Thursday, September 27, 2012

Red Potato Soup

{note the lack of bacon and fun toppings, this girl got hungry before snapping some pics}

Fall is always my favorite time of the year--chunky knits, boots, pumpkin everything (-except-pie) and pots of soups that last for days to fight the chills of overnight lows...

I had forgotten about a ten pound bag of red potatoes we had stashed away in our pantry (yeah, that paleo diet thing didn't go so well the first time around).. and they were all but ready for their trip to the landfill. Thinking on my feet, I decided a soup would be the best and most delicious way to use those guys up and I couldn't be happier with my results.

I used this original recipe from Taste of Home, but changed up a few things, noted below.
Red Potato Soup , adapted from Taste of Home
  • 2-1/2 pound unpeeled small red potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1/2 package of regular bacon, chopped*
  • 8 cups milk* (I used 2%)
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 vegetable bouillon cubes*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper*
  • 3/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup half & half*
  • Shredded cheddar cheese and chopped green onions
* indicates recipe ingredients that I've changed from the TOH recipe.

  • Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10-12 minutes or until tender. Reserve one cup of potato water, drain and set aside. 
  • In a saute pan heat bacon over medium high heat until crispy. Drain fat and place bacon on a paper towel to drain and crisp up.
  • Dissolve the vegetable bouillon in reserved cup of water.
  • In a soup pot saute the onion, celery. Add the milk, water, bouillon, salt and pepper; heat through (do not boil) ~8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • In a large saucepan, melt butter; stir in flour until smooth. Cook and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Slowly pour butter/flour into the soup, stirring continuously.  Bring to a light boil; cook and stir for 4-5 minutes or until thickened.
  • Add potatoes and half & half; heat through. Sprinkle with bacon, cheese and green onions.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kitchen Crafts

I've always been one of those people that believes that the kitchen is the heart of the home (I'm also one of the 'live to eat' people, and I can't help but assume these two people are more times than not rolled into one).  Most of the time there's a little space in my head that's continuously thinking of ways to redesign my current kitchen into one of blogosphere envy (oh, and on the world's smallest budget) and then proceed to dance around the house telling D what grand plans I have for our little abode. 

Well, this little gem found here was satisfying enough to keep me from ripping down cabinets and back splashes and made me feel that much closer to having the coziest little kitchen that ever was.  That, and the fact that I couldn't agree more with the sentiment inside. I had all of the materials on hand, so to complete this project was essentially free of cost.

--So not a kitchen person?, That's okay--you can use the same method to create some art for your bedroom, closet, or bathroom using appropriate images from a fashion magazine or travel and leisure (think water images for a bathroom print).

*small word of warning, cutting the letters to precision takes a little bit of time. I'm not one for patience, but this job took me a good two hours so set up your Netflix to something that doesn't require a whole lot of attention and you're good to go!

Thanks Mollee for the inspiration and tutorial!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Zucchini Cakes

*So sorry for the radio silence. I had scheduled some posts for last week while I was out of town getting some dental work done and there was some sort of glitch (let's get real, probably human error), and none of them were published.)

 I could only hold off on the zucchini posts for so long (what can I say, I love the stuff and it's so incredibly versatile in the kitchen). With the season's bounty of zucchini still lingering around the farm stands, I present to you a new and super simple way to serve up some veggies. With just a few pantry ingredients you can transform as few as one zucchini into a unique brunch item, lunch or light weeknight dinner. You can prepare them as a side dish or serve 'em up by themselves topped with sour cream or marinara for a vegetarian entree. Best served warm and fresh from the griddle. Get the full recipe over at Minted where they were featured on Foodie Tuesdays. If you haven't yet make sure to "Like" Minted on Facebook to keep up with the latest in food, fashion and successful ladies.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tied In a Bow

So today I was faced with the option to post yet another zucchini recipe...or share this cute little 'do I was rocking last weekend. Some dirty hair, a morning of pilates and work hour quickly approaching, the only thing I felt like doing was throwing a bun on top of my head. Thanks to Pintrest and the amazing hair tutorials out there I was able to do just that---but not look like I had been sweating it out all morning. Here's to all the little girls that never wanted to wear those big shoe lace bows.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Zucchini Bites

If you have ever tried to grow your own summer squash you know things can quickly get out of hand and by the end of the season you have more zucchini than you might know what to do with (aside from ding-dong-ditching around the neighborhood to lighten your load of the goods). I've been cooking up the veggie in all kinds of new ways that I'll be sharing with you in the coming days, starting with today's zucchini bites. Perfect for a snack or along side a burger, these tot-like nibbles are a more nutritious version of Napoleon's favorite lunch-time side dish.

Zucchini Bites
(adapted from here), makes a dozen

  • one zucchini, grated
  • 1/4 c parmesaen cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c Italian Style breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
Grate the zucchini and place it in a bowl. Sprinkle it with the salt and let sit 5-10 minutes. Turn the zucchini out onto a clean dish towel and wring out over the sink to eliminate any excess water for a crispier tot (You'll be surprised how much water is released!).

Go ahead and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Put the zucchini back in a bowl and combine with the egg, cheese, cornstarch, black pepper and breadcrumbs. Mix well until combined. (*so a random side note, for most of elementary school I thought "Shake well" was a brand name--like Mars Candy, because it was on the side of all of my juice boxes..)

Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray and fill each slot with the zucchini mixture. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown on the outside. Sprinkle with salt while warm and serve with ketchup or ranch or just pop 'em in your mouth.

 *If you haven't yet, make sure to become a follower of Dressing on the Side!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Black Bean Soup

The calendar is reading September, the pumpkin spice latte has arrived and over night lows here in south eastern North Carolina reached 62....that's reason enough for me to cook up my first batch of soup and truly embrace my favorite time of year. For just a few dollars and a few of my tips you too can be making this hearty and delicious soup all season long.

It starts with a few cans of black beans, a quick trip to the grocery store salad bar (like I've talked about here) and some pantry items that have probably been chillin' (no pun intended) in the back of your fridge since Cindo de Mayo.

Black Bean Soup (serves 2-6 depending on appetites!)
  • 2 (14oz) cans black beans, drained
  • ~ 2 ribs of celery diced
  • ~1/2 carrot diced
  • 1 small onion, 1/2 diced, 1/2 roughly chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2-3 tbsp medium salsa
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 extra large vegetable boullion cube
  • 4 cups water
  • two cloves garlic
  • 1 lime 
  • 1/2 bell pepper, any color 
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
**Okay, I know it looks like a lot, but the celery, carrot, onion, bell pepper and even sometimes jalapeno can be found at the by-the-pound salad bar at your grocery store--utilize this and just get what you need. These ingredients only cost me $1.75 and I don't have all the extras hanging out in the fridge with no immediate use for them.

In a large soup pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot and bell pepper and season with salt and pepper. Cook down 5-8 minutes until vegetables begin to soften (but before they begin to brown). Grate in the cloves of garlic and cook an additional minute or two. Add the jalapeno last since heating spicy things tend to make them even spicier, and cook for an additional 2 minutes or so. 

Add two cups of water and bring to a boil, then dissolve in boullion cube (you can also substitute 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth). Add in the additional 2 cups of water and the black beans and stir to combine. 

Lower the heat to medium low and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes. Using a potato masher go around the pot and break up the beans just a little bit. Stir in the cumin and simmer on low an additional 5-20 minutes, or just another 5 minutes and then heat for about 20 minutes on low, covered before serving. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips and/or a squeeze of lime. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Walk on the Wild Side...

So I'm not one to typically follow or endorse "trends" in the most literal of forms. I might mix up some existing closet items to follow a particular theme one day (ie. Mad Men, Gossip Girl, Taylor Swift, old stereotypical Jewish get the idea), but I typically try to shy away from full on fads and trends until they've proven just a little bit of longevity and I can figure out a way to make them work for me that might be just a little bit different than the styling of every other person out there. 

Styling for me is always a little bit challenging as well. Holding a few extra pounds and standing just over 5 feet tall, things really start to get exceptionally challenging, which is why when I tried on these snake print skinnies, I was expecting the worst (the obvious expectation of looking like I was recreating the movie Anaconda and I had just eaten a whole person).  In fact, I'm pretty sure my exact words were "Who wants to see something funny?"

Well, I tried these puppies on and knew they would be coming home with me and would find a regular place in the rotation this fall. There's just enough stretch in them to work all over for me, and since they're a skinny pant they're cut to stop at the ankle of average height people (meaning there's only minimal bunching at the ankle when they're uncuffed for me, a rare and welcome feature!). 
Paired with blacks and pops of neons (like a yellow scarf) or a flowy colored top (think rich oranges or fuschia) they're the perfect statement piece for a casual day at work or a fun option for dinner and drinks. 

Moral of the story--try things on even if you wouldn't normally go for them and think there's no way they can work for you. You might be surprised at how much you've been limiting yourself!

*excuse the lack of glamorous blogger style pictures...

note ranger sneaking into that last photo...

I picked up my pair of snake skinnies from The Limited, available here.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Crazy Moose

Somewhere in my attempt to update from the mountains my photos got lost and random posts were re-posted and then the internet dropped (probably literally off of a cliff)  and that was the end of that. So here's a quick peak (no pun intended) into what Dressing on the Side has been up to on the road. 

*As a reminder, we're city people and maybe even considered beach people. We've always traded camping for hotel resorts and fishing trips for shopping--so this was one to remember.

We stayed at this cute little extra large, cabin. 
With this pretty view....

And we caught and cooked our own fish. (That's rainbow trout with the crispy salmon topping).

We climbed mountains...

and tasted wine at this vineyard that's forced to grow along the side of the mountain (how very RHONJ of us!)

We even visited a General Store that had old school candy plus this fake out, chocolate river rocks.

How have you dolls been saying goodbye to summer?

 I did spend some time in the kitchen sharing some Dressing on the Side favorites with my I hope to have a new recipe or two for you guys this week.