On the Side

My sister asked me for side dish recipes. She has five boys at home and one teeny tiny box of Rice-A-Roni, or any prepared side feeds only two of them. Dinner can get expensive in her house. In this post I'll give you a few basic recipes for potatoes, rice and noodles, and then several variations. Much cheaper and all real food that you know, no chemicals and extra salts in these. Read through them, and think of your own ideas to add to the basics. It's easy, and you'll never have to buy a tiny box of rice with dehydrated cheese and salt in it again!

Cheap, they keep well, and they can be made in so many ways. Shopping at a well known cooks store over the weekend I saw "Mashed Potato Flavorings". REALLY??? People will pay $10 for stuff to add to their potatoes? I knew then it was time to get this post written.

Homemade Mashed Potatoes are easy to make. Even peeling them is quick. Peel two pounds of potatoes and cut into 2" chunks. Cover with cold water and a tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a low boil. After twenty minutes the potatoes will be fork tender. Drain in a colander then return to the pan. For basic potatoes add 4 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 to 1/2 c of milk or cream and mash. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and serve.

Bacon Cheddar - When you make breakfast, hold back 4 slices of bacon to use in this recipe. Hide them from your family in the fridge.  Crumble the bacon, and with that add 3/4 c shredded cheddar to your mashed potatoes. If your motivated, half an onion sauteed really finishes the dish.

"French Onion" - When mashing potatoes, instead of butter add a half cup of French Onion Chip Dip (a great way to get rid of the end of the tub!). Stir them in and enjoy! French Onion dip is also a great addition to boiled potatoes! Just toss and serve.

Garlic Mashed - When you boil the potatoes add 3-4 cloves of garlic cut in half. Mash them in with the potatoes, butter and milk.

Mashed Potato Cakes - with two cups of left over mashed potatoes add an egg, 1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese and two tablespoons of flour. Put seasoned breadcrumbs into a wide bowl. Heat 1/2 inch oil in a frying pan. Drop potato mixture by large tablespoon fulls into the bread crumbs and roll to coat. Add to the oil and flatten slightly. Cook on each side over medium heat until browned and crispy. Yummy!

Rice Pilaf

This is so simple, and much better than the one in the box!

4 T Butter
2 oz spaghetti or angel hair pasta, broken into inch long pieces
1 1/2 c. long grain rice
3 c. chicken stock or broth

Melt butter in a 10" skillet. Add the rice and pasta and saute until the pasta is golden.  Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer on low for 20-30 minutes, until the rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Middle Eastern Pilaf - add 2-3 T fresh squeezed lemon juice and 1/4 c. toasted sliced or slivered almonds.

Greek - Add 2 T each diced sun dried tomatoes, kalamata olives and Feta cheese.

Alfredo - 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese and 1/2 c. half and half or milk. Fresh cracked black pepper to taste.

Mexican - Add 3/4 c. mild or medium salsa to the cooking rice. Reduce stock by 1/2 cup.

Noodles, Noodles Noodles!

Okay, this is the easiest one of all. Boil your noodle of choice (8-12 oz.) and here are the variations:
Thai Peanut - (Spaghetti or Linguine) 2 T peanut butter, 1/2 c chicken stock, 2 T soy sauce, 1 t sugar, large pinch of red pepper flakes.  Mix all ingredients until combined in the bottom of the pasta pot over low heat. Add the pasta and toss. Great with Teriyaki Grilled Chicken.

Paprikas - (Egg Noodles) 1/2 c. chicken stock, 3/4 c. sour cream, 2T paprika, salt and pepper. Combine all ingredients til smooth, toss with hot noodles and enjoy!

Garlic Butter - (Any pasta shape you enjoy) - 1/2 stick butter, 2 T olive oil, 2 cloves garlic minced - heat oil and butter in pan, add garlic and cook until golden. Add pasta and toss. Top with 1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese, toss again, enjoy.

Pesto - To any pasta shape add 1/4 c. of prepared pesto or tapenade (olive spread), 1/4 c olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.

I could write for days on this subject, but know that you don't need to be tied to a box of dehydrated cheese and milk powders to make a fantastic side dish for your family. Create, Eat, Enjoy!


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! A little imagination can go a long way. I so appreciate that you take the time to share your talents with all of us...and my boys will thank you!


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