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.
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!
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.
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.
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!”.
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.
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.
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.