Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - On the Side Edition

This week's Ten on Tuesday topic is 10 Favorite Summer Side Dishes. I have a love/hate relationship with summer cooking. I love doing something on the grill and love eating salads and vegetables, but I hate heating up the kitchen with the oven and coming up with new and interesting side dishes to serve with the grilled main entree. I can't wait to read everyone's lists and will be stealing from them with abandon!

(Yes, my husband had to eat some raspberry jello directly from the bowl.)

1.  Good Old Macaroni Salad
My usual isn't a "fancy" pasta salad, but rather the old-fashioned kind I make with elbow macaroni, mayo, celery, olives, and some crumbled bacon if I have it.

2.  Baked Beans
This is kind of cheating, but I use canned baked beans, drained, and then add extra barbecue sauce, onion, and bacon. My family loves this version, far more than the real baked beans I've attempted.

3.  Plain Raw Vegetables
I'm not sure this even qualifies as a side dish, but it started when my kids were younger and weren't thrilled with cooked vegetables. Youngest Son always wanted to eat raw green beans, and one day it finally dawned on me to just wash, chop, and fill a big bowl with raw vegetables and serve them with assorted dips. We eat the usual celery, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower, but also snow peas, string beans, cucumbers, radishes, and jicama.

4.  Bill's Raspberry Jello
My husband's boss introduced this to me almost twenty years ago and I still love it. It's easy, healthy, cool, and tasty. Make raspberry jello (I use sugar-free and it works fine) with half the water called for, then add 1 cup of no-sugar-added applesauce and 1 bag of frozen raspberries per each 4-serving box of jello that you've used. This one may be veering towards dessert, but I'm the cook here at home and I call it a side dish!

5.  Cucumbers in Sour Cream 
I just remembered this last night when I had a surfeit of cucumbers and needed something to serve with hamburgers. I thinly sliced about 8 peeled cucumbers, and added about 1/2 c. fat-free sour cream, 5 or 6 T. apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. I would have added dill if I had any, but alas, there was no room in the garden this year.

6.  Fancy Pasta Salad
This is on my meal-planning list to make later this week to serve with grilled chicken.

7.  Coleslaw
I've been trying to replicate my grandmother's and mother-in-law's coleslaw for years; theirs have the perfect mayo/vinegar/sugar ratio. I still don't have it mastered exactly, but this comes reasonably close.

8.  Baked Pineapple
Baked pineapple sounded a little strange to me at first, but it's really very good. I use the microwave to avoid heating up the kitchen with the oven and it works fine. It's great with grilled ham slices!

9.  Zucchini Parmigiana
Later in the summer, we're usually trying to use up zucchini from the garden, so this was born out of desperation. I thinly slice zucchini and layer the slices with some shredded cheese in a 9x9 pan, then pour tomato sauce over it all. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until the zucchini is tender. This is better (and a little less runny) if it's served at room temp. or even cold. If you can avoid fainting at the price/pound label at the grocery store, this is even better if you add some prosciutto to the layers.

10. That Good Salad
I saved the best for last. It's usually called Chinese Noodle Salad or something like that, but we just call it That Good Salad. We grow Napa cabbage in our garden just so I have a ready supply. I've made some changes to the original recipe I received in the interest of saving some calories, but I don't think the taste is compromised. The recipe and my changes:

1 stick of butter (I don't use)
2 pkgs Ramen noodles - crushed, discard the flavor packet
1/2 cup cashews, chopped
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (I don't use, cashews are enough)
Melt butter and saute above ingredients until browned (I don't do this)

1 head Napa cabbage
1 small onion
Chop cabbage and onion and combine in bowl.

1 cup vegetable oil (I use 2/3-3/4 cup)
1 cup sugar (I use 1/2-2/3 cup)
1/2 cider vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
Mix well

Combine Ramen, nuts, cabbage, onion, and dressing about 1/2 hour before serving. (I don't do this. I think the salad is better if the noodles soak up the dressing and the tastes meld, so I put it all together in the morning and eat way too much at dinner.)

If I had a row of Ramen and grew some cashews, I'd really be set!


  1. wow, great ideas and thanks for sharing all the recipes! I must get back into the kitchen! also, your garden looks amazing. I'm in awe that you can put real meals together with things you've grown yourself.

  2. Your picnic sounds like one my mother had. It's all her favorite dishes! Isn't it fun to use what we have in our gardens?

  3. I like that Chinese noodle salad when I've had it, but I've never made it. Guess I should!


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