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A Week of Side Dishes, Part Two – Creamed Spinach

Okay, I know not everyone likes spinach and maybe you have tried to avoid it like the plague since you were a kid, but in my opinion I would much rather have spinach as a vegetable than a side of kale. I know it seems sacrilegious to say that about kale today since it is a “super food” and all, but there is just something about kale that I makes me rather have something else – like spinach. Surprisingly, we never had a problem getting Sean to eat spinach either and it ranks among the family favorites in vegetables. Besides, you can do a lot of things with it besides just steaming it. It is great raw in a salad or on sandwiches instead of lettuce and of course, one of the favorites around the holidays is always creamed spinach, which is the recipe I am posting today. I actually made this right around the holidays and forgot to post about it, but here it is today and it is easy enough where you can really make this any time of the year. This particular recipe comes from the Food Network’s Sunny Anderson and comes together pretty quickly in the oven and makes use of frozen spinach.

Creamed Spinach

4 tablespoons butter, plus more for the pan

1/2 red onion, chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons red chili flakes

1 3/4 cups heavy cream

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup sour cream

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1/2 cup packaged fried onions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter and 8 by 8-inch baking dish. Melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the chopped red onion and a pinch of salt. Saute the onion for about 3 minutes, then add the minced garlic and the red chili flakes and saute the mixture for 2 minutes more. Add the heavy cream, Parmesan cheese and the nutmeg. heat the mixture until the cream is just beginning to bubble, stirring often, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the burner off and stir in the sour cream and the spinach. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed to taste. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top evenly with the fried onions. Bake the spinach until the top is golden and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Granted this may not be the healthiest version of eating spinach out there but it does taste pretty good. It does seem a lot like the typical green bean casserole that you might also find around the holidays and the flavors will remind you of that. One thing you want to remember is to make sure to thaw and dry the frozen spinach as much as you can to get as much liquid out as possible otherwise you will end up with a very runny dish. I did leave out the red chili flakes in my recipe but if you like a little added heat to your dish you should put it in. You end up with a very creamy, tasty side dish that goes really well with just about any type of beef, poultry and pork meal. this also works well if you need to bring a side dish to a party or buffet dinner. Unfortunately, this is also one of those dishes that I neglected to take a picture of so I don’t have one to share with you as to how it came out. Sorry about that. I am trying better, I promise.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2015 in Cooking, Dinner, Holidays, Side Dishes, Vegetables

 

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A week of Side Dishes, Part One – Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Glaze and Lemon Zest

As the snow starts to fall here as we get pummeled with the 1st blizzard of 2015 in my area of New York, I have been going through some of the recipes of things I have made lately and I realize I have a lot of side dishes that I have done recipes for that I have not posted on here yet. So I decided for this week I will post a different side recipe each day to give you some ideas of different things that you can try with your main dishes. The first one, from Williams-Sonoma, is for a roasted asparagus with balsamic glaze and lemon zest. Asparagus is one of our favorite vegetables around here so we do try to make use of it quite often and I have found that roasting it is one of my favorite ways to make it. The great thing about asparagus is that you can use it in a bunch of different ways and for several different kinds of meals. This one in particular can go pretty well with just about anything and is really simple to make any night of the week.

 

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Glaze and Lemon Zest

20 to 25 asparagus spears, tough ends removed

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 450°. Spread the asparagus in a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle the asparagus with the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Turn the asparagus spears several times to make sure they are all coated evenly. Roast the asparagus for 10 minutes, turning them from time to time. Remove the asparagus from the oven, sprinkle the asparagus with the lemon zest and turn the spears several times. Return the asparagus to the oven and continue to roasted until the spears are crisp-tender and the color has darkened slightly, about 5 to 7 minutes more. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and serve immediately. Or, let the asparagus cool, then cover with aluminum foil and allow it to stand at room temperature for up to one hour before serving.

 

I find that when you roast asparagus it really brings out the great flavor of the vegetable and with this recipe the balsamic vinegar in the lemon zest really add some extra punch to the dish. I think this side dish goes really well with just about any type of beef that you might serve, but it also would work great with poultry, pork or fish. Many people often serve asparagus as part of an appetizer before the meal if you are serving a more elegant dinner or even serve asparagus as part of a brunch, and this recipe could work well for either situation. 25 asparagus spears might sound like a lot, but it really does not go very far and this recipe is perfect for 3 or 4 people. We did not even have any leftovers when I served this one myself. You can serve the asparagus warm right out of the oven or let it cool to room temperature, which is the way a lot of people like it. Personally I prefer it hot but it tastes great either way.

 

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day, stay warm and out of the snow, and enjoy your meal!

roastedasparagus

 

 

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Super Bowl Food Ideas and Party Recipes – Bon Appetit

Super Bowl Food Ideas and Party Recipes – Bon Appetit.

As we deal with a snowstorm here in my area of New York and then a family party later today,  you can have a chance to look over some more great Super Bowl snack, appetizers and recipes for your party, to bring to a party or just to have for your own while you watch the game. Bon Appetit has all kinds of great ideas for your Super Bowl party guide for all of your favorite game-time snacks. Check it out!

 

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Great Sandwiches for Dinner, Game Time or Any Time – Pork Meatball Banh Mi

Regular followers of the blog already know how much I love sandwiches. I think could be happy having a sandwich for dinner just about every day of the week, as long as it was something different all of the time. I have looked at making Banh Mi sandwiches for a while but I have always kind of shied away from mom because I was worried that Sean and Michelle would not really care for them because of the spice that is in most of the recipes. However, when I saw this particular recipe for a pork meatball bánh mì from Bon Appétit, I decided to bite the bullet and give the recipe a try. This particular recipe does use a lot of ingredients that I do not normally have on hand so I did have to get a few things, such as daikon, a Japanese white radish. You may have to go out and get a couple of different ingredients if you want to make this particular version, but it is certainly worth the results.

 

Pork Meatball Banh Mi

For the Hot Chili Mayo:

2/3 cup mayonnaise

2 green onions, finely chopped

1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)

For the Meatballs:

1 pound ground pork

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 green onions, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon hot chili sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

To Assemble the Sandwiches:

2 cups coarsely grated carrots

2 cups coarsely grated peeled daikon (Japanese white radish)

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1 tablespoon sesame oil

4 10-inch-long individual baguettes or for 10-inch-long pieces French bread baguette (cut from 2 baguettes)

Thinly sliced jalapeno peppers

Fresh cilantro sprigs

To make the hot chili mayo, stir the mayonnaise, chopped green onions, and hot chili sauce together in a small bowl. Season the mix with salt to taste. The hot chili mayo can be made 1 day ahead and kept covered and chill in the refrigerator.

To make the meatballs, line a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Gently mix the ground pork, basil, garlic, green onions, fish sauce, hot chili sauce, sugar, cornstarch, black pepper and kosher salt in a large bowl. Using moistened hands and a scant tablespoonful for each, roll the meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Arrange the meatballs on a baking sheet. Cover and chill the meatballs until you are ready to bake.

To create the ingredients for the sandwiches, toss the grated carrots, daikon, rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature for one hour, tossing occasionally. Preheat the oven to 300°. Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs. Sauté the meatballs until they are browned and cooked through, turning the meatballs often and lowering the heat if they are browning too quickly, about 15 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to another rimmed baking sheet and place them in the oven. Repeat the process with the remaining meatballs.

Cut each baguette or baguette piece horizontally in half. Pull out enough bread from each bread half to leave a 1/2-inch-thick shell. Spread some of the hot chili mayo over each bread shell. Arrange the jalapenos, then cilantro, in the bottom halves of the bread shells. Fill each sandwich with 1/4 of the meatballs. Drain the pickled vegetables and place them atop the meatballs. Press on the baguette tops and serve.

 

The combination of the spicy mayonnaise, the pickled vegetables and the pork meatballs really make this an outstanding sandwich. Sean had the meatballs without the spicy mayo and he really like the flavor of them, comparing it to a nice piece of sausage on a baguette. I really love the way the mayo combined with the meatballs to give a nice spicy flavor and the pickled vegetables just topped it all off for me. The pickled vegetables are a lot like a coleslaw recipe, so you could use coleslaw instead if you prefer that, but using the daikon gives a little bit of heat to the vegetables. I even used the leftover mayonnaise on other sandwiches throughout the week because I like the way it turned out. I think it would be great on a hamburger, which I did not get to try but I think I will next time. Anyway, this was a fairly simple bánh mì to make that had some nice spice to it and some really great flavor.

 

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

porkmeatballs porkmeatballbanhmi

 

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Cooking, Dinner, Lunch, Pork, Sandwiches, Sauce, Vegetables

 

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Super Bowl Appetizers and Snacks : Football Recipes : Cooking Channel

Super Bowl Appetizers and Snacks : Football Recipes : Cooking Channel.

the big game is coming up soon and you want to get ready for your party or game day with lots of great snacks, finger foods and appetizers for the game. Cooking Channel has put together 34 great appetizer recipes that you can use for anyone and everyone at your game day party. Check it out!

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2015 in Appetizers, Cooking, Cooking Websites, Snacks

 

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Savor These Simple Sides (Sans Pictures) – Maple-Glazed Root Vegetables and Mashed Potatoes with Buttermilk

One of the areas that I am trying to do the most improving in during 2015 comes to the pictures that I take for this blog. Very often I just take pictures right after I have finished preparing the meal so that I can have a picture to display, and the pictures do not always turn out to be the best that I can use but I go with it and that is what I have. I admit I am no professional photographer and I do not spend a lot of time working on the photography for the blog, but I would like to try to get a little bit better at it and take some nicer pictures to use. I would also like to be able to remember to take pictures more often. Very often I forget to take pictures of the side dishes that I have made and only remember it after we have already started eating, not leaving me with anything to take pictures of to put up.. This has kept me from putting a lot of recipes on the blog since I do not have pictures of the recipes I want to use. Today I decided I am going to use a couple of the recipes anyway so at least I can share them with you and let you know how they turned out for me even if I do not have pictures to show you. In particular here are 2 side dishes I tried recently, one from Williams-Sonoma and the other from Bobby Flay. They are for maple-glazed root vegetables and for mashed potatoes with buttermilk, black pepper and green onion. Both are really simple to make and make great side dishes for all kinds of meals.

 

Maple-Glazed Root Vegetables

3 tablespoons butter

1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into wedges 1/2-inch wide

1 1/4 pound carrots, peeled and cut on the bias into pieces 2-inches long and 1/2-inch wide

1 1/4 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut on the bias into pieces 2-inches long and 1/2-inch wide

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

3 tablespoons maple syrup

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

In a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When the foaming subsides, add 1/3 each of the turnips, carrots and parsnips. Cook, without stirring, until the vegetables are browned on one side, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl. Repeat the process to brown the remaining vegetables in 2 more batches.

Return all of the vegetables to the pan. Stir in the chicken broth, time and 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the vegetables are just tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. He uncover the pan and continue to cook the vegetables, stirring them occasionally, until most of liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are glazed, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and the remaining 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and serve.

 

You can pretty much try this recipe with any root vegetables that you like, or just one single type of vegetable that you may happen to have on hand and it works pretty well. While this recipe is for a larger group of about 8 to 10, you could scale it down to fit your particular family size needs. I actually just made this again recently using just some baby carrots that I had on hand and it turned out perfectly, with the carrots having a really nice glaze on it thanks to the maple syrup. It is a great dish to remember to use for holidays or weekend meals and goes really well with beef, chicken, turkey, or pork. The mashed potato recipe is just as easy and just as versatile.

 

Mashed Potatoes with Buttermilk, Black Pepper and Green Onion

4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch dice

Kosher salt

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into pieces

2 1/2 to 3 cups buttermilk

Coarsely ground black pepper

2 green onions, green and pale green parts only, thinly sliced

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover them with cold water by 2 inches. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, bring to a boil, and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes well. While the potatoes are cooking, combine the butter and buttermilk in a small sauce pan set over medium heat and bring it to a simmer.

Working in batches, pass the cooked potatoes through a food mill or a ricer (or just use a potato masher) over a pot. Stir the hot buttermilk mixture into the potatoes until they are smooth and creamy. Season the potatoes generously with pepper and add more salt as needed. Stir in the green onions. Cover and keep the potatoes warm over a simmering pot of water until you are ready to serve.

 

While everyone makes mashed potatoes pretty regularly, this is just a slight variation that gives you a little bit different flavor thanks to the buttermilk, pepper and green onion. I really like a lot of pepper in my potatoes so this was the perfect recipe since the pepper really shines through and the buttermilk really helps to make the potatoes extra creamy and add a little bit of tang to the flavor. Again this is a great dish that you can use for a holiday meal or a nice Sunday meal but it is also simple enough for you can make it during the week to have as a side dish for just about anything, including beef, chicken, turkey or pork. While using a ricer or food mill does produce great mashed potatoes and I do have a ricer to use, I very often find myself just using the potato masher to make them and they come out just fine. The ricer can be a little tedious to use when you have a lot of potatoes and some people like the mashed potatoes a little chunkier with the potato masher anyway.

 

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

mapleglazecarrots

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Cooking, Dinner, Potatoes, Side Dishes, Vegetables

 

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Recipes to Cook with Your Cast Iron Skillet

Recipes to Cook with Your Cast Iron Skillet.

I love my cast iron skillets and you can never have too many recipes that make great use of them. Bon Appetit has put together 18 recipes for you that you can use for your cast iron skillet for everything from breakfast to dessert. Check it out!

 

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