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Posts tagged ‘side dish’


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.


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.


Curried Rice Pilaf


  • 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


  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.

labeled pie

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.

close up

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.

over head shot

Cherry Tomato Pie


  • 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


  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.

labeled creamed onions

Thanksgiving has got to be my favorite holiday of the year. Not just because of all the family and friends that get together to hang out, but also because of all the food. Yes, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I love food. But it’s not just about the food. Of course the food is always good, but what I really love is all of us in the kitchen cooking together.

See, I grew up in a family that shared Thanksgiving. It was never up to just one person to cook the whole feast. We treated Thanksgiving like a big potluck and everyone that came contributed. It made the whole event easier because there wasn’t as much stress about what to cook, and when or if things would be done on time. How did we decide who made what? Easy, everyone made their favorite dish. That’s why we always had a green bean dish, a yam dish, mashed potatoes (just in case there were those that didn’t like yams), cranberries, stuffing… all the stuff you’d expect to find on a Thanksgiving table.

close up

But as the years went on, the dishes changed depending on who came to Thanksgiving. Sometimes we had roasted potatoes instead of mashed. Sometimes there was a salad. One year we had appetizers… though I have no idea why. This constant change in sides is how I discovered that mac & cheese as well as pearl onions were both popular Thanksgiving sides.

I’ve always loved onions. It doesn’t matter if they’re raw, caramelized, purple, brown or white. I love them in all their shapes and sizes but they’ve always been part of the recipe, never the star. This dish however puts those little pearl onions front and center and it’s delicious!

onions and cranberries

I decided to make this creamy side thanks to Melissa’s Produce who were nice enough to send me 2.5 pounds of the little round roots. What was especially cool about Melissa’s delivery was not just the size of the container, but the variety. Unlike the bags of pearl onions you get at the store which contain just the white pearls, the box I received from Melissa’s contained 3 different kinds. Yes, there were the standard white pearls, but there were yellow and purple as well. Since I had the variety, I chose to use all three types to make this dish. The variety in color and flavors of the three different onions gave the side a depth of flavor I never would have imagined. It was rich and creamy and kept my family coming back for seconds. But it was the cheesy breadcrumb crust that really rounded out the dish with it’s delicious buttery crunch.

Now that I’ve had creamed pearl onions as a side, I’m definitely going to make it more often. It may even make an appearance on my Thanksgiving table this year. After all it’s a nice alternative to mashed potatoes and I think it’s an unexpected delight.

plate of food

Creamed Pearl Onions (adapted from


  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and divided
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1-1/2 pounds raw pearl onions peeled
  • 1-1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup Panko (breadcrumbs)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fennel fronds, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F, butter a 2 qt. casserole dish and set aside.
  2. Combine onions, fennel, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 3/4 cup water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the onion mixture and transfer to the prepared dish.
  3. Bring the cream and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, then pour over onion mixture. Bake 15 minutes.
  4. While the onions bake, combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley and fennel fronds with a 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour the remaining melted butter over the breadcrumb mixture and toss to coat.
  5. Remove onions from oven and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Return to the oven and continue baking until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the cream is bubbling around the edges, 25–30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.



Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Melissa’s provided me with the pearl onions for recipe testing. As always, any opinion expressed is my own and is not influenced in any way by the manufacturer/PR firm as I only review products that I have personally tested and endorse.

I absolutely love polenta. It’s just so yummy! It’s good as a cake or as a thick and creamy side dish.  But up until recently I’d only had it in restaurants.  Whenever a restaurant had polenta listed as a side dish, I ordered it.  That’s how much I like it.  Even if my entree came with a side, I still ordered the polenta.  It’s that good.  But it’s also the perfect side dish when you’re not in the mood for potatoes.  Or rice.  Or even a vegetable.  But I’d never made it before.  I didn’t even know you could make it, let alone how.

Boiling the half-and-half, chicken stock, rosemary, and garlic

Then a very good friend of mine made some.  As a matter of fact she makes it all the time.  It was so creamy and delicious, I asked her where she bought it.  I was surprised to find out that she’d made it herself.  Well, of course I wanted the recipe.  It was Ina Garten’s Rosemary Polenta.  So, I came home, found the recipe online and tried making it myself.  It did not go well.  As a matter of fact it turned into a gloppy mess. 

Whisk in the corn meal

After chilling it for a couple hours I was supposed to be able to cut it “like brownies” and fry it up.  But it didn’t cut like brownies.  And as for the frying, well it definitely didn’t turn  into the pretty cakes you see in the top picture.  It spread all over the pan and turned into, well, a kind of soup.  There was just too much liquid.  I didn’t understand what I’d done wrong.  I’d followed the recipe to the letter.  So I e-mailed my friend and asked her how she made it.  She told me she’d made some changes, but was still using the seven cups of liquid the recipe called for.  I knew there was no way I was going to get those nice cakes if I used seven cups.  So I took my friend’s changes and made a few of my own and came out with delicious, creamy polenta cakes.  I was so excited.  And the best news is, I now have a new side to add to my repertoir.  

Adding in the Parmesan cheese

So the next time you’re making a nice dinner, but don’t want to do potatoes, rice or even a vegetable, give this polenta a try.  Whether you choose to make cakes or a creamy side, you won’t be disappointed.


Rosemary Polenta

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cup chicken stock
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 2 cups corn meal
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the butter and olive oil in a 3 qt sauce pan over medium-high heat until the butter is melted.  Add the garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper and saute for 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock and half-and-half and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and gradually add the corn meal to the milk while stirring constantly with a whisk.  Continue stirring for 2-3 minutes until thick and bubbling.

Remove from heat and add the Parmesan cheese while stirring with a whisk. 

At this point you have two options:

1. You can serve it in this hot, creamy form or…

2. You can transfer it to a 9×13 pan to make little cakes.  If you’re making cakes…

Pour the hot, creamy polenta into a 9×13 pan and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight. 

Cut the chilled polenta into squares, like brownies.  Lift each one out with a spatula and cut into triangles.  Dust each triangle lightly with flour. 

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter in a pan over medium heat and cook the triangles in batches for 3-5 minutes, or until browned on the outside and heated inside.  Add more butter and oil as needed to finish making the polenta cakes.  Serve immediately.

Yams are a huge part of Thanksgiving dinner.  They’ve always been one of my favorite sides, especially since I’m not a mashed potato fan.  I pretty much like them any way you want to serve them: sliced, whole, in a casserole with marshmallows on top, mashed… every year it’s something different at my house.  And every year I lick the plate clean.

Yams, apples and spices all go into the food processor.

Well, last year I was about to start making baby food since my son had just turned six months-old.  Since you’re supposed to start with vegetables, I had plenty of yams for pureeing.  But I also had a bunch of apples.  And since apples and yams go so well together, I thought what if while making food for Aidan, I whipped up a side dish for Thanksgiving? I already had all the ingredients, all I needed to do was make enough to feed 20 people.  So I baked all my yams and apples, threw in some cinnamon and allspice, pureed the whole bunch, and voila, a yummy side dish that’s perfect for the holidays.  And as my son can attest, is also a great first food for babies.


Mashed Apples and Yams

(Makes 8 servings)

  • 4 lbs of yams
  • 2-3 apples, (I like Granny Smith or Gala) peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice

Wrap yams in tinfoil and bake them in a 375°F oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes. When they’re done, they should be soft to the touch and oozing juice.

While the yams are baking, cook the chopped apples in a pot of boiling water until tender, about 7-10 minutes.  Drain, pat dry, and place in food processor.

Pull the yams out of the oven and scoop the meat of the yam out of the skin and into the food processor with the apples.  Blend the apples and yams together until smooth.

Add the butter and spices and blend until the butter is melted.

Serve immediately. 

This dish can be made a day ahead, just cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, place the yam and apple mixture in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until hot. Transfer to serving dish and serve.

For the mommies:  Not only is this a great side for Thanksgiving, since it’s mashed yams and apples, this is a great first food for babies 6 – 10 months-old. Just make sure it’s not too hot and baby can have Thanksgiving dinner with you and the family (or any other time of the year).

**As always, this is based on my own personal experience. Please check with your baby’s pediatrician on introducing solid foods, as these suggestions may not apply to your infant. **