Baked Beans. Burgers. Typical cookout staples, right? Once upon a time, I never had any idea that they could be improved upon. Then a little fairy Godmother served these at a get together on a silver platter. Ah-mazing! I savored every bite. It was an intense, but brief affair. The clock struck 12, and just like that they were gone. The magic faded, but even after the party I couldn’t forget about them. It took some tracking down, but I found the maker of the magical beans, and there was no going back. This became a dinner, and cookout staple. Obviously, our family lived happily ever after in the kingdom of Beef & Beans.
Debut this cookout season in style. Be the belle of the ball by bringing these babies.
P.S. I’ve gotta tell ya, that these are great slathered on a hamburger bun too!
Ground Beef & Baked Bean Casserole (aka Cookout Casserole)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped, about 2 cups
1 pound ground beef
2 15-ounce cans Boston-style baked beans
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped, about 1 cup
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
6 slices of your favorite bacon
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion; cook about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the beef; cook about 10 minutes or until brown, breaking meat up with a fork as it cooks.
3. In a large bowl, combine the beef mixture with the remaining ingredients except the bacon; mix well. Pour beef mixture into the prepared casserole; arrange the bacon slices on top. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake about 45 minutes or until thick and bubbly. Uncover dish and preheat broiler. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the bacon is nice and crisp.
This Asian Style Chicken Spinach Pasta Salad, tossed in a sesame oil and soy sauce-based dressing, is a refreshing, Asian-inspired side dish perfect for picnics. This is great for lunch, a light main meal, or even a supper-time side dish. Serve it for the family, or make it ahead for your next barbecue.
Sometimes the simplest things taste the best. Just like I sometimes need a break from the rigmarole of everyday life, sometimes my taste buds need a break from complex flavor combinations. This orzo is just the thing for times like that. With a simple, yet creamy, low-fat sauce coating the tiny rice-shaped pasta and wilted spinach, it makes a great side dish, especially with chicken or fish, or even a light main meal. This is the happy place where health & comfort (food) meet.
Spinach Parmesan Orzo
recipe adapted from Life Tastes Good
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3-4 cups of fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat and add 1 cup orzo. Stir until the orzo is lightly browned/toasted. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the orzo is tender and the liquid is absorbed.
2. While the orzo is simmering it is a good time to prepare the spinach. In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 tablespoon minced garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add 10 ounces of baby spinach and a pinch of salt. Saute until wilted. Set aside until orzo is done.
3. When orzo is done add the spinach and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and mix well. Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. The Parmesan will add some saltiness to the dish, so be sure to give it a taste to ensure you don’t add too much salt!
A creamy side salad, this Crunchy Pea & Bacon Salad features cubed cheddar, green peas, and crisp pieces of bacon in a savory sauce. It’s is a shoe-in for favorite side dish at your next gathering.
Up until a week ago, the sons had never taken a single bite out of a Brussel sprout. Still, they had an instinctive hatred of them, refusing to try a single bite of their side of ‘roasted’ Brussel sprouts they were served with dinner. Yet, how can I blame them? Up until this recipe last week, I too had always steered clear to them, to the point or stubborn out-right refusal of even considering to try them. Even when my mantra to the sons is try new things. Brussels sprouts probably have the worst reputation of any vegetable. As you’ve seen, they’re the classic example of the vegetable hated by both kids and adults, only eaten because they’re so good for you. However, we were able to use this awesome recipe to change our whole familiys’ minds. A lot of the issue with people who have tried Brussel sprouts and hated them, is that they are a naturally bitter vegetable. And I do mean, bitter! However, roasting them (whether in a pan as in this recipe, or even in the oven) allows the sugars to break down and caramelize, nicely balancing out and breaking down their originally bite.
Sauteed Lemon Garlic Brussel Sprouts
recipe adapted from Favorite Family Recipes
1 lb Brussel Sprouts
4 Tbsp butter
5- 6 tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
salt & pepper, to taste
1. Clean the brussel sprouts by trimming off the ends and peeling the outer layer of the sprout off. Cut each one in half.
2. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.
3. Once heated, add the halved brussel sprouts to the pan and saute for about 8-10 minutes on each side until the outer part is a caramelized brown and the inside is soft and fully cooked.
4. Add the garlic half way through the cooking.
5. Reduce the heat to low and add the lemon juice, salt and pepper.
6. Stir to combine and taste. Adjust seasonings if needed. Add the cheese on top and serve.
Note: So if you need to convince someone stubborn to like Brussel sprouts or it’s their first time trying them; the best way to have brussels sprouts is to roast them, and this is the only recipe you will ever need.
Sriracha is an amazing sauce. We’re a little nuts for it over here. In fact, I have it on good authority one of the sons is even getting a bottle in his Easter basket this year. This hot sauce can literally make anything taste better. Add it to some broccoli and you’ve got yourself an epic combination. I realize it may not look quite as vibrant or delicious now, but that’s just what soy sauce does to broccoli. It turns it brown. This saucy side dish may not be all that much of a looker, but rest assured, she’s got it going on! While skinny on the calories, this Asian-style broccoli is full on flavor and packs just the right amount of spice.
recipe adapted from Food and Other Things
3 heads of broccoli
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame seed oil
3 tbsp Sriracha (your choice on how spicy you want it. Use 1 1/2 tbs for less spicy)
2 tsp minced garlic
small handful of crushed peanuts (~15)
salt & pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
2. Cut the broccoli from the stalk into small florets and wash & dry well.
3. In a large bowl, mix all the seasonings and diced garlic together.
4. Coat the broccoli evenly.
5. Put the seasoned broccoli onto a baking pan with a baking sheet, or parchment paper, under the broccoli.
6. Bake for 15 minutes, but remember to toss it half way through.
7. Serve with extra crushed peanuts on top!
We eat potatoes at least 2 times a week, sometimes three, so I’m always on the look out for new things to do with them. Although they probably wouldn’t want to readily admit to it, the sons like a little spice in their lives, or in this case, variety. These are a different take on ‘traditional’ roasted potatoes. We shall call them oven fries. I have kids, which would yours choose? The fancy, shmancy roasted potatoes, or something with the word fries in it? The lemon juice gives them a little tang and they’re roasted to crispy perfection on the outside, leaving the inside nice and tender. These oven roasted, Greek-style fries are the perfect accompaniment to almost any meal. I highly recommend making sure to double the recipe though, because you won’t have enough!! Yes, they are THAT GOOD!!!
Greek-Style Oven Fries
recipe originally from Food.com
3 medium unpeeled baking potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
vegetable oil cooking spray
1. Cut each potato lengthwise into 8 wedges.
2. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, pepper, salt, and garlic in a large bowl.
3. Add potatoes and toss well to coat.
4. Place potatoes, skin side down, on a baking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray.
5. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender and lightly browned.
If desired, you can sprinkle some Feta cheese crumbles over potatoes before serving.
Do you like your vegetables? On the fence? Turn your veggies into something you love with these Maple Glazed Thyme Roasted Carrots. Tender roasted carrots are glazed with smooth maple syrup, sauteed with thyme leaves, and roasted to perfection. It’s sure to be your go to side dish for any meal.
Every week I try to do a ‘Taco Tuesday’ since we all love ‘Mexican’ food. It’s evolved into more of a ‘tex-mex’ themed meal as opposed to being just the traditional tacos. One thing my kids always, unanimously, ask for on Tuesday’s is this Yellow Basmati Rice.
I originally discovered this in a Taste of Home list of easy grill meals. After briefly scanning the ingredients and directions, I knew I had to try it, and it was love at first bite. Creamy, cheesy, bacon-y…what better elements to build a mouth-watering side-dish for any meal? These potatoes are delicious, and equally easy to prepare and cook. We love having them any evening we grill out. They’re great for just our family’s dinner, or I can easily double the recipe, making a second batch, to feed a larger crowd. I’ve also found that these make a great, easy side-dish for camping meals. Even better, use this recipe as a guideline and get creative in your kitchen, or backyard. These potatoes have plenty of potential possibilities. Try adding broccoli. We also make, and love, a sweet potato version based off of this recipe. Whether you decide to stick to the original, or spice your potato packet up a little, you can’t go wrong with these cheese potatoes.
Grilled Three-Cheese Potatoes
- 3 large russet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and diced into 1 inch cubes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp chives, minced
- 1/2 tsp seasoning salt, or plain salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cooked, crumbled bacon, or 1/2 cup cooked, diced ham
- 1/2 cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.
- Transfer contents to a double thickness of greased, heavy-duty aluminum foil (about 18 inches square).
- Dot with butter.
- Fold foil around potato mixture and seal tightly.
- Grill, covered, over medium heat for 15-18 minutes on each side or until potatoes are tender.
- Carefully (very carefully because the escaping steam can burn you) open the foil packet.
- Sprinkle the bacon, or ham, and cheeses over the potato mixture.
- Reseal and grill for 3-5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
- Carefully open and let all steam escape.