December 29, 2011

Triple Bread Stuffing...It's Not Just For The Holidays!

Triple Bread Stuffing

One of the main reasons the holidays are my favorite time of the year is stuffing! Stuffing (or dressing, depending on what you want to call it) is often neglected during other times of the year and it really is a fabulous side dish no matter what the season.

There are many different ways to make stuffing. My mom makes a really fabulous corn bread stuffing that brings back memories of my childhood. As I've gotten older I've come to like one made with various types of bread instead. Some people add oysters, some people add fruit...In short there is no wrong or right way to make stuffing. What matters is whether YOU like it or not!

To me stuffing needs some basic ingredients and you can't forget the sage! Lots of sage is key! This stuffing is a very simple, yet fabulous side dish that is perfect for any meal. Stuffing...It's not just for the holidays anymore!

What You'll Need:
1/2 loaf of French bread, cut into cubes
1/2 loaf of Callah bread, cut into cubes
12 buttermilk biscuits, cut into cubes (Note: I make these. See below.)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
6 stalks of celery, chopped
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 large carrots, shredded
2 tablespoons of crushed dry sage
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 quart of chicken broth, at room temperature (Note: I make my own, but store bought is fine.)
2 eggs

I usually buy the Callah and French bread, but I make the biscuits. They're simple. In a large bowl mix 2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, 1 tablespoon of baking power and 1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar until completely incorporated. Using a pastry blender or a fork cut in 1 stick of softened butter until mixture is pebbly. Add 1+ cups of buttermilk to this mixture and stir to make your biscuit dough. Sometimes you need more buttermilk, sometimes less. It all has to do with humidity and such. You want a dough that you can handle without sticking to your hands. Roll dough out on a floured surface and cut into biscuits. Bake in a preheated 425 F oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Simple and delicious! If you don't want to make the biscuits you and purchase them at the store. Most freezer sections have frozen buttermilk biscuits these days.

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Cut all three breads into bite sized cubes. Toss with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and bake for 4-6 minutes until golden brown and crouton like.

Remove bread from the oven and let the cubes cool to room temperature.

When you're ready to make the stuffing preheat oven to 375 F.

In a large stock pot saute onion and celery in a little extra virgin olive oil with the sea salt and pepper until just tender. Add the carrots and cook for an additional 1 minute and then remove from heat.

Once the vegetable mixture is off of the heat add the chicken broth, sage and thyme and stir to mix. Slowly add egg and stir until incorporated.

Place cooled bread cubes in a very large bowl and pour the liquid mixture over them and toss to coat.

Pour coated mixture into a 13 X 9 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Serve immediately or you can let it cool and freeze for use later.

Notes: You could add mushrooms in to this for an added treat. You could also use other kinds of bread. It's a mix and match sort of dish.

Posted by Dianne at 1:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 6, 2011

Cheesy Mexican Rice

Cheesy Mexican Rice

Who can believe it's already September? The years seem to go faster and faster every year. Alexis started third grade today. How is it possible that she's even old enough to be in third grade?

But I digress...

On Sunday afternoon we had some friends over for a Tex Mex feast. We had spent the Sundays before Memorial Day and the 4th of July together, so I decided we needed to make it a trifecta with Labor Day and invited them over for an early dinner. The kids played, we talked, we ate, we had fun! That's what friends are for.

Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing some of the recipes from Sunday. You'll see queso, sour cream enciladas and a fabulous Triple Chocolate Ganache Cake that is so sinful you might just gain five pounds looking at the screen! I've also got a roasted vegetable enchilada recipe that I made a month ago or so, along with Cheesy Potato skins and honey butter. You'll want to stay tuned for the queso and Chocolate Ganache Cake alone, but the other recipes are lovely too!

I love Mexican themed foods. My dishes are most likely labeled more Tex Mex than Mexican, but I use the terms interchangeably depending on my mood. This dish is the very epitome of comfort food...It's warm, hearty and extremely satisfying. Plus it's a little spicy, which is always a good thing in my book! It makes the perfect side dish to a Tex Mex/Mexican feast. Try it, you'll like it!

What You'll Need:
2 cups of uncooked rice (Note: You can use whatever kind of rice you like. I usually use jasmine or brown rice. I used jasmine this go around)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 bell pepper, chopped (Note: Use what ever color you like.)
1 onion, chopped (Note: Again what ever type you like. I usually use red onion, but this go around I used Vidalia instead.)
3 cups of creamed corn (Note: I used some I had made myself, but you could substitute two cans of creamed corn if you like.)
1 can of Rotel, undrained
1 - 6 ounce can of fired roasted peppers, chopped
1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, cut in to cubes and softened
1 cup of Colby or cheddar
1 cup of Monterrey Jack
Sea salt
Finely ground black pepper
More cheddar, Colby and/or Monterrey Jack Cheese for topping

In a large stock pot cook rice according to package directions and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a large skillet saute bell pepper and onion in a little extra virgin olive oil until tender.

Once onions and peppers are tender stir in a generous pinch of sea salt, some finely ground black pepper, creamed corn, fired roasted peppers and Rotel and stir until mixed.

Add cream cheese, Colby or Cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese to the vegetable mixture and stir until melted and thoroughly combined throughout the vegetables.

Pour vegetable and cheese mixture in to the stock pot with the cooked rice and stir until combined.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch dish with non-stick spray or brush with olive oil. Pour the mixed vegetable mixture into the dish and spread it out to fill the dish. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with shredded Colby, cheddar and/or Monterrey Jack cheese(s) and place back in the oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Remove dish from oven and let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

Cheesy Mexican Rice

Notes: If you can't find Rotel you could use a small jar of salsa instead, but the Rotel gives it a better over all flavor. This makes great leftovers too!

Posted by Dianne at 1:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 29, 2010

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes

I have always loved scalloped potatoes. I mean what's not to like? Potatoes, cheese? It's the perfect comfort food! I always had this impression that they would be hard to make. It's another one of those things I just assumed was difficult and well you know what they say about assuming....

Lately I've grown tired of mashed potatoes because Jamison eats way too many of them so I thought I'd play around with this mixture and see what I came up with. The result? The result is a creamy, savory bite of fabulousness! Even Jamison liked these and that's saying something!

This dish is simple, quick and makes a really great side dish that is just perfect for a holiday or even a weeknight dinner. Try it and see!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
Russet potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
Sea salt
Black pepper
Cheddar, shredded
Half and half or heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Brush a baking dish with olive oil to prevent sticking.

Add a layer of potatoes to the bottom of the dish:

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes: Potatoes

Next sprinkle with sea salt and finely ground black pepper:

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes: Sea Salt and Pepper

Top with a layer of cheese:

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes: Cheese

Repeat this process until you reach the top of your baking dish and top with a thick layer of cheddar.

Next pour half and half or heavy cream over the entire mixture until 1/4th of the dish is filled with the liquid. Makes sure you spread it out all over the top as you pour.

Place on a baking sheet to prevent spills and bake for 35-45 minutes until fork tender:

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes

Let sit for 5-10 minutes and then serve.

Notes: You can use a mix of different cheeses if you like. Monterrey Jack, Gruyere, Parmesan, Gouda, etc. I like to bake this in individual serving dishes sometimes.

Posted by Dianne at 10:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 20, 2010

Creamed Corn

Creamed Corn

Even though fall weather is settling in (And thank goodness for that! I'm more than tired of this way too hot summer we've had!) you can still find fabulous, fresh local produce. One of my favorite summer gems after tomatoes and cucumbers is corn. This grain is so versatile!

Fresh corn is fabulous, but after a few rounds of corn on the cob, or corn removed from the cob I like to shake things up a bit. Soups are always a good choice. Or you can make a multitude of salads utilizing fresh corn.

As a child I used to love creamed corn. I haven't had it in years because I rarely eat things out of metal cans anymore and prefer frozen vegetables instead. I have never found a frozen version of the creamed variety. I keep looking, but I've never had any luck.

A while ago I saw a recipe for creamed corn in Washingtonian magazine. It wasn't exactly what I was looking for, given it had shallots in it among other things I can't remember at the moment, and I wanted something a little more pure...A little more old fashioned if you will. So I took their theory and went out on my own as I often do and the results were fabulous!

I ended up freezing most of what I made since I'm the only one that would eat creamed corn in the house. I plan on using some to make corn casserole at Thanksgiving. Whether you eat it now, or freeze it for later, you have a really fabulous, really basic creamed corn that will hit the spot!

What You'll Need:
4 tablespoons of butter, divided
10 ears of corn, kernels removed
2+ cups of half and half, divided

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large stock pot. Be careful not to brown the butter.

Creamed Corn: Corn Removed From Cob

While butter is melting remove corn kernels from the cob. When all the kernels are loose place 1/2 of the kernels in the melted butter and saute for 5 minutes stirring often. You want the corn to become slightly tender, you don't want it to brown.

Creamed Corn: Corn Kernels

While corn kernels are cooking take remaining kernels and process until relatively smooth in a food processor or blender:

Creamed Corn: Corn Creamed

Add corn mixture to the kernels in the pot, along with a cup of half and half and 1 tablespoon of butter. Cook over low heat, stirring often to prevent browning. Cook until the mixture thickens and the half and half is reduced.

Creamed Corn: Cooking

Next repeat the previous step and cook again until it has thicken and reduced more. At this point you have a pretty fabulous creamed corn. If the corn still seems that it needs to be a bit more tender you can repeat the step of adding the half and half minus the butter as often as you like until it reaches the consistency you like, but two rounds should do it.

Let rest for 5 or 10 minutes and serve.

Notes: A lot of the recipes I came across called for sugar to be added. I don't see that is necessary since corn is sweet in and of itself.

Posted by Dianne at 12:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 19, 2010

Summer Time Mexican Rice

Summer Time Mexican Rice

I've mentioned in the past (many, many, many times) my adoration of Mexican cuisine. Any time someone suggests Mexican I'm there! I make my versions of Mexican dishes at home as well and this is one of my favorites. It's not completely authentic, but it's tasty so that's all that matters!

This time of year I like to utilize the abundance of tomatoes and peppers that sometimes pile up. This is a quick and easy dish that you cook entirely in the microwave, making it ideal for those hot summer days! Not to mention the fact it's really delicious. What's not to like about that?

So grab those summer veggies and lets get started!

What You'll Need:
1 cup of instant rice (Note: You can use white or brown.)
2 cups of tomatoes, chopped
2 ears of corn, kernels removed (Note: You can use left over corn that is cooked or add it in raw. Either way works.)
1/2 a large red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 tablespoon of paprika
1/4 to 1 teaspoon of cayenne (Note: More if you like it hot, less if you don't. You can leave this out all together if you prefer.)
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 bunch of chives, chopped (Note: About 1/3 to 1/2 cup.)
2 cups of water

First place rice in the bottom of a large glass dish. (Note: You'll need one with a lid.) Next add tomatoes:

Summer Time Mexican Rice: Rice and Tomatoes

Then add corn kernels:

Summer Time Mexican Rice: Corn

Then add red onion:

Summer Time Mexican Rice: Red Onion

Have I mentioned lately how much it annoys me that something that is purple is called red? No? Well then there you go! ;oP

Anyway....

After the onion add bell pepper:

Summer Time Mexican Rice: Bell Pepper

You can use whatever color you have on hand. I used a yellow variety this go around.

Sprinkle chili powder, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, chives and sea salt over the top of the veggies:

Summer Time Mexican Rice: Spices

And last add the water:

Summer Time Mexican Rice: Ready to Cook

Place lid on the dish and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Remove lid and stir. Replace lid and microwave on 3-5 minute intervals until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Be sure to keep an eye on this toward the end. You don't want it to "boil" over in the microwave and make a mess. Not that I've done that before or anything! ;oP

Remove lid and stir. Place lid back on the dish and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: You can add in beans too if you like. I like black or red in this dish.

Posted by Dianne at 10:33 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 10, 2010

Easy Peasy Mexican Rice

Easy Peasy Mexican Rice

Usually when I make Mexican rice it's more of an entailed sort of experience. (I'll share that recipe with you later this summer!) The other night I really wanted some Mexican rice because we were having fajitas, but I was pressed for time so I decided to make something a bit more quickly and this is what I came up with!

This recipe is quick, easy and delicious. It's just perfect for a weeknight when things can get a bit hectic!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup of uncooked rice
1 - 10 ounce can of Rotel
1 - 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 - 4.25 ounce can of green chilies
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of finely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of paprika
1 tablespoon of chili powder

In a large pot saute onion in a little olive oil until tender.

Stir in rice and cook for 1-2 minutes to "wake it up" a bit.

Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix. Cook for 20-25 minutes until mixture thickens and rice is tender.

Sinfully easy, but oh so delicious! I like recipes like that!

Notes: You can use brown or white rice. Wild rice even works.

Posted by Dianne at 9:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 24, 2009

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip

I love eggplant. I wasn't always smitten with this lovely plant, but over time it is one of those things that has grown on me and then some! It's amazing how tastes change over time.

There are many ways to prepare eggplant, but I have to say this version has to be my all time favorite! These "fries" are just perfect and I seriously think I've found a new addiction! If you want something a little different, and a little bit healthier than your average fry, then look no further...You've found exactly what you didn't know you were looking for!

What You'll Need:
1 eggplant, cut into strips
1 cup of plain bread crumbs
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
Extra sea salt for sprinkling
Extra finely ground black pepper for sprinkling
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Cut the top and bottom off of your eggplant:

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip: Eggplant "Fries": Top and Bottom

Cut the eggplant in half:

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip: Eggplant "Fries": Halves

And then cut the halves in half:

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip: Eggplant "Fries": Quarters

Next cut the eggplant quarters into slices roughly 1/4 of an inch thick:

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip: Eggplant "Fries": Slices

Now cut the eggplants pieces into strips roughly the size of french fries:

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip: Eggplant "Fries": Strips

Continue cutting strips until you run out of eggplant. Place all of the strips on a plate:

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip: Eggplant "Fries": Eggplant Strips Ready to Dredge

Sprinkle strips with sea salt, finely ground black pepper and drizzle with olive oil:

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip: Eggplant "Fries": Sea Salt, Pepper and Olive Oil

Toss around to coat. It's easiest to just use your hands for this step.

Set aside for a few moments.

Now you are going to mix up your breading. In a shallow dish, such as a pie dish, stir together bread crumbs, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon each of sea salt, finely ground black pepper and oregano. Mix well.

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip: Eggplant "Fries": Breading

Roll sticks in breading mixture:

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip: Eggplant "Fries": Ready to Dredge

Until coated on all sides and then place on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper:

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip: Eggplant "Fries": Ready to Bake

Make sure the "fries" are mostly not touching.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown:

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip: Eggplant "Fries": Baked

Serve immediately with Creamy Onion Dip (see below).

Notes: You can use this method with mushrooms, zucchini or yellow squash as well. You can store any left over breading in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a month. It's good on chicken too.

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip: Creamy Onion Dip

What You'll Need for the Creamy Onion Dip:
1/2 cup of light sour cream
1/4 cup of chopped dried onions
1/4 cup of boiling water
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder (Note: You can use garlic salt if you like, but if you do omit the sea salt below.)
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

While the "fries" are baking make your dip.

Place dried onions in the bottom of a glass bowl:

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip: Creamy Onion Dip: Dried Onions

Pour boiling water over the onions:

Eggplant "Fries" with Creamy Onion Dip: Creamy Onion Dip: Onions Soaking

Let sit until water is all or mostly absorbed by the onions.

This will take 1-3 minutes. Don't worry if all of the water isn't absorbed. A tablespoon or so at the bottom isn't a big deal and actually helps the dip come together.

Stir in seasonings and sour cream and mix until completely incorporated. Chill or serve imediately.

Notes: If you don't have, or can't find dried onions, then you can caramelize 1/2 of a small onion and use that instead.

Posted by Dianne at 9:58 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

September 9, 2009

Smash Potatoes

Smash Potatoes

Potatoes are one of the quintessential side dishes that you often see on the menu. Most people like potatoes so they are a safe bet in most cases. Mashed, roasted, boiled, fried, the ways to make them are endless, yet perfect!

This version uses boiled new potatoes and takes them to a whole other level! Herbs, garlic and olive oil combine to make an interesting, yet delicious take on a classic side dish. Who says potatoes can't have a little pizazz??

What You'll Need:
1 pound of new potatoes, cooked to fork tender
Extra virgin olive oil
6-8 cloves of garlic, chopped
Fresh chives, chopped
Fresh Rosemary, chopped
Sea salt
Finely ground black pepper

In a large pot of water boil new potatoes with a little sea salt until fork tender. Drain potatoes and set aside:

Smash Potatoes: New Potatoes

Chop herbs and garlic and have them ready to go:

Smash Potatoes: Herbs and Garlic

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Place cooked new potatoes on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper:

Smash Potatoes: Ready to Smash

Using a heavy cup or glass smash the potatoes flat:

Smash Potatoes: Smashed

Drizzle with olive oil:

Smash Potatoes: Olive Oil

Add garlic:

Smash Potatoes: Garlic

Sprinkle with herbs, sea salt and pepper:

Smash Potatoes: Herbs

(Note: I actually forgot to add the salt until AFTER they baked, but this is where you should add it, before you put it in the oven.)

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown:

Smash Potatoes: Baked

Serve immediately.

Left overs also make the perfect addition to a big salad:

Smash Potatoes: Leftovers in a Salad

Notes: You can use any herbs you like. You could also add some grated Parmesan cheese if you liked.

Posted by Dianne at 12:53 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 18, 2009

Parmesan and Onion Potatoes

Parmesan and Onion Potatoes

If you've been around Dianne's Dishes a while you've heard me talk about how picky Jamison is when it comes to what he will eat. Honestly I get bored for him. So sometimes I go out on a limb and make something that he normally eats (such as potatoes) and kick them up a bit. He of course tolerates this, though he gives me that look as if to say "Really? Again?" and then digs in and eats around my additions.

Never changes. Have I mentioned lately how much I love him? ;oP

Anyway, this was an attempt to unbore his food. He ate it, though as I said above ate around most of the additions, but at least it made me a little less bored for him for the evening. While Jamison would just prefer his potatoes plain, I really enjoy this version and will definitely be making it again...Just maybe not for Jamison! ;oP

What You'll Need:
6-8 potatoes, cut into chunks
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt (Note: I like Celtic Sea Salt.)
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Brush a baking dish with olive oil or spray with non-stick spray. Set aside

Cut potatoes into chunks and add to the bottom of your baking dish. Add chopped onion and garlic over the top of the potatoes evenly. Next drizzle the potato mixture with extra virgin olive oil (1-2 tablespoons) and stir to coat.

Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and then top generously with grated Parmesan cheese:

Parmesan and Onion Potatoes: Ready to Bake

Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown and potatoes are tender:

Parmesan and Onion Potatoes: Baked

Serve immediately.

Notes: You could use any type of onion that you wanted for this dish. Leeks would also be a nice addition.

Posted by Dianne at 8:49 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 9, 2009

Roasted Carrots and Fennel

Roasted Carrots and Fennel

I'll readily admit that fennel has always sort of scared me. The phrase "sort of tastes like licorice" turned me right off from actually trying it, but last week I decided it was time to bite the bullet so to speak and just try it. One of my biggest pets peeves in the entire world is when some says "I hate X!" and then in the next breath "Of course I've never tried it, but I hate it anyway!"

You. Can. NOT. Hate. Something. You. Have. NEVER. Tried!

Jamison and I have this discussion often. ;oP

Anyway, so if I say I "hate" something I've tried it at least once, if not a few times. You might try something you think you don't like and end up liking it later. That is how I was with brussels sprouts after all! So when we had company last week for dinner I decided to play around with fennel!

I decided I would pair the fennel with something I knew I liked, that way if push came to shove I could just eat around it, but I actually enjoyed it just fine! I wouldn't say it tasted like licorice, but it did have a savory sort of burst that was similar. Overall I was very pleased and I think I'd even like it on its own!

What You'll Need:
6-8 carrots, cut into chunks
1 bulb of fennel, top remove and chopped
1/4-1/3 cup of fresh dill, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Roasted Carrots and Fennel: Ready to Bake

Chop carrots and fennel and place in a glass baking dish that has been brushed with olive oil or sprayed with non-stick spray. Sprinkle with dill, sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper and then drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until carrots are tender and dish is slightly browned.

Let rest for 5 minutes and then serve.

Notes: You could leave out the dill and use rosemary and thyme instead if you prefer, but dill really goes fabulously with carrots!

Posted by Dianne at 12:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 24, 2009

Roasted Balsamic Vegetables

Roasted Balsamic Vegetables

So we all know we need to eat our vegetables, but why not kick them up a bit? You can make a fabulous, yet healthy side dish, or even main course with a little balsamic vinegar to give your vegetables that extra pizazz! Who says vegetables have to be boring?

What You'll Need:
1 small zucchini, cut in half and then sliced into chunks
1 small yellow squash, cut in half and then sliced into chunks
4 large button mushrooms, cut into quarters
4 baby portabella mushrooms, cut into quarters
1/2 a red onion, cut into strips
6-8 baby red potatoes, quartered
A drizzle of olive oil
1/4 to 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar
Celtic or coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Drizzle the bottom of an 8 X 8 inch baking dish with olive oil. Add vegetables and toss to coat. Pour balsamic vinegar over the top and then sprinkle with sea salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.

Bake for 25-25 minutes until potatoes are tender and serve immediately.

How easy was that?

Notes: You can use this as a side dish or you can serve it over some brown rice to make it a main dish. You can add other vegetables if you like as well. Sweet potatoes would be good, as would rutabaga or any root vegetable that you like.

Posted by Dianne at 11:57 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 19, 2008

Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes

Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes

Want to take a basic baked potato and take it to another level? Why not stuff it with goodness? This recipe is simple, yet so delicious...You really get bang for your buck (so to speak!) ;oP

What You'll Need:
1 potato, cut in half and baked until tender, pulp removed after baking (Note: I like to bake them in the oven, but if you don't have time you can "bake" the halves in the microwave. I think potatoes in the oven though are much better, but if time is a factor alternatives always work!)
3-4 broccoli florets, chopped
Pulp removed from baked potato
2 tablespoons of sour cream (Note: I usually use light sour cream.) Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup of shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cut potato in half and baked it flat side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Bake until potatoes stick done (30-40 minutes) and remove from oven and cool.

Remove pulp from the cooled potato leaving 1/4 an inch of pulp in the potato, much like you would when making potato skins. Place pulp in a bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In the bowl with the pulp add sour cream and stir to mash together. Stir in cheese and broccoli, along with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Divide mixture and place half into each potato shell and place in a baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and potato is slightly browned.

Makes 2 servings.

Notes: You could use other types of cheese or veggies if you preferred.

Posted by Dianne at 8:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 19, 2008

Parmesan Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Parmesan Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Today is a busy day, so I'm going to share with you a quick, easy, fabulous side dish that you can whip up in no time! This one will get you raves and you won't be in the kitchen all day either. That's a win win in my book! ;oP

What You'll Need Per Person:
1 potato
Extra virgin olive oil
Course sea salt (Note: I like Celtic Sea salt.)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce of Parmesan cheese, grated
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, stripped from the stem and chopped

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Cut a potato in half and then make slices about 1/8 of an inch thick. Toss with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper, Parmesan and rosemary and place in a single layer on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes until potatoes are slightly crisp and golden. Serve immediately.

How easy is that?

Notes: You could use thyme if you liked in place of the rosemary or use them both.

Posted by Dianne at 7:43 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 6, 2008

"Taco" Rice

"Taco" Rice

I love Mexican Rice, but I decided the other night I wanted to play around with the mix a little bit and the result was delicious! This rice has just the right kick and pizazz! If you like Mexican Rice then chances are you'll love this too!

What You'll Need:
1 cup of brown rice (Note: Not instant rice.)
1 small onion, chopped
1 - 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes (Note: You could also use two cups of fresh tomatoes that were chopped if you preferred.)
1 - 4.25 ounce can of green chillies
4-6 roasted peppers, chopped (Note: I used some I bought at the store, but you can roast them yourself if you like.)
1 cup of taco sauce (Note: I like the medium variety, but you can use mild or even hot if that is more to your tastes.)
Water if necessary

Note: You can make this one of two ways. You can make it on the stove top OR you can make the whole thing in the microwave. I prefer the microwave version. Both versions take about the same amount of time...Stove top takes about 50-60 minutes, while the microwave version takes about 45-55 minutes, but the microwave version has less steps. Less is better sometimes, so I'm giving you the microwave version below. If you choose to do stove top you need to sauté your onions until tender before adding the other elements to your pot.

In a large glass bowl that has a lid dump all of your ingredients into the bowl and stir to mix. Place the lid on the bowl and microwave on high for 30 minutes, checking the mixture and giving it a stir every ten minutes or so. After 30 minutes if you need to add a bit of water you can add a cup at a time as needed to ensure that the mixture does not dry out until the rice is tender.

Cook for 10-20 more minutes until rice is tender checking the mixture every 5 minutes to ensure that it does not dry out or burn.

Once rice is cooked through remove from the microwave and let sit covered for 10-15 minutes before serving.

"Taco" Rice

Notes: The leftovers of this rice makes fabulous burritos! Heat 1 cup of the mixture and place it in the center of a flour tortilla. (I like whole wheat tortillas!) Then top with cheese avocado and sour cream if desired. Wrap up and serve!

Posted by Dianne at 7:03 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 20, 2008

Mixed Vegetable Risotto

Mixed Vegetable Risotto

I love risotto, but I don't make it that often. It's good, but with the cheese and the white arborio rice element it's a bit on the heavy side if you're trying to eat more healthily. (I've been trying to experiment with a brown arborio rice, but I haven't had much luck. We'll get back to that another time.) However I'm a firm believer in everything in moderation and sometimes you just want a good risotto!

Another element of this dish is the vegetables. I had a bunch of things on the verge of being unusable so I decided a vegetable risotto was just the thing to utilize them! This dish is creamy, delicious and oh so easy. It's just right when you want to just splurge a little, with a little healthy on the side!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
3-4 scallions, chopped
1 cup of carrot, cut into rounds (Note: I used yellow carrots, but you can use whatever type of carrot you have on hand.)
4 button mushrooms, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of arborio rice
1 cup of green peas (Note: I normally used frozen, but I used fresh this time around.)
1 cup of corn kernels
Broth or water (Note: I usually start out with broth and then use water with each additional addition. You can use chicken or vegetable broth.)
1-2 ounces of goat cheese
1-2 ounces of Parmesan, grated

In a large skillet or pot sauté scallions, carrot and mushrooms with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until the carrot is just tender. Next stir in the arborio rice and cook for 1-2 minutes stirring frequently. Add peas, corn and enough broth or water to cover the ingredients and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until arborio rice is tender. You will most likely have to keep adding liquid to the pan as it cooks. Don't worry if you have to add more liquid, this is a normal step in the process of making risotto. (Note: If you use broth and it's salted then cut back on the sea salt.)

Once the rice is soft remove from heat an stir in cheese until melted. Let risotto sit for 5-10 minutes and then serve.

Mixed Vegetable Risotto

Notes: Any vegetable will work that you like. Risotto makes great leftovers too!

Posted by Dianne at 8:46 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 16, 2008

Grilled Chicken Sandwich With Grilled Mushrooms And Provolone And A Side Of Old Bay Oven Fries

Grilled Chicken Sandwich On Whole Wheat Bread With Grilled Mushrooms And Provolone

A grilled chicken sandwich is sort of a classic. You can go really simple and have a grilled chicken breast, with some lettuce, tomato and mayo, but why not kick it up a notch? You've still got your basic grilled breast, but why not top it with some sautéd mushrooms and a little Provolone cheese and you've got a sandwich that went from good to fabulous! Pair it with some Old Bay Oven fries and you've got a quick and easy meal.

What You'll Need Per Person For The Chicken Sandwich:
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
Extra virgin olive oil
2 large mushrooms, sliced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 slice of Provolone cheese
2 slices of whole grain bread or a whole grain bun
Mayonnaise and/or brown mustard if desired

Old Bay Oven Fries

What You'll Need Per Person For The Old Bay Oven Fries:
1 potato (Note: I usually use russets.)
Extra virgin olive oil
Old Bay Seasoning
A small pinch of sea salt (Note: Go VERY easy on the salt as Old Bay has some salt in it. Just use a minute amount. Possible 1/4 a teaspoon or so.)

Pre-heat a grill or a grill pan until it's hot. (I used a grill pan.)

While the grill or pan is heating (my pan is cast iron so it takes a bit) pre-heat oven to 425 F.

Wash potato and cut into strips. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat. (Note: You need no more than roughly a tablespoon to make oven fries. Don't go overboard or the fries won't crisp. You don't want the fries to be sitting in oil, you just want a slight coating.) Sprinkle generously with Old Bay seasoning. (Note: Old Bay has a bit of a kick to it. If you don't care for spicy use less, or you could simply use sea salt and black pepper.) Sprinkle with sea salt and place in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes until fries are browned and slightly crisp.

While the fries are baking it's time to start working on your chicken sandwich. Depending on the size of your breast you may be able to get two sandwiches out of one breast. If the breast you are using is large and/or thick cut it in half. It it is still thick then pound it flat. You want the breast to be uniform in size. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.

Brush the hot grill with extra virgin olive oil (again you just want a thin coat, you don't want the breast sitting in a pool of oil. A tablespoon or two will cover the entire grill) and place the chicken breast on the grill. Turn the breast a few times and cook until done through. If you're not sure if it's done you can cut into the breast, but you can usually tell by looking at it when it's done. It takes about 5-8 minutes on medium to high heat. Toward the end of the cooking time add mushrooms to the grill and cook until tender.

Grilled Chicken Sandwich On Whole Wheat Bread With Grilled Mushrooms And Provolone: Chicken and Mushrooms Grilling

When the chicken is done spread mayo and/or brown mustard on a couple of slices of toasted whole grain bread. Add chicken breast and top with a slice of cheese and then add sautéd mushrooms. Top with the other slice of bread, cut and serve with the Old Bay oven fries.

Grilled Chicken Sandwich On Whole Wheat Bread With Grilled Mushrooms And Provolone: Chicken, Mushrooms and Provolone

Quick, easy, delicious and healthier than a sandwich that has been fried and served with regular fries. Plus the taste is fabulous!

Notes: You could use Swiss cheese in place of the provolone. You could also add in sautéd onions and/or bell pepper if you like. I always use light mayo and this time around I skipped the mustard.

Posted by Dianne at 8:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 29, 2008

Not Your Mama's Mashed Potatoes

Not Your Mama's Mashed Potatoes

As I've mentioned before Jamison is a super picky eater. Meat and potatoes, the occasional fruit and a few vegetables and that's about the extent of what he eats. As a result mashed potatoes are often seen on his menu and thus there are often mashed potatoes left over. So what do you do with those left overs? You can make bread, or jazz up the mashed potatoes with goat cheese, or you can really soup them up like the variation below! Who says you can't have a little pizazz on the side?

Oh and for the record Jamison wouldn't touch these with a ten foot pole! ;o)

What You'll Need:
2 cups of mashed potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
6-8 sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
1/3 cup of black olive slices
1 ounce of goat cheese
1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese, shredded
1-2 tablespoons of oil from the sun dried tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a medium sized pan sauté onions in a little extra virgin olive oil until tender. Add sun dried tomatoes, olives and cheese and stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat.

Add mashed potatoes to the veggie/cheese mixture and add a little of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes. Stir until mixed.

Place the potato mixture in a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and baked for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Not Your Mama's Mashed Potatoes

Notes: You can add in other vegetables if you like. Mushrooms would be good, as would chopped bell pepper. You could also switch around the cheeses if you like.

Posted by Dianne at 7:11 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

April 24, 2008

Goat Cheese and Salmon Risotto...Otherwise Known As I've Got Leftovers Now What Do I Do With Them?

What to do with Those Leftovers...Goat Cheese and Salmon Risotto

Tuesday evening Alexis and I had Baked Salmon with Dill and Alexis also wanted some green peas. We happened to have both left over and I'm all about taking leftovers and making them into something new and this is what evolved.

The salmon and dill go well together and paired with the goat cheese it's just an amazing flavor combination. This is a good way to use up leftovers and it's a delicious main course or you could even us it as small portion side dish. There are lovely flecks of dill throughout and the cheese gives it just the right punch.

Who says leftovers have to be boring?

Leftover Peas for Goat Cheese and Salmon Risotto

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 an onion, chopped
4 button mushrooms, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons of dried dill
1 cup of arborio rice
Broth and/or water (Note: Any kind of broth will do. I used chicken broth.)
2 cups of green peas
1 1/2-2 cups of baked salmon (Note: If you want to make this and don't have left over salmon you can bake a salmon fillet with a little olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and some dried dill for 8-10 minutes at 350 F until it's done through and then flake the fillet with a fork.)
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of goat cheese crubmles

Leftover Salmon to Use in the Goat Cheese and Salmon Risotto

In a large skillet sauté onion and mushrooms until tender with a little sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and dried dill. (Note: I like to add more dill, but if you want you can add less.) Add arborio rice and stir into the onions and mushrooms to mix.

Goat Cheese and Salmon Risotto: Mushrooms, Onion and Risotto Rice

Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring once or twice, to toast the rice a bit.

Next add enough broth or water to cover the arborio rice. (Note: Usually this about 2-3 cups of liquid.) Bring to a quick boil and them reduce to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. (Note: You may need to add more liquid as the risotto cooks. I usually start out with broth and then add 1 cup of water as needed as the process goes along. On this dish I ended up only adding 1 additional cup of water, but sometimes it may take two or three more additions of water or broth until the rice is tender.) When the rice is tender and the liquid is mostly absorbed and looks a little like this:

Goat Cheese and Salmon Risotto Pre Cheese

Add the peas and salmon and stir to mix and the continue to cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Remove risotto from the heat and stir in Parmesan and goat cheese until melted and let risotto sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: Risotto is very much the mix and match dish. You could use thyme, rosemary or any other herb that strikes your fancy instead of dill. You could use chicken, scallops or shrimp instead of salmon. You could even make a completely vegetarian option using other veggies in place of meat. The possibilities are endless!

Posted by Dianne at 12:38 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 19, 2008

Greek Yogurt Smashed Potatoes with Rosemary, Garlic and Caramelized Onion

Greek Yogurt Smashed Potatoes with Rosemary, Garlic and Caramelized Onion

When you think mashed potatoes you immediately think rich and bad for you, but they don't have to be. There are ways to make delicious mashed potatoes, all while ensuring that they aren't bad for your waist line. Add in some Greek yogurt and some herbs, garlic and onion and you've got a fantastic potato side dish that really hits the spot when you want some good old smashed potatoes!

What You'll Need:
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into rounds
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, sliced into small wedges
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup of Greek Yogurt (Note: I like Oikos.)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium sized pot boil potatoes until tender, drain and place back in the pot.

While the potatoes are cooking in a medium sized skillet cook onions until caramelized and then add garlic and dried rosemary and cook for an additional 2 minutes to soften garlic.

In a small pot heat greek yogurt until just heated through (about 2 minutes) and add a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Once potatoes are cooked and drained add the heated yogurt mixture to the potatoes smash the potatoes with a potato masher until somewhat smooth. Stir in onion mixture until incorporated and serve.

Notes: You can use other herbs if you like. You could also leave out the onions or even substitute shallots or scallions instead.

Posted by Dianne at 7:37 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 10, 2008

Pan "Fried" Feta and Thyme Polenta with Caramelized Onions

Pan "Fried" Feta and Thyme Polenta with Caramelized Onions

Polenta is a food I have just recently discovered. For years I associated it with grits and as I've mentioned before I'm not a fan of those, but polenta itself is a healthy, whole grain, alternative to other starchy side dishes. (And for those of you who didn't know it's a Weight Watchers Core food as well!)

This version involves seasoning the base polenta with thyme and feta, letting it set up, cutting it into squares, pan "frying" the squares and then topping them with caramelized onions. The taste combination really melds together well and the whole dish is hearty and filling, which is always a good thing when you're trying to eat less. Healthy most definitely does not have to be boring!

What You'll Need:
1 cup of polenta (Note: I used Bob's Red Mill.)
3-4 cups of water or broth
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces of fat free feta
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt (Note: I like Oikos.)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, cut into small wedges

In a medium sized pan bring 3-4 cups of water or broth to a boil. Stir in polenta and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until polenta is thick and creamy, usually about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove polenta from heat and stir in a pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper, thyme, Greek yogurt and feta and stir to incorporate. Pour polenta into an 8 X 8 inch dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and spread out evenly. Let sit for 30 minutes to an hour until polenta is set up. (Note: You can do this in the fridge if you want. You could even do it the day before you want to use the polenta.)

Once polenta is set up cut into roughly 9 squares. Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat and add a little olive oil (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan). Place squares into the pan and "fry" on each side until golden brown. Top with caramelized onions. (See below.)

In a separate pan or skillet cook onion in a little extra virgin olive oil (1 tablespoon tops) until onion is caramelized. Use to top the polenta. (Note: If you choose to let the polenta sit overnight then do this right before you get ready to serve.)

Notes: You could use rosemary instead of thyme or any other herb you like. You could also add another cheese. I prefer fat free feta because it's one of the few cheeses that actually tastes ok in fat free form. Most fat free cheese taste like cardboard, but feta retains it's body and flavor even when made fat free.

P.S. Oh and don't forget the March edition of the Dianne's Dishes contest series for your chance to win some free herbs and spices!

Posted by Dianne at 1:25 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 22, 2008

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic

For years I've been trying brussels sprouts and have been less than impressed. I've had them boiled, steamed, baked, with lemon, with herbs, with cheese and even deep fried and I just didn't care for them! I kept trying them though, because they have so many health benefits so I thought there must be some way that they could be prepared where they were edible. This week I finally found what I was looking for...Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic! Not only is this recipe simple, it's also healthy and delicious. What's not to like?

What You'll Need:
Brussels sprouts, picked over and cut in half
Extra virgin olive oil (Note: You want just enough olive oil to coat the brussels sprouts...Roughly one tablespoon per 3 cups of sprouts. They should not be sitting in oil.)
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 large cloves of garlic, diced per 3 cups of sprouts

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Wash brussels sprouts and pick off any brown leaves. Cut each sprout in half and place in a baking dish. Once all the sprouts are cut toss with olive oil to coat. Then sprinkle the sprouts with a pinch of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and diced garlic. Bake for 25-35 minutes until brussels sprouts are browned and tender. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic

Notes: You could add in some herbs if you wanted, though I think simple is best in this case. This would be great tossed with some roasted tomatoes and served over a little whole wheat pasta.

Posted by Dianne at 7:16 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

February 21, 2008

Wasabi Mustard Slaw

Wasabi Mustard Slaw

This is a spicy take on classic slaw, that cuts out the mayo and spices up the ingredients making it healthier overall and also adding a bit of a kick, but it's oh so delicious. Sometimes it's fun to play with a classic and make something totally new and if that creation is lighter than the original then all the better!

What You'll Need:
1/4 a head of cabbage, cut or shredded (Note: You're looking for roughly 2 cups.)
1/4 a head of red cabbage, cut or shredded (Notes: Again roughly 2 cups.)
1 large carrot, shredded
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup of rice vinegar
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of wasabi mustard (Note: I you can't find wasabi mustard you could use 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon of wasabi.)

Wasabi Mustard Slaw: Vegetables

Toss together the cabbages and the carrot until completely incorporated. Set aside.

Wasabi Mustard Slaw: Dressing

In a small canning jar (or you can use a bowl and whisk if you want, but I think it's easier to put it in the jar and then shake!) add olive oil, vinegar, sea salt, pepper and wasabi mustard and put a lid on the jar. Shake until all ingredients are mixed then pour the vinegar mixture over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Chill for 1 hour and then serve.

Notes: I was going to add a couple of tablespoons of celery seed, but I was out. This slaw is best served the day it is made as the vinegar content makes it wilt quickly if stored for too long. Also the red cabbage tends to lose it's color the longer it's in vinegar, though it won't change the flavor of the slaw itself, you might just end up with reddish purple dressing.

Posted by Dianne at 7:08 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 15, 2008

Baked Vegetable Chips With Dill

Baked Vegetable Chips With Dill

I have to admit I'm not a big fan of the conventional potato chip. They have always been too greasy and heavy for me. I do however like a good baked chip and decided to try my hand at making some baked vegetable chips. The result was heavenly!

This is the perfect, healthy alternative to regular old potato chips. You control the ingredients and the amount of fat you add, yet you end up with a crisp, satisfying chip that you'll want to make again! These chips are just perfect when you want to crunch! ;o)

What You'll Need:
Root vegetables (Note: For this batch I used a sweet potato, a large carrot and a rutabaga.)
Dried dill (Note: If dill isn't your thing you could use any other dried herb you like or leave out the herbs all together.)
Sea salt
Black pepper (Note: For this you want finely ground black pepper.)
Olive oil spray or other non-stick spray

Preheat oven to 200 F.

Thinly slice each vegetable into rounds. (Note: You can do this with a knife or a mandolin cutter. If you use the latter you can even make crinkle cuts.) Place cut veggies on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Spray generously with olive oil or non-stick spray. Sprinkle with dill, sea salt and pepper.

Place try into your oven on the highest rack and bake for 1 hour. (Note: Keep an eye on the chips and make sure they aren't burning. If they appear too brown then lower them to a lower rack. The sweet potato will turn a lovely chocolate color as it bakes, but that doesn't mean it's burning.) After an hour move the pan to a lower rack and cook for an additional 30 minutes to an hour until chips are crisp. Remove from oven and let chips cool on the pan. Store in an air tight container.

Baked Vegetable Chips With Dill

Notes: The chips are really best served the day they are made. If they soften up a bit when you store them you can re-crisp them by putting them back in the oven for a bit.

Posted by Dianne at 11:21 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

February 13, 2008

Creamy Corn Polenta

Creamy Corn Polenta

Grits...Polenta...Supposedly the same thing, but oh so not! I grew up in the South and I can tell you unequivocally that I do not care for grits...They are so, well gritty, all while being very gummy too! That should be an oxymoron, but sadly it's not. But Polenta is smoother overall and a much finer grain, or maybe it was just the grits I was exposed to as a child. Also the taste is different overall. I remember grits as being very strong and slightly harsh, yet the polenta was very smooth and the added corn brought out the overall flavor of the polenta itself.

I know, I know, Creamy Corn Polenta is redundant, but it's oh so appropriate for this dish! This is the prefect side dish (I had it along with pot roast and roasted carrots and parsnips) and this version is light and healthier than some. If you like polenta and/or corn then this is the dish for you! And as an added benefit it's quick and easy. What's better than that?

What You'll Need Per Person:
1/2 cup of cooked polenta (Note: I used instant Polenta and it cooks in roughly three minutes. It's just a process of adding the polenta, which is fine ground corn meal, to boiling salted water or broth.)
1 cup of frozen corn kernels that have been cooked
2 tablespoons of light or fat-free sour cream (Note: I use light sour cream. I think fat-free sour cream is too sweet and has a weird consistency, but if you want to use it you can.)
Sea salt to taste

It's important to remember that polenta thickens quickly, so you'll want to work equally as fast. Remove the polenta from the stove and immediately stir in the corn kernels and the sour cream. Stir until creamy and serve immediately.

How's that for quick and easy?

Notes: If you have any polenta left over you can spread it out into a baking dish and use it later for grilled or pan "fried" polenta. You can add in garlic, onions. rosemary, mushrooms or anything else that strikes your fancy. A lot of people add in cheese, butter and/or heavy cream, but remember if you do this then you're adding additional fat and calories. This dish is very flexible and it's all about what you like.

Dianne's Dishes February Contest: Kids in the Kitchen!

P.S. Don't forget Dianne's Dishes February Contest: Kids In The Kitchen for your chance to win one Pampered Chef "My Safe Cutter" along with one Pampered Chef "Kid's Apron and Chef's Hat Set"! Just leave a comment on this thread with a valid e-mail address (and don't worry, no one will see your e-mail address but me!) before 5:00 PM EST, Thursday, February 14, 2008. I'll print out the participants and my little sous chef will pull a name out of the hat. I'll e-mail that person for their address and announce the winner on Friday, February 15, 2008! Anyone anywhere on our little planet earth is eligible to enter so what are you waiting for?

Good luck! Oh and tell your friends! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 7:22 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 13, 2007

Thanksgiving Yummy: Cornbread Dressing

Cornbread Dressing

Cornbread dressing (or stuffing...I guess it depends on whether you stuff it into the bird or not! ;o)) is more traditionally a Southern recipe I would say, but regardless it's an essential holiday side dish! The version below is very similar to my Mom's traditional dish, though I've omitted the butter and use the healthier extra virgin olive oil instead. Some people add in meat, some add in other veggies, or you can add whatever you like. It's all up to you, but regardless of how you do it, the end result is delicious!

What You'll Need for the Cornbread:
2 cups of corn meal
1 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 eggs
2 cups of buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs and buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Pour into a 8 x 12 inch dish (or 13 x 9 inch dish if you want) sprayed with non-stick spray and spread out evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

What You'll Need for the Dressing:
One batch of cornbread (See recipe above)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 onions, chopped
1 bunch of celery, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2-3 heaping tablespoons of sage or poultry seasoning
1 quart of broth (Note: Vegetable, chicken or turkey broth will work fine.)
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Crumble the cornbread into a large bowl and set aside.

Sauté onion and celery until tender and slightly caramelized. Add to cornbread. Add seasonings, broth and eggs. Mix thoroughly and pour mixture into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown.

Serve immediately or freeze for up to six weeks. If frozen thaw and then reheat for 20-25 minutes covered with foil until warm through. If needed add a bit more broth to moisten.

Notes: You can add in 1-1 1/2 cups of shredded carrots, sliced mushrooms or even corn if you like. Some people like to add ground beef or sausage, but I've never tried that. You could even add in oysters or clams if you like. For a more un-Southern version you can use toasted French or white bread instead of cornbread.

Posted by Dianne at 1:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 12, 2007

Thanksgiving Yummy: Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

OK, I'll be completely honest here and tell you I detest cranberries. I don't like them dried, I don't like the fresh, I don't like them frozen, I don't like them baked into things, I just plain out do not like them, though I've tried them many ways! My sister however adores them and since I in turn adore her I tolerate them on Thanksgiving and Christmas and whip up a batch of homemade cranberry sauce because my inner chef can't stand the thought of the glop out of the can! ;o)

Originally I saw something similar to this a few years ago on FoodTV, but I don't recall which of their chefs was making it, though I do remember their variation had tarragon in it and I remember thinking "Tarragon and cranberries? Seriously?!!?!" So I took their basic idea and very soon I had deviated from it rather quickly. Surprisingly this isn't half bad and even I, Ms. Cranberries Suck Monumentally, will even eat a bite or two, though it is by no means my favorite Thanksgiving treat and I'll go for sweet potatoes or something pumpkin related over this 9.9 times out of 10, but if I have to eat a cranberry this is how I'd eat one! My sister says it's even good frozen right out of the freezer, but I, and you in turn, will have to take her word for that, though she's an honest girl so I'm sure she knows exactly of which she speaks! ;o)

Anyway now that I'm through picking on my sister...So all you cranberry lovers out there this one is for you. Cranberry Sauce is one of those quintessential dishes that automatically makes you think of Thanksgiving! This version is quick, easy and delicious...If you like cranberries that is, which I mentioned I don't! ;o)

What You'll Need:
3 pints (or roughly 6 cups) of fresh cranberries
The zest of two oranges
The juice of two oranges (Note: This is normally roughly 3/4 to 1 cup of orange juice. It doesn't have to be perfect. The recipe is very versatile.)
1 cup of organic cane sugar

Cranberry Sauce Cooking

Dump ingredients into a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes until cranberries pop (and yes sometimes you can even hear them do just that!) and begin to break down. The mixture will also turn very jelly like.

Chill and serve OR you can freeze the mixture for up to 6 weeks. Take from the freezer and thaw before serving OR if you're like my sister you can just eat it frozen! (She knows that by the way because I send the leftovers home with her and she freezes them! ;o))

Notes: If you end up with oranges that don't have much juice in them, just make up for it by using any unsweetened orange juice out of the fridge. Any type of orange will work. Just get whatever is convenient for you.

Posted by Dianne at 2:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 26, 2007

Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice Baked Potatoes are perfect on a crisp fall evening, or a cold winter evening, or a brisk spring evening, or even a warm summer evening! Oh who am I kidding, they are good whenever! This makes the perfect side dish or throw in a salad and you've got yourself a meal!

What You'll Need Per Person:
1/2 potato, baked and pulp scooped out and reserved
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/3 cup of broccoli, chopped
1 large button mushrooms, chopped
1 ounce of shredded cheese (Note: Any cheese will work. I usually use white cheddar or Monterrey Jack.)
Sea salt
Black Pepper

Bake potato and sit aside to cool. Once cool cut in half and scoop out pulp leaving a 1/4 inch rim similar to a potato skin. Place pulp in bowl and set aside. Place potato skins on a baking pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Sauté onion, broccoli and mushroom in a little extra virgin olive oil until just tender (about 2-3 minutes) and add to the bowl with the potato pulp. Stir in cheese, salt and pepper until incorporated. Fill each skin with half the veggie potato mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes until potato starts to brown.

Notes: Any veggies will work. You can make a southwestern potato by adding in some salsa and/or a little chicken. The possibilities are endless.

Posted by Dianne at 8:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 26, 2007

Dianne's Nachos

Dianne's Nachos

Sometimes it's fun to do Nacho's for dinner! This could be an appetizer or a main course, but either way it's delicious!

What You'll Need For the "Chili":
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon of paprika
1 cup of salsa
1/4-1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (Note: More if you like it hot, less if you don't...If you really don't like heat then leave it out all together.)
1 - 5 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 - 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 - 15.5 ounce can of black beans, drained
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of textured soy (TSP) or vegetable (TVP) protein

In a medium sized pot sauté onion in a little extra virgin olive oil until tender. Stir in chili powder and paprika and stir to mix. Add salsa and stir until incorporated. Next add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes stirring to mix. Add beans and stir in carefully as not to mashed them. Add salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for at least an hour. 20 minutes before serving ad the TSP or TVP and cook until tender.

Notes: You can also use ground beef or chicken in place of the meat substitute if you like. Red beans could be used along with or in place of the black beans.

Freshly Baked Tortilla Chips

What You'll Need for the Tortilla Chips:
Corn tortillas
Oil (I usually use Safflower oil)
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 500 F.

Cut each tortilla in half (I usually do four at at time), then cut each half into 3 equal pieces. Place on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Brush each chip with oil (for a batch of 48 chips you would use roughly 1-2 tablespoons of oil...You just want a thin layer of oil on top to help them crisp and the salt stick, not a heavy layer that will make the chip soggy) and then sprinkle with sea salt.

Tortilla Chips Ready to Bake

Bake for 5-8 minutes until chips are golden and crisp. Remove from oven and let cool. Use as you would any store bought tortilla chip.

Notes: You can also use red or blue corn tortillas. You can even just spray the chips with non-stick spray instead of brushing them with oil, but they will be a bit chewier and less crisp, though they will not change in flavor. To make desert chips sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar instead of salt.

To Put Nachos Together:

Place a layer of tortilla chips on a plate or a platter. On top of the chips spread a layer of chili. Then sprinkle the chili with cheese and let the cheese melt. Top with guacamole and/or sour cream if desired.

Notes: I usually also top the nachos with diced tomato and scallions, but I was low on tomatoes and scallions (today is grocery day) and used the last of them in my guacamole instead. You coul also add a layer of salsa and/or Cheesy Salsa Dip.

Posted by Dianne at 10:37 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 16, 2007

Sea Salt Croutons

Sea Salt Croutons

The past week or so I've been all about basic and simple food. Croutons are the perfect example! They are easy to whip up in a hurry and who isn't hurried these days...What better way to top a big salad?

What You'll Need Per Person:
1 thick slice of bread
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 475 F.

Cut or tear bread into pieces. Brush each bit with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Bake for 3-7 minutes until golden brown. Toss croutons with a salad and enjoy!

Notes: Croutons are extremely easy to do in a toaster oven, which is great in the summer when you don't want to heat up the oven! You can also sprinkle them with Parmesan for an added treat. Or you can sprinkle with Italian seasoning. They are easy to mix up!

Posted by Dianne at 2:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2007

Dad's Cucumbers

Dad's Cucumbers

Every time I make these I can't help but think of my grandfather and smile. This was one of his summer favorites that he made when we spent summers out at the lake. I'm not a fan of sweet pickles at all, but these are really delicious! It's a cool, sweet, yet tangy treat. If you like cucumber and/or pickles try them and see!

What You'll Need:
Cucumbers, sliced
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar
1/2 to 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar (Or vinegar of your choice...If you like the twang go with more, if not go with less.)
About 2 cups of water

Fill a Mason jar with sliced cucumbers to the top of the jar. Mix sugar and vinegar and stir until sugar dissolves. Pour sugar/vinegar mixture into the Mason jar. Slowly add water (about 2 cups) until the jar is full. Tightly place the lid on the jar and shake to mix. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Notes: These will keep in the fridge for about a week. They are by no means long terms pickles. In fact I only like them the first or second day they are made. After that to me they become too rubbery, but a friend of mine likes them after about 4 days. It's completely a matter of your taste. You can also add in sweet onions or bell peppers to the mix for a bit of a change.

Posted by Dianne at 7:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 25, 2007

Stove Top "Baked" Beans

Stove Top "Baked" Beans

Baked beans...Another one of those Southern cook out foods! Traditionally in most cases baked beans are made with canned pork and beans and baked in the oven, thus giving them their name, but given I didn't have any of those so I decided to give it a whirl with soaked pinto beans instead and since they had cooked on the stovetop, I decided to just finish them up there too instead of having to heat up the stove and thus heat up the house. They turned out perfectly!

Baked beans most definitely made me think of childhood summers at the lake, where we'd grill hamburgers and hotdogs, have potato salad and baked beans, along with hand cranked homemade ice cream. I really miss the lake.

What You'll Need:
2 1/2 cups of raw pinto beans, rinsed (Note: Rinse and soak beans over night or do the "fast" soak method by covering beans with hot water and boiling for 2 minutes. Then remove beans from heat and let sit for 1 hour before cooking.)
1/2 a Vidalia onion, chopped
1/2 cup of natural brown sugar
1/4 cup of honey
A pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of organic ketchup
1/4 cup of yellow mustard

Cook pinto beans according to package direction until tender. (Note: see instructions above in terms of soaking the beans.) Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook covered over low heat for at least 1 hour until mixture thickens slightly. The longer you cook them the more the flavors meld.

Pinto beans can be served warm, or cold. Both ways are delicious! I usually serve them warm the day I make them and then eat any leftovers cold right of the fridge.

Notes: If you have a sweet barbeque sauce made up you can use that in place of the ketchup, brown, sugar and honey. You can also bake them in the oven for an hour at 375 F instead of on the stove top, but on a hot summer day who wants to heat up the stove? A friend of mine adds ground beef to her baked beans and another adds bacon. I like bacon and do that from time to time, but the point is you can add what you like. :o)

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May 9, 2007

Stuffed Mushroom and Irish Cheddar Burger with Cajun Oven Fries

Stuffed Mushroom and Cheddar Burger with Cajun Oven Fries

I rarely eat red meat. I rarely eat meat at all for that matter, but for the past several years red meat has made my stomach hurt. Sure I enjoy the taste, but I usually regret the consequences. Last night when I discovered that I was out of Boca Burgers I decided to try my hand at a stuffed burger. The burger turned out great and for once it didn't bother my stomach either! This burger is deliciously tangy, with a "surprise" in the middle! If you like burgers, you'll LOVE this one...Try it!

What You'll Need for the Stuffed Mushroom and Irish Cheddar Burger:
2 pounds of lean ground beef
1 packet of onion soup mix
1/2 cup of A1 Steak Sauce
4 ounces of Kerrygold Aged Cheddar, cut into small slices (Or any cheddar will do, I just particularly like the Kerrygold variety!)
8 small button mushrooms, sliced

Mix beef, soup mix and steak sauce until fully incorporated and form into 4 patties and then follow the directions below.

First, make each patty into a "nest":

Stuffed Mushroom and Cheddar Burger: Nest

Next line your "nest" with cheddar:

Stuffed Mushroom and Cheddar Burger: Add the Cheese

Now add a layer of mushrooms over the cheese:

Stuffed Mushroom and Cheddar Burger: Add the Mushrooms

Form patty over the center ingredients to seal in the cheese and mushrooms:

Stuffed Mushroom and Cheddar Burger: Sealed and Ready to Cook

Cook the burgers over medium heat to your specifications. I like mine medium well to well done. (Or about 10 minutes for that level of doneness.)

Stuffed Mushroom and Cheddar Burger: Cooked

And inside you have a yummy "surprise"!

Stuffed Mushroom and Cheddar Burger: The Center

Top burger with condiments of your choice and enjoy!

Makes 4 burgers.

What You'll Need for the Cajun Oven Fries:
2 large russet potatoes, cut into strips
Extra virgin olive oil
Cajun seasoning
Sea salt (Note: The Cajun seasoning I use does NOT have added salt. If you are using a brand that does, then omit the salt)

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Toss potatoes with a little olive oil and sprinkle Cajun seasoning over them and a little sea salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes until done through and slightly crispy.

Makes 4 servings.

Posted by Dianne at 10:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 8, 2007

Guinness Risotto With Goat Cheese And Thyme

Guinness Risotto With Goat Cheese And Thyme

What do you do with left over Guinness from Saint Patrick's Day? Why get creative of course! Throw in a little goat cheese and a few veggies and you've got a risotto that is to die for!

What You'll Need:
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small package of button mushrooms, sliced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 - 15 ounce package of Arborio rice
1 cup of frozen mixed vegetables
2 cups of frozen green peas
1 - 11.2 ounce bottle of Guinness
Water (4-6 cups)
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
1 - 5 ounce package of goat cheese, crumbled

Note: If you've never cooked risotto before, don't be intimidated by this dish! It has an aura about it, but it's really quite easy to make. Basically you just keep adding liquid. The liquid is almost absorbed and you keep adding more 1 or 2 cups at a time until the risotto is tender and ready to serve.

In a large pan sauté onion and mushroom with sea salt, black pepper and thyme until veggies are tender. Add Arborio rice and let cook 1-2 minutes to slightly toast the grains. Stir in mixed veggies, peas and the bottle of Guinness. Cook until liquid mostly evaporates and then add 1-2 cups of water to cover grains. Cook again until liquid evaporates and keep repeating this step until risotto is fully cooked and tender. Once the risotto is fully cooked remove from heat and stir in Parmesan and goat cheese until smooth and melted. Serve immediately.

Posted by Dianne at 12:36 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 4, 2007

Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

I love goat cheese! In fact I more than love it...I adore it in ways that can't be explained in simple language. Goat cheese is extremely versatile and it's creamy, slightly tangy flavor, compliments so many dishes! I'm always trying to come up with a new way to incorporate goat's cheese!

A few nights ago I was making mashed potatoes, which are one of Jamison's favorites and I thought, "I bet goat cheese would be fantastic in this!" So I whipped up Jamison's batch (he's a plain Jane sort of eater) and then took the rest of the potatoes and added goat cheese to the finished product. The result was not only deliciously decadent, but also ultra simple!

What You'll Need:
6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of butter
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of crumbled goat cheese

Boil potatoes until fork tender and drain.

When potatoes are almost done, in a small pot melt butter and heavy cream until warm.

In a large bowl add cream, butter, sea salt, black pepper and mash until smooth. Stir in goat cheese until melted and serve immediately.

Posted by Dianne at 9:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 30, 2007

Rosemary And Celtic Sea Salt Roasted Baby Red Potatoes

Rosemary And Celtic Sea Salt Roasted Baby Red Potatoes

Potatoes are often a side dish because they are just so versatile! Baby potatoes are especially good. These Rosemary And Celtic Sea Salt Roasted Baby Red Potatoes will fast become a favorite!

What You'll Need:
2 pounds of baby red potatoes, washed
Extra virgin olive oil
Celtic Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2+ tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Place potatoes in a baking dish and add enough with olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper and rosemary over the potatoes evenly and bake for 35-35 minutes until potatoes stick done. Serve immediately.

Notes: If you don't have, or can't find, Celtic Sea salt than regular sea salt will work or even kosher salt. Celtic Sea salt adds a nice touch and has such a nice flavor though and I highly recommend it if you can find it. Also you can add as much rosemary as you like. I'm a firm believer that there's no such thing as too much rosemary! Or chocolate for that matter, but that's a tale for a different time! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 2:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 21, 2007

Smashed Buttermilk And Parsley Potatoes

Smashed Buttermilk And Parsley Potatoes

Nothing says comfort like smashed potatoes! The possibilities of what you can do with them are endless! You can throw in a few different ingredients and mix and match and you have dish after dish of yummy goodness!

What You'll Need:
2 pounds of red skinned baby potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
1/2 cup of buttermilk
2 tablespoons of butter
1/4-1/2 cup parsley

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Wash potatoes and cut into quarters. Toss with some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until tender and then place potatoes in a large glass bowl.

Right before you remove the potatoes from the oven heat buttermilk and butter until butter melts. Pour mixture into the bowl with the potatoes and smash. Stir in parsley (more if you like or less, it's up to you) and serve warm.

Simple, easy and delicious!

Posted by Dianne at 7:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 11, 2007

Deviled Eggs Part Two: Wasabi Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs Part Two: Wasabi Deviled Eggs

I was surfing around the web today and saw a couple of different recipes For Wasabi Deviled eggs and thought I'd take my recipe for Deviled Eggs and add a little wasabi (1 tsp to 1 tablespoon depending on how spicy you like things) since I still had some Easter eggs in the fridge. They turned out great. If you like things with a little kick give it a try!

Posted by Dianne at 7:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 8, 2007

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs

What's Easter without Deviled Eggs? Everyone has their own twist, this is mine.

What You'll Need:
12 boiled eggs, cut in half and remove yolks into the bowl of your food processor
1/4 cup of mayo
1/4 cup of sour cream
1 heaping tablespoon of yellow mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons of vinegar
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of black pepper

In the bowl of your food processor mix boiled egg yolks, mayo, sour cream, mustard, vinegar (I sometimes use white vinegar and sometimes apple cider vinegar...today I went with white), salt and black pepper and process until smooth. Place egg mixture into a large pastry bag with a large star tip affixed. Squeeze egg mixture into the boiled egg whites and chill until serving.

Notes: You can add finely chopped blue cheese into the egg mixture or even Parmesan cheese for two nice variations. You can also sprinkle the tops of each egg with paprika and/or chopped parsley if desired.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Posted by Dianne at 3:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 6, 2007

Hush Puppies With Creamy Dill Dip

Hush Puppies With Creamy Dill Sauce

Hush puppies can be used as an appetizer or a side dish, while this creamy little dill sauce is also wonderful as a dip for veggies, on a veggie sandwich or even on a cucumber onion salad! Whether you're having fish, or would just like a good hush puppy by itself, this recipe is the one for you!

Hush Puppies

What You'll Need For The Hush Puppies:
2 cups of yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 eggs
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 to 2 cups of buttermilk (eye it as you go...depending on the humidity you may need more or less...you're looking for a sticky dough)
Safflower oil for frying (or your oil of choice)

Preheat oil to 350 F.

Mix ingredients and drop by the rounded tablespoon full into the hot oil turning to brown. (About 1-2 minutes depending on how brown you like them and the size you've made your hush puppy.) Remove from oil and drain. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve hot.

Note: You can add chopped bell pepper into the batter if you like, or a shot of hot sauce for a kick.

Creamy Dill Sauce

What You'll Need For The Dip:
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of light mayo
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1/3 cup of freshly chopped dill
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder

Mix ingredients thoroughly and serve immediately. Store left over dip in the fridge.

Note: You could easily use low-fat or even fat-free components to make this dip healthier. (I tend to use fat free sour cream and low-fat mayo...buttermilk is usually low-fat or fat free to begin with.) You could also add some chopped scallions or shallots for a nice kick.

Hush Puppies With Creamy Dill Sauce

Posted by Dianne at 9:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 19, 2007

Champ

Champ

I had heard of the Camp for years, but had never made it. It's a twist on mashed potatoes, but it's oh so good!

What You'll Need:
6-8 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into circles
Irish butter (or just regular butter if you want)
Heavy cream
Sea salt
Black Pepper
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
More butter for serving

Boil potatoes in a large pot until tender. Remove from heat and drain. Mash with butter, heavy cream, sea salt and pepper.

While potatoes are cooking sauté scallions until just tender and set aside. Once potatoes are mashed, stir cooked scallions into the mashed potatoes until mixed.

To serve place a mound of Champ on your plate and make a small well in the middle to be filled with butter:

Champ

Then eat and enjoy taking a bit of butter with each bite! :o)

Posted by Dianne at 9:33 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 12, 2007

Mixed Vegetable Risotto

Mixed Vegetable Risotto

Until I actually tried making some, I was a little intimidated by risotto. It's one of those dishes that people sort of place an aura around, but in reality it's not that hard to make! It's creamy, good and oh so satisfying! Try some...You'll LOVE it!

What You'll Need:
1/2 tablespoon of butter
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 a small red onion, chopped
1/2 a leek, chopped
2 large button mushrooms chopped
4 asparagus spears, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1 cup of frozen peas
2 cups of Arborio rice
Water
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of Parmesan cheese

Sauté onions, leek, mushrooms and asparagus in butter and olive oil until tender in a large pan or pot. Stir in carrots and peas. Add Arborio rice and 2 cups of hot water. Cook stirring occasionally until water evaporates. Add more water (1 cup at a time) and let evaporate until rice is tender and sticky. (You may end up doing this 6-8 times...Just keep an eye on it!) Remove from heat and stir in cheese to melt. Stir in a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Let sit for 5 minutes and then serve warm.

Notes: Any veggies will work. Use your favorites and mix it up!

Posted by Dianne at 2:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 17, 2007

Dianne's Fresh Salsa

Dianne's Fresh Salsa

I like to make this little "salsa" from time to time when I'm in the mood for something fresh. It's basically a kicked up pico de gallo, but it always gets raves!

What You'll Need:
4-6 Roma tomatoes, seeded (4 if they are large, 6 if they are smaller)
1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 of a red or orange bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch of scallions, chopped (There are usually 8 or 9 scallions in a bunch)
The juice of one lime
A pinch of black pepper
A pinch of cayenne pepper
A pinch of sea salt

First Step:

Seed your tomatoes. (I always freeze the pulp for soup or chili later.)

Seeded Tomatoes

Cut seeded tomatoes into strips.

Tomato Strips

Dice tomato strips and place in a medium sized bowl.

Diced Tomatoes

Second Step:

Cut Bell Pepper Into Strips.

Bell Pepper Strips

Dice pepper and add to the bowl with the tomatoes.

Tomatoes And Peppers

Step Three:

Chop scallions and add to tomato/pepper mixture.

Step Four:

Add lime juice and seasonings. Stir to mix. Chill at least 1 before serving hour.

Notes: This "salsa" breaks down quickly due to the citrus juice. Make it the day you plan on eating it and if you have any left overs you can freeze them and use it in chili or tortilla soup later.

Posted by Dianne at 1:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice

I used to take the RiceARoni Mexican rice mix and then add tomatoes, peppers and onion, but that mix is full of sodium! One servings has over a thousand milligrams of sodium! Yikes! So today I decided it would be easy to make my own, and you know what it was! Fresh is always better than boxed anyway. ;o)

What You'll Need:
1 cup of long grain rice
1 - 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes (Or you can use 2 cups of fresh tomatoes, chopped)
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch of scallions, chopped (Most bunches have 8 or 9 scallions in them. You can also use 1 small onion, chopped.)
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 cup of water

Dump all the ingredients in a covered dish and microwave for 20 minutes. When finished stir and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: You could vary this by adding 1 cup of frozen corn or a can of black or red beans.

Posted by Dianne at 12:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Refried" Beans

Piping Hot Refried Beans

"Refried" Beans are very easy to make and much better for you if you do! Try them! You'll love them!

What You'll Need:
1 small package of dry pinto beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 1/2 red onions, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of cayenne pepper
A pinch of black pepper

Beans

Cover beans with water until just covered and bring to a boil Reduce heat to a simmer and stir occasionally. Half way through cooking time stir in chopped onions. Cook for several hours (4-6 hours) until beans start falling apart.

Remove from heat and mash beans with a potato masher until pasty. Stir in seasonings and serve.

Posted by Dianne at 12:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack