Tag Archives: side dish

Stuffing Cups- Easy one for Kids in the Kitchen


Want to help your kids learn to cook?  (AKA….do you hope in the near future to be able to say “child of mine, I’m running late today.  Will you please make dinner and have it ready when I get home.”?)  Then, like other parenting tasks we need to train them so they can know what is expected of them.  This recipe was an easy one for my 7 year old to help me with this week.  We ate it as our main dish but you could use it as a side to a roasted chicken too or rip up some of that roasted chicken and mix some into the stuffing prior to baking the stuffing cups in the oven.

If you are training your child to cook, remember to stay close by and offer assistance and guide them….nothing ruins dinner more than a trip to the ER.

Stuffing Cups

Heat oven to 350º

Melt in a large skillet on medium heat:

  • 1/4 cup butter

Add to melted butter and saute until crisp-tender (about 5 minutes):

  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • pepper and salt to taste

Stir in and bring to boil:

  • 1 1/2 cups water

Remove from heat and stir in

  • 1 6 oz package of stuffing mix for chicken (like Stove Top)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten

Mix lightly

Spoon into 8 greased muffin cups.  (I was able to get 9 good sized muffins out of it actually)

Bake 10 minutes or until the stuffing cups are heated through.

Note: We did not have any leftovers and there are just four of us.  So you may want to double the recipe if you have any boys over the age of 9 in your family or more than 4 people.  You could also put in some shredded, cooked chicken in the stuffing mix prior to spooning into the muffin cups.  This would make it go further and be a more hearty meal in itself.  These are also easy to wrap up and send to school in lunches—good portion control.



Mexican Fiesta Night


It is no secret that I love Mexican food.  When I lived in an area where I could throw a rock and hit a Tex-Mex restaurant, I never prepared it at home….we just enjoyed a night out.  BUT now I live in the land of Pizza Places so Tex-Mex is hard to find.  Tonight was Friday and nothing says “Welcome to the Weekend” better than a nice plate of Mexican food.  So I’m going to share with you a recipe for Cheese Enchiladas that I have compiled over the last year from a variety of sources into my own recipe.  PLUS I have a Mexican rice and an easy sopaipillas recipe to share with you.  The other item on our plates came from Trader Joe’s Freezer section—Roasted Corn other times we have had canned refried beans.

Now you too can have your own Mexican Fiesta Night.

Cheese Enchiladas

First prepare the enchilada sauce.

In a skillet, heat for 1 to 2 minutes (I whisk it together in the skillet for the time frame)

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Whisk into the skillet mixture:

  • 2 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want to go vegetarian)

Add and continue to whisk:

  • 1 small can of tomato sauce (8 oz)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • dash of cayenne pepper (several dashes if you like to kick up the heat)

Let simmer for 5 to 6 minutes before you start to make the enchiladas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread sauce in the bottom of your glass baking dishes.  I use a 9 x 12 pan for the enchiladas that will have onions and an 8 x 8 pan for those that will not have the pleasure of onions joining them.

Now you need:

  • 10-14 corn tortillas
  • 2 1/2- 3 cups of shredded cheese (I often use a mixture of sharp cheddar and Mexican blend)
  • 1 package of queso fresco.  Mine was round and I cut it into strips so that I could lay a strip in a tortilla.

Prepare the Enchiladas:

Place a tortilla down in the sauce and let it get “happy” in the sauce.  It should be covered in sauce to help it become pliable.

Once it has had a good bath in the sauce for about 15 seconds (I’m guessing on that as I didn’t count while doing it I just eyed it.  I hate it though when a recipe doesn’t tell me how long!….sorry)….so once it has had the sauce bath, place a strip of queso fresco and then sprinkle a couple of Tablespoons of shredded cheese down the center of the tortilla.  If you want to add chopped onions at this point go ahead.

Now pick up the tortilla and roll up the sides.

Lay it seam side down in the dish.

Repeat using all the tortillas and almost all of the cheese.

Spread any remaining sauce over the top of the enchiladas.

Sprinkle with the remaining cheese (crumble the queso fresco at this point).

Sprinkle the onion enchiladas with more onions if you so desire!

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted.


Mexican Rice

This dish was given to me by a friend in Texas.  She shared it at her MOPS group and then I shared it with my MOMS group!  My handsome fella loves this one.  I like to start this just before beginning the process on the enchiladas as it takes about 30 minutes for my rice to get to the desired “doneness”.

Heat in skillet (that has a lid because you will need to cover this):

  • 3 Tablespoons of oil

Add to skillet and allow to brown for 3 to 4 minutes:

  • 1 cup raw rice (I like Uncle Ben’s)

Add to skillet:

  • 1 onion, chopped

Mix together and then add to the skillet:  (watch out as when you add this it will steam up)

  • 1 small can of tomato sauce and enough water to make 2 cups of liquid (if they don’t shrink the can size that should be a can of tomato sauce (8oz) and then a can of water)

Sprinkle with seasonings:

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt
  • pepper (I like to go heavier on the pepper than the salt)

Bring to a boil

Cover and Cook on low for 20 minutes—-do NOT peak, or stir.

If after 20 minutes the liquid is not all absorbed, you can leave the burner on for 3 to 5 more minutes and then check.  If it is getting there but not quite where you would like it then turn the burner off and let it sit on the burner.  (I have an electric stove top so it remains hot for a while after turning the burner off).  Remove from burner once all the water is absorbed.


Easy Sopaipillas

These are so yummy to finish off  your Mexican themed meal.  You can make your own dough from scratch and mess with all of that OR you can follow this recipe!

You will need a deep skillet, a deep-fry thermometer (I didn’t realize I had one and after many years I finally opened a wedding gift that I had been moving, in the package from place to place to place all these years!), and tongs.

In the deep skillet heat

  • 1/2 inch of vegetable oil  until the deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees.

While the oil is heating up cut into wedges:

  • flour tortillas (however many you think you can eat!)

Also prepare you cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle over the top.  I always have this mixed up for cinnamon toast for our breakfast needs.

Working in batches, drop about 3 or 4 tortilla wedges in the hot oil.

Turn them once until bubbly and golden on both sides.

Remove from the oil to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle, generously, with the combined cinnamon/sugar.

Continue frying the tortillas until you have prepared enough for your crew.  Sometimes you may need to let the oil return to 350 between batches….but be careful to not let the oil get too hot—I speak from experience as I had some crispy ones tonight as I got distracted while letting the oil heat up

Now “Ándele! Ándele!” As Speedy Gonzales would always say, and go get these items so you can enjoy a Mexican fiesta in your own casa!


Squash Casserole


I am terrible about the side dishes for meals.  I am trying to do better by at least using frozen vegetables rather than canned but I want to do even more.  It is a bit frustrating though to spend time working on a side dish and have only 50% of the people at the table eat it.  I think this is why a plate of raw carrot sticks and a bowl of fruit have become my side dish go-to choices.  In the spirit of continuous improvement, I have been looking for easy and tasty side items.

I found this one on the Crockin’ Girls website.

Today my girls had off from school and I decided that we would have a family dinner together for our noontime meal since Brad will be at work this evening.  I had some frozen chicken cordon bleu packs in the freezer and thought I would prep the squash casserole the night before and then plug it in while I left for my Moms4Moms meeting up at our church.  This would let me come home, get the chicken in the oven and other items going and we could eat a little after noon.

Well, at 7:30 this morning I bolt out of bed realizing that last night I had not made the cornbread or prepped anything for our lunch.  Family meals are very important to me and while it isn’t what you eat but that you make an effort to eat all together and visit with each other….I like to eat more than just sandwiches and wanted a nice meal.  So I quickly ran to the kitchen to get things going.  Since no one else had to be anywhere it was amazing how much I could get done since I didn’t have to check up on the progress of others!

The casserole was prepped and I was ready to walk out the door by 8:30.

So this recipe is very easy to throw together and yummy to eat too!  I did use the crockpot but you could just as easily throw it in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes until it is warmed through.

Squash Casserole

Prepare cornbread (I used one box of Jiffy Cornbread because I needed to make it in a jiffy!!!)

While cornbread is baking combine in a mixing bowl:

  • 2 cups of chopped yellow squash
  • 1 1/2 cups of diced onion
  • 1/3 of a stick of butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 10.4 oz of vegetable broth (you can also use 1 can of cream of chicken but I was out so I made vegetable broth from bullion cubes.  I used two cubes)
  • sugar (this was my addition and I just shook a bit in…it was probably about 1 tsp)

When cornbread is finished baking, crumble

  • 2 cups of cornbread

Add crumbled cornbread to the mixing bowl and mix well.

Spray the crock with non stick cooking spray

Pour the mix into the slow cooker, cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours.  (or you can throw it in a casserole dish and cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 350 until warmed through)

This got 3 smiley faces at our table today so I’m keeping it around.  Next time I might throw some shredded chicken in with it and then it could be a main dish!  (but then I’m back to needing more side dish recipes…it never ends)

I also whipped up some gingerbread for dessert.  It was a great family meal—glad we were able to do it.


Summer Squash Ribbons


Here is a great way to use some of that squash from your garden.  I enjoyed the recipe but my handsome fella was not a fan.  I found it to be refreshing.

Try it out and you be the judge!

Summer Squash Ribbons


  • 1 1/2 pounds summer squash and zucchini

Cut the squash and zucchini into long, thin strips using a vegetable peeler.  You will discard the seedy cores.

Place the ribbons in a large bowl.

Add to the ribbons:

  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, shaved or shredded
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t pepper

Toss gently to combine and serve immediately.

Black Bean and Corn Ranch Salad


I love to make this is the summer but thought I would post it here as a few people have asked about it.

Black Bean and Corn Ranch Salad 


  • ½ cup Hidden Valley Spicy Ranch
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can whole kernel corn or mexi-corn, drained
  • 1 cup quartered grape or cherry tomatoes
  • ½ c chopped red onion
  • 2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

 Chill at least 30 minutes prior to serving—I prefer to make it several hours in advance.

If you double or triple be careful on the dressing…I would go with ¾ c to double and 1 c to triple.

Crispy Sesame-Crusted Brussels Sprouts


We had a wonderful Christmas day.  It was the first Christmas ever that one of our kids woke up before we did…6:52 AM.  After opening presents and hanging out for a bit, Brad drove to the airport mid-afternoon to pick up the best present….my Parents!

So our Christmas dinner was an evening meal and it was quite yummy, if I do say so myself!

Brad was in charge of the Rib Roast and potatoes while I took care of the desserts, hot fruit salad and the vegetable.  I chose this brussels sprouts recipe since I could do it on the stove top and not have a third item in the oven trying to bake.  All of the adults at the table enjoyed them so I thought I would share the recipe with you guys.  It does take some tending to while cooking but it was simple to do.

Crispy Sesame-Crusted Brussels Sprouts

In an extra-large skillet over medium heat combine:

  • 6 Tablespoons of butter
  • 3 Tablespoons of sesame oil (the recipe says toasted sesame oil, but mine wasn’t toasted)
  • 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil


  • 1 1/2 pounds of brussels sprouts that have been cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste (my handsome fella said easy on the salt as brussels sprouts can get salty easily)

Cook, stirring frequently until golden-brown (about 25 minutes)

Sprinkle on top:

  • 3 Tablespoons sesame seeds

Cook until the brussels sprouts are dark brown and crunchy (about 15 minutes)

Season with a bit more pepper and serve hot!





No-Fail Chicken and Rice plus Cheese-Crusted Squash


It is a busy time of year.  So we need some recipes that are easy to prep and don’t require us to watch over them minute by minute.

Well- here ya go!  I found this recipe scratched on an old grocery list.  I’m thinking I must have been talking to my mother and she rattled off a recipe she just “threw together”  (oh, how I wish I could just throw stuff together with the confidence they would taste good).  I believe this was the first time I’ve tried it.  I had an early cooking disaster many years ago with a different Chicken and Rice recipe and never attempted it again….until tonight!

This was easy and everyone at our table liked it.  (I could just eat the rice; it was so yummy!)

Chicken and Rice

  • Spray your pan with PAM
  • Place your boneless, skinless chicken in the pan.  (I used 2 breast and 2 thighs, you could easily have 6-8 pieces of chicken for this dish…I just don’t like leftover chicken)
  • Salt and Pepper the chicken
  • Add 1 1/2 cups of uncooked rice
  • Sprinkle 1 package of onion soup mix over the top
  • Pour 3 cups of water over everything.
  • Cover with foil

Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.


Acorn Squash. Yes,  it is something you can eat!  😉  In the Food Network Magazine this month they had a recipe for Cheese-Crusted Squash that I thought I would give a whirl.  Brad and I liked it and both girls ate their “no-thank you” portion and lived. (No thank you= one bite, chew and swallow the entire bite and then you don’t have to eat any more)

I didn’t have all the ingredients for the recipe so I will share  how I made it.  First though—how DO you cut an acorn squash?  Well, I googled it.  I found a short video that said to use a serrated knife and saw back and forth.  Make sure you place your fingers where you don’t saw them too, ok?! Saw lengthwise to the middle, then flip and saw on the other side to the middle.

Then slice thin wedges of the squash to prepare for the dish.

Cheese-Crusted Squash


  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 pinches of dried rubbed sage
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of Italian mix cheese (I used parmesan and mozzarella)
  • 3 Tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Dash of red pepper flakes

Put a piece of foil on a rimmed baking sheet and then place your thin wedges of acorn squash in a single layer.  Pat the cheese mixture onto the wedges.

Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes.