Side Dishes

Pineapple Bread Pudding

This post was originally published on 4/10/2014. It was updated with new photos and content on 4/19/2019.

Pineapple Bread Pudding  |  Lemon & Mocha

At Thanksgiving a while back there was a baked spiral ham that was served alongside Pineapple Bread Pudding. At first I was nervous as I’ve always had bread pudding exclusively as a dessert. Two servings later I was completely hooked. Fast forward to five years later and this is hands-down still my absolute favorite dish to eat with baked ham.

Pineapple Bread Pudding  |  Lemon & Mocha

Bread pudding as a side dish? Sure it sounds strange, but after one bite you will be saying, “I can’t believe I ever ate baked ham without this!” Except it will sound like, “Om nom nom nom,” because when something is this delicious you don’t have time for things like manners and not talking with your mouth full. But try to keep it classy, you don’t want grandma giving you the stink eye at the dinner table.

Pineapple Bread Pudding  |  Lemon & Mocha

As a lover of sweetness, carbs and all things delicious this Pineapple Bread Pudding is right up my alley. I chose to use challah bread because there is a richness and subtle sweetness about challah bread that is a result of its higher egg and butter content, which stands up perfectly with the pineapple. My favorite part about making this recipe is that there’s only five ingredients. Five! It can’t get more simple or easy to make than that.

Pineapple Bread Pudding  |  Lemon & Mocha

I am at a loss as to how else to describe this amazing dish because just thinking about this pineapple bread pudding is making my head cloudy with desire. So let’s just get right to it.

Pineapple Bread Pudding  |  Lemon & Mocha

I could eat this Pineapple Bread Pudding every night of the week. I can’t think of anything I would rather eat with baked ham. I think it also might be good as dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Go make this now.

Pineapple Bread Pudding  |  Lemon & Mocha

Pineapple Bread Pudding
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ loaf challah bread, about 5 thick slices
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ¾ cup sugar
Directions
  1. Cube the challah bread into 1” pieces. You should have enough pieces to fill a 9” x 9” baking dish. Place the bread in a large bowl and let sit uncovered for at least an hour. You want the bread to get a little stale so that it stays firm when you add the liquid.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly spray a 2 quart baking dish and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and then combine with the can of crushed pineapple, melted butter and sugar. Once combined carefully mix in the bread cubes until coated. Spoon the entire contents of the bowl into the prepared baking dish.
  4. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown.

Recipe slightly adapted from All Recipes.

Baked Zucchini Fries with Special Sauce

Many people extol the wonderful qualities of winter. They argue that warm winter fires, cozy blanket couch snuggling and glistening snowflakes are romantic and special. Well as someone who lives in a fireplace-less apartment that Matt keeps at a snuggie required temperature year round I argue, what is so romantic about an extra-long work commute on a sandy, dirty snow-covered road?

Yes, I know, January just started and I’m already complaining about winter. January gets me a little down as my favorite holiday of the year is over and there’s nothing to look forward to for the rest of the season. Besides Valentine’s Day, my anniversary, skiing, creamy winter mac and cheeses… but hey, I’m busy complaining here! Sometimes I need a little burst of summer to get me through these long dark days. Aside from actually seeing the sun before and after work, what really gets me thinking about summer are summer vegetables. And french fries, mmm french fries.

Voila! Baked zucchini fries. These fries will have everyone gobbling their vegetables like they’re, well, eating fries. The subtle flavor of the zucchini is amped up by the seasonings in the crunchy coating. Served alongside special sauce these baked zucchini fries may just be habit-forming. My mom used to call it fish stick sauce, but I think special sauce sounds a little more appetizing and versatile. Special sauce is also fitting as it has special powers that include getting kids to gobble up their fish sticks and vegetables. So make these fries and bring some summer to your winter.

Baked Zucchini Fries with Special Sauce
 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
for the zucchini fries
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper
for the sauce
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Lightly coat a cooling rack with cooking spray then place on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Set aside.
  3. Cut the zucchini into 3 inch sticks.
  4. Place the olive oil in a small bowl and set aside.
  5. In a separate small bowl combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and seasonings.
  6. Working one zucchini stick at a time, dip the stick into the olive, coat in the breadcrumb bowl then carefully place on the prepared cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining zucchini sticks.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. While the zucchini fries are baking, combine the mayonnaise and ketchup. Serve the zucchini fries warm with the special sauce for dipping.
Notes
Zucchini is naturally a soft vegetable when cooked so don't expect a sturdy fry, just one with flavor and an outer crunch.

Recipe adapted from Health Magazine.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Molasses and Vanilla Pecan Butter

I was not always a fan of brussels sprouts. Let’s face it, they can be bitter, every children’s cartoon depicts them as a the grossest food there is and when you eat one you’re basically eating a miniature head of cabbage. If you have previously had a bad brussels experience and written them out of your meal repertoire then these pomegranate molasses brussels sprouts will make you a believer. A full-blown brussels believer.

That’s my gift to you and your families this holiday season. The best gifts are those you didn’t know you needed. I bet you didn’t list “the love of brussels sprouts” on your holiday wish list, but you are going to taste these and say, “Wow, best gift of the season. No one can top this.” You’re welcome.

The tenderness of the brussels sprouts pairs perfectly with the crunchy pomegranate seeds. The lime and orange zests perk the dish up and help provide a nice contrast to the sweetness from the vanilla pecan butter. Speaking of the vanilla pecan butter, now this stuff is tasty. Mixing a couple tablespoons of it into the roasted brussels sprouts adds sweetness from the vanilla, texture from the toasted pecans and richness from the butter.

You will have leftover vanilla pecan butter from this recipe and you will definitely be happy about that once you spread it on some warm pumpkin pancakes. Don’t forget about the brussels sprouts in all your excitement though! Serve this festive side dish this holiday season and everyone at your table will be asking for seconds of the brussels sprouts. Now who thought that would ever happen?

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Molasses and Vanilla Pecan Butter
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup pecans
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced in thin strips
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • ⅓ cup pomegranate seeds, about ⅓ of a pomegranate
  • 1 lime, zested
  • 1 tablespoons orange zest
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Evenly spread the pecans on a baking sheet and place in the oven until toasted, about 5 minutes. Once toasted, remove from the oven then chop once cool.
  3. In a small bowl combine the butter and vanilla bean seeds then add the pecans. Stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate the vanilla pecan butter until ready to serve the brussels sprouts.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  5. Line a medium roasting pan with aluminum foil. Add the brussels sprouts then toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
  6. While the brussels sprouts are in the oven heat a small skillet over medium heat. Sauté the shallot until caramelized. Set aside.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven then pour the pomegranate molasses over the brussels sprouts. Stir to combine then return the pan to the oven for 10 more minutes, or until tender.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven. Move the brussels sprouts with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl then add the pomegranate seeds, sautéed shallots, lime zest and orange zest. Top with a tablespoon or two of the vanilla pecan butter before serving.
Notes
*Store the extra vanilla pecan butter in the fridge. Perfect on pancakes or other yummy treats I will share later this season.
*To trim the brussels sprouts peel off the few outer dark leaves then carefully trim the stem. Be sure not to trim it too much or the sprouts will fall apart.

Recipe slightly adapted from Bobby Flay.

Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Today is a special day. Partly because I am presenting you with these outrageous stuffed mushrooms just in time for you to make for Thanksgiving, but I’ll get to that in a second. It is also my stepmom’s birthday. You should be wishing her a happy birthday, buying her presents and even throwing her a party! Because if it was not for her you would not be staring at these tempting, fragrant grilled stuffed portobello mushrooms. In fact, if it wasn’t for my stepmom you would probably be reading a blog about chicken fingers, noodles and fish sticks right now, although that does sound rather delicious.

My palate growing up was mostly limited to “kid’s food,” but my stepmom opened up a whole new world for me. Artichokes, couscous and eggplant, oh my! And mushrooms, thank heavens for the mushrooms. The greatest gift my stepmom has ever given me, aside from love, support and all that good stuff, is the gift of mushrooms. Although she didn’t gift them to me in the literal sense, as that would be a little silly and hard to wrap, I had never given mushrooms a second glance until she cooked them for me. And as they say, the rest is history.

Fast forward to today where these mushrooms sit on your computer screen exploding with juicy sausage bits, creamy marscarpone cheese, nutty Parmesan, crunchy bread crumbs and tantalizing herbs and spices. The mushrooms themselves have been grilled to perfection as they are hearty in taste, but delicate enough in texture to yield to your fork’s cut. Are you still with me or did you you already run to your kitchen to start making these? If you haven’t, then what are you waiting for?! Perfect as a side dish, main dish or even in place of traditional stuffing for a tasty twist this Thanksgiving, gifting these mushrooms to your guests might result in future spontaneous house calls around dinnertime. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Grilled and Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces turkey or chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces marscarpone cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup fresh grated Parmesan
  • 6 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Crumble the sausage and add it to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, or until cooked through, stirring often.
  2. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute then remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Add the marscarpone, parsley flakes, oregano, bread crumbs and ½ cup of the Parmesan to the cooked sausage and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Lightly coat the pan with olive oil or cooking spray then place the mushrooms stem side down on the grill pan. Lightly coat the tops of the mushrooms with olive oil or cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Cook the mushrooms for 4 minutes.
  6. Turn the mushrooms over and cook them for another 2 minutes.
  7. Carefully fill the mushrooms with the sausage mixture. Top with the remaining Parmesan cheese then tent some tin foil over the pan to help the Parmesan melt. Grill for another 6 minutes then remove from the heat and serve.
Notes
I used fully cooked roasted garlic chicken sausages from Trader Joe's and would highly recommend them for this recipe. If you use them as well follow these adaptations to the recipe above:
*Omit the minced garlic
*There is not a thick casing so you can simply crumble and tear the sausage with the casing intact
*Still complete the first step of the recipe even though they are cooked because it will help brown and warm the sausages

Recipe slightly adapted from Giada at Home.

French Onion Green Beans

Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week? It seems like I was just saying I couldn’t believe it was already November! I won’t be cooking for Thanksgiving, but I’m going to be posting Thanksgiving recipes for the next few posts for all of you who will be cooking this year. Although great as a Thanksgiving or winter holiday side dish, these French onion green beans are also easy enough for any day of the week this winter.

When I think about Thanksgiving, not only do savory side dishes and plates piled high with pie slices come to mind, but also post-turkey food comas and stomach aches. Between the mashed potatoes and gravy, sausage stuffing, sweet potato casserole and macaroni and cheese, there are many heavy side dishes that end up on the Thanksgiving table. I made these green beans as a light addition to your table that also won’t take up space in your oven. They have all the flavor of a green bean casserole without any of the creamed soup, milk or fried onions.

The original recipe called for a Lipton Onion mix packet, but I found a copycat recipe to use since I like to know exactly what ingredients I’m putting in my food (and can avoid unnecessary “ingredients” like caramel color and partially hydrogenated soybean oil). Everyone will be gobbling up their vegetables this holiday with these green beans on the menu. Enjoy!

French Onion Green Beans
 
Yield: 12 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups pearl onions
  • 1½ pound haircots verts
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup minced dried onion
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium beef bouillon powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Pinch of celery seed
  • Pinch of sugar
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the pearl onions, cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, boil some water, add salt and cook haircots verts for 3 minutes. Drain and immediately place the greens into ice water until cool. Drain the greens.
  3. Add the garlic, Worcestershire and spices to the onions then stir.
  4. Add the wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the haircots verts and cook for 4 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, zest and season with pepper.
Notes
Make sure you use the low sodium beef bouillon powder or the dish will be too salty.

Recipe adapted from November/December 2013 issue of Cuisine at Home and Food.com.