Category Archives: VEGETABLE SIDE DISH RECIPES

MEXICAN PINTO BEANS

I love dried beans. They are so terribly multitalented and the best part – they are really, really good for us. Let me count the ways! Source – Huffington Post, Bonnie Taub-Dix

  1. Beans contain an abundance of soluble fiber, which can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In other words, they are heart healthy.
  2. Beans are low in fat (only 2-3 percent) and contain no cholesterol.
  3. Beans pack protein. Half a cup provides 7 grams of protein, the same amount as 1 ounce of chicken, meat, or fish. Beans are a terrific source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
  4. Beans balance blood sugar. With a low glycemic index, beans contain a beautiful blend of complex carbohydrates and protein. Because of this, beans are digested slowly, which helps keep blood glucose levels stable, which in turn helps curtail fatigue and irritability.
  5. Beans cut the risk of cancer and chronic diseases. Scientists recommend that adults consume 3 cups of beans per week to promote health. Beans contain an abundance of antioxidants which prohibit (and in some cases even prevent), the oxidation of other molecules in the body. The benefits of antioxidants are very important to good health, because if free radicals are left unchallenged, they can cause a wide range of illnesses.
  6. Beans help our bodies stay regular. Filled with fiber, beans can promote regularity by preventing constipation. To maximize the benefit, always accompany high-fiber foods such as beans with ample amounts of water.
  7. Beans give us that “full” feeling. Because beans are metabolized more slowly than other complex carbs, they may aid in weight loss by keeping us feeling full without being excessively high in calories.
  8. Beans are convenient and inexpensive. Canned or dry, beans are a breeze to purchase, prepare, and store. They are also the least expensive source of protein, especially when compared to fresh meat.
  9. Beans are rich in nutrients. They contain a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, such as copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans refer to many of these important nutrients as “shortfall nutrients,” meaning most of us aren’t getting enough of them.
  10. Beans are very versatile. They can be incorporated into a main dish (chili), side dish (rice and beans), appetizer (soup) or snack (dip). It’s easy to be creative when you have pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), split peas, and lentils, etc. etc. in your pantry.

Now that you know the health reasons behind incorporating more beans into your diet, let me share with you the real reason I eat beans. They are just plain delicious! And this recipe, which is really simple to prepare, is a good example. But before you get too excited, I need to mention that this dish is never going to be the star of any Mexican meal. Think of this dish like you would the back-up singer in a band. Creates another level of enjoyment for the audience, would be missed if not on the stage, but not the reason you came to the concert in the first place.

Or think of how you order a meal in a Mexican restaurant. You never order “whole beans with an enchilada on the side”. Of course not. You order an enchilada which almost always comes with a side of beans! So this is that side of beans that is good on its own, but is really on the plate to compliment the enchilada, or tamale, or whatever!

And that’s exactly what happened last evening. I made Cheese Enchiladas with Red Chili Sauce, (on this site) and served these beans on the side. What a yummy meal. BTW, the Red Chili Sauce for the cheese enchiladas is absolutely the best Mexican red sauce I have ever tasted. I’ve been making it now since the mid 70’s, and like I said, I have never tasted one better. Even the restaurants in New Mexico, Arizona, or Colorado can’t make a red sauce as flavorful as this one! (And yes, I can boast about this sauce, because I didn’t invent it. I received it from my late friend Jan W.)

So, break out the tequila, put on a mariachi CD, and whip up a Mexican dinner for your family and/or friends. Don’t forget the Guacamole! (Recipe also on this site). Salud!

  • 1 lb. dry pinto beans (about 2½ cups)
  • 8 c. water, divided, or more as needed
  • 1 lg. bay leaf
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. granulated garlic
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (not too much)

Pour beans into a colander. Run water over the beans and remove any rocks, dirt, or misshaped beans. Add beans to a large covered pot. Pour in 6 cups of the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low for 1 hour. Stir periodically.

After an hour, add the remaining 2 cups water, bay leaf, cumin, smoked paprika, granulated garlic, onion powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper; stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer on low heat for an additional 60 to 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Beans are done when they are soft and the liquid is creamy. (Add more water if the beans aren’t tender but most of the liquid has evaporated. If you have too much liquid, remove the lid and simmer gently until you achieve desired consistency.) Adjust seasonings as required.

 

BRIAM (GREEK VEGETABLE BAKE)

For any of you who routinely hear “you should eat more vegetables” or say to yourself “hey dummy – you really need to start eating more vegetables”, this is the dish for you! This Greek favorite is sooooo tasty that you or any vegetable challenged family member or friend who might be partaking at your table won’t even notice that this dish contains 6 different types of vegetables and two healthy herbs. (Oregano – contains potent antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties, as well as fiber, iron, manganese, vitamin E, calcium, omega fatty acids, and vitamin K. Parsley – vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, and iron.) They will be so busy gulping it down, that before you can ask if they like the dish, they are going back for seconds.

And the best part, the dish is actually better the day after (or two or three days after) it is prepared. Perfect for someone who wants to do a bunch of cooking on the weekend for dinners throughout the week. Also perfect for dinner parties when other dishes you are planning might require last minute attention.

You just throw this dish in the oven for a short time before you plan to sit down to dinner. Lovely.

So do yourself and your family and friends a favor. Go Greek for an evening. Fix some Greek Ground Turkey Meatballs with Tzatziki, Hummus, Pita Bread, Briam, and Greek Marinated Olives. Spread your table with a cheerful table cloth, and sit down for a leisurely meal together. (No cell phones, etc. allowed!) If you can eat “al fresco” – all the better! And even if you make this dish just for yourself, consider yourself blessed. You get to eat every delicious morsel of this veggie dish all by yourself. (Kind of like me with fried zucchini. But that’s a story for another day!)

  • ¾ c. extra-virgin olive oil, divided plus more for drizzling
  • 1 lg. red onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes with juice (Italian, if possible)
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 T. finely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 2 peeled Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 2 medium sized zucchini, sliced ¼-inch thick diagonally
  • 2 small eggplants, partially peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced ¼-inch thick
  • ½ basket cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • crumbled feta

Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet and add the onion. Cook gently until the onion is tender and translucent, about 20 minutes. Add the salt and pepper; stir in the garlic. Cook for another minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining ½ cup olive oil, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, and parsley. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. You may need more salt. (Don’t worry if the sauce appears oily. That’s what you need for this dish.)

Lightly oil a deep (approximately 9×13-inch) baking dish. Spread a very thin layer of the tomato mixture in the baking dish and top with half of the potato slices, half of the zucchini, and half of the eggplant. Spread half of the tomato sauce over the veggies. Repeat the layering – again ending with the sauce. Arrange the halved cherry tomatoes over the top, cut side down. Finish by drizzling a small amount of olive oil over the cherry tomatoes, followed by a light seasoning of salt and pepper.

    

Cover with foil or a lid and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 75 minutes. Remove the foil or lid and bake uncovered an additional 30 minutes, or until the potato slices are tender.

Cool to just above room temperature and serve, or refrigerate overnight. (Best served slightly warmed the next day.)

Wonderful sprinkled lightly with crumbled feta cheese.

 

OVEN ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI

I love roasted vegetables. Something almost magical happens while they are in the oven. But actually, roasting veggies transforms them from ordinary to delicious in two simple scientific ways. First, some of the water in the veggies evaporates during the baking process resulting in a more intense flavor. Plus, the vegetables caramelize on the outside allowing their natural sugars to shine forth. Like I said – almost magical.

Then of course there are the simple additives like olive oil, garlic, herbs, spices, cheeses, etc. that help transform the simple vegetable to a culinary treat. (Not too shabby for a food that is totally good for us!)

So when I needed a veggie side dish to serve yesterday to our JazzVox guests, I decided to roast 2 of my favorite veggies together using my usual “roasted veggie dressing”.

And today I decided to publish this recipe because I realized I had been terribly remiss in not doing so already. Plus I promised my good friend Laurie I would post the recipe as soon as possible. 

Laurie is a self-confessed reluctant vegetable lover. But she wanted to know how to prepare these veggies after having tasted them at the pre-concert meal. So this recipe is dedicated to Laurie and to any of the rest of you who want to eat more veggies in the worst way. Well that ain’t going to happen! However, this is the best way I know to turn one of the healthy components of a well-balanced meal into a pleasure rather than a chore.

So, eat your veggies ladies and gentlemen. But don’t limit yourself to broccoli and cauliflower. Almost any veggie can be roasted, and almost any veggie is more delicious when slathered in supplemented olive oil and allowed to spend some quality time in an oven. Well OK, there are a few veggies that maybe shouldn’t be roasted, like salad greens and cucumbers. But other than those few, all the rest are fair game!  

  • 2 c. small fresh broccoli pieces
  • 2 c. small fresh cauliflower pieces
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • tiny pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lg. clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 c. finely grated Parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese (I use a combination)

Place broccoli and cauliflower pieces in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Pour over the veggies and mix well. (I use my hands to mix the veggies because then I can feel if the olive oil has kissed each and every veggie piece. If the veggies seem too dry, add a bit more oil. What you do not want however, are veggies drowning in oil.) Spread veggies onto a baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the veggies are tender and both the veggies and cheese are turning a light golden brown.

 

OVEN ROASTED YUKON GOLD POTATOES

So when I reasoned that a nice medium-rare steak and a potato might possibly save my sanity one evening about a week before Christmas, I decided to mess with yet another way to serve potatoes that a) Mr. C. might enjoy, and b) I would love and not suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous guilt!

I had recently read that the less olive oil, butter, vegetable oil, etc. you rubbed onto paper towel dried veggies before roasting them, the crisper they would turn out. So I tried this theory when I roasted our Yukon gold potatoes that evening. OMG. They were slightly crispy on the outside, beautifully seasoned (my addition to the success), and creamy on the inside. In other words – perfect. And, they were not that caloric! A medium-sized Yukon gold potato has about 120 calories. Add a few calories for the olive oil, this preparation is still a lot healthier than mashed, French fried, or baked potatoes with all the requisite “garnishes” like butter, sour cream, bacon bits, etc.

And not only were they perfect with the steak, I knew they would be a great addition to any meat entrée. So if you too are a potato lover, but abhor the calories usually associated with said Solanum tuberosum, give this preparation a try. Of course if you are into guilt, this recipe might not help with your issues, but it’s still pretty darn delicious so you can use that in your defense!    

  • 2-3 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. dry rosemary*, ground fairly fine in a mortar and pestle
  • ½ tsp. Mrs. Dash (one of the best no-salt seasonings around)
  • ¼ tsp. granulated garlic
  • 3 med. sized Yukon gold potatoes, cut in chunks, wedges, quarters, or 8ths depending on the size. (What you really want are equal sized pieces.)

Whisk together 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary, Mrs. Dash, and granulated garlic in a medium-sized bowl. Before you add the potatoes, dry each piece with a paper towel. (You want as much moisture as possible off of the potato chunks. Add to the bowl and stir until every piece has a thin coating of the olive oil mixture. Add additional olive oil only if necessary. (You don’t want any oil left in the bowl to pour over the potatoes.)

Bake in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for 20 minutes. (If you have convection – use it!)  Reduce heat to 400 degrees, and bake for an additional 10-20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Serve immediately.

*I like dried rosemary for this dish because the taste of rosemary does not overpower the flavor of the potato. It’s subtle, not in your face. And for these potatoes, which are a great accompaniment to steak, hamburgers, pork chops, you name it – the yummy potato flavor is what you want.

CHINESE SALT AND PEPPER OVEN ROASTED BEANS

So OK, olive oil is not usually used in Chinese cooking.  But what the heck, it’s my kitchen, my olive oil, my family and friends who will be eating the beans, and no one but me to blame for this gross misconduct and offence against all foods Chinese.

But in my own defense, olive oil is better for us then many oils that could be used, plus it tastes good. So to those who might suggest that I haven’t the right to change things up so drastically I say – sorry, but all things are fair in striving to provide great taste sensations for my family and friends. And frankly, what olive oil does for beans is almost remarkable. And I adore remarkable food. And yes, I know that most Chinese green bean recipes are heavy on the soy sauce, chili sauce, sesame oil thing. (And God bless them for it.) But what I wanted was a veggie side dish that didn’t include the mirepoix of Chinese food – garlic, ginger, and green onions.

I wanted a dish that simply featured the flavor of the vegetable. Especially because the evening I first served these beans, I served other dishes that all had that “Chinese food” flavor thing going. And as wonderful as that is, a flavor change is always welcome.

So that’s my story about these beans. And the best part, aside of course from the marvelous flavor of the beans, is the versatility of this simple dish. These beans can be served with almost any type of meat or seafood. And talk about quick and easy – nothing could be simpler.

So next time green beans catch your eye at the grocery store, bring some home and give this recipe a try. You are going to thank me. And speaking of thanks, I would like to thank Stacey from There’s a cook in my kitchen website who posted this recipe just for me. (Well not just for me, but I was the only one in my den/office when I found this recipe on the internet!)  

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Spread the beans onto a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Pour on the olive oil and mix until all the beans are covered in oil. Sprinkle on a fair amount of salt and a generous amount of pepper.

Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the edges of the beans start to brown and the beans are not quite tender. Remove from oven and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately.

 

CREAMY CORN PUDDING

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Once in a while you just have to mix things up a little. And that’s exactly what I did this Christmas. Since I was a small child, I have looked forward to my grandmother’s Dried Corn Casserole. I love it, and since leaving home and preparing my own holiday feasts, I have served it as regular as rain. But for whatever reason, this year I decided to change things up a bit. I knew I still wanted to incorporate dried corn into the mix, but what I was craving was a softer texture to the overall dish.

So I decided to take a fairly basic corn pudding recipe and give it a new spin. I decreased the amount of sugar, used whole milk, added sour cream and dried corn, and sprinkled the whole mess with paprika and fresh parsley. (The picture doesn’t show the parsley because I was taking the pudding to my nephew Eric’s home to be reheated just before dinner. At which time I then added the parsley. So the picture was taken after I removed the pudding from my oven just before leaving for Eric and Sandi’s home.)

Now I realize dried corn is not a product you normally find on a grocery store shelf. This I frankly don’t understand, but it is non-the-less a fact. But making your own is as easy as opening a bag of frozen corn, throwing the corn kernels on a rimmed baking sheet, turning on your oven, and placing said pan in the oven. In fact, that is the whole way you make dried corn! (If you don’t believe me, check my grandmother’s recipe at the bottom of this post!)

And the pudding? Well I think it turned out really delicious. It’s creamy with a great corn flavor, slightly chewy from the dried corn component, and rich, but not too rich. I received a lot of corn-gratulations from my extended family for this dish. And instead of saying thank you, I should have just said “aww shucks!” folks, but that would have been too corny! (Sorry – sometimes I just can’t help myself!)

  • 6 T. unsalted butter
  • 6 T. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (not too much)
  • 1½ c. whole milk
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • 1 can cream-style corn
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • ½ c. dried corn (this is what makes this pudding so yummy – see “recipe” for dried corn below)
  • 6 eggs
  • paprika
  • 1 T. chopped fresh parsley, opt.

Melt butter in heavy saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk and cook over medium heat, whisking the whole time, until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat, and stir in sour cream, cream corn, whole corn, and dried corn. Beat eggs well.

Gradually stir the eggs into the mixture. (The corn mixture should be cool enough from the addition of sour cream, cream corn, etc. to not cook the raw eggs. But if for some reason the mixture is still hot, wait until it cools down before stirring in the eggs.)

Pour into a buttered 3 quart casserole; sprinkle lightly with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until soft set. Just before serving, sprinkle with parsley.

Hint: This pudding is best if allowed to sit in the refrigerator unbaked overnight. This resting period allows the dried corn to rehydrate a bit and allows the other ingredients to get to know each other and become a team.

DRIED CORN

Place 1 lb. frozen corn kernels on a large baking sheet (the kind with a rim) in a single layer. Dry the corn by baking it in the oven on the lowest temperature setting until there is no moisture left in the kernels. Turn occasionally. (It could take as many as 16 hours to dry out the corn completely.) When dry, the corn kernels should resemble grape nuts. (Different color, but you get the picture.) Store the dried corn in an airtight container. No need to refrigerate or freeze.

For a picture of dried corn, see my recipe for Dried Corn Casserole on this site. (Also very good, BTW.)

CASHEW BROCCOLI

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I am always trying to find ways to serve veggies in a more interesting manner. So while deciding how to prepare the broccoli I already had on hand for a Carr family dinner, I found this recipe which I had copied who knows how long ago. It sounded wonderful and I felt it would go very well with the baked salmon and mushroom risotto my sister-in-law was preparing. And you know, sometimes I get lucky. And I sure did when I served this wonderful dish.

It is extremely easy to prepare, the presentation is beautiful, and the flavor divine. Even your children might find that broccoli isn’t so awful when it’s drizzled with this yummy sauce.

Having just typed “yummy”, I am reminded of the article I read this morning in the NW section of the Seattle Times entitled “The food terms Seattle chefs hate”. And I realized in just a few sentences, I had used two of the food terms that eight Seattle chefs would most like to never hear again. The two words I used, and use quite often are “veggie” and “yummy”. According to the chefs – veggie because it’s demeaning to the noble vegetable and just sounds gross. (Really people. Demeaning? Is it demeaning when people call me Patti rather than Patricia? And gross? How about escargot, tripe or Rocky Mountain oysters if you really want to talk gross!)  And yummy, because the word should be reserved for lollipops and the like. (Well, if I never before felt inadequate about not being a trained chef, this statement has surely put me in my place! Because when someone tells me that a dish I’ve prepared is “yummy”, I take that as a compliment. Never once have I thought to myself, I wish they had told me the dish was delicious, luscious, or scrumptious. Good grief! But then, I’m not a trained culinary expert, so I guess therein lies the difference.)

So you know where this is leading. I will continue to use words such as “veggie” and “yummy” when I am describing dishes. I will concede and not use one of the listed terms – umami – because I don’t have a clue what the word actually means! I do however know what yummy means. And this recipe is a prime example.  

  • 1½ lbs. fresh broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces (see picture of 1 1/2 lbs. below)
  • 1/3 c. unsalted butter
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 3 T. low-sodium Tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. plain white vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch kosher salt, unless using regular soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 c. chopped salted cashews

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Steam the broccoli until crisp tender. (If not serving immediately, run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Heat later when ready to serve.) Arrange broccoli on a serving plate or in a low sided serving bowl.

While the broccoli is steaming, melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Mix in the brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, pepper, salt, and garlic. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Mix in the cashews, and pour the sauce over the broccoli. Serve immediately.

 

BAKED ASPARAGUS WITH PARMESAN OR PROSCIUTTO

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(sorry no picture of prosciutto wrapped asparagus) 

OK, I know everyone knows how to bake asparagus. But its asparagus time in the city! So I felt some of you might appreciate a little ”kick in the pants” reminder of how easy and fast asparagus is to prepare in the oven. And since these recipes (if you can even call them that) are so terribly simple, I thought I would keep my introduction simple too.   

Parmesan:

  • 16 spears fresh asparagus, trimmed, washed, and dried as well as possible
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • scant ¼ c. finely grated Parmesan

Place the asparagus spears on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, massage with finger tips to make sure the asparagus is completely coated, then sprinkle evenly with the grated Parmesan.  

Bake for about 8-10 minutes in a preheated 450 degree oven or until the asparagus is tender and the Parmesan is just starting to brown. Serve immediately.

Prosciutto:

  • 16 spears fresh asparagus, trimmed, washed, and dried as well as possible
  • 8 slices prosciutto, cut in half
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper

Wrap each asparagus spear with prosciutto, starting at the bottom, and spiraling upward. Place the wrapped spears on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle very lightly with pepper.

Bake for 5 minutes in a preheated 450 degree oven. Remove from oven and carefully turn each spear.  Return to the oven for another 5 minutes, or until asparagus is tender and the prosciutto is crisp. Serve immediately.

 

   

 

BAKED SWEET POTATOES WITH GARLIC AND THYME

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I love sweet potatoes. And most of the time when I serve them for dinner, I simply bake one and split it with Mr. C. Now if I could just eat the sweet potato with no additives, I would be fine. But the thought of not “decorating” my half with lots of butter, salt, and pepper, is just totally unappealing. So, out comes the butter dish every time.

But last night I decided that instead of simply baking the sweet potato whole, I would try a different approach. So I went to the internet for inspiration. And I found a simple recipe on the Epicurious site. I changed the recipe a bit to better fit our tastes. The result was both easy and delicious. And the best part. Not a dab of butter was used. Just a small amount of olive oil, plus fresh garlic and thyme. Speaking of time. (Nice segue wouldn’t you say?) This recipe takes no longer to get on the table than if I had simply baked the potato. Of course there is a bit of prep time, but not 30 minute’s worth. (Baking a whole sweet potato – 60 minutes. Baking these potato rounds – 30 minutes.)

So if you want a new and healthy way to serve sweet potatoes, give this recipe a try. You will be surprised by how much the addition of thyme and garlic enhances the flavor of the sweet potato. Of course I’m pretty sure garlic and thyme would enhance the flavor of dog food too given the opportunity. (Not going to give this hypothesis a try, you realize.)

So next time you are at the grocery store, bring home a couple of sweet potatoes. Even if you end up just baking them, you are doing your body a great favor. They are naturally rich in vitamin C, thiamine, niacin, and potassium. Just what the doctor ordered!

  • 1 lg. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch thick rounds
  • 2-3 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T. fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • freshly ground black pepper

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and toss until all pieces are coated with the oil. Arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in a 400 degree oven and roast until tender and slightly browned, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and if desired, lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. Serve immediately. Serves 2-3 beautifully.

CREAM CHEESE AND PARMESAN STUFFED ZUCCHINI

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I just recently developed a recipe for Hot Crab and Artichoke Dip (and yes I know, everyone and their dog has a recipe for this rather retro appetizer). But I didn’t happen to have a good one, so I thought I better get with the program.

Now you may feel that this seemingly outdated 50s cocktail party dip should go the way of the Partridge family. But I am here to tell you, when done right, there is no other dip quite so delicious. So, like I said, I worked up a version that I think will be fantastic . Actually I plan to serve the dip to our JazzVox* guests this Sunday. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Or I should say, if it turns out good, I’ll post the recipe. If not, you’ll never hear another word about the subject!

Anyway. The reason I mention the crab dip at all, is because I was thinking about the recipe when I was trying to figure out what vegetable to serve with dinner the other night. The veggies in my refrigerator crisper were all looking rather pathetic, especially the one tiny zucchini near the back. (I actually think it was trying to hide.) But something about the zucchini struck a chord with me. Imagine it hollowed out and stuffed with some of the same ingredients that I plan to use in my crab dip. Huh. So I snatched it from the bin, washed its little green hide thoroughly, cut it in two lengthwise and scooped out its innards. Then I mixed the soft flesh with the other ingredients listed below, threw the pan in the oven, and came back 30 minutes later. Well I am here to tell you; if my dip is half as good as this stuffed zucchini, I am going to have some very happy guests.

And for all you strictly healthy food advocates out there, I realize this is not a low calorie veggie dish. But once in a while, you simply must help an unpretentious and sometimes boring veggie (that would be the zucchini), become worthy of accolades (that would be the cream cheese, sour cream, and Parmesan part).

So if you are serving a fairly simple meat for dinner one of these evening, and need a veggie to liven up the meal a bit, give this recipe a try. You just won’t believe how good an “all dressed up” zucchini can taste.  

*For more information visit www.jazzvox.com  

  • 1 medium sized zucchini, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 T. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 T. sour cream
  • 2 T. finely grated Parmesan
  • pinch granulated garlic
  • pinch seasoned salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • paprika

With a table fork, scoop out most of the flesh on each half of the zucchini and place it in a bowl. Add the soft cream cheese, sour cream, Parmesan, and a pinch of granulated garlic, seasoned salt, and pepper. Place the zucchini halves in a baking dish. Fill the cavity with the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle lightly with paprika. Bake in a pre-heated 375 oven for 30 minutes or until the zucchini is soft and the filling puffy and slightly brown. Serve hot.