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RanchBeans

This dinner is one that I make fairly frequently. I call it the cowboy dinner. My father spent the first quarter of his life in Texas. That stays with you and a little bit of it gets passed down. I love spicy, smoky, salty foods.  The brisket recipe is from my aunt Joyce. It is so simple that you don’t really need a recipe. Simply know that if you put a beef brisket into a Reynolds oven bag and pour over a mixture of equal parts liquid smoke (1/2 bottle) with Worchestershire sauce and let it bake for 4 hours at 300 degrees, you will have a delicious piece of beef. Aunt Joyce served it on New Year’s Day with black-eyed peas (which I cannot abide) and it has become a favorite of mine. She sliced it across the grain. Mine sometimes comes out more like shredded beef instead of sliced beef, but the taste is fabulous so who cares?

I serve my brisket with Ranch Beans, a recipe that originally came out of Sunset Magazine, I don’t know when. The original recipe says that it serves 6, but really I think it serves 12, so I only make a half recipe anymore. That is what I am going to tell you about.

In a few days I look forward to heating up my leftover brisket and ranch beans, rolling them into a tortilla with grated cheese, jalapenos, and spiced sweet potatoes and chowing down. Amazing. Tonight I am serving the brisket and beans with corn bread muffins and BLT salad.

Put 1/2 # dried pinto beans into pan and cover with water to at least 2” above the beans. Bring to a boil and boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand at least 1 or up to 4 hours; drain beans and pour into bowl.

Put 1/2 # dried pinto beans into pan and cover with water to at least 2” above the beans. Bring to a boil and boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand at least 1 or up to 4 hours; drain beans and pour into bowl.

In the same pan, stir 1/8# (3-4 slices) chopped bacon over medium heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Discard fat, if any. Add 1/2 small onion and 1 clove garlic; stir and cook until onion is limp, about 5 minutes.

In the same pan, stir 1/8# (3-4 slices) chopped bacon over medium heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Discard fat, if any. Add 1/2 small onion and 1 clove garlic; stir and cook until onion is limp, about 5 minutes.

 

Stir in 1 Tbsp. chili powder. Add beans, 1-3/4 cups water, and pepper to taste.

Stir in 1 Tbsp. chili powder. Add beans, 1-3/4 cups water, and pepper to taste.

Cover and simmer until beans are tender to bite.

Cover and simmer until beans are tender to bite, about an hour.

 

Add tomato sauce. If beans are soupier than you like, boil, uncovered, over high heat until liquid evaporates to suit your taste;

Add 4-oz. (half of an 8-oz. can) tomato sauce. If beans are soupier than you like, boil, uncovered, over high heat until liquid evaporates to suit your taste;

stir occasionally and reduce heat as mixture thickens. Add salt to taste.

stir occasionally and reduce heat as mixture thickens. Add salt to taste.

 

Ranch Beans Ingredients

½# dried pinto beans

1/8# bacon, diced

½ of a small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. chili powder

Dash pepper

½ can (4-oz.) tomato sauce

Salt

Jalapeno cheese boatsThis recipe is based upon one found at Taste Of Home. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like these very much. I like to serve these with enchiladas and rice.

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Cut jalapeños in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds into the trash. Place the jalapeños into an ungreased 15×10” baking pan or on a baking sheet.

In a small bowl combine 8-oz. container herb and onion cream cheese, 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup chopped green onion.

In a small bowl combine 8-oz. container herb and onion cream cheese, 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup chopped green onion.

 

Spoon into the jalapeño halves.

Spoon into the jalapeño halves.

 

Top with shrimp in a decorative manner.

Top with shrimp in a decorative manner.

Bake at 400 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until jalapeños are tender. Yield 18 appetizers.

Bake at 400 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until jalapeños are tender. Yield 18 appetizers.

 

Jalapeño Cheese Boats Recipe

9 jalapeño peppers

1 8-oz. container spreadable herb and onion cream cheese

¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

¼ cup sliced green onions

¼# small cooked shrimp (salad shrimp)

Cut jalapeños in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds into the trash. Place the jalapeños into an ungreased 15×10” baking pan or on a baking sheet. In a small bowl combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese and onions. Spoon into the jalapeño halves. Top with shrimp in a decorative manner. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until jalapeños are tender. Yield 18 appetizers.

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This makes a great side dish to burritos or barbecue brisket. It’s based upon a recipe found at Food Network. I don’t have frozen corn, never have, but I try to have canned corn on hand for occasional use.

Beat 4 ounces softened cream cheese, a 15-oz. can creamed corn, a 15-oz. can whole corn, 1/2 cup cornmeal and 1/2 chopped onion.

Beat 4 ounces softened cream cheese, a 15-oz. can creamed corn, a 15-oz. can whole corn, 1/2 cup cornmeal and 1/2 chopped onion.

Stir in 2/3 cup milk, 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1 beaten egg, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar, and salt and pepper.

Stir in 2/3 cup milk, 3 Tbsp. melted butter, 1 beaten egg, 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar, and salt and pepper.

Spread in a buttered 1-quart casserole dish and bake 50 minutes at 350 degrees.

Spread in a buttered 2-quart casserole dish and bake 50 minutes at 350 degrees.

Spread in a buttered 1-quart casserole dish and bake 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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Let me just say right at the beginning . . . this recipe uses processed foods. It is a family favorite, the quintessential comfort food. Cheesy Potatoes is a nice accompaniment to ribs or meatloaf or fried chicken. You will need an extremely large bowl (mine is 32 cups) to mix it in. Do not thaw the potatoes, use them straight from the bag.

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Southern Style frozen hash brown potatoes
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream
½ cup onion
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup butter, melted
Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together

Mix all ingredients together

Place into a greased 9X13” pan

Bake at 350 degrees for 1.5 hours (or at 375 degrees for an hour).

Bake at 350 degrees for 1.5 hours (or at 375 degrees for an hour).

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Alert: This recipe requires special equipment. There is a device called a spaetzle maker, which makes this recipe quite simple. Alternatively you could use a flat cheese grater, although it takes more time. I’ve used a spoon a few times and it’s quite tedious.

Alert: This recipe requires special equipment. There is a device called a spaetzle maker, which makes this recipe quite simple. The batter is dolloped into the bowl-shape you see here, then the bowl slides across the holes and the batter drips through. Alternatively you could use a flat cheese grater, although it takes more time. I’ve used a spoon a few times and it’s quite tedious. There may be other kinds of spaetzle makers, too.

Spaetzle is like pasta, but the batter-like dough is pressed through small holes into salted boiling water. Note, do not let whatever device you are using rest upon the edges of the pot for very long or the device will heat up and the batter will cook as soon as it touches the device. My friend Jo learned this from experience. She had to stop, clean her cheese grater, and begin again. Avoid this type of kitchen crisis by working quickly and don’t allow the spaetzle maker to rest on the rim of the kettle.

Spaetzle is like pasta, but the batter-like dough is pressed through small holes into salted boiling water. Note, do not let whatever device you are using rest upon the edges of the pot for very long or the device will heat up and the batter will cook as soon as it touches the device. My friend Jo learned this from experience. She had to stop, clean her cheese grater, and begin again. Avoid this type of kitchen crisis by working quickly and don’t allow the spaetzle maker to rest on the rim of the kettle.

We like to eat spaetzle with Hungarian Pork Stew, Baby Back Ribs with Sauerkraut, and Chicken Paprika. All those recipes can be found here by using the Search box. Oftentimes people like to sauté spaetzle in butter and serve that way. I’ve never tried that, but it sounds good.

Mix together 2 eggs, 2 Tbsp. oil, ½ cup water, ½ cup milk.

Mix together 2 eggs, 2 Tbsp. oil, ½ cup water, ½ cup milk.

Mix together 2-1/2 cups flour, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir well.

Mix together 2-1/2 cups flour, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir well.

Let rest while waiting for a large pot of salted water to boil.

Let rest while waiting for a large pot of salted water to boil.

Working in batches, press a batch of batter through the device (spaetzle maker or flat cheese grater or dripping it off a spoon) into the boiling waterThe batter is supposed to drip into the pot and cook in the water.

Working in batches, press a batch of batter through the device (spaetzle maker or flat cheese grater or dripping it off a spoon) into the boiling salted water. The batter is supposed to drip into the pot and cook in the water.

The spaetzle is done once it floats to the surface.

The spaetzle is done once it floats to the surface.

Using a slotted spoon

Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the spaetzle and place into a bowl or a colander in a bowl. Complete all the batches in a like manner. The longest part of this process is waiting for the water to boil. Seriously.

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Another favorite, this is based upon the recipe in Betty Crocker’s Cookbook (1969). It goes really great with bratwurst. The dinner you see pictured here includes bratwurst and sauerkraut, but neither of those are in this potato salad recipe. Just sayin’.

I peel and then boil the potatoes, but as long as they’re cooked it shouldn’t matter how it’s accomplished.  The potatoes work best if they’re cooled.3 pounds cooked potatoes, peeled

3 pounds cooked potatoes, peeled
I peel and then boil the potatoes, but as long as they’re cooked it shouldn’t matter how it’s accomplished. The potatoes work best if they’re then cooled.

In a large skillet, fry 6 slices of bacon until crisp.

In a large skillet, fry 6 slices of bacon until crisp.

Remove bacon and place on absorbent towel to drain.

Remove bacon and place on absorbent towel to drain.

Cook and stir 3/4 cup chopped onion in bacon drippings until tender and golden brown.

Cook and stir 3/4 cup chopped onion in bacon drippings until tender and golden brown.

Stir in 2 Tbsp. flour, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. celery seed, and dash of pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring until bubbly.

Stir in 2 Tbsp. flour, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. celery seed, and dash of pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring until bubbly.

Remove from heat; stir in 3/4 cup water and 1/3 cup vinegar (I use cider vinegar). Heat to boiling; stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.

Remove from heat; stir in 3/4 cup water and 1/3 cup vinegar (I use cider vinegar). Heat to boiling; stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.

Chop bacon, thinly slice potatoes. Carefully stir into hot mixture. Heat through, stirring lightly to coat potato slices.

Chop bacon, thinly slice potatoes. Carefully stir into hot mixture. Heat through, stirring lightly to coat potato slices.

Serves 5 or 6. And tastes pretty great the next day, too!

Serves 5 or 6. And tastes pretty great the next day, too!

Hot German Potato Salad ingredients

3 pounds cooked potatoes, peeled

6 slices bacon

¾ cup chopped onion

2 Tbsp. flour

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. celery seed

Dash pepper

¾ cup water

1/3 cup vinegar

This is super simple and makes an excellent snack or dinner component when you want to have something already prepared and sitting in the refrigerator. The recipe is based upon one found in The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors (William Morrow 1990) by Jeff Smith. Smith says it is a Welsh dish. I’ve made this many times and I like the idea of eating it by hand on-the-go. Today I really didn’t pay much attention to measurements, just threw the ingredients in. I forgot to cover the dish for the first part of baking and it did come out a bit dry in the end. My ground pork was quite lean and I did not have but a tablespoon of accumulated fat to pour off.

Mix together 1-1/2 pounds lean ground pork, 1 chopped onion, 2 eggs, ¼ tsp. cayenne, ¼ tsp. sage, 2 Tbsp. Worchestershire sauce, Salt and pepper.

Place mixture into a greased 8” pie pan. Cover and bake at 375 degrees F for thirty minutes.

Remove from oven and drain off accumulated fat.

Cut slits in pie crust and place atop pork mixture, pinching along the top to seal.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until crust is brown and flaky. Let cool completely before serving.

Cold Pork Pie Recipe

1-1/2 pounds lean ground pork

chopped onion

2 eggs, beaten

¼ tsp. cayenne

¼ tsp. sage

2 Tbsp. Worchestershire sauce

Salt and pepper

1 pie crust

Mix everything, except crust, together and place into a greased 8” pie pan. Bake, covered, in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and drain off accumulated fat. Cover with crust and return to oven for 45 minutes or until the crust is brown and flaky. Allow to cool completely before serving.

I love twice-baked potatoes. They can be made using many different ingredients, whatever flips your switch. This recipe calls for sour cream and shallot, but you could use cream cheese and onion instead. You’re only limited by your imagination. This dish doesn’t take a lot of hands-on time. You can bake the potatoes ahead of time and then the rest of the preparation goes quickly.

Start by washing russet “baker” potatoes and running a knife lengthwise along one side of each, just piercing the skin. Then give one deep jab along the score. One time I didn’t do this and had the potatoes explode in the oven and make a mess, so do it. Just sayin’. The russets I use are quite large and I bake at 350 degrees for an hour and a half. They should be soft when squeezed. Remove from the oven and let cool awhile, until you can pick them up. It’s much easier to scoop out the insides if they are still warm. This is what they look like when cooked.

In a small skillet saute a chopped shallot and a chopped garlic clove in butter until tender.

Scoop out the white part of the potatoes with a spoon into a large bowl, being careful not to pierce the skin.

Mash the potato as well as possible (my bowl was too small).

Here are the potato skins, ready to be stuffed.

Add the shallot, garlic, butter mixture to the potatoes. Add salt and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of bacon bits. Stir together with dollops of sour cream, enough to bind it all together.

Stir in sharp cheddar cheese.

Mix together well.

Stuff the mixture into the potato skins.

Sprinkle with grated sharp cheddar cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and potatoes are heated throughout, 15-20 minutes.

Ingredient List

Russet “Baker” potatoes

Shallot

Garlic

Butter

Salt and pepper

Bacon bits

Sour Cream

Sharp Cheddar Cheese

I really like sweet potatoes except for canned sweet potatoes with copious amounts of sweetener added. The whole marshmallow topping thing is so unctuously sweet that . . . okay, enough of the trash talk. Here is what I like. I’ve used this recipe for many years and can’t remember where I originally got it, but just found it online at food.com. The recipe calls for fresh sweet potatoes (red yams) and very little sweetener. The pictures illustrate a smaller batch than is called for in the recipe, so use them as a guide on how to do it, but use the recipe for the amounts. I served the dish with shrimp salad, corn muffins, and pork roast that had been slowly baked in mango salsa. A couple days later I took the leftover pork and sweet potatoes, added grated cheese and refried beans and rolled it all up into tortillas for tasty burritos. Two days worth of good eats!

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled

Cut into 1” cubes (about 6 cups)

In a large resealable plastic bag, toss sweet potatoes and 2 Tbsp. olive oil.

Add 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, 1 tsp. chili powder, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. cayenne and toss to coat.

Transfer to a greased 11×7” baking dish.

Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender, stirring every 15 minutes. Yield 8 servings.

Spicy Sweet Potatoes Recipe

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes (about 6 cups)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. cayenne

In a large resealable plastic bag, toss sweet potatoes and oil. Add remaining ingredients; toss to coat. Transfer to a greased 11×7” baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender, stirring every 15 minutes. Yield 8 servings.

Savory Spinach and Artichoke Bread Pudding

This is a dish I’ve adapted from one posted on Food Network by Emeril Lagasse. It has a lot of ingredients, but is really very simple to make. Instead of Italian seasoning, I dash dried basil and oregano into it at the appropriate times. One thing that I think would enhance this dish is a sauce, but I haven’t quite come up with anything. I think a marinara would overwhelm it. Maybe a balsamic reduction would be good. If anyone comes up with something interesting, let me know! I served this with baked salmon the other night and it was a good accompaniment.

The first thing to do is prepare the spinach by steaming it, cooling, draining and wringing it as dry as possible, then chopping. Set aside.

Saute onion in olive oil until golden brown and tender.

Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds longer.

Add 2 tsp. Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Mix in artichokes. Heat for another 2 minutes. Set aside.

Prepare 7 cups French bread by slicing into cubes. Add onion mixture to bread cubes.

Cut Brie into cubes and stir into bread mixture, along with spinach.

Mix together eggs, cream, milk, lemon juice, more Italian seasoning (about 2 tsp.). Add to bread mixture, along with minced parsley and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Let mixture rest for 20 minutes.

Pour into greased (sprayed or with olive oil) 13 X 9″ baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Drizzle olive oil over top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.Serve warm. Yields about eight servings.

Savory Spinach and Artichoke Bread Pudding Ingredient List

1 cup chopped onion

2 cloves chopped garlic

2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper (divided in half)

1 14-oz. can quartered artichoke hearts

7 cups cubed French bread

1# spinach (steamed, cooled, wrung, and chopped)

½ # Brie, rind removed, cut into cubes

3 eggs

1-1/2 cup cream

1 cup milk

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. minced parsley

Olive oil for pan and drizzle