Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer Side Dish Extravaganza with Patriotic Blueberry Pizza and Southern Sweet Potato Pie

This week's post is about those great side dishes that you will want for your Fourth of July party.  Dishes to make your burgers and dogs sing.  All you need is sunshine and good company.  Or, if you're in the northwest, good company.

Candied Cabbage
Once you start eating this, it's hard to stop.  It's great on any sandwich, and don't forget to come back to this when you're looking for a new Thanksgiving side dish that you make the night before.  It's such a vibrant, beautiful color. And oh-so-easy. 

1 small head red cabbage
1 small onion, diced super fine
1/2 c vegetable oil
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c white vinegar

Shred cabbage on the finest setting on a mandoline. Place in heat resistant bowl with onion and mix well.  In small sauce pan bring oil, sugar and vinegar to boil.  Pour over cabbage and do not stir.  Cover with TIGHT lid.  Refrigerate over night. (Don't skip this step.)

Crock Pot Baked Beans from Scratch
You might wonder if it's worth making these, since it's arguably easier to open up baked beans from a can. Here's the thing. These are amazing, and YOU control what's going in the dish. You can definitely taste the difference.  You can also make this recipe with canned beans- just skip the soaking and boiling and use 2 cans of beans.

1 1/2 c great northern dried beans
4-6 c water (to boil)
1/2 c onion, chopped
1/2 c ketchup
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c water
1 tsp dry mustard
2 T molasses
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 lb salt pork or 4 slices bacon, diced

Soak dried beands overnight, then drain. In large pot, add 4-6 more cups of water and bring beans to a boil. Don't drain, and pour beans and water into crock pot, and stir in remaining ingredients.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  

Salter Potato Salad
The wonderful thing about Claire's family's potato salad is that it doesn't have mayonnaise in it, so it's practically healthy.  It tastes light, but the olive oil and vinegar give it a creamy feel in your mouth. 

8-10 red potatoes
5-6 eggs
3/4 c finely chopped celery
1/2 c finely diced onion
1/2 c olive oil
2 T cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

In large pot of water, place potatoes in bottom. Gently place eggs on top and bring to a boil.  Cook just until potatoes are done.  Drain water and let cool.  When just cool enough to handle, dice potatoes and eggs into large bowl.  Add celery and onions.  Toss with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.  (You may need to adjust the oil to your tastes.) Serve at room temperature.

Baked Zucchini and Asparagus Fries
I made some homemade buttermilk ranch dressing to go with these fries. They were delicious. If you want to get your kids to eat zucchini and asparagus, this is the way to go. They crisp up well in the oven, thanks to the parmesan cheese.  Also a good way to make onion rings without deep-frying.   Recipe adapted by Our Best Bites from Aggie’s Kitchen

2-3 medium zucchini
1/2 lb. asparagus
(1 onion, sliced into 1/2 - 5/8 inch rings, if desired)
1/2 c Italian-seasoned panko bread crumbs
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese (the crumbly stuff, not shreds)
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 425. Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl.  Put the eggs in a shallow bowl. 
Trim the ends off the zucchini and slice into 1/4 -3/8 inch slices. Cut in half, then cut the slices into 1/4 -3/8 inch fry-sized pieces. Thicker strips will yield “meatier” fries with more zucchini flavor while thin strips will be crispy and taste virtually nothing like zucchini.  Snap the tough ends off the asparagus spears, if necessary.  Using a paring knife, slice the asparagus in half length-wise.  Cut into fry-length pieces. 
Working with a small handful at a time, dip the vegetable sticks in the egg, shake to remove any excess, and then roll them in about 2-3 tablespoons of bread crumbs at a time, adding more as needed.  You just don’t want to work with all the bread crumbs at once because they’ll soak up moisture from the egg and won’t stick to the zucchini or asparagus very well. Place the coated strips on the prepared baking sheet and repeat until all the vegetable strips have been coated.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, then remove, flip, and bake for another 10-12 minutes or until the vegetables are not soggy and the coating is crisp and golden brown. Serve immediately with ketchup or Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (see below).

The onion rings were yummy, too.  Imagine them on a burger...
Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
My kids are huge ranch dressing fans.  This just takes a few minutes to put together. It tastes fresh, and lacks that weird store-bought flavor that probably comes from all the weird emulsifiers.  Great way to use up buttermillk.

1/3 c light mayonnaise
1/3 c buttermilk
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp dried basil (or 2 leaves finely diced fresh basil)
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together until blended.

Patriotic Blueberry Pizza with Strawberries
The kids in Claire's neighborhood beg for this all summer.  It reminds me of the blueberry and strawberry creations that are always found on the cover of the July issues of women's magazines. It is even better the next day.  Keep refrigerated!

1 c butter, softened
1/2 c powdered sugar
2 c white flour
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla

1 package (8oz) cream cheese (low fat is okay, but not fat free)
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 c whipped cream or 1 tub cool whip
1/2 tsp vanilla

4 c blueberries
2 T cornstarch
3 T white sugar
3 T water
Sliced strawberries for garnish

Mix crust ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.   Press into a deep dish pizza pan.  Make a ridge all the way around edge.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until just starting to get golden brown.  Let cool completely.  Meanwhile, in a clean bowl, mix filling ingredients together with a mixer.  Let chill in fridge.

In a medium sauce pan, combine blueberries, cornstarch, sugar, and water.  Stir frequently and bring to a boil.  Let cool.

Spread the cream cheese filling on the cooled cookie crust, then spread the cooled blueberry topping.  Garnish with strawberries.

Ingrid's Sweet Potato Pie
My friend Ingrid made this for me when I had my twins.  She got it from her friend BJ, who is a truly great Southern cook.  I had always preferred pumpkin pie over sweet potato pie, until I had this.  You will be converted, too.  You won't go back to pumpkin.  My kids can't get enough, and I almost feed them however much they want, since it's practically a vegetable! Try it with the optional candied pecan topping. Maybe technically this is a fall dish, but I was really craving sweet potato pie. My family ate a whole pie in one meal.  Serving it warm really brings out the vanilla.  

3 pie crusts, frozen or homemade
6 hand-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cooked
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 c sugar
3 eggs, beaten
3 T vanilla
1 T evaporated milk (add last)

Mix all ingredients (except the milk) together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in the evaporated milk.  Distribute evenly among 3 pie crusts.  Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees until golden brown.

Pecan Topping (optional)
2 T butter, softened
1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 c pecans/pecan bits

Mix ingredients together and sprinkle over pie when they have about 5-8 minutes left in the oven. It's enough for a thick sprinkle for 2 pies, or thin sprinkle for all 3 pies.

Slow-roasted Pork Roast with Molasses Mustard Glaze
Ok, we made a main dish also- slow cooked pork, but it turned out really dry.  I didn't even cook it as long as it was supposed to be cooked.  So, I'll include it in here, but it wasn't as good as the ribs from the previous post. The Molasses Mustard Glaze was great, however, and makes a nice crust. 

3-4 lb. pork sirloin roast or tenderloin
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup grainy mustard
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt

Combine marinade ingredients together.  Coat the pork roast in mixture, and marinate the pork for several hours or overnight. Place in 275 degree oven, fat side up in the center rack for 4 1/2 hours covered, baste with additional marinade. Bake an additional 1/2 hour uncovered. Internal temperature should be 165 degrees.  Let rest for 15 - 20 minutes.  If there is any remaining marinade, bring to a boil in a small saucepan and pour over top of the sliced pork. 

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  1. I almost opened a can of baked beans on the 4th but this post challenged me to try something new. I'm so glad I made the crock pot baked was super easy, delicious...and our kitchen smelled so good all day long!

  2. So good to hear! I had some leftover baked beans, barely a serving, and made some baked bean stuffed hamburgers later in the week. My husband and son are still talking about it...