Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes

Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  On most dinner tables you will find sweet potatoes.  Yes, many folks cover them with marshmallows and brown sugar.  If that is your tradition, get all over it.  We wanted to find a healthy alternative to the typical sweet potato dish.  Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes give a nice blend of savory with a kick.  This will become a regular side dish in our home.  Enjoy! -Amanda

Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

3 T unsalted butter

1 whole canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped (save rest for later)

1 t adobo sauce from can of peppers

1/2 t salt

Put cubed potatoes into vegetable steamer. Allow to steam for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Add butter to potatoes and mash with potato masher. Add peppers, sauce, and salt. Continue mashing to combine. Serve immediately.

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

In an attempt to try out a few new holiday side dishes, I discovered a dish that makes me push away the typical potato casserole.  I will admit that I have not cooked with spaghetti squash.  What a pleasant surprise!  This creation had this carb loving family excited.  All the goodness with no guilt!  If you are a newbie to spaghetti squash, this video might help you out.  http://www.ehow.com/video_2346682_making-spaghetti-squash-strings-spaghetti.html
Start making your menus!- Amanda

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

1 medium spaghetti squash
3 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
¼ t red pepper flakes, or more if you like it spicy
1 t fresh thyme
½ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds.  Place in a covered dish with a ¼ inch of water and microwave for 10 -12 minutes.  In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, add the butter, onions, red pepper and thyme and cook until the onions are slightly brown in color.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash and transfer to a small bowl.  Combine the squash, onions, sour cream and half the cheese together and mix well.  Transfer the mixture to a buttered baking dish 8 x11 and top with remaining cheese.

Place into a 375º for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown on top.

Bite-Sized Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

On this Meatless Monday, I wanted to share a favorite “meatless” salad. In the summer, I make this salad once a week to accompany pasta dishes, steaks, or even hamburgers. It perfect to bring as your side to the next neighborhood cookout. And with the 4th right around the corner, serve your salad in a blue bowl to capture all the red, white, and blue! Taste the summer!- Amanda

Bite-Sized Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

1 cup small cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 cup fresh mozzarella, diced

4 fresh basil leaves, chopped into pieces

1 1/2 T olive oil

1 t soy sauce (we use low sodium)

1 t balsamic vinegar

pinch of sugar

freshly ground pepper

Mix together the tomatoes and mozzarella. In separate bowl, whisk together oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. Toss the tomatoes and mozzarella in dressing. Then add the fresh basil. Top with fresh ground pepper.

Zucchini Tots

As Chris prepared some mean hamburgers, I whipped up some zucchini tots.  These bite-sized tots are the perfect guilt-free alternative that complete our hamburger night.  Just a little prep work and pop those tots in the oven.  Nothing to it!- Amanda

Zucchini Tots

1 cup zucchini, grated- like a cheese grater- The whole zucchini!

1 large egg

1/4 onion, diced

1/4 cup cheddar cheese

1 T parmesan, grated

1/8 cup Italian bread crumbs

1/8 cup Panko

Salt and Pepper

Take grated zucchini and by using paper towels squeeze out the excess water.  This will make sure your tots are not soggy.  No one likes a soggy tot! In a bowl combine all ingredients: egg, onion, cheese, bread crumbs, Panko,  zucchini, salt and pepper.

Prepare mini muffin pan by spraying with non-stick spray. Using a spoon, fill the muffin cups to the top. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes, or until the top is browned and set.  Makes about 12 tots.

Zucchini Fries

It’s that time of year when the grills are heating up with yumminess.  I promised I would be sharing my favorites and some new summery side dishes.  This past week when Chris was grilling hamburgers we thought it was no better time to create a french fry substitute.  In about 25 minutes, I created zucchini fries that were devoured without any guilt.  This recipe is versatile and can compliment any meal.  It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure in the kitchen.  You pick the veggies and seasonings.  Could it be any easier?  Eat your veggies! -Amanda

Zucchini Fries

Choose your Veggies– Zucchini, Carrots, Bell Peppers, Squash (you get the idea)
Choose your Seasonings– Always start with pepper and sea salt.  Just stick with one extra seasoning to make sure your veggies don’t come out crazy! Need some ideas: paprika, cumin, cayenne, crushed red peppers, thyme, rosemary, sage.  You can also use premixed spice blends like Spike, Italian, Mexican, Old Bay.

Cut your veggies into 3-inch sticks.  Try to keep the same thickness to help even out cooking.
Now it’s time to play with your seasonings.  Start with pepper and easy on the sea salt.  Then get creative with a seasoning that excites your palate or compliments the main dish you have planned.  This time I used freshly ground pepper, sea salt and Spike (a favorite premixed spice blend).
Lightly toss your veggie with olive oil (not too much) and the herbs and spices.
Spread your seasoned veggies over a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper and a light layer of olive oil.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes (flipping halfway through) or until golden and slightly browned at the edges.

Basic (Greek Yogurt) Coleslaw

There is something about coleslaw.  It seems every family has a special way of making their slaw.  Regions have inspired types of coleslaw and generations have perfected the creation.  I am always typing new coleslaw recipes.  Everyone has their own way of doing it.  This basic coleslaw was a hit with our family.  I thought the greek yogurt changed the elements plus you didn’t have to add all that mayo.  The complimentary touch was the cider vinegar.  Serve this slaw up with your favorite barbecue.  I promise no great-great grandmother will bat an eye at you trying something new! – Amanda


Basic (Greek Yogurt) Coleslaw 

½ cabbage, sliced thin
¼ cup red onion, minced
¼ t salt
1 t cider vinegar
½ t sugar
½ t Dijon mustard
1/8 t ground black pepper
1 carrot, shredded
2 T fresh parsley leaves, minced
1 (7-ounce container) plain Greek yogurt (I used Chobani- Fat Free)
2 T mayo

In a large bowl, stir together the cabbage, onion, salt, vinegar, and sugar. Set aside. This allows time for the cabbage and onion to slightly pickle.  When ready for the meal, add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.  It’s ready to serve!  If you want to make ahead of time, feel free to add all ingredients at the same time.  Both ways are still delicious!