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?

 

Basic Chocolate Bark Recipe

Chocolate Bark is a great recipe to have in your arsenal. It is always a hit, so versatile and incredibly easy to make! You can make it for Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day, 4th of July or on a rainy Saturday. It only takes about 30 minutes (5 to 10 minutes of actual work).

Here is the basic recipe:

Basic Chocolate Bark Recipe

Ingredients

1 – 16 ounce bag of chocolate chips (white, dark or milk chocolate)

Toppings, optional

Directions

Prep a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment or wax paper the same size as the pan. Spray with cooking spray. Prep your ingredients. Pour all the chocolate chips into a glass bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, mixing the chips each time in between. It should take about 3 rounds, around 90 seconds total.  Pour the melted chocolate onto the prepared sheet and spread out to about 1/8 inch thick.

After pouring then add your favorite toppings and lightly press in. Place in freezer for about 20 minutes. Break into pieces. Keep refrigerated.

Topping ideas:

Baklava Bark – Add 1/3 cup crushed nuts (pistachios, walnuts or almonds), zest of one lemon and honey drizzled on top.

Holiday Bark – Add 2 crushed candy canes.

Cookies and Cream- Add about 4-6 crushed GF oreos (I like GF Trader Joe’s Os or Glutino cookies)

Trail Mix Bark – Add 1/4 cup of partially crushed pretzels (I like synder’s GF or Glutino) and 1/4 cup of craisins

Smores Bark – add about 1/4 cup of crushed graham crackers (I like Schar’s GF graham crackers) and about 1/ 4 cup of mini marshmallows. If you like, use a culinary torch to lightly toast the marshmallows.

The options are limitless. Bark is a great idea to make alongside your holiday dessert or put them in clear gift bags and give as a parting gift.

If you need some more dessert ideas try my Raspberry Lemon Thyme Tiramisu or Boston Cream Pie Cake or GF Crispy Treats or Chocolate Pudding Pie or if you are feeling adventurous try my Baked Alaska.

Baked Alaska

Check one item off my 2017 Cooking Bucket List! For Valentine’s Day I made Baked Alaska for my family. It is definitely old fashioned and definitely delicious! I scoured the internet and my cookbook collection for recipes to learn the process. Allrecipes.com never fails to provide good recipes, so I used this recipe to make sure I got the meringue right.  Some use pound cake and sorbet and bake the meringue while others use sponge cake and ice cream and use a torch on the meringue. The thought of putting ice cream in the oven, made me nervous, so I decided to go the torch route. Plus that is more fun!

Baked Alaska

Ingredients

1 gallon of Hood Patchwork ice cream

1 box of gluten free chocolate cake mix, plus an extra egg (I like Wegmans GF chocolate cake mix)

8 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of sugar

Directions

Take the gallon of ice cream out to soften, about 10 to 15 minutes. Prepare a medium sized bowl by lining with plastic wrap, wax paper or parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray. Press the ice cream down into the bowl and cover. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

Make 8 inch round cake according to instructions, adding the extra egg. Cool the cake and cut to size of the ice cream in the bowl if needed. Press cake onto the bottom of the ice cream. Cover and freeze for another 4 hours or overnight. About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve, take the bowl of ice cream and cake out of the freezer and make the meringue. Add the remaining ingredients to a mixing bowl. Whip until stiff peaks form. Turn the bowl with ice cream and cake onto a plate and take the bowl and wrap or paper off.

Frost the ice cream with the meringue. Take a culinary torch and run it over all the meringue until toasted. Serve immediately. Freeze the leftovers.

It was much easier to make than I thought. It does take planning, however. I froze the ice cream in the bowl and made the cake one night. The next morning (day of service) I cut the cake to fit the ice cream and put back in the freezer until after dinner, when I finished it with the meringue.

Working my way through my bucket list. I found cornish game hens on sale this week and put them in the freezer, so a fancy dinner where we will each have our own “little chicken” according to my kids, is coming soon 🙂 What is on your cooking bucket list? What would you love to cook?

Sweet Potato Coconut Curry Soup and my favorite soups from 2016

Soup is warm and comforting especially on crazy cold, rainy/snowy and windy days like we seem to be having here south of Boston. Coming in from shoveling, walking the dog or just your hectic day, having a bowl of soup is a great way to slow your day down and unwind for even 5 minutes, while you enjoy it.

Here is a great recipe for one of my favorite soups which happens to also be naturally vegan and gluten-free.

Sweet Potato Coconut Curry Soup

Ingredients

½ of a large sweet onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 6 cups)

2 Tablespoons fresh grated ginger

3 cups vegetable OR chicken stock

13.5 oz can coconut milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Cook onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat, until tender. Pour into your crock pot and put the crock pot on high. Add the potatoes, sweet potatoes, ginger and stock. Cook on high for about 4 hours. Once all the potatoes are tender, puree the soup, either with an immersion blender or allowing to cool and then carefully pour into your blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Add the coconut milk, salt and pepper. Cook for another 30 minutes in crock pot and then serve.

Here are my other favorite soups from 2016:

Butternut Squash Soup

Potato Leek Soup

Hot and Sour Soup to Warm your Soul

Chicken Noodle Soup

Any of these would be a great addition to your New Years feast! I am making French Onion soup 🙂 Recipe will follow in 2017!

 

 

 

Ice Cream!

There is not much better than an ice cream sundae! Ice cream is also one of the easiest desserts for a crowd. You can make an ice cream sundae bar as fancy or as basic as you want. Make your own fudge sauce or use the bottle of Hershey syrup that you already have in the fridge. Cut up some bananas or just put out a jar of maraschino cherries. Make your own whipped cream or buy a can of it.

Whipped cream is something I love to make. Don’t get me wrong, we buy the Redi-Whip cans sometimes (they are gluten-free!) and have been known to spray it into an open mouth 😉 but I LOVE fresh whipped cream. It is very easy to do.

Fresh Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 pint of whipping cream

2 Tablespoons of confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Directions

Place metal mixing bowl in fridge the morning you want to make whipped cream. Take out when you are ready to mix. Pour entire pint of whipping cream into bowl. Start whipping. When it is frothy, add confectioners sugar and vanilla. Whip until stiff peaks form.

Put the bowl out with your other sundae toppings, fudge, sprinkles, cherries and an assortment of ice cream flavors. For our holiday dessert we had Hood Peppermint Stick, Vanilla and Fenway Fudge (all gluten free).

Whether you are running around returning things, doing more shopping or relaxing around the house, this is a fun way to do dessert! Especially would be fun for a kids party. A dessert both kids and kids at heart will love!

 

Mussels for your New Year’s Celebration

An easy, festive and light idea for your New Year’s Eve celebration is a big pot of mussels! All you need along side it is a good loaf of crusty bread. You can accomplish that with gluten free bread by toasting it and it is just as good to dip it into the broth! You will soon have a bowl of empty shells.

Mussels with White Balsamic Broth

 

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup of diced white onion

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 pounds of mussels, cleaned 

3 Tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 to 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth

handful of fresh cilantro or basil, torn

Directions

Heat olive oil in medium sized pot. Cook onions and garlic in oil for a couple of minutes. Add mussels and stir. Add remaining ingredients, stir and cover for about 10-15 minutes, or until all the mussels are open. If a mussel doesn’t open, discard it. Toss with cilantro and serve.

With all the holiday festivities, heavy food and sweets turning toward lighter but still delicious feasts are welcome! What are you serving for New Years?

More Holiday Treats and Sweet Breakfast Idea

There are many holiday treats that can be made naturally gluten free and there are those that need to be adapted. These sweet holiday recipes are ones that I have adapted because my kids love them!

My son can clear a whole plate of pancakes in seconds. He is a pancake vacuum. He has been since before his celiac disease diagnosis, so I had to find a way to continue to make pancakes for him.

Pancakes can be an easy breakfast for Christmas morning. Make them the day before or several days ahead and freeze and just reheat in the toaster, toaster oven or regular oven. This recipe for Whole Wheat Buttermilk pancakes from Cooking Light has been my go to pancake recipe for years. I have adapted it to be gluten free and change the flavoring according to season. So for Christmas it is Gingerbread pancakes!

Gingerbread Pancakes

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of Cup4Cup GF flour (substitute your favorite flour)

4 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg

1 1/2 cups milk + 1 Tablespoon white vinegar (or 1 1/2 cups buttermilk)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

3 eggs

2 1/2 Tablespoons molasses

Directions

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients together in another bowl that is easy to pour. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Let it rest for about 10 minutes. Cook on a griddle set at 375 degrees or a pan on medium high heat.

I serve it with maple syrup. You can add come whipped cream and strawberries to make it a festive holiday breakfast.

Now if that isn’t enough sweetness for you, here is another holiday treat idea. I have been making these pretzel kiss sandwiches for years! Even BGF (Before Gluten Free). I first got the idea from Cookies and Cups. A minor substitution is all it takes to make this treat safe for you, your family or friends who have celiac disease. Use gluten free pretzels. That is it. Hershey kisses (plain milk chocolate) are gluten free.

Pretzel Kiss Sandwiches

Ingredients

1-8 ounce bag of Snyders Gluten Free Mini Pretzels (need about 160 pretzels)

2 – 12 ounce bags of Hershey Kisses (won’t need all the kisses, but probably about 80)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place parchment paper on 2 cookie sheets. Unwrap about 80 Hershey Kisses. Lay out one layer of pretzels on each cookie sheet and place a Hershey Kiss on top of them. Place in oven for 2 minutes. Take out and let rest for 1 minute then top each with another pretzel.  Allow to cool. Keep in an airtight container.

Tomorrow I’ll continue with some savory dishes for your holiday parties! Here are some other sweet ideas:

Raspberry Lemon and Thyme Tiramisu

Gluten-free Crispy Treats for the Holidays

A sweet ending to the meal and sweet beginning to the face of Mamma’s Cooking

Gluten-Free Holiday Treats

Gingerbread Cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spoon Roast

I cannot say enough good things about a spoon roast. It makes your house smell amazing and it is seriously easy to cook.

Spoon Roast

Ingredients

2 1/2 to 3 pound spoon roast

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  For rare cook at 500 degrees for 5 minutes per pound (medium rare 6-7 minutes per pound, medium 8-9 minutes per pound, medium well 10-11 minutes per pound). Then turn the oven off. Do not open the oven. Set timer for 2 hours. Take out and slice to order!

I don’t make a gravy for this because it’s more work and I’d like to enjoy the meal with my family 🙂 I think a pesto or horseradish cream sauce would be great with it. You can make either sauce the day before.

Horseradish cream sauce

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons of sour cream

1 Tablespoon mascarpone

3 – 4 teaspoons of horseradish

1/2 teaspoon of onion powder

pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Mix in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I am serving this on Christmas day with twice baked potatoes, a cauliflower casserole and peas and make your own ice cream sundae’s for dessert! Keeping it simple. I can make the potatoes and casserole the day before and just heat it up after the the roast comes out and saute the peas quickly with some butter, salt, pepper and fresh thyme.

What are your favorite holiday meals? If you are making turkey, below find the link to brining your turkey. It is so good!

Cooking your Thanksgiving Turkey

 

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?!

Raspberry Lemon and Thyme Tiramisu

Fancy dessert alert! It looks fancy, tastes light and delicious, yet is very easy to make. You can make it beforehand and bring with you wherever you are going or if you are hosting it would look beautiful on your holiday table.

Raspberry Lemon and Thyme Tiramisu

Ingredients

8 ounce tub of mascarpone

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Zest of 1 lemon

¼ cup of powdered sugar

½ cup of thyme simple syrup (1 cup sugar and 1 cup of water brought to a boil with 3 sprigs of thyme, cook for 5 minutes and allow to cool. Store in fridge.

1-5.3 ounce package of Scharr gluten free lady fingers (or your favorite)

1 dry pint of raspberries (any berries really would work)

¼ cup of melted chocolate chips, optional.

Directions

Mix (with an electric mixer) mascarpone, whipping cream and lemon zest until combined. Add the powdered sugar and mix until fully combined. Put 1/3 of the cream mixture on the bottom of a small glass dish (I use a rectangular 6 cup -1.5 liter, pyrex dish). Dip each lady finger in the simple syrup and place a layer of them on the cream. Place a layer of the raspberries over the lady fingers. Repeat. On final layer of raspberries add the final 1/3 of the cream and then top with more fresh raspberries.

Optional: melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and then drizzle on top of the raspberries.

The simple syrup is also useful for cocktails. Most brands of Limoncello are gluten free, but check with the company to make sure if you are making this for an adult with celiac disease.

Lemon Thyme Martini

Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces of Thyme simple syrup

3 ounces of Limoncello

3 ounces of Vodka

Directions

Pour into a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.

Tis’ the season! Enjoy this twist on tiramisu. More than half way through this month of posts. Hopefully there have been some recipes that you all have enjoyed. If you have made something, let me know how it turned out! I would love to hear about it!