Couscous, Fresh Herb and Feta Stuffed Tomatoes

Okay, one last side dish before we go back to making some more delicious main dishes and decadent desserts.

I served these stuffed tomatoes for dinner one night with some roasted chicken, and they were the perfect marriage of flavor. The tender couscous, creamy feta cheese, fresh herbs and briny capers were such a surprising bright pop of flavor, my husband and daughter asked me to make the couscous again the following weekend.

This recipe would also be a perfect appetizer using the smaller cherry tomatoes. In fact, ladies, get ready for the next get-together at my house. These little cherry bombs are what I’ll be making!

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Curried Fried Rice

This side dish is super fast to prepare once you have the ingredient prep work done and pairs perfectly with any protein whether it’s grilled fish, braised pork chops, seared steak or roasted chicken. The chile peppers, fresh ginger, and curry powder give the rice a nice low heat, the touch of sesame oil adds a subtle nutty flavor, and the cilantro and lime juice add a bright pop of freshness.

The second great thing about this recipe is any leftovers you have quickly become a vamped up version of the dish, adding the chopped protein into the rice!

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Cauliflower Gratin

This version of cauliflower gratin uses a sauce made from light sour cream, reduced-fat half and half, and aged Parmesan cheese, which gives the cauliflower a light, delicate flavor as compared to traditional heavy cheddar or bechamel sauces.

The preparation and cook times are quick and easy making it a great option for a weekday dinner side dish.

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Bruschetta Stuffed Artichokes

Artichokes are one of those vegetables I’ve typically bought marinated in a jar ready to eat. When I decided to try making them fresh, I learned three things. The preparation time is long; you need to be careful of the tiny leaves with exceptionally sharp barbs in the center guarding the heart of the artichoke, and the taste is amazing! The flavor is so much richer and intense from those in a jar. Then paired with the rich flavors of the minced garlic, acidic tomatoes, briny capers and creamy Parmesan in the bruschetta filling, it was so worth the time it took making them!

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Whipped Parsnips and Carrots

Next up in the veggie arena are these whipped parsnips and carrots, which would go perfectly with an Easter ham.

And I’ll be the first to admit, it took a small act of bravery to eat a cooked carrot – something I swore I would never do again since tasting one and spitting it out when I was a child. (Here comes the ‘big but’) BUT, when whipped with savory parsnips, sweet creamy butter and a touch of nutmeg, I couldn’t tell I was eating cooked carrots. In fact, I had two helpings, that’s how good they were. What about my other picky veggie eaters at the table you ask? They both tasted them and said, “Huh, those are pretty good!” Still a win in my book!

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Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Custard

As I was putting away the groceries the other day, I realized I had fallen into a vegetable rut, and my side dishes were afterthoughts. My daughter is very picky when it comes to vegetables, so we’d become limited to broccoli, corn, and salads. It was time to try something new.

So for the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on some unique and delicious sides to accompany main courses. First up is this delicious recipe.

When do squash and sweet potatoes taste like a pumpkin pie? When they are pureed and baked into this amazing custard! Sweet, spicy, creamy, fluffy, – my goodness, this dish is addictive!

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Pineapple-Plum Habanero Salsa

pineapple-plum-habanero-salsa

My spicy pepper choice this summer was all about habaneros; specifically chocolate, spicy mustard and the rare and elusive white habanero. As any home gardener knows, once you commit to planting edibles in your garden, you spend the next several months watering, chasing bunnies, pruning, staking, and relocating them to different sunny spots for maximum exposure. Last week my patience finally paid off, and I’ve harvested an amazing crop of peppers. So off to the kitchen I went to create some new spicy, flavorful dishes while they were plump and fresh.

Advanced warning, the next several weeks of recipes are going to be all about peppers and delicious spicy heat so get ready!

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Oriental Coleslaw

Oriental Coleslaw

If you’re looking for the perfect side dish to accompany your summer barbeque, this is it!

As much as I would love to take credit for this delicious dish, I cannot. The credit for this one goes to my sister, Laurie. She made this for us when we were visiting her and I craved it afterward. So much so, I had to get the recipe and make it myself. (Which I have done many, many, many times since!)

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Roasted Jalapeño, Cheddar & Bacon Cornbread

Roasted Jalapeno, Cheddar & Bacon Cornbread

I moved to Texas mid-way through my junior year in high-school and lived there for seventeen years before my heart called me back to the mid-west where I was born.

What I remember most about traditional southern-style cooking include chicken-fried steak, fried okra, black-eyed peas, and cornbread. The okra and black-eyed peas were pretty good, but I didn’t care for the chicken-fried steak, and I found the cornbread to be dry, gritty and flavorless. Mind you; I was smart enough to know you never tell a Texan you don’t like their food.

But I’m a bread lover, so I was convinced there had to be a way to make cornbread enticing. So after a few tries, I found the flavor and texture I was looking for in this version made with buttermilk, Greek yogurt, and sour cream. Aside from the fact it also has cooked bacon and roasted jalapeño (how could I go wrong there?), it has just the right balance of moisture to the cornmeal, smokiness from the bacon, and a nice low heat from the peppers.

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Cider-Braised Cabbage with Corned Beef

Cider-Braised Cabbage with Corned Beef

St. Patrick’s Day in our house isn’t celebrated in a traditional way. First off, we’re not Irish, and second, my husband and daughter aren’t big fans of corned beef, potatoes or cabbage. So this year, I decided to make something I would enjoy, because I knew I would be eating the whole thing by myself!

As it turned out, I didn’t mind not sharing this one. The slight char on the braised cabbage had a light smokiness that perfectly complimented the sweet caramelized onions and the salty corned beef. It tasted exactly like St. Patrick’s Day (a few days early)!

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