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Category Archives: Side Dishes

Smoky Baked Beans

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Summertime is packed with barbecues and picnics, and I like to have an arsenal of crowd-pleasing recipes to bring.  With Independence Day approaching, I thought I’d share one of my new favorites!  I like to bring something that’s either OK at room temperature (because it’s hard to keep cold dishes cold), or something that can hang out in the crock pot without getting overcooked.  Baked beans go great with any outdoor summer meal and these were a hit at our Mother’s Day picnic. I would definitely make these again, even as a summer meal in itself!

Smoky Baked Beans

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1 lb. bulk spicy pork sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (31 oz) can pork and beans
1 (16 oz) can kidney beans
1 (16 oz) can black beans
1 (16 oz) can butter beans
1 (16 oz) can white beans (such as Navy, Northern or Canellini)
1 (10 oz) can tomatoes with green chiles (Rotel)
1/2 cup hickory-smoke flavored BBQ sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon steak seasoning
1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Brown sausage with onion in large skillet. Drain fat. Place in large slow cooker, add remaining ingredients and stir well. Cook on low for 4-8 hours.

Recipe source: Our Eating Habits

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Tangy Pasta Salad

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This was the first recipe I ever pinned from Gina’s blog, At Home My Way, and that was years ago.  I’m so glad I finally got around to making it because it’s mega delicious, easy, and perfect for summer potlucks!  I’ve already made it for two of them in as many weeks and might have traded a few meals to enjoy an extra big bowl of it. LOL!  It’s really good stuff – not the typical dressing with oil or mayo (which means it won’t go bad in the heat!), but nice and tangy and fresh.  Love it!

Tangy Pasta Salad

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1 (16 oz) package tricolor spiral pasta
1 medium red onion, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
1 medium green pepper (or red or yellow or orange, or some of each!)
1/2 red or white (sweet) onion, finely sliced and the rings cut into 1/4ths

Dressing
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup white or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Cook the pasta according to package instructions to al dente. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water until the pasta is cool to the touch. Add to a large bowl along with remaining salad ingredients.

In a small saucepan, mix together the sugar, ground mustard, salt, and garlic powder. Mix in the vinegar and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, 2-5 minutes. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2-6 hours; serve cold with a slotted spoon.

Veronica’s notes: you can use a smaller package of pasta – I used both 12 and 14 oz packages and both salads turned out fine. Unfortunately the leftovers aren’t great so this is best eaten between 2-6 hours after making it. The pasta is fine the next day, but something happens to the vegetables and they just aren’t’ as good – the salt probably draws a lot of water out of them, and they just don’t seem as fresh or tasty.

Recipe source: At Home My Way

Frito Salad

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I have an internal maniacal laugh every time I say or even think, “Frito Salad.” Saying the words “Frito” and “Salad” in the same recipe title just makes me giddy with hilarity. Reminds me of one of my favorite eCards…

This “salad” is basically my two favorite things combined. Chips and dip (and one of my all-time favorite dips at that). And it’s called a salad. WINNING! :D  To be fair, it’s a little healthier than regular chips and dip because of all the corn (and some peppers & and onion), but let’s just get honest here.  This ain’t my Momma’s kinda salad.  But it sure is mine. >:)

This salad is downright delicious and would be great to bring to any potluck you might be attending in the near or distant future. I know I will be!

Frito Salad

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3 (14.5 oz) cans of whole kernel corn, drained
1 green pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 of a small red onion, finely diced
1 cup (4 oz) grated cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
1 (9.25 oz) bag of Chili Cheese Fritos

Stir the corn, green pepper, onion, cheese and mayonnaise in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, mix in Fritos, reserving a handful to lay on top as a garnish. Serve immediately.

Veronica’s Notes: The original recipe called for red pepper along with the green, so feel free to sub in half of the green for red to make it prettier. Also, if you know you will have leftovers, add the chips to the individual servings rather than all at once, because the chips will get soggy and gross.

Recipe source: adapted from Minda’s Cooking

German Baked Beans For a Crowd


~Photo by Jessica Rose~

Last Saturday was our 37th annual Davis Family Pig Roast.  (My maiden name is Davis, FYI.)  This family reunion was started four years before I was born, and now the responsibilities have been passed on to the next generation and I’m on the planning committee and have been in charge of creating & sending the invitations for the last five years.

The remaining Davis siblings (RIP Jimmy, Doris, and Mary): Margie, Nadene, Donnie (the one who started the pig roast), Ruby, and my Dad, Jon.

~Photo by Jessica Rose~

The younger generation that runs the roast nowadays.

~Photo by Jessica Rose~

The pig roast is an all day affair, starting early in the morning when a few good men get up at the crack of dawn to put the pig (prepped the night before) on our custom roaster, and it doesn’t end until well after dark, with everyone gathering around a bonfire to drink, chat, and roast hot dogs and marshmallows for s’mores.

~Photo by Jessica Rose~

We spend the day mostly talking, though there are things you can entertain yourself with, such as Bingo, swimming in the lake, bike riding, or walking.  The main event however, is the afternoon meal, which we eat when the pig is done.

~Photo by Jessica Rose~

Dennis leads us in a prayer before the meal, and then it’s on.  Well, after you stand in a really long line, then it’s on. :)

~Photo by Jessica Rose~

First we go inside where all the sides that family have brought are lined up on tables…

Then we go outside to the table where the meat has been cut up and laid out, along with garlic bread.

Then we go back inside (or take a chair outside) to chow down.

Some people bring the same thing every year, and I love that because it gives you something to look forward to.  Like Aunt Ruby’s Garlic Salad.  It just wouldn’t be the Pig Roast without her garlic salad (which she actually doesn’t even  make herself any more, her son Tyson does it for her!).   Then there’s people like me, who make something different every year.  This year I decided to bring a big crockpot full of German Baked Beans, which I found the recipe for on The Better Baker’s blog.  I knew when she posted it that it’d be perfect for our reunion, and I was right.  It was devoured!

Dennis said he could taste the saurkraut (and liked it), but if I hadn’t made it and couldn’t see it in there, I would have had no clue.  These beans are sweet and so good with the onion and sausage in them, but if you’d like more sass to them, you can try skipping the rinsing on the saurkraut and that might give them a bit of a zip.  This is how I made them in the crockpot for a crowd.  If you’d like the oven-baked, regular-sized recipe, you can click the link to Marsha’s blog at the end.

German Baked Beans For a Crowd

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2 (15 oz) cans pork and beans
2 (15 oz) cans baked beans
2 (14 oz) cans sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 small or 1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 (14 oz) package kielbasa sausage, sliced & quartered

Combine all ingredients in a 6 quart crockpot and cook on low for 4-5 hours, removing the cover during the last hour to let some of the liquid evaporate if desired.

Alternately, you can halve this recipe for a smaller crowd and bake it in the oven. To do this, preheat oven to 400F and combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer to a 2-qt. baking dish, coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake uncovered for 1 – 1-1/2 hours.

Recipe source: The Better Baker

I just love my family!

American Potato Salad

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Haus and I grilled a ton of meat last Saturday (we feel like we’re wasting the charcoal if we don’t load the grill up at least twice) and while it was grilling, I made up a batch of this potato salad from the current issue of Cook’s Illustrated. Reader Kerry C. gifted me with a subscription to Cook’s Country (LOVE it!) for Christmas, and they sent me a complimentary issue of the regular Cook’s Illustrated mag this month-lucky me!

We were starving since we started grilling late, and as soon as the potato salad was mixed together, I took a big bite and hollered for Dennis to come taste it. We agreed it was the best potato salad EVER! We polished off the entire batch, which equals about a pound of potato salad each, and ended up skipping the meat. This potato salad was so good, it turned into our dinner for the night and we just refrigerated all the meat to eat as leftovers throughout the week.

The potato salad was so good I made a second batch within an hour of making the first one, because I knew we’d want it to go with our leftover meat. Luckily we made the second batch last for two whole days, which is like a miracle, people. This potato salad is good. If you don’t have a great recipe for classic American potato salad, Cook’s Illustrated has got you covered. They tested every ingredient, every method, and every amount to get it just so for us. Thank you Cook’s Illustrated!

American Potato Salad

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Printable recipe with picture

2 lbs. (3-4 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 medium celery rib, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons minced red onion
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup mayonnaise (see note)
3/4 teaspoon powdered mustard
3/4 teaspoon celery seed*
1/2 teaspoon salt*
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (optional)

*You can use celery salt in place of the celery seed, omitting the 1/2 teaspoon salt from the dressing.

Place potatoes in large saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon salt, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring once or twice, until potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes.

Drain potatoes and transfer to large bowl. Add vinegar and, using rubber spatula, toss gently to combine. Let stand until potatoes are just warm, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together celery, onion pickle relish, parsley, mayonnaise, powdered mustard, celery seed, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Using rubber spatula, gently fold dressing and eggs, if using, into potatoes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour; serve.

Veronica’s Notes: We actually ate the first batch warm and I prefer it that way, though it’s great cold too.  Cook’s Illustrated says the salad can be refrigerated up to one day. Well ours was just fine after two days and I’m sure it would be great after three or four days.

Recipe source: Cook’s Illustrated

Barley with Butternut Squash, Apple & Onion

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This is one of the “meals” (it’s really a side dish but I like to eat it as a meal) I’ve been making for years and usually resurrect come fall/winter.  My family absolutely loves it too, even my little nephew (or at least he did at 4 years old, the last time he ate it)!  I appreciate delicious vegetarian meals that satisfy me and this one fits the bill fo sho. The combination of the creamy squash, chewy barley, crisp red pepper & apple, and the contrasting savories and sweetness–it’s all just magic to me.  And I guess if a four year old boy will relish something that only contains unrecognizable healthy ingredients, it is pretty magical.

Barley with Butternut Squash, Apple & Onion

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3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 cup uncooked barley
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups butternut squash, peeled & diced
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup sweet red pepper, diced
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup fat-free chicken or vegetable broth

Bring 3 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt to a boil in a medium saucepan; add barley. Cover saucepan and simmer barley until tender, about 30 to 35 minutes; drain.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add squash and cook, stirring often, until it’s starting to soften–about five minutes. Add the onion and red pepper and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Stir in apple, garlic, thyme, black pepper and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring, until apple is almost tender, about 2 minutes; stir in broth, scraping bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Stir in cooked barley; toss over low heat to mix and coat. Remove from heat and serve.

Serves 4, about 1 cup per serving.

Per serving: 192 calories; 4.2 g fat; 0 g cholesterol; 37 g carbohydrate; 8 g fiber; 5 g protein; 5 Points Plus

Recipe source: WeightWatchers.com

Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins & Pine Nuts for An Edible Mosaic’s Virtual Book Launch Party

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Ever since my blogging buddy, Faith, announced that she’d gotten a cookbook deal, I’ve been anxiously awaiting its release.  Pins and needles, I tell you.  The day finally came and her cookbook, An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flare, is now available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!  I’ve been following Faith since I started my blog and it’s been pretty surreal to watch her blossom and become so successful, eventually publishing her very own cookbook.  I’m so thrilled for her!  It is an incredible thing to fulfill your dreams.

Faith Gorsky, photo by Michael Safarini

From the title of her book, you may have guessed that Faith is from the Middle East.  Well, Faith was born and raised in America!  After getting married, she spent six months living in the Middle East where she fell in love with the culture and cuisine. Subsequently, she returned four more times for visits, each time delving deeper into the cuisine and deepening her passion for and appreciation of the region.  Recipes in her book are authentic Middle Eastern (taught to Faith mostly by her mother-in-law, Sahar), but streamlined just a bit for the way we cook today, with unique ingredients demystified and cooking techniques anyone can follow. If you didn’t grow up eating Middle Eastern food, it can be a difficult art to master; Faith understands that, and explains complicated dishes in an approachable, easy-to-follow way.

Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins & Pine Nuts, photo by Faith Gorsky

An Edible Mosaic contains over 100 Middle-Eastern recipes with a focus mainly on dishes from the Levant, but also a few recipes from other areas of the Middle East.  As part of the virtual book launch party, I’m joining with other bloggers to announce her book’s release and share  her recipe for Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins & Pine Nuts from the cookbook (click the launch party link to enter all the giveaways from sponsors on Faith’s blog!).

I made the rice to accompany a simple dinner of roasted chicken and a green salad, and it was fabulous.  She says the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon are optional but I highly recommend them.  (I didn’t have the whole spices but added pinches of the ground spices.)  While I’ve never traveled to the Middle East, I felt like I brought a piece of it to my own kitchen as soon as I opened the pot and the fragrant steam wafted up.  The savory rice in combination with the spices & sweet bits of plump golden raisins had me wishing for a complete Middle Eastern meal, and I’ll surely be cooking one up as soon as I have my hands on the cookbook.

FYI, I had some of the leftovers for breakfast, heated with almond milk as a hot cereal.  It was good, I promise!  And vegan & gluten-free, too. :)

If you are interested in getting your own copy of the cookbook, please click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble links above, and don’t forget to head on over to the launch party headquarters on Faith’s blog!

Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts
ROZ MLOW’WAN

Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic:  Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.

Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking

1½ cups (325 g) basmati rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 onion, finely diced
4 tablespoons sultanas (golden raisins)
1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon saffron threads (or ½ teaspoon turmeric)

  1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.
  2. Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the onion to the saucepan you cooked the pine nuts in, and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sultanas, boiling water, salt, and saffron (or turmeric), turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil.
  4. Give the rice a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off and let the rice sit (covered) 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  5. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top; serve.

 OPTIONAL Add two pods of cardamom, two whole cloves, and one 2-inch (5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick at the same time that you add the rice.

Mixed White & Yellow Rice, photo by Faith Gorsky

VARIATION

Mixed White and Yellow Rice
Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking

1½ cups (325 g) uncooked basmati rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
2 pods cardamom, cracked open
2 whole peppercorns
¾ teaspoon salt
1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water
1-2 pinches saffron threads or ½ teaspoon turmeric dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

  1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.
  2. Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan, cover and place over moderately high heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the rice, bay leaf, cloves, cardamom pods, peppercorns, and salt, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the boiling water to the rice, turn heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil. Give it a stir, cover the pot, turn heat down to very low, and cook 10 minutes (don’t open the lid during this time).
  4. After the rice is cooked, let the pot sit with the lid on for 15 minutes, then fluff the rice with a fork. Transfer 1/3 of the rice to a separate bowl.
  5. Stir the saffron or turmeric-colored water into 1/3 of the rice (the rice will turn yellow). Mix together the yellow rice and white rice; serve.
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