Category Archives: Side Dish

Corn Muffins

Corn MuffinsIf you’re thinking “Doesn’t she already have a cornbread recipe on here?” the answer is yes. In fact, I have three. Don’t worry, this isn’t a fourth. Ohhh no. You see, these are corn muffins, not cornbread. Sure, both recipes share a lot of the same ingredients, but I am here to tell you that these corn-centric sides are two different things.Corn Muffins

You read that right. This is not a cornbread recipe, or at least it’s not the cornbread I know. The southern-style stuff I grew up with is super savory, sugarless, grainy and crumbly, while corn muffins are a sweeter, softer, more northern thing—they’re like cornbread and cupcakes had a baby. A sweet little corn muffin baby…or twelve sweet little corn muffin babies, if you want to get specific.Corn Muffins

These evoke everything I love about Jiffy corn muffin mix (the only baking I ever saw my mother partake in), but better and completely from scratch. Sure, they take an extra minute or two since you have to measure everything out before mixing, but that’s really no trouble when the results are this soft, sweet and delicious.Corn Muffins

The secret to really excellent corn muffins? Sour cream. I made eight test batches with whole milk and buttermilk, and while both will work in a pinch, the gorgeous muffins you see here are super moist and tender from rich, tangy full-fat sour cream. It keeps my corn muffins in perfect shape for days after baking—nothing sad or dry here!

Corn Muffins come together with almost no fuss. You’ll see in the recipe that you need some ingredients to be at room temperature, but that’s pretty standard and no real trouble—I routinely get eggs to room temp by putting them in a bowl of warm water and pop milk in the microwave for 30 seconds to take off the chill. The simple truth is that room temperature ingredients combine more evenly than cold ones do; that’s very important in baking. If these tiny steps sound like too much “extra” effort for you, remember that adding cold milk and eggs to melted butter will un-melt (?) it and then you’ll have to start all over again. Talk about a time suck. I promise that all your room temperature-ing will be worth it when you pull a pan of corn muffins from your oven.Corn Muffins

Oooh, y’all. These are pretty irresistible. Soft and corny (in a good way!) with a solid sweet and savory balance, homemade corn muffins are the perfect accompaniment to a roast chicken or chili on a cold night. And, pro tip: should you have leftovers, you should split and toast them with butter and jam for breakfast the next day. Or do what I do and eat them cold, straight out of the fridge in the middle of the night for days on end. Really, you can’t go wrong.Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins
makes 12 muffins

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup milk (preferably whole), room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with cupcake liners, or grease well. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a small-medium mixing bowl (or large measuring cup), whisk together milk, sour cream, butter and eggs. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon just until combined.

Divide batter among muffin cups, about 3 tablespoons each. Carefully tap the pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake for 12-13 minutes.

Remove muffins from the oven and let cool in the pan for five minutes before serving or removing to a rack.

Leftovers will keep well tightly-covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five. Muffins may be double-wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 3 months.Corn MuffinsCorn MuffinsCorn Muffins

Easy Cumin Roasted Beets

Easy Cumin Roasted BeetsI have never been a particularly picky eater, but I have spent the majority of my 35+ years hating beets. Hating them. My mom used to serve pickled beets at least once a week, which meant I had to choke down (and I do mean “choke”) one or two with some regularity until I grew up, moved out, and lived a blissfully beetless existence until three years ago. I’d still be beet-free today if it weren’t for a request for them for a birthday dinner.Easy Cumin Roasted BeetsEasy Cumin Roasted BeetsEasy Cumin Roasted BeetsEasy Cumin Roasted BeetsAs I prepared for this party (remember parties?), I looked online for beet roasting methods and mostly saw the same one: wrap beets in foil, roast them whole, let them cool, rub off the skins with your hands, and slice. It seemed like a lot of time and work for something I couldn’t stand. Instead, I took a gamble and did things the easy way: giving my beets a really good scrub, lopping off the root and tip, slicing them into thick wedges, and roasting them with olive oil, cumin and salt until caramelized.Easy Cumin Roasted BeetsBeing a careful cook, I had to taste the finished beets for seasoning regardless of personal preference, so I scrunched my nose, closed my eyes (?), took a tiny bite and…they were delicious. Earthy and sweet, yes, but also salty, smoky and crisp-edged. I couldn’t believe it—one of my top five all-time least favorite foods! Delicious! Sometimes it just takes the right preparation to change someone’s life (er, palate).Easy Cumin Roasted BeetsNow, I don’t know if I’ve actually changed—you won’t find me eating pickled beets out of the jar anytime soon. But these? I’ve made them at least once a week for the last three years and I freaking love them. They’re so easy and so good, the perfect low-maintenance side dish. I’ll throw a pan of Easy Cumin Roasted Beets in the oven alongside a chicken, serve them with fresh hummus on a casual night in, or pair them with feta and greens for a killer beet salad.Easy Cumin Roasted BeetsDid I just say “killer beet salad”? Maybe I’ve changed after all.Easy Cumin Roasted Beets

Easy Cumin Roasted Beets
makes 6 or so servings

4-5 large beets or 6-7 small-medium beets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2-1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Scrub beets and dry. Some may have a matte brown portion of their skin–wiping them dry with paper towel or lighter-colored towel is best for differentiating between this and remaining dirt. Do not peel.

Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to trim off the roots and tips. Slice them into wedges (I did 8 each on large beets). Pile on a prepared pan and top with olive oil, cumin and salt. Toss with your hands until everything is evenly coated, then scatter them evenly across the pan, taking care to keep them apart. Wash your hands.

Roast 20 minutes. Use a thin spatula to flip the beets over before roasting for 20-25 minutes more. Remove them to a serving dish. Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley, if desired. Serve.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.Easy Cumin Roasted BeetsEasy Cumin Roasted BeetsEasy Cumin Roasted Beets

Honey Butter Drop Biscuits

Honey Butter Drop BiscuitsSouthern-style biscuits are one of my go-to comfort foods. I make them regularly for weekend breakfasts and quick dinner side dishes, and there’s almost always a bag of them in my freezer. I don’t even need to look at the recipes anymore—I know the proportions, methods, times and temperatures by heart. Yep, I’m a biscuit gal, just like my grandma.Honey Butter Drop BiscuitsHoney Butter Drop BiscuitsHoney Butter Drop BiscuitsAll that said, I’ve never really gotten on the drop biscuit train. I guess I thought they were cheating or something—the ingredients and mixing methods are nearly identical, but you don’t have to pat and cut anything, instead scooping the sticky dough directly onto a pan before baking. I suppose that without dirtying a surface or doing extra work I assumed that they were a slightly-less-good version of the “real deal.” But I was wrong. So, so wrong.Honey Butter Drop BiscuitsTurns out, drop biscuits are their own thing entirely. They’re fluffy and tender instead of flaky and layered, and they have these extra crispy-crunchy exteriors with which I am now fully obsessed. And the recipe works with both whole milk and buttermilk, and (!) I don’t have to scrape an invisible layer of butter and flour off of my countertop every time I make a batch. Drop biscuits, where have you been all my life???Honey Butter Drop BiscuitsI won’t lie to you: drop biscuits are not a traditionally beautiful food. They’re scraggly, craggy and have slightly wonky shapes, regardless of whether you use a cookie scoop, a spoon or your hands to dole out dough. They’re super delicious, just a little ugly. Or at least they are until you give them a glossy coat of salty-sweet honey butter.Honey Butter Drop BiscuitsHoney Butter Drop BiscuitsOhhh yes.Honey Butter Drop Biscuits

Honey Butter Drop Biscuits
makes 10-11 medium-large biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar or honey
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
1 cup whole milk or buttermilk, very cold

Honey Butter:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add chilled butter. Using your fingertips (not your palms!) or a pastry blender, cut cold butter into flour mixture until it is roughly the size of peas.

Pour in 1 cup cold buttermilk. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until a sticky, shaggy dough forms.

Scoop dough by the 1/4 cup and drop biscuits a couple inches apart on the prepared pan. Bake biscuits for 12-14 minutes, until they have puffed and are starting to brown.

Make the honey butter. In a small bowl, combine butter, honey and salt. Microwave in 20 second increments, stirring between, until melted together. Brush onto warm biscuits. Serve.

Biscuits are best the day they are made. Leftovers may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days. Biscuits without honey butter may be frozen for up to 3 months.

Honey Butter Drop BiscuitsHoney Butter Drop Biscuits

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet PotatoesI’ve wanted to make Thanksgiving for years and years, but my family usually travels for this holiday. That said, I guess next Thursday is my lucky day…or something. Yes, since traveling is inadvisable at the moment, I am staying put and taking this excuse to make the whole turkey dinner in my apartment. This is obviously not how I imagined my first time making Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s what’s happening. And it might be a little messed up to say this, but I’m kind of excited about it. I mean, I’ll be bummed not to be with my parents, older sister and sister-in-law (and the dogs), and I would definitely like for this period of world history to get over and done, but I am really excited to make Thanksgiving.

The menu is still in the tentative planning phase, but I know for sure that I am making J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Turchetta and smaller batches of the cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce and caramelized Brussels sprouts from my archives. Oh, and the best dang Mashed Sweet Potatoes you can get anywhere.Mashed Sweet PotatoesI can’t believe I’ve made it this many years without posting this recipe.

Creamed Kale? ✅
Dinner rolls? ✅
Two kinds of stuffing? ✅✅
Every cheesy appetizer under the sun? ✅✅✅✅✅
Mashed Sweet Potatoes? ❌

Truly, it’s bonkers. When I first moved to New York a thousand thirteen years ago, these were my go-to contribution to various Thanksgivings and holiday dinners, and they were a hit on every table they graced. These are seriously the *best* holiday sweet potatoes ever. Marshmallows be damned. (But not really.)Mashed Sweet PotatoesMashed Sweet PotatoesMy mom got the original recipe from her friend, Amy, and then passed it on to me. I’ve twisted the it a little since then, but only a little, because they were already pretty dang perfect. The secret? An entire brick of cream cheese and an entire stick of butter. Yes, I know that’s a lot of dairy and a lot of dense calories, but this recipe also makes a lot of sweet potatoes. Please resist the urge to cut back or use low-fat ingredients—it’s just not worth the effort without the real deals. This is holiday food, not everyday food (although I would never judge you for eating them with every meal for four days straight…ahem).Mashed Sweet PotatoesAs you might imagine, these Mashed Sweet Potatoes are…beyond. Beyond creamy. Beyond delicious. So beyond that it’s simply beyond me why anyone wouldn’t throw these on next week’s menu right now.Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
barely adapted from my mom’s friend, Amy
makes 10-12 servings

4 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed & peeled, diced into 1-inch pieces
cold water, to cover sweet potatoes
2 1/2–3 teaspoons teaspoons Kosher or sea salt, divided
1 8-ounce brick full-fat brick-style cream cheese, cut into pieces
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
chopped parsley, for garnish

Place diced sweet potatoes in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add salt and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-high and let simmer until sweet potatoes are fork tender. Remove from heat.

Carefully drain water by pouring sweet potatoes through a colander. Return sweet potatoes to the hot pot. Use a potato masher to begin to break up sweet potatoes. Add all pieces of cream cheese and butter, along with 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mash to combine, using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to scrape down the sides of the pot as necessary. Do not over-mash. Taste for seasoning, then stir in more salt by the 1/2 teaspoon and pepper as desired.

Remove to a serving dish and serve immediately with chopped parsley, if desired. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If you’d like to make Mashed Sweet Potatoes ahead, spread them into a medium-sized casserole dish. Let cool completely, cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. The next day, remove them from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Then place covered dish in a 350F oven for 30-40 minutes, until hot. Serve.Mashed Sweet PotatoesMashed Sweet Potatoes

Creamed Kale with Crispy Breadcrumbs

Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsYou may not be able to tell from the bevy of desserts I post every week, but I am a huge proponent of eating your greens. Almost every meal I make for myself involves a huge bed of arugula. Yes, for real.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsThat said, on Thanksgiving, there are so many sides that leafy greens can get lost in the mix or left out entirely. To that, I counter this: Creamed Kale with Crispy Breadcrumbs. It’s the sort of “eat your greens” situation that is absolutely welcome sidled up to cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, and Fluffy Dinner Rolls.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsThis is a vegetable side dish that stretches the meaning of the word “vegetable.” Yes, there is kale in there—a lot of it—but it’s coated in a sauce of butter, heavy cream, milk, cream cheese and parmesan, and topped with buttery breadcrumbs. Dietetic, this is not. On Thanksgiving, though, who cares? If there were ever a day for eating a creamy, cheesy, crispy-topped side and calling it a serving of vegetables, this is the one.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsIf you’re wondering why I used kale here instead of going for classic creamed spinach, the answer is simple: kale’s texture holds up. Even after the blanching, shocking, sautéing, saucing, and baking, it still has texture. It contrasts perfectly with the crispy breadcrumbs instead of getting lost in the cheesy sauce. And it’s pretty. And I just *like* kale.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsNow, I know that adding one more thing to your Thanksgiving menu is never something to be taken lightly. Time and energy are at a premium at the holidays! Luckily, Creamed Kale with Crispy Breadcrumbs is perfect for making ahead. You can stir together the creamed kale part of the equation a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate it. When you’re ready to serve, top it off with the breadcrumb mixture and bake until brown, bubbly, and so creamy and wonderful that even I—a person who has written repeatedly about loathing cream sauce—can’t resist.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsLooking for something a little lighter? Try my Caramelized Brussels Sprouts!

Creamed Kale with Crispy Breadcrumbs
makes 6-8 servings

Creamed Kale:
2 lbs lacinato kale (curly kale works too)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2-3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 ounces full-fat brick-style cream cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

Breadcrumb Topping:
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (or other plain breadcrumbs)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (~1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400F. Bring a large (6 quart) pot of water to a boil over high heat.

Wash and dry kale. Remove and discard the ribs. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice kale into 1/2-inch ribbons.

Fill a large bowl with ice water.

When the pot of water comes to a boil, salt it liberally. Add kale and let cook about 1 minute (until bright green). Remove kale and plunge it directly into the ice water. This method is called blanching & shocking.

Line a sheet pan (or a few plates) with paper towels. Once kale is cool (a few minutes), remove it from the water and place on paper towel-lined pan. Blot with more paper towels to remove excess water.

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I used the same one I used for the kale) over medium heat. Add butter and allow to melt. Sauté onion 5-7 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in kale, followed by nutmeg, salt & pepper. Stir in heavy cream, milk, and cream cheese. Turn heat up to medium-high and let cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, or until cream cheese has melted and sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Grease an 8-inch casserole dish. Fill with creamed kale.

Make breadcrumbs. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and melted butter. Add Parmesan. Scatter mixture over the top of the kale. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.

Serve warm. This is best the day it is made, but may be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to three days. Breadcrumbs will soften over time, but may be re-crisped in the oven.

To make ahead: after transferring creamed kale to a casserole dish, press plastic wrap to the surface and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When ready to bake, make breadcrumb mixture and scatter it over the top. Bake at 400F until bubbly and golden, about 30 minutes.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy Breadcrumbs