Category Archives: Sides

Quick and Easy Guacamole


Quick and easy guacamole

If it takes more than 5 minutes, you did it wrong.

Avocados are the best.  According to an Applebee’s commercial I  heard a few hours ago, avocados are a “superfood.”

Guacamole is a quick and easy topping for a lot of Mexican dishes, and it’s also darn good as a simple dip.

I wanted to drop this little recipe nugget in with the Chipotle Nachos post, but that one was getting a little long-winded already.  So, here it is: Casey’s patented 3 minute Guacamole (makes enough for immediate consumption by 2-3 people).

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon diced cilantro
  • 3-5 shakes of salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 cup finely diced tomato (optional)

Here’s what to do:

Step 1) Cut the avocado in half.  Remove the pit and the outer shell.  Then cut the avocado into small chunks and put in a bowl.

Step 2) Take a fork or potato masher and mash the avocado until it turns into a chunky paste.

Step 3) Add in the juice from half of a small lime, the salt, cilantro (yum!), olive oil.  Using the fork, mix it all together.

Step 4) Add in the tomatoes, if desired.

guacamole on nachos

See how nicely it finishes the nachos?

A quick note on avocados and guacamole.  They go brown real quick, so make this right before you are ready to eat.  If you have to refrigerate for a while, take a piece of plastic wrap and push it right down over top of the guacamole in the bowl, so that there is no air between the guac and the plastic wrap.  If you just cover the bowl, your guacamole will look like mud in about an hour.

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Summer Pasta Salad


Pasta Salad

Perfect for weekday lunches

I did it, y’all.  The research paper is done, the presentations are done, the reviews are done.  And now I have from now until August to work, read, write, blog and enjoy the pleasant Florida summer.

You’ll have to excuse my lack of posts over the last week.  It was a rough one.

But I’ll try to make up by posting some of the things we’ve been eating.

One of our favorite weekday lunch ideas is pasta salad, which we make in varying forms about every other week.  It’s great because we can make it on a Sunday afternoon and it’s good for several days of lunches – which means having less to do in the mornings which in turn means more time to sleep.

The recipe that follows was the mix that we happened to put together last week, but I encourage you to add in whatever you can find around.  Cool, crisp summery veggies seem to be the best compliment to the pasta, I think.  We like ours heavy on the veggies, so reduce those numbers if you like it more pasta-y.

Oh, and we added in a can of garbanzo beans, which don’t have a ton of flavor by themselves but add some good protein to the lunch.

What you need:

  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 diced cucumber
  • 1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup of mozzarella cheese
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 box multi-colored rotini pasta
  • 1 cup Italian dressing (store bought or make yo’ own)

Here’s what to do:

Step 1) Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Prepping the pasta salad veggies

Prepping the pasta salad veggies

Step 2) Dice the carrots, celery, bell pepper and tomatoes.  Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas.

Step 3) When the pasta is cooled, place in a  large serving bowl and add in the diced veggies and cheese.  Pour in the Italian dressing and stir to coat.

Baddabing, baddaboom.  Lunch for a few days.


Tasty Beer Bread


Easy Beer Bread

Easy, butter beer bread - so, so good.

Yeah, I hadn’t heard of it either.

But if someone says you can put beer in bread, or beans in brownies, I can resist trying it out.

So this one is exactly like what it sounds – it’s regular bread, except it has beer in it.  You leave out the yeast, and the yeast in the beer does the trick.  The resulting bread was extremely good.  And way easier than I expected.

The recipe I used made from a bread that had a slightly buttery, crunchy crust and a dense, moist bread.  It’s not the kind of bread you’d make PB&J on, but it’s perfect as a side to an otherwise light meal.  OR, as we did, just make it in the middle of a lazy afternoon and eat half the loaf while you watch a movie.

As far as the beer goes, I have no idea.  I’ve made this once, with Miller Light (because the other beers we had around have citrus flavors, and I wasn’t sure how that would taste), and it was delicious.  I’ve heard/read that Guinness makes a good bread as well.

Oh, and you can make it vegan by subbing vegan margarine (like Earth Balance) for the butter.

(Recipe adapted from food.com)

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 cups flour (sifted – or at least spooned into the mixing cup – do not pack!)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can beer
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (1/4 cup will do just fine)
Here’s what to do:
Step 1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Step 2) Mix the dry ingredients and the beer in a large mixing bowl, making sure to get rid of all clumps.  Add half of the melted butter to the mixture.
Step 3) Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan, and then pour the remaining butter on top (you could leave this out if you want, but I liked the buttery crust)
Step 4) Bake for 1 hour, uncovered.  Then remove and let cool for 15 minutes (or don’t, but it’s going to be hot – fair warning).
sliced beer bread

5 seconds after I burnt my hand trying to cut the bread right out of the oven

But, if you’re in the mood for a different flavor, my good friend and fellow blogger BNF coincidentally whipped up her own batch of unconventional bread recently – I’ll guarantee you it’s good.

Vegetarian Stuffed Bell Peppers


Stuffed Peppers

Easy, cheesy, beautiful | Photo by HFLP

I hope everyone out there had a great Memorial Day weekend.  We spent a lot of time on the boat, the jet ski and in the pool, saw some old friends, caught a Rays game and ate lots of good food – which was as good a break as I could hope for from the heat and tedium of school in Gainesville.

We went bowling, too, which is something that, despite my enthusiasm for, I am absolutely terrible at.  You’d think rolling a ball in a straight line would be easy, but it ain’t.  I did, however, win $1 during the aptly-named “Strike it Rich” competition held Saturday nights at that bowling alley, which was enough to make me smile but not quite enough to get a pack of gum from the vending machine.

Back in Gainesville now, and back to the blog.

Before we left, I whipped up some stuffed peppers, which is a great thing to make if you’ve got a few peppers around and don’t want to the grocery store.  Really, you can stuff them with anything you’d like.  I used a hefty amount of yellow rice, but brown rice works great as well – some people even like to use quinoa or cousous.  Feel free to experiment.

Also, this particular recipe made more stuffing than I could fit in four peppers.  I could have used more peppers, but decided instead to save the extra stuffing to make a burrito the next day – which was delicious.

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 large bell peppers of any color
  • 3 cups cooked rice (I used yellow rice, but brown is good as well)
  • 1/2 can black beans
  • 1/2 can corn
  • 1/2 large onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14 oz crushed tomato (jarred or fresh tomatoes crushed by hand)
  • 1 cup cheese (Mexican blends are good, but whatever you have handy works)
  • 1/4 cup diced jalapenos (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Serve with salsa and sour cream
  • 1/2 packet or a few shakes of fajita seasoning (optional)

Here’s what to do:

Step 1) Cook rice according to package instructions and set aside.

Step 2) Cut the tops off of the bell peppers and scoop out the seeds and white stuff.  They need to be softened before being stuffed, so either steam them for a few minutes or boil them (which I did) for about 8 minutes.  You want them “soft” but not “floppy.”  They should still stand up by themselves and hold their shape, but they shouldn’t be “crisp.”  That’s the best I can do – use your judgement :)

Step 3) In a small fry pan, sautee the onions and garlic in a little olive oil until the onions become translucent.

Step 4) In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked rice, sauteed onions, garlic, jalapenos, black beans, corn, fajita seasoning and 1/2 a cup of cheese.  Stir it up good.  This is your filling.

stuffed pepper filling

Filling for the peppers | Photo by HFLP

Step 5) When the peppers are softened, stand them upright in a baking dish and fill them with stuffing mixture and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

uncooked stuffed peppers

Pre-cheese, pre-oven

Step 6) Pour a 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of the dish around the peppers (this creates a steamy environment and prevents the peppers from browning too much).

Step 7) Cover with foil, but make sure not to let the foil sit on top of the peppers or your cheese will melt to the foil.  Set the oven to 350 degrees, and bake covered for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese on top is golden brown.

stuffed peppers in the oven

Vegetarian stuffed peppers | Photo by HFLP

The water in the bottom of the dish should have cooked off, and the peppers should be tender but not mushy.  Serve with a little sour cream and salsa, or hot sauce if the jalapenos didn’t do the trick.

Thanks for reading!


Vegan Lentil Curry


Vegan Lentil Curry

Vegan Lentil Curry | Photo by HFLP

I had an excellent food-day last week.  Ali and I made this awesome curry for lunch, and our friends (and writers of Veganerds) cooked an amazing Afghani feast for dinner.  I went to bed fat and happy, as another friend likes to say (I’m looking at you, Mr. L).

This delicious lentil curry was fantastic and way easier than the length of the ingredient list would seem to indicate.  It’s really lentils + tomatoes + spices.  I adapted the recipe from here.

I hadn’t really cooked with lentils much before, but turns out it’s no different than rice or couscous or anything else.  Fill a pot with water (according to the package instructions, of course) and let ’em simmer until they plump up and soften.  I read that it’s very important to wash them thoroughly before cooking, but the ones I bought were pre-washed.  I tried rinsing them anyways, but the water ran clear immediately.  So, just keep that in mind.

This would make a great side dish, or, as we had it, a great main course if served with some pita or rise.  All vegan, all the way.

I’m going to try my hand at beer bread and homemade polenta in the next few days, so be sure to check back in!

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 cups red lentils (I used regular, green-ish lentils)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
  • 2 tablespoons curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ginger root, minced
  • 1 (14.25 ounce) can tomato puree (I used crushed tomatoes)
Curry Paste

I don't know one curry paste from the next | Photo by HFLP

Here’s what to do:

Step 1) Begin cooking lentils according to package directions – this usually takes between 20-30 minutes.

Dry Lentils

Dry lentils in a towel in a strainer (for rinsing) | Photo by HFLP

Step 2) Begin cooking the onions in a large skillet or pan with a little oil until they begin to carmelize.

Step 3) Mix all of the remaining ingredients, EXCEPT the tomato puree, in a mixing bowl.  When they are nice and mixed, add them to the onions and let cook for about 2 minutes, mixing the onions into the spice mixture.

Curry Spice Mixture

A plethora of spices | Photo by HFLP

Step 4) Next, add the tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes) to the spices and onions and let simmer until the lentils are done to you liking.

Step 5) The lentils should have absorbed most of the water.  Taste a few and make sure they are soft and tasty.  When the lentils are done, mix with the curry base and serve immediately.

Wet Lentils

Plump and delicious | Photo by HFLP

We loved this recipe, and it’ll definitely enter our monthly rotation.  Quick and easy, healthy and lazy, and a good way to mix in some vegan meals into my diet.

Thanks for reading!


Vegetarian Sausage Balls


Sausage Balls

Spicy sausage balls | Photo by HFLP

Oh, the venerable sausage ball.  The friendliest finger food I’ve ever known.

These little guys are simple, and if I do say so myself, delicious.  I could have come up with a more elegant name for them, but it wouldn’t be true to the nature of the food.

A little bit of sausage, a little cheese, a little spice in a small, warm ball of dough – really, what could be better?

They are perfect for pot lucks, parties and hanging-out-watching-the-game…

These have been made for years with regular sausage, but they adapt well to vegetarian sausage.  For the latest batch, we added some dice jalapenos, and it added the perfect zip to complement the sausage (and vegetarian sausage isn’t real spicy, so it’s a good addition).

They are incredibly easy to make, the only un-fun part (and it’s really the only part) is mixing all the ingredients, which I usually convince someone else to do for me.  You can only do it by hand and there’s something unagreeable about sausage squishing through my fingers, vegetarian or otherwise.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb vegetarian sausage (use the ground Gimme Lean brand, trust me)
  • 3 cups Bisquick
  • 2 cups of your favorite shredded cheese (I usually go cheddar, but other kinds work well)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced jalapenos (optional, but recommended)
  • Less than 1/8 cup milk (really just a literal “splash”)

Here’s what to do:

Step 1) Mix the ingredients, by hand, in a large mixing bowl.  When you can’t seem to get all the Bisquick absorbed, just keep going.  If you still can’t, add another splash of milk (a little goes a long way).

Mixing sausage balls

Ali mixing for me | Photo by HFLP

Step 2) Form into mounds roughly the size of ping pong balls on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Baking sausage balls

Cram 'em on the cookie sheet | Photo by HFLP

Step 3) Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes

Sausage balls right out of the oven

Fresh from the oven | Photo by HFLP

Enjoy ’em.  Thanks for reading!


Creamy Corn Souffle


Corn Soufflet

Creamy Corn Souffle | Photo by HFLP

If I had another, more sinister blog called “Unhealthy Food Lazy People,” I’d probably put this recipe there, instead of here.

But, it’s not meant to be eaten as anything other than a side dish, and for that, it’s a great recipe.  It’s a Paula Deen-ish kind of thing.

I made it last week for a Kentucky Derby party hosted by our good friends and the world’s greatest neighbors (no joke).  It was a smashing success, as it usually is.  (One of these years, the horse I bet on will net me the big prize, but that year wasn’t this year, or any of the last 10)

I call it a souffle because, frankly, that’s what it is.  But also, making things sound french is a good way to make them more impressive.  I mean, would you rather have a beignet or a big donut hole?  A cafe au lait or coffee with milk?  A pizza or une pizza?

It’s incredibly easy to make, just make sure to take it out of the oven at the right time.  It’s not cornbread, despite how it looks in the dish.  The top isn’t supposed to brown uniformly, just a little around the edges, if at all.  A toothpick test in the middle usually lets me know.

EDIT: And I just want to point out quickly, Jiffy brand corn muffin mix is not vegetarian.  I know the Martha White brand is, and they carry that everywhere right next to Jiffy, so go with that one.  Thanks, peppertree.

Here’s what you need:

  • 8oz of sour cream
  • Stick of butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cup of Martha White corn bread mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 can of cream corn
  • 9 x 13 dish, or something similar
Corn Souffle Ingredients

Stir it up, stir it up good, ugh! | Photo by HFLP

Here’s what do do:

Step 1) Mix all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Step 2) Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Uncooked corn souffle

Waiting for it's turn in the oven | Photo by HFLP

Step 3) Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Step 4) When the edges begin to brown, remove from oven and serve warm.

Now, just don’t sit and eat it all by yourself.

As always, thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to read my little blog.


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