Easy Peasy Seasoned Rice

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Rice is a quick and easy side that goes well with almost every meal. I love it with grilled chicken and vegetables (as pictured above), tossed in hot soup or served with stir fries. The lovely thing about rice is that you can add in a plethora of spices and flavorings to amp up the flavor. For this recipe though, I like to keep it simple by substituting a good chicken stock (I like the Kitchen Basics® brand) for the water and sautéeing a little diced onion for flavor. I prefer chicken stock over chicken broth as it has a much deeper, richer flavor unlike broth which can be salty and watery. Add a little Kosher salt, ground black pepper and a handful of parsley to finish the rice off. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Uncle Ben’s Original Long Grain Rice, uncooked
  • 3 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 1/3 cups chicken stock
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • small handful of fresh OR dried parsley

Instructions

In a large saucepan set over medium heat melt the butter. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 6-7 minutes.

Add the rice and “toast” over the heat for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and add the Kosher salt and ground black pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat down to medium-low and cover. Simmer about 20 minutes or until most all of the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove the rice from the heat and add parsley. Adjust seasonings as needed and serve hot.

EXTRA!! EXTRA!! Read all about it!! The KIDS CORNER is here!!

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Attention Moms and Dads!! The Simply Delicious Kitchen has added new content on the blog for your budding little chefs called, Kids Corner ! It’s filled with all kinds of fun activities, easy recipes for them to make in the kitchen and healthy snack and meal ideas for you parents to prepare for them. All are kid tested and kid approved! Click above to check out all of the new sections, “Fun for Kids“, “Happy Healthy Kids” and “Kids in the Kitchen“. Enjoy!

Kitchen Must Have – “The Amazing Olive” Olive Oil and Vinegar

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I absolutely love flavored olive oil and flavored balsamic vinegar. They pack such a delicious punch and can really elevate your dish to something extra special. My favorite place to shop for these fine goods is at The Amazing Olive in downtown Port Jefferson, NY. Their store is beautiful and very well laid out with plenty of rustic charm and ambiance to go around. The best part is that you can sample ALL of the delicious oil and vinegar that they offer and with so many flavors to choose from, you might want to visit on an empty stomach!

A really good olive oil and balsamic vinegar are two staples in my home. My favorites are their Tuscan Seasoned Blend Olive Oil which is perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of garlic flavor and their 25 Star Balsamic Vinegar which is rich, thick and so complex in flavor. Both are incredible and are a “must have” in my kitchen. I love to use the olive oil for dipping and to add extra flavor to my Italian Tomato Sauce . Also, a little drizzle goes a long way in adding amazing flavor to my Italian Meatballs as well.

Some other notable favorites of mine are their Apricot Organic Balsamic Vinegar and Blood Orange Infused Olive Oil both of which are so light and fruity. They are the perfect addition to a fresh, crisp salad and so much more flavorful and better for you than store-bought bottled dressings. I have a vast selection of their oil and vinegar because it’s just too hard to choose one or two plus, they are so versatile so the more the better. You can use them to flavor meats, drizzle on fruits and veggies, add to sauces and stews or even bake with them! Check out their Butter Flavor Infused Olive Oil  for use in all of your baking.

Aside from their expansive selection of oil and vinegar The Amazing Olive also offers an array of other wonderful products such as unique salts and spice rubs, an assortment of jams and jellies, gift baskets and handmade bath products! If you’re a local, you can even host a Tasting Party for up to 12 of your friends at both the Port Jefferson and Patchogue locations. Click here for more details on scheduling! Lastly, gourmet oil and vinegar make fabulous gifts and party favors and The Amazing Olive will help to make your event more special and memorable with personalized bottles complete with your choice of sayings, dates and pictures. Check out all of these great offerings the next time you’re in town.

Don’t live on Long Island? No worries! All of their amazing products can be ordered online by clicking here . Enjoy!

Fresh Green Beans

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Fresh green beans are a summer staple in my house. They are quick and easy to make plus they are a lovely side dish to so many meals, especially a nice steak dinner. The great thing about green beans is that are very versatile so you can easily adjust the seasonings to suit your taste. You can swap out the garlic for shallots or even add both! You can replace the olive oil with butter or better yet, brown the butter first for an even nuttier, more complex flavor. Add in slivered toasted almonds or crumble up some crisp bacon into the beans. You can even try experimenting with different spices as well for a unique and flavorful spin. However you choose to prepare them they will be a delicious and healthy accompaniment to almost any meal. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of fresh green beans, ends removed
  • 1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced OR a spoonful of roasted garlic
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

Instructions

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the green beans and stir often. Sauté until they are glossy and bright green, about 6-7 minutes.

Add the garlic, salt and black pepper and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir continuously while cooking.

Pour the water into the pan and cover. Cook another 2-3 minutes until the beans are bright green and “crisp tender”.

Remove the beans from the heat, add in the red pepper and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.

Best Ever Steak Marinade

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Making your own steak marinade is very easy, super flavorful and SO much better than anything you can buy in a packet at the supermarket. Store-bought marinades are always loaded with ingredients you cannot pronounce as well as a ton of sugar and salt. Try this delicious marinade the next time you grill up a steak and I promise you will never go back to the store-bought version again. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tsp mustard (Dijon, yellow or deli style)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined. Pour over meat and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour. Grill meat as desired.

**Tip – Baste the meat with the marinade as it grills. Do not serve any of the leftover marinade as it is contaminated with the juices from the raw meat.**

Summer Tortellini Salad

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I love a really good tortellini salad. Not only are they flavorful and delicious but they are so easy to make as well. There is an Italian deli by me that makes a great tortellini salad but at $7/lb it’s a little pricey for my taste. Instead, I make my own which is just as yummy and way more wallet friendly. Plus, it feeds a crowd!

This is one of those recipes where you just need to eyeball everything and adjust to your liking. You really do not need to measure AT ALL which is why this recipe is a cinch to make. Plus, you can add in or take out anything you wish. Don’t love olives? Drop them! Like a lot of onion? Add more in! Prefer a drier salad? Use less oil! There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to this tortellini salad, just go with your gut and play around with the flavors until you’re happy with how it tastes.

I really love this salad as a side dish to my BBQ meals in the summer but it also makes an awesome light lunch as well. You can even throw in a little grilled chicken and fresh mozzarella and now you have an easy summer dinner or picnic lunch. You can serve it cold or at room temperature however, I prefer it somewhere in between. When the salad is too cold, you lose some of the flavor. Allowing it to sit at room temperature for just a bit before serving really allows all of the flavors to pop. Keep a little extra oil on hand as it tends to dry up just a bit in the fridge, add some oil and toss just before serving. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs cheese tortellini, cooked al dente and cooled
  • 1 can of large black olives, sliced thick
  • 1/2 lb Sicilian cracked olives, pits removed and roughly torn
  • Oil from the Sicilian cracked olives
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1 small red pepper, sliced
  • Handful of fresh torn parsley
  • Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

In a large bowl, add the cheese tortellini, black olives, Sicilian olives, red onion, red pepper and torn parsley. Drizzle the reserved oil from the Sicilian olives all over the salad. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and a healthy amount of ground black pepper. Toss gently to combine.

Adjust seasonings as needed and allow the salad to sit for at least 30 minutes prior to serving so that the flavors can come together. Serve cold or at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator.

**Tip – If you do not like Sicilian cracked olives, use plain extra virgin olive oil on the salad. Alternatively, you can also toss the salad with a homemade or store-bought vinaigrette or Italian dressing.**

 

Happy 4th of July!!

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HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!

I hope that all who celebrate have a wonderful holiday and enjoy the long weekend with family and friends! I will be taking a break to spend some time with my own family but I will be returning to The Simply Delicious Kitchen on Monday, July 9th with all new tips, tricks, information and recipes. As always, thank you all for your continued support! xoxo

Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread

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Buttery, tender cornbread is a delicious accompaniment to many dishes, especially BBQ, so when my daughter asked me to make her Crock-Pot Ribs with Homemade BBQ Sauce I decided to whip up a batch of cornbread as well. She was in heaven!

What I liked about this recipe from Serious Eats was the addition of brown butter which I think makes food so much more flavorful. Brown butter, also know as a beurre noisette, imparts a delicious nutty and complex flavor that elevates any dish, sweet or savory. Pay close attention when you brown butter, especially in a hot oven, because it can quickly go from nice and brown to burnt and inedible.

One last note, when I made the cornbread I did not have any sour cream in the house so I substituted with yogurt which is the closest in taste and tang to sour cream. Also, if you do not have any buttermilk on hand you can easily make your own with milk and a little lemon juice. Just add 1 tbs of lemon juice to 1 cup of milk, stir and let it sit and thicken for about 5-10 minutes. Use it just like you would a store-bought buttermilk. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 7 tbs unsalted butter, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup (about 5 ounces) fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup (about 5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbs granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup cultured buttermilk

Instructions

Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 425°F. Place butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Transfer skillet to oven and heat until the butter is melted and well browned, 10- 12 minutes. Once browned, pour butter into a heatproof cup or bowl, leaving about 1 tablespoon remaining in the skillet.

Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Combine eggs, sour cream, and buttermilk in a second bowl and whisk until well combines and smooth. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the reserved brown butter. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until well combined.

Remove skillet from the oven and swirl to coat all surfaces with melted butter. Spoon batter into skillet, smooth top lightly and then transfer to oven. Bake until lightly golden brown on top and a wooden skewer inserted into cornbread comes out with no crumbs, about 20 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes in skillet. Serve with extra butter at the table.

**Tip – Leftover cornbread can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.**

“Peachy Pie” Smoothie Monster Pops

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With summer in full swing you will no doubt have sweaty, hot kids begging you for a cool treat. Instead of the same old store-bought, sugar laden ice pops why not give them a healthier but equally as yummy treat. Whip them up a batch of Smoothie “Monster” Pops and you’ll feel good about giving them a treat that is healthier for them.

If your kids don’t like peaches, no problem! Just change up the fruit and make a flavor combination that they will love. Try pineapple with a little shredded coconut and a splash of coconut extract for a yummy virgin Piña Colada! Lemon Strawberry and Banana Berry are other really nice combinations to try. Creating your own smoothie flavor is easy, just keep the base ingredients of yogurt and milk the same and then throw in whatever fruit and spices you desire. Enjoy and stay cool!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen peaches, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup lowfat milk
  • 1/2 cup vanilla flavored lowfat yogurt

Instructions

Pour the milk into the blender along with the yogurt, vanilla extract and spices. Add the frozen peaches last. Blend until smooth. Pour into prepared ice pop molds and freeze until hardened.

**Tip – I use a little bit of Truvia® (stevia) to sweeten my smoothies. You can use granulated sugar, agave, honey or not use anything at all.**

“Peachy Pie” Smoothie

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Who doesn’t enjoy a refreshing, fruity smoothie? They make a great quick breakfast or treat for any time of day! With summer underway fresh peaches will be at their peak in July and August so why not grab a bushel and make yourself some yummy smoothies to start off your day?

I like to double or triple this recipe when I make it so that I have leftovers. You can freeze the remaining smoothie mixture in a resealable bag and the next time you are in the mood for a smoothie, you’ll just need to add some of the frozen smoothie mix to your blender along with a little extra milk and blend. Easy peasy! I also like to use the leftover smoothie mixture to make Smoothie “Monster” Pops for my kids. It’s a healthier alternative to store-bought frozen pops and they love the creamy texture. I love that I can sneak in all kinds of healthy fruits without them even knowing.

This recipe is really nice because you can play around with the fruit combinations and spices to achieve whatever flavor profile you’re looking for. Another favorite smoothie concoction that I love is pineapple with a little shredded coconut and a splash of coconut extract. It tastes like a delicious virgin Piña Colada! Lemon Strawberry and Banana Berry are other really nice combinations to try. Creating your own smoothie flavor is easy, just keep the base ingredients of yogurt and milk the same and then throw in whatever fruit and spices you desire. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen peaches, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup lowfat milk
  • 1/2 cup vanilla flavored lowfat yogurt

Instructions

Pour the milk into the blender along with the yogurt, vanilla extract and spices. Add the frozen peaches last. Blend until smooth. Serve cold.

**Tip – I use a little bit of Truvia® (stevia) to sweeten my smoothies. You can use granulated sugar, agave, honey or not use anything at all.**