Category: Sides


Edamame Quinoa Salad

In my quest to eat better, I started a Pinterest board with a few friends so we could pin healthy stuff. One of my friends and I LOVE quinoa, and she posted this recipe.

Edamame Quinoa SaladShe had great timing! I had an empty frig since we had been on vacation last week, and I was looking for something healthy to make for the coming week. I already had the main ingredients – edamame and corn in the freezer, and quinoa in the pantry – and this looked nice and fresh. So off to the store I went to get the few remaining ingredients, and I mixed this up tonight.

I made a couple of modifications to the original recipe. My edamame was in the shell, so after I cooked it I had to pull out the beans. Peas. Those things inside the shell, whatever they are.  🙂

I used walnut oil since the olive oil I had in the pantry was just a bit expired. One bottle was from 2012, and the other was from 2008. Apparently I don’t use olive oil very much! The walnut oil works, though, since the edamame has a nutty flavor.

I used bottled lemon juice, but fresh lime juice since I’d had to buy limes for my daughter’s birthday cheesecake. I highly recommend using fresh lime juice. It gives the dressing a nice pop that I’m not sure you’d get from the bottle. I needed the juice of just over 1/2 of a lime.

For the cilantro, I didn’t see any fresh in the store (probably walked right past it), but I found some in a tube. It’s the equivalent of 3 bunches of cilantro, chopped and mixed with some stuff, and it’s supposed to hold in the freezer 3 months without freezing. Sounded good to me, since I never use the whole cilantro bunch anyway. Turns out it’s pretty good stuff!

The recipe itself doesn’t take long, but you do need to plan for cooling the quinoa, edamame and corn before mixing it all up. This works as both a side to your meal or as a stand-alone dish. Both the quinoa and edamame provide protein, so if you’re going for a meatless meal, this is a great option!

I thought this looked tasty in the pictures, but in real life it was even better than I hoped! I’m excited to add this to my menus and hope you like it!

Edamame Quinoa Salad

adapted from Real Housemoms

Stuff you need:
16 ounces frozen, shelled, edamame
1 1/4 cup frozen corn
1 1/2 cup cooked, cooled quinoa
2 green onions, sliced
1 red sweet bell pepper, diced
2 Tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons olive oil or walnut oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash cayenne

Now what?
Follow package directions and cook the edamame. Drain and cool.
Microwave the frozen corn for about 3 minutes or boil according to package directions. Drain and cool completely.
In a large bowl combine the edamame, corn, quinoa, green onion, red pepper, and cilantro.
In a small bowl whisk together the olive or walnut oil, lemon juice, lime juice, salt, chili powder, black pepper, thyme and cayenne until well combined.
Add dressing to quinoa mixture and stir to mix well.
Cover and chill for at least two hours.

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I kept seeing this recipe pop up on Pinterest. I like spaghetti squash and I love cheese, so I thought I should try it!

Spaghetti Squash au GratinIf you’ve never tried spaghetti squash, you should. I normally don’t care for squash, but I think it’s mostly a texture thing. I kept hearing spaghetti squash was different. That it was “just like spaghetti” and could be used in recipes in place of spaghetti.

Not wanting to make a whole squash in case I didn’t like it, I saw it on the menu at a restaurant one day. I ordered it, and my friend and I both gave it a try. We were both happy to find we liked it, and it’s now something we both cook in our homes.

Usually I rub the inside with garlic, salt and pepper before baking it and then eat it with just a bit of butter. I didn’t season the squash for this dish because it looked like there were enough seasonings once it was all put together, and I was right.

You can add more or less seasoning to match your tastes and desire for heat. You can also change out the cheeses to use what you like best. I used a sharp white cheddar for flavor and a mild colby jack cheese for melting. If you click on the “dandy dishes” link and read the comments, you’ll see some other ideas from people who’ve tried it.

I wouldn’t say spaghetti squash is the same as eating a noodle. And I wouldn’t say this recipe was just like hash brown casserole that some people said it was. But it’s good in its own way, and I’d make it again. The Pretty One didn’t care for it, but at least he tried it. I shared it with the resident veggie lover on our team at work. She declared it YUMMMYYYYY and said she especially liked the pepperiness of it.

If you’re interested in trying something new, try this. If you’re already a fan of spaghetti squash, try this! I think you’ll enjoy the dish.

Spaghetti Squash au Gratin

Adapted from dandy dishes

Stuff you need:
1 medium spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, cut in half and very thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or ground cayenne pepper, or more if you like it spicy
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese [Use whatever combination of cheeses you like.]
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Now what?
Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds. Place cut-side down in a glass dish with 1/4 inch water and microwave for 10 -12 minutes. In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, add the butter, onions, garlic, red pepper or cayenne and thyme and cook until the onions are slightly brown in color. Remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash and add to the skillet. Add the sour cream and 3/4 cup shredded cheese, and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a buttered baking dish and top with remaining shredded cheese and sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake at 375F 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top and hot inside.

I love macaroni and cheese, but had never made a good one from scratch. I know there are lots of recipes online, and several of them claim to be “the best” ever. I’m sure I’d enjoy trying some of them, but maybe another time. I love the classic macaroni and cheese and wanted a “tried and true” recipe.Classic Macaroni & Cheese

We were talking about food at work and somehow the subject landed on macaroni and cheese. My friend Stephanie said her Grandmother McNeil in Topeka makes great mac & cheese, and she offered to share the recipe. Well I jumped on that offer and I’m glad I did!

This is the classic macaroni and cheese. No foo-foo here. No bacon, peas, pickles, truffles or other creative ingredients. Just a basic white sauce, elbow macaroni, and lots of delicious, gooey, sharp cheddar cheese.

Bottom line: this is exactly what I was looking for!

I served this with a nice ham when all the kids and grandkids were home Thanksgiving weekend. I made a double-batch to make sure there was enough, and was very happy to find I had leftovers! Note: If you’re re-heating your leftovers, you might want to add a little milk before you heat it up so it’s still creamy.

A huge Thank You to Stephanie and Grandmother McNeil for sharing this recipe! It’s delicious and will be one of my favorites for years to come.

Grandmother McNeil’s Classic Macaroni & Cheese

Stuff you need:

2 cups uncooked macaroni (I used the classic elbow macaroni)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups milk

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Now what?

Cook macaroni according to directions.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add flour, salt and pepper. Stir until the consistency is smooth.

Slowly pour the milk in while stirring. Continue to cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently.

Once the milk mixture is thick enough (to your liking), add the shredded cheese and stir until fully melted.

Add the drained macaroni to the pan and stir until nicely coated.

Pour mac & cheese into greased casserole dish.

Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 30+ minutes until golden brown. Can take up to 45 minutes if you like it really brown on top.

Here’s a quick dish I threw together last night. I wanted sweet potatoes but I don’t like plain sweet potatoes all that much. I considered a mashed sweet potato, then decided to try something new. As much as I hate to admit good things come out of those frozen meals, one of my favorite things from the frozen diet dinners is a sweet potato and apple mixture with craisins. It’s slightly sweet, the apples and craisins hide the sweet potatoes just enough for me to eat them, and it’s a good flavor alongside turkey, ham, pork or whatever that frozen stuff is next to it. 

You’ll be surprised how easy this is! It’s a very versatile dish. There are no exact measurements to it, so don’t stress about that. Instead, follow the guidelines in the recipe and adjust for what you have available and what you like. It can be scaled up or down by changing the amount of sweet potatoes and apples. It’s fairly healthy as I made it, but you can make it healthier by reducing the sugar and the butter, although I really didn’t use too much. Click for recipe.

This dish put out a wonderful smell while it was baking, the type that is particularly enjoyable on a cold evening. I’m sure I’ll make this again, and will probably make a few adjustments. For instance, I’ll probably throw some chopped pecans on top during the final baking period. I think the contrast of the crunchy nuts with the smooth sweet potatoes would make this even better. Adding craisins to the mix could add some good flavor as well. I may add a dash of salt or a bit of pepper, depending on what I serve it with. I’ll kick up the spice a bit if I’m eating it with something that’s not very spicy; and on the flip side of that, I’ll keep it somewhat sweet if I’m serving it with something that’s highly seasoned.  

I’m already looking forward to the next time!

I first had this at a progressive dinner party for our youth group’s Christmas celebration. It was love at first taste! I instantly fell for the contrast of sweet & salty flavors and creamy & crunchy textures.

This can be served as either a salad or a dessert. It’s sweet enough for a dessert, but is also a nice cooling food if you’re serving something spicy. It makes a good compliment to a simple cook-out menu such as brats & burgers, and is a good buffet item. The slightly salty pretzel crust, sweet cream cheese middle, and fruity topping might seem like an odd combination, but it works! Click for recipe.

I’ve only made this with strawberry jello and strawberries, but one recipe I found calls for strawberry-banana jello. I’ve been wondering about making it with chopped frozen peaches and peach jello instead of all the strawberries. I’ll have to try that variation one of these days – I think it sounds like a good summer treat!

I made this last weekend for a family dinner and was surprised that only my daughter and I liked it. The Cutie Patooties and The Pretty One didn’t want anything to do with it, unless you count TPO scraping the jello layer off the top and eating only that! Once Tish and I got over the surprise of being the only ones who would eat it, we quickly decided that was good news for us — because we had it all to ourselves!