Category Archives: Sidedish

Super Easy Moroccan Style Couscous

Sometimes, I have mere minutes to get a meal done and have it be healthy lately. Our gaming, work, house hunting, and work out schedules are getting crazy! This is a side dish that I love and I especially love how easy it is. If you can boil water you are 50 percent there. It’s inspired from a dish I had in this absolutely delicious Moroccan place I ran across. By no means is it authentic but I can’t resist how easy it is. I do all sorts of variations on this and it really is a meal saver.

  • 1/2 cup dry couscous (multigrain is even better if you can get it)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 sachet of reduced salt chicken oxo
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • ground pepper to taste
  • water
  1. Combine the ingredients in a 2 cup measuring cup.
  2. Boil the water and add to the measuring cup mixture until you reach the 1 1/2 cup mark. Allow to sit for atleast 5 minutes. Fluff and serve!

See? Just two steps. Easy and delicious! I love serving this with a nice chicken breast with middle east spices and salad. This serves two generously. Each serving contains 213 calories, .8 gram of fat, 47.9 grams of carbs, 2.2 grams of fibre, and 6.1 grams of protein. Takes about 10 minutes, how can you lose?

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Mmm spring is finally starting to be in the air out here. Time for the dip veggies to come out, or maybe even time to do a lovely middle eastern style dinner. I can see it now…a variety of those awesome middle eastern dips, veggies, pita, some form of kabobs, enjoyed outside with good company. Yes, definitely time. Every time I pick up a roasted red pepper hummus from the store it is awful and bitter though. Obviously, this is something that needed to be dealt with. To the hobbit hole! *insert batmanish music here*

So pretty!

  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 540 ml chickpeas
  • 3 tbl lemon juice
  • 2 tbl light peanut butter (you can use tahini if you like, sesame seeds don’t always like me)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. wash, dry, slice in half, and remove the seeds of the pepper. Place it cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet. Place under the broiler until it blisters and even burns a little, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the skin best you can after it has cooled enough to be handled. I never stress much about removing the skin though.
  3. Place the red pepper and the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
  4. Allow to chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Serves 12. Each serving (about 1/4 cup) contains 72 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 2.4 grams of fibre, 12.3 grams of carbs, and 2.9 grams of protein. A lovely filling snack or side dish really. Great when added to a falafel. Mmm!

Potato Surprise

When I was in my early teens my dad came back from a trip to south africa with a bunch of french culinary magazines for me. I was elated, oh so many new tasty things to pour over, this was of course before the internet was so full of the information it is now. Back when BBS stuff was more the norm. I know, I’m a fair bit aged. I came across a recipe that was called potato surprise that just sounded oh so tasty…and it was. It was the first time I had come across a stuffed potato and I was in love. Years later, driving across the country with my husband I encountered another version of the stuffed potato that made me raise an eyebrow in Alberta. Served in this amazing steakhouse was a spiced potato surprise. I have been adding a kick of spice to them ever since. Now that things around here are a bit lighter I have had to re-imagine my potato surprise and you know what? It is still awesome. Oh potato surprise, you never let me down.

  • 2 large potatoes (any type will do, I’ve done them with them all. For a really interesting show get yourself a blue or purple potato. Awesome!)
  • 1/4 cup fat free sour cream
  • 1 tsp low fat cooking margarine
  • 1 tbl montreal steak spice
  • 1 tbl finely chopped chives
  • 30 grams parmesan cheese
  1. Clean, dry, stab the potatoes with a fork 6 times. Bake at 350F for 1 hour. Sure, you can do them in the micro but I hate the texture you get when that is done. Bleh.
  2. Carefully slice the potatoes in half and allow to cool enough that you can handle them safely.
  3. Scoop out the insides of the potato leaving about a centimeter of flesh still attached to the skin. Reserve the potato flesh in a bowl. Place the skins on a baking sheet.
  4. Add the sour cream, spices, and half the cheese to the potato flesh you reserved. Mash until smooth and creamy (this happens best if the flesh is still warm when you are working with it). If you want to get fancy get out the mixer and whip.
  5. Spoon the mixture back into the potatoes (or if you are being fancy pipe them back in). Top with the remaining cheese.
  6. Place back in the oven at 350F for 20-30 minutes. Serve.

Makes 4 servings (1 half a potato). Each serving contains 191 calories, 3.1 grams of fat, 34.3 carbs, 3.3 grams of fibre, and 7.3 grams of protein. It’s definitely a filling special occasion side dish. The work involved really isn’t much considering it can be broken up. I tend to bake and stuff the potatoes before hand and then do the final baking step right before serving. They work out just fine if you make them the night before. Great for serving to guests.

Polenta

I think I may have given the pink slip to some of my naughtier starchy side dishes. This is your basic polenta that you can either keep plain or build on. I love using this as a side dish now. You can do so much with it, it is delicious, and filling! I never knew how easy and fast polenta was to make. You can even make it ahead of time. Which I did, because I wanted to make sure I had nice firm cakes for grilling or pan frying. I even had one of these as a snack with a bit of mint sauce on top. YUM! I love these little cakes and can’t wait to bring them out for grilling season.

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1.5 cup broth (any will do, I used chicken)
  • 1.5 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp italian spice blend
  1. Combine the broth, water, and seasonings in a small pot.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the cornmeal. Stir constantly. The polenta will form up quite quickly. It is done when it is thick enough to pull away from the bottom of the pot.
  4. Pour into 6 jumbo muffin cups or 12 regular sized ones and smooth.
  5. Allow to cool. Refrigerate atleast 30 minutes or overnight. Reheat before serving by either pan frying until slightly golden or grilling.

Makes 6 servings. Each serving contains 77 calories, .9 gram of fat, 1.5 grams of fibre, 16 grams of carbs, and 1.9 grams of protein. My favourite part of these has to be when you panfry them just right, they get this crunchy crust and the inside is nice and creamy. Yum! A superb side dish.

Pistachio Avocado Pesto

I’m one of those people who has a sensitivity to pine nuts. It’s not so bad to have stuff that may have been in contact with them but if I eat them, well…it’s just not a happy time. So, for the longest time pesto was something I eyed with longing and dread. Then one day years ago I made my own, but with different nuts. There was dancing and rejoicing far across the shire. Pesto was once again a tasty thing to be had again. I have done it with walnuts, pecans, and almonds but so far my favourite has to be this newest version with pistachios. Pesto is chock full of nice and healthy ingredients but sadly so full of fats. It’s those fats though that are giving us those healthy benefits so they stay. This is one of those things to be enjoyed in moderation.

  • 30 basil leaves
  • 4 tbl pistachios
  • 4 tbl extra virgin avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbl parmesan cheese
  1. Pulse the pistachios to the desired texture in a blender.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until a paste or sauce forms.

Makes 4 servings. Each serving contains 92 calories, 8.3 grams of fat and .9 grams of fibre. To help metabolize a lot of that fat you can add a clear dissolving fibre supplement to the mix without any loss of taste or texture. This pesto is great tossed with angel hair pasta but my favourite is serving it as a flatbread topped with a nice light goat cheese and prosciutto.

There are some really great high fibre flat breads out there or you can make this using some of the dough from the deep dish pizza crust recipe.

Hardcore Hobbit: Barley Stew

Alright, it’s a barley risotto. So creamy, so nummy, and so filling. According to the game barley stew is made with barley and coney stock. Well, to me when you get a grain like that and some stock together it just begs to be made into a risotto. Yes the barley tells me to do things. You can hear it too…I know you can…don’t deny it. Granted, my husband claims I have already made barley stew…that one time I was a bit overzealous adding the barley to the soup. It was tasty yes but this is more elegant and involves mushrooms. What self-respecting hobbit turns down another opportunity for mushrooms? Exactly.

  • 1 cup barley
  • 200g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
  • 3 cup coney stock (any stock of choice works here too, chicken especially)
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 14 g parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbl dried parsley (more if using fresh)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray
  1. Combine the stock and the wine in a pot and heat to near boiling. Lower the heat to low and allow to simmer. We want to keep that good and warm for when we make the risotto.
  2. Spray a pan and heat to medium. Add sliced mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently until done. About 2-4 minutes depending on desired doneness. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add the shallot and garlic to the pan. Cook until the shallots begin to turn golden.
  4. Add the barley to the pan and toast for a couple of minutes. Stirring constantly.
  5. Now is the time to have your adventure in babysitting. Add the stock mixture one or two ladles at a time. Allow the liquid to mostly absorb before adding another ladle.  This process takes around 20 minutes, so be patient and keep stirring.
  6. After the last ladle has been poured in and mostly absorbed, add the parsley, parmesan, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and serve immediately.

I like this topped with an additional tablespoon of parmesan but that is not included in the nutritional info. Serves four, each serving contains 252 calories, 1.8 grams of fat and 8.5 grams of fibre. I know! Check out that fibre. That’s the reason why you feel so full after eating this side dish. You can serve this for two as a main dish. Prepare to be super full! I love risotto.

Hardcore Hobbit: Carrot Sticks

Really, how hard could duplicating carrot sticks be? Well, let’s see. According to the game you need carrots (uh huh), and butter (what?). To make them epic we need allspice. Carrot sticks with butter…hmmm…aha! How about carrots sticks that are tossed in a butter and allspice coating? A great way to liven up tired old carrot sticks and definitely helps anyone pump up their will (power). Get those veggies in!

  • 1 tsp light butter or cooking margarine
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 2 carrots
  1. Slice the side of the carrot to create a rectangle. I hate peeling carrots and I find this method makes a nice looking carrot stick. First you slice one side of the carrot:Then you place that cut side down on the board and cut the other sides in the same way making the carrot take on a rectangular shape:
  2. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise and then again for each half. Cut the resulting sticks in half vertically and tada! Pretty carrot sticks:
  3. Mix the butter and allspice until smooth.
  4. Heat a pan to medium. Drop the butter blend into the pan, swirl for a few seconds then add the carrots sticks. Remove from heat. Swirl the mixture a bit longer to coat the carrots and serve!

Who knew carrot sticks could be so involved? In the end you get a tasty still crunchy carrot stick that is covered with a butter spice sauce. Num! Serves 2. Each serving contains 25 calories, 1.3 grams of fat and .9 grams of fibre.

Want to know what happened to those carrot trimmings? They went to a worthy cause:Our little Godric is a very hungry boy.