Dairy has been an ongoing struggle in our house for a few years now. Mostly because we love it and can’t digest it. Unfortunately, it looks like half of our family is lactose intolerant. So this summer’s mission #1 is to find healthful snacks and substitutes to lead a dairy-free lifestyle. For me, an avid cheese lover this is a challenge to put it lightly. We’ve been eating low-dairy for about four years, but now it’s time to cut it out entirely. While I spent a solid hour in Whole Foods looking for easy-to-send-to school snacks, it really hit me that dairy is in everything! If you’re in the same boat as me, just learning how to eat dairy-free, check out the link here to a wonderful resource with plenty of reviews of products as well as recipes. Continue reading Non-dairy Creamy of Anything Soup
I feel like sometimes I get stuck in a side dish rut. I pick up the same veggies (depending on the season, really) and those are my weekly veggies, for a month or two. During summer it tends to be green beans, corn, carrots and red peppers. Of course, I add to my list cucumbers and tomatoes and avocados for salads, but as far as an accompaniment to a meal I get stuck sometimes with serving the same side dish for too long. Most of the time it doesn’t really bother me because I’m always just trying to get something on the table that we all like to eat.
Of late my go to side dish has been corn on the cob. Everyone in our family likes it. And it’s so easy to prepare; it really is no brainer when I’m prepping another dish too. I’ll be honest though and sometimes I avoid the whole side dish issue by making a one pot meal like paella or something else, so I don’t have to monitor two pots at once.
But this complacency is what leads to the inability to try new things in our family. So, every couple of weeks, (ok, whenever I think of it) I try a new side dish or try an old one in a different way. Thus, the fancy new pepper recipe.
So with this revamping I figured I’d take my chances with red peppers. My kids have like sweet red peppers for a while now, but roasting them and filling them with cheese made them go from snack to side dish pretty easily. The nice thing about this side dish is that it’s sophisticated enough to serve at a dinner party while also accommodating a few of our more selective family members (sic kids).
What’s your go to side dish?
3 medium-sized red peppers
2 ounces softened goat cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1. Cut each pepper in half and remove the seeds. Try to keep the stem in tact. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Lay the peppers on a parchment lined baking sheet and divide the goat cheese evenly amongst the 6 halves.
3. Roast the peppers with the cheese about 5-7 minutes, until the edges of the peppers begin to turn black and the cheese is melted.
4. Remove the peppers from the oven and drizzle with balsamic and basil and salt and pepper to taste.
Serves: 4-5 for a side dish
What’s prickly on the outside, but tender and buttery on the inside? An artichoke, of course. Artichokes are one of my all-time favorite vegetables. And yes, I do end up dunking mine in a whole lot of butter most of the time, but on occasion I have turned these little flowers into a meal by stuffing them with what else…stuffing!
It’s the perfect solution to what to do with leftover stuffing, if you end up with any, that is. Once you have the stuffing cooked, just pry open your prepared artichoke and fill the leaves to the brim and bake it off. Pretty simple and a wholle lot of fun for the kids (and grown ups) to eat.
4 medium-sized fresh artichokes, with stems and leaves trimmed
1 1/3 cups of leftover stuffing (click here for my Bacon Apple Stuffing)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2.After trimming the artichokes, pull the lower two or three layers of leaves out and down a bit so that you can shove in the stuffing. You’ll end up breaking a few of the leaves, but that’s okay. Just make sure they all stay attached or it will end up pretty messy.
3. With a small spoon nudge in about a tablespoon of stuffing on each leaf. Try to use about 1/3 of a cup of stuffing per artichoke. If you like cheese, a tablespoon of mozzarella over each is a nice touch too.
4. Once stuffed place them in a dutch oven (or a deep casserole dish) with about an inch of water at the bottom.
5. Then bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until leaves will be easy to pull.
I’m not totally sure why stuffing is just reserved for Thanksgiving. I think people must perceive it as a dish that is either decadent or complicated. It certainly does not require an advanced degree, but it definitely can be an indulgence.
And, we love stuffing at our house. It’s such good stuff we gobble it up year-round. And because I’ve made both the boxed version and the scratch version, I’ve realized that it’s a lot simpler to just make a homemade one that I can improve upon with all my favorite herbs.
4 cups of toasted bread torn (I used 4 dinner rolls and toasted them, but you can also use sliced bread that you’ve toasted)
1 onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
4 slices of bacon, chopped
1 granny smith apple, diced
1 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dry rosemary (or sage if you prefer)
1/4 cup apple juice
1. In a large saute pan over medium heat cook the bacon until it is cooked, but not crispy yet. This will take about 5-7 minutes.
2. Do not drain the grease from the bacon, and just pop in your veggies and saute them for an additional 5 minutes, or until the onions are browned.
3. Take it off the heat and stir in seasoning.
4. Then spoon in the juice slowly, until it is absorbed into the bread, but don’t let the bread get mushy. Taste for seasonings and add a pinch of salt and pepper.
One of my kids’ favorite lunchtime snacks is applesauce. Hey, in fact, even when I was a kid I remember getting so excited for the nights that my mom would make applesauce with her pork chops. I do have reservations about buying too much prepackaged food though, but since applesauce is so easy to make this is a fantastic fresh alternative to a kid favorite. Actually, this is the perfect thing to make as a big batch and serve it all week. Yep, I’ll say it… this is the go to meal for when the kiddos are sick and don’t want to eat anything. And yeah it’s easy. For a grown up version you could use it as a side dish, or crumble some graham crackers on top for a sweeter treat. My mom makes this without the butter and she uses Splenda, but I like the rich flavors that develop in this version. You can puree it in a blender for a smooth sauce or leave it diced for a more rustic version.
2 cups firm apple, peeled and diced (use any kind except red delicious, they get too mushy)
2 cups diced strawberries (or you could just do a pure applesauce)
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat melt the butter.
2. Toss the berries and apples in the butter so that they are coated evenly.
3. Stir in the brown sugar and put the lid on the pot and reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer 15-20 minutes, until the apples are soft when poked with a fork.
4. For an alternate version: use only apples and add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
I think it’s the vinegar that always sucks me in to those marinated mushrooms at the deli counter. Really, it’s the salty and sour combination, I think. Just so you know, I don’t ever buy them anymore, but I see them staring at me when I’m waiting for my sliced turkey breast. If you’re anything like me, you fight with yourself about buying those other seemingly fresh salads in the deli case. Again, I don’t buy them, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have those moments where I crave that classic picnic fare. From time to time I try to reinvent these favorites, whether it be for a potluck or for a dinner party of my own. I mean most of those salads are the make-ahead type and who wouldn’t love to make everything ahead on a weeknight too.
I think of this recipe as a take on that marinated mushroom favorite…with a little bit of class. In my mind this dish is half-way between a steakhouse side of mushrooms and the deli counter marinated mushrooms. This is one of those go to recipes for when I serve a crowd because it so simple. This makes a pretty regular appearance at family gatherings since I can make it in advance and serve it at room temperature. Many years ago I came across this recipe in the LA Times and have been making it ever since.In this version I’ve adjusted the measurements to be four side-dish portions.
1 box sliced white mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon squeezed about 1/4 cup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt & pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4 slices REAL bacon (it’s important to use the real stuff because you want to have the flavor from the drippings in your dressing.)
1. Heat a large non-stick saute pan on medium-high heat.
2. Cook the bacon in the pan until it is crispy, this takes about 5-7 minutes. When it’s done place it on paper towels to drain excess fat.
3. Turn the heat down to low and add the garlic and olive oil. Cook this 3 minutes. Then remove it from the heat.
4. Let the oil mixture cool about 5 minutes. Then add lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper to the oil mixture.
5. Pour the dressing over the mushrooms and toss it well . Then toss in green onions.
6. Let this rest 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 4 hours before serving.
7. To serve gently toss in the bacon.