Spike Your Side Dish

You might have noticed that Brian and I like to add a little splash of booze to some of our recipes from time to time, especially sweets like our Tipsy Blondies or the Bourbon-Apple Oatmeal Cookies. Recently, we tried to take our love of cocktails to a different dish—a side dish.

Bourbon-Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes by somethingwewhippedup.com

Bourbon-Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes by somethingwewhippedup.com

We served these Bourbon-Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes at brunch with some baked eggs, but the dish would work equally as well along side your dinner. It took less than 5 minutes to prep and then we were free to work on other things while the dish baked up. The end result is a roasted sweet potato that has an extra little touch of something that will make you smile as you eat it. And isn’t that what good food is all about?

Bourbon-Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Makes 2 servings

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes (1 large or 2 small), cut to a 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a medium bowl, add the sweet potatoes, olive oil, maple syrup, bourbon and cinnamon. Toss to coat and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Season with salt and roast for 15 minutes, use a spatula to flip the sweet potatoes over, return to the oven and roast for 10 to 15 minutes more or until browned and cooked through.

SWWU Tip 1: It’s easy to double or triple this recipe and make enough for a crowd (or leftovers). 

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Flavor Starters

Cilantro-Lime Flavor Starter

Flavor Starter Cube by somethingwewhippedup.com

What’s for dinner tonight? Or breakfast tomorrow for that matter? I’ve always got an answer in my back pocket when I’ve got a stash of flavor starter cubes in my freezer. My most recent batch came together after I found myself with an abundance of cilantro. Instead of letting it wilt away, I blended the leaves up with some garlic, salt, pepper, lime juice and olive oil and filled an ice cube tray with the mixture.

SWWU-Flavor-Starters-02

Cilantro-Lime Flavor Starter Cubes (somethingwewhippedup.com)

The frozen cubes are a great way to get a quick meal started. Around our house, we use them most often to whip up a delicious batch of scrambled eggs that are anything but ordinary. Simply put the frozen cube in your skillet, heat and let melt. Once it’s melted, swish the herb and olive oil mixture around your pan and add eggs. Cook your eggs as you normally would and you’ll enjoy a refreshing flavor that goes way beyond just seasoning your pan with a bit of butter or oil.

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Adding a frozen flavor starter cube to a skillet (somethingwewhippedup.com)

In addition to eggs, you can use flavor starter cubes to season a pan before searing chicken or cooking up some vegetables. I’ve even used one to add a little something extra to a classic grilled cheese.

Cilantro-Lime Flavor Starter Cubes

Makes about 12

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 large bunch cilantro (about 3 to 4 cups)
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the garlic in a blender or food processor. Pulse until well chopped. Add the cilantro, lime juice and olive oil. Blend until well combined, adding more olive oil if necessary to get a liquid consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Pour herb mixture into an ice cube tray. Freeze then transfer cubes to a zip-top bag for extended storage.

SWWU Tip 1: I don’t always fill the each well of the ice cube tray to the top. Smaller cubes are great when you’re making something for one person. Experiment making your cubes different sizes and see what works well for you.

SWWU Tip 2: Have other herbs on hand? This recipe works equally as well if you substitute parsley, basil or more. The lime juice can be substituted with lemon juice or left out entirely.

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Unexpected Treats

It’s funny what we do and don’t know about our coworkers. I once knew the ins and outs of a former colleague’s tumultuous relationship all because she spoke just a little too loudly while she was chatting on the phone with her girlfriends. Sure, it’s an interesting story, but please, leave your drama at home. This week, I learned something much more appealing about one of my current coworkers: she has a green thumb. A really green thumb! Check out the treasures she shared with me from her home garden:

Unexpected Treats by somethingwewhippedup.com

Unexpected Treats by somethingwewhippedup.com

I was so excited to get the beautiful tomatoes and fresh herbs (including rosemary, basil and parsley) home so I could whip something up. Brian was out for the evening, so I had the kitchen and the menu planning all to myself. Instead of going straight for the tomato-basil combination, I decided to make something that would highlight the fresh rosemary. I had a sheet of puff pasty in my freezer and some shallots and goat cheese hanging around, too. This is how they all came together:

Summer Tomato Pastry Puffs by somethingwewhippedup.com

Summer Tomato Pastry Puffs by somethingwewhippedup.com

I paired the pastry puffs with a small salad and a glass of crisp white wine. It was the perfect summer dinner to treat myself with. I recommend you do the same sometime soon.

Summer Tomato Pastry Puff

Makes 6 puffs

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 7 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • good quality olive oil
  • sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Divide the pastry dough into six equal rectangles (see picture below). Place on prepared baking sheet, brush with the egg and sprinkle rosemary on top. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and puffy. Remove from oven.

2. Meanwhile, place the garlic and butter in a medium pan and heat over medium until butter is melted. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until caramelized. Once browned, remove to a paper-towel lined plate and set aside.

3. To assemble, top each puff with a bit of the goat cheese and caramelized shallots. Arrange tomatoes on top of each. Drizzle olive oil over the top and sprinkle with sea salt.

SWWU Tip: Don’t care for rosemary? You can substitute any fresh herb when prepping the puff pasty pieces: thyme, flat-leaf parsley and, of course, basil, would all be delicious.

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No-Fuss Fish

Brian recently picked up some bluefish from the local farmers’ market. It’s not a pick I’ve tried before, and I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. As the name suggests, the fish does indeed have a blue tint to it, though it gets lighter as it’s cooked. It’s also a bit more oily than my normal go-tos, but it’s loaded with protein (about 22 grams per serving). We decided on a simple foil pack filled with fresh lemon and herbs from our window garden.

Bluefish Foil Pack by somethingwewhippedup.com

Bluefish Foil Pack by somethingwewhippedup.com

It was a quick and easy dinner to put together and I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The fish has a rich flavor, but I wouldn’t call it fishy. I think the lemon really helped to cut the fattiness and make this a nice, light summery supper. We paired ours with some roasted potatoes and sautéed kale and mushrooms. It all came together in about 30 minutes. Not bad!

Bluefish Foil Pack Dinner by somethingwewhippedup.com

Bluefish Foil Pack Dinner by somethingwewhippedup.com

Bluefish Foil Pack

Makes 4 servings

  • 2 1/2-pound bluefish fillets
  • 2 lemons, sliced thin with seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 o 10 sprigs lemon thyme (or any herb of your choosing)
  • 4 tablespoons dry white wine

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place two pieces of aluminum foil on you work surface (when folded, they should be large enough to cover the fish completely). Place 5 pieces of lemon, slightly overlapping, in a row in the middle of each piece of foil. Top each with a piece of fish and sprinkle the butter evenly over the top. Season with salt and pepper and top with the remaining lemons, creating another row on top of each. Evenly divide lemon thyme over the top of each and pour 2 tablespoons white wine on top.

2. Secure each foil pack by bringing your two longest pieces together and rolling them down to the fish and folding the sides in. (Don’t worry about making this part neat. You just need to foil the foil down so the fish is sealed in so it can be cooked with steam).

3. Transfer packs to a sheet pan and place in oven. Cook for 20 minutes or until done.

SWWU Tip 1: Bluefish does not freeze well. Cook this pick within a day or two of buying it.

SWWU Tip 2: You can cook this in as many or as few foil packs as you like. Cook a whole 1-pound fillet for a nice group presentation or break it up into smaller pieces if you desire. 

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Relishing the Radish

It wasn’t until last year that we started to appreciate radishes. Sure, they’re pretty, but we didn’t have too much experience with them beyond the kitschy carved flower garnishes that were popular platter adornments in the 80’s. Our love affair started out simply, with a quick appetizer, and now we’re using the peppery vegetable in everything from side dishes to main entrées. We’re hooked! Here are three delicious ways we’ve recently featured this surprisingly versatile veggie:

Radish Bites by somethingwewhippedup.com

Radish Bites by somethingwewhippedup.com

Radish Bites

This appetizer couldn’t be easier to put together (or a better value), especially when last-minute guests show up. Simply cut a baguette into thin pieces, top each with a thin coat of good-quality, room-temperature butter (this is where you should splurge a bit), then sprinkle with sea salt. Top each with 1 to 3 pieces of radish (cut very thin) and serve.

Roasted Radishes by somethingwewhippedup.com

Roasted Radishes by somethingwewhippedup.com

Roasted Radishes

We served this slightly sweet side dish at our Easter dinner this year. It’s a quick one that you can easily make while multitasking on other projects. Just slice radishes down the middle and add olive oil, salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast in a 375°F oven for 15 minutes, turn and cook 15 minutes more or until tender. Remove from the oven and drizzle with freshly squeezed lemon juice and toss with roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.

Caramelized Shallot, Radish and Arugula Pizza by somethingwewhippedup.com

Caramelized Shallot, Radish and Arugula Pizza by somethingwewhippedup.com

Caramelized Shallot, Radish and Arugula Pizza

We whipped up this last dish after a long day of farm projects. We got a little help from some time-saving store-bought dough, but feel free to make your own. Roll out prepared dough onto a pan and brush with olive oil. Cook in a 475°F oven for 6 minutes or until lightly browned (pop any bubbles that form with a fork). Remove from oven and top with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, thin radish slices and caramelized shallots. Cook for 4  to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted, then top with arugula and a few thin slices of Manchego cheese. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes more or until the arugula has wilted and the cheese has melted. Let sit for 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

SWWU Tip 1: Flavor does matter with this veg. We’ve noticed that grocery-store finds tend to be a bit bitter and less sweet than the ones available at the farmers’ market. Buy radishes with the greens still on for the best flavor. And don’t toss them out! You can add a few to a salad or cook them down like you would spinach greens.

SWWU Tip 2: You’re likely to see a few different colors and varieties of radishes at your farmers’ market. Try them all out and see which one suits your own tastes. We’re especially liking the mild flavor of the French breakfast variety these days.

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