Tag Archives: Side Dish

Asian Napa Cabbage Slaw

1 large head Napa Cabbage, shredded
1 (3 ounce) package chicken ramen noodles
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 cup slivered almonds
6 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/8 cup white sugar

Crush ramen noodles, place them in a medium skillet and brown in butter over medium heat. Add almonds and sesame seeds. Stir often to prevent burning and add powdered seasoning mix from ramen noodles. Toss in a large bowl with cabbage and onions.
Prepare the dressing by whisking together the vegetable oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar. Pour over salad, toss and serve.

This slaw is my current obsession (and a recipe that calls for ramen noodles-it has to be delicious)! Don’t freak out because of the ingredients just yet because there are a couple alterations we do when making this. In trying to still keep down the calories and carbs, we use one packet of sweet-n-low instead of the sugar, and some non-stick spray instead of the butter. Of course, you can play with using something different other than almonds if you prefer, as well as the oils and vinegar.
Enjoy this cold slaw/salad at your next BBQ or even as a quick side dish during the week. Try it out and let me know what you think!


Spinach and Artichoke Dip

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen, chopped Spinach
1 (13 3/4-ounce) can Artichoke Hearts
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 cup Sour Cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a casserole dish with nonstick spray. Heat the spinach in a microwave oven on high for 5 minutes and squeeze dry. Drain the artichoke hearts and coarsely chop. Combine all the ingredients except the jack cheese in a large bowl. Stir well. Scrape into the prepared casserole dish and sprinkle the jack cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with crackers, pita chips or tortilla chips.

Everyone has had Spinach Artichoke Dip over and over – at restaurants, at parties, or maybe you’ve even made it at home. This is a very easy recipe that takes no time to whip up, you might even have most of the ingredients at home already. I do like to add a little of the pepperjack cheese into the mixture so it is cheesy throughout; you can do to the same with the parmesan cheese but just be careful that you don’t put too much on top or there will be a hard layer that everyone will fight with. As with many of my recipes, I use low fat mayonnaise and low fat sour cream to cut down on the calories (now you can have a couple more chips)!

Broccoli, Tomato and Cheese Strata

In the past, we’ve made several variations of quiches and frittatas for breakfast and brunch get-togethers but Erin thought we should try something different this past weekend. Similar to a frittata or a quiche, this casserole has an egg base with several other ingredients to make an all-in-one meal.

4 1/2 cups French Bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
6 oz. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
1 cup Broccoli Florets
1 1/2 tbsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped
8 Eggs
3 cups Milk
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper
4 oz. Ricotta Cheese
1 tsp. Basil, chopped

Place cubed bread in a buttered 9×13 inch baking dish. Top bread with 1 cup cheddar cheese, tomatoes, broccoli and 1 tbsp. parsley.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture over break and gently press to soak every cube. Add dollops of ricotta over top of dish. Sprinkle strata with basil and remaining cheddar cheese. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Remove strata from refrigerator and bring to room temperature (about 1 hour).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Bake until strata is puffed and lightly golden brown, about 1 hour. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before serving and garnish with remaining parsley.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Think of this as a breakfast bread pudding; warm, rich, filling, and delicious! This was a huge hit at this past weekend’s brunch and was the first dish that was gone. There’s always room for a hot casserole-type dish whether your hosting or going to someone’s house; this recipe was very good and will definitely be used again for our breakfast/brunch outings.

This variation had several kinds of vegetables but it would be very easy to mix it up – you could make the same recipe with spinach and feta, or with onions, peppers, and mushrooms, or really any other variation that your family likes. In this variation, we didn’t add meat to keep the dish kosher, but it would be very easy to add breakfast sausage or chicken to really make this a one dish breakfast.

For the cuts that can be made, you can always use Egg Beaters or Egg Whites (the kind that come in the pre-made container) that contain almost no calories, fat or carbs but still have protein, you can use fat-free milk or fat-free half and half, you can always use reduced fat cheeses, and you can even find whole grain French bread at grocery stores like Balducci’s or Whole Foods.

Regardless whether or not you make a couple calorie cuts, this dish is an easy way to prepare for a meal if you’re having company or even if you’d like to sleep in a little longer since all the prep work is done the night before. Enjoy the idea and share your family’s variations!

Brunch Kugel

One of my favorite brunch dishes is the Kugel that Erin’s Grandma makes on special occasions and for family gatherings. Since we were hosting brunch this weekend, I thought it would only be appropriate to make a variation of this delicious dish so everyone could experience this delicacy. For those of you who didn’t have this variation of Kugel at brunch over the weekend or don’t know what Kugel is, the easiest way to explain it is a sweet, creamy, egg noodle dish that is typically found at meals during Jewish holidays or Shabbat. This recipe wasn’t as good as Grandma’s, but it was definitely a good start…

For Noodles-
16 oz. Egg Noodles
1/4 cup Unsalted Butter, but into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup Lowfat Milk
5 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
20 oz. Crushed Pineapple
16. oz. Sour Cream
16 oz. Small Curd Cottage Cheese

For Topping-
2 cups Cornflakes, coarsley crushed
2 tbsp. Sugar
1 tbsp. Cinnamon
2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Cook noodles in a 6-8 quart pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain well in a colander, then return to warm pot and add butter, tossing until noodles are coated.

Whisk together milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined, then whisk in sour cream. Stir in cottage cheese and pineapple and add to noodles, stirring to coat well. Spoon entire noodle mixture into baking dish.

In a seperate bowl, stir together cornflakes, sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over noodles.

Dot with butter and bake until dish is set and edges are golden brown, about 1 hour. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.

Well, there’s no nice way to say this… do not even think about making this if you’re worried about the calories. There are many dishes where you can cut out the fat, calories and sugar, but Kugel isn’t one of them. You have to treat yourself every once in a while through, right? This is truly a treat to save for a special occasion.

This recipe is pretty easy to make and tastes delicious. One of the modifications I would make would be to add about a half cup more milk to make the dish a little more moist and creamy; if you follow the directions and use the amount that it originally calls for, the dish will be fine but I think it’s always better to be a little moist. Also, for the topping, be sure that it gets pressed into the top layer of noodles so it isn’t just sitting on the top; you want this to be a crunchy topping but you don’t want it to seem like it’s just loose cereal on top of the noodles, it needs to be incorporated.

Erin says that she would add about a half cup more sugar to give it a little bit of a sweeter taste and would also add raisins. Many Kugel recipes call for raisins so add them to your liking.

Overall, this recipe is a good way to perfect your own variation of Kugel. You can add items that you and your family like and you can also take away some items that you may not like in this version. Experiment a little and let me know what your perfect ingredient list!

Spaghetti Squash — Get it while it’s in season!!

If you’ve never tried Spaghetti Squash, you need to do it… fast! Spaghetti squash is a GREAT alternative to spaghetti noodles and is even a great side dish with chicken or fish, but is only around in the autumn months. And if it’s time to cut a couple calories after Thanksgiving weekend, this is a great way to do it!

There are a couple ways to cook the squash – regardless of how you cook it, you will need to cut it in half, length-wise, and scoop out the seeds and strings (just like a pumpkin). After it has been cooked, take a dinner fork and run the prongs down the inside of the squash and you will get long strings of squash that resemble spaghetti (hence the name). For best results, let the squash sit in a colander to rest/drain for about 10 minutes.

Ways to cook it…
If you want to boil it, get a big pot of water to a rolling boil and stick in the halves for 20 minutes; when you take it out, let it set for about 10 minutes then take a fork and run it down the inside until nothing is left but the skin. Let sit so moisture drains.

If you want to microwave it, put the halves in a glass, microwave-safe dish, add about a ¼ cup of water and cook for 12 minutes; once the timer goes off, take a fork to the inside. Let sit so moisture drains.

If you want to oven roast it, bake the halves at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, in a baking dish, for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and run your fork through the squash. Let sit so moisture drains.

Ways to prepare it…
We like to use spaghetti squash as an alternative to spaghetti noodles so we normally put meat/red sauce over it, but you can also have it as a delicious, fall vegetable side dish. Add salt and pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and/or allspice, and a little butter to your liking and it will pair great with chicken or fish. If you’re looking for a vegetable side dish for red meat, use something a little heavier like a roasted butternut squash or a sweet potato.

Let me know how you used spaghetti squash at home!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 10 ounce cans chunk chicken, drained
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup Ranch dressing
3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot hot sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Heat chicken and hot sauce until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and Ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm. Mix in half the cheddar cheese and transfer mixture to a baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top, cover, and cook on low setting until hot and bubbly. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips or celery stalks.

This is a family favorite – I’ll actually be brining this to my parents house this year for Thanksgiving (I guess I better get on that)! I like to use about 1 cup of Frank’s Red Hot just to kick up the heat a little bit; if you like food a little less spicy, then keep it as the recipe states. Also, I always use fat free cream cheese and fat free ranch dressing and no one ever knows the difference. You’ll soon learn that my motto is to cut calories where you can!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

I owe the success of this recipe to Uncle John – he tried to keep this a secret for a long time, but he finally cracked!!

(recipe based on 2 pounds of meatballs of your choosing)
2 10 ounce jars Chili Sauce
1 10 ounce jar Grape Jelly
¼ cup Jack Daniels


Pour both jars of Chili Sauce and Jack Daniels over meatballs in the slowcooker. Spread entire jar of Grape Jelly on top. Cook on low for 6-8 hours until jelly, sauce and whiskey have combined into a sweet, bitey, delicious sauce.

This is my favorite meatball recipe. I always love making a huge slowcooker full of meatballs because the leftovers are so good – the longer they sit, the better they taste. Well, I should caveat and say if you’re looking for leftovers here, you better put some in your refrigerator as soon as they are done because there’s not going to be many left!

I made these this weekend for a party we went to at Mark and Erin’s and they were a hit (Thanks for having us over Mark and Erin!).

I’ve made their recipe with beef meatballs and turkey meatballs – both taste about the same so the preference is up to you. You can also either buy pre-made meatballs or use your favorite recipe, totally up to you. The taste of these meatballs are just great; they have the perfect sweetness and the perfect biteyness (is that even a word?) and are completely different from Swedish meatballs and red-sauce meatballs. If you don’t have a slowcooker, you can always whip up the sauce in a saucepan on top of the stove and bake with the meatballs in the oven. This is a very easy recipe and people generally love these! Try them out and let me know what you think!