Category Archives: Side Dish

Grilled Romaine Salad

Grilled Romaine Salad
It is October already! Summer is gone and Fall is in full swing.
I am not ready to say goodbye quite yet.
One last-ditch summer meal to say, “It’s been fun.” 
or “Thanks for the 10 lbs.”
or “I am sporting those extra sun spots like a rock star.”
“Goodbye, my friend.  It’s been real.”
If you haven’t tried a grilled salad, it is time.  Smokey, sweet, and utterly delicious. Plus it is beautiful, which will impress those you cook for.
Let’s cook!
Grilled Romaine Salad
  • 2 Heads Romaine Lettuce, sliced length-wise
  • 1/2 c Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/4 Crumbled Blue Cheese
  • 5 Green Onions, Chopped
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 Tb Olive Oil

  • Preheat Grill or Grill Pan.
  • Spray Romaine heads with cooking spray on both sides or brush with olive oil.
  • When Grill is nice and hot, place lettuce on grates, flat side down.
  • Grill for about 3 minutes, then flip and grill for an extra 2 minutes.
  • Remove from grill and top with remaining ingredients.
  • Squeeze on lemon juice and drizzle with Olive Oil.

The Stages of Santa

Our little Declan had his first meeting with Santa last week.  We knew it would take some time to warm up to him.

Stage 1: DOUBT
STAGE 2: FLEE
STAGE 3: FEAR
STAGE 4: ACCEPTANCE…kind of

Nothing like traumatizing your youngest with a little Christmas cheer.  
To continue with the abuse, why not just take them home and make them eat broccoli.  
Here’s how I like to make it:

Roasted Broccoli
3 Tb Olive Oil
2 Tb Chopped Garlic
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Mustard Powder
2 Tb Grated Parmesan Cheese
3 c Broccoli Florets
In a large bowl, whisk together first 7 ingredients.
Add broccoli and toss so all pieces are covered in oil.
Spread broccoli in a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil.
Bake for 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients 
Preheat Oven to 400F

Hungry, Hungry Ego

I am a ham.  I fully admit it.  I love a captive audience and my favorite thing to do is to make people laugh.  When my sister Colleen got married, I worked for days on my speech.  My other sister Maureen did hers on the fly.  
Guess who’s flopped.
That’s right. Mine.
Like crickets chirping, nose blowing silence.  
I tapped the mic, “Is this thing on?”
One child over under 10 laughed, but I am pretty sure that was because someone next him passed gas loudly.
Maureen?  She took the house down.  She had a zinger that everyone remembered.
People were coming up to her the rest of the night, “Oh, Maureen!  You are so funny.  Erin, isn’t your sister SO funny!?”
Hilarious.
Thank God for my captive audience at Jazzercise.  I can make them laugh pretty easily.  THEY think I am funny. 
I am grateful for Facebook.  I can say something funny and get instant gratification through “likes” and comments.
And of course there is this blog.  A wonderful outlet to feed my ego.  I write, and pray that people read.  And some people actually do!  Thank YOU for helping me feel worthy!
For that, I will give you a simple and DELISH recipe to make.  Great for a crowd, or you can eat it all up yourself.  
That’s what I would do.
Grill Roasted Garlic 
2 heads garlic
2 Tb olive oil

Slice the top of the head of each garlic bulb.  
Place both bulbs on a large sheet of aluminum foil.  .
Pour olive oil over the garlic bulbs and wrap the foil around them.
Place in a preheated grill away from flame.  If you have a shelf on your grill, put it on there.  
Close the grill and cook for 40 mins to an hour.
The garlic will become soft and mushy.  Perfect to spread on some crusty bread you warmed up on the grill.  Just carefully (IT IS HOT) squeeze the bulb and the garlic will pour out.
MMMMMM.  Enjoy.

Clash of the Titans

I saw on television that there is a remake of Clash of the Titans coming out. Weird, but I used to love watching that movie.
It seemed that it was on television every time I was visiting my grandma and grandpa in Cincinnati. One time in particular, they were showing it in 3-D. You had to buy an Icee at the Convenience store to get your 3-D glasses. I mean, I HAD to drink an Icee to watch Clash of the Titans? In 3-D?? Twist my arm!!
It was in the 80’s. I could not have been older than 7 or 8. I had a crush on George Hamilton in a loin cloth. Medusa scared the heck out of me.
It was blissful. And I was at my grandparents, which was blissful in itself.
Frozen mini Snickers in the freezer.
An actual cookie jar!
Hugs. Laughs.
Cards. For money. (okay it was only pennies, but it still made it that more fun.)
Singing.
Skyline.
And Clash of the Titans.
These are some of my absolute favorite memories.
I can’t wait to hear 20 years from now what my children’s favorite memories were of visiting grandparents. I think they will have a lot.
It is getting warmer here now that spring has arrived. An unusual 80 degrees today!
It makes me have a hankering for summer. And the food summer has to provide.
Cucumber, Onion, and Tomato Salad
1 large cucumber
1 large vadalia onion
2 large tomatoes
1/2 c White Vinegar
3 Tb Sugar
2 Tb Canola Oi
Skin and slice cucumber into thin slices. Do the same to the onion. Cut tomato in half, then into slices about 1/2″ thick.
In a bowl whisk sugar and vinegar. Whisk in oil.
Place vegetables in a large ziplock bag. Pour dressing over vegetables and close bag tightly. Move it around so dressing is evenly distributed. Place in the refrigerator for 3-6 hours.

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Happily EverAfter

ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH WALNUTS

Quinn turned 3 on Monday. THREE! I can’t believe my little baby is now so big. It seems like just yesterday I was holding a 7 lb bundle in my arms. She was so wee and fragile.
Today, she is a big girl that is rough and tough, sweet and sassy, feminine and all girl.

She told me her perfect birthday would include Snow White. As a mother, I had to make that happen for her. Nothing like all of your 3 year old dreams coming true on your birthday.

I searched ads for characters for hire. I could find characters, but not the kind that are appropriate for a child. I thought of asking a friend, but I really didn’t have any friends that could pull it off without Quinn recognizing them. I was running out of options. I was starting to feel like a failure.

Then it happened. I was at a wine night with some friends, where there were a couple new people there that I have never met before. I looked at one of the new girls, Sarah, and said, “Has anyone told you that you look a little bit like the singer Lisa Loebe?”

“No,” she replied. “But I did have a girl come up to me one time and ask me if I was Snow White.”

My heart started racing. “Really? Have you ever dressed up like her before?” I asked.

“I actually have a Snow White costume I made for Halloween once.”

The skies parted and Angles started singing.

“So, how do you feel about dressing up as Snow White and coming over to our house on my daughter’s birthday? I realize I just met you and all, but you would make one little girl’s year if you are interested.”

She said yes. She was actually excited about it! I couldn’t believe this opportunity fell into my lap like this. It was Divine intervention I tell you! I could give Quinn a fantastic birthday AND be the hero. It was perfect.

Let me tell you though, the real hero was Sarah, er, I mean Snow White. Coming to our house was a perfect treat for our little girl. It went something like this:

From 2009-10-19

Yes, she cried. I wish they were tears of joy, but alas they were not. However, once she realized that it really was Snow White the tears dried and she was in heaven. Snow White read to her. Snow white ate cake with her. They drank out of twisty straws together, and Quinn couldn’t take her eyes off of her. Quinn showed Snow White her bedroom. If she knew the saying, I bet Quinn would have said, “Somebody pinch me please!”

It was a pure success. And you know what? I don’t even feel like I need to top it for her next birthday. She was happy. The great husband and I were so happy to see her that way. I love that night. I love my family.

Here is a wonderful side dish to serve. Fabulous for Thanksgiving…not so much for a 3 yr. old’s birthday dinner.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Walnuts Walnuts

serves 4-6

3 c Brussels Sprouts

1/2 c Walnuts

2 Tb Olive Oil

2 tsp salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450F. Cut bottom core off each Brussels Sprout, then half. Place in a roasting pan big enough for them to lay flat. Sprinkle nuts in pan. Pour in olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss until everything is evenly coated. Cook for at least 15 minutes, shaking pan occasionally, until nicely browned and roasted.

Serve hot.


Motor Mouth

My daughter is starting preschool this fall. It makes me realize how fast time flies. She is really looking forward to going to school, and I have to admit that I am as well. I won’t lie, it will be nice to have a couple of hours to myself a few days a week.
You see, little Quinn is a big talker. What I mean is that she rarely ever stops talking. Like never. When the girl runs out of things to say, she’ll start making up words just to keep talking. I think it is pretty wonderful that she has great verbal skills, but I it also really, really exhausting.
Not only is she a talker, but she demands (and I mean DEMANDS) that you listen and actively engage in her conversation. Now, I promise you that I don’t get that in return from her. When I talk, she becomes the master of ignoring. It’s like she digs deep inside to find her Zen and blocks out the sound of my voice. She doesn’t even flinch. Listening to Mom is not her strong skill, but talking is definitely her forte.
With this said, you would think that when her new teachers showed up yesterday to introduce themselves that she would knock their socks off with her verbal skills. Oh no. She decided at that moment to be mute. No words at all. None. Just pointing and grunting like a child who cannot speak. I didn’t say anything, but I sure did think to myself, “Hold the phone. Are you serious, Child!?”
My husband and I looked at each other. Then he turned to his teachers and said, “Enjoy the silence now. You’ll get an ear full in the classroom. I promise.”
This is my daughter. She is socially fearless, loves to tell stories, and could care less what her mother says unless she is being offered some sort of treat. I think school will be great for her. I think school will be great for me.
School doesn’t start for a few more weeks, so there is still summer to be enjoyed. For your Labor Day cookout that you will attend, try bringing something different. This watermelon salad is refreshing and surprisingly delicious.
Watermelon Salad with Basil and Feta
serves 6-8
1/2 large seedless watermelon, cubed
juice of 3 limes
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese
10 basil leaves, chopped
In a large bowl, toss basil, lime juice, and watermelon together. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Toss with cheese right before serving.

Like a Diamond in the Car

My daughter has picked up the art of performing. She will dance for you, sing for you, or happily play the piano. This video is her rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Notice how she invites me to sit down for a duet, then immediately sends me to Time Out for doing so. What a cheesey little Diva!
I couldn’t figure out how to download the video, so go to my Picasa web album to check it out: http://picasaweb.google.com/erinjvc/20080819Quinn#5238995983176607202

Speaking of cheesy, here is a recipe I got from my sister-in-law Karen for some amazing cheesy potatoes. We had a big cookout last month and above all other foods these were the hit by far.

Cheesy Party Potatoes
1 pint sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups Velveeta cheese, cubed
1/2 stick butter, cut up
3 oz cream cheese
2 T onion flakes
2 lbs frozen shredded potatoes/hash browns

Mix together ingredients, except potatoes. Bust up clumps in potatoes and add to creamed mixture. Grease a 9×13 pan. Bake 1 hour at 350 or until it is bubbling good.