Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Moroccan Sweet Potato Side Dish

Question of the day...

While both yams and sweet potatoes are flowering plants (angiosperms), they are not related. A sweet potato is not a type of yam and a yam is not a type of sweet potato. Yams are native to Africa and Asia, and thus over 90% of yam crops are grown in Africa. They are closely related to lilies. There are many different varieties of yams which vary drastically in size. They are also usually starchier and drier than sweet potatoes.

On the other hand, sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory family. These potatoes can range not only in size, but in skin color and flesh color. Varieties of sweet potatoes are grown in the United States.

Sweet potatoes are a fiber-rich root vegetable. There are over 6,000 varieties of sweet potatoes internationally. So think 'out of the box' besides the sugary marshmallow dishes that appear at the Thanksgiving table and consider this easy sweet potato side dish. 

Moroccan Sweet Potato Side Dish  
Cook's Notes: A spiced sweet potato dish that's flavored with  citrus and herbs. Pair the meal with grilled or roasted chicken. Recipes serves 4 and was adapted from cookingclassy.com
  •  1-1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 TB. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-1/2 TB. lemon juice
  • 1 TB. orange juice
  •  1 tsp, minced garlic ( 1 clove)
  • 1/2 tsp, each cumin, ground coriander, paprika and cinnamon 
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • Dash cayenne pepper 
  • 1/2 cup almonds 
  • Optional 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley or 2 TB.fresh mint
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone pad. 
  • In a large bowl mix olive oil, lemon and orange juice, garlic and spices. Add in cubed sweet potatoes and mix well. 
  • Spread sweet potatoes out evenly on baking sheet. Salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Roast 15 minutes, add in almonds and cranberries. Return baking sheet back to oven and roast about 5 minutes more or until potatoes are crispy and tender. 
  • Garnish with mint or parsley and almonds.  
Foxie Roxie's attire for today's lake outing. Looks like she didn't catch any fish as her stringer only had an assortment of empty beer cans. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Sheet Pan Honey-Dijon Chicken, Vegetables and Sweet Potatoes

An evening thought for morning 
Spring for a easy sheet pan meal for a summer evening
Cook's Notes: Since I am cooking for two to four I look for ways to streamline the quantity. Rather than buying a head of broccoli and a head cauliflower I found this bag in the produce, mixed broccoli and cauliflower. Perfect size for this recipe. 
Red potatoes can be substituted for sweet potatoes. It's important to give potatoes and chicken a head start roasting and add in veggies toward the end of baking time.The recipe serves 4 and was adapted from kitchn.com  
  • 3/4 lb. chicken breast fillets cut into large chunks
  • 3 cups sweet potatoes, pealed and cut in chunks or red potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 Tb. Olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 TB. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 Tb. good quality white balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bag 12 oz. broccoli and cauliflower florets  
  • 1 small red onion, cut in chunks
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone pad. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  • In a large bowl toss sweet potatoes with 1 TB. olive oil and 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon. 
  • Spread evenly out on baking sheet. Salt and pepper lightly. 
  • In the same bowl add 1 TB. olive oil, honey, mustards, balsamic vinegar and mix well. Add in chicken, onion chunks and veggies. Toss to coat.
  • Remove chicken and add to baking sheet with potatoes. Roast 15 minutes. Add in veggies and onions, roast 10 minutes more or until chicken is cooked and potatoes crispy.  
A Lemon Curd Dessert is the perfect light finish to an evening meal.  
Creamy Lemon Curd with fresh Raspberries
A great summer dessert. Easy to assemble and topped with fresh raspberries. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Weekend Round-Up

Along a busy county road that meanders past several lakes stands Foxie Roxie with a  friendly wave to all who pass by. 
Each weekend her attire changes sometimes even twice a day. This outfit came from the Longville thrift shop, Tossed and Found. She's ready to party with her boxed Barefoot Wine nearby on the stump.  She makes me smile every time I pass her by. Foxie Roxie does her community a service. She's  across the street from a busy lake entrance and manages to slow the traffic down to check her out. 
Foxie Roxie has become lake favorite. She now has her own Facebook page. 
This was yesterday's outfit 
 Strawberry Arugula Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Cook;s notes: A loaded salad bursting with healthy summer goodness. The salad ingredients are listed-you decide how many servings are needed. The dressing is enough for 4 salads. 
Salad Ingredients:
  • Mixed greens
  • Fresh basil
  • Red onion rings
  • Diced strawberries
  • Crumbled goat cheese
  • Roasted and salted sunflower seeds or toasted pecans
  • Radishes halved or cucumbers
Balsamic Vinaigrette Ingredients:
  • 4 TB. good quality dark balsamic vinegar or Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3-4 tsp. pure maple syrup
  • Fine grain sea salt to taste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced   
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste 
  • 4 TB. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • Mix all salad ingredients in a large bowl-plate to serve.
  • Place dressing ingredients in a blender, mix well. Drizzle over salad.
In no special order
Moroccan Sweet Potato Salad
Bacon Corn Tomato Pasta Salad
Blueberry Almond Amaretto Quinoa Crisp
Sheet Pan Honey Dijon Chicken Broccoli and Cauliflower Dinner

Friday, July 27, 2018

Honey Garlic Beef Lettuce Wraps

Love lettuce wraps, easy to prepare for a cool summer meal.  
Honey Garlic Beef Lettuce Wraps
Cook's Notes: The inspiration for this recipe came from the Star Tribune's MN food writer Meredith Deeds for her recently published recipe Thursday July 19th . But as I worked through the recipe significant changes were made. 
Mea Culpa Meredith. I used sirloin instead of flank steak for a less chewier taste. Serving rice with wraps was suggested but I substituted  a slaw mixture  from a package of Asian Chopped Salad Mix found in produce. The recipe make 7-8 individual lettuce wraps. I was quite happy our local grocery store carried live lettuce or butter lettuce leaves perfect for the wraps. Thanks to my neighbor Kathleen for adding it to her grocery run. The wraps were just DELICIOUS!

  • 3/4 lb. sirloin
  • Butter lettuce leaves
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3/4 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup sweet mini red bell pepper 
  •  2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 TB. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger or 1/2 tsp. dried ginger
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup orange juice 
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch 
  • 2 cups from a package of Asian Chopped Salad Mix (produce section) 
  • Place the package of steak in freezer for 20 minutes. Remove and slice meat in thin strips across the grain.
  • In a bowl whisk soy sauce, honey, Worcestershire, ginger, pepper flakes, orange juice and cornstarch. Set aside. 
  • Chop peppers and onions, mince garlic. 
  • In a fry pan heat sesame oil add in meat strips, onions, peppers and garlic. Stir fry until meat is cooked but still a little red. You don't want to overcook meat.  Remove meat, onions peppers and garlic from pan and set aside.  Wipe pan clean. Add in sauce and cook on low until thickened. Add  meat mixture back in and mix well.
  • To serve add 2 cups slaw mix to meat mixture and place a scoopful in lettuce leaves.
    In the chopped salad mixture are small tortilla strips. I added some to the lettuce wraps for an extra crunch.  
 For some other lettuce wraps recipes on Ever Ready try these links
Curried Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Vietnamese Pork Lettuce Wraps 
Copycat PF Chang Lettuce Wraps 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Seriously Good Tomato Eats

The Tomatoes Have Arrived
Okay maybe only three arrived but it's a start 
and looking forward to more ripening. Until then enjoy some Ever Ready tomato specials.
Creamy Tomato Parmesan and Spinach Tortellini
Avocado Tomato Corn Salad 

If life deals you lemons, make lemonade,
if it deals you tomatoes, make Bloody Marys.

The World According to Bella

Performance Review-Sleeping on the Job 
My recent performance review by Mrs. S was less than satisfactory. I was sorry to let Mrs, S. down. She thinks perhaps I've spent way too much time inside with the AC and power napping in my hole. I guess I haven't been paying attention to what's going on in the yard   

sleeping on patrol duty. The deer have moved in and taken control. Overnight rows of tiger lilies, hydrangeas and hostas have gone missing.

Even the pots had blossoms snacked right off. Devastation everywhere. If that wasn't bad enough the geese have moved in messing up our dock with their poop. I've tried regaining  control barking intruders off even into the night. Once I barked so long a neighbor called Mr.C late at night. She was worried something bad had happened. 
How to win back Mrs, S's trust is tough. I'm open to suggestions. Comment below with any ideas to help me.    

Mr. C thought he'd give me a chance. He needed help loon counting for our lake meeting. I was up, ready and on high alert. We sailed off. Mrs.S was driving the boat. Mr.C kept busy scanning the waters.  
 I thought I was quite helpful. Each time I saw a loon I barked.  Mr.C and I counted 12 adults and three babies. 

Afterwards I kept Mr. S company while he made some social calls to neighbors collecting road money. One really nice lady even come up with a small milk bone for me. Later we went to the bank. As we drove through Mr. C told me to sit up straight so they'd see me. When we got to the drive up window another nice lady had a milk bone. Two milk bones in one day. Lucky me! 

The weather is getting cooler and I don't seem to need as many long naps. I am trying to be more alert for intruders in my yard. The problem is they seem to come in the middle of the night when we are sleeping. I have thought about seeing if Mr. C could make some kind of an alarm system to alert us.  What do you think?   

Love, Bella

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Melon Cucumber Salad with Feta and a Lime Honey Mint Vinaigrette

Who  Knew???

  • They aren’t really “cantaloupe”. The melon that’s most widely recognized as cantaloupe in the U.S. is actually a “reticulated muskmelon.” This North American muskmelon is distinguished by its netted skin and strong scent. Its European counterpart– the true cantaloupe– has ribbed pale green skin and looks very different from our cantaloupe. 
  • Cantaloupe derives its name from the town of Cantalupo, Italy, where cantaloupe seeds arrived from Armenia and were planted in the Papal Gardens in the 16th century.
  • It has plenty of relatives! Cantaloupe are members of a vine-crop family known as Cucurbitaceae, which includes other melons, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and gourds.
  • Its past is mysterious. No one seems able to pin-point exactly where cantaloupe first showed up. Some historians trace the origins of the muskmelon to Biblical times in Egypt and Greece. Others point to Persia.We can thank Christopher Columbus for bringing along some muskmelon seeds on his voyage to the Americas, spreading cantaloupe cultivation to our side of the pond.
  • Low-calorie goodness! An average-sized cantaloupe contains just 100 calories. Who knew something so sweet could be good for you?
  • Cantaloupe tell you when they’re ripe. The vine will naturally slip from the fruit when it’s harvest time. 
  • Cantaloupe are the most popular melon in the United States!
  • Full of nutrients. Cantaloupe is packed with Vitamin A and antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein, zea-xanthin and cryptoxanthin. That means protection against colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.

Melon Cucumber Salad with Feta and a Lime Honey Mint Vinaigrette
Cook's Notes: A refreshing flavorful side that pairs well with seafood and a glass of white wine. Recipes inspiration comes from Real Simple Magazine July 2018 and serves two to four.
Salad Ingredients:
  • 4 cups cubed  cantaloupe
  • 1 English large cucumber, sliced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • Feta Mediterranean Crumbles 
  • Fine sea salt
  • Optional toppings: Sunflower seeds, toasted pecans 
  • Snipped pieces of fresh mint

Lime Honey Mint Vinaigrette 
  • 2 TB. each good quality white balsamic and lime juice
  • 1 tsp. grated lime zest
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1-2 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • Place cucumber slices on a double lined paper towel. Sprinkle with sea salt, roll up and refrigerate 30 minutes. 
  • Make dressing in a blender and pour into a covered jar with a screw top. Set aside. 
  • In a bowl mix cantaloupe cubes with cucumbers, red onions and mint. 
  • Place fruit mixture on a serving platter or individually plate. Top with feta crumbles and nuts if using. 
  • Drizzle vinaigrette over the top.   

Monday, July 23, 2018

Weekend Round-Up

Salad Makeovers
Waldorf Salad 
Traditionally made with fresh apples, celery and walnuts and a dressing made from mayonnaise and served on a bed of lettuce.
This salad was first created between 1893 and 1896 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City (the precursor of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel which came into being with the merger of the Waldorf with the adjacent Astoria Hotel, opened in 1897).

Oscar Tschirky who was the Waldorf's maitre d' hotel had developed or inspired many of its signature dishes. He is widely credited with creating the recipe. In 1896, the Waldorf Salad appeared in The Cook Book by "Oscar of the Waldorf" The original recipe did not contain nuts, but they had been added by the time the recipe appeared in The Rector Cook Book in 1928. The salad became popular enough that Cole Porter featured it in his 1934 song "You're The Top".

Today there are many variations of the Waldorf salad. Chicken or turkey. grapes or dried fruits can be added.  To make the salad more healthy, some of the mayonnaise can be replaced with yogurt. I guarantee you won't even notice the difference. I added a little Dijon mustard, lemon juice and honey to plump up the taste.  A real winner for a summer meal.

Recipe serves four and adapted from skinnytaste.com Chill salad until ready to serve. 
Besides serving over mixed greens can also be served in a healthy low carb wrap.  
Chicken Waldorf Salad Makeover
Salad Ingredients:
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, diced
  • 1 medium apple, diced
  • 1-1/2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
  • 3/4 cup celery, diced
  • 3-4 TB. toasted pecans. chopped
  • 6 cups mixed greens like spinach and arugula
Dressing Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup light mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 3 TB. Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Make dressing and set aside.
  • Combine salad ingredients except mixed greens. 
  • Add in dressing only as needed to moisten salad ingredients.
  • Sprinkle toasted nuts over salad right before serving.  
Strawberry, Watermelon and Tomato Salad Makeover
Cook's Notes:This salad was previously posted but needed a bit of an update with the dressing. http://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2016/09/friday-faves.html  Use a tomato heirloom medley for a nice contrast with watermelon and strawberries. 
I loved the extra touch of a homemade balsamic vinaigrette over the fruits and tomatoes. I highly suggest using Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar as it elevates the dish to a whole new level. But a good quality dark balsamic works too. Taste test before increasing maple syrup to 4 teaspoons. Refrigerate any extra dressing left over in a covered container. 

Salad Ingredients:
  • 3 cups watermelon, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 cups of strawberries, halved or quartered into bite size pieces
  • 2 -1/2 cups halved, multi-colored, cherry tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup julienned fresh basil
  • Optional ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese 
  • Fine grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Balsamic Vinaigrette Ingredients:
  • 4 TB. good quality dark balsamic vinegar or Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3-4 tsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt
  • 4 TB. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • In a large bowl, mix watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes and basil.
  • If making in advance, cover fruit with a sheet of wax paper. Refrigerate up to 6 hours. Drain fruits in a colander. 
  • For the Balsamic Vinaigrette, add all ingredients in a blender and mix well. Place dressing in small covered jar, refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • When ready to serve, shake the balsamic vinaigrette, add salt and pepper to taste. Toss salad with a few tablespoons of dressing, add in crumbled blue cheese if using.
Cantaloupe Salad with Feta Crumbles
Honey Garlic Beef Lettuce Wraps
Chicken Veggie and Brown Rice  Bowls with Peanut Sauce 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

S'more Inspired Treats

Looking for S'more Fun Indoors? No Campfire Needed For These Ideas

Six S’mores-Inspired Desserts to Enjoy All Summer 

S'more Packets
For one foil packet 4 servings you will need
  • 1 large piece of foil
  • 4 marshmallows
  • 4 graham crackers, halved
  • 1 chocolate candy bar, divided into fourths
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay foil piece on a cookie sheet.
  • Break 4 graham crackers in half and place one chocolate piece on center of cracker, top with marshmallow and other graham cracker piece. Repeat three more times.

  • Bring edges of foil up, seal and bake on cookie sheet 5 minutes.
  • Change oven temperature to 450 degrees. Open foil packet and remove cracker tops, set aside. Return open packet to oven for 2 minutes longer to toast marshmallows.
  • Since oven temps vary watch the last 2 minutes baking time carefully
Cook's Notes: It's never too early to test a recipe when chocolate is involved.
LOL despite the fact it was only 9:00 AM there still was perfection in every chocolatey,  sticky, gooey bite.

 I actually preferred this method over the traditional campfire one as I had more control and my marshmallows weren't burnt!  

Have you seen this family S'more kit from Amazon?
Reminds me of fondue cooking with the sterno.

Be sure to try this Mini S'more Pie previously posted on Ever Ready-only three ingredients 


Cinnamon Apple Muffins

GET TO KNOW YOUR APPLES Pink Lady , great balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith , maybe the most popular baking apple. A little more tart ...