Pecan Cranberry Green Beans

I think one of my last posts was about how I don’t do too many side dish recipes on here. Well, here’s another one. I make these green beans for Thanksgiving every year. Sometimes for Christmas as well. They are always a hit and are so easy, you can make them any night of the year.

If you want to call it a recipe, you can, but the amounts are entirely up to you. I eyeball everything.

Fresh green beans (not canned!), trimmed and snapped in half

Bacon, cut into small pieces

Pecans, roughly chopped

Leeks, sliced in half moons

Dried cranberries (big handful)

Cook the green beans until crisp-tender. You can boil them for a few minutes or you can microwave them with a little water. My microwave has a fresh veggie setting that cooked them perfectly. You want them soft, but al dente.

In a skillet, crisp up your bacon. I used about 8 slices of bacon for a pound of green beans. Remove the bacon from the skillet, but keep the rendered fat. You really only need a couple tablespoons, so if there’s a lot, you can discard some, but keep at minimum 2-3 tablespoons.

To the rendered bacon grease, add your sliced leeks and cook until soft and starting to caramelize. Add the green beans, pecans, cranberries and bacon back to the skillet and toss altogether. Taste to see if you need salt and pepper, but you probably won’t.

This comes together within minutes, so save until the last minute and serve it warm.

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Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Bacon and Goat Cheese

I love all the flavors of Fall and anytime I can put them together in a new way, I’m all about it. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a side dish on here, but this one was definitely worth it. I mean, it has bacon and goat cheese in it, so it couldn’t possibly be bad, right? We all know goat cheese is life.
 

If you are braver than I am, you can cut your butternut squash yourself and use a spiralizer to make your “noodles”. I, however, am terrified of cutting hard-skinned squashes for fear of stabbing myself. I either enlist the hubby to do it (although I still have a fear of watching, lest he also stab himself) or I just buy it precut, like these cute zig zag cut noodles from Trader Joe’s.

 

Anyway, once you get the noodles taken care of, you are on your way to a quick and easy and (most importantly) delicious side dish.

Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Bacon and Goat Cheese

1 butternut squash cut into “noodles” (or about 12 oz from a store-bought container)

4 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced

2 sprigs worth of fresh thyme, minced

Goat cheese to your heart’s content

In a skillet over medium heat, cook your bacon until crispy. Remove from skillet to a paper towel-lined plate.

 

In the same skillet with the bacon grease, add your butternut squash noodles. 


Cook until softened. Just before they are done, add the sage and thyme. You can add a little bit of salt and pepper if you want, but the bacon is pretty salty, so you shouldn’t have to. Stir to incorporate and when the squash is done, remove from the heat and transfer to your serving dish.

Add the bacon back in and the goat cheese. Since you cook the noodles in the bacon grease, you lose the orange of the squash a bit and it isn’t the prettiest dish, but it tastes really yummy!

Corn and Poblano Summer Salad

I was not going to post about this. It was supposed to be an afterthought to the amazing ribs my husband and I were smoking all day. We just needed a quick side dish. No big deal. 

It was a big deal. It turned out so good I just had to make a post about it! This salad will no doubt become my go-to summer side dish. It can be served cold or at room temp. Also, since it isn’t a mayonnaise-based salad, it lends itself really well to BBQ buffets because it can sit out for longer periods of time.

And the best part? It is SO EASY! 

Corn and Poblano Summer Salad 

1 bag frozen corn

2 Poblano peppers 

1 medium avocado 

Handful of cherry tomatoes 

1 lime

3 T olive oil 

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the corn according to package directions, usually in the microwave. You can use fresh corn too if you want, just grill them and cut it off the cob. I just find the frozen much easier and the taste is still great.

After the corn is cooked, add it to a dry skillet over high heat. The goal here is to just char it up a little bit. Set aside to cool. I put it in the fridge to bring the temperature down to warm/room temp. I prepped the rest of the salad in the meantime.

Put the Poblanos over the flame on your stove, turning until charred on all sides.


When done, put the peppers in a plastic bag and seal. Let them steam for about 10-15 minutes. 


Remove from the bag and the skin will just wipe off with a paper towel. Open up the peppers and remove the stem and the seeds. Dice the pepper.

In a bowl, add diced avocado, halved cherry tomatoes, diced pepper, and cooled corn.

In a small bowl, mix your dressing which is just the zest and juice of 1 lime, olive oil, a dash of pepper and 1t salt. Whisk together with a fork and pour over the veggies. Careful toss the veggies to coat. Add a little more salt if necessary.


That’s it! So easy and so much flavor! It was the perfect side!

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes (Thanksgiving Tip)

I recently discovered a kitchen trick that I have immediately added to my arsenal: Slow Cooker mashed potatoes!! 

OK, I’m sure you’ve been doing this for a long time. I’m almost positive I’m late to the slow cooker mashed potato party, but I’m here now and I’m excited.

I recently started sharing some tips and tricks for Thanksgiving on my Instagram (hint: follow me on Instagram!) and I just shared this one. It is so easy, I can’t believe I’ve been wasting precious stove space all these years!

Usually when making mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, I would just boil the potatoes like usual on the stovetop and then mash them and add my other ingredients (milk, butter, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese… whatever you like). It was always saved to the last minute so they would be warm, but the last minute is the most chaotic, amiright? Making the mashed potatoes this way will be a stress reliever, if nothing else. Here’s what you do: 

(Apologies ahead of time for the bad pictures. I was having issues…)

Cube about 3-4 pounds of potatoes (I used Yukon gold, but I’m sure you could use russet or red)

Add them to the slow cooker with about 1-1/2 cups of water and some garlic.


Cook on low for 3-4 hours, or until fork tender.

Drain the water and mash the potatoes with whatever ingredients you like right in the slow cooker. Don’t forget to salt them to taste too. 


That’s it. And if they are done earlier than the rest of the meal, you can just put the lid back on and set it to warm until you are ready to serve! I wouldn’t do this step too early, though, because you don’t want to risk drying them out.

Pancetta Brussels Sprouts

Ok, so if you had told me a couple years ago when I started this blog that I would have not one but two Brussels sprouts recipes, I would have told you to get out of town.

Seriously. I never would have guessed years ago when I was drinking more soda than ever, that one day I would want a snack and make Brussels sprouts! My husband said the same thing. 

I’ve heard many people say this, and I agree wholeheartedly, I think of you don’t like Brussels sprouts, you probably haven’t had them prepared correctly. They have quickly become one of my favorite vegetables.

This is a very similar recipe to the other one I posted, but it doesn’t require you to turn on your oven and it comes together much quicker. 

This recipe serves two as a side dish at around 80 calories per serving.

10 Brussels sprouts, halved

1 T olive oil (I love garlic infused for this)

Leeks, sliced, about an inch or two of the leek

1 oz diced pancetta 

1 teaspoon honey

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 

In a hot skillet, add your olive oil and place the sprouts cut side down. This helps the core soften and makes for some really good caramelization.


After a minute or two over medium high heat, add the pancetta and leeks. (I used regular onions this time because I was out of leeks, but I really prefer the leek flavor.)


Let the pancetta, onion, and sprouts continue cooking until the pancetta is crispy and the onions and sprouts are browned. You can start turning over the sprouts so they can cook all over.


When everything is almost done, add a pinch of salt and the honey. Mix altogether.

Put in a bowl and finish off with a little Dijon mustard. Stir to coat and enjoy! 

Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries in a Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Ah, the poor, misunderstood Brussels Sprout. Growing up, my only knowledge of the little veggie was that it was gross. Why? Because that’s what TV shows and movies told me. Brussels Sprouts were always the example used when someone needed to make a point about a food that no one liked, especially kids. Because of this, I think it was given a really bad rap and may have grounds for some sort of libel suit.

You know, if it were not a vegetable.

I guess I sort of understand why people might not like Brussels sprouts. On their own, they aren’t the greatest. Even just boiled, they are pretty much blah. They are a bitter little cabbage that needs a lot of help to be palatable. Fortunately, that “help” comes in the form of very easy to prepare dishes that turn out delicious! A simple roast or pan fry and you’ve got yourself a yummy side dish. Add extras like bacon and cranberries and take them over the top.

Brussels sprouts are also highly nutritious, loaded with lots of vitamins like C, K, and B1; are high in folate, manganese, dietary fiber, and omega-3s.

Unfortunately, try as I might, I tend to be the lone Brussels sprouts fan in our house. The kids won’t give them a chance and my hubby doesn’t like the texture. That being said, he did like these sprouts. I roasted them a lot longer than I usually do, so the core was a lot softer than usual. He said that was much better, but he’s still not super gung-ho about them.

Oh, well. More for me, right?

This recipe was really easy and so tasty. I could eat this every day. Caramelized veggies are always good and the dressing was a tiny bit tangy and a tiny bit sweet for a really scrumptious combo. 

I know it’s July, but I think this would actually make a really good Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish (I’ve been watching a lot of the Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie Preview Week so I’m feeling rather festive lately! Anyone wanna come help me put up my tree??)

I initially found this on Pinterest and then made a few changes of my own. I didn’t add any nuts to this version, but I think throwing in a handful of walnuts or pecans towards the end of the roasting time would be a really yummy addition.

Please keep in mind that I only made enough for myself, so any measurements listed are really guesses. I did a lot of eyeballing. You can find the full recipe HERE. I swapped out the rice wine vinegar for apple cider vinegar and added a touch of honey for the dressing. It was yum, yum, yum! Like I said, I could have this as a side dish all the time.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Dried Cranberries and Honey Dijon dressing

Adapted from A Beautiful Plate

Brussels sprouts, halved

1 cup cubed butternut squash

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

¼ cup dried cranberries

For the dressing (approx. measurements):

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

Place the veggies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and make sure the veggies are in a single layer. A good tip is to put the sprouts cut-side down so they caramelize a little better.

Roast at 450 for about 20-30 minutes. During the last 5 or so minutes of roasting, add your cranberries.


Meanwhile, in the bowl you are going to serve the veggies in, whisk together your dressing ingredients. You can add more salt and pepper here, but since they are already on the veggies, I opted not to. People can always add more at the table if they want.

When the veggies are done, add them to the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat.


Serve and become a sprouts fan for life.

Garlic Knots 

For months I had been not-so-subtly hinting to my husband that I wanted a new slow cooker. A nice one. One bigger than I have already, with a timer and an insert that you can use on the stovetop. The one I had my eye on was way too expensive to just buy, so it would have to be a Christmas present. When Christmas rolled around, I just knew my husband had come through for me. He had it delivered to his mom’s house and I saw the big box from Williams-Sonoma in her living room. There it was. The slow cooker that dreams are made of. I had to pretend it wasn’t there every day when I picked up my daughter.

A few days before Christmas, my husband said he was going to his mom’s house to wrap my gift and bring it home to put under our tree. I came into the living room, looked at the tree, all lit up and filling our house with Christmas joy.

The box was too small. What? There is no way that the slow cooker of my dreams was in that box.

Hmmm…. I was puzzled. I couldn’t figure it out. Like the Grinch when Christmas came anyway, I puzzled and puzzled until my puzzler was sore.

Christmas morning arrived and we opened our gifts together while the kids opened their stockings. I couldn’t wait to see what was in this now mystery box. And oh, he did not disappoint.

He got me a pasta making attachment for my stand mixer! You guys, this was just as good as what I was expecting, but even better because I wasn’t expecting it!

We’d been talking about making our pasta for so long, but we never got around to actually doing it. A couple days after Christmas, I did make some pasta and it was really good. I’m not going to share that recipe today because it wasn’t great and I’d like to do some tweaking to make it actually work a lot better than it did. I watched a video of someone making pasta dough and mine looked nothing like theirs, so I’m going to work on it a bit more. But really, fresh pasta is so good!

Anyway, when I made my pasta, I just did a plain rigatoni with a tomato-meat sauce. I decided to serve garlic knots on the side because who doesn’t love garlic knots?   These are really easy too. I got the recipe from Pillsbury.

You just need:

1 tube of Pillsbury breadstick dough
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried basil*
½ teaspoon dried parsley*
salt and pepper

*You can use fresh, like the original recipe calls for, just increase the amount to 1 teaspoon. I was out of fresh and I always have dried herbs and spices on hand.

In a bowl, combine the butter, olive oil, garlic, basil, and parsley.

Open the tube of dough and unroll it. Separate each breadstick (there should be 12). Stretch each one out a little bit and twist it into a knot shape. My hubby wasn’t home at the time I made these, so I couldn’t really capture how to do it, but it was really easy and there is a perfect photo on the Pillsbury website.

Put the knots in an ungreased 9” round baking dish and pour the butter mixture over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.



  I think mine could have cooked a little bit longer, but they were sooooooo good! I’m going to make these whenever I make pasta now!