Friday, June 29, 2012

Side Dish Scramble--You Can Do It!

Last night E.J. came over for supper. I had already started cooking...making a version of "smothered chicken" on top of the stove so I wouldn't heat up the house so much. There were six pieces, so that was plenty for 3 people.

I wanted to make sure we had plenty of side orders but the veggie bins were low, so I had to get creative. We were out of lettuce but we did have some red cabbage, (okay, it's purple, People, I don't care what the "proper name" is!), cucumbers and tomatoes.

I made a salad that looks like something out of a 1950's low budget sci-fi movie. It looks garish, but it tasted really good! It was completely consumed. Maybe the name for this impromptu salad should be: "Alien Pod Salad from Planet X," or something--

Alien Pod Salad from Planet X
 It looks awful...the colors are terrible. I didn't add shredded carrots because I didn't want to add to the garish look. Anyway...I used about 12 ounces of purple cabbage, shredded very finely; a few small tomatoes that the neighbor donated and 2 small cucumbers. 2 tablespoons of salad oil, 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a dash of water, salt and pepper.

I added the salt and pepper, vinegar, oil & water to the cabbage and tossed it like mad before adding the other ingredients. I think that's what made such a big difference in the flavor.

Next, I took about 1 cup of leftover rice pilaf and about 1 1/2 cups of black-eyed peas and made: "Not Quite Hoppin' John." (Because I didn't have all of the "required ingredients.") I sauteed about 1/4 cup of onions and the same amount of green bell peppers in a tiny amount of oil, then tossed in the rice before adding the peas. A little salt & pepper...couple of drops of Tabasco Sauce and it was done:

Not Quite Hoppin' John

The last extra dish was sauteed squash. It's pretty standard for this time of year when everyone has busloads of squash streaming out of the garden. Squash with every meal and prepared just about as many ways as Bubba Gump's shrimp recipe list.

There were about 3 yellow squash left in the bin, so I cut up about 1/4 of onions and bells (each). Saute onions and bells first--you can get a little brown on them, then toss in the squash. Saute for 3-5 minutes, season with salt and pepper.

I also added a couple of dashes of soy sauce. Sometimes squash can be a little bitter--(especially zucchini, but the others can be, too)--and soy sauce is great for reducing any bitter flavor. (Sometimes folks use vinegar for that but if I'm sauteing squash, I don't want vinegar in it).

Cover the squash and cook on low for about 8-10 minutes. This depends on how you like the texture of your squash, really. If you like it soft, cook it longer. I always enjoy it when it's still a bit crisp. Don't add any extra water. The squash will provide plenty on its own.

Sauteed Squash

This one disappeared quickly, too. That was an amazing feat because our guest, E.J. doesn't like onions. I knew that when I made it but I was hoping she'd eat it anyway. She did, onions and all.

That was a fun adventure in the kitchen on a Thursday evening. You never know what you might be able to pull out of your chef's hat when you're in a pinch.

Experiment! That's one of the joys of cooking. There are a lot of people who are afraid of cooking. Well, if I can offer any advice, I'll say: just keep it simple. It doesn't have to be "fancy-schmancy" to taste good. Look at cooking as an adventure instead of a chore. If you change your attitude about it to positive instead of negative, you'll have wonderful results!!

Happy Eating! It's the weekend....may you be blessed with many barbeques! :)

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