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Oscar Party: Quesadillas, Pinwheels and Bruschetta!

10 Jul Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas
Host Ellen DeGeneres took a selfie that broke Twitter

Host Ellen DeGeneres took a selfie that broke Twitter

The final items that were made for my 2014 Oscar Birthday party were some of my favorites! Mushroom Brie Quesadillas, Spinach Pesto Pinwheels and Smoked Salmon Bruschetta. Now, the smoked salmon was actually smoked by my dad before he came down to Los Angeles. And the marmalade was also homemade by my dad. (Do you see where I get my love of cooking from now?) So the only “real” recipes in this post are for the quesadillas and the pinwheels. Both were fun to make and perfect party food. The quesadillas were a real hit as they were quite unique. Hope you enjoy too!

Ellen was a gracious host and ordered pizza for her guests.

Ellen was a gracious host and ordered pizza for her guests.

Host Ellen DeGeneres ordered pizza for her friends, but I prefer making snacks for parties. What are your party favorites?

Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas Ingredients L-R: Honey, Brie, Mushrooms, Rosemary, Tortillas, Parsley

Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas Ingredients L-R: Honey, Brie, Mushrooms, Rosemary, Tortillas, Parsley

MUSHROOM AND BRIE QUESADILLAS (makes 16 “slices”)

  • About 8 oz Cremini Mushrooms
  • 1/2 Tsp Fresh Rosemary
  • 4 Large Tortillas
  • 8 oz Brie
  • Olive Oil
  • Warm Honey
  • Salt & Pepper

This was a recipe I found on a blogger’s website when googling appetizers. I saw brie. I saw mushrooms. I was satisfied and knew this was something I wanted on my party table. This was super easy and you can easily make more or less, depending on your crowd. These were a huge hit with my friends. When slicing your brie it’s okay to keep the rind on. It won’t affect the taste and it’s a pain and hassle to cut it off.

sliced brie cheese

Slicing up the brie.

Sliced Mushrooms

Slicing up the mushrooms

Sauteed Mushrooms

Sauteing the mushrooms

Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas

After warming the tortillas lay out the insides.

Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas

Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas just need honey drizzled on top!

After they’re finished cooking in the oven, slice drizzle with warm honey. The drizzled honey on top really made this dish extra special. Make sure you have extra napkins though, as they are a tad messy!

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheel Ingredients L-R: Parmesan Cheese, Fresh Spinach, Puff Pastry Sheets, Pesto Sauce

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheel Ingredients L-R: Parmesan Cheese, Fresh Spinach, Puff Pastry Sheets, Pesto Sauce

SPINACH PESTO PINWHEELS (makes about 2 dozen)

  • 2 Puff Pastry Sheets
  • About 1 Cup Pesto
  • About 1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese
  • About 2 Cups Fresh Spinach
  • Salt & Pepper

There was no specific recipe for this, but there was another pinwheel recipe and because we had already decided to make the mushroom quesadillas we thought about other pinwheel options and came up with this idea. Pinwheel appetizers can be customized to anything that you want it to be, just pick your favorite flavors and have at it!

Rolling out the puff pastry and layering with all the ingredients.

Rolling out the puff pastry and layering with all the ingredients.

Roll out your pastry sheets on a flat surface. Spread your pesto on each sheet, leaving about an inch from the edges. Lay out your fresh spinach leaves covering the pesto. Sprinkle with your mozzarella cheese and then season with salt and pepper.

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheels

Rolling the pastry sheets very carefully

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheels

The rolled pinwheel ready for the fridge

Very carefully roll the sheets on the long edge. Be sure to tuck in the edge and wrap tightly. Pat down the edge to seal the roll. Lay your rolls on a jelly roll pan and stick in the fridge for about 20 minutes to harden. Remove from the fridge and preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Using a sharp knife slice the roll into about 1/2″ to 1″ pieces. Lay out the pinwheels on their sides on baking sheets. Bake about 12 minutes and serve warm.

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheels

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheels ready for the oven!

MARMALADE AND SMOKED SALMON BRUSCHETTA (about 3 dozen)

  • 1 or 2 Baguettes
  • Smoked Salmon
  • 1/2 Cup Whipped Cream Cheese (approx)
  • 1/2 Cup Goat Cheese (approx)
  • About 1 Cup Marmalade
  • About 1/4 Cup Honey

Heat your broiler to low. Slice your baguette into about 1/2″ slices and lay out on a jelly roll sheet. Stick in your broiler for about 3 minutes, just enough to lightly toast them. If you don’t have a broiler  heat your oven to about 200 degrees and toast in the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Smoked Salmon

My dad’s smoked salmon that was used for the bruschetta and laid out on the table.

In a small pot over low heat, heat your marmalade and honey and mix together. Don’t let it burn, just heat it enough to mix together and then remove from heat. Mix your cream cheese and goat cheese together. Spread some of your cheese mixture on each toasted piece of bread, top with some of your marmalade mix and then place a piece of smoked salmon on top of that. (We made some with salmon and some without for my vegetarian friends.) Serve and enjoy!

Marmalade Bruschetta

Marmalade bruschetta. You can’t eat just one!

Oscar Party: Shrimp Plus Quinoa and Rice Salad

12 Jun Black forbidden rice and quinoa

In addition to the buffalo wings we also made a shrimp dish and a quinoa and black rice salad for the vegetarians. I love shrimp so in my searchings I found a yummy sounding shrimp recipe and then I stumbled upon a recipe with quinoa and black forbidden rice, which I happened to have just enough of in my cupboards from previous recipes. (Remember the Giada dish that used black rice?)

Spicy Garlic Shrimp Ingredients L-R: Shrimp, Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes, Brandy, Parsley, Olive Oil

Spicy Garlic Shrimp Ingredients L-R: Shrimp, Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes, Brandy, Parsley, Olive Oil

SPICY GARLIC SHRIMP (serves about 8)

  • 2 lbs Large Shrimp (Shelled and Deveined)
  • 10 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Dried Red Chilis (or 2 Tsps red chili flakes)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Tsp Brandy
  • 2 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Parsley

This recipe I found on Epicurious.com and turned out absolutely delicious! Rather than buy dried red chilis though we used red chili flakes that I already had in my cupboard. Most shrimp recipes are super easy and this one is too! If you’re not into spicy, feel free to add less (or no) chili flakes, or if you love spice, add more!

Slice your garlic into thin slivers then sautee in olive oil with the red pepper flakes.

Slice your garlic into thin slivers then saute in olive oil with the red pepper flakes.

Heat oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Sauté garlic until browned, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and chiles and sauté until shrimp are cooked through, about 4 minutes. They should turn a nice pink color.

Add in your shrimp and stir occasionally until they turn pink.

Add in your shrimp and stir occasionally until they turn pink.

Add your brandy and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat and either serve in a platter or in a bowl. Sprinkle with the fresh parsley and enjoy! Great to make for a dinner one night too!

Spicy Garlic Shrimp

Spicy Garlic Shrimp ready to serve!

Now on to the vegetarian dish (or even a yummy healthy side dish!).

Quinoa and Black Rice Salad Ingredients L-R: Cumin Seed, Cilantro, Black Rice, Garlic, Avocado, Lemon, Yellow Onion, Quinoa, Parsley, Bay Leaves

Quinoa and Black Rice Salad Ingredients L-R: Cumin Seed, Cilantro, Black Rice, Garlic, Avocado, Lemon, Yellow Onion, Quinoa, Parsley, Bay Leaves

CUMIN SCENTED QUINOA AND BLACK RICE SALAD (serves about 8)

  • 1/2 Cup Black Rice
  • 1 Cup Red Quinoa (we used regular)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Small Onion
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Flat-leaf Parsley
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

This was another recipe I found on Epicurious.com, however that recipe called for avocado and lemon wedges for garnishing on top. And while we did buy the avocado and had a lemon, in the hustle and bustle of the party they were sadly forgotten. C’est la vie. It was still delicious!

Black forbidden rice and quinoa

Black forbidden rice and quinoa

You want to start your rice and quinoa cooking and then you can move on to some mise en place. Finely chop your onion, mince your garlic and chop your cilantro and parsley.

Chopped Parsley & Cilantro

Chopped Parsley & Cilantro

Diced onions and minced garlic sauteed with cumin seed.

Diced onions and minced garlic sautéed with cumin seed.

Click here for the full recipe. Epicurious has great recipes and everything is very clear in this one. Hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Finished black rice and quinoa gets mixed together.

Finished black rice and quinoa gets mixed together.

Black Rice and Quinoa Salad ready for serving

Black Rice and Quinoa Salad ready for serving

Oscar Party 2014: Buffalo Wings

3 Jun Alton Brown's Buffalo Wings with Bleu Cheese Dipping Sauce

For my birthday this year I decided to have another Oscar party. Two years ago my birthday landed on the Oscars so I threw a party and my dad came down and cooked and helped me make a great spread for my friends. It was a great day and one of my favorite birthdays to date. Last year I threw a mini-party as I ended up having rehearsal in the morning so only a few people made it over to the apartment and it was a much smaller spread (but remember the beignets? and Jennifer Lawrence tripping?). This year I made the decision early in the year to throw a big party again. I made a Pinterest board with recipes that intrigued me. My dad even came down to LA again to help cook. So much was made that I’m splitting this into multiple parts, so keep your eyes peeled for more posts soon!

Shopping for the Oscar Party!

Shopping for the Oscar Party!

This post will be about buffalo wings, and it’s my dad’s favorite way of making them. At the first party I threw in 2012 my dad made these buffalo wings and everyone really liked them so that was an easy add to the list this year. The buffalo wings are by the infamous Alton Brown. In addition, we made our own blue cheese dipping sauce for it.

ALTON BROWN’S BUFFALO WINGS (serves about 10)

  • 3 Pounds Whole Chicken Wings
  • 6 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Small Garlic Clove
  • 1/4 Cup Hot Sauce
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

Alton has you use whole chicken wings and breaks them apart by hand. At my first party in 2012 I had my dad explain it to me. Watch the video here. The tips can be used to make chicken stock, which is the biggest advantage to using whole chicken wings. To remove the tips, use kitchen shears or a knife to separate the wings at the joint.

A close-up of the separation of the tip from the wing.

A close-up of the separation of the tip from the wing.

Once you’ve separated all of your tips from your wings fill a large saucepan with about an inch of water and place a steamer basket on the bottom. (You can buy one for less than $10 at your local grocery store or home goods or cooking supply store.) Turn the heat to high and lay your chicken wings (aka drumettes) in the steamer. Pack them as tightly as possible. Steam for about 10 minutes.

Drumettes in the steamer basket

Pack as many drumettes into the steamer basket as possible.

While waiting for the first batch to steam (you’ll probably steam 2 or 3 batches), pull out a rimmed cookie sheet and cover with paper towels and place a cooling rack on top. Find the rest of the recipe here. It’s a pretty straight forward recipe and pretty easy once you get the hang of separating the tips from the wings.

Counterclockwise: Drumettes fresh from the fridge; chicken wings after 20 minutes of cooking and turning; cooking in the oven; drumettes fresh from the oven

Counterclockwise: Drumettes fresh from the fridge; chicken wings after 20 minutes of cooking and turning; cooking in the oven; drumettes fresh from the oven

Tossing the wings with hot sauce and melted butter

Tossing the wings with hot sauce and melted butter

Alton Brown's Buffalo Wings with Bleu Cheese Dipping Sauce

Alton Brown’s Buffalo Wings with Bleu Cheese Dipping Sauce

While your wings are cooking you can make your dipping sauce. We made bleu cheese dressing. Very simple. 16 oz of sour cream (1 cup), 8 oz of bleu cheese, 1/4 cup chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and dip away!

Bleu Cheese Dressing Ingredients L-R: Bleu Cheese, Parsley, Sour Cream

Bleu Cheese Dressing Ingredients L-R: Bleu Cheese, Parsley, Sour Cream

Chop your parsley and mix well with your sour cream and bleu cheese.

Chop your parsley and mix well with your sour cream and bleu cheese.

Broiled Tilapia with Honey Greek Yogurt Sauce

6 Mar Broiled Tilapia with Greek Honey Dressing and Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

My quest to cook through the cookbook “Weeknights With Giada” continues with a fish recipe! Last time I made tilapia it was pan-fried and very delicious. It was one of the first recipes I shared on this blog and is one of my posts that gets a lot of traffic. Tilapia is a cheap fish and kind of like tofu in that it takes on whatever flavors you add to it, in this case, the honey greek yogurt dressing. For a side dish I found a brussel sprouts with bacon recipe from my Three & Four Ingredient Cookbook. Can’t go wrong with bacon! This was an easy dinner and pretty quick to whip up. Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Broiled Tilapia with Greek Honey Dressing Ingredients L-R: Lemon Juice, Agave Nectar, Greek Yogurt, Tilapia Fillet, Salt and Pepper, Chives, Dijon Mustard, Olive Oil

Broiled Tilapia with Greek Honey Dressing Ingredients L-R: Lemon Juice, Agave Nectar, Greek Yogurt, Tilapia Fillet, Salt and Pepper, Chives, Dijon Mustard, Olive Oil

BROILED TILAPIA with HONEY GREEK YOGURT SAUCE (serves 2)

  • Vegetable Oil Cooking Spray
  • 2 Tilapia Fillets (about 5 oz)
  • Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt & Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Full Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Tsp Agave Nectar or Honey
  • 1/2 Tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice (half a medium lemon)
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh Chives

Preheat your broiler on Low. Pull out a small baking sheet or glass baking dish that will fit both fillets and spray with your cooking oil spray. Take your fillets and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Lay them on the prepared baking dish/sheet and broil for about 8 minutes. The flesh should flake easily when prodded with a fork. Set aside to cool.

Tilapia Fillet

Tilapia fillet seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper and ready for the oven.

Broiled Tilapia

Broiled tilapia fresh from the oven

While your fish is baking make your dressing. In a small bowl combine the yogurt, honey and mustard until smooth. Chop up your chives and add into the mixture along with the lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Greek Yogurt, Agave Nectar and Dijon Mustard

Greek Yogurt, Agave Nectar and Dijon Mustard

Fresh chives chopped for the dressing.

Fresh chives chopped for the dressing.

Greek Yogurt and Honey Dressing with Chives

Greek Yogurt and Honey Dressing with Chives

While your fish is cooking you want to make your brussel sprouts.

Stir Fried Brussel Sprouts With Bacon Ingredients L-R: Turkey Bacon, Salt and Pepper, Brussel Sprouts, Poppy Seeds

Stir Fried Brussel Sprouts With Bacon Ingredients L-R: Turkey Bacon, Salt and Pepper, Brussel Sprouts, Poppy Seeds

STIR FRIED BRUSSELS SPROUTS with BACON (about 2 servings)

  • 8 oz Brussel Sprouts
  • 1 Bacon Strip
  • 1 Tsp Caraway or Sesame Seed
  • 1 Tbsp Sunflower or other light oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Slice up your brussel sprouts into fine pieces and set aside. Chop up your bacon slice into small pieces. Heat your oil in a medium fry pan over medium high heat.

Chopped brussel sprouts

Chopped brussel sprouts

Chopped turkey bacon

Chopped turkey bacon

Add your bacon and cook for a minute or two. *Side note: I used turkey bacon from Jennie-O since that’s what I had in my fridge, and it was great!* Add in the shredded brussel sprouts and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle caraway or sesame seeds. Cook for another 30 seconds to a minute, until brussel sprouts are soft. Remove from heat and split between your plates.

turkey bacon

Frying up the bacon.

After adding in the brussel sprouts, season with salt and pepper, then add in the poppy seeds.

After adding in the brussel sprouts, season with salt and pepper, then add in the poppy seeds.

Once the fish is ready, transfer to your plates and drizzle with the yogurt sauce, about a tablespoon for each fillet. Enjoy with a nice glass of white wine or some sparkling water, something fresh tasting.

Broiled Tilapia with Greek Honey Dressing and Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Broiled Tilapia with Greek Honey Dressing and Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Quinoa and Purple Potatoes-Who Knew?

13 Feb

Quinoa: the food that we’re told to eat, but not how to pronounce. While a lot of people think it’s a starch, it’s actually a grain, a seed to be exact, which is why it’s popular among the gluten-free crowd. It’s a curious food, quinoa (and that’s pronounced: keen-nwah), and one that I had never cooked before. The first time I had it was a few years ago at one of my favorite restaurants in Hollywood, Off Vine. It was a stuffed bell pepper and I thought it was so good I vowed to make it.

Well I didn’t. And now almost 3 years later I finally made a quinoa dish. And I have (no surprise) Giada and her “Weeknights With Giada” to thank. However I made 2 small changes. Giada’s recipe calls for frozen peas and black olives. I’m not a fan of either so instead I used frozen edamame (shelled) and sun-dried tomatoes. In addition I steamed my edamame before adding to the cooked quinoa. I still have the rest of the bag of quinoa in my cupboard, so maybe I’ll finally make my own version of Off Vine’s stuffed bell pepper! Stay tuned…but meanwhile, enjoy this quinoa “salad” with purple potatoes from Giada, the kitchen goddess.

Quinoa with Purple Potatoes and Edamame Ingredients L-R: Quinoa, Purple Potatoes, Shelled Edamame, Lime, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Chicken Broth, Olive Oil

Quinoa with Purple Potatoes and Edamame Ingredients L-R: Quinoa, Purple Potatoes, Shelled Edamame, Lime, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Chicken Broth, Olive Oil

QUINOA WITH PEAS AND POTATOES (serves about 3 to 4)

  • 6 ounces Purple Peruvian Potatoes
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 2 Garlic Cloves (or 1 if you don’t want too much garlic)
  • 1 Cup (4 ounces) edamame (shelled)
  • 1/4 Cup Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Agave Nectar
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp Fresh Lime Juice (1 large lime)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

If using frozen edamame (or peas if you prefer), be sure to remove them from the freezer first to allow them time to thaw. Measure out what you need in your scale and let them sit on your counter to thaw out.

Shelled Edamame

Shelled Edamame

Next cut your potatoes into about 1/2″ size (bite size) pieces. Fill a large pot about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way with cold, salted water and add your potato pieces. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. And don’t freak out when the water turns green, that’s normal. I googled it and it’s a science thing having to do with levels of acidity in the potatoes. (Pretty cool though!) They should be fork tender, about 15 minutes. Once done, drain and set aside to cool.

Purple potatoes are so pretty!

Purple potatoes are so pretty!

Boiling Purple Potatoes

Boiling the purple potatoes. See the green water? Science!

Purple potatoes cooling down before adding to the quinoa.

Purple potatoes cooling down before adding to the quinoa.

While your potatoes are boiling start your quinoa. Peel and smash your garlic (don’t chop) and measure our your chicken broth and quinoa. Combine all three into a large saucepan (that has a cover) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to low, cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes to finish cooking. Then remove the garlic and discard and using a fork fluff your quinoa. Add in your cooked potatoes and steamed peas and toss well.

With the side of your knife, smash your garlic just enough to let the flavor out.

With the side of your knife, smash your garlic just enough to let the flavor out.

quinoa

Quinoa measured out and ready to cook!

While your quinoa is simmering steam your peas and then set aside. Chop up your sun-dried tomatoes (I used dry versus ones soaked in oil) into small pieces and set aside. (This was instead of the black olives.) In a liquid measuring cup, combine your olive oil and agave nectar to make 1/4 cup total. Pull out a blender or a mini food processor and combine the sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil and agave mixture, lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Chop until chunky.

Olive Oil and Agave Nectar

Olive Oil and Agave Nectar

Chopped up sun dried tomatoes.

Chopped up sun-dried tomatoes.

Sun Dried Tomato and Agave Dressing

Sun Dried Tomato and Agave Dressing

Pour enough to coat over your quinoa mixture, serve and enjoy! I had mine as a full dinner, but this would make a great side dish as well.

Quinoa with Purple Potatoes and Edamame

Quinoa with Purple Potatoes and Edamame

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