Archive for ‘Side dishes’

November 20, 2011

Cranberry Sauce

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May 31, 2010

Steamed Asparagus

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November 22, 2009

Copper Penny Carrots

This is my Aunt Fanny’s recipe and my family loves this.  It is a simple way to dress up carrots.

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January 1, 2009


A couple years ago for Saint Patty’s Day my daughter wanted me to go all out, a full authentic Irish meal.  So, since I don’t typically cook meals from places that far north, I had to go digging for recipes.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy eating everything from corned beef to Sheppard’s pie but most everything I knew of was a variant on cabbage or potatoes.  In doing so, I opened my mind to some ideas that have uncreative names and sound rather bland.  And truth be told, they aren’t the type of meals you want to make because they display nicely.  But hearty and filling they are, these are the meals my grandma had in mind when she used to say I should eat up so it would stick to my ribs.

This particular recipe is basically mashed potatoes with a sweet side.  I’ve played with this a few ways and have yet to find a way to make it visually more appealing.  The apples get a brownish colour and adding the old standby of lemon juice alters the flavour too greatly.  Anyone able to find a work around, please feel free to let me know.

And before we start, the age old question is which apple is best?  I prefer Fuji or Delicious for cooking as these tend to retain a lot of the flavour.  If you like a bit of a bite with your apples, go with Granny Smith apples.  A lot of people swear by Macintosh, but I find when I cook with them they seem to lose a lot of flavour.  Ultimately, it comes down to personal choice, just remember that the apple that tastes great raw may not taste the same at all when cooked.


3 – 4 good sized apples, peeled, cored and chopped

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered

4 Tablespoons butter

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon iodized salt

2 Tablespoons water

  • In a large pot over medium heat, place potatoes and salt in and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook until tender.
  • In a separate pot over low to medium heat, cook chopped apples with 2 Tablespoons of water and sugar.  Stir constantly until tender.
  • Drain potatoes and place in a mixing bowl, beating on slow speed with electric beater, or using a handheld potato masher.
  • Add in soft cooked apples and butter, mash thoroughly to blend.
  • Serve warm.
January 1, 2009

Gnocchi alla Cannella

I love the unique flavour of gnocchi, which is kind of comical because I avoided eating it for several years, mostly because someone had described it as tasting like pierogis, which I really am not a fan of.  But truth be told, the similarity stops at potatoes.  They are very light in texture, it’s difficult to put into words – but they are very tender and airy.

You can use either my recipe for homemade gnocchi, or store bought gnocchi.  Gnocchi is very light and this sauce blend is not overly sweet so it works well as a unique side dish or a dessert.  You want to make the sauce promptly before serving or it will crystallize as it cools, and gnocchi become chewy if cooked too long or reheated.  The preparation time for this is only about five minutes, so you can easily make this up while the dinner dishes are being cleared.

IngredientsGnocchi alla Cannella19

Gnocchi (either 1 package of prepared gnocchi or one single batch of my recipe)

1 stick unsalted butter (note that I didn’t say margarine)

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons sugar


  • In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter.
  • Add cinnamon, paprika and sugar to melted butter mixture and whisk til blended.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Boil gnocchi 3 – 5 minutes, until it floats.  Remove as soon as they float to surface!
  • Drain and add sauce mixture to gnocchi.
  • Serve warm.

Gnocchi alla Cannella1Gnocchi alla Cannella6

    January 1, 2009


    I lived in the western suburbs of Chicago and one of our first trips into the city I got introduced to so many scents and sounds that I miss still.  I don’t think anything compares to fall in Chicago.  It was a few weeks before Halloween, we hopped a train into the city and rode the L from one end to the other, avoiding the tourist stops like Sears’ Tower and instead finding little holes in the wall on parts of Michigan Avenue that aren’t in any travel guide.

    On that first trip I crinkled my nose as my companion insisted I try an aluminium foil wrapped treat off of a vendor’s two wheeled cart.  It sounded nauseating.  Mayonnaise on corn on the cob?  Yuck.  But I actually enjoyed it and it is one of those rare little treats that has never tasted as good anywhere else.  But this is as close as my gringo self has been able to replicate it.


    1 ear of corn, husk still on

    1 Tablespoon mayonnaise – not salad dressing or Miracle Whip crap

    1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese

    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    1 Lime


    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
    • Pull back the husks of the corn, being careful not to remove them.  Tear out corn silk and wash corn and husks thoroughly.
    • Shake dry.
    • Cut lime and squeeze one half over the length of the corn cob.
    • Smear mayonnaise over all exposed corn kernels.
    • Blend Parmesan and cayenne together and cover corn.
    • Bring husks up to cover kernels.
    • Lay on a sheet of aluminium foil.
    • Squeeze other lime half over husks and then close foil around corn cob.
    • Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.
    • Remove foil and husks and serve hot.
    January 1, 2009


    Often when we think of crepes, we think of lacy thin pancakes with fruit syrups and whipped cream toppings.  This delicious appetizer puts an end to these thoughts.  This is a classic Italian dish server during Lent, when meat is to be avoided.

    As with a lot of Florentine dishes, it includes the standard of spinach, though I prefer to kick it up a notch with Arugula leaves mixed in as well as a few sprigs of Italian parsley.  Arugula is a Roman spinach leaf and isn’t always easily found in your local grocery store.  Often you will have to scour the organic section to locate a nice bag.  If your climate allows, you might give growing it a try, as once you start, it takes hold and is rather reproductive.

    This dish also includes ricotta cheese and I suggest not using a low fat one as there tends to be a good deal of liquid run off and can make your crepes soggy.

    Typically I segregate the recipes when we are stuffing a separate component, but this crepe recipe is unique to this recipe and not the same you would want to use for your Sunday morning sweet tooth.


    3 eggs

    1 3/4 cup milk

    2 Tablespoons butter, melted

    1 cup flour, unsifted

    1/2 teaspoon iodized salt

    3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


    1 pound fresh spinach leaves, washed and finely chopped

    1/2 pound fresh Arugula leaves, washed and finely chopped

    1/4 pound fresh Italian parsley, washed and finely chopped

    1 cup boiling water

    1 egg

    1/2 cup fresh Romano cheese, grated

    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

    1/ teaspoon ionized salt

    1 15 ounce container ricotta

    • In a medium mixing bowl, blend 3 eggs, milk, melted butter, and flour until well blended.  Mixture should be rather thin, like a pancake batter.
    • In a non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
    • Pour in batter by 1/4 cup ladles at a time, cooking each until lightly tanned.
    • Set aside.
    • Preheat oven to 150 degrees F.
    • In a large mixing bowl, combine green leaves.  Pour boiling water over leaves and drain into a collander promptly.
    • In a dry large bowl, beat egg, ricotta, Romano, salt and nutmeg until well blended.
    • Stir in leaves.  Blend well.
    • Drop 1 – 2 spoonfuls of filling onto each crepe and roll up.  Secure with a toothpick.
    • In a large baking dish, prepared with non-stick spray or a little olive oil, arrange filled crepes.
    • Bake for fifteen minutes or until crepes are crisped.
    • Remove toothpicks and serve warm.
    January 1, 2009


    Gnocchi is a really unique tasting Italian pasta that can be prepared in so many various ways.  You can store buy prepared gnocchi, but I just don’t think it compares.  This recipe will make enough gnocchi for about 4 servings and can be doubled or multiplied, but not really reduced.


    5 medium to large russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
    1 egg yolk
    1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/2 cup all purpose flour


    • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
    • Poke potatoes with fork and bake about 1 hour.
    • Skin potatoes and quarter.  Drop into a large bowl and mash well.
    • In separate bowl, stir yolk, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
    • Mix in egg yolk, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
    • Pour yolk mixture over potatoes and stir thoroughly.
    • Spoon in flour to form a dough texture.
    • On a lightly floured surface, turn the dough out.
    • Break it into quarters.
    • Using your palms, roll the dough out gently into a rope form about 1/2 inch thick.
    • Cut into half inch pieces.
    • Use a fork to lift each piece, making gentle grooves into the dough piece with each.
    • Lay out on a floured baking sheet to air dry for about one hour.
    • Repeat with reserved dough quarters.

    When ready to prepare gnocchi, gently drop into a large pot of water at a rolling boil and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until it floats to surface.  If you allow them to boil too long they will become gummy and chewy.

    Gnocchi alla Cannella5

    The gnocchi can be frozen before cooking the dough pieces for later use.  Freeze baking sheet and then pack into airtight container or zip lock baggies for later.

    January 1, 2009

    Seven Layer Salad

    My mom used to make this for pot lucks and I always looked forward to it. This salad is just so crisp and full of flavour and such a welcome break from typical salads. It also displays so creatively, you will want a glass dish for it!  This can be kept overnight if covered and served the following day.

    (I haven’t made this in a long time, so my image is borrowed from the web, but I felt for this recipe a visual is necessary.)


    1 head iceburg lettuce, chopped
    1 lb. bacon, cooked and chopped
    5 eggs, hard boiled, chopped
    1 bell pepper, diced
    1 medium sweet onion, diced
    1 bag frozen peas, 16 oz.
    1 lemon
    8 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
    2 cup mayonnaise*
    2 Tbsp sugar

    *Duke’s or Hellman’s. Miracle Whip or salad dressing just doesn’t work.

    • Prepare all raw vegetables by rinsing individually and thoroughly. Thaw peas and set aside as well.
    • In a large glass serving dish (a large bowl works best but a large glass cake pan would work as well) layer in the following order, the first item being on the bottom:
    1. lettuce
    2. eggs
    3. peas
    4. onion
    5. bell pepper
    6. bacon
    • Halve lemon and squeeze both halves over entire salad, being careful to not drop in seeds.
    • In a small bowl, blend mayonnaise and sugar well. Spread evenly over the salad top creating the seventh layer.
    • Sprinkle with cheese.

    * As a side note, you can alternate out layers if you desire. I have seen it done with carrots, celery and tomatoes included instead. The bacon could be substituted to appease vegetarians.

    January 1, 2009

    Asparagus Wraps

    These appetizers are soooo easy to make but look super schmancy! I have also served them as a side with dinner as well and they are just so tasty.  I have tried various cheeses, but I like gouda best. White cheeses look the best, display wise.

    Ingredientsasparagus and proscuitto

    24 fresh asparagus spears, uncooked
    2 cups fresh arugula
    1 lb smoked ham or prosciutto, deli style thickness
    1 lb Gouda slices

    • Fill a large saucepan half full with water and bring to boil over high heat.
    • Wash the asparagus stalks thoroughly and trim the bases.
    • Rinse arugula thoroughly and set aside in colander to drain excess water.
    • Once water is boiling, drop stalks in to water for three minutes.
    • While asparagus is boiling, lay out a large sheet of wax paper and preheat oven to 250.
    • Drain asparagus and rinse in cool water. Set aside.
    • Lay out three strips of prosciutto or ham on wax paper. Lay a couple shoots of asparagus across so that the spear tips are not covering the meat. Take a small bundle of arugula leaves and roll them between your palms and lay atop the asparagus. Top with one slice of cheese and then roll the vegetables so that the meat wraps around them.
    • Place wrap on a cookie sheet with a sheet of wax paper down.
    • Rinse repeat.
    • Place cookie sheet into oven for fifteen minutes.
    • These should be served warm.
    January 1, 2009

    Cooked Pumpkin


    1 pumpkin, cut into sections

    3 Tablespoons butter

    1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
    • Set pumpkin sections on individual aluminium foil.
    • Spread butter thinly on each piece.
    • Sprinkle with pepper.
    • Wrap with foil and cook for 20 minutes.
    • Remove and scrape tender meat out.
    • Mash and serve.
    January 1, 2009

    Funeral Casserole

    Everytime someone died, it seemed we would get three or four of these green bean casseroles brought over by church ladies or neighbours and so somewhere along the way it got the nickname of funeral casserole.  Truth be told there is nothing gloomy or solemn about this casserole which is so quick and easy to whip up, even if no one has passed.

    This can be stored for 1 – 2 days if covered and easily reheated.  I typically add in extra fried onions when reheating as they tend to get slightly soggy if stored for a day.


    2 pounds fresh green beans, washed and snapped

    1 cup sour cream

    2 cups white sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

    1/4 cup green onions, finely minced

    2 Tablespoons salted butter

    2 Tablespoons all purpose flour

    1 teaspoon sea salt

    1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

    1 Tablespoon brown sugar

    1 large can French’s fried onions


    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    • In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter and stir in flour as it melts.
    • Add in sour cream, salt, pepper, sugar and green onions.
    • In a medium pot over medium heat, bring green beans to boil.  Strain.
    • Stir in skillet mixture and cheese and one half of fried onions.
    • Pour into a oven safe casserole dish.
    • Cover with remaining fried onions and cover dish with aluminium foil.
    • Bake for thirty minutes.
    • Serve.

    Spezzatino Maiale9funeral casserolefuneralcasserole