Creamy Confetti Corn

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This post is alternatively titled: How to Make Your Vegetables Less Healthy. Just wanted to acknowledge that up front. Nothing makes vegetables yummier than bacon and cheese! Maybe you have picky little kids who you’re trying to convince to eat something other than mac & cheese and frozen chicken nuggets (describing my brother Jeffrey from age 5 to age 21…)? Or maybe you’re just trying to find a veggie side dish that’s a little bit more decadent? That’s what I was doing when making this dish. All I was craving for dinner was chips and dip – since apparently that is not a true meal (says who am I right??), an indulgent side dish was in order.

I’ve had this recipe pinned for a long time – I feel like I type that sentence a lot around here. This one has been pinned 114,000 times! It’s so impressive to me when blogs take off like that – so cool! We have quite a ways to go before we would reach that level – but hey man, one of our recipes, Bay Scallop Risotto, has been pinned 33 times! Given that I’m still shocked to see that people who are not related to me have ever read this, that’s pretty spectacular! I guess that’s the internet for you…

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Creamy Confetti Corn

(Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)
Ingredients: 
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels removed
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 (8oz) package cream cheese, cubed
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce (we love Frank’s Hot Sauce!)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Green onions, sliced to top
Instructions: 
  1. In a large skillet, cook your bacon until it’s very crispy. Remove to the side on a paper towel.
  2. Pour off the bacon grease, except for just a thin coating of the pan.
  3. Over medium heat, cook the onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes, until softened and fragrant.
  4. Turn heat down slightly (medium-low), and add the rest of the vegetables and milk. Stir together and then cover pan. Cook for 6-8 minutes in this way, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove lid and stir in the cream cheese and hot sauce. Cook for another ~5 minutes until the cream cheese is well-incorporated and coats the vegetables as a creamy sauce.
  6. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  7. Crumble bacon into bits and top the dish with this and sliced green onions.
Serves 6-8 as side dish

Rosemary Risotto with Asparagus

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I think risotto might be one of my most favorite foods in the world. It’s creamy, delicious, and usually at least a little bit cheesy. Plus, I feel like it’s a little bit of a labor of love. You don’t stand in front of the stove for a long time to make a dish for some one you don’t like – if you have to feed them at all, you go with something that takes way less of your time than risotto. [See our earlier post Bay Scallop Risotto for how I tried to woo Selim with my “fancy” risotto dish.]

Furthermore, I love risotto because it’s basically a blank canvass. The basics of a risotto are simple – short grain rice (usually Arborio, at least here in the US), slowly cooked in hot liquid, with frequent stirring. Generally, the dish goes like that: start with chopped onions sauteed in butter or oil, followed by the addition of the short grain rice. Then follows some wine and a hot stock, stirred until the grains of rice absorb the liquid. Of course there are some specific types of risotto: think risotto alla milanese with saffron and Parmesan cheese, or risotto al nero di seppia, a striking black dish made with squid and their ink. But for us at home, aside from the basic framework above, risotto is yours to customize!

Tonight’s dish is meant for two as a side dish, instead of the heaping main dish portions I frequently make. (Not gonna lie though – it was a pretty large side for two people.) Certainly you can upscale for a main course if you’d like though.

I’m actually pretty proud of this dish. I really enjoyed it. And I made it all by myself – didn’t follow any recipes or get inspiration from anywhere. A lot of times when I don’t have the guidance of a recipe (or Selim), I under-season things or just don’t combine flavors all that well. Not this time! All the flavors combined beautifully and it’s full of flavor! I hope others enjoy too!

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Rosemary Risotto with Asparagus

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2+ cups vegetable stock
  • 1 heaping tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 cups asparagus (roughly 1 bunch), chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 8 turns fresh ground black pepper
  • 3oz gouda cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
Instructions: 
  1. Over medium heat, warm the olive oil in a medium pan.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the vegetable stock until simmering.
  3. Add the onions and garlic to the oil and cook for 3 minutes, until the onions have just begun to soften.
  4. Add rice and stir to coat in the remaining oil. Toast for 3 minutes.
  5. Pour in the wine. Stir frequently until the rice as absorbed the wine.
  6. Add the rosemary and black pepper to the dish.
  7. Lower heat slightly to a medium-low.
  8. Now begin adding the warm vegetable stock, one ladleful at a time, to the pan. Stir frequently until the liquid is absorbed.
  9. Repeat step seven over and over.
  10. Once the rice is expanding and getting creamy, taste a grain after every ladle or two. Once the rice has softened, but is still a smidge too al dente to eat, add the asparagus to the pan.
  11. Resume adding stock by the ladleful and stirring, but cover the dish the first time after you add the asparagus for just about 2 minutes, so the asparagus steams a bit.
  12. The rice is done when the dish is creamy, but each individual grain still retains its shape and a very slightly al dente texture.
    • Try this suggestion for a little more concrete/visual detail – or just eat once you think it’s ready!
  13. After your last ladle of stock has been absorbed, turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and lemon juice.
  14. Taste for salt and pepper, adjust as you like. (We didn’t use any salt in ours.)
  15. Serve with a bit more cheese or rosemary on top if you like!
Serves 2-4 as a side dish.

 

Citrus Chili Cucumbers

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I love cucumbers, but I basically eat them the same two ways over and over. (See: Fresh Avocado & Cucumber Salad & Mama Z’s Cucumbers) I’ve had this cucumber recipe pinned for literally years, but have never made it. It’s been pinned more than 119,000 times! Apparently everyone likes a nice cucumber… I’m glad I finally tried them. These cucumbers are different from my go-tos, which makes it a nice change. I usually don’t think light and fresh cucumbers need something like oil topping them, but it works well here.

Citrus Chili Cucumbers

(Adapted from Our Life in a Click blog, via Pinterest)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 large cucumber, sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 turns fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Whisk together all of the ingredients minus the cucumbers themselves.
  2. Pour liquid over top of the cucumbers.
  3. Eat! Marvel at how easy it was to make this delicious snack.

Mama Z’s Cucumbers

Update 7/1/17: Soooo… turns out my memory was faulty. After talking with Jon and our other friend/my old roommate Terry, we think I mentally combined Mama Z’s recipe and Terry’s. Too lazy to change the title and the whole post, so we’ll just pretend – but give a quick shout to Terry and my muddled brain as well! 

There are some recipes that are so simple, I feel like you can barely call them “recipes.” These cucumbers fit that bill. I have to share them though, because they’re so easy to make and delicious – I’d hate to hold out on the precisely 17 people who follow this blog and are probably desperately wondering how I like to eat my cucumbers 😂😂

My friend Jon taught me how to make these cucumbers years ago, and I’ve been addicted ever since. He learned this quick snack from his mother. I’m pretty sure I still make them they way I was taught… but it was awhile ago. Hopefully so, otherwise I guess I’ll have to change the title of this post🤞🏼🤞🏼 These cucumbers will just take you a minute or two to make and are perfect for lunches or a light snack. Even better, just adjust the proportions for as many cucumbers as you want!

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Mama Z’s Cucumbers

(Recipe from my friend Jon’s mom!)
Ingredients: 
  • Cucumbers
  • Equal parts:
    • Low sodium soy sauce
    • Rice wine vinegar
  • Sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes
Instructions: 
  1. Slice your cucumbers.
  2. Mix together equal parts of soy sauce & rice wine vinegar. [ie: 1 tbsp soy sauce + 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar; 1/4 cup soy sauce + 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar; etc]
  3. Combine the cucumbers with the liquid and place in a dish you can cover and refrigerate.
  4. Top with a few sprinkles of crushed red pepper flakes (as little or as much as you like in terms of spiciness).
  5. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before snacking.

Herbed Shrimp Pasta Salad

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Given that my sister Amy was the center of attention for her own graduation celebration, she got to pick which dishes my mom made for the party. One of her absolute favorites is this pasta salad with shrimp. Pretty much any time Amy gets to pick, this is what she asks for. This family favorite comes from my aunt Townley, although she says she thinks she got it from a neighbor years ago. Isn’t that always how things like this work? We’ve always known it as ‘Townley’s Shrimp Pasta Salad,’ but she got it from the neighbor, who probably got it from someone else, and on and on. Maybe one day, Amy’s friends will know it as ‘Amy’s Shrimp Pasta Salad,’ since she’ll make it so many times. And maybe one of you will like it so much and go on to make it so many times that it because known as YOUR shrimp pasta salad!

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Herbed Shrimp Pasta Salad

Ingredients: 
  • 1 lb medium shell pasta
  • 1 lb baby shrimp
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp dill
  • 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 of an onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Salt & pepper as needed
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare the pasta according to instructions or however you normally do it.
  2. Drain the pasta, but while still hot, stir in the mayonnaise, dill, and Old Bay.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil. Once softened, add the garlic and onions into the pasta, along with the shrimp.
  4. Stir everything together and top with a salt and pepper to your liking.
  5. Refrigerate until serving.
Makes ~8-10 servings if using as a main dish for a luncheon or similar. Is plenty for way more guests than that if part of a potluck with other dishes like we did for the party!

Sopa de Fideo (Almost)

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As is my usual plan, when I’m uninspired and looking for something to make, I turn to a) the internet and b) a random cuisine from around the world. Is it because I’m American and have always eaten “American” food, that I think it’s the least interesting cuisine out there? Or is it because legitimate “American” food doesn’t really exist – just a combination of bits and pieces of all of our immigrant roots? I think it’s probably some combination of the two. Whichever reason, I was thinking Mexican for my dinner creation. And I wanted something a little different. I feel like in this country, we just assume that Mexicans live solely on tacos, burritos, and the occasional chimichanga. There’s so much more to Mexican cuisine than that (obviously), but I’m the first to admit I don’t know a whole lot about it.

Why did I call this post Sopa De Fideo (Almost)? Well, turns out the fideo connotates a specific type of noodle. Fideo looks like spaghetti noodles that have been broken into smaller pieces (and as such, most recipes you see for sopa de fideo tell you to purchase spaghetti and break it into smaller pieces.) Before I read more about it, I thought, “Hmmm… that orzo I have in the pantry would be a perfect substitute for broke spaghetti pieces…” Little did I know by substituting orzo, I essentially took away the namesake of the soup.

Oh well…

Historical, ethnic accuracy? FAIL

Delicious soup? WIN

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Sopa De Fideo

(Adapted from Cooking the Globe blog)
Ingredients:
  • 2 + 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 14oz crushed tomatoes
  • 3 + 1 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 16oz orzo
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Salt & pepper
  • Optional garnishes: cilantro, avocado, cheese, crema
Instructions: 
  1. In a large pot, warm 2 tsp of olive oil. Add the chopped onions and cook for 5-6 minutes, until fragrant and translucent. Top this with a few turns on fresh black pepper.
  2. Add the minced garlic, continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Now, combine the garlic/onions, tomatoes, spices (cumin, cayenne, allspice), and 1 cup of stock in a blender or in a bowl with an immersion blender. Pulse until smooth.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil in the original pot. Once warm, pour in the orzo. Toss to coat with oil. Toast the pasta, stirring frequently, so it becomes golden, but does not burn. Give this ~5 minutes.
  5. Now return the blended mixture and the remaining cups of stock to the pot. Stir to combine.
  6. Bring to a boil and then lower heat. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. The pasta will plump up and the soup thicken a bit.
  7. At the end, stir in the lime juice.
  8. Taste and adjust salt & pepper as you like.
  9. Serve with one or several of the the garnishes!
Makes ~ 10-12 servings

Savory Casserole Bread

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Ally: What is casserole bread? Honestly, I had no idea when I was first looking at this recipe. Not joking, I literally googled, “what is casserole bread.” Basically, as best I can tell, it just means that you don’t knead it or let it rise so much, and therefore, it’s a much quicker and easier type of bread to make. True? Anyone know? I can definitely attest that it was the easiest and fastest loaf of bread I’ve ever made.

Selim: When I saw the casserole dish I immediately thought, “oh great casserole…”  When I think of casseroles I think of condensed soup, canned vegetables, sodium, and a burnt tongue (I always underestimate how long to let it cool before eating it).  As always, I was happy to be wrong when I saw this massive ball of dough heaping over the top.  The funny thing is, the savory smells of the ingredients started filling our place well before the whole thing was put in the oven.  The yeast starts working really quickly when warmed up and immediately started raising the dough – yay chemistry!  This bread would go well with any poultry dish (chicken, turkey, duck) or Thanksgiving dinner if you can get people to try something different instead of bland rolls.

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Savory Casserole Bread

Adapted from a Southern Living Cookbook – American’s Best Home Cooking
Ingredients: 
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp granulated onion
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 4 1/2 tsp active yeast (or 2 packets)
  • 1 1/2 (+ a little more) cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • ~2 cups warm water
Instructions: 
  1. Place all ingredients except for the water into the bowl of your stand mixer.
  2. Turn the mixer on low, with a dough hook attached.
  3. Slowly add the water as the mixer is going. You may not use all or may need slightly more. You want the dough to come together into a slightly sticky ball.
  4. Place the dough into a 2 1/2 quart baking dish (buttered, oiled, or sprayed with cooking spray). Push it down to fill fully.
  5. Cover and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
  6. After rising, sprinkle a little bit of additional cheese on top.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 40 minutes.
  8. After baking, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the dish for 10 minutes.
  9. Then remove from the baking baking dish to a wire rack to cool for another 10 minutes.
Makes a LARGE loaf!