Simple and satisfying side-dish

About two years ago my husband found a recipe for a sweet potato and bacon “salad;” it was a little too rich for me, but my husband loved it. The other day we were going to a friend’s house for dinner and charged with bringing a side. For some reason, I thought that the sweet potato and bacon salad had brussel sprouts, which my husband assured me did not. But brussel sprouts, bacon, and sweet potatoes sounded like a fabulous combo, so we decided to give it a try and create something new.

Sweet potatoes, salty bacon, savory brussels; sounds perfect to me! I imagined something hearty and satisfying, yet still somewhat green and my husband wanted to make sure we made something paleo or primal. I also did not want to make a dish that had a million ingredients. I’m the type of girl who wants simple, wholesome ingredients, and not need a huge list for the grocery store.

Anyways. We whipped the sweet potato, bacon, and brussel sprout salad up and it turned out great! It was a hit at the party and something we will definitely make again, probably for a 4th of July BBQ!

So here’s the recipe – simple, and very forgiving! If you change the quantity of the ingredients here or there, it should still be pretty tasty.

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A Family Recipe to Feed a Crowd

I’m going to let you in on a secret recipe today; a recipe from my husband’s Portuguese family. Having a hard time figuring out what dish to make or bring to your next event? Look no further; bring Portuguese Beans!

A big pot of these flavorful beans are easy to make and a big favorite around here. We make them for family gatherings, BBQ’s, and parties. If by chance you have any leftovers, they taste even better the next day for lunch or with some runny eggs for breakfast.

I like this recipe because it is very flavorful and has only a few ingredients. These beans go great with any meal, whether it be hamburgers and hotdogs, steak, chicken or eggs! I like to use beer in the recipe, but if you want to have a gluten-free pot, it is easy to substitute the beer for chicken broth and it will be just as tasty!

I’ve fed about 20 people with this recipe, when it is a side-dish. Technically it’s about 26 servings of beans or so. I cook it in my regular large sauce pot. It’s a pretty cheap dish as well. A huge can of beans costs about $5, bacon $2-5, tomato sauce $2-3, and everything else less than $1. So you can feed over 20 people for about $10.

Portuguese Beans for a Group:
Ingredients:
1 12oz pack of bacon or 8-10 slices of the thick cut kind, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 15oz cans of tomato sauce
1 bottle of beer
OR
2 cups chicken broth
1 huge can of pinto beans, rinsed (the #10 can size with 26 or so servings)

Directions:
In a large pot, crisp the diced bacon
Remove bacon from pot with slotted spoon and set aside
In bacon grease, cook onion and garlic until translucent
Add the tomato sauce, beer or broth, and the bacon into the pot
Simmer for 10 minutes
Add rinsed pinto beans and simmer for about 15-30 minutes
Add more liquid if necessary (keep about an inch or two of liquid above beans)

Enjoy!

Portuguese Beans

A bad picture of the beans; I always forget to take a picture because I’m too busy eating them and they are gone by the time I remember!

12 Days Until Christmas: Grain-free Appetizers

I have two holiday celebrations before Christmas and everyone is to bring an appetizer. Since I am sure there will be plenty of indulgences, I am dedicated to bringing something healthy that is grain-free and sugar-free.

Here are a few finger foods/appetizers that I have either made with success, or I plan to give a try:

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Spicy fish and vegetables

I don’t particularly care for fish that tastes fishy. I know all the fish haters out there will understand what I mean. I’m trying to eat more fish. I’m trying to like it. For the most part, seafood is starting to grow on me. I will definitely try any fish that is presented to me and I might even like some of it.

One of the fish we buy the most is Mahi Mahi (or dolphin fish, but apparently people are less likely to eat it if it has the word “dolphin” in the title). The texture of the Mahi Mahi is pleasant; flaky but also thick and moist, and it’s not overly “fishy” but it still tastes like fish.

The other night we made Mahi Mahi and a ton of vegetables from our CSA box since they were starting to pile up! Here’s the recipe for Spicy Mahi Mahi.

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Summer Garden Recipes

Just a small portion of this week's CSA veggies

Yesterday I attended a class at a local nursery and garden shop about how to cook with your summer bounty. While I don’t really have a garden (just a couple containers), our CSA box is full of lots of summer garden goodies.

The nursery staff showed us how they make a few of their favorite dishes using items they grow themselves. We even got a little mini-cookbook and were able to sample the goods. I didn’t try the banana and apricot or blueberry muffins, but I imagine they were pretty tasty. I had spearmint ice tea which wasn’t overpowering but still refreshing and I enjoyed the basil and Parmesan rounds as well as the bruschetta topping. They also served a cowboy caviar with blueberries instead of beans, which made it light and perfect for hot days.

Here are few recipes from the class:

Chavelle’s Bruschetta

Heirloom tomatoes
1/2 Walla sweet onion
Fresh basil, coarsely chopped
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
Grey or sea salt
1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (the more aged the better)
Olive Oil
Baguette

Chop tomatoes and onions. In a small bowl, add the vinegar then whisk in olive oil and garlic. Add the tomatoes and onions. Stir gently. Stir in basil and salt and pepper to taste. Bruschetta is best served after a few hours, at room temperature. If not serving immediately, omit the basil until right before you serve. Spoon on grilled or toasted baguette slices.

Rounds of Pesto (from the cookbook California Sizzles)
Makes 36

3/4 cup slivered basil leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (grate yourself or buy a good quality cheese already grated)
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
French baguette

Stir together basil, cheese, garlic and mayonnaise until blended. Spread each piece of bread with a generous amount of mixture. Broil bread approx. 3-4 minutes on a cooking sheet, until bubbly and lightly browned.

These were pretty tasty but I try and avoid too much bread. This mixture might be tasty on squash rounds or other veggies.

Teresa’s Mixed Berries with Marscarpone-Limoncello Creme
Serves 8

3/4 cup chilled whipping cream
4 oz container marscarpone cheese
3/4 c sugar
3 tbsp limoncello
8 cups assorted fresh berries
3/4 c raspberry preserves
1 tbsp grated lemon peel

Combine cream, marscarpone, 3 tbsp sugar, and limoncello in a large bowl. Beat until soft peaks form. In another bowl, combine 1/2 sugar, berries, preserves, and lemon peel. Toss gently. Divide berry mixture into 8 dishes and top with cream mixture.