Cooking & Living in Small Spaces with Style


Roasted Cauliflower And Broccoli With Bacon

Vegetables, side dish, Beef-Pork-Poultry, Salads-Soups-Sandwichesshirley byrdComment

This side dish of roasted cauliflower, broccoli, and bacon vegetable is a very simple yet flavor-filled.  All of the ingredients are oven roasted, even the bacon.  The dish is then tossed with a spicy sweet soy sauce.

Roasted Vegetables With Thyme

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Roasted vegetables are simply always easy to make and wonderfully delicious because the roastinig intensifies the flavor.  It's pariticularly fun to make because there are so many combinations of vegetables that can be thrown together.  Just toss in oil with your favorite seasoning. 

Pan Roasted Italian Sausages And Vegetables With Rosemary

Meats, Vegetablesshirley byrdComment

Fresh butcher-made Italian sausages, hot and regular, add the key flavors for this dish.  I found these fresh butcher-made Italian sausages to have little fat compared to pre-packaged Italian sausages by popular brands.  Yet, the butcher-made Italian sausages were filled with spices and flavors. 

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

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There are many other ways to prepare these small 2-3 inch long potatoes but roasting really entensifies their nutty buttery flavor. And it's easy to prepare

Coleslaw With Napa Cabbage

Salads-Soups-Sandwiches, Vegetables, side dishshirley byrdComment

Coleslaw is an old Dutch cabbage salad that is normally served with a vinagrete.  I've taken the . . . .

Very Cheesy Spinach Pie

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This spinach pie is loaded with lots of feta and Romona cheeses then wrapped in phyllo dough sheets.

Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts And Carrots

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My version of my aunt's brussels sprouts side dish is to roast it along with baby carrots, white pearl onions and lots of garlic and thyme.  I toss it in 100% olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper.  Then I top it with a simple Swiss cheese sauce.  In fact, this entire side dish is simple and easy to make--offering the rewards of a healthy side dish (or meal) with lots flavor.

Pan-Grilled Warm Salad And Yogurt Dressing

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Serve up a warm and crunchy salad with five favorite vegetables:  romaine lettuce, yellow bell pepper, yellow onions, yellow squash and broccoli.  Top it with a garlicy yogurt dressing and lemon zest.  And you have served up a plate of deliciousness.  It is great as a meal all by itself or as a side dish to a hearty meal.

5 Comfort Foods For Cool Weather

Meats, Salads-Soups-Sandwiches, seafood, Vegetablesshirley byrdComment

Comfort food:  Consoles.  Gives a feeling of well-being.  Provokes nostalgic memories of happy times.  Whether it's sugar or carbohydrates, with the arrival of cool weather, comfort food can warm the body.

French Style String Beans Almonds And Pimientos

side dish, Vegetables, Salads-Soups-Sandwichesshirley byrdComment

Less than 10 minutes to make, this French style string bean side dish delivers great flavors.  Cumin seeds bring a bit of pungency.  But its sweetness marries very nicely with the pimiento peppers and the star, the French style string beans.

Spiced Butternut Squash with Creme Fraiche

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Butternut squash is the sweeter of all of the winter squashes.  It is wonderfully versatile vegetable in that it can be baked, braised, mashed, roast, steam and even as a tempura-fry.  And it is really is easy to cook.  Yes, it is a vegetable but its sweetness also lends it to being served as a dessert.

Side dish or dessert?  Call it what you may, this spiced butternut squash delivers flavors for both with its brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger.  A shot of bourbon bumps up the flavor without the mood altering effect. Then top the spiced butternut squash with crème fraîche for a cool, mildly sour taste.

Making Stuffed Pasta Shells for One

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First, making stuffed pasta shells for one does follow a full recipe for more than one.  The magic, trick or just being smart and economical is to freeze some of it in multiple containers.

I made a prosciutto, spinach and cheese stuffed jumbo pasta shell.  A larger dish is made to share with a friend or simply have leftovers.  Then two smaller containers are filled with the pre-baked stuffed pasta shells and placed in the freezer.

How To Roast Garlic Bulbs

Food Talk, Compotes-Sauces-Spices, Vegetablesshirley byrdComment

This recipe post is about how to roast garlic bulbs and just some of the myriad of ways to enjoy roasted garlic in your favorite cuisines. 

Never tried roasted garlic?  It is a treat.  Roasted garlic is sweet and mild, unlike its raw version that can be pungent.  And if you are not careful when using raw garlic, you may find yourself alone due to broadcasting bad breath.

Plain Ole' Potato Salad

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This recipe is how my grandmother made potato salad: potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, cheddar cheese, pickles and onions.  She brought it all together with mayonaisse and mustard.

Roasted Corn-On-The Cob With Husk On

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No grill?  No problem.  Like holding the husk while eating your corn on the cob?  No problem.  Want flavor on your corn on the cob?  That's covered here too.

This is all really quite easy to do.

baked corn on cob with husk

baked corn on cob with husk

The Recipe
Pre-heat oven 350 degrees


  • Fresh corn on cobs, husks still on.


Pull off excess corn silk at the end of the cob.  Rinse off the cobs.  Place cobs in a pan and fill with sufficient water to cover tops of the cobs. Soak cobs for at least 35-40 minutes.

Drain off water and place cobs on a baking sheet.  Place cobs in the oven on the center rack.  Bake for 35 minutes or until corn feels soft when you press on the cob.

When ready, pull the husks back.  Pull off a long husk leaf and use to bundle and tie the remaining husk leaves.  This makes a great handle while eating the corn.  Pull off all silks.  Butter, salt and pepper to taste.

You may also be interested in trying your roasted corn-on-the-cob with this finishing butter:

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Plan on trying it out?  Let me know that too in the comments.  
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Fork Smashed Red Potatoes

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Fork smashed red potatoes has the wonderful textures of being lumpy and smooth with the added flavors of Vidalia onions and lots of garlic. Want more flavor?  Just add shredded sharp cheddar cheese., garnish with sour cream or as I did here, add bacon bit.

This side dish is quick and easy to make.  And it's a great escape from making labor-intensive, fluffy smooth mashed potatoes but still offers appetite satisfaction when eating potatoes. 


Leah Brakke, in her article "10 Healthy Reasons To Dig Into Red Potatoes," writes that it can lower stress levels; increase energy; is naturally fat and gluten free; and can contribute to healthy blood pressure.  You can get more details in her article at Black Gold Farms.

Leave the skin on!

Much of the nutritional value of a potato is found in its skin. Red potatoes are particularly healthy because of the thin, nutrient filled skins, which are loaded with fiber, B vitamins, iron and potassium. Half of the fiber of a potato comes from the skin. On red potatoes in particular, the skin is already super thin, so it doesn’t detract from the taste or texture.
— Leah Brakke


Just wash the potatoes, remove the little eyes and brown skin patches (if needed); cut into fourths; and throw into a heavy stock pot.  Roughly chop half a Vadalia onions; peel garlic cloves; add these to a pot; and boil until tender.  


The Recipe
Yields 6 cups


  • 6 small red potatoes, washed and quartered

  • 1/2 large Vidalia onion, roughly chopped

  • 6 whole garlic cloves

  • 2-1/2 cups of water

  • 1/4 cup butter

  • 3 Tablespoons of milk for additional moisture (optional)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Suggested garnish: crisp bacon bits, shredded sharp cheddar cheese or a large dollop of sour cream. Garnish is optional


Add the first four ingredients to a heavy stock pot.  On high heat, bring water to a high rolling boil.  Lover heat to medium and continue to boil for 20 minutes or until red potatoes are fork tender.

Drain off excess water but retain just a little water, approximately 3 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup.  The retained water adds a bit more moisture.  Add the butter, salt and pepper. Using a fork, smash and gently stir the potatoes, onions and garlic.  If you decide to add shredded sharp cheese, gently stir it in after smashing the potatoes.



Baked Sweet Potato With Garam Masala

Vegetablesshirley byrd2 Comments

I think of this tuber vegetable as the Mighty Sweet Potato.  My grandmother, who reared me, loved, absolutely loved a baked sweet potato.  And yes, we had sweet potato pie during holiday seasons.  But for her, a baked sweet potato was to be enjoyed at lunch, at dinner or as a snack any other time of the year.


I too came to love baked sweet potatoes.  As an adult, I enjoy them by adding more wonderful flavors, not just butter but also spices.  

For example, sometimes I just add ground clover, all spice, cinnamon, or mix them up.  My latest palate favorite is to add my homemade garam masala.  You can purchase garam masala in the grocery store and online.  However, if you want to make your own, as I did, see my recipe on Garam Masala - Use Whole Or Pre-Grounded Spices?

Sweet Potato versus Yam:

There is one thing I must make clear:  a sweet potato is not a yam!  The sweet potato and the yam are not even in the same botanical family. What's the physical and culinary difference?  Yams have a white interior flesh, are starchier and tougher than sweet potatoes.  For a sweet potato, there are three types.  One is firm, has a golden skin and pale flesh.  The other type is soft, has a copper skin and an orange flesh. (from the Kitchn)  A third type has a purple flesh.  (from North Carolina Sweet Potato)  Note, I had used the soft variety sweet potato for this recipe.

The Recipe:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees

  • 1 - 1 pound sweet potato for each serving. (2 people, 2 -1 pound sweet potatoes)

  • 1-2 Tablespoons of butter for each potato

  • 2 Tablespoons garam masala for each potato

  • 2 teaspoons of sugar for each potato (optional)

  • Olive oil to rub on skin of sweet potato (optional)


Scrub the sweet potato skin.  Using a fork, prick the skin in 3 different places across the top.  My grandmother always rubbed cooking oil on the skin.  I honestly don't know why. I've cooked it with the oil rub and without and have yet to notice the difference.  So you follow me and don't bother.

Place the sweet potato(es) on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.  Remove the potato(es) from the oven.  Using a sharp knife, split the skin lengthwise, then crosswise.  Carefully pull back the skin.  Careful, hot steam will escape.  Add butter and garam masala.  Using a fork, mash and mix in the butter and spice.

Suggested side servings, if you really need more food:

  • Sausage patties or links

  • Fried pork chops

  • Sweet garden peas and pearl onion



Almost Cream-Style Corn With Ham Bits

Vegetablesshirley byrdComment

Why call this dish Almost Cream-Style Corn?  It's made with frozen corn.  For me, true cream-style corn is made with fresh sweet corn cut right off the cob, juice and all.  But fresh corn on the cob isn't always in season!  That's when I use frozen corn. 


Bacon adds a nice flavor to cream-style corn.  But I prefer bits and pieces cut from the shank portion of a bone-in hickory ham.  

Perhaps, this is because it's as close as I can get to those deliciously wonderful memories of my grandma's cream-style corn.  She always used the leftover scrapes of a smoked ham, a Virginia smoked ham--and of course, fresh sweet corn cut from the cob.  The steps in this recipe are the same, just a few substitutions--until fresh corn is once again in season.

The Recipe:
Serves 4.  

Ingredients for Almost Cream-Style Corn with Ham Bits:

  • 8 ounces pre-cooked ham bits and pieces (preferably cut off the shank portion of a bone-in hickory smoked ham)

  • 2 Tablespoons butter

  • 24 ounces frozen corn

  • 1 cup half and half milk

  • 2 teaspoons corn starch

  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh crushed white pepper or to taste

  • Salt to taste


On medium high heat, melt butter in a heavy skillet.  Add ham bits and pieces and brown them on both sides, about 5-6 minutes total.  Set aside several pieces for garnishing.


Mix in corn and cook for about one minutes.  Using a fork, smash 1/4 of the corn kernels to release some of its juices.  Stir in milk and bring to a boil.  Stir in corn starch.  Set heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until a medium thick sauce forms.  Stir occasionally to keep corn from sticking.  

Add the crushed white pepper and salt (to taste) during the last few minutes of cooking.




You may also be interested in these vegetable recipes:

Corn Chowder Bacon And Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Vegetables, Salads-Soups-Sandwiches, side dishshirley byrdComment

Anytime of the year is a good time for a hearty corn chowder!  But it seems particularly tasty in the fall as we adjust to cool days and nights. This corn chowder is seasoned with crispy bacon, extra sharp cheddar cheese and then spiked with bits of sun-dried tomatoes.  

Corn Chowder With Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Corn Chowder With Sun-Dried Tomatoes


A bowl of hearty corn chowder is then garnished with lots of delicious crispy chopped bacon.

The Recipe
Serves 6-8

Tool:  4-5 quart dutch oven, preferably cast iron


  • 7 slices of fried bacon, diced

  • 2 small yellow onions, chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 Tablespoons of butter

  • 3 Tablespoons of flour

  • 3 cups of chicken stock

  • 1 teaspoon of salt, preferably Kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper (or add fresh ground white pepper at serving)

  • 1 large white potato, diced (russet or Yukon gold, whichever is available)

  • Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped 2.5 ounces (73 grams)

  • 2 pounds frozen corn (453 grams each). If you use fresh corn, you'll need 10 ears. You can also use a mixture of small white corn and yellow corn.

  • 2 cups of half-and-half milk

  • 1 cup (83 grams) of white sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

  • Optional: 3/4 cups of white sharp cheddar cheese, shredded for additional garnish

  • Optional: If you like a little heat, add cayenne pepper to taste.


In a 5 quart stock pot, fry bacon to a brown crisp.  Leaving about 1-2 tablespoons of the oil in the pot, remove bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel.  Add onions and cook to almost translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Push onions and garlic to one side of the pot.  

Melt butter to just a few bubbles.  Add flour and stir to create a roux.  Add salt and pepper.  Add chicken stock and bring back onions and garlic back into the mixture. Add potatoes, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add corn, sun-dried tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add half-and-half milk and cheese.  Cook for about 5 minutes until cheese melts. 

While chowder is cooking its last 5 minutes, chop the bacon.  Serve chowder in a soup bowl or soup cup.  Garnish with bacon.  For a more cheesier flavor,  garnish with the additional shredded cheese.

This corn chowder recipe serves 6-8 people, so there is plenty to share with friends and freeze to eat another day.

Corn Chowder-V2-3752.jpg
FG2-Corn Chowder Single Plate-3756.jpg


Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder


Related Posts:

Discovering Black Garlic

Food Talk, Vegetablesshirley byrdComment

Thanks to my sister, I am on a flavor-filled adventure discovering black garlic.  If you have yet to start that journey, let me share with you what I've learned.  

What Flavor Is Black Garlic and How's It Created?

I found my black garlic to be very soft, wonderfully sweet, mild yet rich in flavor.  A small piece on my tongue literally melted in my mouth.  Caroline Hatchett, in her article The Dirty Secrets and Deep Flavor of Black Garlic quotes:

"It's deep. The flavors are so layered, and they linger," says Chef Evan Hanczor of Brooklyn's Parish Hall. "It has notes of dark caramel, chocolate, a little bitterness, a little sweetness, and umami, plus that je ne sais quoi."

It's not some special specie of the garlic family.  It's regular garlic that has been processed through high heat, fermented and then aged.  In that same article above, Ms. Hatchett goes on to state that the flavor of black garlic is not due to fermentation but an "enzymatic breakdown and good old fashioned Maillard reaction.   Processed at around 60°C/140°F for a month to six weeks, it essentially gets a low and slow roast that converts sugar and turns the cloves black."  (Maillard reaction is simply a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its desirable flavor.)

There is some confusion or perhaps I should call it various stories that give claim to where the process began.  I'll just take the safe road and say, we know for certain it has an Asian origin.  

A Few Facts On Storing And Cooking With Black Garlic

It comes in several forms--powdered, cloves and whole.  (It does come in other forms, such as capsules for health.  But that's a different subject.)

Packaged whole black garlic will store at room temperature for about a month or until the expiration date.  Once the garlic has been opened, it may store in the refrigerator for 3-6 months.  

What Foods And Dishes Can You Add Black Garlic?

Its flavor complements and enhances almost any dish.  One article on black garlic suggests that if you have ever made a dish and had that "something is missing" feeling, black garlic is just the right flavor to fill that void. When I read that, I knew then I would be revising some of my favorite meals.

In its article, "Hey Chef, What Can I Do With Black Garlic?", Serious features 10 chefs who answer that question.  Their ideas include a black ranch dressing; sauces; a pâté; deviled eggs; and even a savory ice cream! 

In "Chef's Are Going Crazy For Black Garlic (And You Will, Too!)", from Bon Appetit suggests the following:

"Use the cloves as you would roasted garlic: Purée them with oil, then smear the paste on crostini, incorporate it into dressings, or rub it onto chicken or fish before roasting.
•Powdered, it’s like umami fairy dust: Sprinkle it on anything that wants some earthiness and depth.

Interested?  Wanna' Know Where You Can Find Black Garlic?

As I stated above, on a tip from my sister, I found black garlic at Trader Joe's.  The black garlic is "fermented" Japanese Aomori and distributed under Trader Joe's brand.  You may also be able to find black garlic at Whole Foods. If you don't have one near you and can't find it at a regular grocery store, you can purchase black garlic online.  One place I found of particular interest and where I gleaned a wealth of information for this article is Black Garlic North America.  It specializes in fermentation, black garlic being its flagship product.   

Some articles I read suggests you can make your own.  If you decide you really love black garlic, with more research this may be an option for always having black garlic on hand.

Enough talk about black garlic!  I have to get to my kitchen and start cooking with it!  Stay tuned.  I'll be sharing my recipes with you.

How about you?  Love to hear your thoughts and experience in cooking with black garlic.  
Leave a Comment Below.