Category Archives: Vegetarian Side Dishes

Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread, and My Childhood Dream

Garden veggie spread in a container, next to two slices of bread being spread with the cream cheese mixture. Next to those items is a mason jar that is spilling out dehydrated peppers, and a garlic bulb in the corner.
I can’t even tell you how yummy this healthy cream cheese spread is! So yum. All the yums!

When I was a child, I used to loooooove eating raw red peppers. My mother would cut them into sticks and give them to us for lunches and snacks and I would gobble them up. I always said that when I was grown up, I would eat nothing but red peppers for a whole day. Fast forward a few years (*cough* decades *cough*) and my sweet husband, who knows that I still love red peppers, comes home from a shopping trip with several BAGS of them. Now, I love red peppers but there’s only so many even I can eat. What to do? Well, I sliced and froze some, and then I dehydrated the rest. I used the dehydrated peppers in soups and stews and tossed them in my Best Ever Macaroni Salad, but I still had a ton left. That is, until I started making Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread!

This cream cheese spread is chock-full of veggies and is tastes absolutely incredible for something that only has four ingredients. It’s slightly sweet and totally savoury and is perfect to spread on fresh bread, toasted bagels, or even crackers.

I plan to add it to the next cheese and cracker platter that I make; that is, if any is left after the DH and I finish taste-testing it! I can not overstate how delicious this spread is. And bonus, there are no nasty preservatives in it, only healthy ingredients.

This spread is so good, it will have you looking forward to meal times, just so you can eat more of it! (True story, just replace ‘meal time’ with ‘late-night snack’ and you’ll be living my life!)

Want to make some yourself? Let’s!

Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread

This healthy cream cheese spread is chock-full of veggies, but tastes like your favourite coffee shop bagel spread. 

Servings 5 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. dehydrated red and green peppers
  • 1 tbsp. dried chives
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 pkg. cream cheese (227 g)

Instructions

  1. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the dehydrated red and green peppers to a powder. You can leave a few larger chunks in, but most of it should be a finely ground powder. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use a spice grinder, or even (IF you’re making a large quantity) a blender. 

  2. Soften cream cheese in a microwave for 15 seconds. This makes it easier to mix everything together. 

  3. Stir all ingredients together. 

  4. And…you’re done! Enjoy your super-delicious and healthy spread!

Dried chives, ground dehydrated peppers, and garlic powder are in a bowl. Dried peppers are spilling out of a mason jar on its side.
Three simple ingredients bring a whack-ton of flavour!

This Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread deepens in flavour the longer you let it sit, but you can also eat it right away. Personally, I like to heat it in the microwave for a few seconds after pulling it out of the fridge, so that the cream cheese spreads more easily, but if you’re serving it on a cheese platter, room temperature would be perfect.

Next Post: Easy Chocolate & Strawberry Trifle with Almond Sherry Whipped Cream. Yes, it IS as delicious as it sounds! (Also way easier than it sounds!)

Easy Classic Bruschetta & Why I’m an Olive Oil Snob

A fresh and garlicky tomato topping on a toasted baguette slice!
A fresh and garlicky tomato topping on a crisply toasted baguette slice!

I think I’ve mentioned before that I grew up eating a wide range of cuisines, but one of my favourites is Italian. (Actually, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Italian food. So yummy!) My mother made a wide variety of Italian dishes, but one of my favourites was the bruschetta that she made. I had a random craving for it this week, so I got the recipe from her, tweaked it a bit, and have already eaten it twice. So that’s the recipe I’m sharing with you today: Easy Classic Bruschetta!

I’ve eaten bruschetta as a meal, but it’s usually eaten as an appetizer. You really want to use good quality ingredients in this recipe, since each ingredient really plays a starring role. Really nicely ripe tomatoes, some good quality olive oil, and some fresh garlic. And then any old baguette will do. A stale baguette is probably best, but if you don’t have one, just toast the sliced baguette as I do. And as I’ve said before, I don’t usually recommend salting food, but in this dish, don’t skip the salt and pepper. The dish will be flat without it!

I don’t bother adding parmesan cheese to bruschetta, the way a lot of people are used to eating it, but you could definitely add some in. Again, a good quality parmesan would be best since this dish is so simple, but if the refrigerated stuff is all you have, eh, you do you, boo!

Oh, and one last piece of advice: don’t skimp on the garlic! This is such a nicely fresh, crunchy, and garlicky dish, whether you serve it with a hot pasta dish in the winter, or with a cold pasta dish in the summer, or just as a snack!

Easy Classic Bruschetta

This simple dish is as classic and as comforting as Italian food gets, but thrown together in minutes.

Servings 6 people

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 c. olive oil good quality
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Roughly chop tomatoes and garlic. 

  2. Toss with remaining ingredients and set aside for 15 minutes to let the flavour mingle.

  3. In the meantime, slice a baguette on the diagonal and toast in the oven until lightly brown and slightly crispy. 

  4. Just before serving, top the toasted baguette slices with the fresh tomato mixture. And chow down!

As I said in earlier in this post, I recommend using really good olive oil in this recipe, since it’s such a key ingredient. And as I wrote in the title of this post, I’m a bit of an olive oil snob. Why? Well, I have some relatives in the Middle East and they send me the really pure first press olive oil from time to time and my goodness, is there ever a difference in flavour! I tend to cook with store-bought because why not, but for a dish like bruschetta, a high end olive oil can make a big difference! To be honest though, I’m not really a foodie snob — I just like good food! And this dish is some good eatin’! If you try out the recipe, come back and post in the comments what you thought of it!

Next Post: Hmm…perhaps an Easy Yet Decadent Chocolate Trifle flavoured with some almond sherry? With pillowy mountains of cream, and lightly dusted with chocolate shavings? Does that sound good?

Ultra-Creamy Hummus and a Sure-Fire Shortcut to Kitchen Zen

How to Make Ultra-Creamy Hummus

So creamy with a hint of piquant umami!

Usually I’m all about the quick and easy recipes, like my Easy Tex-Mex Potatoes or my Easiest Ever Orange Crush Slushie. Every now and then though, I share a recipe that might take a bit longer, but is worth it! This Ultra-Creamy Hummus recipe is one of those recipes! It actually doesn’t take that long, as I just dump all the ingredients in the blender and zap it and it’s done, but getting the main ingredient ready, well that’s another story!

The secret to this hummus? PEELED CHICKEPEAS. I know, I know, when I first came across the concept, I was all huh? Peeling chickpeas? Can chickpeas even be peeled? But it refers to removing the cellulose-based ‘skin’ on the chickpea. It’s that cellulose skin that makes hummus so grainy, and removing it makes the hummus ultra-creamy and smooth.

Peeling chickpeas is one of those tasks that you just can’t hurry. You can stand at the kitchen sink with the chickpeas in a bowl of water, and just zen out removing them one by one. As one of my friends said, it’s actually a meditative task. It forces you to slow down and calm down and just be in the moment. I don’t always peel my chickpeas, but when I do, I definitely feel more peaceful!

So, try it yourself! Peel those chickpeas and give yourself a few minutes of zen!

 

5 from 1 vote
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Ultra-Creamy Hummus

The extra step in this recipe makes the finished product ultra-smooth and extra creamy!

Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas (1 1/4 c)
  • 1/4 c. tahini
  • 1/8 c. lemon juice (fresh is best)
  • 1 tbsp. balsaminic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1 clove garlic

Instructions

  1. Rinse chickpeas and peel off skins. Throw away skins.

  2. Place chickpeas in blender along with rest of ingredients and blend. 

  3. And...you're done!

Recipe Notes

If you like thicker hummus, use less water, or none at all. Make it to your specifications!

I used canned chickpeas because I just find it easier, but you could also boil your own. And, as I said, you don’t have to peel the chickpeas. It just makes the recipe that much creamier!

I serve hummus with veggies sticks and pita, as that’s how I ate it growing up, but it would be lovely served with some fresh falafel or tabbouleh salad! You do you, boo!

Next Post: Not sure yet. Maybe something decadently rich and creamy? But in healthy-sized portions, because I’m still trying to lose that baby weight. (She’s totally worth it, btw!)

Easy Tex-Mex Potato Wedges & Why I Ran Out of Potatoes

Not the best photo but the RECIPE is tops!

This week’s post is about potatoes. Easy ones! Flavourful ones! But not spicy ones. Why? Well, my MIL was staying with us for a few months, to spend time with her first grandchild, and I was trying to feed her delicious meals. But with a new baby in the house, they also had to be super-fast meals, because I certainly did not have time to make complicated dishes, not if I also wanted to be able to do laundry, dishes, take care of the baby, and you know, occasionally sleep! So I relied a lot on potatoes. Baked potatoes! Rosemary Roasted Potatoes! Mashed potatoes! Potato soup! Broccoli and cheese sauce topped potatoes! And now, Tex-Mex Potato Wedges!

I personally love spicy foods, but the DH and his mum are not big fans of spice. So I had to come up with a way to make them flavourful, but not spicy. And I did! I used a short-cut (taco mix!) to add flavour, and baked them on a high heat so that the outside were crisp and yummy but the insides were soft and fluffy. I served them to my mother and she liked them too, so basically it’s thumbs up all around!

The first time I made them I didn’t use enough spice mix, but I did take a photo, the one you see above. The second time I made them, I improved the flavour profile, but didn’t have a chance to take a photo. I was going to make them again and take a better photo, but…I ran out of potatoes! And given that it’s currently minus 16 but feels like minus 22 outside, I didn’t want to send the DH to the grocery store. So, you’ll just have to trust me that these are yummy to look at as well as to eat!

Want to make some of your own? Let’s!

 

Easy Tex-Mex Potato Wedges

This quick and easy recipe uses a short-cut to add flavour but not heat. 

Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 tbsp taco spice mix
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions

  1. Wash potatoes thoroughly and cut each potato into 8 wedges (cut into half and each half into quarters). 

  2. Toss potatoes in a bowl with taco spice mix and oil. 

  3. Spread on an aluminum lined baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake in a 425 Fahrenheit pre-heated oven for 25 minutes or until golden and crisp on the outside and soft and forkable on the inside. 

 

I don’t usually advocate adding salt before tasting one’s food, just because most foods are over-salted in my opinion, but I found that these potatoes definitely needed the salt added to them to really bring out the flavour.

And I used an aluminum lined cookie sheet to cook them on, just to make for an easier clean-up. Usually I try not to use aluminum if I can get away with it (why waste natural resources is my attitude) but with a new baby, the less time I spend scrubbing dishes, the happier I am! Actually, come to think of it, that’s my attitude in general!

Next Post: Hmm. Let me check my blogging notes. Oh yes, maybe a fabulous recipe for an ultra-creamy hummus that is also vegan! So creamy. Have I mentioned how creamy it is?

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday and at Happiness is Homemade! As well as at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop!

Rosemary-Roasted Potatoes & Why I’m So Exhausted

If you’re a dedicated follower of this blog (and hey, aren’t you all?), you’ll have noticed that I haven’t posted any new recipes for a few weeks. Why? I’m in my last month of pregnancy and I’m wiped out. I know that most new moms will laugh at my exhaustion and tell me to get some sleep before baby comes, and believe me, I’d like to. But between my normal insomnia and pregnancy-induced insomnia, my energy is a little on the low side. Which is why super-easy and super-quick side dishes like today’s recipe for Rosemary-Roasted Potatoes are so fabulous!

This recipe tastes like you put a lot of time and effort into making delicious potatoes, when all one has to do is a quick chop, toss with oil and fresh rosemary, and roast those taters in the oven. Seriously easy-peasy lemon squeezey!

I’ve mentioned before that I grow a few things on my balcony garden, and fresh herbs are one of the easiest things to grow! So today’s recipe uses some fresh rosemary, picked just minutes before I used it in this recipe.

Let’s get cooking!

 

ROSEMARY-ROASTED POTATOES

This quick and easy side dish makes use of fresh rosemary for flavour and presentation. Seriously easy!

Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 7 small potatoes (or use at least one large potato per serving)
  • 2 stalks fresh rosemary
  • 3 tbsps. olive oil

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Line a cookie tray or baking sheet with foil (this makes for an easy clean-up).

  3. Chop the  potatoes into bite-sized chunks, strip the rosemary leaves off the stalks, and discard the stalks. 

  4. Toss potato chunks, rosemary leaves, and olive oil together. Spread mixture on foil-lined baking sheet.

  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden all over and crunchy on the bottom. 

  6. Let cool slightly before removing from foil and serving. This prevents the deliciously golden and crunchy bottom of the potatoes from sticking to the foil.  

While I’ve been pregnant I’ve been eating more organic produce than usual, and I’ve found that organic potatoes and organic grapes taste way better than conventionally-grown ones, at least from the stores that I shop at. If you have access to organic potatoes, I recommend using them in this recipe! Otherwise, eh, use what you’ve got! Potato, po-tah-to!

Let me know what you think of these super-easy rosemary-roasted potatoes! I made just enough for the DH and I to have for dinner tonight, but then I taste-tested them…and taste-tested them…and unless the DH gets home soon, there aren’t going to be any for (his) dinner! I mean, hey, I’m eating for two now, right?

Next Post: Not sure yet! Possibly macaroni and cheese, either potluck-style or my mother’s style. Or, something else entirely! We’ll see what I’m craving next! 

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday and Happiness is Homemade!