Archive of ‘Vegtables/Sides’ category

Avocado Salad

avocado-saladThis is one of my family’s favorite dishes.  My sister made it for me once and I think that it took me all of a day to make it for myself after I got home from visiting her.  It’s wonderfully fresh and everything in to is good for you!  How do you beat that?

 

AnneOpinion

The ingredients are very simple, which is what, I think, helps make this salad so good.  There’s nothing getting in the way of all of the great flavors.  I like to use either fresh corn (from corn on the cob cooked this way) or a high quality frozen corn that I let defrost on the counter.

Here’s a tip for cutting the tomato.  Cut the tomato in half and gently squeeze it over a bowl or sink.  This will get rid of most of the seeds and mess that can come with tomatoes.

The lime juice helps to brighten the flavors and keeps the avocado from going brown.  The garlic and the hot sauce are added to taste so mix it up, try it out and add from there to get the flavor you want.

I generally make this to go with a Mexican themed dinner and serve it with tortilla chips.  My family eats a ton of it this way.  Everyone loves it!  I personally love to have a bowl of this salad with some grilled chicken for dinner.  So good!

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Avocado Salad
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Avocado Salad
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cute the avocado and the tomato into bite sized pieces. Slice the onions and drain the black beans. Mix all of the ingredients together, season with garlic and hot sauce to taste. Let it sit for 1 hour before serving. Serve as a side dish or as a dip for tortilla chips.
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No Mess Corn on the Cob

corn-on-the-cobI love corn on the cob and when I was growing up I couldn’t understand why we didn’t have it more than once or twice a summer.  Now that I’m a mom and have had the mess in my kitchen I completely understand and my family normally only has corn on the cob once or twice a year. Last summer, while visiting my husband’s family, my mother in law introduced me to a new way to cook corn on the cob, and it has been life changing.  I now feel like I can have corn on the cob whenever I want.  You won’t believe how easy it is.

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place corn (in husks) on a baking sheet.

Step 2:  Place corn in the oven for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Remove corn from the oven.  Pull off the silk and husks (which will come off together, very easily and will not make a mess of silk strings everywhere) and eat.  You can add butter, salt and pepper if desired.

AnneOpinion

Can you believe how easy that is?  After baking the silks stick together and come off all together.  That alone would make me a convert to this method but it tastes better too.

I have boiled, grilled, and grilled in husks in the past.  None of those methods works as well as this one.  I love how the corn is super moist from cooking in the husk and you don’t loose any of the flavor like you do with boiling.

We now have corn on the cob about once a week during the summer.  It’s so nice to have this “treat” more often.  Everyone is loving it except for Boy 1, who is currently enjoying the benefits of a life with braces.  Guess you can’t please everyone.  😉

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Ham Fried Rice (Better than Takeout)

ham-fried-riceThis week is Chinese food week here at AnneOpinion.  I have three recipes coming to you to make Chinese takeout a thing of the past.  Chinese is one cuisine that has taken me longer to learn how to cook well then others.  I think that’s because it’s one that my mother never cooked and so with no knowledge of it from my main cooking teacher (my Mom) I’ve had to learn about the ingredients and techniques on my own.  I’ve worked on learning how to make it because cheap Chinese food is my husband’s favorite and he could eat it everyday for a week and still want it tomorrow.  Over the years I’ve learned to make a mean stir fry and this Sweet and Sour Chicken from Mel’s Kitchen Café will knock your socks off.  I’ve tried fried rice a few times in the past to just OK results.  It wasn’t bad, but nothing special either.  Then I found this recipe for Fried Rice on Gimmie Some Oven and it all changed!  This was as good as from a restaurant and it only took 15 minutes to make.  I am hooked!  I’ve made it 3 times over the last month and a half (which is pretty often for me) and I love having a recipe that uses my ham leftovers (I have plenty of those from Easter yesterday!)  If you’re looking for some other ham ideas Ham and Cheese Pasta and Easter Eggs Benedict are two great options!   Here’s what I love about this Ham Fried Rice

AnneOpinion

The first secret is using butter; real butter.  This makes everything fry up beautifully and gives it that flavor that you’re looking for.

This has become a weekend night dinner for me which means that I want to put zero effort into it.  I use a bag of frozen peas and carrots and dried onion because I don’t want to chop anything up.  The original recipe used fresh veggies and if you want to take a look at it you can go here.

Chilling the rice ahead of time is key!  In that way, this is not a last minute meal.  I normally throw some rice in the rice cooker the day before and then leave it in the fridge until I’m ready for it.  It really doesn’t take any time, but I do have to plan ahead.

The original recipe didn’t have ham, but because dinner always has to have meat at my house, I’ve always added it.  I also increase the amounts of everything else because I have a large family.  If you are wanting to make a smaller meal go to Gimmie Some Oven for amounts.

Oyster sauce, I think, takes a Chinese dish from homemade taste to restaurant taste.  I love it and use it in most of my Chinese dinners.  If you’ve never used it, I think you’ll be glad you found it.  Sesame oil is another ingredient that I love.  It adds this wonderful nutty undertone to everything it is added to.  I also have become picky about my soy sauce and only use Aloha brand (not an ad, just my opinion)!  It adds a completely different (less salty) flavor than other soy sauces.  If you can’t find it in your grocery store, Amazon carries it.

My last little tidbit is a large skillet works fine, but a wok was designed to do this.  It has the deep bowl that prevents the rice from going all over the oven and it fries more rice because it has a larger surface area.  Woks don’t need to be expensive either.  I picked up mine at Ikea about 10 years ago for $10 and it’s still going strong!

Make sure and check back on Wednesday and Friday for the rest of Chinese week!  Coming up Crab Rangoon and Mongolian Beef.

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Ham Fried Rice (Better than Takeout)
Print Recipe
Servings
6-8 people
Cook Time
10-15 minutes
Servings
6-8 people
Cook Time
10-15 minutes
Ham Fried Rice (Better than Takeout)
Print Recipe
Servings
6-8 people
Cook Time
10-15 minutes
Servings
6-8 people
Cook Time
10-15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Over a medium-high heat melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet or wok. Add eggs, and cook until scrambled, stirring occasionally. Remove eggs onto a plate. Add an additional 1 1/2 T of butter into the wok and melt. Add peas/carrots, onion and garlic. Cook until veggies are tender. Add the ham, and salt and pepper them. Stir fry until tender. Turn heat up to high and melt remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp of butter. Add the rice, soy sauce, and oyster sauce. Mix well making sure to break up any clumps of white rice. Let the rice on the outside edge get a little bit crispy, then stir and repeat two more times. Add the eggs and the sesame oil and stir to combine. Serve warm.
Recipe Notes

AnneOpinion adapted from Gimmie Some Oven

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Parmesan (or Pecorino) Noodles

parmesan-noodlesHave you ever noticed how so many times, it’s the simplest foods that are the best?  Rice Krispies Treats, sugar cookies… and parmesan noodles need to be added to the list.  If you have never had them, you need to try them, like today.  No excuses.  All they are is pasta, butter and parmesan.  So simple, so easy and so unbelievably good.  I first heard about them from my friend Alisha.  They sounded so good and so easy that I went home and looked up a recipe so I could make them.  I have to have exact measurements when I make something so I have an idea of what I’m going for.  I found a recipe that sounded just like what she had told me about on foodiecrush called Easy Parmesan Buttered Noodles.  Heidi made them sound as delicious as Alisha had so I knew I needed to try them right away.

AnneOpinion

In case you couldn’t tell from my earlier remarks, I really like these noodles, and I generally am not a big pasta person.  Pasta for me is one of those foods I can take or leave.  These noodles, on the other hand, are not something that I can leave alone.

They are so versatile!  You can have them for a meal, all by itself.  You can have them with a sauce (we had them with Slow Cooker Bolognese tonight), or serve them as a side dish with chicken, fish, or beef.  They would be oh, so elegant, served with some beautifully cooked shrimp.  Really you can’t go wrong pairing them with any meat.

Sometimes I like to use Pecorino cheese with the noodles instead of Parmesan.  Pecorino is similar to Parmesan but a bit stronger in scent and taste.  Whether you choose to use it is completely personal preference.

One question I’m sure some of you are asking is “Can I use the stuff in the green canister?”  The answer is “Yes!”  Obviously, it’s not quite the same as freshly grated Parmesan, but you can use the pre-grated just fine.  The two things I would suggest if using it is 1. Go name brand.  This is one case where you get what you pay for.  2. Make sure and get any lumps out before you pour it onto the noodles.  This will help prevent clumping.  Some clumping will happen anyway, but is anyone going to complain if they get a chunk of cheese with their noodle?  I think not.

So, there’s the low down.  Now, promise me you’re going to try them.  You promise? Good.

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Parmesan (or Pecorino) Noodles
Print Recipe
Servings
2-4
Cook Time
10-12 minutes
Servings
2-4
Cook Time
10-12 minutes
Parmesan (or Pecorino) Noodles
Print Recipe
Servings
2-4
Cook Time
10-12 minutes
Servings
2-4
Cook Time
10-12 minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Boil heavily salted water. Add pasta and cook about 8 minutes (until al dente). Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 C of pasta water. In warm pot, melt butter. Add noodles and toss to evenly coat with butter. Pour in 1/4 C of pasta water and cheese. Immediately toss pasta again. Add more water if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
Recipe Notes

AnneOpinion adapted from Foodiecrush

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Thanksgiving Stuffing

Technically today we are talking about Thanksgiving dressing but I think that most of us call it stuffing whether it’s cooked in or out of the bird.
Making stuffing is one of the fond memories I have from my childhood.  I remember sitting with a loaf of bread and a bowl on the night before Thanksgiving, watching an old musical like “The Sound of Music” or “My Fair Lady” and tearing the bread into bite size pieces for my mom to use in the stuffing the next day.  It all felt very cozy and peaceful and I loved that I was getting to “help” with dinner even though I was young.
When I first started making stuffing for my family I used my mother’s recipe.  It was fairly simple and just had bread, seasonings, celery and onion.  A few years ago we were having a Thanksgiving dinner for just our family so I decided I could be adventurous and try something new.  I was watching “The Chew” and they had a contest for the “best Thanksgiving stuffing” and Antoinette’s Thanksgiving Stuffing won.
I had been on the lookout for a new recipe for a few years as I watched Food Network and looked at recipes that I found on the internet, and I finally settled on this one and I loved the results.  Here’s why:

AnneOpinion
I wanted a traditional stuffing, but memorable.  I liked the idea of sausage in my stuffing.  I think that it adds a complimentary taste to all of the traditional components (celery, onion, and poultry seasoning).
I love the cremini mushrooms.  They add a nice “meatiness” and good flavor.
I was intrigued by the idea of cooking all of the ingredients separately.  This does take a little extra time but I believe that it is worth it.  The flavors of the onion, mushroom, and celery are each able to “pop” on their own and the flavors aren’t muddled together.
You can use fresh bread or you can buy the dry cubes.  I’ll be honest with you though, the dry cubes seems like a racket to me.  Fresh bread will only take one loaf and it will take about 5 minutes to cut up, or have a child do this job, and let them make some fun memories of how they “helped” with dinner. 🙂
I’ve reduced the amount of celery and sausage from the original recipe.  I feel like stuffing should be mostly bread with other things in it and not the other way around.
If you are looking for an amazing turkey recipe to go with your stuffing, I cannot recommend this recipe from Kate @ Our Best Bites enough.  It was mind blowing for me how good it was and the gravy that you get from it is to die for.  (you might think that I’m overselling it, but trust me, I’m not)

Thanksgiving Stuffing                                                     Printable Recipe

AnneOpinion- adapted from “The Chew”
12 C fresh bread cubes
1 T  Poultry Seasoning
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 lb  Sweet Italian Sausage
1 1/2 cups chopped Fresh Celery
1 medium Onion (chopped)
Salt and Pepper to taste
8 oz Cremini Mushrooms (chopped)
3 cups chicken broth
1 stick of butter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Tear or cut bread into bite sized pieces.  This can be done ahead of time and bread can be left out to dry, or fresh bread can be used.  Add the cubed bread to a large bowl and sprinkle with the poultry seasoning. Toss to coat.
In a medium sized saute pan over medium-high heat add 1 tablespoon of oil and then add sausage. Remove once browned and add to the bowl.

Sauté separately the celery and onion until just translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add to the bowl once cooked. Add more oil to the pan and cook off the cremini mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, and once cooked, add to the bowl of stuffing ingredients.
Heat the chicken broth and melt the butter inside. Pour the liquid over the stuffing and gently fold together.
Put the stuffing in a greased 9×13 pan. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. If you desire a crispy top, take the foil off the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Have fun trying! Anne