Looking to spice up traditional mashed potatoes? Combine butternut squash and mashed potatoes with brown sugar and ginger to give your family and friends a tasty side dish.
Ginger Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes from KatiesCucina.com

I’m back from my babymoon–energized and relaxed and ready to share a few tasty fall-like recipes. Last month, I shared my apple butter pork chops. Pictured in some of those photos was this recipe for Ginger Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes. I wasn’t sure if my husband would go for these doctored up mashed potatoes. He is not a big fan of ginger, so I decided to reduce the amount of ginger that was initially called in the recipe. I also added more brown sugar, because just like butter–everything is better with a little more brown sugar!

Ginger Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes from KatiesCucina.com

I did not give Jon a full serving of the Ginger Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes only in fear that he would take one bite and then eat around the sweet and savory untraditional potato! I was pleasantly surprised–he ate them quicker than I was able to cut up my pork chop! And then asked for more. He loved them! Shocker to me since I knew the ingredients in the potatoes. In fact, he has asked for me to make these a few times now.

Ginger Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes from KatiesCucina.comSo whether you want to spice up this holiday and go the non-traditional mashed potato route, or you want to spice up your leftover mashed potatoes (which is what I plan to do on the Friday after Thanksgiving), these Ginger Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes are sure to be a hit in your house just as much as they were in mine!

Adapted from Publix Aprons

Ginger Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4

Ginger Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 (12-oz) box frozen cooked butternut squash
  • 8 oz cup leftover or prepared mashed potatoes
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp ginger spice paste
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped

Directions

  1. Microwave squash following package instructions. Transfer squash to medium bowl. Reheat leftover microwave mashed potatoes.
  2. Stir the mashed potatoes into the butternut squash along with the brown sugar, butter, ginger paste, salt, and pepper.
  3. Slice the onions. Fold mashed potatoes and all but 1 tablespoon of green onions into squash mixture. Serve and garnish with additional green onions.
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Feta and Herb Mashed Potatoes

Here is another dish that I’ve been making all year and yet to share on Katie’s Cucina. I created this recipe back in May when I was on my feta kick. Remember guys, I just started eating and cooking with feta this year! I know… I can feel the daggers coming through the computer screen–don’t kill me or my taste-buds please.

Feta and Herb Mashed Potatoes

These mashed potatoes are fresh and full of flavor and surprisingly they don’t need any stinking gravy. You see… I have a slight problem with drowning my food with gravy. I guess we could call it a gravy addiction. I feel the need to smother my potatoes with the salty liquid, but for once… not these spuds! Anytime I make these potatoes for family and friends they all instantly fall in love with the potatoes! Why not switch up your usual holiday mashed potatoes and make these fresh and vibrant potatoes instead?

Feta and Herb Mashed Potatoes

*I recommend using Yukon potatoes and not red potatoes (as pictured above). Since taking this photo I’ve tested the recipe a few more times and found that the Yukon potatoes yield a better and smoother texture for this mashed potato dish.

Katie Original Recipe

Feta and Herb Mashed Potatoes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

These creamy and fresh potatoes will add new depth to any meal. Some would think that sour cream was added in the potatoes thanks to the tanginess of the feta cheese.

Ingredients

  • 6 medium white potatoes, peeled
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 cup each fresh parsley, dill, and sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • *3 tbsp milk if needed

Directions

  1. Peel, chop, and rinse potatoes. Fill water to just above the potatoes and add 1 tbsp salt. Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft enough to fall apart when a knife is inserted in them.
  2. Drain potatoes, and add 1/4 cup butter to the pot the potatoes were boiling in. Add the potatoes back to the pot then add fresh parsley, dill, and green onions followed by feta cheese. Place a lid on top of the potatoes and let them sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Add black pepper to the potatoes and mash using a hand-mixer. Add milk if needed (one tablespoon at a time or until moist). Top with more fresh herbs and butter and serve immediately.

Notes

*Always chop your potatoes evenly so that they cook evenly. *I've tested these potatoes multiple times and have found that yukon potatoes work best and 95% of the time I did not need to add any liquid to my potatoes.

Katie Original Recipe

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 Fresh Basil Pesto

I’ve been growing fresh basil for at least 5 years now. It is one of the easiest herbs to grow and thrives if you find it a spot it likes. Since I’m heading out of town today I decided I wanted to trim my basil plants and make some pesto. Of course, I froze the pesto to be used upon my return home from Italy.

Fresh Basil Pesto

I’ve learned throughout the years that pesto does not stay fresh for long. I’ve experimented with many different recipes and techniques and found that freezing small amounts of pesto for later use is the best method. The pesto will brown a little during the freezing process; however, once thawed out it will taste just as good as  the first day it was made!

Fresh Basil Pesto

I made a quick 4 minute video to teach you just how I make pesto. So if you’ve never made pesto I invite you to watch how easy it is to make!

Now, I hope I made those of you that have been intimidated or never knew how easy it is to make pesto that much more comfortable. I expect everyone to do their homework and go make pesto! Remember, its all up to how you like it to taste. If you like it a little more earthy add additional pine nuts. You want it more creamy add more cheese, etc.
This recipe was originally posted on July 6, 2010.

Katie Original Recipe

Basil Pesto

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 1-1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 medium sized garlic clove
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a small frying pan add pine nuts to the pan and toast until golden brown, but not burnt!
  2. In a food processor add the whole garlic cloves and a drizzle of olive oil. Puree for 10 seconds. Then add the basil and pine nuts to your food processor. Puree for an additional 10-15 seconds.
  3. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  4. Start scooping out pesto and placing it into the individual ice slots. Make sure the pesto is packed down to the bottom of the tray. You do not need to grease the pan since the basil has olive oil in it which will act as the grease to get it out. One batch of Basil Pesto should fill one ice cub tray. Freeze for one hour uncovered, then pop the cubes of pesto out, and store in a freezer proof bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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greek pasta salad

I love a quick and easy (and of course very tasty) pasta salad. I also like when they aren’t chocked full of mayonaise. I had this recipe idea in my head for a while now and finally brought this Greek-style pasta salad to life! Granted, it does contain cheese that has to be refrigerated, but its just as fabulous to bring to an upcoming bbq. I developed an entire Greek menu all dedicated to bbqing since we are unofficially celebrating the last week of summer before Labor day. So stay tuned all week because by Friday I’ll have an entire menu for you to wow your friends and family this Labor day weekend!

greek pasta salad

Pair the Greek Pasta Salad with Grilled Greek Chicken Strips and Grilled Greek Corn on the Cob for a complete Greek inspired meal!

Source: Katie Original

Greek Pasta Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 box of bow tie pasta
  • 1-1/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup feta
  • 1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Greek Seasoning
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package, drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile in a large bowl (or container) add halved grape tomatoes, diced cucumber, feta, sliced kalamata olives, red onion, and artichoke hearts together.
  3. In a small bowl add 1/4 cup canola oil and Greek seasoning together--mix well until well combined.
  4. Add pasta to bowl and begin mixing the vegetables and cheese with the pasta. Once the pasta and vegetables are partially combined proceed to pour the oil/seasoning mix over the pasta. Mix well until everything is well incorporated. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 3 days.

Notes

*After refrigerating the salad the oil tended to stick to the pasta. Feel free to let the pasta salad sit out for a good 15 minutes, mix well and if need be add a little more oil and Greek seasoning. **my neighbor added peperocinis to this and said it was phenomenal.

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Are you ready for a knock out seasoning that will be a staple in your kitchen this summer? Do you use traditional season salt? If so, this is the new and improved season salt for the summer months! It’s still a salt but infused with citrus and herbs that boost the flavors in ordinary foods to make them extraordinary. *Note, you could cut the amount of salt to make it more of a spice blend than a salt–don’t go rubbing it all over chicken or fish–it will be uneatable due to the high amount of sodium in this mix.

This is a super easy salt to make from all the spices you currently have on hand in your cupboard. This also makes for a great host/hostess gift. Whip up a batch in a pretty jar that seals well and bring this the next time your invited to a BBQ! Your host/hostess will be wowed that you not only brought them something, but a customized spice made specifically for them.

Look at the gorgeous colors this fresh seasoning makes once mixed together. Best of all you can store this seasoning salt for up to 3 months in a well sealed jar.

Adapted from: Martha Stewart

Citrus-Herb Seasoning Salt

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup coarse salt
  • 2 tbsps finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 3 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients above together in an airtight jar. Store for up to 3 months.
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Summer wether is officially here in Florida. Technically speaking, according to the calendar I know we have almost a full month until its officially summer, but I’ve been in the mood to grill lately. And with grilling  brings on the desire to eat lighter. I decided to whip up a quick Italian-Style white bean dish to go along with our Grilled Italian Sausage with grilled sweet peppers. This is a lighter dish and complimented the grilled meat and veggies perfectly.

I was inspired to make this dish from a cassoulet I made a few years back. It was the perfect cassoulet for a cold winters day and was hearty. Why not make a stove top version of the beans used in the cassoulet to compliment my light and summery meal? This was our main “starch” for the meal and to be honest I didn’t miss rice or pasta or potatoes with this meal.

The fennel adds a nice punch to the dish. If you aren’t familiar with cooking with fennel  you need to go out and buy a bulb of fennel stat. I’ve never consumed this root vegetable raw–only well cooked in olive oil or butter. It may look like a lot when you chop it up, but once you’ve sweated it out and sauteed it in oil it reduces down to less than half. As you might be able to tell it resembles the look of celery at times but has a slight anise taste (like licorice). If you’re looking to try a new side dish and break out of the routine of serving the same side dish every night I dare you to try this recipe!

Source: Katie Original

Italian-Style White Beans w/ Fennel & Tomatoes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 bulb of Fennel, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cans of Great Northern White Beans
  • 1/2 pint of grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • cracked black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large pot add olive oil and bring the pot to high heat. Add the thinly sliced fennel and begin sauteing. Add 1 cup of chicken broth and bring the heat down to medium-high heat placing a lid on top of the pot and letting cook for 10 minutes *check occasionally and stir to make sure fennel is not burning and/or sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  2. After the 10 minutes add chopped garlic and onions to the pot, stir well. Add the remaining 1 cup of chicken broth, stir, reduce heat to medium, and place lid back on the pot cooking for an additional 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  3. Add the 2 cans of white beans (do not drain--add the liquid), mix well, and then add the grape tomatoes. Place the lid back on the beans and simmer on low for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in chopped basil and parsley, and season with cracked black pepper. Mix well, and serve.

Notes

*Do not add salt to this dish. The salt is taken care of thanks to the chicken broth added.

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[Carabbas} Minestrone Soup

My husband and I try not to frequent chain restaurants. Instead eating at locally owned restaurants. Since we live in Orlando, Florida we have more restaurants here than I think we have time or money to eat at. But there is one chain that we can’t get enough of and I can honestly say we probably eat their once a month… that is Carrabbas. I love their food. We’ve taken our out-of-town family to Carrabbas countless times and now its become a tradition that they have to dine there while on vacation visiting us.

[Carabbas} Minestrone Soup

I almost always order a cup of the minestrone soup. It’s chocked full of veggies and beans and the broth has so much flavor to it. I’ve written our local newspaper to see if they will find the recipe and publish it in the weekly restaurant “thought you’d never ask” about this recipe segment–and nothing. I did a little searching on the internet a few months back and that’s when I found this recipe. I guess I never know how many vegetables and beans were really in this soup until I made it. Of course the recipe I found is made to feed an army or probably the exact large batch recipe they use at the restaurant. I think we ate this soup for a week straight and still had a massive container to freeze!

[Carabbas} Minestrone Soup

Even though its consistently 90 degrees in Florida right now, I still can’t eat a bowl of soup. You’ll even find me eating a bowl of soup during the “dog days” of summer when its over 100 degrees out. I love soup–and have been known to eat it for breakfast! I’m super thankful that my husband loves to eat soup, too! Although, I don’t think its to my level of soup eating, but he will eat soup nevertheless!

Adapted from Food.com

{Carabbas} Minestrone Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 12

Ingredients

  • 1 oz butter
  • 1 gallon chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 lb carrot (1/2-inch cubes)
  • 1/4 lb tomato (1/2-inch cubes)
  • 1/4 lb celery (1/2-inch cubes)
  • 1 -2 ounce prosciutto ham
  • 1/4 lb onion (1/2-inch cubes)
  • 2 oz romano cheese, rind
  • 1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb potato, peeled (1/2-inch cubes)
  • 1/4 lb fresh green beans (1-inch long)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans
  • 1 lb cabbage, cored (2-inch squares)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 lb zucchini (1/2-inch cubes)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans
  • 1 tsp parsley, chopped
  • 2 oz romano cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp basil, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a 10 quart stock pot heat pot to medium heat and place butter and oil in pot. Sauté celery, onion, carrots and garlic and cook until soft about 5 minutes.
  2. Add green beans, cabbage, zucchini, parsley and basil and cook for about 10 minutes or until soft.
  3. Add chicken stock, bay leaf, tomatoes, prosciutto, romano rind and potatoes. Allow soup to boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  4. Simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Add canned beans with their juices and simmer 5 minutes more.
  5. Remove romano rind and prosciutto. Add grated romano cheese, stirring constantly, serve hot and store remaining soup in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or the freezer for up to 2 months.

Notes

Katie Jasiewicz of Katie's Cucina Adapted from Food.com

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Over the weekend I was attempting to not only recipe develop but clean out my refrigerator and pantry. While doing so I found leftover white rice that could easily have been frozen for another meal; however, I really wanted to make something from it. I also had leftover black beans, a half roasted pepper and ear of corn from earlier in the week. I instantly thought of a Mexican Rice Salad. A cold rice salad. The vibrant colors and robust flavors scream summer time. Because I chose to keep this salad cold its refreshing on a hot summers spring day.

The spices I chose to use in this side dish are similar to those I use in my homemade guacamole. It’s spicy enough to give a small kick yet not too overwhelming that your mouth is on fire and you can’t taste any of the other ingredients in the dish. I love the flavor profile of the roasted red bell pepper and the sweet fresh corn. They really make this dish, and of course the avocado gives a creamy coolness to each bite.

The next time you have leftover rice and veggies in your refrigerator I hope you’ll give this recipe a try. Whether entertaining on a warm evening or in need of a refreshing lunch.

Source: Katie Original

Mexican Rice Salad
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup leftover white rice
  • ½ cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ roasted red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 ear of corn on the cob, corn removed
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ⅛ tsp smoked paprika
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ haas avocado, diced
Instructions
  1. Heat leftover white rice in microwave for 30 seconds to soften.
  2. In a large bowl combine; white rice, rinsed black beans, chopped red bell pepper, corn, cilantro, chili powder, coriander, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper. Mix well then gently fold in diced avocado. Chill until ready to serve.

 


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Athenian Fish

We are lucky enough to eat fish at least once a week thank’s to my brother in-laws addiction to spear fishing. Our freezer always has a few bags of freshly caught Florida fish, so naturally I’m always looking for new fish recipes. I tried this recipe at our local supermarket (they demo a new recipe each week), and knew that this was something we’d like. I grabbed the recipe card, and was happy to read that I had every single item on hand. 

I paired this fish dish with a bed of fluffy basmati rice. It complimented the fish perfectly. The only thing I would do differently next time would be to use fresh tomatoes. I’m not sure about you, but I’m not a huge fan of eating canned tomatoes. I mean I use them almost all the time, but for the most part they are used in soups where they can break down and not taste as “preserved” as they do in this dish. I think a cup or two of fresh tomatoes would elevate this dish to a whole new level. This dish pairs perfect with the Greek Cucumber & Tomato Salad I recently blogged about! 

Source: Publix Apron’s

Athenian Fish
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 white fish fillets (snapper, mahi, tilapia)
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp Greek seasoning (divided)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced Garlic
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts (drained)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (drained)
  • ¼ cup white wine
Instructions
  1. Directions:
  2. Preheat large saute pan on medium-high. Season both sides of fish with pepper and ½ tsp of Greek seasoning.
  3. Place olive oil in pan, then add garlic and onions, cook for one minute or until onions are slightly softened.
  4. Using a spatula move the onion/garlic mixture to the sides of the pan. Add fish fillets and top with artichoke hearts, diced tomatoes, ½ tsp Greek seasoning, and wine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, then carefully turn fish over, cooking for another 5 minutes covered. Serve immediately.

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It’s a new year and a new year brings eating healthier. Everyone is always trying to eat healthier in the month of January, and then February comes and people get realistic, followed by and overwhelming amount of Valentine’s day chocolates! I’m not here to pop anyone’s bubble, but let’s get realistic. Eating healthy around the clock is difficult. That’s why I’m so excited to share this delicious and of course easy-to-make salad. Now, typically I would mince the onions in a salad like this, but since my husband is anti-raw onion I kept them on the larger side, so he could pick them out. I figured that’s the least I could do for him. A few simple ingredients make up this tasty (non-lettuce style) salad. You can make a double batch at the beginning of the week and portion it out for school and work lunches. I personally could eat the whole bowl in one sitting. 


Adapted From: Publix Apron’s

Greek Cucumber & Tomato Salad
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cucumber, partially peeled and quartered
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • ¼ cup Greek salad dressing
  • ½ tsp Greek seasoning
  • ¼ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Directions:
  2. Partially peel cucumber, then cut in half lengthwise. Using a spoon scrape out seeds. Rinse the cucumber well and then cut each half again, making 4 cucumber sticks. Roughly chop and place in medium size bowl.
  3. Rinse cherry tomatoes and then cut each tomato lengthwise, and then again, so that you have quarters. Add the tomatoes to the bowl with the cucumbers.
  4. Dice a red onion and add a quarter cup to the cucumber–tomato bowl. Stir in Greek salad dressing, Greek seasoning, and salt. Mix well, and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or until flavors have marinated. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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