Backyard BBQ Sides – Salads, Hot Sides and More

Backyard BarbequeIt’s the season for backyard barbecues!

I think one of my favorite things about backyard barbecues is the way it brings the family together for not just an hour at dinnertime, but an afternoon of fun and memories cooking and eating out under the big blue sky. There’s something about eating outside, off of the grill that just gives an extra special element to dinnertime. Not to mention an extra-good kick of flavors!

While grilling up meat and veggies is obviously the main part of a Backyard BBQ, the sides are equally as important!  A good side can really bring your meal to a new level and depending on what you serve, you can take your BBQ in all kinds of fun directions. I like getting creative with my sides, and there are so many delicious things you can choose from. Some of them are super simple. Some of them you can make in advance. All of them are really good and things we come back to time and time again.

Now, get out there and enjoy your summer evenings with some good BBQ and some of these sides!

 

pickles

Almost Homemade Pickles

Balsamic Strawberries

Balsamic Strawberries

Easy Peachy Fruit Salad

 

Easy Peachy Fruit Salad

grilledzucchinidone_thumb.jpgGrilled Zucchini

Green Bean and Tomato Salad

 

Green Bean and Tomato Salad

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Broccoli Tomato Tortellini Salad

Parmesan fettucini done

 

Parmesan Fettuccine

cucumber tomato salad done

Cucumber and Tomato Salad

parmesan-zuchini-and-summer-squash-done

 

Parmesan Zucchini & Summer Squash

cucumbers-and-onions-doneCucumbers and Onions

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Pasta Salad

hashbrown casserole

Hashbrown Casserole

Orange and Red Onion Salad - simple!

Orange and Red Onion Salad

macaroni-and-cheese-done

Mac and Cheese

corn-on-cob-with-butter

Microwave Corn on Cob

AuGratin Potatoes in the slow cooker

Au Gratin Potatoes

loaded-cheesy-potato-casserole

 

Loaded Cheesy Potato Casserole

bacon and tomato pasta done

Bacon Tomato Ranch Pasta Salad

oven fried potatoes done

 

Oven Fried Potatoes

asian broccoli salad done

Asian Broccoli Salad

hawaiin-coleslawHawaiian Coleslaw

Layered Cole Slaw

 

Layered Cole Slaw

237Detox Salad

Homemade Baked Beans in the Slow Cooker

Homemade Baked Beans

4 Tips for Making Perfect Pasta SaladPerfect Pasta Salad

potatosaladdone_thumb

 

Potato Salad

Pressure cooker mac and cheese

 

Pressure Cooker Mac n Cheese

One Pot Stove-Top Mac & Cheese

 

One-Pot Stove Top Mac n Cheese

slaw-ingrQuick Cole Slaw

ranch veggie salad done

 

Ranch Veggie Salad

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Roasted Broccoli and Red Pepper

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Simple Lettuce Wedge Salad

 

Simple Wedge Salad

ColeslawwithTomatoRedOnionandJalapenoPlate

 

Slaw with Tomato and Jalapeno

slow cooker corn casserole

Corn Casserole

corn salad done

 

Summer Corn Salad

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Sweet Potato Fries

tomato-and-artichoke-heart-salad-done

Tomato Artichoke Salad

tropical salad done

 

Tropical Salad

watermelon chili powder

 

Watermelon with a Kick

Wild Rice Salad - redeeming leftover rice

 

Wild Rice Salad

winter fruit salad done

 

Winter Fruit Salad

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Perfect Pasta Salad {plus tips I’ve learned}

4 Tips for Making Perfect Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a great dish to bring to a party, family get-together or for summer entertaining. It makes a great side, and if you are like me, you can make a meal out of it. It’s also so versatile, that you can add just about anything to it. However, for years…I just couldn’t get it right. After much trial and error, I have come up with what I think is the Perfect Pasta Salad!

Perfect Pasta Salad Bowl EAH

 

  • First tip, it’s important to cook your pasta al dente (it should say on the box how many minutes this is, I like to use rotini pasta and it’s usually 7 minutes). This will prevent the pasta from getting too mushy/soggy because the pasta will soak up some of the dressing as it sits.
  • Second, and this is where I often went wrong, you need equal amounts of pasta to vegetables/add-ins. I like to chop my main veggies fairly uniform (“bite” size), like cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, etc. My other ingredients that I use less of because of the strong flavor, such as onions and peppers, are chopped smaller. By add-ins, I am talking about not only vegetables, but also cheese, meats (pepperoni, ham, chicken), etc.
  • Third,  the dressing…everyone has their favorite and how much they like, but too much or too little can turn your perfect pasta salad into a “ehhh, it’s okay” pasta salad. My rule of thumb is 4:4:14 cups cooked pasta, 4 cups veggies/add-ins, 1 cup dressing. Even when I make a large batch for a cook-out or party, I stick with my ratios. See, math does come in handy sometimes! The pasta and veggies will soak up some of the dressing, so if you make this the night before, you may need to add a little more dressing the next day. This is a good starting point, and you can adjust to suit your taste buds.
  • Finally, and this is just a suggestion because they are not always readily available, but I highly recommend adding fresh herbs. My favorites to use are basil or cilantro.

Pasta Salad Ingredients EAH

I am particularly fond of the above ingredients for my pasta salad. However, I usually add peppers and I always add some kind of cheese, which somehow did not make the picture! I usually use feta, but feel free to add whatever is your favorite.

Perfect Pasta Salad {plus tips I've learned}
This pasta salad is the perfect side or light meal. Great for parties, cookouts, and more.
Ingredients
  • 8 oz dry pasta (will yield about 4 cups when cooked)
  • 4 cups desired vegetables/add-ins (such as cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, fresh herbs, cheese)
  • 1 cup dressing (such as House Italian, Oil & Vinegar, etc.)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on package for al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water.
  2. Place drained pasta in a large bowl, adding vegetables and desired add-ins.
  3. Add dressing, salt, pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Place in fridge to chill or serve immediately.

P.S. Want to save $60 and 2 hours each week on grocery shopping? Click herehttp://eatathomecooks.com/MealPlans429

Kim is a contributing writer for Eat at Home and author of food & family blog, Makin’ it Mo’Betta. She blogs about her adventures in the kitchen, incorporating life as mom to teen and tween girls, as well as a young son with nut allergies, and wife to a diabetic husband. Life is never dull!

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Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Salt and Pepper Dressing – an easy, whole food side dish

Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Salt and Pepper Dressing

 

This side dish is so easy and it’s a great way to use up the vegetables in your fridge.  You can use just about any vegetable you want, although I do recommend sticking with tomatoes.  They add some juice that creates its own dressing.

The ingredients in this are super simple.  It’s really more method than recipe.

I made this on a night that we needed to pack our dinner for a soccer game.  The green beans needed to be used, but we weren’t going to be home to eat them hot.  I blanched the beans, added the tomatoes, threw on a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a splash of red wine vinegar.

I think the tomatoes would be great paired with broccoli or cauliflower or zucchini or yellow squash.  You can add fresh herbs too, if you’ve got them.

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

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Au Gratin Potatoes in the Slow Cooker – Make an Oven Recipe Work in the Crockpot

AuGratin Potatoes in the slow cooker

 

One fantastic cooking trick to learn is how to change a recipe so that it can cook in the slow cooker instead of the oven – or vice versa.  Being able to do this with a recipe gives you so much more control over your time and schedule.

On Easter, I really wanted to make Black Angus Au Gratin Potatoes.  I love this recipe.  It’s all from scratch and the taste is so good.  The problem is that the original recipe bakes in the oven for a medium amount of time – too long for doing after church and too short for baking the whole time we’re gone.

The answer, of course is to change up the recipe and make them in the slow cooker instead.  And I also wanted to be able to do all the prep work the day before.

The original instructions call for boiling the whole potatoes till tender, slicing them hot, making the cheese sauce and pouring that over the hot potatoes, then baking for 20 minutes.

On Saturday I boiled the potatoes and cooled them before storing in the refrigerator.  I also made the cheese sauce and put it in the fridge in a separate container.

Sunday morning it only took a few minutes to slice the cold potatoes and arrange them in a buttered crockpot, spoon the cheese sauce over the top and turn the heat to low.

I will say that the oven version has a slight edge over the slow cooker version for taste.  However, it’s such a small edge that it doesn’t override the convenience of the slow cooker at all.  We all really enjoyed this dish and I doubt that anyone else at the table even considered that they’d be better oven baked.

Here’s the recipe with the slow cooker instructions for you and here are 6 more tips on converting oven recipes to slow cooker recipes.

Au Gratin Potatoes in the Slow Cooker - Make an Oven Recipe Work in the Crockpot

Serves: 6-8 servings

This recipe allows you to prep it up to a day ahead of time. If you want to put the potatoes immediately in the crockpot without refrigerating them or the sauce, that's fine too.
Ingredients
  • 1½ pounds potatoes, unpeeled
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1½ cups hot milk
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp. parmesan
  • salt and pepper
  • extra cheese for the top
Instructions
  1. Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until tender. Cool and store in the fridge for up to one day.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  3. Add the garlic and cook it for a minute over medium heat.
  4. Whisk in the flour and cook for another minute.
  5. Whisk in the hot milk, stirring constantly. Stir in the cheeses and keep stirring until it’s all melted and smooth.
  6. Cool and store the finished cheese sauce in the refrigerator for up to a day.
  7. Butter the inside of a slow cooker.
  8. Slice potatoes into ¼" slices and arrange in the crock.
  9. Spoon cheese sauce over the top.
  10. Cook on low for 4-5 hours.

 

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Orange and Red Onion Salad – It’s simple, healthy and amazing!

Orange and Red Onion Salad

 

Have you ever eaten a salad that was so good you just couldn’t stop eating it?

That’s this salad.

I can’t believe I hadn’t tried this before.  It’s amazingly simple.  Super healthy.  And it’s also one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten.

Two ingredients, plus salt and pepper.  How can such a simple combination taste so fantastic?!

This recipe is bright and light.  The sweet, citrus of the oranges is perfect with the sharp bite of the red onion.

Try this with pork, chicken, fish or ham.   It would be wonderful with fish tacos!

This is more method than recipe.  Grab a few oranges and thinly slice red onion into them.  Toss with a little kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Orange and Red Onion Salad - It's simple, healthy and amazing!
Ingredients
  • ½ - 1 orange per person, depending on the size of the orange
  • approximately ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Peel and cut oranges in bite sized pieces.
  2. Toss red onion slices with oranges in bowl.
  3. Add kosher salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve.

P.S. Do you struggle to come up with easy side dishes to go with your main dish? We’ve done all the planning for you – side dishes and color-coded grocery list included!  Find your perfect Eat at Home Weekly Meal Plan here.

 

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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…]

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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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Lemon Pepper Parmesan Peas (plus a Pyrex giveaway and ideas for dressing up canned vegetables)

Lemon Pepper Parmesan Peas

 

I’ve shared before that I often forget about side dishes until it’s nearly too late.  I’m a big fan of keeping the sides simple.

Canned veggies are one of my go-to sides, especially if I’m running short on time, which happens often!

Peas are one of our favorites.  I usually serve them with butter, salt and pepper.  But this time I decided to dress them up a bit.

Libbys Lemon Pepper Parmesan Peas ingr

Lemon Pepper Parmesan Peas (plus a Pyrex giveaway and ideas for dressing up canned vegetables)
Ingredients
  • 15 oz can Libby’s Sweet Peas
  • 1 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 Tbs. shaved Parmesan
Instructions
  1. Heat peas in small bowl in microwave for 1 - 2 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning and stir gently to blend.
  3. Top with shaved Parmesan.

 

 

Libbys canned vegetables

 

Libby’s vegetables make wonderful, quick side dishes.  Here are a few ideas for dressing up the veggies, while keeping things quick and simple:

  • Add herb seasoning to any variety of Libby’s vegetables
  • Sweeten Libby’s Sliced Carrots with a bit of honey.  Add a bit of butter too!
  • Top Libby’s Sliced White Potatoes with bacon bits and shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Add a little salsa to Libby’s Sweet Corn and serve with Mexican food.

There are all kinds of possibilities to make your quick side dishes stand out.

Giveaway!

Libby’s is giving away a variety of their vegetables, along with a glass 14 piece Pyrex Storage set to one reader of Eat at Home!

To enter, leave a comment answering this question:

What’s your favorite Libby’s vegetable and how would you season it?

Giveaway will be open until noon EST on February 17.  Winner will be notified by email.

You can find Libby’s on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 4.13.33 PM

 

Libbys_f&v80x80

 

Disclosure:  I have been compensated by Libby’s for my time, however all opinions are my own.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

 

File this one under “The wonders never cease”.  I did not think my family would ever like brussels sprouts.  I didn’t even think I would ever like them.

But when we tried them as part of a sheet pan dinner, we loved them.  I decided to give them a try as a simple side dish.

Success!

These are so easy and good and a nice change from the broccoli we eat so much.

I think the reason that we like brussels sprouts now, but hated them other times we tried them, is that I’ve been buying them fresh vs frozen.

Fresh brussels sprouts have only recently been available in stores around here.  And by recent, it could have been in the past few years.  But I don’t think they were available in regular grocery stores fresh even 10 years ago.  At least not on a regular basis.  I think they’re one of those veggies like kale that’s developed a market share where previously no one bought or ate them.

Of course, I could be wrong.  Maybe I’ve just been ignoring them.

Either way, we’ve discovered them and I think we’re hooked.

Here’s how to roast them.   [Read more…]

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The Best Ever Roasted Butternut Squash or Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Butternut Squash or Sweet Potatoes

 

Every time I make this easy side dish I think I’m going to take photos to share here.

And almost every time, I forget.  Or I’m in a hurry.  Or it’s completely dark outside and I don’t want to set up my photography lights.

Finally, I managed to snap a photo.  It’s not great, but it does give me a reason to share this recipe with you.

Really it’s just method more than recipe though.  It’s an easier version of Butternut Squash Skillet, which I love.

But instead of starting it in the skillet, along with onion and garlic, I just toss the cubed squash with olive oil, several shakes of cinnamon, ginger,thyme, salt and pepper.

Then it gets poured onto a baking sheet and popped in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

The flavor is fantastic!  And it works equally well with sweet potatoes too.

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