Archive for the ‘Side Dishes’ Category

Because it’s GREEN (you know, for Christmas?!), AND I love it, I figured we’d feature this basil pesto sauce from yet one more Chicagogrammer on the Recipe Countdown! I truly can’t believe I’ve blogged for 23 days straight, and so far I’ve only made one of these recipes. Hint: it was a dip. Leave me a comment if you know which one it was. But back to pesto! This classic recipe comes to us from Kelly of Chicago Supper Club, and it looks fantastic. Man I love pesto.
Classic Basil Pesto

Classic Basil Pesto


  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for storage
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino romano or Asiago cheese
  • coarse sea salt to taste

For the full recipe with instructions, visit Chicago Supper Club!

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Another day, another recipe, another member of Chicagogrammers. This time we’ve got Maggie from The Love Nerds hitting us up with a side dish that I ABSOLUTELY will be trying soon! I LOVE Minute Rice Medleys, and the addition of cranberry, pear and spinach is clearly welcome in my book!! Hey Mom, if you’re reading this, maybe we should make this as a Christmas dish?!


Cranberry Pear Spinach Rice Pilaf


  • 2 Bags of Minute Rice Multi-Grain Medley
  • 1¾ cups pear juice (substitute for the water exactly)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pear, chopped
  • 1½ c dried cranberries
  • 1 c chopped pecans
  • 2 c spinach

For the full recipe with instructions, please visit The Love Nerds. It’s a truly wonderful blog packed with so much deliciousness! PS – Maggie, I really want to be invited to your next food event!!


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You may remember my recent post at my experience at Cara’s Place, the one night only pop up restaurant put together for Morton Salt’s At Home Chef experience. Well, you may also remember that I promised to give you the recipe just as soon as I could? It’s time. You will want this recipe. These were the best sweet potatoes I’VE EVER HAD. Trust me.

sweet potatoes 1

Maple Bacon Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 Large sweet potatoes (peeled and large diced)
  • 1 Small onion (small diced)
  • 1 Anchovy fillet (rinsed and chopped)
  • 2 oz. Applewood smoked bacon (large diced)
  • 2 oz. Full fat sour cream
  • 1⁄4 cup Parsley leaves (washed and chopped finely, measured before chopping)
  • 1 oz. Whole butter
  • 1 oz. Maple syrup
  • Morton kosher salt

For the full recipe, please visit the Morton Salt website. Do it. Do it now!!

sweet potatoes

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30 minute panzanella

I feel like I haven’t cooked anything in ages. We’re T-30 or so days until we move, and dinners have been a weird mashup of items long forgotten in the freezer paired with pantry staples because who wants to cart a freezer full of meat to a new apartment, or, more popular than ever – sandwiches. We had a few slices of sourdough leftover from last week, and I’ve been craving summer ingredients: fresh tomatoes, basil, avocado, etc… We whipped up this simple summer panzanella in less than 30 minutes, and it was exactly what I was after – fresh and delicious, tasted like summer. The bread still has a slight crunch and chew to it, the tomatoes are their perfect summertime selves, and the avocado is a no-brainer addition.

Let’s be true to my kitchen style – I’ve never made panzanella before because it’s….a….bread (carbs, devil!!)….salad, but found an easy recipe from Food 52 and slightly read the ingredients and instructions before attempting this myself. I think I added perhaps a bit too much balsamic (as noted with eyebrows raised by Main Squeeze when I was liberally dousing the tomato mixture with it), so I’ve adjusted the recipe to taste. BTW, it was still super delicious.


Simple Summer Panzanella


  • 3 cups 1-inch cubes of bread (great way to use up older bread)
  • tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Sea salt or garlic salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • pounds tomatoes (any kind or flavor you prefer in the summer)
  • shallot, peeled and minced
  • tablespoons balsamic vinegar (you can also use any flavor you prefer, and might want to use white balsamic if you want your salad to be extra pretty)
  • 4 to 5 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped into smallish bits
  • 1/2 cup basil, chiffonade or chopped
  • Avocado, diced


Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or coat with cooking spray.  Toss bread cubes with 3 tablespoons olive oil until evenly coated and arrange on the pan. Season lightly with garlic salt and pepper. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, tossing halfway through cooking, until crisp and browned. Congratulations, you’ve just made croutons. Remove from oven and toss into large prep bowl.


Chop your tomatoes and combine with minced shallot, balsamic, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and mozzarella together in bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes to get extra juicy. Pour mixture over bread and let sit for at least 10-15 minutes (you can put it in the fridge) to allow bread to soak up the juices. Stir halfway through. Add diced avocado at the end and stir to mix.

Tomatoes for Panzanella

Top with salt or garlic salt and pepper and serve.

Bread Salad

Simple Panzanella




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Candied Balsamic Tomato & Sweet Corn SaladCandied Balsamic Tomato & Sweet Corn Salad.


Tomato & Sweet Corn Salad


Candied Balsamic Tomato & Sweet Corn Salad

4 cups grape tomatoes (approx 1 Trader Joe’s container)
1 cup corn (fresh cut off the cob is best)
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves, torn
Cooking spray

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, coat with cooking spray.  Add tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes or until tomatoes release juices.  Combine sugar, salt and pepper; sprinkle over tomatoes; cook 2 more minutes.  Drizzle with vinegar and cook about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Transfer tomato mixture to a serving bowl.  Add corn, onion and basil and toss gently. Can be served immediately warm or chilled. I added the corn in the serving bowl, but you could also add the corn earlier in the pan. The recipe makes approximately 3-4 servings.
Candied Tomato & Sweet Corn Salad
Tomato & Sweet Corn Salad
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This recipe brings me back to the glorious days of my first job (which I only left this year, and still adore all the people I worked with). Each year one of our founders would play Santa Claus at the company Christmas party and pass out bags of whole pecans to all the employees on the nice list. Then I’d roast the pecans in the oven with a stick of melted butter and a bunch of sea salt and have a delicious, buttery nut snack.

Today, Erin, from Erin’s Inside Job, brings us something similar, but with maple and spice. I believe these may be the super buttery nut version of the Master Cleanse. I’m all in favor of a nut cleanse.

Maple Spiced Pecans

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