Salads, Side Dishes

Recipe—Crunchy Pea Salad

Crunchy Pea Salad

Whenever you go to a BBQ there is typically the classic macaroni and potato salad. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE both of those dishes but with back-to-back BBQs throughout the summer I sometimes am looking for a way to mix things up a bit. This pea salad was a welcome addition to a BBQ I went to last weekend. It was very refreshing and light. There is a nice sweet flavor to this salad similar to a coleslaw. If you are looking for a tasty summer salad for lunch or dinner give this a try. You can have the whole thing thrown together in 5 minutes. You will find the hard part is just waiting for it to chill. The unique combination of flavors go together incredibly well. This is one of those salads that you may not quite be sure of, but once you give it a try you and your guests will keep going back for more of it.

Note: I made this a day ahead of time and it was awesome! Feel free to make it a day in advance if you need to.

INGREDIENTS
12 oz bag frozen sweet peas, thawed
1 c peanuts
1/4 c green onions, chopped
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 c craisins
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • In a large mixing bowl combine sweet peas, peanuts, green onions, bacon pieces, and craisins.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to combine.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Recipe adapted from Sugar n’ Spice Gals.

Side Dishes

Recipe—Cracked Corn and Cheese Cornbread Muffins

Cracked Corn and Cheese Cornbread Muffins

I am not one to just make something out of the box without tinkering with it. I’m sort of like a dog, I want to make my mark, make it my own. I love the convenience of those little boxes of the Jiffy corn muffin mix but it’s fun to add a little pizzazz. This recipe takes a plain old-fashioned corn muffin and gives it a little extra oomph. I add some corn kernels, pepper jack cheese, and a handful of green onions. This gives them a nice texture with the bits of corn, a nice little bite, and the cheese is like a gooey surprise in the middle. The kids will flip over these!

Note: If you are concerned about the spice of pepper jack cheese just use regular jack. 

INGREDIENTS
8.5 oz package of Jiffy corn muffin mix
1/2 c pepper jack cheese cut into 1/4” cubes
1/2 c corn (frozen or canned will work)
2 green onions, chopped

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • Prepare corn muffin mix per package instructions.
  • Stir in cheese, corn, and green onions.
  • Prepare muffin pan with liner cups and evenly distribute the muffin mix in each cup filling up about 2/3 of the way.
  • Bake for 18–20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

Love this idea for corn muffins? Then perhaps you will like these!

Jalapeño Cheddar Corn Bread Muffins

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Muffins

Salads, Side Dishes

Recipe—Orzo Pesto Pasta

In my office we all have a habit of bringing in various treats to share with each other throughout the year. (I know rough environment to be working in right?) Several years back we had an awesome (student assistant named Sarah. One day Sarah brought in this incredible orzo pesto pasta salad. I was in love! (With both Sarah and her pasta. Sarah was awesome.) She made her own pesto from scratch and I will not lie, I was impressed. This is the perfect summer salad. You have the seasonally fresh tomatoes and zucchini mixed with tangy vinegar and pesto giving it a wonderfully light and refreshing flavor. I make it several times of year and whenever I am generous enough to share with my friends I am asked for the recipe. It is definitely a favorite in our household. My son was even eating it by the bowlful when he was 1 1/2 years old. If you are looking for a tasty recipe for any summer cookouts or BBQs then search no further. This is perfect. While that little box of orzo may not look like much, it expands a great deal so this makes a very decent sized bowl of the tasty pasta salad.

Note: I save a couple of tablespoons of the feta and pine nuts to garnish the top of the salad with.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb box of orzo pasta, uncooked
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium zucchini, cut into quarters lengthwise and then sliced
salt and pepper
4 oz feta cheese crumbles (see above note)
2 c pesto (make your own or get some from the market to save time)
3/4 c white vinegar
2 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 c pine nuts

STEPS

  • Cook orzo pasta per package instructions.
  • While the orzo is cooking, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add zucchini and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook the zucchini for 3–4 minutes just slightly cooking it and then remove from heat.
  • Drain the orzo and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the feta and pesto stirring to combine.
  • Drizzle the vinegar while stirring.
  • Stir in the cooked zucchini, tomatoes, and pine nuts.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with extra feta and pine nuts if you saved any.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2–3 hours before serving.
Salads

Recipe—Bok Choy and Carrot Slaw in a Tangy Sesame Soy Vinaigrette

I really wanted to cook some seared ahi the other night and I was looking for the perfect side dish. Well low and behold! There was bok choy in my produce box that week so I knew exactly what to do.  A light and refreshing Asian inspired slaw. It was perfect for the warm summer night and was exactly what my gorgeous piece of ahi needed. Something not too heavy but loaded with flavors that would complement the simplicity of the fish. The dressing for this slaw is tangy, sweet, has a nice sesame flavor, and just a little bite from the fresh garlic. This is great for any Asian inspired dinner you have planned. I also had it with some chicken teriyaki and it was killer! This super fabulous recipe takes less than five minutes to make and is super low cal. Delicious and nutritious!

Note: Dressing can be made a couple of days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Then just toss the salad and the dressing right before serving.

INGREDIENTS
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 tsp sesame seeds (plus more for garnish if desired)
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp olive oil
2–3 large baby bok choy, thinly sliced (about 4–6 c)
1/2 c shredded carrots

STEPS

  • In a small bowl whisk together the garlic, sesame seeds, honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and olive oil until well combined.
  • Pour the vinaigrette over the sliced bok choy and shredded carrots and toss to coat.
  • Garnish with extra sesame seeds if desired.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Cozy Apron.

Side Dishes, Snacks

Recipe—Roasted Fennel Fries

Awhile back I posted a recipe for kale chips. Kale chips are a delicious and healthy snack that my son absolutely loved. I was eager to find more recipes that were just as simple, tasty, and nutritious. I recently used the same seasoning and cooking technique with roasted fennel and had fabulous results. These roasted fennel fries were absolutely addicting. My son and I could not stop eating them! We didn’t even waste time getting out a plate. I kid you not, we were eating the pieces straight off the baking sheet. They were that good! Think french fries, but without the calories and even more flavorful. Roasted fennel fries are not only a great snack but they also make a great side dish for any dinner. Just be sure you make enough because these fries will go fast!

INGREDIENTS

2 large fennel bulbs, fronds removed and sliced into 1/3” thick pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place the fennel slices in a single layer.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place in the oven and cook for 30–45 minutes flipping once halfway through.
  • Bake until the fennel is fork tender and a golden brown.
Side Dishes

Recipe—Zucchini and Tomato Gratin

Out of all of the seasons, I love the summer most. Not just because of my lazy poolside days, baseball games, refreshing beverages, or little summer dresses, but because of the abundance and variety of incredible produce. It is something that people in California take for granted. Every year we grow a couple of cherry tomatoes plants in out backyard. My son can hardly wait for them to ripen and as soon as they do he eats them right off of the plant. Sweet, warm, vine ripened tomatoes. Yummmmmm…there is nothing like them. We seem to have a bowl full on our counter all summer long. The other veggie we seem to never get enough of during the summer is zucchini. Zucchini and tomatoes are a wonderful pair, and when you add in some quality parmesan cheese and fresh basil, delish! When I first tried this recipe for zucchini and tomato gratin I knew it was a recipe I would be making all summer long. Serve it up on it’s own with some pasta or as a side with your favorite protein, either way it is a perfect summertime dish.

INGREDIENTS
sweet Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
olive oil
3 medium zucchini, sliced
1 leek, sliced and thoroughly washed
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 c parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c Italian bread crumbs
1 1/2 c cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 425º.
  • Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of large cast iron skillet.
  • Separate the onions rings, place them in the bottom of the skillet, and drizzle with a little olive oil.
  • Add half of the sliced zucchini, half of the leeks, and all of the garlic to the pan.
  • Sprinkle with a 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese and a 3/4 cup of the breadcrumbs.
  • Drizzle with additional olive oil.
  • Add the remaining zucchini, remaining leeks, and all of the cherry tomatoes to the pan and drizzle with more olive oil.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese and a 3/4 cup of the breadcrumbs.
  • Drizzle with a tad more olive oil.
  • Bake entire pan in the oven for 25–30 minutes.
  • Turn on the broiler and finish the dish off under the broiler for 2–3 minutes or until it is golden brown on top.
  • Garnish with fresh basil.

Recipe adapted from Proud Italian Cook.

Dinners

Recipe—Summertime Rosemary Lemon Chicken with Veggies

This is one of those fabulous recipes you will want to make all summer long. Here are the reasons why I think you will love this recipe:

  1. It’s an entire dinner done in one skillet (easy cleanup)
  2. It takes under 25 minutes to make
  3. It’s incredibly healthy (low cal and low carb)
  4. It utilizes fresh summer veggies
  5. It tastes and looks fabulous!

Do you really need more reasons than that to give this recipe a try?

INGREDIENTS
2 large or 4 small, boneless skinless chicken breasts
kosher salt and black pepper
3 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped and divided
1 tbsp olive oil
2 yellow squash or zucchini, sliced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 c green beans, cut in half
2 lemons
1/4 c white wine

STEPS

  • Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat.
  • In a small bowl combine 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of the rosemary.
  • Season both sides of the chicken breasts with the seasoning mix.
  • Drizzle the olive oil in the skillet and add the prepared chicken breasts.
  • Cook chicken on both sides until cooked through.
  • Add the squash, carrots, and green beans to the skillet.
  • Squeeze the juice of the two lemons into the skillet and add in the white wine.
  • Season the veggies with the remaining tablespoon of rosemary and some additional salt and pepper.
  • Place the chicken breast on top of the vegetables and bring to a boil.
  • Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes or until the veggies are cooked to desired doneness.

Recipe adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian.

Side Dishes

Recipe—Cauliflower and White Cheddar Gratin

I was never much of a cauliflower fan growing up and now as an adult I just can’t get enough of the stuff. Sorry mom, but I think you were making it all wrong! The trick is to smoother it in cheese and all sorts of other wonderful flavors. I made this dish the other night and I’m embarrassed to admit that my husband, son, and I finished off the entire dish. All of it! Okay, so my son probably only ate it because I told him it was mac n’ cheese. Is that bad? Apparently we just couldn’t get enough of the creamy cheese sauce and crispy panko topping. We enjoyed this with some cooked greens and a juicy steak. It was delish! If you are having a hard time getting your kids (or even your spouses) to eat their cauliflower, give this recipe a try.  Maybe you’ve just been making it wrong. 😉

INGREDIENTS
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
4 tbsp butter, divided
3 tbsp flour
1 1/2 c milk
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 c white cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 c panko

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • Place the cauliflower florets on a large baking sheet.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Toss cauliflower to coat.
  • Roast the cauliflower until lightly browned, about 20–25 minutes.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350º.
  • In a large saucepan melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat.
  • Whisk in the flour and let it cook until it starts to turn a light golden color.
  • Whisk in the milk, nutmeg, cheese, and some salt and pepper.
  • Cook until the cheese is completely melted and the sauce thickens.
  • Add the roasted cauliflower to the cheese sauce and transfer to a square-baking dish (9” x 9” or 8” x 8” works great).
  • In a small microwave safe bowl melt the remaining tablespoon of butter.
  • Add the panko crumbs to the melted butter and stir to combine.
  • Sprinkle the buttered panko over the cheesy cauliflower.
  • Bake the gratin in the oven until it is bubbling and the panko is golden brown, about 15–20 minutes.
Uncategorized

Father’s Day Meal Ideas (My Hubby’s Top 12 Picks)

Fathers Day Menu Ideas

Father’s day is just around the corner and there are going to be some hungry men hoping to get a day off in the kitchen or on the grille. While many people may enjoy going out, my hubby is more partial to a nice home cooked lunch or dinner with the fam. Rather trying to guess what recipes I think the men in our lives would like I went straight to the source and got a male perspective. I asked my husband to sort through my entire archive of recipes and pick out his top 12 favorite recipes that I have featured on my blog. So if you are looking for some ideas on what to cook for dad this year, here are some great ideas that work for lunch or dinner. Give any of these a try and you will make the man or men in your life extremely happy.

Hubby's Top 12 Pick's

  1. Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade
  2. Western Bacon Jalapeño Poppers
  3. Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Truffles
  4. Toffee Apple Dip
  5. Crock-Pot Shredded Beef Tacos
  6. Limoncello Chicken
  7. Macadamia Nut Crusted Halibut
  8. Chicken and Cheese Stuffed Sammy
  9. Crock-Pot Pale Ale BBQ Chicken Sandos
  10. Cheesy Mac Attack A.K.A. Macaroni N’ Cheese
  11. Loaded Baked Cauliflower
  12. Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cob
Side Dishes

Recipe—Lemon Chive Rice

Sometimes pairing side dishes with entrees can be a daunting task. If you aren’t quite sure what to serve with a main course, consider rice. Rice is incredibly versatile! Just toss in a couple of ingredients that complement the flavors of your main dish and you’ve got it made! I actually made this rice dish the other night to pair with macadamia nut crusted halibut. I love fish with some fresh lemon! This had just the right amount of zest to it so it wasn’t an overpowering flavor. This rice would also go great with some baked or grilled chicken. I find myself cooking with lots of citrus throughout the warmer months of the year. There is just something so refreshing about fresh citrus of any kind. This is definitely a side dish that the whole family will enjoy.

INGREDIENTS
3 tbsp butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 c rice
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp lemon zest, divided
3 c chicken broth
2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the onions and sauté until transparent.
  • Add the rice and the turmeric and stir until all the grains of rice are coated.
  • Stir in half of the lemon peel and all of the chicken broth.
  • Bring to a full boil over medium-high heat.
  • Cover and reduce heat to low.
  • Simmer for 20–25 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let rice sit covered for 8–10 minutes.
  • Fluff rice with a fork.
  • Stir in remaining lemon peel, chives, salt, and pepper.