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Archive for the ‘Side dishes’ Category

Salad in a jar experiment

Posted by Jeanne on May 25, 2012

Why, hello there.  Yes, I am still alive and yes, the child is doing well – she just makes it hard for me to post.

I found this salad in a jar post on Pinterest and was intrigued.  I eat a lot of fruit, but I struggle to eat raw vegetables because I just don’t find salads that interesting most of the time.  Also, who wants to assemble a salad at 7:15 in the morning on a Tuesday?  Not I.

Anyway, I am forever buying “salad stuff” and then leaving it in the fridge to rot.  I thought this might be a good way to pre-make lunch salads and then I would be able to just grab them from the fridge daily during the week.  Winning at salad!  Yay!

On Sunday, May 20th I assembled five salad jars with the following (listed first into the jar to last):

  • Homemade vinaigrette
  • Sliced yellow bell pepper
  • Sliced scallions
  • Slice cremini mushrooms
  • Green peas (from frozen)
  • Crumbled blue cheese
  • Spring mix
  • Baby spinach

Salad in a jar, hanging out in my office.

Then I sealed up my jars, put them in the refrigerator, and went on my merry way.  Note that I do not have a vacuum sealer and when I say “sealed up” I mean “put the lids on and screwed shut.”

Monday:  Looking very good, some of the peas discolored from touching the dressing.  No decline in quality though.  Everything was tasty and the texture was good.

Tuesday:  Looks about the same as Monday.  Mushrooms are starting to get a little soggy which concerns me, but are still fine.

Wednesday:  Mushrooms looking quite weird and have shown a precipitos decline in quality.  Quite soggy and I didn’t eat most of them.  I am afraid for Friday.  The rest of the veg holding strong and the spinach/greens were not soggy at all.

Thursday:  Same as yesterday!  I am less afraid for tomorrow.  The decline in quality of mushrooms soaked in vinaigrette appears to progress in non-linear fashion.

I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence but I kind of love it.

Friday:   A few of the greens were kind of soggy, but I am inclined to believe they would have been soggy anyway because most of them were fine.  Mushrooms the same, everything else was great!

It works!  I didn’t think it was possible but it works!  I am definitely doing this again.

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone.  Have fun!


Posted in Cooking, Garden/Seasonal, Side dishes | 1 Comment »

Fall into fall

Posted by Jeanne on October 29, 2011

I loooooove fall.  Curt does not – it makes him dread winter, which he despises.  But by the time fall comes around I am ready for sweaters again, ready to make soups and stews and squash and things with apples.

Two weekends ago, we canned 11 jars of apple pie filling from apples we got at the orchards in Nebraska City.  I haven’t tried any yet, but we used the same recipe as last year so I’m hoping it’s still a keeper.

Las weekend, Curt killed the garden – so we had parsnips and brussel sprouts to deal with.  I decided to start the day by making the butternut squash bread pudding from this article.  Curt made the carrot & parsnip soup earlier this week as well.

I made some changes to the recipe  – I had a bunch of weird bread that needed to be used (half a baguette, several burger buns, some sandwich bread) so I just chopped all of that up instead of buying or making French bread.

We also had that huge squash and tons of bread, so ended up doubling the recipe.  Other than the quantity, I pretty much followed the recipe as written (amazing!).

Savory Butternut Squash and Parmesan Bread Pudding, originally published in this book (Oxmoor House).

3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups 1 percent low-fat milk
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano or other hard cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs + 2 large egg whites (I just used 4 whole eggs for each batch)
8 ounces day-old French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 9 cups)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange squash in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

The bottom of the shirt says Tim Gunn, and it was designed by Daniel Vosovic (season 2).  I am done with Project Runway (for real this time!  I swear!  I can’t deal with it anymore) but I will forever love Tim Gunn.  Anyway!  Back to cooking.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes or until tender (it took about 25 minutes, but I had a lot more than 3 cups of squash). Remove from oven; reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

2. Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

3. Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, milk, 1/2 cup cheese, pepper, nutmeg, eggs and egg whites in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in squash and onion mixture. Add bread, and stir gently to combine. Let stand 10 minutes. Spoon into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until pudding is set and lightly browned.

Yield: 6 servings.

Yum.  We had this for dinner the night we made it, and it’s definitely on the “consider” list for Thanksgiving this year.  Very tasty.


We’re in Kansas City this weekend and I think will be in Minneapolis next weekend, so expect the sparse posting to continue.  Hopefully I’ll have some free time to post about our Thanksgiving menu – I can’t believe it’s so soon!

Posted in Cooking, Entrees, Garden/Seasonal, Holiday, Side dishes, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »

You jerk

Posted by Jeanne on August 19, 2011

I had originally planned to do a Fridge Friday post today, because it’s been way, way too long.  But because of some crazy storms in Omaha last night, we don’t have any power in the house – so the fridge is dark.  And I’m afraid to open it and let in any warm air, because who knows when the lights will go back on?

Anyway, so instead here is a post I’ve been working on for ages –  jerk chicken, rice & peas, and collard greens.

I love how well greens grow in our garden.  Traditionally, collards are boiled (usually with pork) for ages and ages.  I hate them this way – they’re really, really soft and mushy.

I like to sautee them briefly in olive oil and salt & pepper, then add some chicken stock and steam them for a bit.  They’re soft enough to eat but still have some bite to them.

For jerk chicken, I buy jerk marinade at this place (links to UrbanSpoon page for Caribbean Delights Restaurant, they seem not to have a webpage).  If you’re in Omaha, you must go – amazing, amazing stuff.  I like to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

Note:  Grill the chicken outside or cook it in the oven.  If you use a stovetop grill, the jerk paste will fill your kitchen with peppery smoke that is much like using pepper spray on yourself.  And your dogs.  Poor pups.

For the rice and peas, I used a recipe that’s similar to this one.  Rice & peas isn’t rice with green peas – it’s rice with beans, and they’re spicy and delicious.

I’m off to Des Moines this weekend, to visit the Iowa State Fair for the first time!  I am looking forward to red velvet funnel cake and lots of foods on a stick.  Don’t think I will be trying deep-fried butter though.

Hopefully I will return on Saturday evening and there will be power in my house.  It’s the little things that count, right?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Posted in Birdies, Cooking, Entrees, Garden/Seasonal, Gluten-free, Side dishes | Leave a Comment »

Tis the season: Benson Farmer’s Market

Posted by Jeanne on August 6, 2011

A lovely reader of my blog reminded me last night that it has been far, far too long since I posted.  So Kristi, this one’s for you.  🙂

The refrain to eat fresh vegetables and buy local seems to get louder every year.  We grow quite a few vegetables, as I’m sure my regular readers know.  We are also lucky enough that there is a farmer’s market just a couple blocks from our house, which I decided to visit a couple Saturdays ago.

I got six ears of sweet corn and three squash (two yellow squash and one zucchini) for $5 – a huge bargain, because they are ready NOW.  I love summer vegetables.


I seasoned them with salt and pepper, olive oil, and a little balsamic vinegar and grilled them for a few minutes to get some nice smoky flavor and soften them up a bit.

Then I made ratatouille, based very loosely on the recipe posted here.  I only had two tiny eggplants, so it was definitely heavy on the squash and zucchini and light on eggplant.  Still delicious though.

For the corn, I Curt cleaned the silk out but left the husks intact.

I mixed butter, mayo (I know, but it works so well), parmesean cheese, paprika, and salt & pepper and spread it on the corn.  We then closed the husks around them and grilled – it made a delicious side dish.

It’s currently pre-10 AM on Saturday and if you live in Benson you still have plenty of time to get to the market!  The Benson Farmer’s Market runs from 8 am to 1 pm Saturdays from May to October, and is located at the intersection of Maple Streets and Military Avenue in downtown Benson.

NB:  I was asked to do this post, but was not compensated for writing it.  I paid for my own items at the market.

Posted in Cooking, Entrees, Garden/Seasonal, Gluten-free, Side dishes | 2 Comments »

Daring Cooks June 2011: Healthy potato salads from around the world!

Posted by Jeanne on June 14, 2011

I read this challenge and was excited, and I told Curt about this challenge and he groaned.  Curt hates potato salad.  Curt has this terrible affliction wherein he dislikes both mayonnaise and vinegar in any application where they are the dominant flavor, which eliminates pretty damn much all picnic-salad-type dishes.

Anyway, so not only was I supposed to make a healthy potato salad, I wanted to make something that my lovely but picky husband would enjoy.  A challenge indeed.  I was inspired by all the herbs in our garden that are coming up, so I decided to make a warm potato salad with a Dijon-herb vinaigrette.

Blog-checking lines:  Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

Warm potato salad with Dijon-herb vinaigrette

Serves 3 or 4

6 medium potatoes, about 2 or 3 lbs., cut into uniform chunks

1 TB Dijon mustard

1 lemon, juiced (about 1 TB juice)

Herbs – I used chives, thyme, and tarragon

Salt & pepper

0.25 C olive oil

Boil potatoes in salted water (I used about 3 quarts of water  and 2 TB salt) until tender, about 20 – 25 minutes depending on how big you’ve cut them.

While potatoes cook, combine mustard, lemon juice, herbs, and salt & pepper to taste.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil to finish the dressing.

The magic of emulsion.

Drain the potatoes, and immediately add to the dressing while they’re still hot.  Stir gently to coat all of the potatoes without breaking them.  Let rest for a few minutes so the potatoes can absorb the dressing and toss again.  Serve warm.

And even Curt liked it.

Posted in Cooking, Gluten-free, Side dishes | 2 Comments »


Posted by Jeanne on March 5, 2011

Spring will soon be upon us – and that means asparagus!  At least to me…

Head on over to the Daring Kitchen’s Food Talk page and see a couple of my favorite ways to eat asparagus.

Tonight, there will be sushi for us.  Tomorrow, hopefully a planning post about the upcoming week.  Happy Saturday everyone!

Posted in Appetizers, Cooking, Daring Kitchen, Side dishes | Leave a Comment »

Thanksgiving 2010: The Plan

Posted by Jeanne on November 16, 2010

It’s almost here!  The most wonderful holiday of the year is almost here!

So – what are we making?

Beet, goat cheese & arugula salad with caper vinaigrette – the beets will be roasted, chopped, and chilled a couple days before.  The vinaigrette will be made up the day of.  I like the look of this recipe.  I would use lemon juice and rice vinegar instead of red wine vinegar though – mostly because we never ever have red wine vinegar.

Butternut squash and beet green gratin – based on this recipe, but using the tops of the beets rather than spinach.  No wasting the greens!

Mashed potatoes – there are a ton of recipes for “jazzed up” mashed potatoes out there; I like to keep it simple.  Potatoes (yukon golds and/or red potatoes), half and half, butter, salt, pepper.

Green bean casserole – yes, I know.  The traditional recipe for green bean casserole is full of cream of whatever soup and is mushy and soggy and its only redeeming quality is the french-fried onions on top. I kind of hate it.

But.  Green bean casserole is an essential element of the Thanksgiving leftover bowl – the combination of everyone in one bowl, then covered in black pepper and nuked until steaming hot.  I think you need it to hold everything together.

So I make my own sauce and use frozen, not canned, green beans.  Something like this recipe.

Dressing – I really don’t know what I’m going to do this year.  Anyone have a favorite recipe?  I have been disappointed with the dressing I’ve made the past couple of years.

I might try this recipe, or maybe this one.

Cranberry-orange sauce – something like this recipe, but without the ginger ale. I want it more thick than a “dipping sauce.”

Turkey – must have turkey.  This year I am getting a free-range broad breasted bird (not a heritage breed) from Watterman Family Farm in West Point, Nebraska.  It was ordered through the Nebraska Food Cooperative.

I’ll brine the turkey in cider – here is a recipe similar to the method we’ll use.

Gravy – I don’t really like gravy.  I know, I am horrible and evil.  I make gravy with a roux base and add giblet stock and lots and lots of pan drippings.

Dessert – I’m not making dessert!  Whoot!  My mother-in-law uses her mother’s pie recipe (or maybe her grandmother’s pie recipe?) and usually makes apple and pumpkin pies.  Yum.

So.  What are you making?  What’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving?

And don’t judge me for the Thanksgiving leftover bowl; you have weird Thanksgiving food habits of your own.  I know you do.

Posted in Birdies, Cooking, Entrees, Garden/Seasonal, Planning, Side dishes | 8 Comments »

Daring Kitchen October: Dolmades

Posted by Jeanne on October 14, 2010

Epic fail. These look great, smell great… no flavor.  Absolutely NONE.  Totally my fault.

I really shouldn’t mess with recipes for cuisines I don’t make that often. Like Greek food.  Especially Greek food that is rolled in grape leaves which I have never used for anything before… aaaaaah.

Ok.  The filling.  For the meat version, I used some elements of this recipe, and this one, and also this one and this one.  For the vegetarian version, I mostly just used this recipe with a dash of this recipe, but without the pine nuts and raisins – thereby eliminating any flavor.

D’oh.  So that was the first problem.

Leaves!  The grape leaves were the second problem.  Grape leaves are well, leaves – and they tear.  They tear REALLY REALLY EASILY.

Also they are not that big – this is about a tablespoon of filling.  So based on the amount of filling, we made approximately ten million of them.

Rolling rolling rolling…

They look pretty, don’t they?

So I followed the cooking instructions given in this recipe, and cooked them in the crock pot… I probably should have just cooked them in a pot.

The inside view!

We ended up having pizza that night.  Epic cooking fail on my part!  But – lesson learned.

Follow.  The.  Recipe.  Especially the first go-round.

Thanks to the Daring Kitchen for another great challenge!

Posted in Appetizers, Cooking, Daring Kitchen, Side dishes | 10 Comments »

Kale: Before and after

Posted by Jeanne on August 20, 2010

I decided we had to pick the kale.

Also Curt picked some potatoes.

And so we made some colcannon.  Colcannon is traditionally made with cabbage and not kale, but kale is delicious and it’s what we had and that was that.

Colcannon with kale

1.5 lb. potatoes (we had Yukon golds and red potatoes)

0.5 lb. kale, washed well and cut into ribbons

0.5 C milk

2 – 3 TB butter

Salt & pepper

Peel and boil potatoes until they are fork-tender but not falling apart, about 10 – 15 minutes.  We cheat and use the microwave for this – cover with salted water and 20 minutes on high from start to finish and they are ready to go.

While the potatoes are boiling, cook the kale in a little bit of olive oil in a large saute or saucepan with the lid on, stirring occasionally, for about 10 to 15 minutes until completely wilted and softened.  Season with salt & pepper.  Don’t add too much water or you’ll have to drain it – the water that stays on the leaves from washing plus maybe another TB should do it.

When the potatoes are ready, drain them and mash with the milk and butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add kale and stir to combine.

And that’s it.  I should have taken some pictures but it seemed really silly at the time… If you want to go super-Midwestern, then add some steak.

We had a honking 21 oz. sirloin in the freezer, so I cooked it and we had a meat-and-potatoes feast.

And it was delicious, and the week was over, and there was wine.

Posted in Cooking, Garden/Seasonal, red meat, Side dishes | Leave a Comment »

Pierogi, Naomi-style

Posted by Jeanne on August 14, 2010

Second Daring Kitchen challenge – pierogi!  Including homemade dough.  I have never made pierogi before.  But I have made ravioli, and I figured they couldn’t be that different, right?

Little different.  Whoops.

But let me back up – I need to explain why these are Naomi-style.  And to do that I have to talk about the tiny dog and why her name is Nettie.

Aw.  The Nettie.

Anyway.  So Curt used to work in Bellevue, which is… kind of a suburb of Omaha?  And right on the edge between Omaha and Bellevue is Nettie’s.

Nettie’s is a Mexican restaurant.  I don’t know about “authentic” and I hate the word authentic – like the other alternative is fake.  Nettie’s salsa and guac and incredibly spicy chili may or may not be authentic, but they are definitely delicious.

Curt ate lunch there every Wednesday for… 3 years?  4 years?  And then we named our dog after the restaurant. In our world, this is a high compliment.

Nettie’s has a potato and pea enchilada that may classify as an addiction.  So:  the potato and pea enchilada and Naomi’s addiction to said enchilada was the inspiration for these pierogis.  We were making cochinita pibil and needed a side so I thought I would go for it.

First you make the filling.

This is three or four yukon golds, cubed and parboiled, and then sauteed with half a minced onion, garlic, salt & pepper, cumin, and oregano.  I grated some sharp cheddar on top, mixed it all up, and set it aside.

Next – the dough. This is Anula‘s family recipe for pierogi.

2 to 2.5 C all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
About 1 C lukewarm water

Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center. Break the egg into it, add the salt and a little water at a time (you don’t need to use it all – it was humid that day and I ended up using quite a bit more flour because I had put in too much water). Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Cover the dough with a bowl or towel. You’re aiming for soft dough. Let it rest 20 minutes.

Thus begins the difference between pierogi and pasta.  Pierogi dough is sticky and soft and reminded me more of pizza dough than a pasta dough, which tends to be pretty dry to the touch.  When you roll it out, it springs back at you.

You want to roll it out until it’s about 1/8th of an inch thick, and then cut it into rounds.  When you cut it, the edges pull away – pasta dough just sits there and waits for you to move it.

Dough with a mind of its own.

Add filling, and either press with a dumpling or pierogi press (like this one) or fold over and close with a fork.  I made some using each method.

Bring some salted water to a boil in a large sauce pan – I actually used the non-stick skillet, because I wanted them to have room to move.  Drop a few dumplings in at a time.

When they rise to the surface of the water, boil for another minute or two, then pull out with a slotted spoon and drain.  Serve immediately.

We topped the pierogi with Cholula hot sauce, and served them with pork tacos topped with pickled red onions.

And that, my friends, is how you bastardize an Eastern European dumpling – be inspired by your Norwegian friend’s obsession with Mexican food.

Posted in Cooking, Daring Kitchen, Side dishes | 4 Comments »