Fast meal · Side dish

The Fastest Way to Make Oven-Roasted Potatoes

See those crispy brown potatoes at the top of the picture? Read on!

I love discovering helpful tricks in the kitchen. I don’t mean like putting a rubber band around the spray nozzle and soaking the next user, I mean tricks that help me get a delicious homemade meal on the table in record time! When potatoes are on the supper menu, it can be tricky to get them cooked if you are pressed for time.

My husband and I love oven-roasted potatoes, but they can take 25-30 minutes to get done. I recently discovered a super-fast way to make them. We all know the microwave cooks things faster, but I don’t always love the texture of foods cooked that way. The technique I’m going to share starts off with the microwave, but ends in the oven.

Here’s how to make these crispy, golden potatoes in record time ~

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prep a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Cut your potatoes to whatever shape you’re wanting – diced, wedges or into fries.
  3. Place the potatoes into a dish that allows you to steam. I have a pot from Pampered Chef that works perfectly. Don’t over-crowd the potatoes. Using a dish big enough to let them cook. The more potatoes, obviously the longer they’ll take to cook.
  4. I don’t add any liquid at all!
  5. I place my 1 quart size container in the microwave and cook on high for 5 minutes. Potatoes should be soft, but not mushy.
  6. Put potatoes on the baking sheet, Season potatoes as desired. Place in oven and roast for about 10 minutes, or until golden and tender. Or you can cook them on the stovetop in a skillet coated with cooking spray and/or a little olive oil.
This is the updated version of the pot I have and love.

Crispy, delicious potatoes can be on the table much faster with this 2-step method of microwaving and browning. I hope this trick is as helpful to you as it has been for me!

If you need mashed potatoes done easily here’s my best tip for those!

Appetizer · Side dish

Creamy Homemade Hummus

Creamy hummus. I learned to love it when we went to Israel. Not only does it taste great as a dip, it actually has lots of good health benefits. I had only purchased it in the store until I recently watched Girl meets Farm on Discovery plus. She made the process look easy…and it really is! It’s a little time consuming, but most of that time is just letting the Chick peas soak overnight! There is very little hands-on time! (I have some lovely pictures of my hummus that I hope I’ll get to finally upload for you to see how creamy this recipe turned out!. In the meantime you can go to my Instagram and see my pictures there. You’ll find me at RefreshHerblog.)

Like any recipe, one benefit of making it yourself is that you can control all the ingredients, adding what you like. The other blessing is the cost. As I figured it, it was at least half the cost of purchasing it, and maybe even a third! This recipe cost me about $3 total and it made a huge bowl of hummus!

My notes: The recipe calls for one cup of chickpeas – I went ahead and cooked the whole bag at one time, then I froze the other half so the next time I need hummus, the chick peas will be ready to process!
This is a basic recipe that needs a little flavor. Adding a sprinkling of paprika on top is good, or adding in sun-dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers would also be good additions!

Here’s the recipe from Girl Meets Farm ~

Creamy Homemade Hummus

Ingredients

1 cup dried chickpeas

1/2 teaspoon baking soda 

3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste 

1 tablespoon lemon juice 

1/2 cup tahini 

2 cloves garlic, optional 

1/4 cup cold water 

Olive oil, for serving 

Finely chopped onion (for topping) or onion wedges (for dipping) 

Chopped fresh parsley, for serving

Fresh pita, for serving

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cover the chickpeas with enough water to reach 2 inches above the height of the chickpeas and soak them for 12 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place them in a large saucepan with the baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cover them with 1 to 2 inches water and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer until the chickpeas are very soft, about 2 hours. Drain them, let them cool slightly and then transfer to a food processor.

Add the lemon juice, tahini, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the garlic, if using, and blend until very smooth, about 1 minute. With the motor running, drizzle in the water and continue to blend for 1 more minute. Taste and add additional salt to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and top with a drizzle of olive oil and some chopped onion and parsley. Serve with fresh pita and onion wedges and enjoy

You can serve hummus with vegetables or dip pita bread in it. I found lots of recipes using hummus here. If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to try it with the veggies and then branch out.

Are you a hummus lover?

Side dish · snack · zucchini

Crunchy Zucchini Chips

When you love the crunch and salt of chips, but you’re trying to eat healthy, is there anything aside from a bag of Lay’s that will satisfy that hunger? The answer is Yes! Zucchini Chips! If you own a garden, chances are you have an ABUNDANCE of them right now and are wondering how to use them up! If you don’t have a garden, you’re going to want to get the grocery store to purchase a zucchini or two to make this crunchy side dish!

Crispy, salty and the perfect accompaniment to sandwich!

The two most important ingredients for this yummy recipe are:

  1. Zucchini
  2. Time – These take 2 hours at a low heat, so start them early in the afternoon.

When I found this recipe I was a little skeptical, but because I had the two important ingredients, I decided to try them for myself! I am totally won over!

Here’s all you do ~

Zucchini Chips

  1. Slice the Zucchini to the thickness of about that of a quarter. (I used my food processor and used the blade with the thickest slice and they were just right.
  2. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Lay the slices in rows on the cookie sheet.
  4. Spray lightly with cooking spray and lightly salt. (They shrink while they dehydrate in the oven and the salt taste will intensify, so don’t use too much.)
  5. Place in a 250 degree oven for one hour. Flip the zucchini over. Rotate pans.
  6. Bake for up to another hour, or until they turn light brown and crispy.

These are best served right away. The recipe says they will turn chewy as after a while. We didn’t get to test that part because I baked up one zucchini and we ate every bite!

Some tips:

  • These shrivel up quite small, so make twice the amount you think you’ll need!
  • It’s probably better to go a little thicker with the slices than too thin. They just might need longer to bake.
  • Keep a watch on them after that first hour. Some of mine got a little too dark.
  • Eat them right away.

I’m not one who loves weird snacks. Don’t even think about giving me a rice cake! I tell you that to emphasize that I thought these were just delicious! I bet sprinkling them with some grated Parmesan cheese would be an extra layer of deliciousness!

I served these alongside a pork tenderloin sandwich and it made a great side dish! They’d also make a great snack. I’m thinking children would never know they’re getting a helping of vegetables! What they don’t know won’t hurt them!

What’s the strangest vegetable you eat or have eaten as a snack or side dish?

Happy crunching!

Lightened Up Recipe · Side dish

Fried Green Tomatoes

Does every part of the country enjoy Fried Green Tomatoes like southerners do? Down here they come on BLT sandwiches, under poached eggs and also deliciously just on their own. Their batter of cornmeal/flour preceded by their bath in buttermilk makes them crispy on the outside, and tangy and soft on the inside. You just can’t beat a fried green tomato fixed this way….or at least that’s what I thought!

Enter this lighter version of the recipe that is browned in a pan without any batter coating its exterior. What? Is this possible? Yep. It’s simply browned in teaspoons of Canola oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. The little twist comes from the creamy Remoulade that is served with it. Oh my goodness! What a delicious combination the sauce and green tomato make! It was enough for me that I didn’t even miss the crispy batter, and I bet you won’t either! Neither did I miss the extra fat and calories! Here’s how to make them:

Pan-Fried Green Tomatoes with Cayenne Remoulade

2 Tbl. light mayo
2 Tbl. Plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp Creole seasoning (I used a dash of Cayenne pepper)
4 medium green tomatoes, cut into 1/2 -inch slices
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 tsp Canola oil

Instructions:

  1. To make remoulade, stir together mayo, yogurt, mustard, and Creole seasoning in small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of tomatoes and cook, turning once, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to platter and keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and tomatoes. Serve tomatoes topped with remoulade.

Slice tomatoes
Season and place in skillet with oil
Make remoulade and serve with tomatoes

I served them with grilled chicken and brown rice and it was a wonderful summer meal! If you love green tomatoes, but still want to eat healthy, I urge you to give this recipe a try and see if you’re not converted!

Mexican Food · Side dish

A New Side Dish for Delicious Variety!

If there’s an area of meal planning where I find it hard to come up with new ideas, it’s the category of side dishes! It’s so easy to get into a rut of green beans, corn and baked potatoes. We like each of those things and they’re easy. They take no thought, but they get really boring after a while!

Recently when looking for something to add to my meal of Tandoori Shrimp, I came across a Brown Rice Salad and Black Beans and Corn recipe. I had all the ingredients on hand, so I went for it! Were we very happy I did! My husband raved about it the first night and when leftovers were served the next day, he exclaimed again how good this was! I heartily agree! You could serve this warm or cold and it would be perfect.

It’s hard to get a pretty picture of brown rice, so you have to trust me on this one. The flavor combinations are just so good!

Brown Rice Salad with Black Beans and Corn

1 Cup instant uncooked Brown Rice
15 oz. Black Beans, drained
1 Cup frozen corn kernels
1/4 Cup diced scallions
2 Tbl cilantro
2 tsp pickled Jalapeno peppers – I left this out
1 Tbl lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions:
Cook rice according to directions on package.
While rice is warm, add all other ingredients. Serve with lime wedges.

This couldn’t be easier! It would be a great accompaniment to Mexican meals, chicken or fish.

Get out of your side dish rut and try this. You may be a long time before you look at baked potatoes again!