Category Archives: Side Dishes

Broccoli Casserole from Scratch!

Must be the cold season down here as I realize I am posting another casserole. I have always enjoyed broccoli casserole but was never quite happy with the mushroom soup. Et voila? Pinterest to the rescue. Served this to company with a lite salad and baked potatoes. All agreed it was really good. Hope you will try it…Easter is coming and this would be great for a buffet.

Broccoli Casserole From Scratch
Serves: 8 servings

Made completely from scratch, this broccoli casserole is filled with fresh broccoli, mushrooms, cheddar cheese, and a homemade cream sauce. A buttery, cheesy breadcrumb topping adds a crispy finishing touch to this classic dish.
Ingredients
• 2 ½ lbs. broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
• 6 tbsp. butter, divided
• 1 cup finely chopped button mushrooms
• ¼ cup flour
• 1 cup milk (whole or 2% preferred)
• ½ cup half-n-half (I omitted with no appreciable difference)
• ½ tsp. salt
• ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• ½ cup Greek yogurt
• 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese, divided ( I used old white cheddar)
• 1 ¼ cups whole-wheat breadcrumbs (homemade* or store-bought), divided
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add broccoli and boil for 4 minutes. Transfer to a colander, rinse with cold water, and drain. Place broccoli in a large bowl.
3. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer mushrooms to the bowl with the broccoli.
4. In the same saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, 30 seconds. Whisk in the milk and half-n-half. Bring to a low simmer and continue to whisk constantly until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt.
5. Pour sauce into the bowl with the broccoli and mushrooms. Add the onion, egg, 1 cup of the cheddar cheese, and ½ cup of the breadcrumbs. Stir to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
6. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and stir into the remaining ¾ cup breadcrumbs. Stir in the remaining ½ cup cheddar. Sprinkle breadcrumb topping over the casserole.
7. Bake for 45 minutes, until filling is hot and bubbly. Check after 30 minutes and cover with foil if topping is browning too quickly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Acknowledgments to Kristine’s Kitchen – kristineskitchenblog.com

Classic Fried Rice

I know this should  not be something new to most folks, but I tried this one out a week ago and it was every bit as good as was stated. I do believe like the writer, that butter makes a difference. The most important thing is to cook and chill the rice beforehand! Trust me on this unless you want a sticky mess…

Fried Rice (www.gimmesomeoven.com)
Learn how to make fried rice with this classic fried rice recipe. It tastes even better than the restaurant version!
Prep: 5 mins Cook: 10 mins Total: 15 mins
Ingredients:
• 3 Tbsp. butter, divided
• 2 eggs, whisked
• 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced*
• 1 small white onion, diced
• 1/2 cup frozen peas*
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• salt and pepper
• 4 cups cooked and chilled rice (I prefer short-grain white rice)
• 3 green onions, thinly sliced
• 3-4 Tbsp. soy sauce, or more to taste
• 2 tsp. oyster sauce (optional) I used hoisin since I was out of oyster
• 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

* Since I was out of fresh peas and carrots, I substituted  a cup or so of frozen veggies which included broccoli, cauliflower and carrots//it worked.
Directions:
Heat 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until melted. Add egg, and cook until scrambled, stirring occasionally. Remove egg, and transfer to a separate plate.
Add an additional 1 tablespoon butter to the pan and heat until melted. Add carrots, onion, peas and garlic, and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the onion and carrots are soft. Increase heat to high, add in the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter, and stir until melted. Immediately add the rice, green onions, soy sauce and oyster sauce (if using), and stir until combined. Continue stirring for an additional 3 minutes to fry the rice. Then add in the eggs and stir to combine. Add the sesame oil, stir to combine, and remove from heat.
Serve warm.

Potatoes Cambray

Potatoes Chambray with Rosemary
This baked rosemary potato recipe is so quick and easy to put together. The flavor of the rosemary, combined with the olive oil and seasonings, make this a very tasty side dish.
1 1/2 kg young yellow potatoes, peeled ( 2-3 pounds)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 Tablespoons rosemary, fresh minced
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 pieces of garlic..why not?
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Line an oven proof dish with aluminum foil.
Wash and peel the potatoes. For years now I hardly ever peel my potatoes…just wash. Dry them with a paper towel and place them into a mixing bowl.
Stir the olive oil together with the rosemary, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper and drizzle onto the potatoes. Toss to coat them as evenly as possible.
Place the potatoes into the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Turn the potatoes over at 20 minutes so both sides of the potatoes brown.

Avocado Pasta

2 ripe avocados peeled
1/2 cup basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
2 T. Lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
Parmesan cheese

Blend avocados with basil, garlic and juice. Drizzle in oil. Set aside. Serve with spaghetti or baked spaghetti squash, adding tomatoes and cheese at last minute.
Grill chicken breasts to serve with it for protein.

Slow Cooker Roasted Peppers and Platano

What to take to a potluck that is different and easy to carry…et voila! I love the flavours and colours of this dish. Easily made by a young chef with Mom or Dad’s supervision….

Slow Cooker Roasted Peppers with Platano & Zucchini
4 to 6 peppers – red, orange, green, or yellow or combination – Julienned
½ bottle Lawry’s Lemon Pepper Marinade
1 white onion Quartered
2 small zucchini chopped
1 Mexican Platano (this is not a banana, but a Platano macho which is bigger and firmer) chopped into 1 inch segments
Slice the peppers into julienne strips. Quarter the onion. Chop the zucchini. Place all of the vegetables into a Ziploc bag and pour ½ bottle of marinade over the veggies. Let sit a half hour.
Place all of the vegetables and the marinade into a slow cooker.
Cook on HIGH for about two hours. Stir every half hour. They will be a little crunchy. In the last half hour, add the chopped Platano. If you want them softer cook longer. You may need to reduce the heat to LOW if they are cooking too fast. You want the Platano to remain a little firm…do not overcook it…
I serve them as a side dish.
These are great as leftovers the next day on any meat sandwich!!

Creamed Spinach

A long time ago, we used to go to Detroit for dinner at the famous Joe Muirs Seafood Restaurant. It has moved to a great location in the RenCen overlooking the Detroit River and Windsor, my hometown!

http://gmrencen.com/dine/joemuerseafood.axis

My side dish was always the creamed spinach which went very well with a steak. And…its still on the menu after over 90 years!

Since we had an excess of spinach I decided to use it before it went bad and opted for this recipe from Tyler Florence of Food Network. One thing cooks know is that what seems like a lot of spinach does not make much once it is cooked It says the recipe makes 6 to 8 servings. I  ended up with 4 healthy servings. Then again I love creamed spinach. Its the perfect side dish!

Creamed Spinach (courtesy of Tyler Florence – The Food Network )

Ingredients

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds fresh baby spinach, stemmed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Drizzle with a 2-count of oil, add the butter, and stir it around so it melts. Saute the onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach in batches, pushing it down with a wooden spoon to help it wilt. Keep adding more spinach when there is room in the pot. Cook the spinach until it is dry, then lower the heat and add the cream and nutmeg. Stir and cook for 10 minutes. Toss in the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/creamed-spinach-recipe2.html?oc=linkback

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

Trying out a new look for 2015…hope you like it!

We were in Cuba in February and came to enjoy the red beans and rice. Looking for a similar dish, I found a recipe for Cajun Red Beans and Rice on my friend Kevin’s site www.closetcooking.com

I used a smoked pancetta as Andouille is not common down here. The flavour was great. This recipe makes enough for four hungry people!

Cajun Red Beans and Rice (adapted from http://www.closetcooking.com)
Ingredients
• 2 tablespoons oil
• 1/2 pound Andouille sausage or smoked Pancetta (cut into small pieces)
• 1 cup onion (diced)
• 1/2 cup celery (diced)
• 1/2 cup green pepper (diced)
• 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
• 4 cups chicken broth or chicken stock
• 2 (19 ounce) cans red beans (rinsed and drained)
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
• 1 teaspoon oregano
• 1 teaspoon thyme
• 2 bay leaves
• salt and pepper to taste
• 4 cups cooked rice (I like to go with Basmati)
Directions
1. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat add the sausage and sauté until lightly golden brown, about 5-7 minutes, and set aside.
2. Add the onions, celery and green pepper to the pan and cook until tender, about 7-10 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
4. Add the stock, beans, sausage/pancetta, paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer covered for at least 1 hour
6. Remove the bay leaves.
7. Mash or puree about a quarter of the beans if desired.

If you feel there is too much liquid, just let it simmer down.
Just before serving add the cooked rice.

Alton Brown’s Best Green Bean Casserole Ever (Food Network)

I know we all have our favorite green bean casserole from when our mothers used to make them on special occasions. Recently called upon to bring a veggie dish to a party, I scanned my recipe collection and chose to use Alton’s. It was great… try it and let me know..

Best Ever Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients

For the topping:
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Nonstick cooking spray

For beans and sauce:
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I subbed one large portobello)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half

Directions

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Combine the onions, flour, panko and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Coat a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread the onions on the pan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Toss the onions 2 to 3 times during cooking. Once done, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F.

While the onions are cooking, prepare the beans. Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans. Top with the remaining onions. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/best-ever-green-bean-casserole-recipe.html?oc=linkback

Roasted Corn and Sweet Pepper Toss

Summertime in southern Ontario means sweet corn is plentiful. Try something a little different and use it in a fresh salad, as my daughter did. It is an awesome side salad and worth the effort.

6 cobs of corn (or used a good quality canned corn)
1 T olive oil
2 red peppers
2 orange peppers
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
2 T fresh lime juice
3 T cider vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 clove of garlic minced
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1’2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4 cups arugula leaves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Remove husks from the corn and brush the cobs with oil. Place on a parchment paper lined cooking sheet. Cut the peppers into quarters and add to the corn. Roast for 45 minutes or until corn and peppers are golden. Leave to cool.

Scrape the kernels from the corn into a large bowl. Chop the peppers into bite sized pieces and add to the corn.

Whisk together the lime juice and zest, vinegar, paprika, garlic sugar and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil, whisking constantly. Pour the dressing over the corn and peppers and toss to coat. Add green onion and cilantro and toss again. Place arugula on a platter and pour corn mixture on top. Chill for 30 minutes.

NOTE: If you are an arugula lover, I would add chopped arugula to the salad and toss it all together.

Serves 6 to 8 people.

Sauteed Chickpeas with Chorizo or Bacon

Here’s a little touch of Spain that we enjoyed in Havana. Adjust the amount of cumin to your specific taste! Red lettering indicates my changes to the original recipe as always…

Omit the meat if you want a vegan dish!!!

Sautéed Chickpeas with Chorizo

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 ounces dried Spanish chorizo, skin removed OR bacon chopped
  • 3 1/2 ounces roasted red bell peppers, sliced into 1/4- by 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 can drained chunky tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Directions

1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat; add the shallots and cook until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

2. Cut the chorizo/bacon into small pieces and add to the chickpeas. Continue to cook until the chorizo begins to render out some of the fat, 5 minutes. Add cumin.

3. Add the roasted red peppers to the pan and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice and scrape up any brown bits clinging to the bottom of the pan. Toss with the chopped parsley and serve warm with lemon wedges for squeezing.