Bacon-Smothered Cabbage

It was a cold day. We were spoiled by a few warm days this winter, but that came to an abrupt end. That meant I needed a big ole bowl of comfort food to warm me up. This bacon-smothered cabbage hit the spot.

Great as a side, but also fantastic as a main dish by simply adding a little sliced smoked sausage. A little sweet, a little heat and a bit of smokiness made this the perfect dish on a cold day.
Bacon-Smothered CabbageI like my bacon-smothered cabbage to be almost completely tender, but still have just a bit of crunch to it. After about 5 minutes of cooking I start sampling for my preferred doneness and continue testing every minute or so.

I also prefer green cabbage, but purple cabbage (or even better, use one half of a head of green cabbage and a half head of purple!) would work just as well.

Also try my stuffed cabbage soup.

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Bacon-Smothered Cabbage

Add a pound of smoked sausage, cut into 1/2" pieces and lightly browned to make this a fantastic main course dish!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Side
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Inspired by a recipe from Louisiana Cookin' Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 head green cabbage core removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 5 slices bacon chopped
  • 1 large sweet onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce to taste

Instructions

  • Lightly brown the bacon in a large Dutch oven. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the oil left in the pot.
  • Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes or until just soft.
  • Add the cabbage. Stir and saute for 3 more minutes.
  • Stir in the vinegar. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the bacon, salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. Serve.

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!
Okra and Tomatoes
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.

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Okra and Tomatoes

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Side
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Author: Inspired by a recipe from The Lady & Sons

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

  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cook the bacon until tender but not crispy.
  • Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is tender.
  • Add the tomatoes and their juices along with the chicken base and sugar. Stir and season with salt and pepper.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer and let simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  • Fresh okra: Add okra and cook another 20 minutes.
  • 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!
Maple Cranberry SauceUse 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.

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Maple Cranberry Sauce

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Side
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Inspired by Gimme Some Oven

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

  • Transfer all ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Melting PotatoesYukon potatoes are the best potatoes by far for making melting potatoes. 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!

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Melting Potatoes

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Side
Cuisine: American
Servings: 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

  • Preheat oven to 450 F.
  • Place the potatoes into a large bowl.
  • Add the butter, thyme, salt and pepper and toss to coat.
  • Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with a silicon baking mat or aluminum foil.
  • Bake for 15 minutes. Flip the potatoes and cook another 15 minutes.
  • Add the chicken broth and garlic and stir. Cook another 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  • 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.
Tater Tot Potato SkinsYou 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.

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Tater Tot Potato Skins

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Servings: 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

  • Preheat oven to 400 F..
  • Spray two large baking sheets with non-stick spray (I found that a Silpat mat works best)
  • Use the back of a large spoon to flatten the tots. Don't press too hard if they don't flatten immediately.
  • Place into the oven for 10 minutes. Check if any of the tots need a bit more flattening.
  • Continue baking for another 10 minutes or until the tots are turning golden brown.
  • Sprinkle with cheese and continue baking until crispy.
  • Remove from the oven.
  • 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!”.
Awesome Green Beans

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.

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Awesome Green Beans

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Side
Servings: 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

  • Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add the garlic and onions and cook for one minute.
  • Add the green beans and cook until bright green, about 1 minute.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir.
  • 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.
  • 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!
Parmesan Broccoli Potatoes
After about 10 minutes I checked on the Parmesan broccoli potatoes 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.

Also try my grill-roasted herb potatoes.

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Parmesan Broccoli Potatoes

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Side
Servings: 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

  • If cooking in the oven, preheat to 400 F. If cooking a grill fire up your grill for indirect cooking.
  • Place potatoes in a large bowl.
  • Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, onion powder, salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle with oil and toss gently to coat.
  • Fold in the broccoli.
  • Transfer to a baking dish (oven) or disposable aluminum pan (grill). Add the water and cover with foil.
  • Bake or grill about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  • 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.
Tangy Bean SaladLike 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.

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Tangy Bean Salad

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Total Time4 hrs 5 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 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

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, and oil.
  • Add the onion and bell pepper and mix.
  • Rinse and drain the beans. Add to the bowl and toss to coat.
  • Season with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.