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an everyday side

Are you looking for an easy and family friendly side dish?

cauliflower

Look not further, this is it.

It’s as easy as steaming and mashing a whole head of cauliflower, core and tender leaves included.

tender leaves only

Add a little Parmesan, serve with chicken or fish and dinner is on the table in no time.

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October 15, 2013   No Comments

best broccoli – ever

My intention was to give you another recipe using up the polenta trimmings from this recipe.

That has been put on the back burner. Instead, I could not wait to share with you our family’s new favorite way to eat broccoli.

easy peasy lemon squeezy

Bonus: The recipe is easy peasy lemon squeezy. It has three ingredients… well five, if you count the salt and pepper.

All you need is a head of broccoli, a bit of olive oil, and 3 garlic cloves. I like to use the 3 pound bag of broccoli florets from Costco.

save for next batch

I use half of it one night, saving the zip-lock bag I’ve tossed the broccoli in (fold it up and stick right into the bag with the broccoli) throw that in the fridge and then pull it out, a night or two later, and make another batch.

Warning: This stuff  is toasted, roasted, crispy, crunchy, and completely addicting!

Important Tip: Do not wash the broccoli right before using, do it well ahead of time and allow to dry completely, otherwise your roasted broccoli will not crisp up the way you need it to.

I like the broccoli just as the recipe is written, but feel free to “jazz it up” with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, just before you put it on the table. Then watch it disappear!

Note: Maybe you’ve already seen something close to this recipe. For example, Ina Garten’s Barefood Contessa Back to Basics cookbook from 2008 has a Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli recipe in it. It has 8 ingredients – plus salt and pepper. I made Ina’s recipe, way back then, and although we liked it… we love this streamlined version.

One More Tip: The recipe serves four. If you have four people, I guarantee there will not be leftovers. If you only have two people, there still may not be leftovers… but if there is, do not reheat in the microwave! Fire up that oven and throw the leftovers back in for 5 to 8 minutes to re-crisp. The microwave ruins it! Zaps the crispness, the crunchiness, all the goodness from it! Trust me, I learned the hard way.

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September 12, 2013   1 Comment

simple stir-fry

I really love stir-fry. When I have a plethora of fresh vegetables on hand, there is nothing I’d rather make.

stir fry equipment

With a little prep, a nutritious and colorful dinner comes together in a matter of minutes.

More often than not, I don’t even take the time to make rice. None of my family seems to miss it, so why bother?

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August 28, 2013   1 Comment

tapas week

Have I ever told you how much I completely and totally L-O-V-E it when someone cooks for me? Actually, they don’t even have to cook for me.

What I meant to say is “how much I love it when someone feeds me.” It can be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or an elaborate 5-course meal. Honestly, either one is a huge treat!

seasoned with loveJust about the worst thing you can say to any cooking professional is, “I could never cook for you, I’d be so intimidated.”

What!?!?

We, of all people, know the love and work that goes into preparing food for another. Don’t leave us out – we need love too!

One of my friends who understands this is Peggy. She never hesitates to cook for me. As a matter of fact, Peggy invited her sister Terrie, Anne, and me over for dinner the weekend before last. Well, we thought it would be dinner, instead it turned out to be tapas – even better!

As always, we had fun catching up, laughing up a storm, and just being together. And the food? Fantastic, of course!

3 tapas

Peggy made all four of the dishes from one cookbook: Tapas – Tantalizing Small Plates from the Mediterranean by Pamela Clark. Funny thing is, she thinks she may have gotten the book from me when I had THIS party.

I’ll share the recipe for each dish over the coming week. Today, I’m sharing my favorite of the four.

Oh yes, all the recipes are altered slightly from the original version. For instance, I doubled the relish and more flour was needed for a better consistency fritter batter. Plus, salt was added, the fritters really needed SALT! There wasn’t any in the original recipe.

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August 12, 2013   2 Comments

absurbly yummy asparagus

Asparagus is one of our family’s favorite vegetables. It’s nearly always available in a 2-pound package at Costco, for a great price.

pancetta from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe’s sells asparagus’ perfect match, pancetta, in the perfect size container, already cut into the perfect size dice. It doesn’t get much easier than this.

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August 5, 2013   1 Comment

package dinner

thighs and veggies

It’s hard to get back into the groove of making dinner after a 3-week trip away from home. This all-in-one meal was the perfect “ease into it” dinner to get me up and going again.

lots o rain

I had planned on cooking the chicken and vegetable foil packets outside on the grill, but we had torrential downpours all day long. Not that I’m complaining! We LOVE rain in AZ and using the oven worked just as well.

carol's porch

Yes, we love rain in the desert, even when it floods our backyards and patios – as it did at my neighbor, Carol’s, house. Carol posted this on her Facebook page yesterday and graciously allowed me to use it.

I was out driving around in the flooded streets, determined to get to Sweet Salvage this month. More on that tomorrow.

AZ arial

I not only love rain, I also LOVE coming home, no matter how wonderful a trip we’ve had. I try to get the window seat on the plane because it brings me complete joy to look at my beloved Arizona and my hometown when we fly over it. Yep, it may be cliche, but there really is no place like home.

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July 22, 2013   2 Comments

cool-down salad

It’s HOT. Here is a cold refreshing salad to help cool you down. Throw in some rotisserie chicken if you want to make it a main course.

Now go sit under a fan or jump in the pool.

Enough said.

slaw and dressing

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July 2, 2013   2 Comments

Crudités Mexican Flag for Cinco de Mayo

Are you hosting or attending a Cinco de Mayo party this weekend?

If so, I have the perfect thing for you to serve or bring.

Crudites Mexican Flag for Cinco de Mayo

Serve these flag inspired crudités with your favorite dip or salsa.

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May 2, 2013   2 Comments

reminiscing

For those of you who are over, let’s say 35, do you remember way back in the 80′s when one of the most popular appetizers in just about every hip eatery was Deep-Fried Mushrooms and Zucchini?

Those were the days, weren’t they?

dfzm

Magical Days.

Wonderfully magical, I tell you!

Every weekend at happy hour, we’d waltz into Lunt Avenue Marble Club and eat a huge platter of those crunchy delights. Dipping them into a creamy white dipping sauce …  and not gain a pound!

And at that heavenly happy hour, you could order 2 for 1 cocktails for three bucks and the waitress would deliver both drinks to your table at the same time. Sometimes you’d order your second round before you finished your first, and you’d have four drinks sitting in front of you. At the same time!

Honestly kids, that is not a dream! It used to happen.

The part about not gaining a pound is true too. It may have had a little tiny bit to do with my 20 something metabolism … I miss those days.

I miss Deep-Fried Mushrooms and Zucchini.

I really miss my metabolism!

I miss it all so much that I tried to bring it back for a remix.

These days, just looking at a platter of Deep-Fried Mushrooms and Zucchini would cause me to instantly gain 10, maybe 20 pounds. So, I gave the zucchini a “makeover” – just to see if I could recapture at least a little slice of the glory days.

As far as makeovers go – this was a major fail! As far as your basic low-cal, low-fat, low-cholesterol makeover – it was a fine.

These zucchini rounds are NOTHING like the glory days zucchini, but they are an OK side dish. With that ringing endorsement, I’m sure you’re going to want to run into the kitchen and whip up a batch or two.

I miss the Magical Days!

I used diet cheese puffs for the yellow zucchini and diet honey mustard pretzels for the green zucchini. The cheese puff zucchini was disgusting! I’m only mentioning it because it is shown in the photos. Otherwise I would prefer to forget it completely!

The pretzel variety was tasty … as tasty as diet baked zucchini can be when you are really wishing you were at Lunt Avenue with four cocktails in front of you.

For those of you who still own a 20 something metabolism or are willing to throw caution to the wind… the original recipe for LAMC Deep-Fried Mushrooms and Zucchini is at the end of the post. If you make it, do not let me know. It will only serve to make me feel sad.

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April 23, 2013   3 Comments

the birthday dinner

dinner plate

For our sit-down birthday dinner we had stuffed pork loin, green onion and Parmesan mashed potatoes, and a cold succotash side dish. The potatoes and the succotash have been posted here before, there are links to those recipes near the bottom of this post.

Peggy is not a big fan of beef. Occasionally, she’ll indulge in a hamburger, but put of plate with beef tenderloin in front of her and she turns her nose up at it. (I know, sometimes I think there is something wrong with that girl!)

It was a blessing when you’re feeding 25 people, though! Beef tenderloin would have been on the expensive side, to say the least. But a pork loin – now that is doable!

besties

I was initially planning to use pork tenderloin, but when I compared the price of the loin to the tenderloin – well that made the decision for me. I purchased two huge pork loins at Costco, they were about $18.00 each.

This recipe would work just as well using beef tenderloin, so choose whichever you prefer. If you can’t find Manchego cheese, use Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack instead.

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March 2, 2013   1 Comment