Green Beans with Hazelnut Gremolata

Green Beans with Hazelnut Gremolata It’s Not Easy Being Green
Whenever you hear people raving about their favorite Thanksgiving dishes, usually it is the stuffing. or the sweet potatoes, or even the homemade cranberry sauce. Rarely is it about the vegetables that are served as sides—or at least that has been my experience. Not going to lie, if there are some greens on my plate at Thanksgiving they are there solely out of guilt for the obscene amount of carbs and gravy that I have piled up on my grandmother’s Wedgewood plates.

Since I am hosting the big event this year I have been compelled to come up with a vegetable side. And, I am finding it challenging to locate a recipe that I am willing to make and would work well with the rest of the meal. True, I could do my favorite Spinach Gratin. But, I am concerned that the cream and cheese would be too rich with all of the other caloric goodness on the table.

Yes, I could do some Brussels sprouts but the truth is, I hate them. I have tried so hard to like them and occasionally will order them if offered when I am out enjoying a nice dinner just to see if a different recipe will do the trick but, alas, they are still gross. Even with bacon.

A kale salad is a possibility. But it seems too trendy and obvious in this time of kale obsession, though it looks like the obsession might be waning. Plus, in my family, salads hardly ever get eaten. Case in point, the salad my grandmother used to make every Thanksgiving (that no one ate, but had to be made because it was tradition). This Endive & Fuyu Persimmon Salad with Pecans is a good substitute and might actually be eaten…

So, I think I will end up going with tried and true green beans as a vegetable side this year. Most people like them and they are fairly easy to prepare in large quantities. I could steam and toss the beans in a little garlic butter. But, I may lose my mind and go a tiny bit fancier and make something like these Green Beans with Hazelnut Gremolata. When in doubt, I always reference Ina..

Green Beans with Hazelnut Gremolata
Yields 8 servings  Read more…

Pumpkin Pasta with Sage Butter

Pumpkin Pasta with Sage Butter

For The Times, They Are A-Changin’
Halloween was different this year. There were no parades. No morning rush to get the costume make-up done. No concerns about wearing a costume all day. In fact, the excitement about Halloween has been replaced, for some in my family, by high school soccer try-outs.

Sigh. Yep. We have reached the stage where the kids were handing out candy to trick-or-treaters instead of filling their own pillowcases.

We have one holdout, though. My twelve-year-old did go out trick or treating with her friends. She was dressed as a wedge of cheese that she constructed and painted all by herself complete with cheezy duct tape. This kid beats to her own—and I love it. I have no doubt that next year she will come up with an equally random costume idea and hit the streets to collect her chocolate.

This change means that dinner plans are different too. In fact, I actually put a little more work into it and made this recipe for Pumpkin Pasta with Sage Butter. It’s a great representation of the flavors of the season. And, the pumpkin is an obvious nod to Halloween. If you do not have a pasta machine it is just as easy to roll it out with a rolling pin.

To those of you who still headed out with your little ones, I hope you had fun and enjoyed these nights roaming the streets of your neighborhood with your kids. Because it’s true what they say…it all goes by so quickly!

Pumpkin Pasta with Sage Butter
Yields 6 servings Read more…

Autumn Pumpkin Recipes

Autumn Pumpkin RecipesSquashes, Pumpkins, and Gourds Oh My!
One of the things I love most about the Fall, and October in general, is all of the displays with various pumpkins and gourds. They are so pretty and interesting. True, not all of them are edible like gorgeous Goose Neck Gourds but the better majority are.

Granted most of the larger pumpkins and squashes purchased around this time end up on your front doorstep with fangs carved out of them. Not much you can do with them after they have been out there for a while. At least nothing edible…

My question is what do you do with the ones that have been inside and are still good? If we’re talking about a cute little Sugar Pie pumpkin the answer is obvious. Bring on the pies and breads baby!

But there is more to pumpkins than pie…

Acorn and Delicata squash are fantastic to eat and easy to prepare. A giant Cinderella pumpkin is perfect for stuffing with cheese, cream, and other decadent goodness. Pretty green Kabocha squash is used in all sorts of cuisines from Mexican to Moroccan. Of course, Spaghetti squash can be a nice change from your usual pasta. Butternut squash is by far the most well known and eaten of all of the squashes and is great as a soup, in a casserole or on its own.

To help you figure out what to do with your squashes, pumpkins, and gourds, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite dishes for you to try. Read more…

Mac & Cheese Two Ways

Mac & Cheese Two WaysDinner Dilemma
When I am stressed, I look towards comfort and comfort foods—carbs mainly. That could be potatoes, bread, or even pasta with cheese, But, carb-filled comfort food is what I crave. The problem is that it isn’t really good for you. Most of the really good stuff is fairly non-healthy so it makes it pretty hard to be good to your body while soothing the soul.

This past week has been a series of late meetings, double bookings, surprise practices, and the always well-timed Back to School Night. Finding the time for a legit dinner has been hard. Sure, there’s always Door Dash or picking something up on the way home. But I can’t do that two nights in a row without getting cranky. I need to have a “real” meal.

My other dilemma is that the weather has been cool enough that I want the kinds of things I would normally be making in November like stews and heartier fare. How to create the comfort of slow-cooked food and be able to make it in the spare minutes between meetings, practice, and Algebra I? Most of my favorites like this Shepherd’s Pie will take an hour or more to make. Except for pasta. Pasta is quick. But, I can’t have that night after night. I’m high maintenance that way.

Yes, I could always throw some steaks on the grill. But to be honest, with summer ending I’m getting kind of tired of the grilled stuff. I’m ready to roast.

I don’t think anything is really going to make me happy…except for the whining. Sometimes letting your inner 3-year-old out to play can be cathartic (if not annoying to those around you). It can also be exhausting which is why tonight, we’re going with mac and cheese and a salad because I just can’t adult anymore today…

If I am really lucky, I will convince my daughter to make it after soccer.

Mac & Cheese Two Ways
Adapted from Ree Drummond and the Food Network
Yields 6 servings

This recipe is delicious two ways, either as baked macaroni, or a creamy, stovetop macaroni. Your choice, depending upon how your day is going. (It takes an extra 20 to 25 minutes to bake, and it is definitely worth it on a good day!)

And, to make basic Mac & Cheese a bit more fun, you can consider frying up some bacon and caramelizing a white onion for toppers. Just get them started before you put the water on to boil, and things should all come together at the right time. You can place them in separate bowls on the table along with some chopped chives or other herbs, and people can top their Mac & Cheese as they wish.  Read more…

Cucumber and Honeydew Salad 

Cucumber and Honeydew Salad What’s New Honeydew?
If you find yourself in our produce department this week you might notice that the honeydew melons are on sale. I love melons of all kinds but there is something about a cold slice of mint green honeydew on a hot day that is incredibly refreshing. The thing is, I tend to stick with the usual when it comes to melons. I slice em and eat em. But there are so many things you can do with melons…

One of the things I admire about my sister is her knack for finding and making interesting recipes that I would most likely skip over because I think my kids wouldn’t eat it or I’m just not too sure it would taste good. She is fearless and she made one of these recipes for dinner when we were up at Tahoe last week.

When you are feeding ten people on a nightly basis, the urge to go with the basics for the side dishes can be strong. On this particular night, we were grilling chicken. There is very little that doesn’t go with chicken. So, the side dish possibilities were endless. In this case, my sister went with a melon salad, and it was a nice change from just a bunch of slices on a platter…per the norm. The addition of chilies for heat, some pistachios for crunch, and little cheese for creaminess made this way better than ordinary.

I was pleasantly surprised by this recipe. It is not one I would have normally chosen—which makes me wonder what other flavors I have missed out on because of hesitation. One thing I will say is that I think my sister used goat cheese because that was all we had on hand. Personally, I am not a huge fan of goat cheese or feta, which was listed as an alternative in the magazine. The original recipe calls for ricotta salata which would add a nice saltiness to the sweet of the melon. I also think a queso fresco or even a creamy burrata could work really well.

Cucumber and Honeydew Salad 
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Yields 4 servings Read more…