Tag Archive | side dishes


Happy Wednesday to all! This is my last week of “summer vacation” before I start in as a full-time student in Australia, so I’ve been trying to cook as much as possible this week. However, with temperatures consistently around 35 degrees Celsius (that is high 90’s Fahrenheit!), cooking has become somewhat of a challenge. I don’t particularly enjoy standing over a hot stove in those temperatures. It basically looks like I went for a run and can’t cool down…it isn’t pretty.  Thank the lord for air conditioning. It has been my savior this week for cooking because without it, I may have served up cereal bowls all week for dinner, with a dish of ice-cream on the side! Hmmm…that doesn’t sound so bad! Note to self…that goes on the dinner menu next week  : – )

Anyway, instead of succumbing to the heat, I sat in the AC and searched Pinterest for some meal inspiration incorporating broccoli. Broccoli was on sale this week, and while we had steamed broccoli one night, I wanted to mix it up later in the week. Mix-it up we did! Not surprisingly, I stumbled upon a Pinterest recipe that I fell in love with. I adapted it slightly from the original recipe found on this amazing blog: Smitten Kitchen.  I feel fortunate that, thanks to my Mom’s healthy habits, I’ve always been a vegetable lover.  I rarely get tired of eating vegetable options like carrot sticks and dip, steamed cauliflower, green beans, summer squash, etc. But sometimes, I want something a bit more exciting. Enter in: Broccoli Parmesan Fritter Cakes. All you’ll need is one bunch of broccoli, parmesan cheese, flour, one egg, and a few spices for this winning side dish. So much more exciting than plain old steamed broccoli!

Broccoli Parmesan Fritter Cakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 medium bunch of fresh broccoli (about 3 cups chopped)
1 large egg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp minced garlic (or 1 fresh garlic clove, minced)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Several grinds of black pepper
Olive oil for frying
Cooking Spray

1) Prepare your broccoli by washing it under running water, and then chopping it into 1-inch chunks. Don’t throw out the stem, you can use it if you want (I did). To prepare the stems,  slice them into 1/2-inch lengths. You should have about 3 cups of chopped broccoli total once you’re finished.

2) Now steam the broccoli until tender, but not mushy. I boiled water on the stove and steamed mine for 5-6 minutes. Once steamed, drain the broccoli and set it aside to cool slightly.

3) While the broccoli is steaming, grab a large mixing bowl and lightly beat the egg with a fork or whisk. Add in the flour,  parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper, and stir it together.

4) Then, add the semi-cooled broccoli and use a potato masher to mash the broccoli just a bit. You don’t want to completely mash it up, but the chunks should be small enough  so that you can press a mound of the batter into a fritter formation in the pan. Once you’ve mashed the broccoli a bit, stir the ingredients together the rest of the way with a spoon. Add more salt/pepper if necessary.

5) Now heat a large skillet over moderate heat on the stove. Spray with cooking spray, and add one TBSP of olive oil and swirl around. Once the oil is hot and your pan is greased, scoop up a mound of the batter (I used a 1/3 cup dry measuring cup to help me form the fritter cakes) and drop it into the pan.  Then flatten it slightly with your spoon or spatula. Each scoop of batter should be about 2-3 tablespoons in size (mine were a little too big, so it made less fritters. The smaller the mound of batter, the more fritters you’ll get!) Continue to repeat this method with the additional batter, leaving a couple inches between each mound in the pan. Let them cook on one side until they are browned underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes, and then flip each fritter carefully and cook on the other side until equally cooked, for a few more minutes.

6) Transfer briefly to paper towels to drain and cool, and then serve.

We ate our fritters with ketchup as a dipping sauce, as a side dish with homemade pizza and salad, however, the sauce you use and whether you eat this as a side dish or main dish is up to you.  I bet a cheese sauce, ranch dressing, or even eating them plain would be delicious. The good news is, we had leftovers so I got to try these cold and on top of salad greens the next day. They were just as delicious. I hope you like this “brand new broccoli” as much as we did!



There’s a new favorite vegetable in this house

Thanks to Pinterest, I’ve spent countless hours “pinning” recipes I’m dying to make. Seriously, that website is ridiculously addicting. Recently, after looking over my many boards, I decided I should probably start making some of these recipes. Otherwise, what’s the point?  So that was my goal this week; incorporate grocery store buys into pinterest-inspired meals.

Yesterday as I strolled through the produce department at the market, zucchini was a big sale item, going for $2 per kilogram. Any vegetable on sale over here is basically what I’ve been buying since I moved because it’s much easier to stick to a budget that way, and it’s also good because it forces me to mix-up the produce we eat each week. So zucchini it was, and thank goodness for that. I had stumbled upon a “zucchini fries” recipe on just last week that looked very intriguing, and have been itching to make it ever since.

These were super simple to make and extremely delicious to eat. My only wish was that I made more. Since they’re a vegetable and there’s no shame in seconds, next time, I’m doubling the batch! Brandon actually said he liked these more than potato-based baked french fries. That’s a win in my book!

This recipe is originally from this great website, but I made a few small changes to this, too. I actually doubled the amount of breadcrumbs the original recipe uses, which gave them more of a crunchy outer-layer, and I didn’t have garlic powder, so I used garlic salt. Make sure you cut the zucchini into carrot-stick like shapes(similar to french fries), and try to keep them around the same width for baking purposes. If you make these tonight, you just may have a new favorite vegetable in your house, too!

Baked Zucchini Fries
Adapted from Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes at SkinnyTaste

2-3 medium zucchini, sliced into 3’’ by 1/2’’ sticks ( I used 2)
1 large egg white (I used 2 small egg whites)
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs ( I used what we had (white bread crumbs) and doubled this amount)
2 TBSP grated parmesan cheese (I doubled this)
1/4 tsp garlic salt (or garlic powder—I doubled this)
salt and pepper
cooking spray

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F(or 218 C).
2)Next, chop the zucchini and set aside on your cutting board.

3)Now set up what I like to call your “dipping station”.  You’ll need a small bowl for your egg whites and a larger bowl for your breadcrumbs. In the small bowl, beat the egg whites and season them with a dash of salt and pepper. Then in a ziplock bag, mix the breadcrumbs, garlic salt(or garlic powder), and parmesan cheese and shake well. Place in bowl.

4) Line your cookie sheet with tinfoil and  spray with cooking spray. Then set it aside at the end of your dipping station.
5) Now, dip the zucchini pieces into the egg whites, coating them, and then into the bread crumb and cheese mixture a few at a time, shaking them to coat. I used a spoon to help me roll them around in the breadcrumbs. Then place the breaded zucchini in single layers on the sheet and spray more cooking spray on top. Bake at 425° for about 22-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

We used ketchup as our dipping sauce, but really it’s up to you to choose. With or without sauce, these are bound to be a household favorite. Hope you enjoy these!

A simple side of sweet potato

Back home, sweet potatoes were quite the trend for the last year or two. It seemed most, if not all restaurants began to offer some sort of sweet potato side dish, french fry option, or meal choice on their menus. I can’t say I’ve seen sweet potato fries as a “chip” option here in Australia, but I can say they have plenty available at the grocery stores. Since I’m semi-sweet potato obsessed(thank God Brandon is to!), we’ve been buying a few each week to incorporate into our dinners. My favorite way to prepare them is definitely as baked sweet potato fries; it’s easy, simple, and always delicious. However, my Mom shared a recipe with me that sounded just as easy, so I gave it a try. It incorporates one onion, and one large sweet potato (or 2-3 smaller sweet potatoes) and a few other small ingredients. It takes only minutes to prep, then let the oven does the rest of the work. I think you’ll like this, I know we did!

A simple side of sweet potato
serves 2

1 very large sweet potato (or 2-3 smaller)
1 yellow onion
2 TBSP brown sugar
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP canola oil (olive oil would work, too)
2 tsp soy sauce

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius!) and cover a cookie sheet with tinfoil. Spray with cooking spray.
2. Chop sweet potatoes into cubes and chop onion up in similar sizes. Place in large mixing bowl.

3. Add oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar to the potatoes and onion bowl. Mix well, then spread over cookie sheet.
4. Cook for 20-25 minutes, toss, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until browned.
5. Enjoy along side your protein and vegetable of choice!  We had ours along with roasted broccoli and veggie burgers.

sweetpot last

I judge the success of a dish by how much is leftover…we scraped the cookie sheet. I guess that’s a good sign?

What’s your favorite way to eat sweet potatoes?

Quick Cornbread Casserole

Comfort food. What’s not to love? And what’s better than the smell of freshly baked
cornbread? Lucky for me, I had the task of baking (and smelling) cornbread everyday from
the months of May thru September for 5 glorious summers of my life. A random fact,
but it’s the truth. I worked as an assistant manager/ice-cream scooper at Shaws Ridge
a homemade ice-cream shop and barbeque barn restaurant located in Southern
Maine. It’s my favorite job to I’ve had to date. Of course it helps when your co-workers
are your sister and your best friends!

I loved baking the cornbread, but I didn’t particularly enjoy the lengthy baking time or the amount of butter I consumed while making/eating it! A few months ago, I stumbled upon a recipe in my Cooking Light cook book for “Easy Corn Casserole”. It caught my eye immediately. Lately, due to the freezing temperatures, I’ve been cooking this every few weeks. It’s a great addition to any meat dish (such as chili), an excellent side for a salad, or great for a snack. Truthfully, I’ve even eaten it for breakfast. The best part: it provides leftovers, and it’s so easy to freeze, thaw out, and then reheat in the oven.
This recipe is sure to please your taste buds and your tummy!

¼ cup egg beaters
¼ cup butter, melted
1 (8 ¾ ounce) can no-salt-added whole-kernel corn, drained
1 (8 ¾ ounce) can no-salt-added cream-style corn
1 package (8 ½ ounce) corn muffin mix (I used Jiffy)
1 (8-ounce) carton plain fat-free yogurt ( I used Dannon Vanilla!)
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine first six ingredients in a medium bowl; stir well.

yummy dough

3. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 45 minutes or until slightly browned.

baking away

browned and beautiful

cornbread bites!

Have a Merry meal :)