Category Archives: Side Dishes

Quick Homemade Croutons

Quick Homemade Croutons 

IMG_6055

My husband grew up eating homemade croutons all the time. So when I purchased croutons awhile ago, he refused to eat them. I used to think he was crazy until he made them one evening and I was forever sold.

Than, just the other night we had my family over for dinner and everyone wanted them as soon as Michael mentioned it. He made them yet again and we all ate them as is and loved them, as well as topping our salad with this delicious crunch.

They are super easy and taste really good with my homemade english muffin bread (see below).

Goodridence to store bought croutons. Hello homemade goodness! Your guests will be impressed!

Ingredients:

Turn oven to broil or 550 degrees. Cut bread into medium chunks and place on a foil lined baking sheet.

Drizzle with EVOO, garlic salt and sea salt all to taste!

IMG_6051

Place in the oven and broil 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned. Toss croutons to toast the bottom of them as well! An additional 1-2 minutes.

IMG_6053
These croutons are perfectly crunchy without busting a tooth and are healthier than the 50 ingredient croutons in the store AND taste phenomenal.

If you do not have an impressive salad for dinner guests, please make these as a perfect distraction. You will get compliments on these easy little suckers.

Garlic Toast

Garlic Toast

Here is another creative idea from my husband the same night he made blackened fish fillets. He was on a roll with not only being creative but proceeding to make it that night and having it be completely satisfying to my palette.

Hooray for a husband who enjoys to cook once in awhile.

We had homemade bread laying around and wanted some toast with our fish and mushroom saute. He decided to take no only garlic salt and butter but to melt blue cheese crumbles on the bread and then toast it. This allowed the cheese to melt into the pores of the bread and crisp up quite nicely. I could have eaten an entire loaf if I wanted, but luckily he only made four slices.

garlic bread

From oven to mouth in about 5 minutes. Can’t beat that!

Ingredients:

  • Homemade Bread
  • Blue Cheese Crumbles
  • Butter
  • Garlic Salt

In a small bowl add blue cheese crumbles and melt for 10-15 seconds in the microwave.

Meanwhile, spread butter across all your bread and sprinkle with garlic salt.

Top with melted blue cheese crumbles.

Toast in oven or toaster oven on 550 degrees for 2 minutes.

garlic

Be prepared to devour the entire loaf. So amazing and so much better for you than store bought garlic spreads.

Black Beans

Most people tend to purchase canned beans out of convenience but do you realize how easy it is to make them yourself? Seriously folks, this method of purchasing canned beans needs to stop. Making your own is more flavorful, healthier and honestly too easy not to partake in–let the crock pot do all the work.

This may be the shortest post of your life, all because making homemade beans are too simple, there really isn’t much to say. So lets get started…

IMG_6687

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Beans (Today I used black beans)
  • 2 1/2 Cups Water
  • 1 Small Onion, diced
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 TSP Garlic Salt
  • 1/2 TSP Sea Salt
  • 1 1/2 TSP Italian Seasoning

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and turn to high heat. Cook for 4 hours. Low heat for 6-8 hours.

By this point you’re house will be smelling amazing and you will be thankful you took the bold step to make your own beans.

These beans are great as a simple side dish or mixed in something such as spicy black bean burgers (hint hint).

They taste so good you literally can eat them by the spoonful. I say this because I have done this, or shall I say I partook in the spoonful eating myself mmm about an hour ago. :) Once you partake in the simplicity of making delicious, flavorful beans, you will say goodbye to canned beans forever. “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye”… I thought about leaving the last part out as I was at a loss on how to spell auf Wiedersehen. But than the song got stuck in my head and by the time I searched for the lyrics, viola, I found it and had to say it. 

Now I’m sure the song will be stuck in your head, so go dance around your kitchen with joy, that you my friends can stop purchasing canned beans as well.

Auf Wiedersehen~

Pasta Salad

Traditional pasta salad never gets old. With all the creativity in the world and the delicious salads we all come up with, traditional pasta salad still covers most tables all throughout summer.

We ate this while up visiting my parents a couple weeks ago. My mom is the chef I’ve learned to mimic throughout the years. Her great food, amazing desserts and her love for cooking has been exactly what I’ve tried to emulate throughout my years of successful cooking. Love and food will consume a recipe leaving you with nothing left but greatness.

Here is a great staple pasta salad recipe with the secret sauce of—Cesar Dressing. It really is the secret to cut back on the tang from Italian dressing but not take away from the flavor. Try it out, mmm so delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Spiral Pasta
  • 1 can Olives, sliced
  • Handful Kalamata Olives
  • 1 large Carrot, chopped
  • 1 large Green Pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 medium Onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup Italian Dressing
  • 1/2 cup Caesar Salad Dressing

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and let cool.

Meanwhile, while the pasta is cooking, begin to dice and chop all vegetables.

IMG_5505

Sprinkle vegetables on top of cold pasta and add dressings.

IMG_5506

Mix well while trying not to eat all of the olives. :)

IMG_5507

Of course pasta salad is so divine, you could always eat it by itself, but tonight’s menu was Sausage Sandwich with rice.

IMG_5528

I must confess, Cesar salad dressing gives the perfect flavor to this salad with a bit of tang from the Italian Dressing. Yummy!!!

IMG_5533Don’t go fancy tonight, make this staple pasta salad before summer ends!

Creamy Potatoes

This past couple weeks has been so unbearably hot. So hot that the thought of cooking is not appealing whatsoever. I’ve decided to do as much on the grill as possible without having the same meals repeated. Not the easiest but can happen with creativity. These potatoes came from the grill and landed in my mouth with a great big smile upon my face.

I can’t express to you the great joy of hanging out with my family and sitting on the back porch enjoying so good food and even more, great family time. And this my friends, has been what our summer is all about.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb red potatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bushels of green onions
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Garlic Salt
  • Parsley
  • EVOO
  • 3/4 cup ranch

Like Father like son. They are twins in every aspect.

IMG_5692

Dice potatoes and onions. Season with a generous amount of salt, pepper, garlic salt and parsley.

IMG_5693

Add in green onions.

IMG_5694

Top with EVOO and ranch dressing.

IMG_5695

Mix together and compile onto a foil lined vegetable grill basket (or place foil directly onto grill).

IMG_5696

Grill for about 15-20 minutes until tender but still has a bite.

IMG_5697

This is great with any main dish. Tonight we had this with Applewood Sausage.

IMG_5699

Quick Sausage

This is great for a snack, side dish or main course. My son, husband and I love sausage and often when I know he wont eat what I will be preparing for dinner, I think of other options that will be a hit and have a variety of protein and vegetables.

Ingredients: 

  • Sausage
  • Mushrooms
  • Onion
  • EVOO
  • Garlic Salt
  • Salt & Pepper

In a skillet, saute all ingredients until heated through and cooked.

IMG_5088

Serve over rice as a main dish or simply serve as is for a side dish.

My silly little goose wearing the colander as a hat.

IMG_5083

Showing off his little modeling skills

Tonight we had Mahi with rice and salad. I decided to serve the sausage as a side dish as I know my son absolutely loves it. 
IMG_5096

My sweet little baby enjoying dinner with Leo the Lion.

IMG_5100

We all love to eat dinner and hang out on our patio….boo hoo for when summer decides to leave us! :(

The Best Potato Salad

This recipe is very simple for potato salad and is rich in flavor leaving your mouth watering for more.

My husband and his step dad embarked on my cooking yet again. Tonight’s menu: Barbecued Chicken with potato salad and fresh grilled garlic green beans.

I’ve actually never made potato salad as my mom makes the best and I typically don’t crave such food because it can often be too rich, too mushy, too mustardy (if that’s even a word). I’ve had store bought to potluck potato salad and never really desire it because it never is “right.” Well, today I decided to make it for the first time as I have been craving this for some odd reason and to my surprise I love the flavors.

If you are so-so with potato salad, this recipe is a must try.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ lbs Russet potatoes
  • 1 lb red potatoes
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (NO miracle whip and no light mayo)
  • ½ cup ranch dressing
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 baby dill pickles, finely chopped
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, grated
  • ¼ tsp celery salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt

In a large pot, add diced potatoes and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes. (Do not over cook as you don’t want your salad to be mushy) Drain and rinse with cold water. IMG_5215

In a large glass bowl, combine mayonnaise, ranch, celery salt and garlic salt. Add to potatoes and stir well.

IMG_5217

Place potatoes in a glass bowl and add chopped celery.

IMG_5218 IMG_5219

Add finely chopped pickles.

IMG_5220

And grate the eggs directly into potatoes.

IMG_5221

Give the salad a good stir. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

IMG_5222

Serve with BBQ Chicken and grilled beans and corn.

IMG_5231

 

So delicious!

Roasted Cabbage

This is the best, healthiest side dish you could make for any summer meal! It is super tasty and carb free! :) I’ve been making this for awhile and cabbage is only $0.66 at our local market. You can’t beat that for a side dish for an entire family and then some.

My husband and I can get sick of the usual stir fried veggies and opt for a different take on a vegetable side. This is great for those nights you can’t think of anything and want something quick!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of Cabbage, halved
  • EVOO
  • Garlic Salt
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper

Cut cabbage in half.

IMG_5040

Slice into large chunks.

IMG_5041

Lay cabbage on foil lined baking sheet

IMG_5044

Drizzle with EVOO, salt, pepper and garlic salt

IMG_5045

Sprinkle to taste

IMG_5046

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly roasted.

IMG_5049

Yummy

IMG_5048

Serve with Chicken Avocado Spring Rolls.

IMG_5053

Honey Glazed Carrots

These honey glazed carrots are a guarantee in our household. My son loves them and they aren’t bad for you. Honey is a great sweetener that isn’t horrible for your body. This is a great way to get a little vegetables with a twist to the raw crunch that gets tiring.

Ingredients

  • Honey
  • Carrots

Simple as that. Two ingredients and an oven. :)

For easy clean up I thoroughly love to line most everything with foil to make it easier on me. Line a broiler pan or cookie sheet with foil and scatter carrots on top. Sprinkle globs of honey throughout the carrots and bake at 450 degrees for approximately 10 minutes.

IMG_4711

I prefer my cooked carrots still with a bit of a crunch. :) Enjoy!

IMG_4712

Mediterranean Salad

My husband and I love cucumbers, tomatoes and rice vinegar with oil as a delicious summer snack. I’ve been making this snack all week long and decided to spice it up a bit by adding a lot more items to use as a main dish salad.

We love this salad and it is healthy, filling and fulfilling.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups bok choy, chopped
  • 1 cup cucumbers, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, add bok choy, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado and cilantro.

IMG_4846Mix together in a separate bowl, lemon juice and Oil. Pour on top of vegetables and mix well. 
IMG_4857Rinse and drain beans; add to salad. When serving add salt and pepper.