Category Archives: Sides/Snacks

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Roasted Vegetable Salad

This salad is exciting. Using cabbage as the base I loaded it up with colorfully fun healthy veggies. That’s right, I called vegetables fun.  I had a bunch of veggies in the fridge pleading with me to be used before they went bad, including mushrooms which I always always have in the fridge.  A wasted mushroom is a sad day, and I had a whole cupful of mushrooms just days shy of the  slime stage so something had to be done STAT.

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Have I mentioned my addiction to mushrooms?! Its bad, I put them in and on everything. I have never ever ordered a mushroom-less pizza. I don’t know why I love them so, but I do. It is an irrational love. I can’t quite put my finger on it why they taste so good, and I am compelled to add them to almost every savory dish that comes out of my kitchen, but hey, many a people have been caught up in all kinds of irrational love way wilder than my mushroom love.

I digress.

Back to this delicious roasted salad.

Roasted Vegetable SaladRoasted Vegetable Salad

To make it more filling, I added potatoes to the mix. I found an assortment of red, white, and purple fingerling potatoes at a local store that sells cheap local produce called the Vegetable Bin. They have been in business for a century, and for good reason. I mean, who can resist buying purple potatoes?!  I also can’t resist buying their locally made sourdough bread.

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Roasted Vegetable Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Roast vegetable salad serves 6-8 people depending on if it is a side or main dish and left overs are easily reheated.
  • ½ head cabbage
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • ½ cup sliced carrots
  • 1 small squash
  • ½ zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped potatoes
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon
  • 1tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 415F
  2. Mix together lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
  3. Chop up cabbage into wedges, about 2-3 inches long. Dice onions, and chop up the rest of the vegetables to the size of your preference, no bigger than ½ inch x ½ inch thick.
  4. Put the vegetables together in large bowl then pour olive oil mixture over it and stir gently as to not break up the cabbage wedges too much.
  5. Put mixture on cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake at 415F for 40-50 minutes, flipping vegetables with spatula about every 15 minutes.

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Copycat Chick-Fil-A Lemonade

Copycat Chick-Fil-A Lemonade

Copycat Chick-Fil-A Lemonade

Sometimes I crave Chick-Fil-A, and those cravings usually happen Sunday. When they are closed :/


Copycat Chick-Fil-A LemonadeCopycat Chick-Fil-A Lemonade

So I decided to try to recreate their lemonade, so I could satisfy just part of my Sunday afternoonIMG_3139 craving. Their lemonade is nice and tangy, and not overly sweet.  I like a kick in my lemonade and this copycat recipe delivers.  It is so good on a hot day, which is already happening here in Charleston…in March. Crazy, but I am not complaining one bit. Yesterday we romped around on the beach with our pup. Romp romp romp.

Copycat Chick-Fil-A LemonadeNo store bought lemonade can match the deliciousness of fresh squeezed lemonade.  My hubby used to work at Chick-Fil-A and said he would cut up hundreds of lemons and use a machine that would squeeze them to create gallons of lemonade. The machine I used to squeeze these lemons is called a bicep. There is nothing wrong with ‘squeezing’ in a little work out in the kitchen. Hehe.

Copycat Chick-Fil-A Lemonade
Recipe type: Drinks
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
Fresh squeezed tangy lemonade that is not overly sweet. Makes 5 glasses of lemonade.
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • ¾ cup lemon juice (about 6 squeezed lemons)
  1. Squeeze lemons, making sure to strain out the seeds and most but not all of the pulp.
  2. Mix sugar and 1 cup of water in microwave safe container then microwave for 1 minute on high. Stir then microwave 1 more minute and mix until sugar dissolves completely.
  3. Stir sugar water, 3 cups chilled water, and lemon juice then refrigerate until ready to serve.


Copycat Chick-Fil-A Lemonade

Mandu: Korean vegetable dumpling

Mandu: Korean Vegetable Dumplings

Mandu: Korean vegetable dumpling

MANDU is the Korean word for dumpling. And they are one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. Ever.


IMG_2383 IMG_2384

I went to South Korea thinking I liked spicy food. Yeah right!  A couple bites of anything red over there would put my whole GI track in over drive, would keep my system cleaned out for weeks, and burn my tongue for dayssss.  Apparently every child grows up eating super super spicy food so that their tolerance for spicy food is off the charts by the time adulthood rolls around. I am not exaggerating. I quickly learned to avoid anything that was red, aka coated in the spiciest spicy red chili pepper sauce in the world. Ok, I may be exaggerating, but just a little.

Dumplings however were zero spicy.

P1040107 P1040168 P1040218 P1040269 P1040271 P1040284 P1040293 P1040297 P1040305 P1040376 P1040385P1040326My time in South Korea, for an exchange program during college, was a simply amazing once in a lifetime experience. I was able to meet some beautiful people (inside & out) whom I miss dearly, learn about an ancient fascinating culture, see the landscape of a most beautiful country, and try some really good food (that wasn’t red).  My favorites were pumpkin soup, doughnuts filled with sweet bean paste, bulgogi, pajeon,and of course my #1 favorite was mandu-Korean dumplings!  Whenever I had the chance to eat dumplings, I was all over it.  So of course, when I came home, I wanted to reproduce and share that amazing tasting food with my family.  I searched high and low for a good Mandu recipe, but none were exactly what I was looking for.   Combining ideas from several recipes and remembering some specific ingredients from the little dumplings I loved, I made the Mandu of my dreams.

I’ve always held this belief when it comes to cooking; if I love the ingredients, then I will almost definitely love the results. So it follows that I am in love with these dumplings.

The first time I made dumplings, I used equal parts ground pork, ground beef, and tofu for the base and that was oh-so-delicious, but this time I wanted wanted to make a vegetable dumpling.  It is partly because I want to be healthier, partly because my husband doesn’t like pork, and mostly because I despise touching raw ground meat. The nurse-germaphobe in me does not want to touch anything gross without some nice latex gloves on.  I will touch any and absolutely anything with gloves on, but I am fresh out of those on the home front.


I also consulted my dear friend Seo Yeon for some extra Mandu making tips to make the perfect Korean Dumplings.



These dumplings were pretty easy to make, but take a good bit of time to   individually fold each dumpling.   The dumpling skin packs in the store come with 60 so that does indeed make for quite a bit of folding, but the good news is they can be frozen for later and are just as delicious!

IMG_2347IMG_2349IMG_2350Just mix up all the prepared ingredientsIMG_2355 and start folding.  Put a heaping teaspoon in the center of the skin then rub some water with a finger along the two top edges.  Then, fold in half and press the edges together.  When sealed, turn the dumpling upright and wrinkle the edges towards the center, making them look wavy.IMG_2358
After making the dumplings, you can boil, steam, pan sear, or add them to soup.  They are versatile and make a quick easy meal when frozen.  To freeze, just put dumplings on a floured pan in the freezer, making sure each dumpling is not touching another. Once completely frozen, an hour or two, throw them all in a freezer bag and removed desired amount when ready to eat.  Just add a couple minutes to cooking time, about 3-5 minutes for all methods.


The dipping sauce is almost as important as the dumplings.  Just mix equal parts water, soy sauce, and rice vinegar then sprinkle top with sesame seeds and ginger.

I doubled this recipe and mixed the other half of the filling in chicken stock and water to make an Asian soup to go with the dumplings for dinner.

Mandu: Korean Vegetable Dumplings
Cuisine: Korean
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
Korean Vegetable Dumplings. Makes 60 dumplings
  • ¾ cup shredded carrots
  • 1 pack mushrooms, 8 oz
  • ½ cup cooked chopped vermicelli rice
  • ½ cup finely chopped cabbage
  • ½ cup green onions/chives
  • ½ tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 oz tofu
  • 1 pack dumpling skins (about 60)
  1. Microwave tofu 1 minute and squeeze out liquid in paper towels. Add tofu to bowl and mash with fork.
  2. Add garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame seeds, sesame oil, finely chopped cabbage, shredded carrots, cooked & finely chopped vermicelli rice, diced mushrooms, and finely diced green onions and then mix well.
  3. Place heaping teaspoon full of mixture in center of dumpling skin and rub wet finger over two adjacent sides a couple times. Fold dry edges over on top of wet edges and pinch closed. For looks, press the two opposite corners ups towards the center, which makes the edges look wavy.
  4. Boil desired amount of finished dumplings for 2 minutes and serve with dipping sauce (sauce recipe in notes).
  5. For extra dumplings, place on floured pan (not touching each other) in freezer for 1-2 hours. Once frozen completely, transfer to freezer bag. Good for 4 months.
The dip: mix equal parts water, soy sauce, and rice vinegar then sprinkle top with sesame seeds and ginger.





Fruit Salad


I love my night sift coworkers, not just as team members, but as unique, fun people that I enjoy being around. At work we are all about patients first, so we decided we needed some time together when we are not scheduled for work. That means Girls Night!!! (We have no males on our night shift, so you see I am not excluding any guys). I am so excited because that means a few awesome things that are necessary in life; lots of laughs and cutting IMG_2031up, wine, and SNACKS. I just love snacks and being able to taste and discover new flavor combinations. I’m also a serious sucker for a buffet; putting tiny bits of everything on my plate to taste. Love IT! But, what snack to bring?! There are so many good ones in this world. After some thought and mental drooling over all those decadent Valentine’s Day desserts posts I’ve been seeing lately,   I decided if I am going to be grazing, I may as well bring something on the healthier side. Fruit salad!


I am not sure why it is called a salad; it is all fruit with none of the leafy green stuff I mentally associate  with salad. Nevertheless, this fruit salad is where it is at.  It requires no cooking and only has 7 ingredients, a few of which are key to this recipe: cinnamon and a can of dark sweet pitted cherries in heavy syrup. I IMG_2026know, I know, heavy syrup?!  That is so much sugar! But really, it is the only necessary non-fruit sweetener in this recipe, and it becomes diluted by all the other ingredients.  Adding a dab of cool whip on top is really good too, though it knocks the healthy factor down a bit more. The syrup coats all the other fruits giving it a wonderful flavor and keeps the bananas and apples fresh for a good 3-4 days in the fridge. In case you are wondering, these dark sweet pitted cherries taste nothing like those candied maraschino cherries, which I don’t care for much.  They taste more like those big dark cherries in the produce section.  You cannot leave this ingredient out, and if you are having a hard time finding them in the grocery store, they are in the baking aisle by the pie fillings.

I learned the dark sweet pitted cherries bit from the fruit salad my momma makes.  She also uses peach pie filling in her fruit salad, but that is more than a bit too much sugar for me.


Fruit Salad
Recipe type: Side/ Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 can peach slices in pear juice
  • 1 can of mandarin oranges in natural juices
  • 1 can Oregon dark sweet pitted cherries in heavy syrup
  • 3 large bananas
  • 3 apples
  • 1 pack of blueberries, about 1½ cup
  1. Pour out ¼ cup of juice from peaches in measuring cup, and add ¼ cup of juice from mandarin oranges to cup. Drain the rest of the liquid off the oranges and peaches.
  2. Put drained oranges and peaches in large bowl adding the juice set aside in the measuring cup
  3. Cut peaches to bite size pieces with fork or knife in the bowl
  4. Add cherries with all of the syrup from can
  5. Slice and add bananas
  6. Peel, cut up to bit size pieces, and add apples
  7. Rinse, drain, and add blueberries
  8. Add cinnamon and mix thoroughly
  9. Keep in fridge until ready to serve
Good stored in fridge for 3-4 days



Saffron Risotto

IMG_1607Risotto is an Italian rice like no other. It is cooked in broth and the starches of the rice blend with the liquid making the rice taste like it is in a rich creamy sauce. Using risotto, sometimes called Arborio rice, as a side dish instead of the usual pasta or rice with dinner is a great way to take your dinner from boring to BAM: a BA  Meal. I like to serve this with chicken, mushrooms, or a variety of roasted vegetables.

I have made risotto often, but in this recipe, it is the first time I’ve used saffron. I received the spice as a Christmas gift and was super excited to try it out in my risotto.  I’m not sure if the saffron gives it a different taste or if I am just imagining it tasted a little different; perhaps the saffron was just overpowered by the chicken broth I used.  Nevertheless, the spice did give this dish a nice rich yellow color. In conclusion, the spice is completely optional, so if you don’t have any fancy-smancy saffron lying around, omit it, no biggie.  Also, feel free to experiment with adding other spices such as basil or oregano.

IMG_1580 Making risotto does take a bit more attention than making rice or boiling pasta but is totally worth it. You just have to brown an onion in olive oil first, than toast the grains for a few minutes. Then just add wine and broth 1/2 cup at a time until it tastes good enough to eat!

Saffron Risotto
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Italian
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • 3-4½ cups broth
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp saffron (optional)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Dice onion, mince garlic, and saute on medium high heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Add rice and stir for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Microwave wine and saffron 1 minute then add to rice. Turn heat to medium low heat and stir slowly until all liquid is absorbed.
  4. Add ½ cup of broth at a time, letting it absorb fully before adding more. Continue to stir slowly.
  5. After 3 cups of broth have been added, taste Risotto. It should be aldente. You may want to add more broth, or water depending on how done you want it to taste.
  6. Mix in cheese, saving some to sprinkle on top.
  7. Serve immediately when done, or it will loose creaminess.




Baba Ghanoush


The first time I heard someone say Baba Ghanoush, I was all Baba-whobie-whatie?

The first time I tried it was when I bought a plate of Greek food from a festival and ate the dip with some pita bread. It blew my mind with deliciousness and I was all, what is this, I must make this now.  Upon hearing it was actually Baba Ghanoush, I was all, that’s it, no more judging a food by its name.

I read up about the dish on Wikipedia, and found that it is popular all over the middle east and can be made a variety of ways with all kinds of different spices. I’ve tested several variations of this recipe and have come up with something more addictive than humus, in my opinion that is.  This recipe can serve 6-8 as an appetizer, but I can consume it all by myself in a couple of days. I eat it with pita chips, spread it on sandwiches, dip veggies in it .  The possibilities are endless.  It’s just so yummy, and healthy too.

It is also simple to make, just a few ingredients and time to let the eggplants roast and the onions caramelize.


On a side note…

IMG_1517Q: What do you do when you have 2 large onions to dice and a husband who is a scientist?

A: Break out his safety goggles of course!

They have saved me many tears. If you don’t have any safety goggles lying around, it would be a good investment for you to make, unless you only buy wimpy onions, have eyes of steel, or enjoy chemically induced tears.  Seriously, with safety goggles, you will be thankful for them every time you dice an onion.

Now back to Baba Ghanoush.

IMG_1535Slice eggplants in half and arrange face-down on aluminum foil coated in olive oil. Roasted eggplant is finished when a fork can pierce it and the inside easily squishes all the way down to the tin foil.


IMG_1534 IMG_1536While the eggplants roast,  caramelize onions. Mix in spices, then blend everything together.  Done!

If you don’t have a blender, try mashing the eggplant.  Let me know if that works for you.  It is good served warm or room temperature.  My favorite way to eat it is using  Stacey’s Garden Style Pita Chips to dip in the warm mixture topped with a little shredded cheese .

Baba Ghanoush
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
  • 2 medium sized eggplants
  • 2 large onions
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1½ tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional for spiciness)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan or Gouda cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Cover Cookie sheet with aluminum foil and coat with 1 tbsp olive oil. Cut off eggplant stems then slice eggplant down middle, length-wise.
  3. Arrange halves on aluminum foil and bake 1 hour, until skin pierced with fork and insides soft.
  4. While eggplants bake, dice onion and mince garlic then sautee in 2 tbsp olive oil on medium/low heat until caramelized, about 50 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat to pan. Add lemon juice, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Mix well then add to blender.
  6. When eggplant done, remove skins and add to blender.
  7. Blend for no more than 10 seconds. The baked eggplant need to be broken up, but when mixture is too pureed, there is not enough texture.
  8. Top warm mixture with grated cheese and serve with pita bread or chips.





Yellow Squash Fritters


These are so good. And so simple. It is really one of my favorite summer time sides when the squash crop starts coming in. Sometimes though, the craving hits me in the middle of the winter and I have to run to the grocery store for squash, like today.  Really all it needs is flour, shredded squash or zucchini, an egg, and a frying pan with some olive oil in it.



It can be made even more delicious with a little spice such as parsley, basil, oregano, salt, and/or pepper.


It is also a great way to get kids to eat veggies when served with Ketchup or Ranch.  I’m partial to ketchup. Its like healthy fries…kinda.

Better really.


Just plop a scoop of the mixture in the pan, flatten, and let it sizzle till nice and crispy. Place finished fritters on paper towels to absorb a little oil, and serve immediately to maintain crispness.

Oh yum.

Yellow Squash Fritters
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Southern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
Yields 10 patties
  • 2 cups shredded squash (about 2 medium size squash)
  • ¼ cup self rising flour
  • ⅓ cup all purpose flour or cornmeal
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tbsp parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  1. Mix shredded squash, flour/cornmeal, egg, parsley, and pepper.
  2. Put 1 tbsp olive oil in pan on medium heat
  3. When fully heated, place large spoonful of mixture in pan and pat down until ¼ inch thick or less.
  4. Flip when batter starts to bubble (like a pancake) and underside is dark brown.
  5. Put finished patties on plate with paper towel. Repeat process, adding 1 tbsp olive oil to pan before cooking each pan full of patties.
  6. Salt and serve immediately with ketchup or ranch dressing.


IMG_1447 23-38-02



Gnocchi: Italian Potato Dumplings

Gnocchi: Italian Potato Dumplings
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Potato Dumplings
  • 1lb. potatoes ( about 3 small/medium or 2 large potatoes)
  • egg white
  • 1 tsp. salt (optional)
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  1. Cut potatoes in halves and boil until soft when poked with fork, about 20-30 minutes. Be careful not to over boil as to make the potatoes full of water. This will make the dough very sticky later and trying to compensate with more flour will just make them too dense. Set potatoes aside in bowl to cool. Keep the pot of boiling water on the stove for later use. Take skins off and mash thoroughly.
  2. get that pot of potato water boiling again. Then put mashed potatoes in mound and pour egg on it. Mix in with hands and then knead in salt and flour, adding a little bit at a time, knead thoroughly. Dough should feel slightly sticky.
  3. Separate dough into 5 handfuls and roll each into long ropes, about 1 inch diameter. You may need up to ¼ cup more flour, to dust your hands and the dough, while rolling out.
  4. Cut the dough ropes into ½ inch pieces. To prevent the dough from sticking to the knife, coat knife with a little olive oil. Optionally, you many press a fork coated in oil in the side to make indentations to help it hold sauce
  5. Drop about 20 of the dumplings into the boiling water, crowding will make them stick. When it floats to the top, about 1 minute, it is done! Remove from water with slotted spoon into empty bowl. Repeat until all dumplings are boiled, then pour off any remaining water from bowl of dumplings.






IMG_1141These little lumps have a really nice texture and are versatile. They go great with all kinds of sauces: cheese sauce, tomato, basil, and so on. I put them to use in a casserole.