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A Side Dish for Many Meals – Mexican Rice

it has been a long day after a long weekend and I have been going non-stop since 5:30 Am here with work, plumbing problems, the dog barking at the plumber for hours and all kinds of other fun stuff. I was pretty sure I would never be able to get to blogging today but I calmed down, got all my work done, got the plumber done and the dog asleep so I actually have time to do a short post. it is actually perfect that I have this really easy side dish recipe to offer up today. Mexican rice goes well with not just Mexican style meals but with nearly any type of meal you could make and I made some last week when I made chicken tostadas for dinner and we have used the leftovers for other meals since then. This particular recipe comes from The New York Times and uses ingredients you are likely to have around your home so you can put it together easily.

Mexican Rice

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

2 cups canned tomatoes(or use fresh tomatoes)

1/2 cup bell pepper (green, yellow, red or orange), roughly chopped

1 onion, roughly chopped

1/2 jalapeno, seeds and veins removed

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chicken broth or water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 heaping cup long-grain white rice, rinsed

Blend the garlic, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion and jalapeno, salt and chicken broth or water together in a blender until the mixture is a mostly smooth puree. There will be a few small pieces of onion and pepper throughout, which is fine. In a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, heat the vegetable oil. Add the white rice and toast the rice until it absorbs most of the oil and begins to smell nutty. Add the blended ingredients to the rice and stir gently with a wooden spoon to prevent breaking up the rice too much and bring it to a light boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to the lowest setting possible and cook the rice undisturbed for 17 minutes. Let the rice sit for another 10 minutes before serving.

I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned because I had some fresh ones on hand and I liked the fresh taste they provided to the rice. The jalapeno added a nice little touch of heat to the rice but the simplicity of the dish is what makes it perfect to do as a side dish with some quick Mexican meals during the week like tacos, quesadillas, tostadas or burritos. I think the rice would go nicely with a steak, pork chops or some chicken as well because it is so easy and versatile. it’s a nice recipe to be able to pull out when you want an easy side dish to make for nearly any type of meal so you can just use some simple ingredients and put it all together.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your meal!

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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Cooking, Dinner, Rice, Side Dishes

 

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A week of Side Dishes, Part One – Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Glaze and Lemon Zest

As the snow starts to fall here as we get pummeled with the 1st blizzard of 2015 in my area of New York, I have been going through some of the recipes of things I have made lately and I realize I have a lot of side dishes that I have done recipes for that I have not posted on here yet. So I decided for this week I will post a different side recipe each day to give you some ideas of different things that you can try with your main dishes. The first one, from Williams-Sonoma, is for a roasted asparagus with balsamic glaze and lemon zest. Asparagus is one of our favorite vegetables around here so we do try to make use of it quite often and I have found that roasting it is one of my favorite ways to make it. The great thing about asparagus is that you can use it in a bunch of different ways and for several different kinds of meals. This one in particular can go pretty well with just about anything and is really simple to make any night of the week.

 

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Glaze and Lemon Zest

20 to 25 asparagus spears, tough ends removed

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 450°. Spread the asparagus in a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle the asparagus with the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Turn the asparagus spears several times to make sure they are all coated evenly. Roast the asparagus for 10 minutes, turning them from time to time. Remove the asparagus from the oven, sprinkle the asparagus with the lemon zest and turn the spears several times. Return the asparagus to the oven and continue to roasted until the spears are crisp-tender and the color has darkened slightly, about 5 to 7 minutes more. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and serve immediately. Or, let the asparagus cool, then cover with aluminum foil and allow it to stand at room temperature for up to one hour before serving.

 

I find that when you roast asparagus it really brings out the great flavor of the vegetable and with this recipe the balsamic vinegar in the lemon zest really add some extra punch to the dish. I think this side dish goes really well with just about any type of beef that you might serve, but it also would work great with poultry, pork or fish. Many people often serve asparagus as part of an appetizer before the meal if you are serving a more elegant dinner or even serve asparagus as part of a brunch, and this recipe could work well for either situation. 25 asparagus spears might sound like a lot, but it really does not go very far and this recipe is perfect for 3 or 4 people. We did not even have any leftovers when I served this one myself. You can serve the asparagus warm right out of the oven or let it cool to room temperature, which is the way a lot of people like it. Personally I prefer it hot but it tastes great either way.

 

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day, stay warm and out of the snow, and enjoy your meal!

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Savor These Simple Sides (Sans Pictures) – Maple-Glazed Root Vegetables and Mashed Potatoes with Buttermilk

One of the areas that I am trying to do the most improving in during 2015 comes to the pictures that I take for this blog. Very often I just take pictures right after I have finished preparing the meal so that I can have a picture to display, and the pictures do not always turn out to be the best that I can use but I go with it and that is what I have. I admit I am no professional photographer and I do not spend a lot of time working on the photography for the blog, but I would like to try to get a little bit better at it and take some nicer pictures to use. I would also like to be able to remember to take pictures more often. Very often I forget to take pictures of the side dishes that I have made and only remember it after we have already started eating, not leaving me with anything to take pictures of to put up.. This has kept me from putting a lot of recipes on the blog since I do not have pictures of the recipes I want to use. Today I decided I am going to use a couple of the recipes anyway so at least I can share them with you and let you know how they turned out for me even if I do not have pictures to show you. In particular here are 2 side dishes I tried recently, one from Williams-Sonoma and the other from Bobby Flay. They are for maple-glazed root vegetables and for mashed potatoes with buttermilk, black pepper and green onion. Both are really simple to make and make great side dishes for all kinds of meals.

 

Maple-Glazed Root Vegetables

3 tablespoons butter

1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into wedges 1/2-inch wide

1 1/4 pound carrots, peeled and cut on the bias into pieces 2-inches long and 1/2-inch wide

1 1/4 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut on the bias into pieces 2-inches long and 1/2-inch wide

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

3 tablespoons maple syrup

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

In a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When the foaming subsides, add 1/3 each of the turnips, carrots and parsnips. Cook, without stirring, until the vegetables are browned on one side, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl. Repeat the process to brown the remaining vegetables in 2 more batches.

Return all of the vegetables to the pan. Stir in the chicken broth, time and 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the vegetables are just tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. He uncover the pan and continue to cook the vegetables, stirring them occasionally, until most of liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are glazed, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and the remaining 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and serve.

 

You can pretty much try this recipe with any root vegetables that you like, or just one single type of vegetable that you may happen to have on hand and it works pretty well. While this recipe is for a larger group of about 8 to 10, you could scale it down to fit your particular family size needs. I actually just made this again recently using just some baby carrots that I had on hand and it turned out perfectly, with the carrots having a really nice glaze on it thanks to the maple syrup. It is a great dish to remember to use for holidays or weekend meals and goes really well with beef, chicken, turkey, or pork. The mashed potato recipe is just as easy and just as versatile.

 

Mashed Potatoes with Buttermilk, Black Pepper and Green Onion

4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch dice

Kosher salt

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into pieces

2 1/2 to 3 cups buttermilk

Coarsely ground black pepper

2 green onions, green and pale green parts only, thinly sliced

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover them with cold water by 2 inches. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, bring to a boil, and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes well. While the potatoes are cooking, combine the butter and buttermilk in a small sauce pan set over medium heat and bring it to a simmer.

Working in batches, pass the cooked potatoes through a food mill or a ricer (or just use a potato masher) over a pot. Stir the hot buttermilk mixture into the potatoes until they are smooth and creamy. Season the potatoes generously with pepper and add more salt as needed. Stir in the green onions. Cover and keep the potatoes warm over a simmering pot of water until you are ready to serve.

 

While everyone makes mashed potatoes pretty regularly, this is just a slight variation that gives you a little bit different flavor thanks to the buttermilk, pepper and green onion. I really like a lot of pepper in my potatoes so this was the perfect recipe since the pepper really shines through and the buttermilk really helps to make the potatoes extra creamy and add a little bit of tang to the flavor. Again this is a great dish that you can use for a holiday meal or a nice Sunday meal but it is also simple enough for you can make it during the week to have as a side dish for just about anything, including beef, chicken, turkey or pork. While using a ricer or food mill does produce great mashed potatoes and I do have a ricer to use, I very often find myself just using the potato masher to make them and they come out just fine. The ricer can be a little tedious to use when you have a lot of potatoes and some people like the mashed potatoes a little chunkier with the potato masher anyway.

 

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

mapleglazecarrots

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Cooking, Dinner, Potatoes, Side Dishes, Vegetables

 

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Make This Simple Summer Side – Black Bean Salad with Mango, Cilantro and Lime

Summer meals, whether you are cooking them out on the grill, in the kitchen or not cooking at all and trying to keep things cool and light, call for some easy side dishes that taste great. Sure coleslaw and potato salad are always great standbys, but I have found myself recently trying to make more use of different beans in my main dishes and side dishes. Beans are a great source of fiber and protein and can go really well with a lot of the summer vegetables and fruit that you find available right now. I came across this really easy recipe from the Cooking Channel for a black bean salad with mango, cilantro and lime and it sounded so easy and refreshing that I just knew I had to give it a try one night.

Black Bean Salad with Mango, Cilantro and Lime

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 small ripe mango, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch pieces

1/2 yellow, orange or red bell pepper, cut into a small dice

1 (14.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 small jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, minced

1 small red onion, cut into a small dice

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

In a small mixing bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar, the lime juice, the honey and the ground cumin. Slowly whisk in the canola or vegetable oil until it is well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the diced mango, diced bell pepper, black beans, minced jalapeno pepper and the diced red onion together in a large bowl. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the ingredients and toss everything together until it is combined. Season the salad with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish the dish with the cilantro and serve.

I loved he freshness of this salad with the vinaigrette. The lime juice really made it all pop together, but to me the mixof the black beans, jalapeno, red onion and the mango are what really make this work. You get such a great medley of flavors with the freshness of the mango combined with the bite of the onion and the jalapeno that it all seems to go really well together. This salad works well as a side dish to just about any type of chicken, pork or beef dish and could even stand on its own as a vegetarian meal if you wanted it to. I served it as a side to some pulled pork tacos I made (which I ill be posting the recipe for tomorrow) and it was fantastic on the side or right on the tacos themselves. I think it would also work great with quesadillas or burritos.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Beans, Cooking, Picnic Fare, Produce, Salad, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

 

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