Garlic and Ginger Green Beans

As regular readers to this blog are aware, I’m not the biggest fan of veggies, especially green beans. I’ve had far too many boiled to death. However, even I like these. They are quickly parboiled and then stir fried so they keep their structural integrity. Once you add in the spicy garlic and ginger sauce and they become finger licking good (mainly because I’m a barbarian and didn’t use a fork to eat them).

This is a super quick preparation, so have everything set out and close to hand and the rest of the meal ready to go.

Very intense flavor and so good and crunchy.

Garlic and Ginger Green Beans

1 pound green beans, trimmed 
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry 
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like more heat)
1 tablespoon peanut oil or canola oil

Bring a pot of water to a boil, season with salt and add the green beans. Boil 1 minute, drain and rinse with cold water, then place on a kitchen towel to dry thoroughly. Wet vegetables added to the hot pan will splutter and braise instead of stir-frying. Combine the soy sauce and wine or sherry in a small bowl or measuring cup. Place the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in another small container and stir to combine. Make sure all these additions are in easy reach before you start stir frying.

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or a 12-inch skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Add in the oil by pouring it to the sides of the pan and swirling the pan. Add the garlic and ginger, stir-frying for no more than 10 seconds, and then add the green beans. Toss together until the beans are well coated, then add the soy sauce and sherry/rice wine and stir-fry for one to two minutes, until the beans are crisp-tender. Remove from the heat and serve.

Dressing Patties

My family used to fight over the corners of the pan of dressing, as those have the crunchiest crust. Then, mom decided to form the dressing into patties and bake them so everyone gets to enjoy their own crunchy bites. I’ve decided to share the recipe to help bring peace to more families this Thanksgiving.

When I’m in the south for the holiday, I make my dressing with a package of Pepperidge Farm Classic Stuffing. When I’m on the West Coast, I like using the sourdough stuffing from Boudin Bakery in San Francisco.

With everything else going on during food prep for Thanksgiving, I make things easy on myself and instead of dicing onion and celery, I use a frozen seasoning blend of onion, bell peppers and celery. Two generous cups of Pictsweet Farms Seasoning Blend is perfect for the patties.

Crunchy and delicious, these can easily be made in advance of your gathering and just warmed up before serving. Also, I like using the leftovers to make awesome Thanksgiving po-boys with cranberry sauce, turkey and a little gravy.

Dressing Patties


1 package Pepperridge Farm Classic Stuffing or Boudin Sourdough Stuffing
4 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 cups seasoning blend of onions, celery and bell pepper or 1 large onion (1 cup diced) plus 3 stalks celery (1 cup diced)
2 cups chicken broth

Heat butter or olive oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes. Add in the celery and sauté for another 10 minutes or until very tender. If using the seasoning mix, toss in two generous cups and sauté for 10 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add in the stuffing. Mix gently.

Once the dressing is warm enough to handle, form into 12 patties. Place on wire racks on a rimmed baking sheet. Patties can be baked immediately or covered and held overnight in the refrigerator.

Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 30-40 minutes.

Smashing Good Potatoes

I served smashed potatoes with lunch the other day and they were sooo good I just had to share. I used the pretty, multi-color ones but small Yukon gold potatoes, little new potatoes or fingerlings work just as well.

I make rosemary salt by chopping fresh rosemary and mixing it with coarse kosher salt in a two parts fresh rosemary to one part kosher salt ratio. Stored in an airtight jar, it lasts for months and you can refresh it by adding more fresh rosemary.

This is one of my go-to side dish recipes. The smashed potatoes are crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.

Smashed Potatoes

2 lbs small potatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary salt

Place washed potatoes in a saucepan of cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Boil potatoes for about 10-15 minutes until fork tender. Larger potatoes will take longer.

While potatoes boil, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Drain potatoes and return to the saucepan to dry in the residual heat. Pour on the olive oil and sprinkle the rosemary salt over the potatoes. Stir to combine and then place on a lightly oiled, rimmed baking sheet. Use the bottom of a glass to crush the potatoes onto the baking sheet – they don’t need to be squashed flat, just pressed until they pop. Roast for 30-40 minutes (the longer the cook, the crisper the outside will get), flipping them halfway through to brown both sides.

Grilled Sweet Potatoes

I was grilling some Boston butt country style ribs and decided to use the long cook time to grill a sweet potato, too. It is sort of a misnomer as they aren’t really ribs but they take a fairly long cook to melt the collagen so I had about 2 hours of grilling time to play with.

If you’re concerned about the fat, toss the potatoes in olive oil instead of butter.

This method adds delicious flavor to the potatoes plus the addition of smoke, raises things up a level. In fact, I baked an extra sweet potato to completion on the grill (a little over an hour) and then removed it from the skin and mashed it up to put in a later recipe (like mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato biscuits or sweet potato pancakes). Freeze in 1 cup amounts in a zip top bags so you’re ready to go when the urge for sweet potato hits.

Grilled Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried rosemary (1 tablespoon if using fresh)
½ teaspoon salt

Wash the sweet potatoes. Set up the grill for indirect grilling by placing a chimney full of white hot coals along one side. While the fire is at its hottest, place the sweet potatoes between the meat and the hot coals. Grill for 30 minutes.

Remove the sweet potatoes from the fire.

Cut into rounds and peel. Place in a bowl with the butter. Once it has melted, stir to coat the sweet potato rounds. Sprinkle on the brown sugar, rosemary and salt and stir again.

When there are 30 minutes left on the meat cooking, return the sweet potato rounds to the grill. I placed them on a grill pan, in two rows with the thickest rounds in the first row and the smaller in the next. If your grill grates are close enough together, you can place them directly on the grill.

Set the sweet potatoes almost but not over the coals and grill for 30 minutes more.

They are done when tender. Serve warm.

Lemon and Caper Lentils

We are having salmon for dinner tonight and I decided we’d have lentils with the filets. My recipe for salmon is HERE – don’t worry if you don’t grill, the recipe works just as well when baked for 15 – 20 minutes in a 375 degree F oven instead.

This side dish is easy to make while you prepare the rest of the meal and, since lentils pack a punch of protein, fiber and minerals like iron and folate, you’re getting a terrific health benefit from adding them to your diet. Perfect for when you’re feeling tired and run down from a busy Mardi Gras season or the latest political news!

The lentils are full of earthy goodness with a fresh taste from the lemon and capers and offer a lovely bed for the fish.

I hope you make some for dinner soon!

Lemon and Caper Lentils

2 ½  cups water
1 cup lentils
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In 2-quart saucepan, combine water, lentils, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain lentils and return to pan; cover to keep warm.

In a skillet, add onion and the rest of the salt and cook 10 minutes or until golden. Add broth and capers; heat to boiling. Boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add lentils to skillet and heat through. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice.

Mushrooms with Lemon and Garlic

I love sautéed mushrooms and this recipe simmers them in a dark rich sauce that goes really well with the roasted chicken I served with them (the recipe for the chicken can be found HERE).

Reduce the lemon juice, if you don’t want them too tangy but all my guests loved them as is. Aleppo style pepper has less heat than red pepper but adds a lovely flavor to the dish.

Mushrooms with Lemon and Garlic

4 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound button or other mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup sherry
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Aleppo style pepper or red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms have given up their liquid and are beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the lemon juice, sherry, Worcestershire sauce and pepper to the pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid is nearly evaporated. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if necessary.

 

Updated Cornbread Sticks Recipe Plus Cornbread Dressing

After a long day of prepping my house for termite fumigation, I was craving cornbread. We had a gallon bag of corn on cobs from the freezer that Michelle needed to cut off, so I got her to give me about a cup of the kernels. I then pulled down the cast iron cornbread stick pans and started making cornbread.

Soften some unsalted butter as the cornbread cooks, to make slathering it on super easy.

We ate our fill and plan to use the leftovers in a batch of cornbread dressing – that recipe follows the one for cornbread sticks.

Cornbread Sticks

1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup corn kernels (from frozen is fine)
1 egg
1 cup of milk
1/4 cup Crisco shortening

Pinch off pieces of the shortening and place dollops in each slot on the cast iron cornbread stick pans. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F with the pans in the oven, melting the shortening.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Beat the egg into the cup of milk. Stir together the corn kernels and milk mixture, then add the dry ingredients and stir until all the dry streaks are gone. Pour the melted shortening into the batter. Stir to combine

Use a spoon to divided the batter into each of the corn sticks slots in the pans and bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans midway through cooking. Tops will be golden brown. Immediately remove from pans to cool.

Cornbread dressing is the second best way to eat leftover cornbread. The first way is to crumble it in a glass of cold milk and eat it with a spoon!

I usually put any leftover cornbread in the freezer as it takes a few pans before I have enough for a recipe for dressing.

Very flavorful and colorful.

Cornbread Dressing

2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons pecans, toasted and chopped fine
6-8 cornbread sticks or 4 cornbread pieces, crumbled
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs like thyme or sage, 4 to 5 sprigs

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. When oil shimmers, add the celery, onions, peppers, garlic and pecans. Cook 5 minutes then crumble cornbread into the skillet and combine with vegetables. Dampen the dressing with stock, you may not need the full cup. Season with fresh herbs, we used thyme. Reduce heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.

I like crunchy dressing, so after the meal I take any leftovers and form patties. Freeze them and then thaw them for a bit on the counter before warming them in a 350 degree F oven for about 30 minutes.

Yummy! A quick side dish for most any protein.

Rosemary Fondant Potatoes

Fondant style potatoes traditionally means cutting potatoes into cylinders and then cooking them in broth to make them meltingly tender. I find trimming them to be a bit wasteful so I just slice off the barest ends of a bunch of Yukon gold potatoes and nestle them in a skillet with broth and butter and oil and cook them low and slow.

So good!

2 lbs smallish Yukon gold potatoes
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 cups chicken stock or broth

Trim the potatoes of any eyes or damaged areas and, for those you don’t trim, cut off the ends. Wash well in cold water and drain.

Stir together the softened butter, olive oil, garlic and rosemary. Toss the potatoes with the mixture. Arrange the potatoes in one layer in a 10-inch skillet. Pour in enough stock or broth to come up halfway of the potatoes and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan but leave the lid a tad ajar, and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 20-30 minutes. The liquid should still halfway surround the potatoes; if it doesn’t, keep adding more broth or water until it does.

Once tender, press gently on each potato until they crack open. Return the pan to medium-high heat and boil, uncovered, until all the liquid has evaporated and the potatoes have browned on one side, about 10 minutes. Gently turn the potatoes and brown the other side, another 5 minutes or so.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the potatoes rest for 5 minutes before transferring them to a serving platter. Serve immediately.

 

Mississippi Style Potato Logs

One of the best things about getting off the highway is finding great food on the road less travelled. In fact, some of the tastiest boudin, barbecued brisket and fried chicken I’ve eaten has come from gas stations across the South.

One of things I’ve found in Mississippi gas stations (and some local fairs like the Okatoma Festival), are potato logs. These are large wedges of baked potato, dredged in seasoned flour and deep fried. You basically get the creamy interior of a baked potato plus the crunchy skin and coating of the best French fry. All in all, they make a really awesome appetizer or side dish.

I tried several versions at home and found I like best Creole Seasoning in the flour (1 teaspoon seasoning per 1/4 cup flour – each large potato cut into 5 wedges used about 1/2 cup flour). I also found that you only need a double dip of flour (toss in flour, dredge in an egg beaten with some oil, and then dredge through the flour again). I found using breadcrumbs was unnecessary and actually a little heavy.

I used peanut oil as that is my go-to deep fry oil but you can use your choice. I fried them after I brought the oil to 325 degrees F in a cast iron skillet. Fry for about 3 minutes per side or until the crust is golden brown. After removal from the heat, drain on a brown paper bag. Salt generously.

These are delicious as they are but, if you like them with a dipping sauce, I enjoyed them with ranch dressing with a little sriracha mixed in. They had a lovely kick.

Corn and Black Bean Salad

Michelle has some frozen corn in the freezer that we wanted to use up before this year’s crop is harvested. We made up a huge batch of Cuban Style Black Beans and used three cups of the beans and a half a bell pepper along with the corn for this light and healthy summery salad.

If you have fresh cilantro, add a tablespoon of chopped leaves to the corn and beans and omit the dried.

Corn and Black Bean Salad

juice of 1 lime, about 1/4 cup
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried cilantro leaves
2 cups corn cut off the cob (1 10 ounce package frozen corn kernels)
3 cups black beans (2 15 ounce cans)
1 bell pepper, diced

optional, 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

Whisk together the lime juice, oil, sugar, salt, pepper and cilantro in a large bowl. Add in the corn, black beans and bell pepper. Gently stir together to mix. Add the jalapeño pepper, if using. Taste for seasonings and then refrigerate for at least one hour for the flavors to come together.