Easy ‘A’ rtichokes

Artichokes are the perfect go-to food. They taste amazing, they’re easy to make, and they have multiple health benefits. Normally, I would steam them but this time, and of course in keeping with the springtime theme, I wanted to try something new.
For this recipe you’ll need:
  • 6 c. water
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 18 baby artichokes (about 1 3/4 lbs.)
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, halved
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 6-inch rosemary sprig
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 425. Combine water and 3 tbsp. lemon juice in a bowl. Cut off top 1/2 inch of artichokes, then cut the stems to within 1 inch of base. Peel the stems and remove tough outer leaves so the tender cores are left. Halve and add to water. Next, drain the artichokes and pat dry. Combine artichokes, oil, salt, pepper and garlic in a bowl. Heat an oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add half of the artichoke mixture to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Repeat with the rest of the artichoke mixture. Return everything to the pan, add lemon slices and rosemary, and bake for 20 minutes. Once done, remove rosemary and blackened lemon rinds, and enjoy!

They are SO good. So there you have it–a fool-proof side perfect for the warm weather. Can’t go wrong with that in my book. I paired mine with a tender, juicy flank steak and crispy polenta, but you can have it practically with anything you want. Test it out and let me know what you think! But until next time, keep eating!

A Night of the Sides

I’m always on the hunt for a delicious side dish. I would argue that a good side dish can make a meal. And this is side dish is a showstopper. Tomato and feta Asparagus from Cooking Light. Now it may sound simple but boy does it pack a punch.
ImageWhat you’ll need:
  • 1 lb. trimmed asparagus
  • 1 1/2 c. grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 oz. crumbled goat cheese (I substituted in feta)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the tomatoes and olive oil on a pan and toss. Bake for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, add the asparagus and bake for 9 minutes. Once done, top with balsamic, salt, pepper, and feta. Voila! Simple and delicious. The tomatoes and asparagus get a nice char on them from the oven, almost giving them the flavor as if they were cooked on the grill. There’s something about the tomato, feta, and asparagus combo that never gets old. Throw in some balsamic and BAM there you have it–a side dish that can easily win the hearts of anyone who tries it.

There are 5 other different flavor profiles in the article that I can’t wait to try. Next up: Red pepper and Manchego (one of my favorite cheeses!). Asparagus is the perfect side to any main–chicken, fish, steak, you name it! Test some of the different combos out and let me know what you think! But until next time, keep eating!

Sesame-Carrot Salad

Found: the perfect side for any stir fry. Sesame-carrot salad from Cooking Light. 
 
ImageI must say I do cook my fair share of stir frys–it’s great excuse to use up every vegetable you have laying around (within reason of course). The other night, as I was cooking vegetables for my stir fry, I realized I wanted something more. Something new and different that I haven’t made before, while at the same time complimenting my all-time favorite stir fry accessory: Trader Joe’s Soyaki sauce. It’s just a little bit of heaven in a bottle.
 
And this sesame-carrot salad was it. Combine 3 c. matchstick-cut carrots, 1 1/2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, 1 1/2 tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 tbsp. dark sesame oil, 1 tsp. lower-sodium soy sauce’ and 1 tsp. ground pepper. Simply throw all these ingredients in a bowl and toss well to coat. Easy as pie and it provides a nice crunch alongside the stir fry. 
 
If you love a good stir fry as much as I do, try this out! But until next time, keep eating! 

Pancetta: The New Bacon

If you like brussel sprouts with bacon, then you’ll love them with pancetta. Personally, I think sides are the best part of Thanksgiving dinner. While the turkey may be the center of attention, the side dishes steal the show.
 
The thing I love most about side dishes is that you can have as many as you want. We usually have about three different variations of stuffing, numerous vegetable sides and heaps and mounds of mashed and sweet potatoes. For this Thanksgiving, we turned to Cooking Light. Their Brussel Sprouts With Pancetta definitely won the hearts of my family.
 
Image
 
For the brussel sprouts you’ll need: 2 1/2 lbs. brussel sprouts, trimmed; 1 tbsp. kosher salt; 1/2 c. chopped pancetta (about 4 oz.); 1/4 tsp. salt and black pepper; 1 tbsp. cider vinegar. 
 
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. I decided to roast the brussel sprouts with the pancetta instead of cooking them in boiling water but both options work equally as well. I sliced the brussel sprouts in half, drizzled them and the cubed pancetta with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them for about 15-20 minutes.
 
That’s all it takes for this incredible side dish. Their perfect to take to a party, or as a  quick delicious side dish for a holiday meal, or even just to have as a healthy snack. The pancetta gives the brussel sprouts a deep, rich flavor that makes them simply irresistible. Try them out and I’d love to hear about your favorite side dish this holiday season! But until next time, keep eating!
Image
 
 

This Side Dish Takes Center Stage

I love broccoli, but let’s face it, it doesn’t have a lot of personality. Cooking Light transforms it from bland to bold in minutes!  I decided to try the orange sesame recipe but there are six other combos—it just depends on your cravings!

Image

As a base you’ll need: 4 cups of steamed broccoli and 2 tbsp. canola oil. For the orange-sesame flavor combination, you’ll need; 1 teaspoon grated orange rind; 2 tablespoons orange juice; 1 tbsp. honey; ½ tsp. black pepper; ¼ tsp. salt; ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper to the oil. Then, add the broccoli, ½ cup orange sections, 2 chopped green onions (I decided to opt out of adding these) and 1 tsp. sesame seeds for decoration.

This side dish works well with other Asian-flavored dishes. Try it with cold sesame noodles, Cooking Light’s Japanese Chicken Meatballs (this post will come later this week, it’s on the menu for Tuesday!), or homemade General Tso’s chicken. I can’t wait to try the other flavor sensations. Boring broccoli is now the star of the show! Try one of these and let me know what you think! But until next time, keep eating!