Category Archives: Side Dish

Crazy E-Z Grilled Veggies

This is good as a side dish, or turn it into your main meal by adding chicken, steak, turkey or even beans. My favorite is black beans. Plays nicely with other flavors being added. Be creative! Use this as a springboard for a variety of options!

Yield: 5 cups cooked vegetables.


Deviously Delish Dill Pickle Soup

Hi! My name is Debbie and I have an addiction. An addiction to dill pickles. It forces me into crazy things like driving to the next town to obtain Old Dutch brand Dill Pickle chips which are hands down, the best dill pickle chips ever. My friends and family are also quite familiar with my addiction and when they find something they know I will like they share and multiple friends shared a recipe for Dill Pickle Soup which, of course, I had to try.

It is an easy recipe which goes from cutting board to table in about 45 minutes. As much as I love dill pickles, this recipe was a bit heavy handed with the flavor. After the crew taste tested it with the same opinion I dumped the bowls back into the pot and went to work adapting the recipe.

The alterations lend nicely to additions to take it from a side dish to the main element of a meal.

Deviously Delish Dill Pickle Soup


32 oz box chicken stock
1 pound chopped turnips or potatoes
1cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced (small) dill pickles
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2-3/4 cup water
1/4 cup dill pickle juice*
2 Tablespoons chicken base
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon table salt (taste taste taste!)
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy)
1/2 teaspoon herbs de provence
1/2 teaspoon basil

Optional Garnish:
Fresh Dill
Chiffonade basil
Shredded parmesan cheese
Fresh ground black pepper

For a heartier meal:
Add 1 cup diced cooked chicken after vegetables cook.



In a large pot, combine broth, turnips/potatoes, carrots, onions and butter. Bring to a boil and cook until tender are tender. Add pickles and continue to simmer.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sour cream and water, making a pourable paste. While whisking, slowly pour sour cream mixture into soup.
Add pickle juice, Old Bay, herbs de provence, basil, salt (if needed after tasting), pepper and cayenne. Cook 5 more minutes and remove from heat. Serve immediately.


All pickle juice is NOT created equal. Some are saltier than others. I recommend using GOOD pickles, like refrigerated fresh pickles. Taste your soup after you add the pickle juice and seasonings and add salt if needed.

A Few of My Favorite Things Salad

So today my daughters friend threw her a surprise Birthday party and it was a carry in picnic. I was tasked with bringing buns for sloppy joes and a side dish. I decided I was going to make an old standby, broccoli salad. You know; the one with bacon and raisins? Of course, I was two ingredient shy and had to make a grocery store run. While grabbing a red onion, I see the pile of avocados and my Mad Scientist brain starts running so I grab the avocado, and a few more ingredients and head back to the laboratory home.

Favorite things salad

My Favorite Things Salad

  • 1 package frozen Broccoli florets thawed and drained then cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup frozen new peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 ripe avocado peeled, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup sunflower nuts
  • 4.5 oz package REAL bacon bits (or make your own)
  • chow mein noodles


  • 1/2 cup mayo 
  • 1/4 cup sweet & sour salad dressing (mine is Kroger brand)
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • Half & Half (or whatever type of milk you use)
  • 1 T dijon

In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients except for the chow mein noodles. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Drizzle in half and half (milk) to thin the dressing to pouring consistency. Pour dressing over salad and combine to evenly coat all ingredients.Stir in about 1/2 cup of noodles. Top salad with additional noodles. (don’t be shy – the crunch is wonderful)

Chill before serving.

Mad Scientist: Sweet Dreams Sweet Potato Casserole

Before Thanksgiving in 2011 I wrote this post on my creative writing blog. Sweet Potato Casserole is one of my families favorite Holiday dishes and a definite must cook.


My unfocused, scatter blogging is taking another turn into the world of cooking.  A fellow blogger, A Bloggy Mom  asked followers and friends what they are doing for Thanksgiving and I responded,

“turkey purchased so dinner at my house. Wanna come? I make an awesome gravy and my sweet tater casserole is heaven!”

To which she responded,

“how do you make your sweet potato casserole?”

So, I promised to whip up a new blog post with the recipe included because I’m all about sharing. Especially delicious recipes because what’s the point in being selfish? I’m pretty sure the majority of the people who read my blog can’t come over for Thanksgiving dinner and how else would they get to experience the deliciousness of something I love?

This recipe has it’s roots in one that was gleaned from a newspaper by my Mom years ago. It fast became a family favorite and, thank goodness, because one Thanksgiving tradition I always took a pass on was sweet potatoes with mini marshmallows on top. Gaaag! Oh how I hate that dish. My family really didn’t have a choice since I’m the cook and they don’t get a vote. I made minor changes to make it work better for me and my need to make things my own.

OK time to shut up and put up…. the recipe.



Sweet Dreams Sweet Potato Casserole


Preheat oven to 425 degrees

  • 3 medium fresh yams or sweet potatoes cooked

(boil in 2 quarts water with half cup of brown sugar until fork tender & drain)
or 29 oz can of sweet potatoes drained

  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup canned evaporative milk

Crumb topping:

  • ½ cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


Drain sweet potatoes and cut into *bite size pieces.  Put potatoes in bottom of greased casserole dish. (A square glass cake pan or a2-1/2 qt. round French White Corning Ware casserole dish.)

french white casserole

Mix all other ingredients and pour over sweet potatoes.

“Shred”  frozen margarine/butter into flour and sugar mixture. ( use large holes on cheese shredder-hat tip to Alton Brown of Good Eats for this tip) Mix with a fork until like coarse crumbs. Add nuts. Then top the casserole with the crumb topping mix. You can get fancy here and arrange some 1/2 pecans on the top to make it pretty. Or not. It still tastes the same.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 then lower temp to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30-40 minutes, then let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

* – Some sweet potato casserole recipes mash the potatoes. I loath mashed potatoes so this option of bite size pieces creates a palatable dish for me.  If you want one of  those recipes, forget about it! Try this one and you will be a conver

Altered Cabbage-Noodle and Bacon

Cabbage with Noodles and Bacon

  • 1 head of cabbage, chopped
  • 1 pound of bacon*
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bag of egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • 1-2 tsp dried dill
  • 2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp. (or cook ground pork with Maggi and liquid smoke until one side is well browned/crispy & chop while cooking to keep pieces small) Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels, then break into bite-sized pieces. Drain all but 2-3 Tbsp bacon fat. .

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add noodles and cook 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While the noodles are cooking, add the onions in the skillet with bacon fat. If you use ground pork, you may need to add 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil. Sauté until the onions are *caramelized. Add the cabbage to the skillet. Season with salt and generous fresh ground black pepper. You may need to add a couple more Tbsp. of bacon fat or olive oil to prevent sticking. Cover to steam/sauté the cabbage, stirring frequently until tender and lightly *caramelized. Stir in the egg noodles, bacon (pork), mayo and oyster sauce. Add dill and parsley and taste test for salt and pepper season. Serve immediately.

*DEFINITELY caramelize the onion and the cabbage. This adds a nutty warm flavor that you will miss if you don’t cook to this stage.


Mad Mac ‘n Cheese

I love hearty, creamy delicious macaroni and cheese. I’ve followed many a recipe and watch many shows featuring mac ‘n cheese, but something always seemed to be missing. That something was the flavor of CHEESE. Taking what I learned, I set out to create what I craved. The following is what I accomplished. It tastes like, well cheese!


  • 3 cups dry elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups milk (heat in microwave to a simmer-don’t boil)
  • 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (the sharper the better)
  • 6 oz. Velveeta cheese cubed
  • 1/3 cup AP flour
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 –3/4 cup diced onion
  • Water if needed to thin cheese sauce
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Panko bread crumbs


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and  cook for five minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, while the macaroni is cooking, in a heavy 3 qt. sauce pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Sauté onions until translucent.  Add flour and whisk until flour is “toasted”. You may have to add some extra olive oil if the roux is too thick. Slowly pour in hot milk and whisk constantly to avoid lumps. This should be the consistency of gravy.  Add dry mustard and cheeses a handful at a time,  alternating the cheddar and Velveeta. Stir until melted and smooth. If the mixture is too thick (like paste instead of gravy) add water until it is the right consistency. (Again, like gravy). Season to your taste, and definitely taste!

In a large bowl, (I used a 4 qt. glass bowl) add the macaroni and pour the cheese sauce over and stir. Add 1/2-3/4 cup of Panko bread crumbs.

Pour into a greased baking dish (8-9 inch square or 3 quart round) and sprinkle top with parmesan cheese and top with 1/2 cup of Panko.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. It will be bubbly and the Panko will be lightly browned.

Allow the Mac ‘n Cheese to rest for 5-10 minutes.

I posted this recipe on my “other” blog aka, creative writing place. Thought it would be a good idea to get it here on the cooking blog which was born after I posted this on “Day In and Day Out”

Day In and Day Out

My unfocused, scatter blogging is taking another turn into the world of cooking.  A fellow blogger, A Bloggy Mom  asked followers and friends what they are doing for Thanksgiving and I responded,

“turkey purchased so dinner at my house. Wanna come? I make an awesome gravy and my sweet tater casserole is heaven!”

To which she responded,

“how do you make your sweet potato casserole?”

So, I promised to whip up a new blog post with the recipe included because I’m all about sharing. Especially delicious recipes because what’s the point in being selfish? I’m pretty sure the majority of the people who read my blog can’t come over for Thanksgiving dinner and how else would they get to experience the deliciousness of something I love?

This recipe has it’s roots in one that was gleaned from a newspaper by my Mom years ago. It fast became a family favorite and…

View original post 342 more words

Bacon and Bleu Coleslaw

Last Fall one of those shows that visits awesome restaurants went to a place the made a coleslaw that had bleu cheese and bacon in it. Frankly, it had me at bleu cheese so I was game for coming up with something in my own kitchen. The result was delicious.

This is an excellent variation of the typical side dish served with BBQ. The bleu cheese is a welcome addition and depth of flavor.

Deb’s Bacon & Bleu Coleslaw


  • 1 bag shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup Light Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (I use raw sugar – the kind with big brown crystals)
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 cup real bacon bits/pieces crisped in the microwave or 4 slices cooked crisp and crumbled


In a large bowl, combine cabbage, mayo, vinegar, Dijon and sugar. (It shouldn’t look like the coleslaw is “fully dressed”It should seem like it doesn’t quite have enough mayo) If you like more dressing, add some more mayo, vinegar and Dijon. Do this at your own peril the lightly dressed is my preference so I don’t know amounts.

Add cheese and bacon.

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Overnight? Even better. This helps to draw out some of the moisture and when you serve, it will be lightly dressed (I hate the over soupy over dressed coleslaw—bleh!)

A Delicious Afterthought

A couple of days ago I purchased a package of chicken legs with the idea I was going to crock pot them for dinner. I forgot Friday was the next day (Catholic here, no meat Fridays during Lent), Saturday came and I forgot to put the legs in the pot. Hubby, My Captain, offered to grill them then decided to order pizza.

Today was the day and My Captain reminded me early enough to get them in the pot for dinner. Dropped them in, covered them in BBQ sauce, a little kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and 1/2 inch of water in the bottom, plop the lid on and walk away. Right? Well, no. Lid on. Walk away. Then Mad Scientist wheels start turning.

I thought, it would sure be nice to have this be more than just the chicken, so I grabbed a can of black beans, dumped them into a colander, rinsed well, then poured a generous amount of BBQ sauce over the beans – IN THE COLANDER – sprinkled some chopped dried onions over then tossed to cover the beans. Then I put those beans in the crock pot and, walked away. Really. I walked away this time. Went to the gym and left it alone.

The end result was so darn good! Those beans were like baked beans slaved over and cooked in the oven in a fancy schmancy bean pot.

Give this a try the next time you are cooking chicken in the crock pot. I used my homemade BBQ sauce but any good quality store bought sauce will do the trick. (Sweet Baby Ray’s original is my personal favorite)

You want the recipe? OK. Not much to it, but here goes.


Chicken with “Baked” Beans


  • Chicken legs, thighs, breasts, wings, whatever you have (you decide how many you need or want)
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Canned Black Beans (you decide how many cans you need based on how much chicken and size of crock pot)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • Dried Onions
  • Water


Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper then place chicken in crock pot / slow cooker arranging around the outside of the pot leaving the center open. Pour BBQ sauce over chicken to cover well. Rinse beans in colander then pour BBQ sauce over and toss/mix well. Sprinkle dried onions over then place beans in the center of crock pot / slow cooker. Add 1/4-1/2 inch of water to crock pot / slow cooker. This is important if you are cooking on high so you don’t dry everything out and then it would be yuck! Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, 2-4 hours on high.

Faux-made Mak and Cheez

Oops! I did it again!

I made With the help of  “Captain my Captain”  we made some off the hook smoked Boston Butt Pork. I added homemade coleslaw and Corn Casserole ala Pudding. Knowing Blossom would not like the coleslaw and proclaimed the Corn Casserole “weird tasting” I decided another side dish was in order. Wandering and wondering in the grocery store I glanced upon a container of “Macaroni and Cheese”. You know the stuff. All made up and you simply nuke it in the microwave or warm it in a saucepan on the stove? I thought OK. We can have one cheater, but THAT IT! So I grabbed a tub of Bob Evans Macaroni and Cheese for two.

After consideration and reviewing the actual contents of said tub, I decided to make some alterations. I wanted it to be a little closer to homemade instead of cooked elbow macaroni with watered down cheese whiz poured over the top.

I dumped the contents into a small casserole dish, added a 1/2 cup of bread crumbs and a cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. In hindsight, a dash of Colemans Mustard (dry mustard) and another dash of cayenne pepper would have been a nice addition. After stirring this together, I topped with another handful (1/4 cup) of shredded cheddar and baked it in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Wow! What a difference a few ingredients make to the texture and appearance and it was really good! Warrior Girl (Granddaughter #2)  had seconds and Blossom declared it edible as well. (and she says Princess [Granddaughter #1] is a picky eater!)

So, if you want but don’t have time to make homemade Mac & Cheese try “Faux-Made Mak and Cheez”. Heck make it to share at a “bring your own dish affair” , and if you say it fast enough no one will know.

Here it is recipe style:


Faux-Made Mak and Cheez


  • 1 package 2 serving Macaroni and Cheese (Bob Evans or Country Crock or whatever)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used Italian Seasoned but think Panko would be the bomb! [I was out]  )
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • dash of dry mustard
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste


In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Pour into a greased 4 cup Casserole and top with 1/4 cup of Cheddar. Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

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