Sides Recipes

Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs weren’t something I grew up with. We had hard-boiled eggs, soft-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, but never deviled eggs.

Truth be told, I don’t even like the yolks in hard-boiled eggs.

The first time I bit into one of these lovely lovely things was actually last year. Neil’s now ex-boss invited us over for Easter and one of the other employees had made some. After eating fifteen of them, I decided I really was missing out by not having these as a part of my diet.


So now, here’s my version of deviled eggs. I’m sure you could add many other things to them, and I have, but I’m pretty fond of this recipe. Totally basic and un-frilly. Enjoy!

Zahra’s Deviled Eggs

5 eggs
3-4 tbsp ranch (or mayonnaise I suppose)
1 tsp dijon mustard, more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
paprika for garnish


1. Hard-boil your eggs. The easiest way to do this is to fill a pot with water and a tablespoon of vinegar. The vinegar helps keep everything contained in the egg in the unfortunate event that your egg cracks. Set all your eggs into the pot gently and place the pot over the stove and turn on the heat to medium-high. Let the water come to a boil for about a minute, and then turn off the heat. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for about 15 minutes. Trust me, you’ll have perfectly hard-boiled eggs every time!


2. Let your eggs cool and then peel them. Isn’t that fun?


look how shiny and bald they become!


3. With a sharp knife, split your eggs right down the middle.


4. Scoop out the yolks with a spoon and pop ’em into another bowl.


and of course, set the whites onto a plate until you’re ready to fill ’em.


5. Crumble the yolks with a fork and start adding the ranch or mayonnaise. Then, add the dash of mustard and season to taste with salt and pepper.


6. You can then pour the filling into a little Ziploc baggy and snip off the tip to use in filling the whites. Or, you could use a spoon. No one will tell.


Oh me oh my. They get incredibly creamy and fabulous.


I took a bite out of one before I had a chance to garnish them with paprika.


Try not to be like me. Garnish away for the bestest flavor!

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Happy 2010!

and that’s pretty dang exciting. (To my siblings, I can’t help but quote Nacho on a regular basis… thanks.)

My poor blog has been neglected for quite some time. But hey, new year, new resolutions, new recipes, new successes, new failures. Oh boy!

To start the new year off right, today’s recipe comes from a bruschetta I tried in the previous one.

I’ve tried numerous times to re-create the “caramelized onion and balsamic vinegar dip”. The internet was hardly useful. I kept coming across creamy dips meant for actual dipping, not this hearty flavorful oniony thing I had come to love.

But lo and behold, who knew that pretty much the only ingredients in the “dip” were the ones contained in its name?? I’m sharp. I know. I went to college.

So here you are, internet. My version of the lovely caramelized onion dip, in the form of bruschetta!


Caramelized Onion and Balsamic Vinegar Bruschetta
adapted from the version made by Angelika!

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt


1. Start with some butter. Of course I would go for the “Mediterranean Blend”.


2. Over medium heat, combine the butter and olive oil in a saucepan. This will make sure your butter doesn’t burn but will give everything a nice brown color. Make sure your saucepan is peely and yucky looking. It’s not my fault! Santa just didn’t read my wish-list.


3. Dice up an onion. We’re gonna caramelize ’em!


4. Wait until the butter/olive oil starts getting kinda frothy. When it looks like this, you’re ready to rock.


5. Pile in all the onion. Then spread it out evenly and let them chill for 3-4 minutes.


6. When they start looking sweaty (this process is called “sweating” apparently, how fitting), you can now start bouncing them around the saucepan.


7. But first, you want to add in about a teaspoon of salt. Rachel Ray said that this part helps the onions release more moisture and become sweeter. I trust Rachel Ray with my onions.


8. When they’re all flimsy and transparent looking, congratulations! You have caramelized onions! However, we’re gonna keep going since we’re making bruschetta.


9. Add in the balsamic vinegar one tablespoon at a time. Start with one…


10. And if you want more (I always want more) add in another tablespoon. I suppose you could add another one, but you don’t want to overpower it all.


11. Now turn down the heat just a notch and let it all reduce and get all dark and yummy looking.

*Note: if you overpower the dish with too much balsamic vinegar, have no fear! A dash of honey will fix it.


Toast up some bread and enjoy!

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Chunky Guacamole (and salsa!)

Whoever loves salsa raise your hand!
(*mine is totally up by the way)

Whoever loves guacamole raise your hand!
(*I fell off my chair since my hand is raised up so high)

I absolutely love salsa and guacamole. As Neil can tell you, I always order my sandwiches with avocado or guacamole. They’re just that satisfying to me.

But you know, there’s also something quite satisfying about making your own salsa that isn’t quite the same as when you open a jar of Picante. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy that oh so delectable jarred salsa, but there’s no comparison to the aroma of freshly chopped cilantro.


Here’s how to make a quick and easy salsa, or if you prefer, add in an avocado and poof! You’ve got guacamole!

Salsa y Guacamole de Zahra
(I didn’t want to make a huge batch of either, so I split everything between two dishes with the addition of an avocado for the guacamole)

1 big ol’ tomato
1/2 onion
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper
3 tbsp lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 avocado (for the guacamole)


1. Chop and dice the onion and tomato.


2. Break the leaves off the stem of the cilantro and chop those up too.


3. Add to the dish.


4. Dice the jalapeno and add that in there too.


5. Add in lime juice and then salt and pepper it to your liking. Set in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes so all the flavors can get to know eachother and enjoy! You’ve made salsa!


6. Or, if you’re like me, you keep going and dice up an avocado. Now, I like my guacamole all nice and chunky. I like to be able to tell where the avocado stops and the tomato begins, but that’s just me. You can mash ’em up if it helps you sleep better at night.

7. Throw in the avocados and fold in the original salsa and voila! Guacamole! You’ll want to let this one sit in the fridge for a bit too to make all the deliciousness meld together.


I couldn’t resist but to put the guacamole into the avocado shell. How original.


To make up for my unoriginality, here’s a simple recipe for the easy lemony bread I toasted to eat with the guacamole:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take a few slices of sourdough bread and drizzle as much lemon juice as you want on the slices.

2. I’ve become a HUGE fan of Lawry’s lemon pepper so I sprinkled that over all the slices. Alternatively, you could zest your lemon over the bread and add a good dash of freshly ground pepper all over.

3. Set on a baking sheet and bake for about 5-7 minutes or until they’re nice and crispy.

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Maasto Khiyaar (Persian yogurt side dish)

Having some sort of yogurt side-dish with most meals always seemed so normal to me. We Iranians loooove our yogurt from the very normal plain yogurt (“maast” in Farsi) to the delicious doogh. (Note: I will need an entire post about doogh so you can Google it in the meantime if you don’t know what it is!) But when Neil asked me what he was supposed to eat with the yogurt the first few times he had Persian food, I realized that it wasn’t as straight-forward as I thought it was! Yes you can dip your pita bread in it and use it as a dip, but you don’t have to. My favorite, actually, is to put a little of it in each spoonful of my rice with kabob. Or rice with chicken. Or rice with any type of khoresht (different Persian stews). The list is endless.

However, when you want to fancy up a plain yogurt side, we always had maasto khiyaar (translates as “yogurt and cucumber”). And that’s exactly what it is for, as Neil will tell you, Iranians also loooove their cucumbers.

This is a simple and refreshing side, great for hot summer days. And spring days. And fall days. And winter days. You just can’t go wrong.

Here’s what you need:

Maasto Khiyaar

One 2 lb container of plain yogurt (I don’t like that low fat stuff, but feel free to use it if you’re more health-conscious than I am!)
2-3 Persian cucumbers, grated or finely cubed– those are the little 4-6 inch ones, the big fat ones are too seedy and more watery
1/4 small onion, grated
1 tsp mint, fresh is best but dried works just fine
Salt and pepper

1. Beat the yogurt until nice and smooth. You don’t want the water to be separated from the yogurt at all.

2. Grate the cucumbers and onion and combine. Add to the yogurt.

3. Add in the mint and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Mix and serve with any and all meals ever.

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Barbeque Potato Packets

I love potatoes. I love barbeque sauce. So it seems natural that my two favorite ingredients to cook with should join in delicious matrimony.

When I saw the recipe for potato packets on Pioneer Woman’s site, I was very saddened. Why didn’t I think of this?? It’s so simple: Place potatoes in an aluminum foil packet and bake. Sheesh.

Mark it with a Z

But now that I have the knowledge powers, we will never again be without a quick and easy potato side again.

Here’s what you need:

Barbeque Potato Packets
adapted from Pioneer Woman

2 small-medium potatoes, diced
1/2 onion
2 hot dogs (of the beef, turkey, or tofu/soy version)
3 tbsp barbeque sauce + 1 tbsp soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1 tsp paprika or cayenne pepper

Diced onions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dice your onion.

Diced potatoes

2. Dice your potatoes into approximately 1″ cubes.

diced tofu-dogs

3. Slice your dogs.

Soy sauce and barbeque sauce

4. Combine the barbeque sauce with the soy sauce.


5. Take a piece of foil and pile on your ingredients.

Add sauce

6. Drizzle with the sauce. And don’t worry, the sauce will get well distributed during the baking process.

Add spices

7. Add on your spices. I used paprika, salt and pepper on mine and salt, pepper and cayenne pepper on Neil’s.

wrap 'em up

8. Wrap up your packets and place on a baking sheet or pan.

Bake 'em

9. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Eat 'em

10. Remove and eat quickly. But not too quickly for the insides of the packets get very very hot. Safety first!

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