This couscous has chewy cranberries, fresh mint, and a citrus dressing. Side dishes are tricky to have energy for or coordination for, but this has just a few ingredients and is great made ahead of time – who doesn’t need a dinner head start?!
Turmeric Couscous Salad Ingredients (for 4): 1 cup Israeli couscous 1/2 cup dried cranberries 3/4 cup orange juice (mine was orange tangerine) 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon turmeric fresh mint
Directions: Cook the couscous and allow it to cool.
Mix in the juice, olive oil, cranberries, turmeric, and fresh mint. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste. Chill until serving.
Add another splash of juice before serving, if needed.
We have so so much mint so I could have added even more. The orange juice dressing and the fresh mint are really the dominant flavors here.
This was nice for variety since the kids will eat any form of pasta anytime but the turmeric added a pop of color we don’t see all the time. One kid ate tons, one ate some without strong feelings either way but overall I’d say it’s a winner and something I’d make again. The sweetness goes well with sausages or grilled chicken or falafel, or would definitely be of interest at your next BBQ!
This salad is perfectly served alongside tacos! It is flavorful, cool, and so so easy. I’m including a bunch of alternatives. We often have black beans or avocado on the side and this time was just a touch more special as a salad with dressing.
I loved it. I ended up scooping the remnants up with tortilla chips.
Black Bean & Avocado Salad Ingredients: (side for ~4) 1 can black beans 1/2 avocado 1/4 cup cheese (cotija or feta) 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon cilantro (chopped or from a tube or frozen cube) 1 teaspoon honey lime juice from half a lime salt & pepper
Directions: Drain the black beans and add to a bowl with chopped avocado, chopped tomato, and cheese.
Then mix up the dressing – add olive oil, cilantro, honey, lime juice, salt and pepper and shake in a jar or whisk together in a bowl.
Add the dressing to the beans/avo/tomato and stir gently (too much stirring will mash up the avocado!). Enjoy!
I loved this. Chopping everything smaller would make a good dip – or my littlest one put it inside her tortilla and ate it like a taco. Our bigger kid ate the avocado and tomatoes out of it but was more into the tacos.
Substitute the tomatoes for corn, or red onion, or bell peppers, or whatever you like! Skip the cheese if you need it dairy-free. The avocado means it can’t quite be made in advance but everything else could be ready and add the avocado before serving.
Side dishes are never my strong suit- until this one! This could not be easier – just a few ingredients and a great supporting side dish. It comes together quickly and is quite hands off. The broccoli is roasted and dressed in some caesar dressing and topped with a crunchy breadcrumb topping to remind you of croutons! I even added a few short cuts to the end too!
The kids loved it the first time and didn’t pay much attention the next time – so who knows.
Directions: Preheat the oven to 400-degrees (or prep an air-fryer). Chop the broccoli off into florets. Spread the florets onto a baking sheet and drizzle on the olive oil and a sprinkle of salt & pepper. Roast the broccoli for ~15 minutes, flipping once, until getting golden brown on each side. While the broccoli cooks, in a dry skillet add the panko and toast over medium heat for ~1 minute until getting golden brown. Then add in the butter and 1 tablespoon of the grated parmesan. Mix well and remove from the heat.
Add the roasted broccoli to a mixing bowl and dressing with 1 tablespoon of the parmesan. Toss well.
Add sprinkle half the breadcrumbs to the broccoli and toss well. Then sprinkle the rest on top. Enjoy!
I really loved this and will make it again and again. It is so simple to multi-task while getting something else together. It goes well with anything and is a nice nod to fall/winter with the roasted veggie.
We had it alongside some burgers one night and another time we had it with chicken sausages. It would be good with chicken or dare I say- a side dish for Thanksgiving with turkey?
Want it to be even faster? Use an airfryer for the broccoli. Also, slip the breadcrumb topping and use some croutons chopped a bit. I thought the breadcrumbs were addicting, but the caesar vibe would stay in tact!
Why have I never stuffed a tomato before! I do not love stuffed peppers – the idea is great, but I’m never that into them. Risotto stuffed tomatoes are delightful! I also used grocery store tomatoes and saved great garden ones for raw eating!
Pesto Risotto Stuffed Tomatoes
1 shallot or 1/4 of an onion
1/2 cup arborio rice
1 cup broth/wine/water (liquid amount should be what the arborio rice dictates + add some salt if not using broth)
2 teaspoons pesto
4 small tomatoes, insides scooped out
1 cup white cheddar, shredded
1 tablespoon parmesan (optional)
Prepare the risotto with the shallot/onion, rice, and broth/wine/water combo and add in the tomato centers and juice- I used the pressure cooker, or cook it on on the stove top.
When it is cooked through, stir in the cheese and the pesto.
Sprinkle the hollowed tomatoes with salt and pepper then spoon the risotto into them. Top with a sprinkle of parmesan- or more cheddar.
Put the tops back on and bake for 10-15 minutes- until the tomatoes are cooked through and the outside is soft (like soft enough to tip over!)
We had these with grilled Italian sausages and green beans- and we had some additional unstuffed risotto. They were so good and a great change for us! A great big heirloom tomato with lots more risotto would be delicious! Or try it into a half of a zucchini- also with the flesh scooped out and cooked into the risotto.
No pesto? Add in a sprinkle of herbs. Or cook with a few glugs of white wine (1/4 cup). Or a few tablespoons of tomato sauce. Just be sure you add something with flavor. Stuff your fav other favorite grain instead or speed it up with couscous or orzo!
My mom makes several cornbreads and this one is by far my fav- it has real corn and is so soft but not crumbly. The rest of the fam looooves one with dill and sour cream and onions but my heart is with this one. There’s real corn flavor and I can’t get enough of it. Make a half batch to go alongside your BBQ and then griddle some the next morning with a drizzle of hot honey- you can thank me later. Only make a whole batch if you have enough eaters- it lasts about 5 days refrigerated but spoils in 2 days at room temperature. This would be great in times of potlucks whenever that happens again?
Corn Bread with Hot Honey Drizzle
Ingredients: makes 9×9, ~6 servings
1 1/2 Boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
1 stick softened butter + 2-4 tablespoons to pan sear before serving
8 oz sour cream
8 oz can creamed corn
8 oz canned corn or frozen corn
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Mix together the muffin mix, butter, sour cream, creamed corn, corn, and eggs with a stand or hand mixer until incorporated.
Pour into a 9×9 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.
Bake for 35 minutes until set and the edges brown.
While letting it cool, mix together the honey and hot sauce.
In a medium skillet, melt butter and sear each cut side of slices of cornbread.
Drizzle with hot honey and enjoy!
It freezes well or freeze the remainder of the creamed corn and the save the half box of corn muffin mix. Next time you want to whip some together you’ll be well on your way! A whole batch would be 3 boxes of corn muffin mix- everything doubled and that makes a 9×13 so that would take a huge number of cornbread lovers!
This salad is a great side or it eats like a meal too. It miiiight not be the most picturesque but I couldn’t not share it. Think crunchy purple cabbage and carrots with peanut sauce and some shredded chicken- or skip the chicken. Either way, it is great and so fast.
Cabbage & Carrot Slaw with Peanut Sauce
Ingredients: (for ~4-5 as sides, or ~2 as a meal)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 inch grated ginger
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
2 large carrots, shredded
~1 cup roasted chicken, shredded (optional)
Shake the sauce together in a jar (or whisk together in a bowl) the soy sauce, peanut butter, ginger, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Refrigerate until serving or make and serve.
Mix the cabbage and the carrot.
Drizzle in the peanut sauce and mix well. Add in the chicken – if using- and stir gently.
I loved this! Know that brown sauce – like peanut sauce – is not beautiful but so tasty. We had it with sesame noodles and edamame- that’s on the regular rotation here. This slaw was great for a crunch and for the peanut flavor. My 5-year-old pb lover liked it and ate a bunch. My ~2-year-old pb lover only ate a little.
We go through a lot of pesto pasta here at our table. The pre-schooler and baby both love it and I appreciate it for variety. I smeared some on some puff pastry with cheese for this instant appetizer knowing it would be a hit!
Pesto Puff Pastry Twists
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted in the refrigerator for ~8 hours or overnight
3 tablespoons pesto
1 cup shredded mozzarella & asiago
1/2 cup tomato sauce
Roll out the puff pastry sheet.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (or as the puff pastry package suggests).
Spread the pesto across the whole sheet, all the way to the edges.
Sprinkle the cheese on top, all the way to the edges.
Slice with a pizza cutter into 1 1/2 inch strips. Hold from the ends and twist around. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking sheet. (Add the cheese that falls out back into a crack.)
Bake for 10-15 minutes.
Let cool 5 minutes.
Serve with tomato sauce to dip. Enjoy!
These were a fun appetizer and could even be a meal of their own! Serve them as an app, alongside soup or pasta or with salad. These are a great use for a smaller amount of leftover pesto. These take so little hands-on time!
This slaw screams SUMMER. All caps screaming! At first it was whispering summer, but I tweaked it and then the flavor was really pumped up. I put the slaw onto fish tacos but will make again just as a side slaw. It would be great with pulled pork or burgers- on them or alongside them! It has an ideal mix of creaminess and brightness.
12 oz (bag) shredded cabbage/broccoli slaw
1/3 cup mayo
1/4 cup lemonade
1 teaspoon lemonade drink powder mix
1 teaspoon lemon juice
zest from 1/2 lemon
Mix & enjoy!
I used a single serving lemonade mix, like what to mix into a 16-oz bottle. One teaspoon of the powder went into the slaw then I mixed the rest with ~10 oz of water to make (strong) lemonade to add some into the slaw. The lemon juice served as my acid where I’d normally use vinegar. The lemonade mix sweetened where sugar would normally be.
The little guy ate his slaw separately from his taco, but Mr. J and I put it right on it. We don’t make tons of fish at home but frozen breaded fish pieces are super quick and are a crowd-pleaser inside a taco!
Anything inside puff pastry is delicious (and easy) but broccoli and cheddar are such an ideal match. I roasted the broccoli for those delicious roasty bits with some gooey cheddar. Yum. These were some lunches for me and I think they’d be a good brunch addition or a heavy app.
Broccoli & Cheddar Pinwheels
1 sheet of puff pastry (sold in a tube by crescent rolls or folded frozen by pie crust)
1 large broccoli head
~1/4 cup cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 teaspoon Mushroom Umami seasoning (optional)
Salt & pepper
(Defrost the puff pastry if frozen, or open to get to room temperature if using refrigerated dough)
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Chop the broccoli into florets. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for ~10-15 minutes- until a little brown and toasted and cooked through.
While the broccoli roasts, roll out the dough. Spread cream cheese onto the dough, sprinkle cheddar on top, and add broccoli. Sprinkle with umami seasoning (if using).
Roll up keeping the roll really compact.
Cut into 2 inch slices using a sharp or serrated knife to not squish the roll too much.
Place onto a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or start with the timing and temperature on the package. Add more time if needed to cook to golden brown.
I loved these. The roasty broccoli is perfect and gives a nuttiness. They puff a bit while baking but aren’t enormous. I packed 2 to be lunch at work with some salad. Do not pack if microwaving these beauties. That would destroy all the crunch and microwaved broccoli is not good. Broccoli and cheddar puff pastry pinwheels neeeed to be baked or toasted to warm up. These could easily be dinner alongside something else or these would be great as an appetizer too!
The little one munched these and then asked “what is it”? Crispy rice patties were such a fun side dish, and became a perfect dish to prep in advance! I saw Catherine McCord make a really plain crispy rice cakes on an Instagram story but I see her website has some fun flavors in these rice cakes. I wanted mine to really highlight some herbs and cheese. The herbs are going bananas out back so I put ’em to work!
Crispy Herbed Rice Patties with Cheese
1 cup brown rice, cooked
3/4 cup smoked gouda
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
Add together the rice, eggs, cheeses, and herbs, with salt and pepper.
Mix well until well incorporated.
Form into patties and fry in a shallow pan of oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side OR heavily spray a pan and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
Serve and enjoy!
These would be great in lots of flavors. Maybe next time I’ll have to include some bacon and top them with an egg!
I loved these! I was prepping them in advance so I undercooked most of them and popped them into the toaster oven to warm and toast for dinner. They were a hit! Of course I cooked the rice in my pressure cooker- hello 15 minute brown rice! I pan fried a few and they stayed together! Woohoo! I also put some into a whoopie pie pan and baked them. Both methods worked so well! I’d skip frying them next time