Archive of ‘Sides’ category

Canadian Cheddar Poutine with a Red Wine Reduction

I know you. You probably don’t think so but I do and I know why you’re here. You saw the word “poutine” in the title of this recipe and you were curious. I’ll just cut to the chase: poutine is a Canadian dish usually involving fries, gravy, and cheese curds. Now, I have never actually been to Canada so I can’t vouch for authentic poutine from the natives. Does a trip to Disney World’s Epcot count? When Chris and I went there for our anniversary last year, we ate at Le Cellier, the Canadian steakhouse in Epcot. They had different poutine combos like lobster and butter poutine, a BBQ pork poutine, and this gloriousness of canadian cheddar, truffles, and a thick red wine reduction. We ordered two poutines BEFORE our steaks came out! We know how to party. (more…)

You probably are aware football season is upon us and before you jump up and down for chili cheese fries (you might see them here, you might not), hear me out. I think your friends would be thrilled to eat these fries on any given day. Plus, these require much less work than chili cheese fries so there’s that!

Our fancy ingredient line up:

From Left to Right: Frozen fries (I used shoe string but choose what you like!), Truffle cheddar, red wine, shallots, Canadian cheddar, and rosemary.

We start with our red wine reduction, as our fries are baking in the oven (healthy choices here!). You can obviously make your own fries from scratch if you aren’t lazy like me. Look at that rosemary making googly eyes at you. Let it simmer until it’s thick and drizzle worthy.

Once the fries are cooked, sprinkle on your cheeses. You could also use an English cheddar or even an Irish cheddar if you can’t find Canadian cheddar. Heck, you could use white cheddar really. Cheese on fries equals bliss. That’s an old adage.

Broil the cheese fries until cheese has melted then drizzle the red wine reduction. Serve these hot, right in the sheet pan! If you are feeling fancy, eat ’em with a fork. Otherwise, take those clean paws of yours and dig in! My sister-in-law, Lauren, and I went to town so we could expertly report to you how these turned out. See the kind of sacrifices I’m willing to make for you?

These were cheesy with a herb sweetness from the reduction. The truffle and Canadian cheddar were key and really made this savory and hearty. Give ’em a try! Happy poutine making!

Nectarine Avocado Fruit Salad

Isn’t it weird that this is considered a fruit salad? Avocado, tomatoes, nectarines. Not your grandmother’s ambrosia but it’s still fresh and delicious. This is to make up for the carb overload from last week. I love making a simple guacamole salad with avocado, red onion, tomato, lime juice, and sea salt. Sea salt is key when it comes to avocado and can really bring out it’s silky flavors.I decided to spruce up lime juice with adding a touch of honey and cilantro. Removing the onion and replacing it with sweetened, ripened nectarines really cuts through the fattiness of the avocado and the acidity of the tomato. Feta adds a salty finish. I ate this salad by itself for lunch but I don’t think anyone will be mad if you served this at your next cookout or party. ‘Tis the season for avocados. Don’t be afraid! (more…)

Let’s take it nice and easy. Here is our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Cilantro, lime, nectarines, honey for my honey, feta, avocado, heirloom tomatoes.

We dice our avocado and nectarines. Throw them in a bowl with the tomatoes. I used heirloom tomatoes but any smallish tomato works! Why smallish tomatoes? Because they are adorable! We are halfway there!

In another bowl, we whisk our lime, honey, and cilantro together. If you don’t like cilantro, you could add mint or basil. Or you don’t have to add any herbs and keep it simple. I know this salad doesn’t scream simple so I thought I would look out for you. Insert winking face.

Take that sweet, citrusy dressing and pour it over the avocado salad. Add feta (if you wish) and sea salt. We must toss gently. Taste and see if you need more salt. The difference between a good dish and a great dish is the salt. That’s my 2 cents for the day.

I could have waited and put this in a nice bowl. I could have lounged on the couch as I daintily ate my fruit salad. I didn’t have patience. I took a fork and dove in. As should you! Happy salad making!

Brie Mac and Cheese with Figs

Remember that time I told you that I absolutely love pasta dishes here? Well, I wasn’t kidding. Mac and cheese is a dear favorite of mine but sometimes, it needs a face lift. (more…)

 The cheddar original is always fun but I enjoy feeling like an adult sometimes. And we all know eating figs and brie cheese means we are adults! Figs are in season right now and are delicious raw, stuffed, or made into an elegant sauce for pork, chicken or even a burger topped with goat cheese. I thought this would be semi-vintage and a change of pace to serve as an appetizer.

Our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: elbow macaroni (duh!), onion, fig, butter, balsamic, milk, white wine, nutmeg, flour, brie, gruyere, and parmesan.

We begin with our onions and figs. Cook the onions until golden brown then add the precious figs. Meanwhile, your pasta should be cooking to just below al dente. You can also be horrible at multi-tasking like me and forget about your pasta, as the boiling water overflows onto your cook top. Which ever works for you!

Add the wine and reduce. Keep that wine around; it will be lovely with the mac and cheese later on. Finish with the balsamic vinegar. Look at that dark color! This is simply elegant!

We make our bechamel sauce (milk sauce), season, and add our cheeses. Taste for seasoning and by taste, I mean a few spoonfuls. You can never be too careful. Add your cute macaroni. I was having a party (your invite totally got lost), and thought serving mac and cheese in a portion friendly muffin tin would be more appealing and casual. Just fill up the holes and top with the onions and figs.

Bake until hot and bubbly! This is all cheese and it’s glorious!

Perfection. I’m sorry if that fig weirds you out. They’re delicious. Happy mac and cheese making!

Sweet Red Pepper Coleslaw

I had some left over roasted peppers that have been staring me down every time I opened my fridge but guiltily, I closed the door. I didn’t know what to do with them and I didn’t want them to know it. Then, it hit me: when in doubt, make a sauce! If I blend the peppers, they will disappear and leave behind a nice flavor and beautiful color. I think they were happy to leave that cold fridge! Personify much? Moving on… (more…)

As you can probably tell, I like my coleslaw. There are so many variations, it literally makes me go crazy. I just think there are few things better than a hot/cold combination. Chicken, hot off the skillet, paired with a cooling, creamy slaw, like I did here. Or tangy, smokey slow-cooked barbecue topped with a sweet, crunchy coleslaw.
After making my Summer Peach Barbecue Sauce and realizing the intense smokey, slightly spicy flavor needed a sweet contrast, I turned to this guy.

Let’s check out our ingredient line up! I did my usual greek yogurt/mayo combo, which makes for a thinner dressing. If you want a thicker dressing, add more mayo than yogurt. Or go nuts and add all mayo and no yogurt. You know yourself. Do what you like! And whatever you do, don’t regret using mayo. Ever.

From Top Left to Right:Shredded green cabbage, red onion, honey, lemon, garlic, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, roasted red peppers, and white wine vinegar. And no, that’s not make believe vinegar, it’s really there!

Here comes the most exhausting part: throw everything, except for the cabbage and red onion, into the blender and… wait for it…blend! I also chose to throw some lime basil in there last minute. Look at those adorable little leaves! You could also do regular basil if you feel so inclined. Don’t forget to season! Blend first then taste to see how much you need to add.

Put your cabbage and red onion in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with the dressing. Look at that light pink color! Purdy!

Toss everything together! This is a yummy side dish to any cook out or BBQ and you don’t feel carb guilty eating it. If you make the dressing with all mayo, it can make a great sandwich spread if you have any left over! Happy slaw making!

Thai Marinated Chicken with a Mango Slaw

Something really weird has been happening to me as of late. I’m bored with everything I cook! I don’t even repeat recipes, like ever, and I still feel bored. Maybe it’s time for me to spread my little culinary wings and try something incredibly new. Whenever I feel home cook’s block, I try to look for something Asian. Asian flavors are the perfect balance of sweet and salty, savory and spicy. Plus, it makes me use ingredients I don’t normally run to day to day. I went through a stir-fry craze a few months back; eating it once to twice a week. It wore out its welcome real fast and I haven’t returned to the world of high heat skillets and soy sauce combos. (more…)

As I was menu planning for this week, I was desperately looking for some inspiration to get me out of my rut. I found this recipe and boy, did the wheels start turning. The recommended side for this dish is a mango slaw, made with fresh mangoes, red peppers, and cashews. I didn’t have fresh mangoes so I had to whip up my own mango slaw. Once I get my slippery hands on some mangoes, I might revisit that side dish. One thing to note, my husband absolutely despises eating any meat with their bones still in (now you can see how I get bored!). So instead of the chicken legs, I used chicken tenderloins and cooked them, in a skillet, over medium high heat for a few minutes. For the lovely marinade recipe, simply go here. Whichever cut of chicken you prefer, this Thai marinated chicken and mango slaw combo will brighten the darkest of bored eating days. Enjoy!


Here’s our ingredient line up for our mango slaw:

From Left to Right: fresh limes, thawed mango (I only had frozen for snacking, of course!), green onions, cilantro, mint, rice vinegar, mayo (just a tad), mango chutney, and crunchy broccoli slaw. Let’s take a minute and admire these outrageous colors. Thank you and continue.

Our dressing for the coleslaw comes first! In a bowl, whisk lime juice, rice vinegar, mayo, mango chutney, and a little bit of salt and pepper. We are looking for a few things here so give it a taste! This dressing can end up being pretty sweet so adjust according to your tastes. Add more of whatever you think the dressing needs. Also, if the dressing is too thick for you, add a bit more lime juice until it becomes the consistency you want. I would have a picture for you but to be honest, I couldn’t find a pretty picture of the white, clumpy (because of the yummy chutney) dressing. Moving on…

In a larger bowl, throw in your broccoli slaw, diced mango, chopped cilantro and mint, sliced green onions, and as many dashes of red pepper flake you can stand. Sweet and spicy, anyone? I should note that I am completely obsessed with broccoli slaw! But, if you want to substitute with the beloved cabbage combo, be my guest!

Pour the dressing over the bowl of slaw and mix thoroughly. Season with a pinch of salt. Although this recipe is for chicken, this slaw would go lovely with some grilled fish or pork as well.

I also ate this chicken with a sweet Thai chili sauce but totally missed the chance for a Sriracha take over. We are trying to watch our carbs so we ate this by itself. But I really wanted to eat this scrumptiousness stuffed in a warm tortilla. Could you do me a favor? Please, please, please eat this as a taco! A Thai taco! Do you really want anything else for dinner? Happy dinner making!

Balsamic Caesar Wedge Salad

Remember when eating salads meant you were on a diet? It didn’t matter what came on the salad, as long as it was a salad, you were eating healthy. I would be sitting there with my family and as they all ordered burgers and pasta, I would give a disappointed look to our waiter when he asked what I wanted to eat. “I’ll have the buffalo chicken salad with blue cheese dressing, I guess.” Wow! What a sacrifice! I was trying to lose weight and obviously choosing the calorie appropriate meal. I’ve come a long way in my salad eating repertoire and normally, I stick to the vinaigrettes. But when I’m craving something a little more decadent in a salad, I turn to this guy. I really enjoy salads in the summer: minimal cooking, crisp lettuce, a luscious dressing. This recipe is my favorite salad dressing. It’s a creamy Caesar, which I prefer over an oily one and it’s perfect for a weeknight meal or as a side dish. The iceberg wedge is drenched in tangy balsamic Caesar dressing and topped with crunchy, salty bacon. By roasting the tomatoes, their flavor is deeper and more sophisticated for a salad. Enjoy!


Let’s check out our ingredient line up!

From Left to Right: Mayonnaise (always and forever), iceberg lettuce, greek yogurt, lemon, balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese, bacon, anchovies, garlic, and tomatoes. I used heirloom but any smallish tomato works!

We begin with our tomatoes! Put them on a sheet pan and toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place them in the oven to roast for about 20-25 minutes. They will look like this gloriousness when they are done. Spell check didn’t like that I said gloriousness.

Next, we take our ingredients for the dressing: yogurt, mayo, balsamic, garlic (this is really garlicky so one clove might be your style), parmesan, anchovies, lemon, salt and pepper. And here comes the best part: we just throw it all into the blender! No pre-cutting or mincing! Genius! Just blend until smooth and creamy. I added some olive oil for flavor and to stretch the dressing a bit. Totally optional! Also, taste and adjust to what you like in a Caesar. Make sure you add plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

All we have left to do is assemble our salad! Put one of the wedges on a plate, drizzle with the dressing, top with crumbled bacon and roasted tomatoes. This salad is perfect along side grilled chicken or seared steak.

If you want to make this for a cookout this weekend, just put the dressing in a container and refrigerate until ready to serve. Easy peasy! I hope you guys have a great 4th of July; filled with good food, great company, and thankful reflections.

Steakhouse Potato Salad

I’m that person at a cookout who has a plate completely piled high with carby sides. Potato salad, macaroni salad, potato chips, and mac and cheese all make the cut with a measly hot dog clinging to the edge of my plate, begging for its life. Of course, the whole focus of a cookout is the protein because, duh, we’re at a cookout. But no one gets excited for a cookout if there isn’t a plastic cloth covered table, displaying the endless possibilities of sides. Mac and cheese dog anyone? I’ll save that for another day. This gem has been a “must make” for any cookout I go to for the last couple of years. I make it and I know I will be coming home with an empty bowl. This recipe is broken down into 3 easy steps: roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, and cheese. Don’t you wish all of life was this simple?


Let’s check out our ingredient line up!

From Left to Right: We got olive oil, butter, garlic, yellow onion, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, red and white small potatoes, blue cheese, and parsley.

We will start with our potatoes. Depending on their size, quarter or halve them so they are all close to the same size. Place on a sheet pan.

Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix so everything is evenly covered and arrange them cut side down. Make sure they are all in one layer so they roast evenly. If your pan seems crowded, move the party to another sheet pan so the potatoes can roast and not steam. Put them in the hot oven and cook until fork tender; turning once during the cooking time.

As the potatoes cook, let’s start on the onions. Heat the butter in a medium sized skillet over medium low heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt and pepper. We’re layering our seasoning, people! Cook onions until golden brown. Make sure you stir those onions every couple of minutes so they don’t burn! After onions are caramelized, add garlic and cook one more minute. Just a minute!

Add the balsamic vinegar and cook until reduced and thickened. about 2-3 minutes.

The last thing we need to assemble here is the blue cheese dressing. We take the mayonnaise, greek yogurt, dijon, blue cheese, parsley, and black pepper. They are placed in a bowl and simply stirred. Black pepper is key in this recipe since there is a lot of saltiness going on (I’m definitely not complaining). Let’s gather everything!

Grab a large serving bowl and combine potatoes, onions, and blue cheese dressing. Mix and taste for seasoning. THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE! Sprinkle parsley as the garnish.

Don’t you just want to plunge your face into that? Also, this potato salad is best served right away or at room temp. Once you put it in the fridge, it all goes downhill from there; the potatoes get weird. Trust me. Enjoy!

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