Okra and Tomatoes

I like to stock up on canned goods before winter which is why I ended up trying a can of Margaret Holmes Tomato, Okra and Corn. Anita and I both loved it, which set me down the path to finding something similar that I could make at home. That brought me to this okra and tomatoes recipe, which Anita declared to be the best side dish I’ve ever made. And I have to agree, it’s the perfect side dish. It has that cooked-all-day flavor, but without the fuss. Perfect on a cool day for sure. Oh, and no, I didn’t add corn, but you could. Anita’s not the biggest fan of the corn part of the canned version, so she liked this even more!

I couldn’t find fresh okra (sadly, it can be hard to come by here in Indiana) so I used frozen, which worked out wonderfully. You can add a can of corn kernels (about a cup or so frozen) if you wish, but this dish is really great as it is.

I’m contemplating adding smoked sausage next time. The okra and tomatoes has that sort of gumbo feel to it, and a little smoked sausage would take it from a side dish to a main course in no time.

If you love okra as much as I do you’ll also want to make my okra giardiniera. It’s crazy good on a sandwich.

Okra and Tomatoes
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
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Serves: 4-6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, un-drained
  • 1 tablespoon chicken base
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups fresh okra, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used a 16 ounce package of frozen okra)
Instructions
  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cook the bacon until tender but not crispy.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is tender.
  3. Add the tomatoes and their juices along with the chicken base and sugar. Stir and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer and let simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  5. Fresh okra: Add okra and cook another 20 minutes.
  6. Frozen okra: Add okra and cook another 10 minutes.

Maple Cranberry Sauce

I’m not usually a cranberry sauce-kind-of-guy, so I have no prior experience making it from scratch. But when I came across this recipe for maple cranberry sauce it sounded good (even to me) so I hopped right in and made a double batch for Thanksgiving. It was a big hit. I also discovered that cooking fresh cranberries can be fun. They go ‘pop’ as they cook. Cool!
Use real maple syrup in this maple cranberry sauce. Only the real stuff. And as I note, I could not find fresh oranges. Substituting bottled came out just fine. Add about 1/4 cup, taste, and see if you want to add more. I used no-pulp orange juice. The sauce came out fantastic!

This sauce goes best with a turkey roasted on the Char-Broil Big Easy.

Maple Cranberry Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (12 ounce) bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Juice and zest of one fresh orange (Note: I could not find fresh oranges so I substituted just over 1/4 cup of bottled no-pulp orange juice)
Instructions
  1. Transfer all ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir and let the mixture simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened and all of the cranberries have burst. Stir occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before serving.

Melting Potatoes

Buttery creamy goodness. I could not have been happier with these melting potatoes. So good, so easy, and boy, did I ever eat more than my share. Good thing it was just Anita and me, because I would’ve had to explain where all the potatoes went if we would’ve had company over for dinner. If you’re normally tempted to put ketchup on your potatoes, don’t. These potatoes are absolutely perfect just as they are.
Yukon potatoes are the best potatoes by far for this recipe. They are so tender and velveety. They get just a little golden brown crunchy edge to them. Just enough to contrast the tender insides.

Also try my roasted spiral potatoes. They’re pretty and pretty darned good!

Melting Potatoes
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
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Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pound Yukon potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/2" thick
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. Place the potatoes into a large bowl.
  3. Add the butter, thyme, salt and pepper and toss to coat.
  4. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with a silicon baking mat or aluminum foil.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip the potatoes and cook another 15 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken broth and garlic and stir. Cook another 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Remove and serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Tater Tot Potato Skins

Anita declared these as “the only way we will cook tater tots from now on”. And I am in total agreement with her too. Just like potato skins they have a crunchy side and a soft side and taste, well, potato-y. Topped with our favorite potato skin toppings, cheese, green onion and sour cream, these tater tot potato skins can be served as appetizers at your next party or as a side at your next grill-out. Make sure you make lots of them, though, because they are crazy addicting.
You can actually skip the thawing of the tater tots and squash the tots after they have been in the oven for 10 minutes. I found this works fine, but not quite as well as when you fully thaw the tater tots first. They don’t squash out quite as flat, but they still get super duper crispy crunchy, which is the goal.

I spoon sour cream into a squirt bottle to top these tater tot potato skins nice and evenly. You can of course spoon the sour cream directly on top, but I usually end up with a little too much in one spot and not enough in another. The squirt bottle solves that problem.

Also try my tater tot nachos.

Tater Tot Potato Skins
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
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Serves: 16 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (2 pound) bag Ore-Ida Crispy Tater Tots, thawed completely
  • 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F..
  2. Spray two large baking sheets with non-stick spray (I found that a Silpat mat works best)
  3. Use the back of a large spoon to flatten the tots. Don't press too hard if they don't flatten immediately.
  4. Place into the oven for 10 minutes. Check if any of the tots need a bit more flattening.
  5. Continue baking for another 10 minutes or until the tots are turning golden brown.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese and continue baking until crispy.
  7. Remove from the oven.
  8. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with the sour cream and sprinkle with the green onions and bacon.

Awesome Green Beans

Anita said that I must make these green beans again, and soon. She proclaimed them as ‘awesome’, and I definitely agree. This is not a complicated recipe, but it gives green beans fantastic flavor. They need help, let’s face it. No one has ever sat down with a bucket of cooked beans with nothing else on them and said “dang, these are awesome!”. Sit down with a bucket of these beans you will say “dang, these are awesome!”.

Do not skimp on the chicken broth. I (almost) always use my homemade broth, but you can use a good quality store-bought broth or stock instead. For something totally different, substitute smoked turkey broth.

Awesome Green Beans
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Recipe type: Side
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Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper, chopped (I use Merzetta's roasted pepper deli strips)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the garlic and onions and cook for one minute.
  3. Add the green beans and cook until bright green, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and stir.
  5. Reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover but leave the cover slightly ajar and simmer until most of the liquid evaporates and the beans are crisp-tender, 20-30 minutes. Add more broth if needed.
  6. Check the seasoning and serve.

Parmesan Broccoli Potatoes

Anita proclaimed that the broccoli in these Parmesan broccoli potatoes was the best she’s ever had. I guess I could’ve left out the potatoes but they were my favorite! It’s a win-win dish for us! I made them on the grill, cooking them over indirect heat, but you can cook them in the oven just as easily. They really are fantastic!

After about 10 minutes I checked the potatoes and broccoli and gave them a little stir. If they’re looking a little dry don’t be afraid to add a bit (1/4 cup!) of water and stir. Depending on how big your potatoes and broccoli florets are you might need a bit longer than the 15 minute cooking time.

Parmesan Broccoli Potatoes
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
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Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound baby potatoes, halved
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 24 ounces broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Instructions
  1. If cooking in the oven, preheat to 400 F. If cooking a grill fire up your grill for indirect cooking.
  2. Place potatoes in a large bowl.
  3. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, onion powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Drizzle with oil and toss gently to coat.
  5. Fold in the broccoli.
  6. Transfer to a baking dish (oven) or disposable aluminum pan (grill). Add the water and cover with foil.
  7. Bake or grill about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  8. Serve topped with Parmesan and garnished with parsley.

Tangy Bean Salad

One thing is guaranteed. Put a bean salad in front of me, and it’s going to disappear. For me, it doesn’t get any better or easier. The perfect contrast in textures and flavors. A little sweet. A little tang. There are hundreds of variations on bean salad, and I am pretty sure I’ve made and enjoyed them all. This tangy bean salad is no exception. Made in no time, but better after it gets happy in the fridge for a few hours first.
Like with any good ole bean salad you can change this tangy bean salad up to suit your tastes. I little slices fresh jalapeno is great if you like a little kick. Roasted red bell pepper instead of green bell pepper is also a nice change.

Tangy Bean Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 (15 1/2 ounce) cans green and wax bean blend
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, and oil.
  2. Add the onion and bell pepper and mix.
  3. Rinse and drain the beans. Add to the bowl and toss to coat.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Corn Salad

Corn is in season and that’s a happy time for me. And as much as I love grilled corn-on-the-cob, corn in salads is tied for my favorite way to get some good fresh corn into my belly. Like this jalapeno popper grilled corn salad. Creamy dressing. Crunchy bacon. Deliciously sweet corn. And a little heat. This is the perfect side dish for a grill-out or picnic.
We’re getting our corn from the southern US now, but soon they’ll be harvesting corn here in Indiana. Almost time for my yearly ritual of putting up corn for the winter. I race on down to our local farmer’s market, Binford Farmer’s Market, and load up on corn as soon as it’s available. And I do mean load up. My favorite? My Dad’s Sweet Corn from Tipton, Indiana. Hand-picked and incredibly sweet, they always have great corn.

Also try my chili cheese Frito salad.

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Corn Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 8 ears fresh corn, husks NOT removed
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 jalapenos, stems and seeds removed, minced
  • 1 cup cooked bacon, chopped
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup finely shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Fire up your grill for medium heat grilling.
  2. Peel back the husks from the corn but do not remove them. Remove all silks.
  3. Lightly brush the corn with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Pull the husks back around the corn and tightly wrap in foil.
  5. Place on the grill and cook 20 minutes, rotating often.
  6. Open the foil and continue cooking until the corn is tender.
  7. Remove the corn from the grill and let cool until you can cut the kernels from the ears.
  8. Combine the corn with all remaining ingredients.
  9. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Stir before serving.