set aside to let the water drain out.
- While the squash is “sweating,” make the oregano sauce. You can make the sauce by pureeing oregano, parsley, garlic, salt, red pepper, and oil in a food processor. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the butter is lightly browned and fragrant. Add the breadcrumbs into the browned butter. Thoroughly coat.
- Transfer the squash to a large mixing bowl, oregano sauce, Parmesan cheese and half of the breadcrumbs. Mix until every squash is coated. Taste a couple to check for salt.
- Arrange the squash onto the zest-lined baking dish. Top with the remaining half of the bread crumbs. Bake for 40 minutes and the top should be browned and the squash cooked but not mushy. Serve warm.
If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I liked pimento cheese, I would have said no. A strong harsh no. What I’ve seen in stores as a mayo-heavy cheese mixture with little flavor, never appealed to me in any sense. Never say never. A year ago, for lunch, at a mediation of all places, the mediator served a variety of sandwiches, including the pimento. I tried it. And, I loved it. Unlike the usual pimento cheese spreads, this had a distinct cheddar and pepper taste and was low on the mayo. After an hour, I realized I had eaten all the pimento cheese sandwiches on the platter. Luckily, my client was too nervous to eat or notice.
I have finally recreated a version that I am quote proud of and is delicious. I do not prefer creamier pimento cheese spreads. I like to have a substantial shred of cheddar cheese. My recipe is a twist on the classic. Adding shallots and pickled jalapeno for a crunch and kick. While you can certainly eat it the day of, I recommend letting it sit for at least two hours for the flavors to blend. I let it sit overnight and Binks agreed that the flavors settled better.
- 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated (best if you grate it yourself)
- 1 (4 oz) jar of pimento cheese, diced
- 1 small shallot, finely minced (optional)
- 1 tbsp pickled jalapeno, diced (optional)
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- Mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
I love a one-pot main meal. Even if it is a side dish. A healthy side dish at that. Earthy quinoa mixed with hearty chickpeas and tomatoes with a crisp refreshing lime dressing is really comfort food for the summer. I have made this dish often and have failed to obtain a picture of it as it disappears from my kitchen quickly.
I initially bought quinoa to eat for breakfast, in place of oatmeal. However, I find myself finding savory uses for quinoa instead. Well, what I mean is that I made this recipe and I make it at least once a week. It’s simple, delicious and healthy.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Adapted from Gourmet and cooking the quinoa from Edible Perspective
Yields approximately 4 servings
- zest from 1 lemon
- juice from the 1 zested lemon
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups water
- 1 (15 oz) can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 medium sized tomatoes, diced
- 1 medium sized red onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, butter, olive oil, and salt.
- Cook the quinoa. In a pot, over medium heat, add the cup of quinoa and roast for approximately 2 minutes. Add two cups water, increase to medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Stir once and reduce the heat to obtain a simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes (don’t dare open the lid). Once 15 minutes is up, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the heat. Leave covered for 5 minutes. After five minutes, uncover and fluff with a fork.
- Add the cooked quinoa to the dressing and stir to coat evenly. Let it sit for 5 minutes so the dressing will have a chance to absorb.
- Mix in remaining ingredients and adjust salt as you see fit. Go easy on the pepper.
While I believe we incorporate a good amount of veggies in our household diet, spring time really is a great time to add more to your repertoire. My in-laws have a substantial garden growing by this time and they are quite eager to share. I consider it my family CSA. Recently, they brought over some green beans and red potatoes for me.
I wanted to make a dish to highlight the best of the two ingredients while maintaining the flavor of the food. I kept it simple. A combination of favors with the ease of this dish cannot be beat. I have used this side dish to compliment many main courses, including blackened salmon, which we served on Mother’s Day this year.
While the original recipe did not call for onions, the addition of the same gives the dish a dimension of flavor that I appreciate. If you are not an onion fan, feel free to omit.
What fruits or vegetables do you look forward to during the spring?
Oven Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans
Adapted from The Vanilla Bean Blog who adapted it from Ina Garten and The Joy of Cooking
- 1 pound potatoes, diced large (I prefer the smaller potatoes, i.e. fingerling, small red, small gold.)
- 1/2 large onion, sliced
- 1 pound string green beans, ends removed
- 1/8 cup good olive oil
- 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- In a large bowl, combine the potatoes and onions.
- Toss the potatoes and onions with olive oil to coat.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper.
- Transfer the coated potatoes and onions to a baking sheet.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Toss once while cooking, at the half-way mark.
- After the potatoes are tender, toss in the string beans to the pan.
- Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the beans are tender.
- Remove from the oven and add more salt and/or pepper if you want.