Posts Tagged ‘sides’

Stir-Fry Rice Pilaf

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

If I were to say that say I’m making a rice pilaf, you could probably conjure up images of several different rice side dishes you’ve been served at various restaurants or dinner parties. And you probably wouldn’t be wrong. The only thing required for a rice pilaf is to sauté the uncooked rice in oil or butter to give it a nice toasted flavor, and then to cook it in broth. Nuts, seeds, veggies, dried fruits, herbs, and meat are all optional add-ins. That makes rice pilaf an incredibly versatile side.

Most people use a long grain white rice to make a pilaf, but we keep this short-grain brown rice on hand, and that’s what I used. It worked just fine. I adapted the recipe from that website, where they posted the perfect template for a make-your-own-pilaf. I added sesame seeds and frozen stir-fry veggies, along with a bit of hoisin sauce and ginger to the broth. Though it takes a bit of time to make the rice from scratch, this was a delicious and versatile side dish. I know I’ll be making other variations when the mood strikes.

Stir-Fry Rice Pilaf

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 2 tsp oil or butter
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
  • 1/2 cup of toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 ½ cups frozen vegetables (I used a stir-fry blend)
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger

Heat a heavy skillet on medium heat. Add oil and stir with wooden spoon. Add rice and continue stirring for 5 min or until grains are toasted. Add broth, cover tightly and cook for 45 min. Stir in remaining ingredients and continue cooking for 5 min. Serve. Makes 6 servings.

Note: This made a lot of rice. I’d half this recipe next time, and probably still have leftovers. We served this with hoisin-glazed pork chops and grilled pineapple skewers. Yum!


Versatile Pilafs

Rice pilafs are a method of cooking rice that requires sauteeing of raw grains to add a nutty toasted flavor. Any combination of herbs vegetables nuts and seeds and meats can be used with the rice. Always use a wooden spoon to stir rice to avoid breaking the grains.

Cooking Instructions:

  • 2 cup Lundberg® Long Grain Brown Rice
  • 2 tsp oil or margarine
  • 4 cup broth or water
  • 1/2 cup any nutmeats or sesame seeds
  • 1 package frozen vegetables or
    2 cup fresh chopped herbs
  • salt and pepper as desired

Heat a heavy skillet on medium heat. Add oil and stir with wooden spoon. Add rice and continue stirring for 5 min or until grains are toasted. Add broth or water cover tightly and cook for 45 min. Stir in vegetables nuts etc. and continue cooking for 5 min. Serve. Makes 6 servings.



Two-Corn Polenta with Tomatoes & Basil

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

David and I have not, historically speaking, been big fans of polenta. My first experiences with polenta were way back when my mom was doing Weight Watchers in the late 90’s, when someone on the message boards convinced her to try the pre-made kind. It came in a tube, we sliced it and tried to pan fry it with olive oil, or maybe even cooking spray. Yuck. No flavor at all. Weird texture. No thanks.

Then, Alton Brown convinced me to try again. Not really compatible with Weight Watchers this time, since his recipe calls for plenty of cheese, butter, and whole milk.  It was also mildly complicated, as he extolled the virtues of “real” polenta, and asked me to avoid the instant stuff. Trusting Alton, I did. This was better than the first time, but I still remember being disappointed. Handfuls of good-quality cheddar, wasted. I ate my spoonful, but I didn’t really like it at all. It was mildly better sliced and pan-fried, but not great. I was ready to write off polenta altogether.

Except…

Something makes me WANT to like it. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know why I’m so determined. I’ve had it at restaurants, and still wasn’t a fan. Cheese couldn’t save it. But for some reason, when I saw this recipe at the Cooking Light site, I was willing to give it another try.

And this time, I was pleasantly surprised. The fresh sweet corn adds additional flavor and texture that the other recipes I tried were lacking. The parmesan added a salty richness, but the flavor wasn’t overwhelmingly cheesy. The fresh tomato and basil balanced the flavors. I subbed shallots for onions (I do this often—where onions are too much for me, I’ve learned to like the milder taste of shallots) and even liked the flavor that they added. It was really good. I went back for seconds. I’m pretty sure David did, too. And I even ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.

I never got around to slicing and frying this batch, but next time I make it, I’d make sure I got to try that with the leftovers. And there will be a next time.

Two-Corn Polenta with Tomatoes & Basil
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine, June 2008

Ingredients

  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 2  cups  chopped onion (2 medium)
  • 4  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2  cups  fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
  • 2  garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1  cup  instant dry polenta
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  cup  chopped tomato
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh basil

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth, corn, and garlic; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Slowly add polenta, stirring with a whisk until polenta is thick (about 5 minutes). Add cheese, stirring to melt. Stir in salt and pepper. Remove from heat; sprinkle with tomato and basil. Serve immediately.

Note: Bonus points for this recipe—I got to use my dutch oven! A heavy saucepan would work just fine though.

Cheddar & Brown Rice Risotto Cakes

Friday, July 30th, 2010

We buy our brown rice from Costco, a 12.5 pound bag of short grain brown rice from Lundberg Family Farms. Recently, I checked out their website and was pleasantly surprised to find a whole slew of recipes for all of their rice products, including several for the short grain variety we buy.

Naturally, this cheesy recipe caught my eye. It was tasty AND healthy, which is a great combination. Kind of like a potato pancake–cheesy, crispy around the edges, with the nutty flavor of brown rice. We really enjoyed these, and I’m sure we’ll make them again. They’d be good with other kinds of cheese as well. If you weren’t worried about the health aspects, full fat cheese and butter or olive oil in place of the nonstick spray would be delicious, but honestly, they were great the healthy way too. :)

I used leftover brown rice to make these cakes, which makes it even better.

Cheddar & Brown Rice Risotto Cakes

  • 1 cup (4-ounces) shredded low-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Vegetable cookin spray
  • Applesauce (optional)
  • Lowfat sour cream (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked Lundberg Organic Short Grain Brown RiceCombine rice, cheese, onion, flour, salt and pepper in medium bowl. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar in small bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold beaten egg whites into rice mixture.

    Coat large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat until hot. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons batter into skillet for each patty; push batter into diamond shape using spatula. Cook patties, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Serve warm with applesauce or sour cream. Makes about 1 dozen patties.

Green Beans with Bacon-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

It’s green bean season, and we got a whole bushel from my grandparents a week or so ago. I’m sure we’re not the only ones looking to use up some great garden green beans, but other than my friend Leah, who will sit and munch them like potato chips, everyone seems to do the same thing with beans. This time, I was looking for something a little different.

I found this recipe on the Cooking Light website. Despite the bacon and sauce, it works out to only a Point for a cup, which is nice. I used center cut bacon, and substituted chopped walnut pieces for the almonds in the original recipe (David’s not a fan of almonds).

I thought it was tasty, and probably worth another try. There’s sugar in the sauce, and that made it turn out sweeter than I had imagined, probably compounded by the fact that I also substituted regular balsamic vinegar for the white balsamic that the recipe originally called for. I was in a hurry, and ended up tossing things in the skillet a bit differently than called for, and so the end product had bits of candied bacon throughout (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). I think, overall, the beans could have used more salt.

As I said, I’ll probably try this one again, following the original a bit more closely to see how things turn out.

Green Beans with Bacon-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Adapted from Cooking Light, November 1996

Ingredients

  • 2  pounds  green beans
  • 2  bacon slices
  • 1/4  cup  minced shallots
  • 3  tablespoons  coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2  tablespoons  brown sugar
  • 1/4  cup  balsamic vinegar

Preparation

Cook green beans in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain well; set aside.

Cook bacon in a small skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet. Crumble; set aside. Add shallots to bacon fat in skillet; sauté 1 minute. Add almonds; sauté 1 minute. Remove and let cool. Add sugar and vinegar; stir until sugar dissolves. Add crumbled bacon.

Pour vinaigrette over beans, tossing gently to coat.

Caramelized Corn with Fresh Thyme

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

This is a great, simple, summery side dish, even though it takes advantage of frozen corn. It’s not hard, and there aren’t many ingredients. It’s one of those awesome, simple dishes that really is greater than the sum of its parts.

Caramelizing the corn brings out tons of great flavor, and the fresh herbs brightened and deepened the flavors. The original recipe called for mint, but I think any fresh herbs that you have on hand would work just fine. The thyme was very good, and I think basil or cilantro would be equally delicious.


Caramelized Corn with Fresh Thyme
Adapted from The Wednesday Chef

1 10-ounce package frozen premium corn (choose something extra sweet)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
Salt

1. Defrost the corn in a colander, tossing occasionally, for about 30 minutes.

2. In a wide skillet, melt the butter over high heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring often, until golden and browned (kernels may begin to pop), about 10 minutes. Stir in the thyme and sprinkle with salt. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve while hot.

Note: I didn’t have any frozen corn on hand, so I had to use canned. I made sure to drain it really well. It worked fine. Next time, I’d try it with frozen corn, and I think it could be even better.

Cookbook Review: Barefoot Contessa At Home (Plus, Blue Cheese Coleslaw)

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Sometimes I wish that I could grow up to be the Barefoot Contessa. No, really. She has a gorgeous house, as far as I can tell, she spends her life having people over for brunch, lunch, or dinner, grows all of her own herbs, buys the best possible ingredients, and everything she makes is somehow beautiful and elegant. So naturally, I love her cookbooks.

I got a new one for Christmas, Barefoot Contessa At Home. Just like Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, (see my review here) this book is full of fabulous recipes and gorgeous glossy photographs. I find myself wanting to try something new every time I turn the page.

After an extensive introduction, the book is divided into sections for Soup & Sandwiches, Salads, Dinner, Veggies, Desserts, Breakfast, and followed other other resources about visiting the Hamptons and planning out party menus. Here’s a list of the recipes in each section:

  1. Soup & Sandwich: California BLT’s, Summer Borscht, Caesar Club Sandwich, Mexican Chicken Soup, Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Ribollita, Smoked Salmon & Egg Salad Tartines, Fresh Pea Soup, Garlic Croutons, Roasted Pepper & Goat Cheese Sandwiches, Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup, Tomato Mozzarella & Pesto Panini, Shrimp Bisque, and Honey White Bread.
  2. Salads: Heirloom Tomatoes with Blue Cheese Dressing, Chicken Salad Veronique, Grilled Tuna Salad, Bibb Salad with Basil Green Goddess Dressing, Jon Snow’s Fish Salad, Roasted Shrimp & Orzo, Pesto Pea Salad, Warm Duck Salad, Tomato Feta Salad, Blue Cheese Coleslaw (recipe below), Guacamole Salad, and Old-Fashioned Potato Salad.
  3. Dinner: Blue Cheese Burgers, Cornish Hens with Cornbread Stuffing; Chicken Piccata; Lamb Kebabs with Couscous; Roast Capon; Loin of Pork with Fennel, Stuffed Cabbage, Rib-Eye Steaks with Cornmeal-Fried Onion Rings, Portobello Mushroom Lasagna, Chicken with Goat Cheese & Basil, Seafood Gratin, Eli’s Asian Salmon, Lmon Fusilli with Arugula, Summer Garden Pasta, Seared Tuna with Mango Chutney, Easy Lobster Paella.
  4. Vegetables: Garlic & Herb Tomatoes, Orange-Honey Glazed Carrots, Broccolini & Balsamic Vinaigrette, Zucchini Pancakes, Herbed Basmati Rice, Green Green Spring Vegetables, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, Stewed Lentils & Tomatoes, Parmesan-Roasted Cauliflower, Creamy Rosemary Polenta, Broccoli Rabe with Garlic, Maple Baked Beans, Mustard-Roasted Potatoes, Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread, Herb Roasted Onions
  5. Desserts: Frozen Berries with Hot White Chocolate, Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, Lemon Yogurt Cake, Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars, Mixed Berry Pavlova, Coconut Cake, Pumpkin Mousse Parfait, Chocolate Sorbet, Black & White Angel Food Cake, Chocolate Cupcakes & Peanut Butter Icing, Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries, Ultimate Ginger Cookie, Fruitcake Cookies, Peach  & Blueberry Crumbles, Pear Apple & Cranberry Crisp, Summer Fruit Crostata, Caramel Pecan Sundaes.
  6. Tri-Berry Muffins, Cranberry Orange Scones, Chunky Banana Bran Muffins, Easy Cheese Danish, Omelet for Two, Scrambled Eggs & Salmon, Maple-Roasted Bacon, Breakfast Fruit Crunch, Sunday Morning Oatmeal, Blueberry Crumb Cake, Anna’s Orange Marmalade, Irish Soda Bread, Fresh Peach Bellinis, Spicy Bloody Marys.

Doesn’t that sound fantastic? All of it, I mean? If I was going to have my own Julie & Julia challenge, I think I’d work my way through Ina Garten’s recipes. At the very least, there’d be more lobster in my life.

Finally, as a sneak peak, here’s my adaptation of Ina’s Blue Cheese Coleslaw.

Blue Cheese Coleslaw
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa At Home

  • 2 cups shredded cole slaw mix
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, two mustards, vinegar, celery salt, kosher salt, and pepper. Place the shredded cole slaw mix in a large bowl. Pour enough of the mayonnaise dressing over the vegetables to moisten, and toss well. Add the cheese and parsley and toss together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to meld.

Very, very tasty. If you’re a fan of blue cheese dressing, you should give this one a try.

AuGratin Potatoes – Lightened

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

I found this Au Gratin Potatoes recipe on the main Weight Watchers website. They post free recipes from time to time, and this was one of them. The notes on the recipe promise that these cheesy potatoes are spouse and kid-friendly, and I can see that. They didn’t taste light at all. The potatoes were creamy and cheesy–reminded me a lot of our family’s standard scalloped potatoes recipe, but with added cheese flavor. I didn’t mind the onion, but if you don’t like onions, you could certainly skip it, and it would turn out just fine.

Au Gratin Potatoes
Adapted from weightwatchers.com

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup 2% cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 2-quart covered baking dish with cooking spray.

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour; add milk slowly, stirring. Add potatoes and stir to mix. Bring to a boil. Stir in 3/4 cup of cheese, salt and pepper.

Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and level out surface. Bake for 1 hour, uncovered. Cover and bake until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes more.

Change oven temperature to broil. Sprinkle remaining cheese over potatoes. Broil 6 inches from the heating element until the cheese is golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing into 8 pieces. Works out to three points a serving, according to Weight Watchers.

Note: I’m sure we’ll make these again. The potatoes were creamy, and cheesy, and definitely worth making. The only drawback is the lengthy cooking time–I may experiment with parboiling or starting the potatoes in the microwave a little bit to cut down on the time in the oven next time. Almost an hour and a half in the oven is too long to make these practical for a weeknight, unfortunately.

Wild Rice and Barley Pilaf

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

This recipe came from weightwatchers.com, while I was searching for a way to use up some Minnesotan wild rice. In addition to maple syrup and maple sugar, sometimes our roommate brings wild rice back from the north woods. And we approve. :)

Big surprise here: I don’t like asparagus. But David does, and Leah does sometimes, and I can pick around it easily enough, so I made them this dish anyway.

It was good, and came together easily, but it wasn’t anything spectacular. I was a little disappointed that the barley pretty much overpowered the wild rice. On the other hand, I had never eaten barley as a side dish like rice, and it was pretty tasty. Like rice, but nuttier. I enjoyed it. The other thing this recipe had going for it? A half a cup is only one Point. That’s a pretty good deal for a side-dish.

barley & asparagus

Wild Rice & Barley Pilaf

  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 1 cup uncooked barley, pearl-variety (not quick cooking)
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each dried thyme & sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 10 ounces of asparagus spears (thin) cut into 2-inch pieces

1. Bring the broth and rice to a simmer in a large saucepan; cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Stir in the barley, shallot, salt, thyme, sage and pepper. Cover and continue simmering over low heat for 25 minutes.

3. Stir in the asparagus, cover, reduce the heat even further and simmer slowly for 5 minutes. Set aside off the heat, covered, for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Yields about 1/2 cup per serving.

Note: Next time, I’d halve this recipe for sure. It made a TON, at least 12 servings.

The Baked Potato (Alton Brown Style)

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Oh look, another Alton Brown recipe.

This one is so simple, it hardly deserves a recipe. Except that this really is “The” Baked Potato recipe. It shouldn’t have been anything special, but the texture inside the potatoes was perfect, and they had a great crunchy skin that made you want to eat every bite–like a restaurant potato. If you’re looking for a basic baked potato recipe, I don’t think you’ll ever need a different one.

baked potato

Alton Brown’s Baked Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 large russet potato (If it looks like Mr. Potato Head, you’ve got the right one.)
  • Olive oil, to coat
  • Kosher salt

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees and position racks in top and bottom thirds. Wash potato (or potatoes) thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water. Dry, then using a standard fork poke 8 to 12 deep holes all over the spud so that moisture can escape during cooking. Place in a bowl and coat lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and place potato directly on rack in middle of oven. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings.

Bake 1 hour or until skin feels crisp but flesh beneath feels soft. Serve by creating a dotted line from end to end with your fork, then crack the spud open by squeezing the ends towards one another. It will pop right open. But watch out, there will be some steam.

If you’re cooking more than 4 potatoes, you’ll need to extend the cooking time by up to 15 minutes.

Note: Next time, I think I’d use one of my more special salts–the Maldon crunchy sea salt, or the Himilayan Pink Sea Salt that I have. I think this is one of those things where you’d really have a chance to taste the difference in the salt. Sorry about the low quality picture, but you know what a baked potato looks like anyway. This one doesn’t look like anything special, it’s just an easy, serviceable method with solid results. My one disappointment is that this recipe didn’t show up in the new Good Eats: The Early Years cookbook, despite being featured in the second episode. Alton makes baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, and a potato gratin, and only the mashed potatoes (plus a potato pancake recipe that wasn’t on the episode) made it into the book. I thought they were all supposed to be there, so I’m going to have to do a bit more investigating.

Hasselback Potatoes

Monday, August 17th, 2009

I spotted a picture of these potatoes on Photograzing the other day, which reminded me of when I’d read about them on Orangette’s blog a few months back. They couldn’t be easier to make, and you probably have everything you need on hand. Basically, you slice a potato into thin accordion slices, tuck garlic in between the slices, and sprinkle with extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, and crunchy sea salt (regular salt would work, too). I also topped each potato with just a tiny bit of butter. The potatoes were simple, but tasty. They got crunchy at the edges, like shoestring french fries, or even potato chips, while the center of the potatoes stayed soft and creamy. I used yukon gold potatoes, but I think any starchy (not waxy) potatoes would work. You end up with some kind of cross between potato skins and mashed potatoes. Very tasty!

photo(3)

Hasselback Potatoes

  • 6 Medium Size Potatoes
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 425. Put the potato on a cutting board and trim a strip off of one long side of the potato, to create a stable base for slicing. Place the potato on the board flat side down. Start from one end of the potato, and carefully slice about 3/4 of the way through, at about 1/4 inch intervals.

Arrange the potatoes on a cookie sheet and insert the garlic in between the slits. Scatter some butter on top of each potato, then drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Bake the potatoes for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes turn crispy and the flesh is soft and tender.