Archive for the Category ◊ Side Dishes ◊

25 Aug 2019 Tropical Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Toasted Tortilla Chips

The biggest issue with this dish is: when to eat it! Dessert? Appetizer? Snack? All three work but I think the best is a quiet summer afternoon on the porch with a chilled beverage of choice.

Tropical Fruit Salsa

  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh mango (1 large or 2 small)
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped kiwi (2)
  • ½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/3 finely chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • Juice of ½ fresh lime (2-3 teaspoonfuls)
  • Salt, optional, to taste (I never add salt)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Season with salt, if desired.
  2. Serve with Cinnamon Toasted Tortilla Chips.

Cinnamon Toasted Tortilla Chips

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 3 T. butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl combine sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. Brush one side of tortillas with melted butter then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  4. Using a pizza wheel or knife cut tortilla into 8 triangles (cut into 16 triangles if using XL tortillas)
  5. Place on baking sheet and place in preheated oven.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until crisp.
  7. Let cool.
  8. Serve and share!

NOTES: Salsa can be made the night before and stored covered in refrigerator. Tortilla chips can be made a few hours before serving.

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26 Jan 2018 Potatoes Baked in Cream (Potato Gratin)
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Did the name of the recipe entice you click on this?! Well then, that makes us friends forever!

When my friends from Southern France were staying with us, they offered to make a side dish for dinner.  They didn’t use a recipe. They sliced up a few potatoes, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, poured a carton of cream over the top, and put the whole thing in the oven. Sixty minutes later my family’s love affair with Potatoes Baked in Cream began.

Last year I found an actual written down recipe, one that I can pass on, one with precise quantities and directions.  The recipe is from David Tanis’ cookbook, “Market Cooking”. I made one change to Chef Tanis’ recipe, I cut out an additional four tablespoons of butter! Chef Tanis calls his recipe “Classic Potato Gratin”, but to me and my family it will always be “Potatoes Baked in Cream”.

I think you will be surprised at how delicious this very simple dish is. I certainly was. Sublime. After you taste Potatoes Bake in Cream, that will be your word of the day. Sublime.

An important note:  Leftovers don’t reheat well, so make sure you eat all of the potatoes in one sitting (invite friends over, take the dish to a potluck, serve these potatoes for a holiday meal…). I haven’t tried reheating leftovers in the oven, so that might work (see David Tanis’ *note below). I have tried reheating leftovers in the microwave.  Don’t do it on 100% power!  I had so-so results reheating on 50% power. I wouldn’t serve them to anyone else, but I was able to eat them!  I have also had so-so results from throwing a handful of diced ham into a hot frying pan, dicing up a serving of leftover casserole, and reheating over medium heat. It made for a good breakfast, but nothing-nothing-like the original casserole served hot from the oven.

Another important note: The potatoes need to be sliced thinly and evenly. 1/8th inch or 3/16ths an inch is about right. You can do this with a very sharp knife and by working slowly and carefully, like my French friends did. I use a mandolin to slice the potatoes. If you don’t have one, I’d suggest getting one.  I bought mine on Amazon after looking at all the reviews and selecting the highest rated one. Later I started seeing mandolins at Savers/Goodwill for about $6.  I bought used mandolins for my daughters. Go to Savers.

Potatoes Baked in Cream (Potato Gratin)

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes
  • butter to coat the baking dish (Chef Tanis uses 4 more tablespoons butter to dot top of casserole, I don’t)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2½ cups heavy whipping cream (don’t even think about substituting anything for the cream, such as half and half or whole milk, it just won’t work!)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°. Peel the potatoes and put them in cold water (to prevent them from turning brown while you finish the prep work. Slice only one layer of potatoes as a time. Keep the other potatoes in the cold water. The browning happens fast when the potatoes are so thinly cut).
  2. Smear a baking dish thickly with butter. (I use a 9×13 dish but I am looking for a dish that’s the same size and a bit shallower since the quantity of potatoes only come half way up the sides of the 9×13 pan. The waste of space bothers me a bit as I’d like to have a dedicated Potatoes Baked in Cream pan because, after all, this is a dish I will be making over and over! That being said, I’ve been using the same 9×13 pan for a few years now, so it’s really not a problem.)
  3. Drain and dry one peeled potato at a time. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice one potatoes at a time as thinly as possible. Quickly lay the potato slices in the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping them just slightly to make a “roof tile” style pattern. Sprinkle each layer of potatoes lightly with salt and pepper. Slice more potatoes and make another layer. Continue in this fashion, seasoning each layer, until all the potatoes are used. You should have at least 3, but no more than 4 layers.
  4. Pour the cream over the potatoes and tilt the pan to distribute well. With your hands, push down on the top layer to even out the pile (I don’t do this, but Chef Tanis says to). The cream should just barely cover the potatoes; add a little more if necessary.
  5. Cover the casserole dish tightly with foil and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 375°.
  6. After 30 minutes remove the foil from the casserole, and return to the oven for another 30-35 minutes to finish cooking the potatoes and turn the top of the gratin to a crispy, deep golden brown.
  7. Let the gratin rest for 10 minutes before serving.

*Note from David Tanis: The gratin can also be cooled and left at room temperature for several hours, then reheated in a moderate oven. (I haven’t tested this)

Thank you for stopping by my kitchen today, what is cooking for tomorrow, hmmmm…. Pork and Tomatillo Stew?

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24 Jul 2014 Curried Chicken Meatballs with Apricot Rice Pilaf
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I have a love-hate relationship with America’s Test Kitchen (and their related publications, Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country).  I buy a LOT of their special interest publications. I like to read, and I enjoy reading recipes, and I like trying out new recipes. I like the pictures of each recipe and I like the all the notes that go along with each ATK recipe.  I have made some good things from ATK recipes, but I’ve made some not so good, too.  On the other hand, I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate that I cannot access any of the ATK recipes online without paying for them.  The only way around this is to get the name of the recipe you are interested in and Google it, or look on foodgawker or TasteSpotting for a hit, then go to a food blog, similar to this one, to get the actual recipe.  Compare this to Bon Appetit and Epicurious.  I subscribe to Bon Appetit, but even if I didn’t I could access all of their recipes for free on the Epicurious website, most of which have some wonderfully helpful comments.  I love being able to search Epicurious‘ recipe archives for any recipe they have published over the past years. I often find terrific recipes that way, searching on words such as “soup”,  “blueberries” and “brownies” and then scrolling through all the recipes with that key word. I don’t know why America’s Test Kitchen cannot do the same 😛

Anyways…, enough of my rant and onto my latest America’s Test Kitchen find!

The original recipe (by the same name) was from one of America’s Test Kitchen 30-minute Meals cookbooks.  The meatballs, although very simple with a very plain list of ingredients, are quite tasty and virtually perfect! I wanted to up the curry powder just a bit, but my offspring vetoed that idea,  saying they were good just as they are, so I left the meatball recipe alone (but I did “heap” the 1 T. of curry powder!).  I always make these meatballs with ground chicken, but I see no reason why ground turkey, ground beef, or ground lamb couldn’t be used. The 1 lb. of ground meat makes about 30-36 small meatballs.

I did change the pilaf recipe a quite bit, as ATK’s was much too bland. (Pilaf, by definition, contains rice cooked in broth, ATK version was cooked in water, and only got worse after that.) I substituted butter for vegetable oil, broth for the water and added a bit  more variety, and taste,  with additional veggies, herbs, and garnishes.  I also added a bit of salt and spice…, and the magical touch, a bay leaf and a long piece of lemon peel (both of which are fished out before serving).

I didn’t think it was true, but it was! I was able to make this, from start to finish, in 30-minutes…, AND it was a mighty tasty, spur-of-the-moment dinner!   Serve with a side of veggies, if you want, steamed broccoli would be good… 🙂

Curried Chicken Meatballs with Apricot Rice Pilaf

For Pilaf

  • 1 T butter (approx)
  • ½ -1 cup finely chopped onion (your favorite variety)
  • ½ -1 cup finely chopped mixed vegetables (celery, carrots, bell peppers…)
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 ¾ cups hot chicken broth (or water). OK to sub abut ¼ cup of liquid for ¼ cup white wine (another option: add one long strip of lemon, lime or orange peel-with no white pith attached, to the rice mixture when adding the liquid)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ -1 teaspoon salt (if your broth is salted, you might not need to add too much additional salt)
  • ½ – 1 cup chopped dried apricots or mixture of apricots and other dried fruits (raisins, cherries, cranberries)
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds or other nuts (pistachios, pine nuts, chopped pecans)
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro, parsley, basil, green onion, frozen peas, sautéed mushrooms or mint for last minute stir-in and garnish (choose one, maybe two…or three)

 For Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground chicken (or turkey)
  • ½ cup very finely minced raw onion (grated onion works well, too)
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (maybe a bit more…)
  • 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste

From start to finish: about 30 minutes

  1. In large saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  2. Add chopped onions and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add rice and cook until mostly opaque, about 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in choice of mixed veggies
  5. Add broth and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. When cooked, remove from heat and let rice stand and steam until needed.
  6. Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine chicken, onions, panko, cilantro, curry powder, salt and pepper. Mix with fork until well blended.  Don’t overwork the meat mixture.
  7. Using wet hands (or a small scoop), shape mixture into 1-inch meatballs. (Depending on size, of course, makes about 30-36 meatballs)
  8. Heat a bit of oil in a large frying pan until hot.
  9. Add meatballs and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes, shaking pan as needed.
  10. Cover the pan and steam meatballs over medium heat for an additional 5 minutes.
  11. Now turn your attention back to the rice. Take lid off the pan and gently fluff rice with a fork. Pick out the bay leaves and the optional lemon or orange peel.
  12. Add apricots/dried fruit mixture, toasted almonds/nuts and choice of stir ins to rice (reserve about 1 tablespoon, each, of nuts and green stir-ins). Stir to thoroughly incorporate all ingredients.
  13. Transfer pilaf to a serving platter, top pilaf with hot, browned meatballs, and then sprinkle the reserved 1 T. of  nuts and cilantro, parsley, mint or green onion over the top. Add a serving spoon and . . . .
  14. Dinner is ready! YUM!

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Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today 🙂  I hope that you make  and enjoy these and I hope they become a family favorite, as they have in my house!

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03 Oct 2013 Butternut Squash : Little Pieces of Heaven

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No one ever makes this recipe when I suggest it to them, EVER.   The recipe is just so…, so, …odd.  Mere mortals can’t put the ingredients together in their head and have any idea about how GOOD butternut squash tastes when cooked like this.  For years I’ve been banging my head against a wall trying to promote this recipe. I have submitted this recipe to two community cookbooks, and no one ever called to say how wonderful the recipe was, so I know no one tried it. My family loves this, of course.  These little pieces of heaven never make it to the table to be served with any meal.  We just crowd around the pan and eat it hot from the oven, elbowing out anyone who gets in our way.  I guess I could promote this recipe as our “Family’s Favorite  Secret Recipe”, one that we are now sharing with the world.  That might be more of a selling point than “No one ever makes this recipe when I suggest it to them, EVER”!

Anyway, I thought I found this recipe, a long, long time ago, in Jeffrey Steingarten’s book, The Man Who Ate Everything, but looking through the index now on Amazon I don’t see any mention of it in the index, or in the index of his other book, It Must Have Been Something I Ate. Now I am stumped, but I am still going to credit him for the recipe because I am pretty sure that’s where I found it, at least I think I am sure… I would have liked to have dreamed this up myself!  I would like to think I have a palate creative enough to roast some squash pieces, then sprinkle them with a little red wine vinegar and dried mint resulting in these Little Pieces of Heaven (really, they are just that) but I am fairly certain it didn’t happen that way…

Butternut Squash : Little Pieces of Heaven

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter (or an extra tablespoon olive oil)
  • a pinch of Kosher or other coarse salt (if you only have table salt, that’s fine too)
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • 2-3 teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar or Raspberry Vinegar
  • a pinch of Dried Mint
  1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Put rimmed baking sheet in oven to preheat, too.
  2. Peel and seed the squash.  Cut squash into bite sized pieces. (I like to slice the squash into rounds, or half circles, and then cut those larger slices into triangular shaped wedges.)
  3. Put the squash pieces into a large Ziploc bag or a bowl.  Add olive oil and optional melted butter and toss well.
  4. Remove hot tray from oven.  Pour oil coated squash pieces onto the hot tray and immediately place in hot oven.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.  Check.  If the undersides of most of the pieces are slightly browned, remove tray from oven and turn pieces over.  (I do this one at a time with a fork.)  If the undersides are not yet browned.  Continue to bake for another 2-5 minutes, then remove from oven and turn pieces over.
  6. Return pan to hot oven.  Bake for another 7-12 minutes.  When the second sides are slightly browned and the squash looks cooked, remove pan from oven. You need those chewy browned edges for this dish to be spectacular.  If you are not getting them, broil the squash for a bit! (But don’t overcook the squash…) With this step, remember that cooking is an art, not a science.  You might have to adjust baking times/method to fit the strengths/weaknesses of your oven, the age of your particular squash and the size of the pieces you cut.
  7. After removing the pan from the oven, immediately sprinkle hot squash with vinegar (I put my thumb over the bottle top of the vinegar, and then shake a bit of vinegar onto the squash)–not too much–then sprinkle with coarse salt, a bit of black pepper and a sprinkling of dried mint.  Eat (or remove to a serving plate and then eat)

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  Oh, look what came out of my garden, ten butternut squash from 2 plants! The missing squash is in the picture above 🙂  I’m quite pleased with my bounty.  BTW, if you still have tomatoes left, be sure to make my Fresh Tomato Lasagna as a final farewell to your Summer garden.

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