Monday, April 30, 2012

Black Bean and Roasted Corn Summer Salad

 We love a great taco night around here. We keep them casual and fun and in our last two apartments never had the right place to indulge in sitting together and making however many tacos we could handle. We finally have the right breakfast bar to lay everything out and get down to taco business. The only sticking spot for taco night for me was always a side dish--so I whipped up this incredible black bean salad that's perfect on its own, can be eaten as a side dish, could be used as a meatless taco filling or could just be a simple new staple for summer parties (no mayo makes this ideal for outdoor dining and all the veggies will make it filling and easy on the waist line). 

Black Bean and Roasted Corn Summer Salad 
(serves 4-6 as a side dish), I'd at least double it for a party.

  • one 14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 limes
  • 1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 avacado
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

Put the thawed corn into a dry skillet and heat over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, until the corn starts to lightly brown/caramelize. 

 Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the zest of both limes, the juice of 1 1/2 limes (unless your limes aren't very juicy, then add the last half), the cilantro, olive oil and honey. Whisk together until combined. Add in the drained black beans and diced bell peppers and mix. When the corn is ready, add it to the bowl and give everything another stir. Cube the avacado and add it in right before serving. Fold it in to make sure the avacado meets the lime juice (this will help it stay green). Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

I told you this one was super simple..but the flavor is incredible and its a light, refreshing change to picnic salads or heavy beans and rice.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Royal Inspiration

Happy Anniversary William & Kate! For a year now, Kate's been the girl every guy wishes he'd met first and the girl that every girl wants to be...

A few style tips from the Dutchess...(as found on Pintrest)

Never underestimate the power of a simple, black wrap dress. For day, pair with simple flats--for night add some heels and an arm full of bangles. Swap out your every day bag for a sequined clutch and you'll be ready to dine with royalty.

Know your proportions. Pair slimmer pants with a top that's looser fitting (unless you're dressing up as Catwoman). Take a cue from Kate and still emphasize your waist with a simple belt to be sure your shape doesn't get lost. (Anyone else think it's bold to wear white skinny jeans in one of the rainiest places in the world?)

You can do all-over print, but pair them with a classic, fitted piece. A simple fitted jacket or cardigan can go a long way in breaking up a head to toe pattern. It'll also help keep you from looking like you have third grade pictures that afternoon.

*Note: Kate is almost always seen in flats and wedges...and has never had a major wardrobe malfunction..stock up in some patent black and some nude ones for summer and you're well on your way to dressing like a princess.

Oh, Kate and your coral denim. You can be grown up (and even a princess) and still wear colored denim. (I recommend these). Pair them with strong neutrals like Kate did here with black, white, and navy. You'll instantly be dressed up enough for a casual Friday without looking like your stepping off the school bus. Keep everything else fairly conservative and you can't go wrong. 

*A few other styling tips we've seen from Kate: 
  • In conservative settings it's okay to have a hemline above the knee...just keep your sleeve length to your elbow.
  • Don't over accessorize, especially when wearing something bold like an all over print, or colored lace. One statement piece is all you need.
  • Get back to basics. There's a reason why the LBD, trench coat, and black pumps have been around so long. Invest in quality in these pieces.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chicken Pot (no) Pie

In an effort to save time (our move gave me an extra hour per day back in commuting time...I guess I can't use the 'no time to really workout' excuse...) and money, I've been trying to focus on making meals that have accessible ingredients, are quick to make and taste just as good as eating at a restaurant (I try to keep the dish count down for clean up, too!) I first got the concept of this meal from a cookbook but after countless times of making it, I recreated it into something that can easily get you from the store to the table and have the comfort food flavor of being cooked all day (who has time for that anymore?) This dish comes together in under 30 minutes and uses just one deep skillet. It features a chicken and vegetable mixture in gravy (just like a pot pie filling) but instead of a pie crust and a long bake/set time, this recipe uses a can of quick biscuits that are torn up and line the bowl for the doughy, buttery flavor of a pie crust. 

Chicken Pot (no) Pie 
  • 2 chicken breasts cut into bite sized 
  • 1/2 a medium onion sliced into half moons 
  • 6oz cremini mushrooms sliced thin (white mushrooms will work okay for this too!)
  • 2 1/2 c frozen peas and carrots  (sometimes I use a frozen veggie mix with green beans and corn)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme 
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 2 tbsp butter 
  • 2 tbsp flour 
  • 1 1/2 c chicken broth 
  • 2-4 dashes hot sauce 
  • 1 can of biscuits
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Bake your biscuits to the directions of the can.

In a deep skillet heat 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook about 4-5 minutes until softened but not browned. Add in the mushrooms and cook down an additional 3 minutes. Add the chicken breast and spread across one layer in the pan, season with the additional 2tbsp olive oil and thyme and cook for about 8 minutes, until almost cooked through (it's okay if it's not completely cooked through yet!) Mix in your frozen veggies until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes--and create a well in the center of your pan. Reduce heat to low, meelt the butter and sprinkle with the flour, whisk together and allow to 'cook' for about a minute. Slowly add your chicken broth while whisking with the flour/butter mixture to thicken. Add in the mustard and hot sauce, stir everything together and return to medium heat. It's done when the mixture begins to lightly bubble and thicken to a gravy-like consistency.

 I like to serve this dish in a shallow bowl, with a torn up biscuit on the bottom and a whole biscuit, havled, on top!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Day of Rest....

 We're taking it slow today (and taking a cue from Ranger) as we pick up the last odds and ends from the tree house and finish unpacking what I hope will soon be a functioning office (because I'm fancy like that). Despite the rain there will still be a stop at the berry farm for strawberry ice cream, I mean we've gotta live a little... have an easy one dolls.

ps. in case you missed it, my first blog post for Minted went up yesterday, see it here (and add Minted to your bookmarks--these are amazing girls doing amazing things for women all over the world)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Waffles with Apple Walnut Topping

My current life doesn't exactly support Sunday brunches. This is not a fact I accept easily---maybe that's why I love the luxury of a lunch date when my schedule allows (we've already covered my love for lunch dates, especially those outside). In an effort to be rebellious I decided to question why we have to have brunch on Sunday....and if we have it at 7pm if it can still be called 'brunch' (I'm aware, technically it is not)...Regardless, a dreary Monday night was the perfect setting for a Sunday brunch style dinner (that may or not have been influenced by Gossip Girl...).  Cinnamon roll waffles with a glaze that tastes exactly like, well--a cinnamon bun, is taken to the next level when topped with a compote of apples and walnuts. Eat this Sunday morning, Monday night, or any other time you want because chances are you're an adult and WHO is going to tell you 'no'?...exactly

Cinnamon Roll Waffles (makes 12 waffles, serves 4)
  • 2 cups flour (regular all purpose or whole wheat)
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 c milk
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon 
In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl combine milk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ones until combined.

Cinnamon Glaze
  • 6 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 4 tsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
Right before serving, combine ingredients in a bowl. Spoon over the waffles.

Apple and Walnut Topping
  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled and diced
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add in the apples and sugar. Cook about 10-12 minutes until the mixture starts to bubble and the apples get soft but still have a slight bite to them. 

Make each serving 3 waffles. between each waffle drizzle the cinnamon glaze and spoon about a tablespoon of the apple mixture between each layer of waffle and on top of the third. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Easy Peasy Cheesy Garlic Toast

The pantry around here has been less than stocked as of late with the move last week and my sister's wedding in Jersey next week. I desperately wanted to spruce up pasta night after work on Friday (plus, I was famished and thought the pot of water would never come to a boil...does this happen to anyone else?).  Using a few left over ingredients in the pantry I made this incredibly simple but full of flavor garlic toast that I cut into little cheesy bread sticks and dipped into extra marinara sauce. It was the perfect appetizer for a glass of wine while I waited for the pasta to cook, but it could easily be an afternoon snack or simple appetizer for guests.

Cheesy Garlic Toasts
  •  2 ciabatta rolls, halved
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened at room temperature (or pop it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds)
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 c shredded mozzarella
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a small bowl combine butter, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Spread the mixture onto each piece of ciabatta and place on a baking sheet. Top with shredded cheese. On a center rack, bake for 6 minutes, then broil for 3-4 minutes until the cheese just starts to brown. Serve garlic toasts whole, or cut each into thirds using a pizza wheel to make bread sticks. Drink lots of wine.

Friday, April 20, 2012

To collar or not to collar?

This spring it seems like there's an extra flare of femininity in the world of fashion. There's tons of lace, pastels and gorgeous floral prints from teeny, tiny, ditzy floral prints  to over sized bold graphic prints. The most interesting, yet subtle, feminine touch I'm on the fence about are removable, decorative collars that you can pair with any basic top to give a little extra flare (or layer under a preppy crew neck for an extra touch of ladiness even if your road rage and sailor mouth might suggest otherwise...) I found these two affordable ones from ASOS that would be an easy way to try the trend, and Alison had posted a DIY Studded version a while back on The Alison Show (formerly, sheblogssheblogs). What do you collar or not to collar?

{who else wants her lipstick?}
 ps. Are there any spring trends you're on the fence about trying out?

collar one
collar two
Alison's DIY

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Grown up Mac 'n Cheese

Moving day is over and all of our belongings are in one place---not necessarily their appropriate organized place--but they're all at least under one roof. It's exciting to have natural morning light streaming in through the kitchen windows and to see Ranger frolicking free in the backyard (even if he did find a hole slightly bigger than him in the fence and try to make a run for it).

 I don't know about you, but sometimes during a major change I crave familiar things and in this case--it was mac and cheese (and chocolate chip cookies, but I didn't make it that far yesterday).  As I've grown up I've tried to stay away from foods that come in questionable form (like bright orange, powdered cheese), so I opted instead to dress up mac n cheese for the big kid world. The added nutrition of veggies and shrimp makes it possible to guiltlessly indulge in a childhood favorite.

Make this for a party of one, or enough to feed an army--it's super quick, packs tons of flavor without a whole lot of fat and is just as good a room temperature as it is fresh from the pot. This is definitely labeled under 'go-to' in my recipe book (it only takes as long as it takes you to cook some pasta!)

Grown Up Mac n Cheese (serves 4 as an entree)
  • 2 cups medium shrimp, peeled and devained with tails off
  • 1 crown chopped broccoli florets (about 1 1/2 c)
  • 10 sun dried tomato halves chopped
  • one lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 4 oz cream cheese (go for the reduced fat--you can't tell the difference in this recipe!)
  • 1 cup non fat, low sodium chicken broth  
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8oz elbow macaroni
  • salt + pepper
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the macaroni. 

In a deep skillet add 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the broccoli, season with salt and pepper, and cook about 5 minutes until softened. Remove the broccoli and set aside. Add the additional olive oil, garlic and shrimp. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and cook for about 3 minutes until just shy of done. Add in the sun dried tomatoes and the broccoli back into the skillet and sprinkle with dried basil. Melt in the cream cheese and slowly add the chicken broth while continuing to stir. Add the cooked elbow macaroni and combine with the sauce. Finish by stirring in grated cheese and lemon juice.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chicken Parm Bites

I have this thing about fast food--I don't find it all that fast...and I can usually do without the side of attitude that seems to accompany almost every meal. In a pinch (or to please D), I'll settle for a kid's meal, usually chicken nuggets [if you're stuck in a similar situation, Chick-fil-a  will upgrade your drink size when you opt out of a toy!] Naturally, my rare desire to indulge in such a meal came on a Sunday when no nuggets would be available. I raided my kitchen and opted instead to save both time and money and make an adult (but kid friendly) bite sized treat, chicken parmesan nuggets.

Chicken Parm Nuggets (makes about 2 dozen nuggets you can feel good about eating)
  • 2 medium chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 c Italian style bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 c marinara sauce (jarred or homemade)
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp water
  • canola or olive oil cooking spray
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Add the flour to a medium shallow dish. Add the breadcrumbs + 3 Tbsp grated cheese to a second shallow dish. Beat the egg with the water in a small bowl. Coat the chicken first in the flour and shake off the excess. Dip the nugget into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs. Shake off the excess. Place the nugget on a baking sheet. Repeat with all the chicken. Spray the sheet filled with chicken lightly with the cooking spray. Bake the nuggets for 15 minutes, flipping once halfway through.  Add the remaining cheese to the sauce to dip. 

This recipe in total takes about 20 minutes and can be served for a family lunch or dinner or even to entertain. The flavors are adult enough to feel a little fancy, but familiar enough to please even the pickiest of little eaters, too. Skip the drive-thru and make your own nuggets in just as much time. You can decide how much attitude to serve along side.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pricey Eats...

This video boasts the world's most expensive hot dog. We all know eating in New York can be pricey, but would you pay almost $70 for a fancy pants hotdog over a $3 street cart snack?

Friday, April 13, 2012

What (I want) to wear...

Who remembers the catchy 'fall into the Gap' commercials? I do, but come to think of it, I haven't seen a Gap commercial in ages...but I HAVE seen a change in their product and I think it's for the better.  I was never a huge Gap fan (maybe it's one of those things you have to grow into) since I always found it to be a bit drab and too basic to be any fun. Well, I change my mind publicly today. There's a few key pieces right now I wouldn't mind wearing know if today I wasn't required to dress brand specific. Here's what I'd want to wear today......if I could wear whatever I wanted--all courtesy of the Gap!

{this sweater, neutral with pops of neon $39.99}
{this belt, fading out the neon $29.95}

{these rustic red washed shorts $49.99}
{these flat, striped espadrilles $29.95}

Have a great weekend dolls! We're almost in the new house--with even MORE exciting news coming soon.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Banana Cream Pie

You may remember not too long ago in this post I confessed that I had never made a pie (after reconsidering this fact I remembered that once upon a time my dad and I made a pecan pie from a recipe out of the newspaper)... Well, pie shells are sold in pairs and I was not planning on moving one lonely pie crust if I could instead transform it into something delicious. 

You might also recall me mentioning that we typically buy enough bananas in one week to feed Curious George for a year...what better solution than a banana cream pie! ( Lauren, aside not, I planned to make a banana cream pie for Easter before you posted yours on Facebook! Great minds think alike!) Having never made a pie like this before I followed this recipe and didn't really alter much of anything ...unless you count the added steps of calling my mom while both separating AND tempering my egg yolks an extra step...or cleaning up the 1/3 cup hot custard off the counter because while still on the phone you decide to fill your pie crusts..I personally recommend just sticking with the recipe the first time around and you'll be sure to have great results. 

Things I WOULD do again..make this custard and fill small ramekins and make mini creme brules because this stuff is GOOD and needs no bananas or pie crust to enhance anything about it. Another thing I'd do...use a graham cracker crust--I could only imagine how a buttery, cookie crust would make this diner classic a new decadent treat. Lastly, add some cocoa powder to the whipped cream and top it with chocolate whipped cream--I mean come on--even the monkeys at the zoo know bananas and chocolate are a match made in good vs. evil food for you heaven. 

Do you have any great pie tips?

* a few other updates, we picked up our new kitchen table yesterday that will see plenty of facetime here on dressing on the side as a beautiful, naturally lit backdrop for many of my dishes.I can't wait to share that with you!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Big news....

Who thinks I need a red door? (and/or a tree trimmer?)

like this one of Melisa Russo of the lil bee via instagram

Hey dolls! I know, I've been neglectful and silent for too many days. I think all of my kitchen gadgets are now covered in a substantial layer of dust, but I promise this isn't a sign of rebellion or in vain.  All of this is because of some very, very exciting news... we're moving to a house. YES! We are saying good-bye to apartment life (hopefully until we're too old to want to tend to a yard) and moving into our first home, complete with a picket fence, backyard and lots of natural light. Don't worry Apartment Therapy, I still love you and plan to visit regularly for your small dwelling and exceptional design ideas. Things around here have been so quiet because most of my free time has been spent packing and planning and moving some things to the new place and by the end of those days we're eating out or indulging in Dressing on the Side repeats (hey, who doesn't have old standbys of perfect meals for hectic days?) . While I've promised to focus on food and fashion here, I'll probably be stopping in with home inspirations and DIYs every now and then if that's okay with all of you--this is such an exciting time I want to share it with my beloved readers. (I can't wait to pick up our french country farm table Wednesday!) I'm hoping to plant a vegetable garden, make a corn hole set and have lots of fun photos of our first summer with a backyard. (Raise your hand if you want to see lots of pictures of Ranger roaming in the "wild"! My hand is up..)

or if you'll settle for a Ranger taco...

I haven't totally abandoned my kitchen for the move!

I was a little busy in the kitchen for Easter preparing a family lasagna recipe, complete with homemade meatballs and sauce (I'll share pictures but if I gave you the recipe I'd have to kill you---and I'd hate to lose you as readers and friends over a little impatience....maybe someday..) and a banana cream pie (that I can share the recipe to).

So I'm asking a few things of you in turn for a few promises from me: be patient with me and check back often to see what new has been cooking up. I'll promise to update at least a few times a week, even if it's just to share some inspiration or some simple tricks I've picked up over time in the kitchen for the next few weeks until we're settled.

I'll be back tomorrow with some pictures of the lasagna and a post about my second by in two weeks, this time banana cream.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Strange Find

File this one under 'things I wish I could bring to the neighborhood block party' because how would you NOT be the talk of the town after showing up with a SQUARE watermelon? I spotted this on Glamour and I just can't get over it. Apparently in Asia they're growing square melons to save space while shipping them around the globe. A sight that will make you think twice and make your summer kitchen 100 times safer...


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's all in the sauce...

 I don't know about the location where you're reading from, but it seems like the weather gods here have forgotten about a little season called Spring and having run full force into the dog days of Summer. It's been hot, thankfully not too muggy and the 10 day outlook is filled with scattered afternoon thunderstorms (a forecast that repeats almost daily here in the summer, but rarely comes to be in physical form). The warmer days spent at the pool or beach always have me craving some lighter fare for dinner---often the only thing I can think of to complete a day of sand and sun is a lighter meal of fish or shrimp with some vegetables. 

The breaded and baked tilapia I made last week wasn't anything earth shattering or ground breaking in terms of flavor or technique--but there was one element of the dish that pushed it over the edge to something worth writing home about (literally, you guys are reading right?) --a quick, fresh tarter sauce that will convert even the most passionate hater of the condiment.  This is no tarter sauce from your filet-o-fish ("gimme back that filet-o-fish, give me that fish back"...who remembers this?) but fresh from the produce aisle and I can't wait to try it out on all sorts of things this summer---think Salmon burgers, fried shrimp etc. 

Produce Aisle Tarter Sauce
  • 1/4 C mayonnaise
  • juice and zest of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp fresh dill
  • 2 kosher dill pickle spears finely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about 1/2-1 tsp water to thin it out depending on how much lemon juice you got out of your lemon
Mix the ingredients together and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. 

This week I've been resorting back to old favorites and made this, this and this for dinner this week!

Dressing on the Side has also been spotted here.

What have you guys been eating?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Blogger fail.

Hey guys! I woke up with the best intentions, even 30 minutes before my alarm to ensure I had time to post this morning...thankfully I set a second alarm. After deciding first to read just a little but more of Mockingjay I found myself waking up in an uncomfortable heap on the loves eat I use as my reading perch. Needless to say if it weren't for that second alarm there's no telling when I'd finally rise today. I'll be back this afternoon with a post for you incredibly patient people :) I hope your morning is smoother starting than mine!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Stovetop Popcorn

{not your average bowl of popcorn!}

Good morning dolls! I hope everyone had a great weekend--either relaxing or adventurous or somewhere in between (mine fell in that last category that was mostly tiring and mildly stressful and felt more like a Wednesday/Thursday than a Saturday/Sunday). My highlight was eating this pizza and having a few Reese's peanut butter eggs.

Did you get punk'ed with any April Fool's jokes? A Glamour headline got me a little at first by announcing Jessica Simpson had octuplets (what can I say, I'm a sucker for celebrity gossip and THAT would be quite the story). This morning I'm also second guessing a friend's engagement ring picture text---that I feel both excited about and slightly guilty for second guessing it...maybe April 1st is not the best day to share such news?

In the kitchen this isn't necessarily a groundbreaking operation. Turns out I was late to the game on this and in my quarter century I've been deprived of the experience of making your own, flavored popcorn. We had an air popper growing up and I always loved when we could splurge on the colored kernels. The little me (who had a love for potato chip flavoring---to the point of licking it off the chips and returning it to the bag because I'm classy like that) would simply coat the kernels in butter and salt and dig in--almost always with a side of orange juice. I'm not sure where that last part came from, but even now, I occasionally feel as if I need to wash down my snack with a sweet glass of juice. 

While I'd go through phases of microwavable popcorn being my go-to snack--it never really lived up to what I thought it should be. I decided to try my hand at stove-top popcorn and I am never, ever going back to bags of popcorn that I would have to check the expiration date before setting the cook time. In the month since my 'discovery' D and I have concocted a few variations to satisfy whatever flavors we're craving at the time. We mixed together a bbq seasoning, a cinnamon-sugar combination for dessert popcorn and our absolute favorite savory Parmesean Garlic. It's so easy to make, uses tools and ingredients you probably already have in the house and everyone will think you're something of a snack god. My girlfriends and I have even talked about having a movie night party complete with a popcorn bar for everyone to make their own to fit their taste (think taco seasoning, dry ranch packets, maple syrup and pecans..etc). 

Parmesean Garlic Popcorn:
  • 1/4 vegetable oil
  • 2 to 3 generous handfuls of popcorn kernels
  • 3-4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 c finely grated parmesean cheese
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
In a covered large pot heat the oil over medium high with one popcorn kernel inside. When the kernel pops add the rest of the kernels and reposition the lid. Gently shake the pot back and forth on the burner as the kernels heat to prevent burning. The kernels should begin to pop in no time (I get WAY too excited when this happens). When there's about 2-3 seconds between pops and popping has slowed down remove the pot from the heat and put the popcorn into a large bowl. At this point you can flavor your popcorn however you want...but I'd recommend the following...

Add the butter, salt and garlic powder to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Mix in the parmesean cheese and try to pace yourself because you'll be sad when it's all gone.