Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Square Meal

As far back as I can remember, I've enjoyed cooking. And Mom did well to teach me how to put a meal together so that everything is done at once - main dish, side(s), salad, etc. These days with two little ones, I'm practically Frisbee-tossing food onto the table in time for us to all sit down and shovel it in our mouths before bath and bed time. I still love to cook, but lately my challenge has been to make sure we're eating a square meal. I'm bored with the same old go-to green salad with tomatoes and cucumbers or plain jello with Cool Whip.
I know I can do more, and I want to do more. During my days of scheduled naps, reading the same library books over and over, and general predictability, I'm itching to throw in a bit of the unexpected, and dinner time is a venue to do it. So, I'm getting out my cookbooks and recipes to spice up my side dishes. Here are a couple of our favorites that we ALL like, and I hope you'll try them too.

Creamed Green Cabbage

1 small head green cabbage
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups warm milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring 1 inch salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add cabbage. Cover and steam, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, and let cool slightly. Squeeze out excess water using a kitchen towel. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook until bubbling but not browning, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk. Cook, stirring, until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Remove from eat; add cheese and lemon zest. Immediately fold cabbage into sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into a shallow casserole dish. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese. Bake until bubbling, 30-35 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Marinated Carrots

Combine in deep casserole dish:
5 cups cooked (crisp-tender) sliced carrots
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced

Combine in medium saucepan and heat until just warm:
1 can condensed tomato soup
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup vinegar (any kind, but I like apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. prepared mustard
pepper to taste

Combine vegetables with sauce and marinate overnight. Heat in oven until warm through.

I'd love some ideas from you on how you shake up your Tuesday night chicken or Saturday's pizza!


  1. Your carrot recipe reminded me of one I tried from allrecipes before. It was so yummy! I need to start with just being better at getting my sides going. I think of the main dish fine and then am scrambling at the last minute trying to figure out what else to serve!

  2. I know, it's so hard sometimes... I've even tried the "Deceptively Delicious" idea and puree veggies to put into stuff! I've got a few recipies over on my site, I'll work on getting some more up in the next few weeks!

  3. What about your crock pot? You can throw in some chicken breast, olive oil or grapeseed oil and a good seasonings italian dressing packet,... look on my blog, I should have a link for the whole recipe. I have lots of yummy recipes on my blog.. Check it out:

    I hope you find something there different.

    Don't forget about soups!! Pasta salads, chicken salad (like tuna fish salad), sandwiches, .. I am a foody and have lots and lots of food ideas :) BUT we don't use anything with corn in it (in any form!! due to severe allergy) so we make our own cream of soups etc..

  4. when did we ever eat that cabbage? It does not even trigger any kind of memory for me. Sounds like something I might try, though.