What to Serve with Fried Rice and Stir Fry

What to serve with fried rice and stir fry


We’ve talked about the basics of choosing side dishes.  And last week we talked about side dish options for pot pies and other casseroles.

Today, we’re taking on fried rice and stir fry.

These dishes can be tough to pair with a side dish.  Honestly, I often skip other sides and just leave it with rice with the stir fry.  Or fried rice alone.

But there are times when you’d really like to have something else to round out the meal.  Here are a few ideas:


Try steamed or roasted broccoli, brussels sprouts, or green beans.  Or do a quick stir fry of zucchini, onions, mushrooms, carrots etc.  Season with garlic and soy sauce.


Fresh cut oranges or pineapple can serve as a side/dessert.  The citrus sweet flavor is a nice opposite for the main dish.  Canteloupe in season is also really good with Asian main dishes.

Egg rolls, dumplings or spring rolls

This one is pretty obvious and not quite as high in nutrition either.  But they’re so good!


Green salad with Asian Vinaigrette, Asian Ginger Dressing, or Asian Sesame Dressing.  Asian Broccoli Salad, Hawaiian Cole Slaw or Tropical Salad would be good too.

Rustic Irish Potato and Cabbage Soup – for the slow cooker or stove top

Rustic Irish Potato and Cabbage Soup - easy and hearty


March came in like a lion.  For the second time this winter, we had double digit snowfall.  Since we haven’t had that much snow in 17 years, it was pretty surprising to see it twice in one season.

Needless to say, we are ready for spring to show up!

But first, there’s March.  Where we begin to crave green things and vegetables and sunshine.

This soup is definitely a winter soup, but it’s perfect for March.  It’s full of veggies.  It’s hot and hearty and perfect for refueling after an hour or two of shoveling snow.

I seasoned the soup with McCormick Bay Leaves and Thyme.  The soup comes together quickly, but the flavor is full and round and tastes like you’ve spent all day.

Part of the reason it’s easy to put together is that I chose to leave the peels on the potatoes.  That gives the soup a rustic quality and makes the prep work easier too.


Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – March 9

3 Things that work in the kitchen


We were on spring break last week.  Which makes complete sense because we had one of the largest snow storms Kentucky has ever seen.

Snowed in for the second time in one winter is a bit crazy for us.  Thankfully I hit the grocery a couple of days before the storm hit.  Otherwise it gets really hard to find things on the shelves.

1.  Soup!

Snow calls for soup.  I made a big pot of Rustic Irish Potato and Cabbage Soup.  Recipe coming next week.

McCormick Irish Potato and Cabbage Soup in pot


2.  Chicken Enchiladas

I made two pans of quick Chicken Enchiladas one night.  I love this old recipe, even though the photos aren’t great.  I wish I would have remembered to take new ones.

I used rotisserie chicken from the freezer.  And I added a little cumin and chili powder to the sauce.  Oh, and because I was out of canned green chilies, I used a can of tomatoes and green chilies instead.  It worked great!

Use what you’ve got and adapt as needed.

3.  Dining room floor installed and Chicken Alfredo Pizza

Despite the snow, the installers were able to come put down the new flooring in the dining room.  What I didn’t prepare for was the sanding of the concrete floor.  Who knew that needed done???

And I wasn’t prepared for the fine dust filtering all over the house.  I had pizza dough started on the counter that I had to cover with a bowl and leave there until the dust settled.



I love a big empty room.  Or in this case, rooms.  Now we can work on filling them.

The pizza turned out great, despite the dusty kitchen.  I’ll share the recipe in the coming weeks.

Chicken Alfredo Pizza


What’s working for you in the kitchen this week?

The Best Homemade Pizza Sauce – and it’s really easy too!

Pizza Sauce recipe ingredients


Last week I shared with you how I’m learning to make great, homemade pizza.  I shared what I’ve learned so far in the process too, along with a few easy takeaways so you can up your pizza baking game.

Today, I’m sharing my current favorite sauce recipe.  The only photo I have is the one of the ingredients.  But sauce is sauce, at least to look at.

Taste is another matter.  And this sauce tastes incredible!

I altered the recipe from the Craftsy pizza class I told you about before.  The chef in that class added water, which I didn’t think was needed.

I also used a specific brand of tomatoes – Cento San Marzano.  A friend recently told me about these tomatoes.  They are more expensive than other brands, but if you’re making something where the tomatoes are the stand out ingredient, this is the way to go.  Find them near the spaghetti sauces, instead of near the other tomato products.

Make this sauce before you start assembling your other pizza ingredients so it can have a chance for the flavors to come together.

The Best Homemade Pizza Sauce - and it's really easy too!

Serves: about 2 cups

  • 28 oz can San Marzano peeled whole tomatoes
  • ½ Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • salt to taste
  1. Pour the tomatoes and all the juice from the can into a blender.
  2. Quickly blend just to chop the tomatoes. Sauce shouldn't be smooth.
  3. Pour from the blender into medium sized bowl.
  4. Stir remaining ingredients in by spoon.
  5. Any extra sauce can be frozen.


What to Serve with Pot Pie and Other All Inclusive Casseroles

What to serve

Last week we talked about side dish pairings and how to choose sides that will compliment your main dish.

This week I want to focus on sides that go with pot pies and casseroles. When I asked about recipes that are hard to choose side dishes for, pot pies were at the top of the list.

After all, pot pie already has a meat, vegetable and bread element. It makes it hard to know what to place with it. And yet, it does feel like the meal needs something to round it out.

Here are a few ideas. You may opt for just one side if it’s a simple, weeknight meal. If you’re feeding more people or serving a Sunday dinner, you’ll want to add more than one of these options.

Fruit or Fruit Salad

Sweet Potatoes

Green Veggies

Pot pie and casseroles usually do have vegetables included, but not as many as we should be eating in a meal.

Whole Grain Bread or Rolls

We love breads, but they don’t bring a lot of nutrition.  Make it whole grain to redeem them a bit.

What do you like to serve with pot pie and other casseroles?


Slow Cooker Korean BBQ Tacos

Slow Cooker Korean BBQ Tacos


This recipe came about due to two things.

First, a friend mentioned having Korean tacos and how good they were.  I’d never tried them, but it sounded great!

Second, I wanted a homemade alternative to this Korean BBQ Mix.  We love this mix, but it’s nice to be able to make something from scratch too.

I did a little research and then altered the recipe for Slow Cooker Honey Hoisin Chicken to come up with this version of Korean BBQ Tacos.  I make no claim that these are authentic.  But I do know they are good!  Really good.

I used pork loin instead of beef or chicken, but any of those meats will work.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – March 2

3 Things that work in the kitchen


Last week I completely forgot about writing this post.  We got 14 inches of snow that kept us snowed in the entire week.  My mind went to mush.  It was all about wrapping in a warm blanket, looking outside and saying “wow, that’s a lot of snow”.  We haven’t had this much snow in 17 years and it shut the whole state down.

1.  New Slow Cooker Recipe coming

I made Korean Tacos in the slow cooker and they are good!  The meat is so tender and full of flavor.  And the recipe is really easy.  Look for it on the blog tomorrow.

2.  Frozen meatballs are so convenient – and homemade is even better.

I stocked the freezer with homemade meatballs when we had the Virtual Freezer Cooking Party on Facebook.  I used some of them to make Sweet and Sour Meatballs this week.  We love that 15 minute meal!

Feel free to vary the vegetables in the recipe.  I used red bell pepper and carrots this time.

3.  Dining room re-do

I know this isn’t exactly a kitchen thing, but this project is taking over our house!



That’s what our dining room normally looks like.  Yes, there’s an ironing board in there.  And a tripod.  And a sewing machine.  And various photography backgrounds and lights.

We use this room all the time.  But we don’t usually use it for dining.  So we decided to add some storage that makes sense for the sewing and photography things, but still fits with the dining room table.  We will still want to be able to eat in there sometimes.

And of course, if we’re doing this room we should also re-do the living room that connects.  And that decision led to taking up the carpet and getting new flooring.  And of course, we need to paint before that.

This is turned into a much bigger project than the original “let’s just buy some more shelves” idea we started with.  Currently we’re in what I hope will be the biggest mess of the entire project.  Both rooms are torn apart in process of being painted.  I think it will all be worth it, but right now it’s a mess!

5 Reasons My Homemade Pizza disappointed Me and What I’m Doing to Fix It

5 Ways to make great homemade pizza

I’ve made homemade pizza many times over the years.

And I’ve been disappointed in my results quite a few times too.

From soggy crusts, to pizzas that don’t bake evenly to those that just don’t taste great. (To be fair, there have been many homemade pizzas we really enjoyed too.)

A while back I found a free Craftsy pizza making class.  It’s an online video course that comes with some recipes and shows how to really up your homemade pizza making game.

I watched the course recently and gave a few of the tips a try.  And I learned a lot about pizza making, even though my first attempt didn’t go quite as planned.

But I’m determined to master the homemade pizza.  I’ll be sharing tips and recipes with you here.  I’ve got a great sauce recipe to share.  And I’ve got a dough in the fridge right now that I have high hopes for.  It feels lovely already, unlike the last recipe I tried, which never gained the soft, elastic quality you want in pizza dough.

For today I want to share 5 reasons why I’ve been disappointed in my previous pizza making attempts and what I’m doing to fix that.

Baking in an oven that’s not hot enough

Pizza needs a seriously hot oven.  Way hotter than I ever would have guessed.  Previously, I would bake my pizzas at around 400 degrees.

But I’ve learned through the Craftsy class and other reading I’ve done that you really need to crank up the oven.

Turn it to 500 degrees or hotter.  Mine goes up to 550.  Then turn on the convection bake if you have it.  This will add 50 extra degrees to the temp.

With the oven heated as high as it will go, pizza will bake in just 5-6 minutes.

In case you’re wondering, baking stones such as you buy from Pampered Chef cannot take this kind of heat.


pizza stone cracked

Takeaway – Turn up the oven the next time you bake.  But be sure to use a metal baking sheet or iron skillet if you don’t own a baking steel or pizza stone.

Pizza takes patience

Homemade pizza is not a 15 minute meal.  I love, love, love a quick dinner, but pizza is not in this category.

And I think that may be why I’m drawn to it now.  Learning to bake great pizza at home feels like a hobby and creative pursuit and less like the “get dinner on the table” routine that I do every day.

Good homemade pizza crust needs to be made at least 24 hours before it’s ready to be worked with.  The dough needs time to become strong and elastic.  Without that time, it won’t be possible to get it to stretch and form the crust.

Homemade pizza

Takeaway – Try making your crust at least a day ahead of when you’re planning to bake it.

If you want round crust, start with a round dough ball

Last week I made homemade dough, but didn’t separate it into individual pieces until I was ready to work with it.  I ended up with triangle shaped pizza crusts.  (My dough had a few other problems that didn’t help either.)

I’ve since learned that dividing the dough before storing in the fridge and storing the balls in a round container will help with keeping things round.

pizza dough in round ball

Takeaway – Store your dough already separated into pieces in a round bowl or dish.

Great flour really helps

I usually use bread flour for my pizza crust, but still wasn’t getting the results I wanted.  This time I bought King Arthur bread flour and it’s made a huge difference.  I could tell as I was running the mixer that this dough was a higher quality.  And as I worked with it, I knew for sure.

High quality flour that is high in gluten will produce the best pizza crust.

Homemade Pizza slice

Takeaway – Pick up a bag of high quality bread flour the next time you’re in the grocery.

Pizza tools are important

Pizza stones or baking steels that can take the heat are preferable to baking on a regular pizza pan.

I’ve recently ordered a pizza steel from Dough Joe.  These have the best price that I could find.  It’s still an investment, but it won’t ever break.  The steel is HEAVY!  15 pounds of metal.

dough joe pizza steel


We used this for the first time last Friday and I love it!  It’s a pizza-baking game changer!

Dough Joe also sells pizza stones.  I almost went with these.  They come as a 4 or 5 piece set, so they aren’t as prone to breaking as one solid stone would be.  They also aren’t as heavy as the pizza steel.

A pizza peel is essential for slipping the pizza into and out of the oven.  I have this one that I bought from Bed, Bath and Beyond.  I think it was in the Beyond section ;)

Takeaway – Consider purchasing a steel or stone and peel.  Or use your iron skillet to bake your pizza if you’re not ready to invest.

Pizza making parties are fun

I gather all the ingredients on the kitchen island.  Everyone gathers around to help work the dough, add toppings, talk and laugh.  We eat each pizza as it comes out of the oven.

It’s messy, noisy, delicious fun!

Takeaway – Invite your friends and family into the kitchen with you to experiment and have fun!


The Art of the Side Dish – What Goes With…

Art of the Side Dish

Side dishes are my dinner downfall. Only because I have a habit of forgetting about them when I’m prepping dinner.

I’ve written about easy side dish ideas a couple of times.

But how do you know what sides pair well with different main dishes? Some things are easy – Spaghetti and salad. Meat, vegetable, roll.

There are other recipes that present more of a challenge. Sides to go with stir-fry. Moving beyond chips and salsa with a Mexican meal. What to serve with potpie and other all-inclusive casseroles.

We’ll be tackling some of these in future posts, but today I want to share a few things I keep in mind when planning the meals for Weekly Meal Plans.

A good side/main dish pairing will do a few things for your meal:   [Read more…]

Caribbean Citrus Grilled Fish and Caribbean Citrus Slaw

Caribbean Citrus Grilled Fish and Caribbean Citrus Slaw


When I made these recipes, the entire state of Kentucky was knee deep in snow.   But the bright flavors in the McCormick Caribbean Citrus Seafood Marinade Mix made us think of a warmer place.

I know many of you eat fish on Fridays during Lent.  This is an easy dinner that’s quick to fix, but has a big pay off in taste.

I used the marinade packet for both the fish and the slaw.  I wasn’t sure how it would work in the slaw dressing.  After all, the packet does say Seafood Marinade.  But it works great!  I added a little sugar and more oil.  The instructions are below in the recipe.

Using the same seasoning for both fish and slaw keeps things simple and ensures that the main dish and side dish complement each other.  If you want to add another side, I recommend sweet potato fries or a simple baked sweet potato.

Here’s what you’ll need for the fish.  I cooked mine on a George Foreman grill.  But I’ve included baking instructions if you’d rather use the oven.

Caribbean Citrus Grilled Fish ingr


[Read more…]

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