Category Archives: Side Dishes

Sweet Potatoes In Red Wine

Sweet Potatoes in Red WineI attended a Wine and Food Pairing where Chef Doris Koplin was hosting a Thanksgiving Feast. This was an amazing twist to the traditional casserole of sweet potatoes. I was surprised how simple the recipe was.

Here is what I did:

I peeled and chopped one sweet potato per person.

I poured one bottle of Pinot Noir to a deep pan then added the potatoes.

After simmering for a time, I added a few heaping teaspoons of brown sugar. (One may add more if sweeter flavoring is preferred)

Simmer for about 30 minutes until tender by the poke of a fork.

Using a slotted spoon I removed the potatoes to a serving bowl.

Personally, I would not serve this if everyone is expecting a casserole. Thanksgiving is a day when people want tradition and keeping your family happy is primary. So, I served this before the holiday with pork tenderloin and a side dish of peas and caramelized onions.


Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasted Root Vegetables

Stop! Take a moment and breathe in the aromatic, roasted flavors of root vegetables permeating throughout the house. What a great way to begin the Holiday Season.

The Holiday Season always seems a stressful time to many, me included. There was a time during my OCD, Martha Stewart phase, when I never put the broom away after Halloween. It wasn’t too many holidays before I learned the season wasn’t stressful at all. It’s people who are stressful. We embed in our minds, a Norman Rockwell setting. When it doesn’t happen, we bug out.

The reality is, one can’t make the people in their life cooperate the way one envisions a gathering of people should act, react or get along. Society today is more relaxed. I mean, who goes to dinner at someone’s home wearing a coat and tie?

When people gather, be it family or friends, egos should be left at the entrance. Conversations should ensue, hopefully with much laughter and less arguing and mutual respect towards opposition.

The best thing I’ve learned from those broom ravaging days is to… park the stick in the closet. Chaos happens, embrace it. Prepare as much as you can ahead and let happen what happens.

Life is short, and time is precious. Norman Rockwell or Martha Stewart may have painted or decorated a picture perfect Holiday for a magazine, but remember…, magazines never show the aftermath. In the end, it is the people who want to sit at your dinner table that matters. They don’t come expecting perfect. Don’t make them feel obligated to grace your presence.

With this preamble, I vow:
1) I will not worry whether the decorations are abundant. I’ll keep it simple this year.
2) I will clean the house ahead of time and not the morning of.
3) I will not waste time setting a Martha Stewart table because formal is just not my family. After all, when the dishes are cleared, the tablecloth looks like a murder scene from a Stephen King novel.
4) I will prepare ahead what I can, and have on hand pre-mixed, pre-packaged ingredients for those last minute changes or additions to the meal or dessert.
5) I will not take this day to change tradition and try out a new dish I saw on someone’s blog or Southern Living or Food Network. My family waits all year for the traditional dishes, so I’ll keep them happy. There are 360+ days throughout the year new dishes can be served.
6) No longer will I obsess over buying local or from afar, leaving a carbon footprint or making everything from scratch. Just get the food on the table. Everyone’s endured the aromas of a roasting turkey, caramelized onions, and pies; they’re hungry.
7) Cleanup will happen as it happens, despite cleaning as I cook, there will always be a messy kitchen.
8) I will buy containers for leftovers so everyone will have something to take home.
9) I will have on hand antacid meds for those who over indulge.
10) When everyone is gone, I will sit in front of the fire with a fabulous glass of Pinot Noir and smile that I effortlessly pulled off a stress free Holiday Gathering without the aid of my broomstick.

Here is what I do with Roasted Root Vegetables: inspired from Martha Stewart 

I buy…
a small package of cipolline onions or one whole yellow onion
2 large turnips
1 celeriac root
10 baby carrots
3 new potatoes
3 leeks
2 parsnips
6-8 brussels sprouts

I preheat my oven to 400°.
I peel the paper from the cipolline and leave whole. I also left the baby carrots whole, I cut off the top 2/3 of the leeks including the roots of the leeks. I remove any greens and cut in quarters the remainder of all the other root vegetables with the exception of brussels. I peel the outer leaves and trim off the stem. Then, I place all on a baking sheet pan, brush with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and sprinkle a healthy pinch of salt and pepper.
I roast in the oven for approximately 25 minutes.

Baby Carrot and cipolline onionWhat to do with these lovely roots you ask?  I have roasted these root vegetables in a pan under the Turkey in past years. The aroma adds to the flavor of the Turkey. When the turkey is done, I run the wilted roots and juices from the turkey through a sieve and add the liquid remnants to the gravy.

Or, another way to enjoy these delectable goodies is in the form of a soup or stew.

If I add roasted roots to a pot of vegetable stock, I will continue cooking for 20 minutes. When I do this, I toss in three whole tomatoes, and a leafy green such as Swiss Chard or Collards. (I remove the stems as they tend to be bitter).  I make sure to add herbs such as bay leaf, oregano and thyme, and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper.  As always I taste for further seasoning.

Sometimes, I cook up some Arborio Rice and spread the goodness. Use this as a side dish or the entrée.

Now relax. The holidays are just another day on the calendar. Enjoy your family and friends.



Pan Seared Halibut and Pineapple Skewers

Pan Seared Halibut and Pineapple Skewers

If you have followed my blog with recent entries, you know I enjoy assisting Chef’s who demonstrate or teach hands on classes at The Cook’s Warehouse. I’ve come away with so many tips and lessons on cooking and of course, great recipes. This dish just happens to be a derivative of one of many recipes I’ve collected.  Taken from a private, hands on party taught by Chef Rosemary Rutland, who was recently awarded “Personal Chef of the Year”. Chef Rosemary used Salmon and dried Ancho Chile Peppers. I changed the recipe up a bit to suit my husband and me.

This can be served as an appetizer or even as a main course, served over Arborio Rice or a bed of succulent greens.

Here’s what I did…

I collected Ingredients of…

1 pound thick halibut, sliced into 1-inch cubes
1 small pineapple, cut into 1-inch cubes
wooden or metal skewers, 6-8 inch long
2 tablespoons canola oil
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

1/4 teaspoon dried Ancho chili pepper or more to taste
1 garlic clove, grated or minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
pinch of salt or squirt of lemon

I heated a skillet on medium-low, then added oil just to coat bottom of pan.  I cooked to translucent, the onion, and then I tossed in the garlic for only 20 seconds.

Meanwhile in a large bowl, I poured cider vinegar, added the brown sugar, along with the dried chili pepper and stirred well. When the onion and garlic were cooked, I added these to the bowl of sugar and vinegar. Then, I took my handy emulsifier and gave it a whirl. I always taste and then add a pinch of salt if necessary or a squirt of lemon juice for a “pow” factor.

My oven is Preheated to 400°F.

I thread one halibut cube and one pineapple cube onto each skewer, repeating this method to the end of the skewer. Brush with glaze.  I use the same skillet as for the onion and garlic adding just a bit more oil. Then I place the skewers in the heated skillet, searing briefly (about 1 minute) to color each side.

Now I remove from the skillet and place on a baking sheet, cover with foil, and heat through in the oven for 5 minutes.

Now you have a taste of the tropics.



Kale, To Massage or Not To Massage

Kale Salad

I’ve never really been a great fan of Kale until recently. Kale has always been somewhat bitter. I was enjoying a wonderful evening with friends, pairing wines with food at The Cook’s Warehouse, where one of my favorite chefs, Nancy Waldeck was hosting her monthly Taste Club event. A Kale salad was served and I was surprised how delicious it was.

I asked Chef if she massaged her kale and she explained the reasons not to, “remove the stems”. I thought…well, removing each stem would be less or the same amount of time spent massaging the kale that included the stems, so why not?

I served the kale to my husband and he loved it.

Here is what I did….

I bought a “bunch” of Kale, washed and removed the stems. I rolled the leaves and sliced chiffonade style.
I grabbed a beautiful red apple, removed the seeds and diced it.
Then, I tossed in a handful of golden raisins.
I topped the salad with a garnish of pecan pieces.
To complete it, I drizzled a vinegar/oil mixture over the salad.

Thank you Chef Nancy for the delicious recipe idea and convincing me massaging is not necessary.

Enjoy readers,

Stewed Cabbage and Spicy Apples

Stewed Cabbage and Spicy Apples

Cabbage is coming to fruition and Apples are being harvested and brought to market now with more to come.  The autumn brings many new flavors of comfort with the heady aroma of spices stewing in a pot of cabbage and apples.

We’ve had several days here in North Georgia experiencing cooler weather, presenting us with a taste of autumn. We can open the windows at night and leave open through late morning. With this game teaser from Mother Nature, I’m always ready for that first pot of stewed cabbage and spicy apples.

I inhale the intoxicating blend of freshly ground coriander, cinnamon and hint of grated nutmeg bringing together the earthy taste in cabbage and the sweetness of Gala Apples.

head of cabbage

It helps to have your neighbor toss a head of cabbage at you as you drive by, then stop at your local orchard and pick your own apples.  They’re barely out of the ground and off the trees and you’ve put them in a pot for dinner.

Apples from Mercier Orchards







This a short and easy recipe.

One head of cabbage, cored and quartered
Three Apples of choice, cored and halved
One Sweet Onion, Vidalia preferably, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

In a 5 quart pot fill with vegetable stock or water 3/4 full. Add ingredients above and cook on medium for 30 minutes or less depending on your acquired taste for texture. Cook longer and it’s mush. Be certain to taste and add more spice or salt as needed.

Serve with a seared spicy pork loin and compliment with a beautiful dry Riesling, preferably of German Vintage.