Archive for the ‘Side Dishes’ Category

If you are going to make this dish, you MUST make the polenta with it. It’s not something most people make that often, but it is SO yummy with this roast! (and super easy to make!) If you have leftover polenta, portion it onto squares of plastic wrap, let it cool, then wrap tightly and freeze in a gallon-freezer bag. Thaw and re-heat when you want to serve it again.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Red Wine and Root Vegetables

Serves 6



3/4 cup orange juice

3 T minced garlic

1/4 c plus 1 T tomato paste

1 t dried sage

3 1/2 lb boneless beef chuck roast

Salt and pepper

2 T unsalted butter

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

3 ribs celery, finely chopped

3 carrots, finely chopped

3 parsnips, finely chopped

1/4 c flour

1 c red wine

One 14-oz can whole peeled tomatoes with juices

1/4 low-sodium chicken broth

1 T honey

4 sprigs fresh rosemary, tied together with kitchen twine



In the slow cooker, mix together  1/4 cup of the orange juice, 2 tablespoons of the garlic, 1 tablespoon of the tomato paste and the sage. Add the meat and coat on all sides with marinade. Sprinkle salt and pepper on all sides.

Meanwhile, heat butter over medium-high heat in large saute pan. When melted, add all of the finely chopped veggies and the remaining 1 tablespoon minced garlic and saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup tomato paste and the flour and stir until the flour is no longer visible. Remove the pan from the heat and add the wine. Raise the heat to high and and stir until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, remaining 1/2 cup orange juice, broth, honey and rosemary and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Peytons4thBday 008

Using a potato masher, gently crush tomatoes and stir the sauce.

Pour the sauce over the meat in the slow cooker, cover, and cook on low until very tender, about 10 hours. (If you don’t have 10 hours, cook on high for the first 2 hours, then lower heat to low and cook for an additional 5 – 6 hours. ) If possible, turn roast over halfway through to cook it evenly).

When done, discard rosemary sprigs and use a large spoon or ladle to skim the fat off the surface of the sauce. Remove meat from slow cooker and cut into chunks. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper if necessary.  Return meat to the sauce and spoon meat and sauce over polenta (recipe below).

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Over Polenta

Lemony Polenta with Brown Butter and Parmesan

Serves 6-8



1/4 c unsalted butter

2 1/2 t salt

2 c medium-grind polenta (traditional, not instant)

3/4 grated Parmesan (plus more if you like it extra cheesy)

Zest of 2 lemons

1/2 t Black pepper



Heat butter in small saute pan over medium heat.  Cook until it melts and turns light brown, watching carefully, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and pour into a coffee cup. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring 8 c cold water with the salt to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, slowly add polenta while stirring.  Reduce the heat to low and stir frequently for another 5 minutes.  Cover the pot and allow it to cook until soft for another 20-25 minutes.  When done, stir in brown butter, Parmesan, lemon zest and season to taste with salt and pepper.


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Risotto is one of those dishes that I don’t make nearly enough! It’s super easy, family-friendly and you can make it a number of ways, depending on what you have in the fridge. So next time you’re in a pinch for dinner, here’s your answer! The asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes can be substituted with a number of things such as mushrooms (dried or fresh), peas, fresh herbs (mint, basil), shredded chicken, shrimp, lobster, crab, the list goes on and on!

Sun-Dried Tomato and Asparagus Risotto

Makes enough for 3-4 people as a main dish.

2 c chicken stock

3 c water

1/4 c butter, divided

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 c Arborio rice

1/3 c white wine (pour yourself a glass to have while you’re cooking! :))

1 bunch asparagus, rinsed well and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/2 c heavy cream

1/2 freshly grated Parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste


Bring stock and water to boil in a small pot.  Simmer until ready to use. In large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat until melted. Add onion and sweat until translucent. Add rice and stir for a couple of minutes. Add wine and stir until absorbed. (and take a sip of your wine while you’re at it!) Increase heat to medium-high and add 1 cup of the stock/water mixture. Stir until this is absorbed. Repeat this process, making sure to continue stirring, until there is only 1 cup remaining in the pot. Before adding this last cupful, stir in the asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes. Now add the last of the broth and stir until rice is tender and creamy.

Stir in cream, about 1/4 c Parm and the rest of the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with with remaining Parmesan on top (add a little more if you’re a cheese lover like me!)

Sun-Dried Tomato and Asparagus Risotto


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I am uber picky when it comes to homemade mac ‘n cheese.  But, alas!  I have finally found a winning recipe, thanks to Ms. Paula Deen! I’m not quite sure why it took me so long to go to her for help in the first place, since she is the master of delicious, fattening recipes.  I made a few adjustments of my own.  Hope you like it as much as my family did!

Slow-Cooker Mac ‘n Cheese

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: Serves: 8 – 10  


2 c uncooked elbow macaroni

4 T butter

2 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 c sour cream

1-10 3/4 oz can condensed cheddar cheese soup

1 t salt

1 c whole milk

1/2 s dry mustard

1/2 t black pepper


Boil macaroni until tender and drain. In medium saucepan, melt butter and mix in cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. In slow cooker set on low, combine cheese/butter mixture and add the beaten eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, dry mustard, and pepper. Stir well. Add drained macaroni and stir again. Cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.


*I like to make half for the slow cooker and make the other half in a gallon freezer bag, then label and freeze. When ready to cook the freezer portion, thaw completely, pour into your slow cooker, and cook for 3 hours.


Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/creamy-macaroni-and-cheese-recipe/index.html


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I needed to use up some carrots, and found this recipe, courtesy of my Williams-Sonoma cookbook, “New Flavors for Soups”.  We loved it!


Carrot and Coconut Soup with Curry Spiced Almonds

Serves: 6-8


Sugar, 1 ½ t

S & P

Ground coriander, 1 T, plus ¼ t

Curry powder, ½ t

Unsalted butter, 3 T plus 1 ½ t

Sliced almonds, toasted ½ c

Yellow onion, 1, chopped

Carrots, 2 lbs, peeled and thinly sliced

Unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted, ¼ c

Ground ginger, ½ t

Chicken stock, 4 c

Unsweetened coconut milk, 2-14 oz cans

Rice vinegar, 3 t


In a small bowl, stir together ½ t of sugar, ¼ t salt, ¼ t coriander, and the curry powder.

In a nonstick frying pan, melt 1 ½ t butter with 1 T water and the remaining 1 t sugar over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to blend. Add the almonds, stir to coat, and cook until liquid is almost evaporated. Toss almonds with spices in bowl. Spread onto parchment paper in a thin layer and let cool.

In a large saucepan, melt 3 T butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, coconut, ginger, and 1 T coriander and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until vegetables give off some of their liquid, about 10 minutes. Add stock, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until carrots are tender.

Transfer carrot mixture to a blender, in batches if necessary, and puree until smooth. Pour into rinsed out pot. Add coconut milk, vinegar, and S & P to taste. Add more vinegar if desired. Cook until heated through. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with spiced almonds.

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How to Make Perfect White Rice

An old co-worker and friend of mine, Chef Matt Overdevest, taught me this easy and perfected method to making white rice on the stove top. It has never failed me!

You want to start with equal parts water/stock and rice. A 1:1 cup ratio will yield about 3 cups of rice. With this method, I normally use basmati, jasmine, or white long-grain. It does not work too well with brown rice. I am still working on perfecting a method for that…

1 cup white rice
1 T grapeseed/olive/sesame oil
1 cup stock/water
S&P tt

In a sauce pan, heat oil for about 1 minute on high heat. Add rice and stir well. Allow rice to “toast” for about 1 minute, stirring frequently. Pour in liquid. Wait until it begins to boil. Cover pan and turn heat to simmer. Set timer for 14 minutes.

*Do NOT remove lid during entire process, as steaming is the key in this method!*

Once timer goes off, remove pan from heat and set timer again for 10 minutes. Make sure to leave the lid on. Rice will be done once this 10 minutes is up. Season to taste and oui la!

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As I  sit here through the tropical storm’s torrential rain and winds, I am wondering what to make for our meals if our power goes out. I came up with a few ideas and hope they can help you during a time of no electricity. It’s important to remember that most produce – lettuce/greens, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, potatoes, apples, citrus, grapes,  etc – does not need to be refrigerated. As long as it is stored in a cool, dark place, it will last for days for your emergency meals. That being said, salads are a great option.  As long as the weather isn’t too bad, don’t forget about the grill either.  Also, condiments such as mayonnaise, grated Parmesan cheese, jellies/jams that are normally kept in the fridge are safe to be used at room temperature.

Pantry Gazpacho

This flavorful cold/room temperature soup is made from easily stored canned and pantry ingredients so it can be made quickly during a power outage, etc.

Yield: Serves 5


  • 14 oz canned diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 11 oz canned corn, drained
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 3 c vegetable juice (V8, etc)
  • 6 oz canned tiny shrimp, drained
  • 1 t dried parsley
  • 1 c garlic croutons


In a large glass bowl, combine all ingredients except croutons and mix gently. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours to blend flavors or serve immediately at room temperature. Top with croutons before serving.

Peanut Butter Crunch Wraps

These wraps are full of protein, crunch, and sweetness – a perfect snack or part of a meal.

Yield: Serves 1


  • 1 whole wheat tortilla
  • 4 T (or more) creamy or crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 ½ T honey
  • Sprinkling of dried fruits, nuts, seeds, granola


Combine peanut butter and honey in small bowl. Add dried fruits, nuts, seeds, granola. Spread onto tortilla and wrap. Cut in half.

Salmon and Potato Salad

This salad would taste great in a sandwich, in a pita, or on a bed of lettuce/greens.

Yield: 4-6 servings


  • 2-14 oz cans cooked potatoes, drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1-15 oz can (or pouch) salmon, drained
  • 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley or 1 T dried parsley
  • 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 c finely chopped sweet or dill pickles
  • 1/4 t hot pepper sauce
  • 1/4 t salt
  • ¼ t ground black pepper
  • 1 t dried thyme leaves


In large bowl, combine potatoes, red bell pepper, onion, and salmon. In small bowl, whisk together oil, parsley, vinegar, pickles, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and thyme. Pour over potato/salmon mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately or cover and chill 2-4 hours

Tomato Salad

Yield: 4 Servings


  • 4 large tomatoes, preferably ripe or on-the-vine variety, chopped into bite-size chunks
  • ½ c chopped celery
  • ¼ c finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 t dried basil
  • ½ t dried parsley
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • S & P


Combine first five ingredients in bowl. Add a few drizzles of balsamic vinegar. Slowly pour in a little olive oil at a time, tasting as you go. Add more balsamic if you’d like. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Black Forest No-Cook Dessert

This would be a delicious ending after a no-cook meal.

Yield: 3 Servings


  • 3 Store-bought brownies, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • Chocolate sauce for drizzling
  • ½ c chopped pecans, or other kind of nut


Spoon cherry pie filling into bowls. Add brownie bites. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and finish with a sprinkling of nuts.


*I also came across this very thorough hurricane shopping list, from the county we live in. I thought I’d share!*


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This is by far the BEST cheesy potato dish I have ever had, and everyone who has tasted it has agreed. You can thank my dear Mother for this one! 🙂

Mom’s Cheesy Potatoes


1 box frozen hash brown patties

1 can cream of chicken soup

10 oz sour cream

½ c butter, melted

2 heaping cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 ½ c Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing mix (blue bag)

¼ c butter, melted


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 9X13 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place frozen patties in the pan, one alongside the other until the bottom of the pan is covered. Mix soup, sour cream, melted butter, and cheese. Pour into pan. Mix stuffing mix and ¼ c melted butter. Sprinkle over cheese mixture. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until bubbling around edges.

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