Archive for the 'Side Dish' Category

Couscous, Tomatoes and Balsamic Onions

Serves 4

Good food sometimes just happens. Last night we were going to have some grilled shrimp and decided to have it with couscous. I had read a recipe over the weekend that called for balsamic onions. I told my wife that I wanted to try them with the couscous and she said let’s add some canned diced tomatoes. I said, “Why not?”
We put the dish together and it was great. The combination just goes together so well. The onions are sweet and they counter the acid in the tomatoes. Combined with the light, fluffy couscous it was just the perfect dish with grilled shrimp.
I hope you give this one a try. You will not be disappointed.

Recipe follows.

Continue reading ‘Couscous, Tomatoes and Balsamic Onions’


How to Grill Vegetables

This is not so much a recipe as it is a tutorial on grilling vegetables on a gas grill. First, it’s not hard and it makes vegetables taste wonderful.
It brings out the natural sugars and caramelizes them and also adds a smoky flavor you cannot get any other way.

Which vegetables and how do you prepare them?

Just about any vegetable can be grilled with the right equipment. Some like green, yellow, orange or red peppers can be done right on the grill. Others like asparagus will need a vegetable grate (great for shrimp, too) like this one or a grilling wok (great for shrimp or scallops, too) like this. Tongs and a large spatula are a help, too.

Below, I will list various vegetables, the perpetration and the best method of grilling:


There may be nothing finer than fresh, locally grown asparagus grilled.  Snap off any tough ends of the asparagus.  Toss with vegetable or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook on a hot grill for a total of six to eight minutes, turning frequently.  Keep a close eye on the asparagus because when it can go from done to OVER DONE very quickly.  Do not overcook.


Slice eggplant into 1/4- to 3/8-inch slabs like the squash above or rings. Coat with vegetable oil or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on a hot grill for 15 to 25 minutes to cook through.


Use the freshest local corn you can find. Remove all the husks except the last layer. The corn should be completely covered with husk and there may need to be two layers in some areas. Peal back these husks and brush the corn with melted butter. Place on a hot grill and cook 8 to 10 minutes total rotating the corn frequently.

Green Onions

Coat onions with vegetable oil or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a hot grill (you can use a vegetable grate if you have one) and cook for a total of 8 to 10 minutes, turning once or twice. Do not overcook.

Sweet Onions, Sliced (Vidalia, Maui, etc.)

Slice onions about a 1/4- to 1/2=inch thick. Rub with vegetable or olive oil and sprinkle with salt a pepper. Place on a medium grill and cook for three to five minutes per side (depends on thickness of the slices) until you get grill marks and the onions are just cooked. Don’t overcook. They should be just beyond crisp.

Whole Peppers

Rub the outside with vegetable or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place whole peppers on a hot grill and cook on that side until the skin is charred, about two to three minutes. Rotate the pepper 90 degrees and cook that side the same way. Cook the pepper until the entire skin is blackened. Place the pepper in a paper bag and allow the pepper to cool. The pepper will steam inside the bag and make removing the skin very easy. Peal the skin off the pepper and use your favorite recipe. Delicious. Note: This works with hot chili peppers like jalapenos, too.

Pepper Slices

If you have a vegetable grill or grilling wok like this one, slice the ends off the peppers and remove the seeds. Or, place the pepper end flat on a cutting board and cut from the top to the bottom just outside the core of the pepper. This will give you four slabs and the seeds still attached to the core. Either way, slice the pepper into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Toss the strips with vegetable or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Preheat the grilling wok on high and place the pepper in the wok. Grill the pepper with the lid down for about two minutes. Open the lid and toss the pepper slices with a wooden spoon. Cook a total of about four to five minutes. Do not overcook.
If you do not have a grill wok, just place the oiled and seasoned slabs on the grill and cook until just done. Remove from the grill and cut the peppers into slices.

Summer Squash and Zucchini

Place either on a cutting board and cut into 1/4-inch slabs longwise. Coat each side with vegetable or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place slabs on a hot grill and cook for about three to four minutes per side.
Alternatively, you can cut the zucchini or summer squash into cubes, coat with oil, add salt and pepper and cook in a grill wok.


Thickly slice tomatoes. Coat with vegetable oil or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on a hot grill two to four minutes per side.

Button Mushrooms

Leave small mushrooms whole; larger mushrooms should be cut in half or quartered.  Toss mushrooms with vegetable or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook on a vegetable grate over high heat for about five to ten minutes.

Portobello Mushrooms

Okay, not a vegetable, but the technique is the same. Coat with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on a medium hot grill. Cook for four to six minutes per side.


Grilled vegetables are great by themselves, but mix and match them and you have a party. Grill peppers and onions with grilled sausage is great. Try grilled eggplant and onions with you next Italian meal. Make vegetable kabobs on bamboo skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes. Yum. The possibilities are endless.

Good luck and good grilling.

Outrageous Baked Beans

Adapted from recipe found at

Makes about 1-1/2 quarts and serves lots of people; this recipe is easily doubled

As my family will testify to, I am not a big fan of taking the easy road when it comes to cooking.   If the recipe calls for lemon grass, go get some. If you are going to the trouble of making a home made pie, why not make your own pie dough? I believe there is something rewarding in mastering a recipe or getting a technique down just right. And, I believe that the end result tastes better. too.
Buy the best ingredients you can afford and use the best recipe you can find. Together these two things will deliver better results every time over anything store bought.
But, as with all rules, rules are made to be broken.
The follow recipe is one my wife found on the Internet and she gave it a try. It’s an “open-the-cans-and-dump-them-in” kind of recipe. It’s quick and easy.  And, it tastes amazing.
Every time we have made this recipe (usually we double it), family and guests leave nothing in the pot.
So even though this is an open and dump recipe, I highly recommend you give it a try.

Recipe follows.

Continue reading ‘Outrageous Baked Beans’

No-Work Baked Risotto — Excellent Risotto Without the Stirring

Adapted from an old Internet recipe
Makes 4 to 6 servings (recipe is easily cut in half)

We love risotto at our house. We have made it many times and used lots of different recipes. With lots of variations.
Classic risotto is a delicious dish but is somewhat labor intensive (all that stirring, adding chicken stock and stirring some more, ugh). The results are outstanding and the creamy goodness is to die for. Risotto in Italy is as much a religious experience as their pasta.
So, a few years ago, my wife and I ran across a recipe for baked risotto. BAKED RISOTTO! Are you kidding me? Could this possibly work? We had to find out.
The first couple of tries were not so good. So, some more searching on the Internet to find the perfect way of baking risotto. And we found it.
This recipe is as close as you can get to a no-work risotto. We’ve altered it just a bit by requiring it to cook a little longer with the lid and aluminum foil off.
This recipe just uses Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. But, there are lots of variations on this theme. Add the Parmesan cheese and frozen peas that have been thawed. Forgo the cheese and add two tablespoons of minced fresh rosemary, three tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and two teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest (yummy).

Recipe follows.

Continue reading ‘No-Work Baked Risotto — Excellent Risotto Without the Stirring’

Heart Attack Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Adapted from a recipe by Emeril Lagasse

Serves 8 to 10

Making something new for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner is always problematic. Everyone seems to want what is traditional for those meals, whatever that tradition is for their family.
For instance, at my house, we always have to have herb stuffing baked inside the turkey. Now, you and I know that the turkey should just have aromatics in the cavity and the stuffing should be baked separately.
But, my family will not hear of that. To get around the problem of the stuffing needing to be heated up higher than the dark or white meat of the turkey, I make the stuffing at the last minute and stuff the turkey with hot stuffing the give the stuffing a head start.
But, again I digress.
Last year I baked a twice baked potato casserole that I saw Emeril make on TV and it was a big hit. In fact, my family asked me to make it again this year and it disappeared again.
This makes this dish a classic and a tradition at our house. It is one that we will most likely have for special dinners throughout the year. But not too often.
This is a very rich dish and tastes delicious. My family has nicknamed this dish: Heart Attack Twice Baked Potato Casserole because as you take a bite, your brain is telling you how great it is as you simultaneously hear your arteries closing up!
This is a great potato dish. Give it a try.

Recipe to follow.

Continue reading ‘Heart Attack Twice Baked Potato Casserole’

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