Category Archives: side

Grilled Fennel

I used to be deathly afraid of the grill.
When I was home one summer in college, I saw someone start my mom’s grill with the lid closed.
A fireball blew the lid open.
Years ago I tried to help The Great Husband by pouring an oily marinade directly on a cooking piece of meat.
A fire came up like it was straight from hell and burned off all the hair from my hands and singed my eyebrows.
Pre-Grilling                            Post-Grilling

Eventually I bucked up and took on the grill.

It was my challenge, and I was going to overcome my fears.
These days, I rule the grill.  It no longer rules me.
So I raise (whats left of) my eyebrows and look those of you who fear the grill.
Can you do it?
I think you can.  I KNOW you can.
Take over the grill.
Arm yourself with a large spatula and set of tongs.
And whatever you do, don’t pour oil directly on the fire.
Let’s Cook!
Grilled Fennel
Serves 4

Grilled Fennell

  • 2 Large Fennel Bulbs
  • 1 Tb Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt

What you Do

  • Preheat grill for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cut stalks off of fennel and discard.
  • Rinse and pat dry.
  • With a peeler, peel off any brown spots.
  • Slice bottom core off of fennel to create a flat surface.
  • Now make slices of fennel, cutting from top to bottom, making 1/2″ slices.
  • Place slices in a bowl and toss with Olive Oil and Kosher Salt.
  • When grill is nice and hot, clean grates with a grill brush.
  • Turn down heat to medium.
  • Place fennel slices on grill over direct medium heat and close lid.
  • Let them sit for 5-7 minutes, to get nice grill marks.
  • Flip slices over. Cook an additional 5 minutes.
  • Serve it up.

Locally Delicious

I don’t usually talk about restaurants on here, but I felt I had to mention this one. The great husband and I were lucky enough to have a date night last weekend. We decided to go try a place we have never been, which brought us to Nectar in Mt. Lookout.
Julie Francis, owner of the former Aioli downtown Cincinnati, is the chef/owner at this establishment. On her menu she states,

Nectar is proud to serve as much locally produced vegetables, meats, and products like eggs and cheeses on our menu as possible. We are committed to supporting a healthy, sustainable approach to enjoying good food.”

I can’t resist a place that supports their local farmer.

The meal was wonderful, consisting of a fantastic almond encrusted fish, local greens, a cold soup of local potatoes and leeks, and an amazing vegetarian plate with falafel.

I highly recommend this establishment if you are looking for a nice night out with friends or a loved one. I have yet to try their Sunday brunch, but by the looks of the menu, it is definitely worth a try.

Speaking of local, I have been lucky enough to have a Sunday farmer’s market within walking distance of my home. We make our weekly walk to get our eggs, produce, bread, and pork. I am not usually a squash person, but I love getting it freshly grown.
I saute it in a little butter and olive oil. Splash a bit of balsamic vinegar and a dash of salt in the in the pan. It is a total treat. Even the little girl loves it.

I Spy With My Little Eye…

My daughter has been up in bed for 40 minutes now, but hasn’t stopped talking. Listening to Quinn on the monitor, it sounds like she is making phone calls and shuffling things around. She is still in a crib, but sometimes after hearing her like this I expect to walk into her room and see all of her furniture rearranged. I mean, what can she possibly be doing up there. There is nothing in her crib but 5 pacifiers and 2 blankies. That’s it! If only I could entertain myself that well.

Last night I got home just in time to say goodnight to her. She was all tucked in by Dad, who she had just finished hanging out with for a few hours. I asked her if she had fun, which of course she responded yes to. Then I asked her what she did. Now, in the past she has not been verbally advanced enough to answer this, but I like to ask her anyway. Tonight though was different. She told me “Ice Cream.” I asked her if she got ice cream from Dad, and she answered “Yes.”

This amazed me that she is developing her language skills so well, but also frightened me too.

Note to self: There are no more secrets in this house. You have a spy. So when you tell your husband you cleaned all day, you had better mean it!

Spicy Peanut Noodles

1/2 box of whole wheat spaghetti

1 tsp peanut oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3/4 creamy peanut butter

1 Tb Sesame Oil

2 tsp Rice Vinegar

1/2 c water

1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper (more if you live on the wild side)

1 Tb cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 white sesame seeds

1/2 tsp black sesame seeds

Prepare spaghetti as directed on the box. Drain out water when finished cooking. Toss with a drop of sesame oil and set aside to cool.

In a small sauce pan, heat vegetable oil and saute garlic for about 2 minutes. Do not let garlic brown. Add sesame oil and stir. Add peanut butter and continuously stir until it is melted. Stir in Rice Vinegar and some water. Keep adding water until it is a very smooth thick, but liquidy substance. Pour over noodles. Add crushed red pepper and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Before serving toss in cilantro and sesame seeds. If texture seems a little dry, drizzle sesame oil and toss.

Mama’s Mash

While I was at my mom’s last week I had a lemon that I didn’t use leftover from a recipe. I ended up placing it in a bag of oranges I bought. I never really buy fresh oranges, but I had seen tons of people buying them and suddenly got a craving. My sister had eaten one of my oranges and suddenly got the craving as well. She called me yesterday to ask me if I bought that bag of oranges with the lemon already in it.
Apparently, she and my mom were at the store yesterday when she said she wanted to buy a bag of oranges. My mom told her to look for the bag of oranges with the lemon it. I had a hilarious picture in my head of the two of them scouring the grocery store for non-existent bags of oranges sold with one lemon in it as well.
Speaking of Mom, she makes some killer mashed potatoes. I look forward to them on every holiday. What’s even better is the next morning. She takes the left overs to form patties and fries them up in butter. Potato patties are totally dreamy with a side of perfectly scrambled eggs.
When I was in Cincinnati last she worked up a batch of her mashed potatoes to go along side a wonderful pork tenderloin. I knew that my visit would constitute a nice round of potato patties as well. I mentioned to her that I had an idea that stuffing them with cheese and spinach may be a good way to mix things up a bit. We tried it and were both big fans.

Stuffed Potato Patties
serves 4
4 c mashed potatoes (my mom puts sour cream and cream cheese in hers, but you can prepare yours however you like.)
1 1/2 c spinach
1/2 c grated cheddar cheese
4 Tb butter
For each patty, you will use about a cup of mashed potatoes. Create a patty by taking 1/2 c mashed potatoes and shaping it with your hands. Press a well into the middle leaving room around the edges. Make sure not to puncture the bottom. Place a large pinch of cheese and a large pinch of spinach in the well. Make another patty with a 1/2 c mashed potatoes and place it on top of the the patty with the well. Reshape so both patties come together. Repeat these steps for each patty.
In a large frying pan, melt 2 Tb butter on medium-low heat. Place patties in pan and cook until well browned on each side. This will take about 7-10 minutes per side.
Serve hot!

I’ve Got The Remedy

I had mentioned in a previous post that when I receive my Fresh Picks box of produce, I am not always sure what they will be bringing me. Case in point, Burdock Root. When I receive a bunch of what looks like tree stems, I get a little intimidated. I had to do a little research on the item before I even attempted to make anything.
From what I read in various places, this Burdock Root is pretty darn good for you. It is an Asian root believed to have many healing qualities in it’s many forms; acne, hair loss, water retention, dandruff, and it is believed to purify the blood. Sounds like something that was peddled in the back of a wagon from a peddler who had the remedy for everything. “Social outcasts come one, come all. I have the cure for your acne, dandruff, and bloating all in one tiny little bottle.”
I didn’t have to go far for a recipe. I chose a simple preparation that was given on the back of it’s bag; Burdock and Carrot Slaw. The sweetness of the burdock and carrot along with the nuttiness of the sesame oil makes a really nice combination. And hey, if it heals a pimple it’s just an added bonus, right?

The Vegetables:
1 cup burdock, scrubbed well, julienned
1/2 cup peeled carrot, julienned
2 Tbs. green onion or shallot, minced
1 tsp. sesame seeds, lightly toasted

The Marinade:
4 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 Tbs honey

Sprinkle seeds over chopped veggies and toss with marinade. Chill 4 hours . Serves 4 – 6.

Note: I used a peeler to make the carrot and burdock into more of a noodle. I did not feel like chopping tiny little sticks all night.