Category Archives: Side Dishes

Caprese Barley Salad

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I have a fantastic fresh salad for you today!  It is getting to be the time of year where I much prefer to eat cold foods over hot.  Unless those hot foods are coming from the grill.  But that is a different story.

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I found these gorgeous heirloom cherry tomatoes at Trader Joes this week.  Aren’t they beautiful?

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And I bought a ginormous tub of marinated mozzarella balls at Costco.  Who buys a 40 oz tub of bocconcini?   A hungry person who is shopping at Costco, that’s who.  Word to the wise, eat lunch before wandering those aisles!

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Also, can we talk about this balsamic vinegar? 

It isn’t white, or clear, but a kind of pinky-brown color.  But I hate the way normal balsamic looks when it is drizzled on mozzarella.  It tastes great, but makes it look dirty.  If you can find white balsamic, definitely use it!

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And barley.  Oh, barley.  It is really under-used.  I had this package left in my pantry from a beef and barley soup I made this winter.  And it probably would have sat there until next winter if it wasn’t for this salad.  If barley isn’t your thing, you can use rice, or quinoa, or any other grain of your choosing.  It soaks up the wonderful dressing and gets really tangy and flavorful.

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Fresh, simple and delicious.

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Caprese Barley Salad

makes 4 servings as a main dish or 8 as a side dish


  • 2 cups uncooked barley (4 cups already cooked barley)
  • 16 oz cherry tomatoes
  • 12 oz bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (or regular balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp basil, cut in ribbons


  1. Cook barley according to package directions. 
  2. Let barley cool completely.  Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Cut cherry tomatoes in half (or in quarters for very large tomatoes) and add them to the barley.
  4. Cut bocconcini balls in half and add them to the bowl.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar mustard and salt.  Whisk until well combined.
  6. Pour the dressing over the other ingredients.  Add basil and toss salad until it is coated with the dressing.
  7. Chill for several hours to allow flavors to come together. 

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 I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…How can you go wrong with tomatoes and mozzarella?

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Filed under Main Dishes, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Deviled Eggs

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Any body else eat too many chocolate bunnies yesterday?  Personally, I enjoyed a few Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs.  They are the best ratio of peanut butter filling to chocolaty coating.  Much butter than a regular old Reese’s cup.


Anyhow, now that Easter has come to an end, I’m sure you have an abundance of leftover Easter eggs to use up.  And while plain eggs with salt and pepper are great, sometimes you just want something a little different. 

That is where Deviled Eggs come in.

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Let’s talk about boiling eggs for a minute.  I don’t know about you, but my Facebook wall was blowing up over people’s inability to boil an egg.  I didn’t know this was such a problem!  I listen to my girl, Martha, when it comes to things like this.  She says to place eggs in a pan and cover with cold water.  Slowly bring the eggs to a boil.  Once the water’s boiling, turn off the heat and cover the eggs.  Let them sit for 12 minutes, then run them under cold water to stop the cooking.  This make perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs, and you won’t get that greenish ring around the outside of the yolk. 

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So, cook and peel your eggs.  

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Slice your eggs in half long ways.

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Separate all the yolks from the whites. Place all the yolks in a bowl, and the whites on your serving platter.

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Mash up the yolks until they are very fine.

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Add some mayonnaise, mustard, celery salt and pepper.  I like my filling to be pretty firm.  My mom always said “You can add more, but you can’t take it back out.” so go slowly when adding these ingredients, because you can always add more to get to your desired consistency.

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To fill the eggs, I like to use a plastic bag.  You can be really fancy and use a piping bag with a tip in it to create a really pretty look, but the plastic bag works just fine for me.   To fill the bag, fold it over a bowl, then put your filling in.  When you unfold the bag, the filling is inside with no mess!

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Push the filling towards one corner.

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Then snip off the tip.

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Then pipe your filling into the egg whites.  Be sure not to overfill the eggs.  You want to make sure you have enough filling for all of them.

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I do what my mom always did, and top the eggs with some paprika and a slice of green olive. 

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This screams 1970s to me, but it is the way I’ve always had deviled eggs served, so I wouldn’t dream of doing these classic eggs any other way.

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Deviled Eggs

makes 24 egg halves


  • 12 peeled hard boiled eggs (see directions above for the perfect hard boiled egg)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 pimento stuffed green olives
  • paprika


  1. Slice eggs long ways (from the small end to the larger end).
  2. Separate the yolks from the whites, placing the yolks into a bowl and the whites on to your serving platter.
  3. Mash up the yolks until they are very fine (resembling sand).
  4. Add mayonnaise.  Begin with 1/3 cup and add more (up to 1/2 cup total) until desired consistency is reached.
  5. Add mustard, celery salt and fresh pepper (2-3 grinds).  Mix well.
  6. Fill a plastic bag, or piping bag with tip, with the yolk mixture.  Pipe the filling into the egg whites.
  7. Slice the olives in half.  Top each egg with an olive slice.  Sprinkle the tops with paprika.

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Filed under Appetizers, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Easy Roasted Asparagus

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Have you ever spent all day cooking a recipe?  You know, the really time consuming, multiple step, have-to-buy-ingredients-you’ve-never-heard-of kind of recipe?

Don’t get me wrong.  I love spending time in the kitchen.  It is my favorite place to be.  But while those recipes are sometimes fun, and the results can be spectactular, sometimes you feel… like its just not worth all the effort. 

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Sometimes simple ingredients, prepared in a very basic way yield the freshest and tastiest dishes that leave you with the satisfaction of a dish that has taken all day to prepare, but without the feeling that was not worth your time.

This simple roasted asparagus does just that. 

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To prepare youe asparagus, hold each end and bend until it snaps.  Discard (or compost, or save for stock!) the “woody” part at the bottom and save the beautiful tops.

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Place your asparagus spears on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

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Roast in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, flipping half way through.  Top your asparagus with a sprtiz of lemon juice and shavings of parmesan cheese (I just make these with a vegetable peeler).

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Fresh, simple and delicious.  Everything a dish should be.

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Easy Roasted Asparagus Spears


  • 1 large bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice
  • shaved Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place asparagus on a foil lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.
  3. Roast asparagus for 10 minutes, flipping half way thorugh cooking time.
  4. Once asparagus is cooked, sprtiz with lemon juice and top with shaved parmesan cheese.

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Filed under Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Sweet Potato Fries

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We are half way through the week!  Lets have french fries!  And not just any french fries…sweet potato fries!

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Now, I am a real fan of the good old sweet potato.  I never really ate them much growing up, save for Thanksgiving when they were covered in syrup and marshmallows.  The potatoes and fries in my house were the conventional white potato kind.  Not that there is anything wrong with those, and when baked in the oven in this same method, they are relatively healthy.  Potatoes are vegetables, after all.  But sweet potatoes offer tons of vitamins A, C, B6, manganese, fiber and potassium.  Lots of nutrition is packed into these tasty spuds!  And, they’re orange (my favorite color) so how can you not enjoy them?

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Sweet Potato Fries

makes 3 servings, but can be easily doubled for more


  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • fine sea salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice sweet potatoes into fry shapes.
  3. Toss sweet potatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet. 
  5. Bake sweet potatoes for 30-35 minutes, flipping half way through cooking time.

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Filed under Side Dishes

Mushroom Orzo

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You should make this… today.

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For dinner or as a side dish for your dinner… or for lunch?  This is such a fast and delicous dish.  Cute rice-shaped orzo pasta with a buttery wine sauce and sauteed mushrooms.  Change what you had planned for dinner and make this instead!

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I have really grown to love mushrooms.  Not raw mushrooms… I mean they’re OK, but really I could give or take them.  Sautéed or roasted mushroom?  Get in my mouth!  They get smooth and buttery when cooked and I really enjoy their slightly chewy texture.  I know mushrooms aren’t for everyone, but I think they are really “fun gis.”  Haha!  Anybody?

Ok, moving on…

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I use my husband’s reactions to food as a guage for how much others will like them.  Now, don’t get me wrong, Chris is not a picky eater by any means.  In our 2+ years of marriage and over 7 years of being a couple and me making dinner, there have been a total of 2 meals that he refused to eat.  I think that proves that this man will eat most things.  But when he gets really excited about a meal, I know its a good one.  And this is so simple!!

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Mushroom Orzo

makes 4 servings as a side, 2 as a main dish


  • 1 cup orzo shaped pasta
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 8 oz sliced cremini mushrooms (also called baby portabello)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper


  1. Cook the orzo in salted boiling water until aldente, about 8-9 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile in a large skillet, begin sautéing the mushrooms and onion in olive oil.
  3. After about 5 minutes, season the mushrooms and onions with salt and pepper.  You want to let the mushrooms being to brown before seasoning them, as the salt will draw out the moisture and they won’t brown as much.
  4. When the mushrooms are browned and the onions are tender, add the wine to the pan.  Simmer until wine is reduced by half.
  5. Add the butter to the mushroom and wine mixture.
  6. Drain the orzo well and add to the mushroom sauce.  Stir to coat the pasta with the sauce.
  7. Enjoy!

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Sweet and Spicy Barbeque Baked Beans

Normally I don’t make recipes that have a ton of ingredients.  I always find that I have to buy some random ingredient that I’ll never use again and it will sit in my pantry until it expires and I have to throw it away.  While these baked beans do have a lot of ingredients, I think they are, for the most part, things people have on hand already.

The flavor in these baked beans started sweet and finished spicy.   The went perfectly with the pork that my husband had slow cooked in the smoker all day.  You can easily double or triple this recipe to feed a crowd.  I took the leftovers for lunch the next day, and they were even better than hot out of the oven!


Sweet and Spicy Barbeque Baked Beans

Makes 6 servings


  • 1 cup dried beans (I used pinto, but you could use navy, great northern, any small bean really)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp Steak sauce (like A1)
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you want the beans…I would start with 1/8 tsp and add more after tasting them.)


  1. Soak beans in water for at least 4 hours, up to overnight.
  2. Drain the water from the beans, and cover again with clean water.  Boil beans for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until tender.  The longer you soaked your beans, the less time you will have to boil them.
  3. When beans are tender, drain and set aside.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350*.
  5. Sauté the onion in 1 tsp olive oil until tender.
  6. Add tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined.  Cook together an additional 2-3 minutes.
  8. Add beans and stir until they are well coated with sauce.
  9. Pour into a baking dish and bake, covered, for 30 minutes.  (You could serve them right away, but baking them together will help to combine the flavors.)


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Filed under Side Dishes