Archive for the ‘Side Dishes’ Category

Roasted Wild Mushrooms

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Here is another easy to prepare side dish. Mushrooms are considered to be a “superfood” due to their nutritional benefits, so you can feel great about eating this delicious and healthy side dish.

Roasted Wild Mushrooms

12 to 16 ounces of your favorite wild mushrooms
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Rinse and gently pat dry the mushrooms. Drizzle with a little olive oil, add a sprinkle of salt and a grind or two of fresh pepper.

Roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 30 minutes (the size and type of mushroom will make a difference, so watch carefully).

From left to right: Velvet Pioppini, Nebrodini Bianco, Shiitake, and Forest Nameko mushrooms.

From left to right: Velvet Pioppini, Nebrodini Bianco, Shiitake, and Forest Nameko mushrooms.

You can roast the larger mushrooms whole and add the smaller mushrooms after 10 minutes or so. You could also slice the larger mushrooms and cook them all about 15 to 20 minutes. There is such variation in the mushrooms that it might take a little trial and error to get them to your liking. We cooked all of these at the same time and the smaller mushrooms (Velvet Pioppini & Forest Nameko mushrooms) were a little more cooked that I would have liked, but they were still delicious.

Serving suggestion ... serve on top of pasta with a brown butter sage sauce.

Serving suggestion … serve on top of pasta with a brown butter sage sauce.

To make a brown butter sage sauce for pasta, place 1 tablespoon of salted butter in a heavy bottomed pan and heat on medium-high heat until the butter begins to bubble and turn golden brown and cook until the butter is a deep golden brown. Watch carefully as the butter can go from perfect to scorched very quickly. Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, whisk together, and allow to heat through. Add about 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage and cook just a few minutes on medium-low heat to infuse the sage flavor throughout. Add the cooked pasta and gently toss to coat. Portion the pasta onto plates and top with the roasted mushrooms. Garnish with fresh sage.

Roasted Yams with Turmeric & Ginger

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

These make a delicious side dish that packs a nutritional punch. Yams have many nutritional and health benefits that you can read about here. Ginger and turmeric are also nutritional powerhouses. The combination creates a deliciously sweet, rich, and mildly spicy side dish. To make it a bit spicier, you could add some additional fresh ginger (grated or minced), or even cayenne pepper, just before serving.

Roasted Yams with Turmeric & Ginger

1 large yam
fresh ginger root, about a 1-inch piece
fresh turmeric root, about a 1-inch piece
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Rinse and scrub the yam well, dry, then slice into about 1/2-inch thick slices. Peel the ginger and turmeric, coarsely mince, place in your roasting pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and combine well. Add the sliced yams in a single layer, turning to coat with the oil. Season to taste with a little salt and pepper.

You can prepare ahead and store in a zip-top bag overnight.

One large yams makes about 3 servings.

Bake at 350 Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes, or until soft and lightly browned.

You can prepare these ahead and store in a zip-top bag up to one day ahead. 


Ginger & Orange Roasted Carrots

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

This year’s Christmas menu had a few new items for me. Normally I am not a fan of cooked carrots, but these were really good.

Ginger & Orange Glazed Roasted Carrots

I used a festive combination of orange, yellow, and maroon carrots.

Clean, peel, and cut about 6 medium to large carrots into 1/4-inch slices. Peel and coarsely mince a 3 to 4-inch piece of fresh ginger. Combine the carrots and ginger with the zest of one orange, a splash of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place them in a single layer in a roasting pan or baking dish. Roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour, or until they’re slightly caramelized and tender.

You can prepare them a day ahead and let them marinate overnight. 

The roasting will bring out the natural sweetness in the carrots, but if you like this a bit sweeter, then you can add a touch of honey or maple syrup before roasting.

Pomegranate, Fuyu, & Pecan Salad

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Pomegranates are becoming one of my favorite holiday foods. They are super healthy – here’s a good article on some of their nutritional benefits – and every cyclist needs to pack as much nutrition into their diets as possible.

This is a twist on a salad a friend made for me recently.

Pomegranate, Fuyu Persimmon, & Pecan Salad

Pomegranate, Fuyu Persimmon, & Pecan Salad

Pomegranate, Persimmon, & Pecan Salad

1 large pomegranate
2 Fuyu persimmons
juice of 1 lemon
splash of Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1/4 cup of pecans, chopped

Combine all ingredients. Enjoy.

You’re welcome.

If you don’t have pure maple syrup, you could use honey or agave syrup. (But never use fake maple syrup. Yuck. Just yuck.) If you don’t have the TJ’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar, you can use a little fresh-squeezed orange juice, or just a little more lemon juice. Oooh, Meyer lemon juice would also be fabulous.

If you’re not sure how to prepare this amazing fruit, here is a great article on how to cut and de-seed a pomegranate.

Happy Monday … off to work I go!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Want some good, healthy comfort food? Here’s an idea for a healthy addition to your holiday table. The bacon gives just the right touch of decadent richness that many of us tend to crave during this time of year. Try roasting brussel sprouts with just a bit of olive oil and a touch of lean bacon.

Rinse brussel sprouts in cool water, trim the end, and then cut in half. Drain well.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. While the oven is heating, cook a slice or two of lean bacon and trim away most of the fat. Drain the bacon on paper towels, then chop. Combine the trimmed and halved brussel sprouts and bacon, drizzle a bit of olive oil, and a pinch or two of kosher salt and a grind or two of pepper. Toss to combine well and place in a roasting pan in a single layer. Roast to your desired doneness. I don’t like to overcook brussel sprouts, so I roast until just tender and a little browned – usually about 30 minutes or so.

Ready to go into the oven.

Ready to go into the oven.

Want to keep this dish a bit lighter and vegan? Simply omit the bacon and add a few grinds of Trader Joe’s South African Seasoning before roasting. Oh, so good!


A Little Rain … A Little Party …

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Sunday we had quite the little storm. I grabbed a quick ride in the morning and then came home to cook for a housewarming party (finally!)

Sunday morning, October 30th, near Pena Adobe Park.

Sunday morning, October 30th, near Pena Adobe Park.

A few friends came over on Sunday for a housewarming party. We had a fabulous meal.

Lynda brought some yummy mushroom brie and crackers.

Lynda brought some yummy mushroom brie and crackers.

Herbed Chevre and Smoked Gouda.

Herbed Chevre and Smoked Gouda.

The Herbed Chevre is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to “dress up” a plain Chevre. Simply take your favorite plain Chevre cheese, let it come to room temperature. Mix in some chopped fresh herbs (dried will do in a pinch), a couple of splashes of good extra virgin olive oil, and mix until smooth.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Crimini Mushrooms

The Stuffed Mushrooms are quick and easy, too. Here’s the recipe. I modified the filling a little bit – the filling was simply light cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, and a few grinds of Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend (paprika flakes, sea salt, garlic, basil).

One friend brought a beautiful Corn & Shrimp Chowder, which I heard was fabulous. It had bell peppers in it, so I couldn’t eat it. What’s funny is that the soup that I made had peas in it, so he couldn’t eat my chicken soup!

Marsh's Corn & Shrimp Chowder

Marsh’s Corn & Shrimp Chowder

Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Another friend made Pork Tenderloins with a Bourbon-Maple-Molasses glaze that was fantastic.


Rick’s Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon-Maple-Molasses glaze.

Of course there was salad …

Mixed Greens with Fresh Fuyu Persimmons, Pomegranate, Feta Cheese, and a light and refreshing Citrus Vinaigrette.

Mixed Greens with Fresh Fuyu Persimmons, Pomegranate, Feta Cheese, and a light and refreshing Citrus Vinaigrette.

… and what is a party without dessert?

Tartlets: Fresh Lemon Curd and Caramel, Macadamia & Chocolate Tartlets.

Tartlets: Fresh Lemon Curd and Caramel, Macadamia & Chocolate.

The Lemon Curd recipe can be found here. I used pre-made tartlet shells … a little “semi-homemade” time-saving trick. I also cheated a bit with the caramel. I used Trader Joe’s Flue de Sel Caramel Sauce. This is my go-to caramel sauce.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful day. If you get the chance, would you please ride a few miles for me today? I’ve got to run to work now.

Challenge: Day 17

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Today was a different kind of challenge because I was cooking for family and wanted to make a meal they’d all like, but would also fit within my Challenge. Well, for the most part fit the Challenge.

The menu:

Stuffed Mushrooms
Chicken Provencal
Shrimp with Spinach and Mushrooms
Stir-Steamed Vegetables
Pasta with just a drizzle of olive oil
Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

The stuffed mushrooms weren’t really on the Challenge, because they were made with full fat cheese, but I figure they didn’t have that much filling, so two small ones would be sort of OK. Next time I make them I will try a reduced fat cream cheese and I think add some sun dried tomatoes for color.

Stuffed Mushrooms

They’re easy to make. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Clean 12 large crimini mushrooms. Simply pop the stems out of the caps and trim and discard the cut end. Chop the stems finely, then saute in a little olive oil with some fresh garlic. Cook until the excess liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool. Blend about 4 ounces of cream cheese (preferably light), about 2 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, about 1/4 teaspoon each paprika, black pepper, and onion powder. When the mushroom and garlic mixture has cooled, mix this in to the cheese mixture. Make a little well in the mushroom cap, scooping out the soft, fleshy center. Just barely scrape – you want to maintain the integrity of the mushroom cap. Evenly divide the cheese mixture into the mushroom caps and gently press down to fill the cap and even out the top. Bake about 20 minutes, remove from oven, and top with just a touch more Parmesan cheese. Increase heat to broil, then return the mushrooms to the oven for a few minutes just to brown the tops a bit. Be careful – these can quickly go from perfect to burnt!

Chicken Provencal

For the Chicken Provencal, marinate a few boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a little white wine, olive oil, and herbs de Provence. Marinate at least a few hours or best if overnight. You will want to slice each breast into two or three thinner pieces before marinating. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat a heavy bottomed skillet on high and pour in no more than 1 tablespoon of avocado oil. When the pan is hot, remove the chicken from the marinade and add one piece at a time to the skillet. Reserve the marinade. Brown the chicken a little on each side. Cook a few minutes on medium-high heat, then add about 1 cup of white wine and cook until it’s reduced by about half, then top with chopped fresh tomatoes – I like to use heirloom cherry tomatoes because they’re delicious and easy to work with. Use about 1 cup of the cut tomatoes per breast of chicken. Then add the marinade to the pan, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is tender and fully cooked (about 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick you’ve cut your chicken). Season to taste with salt and pepper. We enjoyed this with a little pasta, but it would be equally good with rice, or just on its own.

Shrimp with Heirloom Red Spinach and Crimini Mushrooms

The Shrimp with Spinach and Mushrooms could hardly be any easier. Saute sliced mushrooms until they just begin to soften, then add fresh spinach. Cover and allow to steam until the spinach begins to wilt. Clean and devein the shrimp, saute in a non-stick pan, turning each shrimp just once. Add the cooked spinach and mushrooms to the pan, give a gentle stir to combine well. Cover and allow to cook on low for a few minutes, careful to not overcook the shrimp (they’ll get tough). Season to taste with salt and pepper. I have a feeling that bacon would add great flavor to this, but … not so great for the Challenge!

Stir-Steamed Veggies - asparagus, broccolette, carrots, green beans

The Stir-Steamed Vegetables … see here for the method.

The cookies … clearly are not on the Challenge, but it’s Sunday Dinner with Family, so …

Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a recipe I have been working on and it’s showing great promise.

I got a quick ride in this morning, and was hoping that I had had time for more, but then it got super windy in the afternoon, so I was thankful that I was not out in that.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms

Friday, December 19th, 2014

If you’re looking for an easy and healthy side dish, look no more.

Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms

Rinse and pat dry some shiitake mushrooms. If necessary, trim a little off the stems. Toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in a preheated oven for about 30-45 minutes, depending on the oven temperature. Remove from oven and transfer to a covered serving dish to keep warm. These will produce a rich, flavorful juice that’s wonderful on rice, mashed potatoes, fish, chicken, or meat.

I usually roast these between 325 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, at whatever temperature I’m running the oven for other dishes.

These are also fantastic roasted with asparagus.

Roasted Curried Sweet Potatoes

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

A spicy curry powder is a perfect complement for sweet potatoes. Rich and decadent tasting, this side dish will leave you satisfied and nourished. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, fiber, and a good source of potassium, copper, and and manganese. Curry also has many health benefits. Research has shown that the spices in curry powder may provide health benefits such as blood sugar control, anticancer benefits, and cholesterol management.

All you’ll need to make this is sweet potatoes, some good curry powder, a good quality olive oil, and salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the potatoes and pat dry.

Slice into about 1/2-inch thick rounds.

Drizzle with some good olive oil.

A generous sprinkle of good curry powder.

Gently toss to evenly coat and spread in a single layer in the roasting pan. Roast for about an hour, or until they’re soft, rich, and sweet. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

You can also make these with yams, but sweet potatoes pack a more powerful nutritional punch.

Enjoy in good health!

Roasted Asparagus & Shiitake Mushrooms

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Are you looking for a super simple, super healthy, super rich-decadent-tasting side dish? Try this!

Roasted Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms

1 or 2 bunches of asparagus
6 to 8 ounces of fresh shiitake mushrooms
good quality olive oil

Roasted Asparagus

Clean and trim* the asparagus. Rinse the shiitakes and drain well; if necessary trim the stems a bit. Place the asparagus and mushrooms in a large roasting pan, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with a generous pinch or two of salt. Roast at 375-degrees Fahrenheit until the asparagus is to your liking. I like it crisp-tender.

Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms

If you’re cooking other items in the oven at the same time, you can use whatever temperature you’re using for your other items, as long as it’s at least 350-degrees. I’ve roasted these at anywhere from 325 to 450 degrees and found that 350-400 degrees is best, but you could go up to 450 if need. At 325, it just took a little longer and I found it didn’t maintain the bright green, fresh flavor I like.

If you’re grilling, you can cook these on the grill, too! Just remember to use a pan that can go on the grill – like the disposable aluminum pans pictured here.

This tastes decadent, but it is a low-calorie, nutrition-packed side dish. Roasting brings out a delicate sweetness in the asparagus and shiitakes, the olive oil lends it a rich, almost buttery flavor. It’s also vegan and gluten free!

If you happen to have leftovers, they make a great addition to a frittata, or tossed with some pasta and other goodies (fresh herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.). They’d also be great quickly stir-fried with some brown rice. Oh, the possibilities!

Rich in antioxidants, folates, vitamins and minerals, asparagus has many health benefits. Shiitake mushrooms are also a nutritional powerhouse, rich in trace minerals copper, pantothenic acid, and selenium. Shiitake mushrooms also have anti-inflammatory characteristics that can be very helpful.

*Tip: to trim the asparagus, I just hold the cut end on one hand and the center of the stalk in the other hand. I then gently bend the stalk until it snaps. I start as close to the cut end as possible. The stalk will naturally break where the tougher part ends. This is a great method to avoid unnecessary waste, but you’ll get stalks of varying length. If you want or need the stalks to be the same size, then you’ll want to use a knife to trim them.