Maple Butter Carrots

Get your kids eating this easy carrot side dish on a weeknight dinner this week! They hold up well in the fridge for a few days, too- making it a meal prep rockstar.

Hey, wanna know how to get your kids eating more vegetables?

Make a carrot dish dish with butter and maple syrup.

I know, I know. It sounds like you’re basically making candy out of carrots.

And honestly, in a way, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

This kid-friendly carrot side dish is big, soft bites of carrot, cooked in butter and maple syrup.

First, you caramelize the carrots in butter, getting a lovely brown and toasty thang going.

Then, you add maple syrup and a lid to the pot, so they steam in the sweetness and retain that lovely brown caramelization.

We love these carrots on the side of something hearty, like a pot roast or roast chicken.

And they hold up like rockstars in the fridge for up to 5 days, so they get an extra participation trophy in the meal prep game!

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Maple Butter Carrots

  • Author: Ruthy Kirwan

Description

Bite-sized chunks of carrot are browned in butter and then a lid is added and they are steamed with maple syrup, making these kid-friendly and a great side dish for your weeknight dinner tale. I used peeled, chopped carrots but baby carrots work great, too!


Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

3 pounds carrots, peeled and ends trimmed

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons maple syrup

½ cup water


Instructions

Chop the carrots into bite sized pieces.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add the carrots and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots have begun to brown and caramelize in the butter.

Add the maple syrup and stir to coat, then add the water and quickly cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid.

Cook the carrots until the water has dissolved and the carrots have softened through, about 5 minutes.


Butternut Squash Baked Ziti

Made with mashed butternut squash and a simple white cheese sauce, this Butternut Squash Ziti is comforting, freezes great, and simple to make!

There’s a thing I need to tell you about this easy butternut squash baked ziti.

But first, let’s gaze at its beauty a bit:

There’s the white cheddar and mozzarella layer on top that’s sharp and smooth and pulls away in delicious cheese strands of YES PLEASE I WANT SECONDS:

There’s the creamy butternut squash white sauce mixed in around the chunky ziti noodles.

And the pretty smattering of chopped parsley, natch.

But hey mama, guess what? Guess what’s the best part about it?

This butternut squash baked ziti freezes like a BOSS.

Make it. Put it in the freezer. Then pull it out, get the chill off the glass dish if you’re using one (otherwise it might shatter in a hot oven which would be no bueno), and bake that baby up.

Got a friend who just had a baby? Make her this baked ziti and she’ll love you forever. I mean, forever more than she probably already does.

Got a busy season coming up: your kids is in soccer finals, your husband’s working a big project and coming home late for a week, your calendar is stacked to the nines?

Make a batch of this butternut squash baked ziti in a quiet 20 minute window, and pat yo’self on the back the day you pull it out of the freezer.

Ooh! You know what else you could do? Make this butternut squash baked ziti from fresh and then stand over the stove eating it and burning your mouth while doing so because it’s so creamy and cheesy and delicious and simple to make.

Because if I know anything, I know exactly what that is like. I’ve got the mouth burns to prove it.

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Butternut Squash Baked Ziti

  • Author: Ruthy Kirwan

Description

Roast the squash beforehand to make this even easier to pull together on the day you’ll be cooking. You can also buy pre-mashed butternut squash in some grocery stores’ prepared produce section; check to see if yours has it ready for you!


Ingredients

1 large butternut squash (about 5 pounds)

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons white flour

1 cup milk (2% or whole is perfect)

2 garlic cloves

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 pound penne noodles

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 tablespoon chopped parsley


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400*F.
  2. Prepare the vegetables:
    1. Slice the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle the squash in oil and lay the halves, skin side down, on a sheet pan. Place the pan in the oven and roast until the squash is soft all the way through, about 20 minutes. When the squash is done roasting, turn the oven down to 350*F.
    2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, then add the penne noodles and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain but do not rinse, then set aside until needed.
    3. Peel and mince the garlic.
    4. Strip away the inner stems from the parsley leaves, then mince the parsley
  3. While the squash is roasting, make the cheese sauce:
  4. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth and combined.
  5. Cook the roux (butter and flour mix), stirring often, until it has turned a light golden brown, about 3 minutes.
  6. Whisk in the milk until smooth, then add the garlic and salt.
  7. Stir in the parmesan cheese until smooth and combined, then add the mashed butternut squash.
  8. Stir to combine, then pour the sauce into the cooked penne noodles and stir to coat.
  9. Pour the penne and cheese sauce into an 9×13” baking dish.
  10. Top the ziti with the shredded white cheddar and place the baking dish in the oven. .
  11. Bake until the white cheddar has melted and begun to brown, about 8-10 minutes.

Notes

Freeze Method: 

Follow steps 1 through 16, then wrap the ziti and freeze. Thaw overnight before cooking

Crispy Spanish Rice Arancini (simple appetizer recipe for a party!)

This simple, three-ingredient recipe makes a fabulous party appetizer, or just a fun weeknight dinner side! This post sponsored by VeeTee Rice. Read my disclosure statement here.  

Here’s a simple appetizer recipe for a party that you can whip up in under 20 minutes! Spicy Latin flavors combine with a classic Italian appetizer to create these Crispy Spanish Rice Balls.

Spicy Spanish rice is bound with egg, coated in breadcrumbs, fried crispy, and studded with melty pops of soft Spanish cheese. It’s a simple appetizer recipe for a party that you can throw together with just 4 ingredients!

I’ve mentioned this before, but we’re rice fiends in our home. I love how versatility and inexpensive it is, and how it bulks up pretty much any dish.

We eat rice spicy, cheesy, fried with kimchi, made ahead as meal prep, bulked up under a fast weeknight curry, and a million other ways.

These Spanish style rice balls are a cross between two of my favorite ways to use rice, Spanish rice, and Italian arancini.


Read: Easy Appetizers for a Last-Minute Holiday Party (& a Video!)


Spanish rice, that bright and fiery rice usually served alongside Mexican dishes like burritos or enchiladas, isn’t really “Spanish”, as in from Spain. It’s an Americanized term that refers to a Mexican style of cooking rice with cayenne, garlic, chicken broth, and tomatoes.

And Italian arancini is an appetizer usually made with leftover rice. They’re small, crispy fried balls of rice and cheese, usually served as an aperitif alongside a cool glass of white wine.

Arancini makes a perfect simple appetizer for a party; they’re just the size to pop in your mouth as you mingle and drink with friends.

But what if you don’t have leftover rice to make into arancini? That’s where VeeTee rice flavors come in.

I’ve spoken before about my unabashed love of VeeTee Rice (especially since they have since become a sponsor of Percolate Kitchen, thanks guys!)

VeeTee, a US company based out of Virginia, sell packs of par-cooked rice that are done after just 2 minutes in the microwave.

Where other ‘instant’ rice brands can often become soggy or oddly textured after cooking, VeeTee rice cooks to the perfect al dente, and in only 2 minutes! It makes for a really quick way to add rice to your weeknight meals without having to babysit a pot on the stove.

VeeTee sells a number of different flavors of rice, including everything from plain, whole grain, mixed with quinoa, lemon, and the flavor I used to create this Spanish-Style Crispy Rice Balls: Spicy Spanish.

VeeTee’s Spicy Spanish rice has flavors of paprika, smokey adzuki beans, sweetcorn, tomato, and jalapenos, making it more than just a standard side dish; it’s a whole meal to itself.

But when you’re short on party appetizer recipe ideas, this spicy rice can turn into a perfectly quick dish in under 20 minutes.

Simply take a package’s worth of cooked Spicy Spanish rice, mix it with crumbled queso blanco, and roll in breadcrumbs. Dry the little balls over medium-high heat, then drain any excess oil on a paper towel.

What you’re left with are crispy little balls of spicy rice, cooled slightly with melty chunks of queso blanco, that are perfect for popping in your mouth as you mingle with friends. It’s a seamless blend of Latin heat and Italian cuisine, and the perfect simple appetizer recipe for a party this holiday season (or any time of the year!)

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Spanish-Style ‘Arancini’ Rice Balls

  • Author: Ruthy Kirwan

Description

Crispy Spanish Rice ‘Arancini’ is spicy Spanish rice studded with melty cheese and coasted in crispy breadcrumbs; make this simple appetizer recipe for a party this holiday season- or any time of the year!


Ingredients

  • 1 package VeeTee Spicy Spanish Style Rice ((9.9 ounces))
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1/3 cup crumbled queso blanco
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the rice, egg, and cheese. Use your hands or a large spoon to mix and combine thoroughly.
  2. In a large stainless steel pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  3. Pour the breadcrumbs onto a plate. Using our hands or a small handheld ice cream scoop, scoop the rice mixture and roll into balls. Toss the balls in the breadcrumbs until coated, then place carefully in the hot oil.
  4. Fry, turning the balls in the oil until they are browned on all sides.
  5. Place cooked balls on a plate lined with paper towel to drain off any excess grease, then serve hot.

Green Thai Quick Chicken Curry with Vegetables

A simple green Thai curry that you can throw together faster than the delivery guy can roll up to your home. 

Stop calling for takeout! This quick chicken curry recipe is packed with Thai flavors, including green curry paste, creamy coconut milk, bell peppers, eggplant, and carrots, all served over steaming long grain rice.

I love ordering Thai food for delivery. It’s my favorite style of takeout food, especially since our neighborhood here in NYC boasts some of the best Thai restaurants in the city.

But making a quick chicken curry at home is actually faster than waiting on my local takeout guy! Plus, I can make twice the amount of food and eat the leftovers for lunch for like, 3 days. As a work at home mom, having something like a quick chicken curry that I can just grab and go is so helpful.

 

In Thai cooking, curries are named after the color of the curry paste that is used as a base: red, yellow, and green.

I’ve always had a soft spot for green curry paste; made with cilantro, lime leaves, lemongrass and galangal (an Asian member of the ginger family), it’s the sweetest and freshest flavor of the Thai curry trio.

This particular Thai curry can be made with any whichever curry paste you use; I usually buy sets of 6 curry paste at a time on Amazon and keep them in my fridge. They make whipping up a quick chicken curry (or vegetable curry, or shrimp curry) on a weeknight twice as easy.

Nabbing the flavors of Thai cuisine usually requires the balance of four specific flavors: creamy, sour, spicy and sweet.

It’s what makes Thai cooking so freaking delicious- it attracts just about every taste bud in your mouth!


Related: Creamy Weeknight 20-Minute Pumpkin Chicken Curry


For this quick chicken curry, the sauce includes coconut milk (creamy), lime juice (sour), curry paste (spicy) and a dash of white sugar (sweet). Balance each of these flavors together and you’re rocking at this curry business.

I can’t talk about making a quick chicken curry without making a shout out to our go-to rice. With kids running under my feet as I cook most evenings, I’m not always in the mood to cook rice on the stovetop or by hauling out the Instant Pot (which doubles as a rice cooker).

My husband and I discovered VeeTee Quick Cooking Rice a few months ago (you may remember it from this Weeknight Kimchi Fried Rice recipe!). We loved it so much we started buying it off Amazon in bulk!

I like that the rice can be made in just 2 minutes in the microwave and comes out tasting exactly the same as the rice I used to spend 20 minutes babysitting at the stove; it’s perfectly cooked through and seasoned.

So, I’ve joined with VeeTee Rice to give you a three-part blog series of my all-time favorite rice dishes! This quick chicken curry is the first, and I’ve got one recipe coming in August and another coming in October.

VeeTee has saved our weeknight dinner making on more than one occasion. So I’m thrilled to be able to bring you some recipes in the next few months that highlight some of our favorite VeeTee flavors!

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Thai Green Curry with Chicken and Vegetables

  • Author: Ruthy Kirwan

Description

A simple green curry that you can whip up on a weeknight. Beat the urge to call for takeout; the homemade version is quick and tasty!


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large carrots (peeled and cut into 1″ pieces )
  • 2 bell peppers, membranes and seeds removed (diced )
  • 1 small eggplant, diced ((about 2 cups) )
  • 1 pound chicken breast (diced )
  • 4 ounces Thai green curry paste ((about 5 tablespoons))
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 3 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 13.5 ounces coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat until oil is shimmering. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots have softened, about 10-12 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken, curry paste, dried ginger, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar and toss to coat.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and chicken broth. Let the mixture come to a hard simmer, then let cook, stirring occasionally, about 12-15 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and starts to thicken.
  4. Remove the sauce from the heat and serve over cooked long grain rice.

Tabbouleh Salad (Easy to Make Side Dish & Meal Prep!)

A fresh and bright grain-based tabbouleh salad that comes together quickly and is full of summertime flavor. 

This bright and zingy tabbouleh salad is incredibly easy to make side dish since it can be thrown together in as little as 15 minutes!

Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad typically made by combining bulghar wheat (also known as cracked wheat), cucumbers, parsley or mint, fresh tomatoes, and lemon juice.

I’m changing the traditional version of this easy to make side by adding a few “extras” that I think brighten this dish as a whole.

I included bit of fresh mint leaves alongside parsley, sweet cherry tomatoes instead of the usual diced vine tomatoes, and lime juice in place of lemon. The mint adds a freshness that blends well with peppery parsley. Cherry tomatoes lend a pop of juicy sweetness, and lime juice is brightens with less of an acid overtone than lemon.

Depending on who makes it, it can be heavy on the veggies, or mostly parsley, or be made with a majority of bulghar. It’s super customizable and comes together crazy quick.

And speaking of customizable, just because there are traditional ingredients in a tabbouleh salad, it doesn’t mean you can’t play around with it. I don’t usually add cucumbers as I’m not a huge fan, but I will toss in diced bell peppers, cooked eggplant, grilled asparagus- namely, all the summer vegetables.

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One thing that’s always served on top of my tabbouleh salad? A big dollop of Greek yogurt.

The tang of Greek yogurt paired with the zesty herbiness of a well-seasoned tabbouleh salad creates the perfect easy to make side.

But what really is my fave thing about a tabbouleh is this: while it comes together quickly, the real magic lies in letting this salad sit for a while. If you make a big batch of it and then portion it out into containers, you’re basically winning at life and meal prep. It’s a hearty and hardy salad that keeps, stored in a tightly covered container in the fridge, for up to 5 days.

Whip together this easy to make side dish for your next picnic, potluck, or meal prep session!

 
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Tabbouleh Salad

  • Author: Ruthy Kirwan

Description

This is an easy to make side that comes together in under 15 minutes. Add in whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand for a fresh twist!


Ingredients

for the tabbouleh:

  • 1 1/2 cups bulghar wheat
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
  • 2 tablespoons torn fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoon roughly chopped Italian parsley (leaves only)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • Salt (to taste)

for serving:

  • Greek yogurt (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat, then add the bulghar wheat. Boil, uncovered, for about 8-10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and drain the water. Fluff the wheat with a fork and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the bulghar wheat with the mint, parsley, cherry tomatoes and lime juice.
  3. Season to taste with salt, if needed.
  4. Serve chilled, with a dollop of Greek yogurt on top.

Sheet Pan Portobello Tacos with Simple Salsa Verde

Today I’m guest posting over at HippieDippeiMom.com with these banging Sheet Pan Portobello Tacos! Made with a simple salsa verde, they come together in just under 20 minutes.

I mean, look at these babies! Sheet pan portobello tacos are the winner dinner you haven’t made just yet. SO Good, guys, for real. And so quick to put together, too!


Read: Loaded Sheet Pan Cauliflower Nachos


Just perfection, right!?

You can grab the recipe over at HippieDippieMom! 


And while you’re at it, pin it so you don’t forget: if you love Sheet Pan recipes, you’ll LOVE this helpful cheat sheet of 10 DELICIOUS sheet pan meal ideas!!

SHEET PAN RECIPE IDEAS!

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