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Archive for the ‘Side Dishes’ category

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To stuff or not to stuff. That is the question.

There’s always been this big debate in the Thanksgiving world about whether or not you should stuff your turkey. Several believe that stuffing the turkey means you’re forced to leave the turkey in the oven longer in order to fully cook the bird. When that happens you run the risk of lacing the stuffing with salmonella thanks to putting it inside a raw turkey and/or drying out your bird. But if you brine (or buy a brined turkey) you don’t really need to worry about a dry bird since it has spent at least 12 hours soaking in a cold broth bath. Even so, there are still those that would rather not stuff. It’s in these cases that stuffing becomes dressing: a bread mixture that’s cooked separately in a casserole dish and then served with the turkey.

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Then there are those who believe that Thanksgiving isn’t complete unless you stuff your bird. In their opinion you get a richer stuffing thanks to all the juices from the turkey that seep into the stuffing while it cooks. I am a staunch stuffing fan and I always have been thanks to my father who always, always made the stuffing. I love the flavors that meld together as the bread crumbs, butter, celery and turkey juices cook. It doesn’t matter whether you use sourdough or corn bread, celery or water chestnuts, there’s absolutely nothing like it. Yes, dressing on its own can be amazing, but nothing compares to stuffing.

As I said, every year my father would make a different stuffing. He always loved finding new recipes and trying different things. Then a few years ago Mom discovered this artichoke stuffing in Sunset Magazine. Evidently it’s one of Sunset’s most popular recipes. As a matter of fact, every holiday season people call the magazine requesting the recipe and after tasting it, I can see why. It’s absolutely delicious! The cheese mixed with the marinated artichoke hearts makes for a savory stuffing that has just a hint of tang thanks to the marinated artichoke hearts. Yes, you could cook it separately in a casserole dish, but when that stuffing is drenched with turkey juices… oh my god! It’s out of this world good. No matter which way you try it though, one taste and you too, will understand why it’s one of Sunset’s most requested recipes year after year.

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Artichoke Parmesan Stuffing

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound mushrooms, rinsed, stemmed and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1 loaf of sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 (6 oz.) jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 large egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, butter a 2-quart baking dish and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, onions, celery, and garlic, and sauté, stirring often, until vegetables are browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer vegetable mixture to a large bowl.
  3. Add a 1/2 cup of the broth to the skillet and scrape up browned bits with a wooden spoon; add to the bowl with the vegetable mixture and set aside.
  4. Pour the remaining broth into a separate bowl. Add the bread, artichoke hearts, parmesan and rosemary, and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Beat the egg with a fork and add it to the bread mixture. Combine the bread mixture with the vegetable mixture until well mixed.
  6. For dressing, spoon bread mixture into prepared baking dish and cook for 45- 50 minutes. For moist dressing, cover with foil. If you like it crustier, don’t cover.
  7. If you prefer stuffing, place half of the bread mixture into the cavity of the bird and seal with turkey needles. Cook turkey according to the recipe you’re following taking into account the extra weight thanks to the stuffing. Place the other half of the stuffing in the prepared baking dish and cook for 45-50 minutes. When the turkey’s done, scoop out the stuffing and mix with the cooked dressing in the baking dish. Serve immediately.

Note: You can prepare the stuffing up to 1 day ahead. Just make the stuffing, put it in a prepared baking dish, cover and chill. Then on Thanksgiving, bake for 1 hour.

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Cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes are two of the most common sides at Thanksgiving. I love them both, but what if you combine the two? That’s what Taste of Home suggested, and let me tell you, the final product is amazing. I loved it so much, I can’t wait to make it again this year.

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Now, I know that the sweet potato marshmallow casserole is very popular, and I like that, too. But the problem I always had with that casserole is how heavy and super sweet it is. I mean, it’s almost like a dessert for dinner, and if you’re going to have dessert for dinner what is there to look forward to at the end of the meal? But if you can’t give up those mashed sweet potatoes, this casserole means you don’t have to. You still get them with this side dish, but you also get a pop of tartness thanks to the sprinkling of cranberries.

If you’re afraid you’ll miss the sweetness that came from the roasted marshmallows, you still get that thanks to a wonderful crumble sprinkled on top. It’s seriously one of the best Thanksgiving casseroles I’ve ever had. But if you still really need the marshmallows, add them to a dessert. That way you get the best of both worlds.

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Sweet Potato Cranberry Casserole (adapted from Taste of Home)

Ingredients:

  • 3 yams, peeled and chopped up
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

Directions:

  1. Place yams in a Dutch oven and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender; drain.
  2. While the potatoes boil, preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 2-3 quart baking dish and set aside.
  3. Once the potatoes are tender, mash with a fork. Mix in 1/2 cup of brown sugar, vanilla and three tablespoons of butter until well combined.
  4. Spread the mashed potato mixture into the baking dish.
  5. Combine the oats, remaining brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and remaining butter with your hands until you get little clumps.
  6. Sprinkle the oat mixture and cranberries over the sweet potato mixture and bake, uncovered, about 25 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Serve immediately.

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Rice is one of my all time favorite side dishes. It’s super easy to make and with all the different ways to prepare it, you could have rice every night and never have the same side twice. I usually like it steamed with a little rice vinegar mixed in, but every so often, I’ll cook it on the stove with different herbs and spices. Adding flavors like curry and onions or butter and garlic, turn basic rice into a wonderful side dish to compliment whatever main course you make from chicken to fish.

But rice isn’t just a delicious side, it’s also seriously healthy. Did you know rice is enjoyed by over half the world from India to Japan? The reason so many countries enjoy it is because of its long list of health benefits. It’s packed with several vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, calcium, fiber, and iron which can help increase one’s metabolism as well as boost the immune system. It reduces the chances of Alzheimer’s and cancer as well as helping those suffering from hypertension.

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While I love it with just a little salt and pepper, my favorite version usually includes fruit. Adding a little fruit gives the dish a nice sweet flavor that rounds out the whole dish. This version not only uses golden raisins, it uses curry powder as well so there’s a little spice to go with your sweet, which makes it the ideal compliment to a roast chicken or grilled fish.

So, if you’re looking for a grain to go with your veg or are just sick of making potatoes and salads, whip up this curried rice. It’s so simple, you could even have it for dinner this week.

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Curried Rice Pilaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion, curry powder and garlic and cook until tender.
  2. Stir in the rice, raisins and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and cover. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Fluff with a fork, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Tzimmes

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There are three things that happen every Autumn: the leaves turn from green to pretty reds and oranges, pumpkin recipes start showing up on blogs everywhere and Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur happen.

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Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the most important Jewish Holidays in the Jewish religion. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year and Yom Kippur is the day of atonement. The first is supposed to be happy, sweet and celebratory whereas the second is solemn, a day devoted to asking for forgiveness for a year’s worth of sins. While the holidays are total opposites in the emotions they evoke, the foods are similar. Apples, honey, sweet potatoes, kugel and brisket are usually at the top of the Rosh Hashanah and Break the Fast menus. These aren’t just great fall flavors, they also symbolize a sweet new year. The vegetables are also usually sliced in circles to symbolize prosperity. It’s for that reason that tzimmes is the perfect side dish for Yom Kippur.

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But because tzimmes, pronounced See-miss, is made with yams and carrots that are bathed in a bath of orange juice and honey or brown sugar, they’re the ideal fall and winter side dish. Sure, you could (and should) serve this at your Break the Fast on Wednesday, but you can also serve it at Thanksgiving. I mean, it’s made with yams and carrots – two vegetables that are almost always found on the Thanksgiving table. Try it this year, I bet it’ll become a standard addition to your Break the Fast and/or Thanksgiving feast(s).

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Tzimmes (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

  • 5 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 yams, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup prunes, chopped
  • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Lower heat to medium and add the sweet potatoes. Cook for 20 minutes, adding the carrots after 10 minutes. Drain all the vegetables and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix well, and transfer to a 2 or 3-quart baking dish.
  4. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and baste with pan juices for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and serve immediately.

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I love the produce that’s available during the summer. Yes, the stone fruits are exceptional, but there’s another little fruit that starts to appear in July that’s just as amazing but doesn’t get as much publicity because it’s considered more of a vegetable that a fruit. It’s the heirloom tomato.

I love heirloom tomatoes. They’re tart and sweet and a wonderful addition to so many things. They’re great in salads, they make a wonderful tomato sauce, I’ll even eat the cherries all by themselves as a snack. Seriously, they’re that good. But I’ve never had them in a pie. So when I saw a recipe for a tiny tomato tart in Better Homes and Gardens, I knew I just had to try it.

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It was great. I mean, I love pie, but a pie filled with hot little tomatoes and cheese? Oh my God. It’s like a pizza or a calzone but in pie form. While this recipe only calls for tomatoes and cheese, you could easily add some pancetta or fresh basil and make the dish really special. My favorite thing about this pie though, is how versatile it is. It makes a wonderful appetizer or side dish, but you could also add it to a dessert buffet in case your guests are looking for something savory instead of something sweet. Yes, it’s a little bit more involved than your standard salad or crudités plate, but it’s sooooooo worth it.

So the next time you have people over, or even if you just want to make a really nice dinner for your family, take a little extra time and make this pie. But make it now while the heirlooms are in season, because once they’re gone, you’ll have to wait a whole year before they’re back. And trust me, a year is way too long to wait.

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Cherry Tomato Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of refrigerated pie crust
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded and divided
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 4 cups  assorted heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a bowl, stir together the feta, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, the mayonnaise, egg yolk, oregano, basil and a dash of pepper.
  3. Unroll one pie crust, and ease it into a 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Spoon the feta mixture into the pie plate. Top with the tomatoes. Sprinkle with a half teaspoon of salt.
  4. Take the remaining pie crust and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and use as the top crust.
  5. Whisk together the egg white and 2 teaspoons of water, brush over the top of the pastry.
  6. Cover the edge with tin foil to prevent from overbrowning. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes and serve.