Posts Tagged 'Side Dishes'



Southwestern Two-Bean Salad

As promised, here’s the recipe for Southwestern Two-Bean Salad that completes my grilling menu from the other weekend.  I chose this salad to go with the Cilantro Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken and the Hill Country Coleslaw because it’s hearty, generally crowd-pleasing, and it contained the one ingredient that tied all three dishes together: cilantro.  Its fresh summer flavor would make it right at home on just about any picnic or barbecue buffet, though; I’ve served it with pulled pork sandwiches and burgers as well.

Southwestern Two-Bean Salad
Serves 12

Dressing ingredients:
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salad ingredients:
2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (1/4 – 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro

Method:
For the dressing, whisk together vinegar, oil, sugar, cumin, oregano, salt and black pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.

For the salad, drain and rinse beans.  Place beans in a large bowl.  Drain corn. Chop bell pepper and add corn and bell pepper to beans.

Chop onion and jalapeno peppers.  Snip cilantro using kitchen shears (or chop it). Add onion, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, and dressing to bean mixture.  Mix gently. Cover and refrigerate 2 – 3 hours to allow flavors to blend.

Source: Pampered Chef’s Casual Cooking

Southwestern Two-Bean Salad

I just love this salad.  It’s light and fresh, and I like the way the tender texture of the beans contrasts with the crunch of the peppers and the corn.  Plus, it’s inexpensive to make, it keeps wonderfully, and it adapts well for a variety of menus. Give it a try!

TIPS:  Since it’s summer and fresh corn is readily available, I substituted fresh corn for the canned.  I cut the kernels off of two cobs, placed the corn in a colander, poured boiling water over it, and drained it before adding it to the salad.

Also, since my mom recently fell victim to “jalapeno eyes,” a note about working with jalapenos: After handling jalapenos, always (!) make sure you wash your hands (or wear gloves).  If you have jalapeno oil on your hands and you touch your skin (or heaven forbid, your eyes), it will burn.  I accidentally touched the corner of my mouth recently with jalapeno hands, and while it wasn’t excruciating, I could definitely feel the heat.  If you’re generally cautious about spicy food, though, don’t let this scare you out of using jalapenos in the salad.  Removing the seeds and membranes tones them down considerably.  I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to spicy food, and I could barely taste them.

Spinach and Berries Salad with Dill

I’m pretty particular about my grocery shopping.  I usually plan a menu for the week, write a store list (divided by areas of the grocery store since I’m a bit crazy like that), and stick to it.  It’s good for the budget, and it I rarely throw anything away since I only buy what I plan to use.  During my last trip to Costco, though, I noticed a killer deal on blueberries and just couldn’t pass ’em up.  So this time I had to work backwards and figure out what to make from what I’d bought.

I have Colorado Colore (a Junior League cookbook) on loan from my local library and the cover recipe is this gorgeous salad that incorporates – drumroll, please – blueberries!  I knew it would be perfect with the leftover burgers I had in my freezer, so I put it on the menu.  Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it:

Spinach and Berries Salad with Dill
Serves 8 to 10

Red Wine Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Salad Ingredients:
1 cup slivered almonds
1 pound baby spinach leaves
1 pound baby butterhead lettuce
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 pint fresh raspberries
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill weed

Method:
For the vinaigrette, combine the olive oil, vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt, pepper, dry mustard and onion powder in a jar (or airtight container) with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to mix.  Chill until serving time.

For the salad, spread the almonds on a baking sheet.  Toast at 350°F for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown, stirring after 3 to 4 minutes.  Let stand until cool. Toss the almonds, spinach, lettuce, green onions, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and dill weed in a large salad bowl.  Add the vinaigrette just before serving and toss to coat.

Source: Colorado Colore

Spinach and Berries Salad with Dill

(Those of you who are really paying attention might notice that my salad is missing raspberries.  I accidentally used all of my stash on some trifles earlier in the day, but I’ll be sure to include them next time.)

This salad is incredibly delicious!  There are so many different flavors, but they really work together: sweetness from the berries, a hint of heat from the scallions, smokiness from the almonds, the herbaceous quality of the dill.  I really loved the texture of the toasted almonds and the berries with the lettuce, and the dressing was pure tangy, garlicky goodness.  Mmmmm.  Add the fact that it’s visually stunning, and we have a winner.  I’m not ready to rank it above my favorite summer salad of all time, but it’s definitely going into summer recipe rotation.

A word of warning: This recipe makes a HUGE salad.  (Gigantic!  Enormous!)  I made a quarter recipe, and I swear we had enough salad for four people.  Good thing it was fantastic!

BLT Bites

Hey there, strangers!  Between a trip to the Kentucky Derby, a milestone birthday, two sets of house guests, and a trip back home, May has been a crazy busy month. As much as I love the adventure and the company, I’m hoping to bring in June with some semblance of a routine (and lots of cooking, of course!).

I made today’s recipe – BLT Bites – for last month’s gourmet club meeting.  We each made recipes from our respective Junior League cookbooks: Louisville, Denver, and Omaha (mine!).  Of the three appetizers I made, this one was definitely my favorite…  Each piece was a little taste of heaven.

BLT Bites

Creamy mayo, smoky bacon, juicy tomatoes - heaven!

There are some awfully similar recipes floating around online, but I couldn’t find the exact recipe I used anywhere else.  Here it is:

BLT Bites
Makes about 14 appetizers

Ingredients:
14 large cherry tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup romaine lettuce, shredded
2 tablespoons green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

Method:
Cut an 1/8-inch slice from the bottom of each tomato with a serrated knife.  Gently scoop out pulp and seeds from the cut end with a melon baller cutter or a grapefruit spoon; discard.  Sprinkle tomato shells with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and invert on paper towels to drain.  In a small bowl, combine bacon, lettuce, green onions, mayonnaise, salt and pepper.  Spoon mixture evenly into tomato shells and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Source: Toast to Omaha

Notes:

  • I could not for the life of me figure out why the recipe wanted me to scoop out the pulp and seeds from the bottom of the tomatoes.  I ended up cutting a thin sliver from the bottom of the tomatoes to help keep them upright, then I sliced off the tops and scooped out the pulp and seeds from there.
  • I had five slices of bacon and couldn’t see throwing one lonely slice back into the refrigerator, so I used it all.  How can more bacon be a bad thing?
  • I used light mayonnaise, coarse salt, and plain dried breadcrumbs.  (I bet homemade breadcrumbs would be especially fabulous.)
  • Despite having two other appetizers on the table, I don’t think the 14 pieces this recipe made were enough for six people.  We were calling dibs and wanting more.

Make these!  You’ll love ’em.  They’ve definitely earned a permanent spot in my summer buffet rotation.

Tabbouleh Salad

Whether I’m having company or not, there’s just something in me that wants to do as much meal work as possible ahead of time.  If the work is done and the mess is already cleaned up, there’s little to do besides eat and relax when dinnertime rolls around, right?  That’s one of the reason I love tabbouleh as a dinner side…  It actually tastes better the longer it sits in the refrigerator (to a certain extent, of course!).  Plus, the cooking part is almost non-existant.  If you can chop vegetables and boil water, you have all the skills you need to throw this one together.

The original recipe makes 8 cups (!), which is way too much tabbouleh for just Dr. O and me, so I cut the recipe in half.

To start, I combined 3/4 cup of uncooked bulgur and 3/4 cup of boiling water in a large bowl.  I covered it tightly with plastic wrap and let it stand for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, I diced 3/4 cup of English cucumber and 1/2 cup of tomato and chopped 1/2 cup of fresh parsley and 2 tablespoons of scallions.  In a small bowl, I combined 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of coarse salt, 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, and 4 minced garlic cloves (from the jar, yes, I’m lazy).

When the bulgur’s 30 minutes were up, I stirred in the vegetables and lemon-oil mixture, covered the salad, and stashed it in the refrigerator.  I chilled mine for about 8 hours before serving it; make sure you give it at least an hour in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to blend.

Tabbouleh Salad

I can’t say this is my absolute favorite tabbouleh salad recipe (that would be Ina Garten’s, at least at this point) but this recipe has two things on hers: lots of garlic (love it!) and a much lower calorie count.  This recipe is originally from the October 2005 issue of Cooking Light, so I’m sure it’s meant to be a lighter alternative to traditional tabbouleh.  It’s definitely fresh, which makes it perfect for spring and summer; I just love the cucumber and tomato.  The slightly chewy, nutty bulgur adds a hearty element too.  In terms of flavor, I would make two small changes: I would increase the lemon juice (probably by 1 tablespoon for the half recipe) and I would increase the salt (by just a pinch).  As always, taste and adjust your seasonings before serving!

TIPS: I used Bob’s Red Mill bulgur to make the salad.  I was initially concerned about only letting the bulgur stand for 30 minutes because the package said 60 minutes. However, the package didn’t say anything about covering the bulgur while it stood. I think the act of covering it trapped that heat and moisture and sped up the process.

Recipe link: Tabbouleh Salad

White Bean-and-Tomato Salad

This all started with the second batch of slow cooker pork I’ve made in one week’s time.

See, I’m trying to come up with some solid taco meat that I can make ahead in the slow cooker for my fiesta next month.  Last week, I made Everyday Food‘s Spicy Pulled Pork, which is good enough that I’ll probably write it up soon.  It was way too saucy to be taco meat, though.  Yesterday, I made a batch of carnitas in my slow cooker using a recipe from AllRecipes.com.  The meat was really tender and moist, but it didn’t taste like much (despite a spice rub and a chicken broth bath). Needless to say, Dr. O and I have been eating massive quantities of Mexican-style pork, and it’s getting a bit old.

So tonight I’m deviating from the menu plan – rebel, rebel! – and spicing up the leftovers.  With a little barbecue sauce and a skillet, the carnitas will become pulled pork sandwiches.  I wanted some kind of barbecue-style salad to go on the side to round things out, and I just happened to have everything for Everyday Food‘s White Bean-and-Tomato Salad.  I hate to do too much work on leftovers night, so thankfully, the salad only took 5 minutes to throw together.

In a large bowl, I combined 1 (19-ounce) can of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained), 1 pint of quartered cherry tomatoes, 4 scallions (thinly sliced), 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.  The recipe says to season with salt and pepper but doesn’t specify quantities; I used about 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.  I tossed everything together and stashed it in the refrigerator until dinnertime.  (The salad can be made up to 1 day ahead.)  That’s it!

White Bean-and-Tomato Salad

Despite the use of canned beans, this salad tastes really fresh.  The acid from the tomatoes and the lemon juice really brightens things up, and the scallions add a bit of zip.  I love the texture play between the beans and the fresh tomatoes as well. This salad would be right at home on any barbecue buffet or in any picnic basket; I anticipate using this recipe over and over again this summer.

TIPS:  This is definitely one of those recipes that will be horribly bland if you don’t season it correctly.  Start with my recommended seasonings (or a bit less); you can always add more.  Always, always, always taste food and adjust seasonings to your liking before serving!  🙂

Update 4/18/10: I’ve found that seasonings typically fade a bit when I refrigerate salads, and this one was no exception.  After tasting it, I stirred in another pinch of salt before it hit the dinner table.

Recipe link: White Bean-and-Tomato Salad

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

I mentioned earlier this week that I would write about making Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Pot Roast and Creamy Mashed Potatoes, so it’s time to make good on that promise.  I’ll start with the pot roast, since I hate to be anticlimactic.  Honestly, it was pretty disappointing.  It wasn’t bad, but after hours of blissing out to the intoxicating smell of rosemary cooking in beef broth, I was expecting something spectacular.  The fattier slices of meat were pretty tender (forget about the dry side of the roast!) and the veggies were reasonably tasty, but the fantastic smells just didn’t translate into a fantastic meal.  Meh.

Thankfully, though, the mashed potatoes saved the meal.  They were amazing.  I can think of fourteen caloric reasons why this is true (12 tablespoons of butter, 1 package of cream cheese, and 1/2 cup of half-and-half), but you know what?  They can be made ahead and they’re abso-freakin’-lutely delicious, so they work for me.

As always, PW is going to give you way more step-by-step photo instruction than I can muster, so I’ll let her tell you how to make them.  Here’s a shot of my finished product, though (along with the sad, sad pot roast):

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

The potatoes were creamy, flavorful perfection, really.  I couldn’t bring myself to put the extra pats of butter on top before baking, but they didn’t need it.  I did have to go four rounds with the seasoning to get the flavor I wanted (probably because I used unsalted butter instead of salted butter to start with), but they were worth the effort.  If you make sure your potatoes are fully cooked, use the recommended quantities of other ingredients, and keep salting and peppering until they taste good to you, you can’t go wrong.  I’m adding this recipe to my entertaining arsenal, and I look forward to having these potatoes on my plate again soon.  Mmmmmm.

TIPS:  I made my potatoes ahead and reheated them; they were not completely heated through at the end of the recommended 30 minutes at 350°F.  Christopher and I got warm potatoes; poor Dr. O got left out in the cold and had to have a date with the microwave.  Next time, either I’ll give them some time to come to room temperature before I put them in, or I’ll warm them for an extra 5 – 10 minutes.

Recipe link: Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits

Whew.

After hosting book club last week (Kielbasa Black Bean Chili and White and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce!), making sugar cookies for my sorority alumnae group’s white elephant party, making appetizers for my gourmet club, and hosting my mom at my house for a week (including a Runza lesson), I’ve been doing an awful lot of cooking and not a lot of blogging.  I’m sneaking this hour between starting a new batch of cookies for a party tomorrow and going to the store for a brunch I’m having on Sunday.  Does anyone out there know if you can teach a cat (or a husband) to cook?

Anyway, I’m ready to talk bacon, cheese, and the gooey goodness that is Pioneer Woman.  My friend Katie chose her recipes as the theme for gourmet club this month, so I did a bit of experimenting before the big day.  My primary goal (as it almost always is) was to find ridiculously appetizing food that could be made ahead.  Her Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits fit the bill.  Here’s how I made them:

First, I fried up 10 slices of thick-cut bacon, drained it on paper towels, and chopped it into small pieces.  (Crumble it if you want; I was in a chopping mood.)  I drained off most of the bacon fat and then sautéed 1 cup of finely diced onion in the same skillet until browned (about 5 – 7 minutes over medium heat).  I transferred the onions to a plate to cool.

With the cooked ingredients ready to go, I sifted together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon of table salt.  Using a pastry cutter, I cut in 1/4 cup of Crisco until everything was combined.  (The mixture should look a bit like coarse meal.)

In a large bowl, I whisked together 10 tablespoons of whole milk, 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and 1 egg.  I added the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, along with the bacon, onions, and 1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese.  (PW is normally about fresh-grated cheese, but she says the cornstarch coating in packaged grated cheese can help suspend the cheese in this batter.  I used packaged cheese.)  I stirred the mixture gently to combine.

The original recipe calls for full-size muffins, but I thought mini muffins were more appropriate as appetizers.  I greased my 24-cup mini muffin pan with butter and then used my cookie scoop to portion out the dough.  (With slightly heaping scoops, there was about a muffin’s worth of dough left over.)  I baked the muffins for 20 minutes at 375F and cooled them in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.  Since mine wouldn’t be served until later in the day, I cooled them completely and transferred them to an airtight container.  If you’re ready to eat, though, serve them warm!

Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits

This is just another one of those recipes where it’s practically impossible for the results to be bad because only delicious things went into the batter.  (Cheese?  Bacon?  Sautéed onions?  Heaven.)  Initially, I was actually pretty worried that these wouldn’t work as a make-ahead appetizer because PW made them sound through-the-roof delicious when they’re warm.  I enjoyed them warm (of course!), but I almost felt like I could taste the bacon and cheese better when they were room temperature.  Texturally, they were slightly crusty on the outside and fantastically moist on the inside.  Mmmm.

Although I think it worked really well to make them ahead, they’re definitely best the day they’re made.  After spending the night in an airtight container in the refrigerator, they lose that yummy crispness on the outside.  If you want to make them ahead AND serve them warm, I’d recommend wrapping them in foil and heating them in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes at 300F when you’re ready to eat.

TIPS:  If you try this recipe, I would strongly recommend reviewing Pioneer Woman’s step-by-step instructions before you attempt the printable recipe.  I’m sure it was an accidental omission, but the printable recipe doesn’t say a word about sautéing the onions.  Somehow, I don’t think raw onion in the batter would taste quite as good. 😉

Recipe link: Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits




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