On the Side, Recipes, Small Bites

Fresh Herb Ricotta Cheese Bread

A no yeast bread that is super quick to prepare! 

Ready in less than an hour, this Herbed Ricotta Cheese Bread is sure to become a favorite!

This quick bread is loaded with fresh herbs, ricotta cheese, and a dash of smoked paprika. 

Ricotta is a fresh, soft, Italian cheese with a small curd and a light, mild, slightly sweet flavor. In the United States, it is most commonly known as an ingredient in lasagna. I honestly love ricotta even just by itself. For this recipe, I decided to use ricotta instead of heavy cream or milk, the ricotta gives the bread a light texture that practically melts in your mouth!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
  • ½ cup green onions or scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • smoked paprika

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. 

Grate butter into the flour mixture and stir with a fork until the consistency of coarse meal.

Stir in scallions and fresh herbs. 

Add ricotta cheese, then add milk and stir until just combined.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. 

Knead 2 to 3 times, then pat dough into a 9-inch rectangle. 

Transfer bread to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops liberally with egg wash. Sprinkle top with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and smoked paprika.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bread is golden brown.

On the Side, Recipes

Creamy Parmesan & Thyme Polenta

Creamy Polenta!

Looking for a twist on your side dish for Easter? Look no more!

This light and fluffy polenta is perfect for serving with ribs, chicken, pork, lamb, or veal, and is also great with roasted veggies.

What Is Polenta?

Polenta is a porridge type dish popular in Northern Italy. In the United States, it is usually made with coarsely ground cornmeal. Think of polenta as an Italian version of grits! But made with yellow corn instead of the white corn of grits.

How to Make Polenta

Making creamy polenta is so easy that you’ll wonder why you haven’t made it before.

It all starts with caramelizing up finely minced garlic cloves in a small amount of olive oil in a large saucepan.  

Once the garlic is brown in a medium-size pot in olive oil, add in the chicken broth and water, and bring it to a boil.

When the stock is boiling pour in the cornmeal while whisking constantly to ensure there are no clumps in the polenta. Turn the heat down to medium-low. This can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes.

Once the creamy polenta is finished it should be smooth with no crunch to it.  At this point stir in some whole butter, Parmesan cheese, thyme, onion powder, and salt, and pepper.

I like to serve my polenta as the base of my dish with the meat on top with polenta absorbing the sauce from the main dish.

Ingredients

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish

Instructions

In a large saucepan, sauté the garlic. 

Then combine broth and water, onion powder,  salt, and pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Whisking constantly, gradually add cornmeal. 

Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer polenta, whisking frequently, until thickened and creamy, 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, butter and thyme and season with salt and pepper. 

Garnish with thyme, and serve. If polenta thickens upon standing, stir in a little hot water.

Note: If preparing polenta in advance, cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat on stovetop or in the microwave (about 5 minutes on high), adding more liquid if necessary. Stir vigorously after reheating to fluff.

On the Side, Recipes

Sautéed Cabbage

This Easy Sautéed Cabbage recipe is perfect for a quick side dish for any meal but especially on St. Patrick’s Day!  It’s a rustic side dish with tender, caramelized cabbage flavored with garlic, and Guinness. If you think you don’t like cabbage you need to try it this way!

Serve with my Slow Cooked Guinness Corned beef and Irish Cheddar & Garlic Soda bread

Ingredients

  • 1 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced 
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcester sauce 
  • ¼ cup Guinness 
  • Salt & pepper to taste 

Instructions 

Heat a large 12-inch skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter- about 7 minutes.

Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Add half of the cabbage, stir and cook until it begins to wilt and reduce in volume, about 2 minutes. 

Add the remaining cabbage and stir until wilted, 2 minutes. Continue to cook for 8 minutes, stirring every minute to allow lightly even browning.

Add the Guiness, Worcester sauce and vinegar, stir and cook for 1 minute.

Add the salt and pepper, stir and cook for 1 minute. Season to taste. 

On the Side, Recipes

Irish Cheddar & Garlic Soda Bread

Irish soda bread flavored with cheese, garlic, and herbs is the perfect, easy bread to serve as the ultimate side dish for St. Patrick’s day!

There’s no yeast & no rising! And you still get a fluffy, flavorful loaf of bread. Just mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients and bake!

It’s also very versatile and you can add pretty much anything. Different kinds of cheese, herbs, onions, garlic and even sun-dried tomatoes. The rest of the ingredients are all pantry/fridge staples.

Serve with my Slow Cooked Guinness Corned beef and Sautéed Cabbage.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, grated 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  •  2 tablespoons green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Instructions 

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkle a small amount of flour onto the sheet where you will be placing the bread.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, black pepper, parmesan cheese and sugar, whisk together until combined.

Add to the dry mixture the cheddar, herbs, garlic and green onions, mix.

Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture, mixing until combined.

Knead for 1-2 minutes, until the dough holds together. Add more liquid if dough is not forming.

Form dough into a round loaf and transfer to the floured parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Cut a cross into the top of the dough, about ½ inch deep and 2-inches long. Cover and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the cover, pour 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the top and continue baking for an additional 10 minutes, or until the soda bread is lightly browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom of the loaf. 

Remove from the oven and place two tablespoons of butter on the top and allow it to melt. 

Serve.

On the Side, Recipes

Creamed Spinach

Most of us have heard of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. But how many of us know the founder’s unique history?

In 1965, single mother Ruth Fertel realized she needed to earn more money to send her sons off to college. She found a restaurant for sale in a New Orleans newspaper called Chris’ Steak House. She quickly learned that Chris’ steak house originally opened on her birthdate, and she took that as a sign of good luck to move forward with the sale. 

Shortly after Fertel purchased the establishment, a fire forced her to change the original location and she renamed the restaurant, “Ruth’s Chris Steak House.”

Though she had no restaurant experience, Ruth’s Chris became a huge success. Fertel opened her first franchise in 1977 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Today, there are more than 80 locations in the U.S. and overseas.

This delicious creamed spinach recipe is inspired by the dish served at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. It has just a hint of cayenne pepper to give it that Louisiana zing!

Ingredients

  • 1 10 ounce package of frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoon flour
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Instructions

Cook the spinach as directed on the package. Drain and squeeze all the liquid from the spinach when it is done. 

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. 

Add the flour to the melted butter and stir until smooth. Cook for 2 minutes. 

Add the cream and heat for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Whisk often so that the sauce does not burn.

Add the cheese, spinach, nutmeg, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook for 2-4 minutes, stirring often. 

Serve hot.

On the Side, Recipes

The Best 3 Barbeque Sauces

In honor of Black History month, I’d like to introduce you to Jereline and Larry Bethune. 

Jereline and Larry Bethune first opened their restaurant in 1942. Back then it was a nightclub, the Siesta Club, that also sold food. It later became Brenda’s, named after one of their daughters. A pivotal location in black history, the restaurant became an unofficial center for the local civil rights movement, holding N.A.A.C.P. meetings, printing fliers and planning protests. In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery. Shortly after, bus boycotts began around the city. The Brenda’s Bar-B-Que Pit staff helped organize some of the boycott, which soon propelled the civil rights movement into the national conversation.

Even after the bus boycotts, Ms. Bethune quietly held lessons to teach other African-Americans to read so they could pass the literacy test.  At the time, this functioned as a way to suppress the black vote during the height of the Jim Crow era. Donetta Bethune, the Bethune’s granddaughter, described it as: “Let’s learn how to read. Let’s learn how to vote. Let’s go after our own rights so we never have to be treated in a way that we’re not equal again.”  (College Chefs, 2019).

Brenda’s is the oldest barbecue restaurant in Montgomery and family-run to this day.

Below are three of my favorite homemade barbeque sauces inspired by the story of Jereline and Larry Bethune. 

Spicy Barbecue Sauce

This Spicy BBQ Sauce will be your new favorite condiment! It’s easy to make and pairs perfectly with pizza, sandwiches, or burgers.

  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

White Barbeque

This BBQ sauce is a tangy, creamy twist on a traditional barbecue sauce recipe. It’s delicious on grilled chicken, pulled pork, fish, burgers, and lots more!

  •  1 cup mayo
  •  1/4 cup white vinegar
  •  1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  •  2 teaspoons cream style horseradish
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •  1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  •  1/4 teaspoon paprika

Honey Barbeque Sauce

This Honey BBQ Sauce Recipe is the perfect sweet and sticky sauce for burgers, wings, chicken, and more.

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked Paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon onion Powder
  • ½ teaspoon black Pepper

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Let sauce cool and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.  

On the Side, Recipes

Spicy & Sweet Coleslaw

Tangy, sweet and spicy in taste, this coleslaw is far from bland or boring!

Coleslaw is such a budget friendly, versatile side dish, or salad! This crisp, sweet and spicy coleslaw is a perfect way to round out any barbecue or dinner!

Crisp, shredded cabbage mixed with crunchy carrots, parsley and  fresh green onions, then tossed with a slightly sweet, tangy mayonnaise based coleslaw sauce. This slaw is fresh, fabulous and the perfect addition to any Barbecue or try it on my Beef short rib sliders!

While the recipe below calls for small heads of green and purple cabbage, plus carrots, you can absolutely substitute a bag of pre-prepared coleslaw mix from the grocery store!

Ingredients

  • 1 small head cabbage, washed, peeled and shredded
  • 1 small head purple cabbage, washed, peeled and shredded
  • 2-3 large carrots, washed, peeled and shredded
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons Sriracha
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½  teaspoon celery salt
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley 
  • salt and black pepper

Instructions

In a food processor with a grating blade, shred the cabbage and carrots. Process in batches. Set into a large bowl. Add the parsley and toss.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sriracha, vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, salt, and black pepper. 

When adding the coleslaw dressing to the vegetables, start with 1/4 cup of dressing, toss and then continue to add the dressing a little bit at a time until desired level of creaminess is achieved. Chances are, you will not need all of the dressing, so it is best to err on the side of caution! I only used 1/3 cup on my coleslaw and I used the rest for dipping my homemade beer battered onion rings!

Serve cold or at room temperature.

On the Side, Recipes

Chipotle Sweet Potato Mash

Here’s a great twist for your Thanksgiving sweet potatoes or if you love sweet potatoes as much as I do you can whip these up anytime of the year!

I love sweet and savory flavors, and these chipotle sweet potatoes totally hit the spot. You have the sweetness of the sweet potatoes balanced by the smoky heat of the chipotle chiles. You can make these as spicy as you like, just add more or less of the chipotle. 

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes (6 potatoes)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoon minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, with seeds, I used Goya
  • 2 tablespoon adobo sauce (from the can of chiles)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Parsley, chopped

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Chop sweet potatoes into chunks, nothing too specific because you are just going to end up mashing them later.

Place them onto the prepared baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. 

Roast for 15 minutes, take out of the oven and flip the potatoes over. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper.

Roast for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until very tender inside when tested with a knife. 

Place the potatoes in the bowl, and half of the butter. Mash the potatoes. 

While the potatoes cook, place the milk, cream, garlic powder, chipotle chile, and adobo sauce in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisk, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes while whisking. 

You can use a hand held mixer or a good ole wooden spoon for this part. If using a mixer place on low speed, add the chipotle-milk mixture to the sweet potatoes. 

Add the maple syrup, rest of butter, and 1 tablespoon salt. Mix until the potatoes are coarsely pureed. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and parsley.

On the Side, Recipes

Cauliflower Stuffing

Here’s a healthier stuffing for those of you looking to cut out some carbs this Thanksgiving!

It has all the stuffing flavors just instead of bread, I used cauliflower!

Cauliflower has stood in for carbs plenty of other times, so why not with stuffing? Of course you need to like roasted cauliflower to enjoy it, but it still has all the things you want in great stuffing.

It has the same spices and delicious add-ins that you’d expect, it’s nice and soft, and it totally has that comfort food factor. It’s actually so easy to make that I will definitely make it outside of the holiday season. Believe it or not, it’s simple enough even for a busy weeknight.

Ingredients

  • 1 Head of Cauliflower
  • Olive Oil 
  • 1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter unsalted
  • 1 Lb Breakfast Sausage casings removed
  • 1 Large Onion finely chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Fennel Bulb finely chopped
  • 4 Celery Stalks finely chopped
  • 1/2 Cup White Wine dry
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Sage finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Thyme finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
  • ½ cup Grated Fontinella cheese or Parmesan cheese 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Chop cauliflower into florets and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. 

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the cauliflower softens and begins to brown slightly.

While the cauliflower bakes, cook the sausage.

Add the sausage to a large skillet. 

Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Cook until no longer pink. 

Place sausage on a paper towel-lined plate.

Wipe the skillet out with a paper towel but leave some of the grease and bits. 

Add butter to the skillet and melt, stirring constantly so it doesn’t brown. 

Add chopped onions, garlic, fennel, and celery. Sprinkle it with salt and  pepper. Cook in butter until they’re soft and lightly browned (around 10 minutes). 

Add wine to skillet and bring to a boil. 

Cook until no wine is left — about 5 minutes. 

Add cheese, parsley, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

In a casserole dish, combine sausage, cauliflower, and veggies and stir to combine. 

Place them in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. If you want the tops a little crispy, turn the broiler on for 5 minutes.