Cold weather cooking and some upcoming plans

It’s been weeks since I have posted here, so hello again. Welcome back to my little corner of the food blogging world. My cooking has been kind of sad lately, what with the seasonal changes. Certain times of year are more difficult than others, wouldn’t you agree? I am, however, looking forward to the holiday season and whipping up some traditional and not-so-traditional foods while the snow falls outside. (And that snow will probably start falling soon…we got some last weekend already, though it didn’t actually stick to the ground.)

While I love the freshness of summer cooking, and the whole cooking and eating outdoors aspect of the warmer months, I’m just as excited about the cold weather cooking. Soups, breads, oven roasted vegetables, and casseroles, oh my! Maybe not casseroles so much…but my cast iron skillet will be getting tons of use over the next six months.

One of my plans for this winter is to attempt to cook some classic recipes, be they American or otherwise. I have this real problem where I cannot strictly stick to a recipe as written, so this will actually be a true challenge for me! If you have any suggestions on something I ought to try, do please pass it on.

Another big food area in my life is cheese. Hello, I’m in Wisconsin and married to a milk hauler who also worked in a cheese factory when he was in high school…not to mention we currently live next door to a cheese factory. There are a lot of them. And they make a lot of different cheeses. So, I’ve decided to do a feature on the occasional Friday where I showcase a cheese along with food pairings and/or a recipe.

So, here’s a loose idea of what you’ll see coming up on the blog over the next few months (at least):

Fromage Fridays: This will be my series of cheese-centric posts. How very…cheesy. I think I’m so funny.

Classic Cooking: These will be some of my regular Wednesday posts, probably once a month or so, where I cook something that has been deemed “classic” for whatever reason.

Ingredient Showcase: I really enjoy trying weird ingredients from around the world, so there will almost definitely be some posts centered around stuff like this. (For example, I recently got some dried squid from Japan and I’m slightly stumped on how I want to use it, but I’ll figure it out!)

My regular weekly blog posts will still show up, and not always with a theme. For now, though, I apologize for my absence and I’ll be back next week!

The word of the day is Shrimp

Titling blog posts is an obnoxious endeavour. I don’t want to just name the recipe, ya know? And I mean the shrimp was actually eaten yesterday, so it’s not really the word of the day today. Anyway.

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday, so I wanted to try to be a little fancy in what I cooked for dinner. Usually we just do tacos of some sort, because I’m obsessed with tacos and Taco Tuesday is a pretty serious thing here. But he doesn’t love them nearly as much as I do (which is a bad life decision, but I digress), so I chose to make something involving sausages and shrimp. I roasted Johnsonville Firecracker sausages and red potatoes in the oven, which turned out pretty amazing, and made a shrimp salad on the side. Double protein, baby. Honestly, the salad would have been enough to fill me up, but I really like the spicy sausage, and it turned out to be a good meal! Also, we totally watched Muppet Treasure Island while I was making dinner, because that’s one of his favorite movies. Did you know Hans Zimmer composed the score? I’ve watched it so many times and didn’t realize that till last night because we don’t usually just let the credits play. So that’s your random fact of the day.

Also I am so terrible at ratios and measuring for recipes.

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Shrimp Salad with Zoodles

Ingredients:

1 package precooked shrimp, thawed

1 large cucumber, sliced and halved

1 can diced tomatoes (you can use fresh, this is just what I had on hand!)

1-2 cups spiralized zucchini (I don’t even remember how many zucchini this was)

1/4 cup chopped green onions

Feta cheese for topping

Olive oil (or avocado oil) and fresh lemon juice whisked together for dressing

Salt and pepper to taste, if you wish

 

Basically, just toss all ingredients together in a bowl and serve. Chill for an hour or so if you wish; the flavors melded together so nicely over night in the fridge when I stole a bite while filling my water bottle. But it was also great served without extra chilling.

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I am also just now realizing that we are still using the Christmas/winter dishes…oops. Well whatever, they’re nicer than any others we have.

Homemade Citrus-based Dressing

Can I just say that I really love La Croix?  It’s super refreshing and I honestly can’t figure out why so many people hate it. Except for the mixed berry or whatever; that one just tastes odd.

Also I haven’t quite decided which kind of beans I like better, black beans or cannellini beans. Both are so delicious and versatile. Black beans usually mean tacos, but white beans are so good in almost anything else. Like a cold salad. With mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and a citrus-based dressing. That may or may not have wine in it. I mean, I made tuna steaks tonight, and some pretty groovy red potatoes (sorry, I may have watched Austin Powers earlier), but the bean salad was the star of the show. It just was. Mostly because of the dressing. But also the beans. I dunno, it was just perfectly summery and I loved it.

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Homemade Citrus-based Dressing

(adapted from the March 2018 issue of Shape Magazine)

Ingredients:

Juice of 1 medium grapefruit

1 small shallot

Olive oil

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Squeeze of fresh orange juice

White wine

Pink Himalayan salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions: Blend all ingredients together, adjusting the ratios as you see fit. Will keep in the fridge for a few days. (I got a little less than 1/2 cup juice from my grapefruit and used about two tablespoons olive oil and maybe just over a tablespoon of wine. I don’t measure. It’s a bit of a problem.)

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Okay so this is a suuuuuper loose recipe. The one in Shape suggests pomelo or tangelo in place of the grapefruit even. And white wine vinegar, not just white wine, but I somehow do not have any (just red wine vinegar and I didn’t think that would work too well) so I splashed a little wine in instead, which makes it not really a vinaigrette but eh who cares. Also it suggested lemon zest, but I just skipped that step tonight. Also, I toyed with the idea of adding a bit of jalapeno and avocado, which I might try next time. Homemade dressings are so fun.

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See, the salad really was the star of the show. I probably overcooked the tuna. That tends to happen. But it was tasty and the leftovers are being crumbled up and added to the salad for my lunch at work tomorrow and served with a side of my actually rather delicious fiber crackers (more on those another time). Because I can.

One Pan Dinner: Whitefish, Asparagus, Potatoes

Happy Friday and hooray for a bonus post! The other night for dinner, I wanted something light and fresh. Summer fare for me should be light and fresh. Would you agree? I never follow my own rules, but anyway. Hah!

Fish and veggies are a good light meal. Normally I would even suggest grilling the fish *and* the veggies, but our grill is in sad shape and anyway the gas was empty.

So, sheet pan dinner it was. I hate heating up the oven when it’s hot, but it wasn’t like I was going to be cooking for hours, so it wasn’t that bad. Not counting the fish thawing time, this meal came together in under 30 minutes. I cooked everything on a cooking sheet with foil for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. The best part about it was probably the glaze that I made. What’s not to love about butter and olive oil and lemon juice?

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Ingredients:

2 whitefish fillets

Asparagus stalks

Baby white potatoes, chopped in half

 

Glaze Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter, melted

2 tbsp olive oil

juice of half a lemon

Pink Himalayan salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Handful of fresh basil, finely chopped

Whisk all ingredients together and pour/brush over fish and vegetables arranged on foil covered cooking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees.

A Match Made in Foodie Heaven

Though I have tried a lot of ingredients and whole dishes that are not familiar to the standard American palate, there are many that I have enjoyed the taste of and not yet cooked with. Miso paste is one of those things. I love a good miso soup, but for some reason the idea of buying and actually working with the fermented soybean paste from Japan kind of intimidated me. Well, no longer! I ordered some white miso and red miso from Amazon last week and researched some recipes. Last night I concocted this incredible glaze and used it to coat chickpeas and toast them, as well as coat chicken breasts and bake them. This recipe can be doubled, tripled, whatever. I was slightly obsessing over this, hence the post title. It really IS that good.

Miso-Butter Glaze 

2 tablespoons butter

1 heaping tablespoon white miso paste

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

Add miso and butter to small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until butter begins to melt. Use a wire whisk to combine, adding in the rice vinegar as the miso is mostly incorporated. Whisk till creamy. Pour over beans, chicken, sauteed greens, etc.

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Last night’s dinner ended up being a really amazing summer salad with the miso-butter chickpeas lending crunch in the midst of greens and strawberries, and miso-butter glazed chicken baked in the oven with small potatoes in my beloved cast iron skillet. The salad needs some tweaking texture-wise, so I am not sharing it here just yet, but hopefully it will be featured in the future!

Tech Mishaps and Fried Rice

I have to be honest here — this isn’t what I originally wrote. And it’s not even Tuesday, which is when my original post was supposed to, well, post. But apparently I never hit Publish, so here we are. Most of my (very little) blogging experience is through the Blogger platform, not WordPress, so I forsee more kinks to work out in the future.

Anyway, thanks for joining me here at With a Side of Rice, and for that I am sharing with you a little recipe I whipped up this afternoon, instead of what I had initially written. Grocery shopping on an empty stomach isn’t ever a good idea, but sometimes what comes of it in the kitchen afterwards definitely is… Mind you, this isn’t your traditional fried rice. I’m not even sure I’ve made traditional fried rice. 😉

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Simple and Healthful Fried Rice (Serves 4, or 2 if you’re really hungry)

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 cups leftover rice

1 loose cup spinach

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 eggs, scrambled

Chopped green onions for topping (optional)

Pink Himalayan salt (optional)

 

Directions:

Heat olive oil in high sided skillet or dutch oven* over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onions are translucent (about 3-5 minutes). Add spinach, stir to coat in oil, and cook for a minute or two till just starting to wilt. Bring heat down to medium. Stir in rice and then the tomatoes. Once everything is well combined, pour the scrambled eggs over the mix. Let sit for a a minute or two, then mix well. Continue mixing until the egg looks cooked. I usually will let it sit over medium heat for a bit in between mixing so that it gets that nice fried crunch.

Spoon into bowls, top with chopped green onions and pink Himalayan salt, and serve. This would also be excellent served in a whole wheat tortilla.

 

*Obviously as you can see from the photo, I did not use my cast iron or a dutch oven, and the pan was a little on the full side. I lost a lot of grains of rice.