Category Archives: Sides


Sweet and Smokey Carrots

Those darn veggies, they can be so boring.  I was tasked with “carrots” as my dish for the annual Christmas Eve Dinner.   Only having one dish to make means it BETTER BE GOOD.  Crap.  Well, I researched everything I could and the recipes I found were either drowning in butter or brown sugar.  So, I decided to make one up.  I am, after all, a food blogger, right?

Well, I did it, and they were quite tasty. I did manage to incorporate bacon in as well, but I am not a vegetarian, so this is fine in my opinion.  They were lightly sweetened with pure maple syrup and tossed with the tiniest bit of butter and crisped bacon.  I did leave the skins on, and opted for organic carrots.  It is a holiday, so only the best, right?  Recipe below!

Sweet and Smoky Carrots


  • 2.5 pounds of carrots
  • 1 tbsp. Butter, unsalted
  • 4 pieces crisped bacon, chopped, but not too finely
  • 3 tbsp. Pure maple syrup
  • Pepper - optional


  1. Chop carrots into 1/2 inch discs. Simmer or steam until fork tender but still have some give.
  2. Drain, then place into sauté pan.
  3. Add butter over medium heat.
  4. When butter has covered all carrots with a light glistening, add bacon.
  5. Toss bacon until fully incorporated.
  6. Turn off heat and drizzle maple syrup over the carrots, turn over until they are all covered AND serve with a dash of pepper!
  7. *these are great reheated or cold in a chopped salad the next day!
  8. **perfect finger foods for beginning eaters/toddlers, just pull the bacon pieces off!

Simple Kitchen Slow Cooked Applesauce


If you have kids you begrudgingly purchase this for $5 a jar. …..Well – NO MORE.Applesauce 10.22I am beyond amazed how delicious my first batch of apple sauce is.  The best part?  I have kids and 2 more huge bags of apples.  This was so easy and it is so delicious and you can control the refined sugar!  Read on for the recipe – book mark it, it is an easy one!

Simple Kitchen Slow Cooked Applesauce


  • 4 pounds
  • 1/4 cup natural sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup water


  1. Wash, peel, core and chop the apples and toss into the pot.
  2. Add water, sugar ( if apples are sweet, then use less sugar!) cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. Place lid on cooker, cook for8 hours on low, part way through I used a potato masher to muck them up a bit.
  4. When done mash again with the masher, and serve! We ate all of ours in a week!


Sweet Potato and Pear Soup with Coconut Milk

photo 2 - Copy (2)

I am nobody’s vegan.  I am also not one to skip meat in a meal.  Okay, lets be honest, this is the Simple Kitchen, not the James Beard House.  But, I have been thinking.  A lot.

I have to make some changes.  My husband and I had children a little later in life and we have, in the past always had time to run, hike, be super active.  We did not have to rely on how we fed ourselves as the way we stay healthy.  My pregnancy was fraught with issues and the kids came early.  I got sick.  My body, on the other side of everything was no longer the strong, capable of anything shell that I had taken for granted for years.  Now, I had 2 children, and a husband to look after.  To round this whole thing out… I no longer have limitless time to exercise.  My time is spoken for.  I love it!  But my pants are tight!!!!!

So… it is time to start thinking about what the redo of our lives look like.  How can I get my husband and I back to where we were?  For starters perhaps I stop making him pizza.  I start using plants as protein more often.  I make wholesome soups, filled with beautiful vitamins that are filling and not packed with fat!  So, here is my first one.

I mean… what is next?  Kale?  Hmmmmm

Sweet Potato and Pear Soup with Coconut Milk


  • 3 baked large sweet potatoes
  • 2 pears
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 1 can low fat coconut milk
  • 2 - 3 dashes cinnamon. I used 4 but I love cinnamon
  • Sliced chives as garnish


  1. In a large sauce pan, add broth, sliced and peeled baked potatoes. Remove skin and core of pears, slice them and add as well.
  2. Add garlic. Simmer for 10 minutes on medium.
  3. Add coconut milk and cinnamon. mash the pears and potatoes with spatula as you cook.
  4. When pears and potatoes have started to "fall apart" remove form element and allow to cool.
  5. In batches put in blender and blend until creamy. Put all back into sauce pan and rewarm. Serve with sliced chives as a garnish.



Simple Kitchen Beets – Crockpot

How wonderful is the summer season? There are farmers markets busting at the seams with gorgeous veggies and fruits! A wonderful family and friends of ours went to the Gresham Farmers Market and brought us a bounty of fabulous veggies and fruits! The timing was perfect becasue I needed kitchen inspiration!

My “catch of the day” included 2 healthy bunches of red beets and I had a few golden in my fridge from the Beaverton Farmers Market. I have not always liked beets but in the last 5 years or so I have fallen in love with them and their earthy flavor. The exact thing that turned me off…..turned me right back on. I wish it was like this with other things for me, such as kale….but alas it is not (yuk!)

I read somewhere that you can cook beets in the crockpot. Now, the only thing holding me back from making beets and eating them on a regular basis outside of my favorite restaurants was the fact that they are a FREAKING PAIN IN THE TOOKUS TO MAKE! But, it sounds like there may be a soution:

The ingredients re simple. Olive oil and fresh beets. I took the opportunity to use some of this awesome Red Ridge Olive OIl from Oregon Olive Mill!!! I figure I may as well keep this recipe local. I preach it enough….right?

My directions are Simple Kitchen Simple:

Take 2 bunches of medium sized beets. Scrub them down and cut the within 1 inch of the beet. Wrap in tin foil packets…one to 2 per packet…and put in the crockpot on medium for 4 hours or high for 3.5 hours. When done, cool completely and remove from tin foil and rub skin off with a papertowel. One paper towel will suffice for all of the beets…no need to be wasteful…..

Gorgeous Roasted Beets

Enjoy your fabulous beets in a salad, by themselves, or warmed and as a simple side dish!


Fennel and Mushroom Salad

It is good to have family.

As my husband and I start our new life with children (TWINS!) we are struck with how little time we have….to do the simple things like bathe ourselves, listen to music, and….cook a great meal.

Enter my mother.  The woman I received a passion for great food experiences from.  She called a few days after we got the twins home and said “Can I come cook you dinner?”  ANSWER:  “YES!”  She went on to tell me about the gorgeous fresh vegetables she came across in the Beaverton Farmers Market and that she has some great recipes whe wants to ut together.  This one was a sam dunk!  Musrooms, fennel, tangy lemon juice and gorgeous Parmesan shavings over the top!  Here is the recipe that comes from Joy of Cooking and a photo of the exact salad I ate with my entree….enjoy!!!


Whisk together in a small bowl:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
½ to 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Stir together in a medium bowl until the salt is dissolved:

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste

Add and toss to combine:

8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat evenly.

Sprinkle with:

½ cup Parmesan cheese shavings

Yield: 6 – 8 servings

Can be made several hours ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Add Parmesan before serving.

From: Joy of Cooking

SuperBowl Menu – Lightened Up!

All Right Super Bowl!  Lets Do This!

Here are the lightened up recipes you heard me talk about on “In Step with Kevin Aguilar”!

When Kevin asked me to come on and talk about what to serve at a Super Bowl party – it was a no-brainer. My husband and I have hosted SuperBowl for the last 5 years at our home. Some years only 10 or so, some years up to 30!!

Some tips for you!

~Have guests bring the simple things: Beer, wine, ice, corn chips for dips, veggie platter even! Leave things out of your shopping basket that others can provide – especially if they are not necessary to the cooking portion!

~Buy the 2 dollar plastic table cloth – this is football and we want to get messy and have fun piling our food up!

~Pull all your platters out in advance and select the serving devices you need. Get the plates, flatware (or plastic forks), napkins and serving utensils out up to a day before. All you should be doing is setting out platters as guests arrive!

~Have plenty of bottled water!

~If you have a lot of couples – Make an easy Sangria for the ladies!

On to the menus – enjoy these! remember to pick your recipes and make your shopping list! One last tip: Remember to enjoy your guests, eat the food and relax with them.

Light Buffalo Chicken Dip


  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle hot sauce (use whole bottle or just half, if desired)
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages NONFAT cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz crumbled Blue Cheese.
  • 1/4 cup nonfat sourcream
  • 1 cup reduced fat monterey jack cheese
  • Chopped celery sticks
  • Chopped carrot sticks
  • Whole grain crackers


  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a large bowl, mix shredded chicken and cheese.
  3. In a saucepan over med-low heat, combine cream cheese and blue cheese and sourcream and stir until smooth. Stir in bottle of hot sauce ( don't have to use entire bottle if you want it milder). Pour heated mixture into bowl with chicken mixture. Stir to mix well.
  4. Pour into a 13" x 9" baking pan. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until bubbly----make sure top doesn't get browned. Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve warm OR cold-----tastes best warm--- with celery or other veggies and crackers.

Reduced Fat NACHOS!


  • 1/2 cup shredded chicken breast
  • Baked yellow corn tortilla chips
  • 1 can nonfat refried beans or black beans
  • Chopped tomatoes and scallions, to taste
  • 5 tablespoons reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese mixture
  • Pickled jalapenos (if you like!)


  1. Place chips on a cookie sheet; top with ingredients, then bake for 5 minutes at 400°.
  2. Serve with extra chips and warmed refried beans!

Lightened Up Guacamole


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (or more!! I love this!)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 small jalapeño pepper
  • 1 ripe peeled avocado
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves


  1. Place first 5 ingredients in a food processor; pulse 5 times or until finely chopped. Add avocado; process until smooth. Sprinkle with cilantro. Add extra lime wedges and serve alongside lightened up Nachos!!

Light and Satisfying Tater Skins


  • 4 medium potatoes
  • cooking spray
  • 4 slices turkey bacon (optional)
  • 3/4 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup fat free sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
  • Pickled jalapenos (optional)


  1. Bake potatoes at 425 for 1 hour or until done. (or use my easy no-mistake crock-pot recipe!!)
  2. Cut potatoes in half length wise, then into quarters
  3. Make sure they are cool enough to handle and scoop out potato, but leave an 1/4 inch shell.
  4. Place potato shells on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.
  5. Bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes until crisp.
  6. Cook bacon, chop and set aside.
  7. Divide cheese into 8 equal parts and sprinkle into potato skins.
  8. Sprinkle Bacon into shells with melted cheese (If cheese does not melt, you may have to heat an additional 5 minutes at 425 degrees.)
  9. Place a dollop of sour cream on top of each potato skin and sprinkle with chives and jalapenos if you like! Woo hoo!

Kalua Pig Sliders


  • 1 Pork Butt Roast
  • 2 tbs liquid smoke
  • 1 tbs Sea Salt
  • Shredded cabbage ot cole slaw
  • Whole grain rolls
  • Sriracha sauce ( rooster sauce)


  1. Rinse pork but and cover with liquid smoke and sea salt. Place in crock pot for 10-12 hours, turning once. Pork will fall apart by the end. Pour contents into a drainer allowing all the excess fat to drain away and give the pork a nice squeeze to remove excess grease. Place into another bowl and use 2 forks to gently fluff the meat. Serve with rolls, shredded cabbage, or cole slaw and a squirt of sriracha hot chili sauce to liven up your party!!

Low-Fat Baked Hot Wings


  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 lbs skinless chicken wings


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F Line jelly roll pan, 15 1/2×10 1/2×1 inch, with aluminum foil. Mix honey, ketchup, pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce in resealable plastic food-storage bag. Add chicken. Seal bag and refrigerate at least 15 minutes but no longer than 24 hours, turning occasionally. Place chicken in pan; sprinkle with paprika. Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until crisp and juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut. Serve with celery sticks and light blue cheese dip ( I use 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles and 1 1/4 cup nonfat sour cream to make mine)

Sparkling Skinny Sangria


  • 1-2 bottles of crisp white wine (such as1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc and 1 bottle of Prosecco)
  • 2 ripe peaches or pears, sliced
  • 1 pint berries, sliced
  • 2 kiwis
  • several sprigs of mint
  • Stevia - just a dash!


  1. Simply add the sliced fruit and mint to the wine and add a few dashes of stevia. I put mine into a pitcher and serve over ice in wine glasses!