Pineapple Fried Rice

I finally succeeding in making Asian food at home that tasted like real Asian food – not just soy sauce and veggies.  The secret is sesame oil!  I actually lucked out and happened to find some good gourmet sesame oil at HomeGoods.  This dish is the perfect side to grilled shrimp, Mmm…

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Old School Broccoli Casserole

This is another one of my mom’s recipes for something that always seems to make an appearance around the holidays.  While it may not be the best thing for you, it’s really tasty and easy to make.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 (14 oz.) bags frozen broccoli florets
  • 32 oz. Velveeta cheese, melted
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste
  • Ritz crackers, crushed – for topping

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Blanch the frozen broccoli in boiling water, strain and set aside in a large mixing bowl
  • Melt the Velveeta and butter – you can either do this in a sauce pan over medium heat or in the microwave
  • Pour the cheese and butter mixture over the cooked broccoli and stir
  • Season the beaten eggs with salt, pepper and garlic powder, add it to the mixture and combine well
  • Pour the mixture into a large casserole dish and top with the crushed Ritz crackers
  • Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes – 1 hour (cover with aluminum foil for half the time)

Zucchini Gratin

I decided to test out a new contender for one of our Christmas dinner side dishes.  Last night I made this Barefoot Contessa recipe and was pleasantly surprised… I made a few minor adjustments  and  I think we’ve got ourselves a new side dish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 4 large zucchini (2 green, 2 yellow), sliced thinly
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly and then in halves
  • 2-3 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg (Don’t leave this out!  It won’t be overpowering, it will just make you wonder, “What is that?”)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup milk + 1/4 cup cream or half & half (I combined the two because I usually buy skim milk, but if you have whole milk on hand, just use that), hot
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs (here’s how you make them)
  • 1 cup grated gruyere cheese
  • 1 tbsp butter, diced into small cubes

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Melt the 6 tbsp butter in large saute pan and add in the sliced onions
  • Saute the onions until they’re tender (5-10 minutes) and then add in the sliced zucchini
  • Cover the saute pan and cook the zucchini for 10 minutes or until its tender
  • Add in the nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir well and cook uncovered over low heat for about 5 minutes
  • Sprinkle the flour over the zucchini mixture and mix well
  • Pour in the hot milk and stir over low heat until the liquid begins to thicken a bit
  • Pour the mixture into a 8″x10″ baking dish
  • Combine the bread crumbs and grated cheese and sprinkle on top of the zucchini
  • Place small cubes of the diced up tbsp butter on top of the breadcrumbs
  • Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes
  • Let the zucchini gratin rest for at least 10 minutes before serving

Oven Roasted Cauliflower

Now that we’ve all been binging on Thanksgiving food for the past few days, it might be time to eat something that’s a little lighter and not such a carb-overload.  It’s actually amazing how tasty cauliflower can be when it’s cooked like this – fitting into the post-holiday diet plan is a bonus.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Rinse the cauliflower and remove the florets – you can leave a good amount of stem attached to the floret
  • Brush or spray a baking sheet with olive oil (I’ve got the Misto and it works well)
  • Lay out your cauliflower florets into one layer
  • Spray the florets as generously (or not) as you desire
  • Sprinkle with salt, to taste (remember, you can always add…)
  • Broil on high for approximately 45 minutes – you’ll want to flip them over about halfway through to make sure they’re evenly browning

Mixed Mashed Potatoes

Growing up, I never liked sweet potatoes – I always ended up mixing them together with the regular mashed potatoes.  This mix of sweet and regular potatoes makes this side dish more savory and the candied walnut topping makes it really tasty.   

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large sweet potatoes (approximately 5 cups when sliced)
  • 3 large yukon gold potatoes (approximately 5 cups when sliced)
    • Feel free to play around with this proportion of sweet to regular potatoes – the proportions usually just depend on my mood
  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 1/8 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • Salt to taste
CANDIED WALNUT TOPPING
    • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
    • 1/8 cup packed brown sugar
      • Large pinch of vanilla sugar, if you’ve got it on hand
    • 1 tbsp butter, melted

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Slice the potatoes into 1/2 in. slices
  • Boil the potatoes in salted water until they fall apart when you fork them (approximately 15 minutes)
  • Strain the potatoes and transfer to a large mixing bowl (or back into the same pot)
  • Mash the potatoes with a potato masher, potato ricer or a hand held mixer (I just got this potato ricer and it works really well)
  • Add in the butter, maple syrup, milk and salt and blend well
  • Pour the mashed potatoes into a caserole dish and top with the candied walnuts
  • Bake covered at 350°F for 30 minutes (uncover and broil on low for 5-10 minutes)
CANDIED WALNUT TOPPING
    • Combine the walnuts, brown sugar and melted butter

Cornbread Muffins

This recipe is great baked as muffins or in a square pan.  It’s super moist, unexpectedly savory and really easy to make.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 2 packages of Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3-4 tbsp finely chopped chives (optional)

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the melted butter and softened cream cheese and whisk together until smooth
  • Add in both cans of corn and mix in the beaten eggs
  • Stir in the corn muffin mix, cheddar cheese and chives – mix well
  • Pour into greased muffin pans or a greased square pan
  • Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes for muffins and 40 minutes if you’re making it in a pan

Faux-coccia

This quick and easy bread is a weeknight staple in our house – it pairs very well with any pasta dish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. bakery dough
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic in oil or garlic puree (comes in a jar)
  • Dried oregano to taste
  • Dried crushed rosemary to taste
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • Parmesan cheese

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • On a floured surface, roll your dough out into an organic shape (we’re not making a pizza here, so it doesn’t need to be a circle)
  • Transfer the dough onto a greased baking sheet
  • Drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil on top of the dough – spread it so it coats the whole surface
  • Spread the garlic evenly across the dough
  • Sprinkle the oregano, rosemary and red pepper flakes
  • Top it off with the Parmesan cheese
  • Bake at 350°F for 20-25 mins

Day Old Bread

Not sure what to do with that bread from last night?  Turn it into something tasty in less than 10 minutes.

INGREDIENTS

  • Day old bread
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Chopped garlic in oil or garlic puree (comes in a jar)
  • Parmesan cheese

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Cut the remainder of your loaf in half horizontally
  • Brush or spray the bread with olive oil
  • Spread the garlic on top of the oil
  • Drizzle the bread with balsamic vinegar (you don’t want to use too much because it will just make it soggy)
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
  • Put it in the toaster oven for 5-7 minutes