Tag Archives: side dish

Easy cheesy potatoes

I hope you guys have had an amazing weekend. Like me, you should be sitting back, relaxing, patting yourself on the back for getting those few pesky chores done and smiling on all the fun you just had. Because like me, you just had the perfect summer weekend. That totally happened for you too, right?

This gal got to go to Duluth and see her indomitable brother not only complete Grandma’s Marathon, but do it with a smile on his face. In a word. Amazing. Oh and one more. Inspiring.
It was great to see him and our friends push themselves past their limits. Also super fun was cheering on all those runners, friends or not.

Grandmas Marathon-1

Then today on a foray for breakfast, we met a couple of amazing small farmers, selling produce fresh from their greenhouse. They had everything we were looking to do (albeit on a much larger scale). They were certainly the nicest couple, and willing to share some pointers and fantastic produce. Brekkie was quickly followed by a nap in the hammock and now I’m re-energized for more.

Now, fill in the gap in time (and space) between those two paragraphs and fill it with talking, laughter, and foodie love. Yeah that was my very perfect weekend. And now to top it off with the easiest side dish in all the lands. Now keep in mind, I live in the frozen tundra so even in June, it’s no big to have my oven on for 30, but if you live in warmer climes, pop these into a well oiled foil packet and toss ‘em on your grill. Easy, cheesy, comfort food, and the simplest side dish imaginable.


Easy cheesy potatoes from thePenandthePan

Easy cheesy potatoes

2 lbs potatoes
½ cup onion, chopped
½ cup green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
¾ – 1 cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.

Clean, trim, and peel potatoes (if desired). Slice potatoes into ¼ inch pieces and place in 9×13” pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Top with onions and green pepper. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Bake uncovered at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and potatoes are pierced easily with a fork.


Greek green beans

Four glorious days off in a row! I love my jobs, but this dose of “idleness” and sunshine is just what I needed.Note the “idleness” in quotes. You know me, days off of work just means that I’ll find a different way to fill that time. Friday was filled with spring cleaning and today is full of cooking and delicious recipe ideas. Then sandwiched in between was a great visit from my brother and an awesome Easter dinner with g’ma and g’pa.

Today is one of those days I yearn for in the middle of a stressful week. It’s gray and a little chill out, but that just means puttering around in the kitchen with a giant mug of tea is the perfect way to spend the day. I get to fill my house with delicious smells (and tastes, of course), all the while not feeling guilty about being indoors. After all, testing recipes and prepping amazing things for this week’s lunch is awfully important too. Well, that and shopping for purses on the interwebs, I mean, this girl’s gotta accessorize too.

These delicious green beans might have been my favorite part of the aforementioned Easter dinner. The crunch of green beans with the fresh herbs and bite of lemon just gets up and yells “SPRING!” to me. Nope, not a subtle flavor here. These beans crawl right up in your face. And the only thing that’s going to make them any tastier is when the beans, mint, and dill are fresh picked from my garden. This is sure to be my (and yours too!) go-to green bean recipe this summer.


Greek green beans

Greek green beans

Lightly adapted from Bon Appetit

1 ½ lbs green beans, cleaned and trimmed
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh mint leaves
1 ½ tablespoons chopped, fresh dill
zest and juice of one lemon, less if desired
½ cup feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350º.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Place into a 2 quart casserole dish. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until heated through. Serve immediately.

Squash and apple gratin

The fall harvest is starting to show up everywhere, and I have a confession to make about it. I just cannot pass up winter squash or apples at this time of the year. I’ll open my refrigerator and suddenly find that I’m inundated with squash and apple. But then I’ll find myself passing by the farmers’ market or grocery store, or one of those rad roadside farm stands, and I just can’t help myself. It’s the only time of the year that I succumb to something like this, but guys, it’s bad.

So, what was I to do, but try to combine both the apples and squash in a casserole? It was the only answer, really. The sharp cheddar cheese is important. The flavors of the cheese and apple, bring the squash to the next level. Don’t mess around with those medium cheddars, they can’t stand up to this job. Save ‘em for your sandwiches and crackers.

So even if you take away nothing else from this post, I have to share this tip with you. I heard it a couple a years ago, and have been using it since. We all know winter squash is a right pain to cut. So here’s the trick, take a sharp knife and pierce the squash several times, then pop it in the microwave for two, maybe three minutes. Let it cool slightly, then slice it up. Easy, breezy.

And now back to that gratin. This recipe is adapted from an old Betty Crocker side dish cookbook for Squash and Cranberry Gratin, but is a little sweet to my taste, though I love the mix of squash and cranberry. You can expect to see those flavors in the near future.


Squash and apple gratin

Squash and apple gratin

Adapted from Betty Crocker’s Squash and Cranberry Gratin

3 cups winter squash (1 large-ish squash)
⅔ cup finely chopped tart apple (1 medium apple)
½ medium onion chopped
3 Tbsp butter, melted, divided
Salt and pepper to taste, be generous
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 teaspoon ground sage
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Pierce squash several times with sharp knife. Microwave whole squash for 2 minutes. This will make the squash easier to cut. Cut squash into fourths and remove seeds. Place cut sides down in a microwave safe dish, cover and microwave until tender, about 14 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Discard squash seeds and scoop squash into a medium bowl, mix in apples, onions, garlic, sage and 2 Tbsp melted butter. Press into lightly greased casserole dish. Sprinkle squash with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese over squash and then top cheese with panko breadcrumbs. Drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp butter. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Chicken sausage stuffed zucchini

You were promised more regular posts, and more regular posts you shall have! However, I did fail in my effort to get more pictures inside the house for you. Himself and I both had the day off today, so instead of taking pictures, I moved a pile of boxes into the living room and back bedroom. Getting settled in is taking a wee bit here. I’d like to think it’s because there’s so much awesomeness going on outside. Upon waking this morning, I saw that a few of the trees had already started to change color, a forceful reminder that winter is about to come knocking at my door. I know full well that there is one loooooooooong winter ahead of me, so I figure we’d better get out enjoy it while we can.

We have some pretty big tasks to tackle outside before that winter rolls in too. This overgrown patch right here is where my garden is going to live next year. A little overgrown now, sure, but that just means that ground is just waiting for my tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and eggplant. As I type this, I can hear Himself tackling the weeds. I bet he already found the raspberry bushes and horseradish hiding in there. Later, we’re going to terrace it and add a gutter to the barn to help water it. Though if you look real close, you can see the well pump and faucet, where the best water in all the lands comes from.
20130911-170218.jpgWe also have a nice little hillock (a word I will never tire of). I’m calling that Pine Island, a nice high spot that’s covered with wild strawberries in high summer. This winter, Himself is going to be working on a footbridge to cross the wee creek on. Just a wee bit safer than the moss covered log, we’re currently using. Those of you that know me well, know that it’s just a matter of time before I end up in that creek if we keep using the log to cross. We also discovered a natural spring that helps feed that creek. Though overgrown, it’s landscaped in with rocks. Once we get it all cleaned out, you’ll be able to hear the gurgling of the spring from Pine Island and the main bedroom!

You guys, so far, I’m pretty much convinced I live in the best place on earth too. We’re not too far from town, but it feels like the middle of nowhere sometimes. We can go most of the day without hearing another human sound. And at night, the stars, oh boy, the stars! I can even see the Milky Way! Now don’t scoff, but no matter how bad a day I think I’m having, all I have to do is go outside and look at where I’m at. All this hard work, well, it’s totally worth it.

Ok, ok, enough of me and my goofiness. You guys want a recipe. So, I’ve been trying for a great stuffed zucchini recipe, and I finally have one for you. It’s adapted from this feta stuffed zucchini recipe from House Dressing, but I went with a sharp cheddar and added chicken sausage. Stick around and you’ll soon learn that this house loves their chicken sausage. The recipe has been scaled down to stuff one zucchini, but let’s all be honest, zucchini comes by the armful, so feel free to increase the proportions. 20130911-170354.jpg

Chicken sausage stuffed zucchini

1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
½ Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp onion, finely chopped
⅛ cup finely minced chicken sausage
1 egg
⅛ cup bread crumbs
⅛ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tsp chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp sundried tomatoes, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out the insides of zucchini, taking care not to pierce the outer skin. Set zucchini “boats” aside.

Chop up the zucchini insides into small pieces. In a small saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add zucchini, onion, and chicken sausage. Saute just until onion has softened. Remove from pan and cool slightly.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs, and then mix in bread crumbs, cheese, basil, tomatoes (if desired), and the slightly cooled zucchini mixture. Stuff mixture into the zucchini boats and place stuffed boats into lightly greased pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until lightly browned and zucchini pierces easily.


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