Sesame Green Beans

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Two posts in one day? Must be recipe swap day! The latest theme was blogger’s choice, so I got to select anything I wanted from Joanna’s blog, Kosher Kitchen. I’ve never had to cook kosher, so it was really neat to spend time poking through her recipes to see the kinds of things she makes.

I settled on this simple side dish because side dishes are usually something of an after-thought for me so I’m trying to vary things up a bit. This was a great, delicious alternative to what I usually do with beans – and nearly as easy as just making some frozen ones.

As a side note, I someone managed to not get a single sesame seed in this picture. I’m not sure how that’s possible, since they were in the pan and then on our plates. Food blogger fail!

Sesame Green Beans
(from Kosher Kitchen)
Serves 4 as a side

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1 lb. fresh green beans, ends trimmed
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp. salt
Pepper, to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the sesame seeds. When the sesame seeds begin to darken, stir in the green beans. Cook, stirring, until they turn bright green.

Add in the chicken broth, salt and pepper and cover. Cook for 10 minutes and then uncover and cook until liquid evaporates.

Want to see what the other bloggers participating made? Check out the roundup below. And thanks to Sarah, as always, for hosting!

Berry Kiwi Salad with Sweet Balsamic Dressing

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The latest recipe swap theme was Summer Salads – I’m not sure there’s anything better than a great salad this time of year so I’m super excited to see what everyone made!

This simple salad came from Jaida at Sweet Beginnings.  It was delicious. I made it for my summer book club meeting and everyone raved about it! The dressing was almost dessert-like, but paired with the bitterness of the spring greens it worked really well. And I’m not sure who wouldn’t like a salad with all that gorgeous summer fruit!

 Berry Kiwi Salad with Sweet Balsamic Dressing
(from Sweet Beginnings)
Serves 4-6 as a side

4 c. Spring salad mix
1 c. strawberries, hulled and halved
1 c. blackberries
2 kiwis, peeled and cut into wedges
1/2 c. white balsamic vinegar
2 T. sugar
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream

To make the dressing: Whisk together the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium for 6-8 minutes, until mixture is reduced by half. Slowly whisk in the cream. Cook without stirring for 2 minutes. Removed from the heat and cool. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To assemble the salad, toss the berries and kiwi with enough dressing to lightly coat. Top the spring mix with coated berries.

You can check out what the rest of the swap participants made below. And as always, thank you to Sarah for organizing!

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

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Have I mentioned it’s been a bad summer for grilling yet? Because it struck again yesterday. We had plans to have a BBQ on the deck – and then it drizzled all day! What a kill joy.

I had bookmarked this recipe at the beginning of the summer and thought I was finally getting my perfect opportunity to make it! This is a really fun side – a mash-up of potato salad and a loaded baked potato. It’s the perfect cookout dish. (Even if you’re eating inside!) I’m sure this will be making repeat appearances on our summer table.


Loaded Baked Potato Salad
(slightly adapted from Will Cook for Smiles)
Serves 8-10 as a side

2 1/2 lbs. potatoes
1 lb. bacon, cooked crispy
1/2 c. chopped Green Onion
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 c. mayo
1/2 c. sour cream
1 T. minced fresh dill weed

Cut the potatoes into 1/2″ cubes. Add them to a pot and cover with cold water. Cook until just barely fork tender. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool.

Combine the potatoes, bacon crumbles, green onions and cheddar cheese in a bowl. Add in the mayo, sour cream, salt, pepper, and dill and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Garnish with additional green onions or bacon crumbles if desired.

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

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I feel like I’ve been seeing versions of these on Pinterest forever. They peaked my interest, but I never had a good excuse to try them out. They finally landed on the menu when I decided that I needed to make pigs and blankets for dinner. This was their accompaniment – a way to throw in some veggies and still make it feel like a junk food night.

I was actually surprised how much I liked these. You’re not going to fool anyone into thinking these are actually chicken wings, but they’re good in their own right. The cauliflower becomes almost creamy within the baked coating. And because it’s made with whole wheat flour and baked, it’s much better for mindless snacking. I’m sure these will be a repeat during football Sundays!

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”
(slightly adapted from Self)
Makes enough for 4-6 as a side

1 head of cauliflower
1 c. milk
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 T. garlic powder
1/2 c. buffalo wing sauce
1/2 c. ranch or blue cheese dressing

Preheat the oven to 450F degrees.

Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, flour and garlic. Dredge each piece of cauliflower in the flour mixture, allowing extra to drip off, and place on a lined baking sheet.

Spray the tops of the “wings” with cooking oil and bake for 15 minutes. Transfer the cooked pieces to a large bowl. Drizzle the buffalo wing sauce over and toss to coat. Return the coated pieces to the baking sheet for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping.

BLT Corn Salad Wrap

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Grilling is such a perfect theme for a summer recipe swap! I love using the grill during the summer – it just seems to make everything faster and easier.

I always think meat when I think grilling, but I was lucky enough to get a veggie-heavy recipe to shake things up. This easy salad is great warm or cold – which makes it the perfect dish for summer. Wrapped in lettuce leaves, it’s a great lunch or light dinner – but even on it’s own it’s a great side salad.

Thanks for submitting the recipe, Christine! We really enjoyed it.

BLT Corn Salad Wrap
(from Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles)
Makes about 5 cups of corn salad

3 ears of corn, shucked of their husks and silk
1 c. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 c. chopped green onions
4 slices cooked bacon, diced
Juice of 1 lime
1 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper,  to taste
A good sprinkling of chili powder and smoky paprika
Butter lettuce or iceberg lettuce leaves

Grill the corn and when it has cooled enough to handle, cut off the cob.

Toss the corn in a bowl with the tomatoes, green onions, bacon, lime juice and olive oil. Season to taste with salt, pepper, chili powder and paprika.

Serve with lettuce leaves as wraps.


You can check out the rest of the Grilling Swap recipes below. Thanks, Sarah, for hosting!


Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad

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I’ve made a few quinoa dishes before, and I’ve never loved them. They were ok, but nothing I’d make again. I started wondering if all the hype about quinoa was just that – hype – and it really wasn’t as good as everyone was making it out to be. And then I made this and took it all back.

This was delicious. I actually loved the veggies in the hot sauce dressing more than the chicken – I think next time I make it, it’ll be a vegetarian version to take for lunches. And even though this was buffalo, it didn’t seem that hot to me. Even if you’re not into very spicy, I think this is worth trying.

The recipe makes 2-3 large servings, but it reheats like a dream so doubling it is a fantastic idea.

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad
(slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest)
Serves 2-3

for the salad:
1 c. quinoa
2 c. water
1 T. olive oil
1 c. broccoli florets
3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 c. hot sauce
3/4 c. shredded carrots
1/2 c. blue cheese crumbles, plus more for garnish

for the dressing:
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. hot sauce
1 t. seasoned salt
For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together and set aside.
For the salad, rinse the quinoa well and add to a saucepan with two cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, until all water is absorbed.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the broccoli and cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Remove the broccoli and set aside. Add the chicken and 1/4 cup hot sauce to the pan. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the hot sauce is absorbed.
In a large bowl, toss together the cooked quinoa, cooked chicken, cooked broccoli, carrots and blue cheese.  Add as much dressing as desired (I used about half) and toss to coat. Top with additional blue cheese before serving.

Mason Jar Salads

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Lunch has been a bit of a problem for me lately. Work’s been busy and by the time I get around to lunch break, I just want to grab something – which has been a lot of fast food or something from the cafeteria at work. Occasionally, I can get myself to pick up something healthy (aka, salad bar), but all of it’s been a little rough on the wallet.

I decided I was going to kick the habit this week and get lunch under control.

The idea of jarred salads have been all over Pinterest – and they seemed a really good option. Prep them at the beginning of the week -dressing goes on the bottom, lettuce on top – and you have fresh, prepared salad all week. I made a Greek-inspired version for lunches this week.

There’s not really a recipe here, just a layering method. You start out with your dressing at the bottom (I used a Greek vinaigrette with feta) followed by your proteins (red beans and grilled chicken, for me). After that comes the “sturdy” vegetables (cucumber and red onion), then the more “delicate” toppings (tomatoes, olives and feta). The rest of the jar is filled up with lettuce.

It cost me just about $15 to get everything to make five days worth of lunch (not including the jars – I already had those). At $3/day, this is much less than I would spend buying lunch. It’s also a pretty balanced, healthy lunch – better than I would pick during a normal lunch rush.

Just dump the contents of the jar into a bowl and you’re good to go.

I was really impressed by how well the salads held up packaged like this. Today’s lettuce is still crisp and nothing is soggy. I wish I had tried this sooner – it’s just what I needed for lunch.

Sweet & Spicy Green Beans

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I’ve been on a sides kick lately (have you noticed?) so when I was assigned Nichole’s blog for the latest blogger’s choice swap, I immediatedly went to see what kind of sides she had blogged.

Green beans are a favorite around here, so I knew these would be a big hit. We also always have the ingredients on hand so I’m sure this is a side that will make it into our regular rotation.

Sweet & Spicy Green Beans
(adapted from Cookaholic Wife)
Serves 2 as a side

1/2 lb. fresh green beans, ends trimmed
1 T. olive oil
1 t. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 t. chile garlic sauce
1 tsp. honey
Pinch of sesame seeds, toasted

In a medium frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add green beans and cook until slightly browned and soft. Stir in soy sauce, chile garlic sauce and honey, tossing to coat.

Once the sauce has heated through, transfer beans to a serving bowl and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

You can check out what the other bloggers in the swap chose to make below. Thanks, Sarah, for hosting!

Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes with Applesauce

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I first tried this recipe out when I wanted a sweet potato casserole but didn’t have the oven room for another dish. Using the slow cooker is the perfect solution. If you’re looking for another side to add to your Easter dinner, but don’t want something that will take a lot of effort, this is the dish to add to your menu. It takes minimal prep and then you just dump everything in the slow cooker – it couldn’t be easier.

This sweet side goes really well with ham.


Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes with Applesauce
(slightly adapted from Betty Crocker)
Serves 6, as a side

2 lbs. sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
3 T. butter,  melted
1 t. ground cinnamon

Spray slow cooker with non-stick spray and spread sweet potatoes over the bottom.

In a small bowl, mix together the applesauce, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. Pour evenly over sweet potatoes.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours until potatoes are very tender.

Honey-Glazed Carrots

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I love carrots. Mark likes carrots – as long as they’re raw. I almost never make cooked carrots because it’s a lot easier just to put a bowl of raw ones on the table.

I ended up with a lot of leftover carrots from another dish and decided to try out this recipe since I’d had it bookmarked forever. They were awesome and I had to stop myself from eating too many out of the pan before they were done.

Mark wouldn’t touch them but I’m okay with that – more for me.

Honey-Glazed Carrots
(from Martha Stewart)
Serves 6

1 T. vegetable oil
2 pounds carrots, thickly coin sliced
1 c. water
1/2 c. honey
2 T. red-wine vinegar
2 T. unsalted butter
Coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes, until beginning to brown, turning once.

Add the water, honey and vinegar to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover, cooking for 10 minutes. Remove cover and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes, until the honey mixture is thick and syrupy.

Remove skillet from heat and add butter. Stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper and serve.