Category Archives: Sides

Fresh Corn & Tomato Salad

Today I have a quick and easy side dish for you. While other recipes are still waiting in line to get on the blog, this one I made just last week. I wanted to share it with all of you before fresh corn becomes too out of season. The good part about now is that fresh heirloom tomatoes are cropping up in supermarkets.

I’m sure you could use thawed frozen sweet corn in this recipe, but using fresh corn off the cob gives this salad a little something special.

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Sorry the picture isn’t fantastic, I was hungry! But I promise that it is delicious! You can even eat it as a light lunch. Add some of your favorite beans for a little protein kick.

If you don’t like goat cheese (which I know a lot of people don’t), feel free to add in fresh mozzarella pieces or leave out the cheese all together.

Fresh Corn & Tomato Salad
(Serves 4-6)

4 ears of sweet corn cut off the cob or thawed frozen sweet corn (about 2 cups)
1 lb. heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/2″ chunks
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
5 basil leaves, thinly sliced
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

In a large bowl combine corn, tomatoes, onion, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Allow to sit for an hour in the fridge before serving.

Just before serving, add fresh basil. Mix well. Top with goat cheese and serve cold or at room temperature.

Easy enough, right?

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Twiced Baked Classic

Ever eat twice baked potatoes? I ate them rarely when I was younger, but whenever I see pictures on foodgawker of them, I immediately get a craving.

But, since I’m all about making classic meals healthier, I decided to make a twice baked sweet potato. It’s packed with flavor and goodness. They’re super easy to make AND versatile: eat it as a lunch or a delicious side dish.

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This recipe can also be doubled, tripled, etc. Figure 1 sweet potato per person if it’s the main course for lunch, or if it’s a side, figure 1/2-1 sweet potato per person.

Without further ado, here’s healthy, comforting, twice baked potatoes.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
(Serves 2-4)

2 large sweet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
1/2 c. chopped pancetta or bacon
2 leeks, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1 c. shredded Gruyere cheese, or a lowfat Italian cheese blend
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Poke the sweet potatoes with a fork, about 8 times. Pop into the microwave for about 6-10 minutes on high power until the potatoes are soft (NOT mushy!) to touch. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a pan over medium-high heat, cook pancetta or bacon until it just starts to brown. Add in leeks and garlic. Cook until the leeks are soft. Take off the heat.

When the potatoes are done slice them in half and scoop out most of the inside of the sweet potato, leaving about 1/4-1/2″ border. Place on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet.

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Put the scooped sweet potato into a bowl. Add in the yogurt, 1/2 of the cheese, and the pancetta-leek-garlic mixture. Stir until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Scoop the mixture into the sweet potato shells evenly. Top with the rest of the cheese.

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Bake about 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Serve and enjoy 🙂

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Roasted (or Grilled) Veggies & Carb Goodness

First of all, happy father’s day to all the dads out there!

Second of all, here’s a fun recipe that can be made any time of year. Roast vegetables in balsamic vinegar in the oven or toss them on the grill! Summer or winter, this dish is equally delicious.

Third of all, notice a difference on my blog? What do you think of the new header I put together? Yay or nay?

Back to the recipe…

I used a combination of bell pepper, mushrooms, onion, and zucchini. Throwing in some fresh herbs and some chopped Kalamata olives and marinated artichokes gives the dish a tangy bite. Sprinkle with a bit of feta for saltiness and you’re all set to tickle your tastebuds!

Eaten hot or cold, this pasta salad is extremely versatile. A side dish, a lunch or a dinner if you throw in some chicken or beans 🙂 Or these veggies make a delicious side dish on their own, pasta excluded!

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Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad
(Serves 4-6)

1 lb. whole wheat penne, fusilli, rigatoni, etc.
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 orange, yellow or red bell pepper
1 large red onion
2 medium zucchini or yellow squash
8 oz. cremini mushrooms
12 Kalamata olives, halved
1 c. chopped marinated artichoke hearts
1/3 c. feta cheese
2 tbsp. chopped thyme, rosemary, & basil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

If you’re going to grill your vegetables, turn the grill to medium. Chop pepper into quarters, slice onions into 1/2″ thick rings (keeping the rings together), slice zucchini into quarters, and keep mushrooms whole. Basically, you’re keeping these veggies in large pieces so they’re easier to grill and they don’t fall through the grates. Toss with garlic, balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Marinate for about 20 minutes. Place pieces on the grill and grill for about 15 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. You want the veggies to have a nice brown coloring on them, but you don’t want the veggies to be falling apart on the grill.

If you’re going to roast the veggies, chop the veggies into 1/2″ pieces, toss with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the veggies for about 20-25 minutes in a 400 degree oven, or until the veggies are nice and browned (turning halfway between cooking).

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drizzle with olive oil and stir to keep from sticking. Set aside, covered, to keep warm.

In a large mixing bowl, place pasta and cooked veggies. Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, and herbs. Sprinkle with feta cheese before serving. Serve hot, cold or room temperature.

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Delicious & Nutritious Salad: Perfect for a BBQ!

With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner, I wanted to give you all a PERFECT salad recipe that is absolutely delicious for a backyard BBQ. Black bean salad loaded with colorful veggies. Super easy. It can be easily doubled, tripled, etc. It’s so flavorful, packed with veggies and protein – it really could be a meal in itself!

This recipe is a real crowd pleaser. My mom and I have made this for countless occasions with many different mouths trying it. It’s always been a hit. It’s great for warm weather parties because there’s no mayo in it. This salad travels well and keeps for days. It can be eaten room temperature or right out of the fridge! It’s also good in the morning with some scrambled eggs.

For the veggies, you basically want to chop them to the size of the black beans, they can be a bit bigger, but you really want everything to be uniform so you don’t have large chunks of certain things. It helps pull the salad together 🙂

I hope you enjoy it! If you bring it to your Memorial Day picnic, I promise you will not be disappointed!

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Black Bean Salad
(Serves 6-8)

3 cans of black beans (organic, low sodium, whatever you prefer), rinsed and drained well
1 orange bell pepper, diced into 1/4″ pieces
1 pint of grape tomatoes, diced into halves or quarters depending on size
1 1/2 c. frozen or fresh corn off the cob
4 scallions, sliced (whites and greens!)
1 jalapeno, minced, seeds and ribs removed (optional)
2 limes, juiced (about 1/4-1/3 c. juice)
1/3 c. olive oil (or oil of your choice)
2 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4-1/3 c. cilantro, chopped (optional, for garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, chili powder, cumin and 2 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper. Pour in your beans, peppers, tomatoes, corn, jalapenos (if using) and scallions. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with cilantro, if desired. Serve!

Couldn’t be easier, right? 😉

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Delicious Spring Salad

First off, I apologize for the lack of posts over the last week. Working 6/7 days is not conducive to blogging. Apparently it’s not conducive to my immune system either! So while I’m curled up in a blanket on the couch, I wanted to share a great recipe with you to kick off the start of spring.

It’s my barley salad with roasted beets and vegetables.

This salad is delicious hot or cold. I had it warm when it was finished because I couldn’t wait for it to cool off. Then I had it cold out of the fridge when it was leftovers!

The color of the finished product is fantastic. The beets turn the barley a deep pink – beautiful!

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I topped this salad with a bit of goat cheese, because I absolutely love the stuff. You can omit it, or maybe use gorgonzola if you prefer.

Always remember to get some help from the grocery store when you can. In this recipe, I used the prewashed, pretrimmed green beans in the produce section.

Barley Salad with Roasted Vegetables
(Serves 6-10 … depending if it’s a side or not)

1 c. barley, cooked according to package directions
1/2 bunch asparagus, about 8 stalks, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, cut into 1/2″-1″ chucks
1 c. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
1 medium sweet onion, cut into 1/2-1″ chunks
3 medium-sized beets
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
4 oz. goat cheese (or the cheese of your choice), optional
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

First, cook your barley according to package directions. It takes awhile to cook!

Meanwhile, roast the beets – I have instructions from this post. I also have instructions how to peel there as well. Cut into 1/2-1″ chunks.

While the beets are roasting and the barley is cooking, chop up your veggies. Line a baking sheet with foil. Put your veggies on the sheet, overlapping as little as possible. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with S&P. Bake until the veggies become tender and start to brown. About 25-30 minutes.

In a large bowl, put your cooked barley, beet chunks, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. The beets turn the barley a pretty pink! See?

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Add the rest of your vegetables Stir to combine. Top with goat cheese before serving.

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Never Too Much Avocado

Remember my Guacamole Chicken Salad I made a few posts ago? I went to make some more last week because Tim LOVED it, but I didn’t have any more chicken in the house.

What I did have was 2 more avocados, leftover cilantro, limes and onion.

I decided to take some inspiration from Chipotle’s delicious cilantro lime rice and make a spin off of it with quinoa and some other ingredients I had laying around.

I made a lime-chili vinaigrette to go over top of the quinoa. It was awesome. I just wish I had more of it! The dish tastes great warm or cold and can be used as a side dish or a lunch. The quinoa and black beans kick up the protein to make it a complete meal. All the light flavors won’t leave you weighed down!

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Avocado Lime Quinoa
(Serves 4-6)

1 c. dry quinoa
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 avocados, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 c. olive oil
Pinch of red pepper flake, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, add 2 cups of water, 1 cup of quinoa, onion and garlic. Bring to a boil. Then, turn to low and cook until the quinoa plumps up. About 10 minutes (check your package directions).

Let the quinoa cool slightly while you prepare the other ingredients.

Slice the avocado around the middle all the way around and twist to separate. Take out the pit and scoop out the meat with a spoon. Dice and put into a small bowl. Cover with lime juice, olive oil, and chili powder. Mix well.

Add the beans, cilantro and avocado mixture to the quinoa. Add salt and pepper to taste, along with the red pepper flake, if desired. Serve warm or cold.

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Pulled Pork & Classic, Yummy Sides

On Saturday night, we had Tim’s best friend and his wife over for dinner, along with their adorable daughter.

I had to think of something kid friendly, easy to make, and a big batch. What did I come up with? Pulled BBQ pork sandwiches, cornbread and coleslaw.

I used my slow cooker for the pulled pork, so all I had to do was dump some ingredients in and let it sit.

As for the cornbread? I used a box mix. Don’t be too surprised. I love the boxed mixes of cornbread. Usually jiffy, but hey, even the Safeway brand was good. I just make it my own by adding ingredients that tickle my fancy. Chop up some jalapenos, sundried tomatoes, scallions. The possibilities are endless. I also made some honey cinnamon butter that is delicious on warm cornbread!

With the coleslaw, I attempted to make a healthy version, using plain, nonfat, Greek yogurt instead of mayo. I also added a little extra virgin olive oil for some healthy fats and a little extra flavor. It turned out pretty well if you ask me! Just let it sit for a couple hours before you serve it because the cabbage wilts down from the salt and it gets more juicey! I made the recipe with 2 bags of premade coleslaw mix, and it made a ton. Lots of leftovers that get even better as it sits.

Sorry for the lack of pictures with these recipes!

Pulled BBQ Pork
(Makes 10-12 sandwiches)

1 pork loin*
1 c. coca cola or Dr. Pepper
1 small onion, sliced
1 c. BBQ sauce, plus more for sandwiches

Put your onion and soda in the bottom of your crock pot. Place the pork loin on top. Cook for 4-6 hours on low until the pork is fork tender and shreds easily.

Once shredded, add 1 cup of BBQ sauce. Stir to combine. Cook for about 30-45 more minutes. Serve on your favorite buns with more BBQ sauce if desired.

*Note: I used a Smithfield Portobello mushroom pork loin, it’s the only one my store had. Check out the weight of a plain pork loin to that one. I forgot to write down how much it weighed!

Healthier Coleslaw
(Serves about 6-10)

2 bags of preshredded coleslaw cabbage mix
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 c. plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. honey

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Let sit for 1-2 hours, until some moisture leaks out. Then adjust your seasonings to taste.

Cornbread with Honey Cinnamon Butter
(Serves 6-8)

For the cornbread:

2 small boxes of cornbread mix (i.e. Jiffy)
1 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. black pepper

For the butter:

1 stick of butter, or a half cup of your favorite butter spread, room temperature
1 tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Prepare the cornbread according to package directions. Add in honey and pepper. I cooked mine in an awesome scone pan that Tim’s mom got me for Christmas! Feel free to use a round or square cake pan, muffin tins, or loaf pan.

With a fork, combine the ingredients for the butter. Serve right away. Or if you’re preparing it ahead of time, place in the fridge and take out about 30-45 minutes before use.

Eat the cornbread still warm with the butter. It’s delish!

Greek Quinoa

Hello, friends!

I apologize for the long hiatus. Things have been crazy with work and relocating out of the city! But I promise, now that I have a bigger kitchen to cook in, there are much more recipes to come! I already have a list of recipes to make for the week, so they will be posted soon 🙂

For now, I have a recipe for a Greek inspired quinoa. If you haven’t heard of quinoa, you should go out and give it a try…now. It’s the only grain packed naturally with protein, and it’s delicious. Use it in place of rice or pasta in your favorite recipes! You can usually find it in the rice section or the international aisle.

For this salad side dish, another thing you could add that would be delicious is chopped up kalamata olives. Their salty flavor pairs perfectly with the feta cheese and adds a little something extra.

I added chickpeas for an extra protein kick for a full, balanced lunch. Feel free to leave them out if you just want to use this as a side dish!

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Greek Quinoa Salad
(Serves 4-6)

1 c. dried quinoa, cooked according to package directions
1 c. of your favorite tomatoes, cut into 1/2″ chunks
1 c. English cucumber, cut into 1/2″ chunks
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4-1/3 c. chopped kalamata olives
1 lemon, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
2-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Feta cheese

Once quinoa is cooked, allow to cool while you prepare the veggies. The quinoa is cooked when it puffs up and is slightly passed al dente.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano. If you’re using kalamata olives, put in a splash of the juice.

Add in all your veggies and chickpeas and stir to combine. Then add the quinoa. Mix well.

Top with feta cheese (however much you want) before serving.

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Brussel Sprouts: Your New Favorite Vegetable

Why do I say that? Because who can resist a vegetable made with bacon? Unless you’re one of my friends who doesn’t like bacon *ahem* you know who you are.

This was my first attempt at brussel sprouts with bacon. Usually, I’d make them just with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. But I like to experiment with new things. And I love the salty meaty flavor bacon adds to dishes.

Remember that meatloaf I made? These sprouts were paired with it.

Now I know that these little cabbages have a bad rep. If you’re unsure if you like them or not, just give it a try. Especially if you love bacon.

You can get fresh brussel sprouts, chop of the ends a tad, take off the bad leaves, and cut in half. Or if you want to save time, just go for the frozen ones. Frozen vegetables are great to use. They’re flash frozen at the peak of freshness and in season all year round!

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Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
(Serves 4)

1 lb of fresh brussel sprouts, or the same weight frozen
4 slices of bacon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a dry frying pan over medium-high heat. Slice 4 slices of bacon into about 1/4 inch slices, width wise. (Tip: if you put the bacon in the freezer for about an hour it makes it easier to slice). Put in the frying pan and cook until just starting to get crispy, they’ll cook longer in the oven.

Prepare the fresh brussel sprouts as I mentioned above, wash and put into a baking sheet. Or just dump the frozen ones onto a baking sheet.

Pour the bacon and grease (if you’re ok with that!) over top of the brussel sprouts. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the sprouts are nicely browned. Serve as a side dish or just to eat by themselves!

So what do you think? Will you give them a try?

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Cream of Pumpkin Soup

This recipe comes from Tim’s mom, Kathy. It is absolutely delicious, comforting and extremely easy!

I think by now everyone knows I’m obsessed with pumpkin. In fact, my girl friends and I had another themed get together last night! What was the theme? Pumpkin of course!

I would’ve made this soup again for it, but in the interest of giving you all as many new recipes as possible, I made a pumpkin and goat cheese dip. Absolutely delicious and mouth watering.

But that’s for another time.

Back to this delicious soup! The pureed pumpkin makes it super creamy and gives a great flavor (also sneaks in some vegetables!).

Weirdly enough, my grocery store didn’t have orzo when I made this, so I just picked up another short pasta. So just use what’s available to you!

Hope you enjoy this recipe… I know I did 🙂

Cream of Pumpkin Soup
(Serves 6-8)

3 Tbsp butter or olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/8 to 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 14oz cans chicken broth
1/2 cup uncooked orzo or other pasta
1 1/2 cups half-and-half, light cream or milk
1 Tbsp flour
1 15oz can pumpkin
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add onion & garlic; cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.  Stir in crushed red pepper; cook for 1 minute.  Add broth; bring to a boil.  Stir in orzo or pasta of your choice and simmer, covered, until al dente.

In a screw-top jar combine half-and-half (or milk) and flour.  Shake well to combine.  Stir into orzo mixture and cook & stir until slightly thickened and bubbly.  Stir in pumpkin and heat through.

Sprinkle each serving with cracked black pepper, if desired.

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