Category Archives: Sides

Summer Sweet Corn and Spinach Gratin

Thank You so much to Santa Rita Wines for sponsoring this post!  As always, all opinions are my own.  #120DaysOfSummer

 

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When I think of this season, I think of the color yellow.  It’s in the sunshine-y afternoons, the golden hue of the wheat fields down the road from my house, the crisp, cool glasses of white wine resting on the dinner table, and the ever-present bags of fresh sweet corn in my garage.  Sweet corn is by the far the most requested menu item when we have company visiting from out of town; people go crazy for it.

The majority of the time I roll the ears in a good salted butter and let everyone have at them, but as of late I’ve been experimenting with more complex preparations.  This sweet corn spinach gratin is a result of those experiments.  The base of the gratin is a béchamel sauce, flavored with Badia Complete Seasoning.  I’ve made this recipe using just about every green from my garden, and while I like the mild flavor of spinach best, both kale and rainbow chard worked as well, so please feel free to experiment.

I served the gratin at a family party this weekend, and it was a huge hit.  It paired extremely well with the bottle of Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc we had popped, which was also a key component of our meal.  In fact, there wasn’t a dish on our table that didn’t either incorporate the Badia spices or the wine, in some capacity.

We started dinner with a grilled romaine salad that I topped with a homemade spice-enhanced ranch dressing.  I added a sprinkle of the Badia mix to my not-so-secret barbecue sauce recipe, then slathered that on chicken thighs, and served them with the gratin.  We finished with peaches poached in the white wine, butter and vanilla beans, which we poured over shortcakes.  All of those things might sound fancy, but truthfully, they couldn’t have been simpler to plate, as most of the (minimal) prep can be done ahead of time.

The gratin travels pretty well too.  You can make it to the point of baking and throw it in the oven once you reach your destination.  Alternately, opt out of the baking altogether and heat it on the grill or over a campfire until the filling is bubbly.  You can eat it hot or at room temperature.  I have a feeling that once you try it, you’ll be seeing yellow all summer long!

 

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Sunday Dinner: Oven Baked Meatballs

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I debated on whether or not to write this for a while.  Mostly because I don’t think that anyone really needs (another) recipe for meatballs – but you seemed to like this Instagram photo, and I wanted to talk about Sunday Dinner, again.

I meant to go into that concept more here, but I rambled about a lot of other happenings instead.  I am glad I did though, because that post is kind of close to my heart.  This one is going to be too.

While I’ve mentioned it at least 20x in the history of this blog, here is the full scoop on what Sunday Dinner meant to me when I was growing up:

Each week at noon, my parents, sister, and myself, as well as my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins – along with anyone else from the neighborhood that had been invited along the way – were required to be at my Grandma’s house.  You had to be “dressed”.  Not as in fancy dressed, but the leggings and loose tops that I throw on most days now, probably wouldn’t have passed muster then.  No one really had a cell phone at that time (Save for the Zack Morris style clunker that my Dad kept in his car), but even so, there was no technology allowed.  If the land line rang, you didn’t answer it, and the TV definitely wasn’t on.  I vividly remember my Dad and Uncle begging to “just check the scores” of football games on many occasions.  They never won out.

None of that was because my Grandma was super strict or uptight.  She was anything but, and to this day remains one of the kindest, most generous, sweetest people I have ever met.  She was first and foremost a “lady”.  She deeply valued tradition and her goal in starting this one with us was simply to get everyone together to prepare a meal, share it, and connect.

 

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How to Preserve Lemons + Basmati Rice Pilaf with Preserved Lemon and Dried Fruit

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Winter has officially hit Upstate NY!  I am watching snowflakes swirl outside my window as I type this, while sitting next to a roaring fire as the cold has simultaneously set in.  I am not complaining in the least as this season has been so mild for us thus far, and the flurries actually seem kind of nice at the moment.  For now…

In the name of hibernating, I have been working through the kitchen making meals out of whatever scraps have been pushed to the back of the refrigerator (Those items always inspire some of the best creations though!  As the proverbial “they” say, “necessity is the mother of invention”, right?) and canning and preserving anything in sight; including lemons.  If you have never tried it before, preserving a lemon goes like this:  slice it into quarters leaving the base intact, douse it in salt, smash it into a jar with spices and more lemons and their juices, seal, and then let the magic happen.

After about 30 days of resting in a semi-warm place, the lemon skin will be soft to the touch and infused with all of that briny flavor.  The timing should coincide nicely with the point at which you (WE! ME!) are so. over. Winter. and are in major need of some sunshine – albeit if the only way to get it is on your plate.  Both the pickling liquid and the peel perk up salad dressings, a few slices of said peel can be used to make a bright risotto (especially good with a handful of fried capers on top), or the entire fruit can be stuffed inside of this chicken.

As another option, you can dish up the basmati rice pilaf hybrid recipe here.  It’s a perennial favorite in my house (You’ll see it in that roasted chicken post above, too!), made with a nod to Middle Eastern flavors, dried fruit, and a heaping tablespoon of that “incredibly awesome” lemon.

XX

 

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