Category Archives: Side Dishes

Summer Cucumber Tomato Salad and Lakeridge Winery

Yesterday the boys headed out to golf at Disney and Maggie and I went off to Lakeridge Winery. It is a beautiful winery in central florida and definitely worth seeing. They have free tours and free wine tastings all day because their wine is that good. You get to taste just about every wine that they have…which is about 10!

On the tour they give you a bit of history of the owners and a run through of how to make wine. These wines are made from two different types of grapes, but mainly the muscadine. They joke that the winery is on the rolling hills of FL.

We took home two wines. Both were extremely different. If you aren’t from the area, you can most likely find the wines in a larger wine shop, or you can order everything online. It’s worth a try. The southern Red and Southern White wines are the most popular but are on the sweeter side. The Chablis is what I ended up getting and it is a good combination of sweet and dry. It is a very light wine and perfect for a BBQ!

Which is exactly what we did. On the way home, Maggie and I stopped at Dunkin Donuts and grabbed a quick snack and coffee. As we were walking out Maggie was laughing hysterically at my iced coffee.

I drink EVERYTHING with a straw. And the bigger the better! I sent the picture to Brent because he really doesn’t understand either.

For the BBQ, we grilled up some fresh Venison Burgers that were given to me by a co-worker and some Omaha Steaks Tenderloin Steaks. Yumm. I didn’t have either but I know they were delicious because I have enjoyed them in the past. Omaha Steaks has some great bulk deals and all of their meat is impressively good. They even ship it right to your door.

Maggie whipped up a Summer Tomato and Cucumber Salad that was amazing and really easy to make.

In the salad is:

1 Cucumber 1 Small Yellow Onion
1/4 Cup Feta Cheese 1 Cup Sherry Tomatoes, chopped

For the dressing mix:

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 Tablespoons White White Wine Vinegar
Salt to Taste Pepper to Taste

Sooo EASY! And it was perfect for a BBQ side. I ended up having a Mango Salsa salad instead of the meat.

Overall, it was a nice little spread. We sat outside in the backyard and chowed down with some of our new wine from Lakeridge and just relaxed.

Fun! Happy Labor Day to everyone! and Happy Eating!

Chick Pea Cakes and Cape Cod Fun

This weekend I headed back to Cape Cod for a fun family reunion with some family friends of 20 years. It had been an unbelievably long time since the last time we had run into them so it was great to catch up and relax on scenic Cape Cod. There really isn’t a more relaxing place to escape from they everyday stresses.

This house, as well as the others along this stretch of beach have no electricity and no running water. How about that as an escape from every day life.

One of the highlights by far was going on a whale watch. I had never done anything like it and I feel like a whale watch has that stigma of sitting on a boat, staring out into the ocean just crossing your fingers that something would happen for hours on end. Well, that was seriously not the case on our trip. It was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. Although whales don’t travel in groups, they come together in what’s called an association and feed in large groups. Absolute amazement.

This is a baby who was just outside the large group playing around. She would jump out of the water, spin around and just play while her mother fed with the large group. She is only 8 months old!

The entire trip was just amazing. You can’t imagine how majestic these animals are. If you ever get a chance to do something like this, I highly recommend it. It was a once in a life time experience.

Now, when I had initially got to the house, Mama C put us right to work cooking for our large group of 17. I was in charge of the grill, and my brother was whipping together his Chick Pea Cakes with a Red Pepper Cream Sauce. Although I obviously didn’t have a hand in the cooking, I thought this recipe was truly delicious and unique. The Red Pepper Sauce was so surprisingly flavorful, you could really put it on anything. I was thinking it would be fantastic served on top of a grilled chicken, or even as a salad dressing.

Without further ado, this is Matt’s Chick Pea Cakes!


1/4 Cup Olive Oil                                                1 Cup Minced Onion

1 Jalapeno, Minced, Stemmed and Seeded     1/2 Cup Scallions, Sliced

3 Cups Chickpeas (30 oz)                                  3/4 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice                                Black Pepper to Taste

2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil


1. In a medium sized skillet, warm the 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil. When it is warm, cook the onions until they are soft.

2. When the onions are cooked, add in the jalapenos, garlic and scallions. Cook these for an additional 2 minutes.

3. Now turn off the heat to the stove but leave the pan on top of it. Add in the chick peas, 2 more tablespoons of olive oil, and salt to taste. Stir it up, and now you want to mash them. Matt didn’t have the appropriate tool handy, so what better than an old fashioned hand mashing.

They don’t need to be completely mashed, but you want to make sure at least half of them are thoroughly squished because this is the glue to your patty.

4. Transfer your chick pea mixture into a bowl and allow it to cool. Stir in your chopped basil leaves, lemon juice and pepper. Form these into 12 patties. Matt used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to shape them.

5. Now just heat them up on a skillet to brown each side of them. You don’t have to worry about cooking them through at all because there’s nothing raw in them 🙂

6. Once these are browned, take them off the skillet and set them aside. Now for the Red Pepper Sauce. In a mixing bowl, or with a hand mixer, add the following:

1 Roasted Red Pepper                                     1 Piece of Wheat Bread, crust removed

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil                                    1/4 Sliced Almonds

2 Garlic Cloves, crushed                                  1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar

Blend it up until it is smooth.

And Finito! You can serve the sauce on the side as a dipping sauce or put it right on top of each. The sauce really makes this recipe so don’t skip out on it!

This really is fantastic and I would love to see how else you can use this sauce. It is extremely versatile and I plan on mixing things up with this sauce. Maybe I’ll even throw it on some eggs in the morning?!

So thanks to Matt for sharing this and Mama C, Matt and I apologize to our guests for not sharing the product with you…we ate it all about 15 minutes after they were finished! Whoops!

Let me know what you guys think!

Happy Eating Everyone!

Three Bean Salad for the Forth

The 4th of July is code for vacation, BBQs, and indulging in everything good in the world. It is no secret that food is one of my favorite indulgences. However, this year I’m not going to feel so guilty on the 5th of July because I made a healthy, yet delicious three bean salad! It is quick, easy and requires no cooking so you won’t be stuck in the kitchen missing all the fun!

Three Bean Salad


1 16 oz can of Red Beans

1 16 oz can of White Beans

1 16 oz can of Black Beans

1/3 cup Olive Oil

2 tbsps Red Wine Vinegar

1/4 cup Fresh Parsley

1/4 cup finely chopped Red Onion

1/4 cup chopped Green Bell Pepper

1/2 Teaspoon Ground Mustard

Salt and Pepper to taste


1.) Strain all three cans of beans in a colander. Rinse with cold water.

2.) Finely chop the red onion and green bell pepper. (I chopped the onions a little smaller than the pepper.)

3.) Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh parsley, ground mustard, salt and pepper in a separate bowl.

4.) Combine the beans, vegetables and vinaigrette in a serving dish. Toss to ensure the vinaigrette is equally distributed. Taste test 🙂 (add salt and pepper as needed).

5.) Wait approximately 30 minutes before serving so all of the flavors blend together. This dish is best served cold or at room temperature.

How easy is that?! The end result is light and fresh. The peppers and red onion add a great touch of crunch to the smooth textured beans. Besides tasting fantastic, this dish is good for you too! Averaging about 135 calories per serving, you get 8 grams of protein and 10% of your daily iron intake. Enjoy and feel great doing so!

Hope you have a great 4th of July!

Broccoli Slaw

Don’t knock it until you try it. I have served this for dinner and the first reaction is, yuck, cole slaw. But cole slaw haters, I dare you to try this one. It’s really quite easy and can be used for several meals. Serve it as a side to a chicken dinner or put it on a sandwich for a different take on a dressing. It stays well and it really is delicious! And healthy!



1/4 Cup Sunflower Seeds                                       1  16oz Bag Brocolli Slaw

1/4 Cup Non-fat Plain Yogurt                                   1/4 Cup Reduced Fat Mayo

1 Tablespoon Sugar                                               1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Pepper                                             1/4 Cup White Vinegar

Directions: Whisk yogurt, mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Toss to coat Broccoli slay. Add sunflower seeds.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 80     Fat: 3g     Carbohydrates: 9g     Sugar: 1g     Protein:3g     Vitamin c: 70% Daily Value

Don’t be afraid to mix it up on this recipe! Try it with raisins, water chestnuts, cranberries, onions, bacon. Really mix it up. You can do no wrong with this one! You can also try this with regular cole slaw if you can’t find broccoli slaw and just chop up a head or two of broccoli finely into it and it will still do the job. Just save the heads of them for your next meal!