Side Dishes

Asian Sesame Mashed Potatoes

I promise these are real mashed potatoes. They aren’t secretly pumpkin cupcakes or some bizarre looking vanilla cotton candy. It’s April 24th, not April 1st. There is, however, a surprise to these mashed potatoes. They don’t taste like any mashed potatoes you have ever had the pleasure of tasting. Sometimes expanding our tastebuds into unfamiliar territories is a good thing. This is one of those times.

When contemplating what to serve with Tuesday’s pacific halibut foil packets with shiitakes and snap peas I could only think of my two asian food standbys:  rice and noodles. Both seemed like fine, but very boring, options for a dish with a light and thin sauce. There was one comment on the original recipe that mentioned serving it with mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes and asian cuisine? It certainly seemed like an odd combination so of course I knew I had to try it.

The humble potato is pretty bland on its own and tends to take on whatever flavor profile it is intertwined with, usually butter, milk and salt for the purpose of mashed potatoes. Mimicking some of the asian flavors in the fish dish would, hopefully, provide the perfect complement. And it did! Success! These mashed potatoes were so uniquely tasty and I can’t wait to serve them with stir-fries, sesame chicken or even to jazz up a meal of simple grilled chicken.

I kept the side dish as healthy as one can when we’re talking about mashed potatoes by substituting Greek yogurt for the usual milk or cream. The potatoes are creamy with a strong nuttiness from the toasted sesame oil. Give it a shot and let your tastebuds venture into delicious unfamiliar territory.

Asian Sesame Mashed Potatoes
 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
  • 4 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Directions
  1. Boil the potatoes in a large saucepan for 30 minutes, or until they are very tender. Drain the potatoes using a colander then place the cooked potatoes back in the pot.
  2. Mash the potatoes very well then add the Greek yogurt, butter, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Mash again until the potatoes are well mixed and fluffy. Adjust sesame oil, salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds on top and serve hot.

Recipe slightly adapted from myrecipes.

Crispy Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

Asparagus has always been one of my favorite vegetables, even when I was a picky little kid. Everyone always loves the tops, which for some reason are my least favorite part. My dad doesn’t like the stems so sometimes we swap. Just like how Matt’s favorite Starburst are the red and orange, while mine are the yellow and pink. You can’t force these things. Only fate can cause the food stars to perfectly align.

My favorite way to cook asparagus is to roast them. It is incredibly simple and I am all about ease of preparation, especially on weeknights, but more importantly roast asparagus are delicious. They are tender, yet crunchy, have a slight char, and they soak up all the flavor from the olive oil and seasonings.

You might be nodding your head and thinking, “Yeah, roast asparagus are the best! They are so tasty there’s nothing in the world that could make them taste even more awesome!” But, my friends, you need to go one step further.

Prosciutto. Salty, delicate prosciutto makes everything better. Especially when it’s blanketing a spear of roast asparagus. I’ve had prosciutto wrapped asparagus a variety of ways, but I’m really digging this crispy version. The prosciutto is wrapped on the raw asparagus before being broiled to crispy perfection.

Served warm or cold, these are right on par for your next gathering this spring. Easy to make and so tasty everyone will be fighting over vegetables. What’s better than that?

Crispy Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Place an oven rack about 5-6 inches below the heating element then preheat the oven to broil.
  2. Lay the asparagus on a baking sheet then toss with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Wrap each stalk of asparagus with a slice of prosciutto. Take 1 piece of prosciutto and wrap it tightly around the asparagus stalk in an upward spiral starting at the bottom of the stalk. Repeat for the rest of the asparagus.
  4. Spread the wrapped asparagus out on the baking sheet so that none of them are touching each other. Broil the asparagus for 3 minutes, flip the asparagus, then broil for 3 more minutes. The prosciutto should be crisped and lightly browned.

Recipe from CHOW.

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.