Category Archives: Side Dishes

Herb-Roasted Carrots

One of the reasons that it is really, really great that I have Fritz around is that he keeps me accountable to make real food for dinner.  Not that he demands it, ’cause he doesn’t, but because it’s fun to cook for someone who is so appreciative, and well…let’s face it–he gets a little grumpy when he’s underfed.

I have a weird tendency when he isn’t home (or in this case, when he gets food at school) to made a side dish, eat it as a main dish, and then have a bowl of cereal a few hours later when I unavoidably get hungry again.  It’s not really the best life strategy, except that it’s easy and I get to test side dishes for future filling, nutritious, and well-rounded meals.

Herb-Roasted Carrots

  • 8-10 medium-sized carrots, scrubbed
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1 t each your choise of fresh herbs, chopped–I used garlic chives and curry leaves
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Scrub the carrots down (or peel them if they are big, bad carrots and not sweet baby or adolescent carrots), and chop them in half lengthwise if necessary (the bigger they are, the more likely you chop).

Lay them on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the herbs and salt.  Toss them until they are lightly coated with oil and herbs, then bake at the middle rack for about 20 minutes.

They will be soft and naturally sweet, but with a nice salty, herby flavor.

You could also toss these on the grill for a smokier version.  That’d be excellent.

I also found these carrots (from our CSA box) to be more orange than your average carrot.  It’s not just the picture.  Crazy, huh?

Tomorrow is my second day of my pediatrics clinical, and so far (I know, one whole day of experience) I’m really liking it.  I’m not sure if that is so much because I’m finally getting to do what I really want to do, or if because working at a school means that I get to come home and see this face by 2:30 on Tuesdays and Thursday:

Either way, I like it.

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Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice

It’s almost unbelievable that it’s been ten years already since that day when, in the midst of my ninth grade ignorance, I found myself watching live footage of a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center with my fellow classmates.  I don’t remember much except being shocked and a little detached–I don’t think I was old enough to really understand the significance of what happened.

Well, ten years later, we’re still here–and I understand a lot more about what happened that day.  I watched an incredibly powerful video in church today documenting the men and woman who, through either circumstance or choice, gave their lives in that tragic and terrible event.  And even just by writing about this on my blog, I’m reminding myself that though ten years can encompass new pets, a couple of boyfriends and a husband, a high school diploma and a degree and a half, several moves across the state, purchasing two cars, and the promise of a brand new niece or nephew, I won’t forget.

September 11th also marks another anniversary–the one year anniversary of my blog!  If you want to see how far I’ve come–here’s the first post I ever wrote (and what an ambitious one it was, making apple pie): A Brand New Beginning.

A couple of people gave me suggestions for what to make with cilantro, and I decided to go with my sister, Erin’s idea, for cilantro and lime rice.  She sent me this recipe, which I used as inspiration for this fresh and yummy side dish.

Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice

  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 C uncooked brown rice
  • 2 C hot water
  • 1/4-1/2 C cilantro (I measured the amount before I diced it), finely chopped
  • zest of one lime
  • juice of half a lime (but adjust as you like it–this was about 2-3 T)
  • salt to taste

I decided to make this in a fried-rice style because I love the nutty taste it gives to brown rice.  Start by browning the shallot over medium heat, then toss the dried rice into the oil as well.  Let the rice fry with the shallots for a few minutes until it starts to smell toasty. 

Pour the two cups of hot water over the rice, cover, and reduce the heat to medium low.  Cook for about 25 minutes, or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the lime zest, juice, and cilantro, and season with salt to taste.

I actually loved this rice–very simple flavors, but bright and fresh with the lime and cilantro.  It would be so good with tacos.  So good.

Erin–good call!

I think that for lunch tomorrow I’m going to throw some chickpeas in there to make it a heartier meal and have it as a main dish.  Since Fritz hates cilantro, I’m going to be able to try this rice in a couple different ways.

It’s also quite simple and quick to make, which is always a bonus.

For the remaining cilantro, which was looking a bit wilty, I chopped it up and froze it (see here for a tutorial).  I’m planning on using it in a Thai pork kind of meal (also an inspiration from another blog reader!).

And aren’t these baby red potatoes a beauty?  I cooked ’em as salt potatoes tonight with fantastic results–they were creamy bite size potato packages.

I want to leave you with a question tonight–what is your most powerful memory of 9/11?

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A Peck of (Really Hot) Pickled Peppers

Hello, friends! 

It feels so good to be able to cook and blog every day.  I will never, ever, ever take having power for granted ever again until probably this weekend when I get used to everything running smoothly without any effort on my part.

But I shouldn’t take it for granted, because it is so awesome to have power.

To finish up my fall prep by canning the rest of the goods from my parents’ garden, I decided to make pickled banana peppers.  We’ve been eating a lot of sandwiches (brown bag lunches at school, ya know), and I thought a sweet and spicy pickled pepper would be perfect to jazz them up through the winter when veggies are a little lackluster.

I also discovered that what I thought were harmless banana peppers were actually super HOT banana peppers, and now my poor innocent hands are burning like fire since I wasn’t wearing gloves when I cut them.  Word to the wise: wear gloves.  You could use this recipe with mild or spicy peppers–doesn’t matter one bit.

Pickled Banana Peppers

  • 25 banana peppers
  • 2 C water
  • 3 C white vinegar
  • 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 C salt
  • 2 T whole peppercorns
  • 1 T caraway seeds
  • 1 T dill seeds
  • 2 t ground allspice

These are getting canned into four pint-sized jars, so get all that canning stuff ready–big stock pot of boiling water to sterilize the jars, smaller saucepan to simmer the lids in, big tongs, and dish cloths and potholders to protect your sensitive mitts.  Especially if you’ve already burned the crap outta ’em with hot pepper juice.

Start by slicing the peppers–I cut off the tops, removed the core and as many seeds as I easily could with a knife, and then sliced them into thin rings.  Soak all the peppers in a giant bowl of ice water with a T or so of salt in it for at least an hour.  I’m not sure exactly what this step is for, but since everyone else is doing it, I’ll do it too.

Once the peppers are ready, sterilize the jars by boiling them in water for at least ten minutes.  While the giant pot of water is coming to a boil, bring the remaining ingredients (water, vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices) to a boil as well. 

Once the jars are sterilized, pack them full of peppers and cover with the vinegar mixture.  Careful with all the hot stuff–no burns, please!

It might be helpful to strain the liquid through a strainer as you pour it in the jars, and then you can evenly divide the spices among the four jars.

Put the lids on the jars, screw the tops on (not too tight, just a gentle closure), and return them to the boiling water to process.  Boil the jars vigorously for 40 minutes, then remove from the liquid and set on a dish towel to cool.  If the lids pop and don’t spring back when pressed, the jars have sealed properly and you are good to go.

Don’t they look gorgeous?

I’d let them pickle in the vinegar for a few weeks before eating them.

I’d also be careful about eating them if you used the same kind of death-in-disguise super-hot banana peppers that I used.

Winter sandwiches have officially been jazzed.

I leave you with a few pictures from a trip downport that Fritz and I took the other day with our good friends Cait and Jeff:

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Farro with Mushrooms & Artichokes

One thing my mom has always been really good at is giving me a challenge to complete.  And alongside that, she also gifted me the genetic drive to want, nay, the need to complete every challenge to award myself the ultimate satisfaction.

So when she handed me a bag of farro and a jar of artichoke hearts, the challenge was proffered.  And I accepted.

Plus, she always offers to buy whatever other ingredients I need.  Can’t resist that offer.

Farro with Mushrooms & Artichokes Printable Recipe Card

  • 2 C cooked farro (instructions below)
  • 2 T butter
  • 3 shallots (or one small onion), diced
  • 16 oz mushrooms, sliced (I used bella, but others would work)
  • 1 small can artichoke hearts, quartered (I used the kind packed in water, not oil)
  • 1 t dried ground thyme
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/2 C dry white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)

Start off by pre-cooking the farro.  Bring two cups of water to a boil and 1 C freshly rinsed farro.  Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally, until the water is absorbed and the farro is tender (about 25-30 minutes).

And farro, by the way, is delicious.  Kinda like barley, if you’ve never had it.  In fact, you can sub barley in for this recipe, or use any other grain (spelt? brown rice?  The world is your oyster).

Once the farro is nearly ready, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook until translucent, then toss in the mushrooms (it’d probably be a good idea to do the mushrooms in two batches so you don’t crowd them–Julie & Julia, anyone?).  Once most of the liquid is cooked out of the mushrooms, add the remaining ingredients (including the cooked farro), and simmer on low until the rest of the liquid cooks down.

Oh, man.  Yum.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The farro gets a nice and creamy taste (without cream!), thanks to all the liquid that cooks with it.  Plus, can you really go wrong with butter, mushrooms, and white wine?

I mean, not really.  No.  The answer is no.  You can’t go wrong.

And if you were to imbibe in a refreshing glass of wine while this is bubbling away on the stove, no one could blame you.  I certainly wouldn’t.

Add some grilled tuna steaks to this meal, and you have really sealed the deal.  I’d come over for dinner.  You can invite me at lauren@fullmeasureofhappiness.com or on my Facebook page.

No, really.  Or invite Fritz over, because he’s all alone on Long Island, and probably hungry.  And Henry?  He’s definitely starving.  Always is.

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Salt Potatoes–in the Mountains

If you aren’t from–you know, where I’m from (Syracuse, not Long Island), you may not know about salt potatoes.  And if you don’t, I’m really sorry, because they are just so darn delicious.

But before we get into that, let me show you where I am:

Oh, yes.  You’ll see much more of that later.

Plans for tomorrow involve a morning run, hiking (with bear spray), swimming, kayaking, and basically getting as much sun and fresh air as possible with Fritz, who hasn’t really seen the light of day since he started studying for his test. 

But back to the salt potatoes.  This isn’t much of a recipe, but more of an idea.  An inspiration, if you will.

Salt Potatoes

  • Baby potatoes (I’ve used baby red potatoes from my CSA box and white potatoes–both lovely)
  • Salt

Kinda makes sense, when you think about it. 

I’m not giving amounts of either because 1) it doesn’t matter all that much; 2) I probably don’t make them with the right amount of salt anyway since it horrifies me to add so much; and 3) it’s an inspiration, remember?  I’m not here to boss anyone around.

Start off by giving the baby potatoes a hearty scrub with a stiff brush and some water to clean them–no need to peel.  In fact, I’ll be mad if you do.  Maybe I am here to be a little bossy.

Dump in a pile of salt (I used sea salt and I’d estimate I used about 1/3 C to 1/2 C of salt for a few pounds of potatoes) into a pot.  And this is a VAST underestimation of how Syracusians really cook salt potatoes.  Wikipedia just told me to use a pound of salt for every four pounds of potatoes.  Another recipe said one cup of salt for six cups of water.   Add water and potatoes and bring to a rolling boil.

Try it the real way, at least once.  And then make it my way if it scares you to add a pound of salt to anything, even if you end up pouring most of it off.

Boil the potatoes in the salt water until tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Last rule is this:  you must serve these potatoes with butter.  And I’m talking real butter.  Don’t show me margarine or vegetable oil based nonsense with these potatoes, please.  Please?  I’m begging you.  Do it right.

Unless you really can’t.  In that case, I still love you.  But dude, I just learned that I am totally bossy.

Apparently what magic happens in the pot is that the salt forms a crust around the potatoes, preventing them from getting watery and instead making them soft and creamy.  And salty.  And delicious.

Fritz and his dad manned the grill, making lamb chops (or tjops, in Afrikaans) and boerewors, which are possibly my absolute two favorite grillable meats in the history of the world since I met and married a South African.

Have you ever seen anything more perfect than this?:

Good night!

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Zucchini Fritters

So for breakfast this morning I decided to make zucchini fritters.  In one of those highly anticipated moments of pure bliss, heaven and earth came together in a flash of blinding light when I stumbled upon a recipe that looked good (in Food and Wine) and actually had all of the ingredients on hand.  Not only that, but I was hoping to use up some zucchini and the rest of some ricotta cheese before our vacation starts on Saturday.

Those moments are just the best, aren’t they?

Zucchini Fritters Printable Recipe Card

  • 2 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 C whole-wheat flour
  • 3 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 t salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all the ingredients, mixing in the flour last until just combined.

So easy.

Traditionally, you would fry these fritters in olive oil for a few minutes on each side.  That’s what the magazine said.  I, however, would like to be able to wear a bikini and therefore baked and broiled my fritters.  But it’s up to you.  I won’t judge you either way.

Drop spoonfuls of the zucchini mixture on an oiled baking sheet and flatten with the back of a spoon (this recipe should make about 20 fritters).  Bake them for 5-10 minutes on the middle rack, then turn the broiler on and broil for a few minutes on each side, until they are golden and crispy.  You may have to do these in two batches.

I really liked these; Fritz, however, did not at all.  He ate one bite and then quietly packed them up into a Tupperware, trying not to hurt my feelings.

They weren’t hurt.  More fritters for me!

You can recrisp these in the oven, set at 350, for a few minutes on each side.

Fritters aside, I spent all day reorganizing the apartment and somehow managed to fully complete the main room.  I rearranged furniture, went through piles of books, and did a lot of dusting.  It’s amazing how we fit so much stuff into such a small space!  To show you the extent of my work, here’s on example–the dreaded linen (and everything else) closet.  Before:

And after!

The most fun part about doing this kind of reorganizing is when you first start and the house looks like it was completely ransacked–though Henry was so excited to have new places to play sleep.

Here’s some of the finished product–including the table piled with goods to donate and/or sell:

And of course I can’t forget CSA box number 10!  Boxes number 11 and 12 are going to be picked up by a friend of mine to enjoy while we are on vacation–I’ll miss them…but I’m pretty sure it’ll be worth it!

Good night!

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Summertime Farrotto (Farro Risotto)

Ugh, this week kinda stinks.  Even though I only have three days of classes, I have two tests and I definitely didn’t study at all over the long weekend.  So, it’s a little bit stressful but it’s also my fault and I know it, and that’s the worst combination.

So in times of stress, what do I do?  Yep.  Try new recipes.

I’ve had some farro in the cupboards for a while now, and with the fresh carrots from the CSA box, and frozen peas from my parent’s garden, I knew there was something magical to be made.  As I was sitting in class, thinking about how much studying needed to happen tonight, a wisp of an idea took flight.  Farrotto.  Farro.  In risotto form.

Summertime Farrotto (serves 4-6)  Summertime Farrotto Recipe Card

  • 1 C dry farro
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, or 4 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 C frozen peas (I actually had 1 1/4 C of peas, so I just used ’em all)
  • 4-5 C broth (I’d suggest using half water and half broth so it’s not too salty) 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme (1 t fresh leaves)
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, heat the broth and water combo in a small saucepan over medium heat–you can bring to a boil and then turn down to just below a simmer.  The key for cooking a risotto (or a farrotto, in fact) is to keep the broth hot at all times, but to not boil it off, either).

Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed pan, and add the onion, carrots, and peas.  Saute until softened.  Add the bay leaf and thyme, and cook another minute.  Meanwhile, I’d suggest giving the farro a quick whirl in a food processor just to break up the big grains a bit–not too much, just to crack most of ’em.  Once the veggies are softened, add the farro and stir around for a minute or two just to toast ’em.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the broth half a cup at a time, allowing all the liquid to be absorbed before adding more.  Also make sure you keep that farrotto stirred up–you don’t want a crust on the bottom, like a paella.  Once the broth is absorbed, add another half a cup.  Keep adding it until the farro reaches the creamy and soft consistency you want.  I used all five cups, but you could stop at four if you wanted.

Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

We served this with a gorgeous steak (thanks, Dad!) that had a dill and chili powder dry rub on it, grilled to perfection by the grill master himself (hi Fritz!).  On the side we each had half of a small zucchini that was spritzed with olive oil and dusted with smoked paprika before being grilled facedown.

Heaven.

I couldn’t decide which part of the meal I liked best–the farrotto, the zucchini, or the steak.  So yummy.  It’s also nice to have the rest of the meal be so easy because risotto-style cooking requires you to stand by the oven for a while.  With the dry rub already made in the cupboard, all I had to do was hand the meat and veggie part of dinner over to Fritz.

And for dessert we watched an episode of Real Housewives of Orange County because, let’s be honest, we all crave junk sometimes!

I’m off to make vast quantities of tea and stay up late studying.  Wish me luck–lots of it.

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