Mexican Red Rice

Red rice is the typical accompaniment at most Mexican restaurants.  This dish is the standard by which I often judge Mexican restaurants – everybody makes it but few do it well.  It’s often overcooked and bland.  So if you eat a big forkful of rice and think to yourself, “That’s yummy,” you’ve found a good spot! Mexican Red Rice Not to digress from our recipe but I love when Mexican restaurants serve that golden rice pilaf with corn.  It’s so savory then you get that sweet corn crunch.  Yum!  If you’ve ever eaten at a Cozymel’s, you know the dish I’m talking about.  I was so disappointed when the one closed near where I grew up – no more of my favorite Mexican rice, or their wonderful homemade tortillas.  If you are also a fan of this version of Mexican rice, you should check out our Mexican White Rice Pilaf recipe.  Anyhow, back to our equally delicious red rice… With this recipe, adapted from Rick Bayless, you can make your own red rice at home.  And I’d be willing to bet it beats any red rice you’ve had at Mexican restaurants.  It will definitely outshine anything from a box.  Made from scratch, this rice tastes fresh and flavorful.  Plus by toasting the rice before adding the liquid, you get a great texture!

Mexican Red Rice Pilaf

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients

1 tbsp. Canola or Vegetable Oil
1/2 c. Rice
1/2 Onion, finely diced
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 canned San Marzano Tomatoes, pureed
3/4 c. Chicken Broth
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. Salt (1/4 if using regular broth, 1/2 if using low-sodium)
1/2 Carrot, diced
1/2 c. Corn

1.  Combine the oil, rice, and onion in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.  Once the mixture begins to sizzle, cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  It should be starting to look golden and toasted.  Then add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes, continuing to stir.  Make sure to keep an eye on it so you don’t burn the garlic. Brown Onion and Rice 2.  Stir in the tomato puree and cook for one more minute.  If you have good quality tomatoes, you can substitute peeled fresh tomatoes for the San Marzanos.  Unfortunately good tomatoes are hard to come by in Juneau… plus San Marzanos are just so good.

3.  Add the broth (cooking rice with broth gives it so much more flavor!) and salt and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes. Add Broth 4.  Mix in your carrot, put the lid back on, and cook 5 more minutes. 5.  Next, stir in the corn, recover, and let stand off the heat for 5 minutes. Stir in Corn 5.  Fluff the rice and serve alongside your favorite Mexican dish. Mexican Red Rice I like to serve this rice with a dish that doesn’t already have a lot of tomato – tacos or fajitas made with our Mexican Citrus Marinade, Blackened Tofu Tacos, Green Citrus Chicken Enchiladas, or Chipotle Stout Braised Beef.  If I’m making a tomato-y main dish (like our delicious Chicken Tinga Tacos), I go with Mexican White Rice Pilaf, instead.

Sweet Corn Tomalito

Looking for a unique Mexican side dish that’s sure to tickle everyone’s tastebuds?  Try our Sweet Corn Tomalito – it’s kind of a cross between cornbread and corn pudding… delicious!  Plus, it’s quick and easy to make.

Sweet Corn Tomalito

I first tried this dish at Chevy’s Mexican restaurant in Orlando.  My family likes to eat there when we visit Disney World, and it’s one of the meals I most looked forward to on our trips.  If you’ve ever eaten at a Chevy’s you probably remember that scoop of golden goodness that came with your meal.  For those of you who, like me, live nowhere near a Chevy’s restaurant, this copycat recipe is the perfect way to get your fix.

Sweet Corn Tomalito

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 11 minutes (microwave) or 50-60 minutes (stove)

Serves: 8

Ingredients

5 tbsp. Butter, softened
1/2 c. Sugar
1/4 c. Masa
1/2 c. Cornmeal
1 c. Whole Kernel Corn
1 c. Creamed Corn
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
4 tsp. Milk

1.  Mix butter, sugar, and masa until fluffy.  I do this by hand but you could use a mixer if you prefer.

2.  Stir the cornmeal and creamed corn into the mixture.  Then add the whole kernel corn, baking powder, salt, and milk and stir until thoroughly combined.

Note: You can either use cans of whole kernel and creamed corn or use frozen corn for this recipe.  If you decide to go the frozen corn route you can make creamed corn for the recipe by pureeing a cup of corn with a little water until you reach the proper consistency.

Tomalito Batter

3.  Pour the  mixture into an 8″ x 8″ glass pan.

If you want to save electricity and eat much sooner, cover with plastic wrap and cook in the microwave on medium power for 7 minutes then an additional 4 minutes on high power.

If you don’t have a microwave or prefer not to cook with it, you can go with the traditional steaming method.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil and steam over a pot of boiling water for 50-60 minutes.  If you use this method, check the pot periodically so you don’t boil it dry.

I’ve tried both methods and didn’t notice any difference in the results between the two.

When it’s done, it should be solid and the top should not look wet.  It may be starting to crack slightly.

Cooked Tomalito

4.  Stir the tomalito to fluff and it’s ready to eat!

Fluff with a Spoon or Fork

Serve it alongside your favorite Mexican Main Dish (check out our Chicken Tinga Tacos, Chipotle Stout Braised Beef, Blackened Tofu Tacos, or Green Citrus Chicken Enchiladas) and enjoy!

Sweet Corn Tomalito

Lasagna Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash makes a wonderful healthy dinner.  It’s great for increasing your vegetable consumption or, if you’re trying to cut back on your carbs, it functions as a pasta substitute.  I’m not going to sit here and tell you that spaghetti squash is exactly like spaghetti – it’s not.  The squash’s texture is different, having a slight crunch, and it has a subtle sweetness.  While it’s not spaghetti, spaghetti squash is very tasty with tomato sauce – it’s how I prefer to eat it!

Lasagna Spaghetti Squash

One day when I was making my usual spaghetti squash with pasta sauce, I was thinking about variations of spaghetti that I enjoy.  Sometimes when I have extra ricotta in the fridge after making another dish (such as our Spinach Ricotta Gnudi, Lasagna Soup, Four Cheese White Pizza, or Sausage and Ricotta Pizza), I like to toss a dollop in with my spaghetti marinara to create a cheesy tomato sauce.  I did the same with my spaghetti squash that evening and it was delicious!  So I decided the next time I had spaghetti squash I would try including the other components of lasagna, and this dish was born.

My Lasagna Spaghetti Squash turned out to be a big success!  It’s now my absolute favorite way to eat spaghetti squash, and my boyfriend loves it too.  You’ll notice in this recipe I don’t give many measurements – I don’t actually measure things when I make it.  So you can tailor it to your taste by controlling the amount of ingredients you add.  Or throw in some of your favorite lasagna components that I haven’t included – I love cheese lasagna but maybe you’re a fan of spinach lasagna or eggplant lasagna.  I’ve provided the canvas so you can create your own unique work of spaghetti squash art.  Enjoy!

Lasagna Spaghetti Squash

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

1 small Spaghetti Squash
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Tomato Sauce
Ricotta Cheese
Parmesan Cheese (optional)
handful chopped Fresh Herbs (optional)
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese

1.  Halve your spaghetti squash lengthwise (This is the hardest part of the recipe – you will need a sharp knife and some patience.  Be careful not to cut yourself!).  Using a large spoon, scrape out the inside of the squash to remove all the seeds – this should remind you of cleaning out a pumpkin to make a jack-o-lantern.  Drizzle each half with olive oil and use a brush to spread it over the surface.  Then season generously with salt and pepper.

Oil and Season Squash

2.  Place the squash cut side-down on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 450° F for 40 minutes.  It should be browning around the edges.  Allow the squash to cool 5-10 minutes before handling (it cools quicker if you flip it over).

3.  Once the squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the squash from one half into a bowl.  The squash should come apart in thin, spaghetti-like strands – this is where the squash gets its name.

4.  Add some tomato sauce (you can use your favorite jarred pasta sauce or make your own using our recipe for Tomato Sauce) and a dollop of ricotta to the bowl and mix thoroughly.  I don’t give you specific measurements for sauce or ricotta to allow you to fix the recipe to your own taste – you can go super cheesy if that’s what you like or opt for a healthier version with less cheese.  If you want to use parmesan cheese, add it now and stir it into the squash.

Squash Strands in Cheesy Tomato Sauce

5.  Take your squash in cheesy tomato sauce and put it back into its shell.  If you’re using fresh herbs, sprinkle it over the squash halves.  I like to use basil, but parsley would also work well.  Then tear the mozzarella into thin clumps and spread it over the surface of the squash.

Top with Mozzarella

6.  Broil the squash for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling and begins to brown.  Make sure you keep your eye on it so it doesn’t burn!

Now you’re ready to enjoy some scrumptious spaghetti squash!  You can serve it in the shell and eat right out of it like a bowl.  I find this meal to be very filling on its own so I don’t generally have any sort of side dish with it.  If you don’t think half a squash will be enough food for you, check out our Veggies and Sides or Breads for accompaniment ideas.

Lasagna Spaghetti Squash

Asian-Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Earlier this year, thanks to Amanda’s Baked Brussels Sprouts **FIX**recipe, I discovered that Brussels sprouts are not the dreaded vegetable that I believed them to be.  They are in fact very tasty and satisfying, especially when they’re roasted.  Plus, they’re super healthy and packed with fiber and protein to help you stay full.  Now I happily work them in to my vegetable rotation. Asian-Glazed Sprouts Once I started eating Brussels sprouts regularly, I wanted to add a little variety to my sprout dishes.  I love how easy our Baked Brussels Sprouts **FIX**are, so I wanted a simple alteration to that recipe.   I love stir-fried vegetables so I wanted to try a teriyaki sauce with my sprouts (I mean, what doesn’t taste good in teriyaki sauce?!).  I found a recipe for teriyaki glaze for Brussels sprouts that I could pair with our Baked Brussels Sprouts **FIX**dish, and the combination worked beautifully!

Asian-Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

12 oz. Brussels Sprouts
Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
Salt
Pepper
Sesame Seeds
For the Glaze
2 tbsp. Soy Sauce (I use reduced-sodium Tamari)
2 tbsp. Sake
2 tbsp. Brown Sugar
1/2 tbsp. Rice Vinegar
generous 1 tsp. Grated Ginger

1.  Using the first 5 ingredients, roast your Brussels sprouts following our Baked Brussels Sprouts **FIX**recipe.  I often use garlic olive oil instead of olive oil and minced garlic.  If you want extra sesame flavor, you could also add a drizzle of sesame oil to the sprouts before roasting – just keep in mind sesame oil is pretty strong so don’t overdo it.

2.  While the sprouts are baking, combine the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook ~10 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Teriyaki Glaze 3.  When the Brussels sprouts are done roasting, transfer them to a bowl and drizzle with the glaze.  Stir to combine.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy! Asian-Glazed Sprouts Mmmm, don’t these look delicious!  These quick and easy Asian roasted Brussels sprouts make a healthy, hearty side dish.  If you think the picture above looks like a big plate of sprouts, you’d be right.  On this particular evening I ate the entire double batch by myself with a couple Lucky spring rolls for a delicious and filling meatless meal.  Everyone will love these Asian-Glazed Brussels Sprouts, even avowed vegetable-haters!

Perfect Oven-Roasted Potato Wedges

I’d been looking for some sort of oven fry recipe for awhile.  I wanted a recipe with plenty of flavor and a nice crisp texture.  Unfortunately, many of the recipes I tried failed in the second aspect.  Finally, I found a recipe for Parmesan Roasted Potatoes that had a good combination of spices and had the texture I was looking for.

Potato Wedges

This potato wedge recipe has a wonderful garlic parmesan flavor with a nice saltiness that you look for in a french fry-type dish.  The texture is perfect with a nice crunch on the outside and a soft inside.  You’re sure to love it!

Perfect Oven-Roasted Potato Wedges

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

2 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
3 tbsp. freshly-grated Parmesan Cheese (I use Parmigiano-Reggiano)
1 tsp. Garlic Salt
3/4 tsp. Paprika
Sea Salt
Fresh-cracked Black Pepper

1.  The first thing you want to do is scrub your potatoes since you’ll be eating the skins.  You’ll get plenty of vitamins and minerals from the skin… you don’t need any more from dirt stuck to your potatoes.  My potato scrubber is this cute googly-eyed guy that Amanda gave me for Christmas!

Potato Scrubber

2.  Once you’ve washed and scrubbed your potatoes, cut each one in half.  Then cut each half in half and slice the halves into wedges as seen below.  I usually get ~6 wedges down the length of the potato.

Potatoes Sliced

3.  Soak the wedges in warm water for ~10 minutes.  This will help remove some of the starch from the potatoes allowing them to crisp up nicely in the oven.

4.  While the potatoes are soaking, combine your seasonings: parmesan, garlic salt, and paprika.  Then drain the potatoes and pat dry with paper towels.

5.  Put potatoes in a large bowl and add olive oil.  Toss with your hands until all the wedges are well-coated.  Then add your seasonings and toss again until the cheese and spices are well-distributed.

Potato Wedges Seasoned

6.  Arrange the wedges on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and bake on the top rack of the oven at 425° F for 25 minutes.

7.  After 25 minutes, flip the potato wedges and return to the oven for 15 minutes.  I use tongs to flip each piece individually to make sure they get cooked on both sides.  When you flip the wedges, they should be browning on the bottom.

8.  When the wedges are done, they should be a beautiful golden-brown color and crispy on the outside.  Season to taste with a little sea salt and black pepper and stir.

Finished Wedges

Serve as a side alongside your favorite burger (check out our Smoky Chipotle Burger) or grilled dish.

Serve Wedges

Sauteed Chard with Prosciutto

Lately, I’ve been trying to get more leafy greens into my diet.  I eat spinach – on a pizza, tossed into a pasta or grain dish (see my Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Spinach), or on sandwiches – but I wanted to expand my green horizons.  So I decided to tackle chard.  The prosciutto and garlic in this recipe give the chard so much flavor I could eat a big bowl of this by itself!  Using meat as a condiment is genius!!  This recipe will turn even the pickiest eater into a chard fan…

Sauteed Chard

This is originally an Anne Burrell recipe (Thanks Anne!).  She calls for bacon, but I had prosciutto in the fridge so that’s what I used.  It worked wonderfully!  I’ve also tried this recipe with pancetta, but it doesn’t come out as well.  If you really want to use pancetta, use 3-4 slices of pancetta for each slice of prosciutto.  (Update: I have now tried it with bacon and it works really well – maybe better than the prosciutto.  Which meat I use depends on whether I have prosciutto leftover from another recipe, otherwise I go with bacon.)  Another note, the original recipe calls specifically for Swiss chard, but when I’ve wanted to make it my grocery store hasn’t had the Swiss variety.  I’ve tried it with both red chard and rainbow chard with good results – plus rainbow chard is so pretty!  Enjoy!

Sauteed Chard with Prosciutto

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 bunch Chard (6-8 leaves)
Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic
pinch Red Pepper Flakes
2 slices Prosciutto or Bacon, chopped
1/2 c. Chicken Broth

1.  Trim chard leaves from their stems, and cut the leaves into strips 1 inch wide.  Wash stems and cut into 1/2 – 1 inch pieces.

Chop ChardChop Chard 2

2.  Place your leaves in a colander and rinse well.  Once your leaves are washed, remove as much moisture from them as possible.  You could use a salad spinner if you have one.  If you don’t have one there is another technique you can use.  I pile my leaves on a kitchen towel, grab all four corners in one hand, and spin the towel over my head.  It works well and it’s pretty fun, kinda like a cowgirl getting ready to throw a lasso.  One word of warning, it will splatter water around the room so you want to be careful around electronics.

Note: These first two steps are my preference.  You could wash and dry your leaves before trimming and cutting them, but I find the leaves large and unwieldy this way.  Plus, the whole leaves are very difficult to dry.

3.  Put enough olive oil in a large saute pan to lightly coat the bottom (usually ~2 turns of the pan).  Peel and lightly crush your garlic cloves and add them to the pan (I was making a double batch below – that’s why there’s 4 garlic cloves instead of 2).  Add your red pepper flakes and heat the pan over medium heat.

Roast Garlic

4.  Once the bottom of the garlic cloves are golden brown, flip them and cook until the other side is golden brown.  Discard cloves and add prosciutto or bacon to the pan.

5.  Cook until the prosciutto or bacon is crisp (prosciutto cooks quickly so keep an eye on it – it won’t take long) then add the stems and broth to the pan.

Cook Stems

6.  Once most of the liquid is driven off, add the leaves to the pan (See why you need a big one?).

7.  Cook, tossing occasionally, until the leaves are lightly wilted.  This should only take a couple minutes.  If you overcook your leaves they will turn into a slimy blob (very unappetizing!).

Sauteed Chard

8.  Remove from the pan immediately (you don’t want your leaves to keep cooking) and serve.  It’s best warm!

Sauteed Chard

Roasted Smashed Potatoes

Some dishes demand to be paired with potatoes.  And hey, there’s nothing wrong with a good meat and potatoes dinner from time to time, especially if you add a green veggie in there.  The next time you need a potato fix, try these little beauties… Roasted Smashed Potatoes.  They are so easy and blow-your-mind tasty!

Roasted Smashed Potatoes

This recipe from Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) is elegantly simple and so incredibly delicious.  With only 4 ingredients, a minimal amount of work, and a little time, you could be enjoying this rich, salty, crunchy dish.

Roasted Smashed Potatoes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: ~40 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

10-12 Baby Gold Potatoes, scrubbed
Olive Oil (I strongly recommend using a high quality variety)
Kosher Salt or Coarse Sea Salt
Freshly-cracked Black Pepper

1.  Put the potatoes in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil.  Cook until fork tender (usually 10-15 minutes).  These don’t have to be as soft as potatoes for mashing, but you should be able to crush them easily.

Drain your potatoes and set aside to cool slightly.

Boil Potatoes

2.  Generously drizzle a pan with olive oil and place your potatoes on the pan.  Crush lightly using a potato masher.  (Tip: Crush them once then turn the masher 90° and crush again)  The skins should crack, and the potatoes should flatten somewhat, but you still want them ~1/2″ thick.

Potatoes Crushed

3.  Brush the potatoes liberally with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.

4.  Cook on the top rack of the oven at 450°F for 20-25 minutes until the tops are browned and crispy.

Potatoes Roasted

Serve alongside your favorite protein and enjoy every crispy, buttery bite!  (No, there is no butter in the dish, but you wouldn’t know that from the taste)