Category: sides

Grilled Butternut Squash

While I was in Rhode Island this weekend, I went to a local farm to pick up some vegetables to go with dinner.  They had the usual corn, zucchini, and tomatoes which you’d expect at the end of summer.  But I also spotted a wagon full of butternut squash and it hit me like a ton of bricks that fall is truly right around the corner.



Luckily, this recipe for Garlic-Balsamic Grilled Butternut Squash helped to ease the transition between seasons.  The butternut squash is peeled and sliced, and then marinated in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and thyme.  The slices are thrown on the grill just like any other vegetable, although they do take a bit more time to get tender.



Although butternut squash is a symbol of fall, the grill marks make this a summer time recipe, or at least one you can enjoy while you sit outside and try to forget that the days are getting shorter.



Toasted Orzo

My Mom made Toasted Orzo earlier this summer, back when we had the Kale with Grilled Sausage and White Beans.  It reminded me of years ago when we used to make Rice-a-Roni, though she might kill me for saying that.  While I do like rice, I actually like orzo even more.

I found this recipe which is incredibly simple, and makes a perfect batch.  You brown the orzo in a saucepan with a bit of olive oil, and then simmer it covered for 10-15 minutes with the broth of your choice.  I generally use Knorr’s Vegetable Broth, but you can use chicken bouillon if you’d prefer.  If you’d like to reduce the amount of sodium, you can use half broth and half water.  If a bottle of white wine is already open, you could add a splash of that too.



This side dish complements almost any meal, and is so much better than any San Francisco treat.

Crockpot Baked Beans with Bacon

My favorite recipe for Baked Beans is a vegetarian one, but we were at a family party a few weeks ago and had an amazing version with bacon.  My Mom tracked down the details, and it turns out to be an old family recipe.  I hate to tinker with tradition but the original recipe used a pound of real bacon and I was convinced that you could get the same smoky flavor with much less.  I also wanted to convert it to a crockpot recipe since oven space is a precious commodity when you are cooking for a crowd.

This recipe was easy to put together, and makes a lot of baked beans.  Good thing we had that much, because they turned out to be quite a hit at the party.  In fact, there was only a large spoonful left at the end of the night.  I like using a mix of beans, but you can use whatever you happen to have on hand.  I am not ready for summer to be over, but if you must have an ‘end of summer’ BBQ, you might want to give these a try.




Crockpot Baked Beans with Bacon

12 oz. turkey bacon, such as Oscar Mayer
2 (15 oz.) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 (15 oz.) cans light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (26 oz.) jar pasta sauce
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce

Cook bacon in a frying pan until crispy.  Cool slightly and crumble.  Add crumbled bacon, beans, and sauce to the crockpot and stir well.  Cook on High for 3-4 hours, then turn to Low until ready to serve.

Paula Deen’s Sweet Potato Bake

These sweet potatoes are deliciously addictive – we just had to keep going back for one more spoonful!  This Paula Deen recipe also uses basic ingredients: sweet potatoes, sugar, butter, cream, and spices, plus a topping with more butter, sugar, and walnuts.  There was talk of this being a good Thanksgiving side dish, and while I agree, I would almost rather have these when they can be the star of the show.  The dish is rich and decadent, and deserves it’s own holiday!






Roasted Cabbage Wedges

My nod to St. Patricks’s Day this year doesn’t include corned beef, or turnip, or the amazing mint brownies that my Mom used to make.  I did make Irish bread a couple of weeks ago, but never got around to baking another loaf.  This year I picked up a head of cabbage and tried something completely different, using this Martha Stewart recipe as a guide.

I cut the head of cabbage into 1″ slices, and then brushed them with olive oil, Garlic Gold, salt, and pepper.  I put them in the oven at 375F for about 30 minutes, and they were done.  In fact, a few slices got very crispy at the edges.  This cabbage recipe has a lot more ‘life’ than the traditional method of boiling it all day.  If you’ve been turned off by the pale boiled leaves, you might give cabbage another try with this recipe.  It may not be authentically Irish, but it’s very good.





Fig and Cranberry Compote

My sister brought two additions to the Thanksgiving table this year, my new nephew and this Fig and Cranberry Compote from Real Simple.





I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the compote before dinner because it was too hectic, and this is all that was left after dinner.  I was really surprised that this recipe only got 2 stars on the Real Simple website, because we all loved it.  The fresh cranberries are sweetened with both figs and honey, but the final product is still quite tart.  Perhaps other people prefer a sweeter cranberry sauce, but we thought this was the perfect complement to turkey.  Both additions will be back at the Thanksgiving table next year!