Category Archives: Side Dishes

And Tonight’s Dinner is…

It’s one of those nights.  You’re exhausted from work, have virtually nothing in the refrigerator and absolutely no motivation to go to the grocery store. Here’s the contents of my refrigerator right now: shredded rotisserie chicken that is at least 2 weeks old (not edible at this point, but I’m going to let the culprit throw it out), some arugula that needs to be used or thrown out, leftover basmati rice, half an avocado, 3 radishes, 1 mango, a package of mint, a quarter of a bunch of cilantro, several condiments, orange vinaigrette leftover from making Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad, lunch meat (no bread), prepackaged, pre-sliced scallions (that cost twice as much as unsliced scallions but the store was out and I needed them) and a block of parmesan cheese.  It’s not much to go with, especially considering the questionable chicken.  So what in the world can I do with all of this (or at least some of this)?  Well let’s look at the major players: rice is a good start, produce should be utilized, and I have that leftover vinaigrette….

So I tossed the rice together with the remaining arugula, diced up pieces of the half of an avacado I had, half of the mango, some mint and cilantro leaves, and the remaining orange vinaigrette. The chicken would have been a nice addition if I hadn’t thought it might kill me.  If I had any sliced almonds or maybe some cashews that would have gone well with it for a little crunch.  I pulled some Tomato Basil Soup out of the freezer, zapped it in the microwave and voilà: we have dinner.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of thinking a little outside of the box.  Rice is used in cold salads, so it wasn’t a great leap to think of dressing it up with the lettuce and herbs that needed to be used. The orange vinaigrette is light and not over powering, but even an Italian vinaigrette would have worked (though maybe not with the cilantro).  I also could have added in the radishes, but I wasn’t in the mood.  If I had thought about it at the time, there is almost always frozen shrimp in my freezer and they take all of 3 minutes to defrost under cold running water.  The possibilities are only limited by the contents of your refrigerator and pantry. I think a lot of people are afraid to venture out beyond the recipe box, but really, what’s the worst that could happen (other than burning down your house)?  If the food ends up tasting horrible at lease you know what not to do next time and you can always order pizza at that point.

 

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Arugula, Watermelon, and Feta Salad

Some days you just want something incredibly simple for dinner.  Last night my husband suggested hotdogs and me in my sleep-deprived state jumped all over it.  We stopped at the grocery store and I thought, “maybe I should make a fruit salad to go with the meal, just something easy.” That’s when I saw the watermelon.  Granted, it’s not really watermelon season just yet, but this watermelon looked perfectly ripe and Ina Garten‘s watermelon feta salad is the perfect compliment to a casual dinner or picnic lunch.

Ingredients:

Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup freshly squeezed Orange Juice

1/4 cup freshly squeezed Lemon Juice (2 Lemons)

1/4 cup minced Shallots (1 large)

1 tablespoon Honey

1/2 cup Olive Oil

1 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

Salad:

3 cups (4 ounces) Baby Arugula, washed and spun dry

1/8th Seedless Watermelon, rind removed, and cut in 1-inch cubes

12 ounces good Feta Cheese, 1/2 inch diced

1 cup (4 ounces) whole fresh Mint Leaves, julienned

Whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, shallots, honey, salt, and pepper. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly, to form an emulsion. If not using within an hour, store the vinaigrette covered in the refrigerator.

Place the arugula, watermelon, feta, and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to coat the greens lightly and toss well. Taste for seasonings and serve immediately.

Tips and Tricks:

I did not plan very well for this meal and thus I did not have a shallot at home.  I substituted 1 minced garlic clove and 2 tablespoons of minced white onion.

If you want to simplify it even further you can certainly buy the crumbled feta you can find in the deli section of the grocery store.

You could substitute watercress for the arugula if you prefer.


Grilled Artichokes with Remoulade Sauce

Artichokes are a mean and vicious vegetable, but they taste really good.  If you are willing to put aside 30 minutes to prepared these spiky bulbs and risk personal injury in the process (they can and will cut you) you will be well rewarded with succulent artichoke leaves and hearts to enjoy. They are the perfect indulgence.

Ingredients:

Remoulade Sauce:

1/2 cup Mayonaisse

2 teaspoons Lemon Zest

1/2 tablespoon Capers, minced

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 tablespoon Parsley, chopped

1/2 teaspoon Prepared Horseradish

1/2 teaspoon Whole Grain Mustard

1 tablespoon White Wine Vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper, ground

1/4 teaspoon Salt

Artichokes:

2 Artichokes

1 Lemon (reserved from Remoulade Sauce)

2 1/2 cups Water

1/2 cup White Wine

1 teaspoon Salt

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Parmesan Potato Wedges with Lemon Thyme Aioli

The which-style-of-fry-is-the-best debate is ongoing in my house.  I like fries that are a bit more crispy and I am not picky about shape, my husband on the other hand likes his fries softer and he really likes potato wedges. Being the kind of girl I am I thought, “well, we can have it both ways.” A couple of easy tricks will give you oven fries that are crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.  Give them a stylish addition in the form of a little grated parmesan cheese and a lemon thyme aioli and you have a side dish that is perfectly at ease in a gastro pub or sitting at your kitchen table.

Ingredients:

Potato Wedges:

2 Russet Potatoes

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 tablespoon Kosher Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Pepper

1/3 cup Parmesan, finely grated

Lemon Thyme Aioli:

1 Lemon, zested and juiced

2 Egg Yolks

1 large Clove of Garlic

1 tablespoon fresh Thyme Leaves

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1/4 cup Canola or Vegetable Oil

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Salt

3/4 teaspoon Pepper

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Broccoli Slaw

I like broccoli slaw.  It’s easy to make (especially if you cheat a little and get the slaw part from the prepackaged produce section) and I feel like it’s a good way to sneak in a few extra vitamins and minerals.  Add some dried cranberries, raisins, and almonds and you’ve easily elevated it to interesting as well.  It’s a simple and tasty side that you can effortlessly whip up in about 10 minutes.

Ingredients:

Dressing:

3/4 cup Mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Orange Zest

2 1/2 teaspoons Cider Vinegar

3 tablespoons Fresh Orange Juice

3/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika (regular Paprika will work if that’s what you have)

1 1/4 teaspoons Salt

1/2 teaspoon Pepper

1/2 teaspoon Mustard Powder

1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Slaw:

1 (12 ounce) package of Broccoli Slaw

1/2 cup Almonds, sliced or slivered

1/3 cup Golden Raisins

1/3 cup Craisins

2 tablespoons Chives, minced

Whisk all dressing ingredients together.  If you have the time, go ahead and do this a few hours before you plan on making dinner as dressings are usually better when the flavors have married for a little bit.  You could make the dressing as far in advance as 2 days.

Toast the almonds in a dry pan over medium heat until they just begin to take on a little color and smell nutty.  Allow to cool about 5 minutes.

Toss together broccoli slaw, craisins, raisins, almonds and dressing about 5 minutes before you plan on serving dinner.  It really is that easy.  Sit back and enjoy the praise.

Tips and Tricks:

If you are feeling particularly ambitious and you want to make your own slaw mix the key is to use broccoli stems.  It’s a great way to eliminate waste when you buy a head of broccoli.  You can get two sides for the price of one!

Pecans or walnuts would be other great nuts to use if you don’t have almonds.

If you’d like more bite than chives can offer, substitute 1/2 cup of julienned red onion instead.

Serves 4 people.


Horseradish Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes

Horseradish goes well with so many things and potatoes are no exception. The addition of a little of this often overlooked condiment will give your potatoes a definite wow factor.  It’s a great way to get a whole lot of bang for very little buck.  Who says a side dish can’t be the star of the show?

Ingredients:

2 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes

4 tablespoons Butter, cut into pieces

3/4 cup Whole Milk

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Salt, divided

2 tablespoons Chives, minced

2 tablespoons Prepared Horseradish

1/2 teaspoon Pepper, coarsely ground

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Applesauce

Applesauce

The cool days and cold night of autumn bring apples into season.  There are a multitude of ways to use apples in your cooking at this time of year from pies to cider.  One particularly easy way to cook with apples is to make applesauce.  It is much easier than one might think, and in fact makes you wonder why one would ever purchase store bought applesauce  again.

Ingredients:

4 apples (I used 2 MacIntosh and 2 Braeburn)

1 Stick Cinnamon plus ground cinnamon to taste

1/4 Nutmeg Kernel or 1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg

3 Cardamom Pods

1 Star Anise

1 3/4  cup Apple Cider

Brown Sugar to taste

1/4 teaspoon Salt

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Mac ‘n’ Cheese

The Mac that Smiles Back

I thought this unique topping for mac ‘n’ cheese from the Garden Grill Restaurant at Walt Disney World was just the cutest thing I’d ever seen. I had to imitate it and add it to my own kid friendly recipe for macaroni and cheese. The addition of Goldfish crackers makes for the perfect presentation for both the young and the young at heart. I hope this meal brings some smiles to your kitchen table.

Ingredients:

Goldfish Topping:

1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs

1 1/3 cup Parmesan Flavored Goldfish, divided

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

2 tablespoons Butter, melted

Macaroni and Cheese:

1/2 pound Shell Pasta (or whatever shape you prefer)

6 quarts Water

2 tablespoons Butter

1/2 cup White Onion, finely diced

1 clove Garlic, minced

3 tablespoons Flour

1 pint Whole Milk

1 heaping cup Sharp White Cheddar (4 ounces by weight), grated

3/4 cup Gruyere, grated

1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

1/2 teaspoon Mustard Powder

1 1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/4 teaspoon Pepper

Dash of Nutmeg

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Cranberry Fig Chutney

Cranberry Fig Chutney

When it comes to cranberries there are many ways to jazz them up. This recipe allows for a bit of an exotic twist. Chutneys, hailing originally from India, are a happy marriage between sweet and sour. Just in time for the holidays, here is a unique take on the classic Thanksgiving side dish that may just become the star of the meal.

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh Cranberries

1/2 cup Dried Figs, diced

2/3 cup Yellow Onion, small diced

1 clove Garlic, minced

1/3 cup packed Brown Sugar

1/2 tablespoon Orange Zest

1/3 cup fresh Orange Juice (about 1 orange)

1/2 cup Cider Vinegar

1/2 teaspoon grated Ginger Root

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1/2 stick of Cinnamon

1/2 Star Anise

2 Cloves

1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds

1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg, freshly grated

1/4 teaspoon Salt

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Lemon Herbed Potatoes

 

Lemon Herbed Potatoes

One of my favorite ways to dress up roasted potatoes, this recipe is a great side dish for the holidays or even for Sunday dinner.  They’re easy to do and always a hit.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes (or other waxy potato variety), halved

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1/2 tablespoon Salt

3/4 teaspoon Pepper

2 tablespoons fresh Lemon Juice

2 teaspoons fresh Thyme, minced

2 teaspoons fresh Rosemary, minced

1/2 tablespoon Butter (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400°F.  Rinse the potatoes and drain the water.  Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and put them in a medium sized bowl.  Toss the potatoes with the olive oil , salt and pepper.  Place the potatoes on a sheet pan lined with a silpat or parchment paper.  Put them in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the potatoes can be easily smashed with gentle pressure.  Pull the potatoes out of the oven and toss with the minced herbs, lemon juice, and butter.  You are ready to serve, bon appétit.

Tips and Tricks:

Reheating the potatoes

Not everyone is blessed with double ovens, if you are making this recipe for a meal that requires you to pick and choose what is going to be cooked when, then cook the potatoes first.  You can hold them at room temperature  (without the lemon juice, butter, and herbs) for about an hour or put them in the refrigerator if it’s going to be longer.  When you are about ready to serve, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add in the roasted potatoes along with the lemon juice, butter, and herbs. Cook for a few minutes until the potatoes are hot again (if you have had them refrigerated, pull them out about 30 to 45 minutes before putting in the pan to allow them to come to room temperature).

This recipe serves 4.