Category Archives: Side Dishes

Sweet Potato Hash

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This morning I was looking around my kitchen, trying to figure out what I could make to put on my blog. The sun was out, and I hadn’t posted a recipe in a few weeks. Back when I was posting recipes on here every few days, I would always have something planned. Lately when I post a recipe, I don’t really have a plan and I kind of just throw something together. I miss having lots of time to plan recipes, go grocery shopping and then cook and photograph the food. But I certainly do not miss not having a job, so I will squeeze in food blogging whenever I can.

Anyway, I stumbled upon some sweet potatoes that needed to be eaten, and also happened to have some fresh bell peppers. I’ve made regular potato hash, but not sweet potato hash before and my stomach was rumbling for some breakfast. Growing up, on the weekends my parents would sometimes frizzle up corned beef hash that comes from a can and I won’t lie – I still love the stuff. It’s chewy, crispy, and full of flavor. In light of attempting to eat better, I healthified (new word) my hash by omitting meat, subbing regular potatoes for sweet potatoes, and adding some fresh veggies.

This Sweet Potato Hash makes a delicious addition to a weekend breakfast, and I think it would also heat up well for leftovers. It’s sweet, spicy, and filling. I found it to go great with a fried egg and a light sprinkle of cheddar cheese. I do think this hash would be really good with bits of bacon, but it’s also delicious without! I cooked my sweet potatoes in a separate pan from my veggies because I wanted to make sure everything cooked evenly, but they could also be par-boiled. I just recommend being careful of overcooking your sweet potatoes, because then they will fall apart.

Sweet Potato Hash
makes 3 – 4 servings

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, divided in half
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter (optional)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 2/3 cup diced bell peppers (I used red and yellow)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • seasoning to taste: paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, and a garlic/salt/pepper blend
  • green onions to garnish

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Your ingredients

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Your spices

Directions:

  1. In a medium frying pan, heat 1/2 Tbsp olive oil or butter over medium heat and add diced potatoes. Cover with about 1/4 cup water and let cook for 8 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until water has absorbed and potatoes are softened but not yet mushy.
  2. In a separate frying pan, heat another 1/2 olive oil and add diced onion. Cook for about 10 minutes, and then add bell peppers. Continue to saute for another 10 – 15 minutes, until veggies are softened and beginning to brown. At this point I added a bit of butter to really ramp up the flavor, but that’s optional.
  3. Add cooked sweet potatoes to veggies, along with your spices. Cook for another 3 – 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and make sure the spices are to your liking. Garnish with green onions and serve with eggs or a meat of your choice, and enjoy!

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Cook up your sweet potatoes until softened

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Saute your onions and peppers until soft and beginning to brown. Add garlic at the end.

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Mix your sweet potatoes in, along with spices. Cook for an additional few minutes. Garnish with green onions and serve! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

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This is a recipe I stumbled upon on Pinterest, only to find out it comes from Ina Garten. Barefoot Contessa is one of my favorite shows on the food network. I love Ina ‘s calm demeanor and her versions of classic dishes. This particular recipe has awesome ratings on Foodnetwork.com and seemed like a perfect dish for the beginning of the summer.

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables includes roasted bell peppers, onion, and eggplant, served over orzo and finished off with feta cheese, fresh herbs, and a light lemony dressing. After reading through the comments on this recipe’s Foodnetwork page, I tweaked some of the ingredients a bit and left out the pine nuts but overall tried to keep all the wonderful flavors intact. You can view the original recipe here,and you can even watch a video of how it’s done.

My mom makes an orzo pasta salad with tomatoes, black beans, corn and feta which we always enjoy at home. This recipe reminds me a bit of my mom’s orzo, but perhaps with a Mediterranean twist. I like dishes like this because they can be served hot or cold, for lunch or for dinner. You can also play around with the ingredients and incorporate your favorite vegetables or herbs. This recipe makes a large batch, so if you’re cooking for a smaller crowd you may want to cut it in half like I did.

I’m not a big fan of traditional pasta salad, but I loved this dish. The tangy dressing and salty feta perfectly balance the sweet roasted vegetables, and the combination of the basil and scallions is just right – not to mention how wonderfully colorful it is. This recipe will definitely be making an appearance at any cookouts I attend this summer.

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
slightly adapted from Ina Garten’s Orzo with Roasted Vegetables seen on Barefoot Contessa

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Ingredients:
serves 6 (but can be easily cut in half)

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small eggplant, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 pound orzo
  • 4 scallions, chopped + 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 8 oz. feta, crumbled
  • For the dressing:
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons – I used slightly less, closer to 2-3 Tbsp)
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • salt and pepper, to taste

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ยบF. Prepare the chopped vegetables and garlic by tossing them with enough olive oil to coat (about 3 Tbsp) and arrange them on a large baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until veggies are tender and lightly browned.
  2. While the veggies are roasting, cook your orzo according to box directions. After draining, transfer to a large bowl and toss with the roasted vegetables.
  3. To make the dressing, simply whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Pour over the orzo and vegetables and stir to combine. Let cool to room temperature and then add the scallions, basil, and feta.* Serve as a side dish or for lunch or dinner.

*Ina says it’s important to pour the dressing over the orzo while it’s hot because it will absorb more of it, and I also read in the comments that letting the dish cool to room temperature makes for the best flavor.

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Toss your chopped veggies and garlic with olive oil and bake at 425 for 30-40 minutes. While your veggies are roasting, begin cooking your orzo.

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Once your veggies are tender and browned, they’re done. I cooked mine for about 35 minutes.

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Prepare the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, 1/4 cup of olive oil and salt and pepper.

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Combine your cooked orzo and veggies, and stir in lemon dressing. Let sit and cool to room temperature.

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When your orzo has cooled, add crumbled feta, chopped basil and chopped scallions. Stir to combine.

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Serve your orzo as a side dish, or as a meal. Yum!

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Also, just wanted to mention that the other day my blog reached 100,000 views. Thank you so much to all my readers out there! It makes me so happy to be able to share my favorite recipes with all of you ๐Ÿ™‚

Roasted Tomato & Eggplant Soup

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This recipe was kind of a spur-of-the-moment decision, but I’m pretty pleased with how it came out. Last night my roommate Emily came home with Creamy Tomato soup from Panera Bread and all of a sudden I found myself craving tomato soup. I’ve been attempting to post twice a week nowadays, usually on Tuesdays and Fridays, but I hadn’t thought of what to make for today (Tuesday) yet. That’s where tomato soup comes in!

This soup was influenced by a few different recipes. Last year I tried Au Bon Pain’s Eggplant Soup and found it surprisingly delicious. I’ve always loved tomato soup, but found the addition of eggplant enticing. One of the best tomato soups I’ve had in a while was at a local restaurant a town over from me. Back in September, when I had my wisdom teeth out, I couldn’t eat much other than soup and mashed potatoes. I was tired of eating soup, but found this restaurant’s tomato soup especially delicious. It was chunkier than usual and tasted like it had cheddar cheese cooked into it.

Soup also appealed to me today because I have the most horrible canker sore on the side of my tongue right now. Yesterday it was pretty painful, so I figured today it’d be starting to heal. Instead I woke up and it had just about doubled in size and was so painful I could barely eat anything. Even just swallowing or talking hurts. Not fun. After taking some medicine, my tongue feels a bit better but solid or tough food is still kind of out of the question for now.

If you are a tomato lover, you will love this soup. Roasting tomatoes brings out an incredible sweetness that you can’t really get with raw tomatoes. The roasted eggplant adds a nice, mellow flavor and the soup is finished off with some fire-roasted bell peppers. I chose to add some light cream and cheese to my soup, but you can eliminate these things if you’re looking for a soup that’s dairy-free (as well as vegan). This soup is comforting and will help keep you warm for these last few weeks of winter. It could even double as a pasta or pizza sauce!

Roasted Tomato & Eggplant Soup
makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • Two large tomatoes, cored, seeds removed, and cut into quarters
  • 1 eggplant, stem removed and sliced in half length-wise
  • 1/2 of 1 sweet onion, cut into large chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 28-oz can peeled or diced tomatoes
  • 1 small (6 or 12 oz.) jar roasted red peppers
  • handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • optional: 1/2 cup light cream or half and half
  • optional: 1/4 cup cheddar cheese

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Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400ยบF. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange your tomatoes, eggplant, and onion chunks on top. To prevent garlic cloves from burning, insert into cored tomatoes (see photo below for reference). Drizzle veggies with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Roast your veggies for 30-40 minutes, or until the tomatoes have begun to collapse and eggplant is starting to shrivel. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  3. In a large sauce pan, combine your peeled/diced tomatoes, roasted red peppers, basil, chicken/vegetable broth, and red pepper flakes. Once your roasted veggies have cooled slightly, add them to the sauce pan as well.
  4. Use an immersion blender to blend the veggies to your desired consistency. (Or, alternatively, transfer the veggies to a blender and then return to sauce pan.)
  5. Heat the soup to low and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until hot. Stir in cream and cheese, if using. Serve with an extra sprinkle of cheese or your favorite type of bread and enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

After cutting up your veggies, place them on a lightly greased baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil on top and season with salt and pepper. Nestle your garlic cloves inside the tomatoes, as shown in the photo. Roast for 30-40 minutes.

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Once your veggies are finished roasting, let them cool for 5-10 minutes.

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Gently remove the skin from your eggplant. Grab a small chunk at the end of it and it should peel off rather easily.

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Place your roasted veggies into a large sauce pan, along with the canned tomatoes, roasted red peppers, chicken/veggie broth, chopped basil, and red pepper flakes.

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Using an immersion or regular blender, blend the soup to your desired consistency. (If you cook a lot and are considering getting an immersion blender, buy one. seriously. best thing ever.)

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Heat sauce over low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until hot. Stir in cream and cheese, if using.

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Serve with an extra sprinkle of cheese and some basil. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Twice-Baked Sweet Potato Casserole

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This post was originally meant to be a Superbowl recipe, but I had an extra busy weekend and wasn’t able to get on the ball in time (no pun intended… kind of. ha.) There were a couple nights over the past week when I would have had time to cook this dish and take photos, but I really need daylight to take the type of photos I prefer. This winter has been a bit of a struggle for me in that regard – during the shortest days of the year here in Massachusetts, it starts getting dark around 3:30 or 4 and all of the good daylight is gone for photo-taking. Luckily, the days are getting longer and giving me more of an opportunity to cook dinner at a reasonable hour, instead of noon like I have been. I love winter, but not the short days that come with it.

Recently I’ve been posting more indulgent recipes than usual and I’d like to get back to the focus of this blog (healthy eating), so I’ve decided to share a lightened up version of a classic.

Twice-baked potatoes have always been one of my favorites. Growing up, my dad (the foodie) would make them all fancy with Gruyรจre cheese and good quality bacon. When I was in college, I tried a friend’s twice-baked potato casserole and fell in love. It’s pretty much what it sounds like – the filling of the potatoes, sans the skin. It was then that I learned when you combine sour cream, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese, something magical happens. An irrestible flavor is created, similar to the base of buffalo chicken dip – tangy, salty, and cheesy.

But, I digress. In order to lighten up this dish, I made a few changes. First, I swapped out regular potatoes for sweet potatoes. I used a combination of Greek yogurt and reduced-fat sour cream, as well as reduced-fat cream cheese. Turkey bacon is substituted for regular pork bacon, and I cut the amount of cheddar cheese in half. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this casserole is guilt-free, but it will certainly save you a good amount of calories and fat. This dish is still full with flavor, and makes the perfect side dish or could even be eaten as a dip with veggies.

Technically I shouldn’t call this dish “twice baked”, because I actually boiled the potatoes beforehand. But if you prefer to bake your potatoes, go right ahead.

Twice-Baked Sweet Potato Casserole
makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 lbs. (or about 4-5 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp butter (optional)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 5 slices turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions or chives
  • 1 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

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Directions:

  1. After peeling the potatoes, cut them into large chunks and place in a large pot with just enough boiling water to cover them. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
  2. Preheat oven to 375ยบF. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Using a potato masher (or fork), mash the potatoes to desired consistency. Stir in butter, if using.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients to the mashed potatoes, reserving about 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese, and a small handful of scallions and turkey bacon crumbles. Stir until well-combined.
  4. Transfer potato mixture to a greased 8 x 8 ” casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese on top and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is melty and golden-brown. Serve with extra scallions and turkey bacon.
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Boil your potatoes.

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mash ’em

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don’t forget your bacon like I almost did!

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Add all remaining ingredients to potatoes, reserving a bit of cheese, scallions, and bacon. Stir together until combined.

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Transfer your sweet potato mixture to a greased 8 x 8″ casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.

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When the potatoes come out of the oven, top with leftover scallions and turkey bacon and enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Unfortunately, before I got a chance to take photos of the final product, I dropped my favorite camera lens and broke it ๐Ÿ˜ฆ As I was going to pick up my camera from the kitchen counter, the strap got hooked on a drawer knob and I did not react quickly enough to catch it as it smashed onto the ground. I’m glad it wasn’t my camera that broke and I do have another lens, but the one that broke was the one I use for all of the photos on this blog. This makes a sad, sad Hannah. I’m not sure when I’ll have the money for a new lens, so I apologize in advance if my photos over the next few weeks/months aren’t quite up to par with what they usually are.