It’s hard to believe summer is almost here! Some days have already been hot and humid–too warm to cook or bake. So that’s when I start thinking of recipes to make like Three Bean Salad. It doesn’t require any cooking … Continue reading
Because of St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve been seeing lots of green when it comes to recipes the last few weeks! A lot of them have pistachios as an ingredient, and I love pistachios! So I thought I’d try them in a … Continue reading
The Super Bowl is just about here and if you’re planning on watching the game, you’re probably deciding on what kind of snacks you want to make. If you’re still looking for ideas, this Texas Caviar is a great recipe … Continue reading
We all know and love that Green Bean Casserole, don’t we? It’s so good, I’m not sure why I only make it at the holidays–there’s no reason why you couldn’t make it any time of the year, right? But it’s … Continue reading
Do you remember Aunt Bee from the old Andy Griffith Show? She was aunt and housekeeper for Sheriff Andy and his young son Opie. She was quite a cook and there is actually an Aunt Bee’s Mayberry Cookbook with lots … Continue reading
Two of my favorite summer foods are deviled eggs and potato salad. So why not put them together? I decided to try that out, and found that this Deviled Egg Potato Salad is soooo good! The deviled egg mixture is … Continue reading
Chilled soups are perfect for summer! And if you like cucumbers, you’ll want to try this one! It has Greek yogurt, green onions, fresh dill, and parsley in it. Some lemon juice and salt give the flavor a little punch and I also added some garlic … Continue reading
I was looking through some old recipes I’d clipped from magazines awhile ago and came across one for Shoepeg Salad. It sounded like a great side dish for summer. I found some other variations on this salad at different recipe sites and ended up making my … Continue reading
Have you ever been to Provence? I have never been to France but if I have the chance to go, Provence will be one of the areas I want to visit! This region of southern France stretches from the Mediterranean to the hills of Haute Provence, and from the Rhone River valley to the Italian Alps. It was the site of the first Roman colony beyond Italy and today it’s known for fragrant lavender fields, beautiful beaches like Cannes, Saint-Tropez, and Nice, quaint small villages, and fine wines and food. The cuisine of this area includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, extra virgin olive oil, and nuts–basically the core of the healthy Mediterranean diet.
I learned these things and more about Provence as I was looking through my review copy of Provence Food and Wine: The Art of Living, by François Millo and Viktorija Todorovska. This softcover book introduces you to the geography, history, traditions, wines, and recipes of the region. Here are some images of Provence you’ll find in the book:
Isn’t it beautiful? You’ll find more full color photography of picturesque Provence as well as many of the 47 recipes in the book, which are traditional favorites of the region…like Niçoise Salad, Fougasse with Tomatoes, Olives, and Peppers, Artichokes Barigoule, Tapenade, Swiss Chard Tart, Mediterranean Cod with Caramelized Onions, and Lemon Tart. The recipes are organized by the different areas of Provence that they’re popular in–Aix-en-Provence and Haute Provence, Marseille, La Cote Varoise, and Nice and the Riviera.
I decided to try the recipe for Tomatoes Provençal, because I love tomatoes and this is a simple yet delicious way to fix them–fresh tomatoes topped with a mix of breadcrumbs, chopped fresh parsley, and minced garlic. This makes a great side dish and would even work nicely for a spring or summer brunch. The book recommends serving “as a light meal with other Provençal delicacies and some crusty bread, or with meat.” For best results, use fresh, sweet, ripe tomatoes!
TOMATOES PROVENÇAL from Provence Food and Wine: The Art of Living
Makes 4 servings
This traditional Provençial dish relies on the quality of the tomatoes used; they must be fresh and ripe. It’s best to prepare this dish in the summer, when tomatoes are at the peak of ripeness, sweet, and full of flavor….
- 4 small to medium ripe tomatoes, halved and stems removed
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup (64 g) chopped fresh parsley (I used Italian flat leaf parsley)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs (I used the very fine breadcrumbs you purchase, but I think fresh breadcrumbs would be even better!)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Optional: I added some additional chopped parsley for garnish
Lightly dust the cut sides of the tomatoes with the sugar.
In a large sauté pan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, cut sides down, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until they caramelize.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the parsley and garlic.
Flip the tomatoes and distribute the parsley and garlic mixture evenly onto them, pressing down so the mixture adheres to the tomato. Sprinkle with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper. Distribute the breadcrumbs evenly among the tomatoes.
Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and fully cooked through. Remove from the heat. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Transfer the tomatoes to a serving dish and serve warm. Note: I drizzled the remaining olive oil from the sauté pan over the tomatoes and garnished them with additional chopped parsley.
I thought the blend of parsley, garlic, olive oil, and touch of sea salt made a great flavor combination as a topping for the tomatoes.
Have you made or tasted this dish before? And are you ready to take a trip to Provence now? :)
There sure are a lot of big food-related holidays and events during the winter. There’s Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Day, Superbowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day–no wonder it’s so hard to diet this time of year! If you feel like you’re needing a little dose of something healthy, this is just the thing. I was inspired by this Beet Rejuvenator at New Nostalgia and decided that yes, I did need some rejuvenating! :) I don’t eat a lot of beets, but I know how good they are for you. This smoothie is supposed to be super cleansing–it also has carrots, cucumber, lemon, and ginger root in it, so I’m sure it is! I made a few changes, using a whole (small) beet instead of half, and using the juice from one lemon. I also added some honey, so I’m not sure if or how that affects the cleansing qualities of the smoothie. I thought the blend of the veggies with the lemon juice and ginger was good, but I liked having the smoothie a little sweeter. I used raw honey, which has more nutrients than the processed kind.
Also, I used a blender, so I cut my veggies into chunks for easier blending. If you’re using a juicer, you won’t need to do that. If you use a blender, you’ll probably have to stop and stir the ingredients a few times to help blend it, and you’ll have a thicker smoothie. Be sure to use organic veggies if you can! This smoothie does make you feel like you’re getting a little healthy boost, so if you’re in an unhealthy food rut, try this out for a refreshing change!
REJUVENATING BEET SMOOTHIE by NancyCreative, adapted from New Nostalgia
Makes about 2 servings (16 ounces)
- 3/4 cup sliced carrots (about 1 large or 2 small carrots)
- 1 medium-size cucumber, cut into slices or chunks
- Juice from 1 large Lemon
- 1-inch piece of Ginger Root, cut into small chunks
- 1 small Beet Root, cut into chunks
- 2 Tablespoons raw honey
Put all ingredients in your blender or juicer, and blend till smooth (if using a blender, you may have to stop it and stir to help the mixture along). Pour into 2 glasses and serve.
Have you ever made a smoothie with beets? What other healthy kinds of smoothies do you like to make?
I really didn’t know what to expect when I was making this Cheesy Roasted Cauliflower. I had never tried roasting cauliflower before, so this was something new for me. I’m not a particularly big fan of cauliflower either, but I do love roasted veggies–so I thought it would be worth a try!
When I had my first taste of this, I thought, “Wow, this is good!” I really did. It surpassed my expectations. Who would have thought cauliflower could have tasted so good? The cauliflower is roasted, along with some sliced red onion, in a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice. Sour cream and shredded Cheddar cheese, added after the roasting, give this side dish a rich, creamy flavor. And the crumbled bacon on top is a nice touch, although this is great without the bacon, too, if you want to keep it meatless.
I’m sure this is something everyone in your family will love. It’s definitely worth making!
CHEESY ROASTED CAULIFLOWER by NancyCreative, adapted from Kraft Foods
Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 8 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- Juice from 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup regular or lite sour cream
- 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (8 ounces) , regular or low-fat
- Optional: 1 slice of cooked and crumbled bacon or 1 Tablespoon real bacon bits
Preheat oven to 450˚F.
In large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients; spread onto foil-covered rimmed 10 x 15″ baking sheet. Bake at 450˚ for 40 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes for even baking (you may get a few burnt edges on your sliced onions and cauliflower, but that’s okay!).
After cauliflower is roasted, spoon back into large bowl and stir in the sour cream. Then mix in the shredded Cheddar cheese. Spoon mixture into an oven-safe baking dish and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is all melted. Top with crumbled bacon or bacon bits, if using, and serve.
This is a great dinner side dish. And something to keep in mind for special holiday meals. It’s not the healthiest way to prepare cauliflower, but it sure is good! Do you have a favorite cauliflower side dish?
I like lots of different veggies, but I’ve never been very crazy about carrots. I wish I liked them better because they’re so good for you! The only way I really like them is if they are cooked with some kind of glaze on them. I became inspired to try some kind of carrot side dish after I saw this recipe that included carrots, goat cheese, and thyme. I thought I’d add some honey, too, for a little sweetness, and I used more olive oil so I’d have a little extra glaze to spoon over the carrots. I love the lightly sweet flavor of the honey-olive oil glaze on these! The savory fresh thyme really compliments that flavor and the tangy crumbles of goat cheese add a nice punch. This side dish is a great combination of lightly sweet and savory flavors–hopefully with recipes like this I’ll be eating more carrots from now on! :)
HONEY ROASTED CARROTS WITH GOAT CHEESE AND THYME by NancyCreative, adapted from Food52
Makes about 6 servings
- 2 pounds whole carrots
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (about 5 to 7 sprigs of fresh thyme, depending on how big your sprigs are)
- 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese (chevre)
- A few extra fresh thyme leaves from another sprig or two, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a 10×15″ baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
Peel carrots and cut diagonally into thirds–if carrots are large, halve or quarter the pieces (doing this makes all the carrot pieces a more uniform size so they’ll cook evenly).
In a large bowl, mix olive oil and honey together, blending well. Add carrots and toss in olive oil/honey mixture. Season with a few dashes of salt and pepper. Add the fresh thyme leaves and toss all ingredients again until salt, pepper, and thyme are evenly distributed among the carrots.
Spread carrots on lined baking sheet and roast at 400˚F for 20 minutes, until tender–stir carrots halfway through the baking time so they are evenly heated.
Spoon carrots into a serving dish and crumble goat cheese over the warm carrots; garnish with additional fresh thyme leaves and serve immediately.
Do you like carrots? What’s your favorite way to prepare them?
Roasted vegetables are so good, especially roasted potatoes! I had the opportunity to try a new kind of potato recently, compliments of Albert Bartlett–the Rooster Potato, grown by farmers in the U.S. The rooster potato has a nutty, buttery taste, and I discovered when making these Lemon-Thyme-Rosemary Roasted Potatoes that it also roasts really nicely. The outer skin is pink, but when baked turns golden brown, and the inside is light yellow with a nice fluffy texture. It somehow keeps its fluffy texture inside even when it’s roasted! The Rooster Potato is a great-tasting potato and works wonderfully in recipes like this one.
These Lemon-Thyme-Rosemary Roasted Potatoes have a great lemony taste that really makes them different from your typical roasted potatoes. I love the tanginess of the lemon and the savory flavor of the herbs in this recipe. I found it at Southern Living and made a few changes…I added extra lemon juice, along with some rosemary, onion powder, and garlic powder for a little extra savory flavor. I never would have thought of flavoring potatoes with lemon, but I thought they were really good. And it’s easy to make, which is always a plus!
LEMON-THYME-ROSEMARY ROASTED POTATOES by NancyCreative, adapted from Southern Living
Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 3 pounds Rooster Potatoes peeled or unpeeled, and cut into chunks (or substitute red potatoes)
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons each of finely chopped fresh thyme and rosemary (or 1 teaspoon of each, dried; or you can use 4 teaspoons of just fresh thyme or 4 teaspoons of just fresh rosemary)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a 15 x 10″ baking pan with aluminum foil; set aside.
Cook olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 to 4 minutes, until butter begins to turn golden brown. Remove butter mixture from heat and add in the chunks of potatoes, tossing gently until potatoes are all coated (the olive oil/butter mixture may splatter a little when you add the potatoes to it, so add them carefully!).
Spread the coated potato chunks in a single layer in a 15 x 10″ baking pan. (I lined my pan with aluminum foil so the pan would be easy to clean up).
Bake at 400˚F for 40-45 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and tender, stirring twice during the baking time so the potatoes bake evenly (I baked my potatoes for 45 minutes). When done, transfer the potatoes to a large serving bowl and toss with the lemon juice, thyme and/or rosemary, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder, until well coated. Serve immediately.
I hope you get a chance to try this recipe, because it’s soooo good! It’s a great side dish for a special meal any time of year!
What’s your favorite way of making potatoes?
This pasta dish was kind of an experiment. I had some extra rotini pasta and wanted to make a casserole with it…something cheesy, but with some veggies in it, too. I also like crumbly toppings. So I tried combining all of that into this Extremely Cheesy Veggie Pasta! This works great as a main dish or side dish for lunch or dinner. And your kids may actually eat this, since all that cheese somewhat disguises the veggies!
I used thawed frozen veggies in this but you could also used canned. And I’m sure fresh veggies would work great, too–just blanch or steam them so they’re a little tender before mixing them in with the other ingredients. The Bread Crumb Topping makes a lot of topping, so if you just want a light sprinkle of it to top of your casserole, you can halve the topping recipe.
EXTREMELY CHEESY VEGGIE PASTA by NancyCreative
Makes a 9 x 9″ pan; about 5 to 6 servings
- 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 8 ounces dry rotini pasta, cooked and drained
- 2 cups of your favorite frozen vegetables, thawed and drained well (I used a broccoli, cauliflower, green been, carrot blend)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Chicken soup
- 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese (you’ll also need an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup to top the pasta)
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (you’ll also need an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup to top the pasta)
EXTRA CHEESE TOPPING
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
BREAD CRUMB TOPPING (halve the amount if you don’t want a lot of topping)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Grease or spray a 9 x 9″ baking dish.
In large bowl, combine melted butter, onion and garlic powders, and Italian Seasoning; blend well. Add in the cooked and drained pasta and thawed vegetables, and toss them in the melted butter/seasoning mixture until pasta and veggies are coated.
In a medium bowl, mix together milk and condensed soup (undiluted), blending well. Add in the Cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese, blending well. Blend this soup/cheese mixture into the pasta and veggie mixture, and blend everything together well. Then spread into the prepared 9 x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses evenly over top of pasta.
In small bowl, combine the ingredients for the bread crumb topping–melted butter, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Sprinkle evenly over the pasta and cheeses.
Bake at 400˚F for 20 minutes (crumbs will be browned). Remove from oven and serve.
Some of the crumbs brown quite a bit, but that’s OK-if you want to keep them from browning that much, cover with foil the last 5 minutes of baking.
Are you a fan of cheese and pasta? What’s your favorite summer pasta dish?
This cheesy casserole is a great way to enjoy spinach! I like it because it’s made with fresh baby spinach, not frozen, and two kinds of cheese–Sharp Cheddar and Monterey Jack. I found this recipe at Myrecipes and changed it a little by using spicy mustard instead of Dijon mustard, and adding extra cheese, like I usually do! :) I also used real eggs instead of egg substitute, so my version is not quite as healthy as the original.
I really liked this! When it comes out of the oven, it’s puffy, and the puffiness settles down after a few minutes… and then you have this tender spinach filling with a cheesy crust-like layer on top. Very yummy. Great for brunch or as a side dish for lunch or dinner. If you like spinach and cheese, you’ll want to try this recipe!
CHEESY SPINACH BAKE by NancyCreative, adapted from Myrecipes.com
Makes 12 servings in a 9 x 13 pan or baking dish
- 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
- Cooking spray
- 2 (6-ounce) packages fresh baby spinach
- 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese (regular or reduced-fat)
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk (whole, low-fat, or fat-free)
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten (or 1 cup egg substitute)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons spicy mustard (or Dijon mustard)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Pour melted butter into the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish or pan coated with cooking spray; tilt dish or pan to coat. Place spinach evenly in bottom of dish or pan and sprinkle evenly with the cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.
In a medium size bowl, combine flour and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk until blended. Pour this mixture over spinach and cheese in pan. (Note: As you are making this, it may seem like there’s too much spinach and cheese, because it definitely fills up the pan–but put all of it in there! Because when you mix the egg-milk mixture and pour it over the spinach and cheese, that will weigh it down. Before you put this Cheesy Spinach bake in the oven, it will look like what is shown in the small picture.)
Bake at 350˚F for 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Let set for about 5 minutes, then cut and serve.
Here’s what it looks like after it’s been out of the oven and settled for a few minutes…
It’s always nice to find great-tasting recipes with veggies–do you have a favorite veggie side dish recipe that’s really yummy?