Category Archives: Side Dish

Parsnips and Apples

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I remember the first time my mother fried up parsnips, I asked why the carrots were white. That night I fell in love with a new root vegetable. While tonight I pan fried them they can also be roasted in the oven.

INGREDIENTS
3 TB Butter
3 large Parsnips
1/4 c diced Red Onion
1 small peeled Green Apple that is diced
Salt

Melt the butter over medium heat and add the sliced parsnips. Begin with the larger pieces and add the rest in 5 minutes. Season with salt. Cook 5 minutes longer. Add the diced onions. Continue cooking until they are light brown and soft almost all the way through.  Now add the diced apples and cook 5 more minutes.

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I hope you give this winter veggie a try. As it becomes sweet when cooked most kids are pretty happy to eat it. Add in the apples and you have a side dish the family will love.

If you prefer to roast the parsnips,  toss them in canola oil and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.    Add the red onions and gently toss. Bake another 10 minutes and add the apples tossing them in. Roast another 5 minutes or all the parsnip are a dark brown.

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Corn in Foil Packets

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There is something about corn still being on the cob that is not only fun to eat, but it does taste better. Summer was not successful if we have not eaten it several times. This is a great way to grill your corn without having it charred. If cooking a large amount, all the prep work can not only be done in advance, but the kids can do it for you.

INGREDIENTS:

Corn on the Cob
Butter/Margarine
Salt/Seasoning
Heavy Duty Tin Foil

Shuck the corn, making sure to remove all the silk hairs. Depending on the size of the ears, rip off a piece of tin foil large enough to wrap around the corn completely and have a tight seal on the ends. Place the corn in the middle and cut a piece of butter to put on top. If you like to season your corn, now is the time to do it. My family likes a little salt, but I used some of my seasoning mix.

Salted

McCormick Seasoning

Pull the long ends together and fold them over until it is touching the corn. You don’t want a super tight fit, a little bit of room for the steam to move around is sufficient. Fold the ends up the same direction that you have your fold on top.

If you made a tight seal, the butter will stay inside until ready to eat. The times are for larger ears of corn. If using smaller ears check the corn 10 minutes early for the progress. The corn will be darker if ready to eat.

OVEN/COUNTER-TOP ROASTER
Preheat to 350 degrees, place you bundles on a baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes.

GRILL
Place over medium heat and cook 20 minutes. Do not place over a direct flame or you will have burnt corn.

I have baked 40+ ears of corn for my church’s annual summer picnic and it was a huge hit. To transport I filled a box with newspaper, placed in the corn, and covered with more newspaper. If doing this, the corn will continue to cook so remove it a few minutes early.

What I love about this technique is that each person has a little pouch for the corn to rest in it’s own butter and makes it easier to each at a potluck. If you want to get really fancy, use a flavored butter.

If planning to do this while camping, all the prep work can be done in advance and the corn just tossed onto the grill when you are ready to eat. Let me know how it goes!

Easiest Boiled Corn Ever

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My kids love to shuck corn, just like me when I was little. That is the easy part of cooking a couple dozen ears. Bringing a large pot of water to a boil and trying to get the ears cooked right in time to serve a crowd gets the kitchen hot and I worry about overcooking those juicy kernels. There is a trick however that can be used at your next bbq, camping or even potluck. All you need is an igloo or ice chest.

I prefer the igloo as it is easier to carry and drain, but it is up to you which you prefer. Start by totally cleaning your igloo. Place the shucked corn in the igloo, standing upright. Bring a large pot of water to a roiling boil. Place the igloo in your sink, just in case you spill some of the hot water. If doing this while camping, I place the igloo on the grass as it absorbs the water faster than on the packed earth the picnic tables are usually set on. Pour the hot water into the igloo and immediately close the lid tight. You need enough water to completely cover all the corn.

If taking the corn to a potluck, it will be ready when you arrive. Leave the water in the igloo until it is time to serve. Do not drain all the water at once. Only enough so that the corn can be easily removed with tongs. By leaving the extra water in the igloo, you keep the remaining corn hot until it is used. I place a pot under the spout to catch the water as I drain it. I also tie the tongs to the handle on the lid so they don’t get lost.

Perfectly cooked corn

If you are of the mind to add butter to the water when you pour it in, it will settle onto the corn as you drain out the water. Let me know how it goes!

Roasted Cauliflower

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I love cauliflower, and roasting makes just about anything taste better, right? Part of what I like about this recipe is that I can adapt it to go well with whatever the main dish happens to be.

INGREDIENTS:
1 head of Cauliflower
2 Tbs Oil
1 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Pepper
1/2 Tbs Seasonings (see below)

Wash the cauliflower and remove the core. Try to break up the head rather than cutting with a knife. The more you cut through the florets, the more crumbles you end up with. When you do need to use a knife, cut along the stalks only. It takes a little more time but produces better results.

In a bowl combine the oil, salt and pepper. Now is when you get to be creative. Add some herbs or spices that compliment your main dish, up to 1/2 Tbs.

For example, with my chicken yakotori I add minced garlic and ginger.
With spaghetti I would add minced garlic and fresh basil leaves.
With roasted chicken I break up fresh rosemary.
Adding a little bit of what is in the main dish brings them together.

Place the cauliflower on a baking sheet and toss with the oil marinade. Make sure all pieces are coated in the oil. Place in a preheated, 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Halfway through give the pan a good shake to stir up the vegetable.

What combinations can you come up with?

Asparagus Packets

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I love this delicate vegetable and spring is the time of year to buy it. This is one of those times when bigger is not better. Look for thin stalks as the thicker it becomes the more woody those stalks are when eaten. You want it flexible but if it flops over when you hold it up, it is old. The head should be closed and should not be cut off and tossed. it is the best part of the whole vegetable. Once you have a bunch selected, it is time to gently cook it.

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb Asparagus
1 to 2 tsp Oil
Salt
Pepper
Parchment Paper or Tin Foil 18 inches long

Wash the asparagus and cut off the bottom. You want to get rid of the dry, rough bits on the end.

Rip off a large piece of parchment paper or foil and lay it on the counter. You want to spread the asparagus out so that it is no more than 2 pieces deep. The edges of the foil will be folded up so you need to leave yourself plenty of room. Lay the vegetable on the foil and drizzle enough oil to lightly coat. Personally, I prefer to use olive oil for this, but any lightly flavored oil will do. Season with salt and pepper and seal up the packet.

With the asparagus laying flat on the foil, hold the ends up together. Fold them over and over until you reach the asparagus. Fold the ends over as well. You want a tight seal so that the steam stays inside the packet and cooks the asparagus.

Place the packet on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. If you are already using the oven for something else and the temperature is lower, that works fine you just need to increase the time by 5 to 10 minutes.You can feel the bottom ends of the asparagus through the foil and see if it feels tender. Do not open the packets it will let all the steam out. Thicker stalks will take more time to cook. Keep the asparagus wrapped in the foil till you are ready to serve as they do cool down quickly.

Perfectly cooked asparagus that did not boil or steam away all its delicate flavor. Plus you can prepare the packet early in the day and toss it in the oven at the last-minute. If cooking a lot, I do recommend making several packets rather than trying to bake 3 pounds in one.

These can also be baked on your grill. Make sure you use heavy duty aluminum foil and don’t leave over a direct flame. Let me know how it goes and happy cooking!

Rich Mashed Potatoes

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Somehow the basic side dish of mashed potatoes has become relegated to that of a processed food. Instant potatoes from a can or box are so much faster to make than peeling, cutting and boiling. Yet on special days, wouldn’t you really prefer to have some creamy, buttery potatoes mashed by hand? I have been making them this way for about 10 years now. I learned it from a lady whose mom taught her over 50 years ago, so it has been around for some time.

INGREDIENTS:
10 cups Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup Cream
1 stick Butter
3 Egg Yolk
Salt and Pepper

Wait, I know what you are thinking, what is an egg yolk doing in there? Patience my friend, all will be revealed.

Set a large pot of water to boil on the stove set to high. Do not add the salt until the water is boiling as salt does make it take longer. Once it has reached a rolling boil, add enough salt to make it taste like sea water.

Peel the potatoes and cut into about 1 1/2 inch cubes. If they are too small they will break apart in the water. The key is consistency sp that they all cook at the same rate. Gently slide them into the boiling water and cover. Reduce the heat down to medium. Keep an eye on the pot for a while to make sure it does not boil over, you may have to lower the temperature. They are ready when a sharp knife can slide gently through the potato. Do not overcook or they will soak up too much water. You want them to be on the dry side so they will soak up al the flavors you are going to add. Immediately drain and return to the hot pot which is off the burner.

While the potatoes are cooking, pour cream into a sauce pot on medium-low heat. Add the butter and heat till the butter is melted.

Whip the egg yolks in a separate cup.

Begin mashing the potatoes till they are the consistency you prefer. Here is where you have to work quickly. Pour the egg yolks into the potatoes and quickly whip them in. If you go too slow they WILL cook and you will have scrambled eggs. If you are a bit nervous about this, go ahead and add a little cream to the eggs first. This is where I lose some people. They worry about eating raw eggs, but you don’t have to. The fact that the potatoes are so hot as to create scrambled eggs proves they are hot enough to keep you safe. Slowly add half of the cream/butter mixture. Thoroughly mix the liquid and determine how much more you will need. Add it a little at a time (you may not need all of it) as you can always add more, you cannot however take it out. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you like garlic potatoes, finely mince a few cloves and add to the cream as you heat it. This draws out the flavor into the cream and gives a giant boost to the potatoes. Of course, roasted garlic is even better.

The science of this is pretty simple. The yolks add a richness to the mashed potatoes. Heating the cream and butter allows you to control the thickness of the potatoes and prevents the food from cooling down before you get it on the table.

If you intend to keep the potatoes warm in a crock pot for a few hours, add a little extra cream then you normally would. Use leftovers for shepherd’s pie later in the week.

Let me know how it goes!

Oven Fried Bacon

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My family loves bacon, I hate cooking it. I don’t have a griddle and trying to cook enough in a skillet takes far too long. Plus the grease is just horrible to deal with. Baking it in the oven skips that whole process.

Using a cookie sheet, place a cooling rack on top. As long as it is metal and not plastic, it will be fine. Lay the bacon so that each slice touches the one next to it. The grease will drip down and the bacon will cook evenly. You can also add flavor if you like such as maple syrup or black pepper.

Place the pan into a 350 degree oven. How long it takes to cook will depend on how crispy you like your bacon and how thick it is. If one person likes theirs extra crispy you can have their bacon on a separate pan. Plan on at least 20 minutes for each batch of bacon.

The rendered fat can be poured into a jar and stored in the fridge for later use.