Baked Spinach Rice

Yes! More baked rice! ūüôā SO so SO delicious!! This one is loaded with cheese. It is meant to be served as an indulgent side dish, but we ate it as a main dish with a green salad. I loved it. It had fabulous contrasting textures.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. This wonderful dish is an upgrade of one of his favorite family casseroles.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 pound spinach (about 2 bunches), washed
  • 1 ¬Ĺ cups long-grain white rice, such as Carolina, Jasmine, or¬†Basmati
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus more to butter the baking dish
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • ¬Ĺ cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 cup grated Gruy√®re
  • ¬ľ cup currants or raisins
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped sage
  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add spinach and wilt for 30 seconds. Remove with a wire mesh spider or tongs and rinse in a colander with cold water. Squeeze dry and chop roughly.
  2. In the same pot, boil the rice for 10 minutes, keeping it slightly underdone. Drain and spread on a baking sheet to cool, then transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  4. Butter a 2-quart soufflé dish (or other baking dish) and dust with about 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan.
  5. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add almonds and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Season lightly with salt and add contents of skillet to rice.
  6. Add remaining Parmesan to rice, along with the ricotta, Gruyère, currants, nutmeg, lemon zest, thyme and sage. Season lightly with salt and add pepper to taste.
  7. Add chopped spinach and gently toss rice with hands or wooden spoons to distribute ingredients evenly.
  8. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. (May be prepared up to this point several hours in advance of baking.)
  9. Cover and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 10 minutes more, until top is browned.

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Cheesy Corn Casserole

Simple and rich. This side dish is so quick to throw together it’s absolutely perfect for after Thanksgiving or another holiday meal when less side dishes and more turkey (or main protein) is leftover. I suppose it would also be a terrific side for the big day! We enjoyed it with our leftover turkey this year. ūüôā

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Sarah McLellan. She described this dish as¬†“an easy, unadulterated combo of creamy, salty, and cheesy.” Spot on.

  • 1 jalape√Īo, seeded and chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cans of whole kernel corn (not creamed corn)
  • 8 oz block of cream cheese
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese, to taste
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko or other breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs such as thyme, sage, and/or parsley, more to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Combine the jalape√Īo and garlic in a medium saucepan. Saut√© until fragrant and just starting to soften.
  3. Add the corn, cream cheese, butter, 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese; stir through until melted.
  4. Season with salt and black pepper, as desired. Add more cheddar cheese, if desired, to taste.
  5. Pour it into a baking dish, sprinkle with the breadcrumbs, the remaining Parmesan, and the chopped herbs.
  6. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 15 minutes. Serve right away.

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Duchess Baked Potatoes

Making a mashed potato dish in advance is beyond fabulous when preparing a holiday meal. This garlicky, fine-textured, “twice baked potato-esque” side dish was wonderful.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Ann Redding and Matt Danzer. I increased the garlic and used a garlic press in lieu of grating the cloves. Great.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 4 pounds¬†Yukon Gold potatoes
  • coarse¬†salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1¬ľ cups heavy cream
  • ¬ĺ cup sour cream
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pink or black peppercorns, finely ground
  1. Place potatoes in a large pot and pour in water to cover by 2″; season with salt.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat and simmer until a paring knife very easily slides through potatoes, 25‚Äď35 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly.
  3. Preheat oven to 425¬į, preferably on convection.
  4. Whisk egg yolks, garlic, cream, sour cream, butter, and peppercorns in a large bowl; season generously with salt.
  5. Peel potatoes and pass flesh through a ricer or a food mill (or mash them by hand if you don’t mind a few lumps) directly into bowl with egg mixture.
  6. Fold in gently, being careful not to overmix.
  7. Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish and decoratively shingle or swirl surface.
  8. Bake, rotating once, until golden brown and slightly puffed, 30‚Äď40 minutes.

Note: Dish can be assembled 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Increase bake time by 5‚Äď10 minutes.

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Skillet Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic & Balsamic Vinegar

A friend had recommended this recipe and I knew I was going to save it for my Thanksgiving dinner menu. I always select Brussels sprouts as one of the vegetables to serve because my mom, mother-in-law, and I love them.

It was nice to have such a simple, and relatively healthy, side dish as part of the feast as well. One side dish should be void of cheese and/or cream! ūüėČ I also served roasted rainbow carrots. Two clean and fresh side dishes.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Mark Bittman. I doubled the recipe, using an entire stalk, and was only able to roast half in the skillet; I roasted the remainder on a rimmed baking sheet. I also decreased the balsamic vinegar.

  • 1 Brussels sprout stalk (about a 2 pints or 2 pounds)
  • 8¬†tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to coat bottom of pan
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, to taste
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Trim Brussels sprouts off the stalk, and slice each large sprout in half top to bottom.
  3. Heat half of the oil in cast-iron pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers; put sprouts cut side down in one layer in pan. Put in garlic, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook, undisturbed, until sprouts begin to brown on bottom, and transfer to oven.
  5. Roast, shaking pan every 5 minutes, until sprouts are quite brown and tender, about 10 to 20 minutes. Coat remaining sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet in oven with the skillet.
  6. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Combine all roasted sprouts in the skillet.
  7. Stir in balsamic vinegar, and serve hot or warm.

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Southern Cornbread Dressing

Okay… back to my belated Thanksgiving feast posts…

I struggle selecting a “stuffing” for our Thanksgiving Menu. This version was simple and perfect. I loved that it was a traditional Southern recipe and that it incorporated an unsweetened cast iron skillet cornbread.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Kim Severson. I used medium grind cornmeal. The cornbread is made the night before so that it can harden slightly. I let the cubed white bread sit out overnight as well. We ate it without incorporating meat, but this base recipe could easily be modified to include sausage or even nuts and/or apples. The author suggested eating leftovers mixed with shredded leftover turkey as well.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Cornbread:

  • 4 tablespoons/56 grams butter or bacon drippings
  • 2 cups/340 grams yellow cornmeal, medium grind (use the freshest, best quality you can find)
  • 1 ¬Ĺ teaspoons coarse¬†salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups/473 milliliters buttermilk, preferably full fat (I used low-fat)

For the Dressing:

  • 3 cups soft white bread, crusts removed and torn or cut into 1-inch pieces (do not pack)
  • ¬Ĺ cup butter (1 stick), plus more for the pan
  • 2 cups chopped sweet onions
  • 1 ¬Ĺ cups chopped celery (4 or 5 stalks)
  • 1 ¬Ĺ teaspoons coarse¬†salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¬ľ tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • ¬ĺ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 cups rich chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade

Optional Additions:

  • 3/4 pound pork sausage (such as spicy Italian sausage, fresh andouille or spicy Southern-style sausage)
  • 2 1/2 cups of toasted pecans, chopped
  • chopped apples
  1. Make the cornbread: Heat oven to 450 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Put butter in an 11-inch skillet. Cast-iron is best here, but any ovenproof skillet will do. Heat butter in oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until butter has melted and is just starting to brown.
  3. While butter melts, whisk together cornmeal, salt and baking powder.
  4. In another small bowl, lightly beat eggs, then add buttermilk and stir until mixture is combined.
  5. Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and stir well.
  6. Remove hot pan from oven, pour butter into batter and stir until batter looks uniform.
  7. Pour batter back into the pan and bake for 20 minutes or until the top has begun to just brown.
  8. Remove cornbread and let it cool on a rack.
  9. Tear or cut it into large pieces and place in a large bowl. Let it sit out overnight to dry out slightly.
  10. Prepare the dressing: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cornbread and white bread in a large bowl, tossing to mix, and breaking cornbread into smaller pieces.
  11. Melt butter in a large skillet, and add onions, celery and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté until vegetables have softened, about 6 minutes.
  12. Add vegetables to bread mixture and combine.
  13. Lightly beat eggs and add to bowl.
  14. Sprinkle in herbs, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper and toss together.
  15. Add 4 cups broth and stir well.
  16. Using your hands, work the mixture to get a very lumpy, thick, batter-like consistency.
  17. Add another cup of stock if needed. The mixture should be very wet and pourable but without standing liquid.
  18. Butter a 2-quart ovenproof dish. (such as an 8-by-11-inch baking dish. A deeper vessel could take longer to bake; a more shallow dish less time.)
  19. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake until dressing puffs slightly and has browned well around the edges, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  20. If you have drippings from a roasted turkey, spoon some over the top about 30 minutes into the baking time.

Notes:

  • To Add Sausage: Brown 3/4 pound pork sausage in a pan, crumbling it into small pieces as it cooks. Add to the bread mixture along with the vegetables.
  • To Include Nuts: Add 2 1/2 cups of toasted pecans, chopped, to the vegetable and bread mixture.

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Arugula Salad with Corn & Burrata

I am in love with burrata. My blog friend,¬†Johanne @ French Gardener Dishes, just posted a fabulous (anonymous) quote about the subject, “Burrata improves the flavor of summer and the flavor of life!‚ÄĚ Apparently, I share¬†my fondness of the creamy cheese. ūüôā

The creamy burrata added a wonderful richness to this lovely summer vegetable salad. I served it to friends for lunch along with Grilled Garlicky Eggplant Sandwiches with Basil & Feta. We -along with all of our kids- also enjoyed Back to School Blondies with an ice cream terrine inspired by Nancy @ Feasting with Friends Blog for dessert. It was quite a feast for lunch!

The salad recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Chef Brian Clevenger of Raccolto in Seattle. I substituted edamame for the fava beans, increased the tomatoes, and omitted the mint. It was a crowd pleaser.

I’m bringing this lovely¬†vegetable-loaded dish to share with my friends at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #136 this week hosted by Judi @ Cooking with Aunt Juju. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 cup frozen shelled, pre-cooked edamame, thawed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 ears of corn (preferably white), shucked and kernels cut off the cobs (3 1/2 cups)
  • coarse¬†salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T sherry vinegar
  • 4 ounces baby arugula (6 cups lightly packed)
  • 10 ounces mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint, optional
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
  • 8 ounces burrata cheese

  1. Place the frozen edamame on a plate or rimmed cookie sheet to thaw.
  2. Once the edamame is thawed, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet.
  3. Add the corn and edamame and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, just until the corn is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
  5. Add the arugula, tomatoes, mint (if using), basil and the corn mixture and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Toss to coat, then spoon onto plates. Scoop or tear the burrata into pieces and gently spoon it onto the plates.
  7. Season with pepper and serve.

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Watermelon Salads

My kids and I love summer watermelon. We usually just chomp on slices of it at the beach, but I recently incorporated it into two refreshing summer side salads.

The first was an adaptation of the classic Middle Eastern Tabouli Salad substituting watermelon for tomatoes. What a great idea! ūüôā The second was another classic Middle Eastern way of serving watermelon- with feta and basil. I made it for a party and was unable to capture it in a photo. You can (will have to!) imagine how pretty it looked. I had been unaware of how wonderful watermelon pairs with feta cheese- so simple and tasty.

The tabbouleh recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living and the watermelon-feta salad recipe was adapted from Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi. Fresh, seasonal and delicious.

Tabbouleh with Watermelon

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup bulgur wheat (I used coarse red bulgur)
  • 1 1/2 to 3+ cups peeled and coarsely chopped watermelon
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces soft goat or feta cheese, crumbled
  1. Bring water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in bulgur, and remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and let stand, uncovered, until cooled, 15 to 30 minutes. (I spread the cooked bulgur out on a rimmed baking sheet to speed the cooling process.)
  2. Transfer bulgur to a bowl, and toss with watermelon, parsley, scallions, oil, lemon zest and juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  3. Gently fold in cheese. Serve.

Watermelon, Basil & Feta Salad

Yield: Serves 4

  • 10 oz block feta (preferable sheep’s milk)
  • 4 to 5 cups of large-dice watermelon cubes
  • 3/4 cups basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  1. Slice the feta into large but thin pieces, or just break it by hand into rough chunks.
  2. Arrange all of the ingredients, except for the olive oil, on a platter or bowl, mixing them up a little.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the top and serve immediately.

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