Tag Archives: Vegetables

Grilled Asparagus for Recipe Friday

Spring seems to be in hiding here in the Pacific Northwest and we had at least an inch of snow here at our house yesterday morning. Nonetheless, by dinner time the snow had melted and the sky was clear. So we cooked dinner on the Traeger. We had pork chops along with roasted carrots, Traeger potatoes, and grilled asparagus. I decided to share my recipe for grilled asparagus because I think this is the best asparagus I’ve ever had. I like it okay steamed, but it just has a better flavor grilled.

This recipe is for cooking the asparagus on a Traeger pellet stove. The grilling time might need to be shortened on a gas or charcoal grill because they use a more direct heat. Cooking on a Traeger is a bit like cooking in a convection oven because there is indirect heat from the burning wood pellets that is distributed via a fan.

I’ve tried a number of vegetables on the Traeger, and most turn out best when enclosed in an aluminum foil packet. But asparagus is one vegetable that turns out better not covered. I bought the grilling pan that is in this picture at our local Ace Hardware store for a good price, and it works great! It’s kind of weird to cook in a pan full of holes, but when you are grilling that’s what you need.

Grilled Asparagus

Ingredients:

1 bunch of asparagus
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp summer savory

Directions:

Rinse asparagus spears. Snap off the woody bottoms of the spears. Place spears in the grilling pan and rinse. Drizzle with olive oil and toss with fingers to distribute oil. Sprinkle with savory and toss again. (I do the rinsing and drizzling by balancing the grilling pan over my smaller sink by its handles, like you would a colander.)

Place on grill for 15 minutes or until slightly tender. Serve with your favorite grilled meat.

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Finding the Right Herb for Recipe Friday

I don’t have a recipe for today. Instead, I want to share some information about selecting herbs and spices from an old cookbook I have titled How to Cook with Herbs, Spices & Flavorings by Doris Townsend. I don’t know if I’ve ever actually made one of the recipes in this cookbook, but there is a chart in the front that tells what herbs and spices go best with various foods that I refer to a lot.

This chart includes columns for appetizers, soups and chowders, salads, fish and shellfish, poultry and game, meats, sauces, eggs and cheese, and vegetables. My favorite, and most used, column is the vegetable column. This is the one I want to share today.

I hope this information helps you in your side-dish cooking as much as it helps me.

Basil

Beans
Eggplant
Onions
Peas
Squash
Tomatoes

Bay Leaf

Beets
Carrots
Potatoes
Stewed Tomatoes

Chervil

Beets
Eggplant
Peas
Potatoes
Spinach
Tomatoes

Dillweed

Beans
Beets
Cabbage
Celery
Parsnips
Potatoes

Marjoram

Brussels sprouts
Carrots
Onions
Peas
Spinach
Zucchini

Oregano

Broccoli
Cabbage
Lentils
Mushrooms
Onions
Tomatoes

Parsley

Carrots
Potatoes
Tomatoes

Peppermint

Carrots
Peas
Potatoes
Spinach
Zucchini

Rosemary

Cauliflower
Cucumbers
Mushrooms
Peas
Potatoes
Spinach

Saffron

Vegetables & rice
Squash
Zucchini

Sage

Carrots
Eggplant
Lima beans
Onions
Peas
Tomatoes

Savory

Artichokes
Asparagus
Beans
Lentils
Rice
Sauerkraut

Tarragon

Cauliflower
Celery root
Mushrooms
Potatoes
Spinach
Tomatoes

Thyme

Asparagus
Beans
Beets
Carrots
Onions
Zucchini

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Cauliflower and Carrots for Recipe Friday

Okay, so this is a pretty basic recipe but it’s one of my family’s favorites for a vegetable side dish. It’s also really easy to make.

I first started combining cauliflower and carrots when my son was young. He loved carrots, but I wanted him to learn to like cauliflower, too. So I would make him eat at least two flowerets of cauliflower with his carrots. Then after a while I’d say, “Just have three.” Then four. One time a couple of years ago for his birthday I asked him what vegetable he wanted with his lasagna dinner. “Cauliflower,” he said. Not even with carrots. But I still like the combo.

Cauliflower and Carrots

Ingredients:

1 medium head of cauliflower
2 medium carrots
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp summer savory
Salt
Butter (optional)

Directions:

Cut cauliflower into small flowerets; cut large ones in half or thirds to make bite sized pieces. Peel and slice carrots. Place carrots first into a 2 quart saucepan, then add cauliflower. Cover with water. Add marjoram, savory, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high and continue at a low boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to get the herbs to cover the vegetables. Strain and serve. Top with butter if desired.

Personally, I love this side dish without the butter, and it is much healthier that way. But it does taste a little better with butter. But then again, what doesn’t?

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Chop Salad for Recipe Friday

It’s finally really summer here in the Pacific Northwest. It was 90° last Saturday and as I write this on Wednesday night I see that it’s supposed to hit 90° again the next two days. This has me thinking about salads. I know we should eat salad all year around because the raw veggies are good for us, but they just seem more appealing when the weather gets hot.

Tonight I made a chop salad that turned out really good. Now this particular recipe is just a suggestion for making a chop salad, though it did turn out pretty awesome. But the real key to a chop salad is not so much in what vegetables you put in the salad as how you chop them. The pieces need to be very small and you have to mix it up with the dressing before serving.

Chop Salad

Ingredients:

1 heart of romaine lettuce
½ English cucumber
4 oz shredded carrots – I used packaged shredded carrots
¼ cup honey glazed pecans
¼ cup Martin’s Swiss dressing

Directions:

Cut romaine lettuce across the head in thin slices, then cut the opposite direction so you have small pieces of lettuce. Cut cucumber into ¼ inch cubes or smaller. Mix lettuce, cucumber, carrots, and pecans in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the top and mix well.

Alternatives: Other vegetables that work good for chop salad are tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions, jicama, snap peas, frozen green peas (thawed), and olives.

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My Weight Loss Efforts for Recipe Friday

For the past few weeks I have been changing my eating habits to try to lose some weight. So far it’s working pretty good. But as a result, I haven’t made a whole lot of new things that could be used for a Recipe Friday post. As I thought about what to post, I decided that I would share the two big things that I changed that I believe have helped me most in my weight loss efforts.

First, I’ve begun writing down everything I eat and how many calories there are in each item. My goal is approximately 1400 calories per day. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but if you choose the right foods you can actually feel pretty full and satisfied on 1400 calories per day. And that is where writing it down helps. You start to get an idea of what things fill you up with fewer calories, and what things don’t make you feel full at all but have a ton of calories. For example, vegetables are very filling but don’t have high calorie counts. Salad dressings, butter, and other sauces, on the other hand, are not filling at all but can be very high in calories.

The other benefit of writing things down is I have to really think about whether I want to eat something, knowing it will be recorded in my food journal. It makes me more mindful of what I eat and helps with combatting my habit of eating when I am stressed or bored, and then not even really remembering that I ate something. If I have to write down each cookie and its calories, I am less likely to eat one at mid-morning, another in the afternoon, and a third and fourth after dinner, each time saying to myself, “It’s just one little cookie.”

Second, I’ve begun eating fewer breads and other starches and more fresh vegetables. My typical lunch consists of a 3 ounce piece of chicken, steak, or pork chop (depending on what we have leftovers of), or a half sandwich without cheese and light Miracle Whip, together with a big pile of vegetables with no dressing. I find that there are quite a few fresh vegetables that I like raw without dressing, as long as there is no lettuce along with them. As soon as you add lettuce and make it a salad, I feel like it needs dressing. But I can happily eat a whole red pepper (25 calories), a half a cucumber (20 calories), and a cup of jicama (46 calories) without a drop of dressing and be totally stuffed.

So you might be wondering how I know the calorie counts for the food I eat. Well, I use a web site called NutritionData for most of my calorie information, but I also consult restaurant web sites for their calorie information before I dine out. The cool thing about NutritionData is that if you register for a free account you can enter your own recipes and it will calculate the nutrition information for you. It also tells you more than just calories. Go here to see the complete nutritional information for jicama. I particularly like the chart showing the overall nutrition and fullness factor of each food.

My biggest challenge in losing weight, though, is dinner. If it was just me, it would be easier, but I have my husband and son to think about, too. But even there it is just a matter of being mindful of what I eat, cooking more vegetables so that the largest portion on my plate is vegetables and not potatoes or pasta.

As I embarked on this plan to change my eating habits (being resolved that this is not just a diet, but a new way to eat for life), I keep thinking of a story in Daniel.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”

Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. Daniel 1:8-16 (NIV).

This story is a good reminder that eating more vegetables and fewer starches and rich dressings will not only help me lose weight, but will also help me to feel better over all. I will be healthier and better nourished by fresh vegetables and fruits than by eating lots of cookies and rich foods. And I don’t have to feel like I am starved in the process because the foods I am eating are wonderfully filling and satisfying.

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Asparagus Linguine for Recipe Friday

Last Saturday at Farmers’ Market I got a bunch of asparagus, not really having any idea what I was going to serve it with. Then when I did my grocery shopping for the week, I didn’t get any fresh meat, planning to try to use some of the things I had in the freezer.

So the other night I decided we had better have the asparagus while it was still fresh, but didn’t have any thawed meat to go with it as an entrée. So I got out my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook to see what kind of asparagus recipes I could find. I found one that sounded pretty good, but I didn’t quite have all the right ingredients.

But that’s exactly what I love about cooking (as opposed to baking); you can always make a substitution or two and still end up with a good recipe. I looked in my cupboards and refrigerator to see what I had that could make this recipe work, and this is what I came up with. I will also indicate what the original recipe called for so you can see what I substituted.

I also love to experiment with herbs and spices, and although this recipe only called for salt and black pepper to be added at the end, I added a new combination herb / spice that I bought at the grocery store a few weeks ago.

Now my son does not like asparagus, at least he didn’t the last time he tried it when I just boiled it and put butter on it. I didn’t think he would like this, but he said it was pretty good and he even ate some of the asparagus. I don’t think it will ever be his favorite dinner as it’s a far cry from Rice Stuff and lasagna, but he ate it and that was all I was hoping for.

 

Asparagus Linguine

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh asparagus
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp ground Rosemary Garlic blend
½ pound or less of sliced deli ham
1 can Redi-cut tomatoes
8 oz. linguine pasta
Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Boil linguine according to package directions. Drain and set aside; keep warm. Snap woody bottoms off asparagus spears and cut into 1-inch pieces. Slice deli ham the short direction into thin strips.

Stir Fry Veggies and Ham

In a large non-stick skillet, heat olive oil. Stir fry asparagus for 4 minutes, adding the rosemary garlic blend during this cooking time. (I actually started the asparagus when the pasta still had 4 minutes of cooking time remaining). Drain tomatoes, and add tomatoes and ham to the asparagus. Continue stir frying for another 2 or 3 minutes. Add cook pasta and stir or fold together. Serve with parmesan cheese on top.

With Linguine Added

What did I change? 

First, the recipe called for fettuccine, which is wider than linguine. But I figured it was close enough. I would have used angel hair if that was all I had (which it usually is; linguine must have been on sale).

Second, the recipe called for using 4 sliced Roma tomatoes, but I didn’t have any. So I substituted the canned tomatoes.

Third, the recipe called for 3 oz. of prosciutto or cooked ham. I happened to have deli ham that I bought for lunch sandwiches on Sunday. It doesn’t sound as fancy as prosciutto, but it tasted awesome. And I put in more than 3 oz. because, well, my family likes meat. 

Finally, I didn’t add any salt and pepper, just the rosemary garlic blend (which I think does have both salt and pepper in it).

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