Tag Archives: Side Dish

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

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

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Caramelized Brussels SproutsI don’t spend much time writing about vegetables, seeing as this is a baking blog and all.Caramelized Brussels SproutsBut the truth is that I eat a lot of vegetables. A lot. Gotta balance out all the baked goods somehow, you know?

Let’s not discuss how many times I’ve had pie and salad for lunch over the last three weeks. #bakerproblemsCaramelized Brussels SproutsThese Caramelized Brussels Sprouts are one of my fall/winter favorites. They’re basically your standard roasted brussels sprouts with the volume turned up. Plus, they’re super easy to make and have this sweet-salty-herby-spicy thing going on that makes them totally irresistible. Like, good luck getting them from the pan to the table without eating half the batch. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Caramelized Brussels SproutsI make Caramelized Brussels Sprouts for regular weeknights all the time, but they’re also great for dinner parties and holidays. I made them for Christmas dinner last year and they were a huge hit with my whole family! I can’t help but think they’d make a great Thanksgiving side dish, too.Caramelized Brussels SproutsCaramelized Brussels Sprouts are very simple to make. Start by trimming the brussels sprouts and removing any banged-up outer leaves. There’s no need to slice them in half—minimal prep is the name of the game!Caramelized Brussels SproutsPut the sprouts on a baking sheet and toss ‘em with fresh rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt, a little sugar, and olive oil.Caramelized Brussels SproutsRoast the brussels sprouts for 40 minutes, giving the pan a good shake every 15 minutes. The resulting sprouts will have deeply browned (but not burnt!), crispy exteriors and buttery-soft centers.Caramelized Brussels SproutsRemember that “sweet-salty-herby-spicy” thing? Well, add “crispy-buttery.”Caramelized Brussels SproutsAnd maybe “-things-dreams-are-made-of.”
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
makes 6-8 servings

2 pounds whole raw Brussels sprouts, trimmed & kept whole
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, based on your preference
1/2-3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, based on your preference

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine all ingredients on a dry rimmed baking sheet and toss together with clean hands. Spread coated brussels sprouts into one layer.

Roast 40 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes. Brussels Sprouts are ready when the exteriors are deeply browned (but not burnt) and the centers are tender. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts are best the day they are made, but may be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.Caramelized Brussels SproutsCaramelized Brussels SproutsCaramelized Brussels Sprouts

Chorizo Refried Beans & Tex-Mex Rice

Chorizo Refried Beans & Tex-Mex RiceNew York City is an amazing place to live. Beyond the incredible architecture, the millions of bright and driven people, and the general “OMG I live here” of it all, there’s the fact that you can get a bagel with cream cheese a literally any hour. I know you’re jealous.

As I’ve lamented many times though, New York is lacking in one area: there is not one true Tex-Mex restaurant that is worth a damn. Not one. Sure, you can get decent tacos all over the city and I am particularly fond of the mushroom enchiladas at Alma, but those alone simply won’t cut it. And don’t even get me started on the salsa situation.

Chorizo Refried Beans & Tex-Mex RiceI’ve already put a few salsa recipes on here, along with guacamole, Enchiladas Suizas, and this week’s Caramelized Mushroom Tostada recipe, but my recipe index has been lacking in terms of Tex-Mex sides…until today.

Chorizo Refried Beans & Tex-Mex RiceThese Chorizo Refried Beans & Tex-Mex Rice are staples of mine. They’re spectacular by themselves or with a side salad, but they really sing when they’re next to an enchilada or two. The recipes are delightfully easy and come together in about 40 minutes total. I know that making sides can be less than appealing after you’ve already put together a main course, but when they taste this much like home, they’re worth the effort.Chorizo Refried Beans & Tex-Mex Rice

Chorizo Refried Beans
makes 4-6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces raw chorizo, removed from casings
1 large white onion, diced small
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 15 ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/3 cup chicken stock
Kosher or sea salt to taste, optional
1-2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chorizo, breaking it up with a spatula or wooden spoon. Remove meat to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving fat. Set aside.

Reduce heat to medium. Sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in beans and cumin. Add chicken stock and return heat to medium-high heat. Let stock simmer 5-7 minutes, until slightly reduced. Remove pan from heat. Use a potato masher or two forks to mash ingredients together. Fold in browned chorizo.

Remove beans to a serving dish and top with shredded cheese. Serve immediately. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.

Tex-Mex Rice
recipe from Homesick Texan
makes 4-6 servings

1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small white onion, diced small
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
juice of 1/2 lime

Place rice, chicken stock, and butter in a small pot (one that has a lid). Bring uncovered pot to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Let cook 15-20 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Let sit 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and salt. Remove pan from heat. Stir in cooked rice until everything is evenly coated. Fold in chopped cilantro and lime juice.

Serve rice immediately. Leftover rice will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.