Category Archives: Side dishes

Basic Green Bean Casserole

This is it. The green bean casserole that replaces the icky one made with canned soup. It’s easy. It works for those family gatherings. It goes with *everything*, and it can be made and prepped ahead of time, so all that you need to do is pop it in the oven. We have been making this for the last couple of years, and it is always a hit. Enjoy!

Basic Green Bean Casserole

Adapted from Southern Living, Nov 2008
Serves 10

2 lbs fresh green beans, washed and trimmed (I use haricots verts)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Ivory Wheat Organic Flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 Tbsp ranch dressing mix (store-bought or use this recipe and use 1 Tbsp)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup French fried onions
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1. Cook fresh green beans in boiling, salted water to cover for 4 minutes, drain. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and pat dry. Use immediately or store in a zip-top plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

2. Make the bechamel sauce. Melt butter in a medium-size heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Cook 1 minute, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 3-4 minutes or until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat, and whisk in buttermilk, ranch mix, and salt & pepper. Sauce can be used immediately or can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

3. Preheat oven to 350. Stir together bechamel and green beans. Place mixture into a lightly greased 13×9 or 3 quart baking dish.

4. Combine French fried onions and panko. Sprinkle over green bean mixture.

5. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.

**Note** The entire casserole (minus the onion/panko topping) can be assembled up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Just add topping before baking.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 111.0
Total Fat: 4.1 g
Saturated Fat: 2.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.7 g
Cholesterol: 7.5 mg
Sodium: 264.2 mg
Potassium: 266.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 15.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.1 g
Sugars: 2.7 g
Protein: 4.0 g


Fresh Corn Cakes with Summer Salsa

I love buying fresh corn at this time of year, when it’s *everywhere* and super sweet. My only problem is that I often run out of things to do with it. I like to grill whole ears, and I like to cut it off the cob and saute it or put it in salads and side dishes. But I’m always looking for something new to do with corn. This is a fun new way to use corn – make it into little cakes topped with a homemade salsa! These were fantastic! We served them as a side dish, but you could easily make a meal out of these, too. Enjoy!

Fresh Corn Cakes with Summer Salsa
Slightly adapted from Cooking Light, Aug 2016
Serves 8 (as a side dish)

3/4 ounces whole wheat flour
1/2 cup plain yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup fat-free sour cream (I use Lilly brand or Trader Joe’s brand)
2 large eggs
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
2 tablespoons minced jalapeño (or fresh cayenne pepper)
Cooking spray
1/2 cup diced yellow squash
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 medium tomato, chopped

1. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.

2. Combine sour cream, eggs, and 1 tablespoon oil in a bowl, stirring until smooth. Add sour cream mixture, corn, and jalapeño to flour mixture; stir just until combined.

3. Spray a large nonstick griddle or skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium high heat.

4. Divide corn mixture into 8 equal portions (about 1/3 cup each); shape into patties. Add patties to griddle; cook 6 minutes on each side.

5. Combine squash, green onions, basil, vinegar, tomato, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl; toss. Top corn cakes evenly with salsa.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 137.3
Total Fat: 3.8 g
Saturated Fat: 0.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.7 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.9 g
Cholesterol: 48.5 mg
Sodium: 264.1 mg
Potassium: 176.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 21.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.0 g
Sugars: 2.2 g
Protein: 7.8 g

Homemade Pasta

Ever since we got our Kitchenaid mixer, one of the first attachments we *really* wanted was the pasta roller/cutter attachment. And ever since we’ve had the attachment, we have had lots of fun making pasta at home. And John has become the pasta-making expert in the household as a result!

This is the base recipe to make any shape of pasta. We started off making whole wheat pasta, but we’ve also had success making white pasta using the same recipe (just with all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat). Both types can be made into spaghetti, fettuccine, ravioli, lasagna, and on and on… Serve it with your favorite sauce, and enjoy!

Homemade Pasta (whole wheat)
Recipe from Kitchenaid
Yield: 1 1/4 pounds dough
Number of Servings: 10 (2 oz each)

4 large eggs
2 tablespoons water
3 1/2 cups sifted whole wheat pastry flour (**Note** – to make white pasta, just sub all-purpose flour – we use Ultragrain)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place eggs, water, whole wheat flour, and salt in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater. Turn to Speed 2 and mix 30 seconds.

Exchange flat beater for dough hook. Turn to Speed 2 and knead 2 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 2 minutes. Divide dough into eight pieces before processing with Pasta Sheet Roller attachment. Wrap pasta dough in plastic wrap. Let rest at least 30 min (or for a few hours in the fridge).

To Roll Pasta:
1. Cut dough into about 8-10 pieces about 3/8 inch (1 cm) thick. Flatten each piece slightly.

2. Set adjustment knob on Pasta Sheet. Roller at 1 by pulling the knob straight out and turning to setting 1. Release knob, making certain pin on roller housing engages opening on the back of the knob, allowing the knob to fit flush to the roller housing.

3. Turn mixer to Speed 2 or 4. Feed flattened piece of dough into rollers to knead. Fold dough in half and roll again. Repeat folding and kneading process several times, or until dough is smooth and pliable. Lightly dust pasta with flour while rolling and cutting to aid in drying and separation. Knead and fold each piece of dough in the same manner.

4. Move adjustment knob to setting 2. Feed dough through rollers to further flatten. Change to setting 3 and feed dough through rollers again. Continue to increase roller setting until desired dough thickness is reached. Cut or press into desired shape (with cutter or by hand).

To Cook Pasta:
Add 2 teaspoons salt to 6 quarts boiling water. Gradually add pasta and continue to cook at a boil until pasta is “al dente” or slightly firm to the bite, about 6 minutes. Pasta floats to the top of the water while cooking, so stir occasionally to keep it cooking evenly. Drain in a colander. Serve with your favorite sauce.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 170.1
Total Fat: 2.8 g
Saturated Fat: 0.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.9 g
Cholesterol: 74.0 mg
Sodium: 144.3 mg
Potassium: 28.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 30.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.1 g
Sugars: 0.0 g
Protein: 8.1 g

For white pasta (sub Ultragrain all-purpose flour for whole wheat):
Calories: 182.8
Total Fat: 2.6 g
Saturated Fat: 0.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.7 g
Cholesterol: 74.4 mg
Sodium: 144.7 mg
Potassium: 27.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 31.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.8 g
Sugars: 1.5 g
Protein: 8.1 g

Pommes Anna (Potatoes Anna)

I love potatoes, and there are so many ways to make them! This is one of my favorite “fancy” ways to make potatoes. All you really need is a mandoline and a skillet, and this is so easy to make! Enjoy!

Pommes Anna (Potatoes Anna)
Adapted from Cooking Light, April 2001
Makes 6 servings

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 pounds peeled baking potatoes, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (use a mandoline to make this really easy!)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, optional

Preheat oven to 450°.

Combine salt and pepper in a small bowl. Melt 1 Tbsp butter, set aside.

Heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter and canola oil in a 10-inch cast-iron or ovenproof heavy skillet over medium heat. Arrange a single layer of potato slices, slightly overlapping, in a circular pattern in pan; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt mixture. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon melted butter over potatoes. Repeat the layers 5 times, ending with butter. Press firmly to pack. Cover and bake at 450° for 20 minutes.

Uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until potatoes are golden. Loosen edges of potatoes with a spatula. Place a plate upside down on top of pan; invert potatoes onto plate. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired. Cut into wedges, and serve.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 243.4
Total Fat: 8.4 g
Saturated Fat: 2.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 3.6 g
Cholesterol: 7.8 mg
Sodium: 195.5 mg
Potassium: 952.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 41.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.3 g
Sugars: 1.6 g
Protein: 4.9 g

Elote Corn Bake

In San Antonio, elote corn (roasted corn on the cob, with spices, mayo, and topped with cojita cheese) is one of our favorites at local restaurants. One of our favorites is from a nearby restaurant, Two Step (roasted corn). My good friend introduced me to this easy casserole recipe to serve at parties – it’s all the fun of the elote corn, without having to make individual ears of corn for everyone. It’s a lot of fun, and we will definitely be making this again!


Slightly adapted from “Food in my beard” blog
Serves 12

10 ears of corn
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
4 Tbsp cilantro chopped
1 can no-salt added diced tomatoes, drained
1 bunch green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
1/4 cup light mayo (I used Hellman’s)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 oz crumbled Cojita cheese

1 lime, cut into wedges

Shuck the corn and cut the kernels off the cob. Use the back of your knife to scrape extra corn juice from the cob.

Chop the herbs and scallions and and mix all of the ingredients (except cojita cheese and lime) in a large bowl.

Pour into a baking dish, and top with cojita cheese. Bake at 350 for about a half hour until it is bubbling.

Before serving, squeeze lime wedges over the top (or, alternatively, give guests a lime wedge to dress each serving individually).

Nutritional info:
Calories: 106.3
Total Fat: 3.9 g
Saturated Fat: 1.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.3 g
Cholesterol: 5.8 mg
Sodium: 204.1 mg
Potassium: 262.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 17.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.1 g
Sugars: 3.8 g
Protein: 4.1 g

Mashed Potato, Rutabaga and Parsnip Casserole with Caramelized Onions

This may seem like a strange side dish, but – trust me – it’s delicious! Until a couple of years ago, I had never had rutabaga or parsnips. But, once I was adventurous enough to try them (and buy them!), I needed something fun to make with them!

So, I found this recipe and gave it a try. The verdict? It’s tasty, homey, and comforting. A perfect side dish to a fall or winter meal. It does take a bit of prep work (peeling lots of root veggies), but it is worth it. It reheats well and you can even freeze the leftovers. Enjoy!

Mashed Potato, Rutabaga and Parsnip Casserole with Caramelized Onions
Adapted from Bon Appetit, Nov 1994
Serves 12

7 cups canned low-salt chicken or vegetable broth
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds rutabagas, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/4 pounds parsnips, peeled, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
8 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 Tbsp canola oil
3 large onions, thinly sliced

Spray 13 x 9×2-inch glass baking dish. Combine first 7 ingredients in large pot; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté until onions are tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Once tender, drain potatoes, rutabaga & parsnips well. Transfer vegetables to large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until mashed but still chunky. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mashed vegetables to prepared dish.

Spread onions evenly over mashed vegetables. (Casserole can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 375° F. Bake casserole uncovered until heated through and top begins to crisp, about 25 minutes.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 184.9
Total Fat: 2.5 g
Saturated Fat: 0.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.7 g
Monounsaturated Fat:1.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 58.4 mg
Potassium: 889.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 37.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.9 g
Sugars: 6.2 g
Protein: 5.2 g

Farro Salad with Cherry Tomato, Onion, and Almonds

When summer hits and cookouts abound, I’m always looking for something new to take to the party. My current favorite is farro ANYTHING, and so when I saw this recipe, I just knew it would be perfect!

I brought it to a friend’s cookout a few weeks ago, and everyone loved it! It will definitely be on my “to-bring” list from now on! Enjoy!

Farro Salad with Cherry Tomato, Onion, and Almonds
From Cooking Light, July 2014
Serves 4

9 ounces uncooked pearled farro
1 1/2 cups sliced, halved cucumber (half moon)
1 1/2 cups quartered cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup Multipurpose Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup lightly salted, smoked almonds, chopped

1. Cook farro according to package directions, omitting salt; drain in a colander.

2. Combine cooked farro, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and parsley in a large bowl.

3. Combine vinaigrette and mascarpone in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour over farro mixture, tossing to combine. Top with almonds. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 384.0
Total Fat: 13.6 g
Saturated Fat: 1.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 5.1 g
Cholesterol: 5.0 mg
Sodium: 97.8 mg
Potassium: 292.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 53.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 10.6 g
Sugars: 0.9 g
Protein: 10.9 g

Slow-Cooker German Potato Salad

Now that it’s grilling season, I’ve started looking for great sides to go along with our grilled foods. While I sometimes attempt to grill the entire meal (entree, side, and veggie), sometimes it’s nice to have side dishes that can cook themselves and make more room on the grill for other items!

We made this recipe recently to go alongside burgers, and it was fantastic! My only complaint? The recipe says that there are 16 servings, and upon closer inspection, a “serving” was only 1/2 cup! So, in our case, we each had double servings – which still meant that we got 8 servings out of this recipe! In any event, it was tasty the first day, and reheated well – it would definitely be a great side for our next cookout! Enjoy!

Slow-cooker German Potato Salad
From Eating Well, May/June 2014
Serves 16 (about 1/2 cup per serving)

4 slices bacon
1/3 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise (or quartered, if large)
2 cups sliced celery
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

1.Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crispy, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to cool, reserving the drippings. Crumble the cooled bacon and refrigerate until ready to serve.

2.Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings. Off the heat, add vinegar to the pan. When it stops steaming, scrape up any browned bits. Whisk mustard and flour in a small bowl; add the vinegar mixture and whisk until combined. Whisk in salt and pepper.

3.Combine potatoes, celery, onion and the dressing in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker; stir until the vegetables are well coated. Cover and cook on Low for 5 hours.

4.To serve, stir in dill and the bacon.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 91
Fat: 1g
Saturated fat: 0g
Monounsaturated fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 2mg
Carb0hydrates: 17g
Protein: 3g
Fiber: 1g
Sugars: 1g
Added sugars: 0g
Sodium: 172mg
Potassium: 415mg

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Sweet Potatoes

Several years ago, when I first discovered quinoa, I was looking for a tasty recipe to make with it. I found this one, and it was just what I was looking for – and so flavorful! I’ve been making this for many years now, and it’s always a hit at parties & potlucks – it’s a great side dish or even a vegetarian main course, and it tastes great cold or at room temperature! Enjoy!

Quinoa with black beans & sweet potatoes - cooked

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Sweet Potatoes
from Women’s Health
makes 4 servings

1/2 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup canned black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
juice of one lime
2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1. Place quinoa in a small-mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly.

2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a medium skillet (be sure you have a tight-fitting lid for the skillet).

3. Add sweet potato, scallion, and chile and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

4. Add quinoa; toast for 2 minutes.
Quinoa with black beans & sweet potatoes - cooking

5. Add water and salt.

6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cover. Simmer until quinoa and sweet potato are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.

7. If liquid remains unabsorbed in the pan, raise heat to high and cook for 2 minutes until it boils off.

8. Stir in black beans and lime juice and cilantro.

9. Serve warm or chilled.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 196.1
Total Fat: 5.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 297.7 mg
Total Carbs: 32.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.4 g
Protein: 6.5 g

Grilled Sweet Potatoes

This is one of my favorite grilling side dishes to make. It’s a great savory way to enjoy sweet potatoes, and it is a hit every time. Enjoy!

Grilled sweet potatoes - done

Grilled Sweet Potatoes
A Karen original
Servings vary

Sweet potatoes (1/2 to 1 potato per serving)
Spray olive oil (I use my misto)
Gourmet Rosemary Sea Salt (see recipe)

Preheat grill. Scrub raw sweet potatoes and slice lengthwise. Spritz with olive oil, then sprinkle with the rosemary sea salt.

Place cut-side down on the grill (over medium heat). Grill for about 5 minutes, then flip over (skin-side down). Continue grilling for another 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Serve hot.