Category Archives: Side Dishes

A New Favorite: Fennel & Apple Salad with Apple Vinaigrette

Written by Chris -

Apple and Fennel Salad with Apple Vinaigrette Recipe

This Fennel & Apple Salad has become my new favorite salad – and mind you, this is coming from someone who avoided fennel her whole life. Really. I’m not sure why it took me so long to warm up to fennel, but now, I can’t get enough of it. Fennel and apple play so well together and I’m kicking myself for just discovered this.

I have our local Farmer Fresh to You program to thank for my new obsession. Bi-weekly, we get fresh, local and organic produce delivered to our doorstep, so I like to challenge myself to create new recipes from what’s in the box. Two of our recent deliveries were overflowing with apples and fennel. My first thought was – shoot, what am I going to do with all this fennel? Then I remember coming across a recipe for a stacked fennel salad that caught my eye. It was more the visual that I fell in love with, because, well, fennel was the star ingredient.

I nearly always add fresh thyme, glazed walnuts or pecans and crumbled blue cheese to my salads, so why not incorporate these elements into a stacked fennel & apple salad? I thought I’d tie it all together with an apple vinaigrette that I created for Nestlé. Wow! I am certain I ate at least 3 servings.

I used a mandoline to slice the apples and fennel, but you could thinly slice with a sharp chef’s knife as well. I made one minor change to this recipe after photographing it. I’ve been using the mandoline to shave the apples and fennel almost paper-thin. This way, you can eat it with just a fork. It’s really just a matter of preference. One tip: if you like fennel, double the recipe and save half. This salad gets even better the second day! The fennel softens ever so slightly, the apple stays crisp and the flavors marry beautifully. I was topping everything with it – turkey burger, ahi tuna – you name it.

Apple & Fennel Salad with Apple Vinaigrette

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 1 1/2 cups Apple NESTLÉ® JUICY JUICE® All Natural 100% Juice
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 small red apples, washed, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 small fennel bulbs, washed and thinly sliced (about 4 cups total)
  • 2 to 3 slices red onion (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped glazed pecans
  • 1/4 (1 ounce) cup crumbled blue cheese
  • Fresh thyme leaves

Directions:

BRING Juicy Juice to a boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; cook for 20 minutes or until juice is reduced to ½ cup. Cool to room temperature. (Juice can be refrigerated in covered container for up to 2 days.) Whisk in vinegar, oil, mustard, salt and pepper.

apple fennel salad edit2

TO ASSEMBLE: Alternately stack layers of fennel and apple (and onion if using) on salad plates. Drizzle with apple vinaigrette. Sprinkle with pecans, blue cheese and thyme leaves.

Related recipes:

Apple Quinoa Salad Recipe Spring Farro Salad Recipe
Apple Quinoa Salad Spring Farro Salad

Tips for Perfect Fries: Rosemary Oven Fries

Written by Chris -

Rosemary Oven Fries Recipe

Boy, do I have a treat for you! Who likes fries? Who loves fries? I know you can’t see me, but I am waving my hand profusely. I have such a crush on fries! I’m somewhat of a carbohydrate addict. But, I do actually avoid them on occasion – I need to look after my girlish figure, after all. Seriously, I eat fries all the time. But let me clarify, my fries are always baked. No exceptions. They are so much better for you this way!

Here are some tips for the most delicious baked fries – as in creamy on the inside, crispy on the outside, pure deliciousness:

  • Cut the potatoes into evenly sized wedges or sticks so that all of the fries will cook at the same rate.
  • After cutting the potatoes, soak them in hot water for about 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Soaking them helps the potatoes release their starches.
  • Coat them with oil and season as desired (I have a seasoning tip below).
  • Then bake, covered with foil, for the first 5 minutes. Remove the cover, and continue baking until golden. This produces fries with a soft, creamy interior and a crisp outer crust.

This last technique came from my favorite culinary publication, Cooks Illustrated. I’ve always soaked my potatoes to remove the starch (this helps make them crispy), but covering them for the first 5 minutes of baking is a new technique for me. I never thought to steam them first. But doing so produces the best texture!

I love adding fresh rosemary to my fries. Certainly not necessary, but do me a favor, try it. I think you might just love it. I also like to add chicken bouillon as a seasoning to my fries. It has onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric and other spices. If you are vegetarian, sea salt does the trick, too. But if you aren’t, give bouillon a try. It’s a great all-around seasoning.

Here’s my go to recipe:

Rosemary Oven Fries

Ingredients for 6 servings:

  • 3 large russet potatoes (about 2 pounds total or 10 ounces each), scrubbed, each potato cut lengthwise into 10 to 12 evenly sized wedges (or cut into ½-inch-thick sticks)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon MAGGI Instant Chicken Flavor Bouillon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475° F.

Rosemary Oven Fries Recipe

Place potatoes in a large bowl; cover with hot water. Soak for 10 minutes (this will help remove the starch). Drain the potatoes. Spread the potatoes onto a kitchen towel; pat to dry.

Rosemary Oven Fries Recipe

Place potatoes in a large bowl; toss with oil, rosemary, bouillon and pepper.

Rosemary Oven Fries Recipe

Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 5 minutes.

 Rosemary Oven Fries Recipe

Remove foil; bake for an additional 15 to20 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown. Scrape the potatoes loose from the baking sheet with a metal spatula; flip over.

Rosemary Oven Fries Recipe

Bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes or until evenly browned. Taste and add sea salt, if desired. I like the added crunch, so I usually add a little sea salt. Serve immediately.

Do you have any special techniques for making the absolute best oven fries? Any special seasonings? Please share!

By the way, Todd & Diane from White on Rice Couple, photographed the hero shot at the top. They do such beautiful work!

Pesto Kale Chips Recipe Grilled Panzanella Recipe
Pesto Kale Chips Grilled Panzanella

Soup: The Remedy to the Winter Blues

Written by Nick -

It’s cold and flu season. It’s cold outside. It’s winter. February 2nd is Groundhog’s day and I’m not optimistic that Punxsutawney Phil has gotten over the fear of his shadow. So, my prediction, more winter, more cold, more SOUP.

Soups are the perfect remedy for cold winter nights. Chris Recently posted the about the warm and comforting Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, which inspired me to put together this soup round-up. What’s your favorite winter soup?

Cream of Mixed Vegetable Soup Recipe

Cream of Mixed Vegetable Soup

Prepare this in just minutes. It’s a great way to get some veggies and nourish your soul.


Chicken and Wild Rice Soup Recipe

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

The rice adds great texture to this home-style recipe. It’s a great alternative to the classic cold remedy “Chicken Noodle Soup.”


Baked Potato Soup Recipe

Baked Potato Soup

A baked potato with all the fixings – as a soup! This is one of my all-time favorite soup recipes. It’s comfort food at its finest.


Pumpkin and Gorgonzola Soup Recipe

Pumpkin and Gorgonzola Soup

I love the flavors of Pumpkin and Gorgonzola. This warm wintery soup will have you feeling cozy in no time.


Maggi Beefy Onion Soup Recipe

Maggi Beefy Onion Soup

Nothing beats a beefy onion soup on a cold night. Serve this HOT topped with LOTS of cheese (just my opinion, but you can’t go wrong with lots of cheese).


Pumpkin Cheesy Soup Recipe

Pumpkin Cheesy Soup

I think the chopped pistachios topping is the real highlight of this recipe. I just love pistachios right now.


Broccoli Cheese Soup Recipe

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli and Cheddar cheese make the perfect pair. This soup is perfect as an appetizer or even as a main meal.


Nourishing the Soul: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Written by Chris -

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Soup is comforting, especially during the winter months—creamy butternut squash soup warms the body and feeds the soul. Paired with salad and whole grain crackers or freshly baked bread, soup makes a healthy and satisfying meal.

Butternut squash is technically a fruit because it contains seeds, but most think of it as a vegetable. It’s shaped like a large pear, has cream-colored skin, deep orange-colored flesh with a slightly sweet flavor. Roasted and pureed, butternut squash adds flavor and texture to soups. In the soup recipe below, it’s the star ingredient!

I’ve made this soup with three different spices, curry being my favorite. Our test kitchen also tested it with cumin and ground ginger; all delicious. If you make it, let me know what you go with. Start with 1 teaspoon of spice and add more as needed.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients for eight 1-cup servings:

Directions:

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

RINSE squash under cold running water before cutting. Cut squash in half through the stem and remove the seeds (check out the tip at the bottom of this post for roasting the seeds). Drizzle cut edges with oil; season with salt and pepper. Place cut-side-down on a baking sheet.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

ROAST squash for 1 hour or until very soft. Remove from oven; turn the halves over and let stand until cool enough to handle (as shown above). Scoop flesh from shells into a bowl and discard shells.

MELT butter over medium heat in large saucepan. Add shallots; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the squash flesh, water, bouillon and curry powder; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover; cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until squash is broken down.

COOL squash mixture for about 5 minutes before adding it to a blender. Working in batches, puree until smooth, transferring the mixture to a saucepan as you work (if you have an immersion blender, it works great with this recipe). Stir in evaporated milk and sugar. Season with pepper; cook a few minutes over medium heat to combine the flavors. Ladle soup into serving bowls; swirl in a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.

Storage tip: If you have any leftover soup, and don’t plan to eat it within a couple days, freeze it. I like to freeze soup in individual portions. Ladle in to small containers, cover tightly and freeze. When ready to enjoy again, simply defrost and reheat before serving.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Ok, now for those remaining seeds… seeds from butternut squash can make a great snack food, and can be prepared in the same way as pumpkin seeds. Once scooped out from inside the squash and separated from the pulp, you can place the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet to dry. Once dry, toss them with a little oil and season with a little salt or seasoning of choice. Lightly roast them in a preheated 275°F oven for 15 minutes or until seeds are golden brown and begin to pop.

I hope you like this soup as much we do! 100 calories never tasted so good! Nutrition information can be found online.

Enjoy!

Chris

Links:

Related Recipes:

Cream of Chicken and Vegetable Soup Recipe Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
Cream of Chicken and
Vegetable Soup
Butternut
Squash Soup

Eat With Your Hands: An Empanada Exchange

Written by Natalie -

Coconut Curry Chicken Empanadas Recipe

Well, hello there! This is my first post on Nestlé Kitchens. I’m new-ish to the test kitchen but have lots to share already. Today I’m going to tell you about my recent foray into the world of Empanadas and about a blogger event we recently held.

Empanadas are delicious, flakey and comforting hand pies that are a traditional food in Latin American countries with each country having their own spin. Until a few months ago I had never made an empanada. While I’ve enjoyed all kinds, they seemed like they’d be tedious, time consuming and better left to the professionals to make. Turns out, they are quite simple and very gratifying to make at home. Your friends and family will be in awe of your empanada skills. Mine were!

Taking help from the store and using frozen empanada dough discs makes this job infinitely easier and much quicker. They also taste great. For my empanada project I opted to make some non-traditional fillings to highlight the diversity of this dish. The Coconut Curry Chicken Empanada (Pictured Above) has a creamy chicken filling that has a sweetness thanks to the coconut and raisins as well as an aromatic touch from the curry. The Sweet and Savory Beef Empanadas (Pictured Below) are rich and filling and can definitely make for a meal when served with a side salad.

Sweet and Savory Beef Empanadas Recipe

At our blogger event we made sweet Creamy Pineapple and Coconut Empanadas and Baked Chicken Empanadas. Making empanadas with 10 of the warmest and funniest food bloggers was a blast! We decided to take the idea of the traditional cookie exchange and make an Empanada Exchange. Everyone baked a different empanada and at the end we all swapped our empanada goodies. So much fun.

Empanada Blogger Event

So don’t be intimidated about making empanadas! Have fun and enjoy eating with your hands.

Links:

More Empanadas:

Baked Chicken Empanadas Recipe Creamy Pineapple and Coconut Empanadas Recipe
Baked Chicken
Empanadas
Creamy Pineapple & Coconut
Empanadas

Family Game Night & a Trail Mix Recipe

Written by Chris -

Family Game Night

Spending quality time together as a family, whether it be eating together or gathering around the table for game night, is essential. This is a time to reconnect; a fun and interactive way for family members to spend time together.

Over the summer, our family took our love for games to a whole new level. We decided to register for Family Game Night on The Hub network. Guess what? We were selected!

If you aren’t familiar with Family Game Night, this is an hour show featuring classic board games where families come together to compete for prizes and a chance to win cash. The show we were on aired last Sunday.

Family Game Night

It was a first for us and a first for FGN; we’ve never been on a game show and they’ve never had triplets as contestants.

Family Game Night Yahtzee

Our hearts were racing as host Todd Newton called our names. As we ran to the stage, we saw that we were going to be playing Yahtzee. As Mr. Newton talked through the prizes, my husband had his eye on 3 of a Kind, which was a VIP sports package. The kids were pulling for a Straight, which were 3 laptops. Four of a Kind was a trip to the Caribbean – that’s what I was secretly hoping for. My daughter had two ones with her first roll, so we decided to play for 3 of a Kind. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out so well. We only had two ones and by our third roll, it was too late to change course.

Family Game Night Monopoly

We still had an opportunity to win by pulling a card from Mr. Monopoly shown above. If we picked the card with the correct colors, we had a chance to play for a car.

Family Game Night Triplets

Well, it just wasn’t meant to be. See the family next to us also in red? They won it all! But, like I said earlier, what matters is the quality time you spend with your loved ones. This was the most amazing experience for us and we have created so many memories that will last us a lifetime!

So I leave you with this; a game night recipe that I promise will go over well with kids and adults alike!

Raisinets Trail Mix Recipe

Raisinets Trail Mix

Ingredients:

Directions:

COMBINE Raisinets, pretzels, marshmallows, raisins, apricots and apples in large bowl.

NOTE: Any variety of Raisinets can be substituted.

Links:

Related recipes:

Sweet Minglers RecipeSweet Minglers Recipe Nutty Raisinets Trail Mix RecipeNutty Raisinets Trail Mix
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