Archive for the ‘Side Dishes’ Category

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Sourdough Bread Stuffing

November 25, 2013

I’ve eaten plenty of stuffing over the years, but I don’t think I’d ever made it before. When I was deciding on recipes for an early Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws, I decided to wing it and try a new recipe rather than asking my mom or in-laws for their recipes.

Sourdough stuffing

And, sigh of relief, this recipe was a big hit. The sourdough bread adds a nice tang, the onions, celery, sage, and thyme add what I consider to be the classic stuffing flavors, and the mushrooms are a welcome addition to the other elements. And just like that, I have a go-to recipe the next time I need to make stuffing.

Recipe notes

  • The recipe for Sourdough Bread Stuffing is here on the Food Network’s website.
  • To get a jump on things, I cubed and toasted the bread and chopped the vegetables the night before. With the prep done, it was easy to finish and bake the stuffing after I put the turkey in the oven.
  • I cut way back on the butter. The recipe calls for 8 Tablespoons of butter, which sounded excessive to me. Instead, I sauteed the mushrooms in a little olive oil, then added 2 Tablespoons of butter with the onions and celery, and 1 Tablespoon of butter with the sage. I can’t compare my version to the full-butter version, but I thought it was plenty tasty with only 3 Tablespoons of butter.
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Sweet Bourbon Corn Pudding

November 13, 2013

The first time I had this dish was at my in-laws’ house. When I heard we were having corn pudding, I was thinking “yuck.” One bite and that yuck turned to yum! I must have gotten pretty excited about it, because my mother-in-law has made it for me several times since then, and now calls it “Jill’s corn.”

Bourbon Corn Pudding

This dish is a little sweet, a little bourbon-y, and full of corn goodness. Last year I made it for Thanksgiving instead of my family’s usual corn dish, and it went over really well. I made a double-batch to ensure that I had leftovers; it’s just as good reheated in the microwave the next day. 

Sweet Bourbon Corn PuddingFrom AARP The Magazine

3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 large eggs
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2 cups canned cream-style corn (note that this is 2 cups, not 2 cans – you’ll need a little more than 1 can)
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°.

  1. Spray an 8″ square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and bourbon.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk until combined. Whisk in the cornstarch and bourbon mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir with a spoon. Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake 45-48 minutes or until lightly browned and no longer jiggly in the center. Serve warm.

Note: I usually have to bake it longer, especially if making a double-batch.

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Slow Cooker Refried Beans: a Tale of Two Beans

November 3, 2013

We eat a lot of Mexican food, and refried beans are a favorite side dish. After trying a few recipes, I found one that I liked, but didn’t love. I made it quite a few times, always trying to liven it up a bit with things like cumin, chipotle in adobo, or hot sauce. Each time, it was good, but not quite there.

And then…I switched the bean. The recipe calls for pinto beans and says that you can also use black beans. I had been making it with black beans, so I decided to try pinto beans instead. What a difference! Tastiest refried beans ever!

You can find the recipe (and a lovely photo) here on Alaska from Scratch. Note that this recipe makes a whole lot of beans; I usually make a half batch.

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What I did on my summer vacation: Savory

September 23, 2012

I didn’t blog over the summer, but I did cook.

I cooked a lot of chickpeas – yes, I said cooked. I buy them dry and cook them in the slow cooker: rinse and pick over 2 cups of dried chickpeas. Add to 6 cups of water in the slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours. You’ll get about 6 cups of cooked chickpeas. When a recipe calls for 1 can of chickpeas, I use about 1 1/2 cups. Why cook them instead of opening a can? I really think they taste better. I haven’t done the math, but I think it’s got to be cheaper to buy them dried instead of canned. Here’s what they look like before cooking.

I believe that you can freeze cooked chickpeas, but I always end up eating all of them! They’re delicious tossed into a green salad, and of course you can make hummus. If you want to branch out, here are a couple of awesome recipes to try. You don’t need to cook them yourself to make these recipes; if you’d prefer to use canned, go for it.

Warm Chickpea Salad with Cumin and Garlic made more than one appearance on the table this summer. It’s best when made the night before to give the flavors a chance to develop. Also, despite the title, I served it room temperature instead of warm. Warm cucumbers don’t do it for me, but this salad does. I’ve got tons of parsley in the garden, and need to make this at least one more time before gardening season ends. It’s great plain or on top of greens for lunch, and I served it as a side dish with spanakopita (spinach pie).

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner is the well-deserved name of this recipe, which I saw on the tv show Mad Hungry. I used boneless chicken and a 50-50 mix of smoked and sweet paprika. The second time I made it, I cut the amount of salt in half, because I thought that the next-day leftovers tasted really salty. This is one of those things I’ll make over and over; the smoked paprika gives it sort of a barbecue flavor, and the dish reheats well (which is good because it makes a ton).

Moving on from chickpeas, I came across the recipe for Chicken Tacos with Chipotle Sour Cream in a Splendid Table newsletter. Mexican is always popular at our house, and this mixture of shredded chicken, onions, red bell pepper, and spices is delicious! Note that their estimate of 5 minutes prep time is overly optimistic, at least when I’m the one doing the prepping. I poached the chicken in the slow cooker and then shredded it, but to save time, you could shred some rotisserie chicken. Click the recipe link if you’re not familiar with the Splendid Table; I thoroughly enjoy listening to podcasts of the show.

Enjoy!

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Girls’ Night, featuring Salted Chocolate Pretzel Toffee, Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies, and more!

January 15, 2012

Last night I had some friends over to watch a movie, chat, and eat. While I was planning what to make and making my grocery list, I saw this recipe for Salted Chocolate Pretzel Toffee, and immediately put it on the menu. I’m a sucker for sweet and salty, and if the salty component involves pretzels, all the better. It’s so easy to make, and dangerously tasty.

I didn’t want to serve just one dessert, so I also made Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies. I saw these cookies in Real Simple Magazine and was intrigued by a variation that called for mixing in 1 cup of broken pretzel pieces and 1 cup of chopped chocolate-covered toffee bar after mixing the other ingredients (the variation was in the magazine, but is not included in the recipe that I linked to). I made the recipe that way the first time and it was delicious. This time, since I already had a pretzel dessert on the menu, I added mini chocolate chips, which was also delicious. How the heck these end up looking and tasting like cookies amazes me, but they’re good, so I’m not going to question it.

And there was cotton candy!

Last summer, my friends found out that I had a cotton candy maker, so I knew the next time I had them over, I better serve cotton candy. My husband is the expert cotton candy spinner, so we let him do the work! I don’t make cotton candy very often, but it’s a fun activity once in a while.

It sounds like this was an all-dessert gathering, but it wasn’t. Actually, the star of the show was Pioneer Woman’s Olive Cheese Bread. Oh my gosh, this was an olivey, cheesy, buttery delight. The full recipe makes a ton, so its good for a gathering, plus there’s a tip for freezing it at the end of the recipe. I sent my friends home with some extra bread and topping so they could assemble and bake their own at home.

I’m a little sad that I gave away all the leftovers of the Olive Cheese Bread, but not too sad, because I have leftover Baked Chicken Meatballs. When I was thinking about what to make, I somehow got fixated on meatballs. I’m not sure if I’ve ever made meatballs of any kind before; if I did, it was a long time ago. So where the meatball idea came from, I don’t know, but I took a look on Smitten Kitchen and decided on these. I made them appetizer size (about 1 tablespoon each) and got 30 meatballs. They tasted great!

I didn’t get photos of the savory food, but if you click over to the recipes, you’ll see photos that are a whole lot nicer than what I would have taken. I also made Baked Potato Skins with Creamy Spinach and Turkey Bacon, which I’ve written about before, and Pioneer Woman’s Sangria, which I’ve also written about. We would have had a good time even without all of the food, but I enjoyed making it and they enjoyed eating it, so I think girls’ night was a success!

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Baked Potato Skins with Spinach and Vegetable Samosas in Phyllo

January 2, 2011

Happy new year! Here are a couple of delicious recipes I made for our new year’s eve at home. They’re both on the lighter side of things: the samosas are baked rather than deep-fried, and the potato skins are filled with spinach rather than melted cheese. Keep these healthy snack ideas in mind for your next gathering, or do what I did and serve them as the main dish for dinner. As an added bonus, if you make both of these at the same time, the potato that you scoop out of the skins can be used in the filling for the samosas.

The recipe for the potato skins is here on the Weight Watchers site.These were really good, though I agree with many of the reviews that suggest adding a little onion or garlic, nutmeg or hot pepper. There’s a whole lot of spinach going on here!

  • This recipe makes a ton of spinach filling. 20 oz is two boxes of frozen chopped spinach. The Yukon Gold potatoes I used were pretty small, and it took six of them (12 halves) to hold all of the filling.
  • I added about 1/2 teaspoon of paprika to the filling.
  • I used real bacon rather than turkey bacon, purely because I went for the convenience of precooked bacon. With a tiny bit of bacon on each potato half, I don’t think it makes a huge impact. Turkey or veggie bacon would be good, or you could skip it all together.
  • OK, one more not-as-healthy change: these were really good with a little bit of sour cream (I used light) on top. Again, just a dab will do, and it adds nice flavor and moisture, as well as making it look more attractive.

The recipe for samosas is from Cooking Light and you can find the recipe here. The phyllo bakes up nice and crunchy with just a brush of oil. Inside is a soft filling of potatoes, peas, and carrots, with fragrant Indian spices.

  • I did not make the mint chutney; instead I made a dipping sauce from the New Moosewood Cookbook (recipe below). Mint chutney doesn’t sound like my kind of thing, and I’d made the dipping sauce before and knew that I liked it. As a side note, Moosewood’s recipe for samosas is also really good, but I love the addition of carrots in the Cooking Light recipe.
  • Once you get the hang of folding the samosas, it’s not hard to do. I won’t tell you how long it took me to get the hang of it, though!

Dipping Sauce for Samosas
From the New Moosewood Cookbook

1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 small glove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves. Heat to boiling, then simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. It will reduce slightly, but this is a thin sauce. Serve warm or at room temperature with hot samosas. I suggest giving each person a small bowl of the dipping sauce so they can double-dip!

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My Kitchen, My World Goes to Morocco

September 24, 2010

Each month, the My Kitchen, My World group takes a virtual trip by cooking the dishes of another country. As much as I like to travel for real, virtual trips are fun too, plus no jet lag! This month, our destination is Morocco. I haven’t been to Morocco, and other than couscous, didn’t know much about the cuisine. I made three things, all from the book Flatbreads and Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. Michele gave me this book a while ago, and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s divided into different areas of the world and has more than just bread recipes, as you will see…

First up is Moroccan Anise Bread. This is a yeast bread made with white and whole wheat flour, plus anise seed. It bakes up as a flat round loaf.

It’s the same color as my cutting board!

It doesn’t get very tall, but it has a nice texture.

I reduced the amount of anise seed a little, because neither my husband or I are big fans of anise. We were pleasantly surprised that we enjoyed the bread, so I’m glad I made it and didn’t omit the anise. It was particularly good dipped in the next dish: Berber Bean Puree. This dish can be made with kidney beans or small red beans; I picked small red beans, mostly because I thought it was funny that there were beans actually named “small red beans.” Obviously, I don’t spend much time in the dried bean section of the grocery store. It’s been many years since I cooked dried beans, and I was thrilled that they turned out! The beans are cooked with garlic and then mixed with water, salt, cumin, fresh flat-leaf parsley, lemon juice, and dried pepper flakes. I used an immersion blender to puree the mixture, avoiding the heartache of cleaning the food processor.

Even though this is called a “puree,” somehow I expected more of a bean spread. Had I thoroughly read the recipe, which says it is the texture of a thick soup, I would have known what to expect. This was really tasty. The parsley added a wonderful, fresh flavor. We ate it at room temperature the first time and warmed up another time. I even ate a little bit like a soup and it was good that way too.

Finally, I made Chicken Tagine with Olives and Onions. I’m not sure how appetizing this photo looks, but in real life, it was quite good.

Chicken is marinated in lemon juice and garlic and then browned before cooking in a broth of water and seasonings including thyme and parsley. While that was cooking, I cooked sliced onions in a water and tumeric mixture (I did not include the optional saffron). The onions and some olives are added to the chicken during the last 10 minutes of cooking. The recipe calls for chicken legs and breasts, but I used boneless chicken breasts instead. I served this over rice, which I don’t think is the Moroccan way to do it , but it was good. This was even more flavorful the next day.

I have not included the recipes here, but if these look interesting to you, take a look at Flatbreads and Flavors. To see what the other travelers made, check out the roundup at My Kitchen, My World; it will be posted at the end of the month.

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Baked Couscous and Spinach

February 5, 2010

I had a lot of baby spinach to use up, so I searched through my “recipes to try” file and saw this recipe for Baked Couscous and Spinach. It sounded perfect, and it was.

Notes

  • I used tomato flavored couscous, which is why the couscous is so orange.
  • I used baby spinach and tore it up a little bit.
  • I didn’t have pine nuts, but it was good without them.
  • This can be a vegetarian main dish or a side dish for a non-vegetarian meal. We had this with baked lemon garlic tilapia for dinner (a simple but delicious recipe), and I had it as a vegetarian lunch another day.
  • I found this recipe on Food from Books, but the link is broken and I can’t find it on the site. I’m glad I copied the recipe instead of just saving the link! So I bring you my version, below.

Baked Couscous with Spinach and Pine Nuts
from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures, by Jeanne Lemlin (1992)
4 servings

1 cup couscous
1 1/2 cups boiling vegetable stock or water (I dissolved some veggie bouillon cubes in the water)

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil (I used less than that)
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, reserving 1/3 cup juice
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried
1/3 cup pine nuts (I omitted just because I didn’t have them)

5 cups (about 5 ounces) loosely packed fresh spinach, stems removed and leaves torn into small pieces (I used baby spinach and just tore it up a little bit)

freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup grated Muenster cheese (really, any cheese would be good)

Combine the couscous, boiling water and salt in a large bowl; cover with a plate Let sit for five minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Preheat the oven to 375º. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion for 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds or so. Add the drained tomatoes (and dried basil, if using) and cook for 10 minutes more, until jammy, stirring frequently. (If you have time, let this mixture cool a little.) Stir the tomato mixture into the couscous and mix in the reserved tomato juice, (fresh basil, if using), pine nuts, raw spinach and pepper.

Spread half the couscous mixture into a shallow baking dish (I used a 9×13 pan sprayed with non- spray; a smaller pan would work too). Sprinkle on the cheese, then cover with the remaining couscous. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. The entire dish can be assembled up to 24 hours in advance.

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Roasted Butternut Squash w/Herbes de Provence, plus a squash peeling tip

November 18, 2009

This is my favorite way to prepare butternut squash. I think squash is so delicious that it doesn’t need much improvement, but roasting it with olive oil and herbes de Provence makes it extra-delicious.

Peeling butternut squash is another story. I used to do it with a knife and I can’t believe I still have all 10 fingers to type with! Next, I tried a vegetable peeler and didn’t get very far. Then I discovered that this style of peeler, called a Y peeler, works wonderfully.

Now that I have a Y peeler, peeling squash is, if not quite a joy, at least a lot faster and less hazardous. It takes off a very thin layer, so after one round of peeling, the squash will probably look like this.

I go over the squash again to get rid of those green lines. The second round of peeling is even faster and easier than the first, so don’t be discouraged by having to do it twice. After a quick peel, you’re on your way to delicious squash! This recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash with Herbes de Provence is how I usually prepare butternut squash. The recipe is from Cooking Light, but I couldn’t find it on their site, so I’ve included it below.

You’ll notice that there are no onions in the photo above. This is good with and without onions; sometimes I leave them out if I don’t have any or if I’m just not in an onion mood.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Herbes de Provence

from Cooking Light

6 cups peeled cubed (1 1/2 inch) butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence*
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges (about 3/4 pound)
Non-stick cooking spray

  • Preheat oven to 425º F.
  • Spray a shallow roasting pan with non-stick cooking spray. Add all ingredients to the pan and toss well.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. (I usually end up baking it for about 40 minutes.)

Yield: 4 1-cup servings.

* Cooking Light states that herbes de Provence is a combination of dried herbs, including rosemary, lavender, thyme, marjoram, and sage. I found many different ingredient lists for herbes de Provence online; I don’t know for sure which herbs are in the blend that I use.

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