Category Archives: Side dishes

Picnic favorite: 9-layer Taco Dip

 

I’m going to a park to play volleyball with some friends, and we will grill and have a picnic afterwards. Everyone brings something to share. I wanted to make something different from your typical hot dogs and chips type food, and anything taco-related is always a hit, so this is what I came up with. Since I already had the majority of ingredients, only needed to buy the lettuce and tomato, this was super cheap. Even if I had to re-buy everything, for a party of 10 or so people this is a cheap side/dip. It is nearly filling enough to count as a meal!

Ingredients.
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup taco seasoning
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz sour cream
1 can refried beans
1/4 cup salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1/2 ripe tomato
1/4 head of lettuce, shredded (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup sliced black olives

Step 1: Brown the ground beef in a skillet. While cooking, layer the cream cheese on the bottom of an 8×8 pan with a spoon.

Step 2: Spread the sour cream on top of the cream cheese. Now you have 2 layers of cheesy goodness to build your mexi-masterpiece on top of.

Step 3: Open the refried beans and mix it up in the can. You can heat this first, I just scooped it right out of the can and layered it on.

That’s 3 if you’re counting.

Step 3: Once beef is cooked, add the taco seasoning and 1/4 cup water and cook until the water boils off. The beef should now smell tangy and reminiscent of Taco Bell. Pour that over the beans and spread evenly.

Step 4: Add as much salsa as you like on top of the beef. I just put about 1/4 cup since I’m adding real tomato as well.

Step 5: Add a healthy handful of shredded cheddar or whatever type of cheese you like. We’re up to 6 layers now…

Step 6: Cut the lettuce into small strips and cover the cheese with crunchy green goodness.

Step 7: Dice up a big fresh red tomato into small chunks and add those on top.

Step 8: Sprinkle the sliced black olives on top to complete the pretty picture.

And there you have it, 9 layers of tasty chip-ready dip! You can of course omit any layers you don’t particularly like, and it’s also an option to toss this in the oven or microwave for a few minutes after the cheese layer to warm up the meat/beans/cheeses before topping with the fresh veggies if you like it warm.

Easy side dish: Oven-Roasted Vegetables

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This is seriously one of the best side dishes ever! You can use literally any vegetable you have on hand, it takes only a few minutes, and it is super healthy AND tasty. I could eat oven-roasted veggies with every meal and not get tired of it.
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Ingredients:
1 baking potato, diced
1/2 onion, cut into strips
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/2 yellow squash, diced
3 tbsp olive oil
Nature’s Seasoning
Garlic salt
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Step 1: Dice up your veggies. This is the only work you have to do.
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Step 2: Coat your veggies in olive oil, put into an oven-safe pan.
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Step 3: Sprinkle with seasonings. Bake at 350 for ~20 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.
You could use any kind of potato here, add broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, parsnips, bok choi, kale, mushrooms, eggplant, the list goes on and on. Enjoy!


 

Slow Cooker Cheddar Broccoli Rice

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This is a super easy side dish, requiring only a few hours in a crock pot. It goes well with most anything. The end result is creamy, cheesy, and delicious.
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Ingredients:
1 cup rice
2 cups broccoli
1 full bag shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cup water

Step 1: Pour 1 cup rice into crock pot. Add 1 1/2 cups water.
Step 2: Add as much broccoli as you want, I put in about 2 cups pieces.
Step 3: Cover with shredded cheese.
Step 4: Cook on high 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until rice is fully cooked and cheese is melted.

Makes about 5 cups, enough for 3-6 sides depending on what else is in the meal. You can cut down the amount of cheese here for less fat, or add in a can of cream of chicken soup for extra creaminess.

Radish, onion & herb cheese dip

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Sadly I don’t remember where the inspiration for this dip came from, but I read on another blog about putting fresh raw radishes into a dip, and decided to make my own version based on what I had in my house.
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Dip:
1 package cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup radishes, diced very small
1/4 cup red onion, diced small
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried onion
~1/2 tbsp sea salt

Step 1: Mix room temperature cream cheese and sour cream in a bowl until blended. The dip should be spreadable but a spoon could stand up in it.

Step 2: Add in all the other ingredients, and mix well. Serve with whatever crackers you like. This was a hit at a small gathering I had!

Addictive farm fresh dip!

Kohl-slaw!

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I work on a CSA farm (http://www.facebook.com/schoonerfarms) and this week we harvested a TON of radishes, red, pink, and French breakfast, plus I got a spare kohlrabi. I’ve never had kohlrabi before, so I googled recipes, and found this gem on the goodbowl.com which makes a coleslaw from kohlrabi, turnips, and radishes. I still had some turnips left from 2 weeks ago too. I decided while making it to make it a little more colorful, so I threw in some carrot and cucumber too!
Slaw:
1 cup shredded kohlrabi
1/2 cup shredded radish
1/2 cup shredded turnip
1/3 cucumber, shredded
1/2 large carrot, shredded
Dressing:
1/4 cup miracle whip
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp mustard
pinch black pepper

Shredding the kohlrabi was a bit difficult, I did not know how stringy the interior was. Maybe mine was too young or too old, or I should have cooked it first?

Step 1: Put all shredded vegetables in a large bowl.

Step 2: Mix all ingredients of the dressing, and pour over veggies. Mix well. That’s it!

This makes about 4 small servings. Refrigerate before serving. The dressing is deliciously tangy, and it’s a good mix of textures. It only gets better as you let it sit. It would be a great side dish to take to a picnic or party, with fresh spring flavors. Very healthy, and vegetarian.

Bonus: My tomato plants that I’ve been growing in pots outside for months have produced their first tiny ripe tomatoes! They were amazing, and tasted like my childhood. =)

Homemade Chipotle

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage
Chipotle is one of my absolute favorite “fast food” places for several reasons. They encourage responsible practices, local and healthy food, quality, plus it is just dang delicious. However, even the best intentioned company makes some compromises to be large scale, and I always prefer making food myself so I know what’s in it and can control the portions. Plus, though $6.95 seems pretty cheap, more than once a month or so isn’t practical. 
Therefore, I decided to make my own version of my favorite, the chicken burrito bowl. A website called Chipotlefan.com has recipes for several Chipotle favorites. I used their recipe for the chicken marinade, with a few variations of my own. Then I made my own version of the fresh tomato and corn salsas based on memory, and the cilantro lime rice. Try it yourself, it isn’t exact, but it is close and Delicious!
 
Chipotle Chicken:

1 (7 ounce) can chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (remove chipotle peppers, skim out seeds)
2 tsp fresh ground ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 tbsp powdered garlic
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 quarter red onion
1/4 cup oil (canola/vegetable/olive)
Boneless skinless chicken breast or tenders

 
Step 1: Mix all marinade ingredients in a blender/food processor. Add oil until it’s slightly pourable. 
Step 2: Poke holes in chicken, and pour marinade over chicken. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour up to 24 hours. The best way to cook the chicken is to grill it, but you can cook it in a frying pan with a weight on top as well.
 Chicken sitting in marinade
Spiced Pinto Beans:

1 can pinto or kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup water
3-5 bay leaves
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder

Step 1: Drain and rinse the beans, pour into a pot. Add spices, simmer on very low for 10-60 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the beans don’t stick.

 Seasoned beans

You can add a bit of bacon here too, if you have it and like that kind of thing. Chipotle has changed their recipe to make it vegetarian, so no bacon included.
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Cilantro-Lime Rice:

1 cup rice
1 1/2 cup water or chicken bouillon
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lime juice
Sea salt
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Step 1: Boil the rice or prepare as directed. 

Step 2: When cooked, add the cilantro, salt and juices, fluff with a fork.

The rice magic makers. Lemon juice, lime juice, and chopped fresh cilantro.

 

Finished rice, ready to be mixed
Corn Salsa:
1/2 cup corn
1/4 red bell pepper
Pinch fresh cilantro
Splash lemon juice
1/8 red onion
Step 1: Blacken the corn in a skillet or grill. 
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Step 2: Dice the pepper & onion, add to the corn with the cilantro and lemon, mix well. 
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For extra spice, take one of the chipotle peppers from the adobo sauce and dice it up to add, or use a fresh seeded jalapeno.
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Fresh Tomato Salsa:
1 large tomato, diced
1/8 red onion, diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
Handful fresh cilantro
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lime juice
Sea salt
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Step 1: Mix the diced tomato, onion, pepper, cilantro and juices. Add a grind or two of salt to taste. 
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Refrigerate both salsas until ready to serve.
Chicken after grilling and dicing, salsas ready to go.

 

 Beans and rice, ready for assembly.

 

Finished plate. Can make it into a burrito, tacos, or a bowl.

I tore up a few large romaine leaves and put the rice, beans, chicken and both salsas on, with a sprinkle of cheese on top. It was deliciously fresh tasting! It is on the spicy side, so if that’s not for you then dial down the seasonings and forget about the chipotle peppers in adobo. For vegetarians, ditch the chicken and marinate some tofu, add some guacamole, or other grilled veggies. Enjoy!

This recipe submitted to the May 2014 “Cooking with Herbs” challenge!

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

Picnic potato salad

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I have a picnic coming up this weekend, and I also am in the middle of a 2-week spending fast (meaning I can’t spend anything) so I had to come up with something that I already had all the ingredients to in my house. After asking friends for ideas and some searching on Allrecipes.com, I decided on potato salad.
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I personally don’t even like it much, but I’ve never made it and it seemed easy. Plus I had all the ingredients already. Once made, I tried it, and it was actually pretty darn good. Maybe it will change my mind about potato salads.

Ingredients:
about 5 cups peeled, diced potatoes
3 hard boiled eggs
1/3 c lemon juice
1/4 c oil
1 1/2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tbsp ground mustard
1/2 c Miracle Whip
1/4 c Ranch
2 ribs celery, diced
1/2 med onion, diced
1/2 c shredded carrot
1 tbsp salad seasoning

Step 2: Peel and dice the potatoes. Then boil them in a large pot while you dice up the rest of the vegetables. Once the potatoes are soft, drain. Mix all the liquids and spices in a large pot.

Step 2: Put the potatoes in with the Miracle Whip, Ranch, spices, etc and mix well to coat. Add the other diced vegetables and the diced hard boiled eggs. Mix well.

Step 3: Put in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Hopefully everyone at the picnic will like it!

Finished product.

Balsamic Chicken and Spanish Rice

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I got the basic idea for this from allrecipes.com but of course I tailored it to my tastes and what I had around the house. I had taken out a chicken breast to thaw with the intent of making chicken quesadillas, but my boyfriend used all the tortillas to make tacos. So plan B. =)
Chicken:
Balsamic vinaigrette
Lemon juice
Garlic powder
Chili powder
Rosemary, thyme, dill
Rice:
1 cup Minute Rice
1 cup water
Cumin
Garlic powder
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup corn
First, combine all marinade ingredients in a plastic bag. I cut the chicken breast into smaller, thinner pieces to cook faster. Left marinating in the fridge for about an hour.
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When ready to cook, I put a few tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and heated it up. Then the chicken and marinade was dumped in all together. Cooked over low heat for several minutes with a cover on.

While the chicken was cooking, I put the spices, water and rice in a microwave-safe bowl and microwaved for 5 minutes. Let sit for 3 minutes or so, and fluff with a fork. Then add the salsa and corn, and microwave another 2 minutes. After the chicken was fully cooked, I put the chicken pieces on a towel to drain.

This is what the rice and chicken looked like fresh off the stove/microwave.

 Delicious!