Category: sides

Fig and Cranberry Compote

My sister brought two additions to the Thanksgiving table this year, my new nephew and this Fig and Cranberry Compote from Real Simple.





I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the compote before dinner because it was too hectic, and this is all that was left after dinner.  I was really surprised that this recipe only got 2 stars on the Real Simple website, because we all loved it.  The fresh cranberries are sweetened with both figs and honey, but the final product is still quite tart.  Perhaps other people prefer a sweeter cranberry sauce, but we thought this was the perfect complement to turkey.  Both additions will be back at the Thanksgiving table next year!


Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, and Pears

There is so much I like about Real Simple.  I want everything I see in that magazine: rooms which are nicely decorated and perfectly clean, a wardrobe full of clothes that are stylish and functional, and efficient solutions to everyday problems.  Of course, the recipes and food ideas are also an inspiration.  When I saw this one for Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes, and Pears, I was intrigued by the combination of fruits and vegetables.  With a quick trip to the market, I had everything I needed.

I set out to make the recipe myself, changing just a few things but keeping it simple.  It took a while in the oven, but it was worth it when it was done.  Seasoned with just a little salt and pepper, all the flavors worked together really well.  This would be a great side dish for a pork chop if you’re a meat eater, but could stand on it’s own as a lighter meal.  I enjoyed a scrambled egg on the side, which works if you think of this dish as gourmet hashbrowns.



Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, and Pears

2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1″ cubes
3 c. broccoli florets
1 T olive oil
2 pears, cut into 2″ cubes

Toss sweet potatoes and broccoli with olive oil, and roast in a glass dish for 30 minutes at 450F.  Add the pears, and roast for an additional 20-30 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Beet Risotto

Long before Red Dye #40, there were beets.  And just a little bit of beet goes a looooong way!  This photo is unedited; it really was that bright.


The beet risotto recipe came from Rachel Ray and is fairly straightforward.  It’s even easier if you happen to roast the beets in advance.  Despite the bright color, the beet flavor was fairly subtle.  So even someone who doesn’t ordinarily like beets might give this a try.

While I really liked the dish, it lacked the creamy texture of traditional risotto.  So while I would make it again (maybe on Christmas?!), I now have a craving for something like this Mushroom Risotto.


Tangy Potato Salad

I bookmarked this Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad from RecipeGirl a while ago, thinking it would be perfect for the 4th of July.  Of course that didn’t happen, but when I was invited over to a BBQ Friday night, I decided to make the recipe with local red potatoes from the Brookline Farmer’s Market.  I made a few other tweaks, using a heavier hand with the mustard and a lighter hand with the salt.

Since I needed to rename the recipe anyway, I thought I would reference the flavor – this potato salad is tangy!  With the mustard, red wine vinegar, and black pepper, there’s a lot of zing.  I enjoyed it though, and a few guests really liked it as an alternative to mayonnaise-based potato salad.  But no matter what kind of potato salad you make, I guarantee it will taste better if you’re relaxing in the backyard with a tiki torch.




Tangy Potato Salad

5 large red potatoes, scrubbed and cut in 1 1/2″ chunks
1/4 c. chopped red onion
2 T chopped parsley
2 T chopped chives
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 T mustard
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t salt

Place cut potatoes in a large pot of cold water.  Bring to a boil, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Rinse with cold water and allow to cool slightly.

Mix cooked potatoes with onion and herbs.  In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, oil, mustard, pepper, and salt.  Pour dressing over potatoes and toss well.

 – Recipes adapted from Recipe Girl

Fresh Herbs and Yellow Squash

The other day, a friend brought me fresh rosemary, thyme, and oregano from her garden.  Everyone needs this kind of friend.  Just like fresh vegetables taste best, so do fresh herbs.

You can get fussy and try to match certain herbs to certain foods, but I threw caution to the wind and used all three at once.  I know, crazy, right?  I had some yellow squash on hand, rice in the pantry, and feta in the refrigerator.  This dish was quick, easy, and contained vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and dairy all in one bowl. 

Fresh Herb and Yellow Squash Bake

2 yellow squash, cut into 2″ chunks
1 heaping T fresh herbs
Olive oil
1 bag instant brown rice, cooked according to directions (makes about 2 cups)
1/2 c. feta cheese

Place squash on baking sheet, and sprinkle herbs.  Drizzle olive oil on squash, and turn to coat.  Roast at 400F for 25-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and mix in a large bowl with cooked rice and feta cheese.  Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Tasteful Selections Parmesan Potatoes

One of the sponsors of Fitbloggin‘ was Tasteful Selections, a company which offers bags of ready to cook small potatoes. There are no other ingredients in the bag, just potatoes! Using a coupon, I tried the Sunrise Medley bag which contained red, white, and purple varieties.

I used the bag to make these Parmesan Potatoes, an easy recipe which combines the potatoes with oil, garlic, seasonings, and Parmesan cheese. The potatoes took longer than indicated to cook, but were ready in about 45 minutes.

Everyone enjoyed this side dish, but there was nothing particularly special about these potatoes. Personally, I’d rather try different varieties of potatoes which are readily available at area markets. I already view potatoes as a healthy ‘convenience’ food, and don’t need them to be packaged for me. Still, I appreciate the opportunity to give these a try!

*These potatoes were obtained using a coupon for free product provided by Tasteful Selections. I did not find these in the Boston area; my Mom actually located this bag in a Connecticut Price Chopper. I was not compensated in any other way for this review, and the opinions contained are entirely mine.

Roasted Peppers on the Grill

You can buy roasted red peppers in a jar, but it’s a lot more fun (and economical) to make them yourself. And roasted cubanelles are a bonus! Here’s a step-by-step guide.

First, gather your peppers. For this project, we used 6 large red peppers and 6 cubanelle peppers. (When I say “we” in this post, I use the term loosely. My Dad did all the work here, I just took pictures.)

Prepare a foil tray by adding a small amount of olive oil and relish. Place the tray on the grill, and add the cubanelles.

The red peppers are placed directly on the grill, and then brushed with olive oil.

Cook on medium-high, lifting the grill cover to turn the peppers occasionally. When the cubanelles are done, they can be placed directly on a serving plate.

Once the red peppers are nicely grilled, they require a few more steps.

The secret to success is a brown paper bag. I know, with the increasing popularity of reusable shopping bags (a wonderful thing!) you may have to hunt around the house for a paper one. Take the peppers directly from the grill and place them in the bag. Fold the bag over and let the peppers steam for about 1 hour.

Remove the peppers from the bag, and you will be able to peel the skin easily. The peppers can then be sliced open, and they are ready to serve!

Your very own roasted red peppers, which make the perfect topping to any kind of burger.

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

I finally got back in the kitchen this week, and made these awesome spicy sweet potato fries. I have blogged about sweet potato fries before, but these are the kind that you keep reaching for, even when your mouth is burning!

I tossed the sliced potato with olive oil, paprika, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and salt. Then I baked them for about 30 minutes at 425F. They tasted amazing, but weren’t as crispy as I’d like. I think they may have been too crowded in the pan, but they were still good. Just make sure to have your favorite cold beverage handy….

Hungarian Potato and Egg Casserole

What are the chances that I’d have potatoes and sour cream in my house at the same time, and then saw this recipe in the NY Times? Oh, I wasn’t actually reading the NY Times, but my nifty Iphone app lets me skip past the more serious news and go right to the Food section. Anyway, I decided to give it a try.

With potatoes, sauteed onions, sliced eggs, and sour cream, this is meant to be a simple dinner. And that’s exactly what it is – not fancy, just satisfying. Most nights, that’s really all I need. This recipe might not jump out at you unless you have the ingredients on hand, but keep it in the back of your mind for that night when you’re looking to go back to the basics.

Potato and Leek Gratin

I’ve had this Potato and Leek Gratin recipe in my queue for a while. I remember gratins from when I was a kid, with thin slices of potato, a cheesy cream sauce, and crispy edges. This is a more sophisticated version, with sauteed leeks and more spices.

To make this recipe just a little healthier, I used reduced fat cheese and skim milk. However, the gratin turned out much more watery than I expected. The flavor was almost perfect, but there was a substantial amount of broth in the bottom of the dish. And that is why slotted spoons were invented. I think I would use less milk next time, or perhaps find a slightly different recipe, but I am keeping the leeks!