Bytes of Love

Working mommy. Startup daddy. Rascal toddlers.

Category: Side Dishes (Page 1 of 5)

Chilled Strawberry Soup

We’re nearing the end of strawberry season, but that’s not going to stop me from whipping up some chilled strawberry soup (post sleep regression, that is). Like many of my recipes, this one doesn’t have super clear measurements since I arrive at these concoctions through pure trial and error. Of course, with two beautiful rascals and less than 15 minutes to come up with a meal everyday, trial and error is no longer an option, so we’ll see how this year’s version of the soup comes out :-). If you do feel adventurous enough in the kitchen, here’s what you can do:

  1. Grab two pints of strawberries, remove the hull (the green, leafy parts), wash, and toss in the blender.
  2. Add about 1/4 cup of confectioner’s (powdered) sugar. Here’s where the experimental part comes in. You may need some more or less of this, depending on how sweet you want the soup to be.
  3. Blend until smooth, adding a very small amount of water if you want the consistency of the puree to be thinner.
  4. Add a splash of your favorite dry white wine (leave this out if you’re serving it to kids), a dollop of whipped cream, some basil leaves, and cut strawberries as garnish.

Tadaa. That’s really all there is to it. Easy, refreshing, and elegant looking. How elegant? As kitchen art, I framed black and white photos of some of my favorite recipes / creations a few years ago. They are now hanging in our kitchen (I know, Pinterest would be so proud, right?). The left one is what the chilled strawberry soup looks like. Quaint, right? Enjoy!

kitchenart

Four Weekday Recipes You Can Actually Make

Well, when you guys told me that two-small-children, two-careers life is crazy, you weren’t kidding. If you’re like us, the hours of 5 pm – 9 pm on week days are pretty…intense. By intense I mean that the baby needs to be nursed, while the toddler needs some fruit, wants to play with play-doh, and needs help while going potty. ALWAYS at the exact same time. All at once. Daddy isn’t home yet to help, but thank goodness he’s there for dinner. Dinner is an exciting mix of food going everywhere, negotiations for more blueberries, and the baby refusing to sit in his bouncer for longer than two minutes because he HAS TO sit at the table with us and pull on mommy’s hair while she eats dinner. And, nurse again while she attempts to eat, of course. After dinner, we do dual bath and bed times, books, evening snack and bottle, and then label the next day’s bottles for daycare, do some laundry, and pick out everyone’s clothes for the next day. Anil and I usually don’t get “us” time until about 11 pm or so.

Somehow, when you’ve been away at work from your kids,  you don’t mind the circus after work. As hectic as it is, it’s really hard not to smile when the toddler tells you the “skarks” in Finding Nemo are scary :-) It’s such a blessing to have healthy children.  I’m also constantly being told that I’ll miss these moments one day, so I will take y’all’s word for it.  However, there is one thing I’ve really come to dislike when I get home and that’s cooking meals and doing dishes. It takes away from precious family time that we never seem to get enough of these days.  I never thought I’d say this and I still love to eat, but having a lot of time to prepare meals is just not happening. And that’s ok. We still manage to pull together dairy-and-soy-free dinners (for me, who nurses an allergic Asher) on most days, with shameless take-out meals making up for whatever we’re lacking. I thought I’d share a few of these super simple meals, in case you’re in the same boat and don’t have more than about 15 minutes to get dinner on the table.

Four Weekday Recipes You Can Actually Make

1. Oven roasted veggies and sausage: Pick a few veggies that don’t get too soggy in the oven. We like sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions. Add your favorite kielbasa or sausage. Don’t eat meat? You can try tofu or soy based sausage, or toss in cooked lentils at the end. Toss the veggies and sausage with natural Italian seasoning, some garlic powder, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Bake at 350 to 375 from about 45 minutes to an hour (really depends on your oven). Done! Healthy, easy, and you can prep it the night before and just throw it in the oven as soon as you get home. Depending on the protein you pick, this is a wonderful gluten, dairy, and soy-free meal as well.

Oven roasted goodies

2. Alexia frozen veggies and fried eggs: If you’re going to go the frozen route, Alexia is actually a pretty good brand because they use all natural ingredients. I like their asparagus, red potato, and mushroom medley. I sauté this mix with a little bit of olive oil and then fry some eggs for protein. Very simple, but tasty.

Alexia and eggs

3. Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala burgers in tomato-cilantro sauce. Ok, this one requires a little bit more night-before prep and also requires you to have some Indian spices on hand. Go grab a small container and mix in a teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon of fennel seeds, a teaspoon of dried thyme, a teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala. Mix well and get back to it the next day when you’re ready to cook. When it’s game time, grab a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes and a handful of fresh cilantro. Wash well and toss in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add some olive oil to a pan and add the dry spice mix. Cook for a few minutes and add the tomato-cilantro mix. Cook for another 5 minutes or so and crumble in the completely defrosted veggie burgers, from TJ’s, of course. Cook for another 10 and you’re done! Indian food that tastes like it took an hour to make, done in about 20 minutes.

IMG_8964

4. Chimichurri-anything. I absolutely love chimichurri sauce. It’s so easy to make and you can prepare it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. Here’s what you do: take 1 cup fresh cilantro, 1/2 cup fresh parsley, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 large cloves of garlic, 1/2 tbsp cumin powder, 1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like the heat). Blend it all in a food processor & toss it on pretty much anything. And by anything I do mean anything: roasted or steamed veggies, potatoes, meats, tofu, tempeh, chicken, yuca, you name it. SO good.

Chimi

4 Ingredient Chia Pudding

We’ve come such a long way since the chia pet….or have we?! Chia seeds are back in style. You hear as much about them as you hear about kale and coconut-anything these days. With our juice is loose movement still going strong, we’ve been adding chia seeds to our smoothies every morning. Then I read this post and had to try out chia pudding. Four Ingredients and some minor stirring later, Dilan, daddy and I devoured most of this creamy goodness in one sitting. I followed this recipe almost exactly, but reduced the tablespoons of maple syrup to 1.5. The pudding was still fairly sweet, so I may even try to leave it out next time. I used Silk’s unsweetened coconut milk instead of regular milk, but I’m guessing if you use the vanilla kind that you can just omit the vanilla from the recipe. I also used black instead of white chia seeds. I have yet to hunt for the white ones.

Just to recap: stir together 1 1/2 cups of coconut (or any other kind) of milk, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of sweetener (maple, agave, or other), 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla, and 1/3  cup of chia seeds. Pop in the fridge for 4 hours or so and you’re done! The pudding will take on a tapioca kind of consistency. Top it with your favorite fruit and you’ve got yourself a wholesome breakfast or snack.

Now one thing to watch out for are chia seed recalls. Lots of them lately. I found a good site to check for these: http://jillsjuices.com/recent-food-recalls/.

Overall, this was delicious, quick, easy, and so much more nutritious than any type of Jello you’ll find in the grocery aisles. As a bonus, I got to sing the chia pet song to Dilan, which cracked him up. Give this a try and please let me know if you come up with any cool variations!

4 ingredient chia pudding

One-Handed Veggie Fried Rice

Dilan is still in his clingy phase. He just wants to be held as soon as we come home. I secretly love it since I don’t see the boy during working hours, so I’ll take it :-). It does make prepping his dinner difficult. My solution to this is to hold him while whipping this up. I tried this recipe for veggie fried rice on him twice now. He devoured it both times. I got several requests to share it, so here it is!

The rice
We use organic brown basmati rice that you can find in Asian stores. Don’t let this fool you though, any long grain brown rice will work just fine. We use a rice cooker to cook ours since it cooks it perfectly every time. I make about a cup for every 2 people. You can use a stove or microwave as well. Just cook according to directions and make sure the rice is fairly dry. I usually do this beforehand (the night before) so I don’t have to wait for the rice to cook while handling Dilan. The rice goes in last.

The protein
I scramble one egg per person at high heat. Add at least 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil to a pan. Add more oil if needed. Crank up the heat, crack the eggs and quickly scramble them. Ok, so you can’t really do this part one-handed, so put the baby down first so you don’t burn him, please! It’s ok for the eggs to brown a little bit at the edges. Once your eggs are scrambled, add in the veggies.

The veggies
Any type of mixed veggies will do. We buy the frozen organic mixed veggies from Trader Joe’s. You don’t need to defrost these or cook them separately. They’ll go in right after the egg and need to be stir-fried for about 5 – 7 minutes on almost high heat.

The seasoning
Once your eggs are scrambled, add a few splashes of  low-sodium soy sauce and a few dashes of black pepper. That’s it. This will give you a nice and subtle Asian flavor, but wont’ be too overwhelming. A lot of the flavor will come from the toasted sesame oil. Once you’ve added your seasoning, stir in the rice for  a few more mins on medium heat and you’re done! This seems to be pretty toddler and kid friendly…let me know what you think!

One-handed veggie fried rice

Goodbye Summer: Watermelon & Halloumi Cheese

I have to admit it: I don’t care about summer…at all. I know that’s shocking to most people who live for summer, but I can totally live without the humidity and extreme (85F+ degrees) heat that we have here in North Carolina. I’m all about fall. The weather’s perfect, scenery is gorgeous where we live, slow cooker meals are nice and easy, football season is back, and PUMPKIN BEER.

Watermelon & Halloumi Cheese

On the flip side, I love summer fruits. So if you have any leftover watermelon, give this 10 minute recipe a try:

1. Chop up a seedless watermelon into bite-size pieces.

2. Get your hands on some Halloumi cheese! This is similar to mozzarella, but is much saltier, and is often made out of a mixture of sheep’s, goat, and sometimes cow’s milk. I get mine at Trader Joes.

3. Slice the Halloumi cheese into bite size pieces as well and fry with two tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat, until golden brown and a crust starts to form. Gently pat dry and serve next to the watermelon.

4. Drizzle both with balsamic glaze (Trader Joe’s again, people!) and finely chopped fresh basil. Serve as a snack or lunch. Pair with sangria or wine if you want to be adventurous. I promise you’ll like this. If you don’t, you’ll eat least look fancy 😉

watermelon & halloumi cheese

The Easiest Veggies You’ll Ever Make

Sure you can buy some frozen veggies, toss them in the microwave and call it a day. Nothing wrong with that. At least you’re eating veggies. There are definitely days when that’s all we can muster for dinner. Recently, I came up with this broccoli recipe that’s just perfect. It’s perfect because it’s almost as easy as tossing veggies in the microwave, yet it’s extremely satisfying and you’re eating FRESH produce. Here’s how to put together the easiest veggies you’ll ever make:

Step 1:  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Take two heads of fresh broccoli, wash and cut them into bite-size pieces. I combine them with washed and trimmed leeks that I get from Trader Joe’s. These are optional, but do add great flavor.

easiestveggiesever

Step 2: Toss the broccoli (and leeks, if you decide to use them) with 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil, some extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili powder. We use the Indian Kashmiri chili powder, which is a bit spicier. You can leave this out if you don’t like spicy. Same with the sesame oil, if you’re not a fan of that, though we LOVE it.

Step 3: Lay out the veggies on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes on 425. Take out of the oven and enjoy warm.

The beauty of this dish is that it takes almost no prep time. The oven does all the work for you. Dilan has an attention span of about 3 minutes and I can prep this dish in about 10. That just means that I only have to move him about 3 times or hand him 3 to 4 new toys to play with it before I’m done. It’s genius. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

 

 

 

Spicy Kale Chips

Kale chips are all the rage these days! And why shouldn’t they be? They’re healthy, super delicious and crispy, and don’t take very long to prepare. Anil and I love spicy foods, so instead of the traditional way of preparing these, we decided to add some kick. Kashmiri chili is the perfect addition to these spicy kale chips since it adds a lot of warmth, but not necessarily heat.  I’ve tried many different recipes out there, but had to experiment with the time and oven temperature. This is what I eventually came up with:

Ingredients

A large bunch of organic kale (baby kale works just as well)

Extra virgin olive oil – the best quality you have

Kosher or sea salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Kashmiri chili (optional) – found at many Asian / Indian grocery stores

spicykalechips1

Directions

1. Thoroughly wash the kale and remove the leaves from the stems. Put on a large, dry, and clean kitchen towel for a few hours, or, if you have a salad spinner, spin away to remove all water.

2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

3. In a large bowl, toss the kale with a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt, cracked black pepper, and Kashmiri chili, if you have it on hand.

4. Place on a large baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 20-25 minutes. If you like the spicy kale chips to be more crispy / crunchy, go with 25 minutes and a slightly more brown color. If you prefer them less crispy, go with 20 minutes and the edges just starting to brown. Serve warm with just about anything, though we recommend a nice, cold beer!

spicykalechips2

Blue Cheese Mashed Sweet Potatoes

You’re probably used to topping sweet potatoes with either nothing or pecans, sugar, butter, maple syrup or tiny marshmallows. Although I love a good sweet potato casserole, I also like some contrast in my food. I love mashed sweet potatoes. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about how you cut up the sweet potatoes (and let’s admit it, it sucks to cut them up, unless you have a ninja style knife) :-). So to add something different to these health gems, I tossed in some blue cheese at the very end. That’s it. Just peel, cut, boil, and mash the potatoes and toss in about 1/4 cup (or more, if you want to be adventurous) of crumbled blue cheese for every two medium sized potatoes. The cheese will slightly melt and the blue cheese mashed sweet potatoes go great with meats or more veggies on the side. Great substitute for your regular dose of mashed potatoes. Let me know if you like them this way or if you plan to run right back to keeping things sweet!

blue cheese mashed potatoes

Lemon Caper Butter Sauce

Did you know that capers are really Mediterranean flower buds? They’ve got a super strong flavor and are usually pretty salty, so a little goes a long way with these guys. The great thing about this lemon caper butter sauce is that you can quickly whip it up and add it to chicken, fish, or even tofu. It goes well with steamed or sauteed veggies as well. Here’s how I made it:

Ingredients

1/2 stick of butter, unsalted

1.5 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons of capers, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon of lemon zest (optional)

 

Directions

In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat. Add the capers, lemon juice, and lemon zest and slowly simmer for a few minutes. This recipe should give you enough lemon caper butter sauce to drizzle over 3-4 chicken breasts or pieces of  fish or meat. Enjoy with a healthy side to make up for all that butter! 😉

 lemon-caper-butter-sauce

Honey, Lime & Rosemary Purple Sweet Potatoes

Here’s a really easy side dish that I just recently created. Thanks to our local online produce service – check them out at byproduce.com – we were recently introduced to purple sweet potatoes. From the inside, they look similar to beets, but their flavor is subtle and sweet, like you would expect. Here’s what I did with them:

Ingredients (for two to three people)

Two large sweet potatoes
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Three to four fresh rosemary sprigs, stems removed and finely chopped
Sea salt to taste

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes in half inch slices and set aside. Mix the honey, lime juice, and olive oil. Toss with the sweet potatoes.

3. Sprinkle everything with salt and the chopped rosemary and put on a baking sheet.

4. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 350 and enjoy warm!

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