Maple roasted vegetables

We always enjoy roasted vegetables throughout the seasons, and this recipe is another way to prepare them quickly and easily.  I found this recipe in Real Simple magazine, March 2017.

I roasted the vegetables at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes, although the original recipe said to roast at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time.  I found my vegetables were perfect and very tasty.

Try this idea for your next gathering.  I whisked 2 tablespoons olive oil with 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, with a dash of salt and pepper to taste in a small measuring cup.

Mix with one-half box of Brussels sprouts, which have been cleaned and halved, along with a 1/2 bag of small carrots in another bowl.  Spread the vegetables onto a sheet pan covered with a Silpat mat.  Bake at 375 degrees in a pre-heated oven for about 35 minutes or until browned to perfection.

Enjoy these vegetables as a side dish to chicken, fish or red meat entrée.  Also, these vegetables could accompany a small pasta dish.

Cooking with Quail Ridge Press

Recently I found a great source for some amazing cookbooks that can be ordered online and be directly mailed.  Quail Ridge Press began nearly 40 years ago and continues to publish and showcase many regional and national cookbooks.

I have been cooking from Picnics, Potlucks & Porch Parties and have been enjoying every recipe that I have tried.  This book is written by Aimee Broussard, food blogger and the 2013 Dixie Crystals Cookie Bake Off champion.  Her recipes are delicious and I highly recommend this entertaining cookbook.  She shares hostess ideas and great photos of almost every recipe.

The book includes party and menu planning, as well as beverages, appetizers, ideas for barbecues, casseroles, seafood, soups, salads, cakes, pies, sides and even recipes for the slow cooker.

I tried her slow cooker stuffed bell peppers recently and our family loved them.  I adapted her recipe and scaled it down to a smaller quantity for us. It works well during the summer months as no oven is needed.

Gather these ingredients:  3 peppers, 1 pound ground beef, chopped white onion, green onions, 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire, 1 cup wild rice, salt, black pepper and 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese. Water for the slow cooker.

Clean and open up the peppers. Brown the ground beef and onions in the slow cooker.

Next, mix together the cooked ingredients from the slow cooker with the Worcestershire sauce, uncooked rice, salt, pepper to taste, and almost all of the shredded cheddar cheese in a large bowl. I used my Venn Kitchen mixing bowl which has become a favorite in my kitchen. Then, stuff the peppers.

Pour about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water into the slow cooker.  Place the peppers into the slow cooker and cover. Cook on low for 6 hours until the peppers are soft and cooked through.

Around 15 minutes prior to serving, the peppers can be topped with additional shredded cheese. I used shredded white cheddar cheese for this recipe.

These peppers are easy to make and cook without supervision in the slow cooker.  This is a very tasty dish that can be adapted in many variations based on the colors of the peppers.  The dish will also freeze well for great leftovers another day.

For more information on Quail Ridge Press, search them at quailridge.com

For more information on Venn Kitchen, follow them on Facebook.

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Crispy spiralized sweet potatoes

Another delicious way to serve sweet potatoes is by using a spiralizer. First, I peel and remove the two ends of the potatoes. After using the Paderno three blade spiralizer, I gather the potatoes and place in my Venn Kitchen mixing bowl. Next, I just add a tablespoon or two of olive oil, season them with Weber grilling vegetable seasoning and parsley flakes,  and place on a baking sheet.

I would recommend roasting at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and then rotate and mix them up on the pan.  Return the pan to the oven and continue to roast until crispy and browned.  I roasted mine for a total of 20 minutes and they were ultra crispy and delicious.  They can be seasoned with salt, pepper or any type of spicy seasoning if desired. Vary by decreasing the roasting time for less crispy potatoes.

These sweet potatoes are a great snack, a perfect accompaniment to a burger or sandwich for a meal. And the spiralizer is so much fun to use.  Having the right equipment makes this recipe come together very quickly.

After visiting the home and housewares show this spring in Chicago, I have been so happy to test some new products coming soon to the kitchen marketplace.

Please notice my favorite new tools from Venn Kitchen products.  The mixing bowls are graduated and the perfect size for all types of food preparation. They are stain resistant and manufactured from food grade silicone coated nylon.  They are dishwasher safe and stack so nicely in a cabinet. The bowls have a non-slip base and even lids for storage.

I especially love my new Venn Kitchen cutting board, which served also as a great platter for my spiralizing.  As always, I love my Paderno spiralizer which was purchased at Williams Sonoma this spring. I used the smallest blade for my sweet potatoes.

Venn Kitchen products are distributed through Captivate Brands, a global manufacturer and innovator new to the marketplace.  For more information, follow them on Facebook at Venn Kitchen.  Their brand has so many new products coming to the market.

Rustic potatoes

In an effort to reduce carbohydrates at holiday meals, I look for alternative ways to serve potatoes.  Everyone seems to love a potato as a comfort food, and my family is no different. In the past five years, I have made an effort to try different types and sizes of potatoes to see if they would be disappointed not having the traditional large slices of potato casseroles or baked potatoes.  To my liking, everyone seems to enjoy these smaller roasted potatoes.  I season them differently, but always roast my potatoes in the oven. Personally, I love them.

Here is how I made my potatoes for Easter this year.  The secret is to find very small potatoes.  I used Baby Boomers from the Little Potato Company.  And, they were delicious.

Prepare a small baking sheet with spray Olive Oil and season the potatoes with Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, parsley flakes, and Italian herb seasoning to taste. I also give the potatoes a spray of the Olive oil as well.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Roast them for 30 minutes and check half way through to make certain they are evenly roasting.  Delicious and easy !!

In this photo, you can see the size of the potatoes compared to the carrots also prepared at this holiday meal.

Easter green beans

Many of you are not fans of green beans, but I found a recipe that even a green bean hater enjoyed.  I was inspired by the blog Once Upon a Chef and adapted her recipe a bit for my own family this past week. Of course this technique could be tried any time of year, but it is certainly one to remember for those holiday meals.

What I like about the technique is that it starts with French green beans.  That is a special type of very thin green bean, which I am able to find at only some markets. Packaging may say Haricots Verts or Petit green beans.  If you try this recipe with frozen green beans or thick green beans, don’t expect the same result or even worse, your green bean haters will emerge again at the table.

To make the recipe, gather olive oil, red onion, 1-1 1/2 cups water, about 8 ounces of thin green beans, salt and pepper to taste.

Using a saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the thinly sliced red onions until soft and lightly browned. While they are cooking, clean the ends of the beans and place into the pan when the onions are ready.  Salt and pepper to taste, and continue to stir them until they begin to slightly cook as well.  I probably sautéed them for 3-4 minutes.

Next, add 1/2 cup of the water and continue to cook on medium heat, never leaving the green beans.  This is a dish that needs constant attention.  The object is to continue to cook until the water is gone. Then add more water and continue until all of the water has been cooked through the green beans with no water left when the beans are done.

This technique will take about 8-10 minutes total time.  Test the beans to make sure they are done cooking.  Check to see if they are easily pierced with a fork, and look cooked through, hot, but not limp and watery at all.

Transfer to a serving dish and be amazed at the flavor and seasoning.

Baked Easter carrots

These carrots are perfect any time of year, though I recently prepared them for Easter. I happened to find red carrots at the market, and they seemed to add an extra sweetness to the dish.  I would recommend them highly.

Here is how I prepared the carrots. I used two bunches of red carrots and trimmed the greens down to fit on a baking sheet, after peeling them. I prepared the sheet pan with spray Pam with olive oil and seasoned the carrots to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a sauce pot on the stove, I added 2 tablespoons margarine, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, and 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Bring up to temperature to melt the margarine and incorporate the ingredients.  Pour over the carrots on the sheet pan.

Bake for 30 minutes until tender.  I checked them and rotated them after 20 minutes.  If the carrots are very thick, they could be sliced again to help with the roasting time.

These were very tasty served with our Easter ham.

Zucchini and Corn casserole

Are you searching for a new side dish that incorporates vegetables in a different way?  I think I found one from the Six Sisters.  If you are not familiar with them, there are just that, six sisters with busy lives and families.  Some of their recipes are just fantastic.  This one I happened to find in magazine published last Fall 2016. (Six Sisters Stuff)  As usual, I adapt the recipe for our taste, but followed the same preparation technique, and the casserole was very tasty.

Here is how I prepared this side dish.  Gather olive oil, 1/3 red onion, garlic in a tube, 2 medium to large zucchini, cubed, one bag frozen corn, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella,  1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, and salt plus black pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  On the cooktop, saute oil, onion, garlic to taste, and cook until the onions become tender.  Add in the zucchini and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes until the vegetables are browning.  Add corn, cheese, salt and pepper.

Place into a ceramic casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Serve while hot.

Any leftovers can be stored very easily with a new product I found at the home and housewares show.

Lidlover lids can be used with ceramic, stainless, glass, bamboo, plastic or even with plates.  They can be used to cover dishes in the oven up to 400 degrees.  They are BPA free and made of high quality food grade silicone. More about the product can be found on their website at http://www.LidLover.com

Watch for these products coming this year to stores.  Additionally, they will be featured on QVC this May. I have been using them for the past few weeks and they are an amazing new product.

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