Category Archives: Sides

Oven-Roasted Summer Squash

P1050922The next few posts, I want to share my favorite ways to enjoy summer squash. (whether that be yellow or zucchini!)

I always look forward to that first wonderful taste of freshly picked summer squash each summer, because I do love this vegetable! It’s so versatile and there are many ways to enjoy eating it. You probably already assume that since it is a vegetable, that it is good for you. And this is true! But, do you know HOW good for you summer squash really is? According to whfoods.org, Summer Squash is high in copper, manganese, vitamin C, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, potassium, folate, Vitamin B6, Vitamin K just to name a few!

So, what are some of my favorite ways to prepare and eat this great veggie? Comin’ right up!

Today’s version is roasted in the oven. It really could not be any simpler than this. When you bake the squash, the flavors become more concentrated and I feel like the taste is a little more bold.

You only need about 5 minutes to put this together, and only about 20 minutes to let it bake. I love to serve squash with steak, chicken, or burgers!

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Fried Apples

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I have had fried apples on my mind ever since my Grandmother last visited a month or so ago. We were on our way to the apple orchard and discussing good ways to prepare apples. She reminisced about the absolute deliciousness of Fried Apples.

So, last night, I decided to get my fix, and serve fried apples with our turkey dinner. And I’m with Grandma- they really were yummy!

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The apples were soft, the syrup was thick, sweet and buttery and the flavors spoke of fall with spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger coating the apples.

What a treat!

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Homemade Sweet Barbecue Sauce

P1050239Everyone needs a good stand-by recipe for a basic barbecue sauce.

This one I am sharing today is my family’s current favorite. It is thick, sweet and boasts a deep and bold flavor from molasses.

Store-bought, bottled and processed barbecue sauce is among the growing list of ‘foods’ I no longer buy at the grocery store. Here are the ingredients for the popular Sweet Baby Rays Original Barbecue Sauce.  A few notable ingredients are Caramel Color, Sodium Benzonate Preservative, Modified Food Starch. Tasty, Huh?

But the good news is, a homemade sauce is so quick to mix together, and you might even have the ingredients in your house already!

Here it is:

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How to Cut Butternut Squash

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I remember the first time I wanted to prepare butternut squash. I stood looking at that oddly shaped thing on my counter and wondered how in the world I was going to get to the good stuff inside.

I don’t remember exactly how I ended up cutting it that time, but through trial and error I have learned an easy method that works well for me.

Here’s what you do:

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Crock Pot Applesauce (low sugar)

P1050255Many days throughout fall, as long as I have apples, my house is filled with the sweet and enticing smell of this crock pot applesauce.

I think this just might be my favorite ‘apple’ treat that I look forward to eating when apple season finally arrives.

My very favorite way to enjoy this applesauce, is straight from the crockpot- still hot, then slathered on top of a freshly made buttered biscuit!! O my goodness- talk about YUMMY! In my opinion, this is a hands-down winner, a beautiful pair, and something you must make as soon as possible!

But, I must admit, I do also love to eat P1050257this applesauce cold from the refrigerator the next day, too!

I go back and forth as to which I like better!

The preparation couldn’t be simpler. The ingredients are few, and the amount of sweetener used is minimal- allowing the sweetness of the apples to do most of the work, while also keeping a little tartness in the mix, too.

Fill your crock pot in the morning, and enjoy the smell as the apples cook all day. By dinnertime, you will end up with a delicious chunky applesauce.

Here’s how you make it….

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Sauteed Mushrooms

P1050229Oh, I could eat the entire pan of these mushrooms all by myself!

They are so delicious and a quick, easy, and delicious side dish that goes well with many different meals!

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Baked Pearl Barley

P1040953If you are wanting to eat healthier- you might want to try out pearl barley.

What is it? Well…

Pearl barley (or “pearled barley”) is barley processed to remove its hull and bran. Barley must have its fibrous outer hull removed before it can be eaten; pearl barley is taken a step further, polished to remove the bran layer.

Pearl barley is the most common form of barley for human consumption, probably because it cooks faster and is less chewy than other, less-processed forms of barley. (source: wikipedia).

…..Because pearl barley undergoes more processing, some insoluble fiber, trace minerals and micronutrients may be lost. Pearl barley is not considered whole grain. However it’s important to note that pearl barley (even heavily pearled barley) retains significant amounts of fiber, particularly heart-healthy soluble fiber. This is because, unlike some other grains, barley contains fiber throughout the entire kernel and not just in the outer bran layer. (source: barleyfoods.org)

Read about the many health benefits of barley, here.

Not only is barley a great way to add fiber, vitamins and antioxidants- it tastes good, too! The texture is comparable to brown rice- just a little plumper and maybe a tiny bit chewier. This makes it easy to substitute in the place of rice in some of your dishes.

My kids loved it and said they actually liked it better than rice. If you wonder where to find it in the grocery store, I found it with the dry beans.

Here is a simple, easy way you can prepare Pearl Barley to serve with your other dishes. The ingredients are almost the same as my Baked Brown Rice recipe, and the method is exactly the same. Only the measurements are different.

You could also branch off into many different versions of this basic recipe. Use chicken broth instead of water or add different spices in addition to the salt and pepper. Lots of options!

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Beans for Dinner (slow cooker-nothing canned)

P1040954Are beans a common dish at your table?

It used to be that when I thought of beans, I would think of old westerns, tin plates, and the solitary food that cowboys ate on the range. Who still eats beans? Isn’t that even the old joke- “Money’s getting so tight, we’ll be down to eating beans for dinner” ?

Well, I think beans are underrated. They may not be a trendy food, but they are SO nutritious. Beans are filled with iron, protein, vitamins and fiber. They are low in cholesterol (in fact they help lower cholesterol!), very low in fat, and very heart -healthy! (Check out the nutrition of Pinto beans, and black eyed peas for starters. Both are found in this recipe)

And let’s not forget, beans are also cheap!

Maybe good’ ol beans deserve another look!

This recipe, prepared in the slow cooker, begins with dry beans- nothing canned. This allows you to control the sodium and start with no preservatives. Added to the beans are onion, garlic, and peppers- which are also fresh and healthy choices. (Have you ever researched all the benefits of garlic? It’s truly an amazing food.)

These beans could be your main dish or side. I like to serve them along with brown rice or cornbread. Having beans for dinner is also a great option if you are looking for something  meatless since beans tend to be very hearty and filling.

Feel free, too, to play around with your combination of beans. There are so many varieties.

I’ve included my favorite combo in this recipe.

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Cool & Creamy Taco Dip

P1040868This is an addicting dip- I must say.

Growing up, we always just called it “Taco Dip” due to the taco seasoning flavors that are in it. (weren’t we creative?) And that’s the name that stuck.

Originally we made it using a packet of ready-made seasoning. But those packets no longer make it in my cart. I mean- if you really want the MSG, etc. version– go the packet route. But, I prefer something a little cleaner, not to mention cheaper. This do-your-own seasoning version tastes just as good as the original, using spices I always keep in my cabinets. (It’s also similar to my DIY taco meat seasoning)

The dip is nice and thick, cool, creamy, easy, and always a party-pleaser. Serve with Tortilla chips or veggies.

This makes enough dip for a big party.

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Buttery Yellow Squash and Mushrooms

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This buttery dish of veggies is delicious served alone, or as a topping for baked potato, or served over pasta! Yum!

We eat a lot of squash in the summer! And, if this popular plant is a part of your garden, I bet your family eats a lot of it, too! Squash plants are notorious for giving you a bountiful harvest- often faster than you can eat it. But I do love this veggie, and am always craving it by the time summer rolls around!

So, if you’re wondering what to do with all the yellow squash that you keep gathering from the garden, I can tell you this is a delicious solution.

Squash, mushrooms, and onion are simply sauteed in butter, which becomes like a ‘sauce’ for the veggies. So good! Add to that- it’s also very quick, easy!

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