Category Archives: Sides

Recipe: Wild Rice, Fruit and Pecan Stuffing

Sides usually offer up a lot of calories, and if they don’t, they lack on flavor. Not this recipe. To cut down on the calories, it only adds dried fruit and pecans to get a nice burst of flavor.

You can experiment with what dried fruits to use, but I’m posting what I used on my first attempt.


  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Sauteeing the Rice and Trinity

    Sauteeing the Rice and Trinity

  • 1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups wild rice-brown rice mix
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, onion and bell pepper (trinity), stirring occasionally until softened (about 8 minutes).
  3. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 2 minutes).
  4. Wild Rice, Fruit and Pecan Stuffing

    Wild Rice, Fruit and Pecan Stuffing

  5. Add rice, stirring to toast, for about 1 minute.
  6. Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, salt and pepper and 1 1/2 cups water. Increase the heat and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover, stir, and continue cooking, uncovered, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender (about another 20 to 40 minutes).
  8. Meanwhile, spread pecans on a baking sheet and toast 5 to 7 minutes (until fragrant). Once toasted, remove from oven and set aside.
  9. Now, discard bay leaf from rice and stir in pecans and dried fruit. Let sit, covered, for about 5 minutes.
  10. Season stuffing to taste and fold in dried fruit and pecans.

No butter, no fat (maybe a minute amount from the broth), but a lot of flavor.

This dish goes well with anything and you can really use it as a stuffing if you’re cooking a turkey or other bird that can be stuffed.

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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Cookin', Recipes, Sides


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Recipe: Bacon Cheddar Biscuits

Bacon Cheddar Biscuit Dough

Bacon Cheddar Biscuit Dough

Biscuits from scratch can seem like a fairly daunting task. But don’t worry, this Bacon Cheddar Biscuit recipe is simple and you can go from step 1 to a finished batch in 45 minutes (cooking time included).

Rather than making plain biscuits, I added some bacon and cheddar to make this extra tasty. Feel free to add more cheese or more bacon if you so desire.


  • 6 slices bacon, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 TBSP cornmeal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • Frying Bacon

    Frying Bacon

  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 TBSP pepper
  • 1/4 cup chives, minced
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, frozen


  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. In a cast iron skillet, fry bacon until just crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Discard or reserve all of bacon grease except for 1 tablespoon and set the skillet aside.
  3. Bacon Cheddar Biscuits

    Bacon Cheddar Biscuits

  4. Whisk all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Use a grater to shred butter and toss in with dry ingredients. Using a fork, cut the butter into the flour until pea-sized crumbs form.
  5. Stir in the bacon, cheese, chives and milk. Using a fork, mix until no dry flour remains.
  6. Sprinkle some flour on a clean counter and dump the dough on it. Sprinkle some more flour on top and using your hands, pat the dough into a circle about 1/2- to 1-inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or other round item (such as a jar or glass) to cut out biscuit shapes. Transfer cut dough to the skillet. Reform remaining dough and cut more biscuits until no dough remains.
  7. Bake the biscuits for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Let biscuits cool for 5 minutes, then serve.

These biscuits go great with most meals. They’re especially an awesome way to make a breakfast biscuit sandwich.

No matter how you consume them, you can store them in a sealed container for several days. If you have any left over, that is.

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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Cookin', Recipes, Sides


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Recipe: Duck Fat Potatoes with Caraway and White Onion

Red Potatoes

Red Potatoes

Potatoes and duck fat are a culinary match made in heaven. Some would argue (and they would be right) that the best thing to cook potatoes in is duck fat. The potato really takes in the flavor of the duck fat and the duck fat brings out the crispiness and earthiness of cooked potatoes.

Since I recently made Duck Confit, I was lucky enough to have rendered duck fat on hand. If you aren’t so lucky, you can order duck fat from specialty food stores or online.


  • 4 TBSP butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 TBSP rendered duck fat (plus extra for greasing the baking sheet)
  • 2 lb. red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into thin slices
  • 1 small white onion
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Brush a foil-lined baking sheet with duck fat.
  3. Duck-Fat Potato Galette

    Duck-Fat Potato Galette

  4. Toast the caraway seeds in a small skillet over low heat until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Use a pestle or other blunt object to crush the seeds. Set aside in a large bowl.
  5. In the same bowl, add duck fat, 2 TBSP butter, 1 tsp salt and pepper. Add potatoes and toss to coat with duck fat and seasoning.
  6. Arrange a quarter of the potatoes in an even layer on the baking sheet. Place 1/3 of the onions over the potatoes. Repeat layering two more times, finishing with potatoes on top.
  7. Bake approximately 45 minutes until potatoes are tender. Brush top layer of potatoes with remaining butter and bake 5-10 minutes longer (until top layer is golden-brown).
  8. Remove from oven, season and serve on a platter.

This is a close to a perfect potato dish you can find. Forget baked potatoes, mashed potatoes and potato salad. This galette is what you need to serve this holiday season.

Splurge on the duck fat. You and your guests deserve it.

Finally, I was lucky enough to have some duck skin on hand. I broiled it to make duck skin cracklins and added them to this recipe. They really sent it over the top, but it’s still great without them.

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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Cookin', Sides


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Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges with Walnuts

Sweet Potatoes and Toasted Walnuts

Sweet Potatoes and Toasted Walnuts

Sweet potatoes go very well with the main dishes served at most holiday functions. Rather than mashing the sweet potatoes or giving them the casserole treatment, try this dish of Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges with Walnuts.

The kicker is the sauce. It’s sweet, tangy and slightly acidic and blends well with the nuttiness of the sweet potatoes.


  • 4 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 TBSP cane sugar vinegar (or any other sweet vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp Creole mustard (or dijon if you can’t find Creole)
  • 2 tsp maple syrup (the real stuff)
  • Sauce for Roasted Sweet Potatoes

    Sauce for Roasted Sweet Potatoes

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Place walnuts on a baking sheet and back until toasted (about 6-8 minutes). Remove from oven to cool. Increase oven temperature to 400F.
  3. Cut sweet potatoes lengthwise into wedges then toss in 1 TBSP of olive oil. Place them in a greased baking dish and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges with Walnuts

    Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges with Walnuts

  5. Bake 45 to 60 minutes, tossing occasionally, until tender.
  6. When sweet potatoes are done, let cool then transfer to a serving platter or dish.
  7. Whisk together remaining oil with maple syrup, Creole mustard and sugar cane vinegar. Drizzle over sweet potatoes and garnish with walnuts.

Creole mustard and cane sugar vinegar may be hard to find depending on where you’re located. Just use the substitutions mentioned in the ingredients list if you don’t have access to the ingredients I used.

You can even use these wedges as a bed for sliced turkey or ham this holiday season. The sauce alone will ensure you go back for seconds.


Posted by on November 20, 2011 in Cookin', Recipes, Sides


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Recipe: Grits Souffle

Cooking the Grits

Cooking the Grits

If you’re looking for a Southern dish to accompany your holiday feast(s), try this Grits Souffle. It’s a great substitution for cornbread dressing.

The bacon, jalapeño, chives and cheese all complement the grits very well. This recipe is a little time sensitive, but it doesn’t require too much attention.


  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup stone-ground grits
  • 1 cup chopped bacon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced (optional)
  • 2 cups grated cheddar
  • 2 TBSP chives
  • 4 cups milk or chicken broth
  • Grits Souffle Ready to Bake

    Grits Souffle Ready to Bake

  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Unsalted butter (for casserole dish)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Butter a 2-quart casserole or baking dish.
  3. Bring 4 cups of milk or chicken broth (or any combo of the two) to a simmer in a large saucepan, gradually whisking in the grits.
  4. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer the grits, stirring often, until grits begin to thicken. Continue cooking and stirring for approximately 1 hour. (If the grits get too thick, add in an additional 1/4 cup of liquid as necessary.)
  5. Remove from heat and let cool.
  6. Grits Souffle

    Grits Souffle

  7. Meanwhile, place chopped bacon in a separate bacon dish and cook in over for approximately 20-30 minutes (until crisp). Transfer to paper towels to drain when crisped.
  8. Whisk eggs and cream in medium bowl and whisk into grits in 3 additions.
  9. Stir in 1 3/4 cups cheddar cheese, chives, jalapeño, bacon, salt and pepper.
  10. Transfer grits mixture to buttered casserole dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
  11. Bake dish until golden and just set in the middle, about 1 hours.
  12. Let cool for 10 minutes then serve.

This dish is guaranteed to be a hit at your holiday festivities. Feel free to add additional bacon or jalapeño to flavor it to your palette.

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Posted by on November 16, 2011 in Cookin', Recipes, Sides


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