Friday, November 30, 2012

Sweet Potato Pumpkin Casserole

so I get that this is the saddest excuse for a blog photo. We were too excited to indulge that I forgot to take actual 'serving' photos of my meal :( Food blogger fail. But I promise it's gorgeous and orange on the inside...

I know Thanksgiving was just a mere 8 days ago and the last thing you might want to be thinking about is preparing another feast--but might I remind you that this is the season for potlucks, unexpected guests and another important excuse for an incredible dinner party. (See my post next week on stocking your pantry/fridge for the month of December!). Bookmark this page and follow Dressing on the Side and you'll never have to dig for the right recipes ever again.

D's number one favorite holiday side dish is sweet potato casserole. I think for the most part, the 8 year old in all of us can't help but want to indulge in a vegetable dish covered in mean we can have sweets for dinner? 

This twist on the classic is easy to whip up--especially with a little prepping and not too time consuming. The flavor is richer and not quite as sweet as some you might have tried in the past. 

**Cutting back on sugar? Try just topping the casserole with chopped pecans or walnuts as an alternative. 

Sweet Potato Pumpkin Casserole 
(makes a 2-3 qt casserole)

  • 3-4 large sweet potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed
  • 1/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 7 oz (1/2 can) organic pumpkin
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 cups mini marshmallows*--optional, but reccomended
  • 1/2 c walnuts or pecans*--optional
Getting Started:
If you know sometime within the next 5 days you're going to want to make this..go ahead and peel and boil your sweet potatoes. About 1 inch chunks take about 20 minutes to boil, or until tender. Drain and mash the potatoes, then store them in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

If you're doing it the same day, do this in the morning, especially if you're planning a large menu...or if you're just winging it add that 30 minutes on your meal prep time. 

*OR--take the whole potatoes and pierce them all over with a fork. Place them in the microwave for 4-8 minutes until soft. Then split the potato with a fork and "fluff" out the flesh into a large bowl. 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Once your potatoes are mashed, add in the pumpkin. Mix well. Season with salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Add the sugars and melted butter and again, mix well. Last add the egg. 

Bake the casserole for 20 minutes. Then remove from the oven and top with nuts (optional) and a generous portion of marshmallows. Bake an additional 10 minutes until golden brown. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Southwest Chicken Burritos

Cinco de Mayo might be six months away and a Mexican style feast the farthest thing from your mind while you're dashing through the snow, but these simple burritos will have you from work to the dinner table in mere minutes (literally, after posting a photo of the finished product on instagram (@ktvcox) my co-workers couldn't believe I had already made and consumed dinner). 

So here's a food blogger confession. You should take a seat before I reveal this. Are you ready for it? I didn't roast a turkey for Thanksgiving. While everything else we had was made from scratch, we didn't even have a chicken. Our party of three feasted on a rotisere chicken. Yes, a chicken--pre-cooked, from our local market (and while we're sharing this moment of complete honestly, by "market" I really mean local grocery store). But the chicken was moist and delicious and I freshened it up with some lemon and fresh herbs and handcrafted everything else. 

So, now that the cat chicken is out of the bag--that leads me to this post. There was some left over chicken we had laying around, along with some cheese leftover from the mac and cheese, tomatoes from the garden salad, and kitchen staples black beans, onions and whole wheat tortillas.

*If you don't have leftover chicken, grill or bake a chicken breast and shred it up (kitchen tip: if you're grilling chicken always throw an extra breast on the grill to use later in the week for quick dinners). 

Southwest Chicken Burritos (makes 4 burritos + some extra filling)

For the Burritos:
  • ~1-2 cups shredded chicken (whatever amount you have left is fine!)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt & pepper
  • 1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 tbsp butter
For the cheese sauce:
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
 Getting started on the burritos:
In a deep skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 3-5 minutes until soft. Add the chicken and beans and cook until heated through. Season with the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat and add the water. Stir again and allow water to reduce by half. 

Assemble the burritos with 1 tbsp cheese, then bean/chicken mixture and tomatoes. Roll the burritos. In a separate skillet, melt 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Place the rolled burritos in the pan seam side down. Cook about 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown.

For the cheese sauce:
In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute. Slowly whisk in the milk. Allow the milk to heat about 5 minutes until it thickens (whisk every minute or so). Once the milk thickens, whisk in the cheese. Generously serve over the burrtios.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Time Out..

Hey there Bloggos! 

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving was full of love and laughter and too much pie. Our small gathering was intimate but wonderful and gave us the gift of leftovers for days. Since then I've been a bit under the weather but promise to be up and at 'em in full force soon. That's the trouble with being a food blogger--you kind of get exiled from the kitchen when you're sick. 

I've still been dreaming of holiday treats and easy DIYs to spruce (hah, pun intended) up even the simplest abode for the holidays. Here's a sneak peak of a few holiday dishes coming up...and a Mexican night crowd pleaser to be posted this evening. 

Check back soon, and often--as December will be a crazy one around here but we all know the kitchen never shuts down for long...

Coming Soon!!!
a cream of mushroom gravy that can be thinned into a delicious soup

southwest pulled chicken burritos (with my thanksgiving day shortcut)

feed an army any night of the week with these quick and easy holiday classics

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Final Preparations...

Every time I think about Thanksgiving dinner I have images of huge banquet tables in industrial spaces softly lit by bistro lights and an old wood stove heating the open drafty room. I don't know why, not one of my Thanksgivings ever came close to resembling this image. They were quaint and cozy and never breached double digits in attendees. I'm not complaining, but this image remains the inspiration for most of my work in the kitchen (and now here onto this blog). This is the party I'm continually trying to host and create menus for. Maybe it'll be the setting for the first Dressing on the Side Dinner Jubilee...

As the hours tick down to Thanksgiving I'm hit with the fact that this year I'm cooking for three. And that's okay, too. Tonight I'll be mashing sweet potatoes and prepping so I can plant myself in front of the Macy's Parade with the world's biggest cup of coffee.

Do you prep before the big day? I hope whatever you do that you're cozy and with good friends and enough food to pop a button off of your pants (but lets get real, we all see you unfastening under the table before the dessert course...)

Happy Thanksgiving Friends...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Herbed Spinach Balls

Arguably the biggest week of cooking (and eating) has arrived in full force! Are you ready for the big feast? With just three so far confirmed for dinner, I'm focusing my efforts on perfecting side dishes that I hope will become family tradition for years to come. True to Dressing on the Side form, I'm also focusing on transforming the classics into whole food ingredients and using a few tips and tricks around the kitchen to have the meal done in just about an hour.  Be sure to check back this week and next to see what I've come up with (or do the most simplest thing of all and become a follower!!). 

These delicious looking morsels pictured above are the perfect snack or appetizer to have on hand this holiday season. They're packed with veggies so they literally won't weigh you down or make you feel guilty about a little pre-dinner indulging. Let's get real, that first glass of wine needs a friend, too! They travel well, can be made in advance and can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature. Double the batch to keep some snacks on hand or to toss with olive oil, garlic and pasta for a quick weeknight meal.

Herbed Spinach Balls (makes about two dozen)
  • two boxes chopped, frozen spinach--cooked in the microwave and drained well
  • small onion,diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups herbed stuffing mix (preferably pepridge farms)
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • pinch (1/8 to 1/4 tsp) crushed red pepper *optional for a little kick
Preheat your oven to 350. 

In a large microwave safe bowl, cook the spinach about three minutes, stopping once midway through to break it up as it defrosts. Once all defrosted, turn out spinach onto a clean dishtowel and wring out over the sink. You'll be shocked at the amount of liquid--I was!.

In a large bowl combine spinach, onion, salt and pepper, garlic, eggs and stuffing mix (and red pepper if you're opting in!). Mix until well combined. Using your hands, form balls from 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of spinach mixture. Place the balls on an ungreased baking sheet. --I fit 20 balls on a large baking sheet. They won't expand so you don't need to leave room like you would for baked goods..about an inch apart is acceptable. 

Bake about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Keeps about 2-3 days covered in the fridge.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Homemade Biscuts

The other day I wanted nothing more than to go out to breakfast and sip on some coffee while someone else prepared a delicious and not so nutrious meal to start my day. What can I say? This girl couldn't shake her craving for a ham, egg and cheese biscut...but it was cold and I didn't feel like getting out of my pjs (anyone else have these great ideas before coming back to the reality that you are in fact, not in a hotel and there is no magic man that can be summoned at all hours to bring you you're most wanted cravings that are never, ever actually anywhere in your kitchen?)

So I did what any other girl with a craving would do, I hit the internet and used a variety of biscut recipes to mix together to end up with my first attempt at homemade biscuts. Let me tell you this--I may not be a kitten but I can make some biscuts like nobody's business.

Flakey and buttery and dense enough to stand up to a hearty breakfast, these little nuggets hit the spot and were the perfect canvas for sharp cheddar, honey ham, and a slightly runny yoke.

Homemade Biscuts (breakfast for two..or three)
  • 1 cup flour (+1/4 c for kneading)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 + 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter cold + (1 tbsp melted butter for the tops) 
Getting Started:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Cut in 3 tbsp cold butter or, using your fingers, mix the butter into the dry ingredients..working quickly so the butter doesn't get too soft. The texture should resemble sand or a coarse breadcrumb. 

Stir (I reccommend a floured wooden spoon) in the milk slowly until just combined. Allow to sit about a minute or two. Heavyily flour a piece of wax paper on a flat work surface. Flour your hands and knead the biscut dough into a ball. (It's a little sticky, kind of like this mess was...)

Pat the dough ball down until about 1/2 inch thick. Using a biscut cutter (or in my case, a stemless wine glass) cut out your biscuts and place on an ungreased baking sheet. 

Brush the tops with melted butter and bake for about 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

Split and top with eggs, ham, bacon, or cheese. OR serve alongside this or this

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

hearty corn chowder

Although there was a little bit of a warm up around here yesterday, it's still the heart of soup season and it seems as though I can't get enough. Even on the rare date nights out I'm finding that I'm choosing the soup over salad option almost every time...and I haven't been disappointed yet. I've sampled tomato basil & feta and hearty minestrone versions around town and the weather is still cooling down. 

I've been busy cooking up my own pot and this week was a delicious combination of vegetables and smokey bacon...and I couldn't have been happier with the hearty results.

Corn Chowder (serves 8 generous portions)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 strips of bacon, chopped or diced
  • 3-4 small-medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2c water*
  • 1 extra large vegetable bouillon cube*
  • 2 c milk (any variety will do)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups corn, off the cob (or frozen & thawed)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 tsp hot sauce, like Frank's
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • green onion, for garnish 
*substitute  2 cups chicken broth or 2 cups vegetable broth.

Getting started:
 In a large soup pot cook the bacon over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes until cooked and crispy. Remove the bacon from the pot and drain it on a paper towel.--don't drain the fat from the pot.

Reduce heat to medium and add the onion and bell pepper. Stir and cook about 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the butter and the potatoes and allow to heat about 2 minutes until the butter is melted. Give it all a good stir, then stir in the flour. Cook an additional minute.

Add the broth and cover the pot. Increase the heat to medium high and cook about 5-7 minutes until the potatoes begin to soften and the broth starts to thicken. Stir once or twice during this time.

Reduce heat back down to medium and slowly add in the milk. Once heated through, add the corn. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes , then add in 1-2 tsp of hot sauce depending on how spicy you like it. (1 tsp should be sufficient for just the slightest kick or you can omit this step). Stir in about 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard.

Add the bacon back in and serve with green onions as a garnish and THIS along side.

Friday, November 9, 2012

presenting confetti grey

Today's feast is one for the eyes as I introduce you to the beautiful designs of confetti grey. Talented graphic designer, stylist and new mom, my dear friend Kasey is the brains behind this incredible shop. From custom invitations to quirky favors--confetti grey has everything you need for an unforgettable wedding  and all other beautiful goods you may need throughout the year (um, I want to throw a new party every month just to order some of her designs--I mean that,  or pop out a baby  adopt a new puppy that would need announcing and birthday invitations for the next 20 years...)

From clean and modern to vintage inspired, Kasey creates designs with textures and typefaces that are unique to each event she brands. Brides from all over the country have loved confetti grey so much that the shop has been awarded Bride's Choice Awards from Wedding Wire and has been featured in "Style Me Pretty". 

Here's the real treat, confetti grey is having a HUGE SALE this weekend and you're invited to get some of the good stuff!

Confetti Grey CLEANS HOUSE ♥
Saturday, November 10th
12-3pm EST

 For three hours only, all WHITE or IVORY items {including cocktail napkins, save the dates, wedding invitations, programs + menus} will be 25% OFF!!!
{Print colors are entirely customizable}

check out the confetti grey shop here
and be sure to like it here
and email kasey with any questions at kasey [at] confettigrey [dot] com

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Potato Cakes

Every single time I mash up some potatoes as a side dish, there's always a mound left over. Regardless of if I'm feeding 2 or 8, I just can't seem to eyeball the appropriate portion and then become fearful that I won't have enough and add a little bit extra--because as we're taught from the earliest of days more is always better....right? Well that may not be true for everything but more mashed potatoes sounds like it could always be a good idea--until it's time to actually use the left overs.

My girlfriends and I frequent a local restaurant for Sunday brunch for one single menu item--potato cakes. This isn't your run of the mill potato pancake. It's a ball of fried mashed potatoes, topped with a little sour cream and bell pepper. 

I took this inspiration to the kitchen Sunday morning and tried my own version of these potato cakes. Topped with a poached egg they're the perfect hearty breakfast...and so simple to make.

Potato Cakes (makes 4 cakes)
  • (atleast) 1 cup left over & refrigerated mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1 egg + 1tbsp water
  • 3/4 c panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 c corn meal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
optional toppings:: sour cream//green onions//diced bell pepper//poached or fried egg

Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium high heat --careful not to let it smoke.

Set up an assembly line:: one shallow dish flour, one shallow bowl egg + water beaten, one shallow dish breadcrumbs, cornmeal, salt & pepper well mixed. 

Working 1/4 cup at a time form the potatoes into a ball/ thick cake --(hockey puck anyone?) carefully dredge it in the flour, then dip into the egg and finally coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Add to the oil and pan fry each large side 2-4 minutes until golden brown. *The puck shape works well for frying the small sides about 30seconds-1 minute per "side".

Remove the cakes from the pan and drain on a paper towel. 

Top with your favorite toppings or eat along side your breakfast (or this would be delicious as a side dish for steak!).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Potato Cheddar Soup

So you have probably been sitting on the edge of your seat for about a week now waiting and wondering when this sneak peak would turn into a full fledged post with recipe. Well, friends, the day has arrived. This incredible potato cheddar soup is being featured today on Minted as part of the Foodie Tuesday series.

This soup is the perfect thing to cut the chill of these cool, damp and now darker November days. Leave out the bacon for a hearty and satisfying vegetarian meal or load it up any way you like. Around here we enjoyed it with some crushed up pretzels and a little dollop of sour cream. 

Get the full recipe over here on Minted!

Have you been cooking up soups lately? Are you feeling these cold weather inspired meals?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cheddar Bread

I've taken the challenge this fall to make a new soup every week (soup recipe tomorrow!). The one pot meals are easy for our awkward schedules and can be eaten throughout the week. They are proving to be the perfect solution to the temptations of ordering take-out when just one of us is eating at a time. Regardless of how delicious each new pot of soup might be--let's be honest, the same concept can get a little bit boring, and what happens when you're just too hungry for a single bowl of broth? I picked up this magazine recently and knew that this recipe would be the perfect thing to serve up along side a piping hot bowl of the good stuff.

*I halved the recipe to make just one loaf for us.

Cheddar Bread (one loaf, adapted from RR).
  • 1 3/4 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp butter, room temp & divided 3/1
  • ~1 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • just shy 1c buttermilk (you can use the 1 tbsp white vinegar/1c milk trick!) 
  • 3 tbsp chopped green onions* optional, but delicious.
Mix the flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Using your fingers combine 3 tbsp of the butter into the flour until well worked into a coarse crumb.  Stir in your buttermilk, then cheddar and onions. Pour into a loaf pan and score the top. Divide the remaining 1tbsp butter and place in the scores.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Simplest Mini Apple Pies

Only in the past year or so did I try to tackle baking homemade pies (with the exception of an extremely sweet, dense and sticky pecan pie my dad and I made one afternoon before I reached the age of ten).  I'm still a little apprehensive on attempting the crust myself, but have found (and done some research) that using pre-made pie crust dough is a perfectly acceptable shortcut. By year's end I hope to try the whole thing, crust an all--stay tooned! 

The most disappointing parts of this pie, and this pie--both of which I made in the spring, were the fact that as a whole they were gorgeous, but once we attempted to cut them they became big messes--which tasted delicious but there was still a part of me that was disappointed that they didn't perfectly slice into little wedges. 

I used this recipe from Knit and Bake to make individual apple pies in a cupcake/muffin tin. Single servings that require no cutting are the perfect solution to the messy wedges problem. Plus, pretty much everything looks better in mini-version. These would be perfect for a holiday dessert display or to bring to a dinner party. (or you know for yourself if portion control is needed if you're like me and have a tendency of 'just taking a few bites' from a large pie only to find an empty metal saucer staring at you, knowing you took it just a little too far).

**Don't forget to top with a scoop of ice cream or dollop of whipped cream!

1. Peel and chop 2-3 apples. In a separate bowl, combine 1 tbsp flour, 1/4 c sugar, 1/4 c brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg & pinch of salt. Then add the sugar & spices to the apples until the apples are evenly coated.
 2. Open up your dough and using anything round and just slightly larger than your cupcake tin spaces, cut out 6 rounds of dough. (I used a measuring cup and got 4 rounds before I had to re-roll the dough to get the other two, plus additional for the topping). Spray your cupcake tin with non-stick spray and press a round into each space, making sure to cover the bottom and sides smoothly. Add your apple mixture to each. Using the extra dough, cut out thin strips to use to create the classic lattice across the top of the pie. 

3. Put the cupcake tin on a baking sheet and bake at 375 for about 30 minutes until golden brown on top. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes in the pan before trying to remove them.