Category Archives: Side Dishes

Rice Cooker Fiesta Mexican Rice


Recently, I added a rice cooker to my collection of useful kitchen appliances. I didn’t spend much, in fact, this little guy was under $20.00. Not sure if It would end up in the appliance graveyard or a much appreciated purchase, I was reluctant to leave us eating hotdogs and pasta for the week so, I bought the second cheapest model.

To my great surprise, I am in love with my rice cooker! Like a crock pot, this is a busy mom’s dream! Fill it and forget about it. Perfect rice in about 30 minutes. 

Unfortunately, I have not found many rice cooker recipes that impress me. So, today, after spending too much time browsing the internet for a tasty Mexican Rice recipe to serve for a Fiesta night, I made my own.

Slice a lime and crack open a Corona, this recipe deserves a toast!

Note: Recipes Yields about 6 cups cooked.

All the goodies for our recipe



1 Cup white uncooked rice
1 med onion diced
2 cloves garlic diced
1 Can (about 15 oz) of diced tomatoes (I used fired roasted)
1 small can of diced green chilies
1 Can of beans (about 15 oz) drained and rinsed (pinto or black beans are perfect)
1 Cup chicken broth (use vegetable broth for a vegetarian recipe)
1 Cup of corn (I used a leftover ear of grilled corn removed from cob, adds great flavor, but frozen would be fine)
2 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp of Smoked Hot Paprika (if you do not have, substitute with cayenne)
1/2 tsp dried Oregano


In a frying pan, brown rice in EVOO to make it toasty. This is what adds the nutty flavor to traditional Mexican rice. Add onions and garlic, stirring often until onions are beginning to turn translucent.

Your rice should turn golden brown, and the onions should become translucent


 Lightly spray inner part of rice cooker with cooking spray and add rice/onion mixture. Combine remaining ingredients, set cooker to cook.

Add all ingredients into Rice Cooker....Whoa, careful, this baby sure is full!



 When cooker turns to warm setting, give a stir and return cover. Let stand for another 10 minutes.

Look at that fluffy spicy goodness...Ole I say


Serve with fresh cilantro and sour cream or shredded cheese if desired.


Pineapple Stir Fry

Pineapple, jalapeno, cashews and currants make for an exciting Vegan meal or side dish. I served this when I was looking for something to compliment my Coconut Curry Halibut and Mango Chutney, what a compliment it was! This recipe is amazingly healthy, low in fat and cholesterol, full of sweet and savory flavors with a touch of heat from the jalapeno. There are quite a few Pineapple Stir Fry recipes out there, this is my own combination of flavors that work perfectly with the Coconut Curry Talibut and Mango Chutney, or simply by itself – I can attest to this as I am enjoying a bowl of it for breakfast while I write my blog!

Yields: About 5-6 cups, serving portions vary if using as a side dish or a meal. Leftovers reheat extremely well and are fantastic for lunch (or breakfast) the next day.

4 Cups cooked Jasmine rice (preferably made 2-3 days ahead of time, but see note at end for a tip if making the rice that day.
1 TBS high heat cooking oil (I used vegetable oil)
1 jalapeno seeded, pith removed and finely diced (optional, omit if you do not want the heat)
1 cup red sweet pepper cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2-3 green onions sliced on the bias, reserving the tender green ends to add at the end of dish.
1 cup frozen peas (thawed)
1 large carrot shredded
1 can (about 20 oz) pineapple tidbits drained, reserving juice
1 cup cashews (unsalted or I did use ones with sea salt with great results)
1/2 cup currants (or raisins)
2 TBS low sodium Soy Sauce
3 TBS reserved pineapple juice
1 1/2 tsp curry powder

Gather all ingredients and have ready to add to wok, as cooking time is very quick. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, pineapple juice and curry powder, set aside.

Heat wok and oil until very hot. Add jalapeno fry for about 30 seconds while constantly stirring careful not to burn. Add sweet red peppers and fry for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, add scallions (the white part) peas and carrots. After a minute, begin to add pineapple, cashews and currants. Keep mixture moving until hot. Add rice and fry for about 3-4 minutes. Add sauce, mix, remove from heat toss in the green ends of the onions and serve.

Tip: If you do not have leftover rice to use that has been refrigerated for 2-3 days, make rice as directed and spread on a large baking sheet and place in freezer. This will help it to cool and remove some of the moisture. I find that after 15 minutes or so, I will mix the rice around and break it up with my hands and return to freezer for another 15 minutes. Remove before beginning to make recipe and allow to reach room temperature. I’ve used this method a few times now and it works well.

Easy Vegtable Fried Rice

Not too long ago, I found an electric wok, hardly ever used and great quality at my local 2nd hand store. The price was a steal for the brand and condition. I did not want to become like my wok’s previous owner and neglect to appreciate it’s culinary genius. As I already had some beautiful red, green and yellow sweet peppers cut up in the refrigerator and carrot sticks from lasts nights vegetable tray, I was focused on making sure they would be the star in tonight’s dinner as produce like this should not be forgotten and let to turn into a science project. I had planned to use leftover chicken I had also grilled for last nights dinner (made extra, or so I thought), but my boys had already used it to make more Balsamic Chicken Wraps. So vegetarian we go! No disappointment to me, or my boys.

I had to do some research online, as using a wok of any sort is very new to me. I learned quickly that one must have all of their ingredients ready to add as the cooking process happens quickly. I also learned that fried rice is best with leftover rice about 2-3 days old. Shucks…I hadn’t planned for that! Luckily, I found a site that gave a tip if you didn’t have leftover rice and were making it fresh. After rice is cooked, spread on a large cookie sheet and put into freezer for about 30 minutes. It not only cools the rice, but helps it dry out. I have found out that the dryer you rice is the better for this dish. I did, however, find that after 15 minutes, I mixed and re-spread the rice as the corners were freezing and the middle still hadn’t lost its moisture.

So, rice is working, giving me plenty of time to re-consult the internet and to prep my veggies. On 1 plate I have sliced red, yellow and green sweet peppers. This was easy as they were already sliced and cleaned, I just made the slices a bit thinner and shorter for the recipe. I julienned the already made carrot sticks. Then, I happened to have a fresh pint of mushrooms, I removed 2 big ones, wiped clean with a damp paper towel and sliced about 1/4 inch or so. Onion was next, I have fresh red onions from Ma’s Garden that had to be involved (many recipes call for scallions, but I used what I had with no regrets). Peeled, cleaned and halved. The red onion was sliced thinly and also put on the plate of veggies.

Next, I got out a small bowl and added 2 eggs. A dash of pepper and salt was added before I mixed with a fork. This too, was set on the table next to my wok.

I pull out the bottle of soy sauce and get my wooden utensils ( one with a flat edge and one is a spoon, no recipe secret, just what I have that will not scratch the wok)

Oil….Well, I did wonder why in my research Olive Oil was not mentioned…but peanut, sesame, and vegetable oil were always mentioned. OK, I’d rather use my vegetable oil instead of my expensive alternatives. You only use a couple of TBS anyways….

Now, I check my table to be sure all the ingredients are in place. So, now, I begin to cook!

Recipe yields about 4-6 servings or 6 cups total prepared Fried Rice


1/2cup each of Yellow, Green, and Red sweet pepper sliced about 2″/ 1/4″ (substitute with what is available)
1/3 cup frozen peas (set in a small bowl and let defrost a bit)
1 whole large carrot juilenned into 1 1/2 inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
2 large white mushrooms sliced (about 1/3 cup)
4 Cups cooked and cooled rice
2 eggs lightly mixed and seasoned with salt and pepper
Soy Sauce (about 2 TBS to taste)
2-3 TBS high temperature oil (vegetable oil works fine)

Heat electric wok to highest setting, add about 1 1/2 TBS oil. When just beginning to smoke slightly, add carrots, stir and cook about 30 seconds. Add peppers, cook about a minute more stirring constantly. Add Mushrooms, cook another minute and remove vegetables to a bowl.

Add more oil if needed, pour in eggs, softly folding. Remove when done but still moist…make sure they are chopped up into small pieces.

Add remaining oil if needed, then the rice and onions. Let sit for 2 minutes or so, breaking up any clumps. Toss and keep frying to get rice a bit crispy. This may take 6-8 minutes with occasional tossing. Add bowl of vegetables and eggs. Add Soy sauce around the pan, about 2 TBS. Toss until all is hot, remove to serving dish and serve immediately. Leftovers are wonderful for lunch the next day.

Creamy Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup

It’s that time of year here in Michigan, seems there are more tomatoes than one can use fast enough. BLT’s, Salsa’s and Salads are often staples on your menu if you too, are blessed with the abundance of our seasonal produce. But what do you if your garden is still bursting or your counters are full with ripe tomatoes begging to be part of your next meal. Short of canning (a task that does not appeal to me), I’m quickly running out of ideas. As I was visiting other blogs I ran across a recipe I couldn’t wait to try! Inspired by another co-blogger’s post, Roasted Tomato Soup. I decided that fresh basil from Ma’s Garden must be a Co-star to what is now, my very favorite soup to compliment my grilled cheese

Share with me, your favorite tomato recipes, I would love to hear your input or suggestions, as I’m sure there will more from the garden soon!


4-5 large ripe tomatoes (about 4 1/2 lbs) halved and seeded
1 large Vidalia onion peeled and cut into chunks
3 garlic cloves peeled
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

On a large baking sheet, place halved and seeded tomatoes, onions and garlic. Pour about 2 TBS EVOO over the top, salt and pepper lightly. Toss and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Turn onions and garlic about 2/3 way through cooking time. Remove pan from oven and let tomatoes cool. Carefully, peel skins from tomatoes right on the cookie sheet so not to lose any juices. Roughly chop tomatoes removing the top piece where the stem was. Pour all contents of baking sheet into a stock pot with chicken broth. Bring to a low boil then turn back heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add chopped basil and cook an additional 10 minutes. With an emulsion blender, very carefully blend until smooth. If you do not have an emulsion blender, do small batches in a blender. Be sure to let liquid cool first. Reheat in stock pot on low, slowly stir in heavy cream, simmer for another 10 minutes careful not to bring to a boil.

Serve with toasted bread and freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired.

Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole

Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole makes some heavy competition for Cracker Barrels version. Hashbrowns, red onion, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, lots of sharp cheddar cheese and beef broth, are all stars in this satisfying side dish.

Cracker Barrel Restaurant has a hashbrown casserol that my son and his dad always order and devour. I wanted to make my own at home. This recipe is the result, and according to my son, it is very much like Cracker Barrel’s. Sour cream, Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Cream of Mushroom soup and the secret ingredient, Beef Broth make this a recipe your family will truly enjoy! I warn you, once you’ve made this once, you will be asked to make again and again!

2lb bag of shredded frozen Hashbrowns defrosted
1 large red onion chopped
2 8 oz blocks of sharp cheddar cheese shredded
1 Can cream of chicken soup
1 cup beef broth
1 pint (2 cups) sour cream
3 TBS butter melted
salt and pepper to taste.

In a large mixing bowl, combine defrosted hashbrowns, onion and shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

In another medium mixing bowl, mix cream of chicken soup, sour cream, beef broth and melted butter.

Combine all ingredients in a 9×13 pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until center is bubbly.

* I have also divided this dish into 2 8×8 pans to serve 1 for dinner and the other for a work party the next day, just warm up in 250 degree oven covered with foil for about 20 minutes.

Mango Salsa

Mangos. I’ve looked at these tropical creatures for quite a while, wondering exactly what to do with them. I’ve had drinks and smoothies that claim to have Mango juice. They were to my liking, but what does one do, once these foreign fruits make it into your kitchen. I admit, the first two I ever brought home were a bit firm…they sat on my kitchen counter for 2 days to ripen. I would occasionally pass by them, curious, what was I going to make with my adventurous purchase. At one point, I did consider just making a simple smoothie and calling it good. After a bit of research on the web, I decided to get brave and make a salsa…thus leading to my first and very successful Chili lime Salmon with Mango Salsa. After what I consider a food milestone, I have bought many more of these delicious Mangos as they have been a very good price this summer and have this amazing ability to make your basic grilled chicken, fruit salad or salsa exotic, and tend to impress company. For my son’s 14th birthday party, I have decided to exploit my new favorite salsa served simply with chips. His dad has grown some pretty impressive jalapeno peppers this year, so why not showcase them and let him enjoy the lime-light as his nurtured produce is so impressively presented.

The following recipe yields approximately 3 1/2 cups of prepared Salsa.


2 ripe med-large mango peeled and diced
1/2 med red onion ( about 1 cup diced)
1 Jalapeno seeded and diced
1/3 cup loosely chopped cilantro (I use kitchen scissors to cut in small pieces)
Juice of 1 Lime (put in microwave for 10 seconds for ultimate juice)
Salt to taste

Zesty Pico de Gallo

The season has come, a surplus of juicy tomatoes, peppers and the herbs are prime. Time to get out your chopping knife since everyone needs a basic Pico de Gallo recipe, I’ve come to the rescue. Perfect over grilled chicken or fish, healthy and fresh, this is a “must do” to give our Michigan produce the respect it deserves. My recipe is zesty with flavor, a touch of heat and 1 secrete ingredient that gives it the POW your guests will wonder why it’s so much better than the rest.


4-5 ripe tomatoes still firm to the touch, seeded and drained. Diced to make about 3 cups.
1 large green pepper diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 heaping cup diced red onion
1 large jalapeno or 2 small finely diced
1 heaping TBS chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime (put into microwave for 12 seconds to maximize juice)
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 TBS Zesty Itallian salad dressing

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate overnight. Serve with chips, over grilled chicken or fish.

Thyme for Green Beans and Almonds

Crunchy and brightly colored, fresh green beans come to life when thyme from Ma’s Garden and slivered almonds are tossed together. These beans are fancy enough to add to your holiday menu and absolutely easy enough to join your weeknight dinner table.

Thyme for Green Beans and Almonds

1 lb fresh green beans cleaned and trimmed
2 TBS fresh Thyme leaves removed from stems
3 TBS butter
1/4 cup slivered almonds (I used toasted with sea salt in the produce section)
1-2 pinches sea salt

In a large stock pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.
Add beans and cook for 3-4 minutes. Beans should still hold some crunch. Quickly drain and plunge beans into a large bowl of ice water. This shocks the beans and keeps thier vibrant green color. In a large saute pan, melt butter, add thyme and green beans. Toss until coated and beans are warmed. Add almonds, toss again. Remove from heat and place in a serving dish. Garnish with more almonds.

Smokin’ Redskin Potato Salad

Looking for the perfect side dish for your next BBQ? Look no further. Smokin’ Redskin Potato Salad has all the flavors you are craving to complete your BBQ dinner. Liquid smoke is the unexpected secret ingredient, complimented by bacon, scallions and hot sauce. Careful, once you make this recipe, you will be asked to make it over and over! These Smokin’ Redskins, went wonderfully with Beer Can Cornish Hens and Fresh Green Beans with Thyme and Slivered Almonds.

A very special thanks to my Co-blogger MAeats who shared this amazing recipe!

Smokin’ Redskin Potato Salad

20 redskin potatoes, halved or quartered
4 tablespoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon salt
14 ounce package bacon
1 cup mayonnaise
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ – 2 teaspoons Tabasco
Fill a large saucepan with 2 quarts water and add potatoes, liquid smoke and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender. Drain water and spread potatoes on a large baking sheet to cool.

While the potatoes are boiling, pre-heat oven to 375°. Cover a large baking sheet, (one with sides), with parchment or waxed paper and spread bacon out in a single layer. It’s ok if the bacon over laps a little. Cook in oven for 20 – 25 minutes until crisp. When bacon is done transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain and cool. You may fry your bacon if preferred. I find this method much easier!

In a large bowl combine crumbled cooled bacon, mayonnaise, green onion, salt, pepper and Tabasco. Add the cooled potatoes and gently toss to combine. Check the seasonings and chill in fridge for at least 5 hours – overnight is even better. For my family which includes young children I use ½ teaspoon of Tabasco. For a group of adults I would add 2 teaspoons.