On the Side…The Other Half of Dinner Love

Dinner is my favorite meal of the day. I love to create a plate of love for the evening meal. As you know, Mama D is a big fan of the one dish meal, be it soup, skillet, or casserole. Sometimes, well actually, quite often she enjoys a plate of food divided; that is a protein, a starch and a vegetable each standing on their own.DIGITAL CAMERA

I thought it was time to share some thoughts on and recipes for side dishes. At times side Lamb chop with Tomato and Zucchini Gratindishes take a back (or is it side?) seat to the main event. A succulent steak, beautifully sauced chicken, or a juicy piece of pork bask in the spotlight, but those dishes that sit off to the side of the plate are the compliment to the protein and very often make that protein even better.

DIGITAL CAMERAFrom a health standpoint, our plate should be half filled with vegetables, the other half shared by protein and starch, particularly whole grains. While I’m still an unapologetic carnivore, I have been trying to adjust the balance of the plates I create. I’ve been working towards putting as much creativity into the sides as I do the main.

When it comes to side dishes, I can’t help myself, sometimes I just have to put the starch and veggies together. There are plenty of one pan sides coming out of Mama D’s Kitchen.

DIGITAL CAMERAOne of my current favorites unites Brussels Spouts and Yukon Gold Potatoes. Bacon and onion hold it all together and a generous dusting of freshly cracked pepper seals the deal.DIGITAL CAMERAThick sliced bacon browns up nicely in a pan. Once the bacon and most of the drippings are removed, the onions, potatoes and Brussels sprouts jump in together until everything is tender, brown, and delicious.DIGITAL CAMERAThis side goes well with anything and is super easy to prepare. A recipe is hardly needed, but here you go.

Skillet Brussels Sprouts and Potatoes
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This is an easy side dish that combines a vegetable and starch in one pan. The bacon and onions make this a fabulous side dish for any protein.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Skillet Brussels Sprouts and Potatoes
Print Recipe
This is an easy side dish that combines a vegetable and starch in one pan. The bacon and onions make this a fabulous side dish for any protein.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat a large fry pan over medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook stirring occasionally until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on paper towels. Pour all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings out of the pan.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the potatoes, sprouts and onion to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally until everything is tender and lightly browned. This should take about 15 -20 minutes, but let your eyes and taste be the judge.
  3. Add the freshly ground pepper and serve.
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The casserole side dish is always a welcome addition to any meal. This particular one combines broccoli and cauliflower in a decadent cheese sauce.DIGITAL CAMERA How does this fit into Mama D’s healthier lifestyle? Well, as Oscar Wilde said everything in moderation including moderation. While not the lightest of dishes, I have trimmed a little fat here and there. I used an extra sharp cheddar cheese that allowed me to use only 3 ounces. A touch of blue cheese added some extra zing. DIGITAL CAMERAI did splurge on real butter, but it was only two tablespoons.  A good amount of onions caramelized in the butter before the flour was added to create a roux. I used low-fat milk in the sauce to trim a little more fat as well.DIGITAL CAMERAI blanched the cauliflower and broccoli to shorten the cooking time.

DIGITAL CAMERA I like the vegetables to be a little softer in this type of casserole, but if you want a little extra crunch skip this step.

I used whole wheat Panko crumbs, a small nod to health, but throw me a bone here.

DIGITAL CAMERAPanko is very crisp already so I only added a bit of butter along with some smoked paprika. Before it went into the oven I gave it a good dose of olive oil cooking spray.DIGITAL CAMERA The crust had the crunch of something made with a lot more fat.DIGITAL CAMERA

This casserole will easily serve six people as a small serving is almost as satisfying as a large one especially when it is paired with wonderful roast meat or poultry of your choice.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Au Gratin
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Broccoli and Cauliflower Au Gratin
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. To blanch the vegetables: Bring a large pot of water to a vigorous boil. Add the broccoli and cauliflower. Cook for 2 minutes (for the broccoli) and 3 minutes (for the cauliflower).
  2. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and immediately put them in a bowl of ice water. When cool drain completely and place in a gratin dish that has been coated with olive oil cooking spray.
  3. In a medium saucepan melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the flour and cook and stir for several minutes. Slowly pour in the milk stirring constantly to prevent lumps.
  5. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil. Continue cooking and stirring until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the mustard.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheddar and blue cheese. Once the cheeses have melted, pour the sauce over the vegetables. Stir gently to coat everything evenly.
  7. Melt the remaining butter in a small pan. Add the Panko crumbs and smoked paprika and toss until the crumbs are coated.
  8. Sprinkle the crumbs over the casserole. Spray the top of the casserole liberally with olive oil cooking spray. Bake in a 375 degree oven until the vegetables are tender, the top is golden, and the sauce is bubbly. This should take 30 to 40 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 - 15 minutes before serving.
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I believe that sides make the meal. It’s that little extra dose of love that elevates the meal to something special.

 

 

 

 

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