Archive for Sides

Loaded Mash Cauliflower

This recipe was created when I had ingredients leftover from the Mini Pull Apart Bread recipe. I already had the ingredients chopped, meats cooked and I had cauliflower in my refrigerator.  It dawned on me that this recipe would actually be great for your party for those who are gluten free and couldn’t enjoy the pull apart breads.


  • 2 heads cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1  cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 stick of butter, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ( or other  cheese) 
  • Any toppings desired


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place cauliflower in a large pot and  add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 12-15 minutes or until very tender. Drain water and transfer back to the pot.  Using a potato masher, mash cauliflower with milk, parmesan cheese, butter and seasonings.  Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed.  Transfer to a greased baking dish. Top with cooked meats, cheese, vegetables or herbs. 

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and top is golden brown.


Valentine’s Day Dinner: Cornish Hens with Wild Rice

Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, so restaurants will most likely be a little hectic.   So plan a romantic at-home date and treat your Valentine with a home cooked meal made with love featuring Cornish Hens, Wild Rice with Mushrooms and Green Beans Almondine.

Wine Pairing:

Game birds tend to have earthy flavors that are more robust than chicken and as this meal has mushrooms,  red wine with earthy aromas such as Pinot Noir will pair best.  I would recommend Pinot Noir from Oregon with flavor profiles such as cherry, raspberry, truffle and mushrooms.

Cornish Game Hen 

A Cornish game hen is a young chicken weighing less than 2 pounds.  It’s normally cooked in the same manner as chicken and the most popular method of cooking is roasting, with or without stuffing.


  • Aromatics such as onion, garlic & lemon adds  flavor to the meat as it cooks and also prevents from getting dry
  • If baking more than 2 hens, do not over crowd the baking sheet as the skin will not turn crispy if too close together
  • Roasting at a higher temperature the first 20-25 minutes results a crispier skin. You can omit this step and roast in 375 degrees F for the entire duration if desired.


  • 2 Cornish hens
  • 1  onion, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 springs, fresh rosemary or other herbs ( optional)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove and discard necks and giblets from hen; rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.


Place hens on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or roasting pan.  Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper

Place sliced lemon, onion, garlic and rosemary into each cavity of hen. Tuck the wing tips under the body of the hens.


Roast for 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue to roast for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. 

Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving or slicing. Discard aromatics in the cavity before transferring to a serving plate.

Wild Rice with Mushrooms

Wild Rice


  • 2-3 cups cooked wild rice (prepare rice according to package directions)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced ( shiitake, cremini, button, etc) 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup dried cherries or cranberries ( optional)   
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: green onions, parsley, etc 


Heat butter in a skillet and sauté mushrooms over medium heat until golden.


Add garlic and dried fruit and continue to sauté for a few minutes. Add cooked rice to skillet and mix well. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish as desired.   

Green Beans Almondine 

Green Beans Almondine


  • 1 pound of green beans, root ends removed
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper


Cook green beans in a large pot of salted water until crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water  to stop the cooking process. Dry thoroughly with a kitchen towel/paper towel. 

(Tip: the above step can be done the day before and stored in the refrigerator)

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add almonds and sauté for a few minutes until browned.


To the skillet, add cooked green beans, lemon zest/juice, salt and pepper and toss to coat, continuing to cook beans for a few minutes, until tender.

Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. 

Quinoa and Spinach Bake

This quinoa and spinach bake is not only easy to make but also gluten free and vegetarian if you’re looking for a healthier option.   What I love about this dish is that you can add whatever vegetables you have on hand and can make it as healthy, cheesy or creamy as you want by adjusting the ingredients to your preference. This can be served as a main dish or a side dish and makes great leftovers.


  • 3 cups quinoa, cooked according to directions ( 1 cup dry quinoa)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Optional vegetables such as peppers, zucchini, artichokes, broccoli, etc 
  • 1 lb fresh spinach leaves ( or  bag of frozen spinach, defrosted and liquid squeezed out)
  • 1-2 cups cheese ( parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar, etc)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (can substitute with milk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook for a few minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute.  Add any other vegetables desired such as peppers, zucchini, artichokes,  etc and sauté for a few minutes. 


Add spinach and cook until it shrinks down in size. 



Turn off heat and add in cooked quinoa, cheese, yogurt (or milk)  salt and pepper and stir until combined.



Place mixture into greased baking dish and sprinkle additional cheese on top, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Quinoa Casserole

Holiday Yam Recipes (aka Sweet Potatoes)

Every family has their signature yam dish and my family is no different. If there is one dish that is a must during the holidays for my daughter is my candied yam recipe.   I try to add different side dishes each year but I always know that this dish has to be included in our Thanksgiving and Christmas meal no matter what!

I included two yam recipes below, with one using canned yams.   I use  the word “yams” instead of “sweet potatoes” as what we use for these dishes are actually yams and not sweet potatoes.

When buying yams at the store  here is how you can tell if you’re buying yams or sweet potatoes.  These two look the same from the outside but as you can see, when I scrape the skin, the left is a orange color (yams) and the right is a white color (sweet potatoes). The store signs can be confusing so make sure you check the inside and not rely on how it looks outside It’s also doesn’t help that when you see items on a menu like sweet potato fries, it’s actually yams (orange color). I guess  “yam fries”  doesn’t sound so appealing 🙂



And if you notice on the canned version, it states sweet potatoes but below, it’s description states yams.


You can use either yams or canned yams for the two recipes below. Both of these recipes are so simple, requiring  few ingredients but so yummy!


Serves 6-8

Roasted Yams with Honey





  • 4-5 yams,  peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3-4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice ( or cinnamon  and nutmeg)
  • 1 teaspoon salt and pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons honey


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place yams on a baking sheet. Drizzle oil, pumpkin pie spice, salt and pepper and honey over yams. Toss with your hands and lay in a single layer. Roast 25 to 30 minutes or until tender.




Candied Yams  




  • 1 (29oz) can yams ( sweet potatoes)
  • 1 stick of butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice ( or cinnamon and nutmeg)
  • 1/2  cup brown sugar


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place yams in a baking dish. Drop butter pieces evenly over the yams. Sprinkle brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice.


Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until yams are tender.

Balsamic Glazed Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta

Brussel  sprouts….love them or hate them, but it will most likely make an appearance at one of  your holiday dinners you attend this year.  If you are not fond of brussel sprouts, try them with this  pancetta and balsamic glaze version and you may surprise yourself and switch over to the love side…..ok  maybe “like”  🙂

Serves 6-8

  • 1 ½  pounds  Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved through the core
  • 4 oz. pancetta, cut into ¼ inch cubes
  • 3- 4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt and pepper
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place Brussels sprouts and pancetta on a baking sheet ( I used diced pancetta from Trader Joes). Add olive oil, salt and pepper and toss with your hands. Spread out the mixture in a single layer.

Roast 20 to 25 minutes or until sprouts are tender and pancetta is browned, tossing once during roasting to ensure even cooking.


While the sprouts are roasting, add balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook it for 15 to 20 minutes, or until thick.

Remove sprouts from oven and place on a serving dish. Drizzle balsamic glaze over top.

Toss, serve and enjoy!!