Category Archives: Side Dish

Italian Herb Pasta Salad

I was looking for a quick recipe to bring to a potluck, and I discovered this one from Betty Crocker. It is one of the quickest, simplest pasta dishes I’ve ever made–wonderful for whipping up for a get-together.


1 large cucumber, coarsely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 package (16 ounces) rotini pasta
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 cup Italian dressing
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges and separated (1/2 cup)
1 cup sliced mushrooms (3 ounces)
  1. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package. Rinse with cold water; drain.
  2. Mix tomato sauce, dressing, basil and oregano in large glass or plastic bowl. Add pasta and remaining ingredients; toss. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours until chilled but no longer than 24 hours.
Makes 12 servings

Leave a comment

Filed under Main Course, Side Dish

Sun-Dried Tomato Spread

New Years Eve parties most definitely call for appetizers. My parents were having some friends over but hadn’t been home all day so I was trying to think of something easy to throw together for them. I discovered some sun-dried tomatoes that I had forgotten about in the fridge. Thankfully they weren’t moldy because I paid good money for those. šŸ˜‰ I also had some cream cheese that was leftover from another recipe I had made. I immediately thought of sun-dried tomato cream cheese–having sold it at Panera when I worked there. I looked up some recipes to see if I could find one and just ended up throwing it together on my own based on those. It was super simple and got raves from the guests that came.


4 sun-dried tomatoes

4 oz low fat cream cheese

dash of garlic powder


Place tomatoes in food processor with dash of garlic powder so top of each tomato is lightly covered with powder. Pulse till no more large pieces of tomato. Add cream cheese and mix. (I did half of this in the processor and the remaining cream cheese by hand.) Serve as a spread for crackers or veggies. Store in refrigerator for 1 week. Makes 1/2 cup.

Leave a comment

Filed under Side Dish

Potato Salad

Fourth of July landed on a Sunday this year (which by the way, was amazing because we had Monday off work too!). Instead of having church that evening we headed over to our worship leader’s house and hung out, barbecued, went swimming, played croquet, and sat around a fire. It was such a wonderful evening. I love being around all those amazing people. It’s just my favorite. šŸ™‚ So, we did potluck status so I made deviled eggs and potato salad. I figured those were American type foods. The potato salad was a new recipe. It turned out very good–lots of flavors mixed in.


  • 4-1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 envelopes Italian salad dressing mix
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  • 5 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


  • In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with oil and dressing mixes. Place in two greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dishes. Bake, uncovered, at 400Ā° for 45 minutes or until tender. Cool. Transfer to a large bowl; add peppers, onions, tomatoes, eggs and bacon. Toss gently.
  • In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Pour over salad and stir gently. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Yield: 16-20 servings.

Leave a comment

Filed under Side Dish

Chili andĀ Cornbread

When Nicole came over for her birthday, she had requested chili and cornbread. If I had enough time on Wednesdays I definitely would have made it from scratch, but lack of time deemed canned and boxed food necessary. Ever since then however, I have been craving homemade chili and cornbread! So, when my friend Lanae came over for dinner tonight, it was on the menu! I recommend getting the cornbread in the oven first and then working on the chili. This quick and easy combo can be knocked out in 45 minutes.

Cornbread Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose four
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup frozen (or fresh) corn, thawed (optional)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spray 8-inch-square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl until combined; set aside.
4. In food processor or blender, process brown sugar, thawed corn kernels, and buttermilk until combined, about 5 seconds. Add eggs and process until well combined (corn lumps will remain), about 5 seconds longer.
5. Using rubber spatula, make well in center of dry ingredients; pour wet ingredients into well. Begin folding dry ingredients into wet, giving mixture only a few turns to barely combine; add melted butter and continue folding until dry ingredients are just moistened.
6. Pour batter into prepared baking dish; smooth surface with rubber spatula.

7. Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes. Serve warm with butter and honey.

Chili Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
  • 2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can of diced tomatoes with chilis, undrained (sometimes I throw in another can if the chili seems too thick or meaty)
  • 2 cans kidney beans, drained
  • 2 packets Chili Seasoning mix (I usually get a packet of mild and a packet of original, otherwise itā€™s too spicy for me)


1. Brown the ground beef or turkey over medium high heat until fully cooked, about 5-7 minutes. Drain any excess oil (usually not a issue with turkey or lean beef).

2. In a large pot, combine tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beans, seasoning mix and meat.Ā  Bring to boil.

3. Cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.Ā  Optionally, you can turn it down to low or medium-low heat and simmer an hour or more.

Makes a big olā€™ pot of chili, at least 6 servings.

Leave a comment

Filed under Main Course, Side Dish

Breadsticks, Twists, andĀ Rolls

I have a recipe that you can use several variations on to make the type of bread you want particularly. The nice thing about bread dough is you have the option to leave it in the refrigerator to “rise” for up to a week if you don’t have time to leave it in a warm place for a couple hours and make the bread that day. I discovered this fact when I was taking Oral Communications at MiraCosta and was taking on French Bread for my “How-To” speech. Very convenient for a busy college student like me.

I decided to be overly ambitious….what else is new?….and make all three variations at once. Might as well while I had the dough, right?

This recipe is from Jonni McCoy’s cookbook, Healthy Meals for Less. It makes 36 rolls.

To start you make the dough:

Ā¼ c butter, softened (or you can substitute with 1/4 c. olive oil)

Ā½ c sugar

1 Ā½ tsp salt

2 c lukewarm water

4 Ā½ tsp active dry yeast (or two packets if you buy them in the three per pack at the store like me)

1 egg

6-7 c flour depending on stickiness of dough

In large mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar, salt, and water. Mix until dissolved.

This was as much as I could get my butter to "dissolve" as the recipe said.

Stir in yeast.

Mix in egg and 3 c of flour. Combine well.

Add remaining flour Ā½ c at a time.

This is about 5 - 1/2 cups--as much as I could add in while stirring with a fork.

Stop adding flour when dough is easy to be handled and not too sticky.

I got in about 6-3/4 cups of flour--adding by hand towards the end.

Form the dough in a round ball. Place in greased bowl. Rub the top with oil and cover with lid or plastic wrap.

I stuck mine in the refrigerator to rise overnight.

If using plastic wrap, place towel dampened with warm water over the top. Place in a warm place and let rise for 2 hours or so. (In the winter, when there’s no sunshine in sight, I put the bowl on top of my dryer while I do laundry. Nice and warm in there!) Punch down every 30 minutes. Or place in refrigerator until ready to use up to a week. Punch down twice a day. Bring the dough to room temp before using.

It has risen!

Now for the variations:

For rolls, place three small balls of dough in each cup of a greased muffin pan.

The balls of dough don't have to be perfect. I didn't even flour my hands to keep it from sticking.


Three in each muffin cup.

I ran out of muffin cups! I prepped these for the next round.

Cover with a damp paper towel and let rise till double in size. (30 min).

Bake at 400 degrees till golden brown–12-15 min.


Other variations:

For cinnamon sticks, roll dough into a rectangle, 1/4 inch thick. Cover the dough with melted butter, just enough to moisten it. In a bowl, mix 1/2 c sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon. Sprinkly dough generously with sugar mix. Fold the dough in half, and press edges to seal. Cut into 1 inch wide strips and twist. Put on greased cookie pan and bake at 400 degrees for 8-11 min.

For Italian herb breadsticks, roll dough into a rectangle, 1/4 inch thick. Brush dough with olive oil. Sprinkle with 2 cloves of pressed garlic and 2 T mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with a dash of Italian seasoning. Fold dough in half and press the edges to seal. Cut into 1 inch wide strips and twist. Sprinkle sea salt on top of sticks. PutĀ Ā on greasedĀ cookie pan and bake at 400 degrees for 8-11 minutes.

I usedĀ 1/3Ā of dough for each variation, but you can use the whole thing on one if you like!

1 Comment

Filed under Side Dish

Zesty Low-FatĀ Fries

I got a new recipe book for Christmas; it focuses on healthy eating and frugality. I love it! A lot of the recipes are made of things had right on hand, and it also has recipes for some of the ingredients used in other recipes. This french fry recipe was great! Very well seasoned.

6 brown potatoes

1/4 c vegetable oil

3 T lemon juice

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 T Italian seasoning*

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp hot sauce**

Slice potatoes into strips, and place in a bowl. For crispier fries soak the strips into in ice water for 30 minutes then pat dry.

In another bowl mix all the remaining ingredients. Pour over the potato strips and mix well.

Spread potatoes evenly in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 35 minutes or until tender and golden brown.


Serves 8 (1 cup each)

115 calories

7 g fat

0 mg cholesterol

13 g carbs

1 g fiber

2 g protein

271 mg sodium

*To make Italian seasoning combine 1/4 c dried basil, 2 T dry sage, 1/4 c dried thyme, 1/4 c dried rosemary, and 1/4 c dried oregano in blender. Pulse for 5 seconds. Store in airtight container. This will keep for several months.

**To make hot sauce, combine 6oz tomato paste, 3 c water, 2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 T chili powder, 2 tsp salt, 2 tsp cornstarch, 2 tsp distilled white vinegar, 2 tsp onion powder in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until boils. Continue to stir for 2-3 minutes until thickens. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Leave a comment

Filed under Side Dish