Archive for the ‘side dishes’ Category

(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 1/2 lb. peeled gold or russet potatoes, cut into 1/4-in slices

1 tsp. salt, divided
olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/4 c. flour
1 c. chicken broth
1 c. milk
1/2 c. grated Asiago
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
1/4 c. chopped chives (i used green onions on xmas)
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled (i didn’t use this on xmas, but it’s AMAZING with it in)
1/4 c. grated Parmesan



Preheat oven to 350°.
1)  Place potatoes in large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 min or until potatoes are almost tender. Drain. Sprinkle potatoes evenly with ¼ tsp salt; set side and keep warm.
2)  Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; cook 2 min or until tender, stirring frequently. Sprinkle flour over onions and garlic. Combine broth and milk in measuring cup; gradually add ½ cup of mixture into saucepan, stirring with whisk until well blended. Add remaining liquid, stirring constantly. Cook on medium 9 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; stir in ¾ tsp salt, cheeses, chives, pepper, and bacon.
3)  Arrange half of potatoes in bottom of 8×8 pan. Pour half of cheese sauce over potatoes. Top with remaining potatoes, then remaining sauce. Sprinkle with ¼ cup Parmesan. Bake for 35 minutes.

Read Full Post »


 Saturday morning I was craving breakfast potatoes. I don’t know why; it’s not like I grew up eating breakfast potatoes, nor do I order them on those rare occasions we go out for brunch. Maybe I was low on potassium and my body knew it. (Did you know that a medium potato has the same amount of potassium as a medium banana? Not being a huge fan of bananas, I was tickled silly to find this out.)  So I decided to whip up a batch of breakfast potatoes.  This is a simple “base” recipe to start with. It’s great just by itself (I served it with scrambled cheesy eggs), but you can also add in other items to spice it up a bit.  At the end of the recipe I have a list of variations that I thought would be good in it.  Feel free to leave a comment on anything else you think might be good.


5 red potatoes
2 T. olive oil
1 T. garlic butter (recipe follows)
salt & pepper
1/2 c. broth (chicken or vegetable)
tabasco or hot sauce (optional seasoning)



1)  Wash potatoes and pierce several times with a fork. Cook in microwave for 3-4 minutes.  The potatoes should still be hard; we just want to get a jump-start on the cooking process.

2)  Cube the potatoes.  In a skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil and potatoes. Let cook about 1 minutes.  Stir to rotate potatoes around in pan, then cook another minute, to let other sides brown.

3)  Add garlic butter, salt, and pepper (and more olive oil if you need it–I prefer to use the butter for flavoring, but olive oil for the cooking process).  Toss to combine ingredients and melt the butter.

4)  Add broth.  Cover and turn down to medium/medium-low heat.  Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring once, or until taters are tender.  Season with tobasco or hot sauce, if desired.


Garlic Butter:
butter, softened to room temperature
parsley flakes
pressed or minced garlic cloves
grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Use any measurements of the above ingredients to suit your fancy. Mash together with a fork to combine. Store in the frig in an airtight container. I like to use this mixture to make garlic bread.  As a snack lately, I’ve been spreading a smidge on a toasted whole-wheat english muffin then topping with a thin slice of baby brie. Mmmmm, lip-smacking goodness! Co-workers always think I’m cooking up something fancy.



Experiment by adding any (or a combination) of the following ingredients:  bacon, ham, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, chili peppers, rosemary, a mixture of green herbs (my favorite is Herbs de Provence), paprika.

Read Full Post »

brown soda bread


to accompany yesterday’s recipe of guinness beef stew.  i had only ever had regular (white flour) soda bread.  now that i am trying to substitute wheat flour for white flour as much as possible, i was estatic to find a brown soda bread recipe in The Irish Pub Cookbook, by Magaret M. Johnson.  i made some adjustments based upon other recipes i came across.  this bread is a great (and healthy) accompaniment to a hot stew on a cold winter night.



3 c. coarse whole-wheat flour

1 c. all-purpose flour

2 T. oat bran

2 tsp. baking soda

¼ c. sugar

1 T. salt

2 large eggs

1¼ c. buttermilk



preheat oven to 375°F.  butter and flour (or spray with olive oil) a 9x5x3-in loaf pan.

1)  in a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients.  make a well in the center.

2)  in a small bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk. (as a shortcut to cut down on dishes, i like to measure my liquid first in a liquid measuring cup, then crack the eggs in that and whisk together. that way, i don’t dirty up another bowl!)  with a wooden spoon, stir the liquid into the dry ingredients until just combined.

3)  spoon dough into loaf pan; smooth top with the back of the wooden spoon. brush with buttermilk or water.

4)  Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out dry. ideally, if you tap the bottom of the bread and it sounds hollow, then it’s done.  however, i have no idea what a perfectly hollow-sounding bread loaf actually sounds like — especially when you take the pan into consideration, which just seems to distort what is supposed to be a hollow sound.  SO, the toothpick is my preferred method of doneness testing.

5)  remove from oven.  let cool for 10 minutes.  turn bread out onto rack (top side up) and allow to cool for about an hour.

Read Full Post »


(adapted from Cooking Light)

i know. everyone claims that they have the recipe for the best mac and cheese ever. and here i am claiming just the same. but believe me, this is goooood. if not for his loving and caring wife, my husband would eat stouffers mac and cheese every day for every meal: believe me, he is pretty high maintenance when it comes to mac and cheese. after experimenting a few different times, he finally gave me permission to call it quits at this recipe.  i have made these for potlucks and have always received rave reviews. (hopefully they weren’t just being nice!) but my husband has an amazingly great palette, so if he likes it, i figure it must be good.

also, don’t shy away from the mac because it’s a kid food. this is america, after all. just embrace the mac.



2 c. uncooked elbow noodles (actually, I prefer to use medium shells or rotini for the extra crevices that trap the cheese sauce. i also use whole wheat pasta, just to make myself feel better about consuming all that cheese.)

4 T. flour

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

2 c. milk (i’ve made these using 1% and using non-fat, and they both turned out the same)

1/4 c. cream cheese or neufchatel, softened

2 tsp. dijon mustard

2 tsp. worcestershire sauce

1 1/4 c. shredded cheese (i use a mixture of somewhere around 1 c. extra sharp cheddar and 1/4 c. parmesan.)



1)  cook pasta according to directions on box. (continue with following directions while past is cooking.) drain and return to pot.

2) while pasta cooks:  place flour, salt, and pepper in a large sauce pan over medium heat. add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk until well blended.

3)  drop cream cheese by teaspoonfuls into milk mixture; bring to boil over medium-high heat while continuing to stir constantly with whisk. once starts to boil, immediately reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, or until thick and cream cheese is melted.

4)  stir in mustard and worcestershire sauce; simmer for 1 minutes or so. remove from heat.

5) add cheeses, stirring until melted. if it’s too thick, add more milk to thin down, but only a few splashes at a time to avoid putting too much in. as it cools, though, it will thicken up a bit.

5) add to cooked noodles in pot. stir well to combine.


this yields a really creamy pasta, so if you don’t like more sauce than pasta, feel free to add another cup of noodles.


*try experimenting with adding different kinds of cheeses in, like brie or pepperjack. you could probably even substitute gorgonzola and other white cheeses for the cheddar for a completely different dish!

*for another completely different dish, use cubed potatoes instead of noodles!

Read Full Post »

honey cheddar biscuits


i like this recipe because it’s really flexible as far as extras you can throw in there, something i have been experimenting with lately. i’ll go into more detail of variations at the end of the recipe.


1 c. AP flour (or ½c. white, ½c. wheat) + extra

3 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. cream of tartar (i get nervous about wheat flour making the dough flat, so i use a rounded tsp of tartar)

¼ tsp. salt

¼ c. cold butter, cubed into small pieces (earth balance works too, i was pleased to discover recently!)

½ c. shredded cheddar

1/3 c. milk

1 T. honey (or agave nectar)


preheat oven to 425°F.

1)  mix 1 c. flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt in medium bowl.

2)  using a pastry blender or two knives in a criss-cross motion, cut in butter until mixtures resembles pea-sized crumbs. with a wooden spoon, stir in cheese. add milk & honey; stir until mixture forms a soft ball.

3)  normally, now would come the part for kneading the dough. but i’m pretty lazy when it comes to kneading dough so i cheat a bit. (but if you are a better person than i, than go ahead and turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead with your hands abut 8 times.) for the lazy way:  using the back of the wooden spoon, squish the dough against the side of the bowl until you feel like you’ve “kneaded” all the dough, about 8 times. add a couple extra tablespoons of flour into the bowl during the process. by the end, you should be able to tough the dough without it sticking to your hands, but it also should be moist still. (i apologize for my choice of words, for those of you who do not like the word “moist.”)

4)  divide dough into 8 balls. place on a baking sheet. bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.


1)  throw some shredded parmesan in with the cheddar

2)  substitute the cheddar for other kinds of cheeses: just recently i used garlic herbed goat cheese. pepper jack could also add a fun kick

3) use sugar instead of honey, if you don’t have honey

4)  throw in some chives or finely diced green onions

5)  to spice it up a bit, throw in a diced jalepeno or serrano pepper

Read Full Post »

homemade croutons


can i just get a big YUM? thanks.

these are so tasty i could eat them by themselves. wait…i DO do that. nevermind. actually, that’s the best part about these: you have to keep tasting them throughout the baking processing to make sure they are crunchy enough and tasty enough. at least that’s what i like to tell myself. and sometimes, SOMETIMES, they just happen to fall into my mouth even before they are placed in the oven. whoopsies! the sacrifices we cooks have to make, all in the name of good food. (why doesn’t “good” and “food” rhyme? they’re spelled the same. oh, English, you silly silly language. how i love you so.)


1 loaf of bread (any bread will do. the best would be homemade. maybe when i’m a stay-at-home mom i will do that. for now, though, i use rosemary-olive oil bread from costco or a local bakery. i’ve also used sourdough in the past.)

olive oil

freshly grated parmesan cheese

herb seasonings (if you are using plain bread. i don’t use this when i use the rosemary-olive oil bread)


garlic powder


preheat oven to 425°.

1)  cut bread into slices, at whatever width you desire depending on how big or small you want your croutons to be. i like my croutons big but not too big, so my slices tend to be about the width of my finger.

2) cut each slice into smaller pieces, again size depending on how big or small you want your croutons to be.

3) place into large mixing bowl. drizzle with olive oil. sprinkle with remaining ingredients. using your hands, dig into the bowl and toss everything around. drizzle on some more olive oil and sprinkle with more cheese and seasonings. i go light on the paprika and garlic because i don’t want it to overpower the toasted parmesan cheese flavoring. again, toss bread pieces around using your hands.

now go wash your hands because as they were at your side for the briefest of a moment, the dogs seized the opportunity and started licking all the yummy goodness off. cleanliness is next to godliness, after all.

4) spread out on a baking sheet, making sure to only leave a single layer of bread so that they all crisp up nice and evenly. bake for 10 minutes. remove from oven and stir around to give the undersides the chance to get some heat. return to over for another 5 minutes.

5) remove from oven and allow to cool before serving. but please make sure to taste-test 1, 2, or even 10 first–just to make sure they’re perfect. store in a ziploc bag or air-tight container.

Read Full Post »


cornbread is another one of my favorite things. rather, make that cornmeal. i love adding cornmeal to recipes:  pancakes, biscuits, dumplings, bread, biscotti even. it’s one of those ingredients that i have fun experimenting with.

cornbread is also one of those foods that everyone claims their mother makes the best of — even if it’s the box kind. and i am no exception: my sister and i will both swear that our mother’s cornbread is the best. one of my reasons for liking my mom’s cornbread is that it is not sweet. now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that i don’t like sweet things because i do. lord knows i have a huge sweet tooth. but for me there is such thing as too sweet, and there are certain foods that i would prefer to NOT be on the sweet side. cornbread is one of them.

i was stupid enough to, a couple of months ago, try out someone else’s cornbread recipe (her mother’s recipe that she, like me, claimed was the best). and it just did not do it for me. so i learned my lesson–forgive me, mom, i will never again venture outside of your cornbread recipe, for i have learned from experience that it is truly THE BEST.

now, if you are one of those who already has a recipe that you swear is THE BEST, please don’t make my mistake and venture outside of your recipe…because chances are, yours is and will always be “the best” to your tastebuds. but if you are someone who does not yet have a cornbread recipe to your liking, and you are ok with it not tasting Marie Callender sweet–AND you want something that’s not difficult to make–then take my word, this is THE BEST.  hubby grew up on the box kind, and definitely likes his food on the sweet side, and he loves this cornbread. enough said. 🙂

the original recipe calls for all-purpose flour, but i have lately been using half all-purpose and half wheat. if you don’t like wheat flour (or don’t have it on hand), then by all means double the all-purpose amount. it is what the original calls for, after all.

1 c. cornmeal
½ c. all-purpose flour
½ c. wheat flour
½ tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
3 T. white sugar (sometimes i substitute 1 T. brown sugar; i find that’s sweet enough)
1 T. canola oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. milk (i use fat free)

preheat oven to 425°F.

1) in large bowl, sift together cornmeal, flours, salt, baking powder, and sugar.
2) in a small bowl, whisk together oil, eggs and milk.
3) add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring until JUST combined. (don’t overmix!)
4) pour into a greased 8×8 baking pan. Bake at 425° for 20-25 minutes.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »