Dill Cucumbers

In my never ending quest to find side dishes my kids will actually eat and aren’t rice or potatoes, I’ve found this one to be a consistent hit. You can make it ahead of time and eat it over a few days.

What you need:

  • 3 large cucumbers – the 3 pack of english cucumbers at Costco are perfect
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1/4 white pepper (black pepper is ok to use – white pepper just looks prettier because you don’t see the pepper flecks. It also makes it more kid-friendly in my house since my kids think anything with  pepper -or any visible seasoning- is “too spicy” and thus rendered inedible)
  • 1.5 tsp dried dill (or 1 TBSP fresh dill of you actually have access to fresh dill, which I never do)

What to do:

Peel and slice the cucumbers. A bit of personal preference here, my kids like them on the thicker side. When my mom makes this she slices them super thin. The thicker slices last longer in the fridge, so with the kid preference + durability, thicker slices win in my house.

Next, mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over the cucumbers. If you’re like me, the first time you make this you will be tempted to double the liquid thinking there is no way it will be enough to marinate 3 cucumbers. Resist this temptation. It’s enough. The cucumbers will release some of their own juice so there will be ample marinade.

Mix it all together and refrigerate at least a couple hours before serving. Try to remember to give the container a shake every so often.

Bob’s Meatloaf

I know meatloaf does not have the best reputation as being a family favorite, but my kids really do gobble this version up. It’s a favorite of adults too! Another one of my mom’s recipes…from the name you can guess that it’s one my dad’s favorites too.

What you need:

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 package dry onion soup mix
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 TBSP BBQ sauce (optional – this really makes the recipe sing, but I rarely have BBQ sauce. Whenever I can pick up a few extra BBQ dipping sauces at a fast food place I will bring them home to keep on hand for meatloaf. but the recipe turns out good even without BBQ sauce)
  • 1/4 lb Ritz crackers, crushed (that’s a whole sleeve)

Sauce:

  • 2 TBSP mustard
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 TBSP honey

What to do:

Mix the ground beef and eggs. Mix in everything else (except the sauce stuff) and mix well with hands. Fold into meatloaf pan or use a muffin pan and fill each “muffin” 2/3 full – in this hockey loving house we call them meatloaf pucks. This recipe should make 10-11.

Mix all the sauce ingredients together and top the meatloaf or pucks

For a meatloaf pan, bake at 350 for 1.5 hours. If using a muffin pan, bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Crispy Parmesan Green Beans

A nice little side dish that takes boring green beans up a few notches

What you need:

  • 1 lb green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

What to do

Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl, toss the green beans with the olive oil. In a small bowl, mix the parmesan cheese, paprika, salt and pepper. Add in to green beans and toss to coat. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spread out the green beans into a single layer so they aren’t overlapping (or they won’t crisp up as well). Bake 15 minutes or until desired done-ness.

Spaghetti and meatballs

This is my mom’s recipe and it’s the best!! The sauce is actually doubled from my mom’s recipe. She always doubles it too, which is why there are some odd measurements like 4 tsps, which probably works out to some version of a tablespoon, but I hate math. If you are some kind of weirdo that doesn’t like sauce, I guess you can halve everything. However, making it as-is feeds my family of four and then the rest freezes easily into another dinner and a lunch.

What you need for the sauce:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 16 oz cans of diced tomotos
  • 2 8 oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 6 oz cans of tomato paste (reserve 1 TBSP for the meatballs)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 4 TBSP dried parsley
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms that you’ve sauteed in butter, or canned/jarred mushrooms

What to do:

In a saucepan, sautee the onions in some olive oil until soft. Add everything else and mix well. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer for several hours.

What you need for the meatballs:

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork (you can use all beef if you prefer)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs (ok to omit if you’re GF)
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

How to make them:

Mix the eggs and tomato paste. Add the water, basil, oregano, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper. Mix and then add the meat, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Mix well with hands. Shape into meatballs. You can fry them until brown or you can line a baking sheet with parchment and bake in the over for about 20 minutes at 350, turning half way. Either way you cook them, add them to the sauce for the last hour of simmering.

 

Corn Pudding

Admittedly this isn’t the most nutritionally dense side dish, but its something I know my kids will eat and not everything can be kale and quinoa, amirite?

What you need:

  • 1 16 oz can of creamed corn
  • 1 16 oz can of whole kernel corn, drained
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 box Jiffy corn bread mix

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 359
  • Butter a 8×11 glass baking dish (or use baking spray)
  • Mix the corn bread mix with the melted butter
  • Mix in eggs
  • Add the 2 cans of corn and mix well
  • Add in the sour cream and mix well
  • Pour into baking dish and smooth over.
  • Bake for 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes

Ready for the oven!

 

BBQ Pork

What you need:

  • 4lbs pork shoulder, sliced into big strips (takes less time to cook)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf

Brown the pork in a dutch oven and add the onion. Mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over pork and onions. Bake for 2-3 hours in a 325 degree oven until the pork shreds.

Simply Delicious Pork Chops

Pork chops are not a big hit in this house, but these come out so great everytime I wonder why I don’t make them more often.

What you need:

  • 6 pork loin chops about 3/4 in thick
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. Arrange chops in glass baking dish. Whisk all other ingredients in a bowl and spread half over the chops. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Turn the chops and cover with remaining sauce. Bake for another 30 minutes.

 

Cavatini

  • 1 32 oz jar Prego spaghetti sauce with mushrooms
  • 1 4 oz cans of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground  beef
  • 1 lb ground pork or pork sausage
  • 1-2 oz pepperoni slices
  • 6 oz rotini or trio of noodle shapes
  • 1/2 lb mozzarella, grated
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp oregano

What to do:

Brown ground beef and pork with the onions in a deep pot. Add the sauce, spices, mushrooms and pepperoni. Simmer for 1 hour. Cook noodles according to package, drain. Add noodles to the sauce and stir well. Pour into 13×9 baking dish, top with the cheese and cook in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

 

My Mom’s Hamburger Bean Dip

This is the most amazing dip I’ve ever had and so easy to make. Serve it with tortilla chips or bean dip.

What you need:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 4 oz taco sauce
  • 1 10 oz can red enchilada sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped jalapeno
  • 1 tbsp cilantro
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 1 lb cheddar cheese

What to do:

Brown the ground beef and onion/garlic. Add everything else and heat until warmed through and the cheese is melted.

Red Wine Pot Roast

What you need:

  • 3ish lb chuck roast
  • 1 tbsp.  paprika
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp Herbs de Provence
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3 onions, halved and cut into thick slices
  • 1 cup red wine (or beef broth)
  • baby carrots or carrot chunks (optional)
  • 6-7 baby gold potatoes, quartered (optional)

What to do:

Mix the spices together and rub all over the roast. Let sit for a couple hours in the fridge if you can, but no biggie if you can’t. Preheat oven to 350. In large dutch oven, brown roast on both sides. Remove roast and add wine (or broth) to pot to deglaze. Add roast back to the pot, throw the onions in on top and put in the oven for an hour. After an hour, flip the roast in the pan. If you’re using carrots and potatoes, add them in and cook uncovered for a half hour.  Finally, put the cover back on and cook for about another hour. Remove from pan and let rest before serving.

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