Easy, Fancy Hasselback Potatoes

Hasselback potatoes were very popular last year, so naturally I’m finally getting on the bandwagon. Easy side dishes that look fancy are always great for a holiday table, entertaining friends, potlucks or even to spice up an ordinary Wednesday night.

Cheesy Hasselback Potatoes

Ingredients

5 large potatoes, thinly sliced but not all the way through to the bottom.

1 clove of garlic, minced

4 Tablespoons of butter, melted

1 teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of pepper

5 springs of thyme, removed from stem or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme

About 4 ounces of gouda, finely shredded (parmesan would also be good)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray small casserole dish or a cake pan with non-stick spray. Mix garlic, butter, salt, pepper and thyme in a cup. Place sliced potatoes in pan and then pour butter mixture over top, making sure it gets into each slice of potato. Top with shredded cheese and make sure some of it gets into each slice of potato. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes and uncovered for 25 minutes.

This can easily be made in advance and then reheated in the oven or under the broiler before serving.

I love dishes that look fancy, taste amazing and are super easy to make. This is definitely one of those dishes. What is your go to side dish? I also love making polenta or mashed potatoes and then add some green beans, acorn squash or even some decadent burrata with tomatoes and basil.

Gluten-free on the Road and a slow cooker mashed potato recipe!

Cooking in a kitchen that is not your own can be nerve wracking! Whether your home kitchen is fully gluten-free (GF) or not, cooking at a vacation rental or someone else’s house requires an extra level of preparedness to be safe.

If the house is close by, one option is to make the meal at your own house and bring it with you. When driving for a trip, I pack a Rubbermaid tub with the cooking essentials. If we are sharing the house with others, I make sure everyone knows that that box is only to be used for gluten-free cooking.

Checklist for Cooking Meals in a Non-GF Kitchen:

  1. Aluminum foil (and lots of it!) – this can cover cookie sheets, serving platters and grills and wrap around food to keep the chance of cross-contamination low. Don’t forget a sharpie to mark GF as needed.
  2. Cutting board (Bring a large wooden cutting board to double as a serving platter for you’re your Thanksgiving turkey if needed)
  3. Frying pan
  4. Pasta pot
  5. Colander
  6. Paper plates and bowls
  7. Plastic cups
  8. Plastic forks, spoons and knives
  9. Chef’s knife (transport it in a paper towel tube)
  10. Spatula
  11. Whisk (I have used a plastic fork instead of whisk many times, so bring it only if you have space)
  12. Mixing spoon that can double as a serving spoon
  13. Gallon and sandwich size Ziploc bags or containers for leftovers
  14. Chicken stock
  15. GF flour
  16. Sugar, salt and pepper, condiments and other herbs that you like to keep separate
  17. Aluminum cake pans, casserole or bread pans, if needed
  18. Crockpot or crockpot liners (When not using the crockpot, I use the bowl as my mixing bowl for other recipes)
  19. Cheese grater

To separate items in the refrigerator, either designate a separate shelf (the higher the better) and/or a drawer. If it’s a small amount put it in a small Rubbermaid bin.

This seems like a lot. I know. It’s a mobile kitchen. If you are not going to be cooking entire meals, then you will not need all these items. Everyone’s checklist will look different depending on what you are cooking. Keep your recipes simple and bring only what you need to make your recipes. If you are flying, consider buying cheap or one-use versions of what you might need at your destination.

An easy way to keep things simple while on vacation is to make a one pot meal in a crock pot. It will feed a crowd, allow you to enjoy the day and can easily be made gluten-free. This is especially important on holidays. Here is a mashed potato recipe you can make entirely in your crock pot.

Slow Cooker Mashed potatoes

Ingredients

About 6 medium yellow potatoes, washed and diced

1 ½ cups milk

3 Tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of pepper

4 ounces of cream cheese, optional

Directions

Add potatoes, milk, butter, salt and pepper to slow cooker. Cook on high for 2 ½ to 3 hours. Add cream cheese if you like cheesier mashed potatoes. Mash or whip with handheld mixer. Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed and it is ready to serve. To keep warm, pour about 1/4 cup of milk over top, cover and set on low or warm until service. Then just mix in milk and its ready for some gravy!

How do you cook gluten or allergen free when you are traveling? You can try my easy chili  or pasta with mascarpone recipe.

Holiday Side Dish Ideas

Side dishes are often my favorite part of the meal. They enhance the main course. They can be warm and comforting or light and refreshing. They can be vegetarian, vegan and gluten free or full of butter, bacon and cheese, still gluten free 🙂 Side dishes give you an opportunity to use seasonal vegetables to make your meal amazing, butternut squash in the fall or asparagus in the spring.

Last winter we moved into a new house and were very excited for spring to see what was going to grow. We were not expecting asparagus, but one day the kids were playing out back and discovered stalks of asparagus growing out of the ground! We learned that asparagus is difficult to grow. It takes years to establish a patch of asparagus. We are very lucky that the previous owner had a green thumb! Here is a simple roasted asparagus recipe that would be a great addition to your holiday table.

Roasted Asparagus

Ingredients

About 1 pound of fresh asparagus, trimmed

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

¾ of a teaspoon salt

1/8 of a teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss all the ingredients together on a sheet pan. Spread asparagus out and roast for about 10 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and transfer asparagus to a serving platter.

This is such a great, simple recipe that you can prep in the morning and put in the oven just before serving. Similarly you can do this with Green Beans.

I’m going to serve this asparagus dish at Easter with a version of my Twice Baked Potatoes. If you are looking for a decadent side dish try this Sweet Potato Gratin or easy Polenta. However, if you have time, try making Potato Gnocchi or Quinoa Risotto to wow your guests.

You can make your holiday meals as simple or involved as you like. I have learned over the years, for me, I try to keep it simple on the holidays, make things I can prep ahead of time that don’t involve a lot of hands on work the day of. For example, if I am serving mashed potatoes, I make it in the morning or day before and then put into the crock pot to keep warm or reheat.  For us it is easier to make everything rather than worry about cross-contamination if someone brings something with gluten in it. How do you handle the holidays with food allergies or Celiac disease?

 

Easy Green Bean Holiday Dish

It’s Christmas Eve! It’s the first night of Hanukkah! Still need a quick and easy side dish? Look no further than these roasted green beans!

Green Beans

Ingredients

About 1/2 pound of green beans, cleaned

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Clean green beans by rinsing and snapping of ends. Toss green beans with oil and spices and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve.

Green beans go nicely with pasta, roasts, turkey, ham, whatever you are serving!

Best wishes your cooking goes well over the next few days! Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect 🙂

Happy Holidays!

Other side dish ideas if you need:

Polenta, an easy holiday side dish

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish: My favorite! Acorn Squash

Twice Baked Potatoes, a perfect holiday side dish

 

 

Polenta, an easy holiday side dish

Instead of serving mashed potatoes at your holiday meal, why not try polenta? They are a creamy and delicious accompaniment to ham, turkey, roast beef or roast vegetables.  The two different ways I make it, are much easier and less hands on than mashed potatoes. I make them in the slow cooker, using this recipe from About.com and it comes out perfect, every single time. It takes about 2-3 hours in the slow cooker, but is basically completely hands off.

Most often I make polenta by taking a huge shortcut, buying the already made tubes at Trader Joe’s. Here is my recipe to transform those tubes into an amazingly smooth and cheesy polenta.

Quick Polenta

Ingredients

2-18 ounce tubes of Trader Joe’s Polenta

3 Tablespoons of butter

1 cup of milk (I use either 2% or whole)

1/4 cup of mascarpone or cream cheese

3 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped – optional

Directions

Take the polenta out of the tube and dice. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add butter and the diced polenta. Cover for about 2 minutes, then stir. Cook covered for another 3-6 minutes until the polenta is soft. Use a potato masher and mash the polenta. Add milk, mascarpone and herbs if using them.  Mash everything together and stir until smooth. You can then keep it warm in your crock pot or if you have a warming burner, you can put it there covered and serve within an hour or so.

You can use this polenta as part of an easy meal this week. I like to serve it with sausage and peppers.

Keep your menu simple and hopefully you will have a less stressful holiday!

Here are some other holiday side dish ideas:

Twice Baked Potatoes, a perfect holiday side dish

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish: My favorite! Acorn Squash

Quinoa Risotto

I guess Thanksgiving is coming soon?!

Potato Waffles

My kids have been asking me for latkes for the last couple weeks, so I decided to make my version last night, potato waffles. They went very nicely with our leftover slow cooked pork with gravy and acorn squash. Waffles seemed easier so that I wouldn’t have to stand over a pan and could just put the potato mixture in the waffle maker and go about with the other 5 things I was trying to do at the same time.

Potato Waffles

Ingredients

6 to 8 small potatoes (I used a mixture of white and yukon gold potatoes)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 Tablespoons of shredded parmesan

1 Tablespoon GF flour

Directions

Plug in waffle maker and allow it to heat up.  Heat oven to 200 degrees. After you shred potatoes spread them out on towels to dry and wring out all the liquid you can.  In a large bowl mix the potatoes with the remaining ingredients. Scoop about 1/3 of a cup of the mixture for each waffle. Makes about 8 waffles. When the waffle is cooked, place on a baking rack over a sheet pan and place in the 200 degree oven until you are ready to serve. I served it with sour cream and apple sauce.

I had 2 waffle makers going last night. One, my regular 4 square waffle maker and two, the Frozen waffle maker my daughter got for her birthday. So some of our waffles looked like snowflakes 🙂 This is a fun breakfast idea or good way to use up potatoes if you buy too many over the holidays.

Raspberry Lemon and Thyme Tiramisu recipe coming soon…Amazing and simple. Stay tuned!

 

Quinoa Risotto

Risotto is a decadent, delicious and extremely versatile side or main dish. You can make a quick version in your rice cooker or put the kids in front of a movie and make this slow version. The slow version is much, much better. Forty minutes of cooking in peace is also much better 🙂 You can choose to make it vegetarian, vegan or full of meat. It is naturally gluten free. Here is my basic recipe:

Quinoa Risotto

Ingredients

32 ounces of chicken or vegetable stock

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon of chopped fresh sage

½ cup of sweet onion, diced finely

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 cup quinoa

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large measuring cup, like this Pyrex one, mix stock, garlic, rosemary and sage. In a medium soup pot brown the onions in olive oil. Add the quinoa and stir for a couple of minutes. Add about 1 cup of the flavored stock and stir until it soaks in. Then repeat, until the quinoa is cooked and creamy. Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed. Then you can either serve as is or add in some cooked chicken and acorn squash or just the squash or roasted mushrooms, cooked peas, whatever you like.

You can make it more decadent by adding 1/2 cup of your favorite cheese. For example, cheddar and some broccoli or mozzarella and tomatoes, or just Parmesan.

To make risotto in your rice cooker, start the same way, heat the oil and onions in the rice cooker, then add the risotto. Add as much of the seasoned stock as your rice cooker will allow. Stir, cover and let cook. Then about 15 minutes later open the lid and stir again, adding more of the stock. Repeat until the risotto is the consistency you like and then add the meat, vegetables or cheese.

This could be a great side dish or main meal for a romantic dinner or for an elegant holiday meal. You can even wow your co-workers with this and bring it to a potluck. Keep it warm in a rice cooker or crock pot. I made it with cheddar and broccoli the other night and served it along side one of my cooking bucket list items: poached salmon. It was delicious! You’ll have to wait for that recipe 🙂

 

 

Twice Baked Potatoes, a perfect holiday side dish

Comforting, cheesy and delicious. Holidays often involve spending lots of time with family and even more time eating lots of food. Nostalgic comfort food is definitely more welcome at the table than talking about politics, religion or what Aunt Sylvia is wearing.

I have fond memories of my mom making twice baked potatoes and realized recently that I had never made them for my kids. They were even better than I remember.

Twice Baked Potato

twice-baked-potato-side-dish

Ingredients

8 small baked potatoes

2 cups + 1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar

4 ounces of cream cheese

1/2 cup of milk

2 Tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

foil-wrapped-baked-potatoes

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash your potatoes and make 2 to 3 fork pricks into each and wrap each potato with foil. Place foil wrapped potatoes in oven directly on rack for 45 minutes, flipping over half way through. While potatoes are baking, place 2 cups of cheddar, cream cheese, milk, butter and spices in a large bowl. Once the potatoes are cool enough to touch, cut each in half and scoop out the insides and add to the bowl. Mash the ingredients in the bowl together using a teaspoon to fill the potato shells. Top with the rest of the shredded cheese. Put back in the oven for 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.

twice-baked-potatoes

TIP: You can prep this ahead of time and then reheat at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes until heated through.

More holiday side dishes to come next week! Tomorrow, look out for more holiday treat ideas! And as always gluten free, but no one can tell 😉

Holiday side ideas from past posts:

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish: My favorite! Acorn Squash

I guess Thanksgiving is coming soon?!