A simple, delicious, microwave side! If your oven is wrapped up or it’s just too hot to cook, this is a sure-fire dish that appeals even to the vegetable-wary.

Apricot-Glazed Carrots
serves 4 (generously!)

1 large bag (32 ounces) baby carrots
3 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/3 c. apricot preserves*
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp cornstarch

*We’ve also thought of trying orange marmalade. I wonder if you could even use apple jelly, but the bits of fruit in the preserves adds a little something.

Place 1/4 cup of tap water into a 2 quart microwave-safe baking dish. Add carrots, butter, and light brown sugar, stir, and cover with plastic wrap. Use a fork to pierce holes in the plastic wrap, then microwave on high for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Carefully remove the dish from the microwave, discard the plastic wrap, and then stir in the apricot preserves, salt, and nutmeg. Microwave uncovered on high for another 2 minutes. Stir in cornstarch until completely dissolved, and microwave for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until carrots are tender and sauce is thickened.

Another Temp-tations recipe!

Why did I not give you this recipe last summer?

Spicy Artichoke Dip
from Better Homes & Gardens Hometown Potluck Favorites
serves 14

1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and coarsely chopped
1/3 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp diced green chile peppers, drained
2 tsp drained and chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced

In a large bowl, combine chopped artichoke hearts, mayo, Parmesan, green chile peppers, chopped jalapeno peppers, cumin, and garlic. Spoon in to an ungreased small casserole. Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.

for 40 servings (!)

3 14-ounce cans artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and coarsely chopped
1 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 4-ounce can diced green chile peppers, drained
2 Tbsp drained and chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 cloves of garlic, minced

Same preparation, but use a larger casserole — about 1 1/2 quarts — and bake for about 30 minutes.

This was an unexpected recipe. As a macaroni salad recipe, it came to me via Martha Stewart. And yet when I made it, I was reminded of nothing so much as that fabulous Graeco-Mediterranean condiment, tzatziki. So I’m not calling this Martha’s Macaroni Salad; I’m calling this Eleusinian Macaroni Tzatziki.

1 c. (4 oz.) elbow macaroni
1/4 c. light mayonnaise
1/4 c. light sour cream
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1/4 c. fresh chopped dill
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

In boiling, lightly salted water, cook the elbow macaroni to package directions.

Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, finely chopped cucumber, lemon juice, and dill in a separate, medium-sized bowl.

Drain the pasta and rinse in cold running water; drain excess water and add pasta to the cucumber-mayo mixture. Mix up thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste; toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate up to one day in advance.

Next time I think I might use half the recommended lemon juice, as I felt it made this salad just too “bright.” The sour cream does that enough. I wonder if you could substitute thick Greek yogurt for the sour cream entirely? It might be less sour and more creamy if you did so (and more authentic!). Next time I might also add some halved cherry tomatoes for a splash of color and another taste dimension; you could also add goat or feta or blue cheese, or sliced black olives to dress it up.

Grill up lamb kebabs seasoned only with sea salt, and enjoy this summer side dish to the tune of bazoukia and auloi.

I doubled this recipe for the family reunion this weekend. I needed a side dish that would keep 24 hours in a cooler packed in ice while we drove north to Maine. For some reason I didn’t want to make the potato salad I make for Jim’s family reunion. I was watching FoodNetwork earlier in the week and saw Sunny Anderson’s show, and this side dish seemed easy, pretty, and tasty.

1/2 pound of green beans
1/4 cup sliced Spanish olives*
1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 cup cubed provolone cheese
2 cups cubed salume
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt
freshly ground black pepper

*No olives in my salad. I substituted halved grape tomatoes. Marinated mushrooms would also be a good inclusion.

Fill a large bowl with a handful of ice and water. Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the beans and cook until tender but still crunchy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath to cool. Drain beans on paper towels, then cut into 1-inch pieces.

In a large serving bowl toss together beans, olives, red pepper, onion, cheese, and salami. In a separate bowl whisk in order, the red wine vinegar, sugar, oil and black pepper, to taste. Pour over salad, toss and serve.

This was my first adventure with blanching green beans, and I was worried I’d overdo them, but surprisingly I didn’t. I made this dish up on Friday afternoon and it wasn’t served until Saturday afternoon, and even after a day marinating in the oil and vinegar dressing, they were still crunchy. On the other side of the spectrum, a day marinating in the oil and vinegar tempered the flavors of the smoky provolone and the salume. Jim does not like raw tomatoes, but he actually liked the halved grape tomatoes that had soaked up the dressing. The highest praise any side dish could have garnered came from my uncle, who said “I like it…even if it does have green beans.” Well, that won him the privilege to keep all the leftovers.

Easily doubled. Kept like a gem in ice in our cooler almost 24 hours. (Side note: Want to know how awesome our cooler is? It kept a half gallon of milk icy fresh from Friday night to Sunday morning. I. Was. Amazed.)

Pacific Pork Kebabs with Pineapple Rice

For the kebabs:
1 lb pork tenderloin, cut in to cubes
2 medium-sized red bell peppers, cut in to large-ish pieces
Glaze 

For the glaze:
1/3 c. honey
2 Tbsp. pineapple juice
salt and pepper

For the rice:
1 c. cooked rice
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 8 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained and juice reserved, pineapple coarsely chopped (use the reserved juice in the glaze)
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

 

I did as much in advance as I could, slicing the scallions and breaking down the red peppers the night before and putting them in airtight containers in the fridge; draining the pineapple and mixing the glaze in mid-afternoon; all I had to do at dinner time was cut up the pork, thread the kabobs, and grill.

My experience with pork is that it is a fickle meat, difficult to cook thoroughly but remain tender. Usually I put it in the slow-cooker with a whole bottle of barbecue sauce and let it slow cook all day. Jim usually buries it in sauerkraut in a glass casserole and bakes it until it is cooked through and the whole house smells of sauerkraut. This recipe sounded so simple, sweet, and sticky, and looked so golden, and it’s Martha Stewart-approved, so it must be a Good Thing.

I think that if we had a real grill, not a grill pan on the stovetop, this would have cooked more quickly and evenly, and would have been less messy toward the end, when the pork juices and the glaze combined in the pan to form a smoky, sticky mess. Despite those obstacles, the meat turned out golden, not overly too sweet (even though we drizzled glaze every time we turned the kebabs), and incredibly moist and tender. I took off most of the fat when I was prepping the meat, so the meat really shone and there was no tough pieces.

As far as the rice, I think I needed to add some pineapple juice or honey, or a bit of both, to sweeten it; the scallions gave a bitter oniony bite with no counter. The rice needed the peppery-sweet pork to balance it, so to stand on its own it needs a sweet flavor to balance the onion, the chopped pineapple just didn’t cut it. I’d also be happy to serve the kebabs with plain ol’ rice. I’m simple. And we’re looking forward to making this recipe again when we have a house, not an apartment, and a real grill in the backyard.

This is the original recipe for this potato salad: Creamy Potato Salad with Lemon and Fresh Herbs, Bon Appétit magazine, July 2007. Over two summers I have tweaked the recipe until it is perfect for us: little fuss, as few ingredients as possible to let the flavours of the dill and the rice wine vinegar and the texture of the potatoes really shine. An absolute hit at the family picnic every summer. I made it twice in two days this year since there was none leftover after lunch on the 4th.

Dill Potato Salad
3 lbs or so baby red potatoes
3-4 green onions (scallions), chopped, both whites and greens*
3/4 cup mayonnaise
grated zest of 1 lemon
rice wine vinegar
salt & pepper
fresh dill, chopped**

*I tend to be a little more generous with the green onions because I leave out the celery that the original recipe calls for.
**The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup parsley and 1/4 cup basil as well, but the one time I added all the herbs the recipe called for I felt more like I was eating an herb salad than a potato salad. Since then I have eliminated the parsley and basil and slightly increased the dill.

Boil all the potatoes, skin-on until fork-tender, then drain and leave to cool. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into cubes (I eyeball it, but they’re about half-inch cubes). When there is one layer of potato in the bottom of the bowl you’re assembling the potato salad in, splash some rice vinegar over the layer and season with salt and pepper. After each layer, splash some vinegar down and season with salt and pepper, all the way to the topmost layer when you run out of potatoes (vinegar, salt & pepper that layer too). Toss in the chopped green onion, the grated zest, the mayonnaise, and the dill. Use as much dill as looks about proportional to the amount of potato salad, about 2 to 3 tablespoons more or less. I tend to be generous since I leave out the other herbs, but basically I just keep eyeballing it until the proportion of white to green looks about right.

The result is simple, with a bare few ingredients, with a “mouthwatering” flavor from the rice wine vinegar, lightness and slight crunchiness from the green onions, and as Jim says, “the fresh herbs really make it.”

From Aunt Louise

Tapioca Fruit Salad
2 3-ounce packages cook-and-serve tapioca pudding mix
3 c. milk
2 c. miniature marshmallows
1 container of whipped dessert topping
1 16-ounce can pineapple chunks
1 16-ounce can fruit cocktail
1 16-ounce can mandarin orange slices

Cook the tapioca pudding with the milk. When the pudding is fully cooked, add the 2 cups of marshmallows and stir until the marshmallows are mostly melted in; leave off the heat to cool. When fully cooled, mix in all the whipped topping. Add the canned fruits, drained, to the pudding mixture. Cover with clear plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Top the refrigerated dish with other fruits (sliced bananas, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, strawberries, cherries) or nuts, whatever your heart and tastebuds desire.

tapiocafruitsalad
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

photo, and decoration, by Rachel