On The Side

Often with a family of five the best approach to getting dinner on table is a divide and conquer strategy.

Today Kevin did what he did best which was grill steak and I put my attention on the sides to go with the meal. It has been a while since we had enjoyed baked sweet potatoes and fresh asparagus so they were the right sides to go with the meal.

Now I’ve never cooked asparagus before so I did some reading and went with this recipe from Food Network from Emeril.

From top: One pound fresh asparagus, snapped and washed, three cloves minced garlic, 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon lemon juice

From top: One pound fresh asparagus, snapped and washed, three cloves minced garlic, 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon lemon juice

The first thing I liked about this recipe was that it was quite simple to make and the ingredient list was all items I have on hand on a regular basis.

I have to confess that working with fresh veggies can be a bit intimidating for me. There seems to be a magic moment with a lot of veggies where they taste amazing but all too quickly they can cross over into a mushy substance that can’t be recovered.

Combined with olive oil and fresh minced garlic.

Combined with olive oil and fresh minced garlic.

I went with only 1 pound of asparagus but kept the amount of garlic the same. We are a garlic loving family so this wasn’t a bad thing. In the end I also kept the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice but the reduced extra olive oil turned out to be the perfect amount.

Fresh from the oven.

Fresh from the oven.

Now I will say that I probably kept these in the oven about 3 minutes too long. Because several of my stalks of asparagus were a bit thick I wanted to make sure that they roasted through and this hesitation cost me. Next time I’ll go with the suggested time of 20 minutes.

Sweet potatoes rubbed down with a bit of butter and sprinkled with salt.

Sweet potatoes rubbed down with a bit of butter and sprinkled with salt.

Now for the making of my sweet potatoes.

I like to get my sweet potatoes from Costco. They are well priced and I can often get 5 nice sized potatoes which works out well for our family because we all love this side.

I always start with rinsing my sweet potatoes and giving them a pat down with a clean tea towel. Then I take a small amount of butter and just make sure to cover the potato’s skin with it all over. It doesn’t need to be a thick layer of butter either you just want to make sure none of the skin will be able to dry out. Then take your sea salt and give a generous sprinkle all over the potatoes.

After you’ve prepared the potatoes as I’ve suggested you can slide them into a preheated 350 degree oven or on a hot BBQ. Tonight ours were placed on the top rack of our BBQ and left there for 30 minutes to bake. Like any other potato you can test to see if it is done by simple piercing it and making sure the centre is soft.

Honey Butter: Equal parts butter and honey.

Honey Butter: Equal parts butter and honey.

A nice touch to the sweet potatoes is to do a honey butter spread. Easily done in a bowl combine equal parts honey and butter and mix with a fork until it all comes together to look like this:

Finished Honey Butter.

Finished Honey Butter.

A simple condiment where a little goes a long way.

Finished potato with some honey butter and cinnamon.

Finished potato with some honey butter and cinnamon.

Once your potatoes are done just split, add as much or as little of the honey butter as you like and top with some cinnamon. These are a big hit with our kids and they don’t last on the plate long.

Garlic-Roasted Asparagus

Recipe from Emeril on Food Network.com

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds asparagus, tough ends trimmed, rinsed and patted dry (I used only 1 pound)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I cut it back to 1.5 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preparation

1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2) In a large glass baking dish, toss the asparagus with the olive oil and garlic. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and toss. Bake until the asparagus are tender and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the stalks, stirring twice.

3) Remove from the oven and toss with the lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning, to taste.

4) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Baked Sweet Potatoes

My husband taught me this one.

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet potato per person (this is our estimate)
  • 1/4 cup of butter (for rubbing down the potatoes. The more potatoes the more you will need)
  • Sea Salt
  • 1/3 cup of honey
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • Ground cinnamon

Preparation

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or heat BBQ

2) Rub potatoes with butter until covered all over the skin. Sprinkle all over with sea salt.

3) Bake in oven or BBQ for 30 minutes. Check potato by make sure the centre is soft.

4) Put 1/3 cup of butter and 1/3 honey in a bowl and combine with a fork until smooth.

5) Slice potato down the middle, add honey butter and sprinkle with cinnamon

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