Saturday, August 6, 2011

Recipes for Today - side dishes

So many times recipe books focus on the entrée and not the accompaniments.  So when I found a uniquely titled cookbook during a trip with my husband to visit my parents in North Carolina, I just had to buy it.  It was called “Everything but the Entrée.” 

We ran across a place that has been hard hit by the recent economic times.  It was a Craft/Artisan shop called Tamarack that focuses on items made in West Virginia.  Right on Interstate 77/64 (Exit 45) it was a great respite after traveling through the mountains in PA.  There were artists in residence like potters and glass blowers, musicians, some playing live (and we were there in the off season), and the most amazing selection of hand-crafted items from glass to wood, and beads to blankets.  It was amazing.  And the Food Court was darn tasty! 

I think it lost some state funding recently which is really too bad because it was a must stop on every trek to North Carolina or other places south.  According to their website, they are still open 8 AM to 8 PM, so you can stop too!  I was very impressed with the state of West Virginia that it would recognize and promote it local artists and crafts people because I am not sure I would have ever experienced these items if that shop had not been there.

On one of our first visits there I picked up a cookbook put out by the Junior League of Parkersburg, West Virginia.  It was called “Everything but the Entrée.”  (You can get yourself a copy by writing to the Junior League at P.O. Box 4051 Parkersburg, WV 26104.)  In this wonderful hardcover book they had breads, breakfast and brunch items, salads, side dishes, desserts and more.  We actually planned a brunch for January 1 using recipes we read while traveling back to Illinois on that very trip.

Sprinkled through the book is information on the amazing projects of the Junior League throughout is longer than 75 year history.  I have not had as much fun reading a cookbook as I did this one and I have never even been to Parkersburg, WV, but I feel like I have visited.

Since that purchase I have been more attentive to the sharing of recipes not only to make a main dish but also to make side dishes.  So today I thought I would share three recipes for quick and easy side dishes using my herb blends from the Backyard Patch.

Orzo and Herbs
This recipe is quick and simple and you can use several different seasoning blends to make it a different dish every time you serve it.

7 cups water
1 cup orzo
2 tsp. olive oil
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
Tbls. Backyard Patch herb blend -- any one of these will work:
            Savory Salt Substitute
            Butter N Cheese Herb Mix
            Grilled Meat Rub Herb Mix
            Italian Seasoning Blend
            Meat Seasoning Blend
            Soup & Salad Seasoning
            Vegetable Seasoning

Bring water to boil in a large pot.  Stir in the orzo and cook for 6 minutes.  Place the herbs, oil salt and pepper in a serving bowl.  When the pasta is ready, drain and add it to the bowl.  Toss well and serve wither hot or cold.

Asparagus Carrot Squash Toss

8 ounces asparagus, cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
8 ounces carrots, cut into Julienne strips
1 yellow squash, sliced
3 Tbls. melted butter or margarine
3 Tbls. lemon juice
salt to taste

Place asparagus, carrots and yellow squash in a steamer basket.  Set over boiling water in a Dutch oven and steam for 8 to 10 minutes or just until tender crisp.  Transfer the vegetables to a serving dish.

Combine Butter, lemon juice and herbs in a bowl.  Pour over vegetables and toss gently.  Serve immediately.  Serves 4 to 6.

Sweet and Sour Green Beans

4 slices of bacon (optional)
1 large onion, finely chopped
¼ cup vinegar
2 14 ounce cans of green beans
  (You can also use 1 pound fresh or frozen green beans to make this as well, but you will need to steam the beans first)
Black pepper

Cook the bacon in the skillet until crisp.  Remove to paper towels and drain.  Save the drippings.  Crumble the bacon.

Sauté the onion in the bacon drippings (if not using bacon then use 1 Tbls. canola oil.)  Stir in vinegar, French Dressing Herb Mix and pepper to taste.  Cook uncovered for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the undrained green beans and bacon to the skillet.  Simmer uncovered to at least 5 minutes until heated through. Serve hot.  Makes 4 to 6 servings.

It was great with a steak and I think it would also be good with pork chops or pork roast.

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