When it comes to side dishes everyone in our family loves creamy mashed potatoes. They are a true comfort food that enhances chicken cutlets, flank steak, meatloaf & so much more. On occasion, we make Roasted Garlic Mashed potatoes that are also delicious if you want to step it up a notch. Either way, these mashed potatoes are so creamy and buttery our mouths are watering just writing about them! Enjoy them plain, garnished with some fresh chopped chives or gravy. 😋 😋
2lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled then cut in half and cut in quarters
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt for water
3/4 – 1 cup heavy cream
1 stick salted butter
salt & pepper to taste
Place potatoes in a large saucepan filled with water to generously cover the potatoes. Add 1 Tablespoon kosher salt.
Bring to a full boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook potatoes until fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat & drain well. Place potatoes back into saucepan & return to low heat. Stir potatoes constantly for about 1-2 minutes to dehydrate the potatoes.
Remove potatoes from the heat. Add the butter. Using a handheld masher, mash the butter into the potatoes. Add enough cream & continue mashing until the desired texture is achieved.
Casseroles are a great way to combine your family's favorite vegetables into a one-dish meal that is sure to please. Our family loves eggplant, zucchini, ricotta cheese & mozzarella (among many other foods) so we combined all those ingredients into a delicious casserole? They loved this dish so much that they requested it 3 nights in a row! You can make this casserole with or without sausage because it's just as hardy without it plus you get the added bonus of it being Gluten-Free and Keto friendly if you follow a keto diet. You and your family will love it! 😋😋
2 medium eggplants, firm to touch
2 medium zucchini or summer squash (or 1 of each, personal preference )
1 lb bulk Italian Sweet or Hot Sausage, optional (bulk country sausage can be substituted)
2 pints cherry tomatoes
8-10 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
enough EVOO to lightly coat all the sliced eggplant & zucchini before roasting, plus extra for lightly coating the baking sheet
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to season eggplant & zucchini before roasting
1 cup ricotta (we used whole milk but you can use skim or fat-free if desired)
1/2 beaten egg
2 shakes crushed red pepper (more or less to taste)
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, grated plus extra for between layers
8 oz. mozzarella, grated & divided in half
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped & divided plus a few whole leaves for garnish
Cut the end stems from each end of the eggplant, zucchini or summer squash.
Slice into 1/2-inch thick round pieces.
With a small pastry brush, lightly brush EVOO over both sides of the eggplant and zucchini.
Position your oven racks to upper and lower thirds of your oven.
Preheat oven to 500ºF. Once it reaches 500ºF lower to 425ºF.
On a small rimmed baking sheet (no parchment paper) place tomatoes and unpeeled garlic cloves.
Drizzle 1 Tablespoon EVOO over the tomatoes & unpeeled garlic. Toss with your hands to coat, roast on the top oven rack for 15-20 minutes until tomatoes blister & garlic is soft & caramelized. Remove from oven when done and set aside to cool.
Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and drizzle a very small amount of EVOO in each pan.
Arrange the eggplant slices in a singer layer in one of the pans then arrange the zucchini in the second pan.
Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder over the tops of eggplant & zucchini only.
Using a pastry brush, use 2 Tablespoons or more of EVOO to lightly brush over the eggplant and zucchini slices in both pans (both sides).
Place pan with eggplant on top oven rack and zucchini on middle rack and roast at 425ºF for 15-25 minutes until nicely browned but not burnt. Zucchini might brown before the eggplant so check often as individual oven temperatures vary.
Once browned, use a spatula to flip eggplant & zucchini over. Continue roasting the eggplant & zucchini until brown, about 10 minutes, checking often.
Once done, remove from oven & let cool.
In a medium skillet brown the bulk sausage meat until fully cooked. Drain & set aside in a bowl until ready to begin layering process.
In a medium bowl combine 1 cup ricotta, red pepper flakes, 1/2 beaten egg, 2 Tablespoons chopped basil, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and 6 oz mozzarella. Drizzle a tsp of EVOO and mix with a fork to combine. Add salt to taste.
Remove the cooked garlic cloves from the cooled tomato pan & move to a cutting board. Using a fork, press on the skins to remove the soft, caramelized garlic. The skins can be discarded. Mash the cloves into a paste then add to the ricotta mixture and combine well.
In a shallow 2-qt baking dish drizzle some EVOO on the bottom. Arrange 1/3 of the eggplant & zucchini in a single layer. Add 1/3 the blistered tomatoes and scatter them around. Add a dollop of ricotta evenly over each vegetable section (do not spread, leave dollop as is). Add half the drained cooked sausage and sprinkle on top of ricotta dollops. Sprinkle with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
Tear some of the basil leaves and generously scatter around the first layer.
Repeat step 18 & 19 for the second layer.
Add remaining ricotta mixture on top of the second layer, top with remaining slices of eggplant & zucchini then add the remaining tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with grated Pecorino Roman cheese and top with remaining shredded mozzarella.
Bake approximately 20 – 25 minutes at 425 ºF or until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbling.
Remove from oven. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve.
Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting & serving
Slice the eggplant & zucchini into 1/2″ thick rounds
Place Combination of Eggplant & Zucchini on bottom of 2-qt casserole dish
Add 1/3 of the roasted tomatoes
Add 1/3 ricotta in dollops then sprinkle with chopped basil & top with cooked sausage
Add the second layer
top with remaining ricotta mixture & top with Mozzarella
Notes: 2 large and 1 small rimmed baking sheets are needed for this recipe. We used Neese’s Country Sausage (bulk) in this recipe; however, the meat is optional. Add some sauteed mushrooms if you’re a mushroom lover like Teresa is. Can be served as a main dish (4-5 servings) or a side dish (6-8 servings).
Jasmine rice, with its fragrant characteristic aroma, is a wonderful side dish on its own; however, when we added just a few simple ingredients it exploded with flavor and has become a family favorite. Although Jasmine rice is typically used in Thai cuisine it is equally popular in Middle Eastern cuisine and has become our go-to rice for many side dishes. Although it has a unique fragrance it won't interfere with any cuisine and is delicious.
2 cups Jasmine Rice
3 cups water or chicken broth
1 Tablespoon butter
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 cup EVOO, for sautéeing
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 Red Bell Peppers, seeded and diced
1 Yellow or Orange Bell Pepper, seeded and diced
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen peas
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Add rice, salt, water or broth, and butter in a deep saucepan.
Bring to a boil over high heat.
When it comes to a boil, stir and reduce heat to low. Cover the pan tightly and cook without stirring 18-20 minutes.
Remove from heat. Keep covered and let stand for 10-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
In a large deep skillet or wok heat EVOO until hot.
Sauté onions and bell peppers. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add fresh or frozen peas and continue to cook 3 minutes.
Add the cooked rice to the skillet and stir to combine well on low-medium heat.
Remove from heat and serve.
Notes: The fresher the rice is, the more aroma it will have.
Today my dear friend Valerie Kachura served this delicious cauliflower side dish while hosting our weekly social bridge group. Now, I'm not the biggest fan of cauliflower but I know it has many health benefits so when I saw our good friend Roz's face light up with delight, I knew I had to try it! It was delicious! I think this will be my new favorite side-dish. Thank you, Valerie, for feeding our group so well, and graciously letting me share your recipe. 😋❤
1 large head of cauliflower, rinsed and separated by large florets
1/4 cup pignolis
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground curry powder
1/4 -1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
1/4 tsp. pink Himalayan salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 350°F
In a large bowl combine, cauliflower, olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, and curry powder. Mix well.
Place in a casserole dish and bake 20 minutes until almost done.
Sprinkle pignolis and grated Pecorino Romano cheese over the top of cauliflower.
Place casserole back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes until starting to turn golden brown.
Stuffed Mushrooms Alla Grandma Florence, Gluten-Free
One of the dishes we missed most at the holidays was Grandma Florence's stuffed mushrooms. Wow were they delizioso! 😋 We are excited we nailed it as they taste just like Grandma's did. We're happy to share it with you and hope you enjoy them as much as our family does. These can be served as appetizers, a side dish to a roast, chicken, veal or pasta or a main dish if using large Portobello mushrooms.