32 Simple Side Dish Ideas

There are all kinds of things you can serve as side dishes, but if you’re like me you prefer simple things that don’t require a lot of prep.  Unless the main dish practically makes itself, I normally don’t like to spend time on the sides.

With that in mind, here’s a list of 32 simple side dishes that come together quick.  A few do require baking/slow cooking time, but the hands on prep is minimal.

Salads

32 Simple Side Dish Ideas

Simple Lettuce Wedge Salad

BLT Salad

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Cucumbers and Onions

Quick Cole Slaw

Ranch Veggie Salad

Here are 7 things you can add to your salad to make it more interesting

Fruit

Warm Cinnamon Applesauce with Toasted Marshmallows

 

Warm Cinnamon Applesauce with Toasted Marshmallows

Cranberries and Oranges

Ambrosia – so easy and tastes like more than the sum of its parts

Easy Peachy Fruit Salad

Vanilla Fruit Salad

Vegetables

honey glazed carrots in the slow cooker done

 

Honey Glazed Carrots in the Slow Cooker

How to Cut Cauliflower in 1 Minutes (so you can steam it or eat it raw)

Mashed Cauliflower

Grilled Zucchini

Parmesan Zucchini and Summer Squash in the Microwave

Roasted Broccoli and Red Pepper

Slow Cooked Apples and Butternut Squash

Winter Squash in the Slow Cooker

 

Potatoes/Stuffing/Pasta

apple cornbread dressing done

Apple Cornbread Dressing – 10 minutes to the table

Baked Potatoes with Onions

Southwestern Cornbread Stuffing

Garlic Cream Cheese Smashed Potatoes

Macaroni and Cheese & Macaroni and Tomatoes

Parmesan Fettucini

Easy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Sweet and White Potatoes

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potatoes and Apples in the Slow Cooker

Easy Pizza Rice Casserole – Take a Real Lunch

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sargento Foods, Inc. for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Getting tired of cold sandwiches and canned soup for lunch?  Sargento Cheese is encouraging us to take a real lunch.  Mid-day meals don't have to be hurried, grab-whatever-you-can-find affairs.  Slow down and plan a real lunch.

This Easy Pizza Rice Casserole uses a few quick ingredients.  If you have leftover rice, it's even quicker.  The Italian Sausage and zucchini make for a hearty lunch.  The dish gets topped with slices of Sargento provolone cheese.  Who can resist a cheese topped casserole?  

Pizza Rice Casserole can be made for lunch at home, but it also travels well if you're sharing at the office.  Or if you need to pack it up, use a soup thermos to keep it hot until lunch time.  Guaranteed to cause lunch-envy in everyone around you!

Pair this casserole with a green salad tossed with oil and vinegar dressing.  

I adapted this recipe from the More with Less Cookbook.  I used instant brown rice, to make things quicker.  Instant brown rice has all the nutrition of the long-cooking variety, but can be made in 5 or 10 minutes.  I also added chopped zucchini and swapped out the ground beef for more flavorful Italian sausage.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 2 cups instant brown rice

  • 1 3/4 cups water

  • 1 lb. ground Italian sausage

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

  • 1 zucchini, chopped

  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce

  • 1/2 tsp oregano

  • 16 oz cottage cheese

  • 5 slices Sargento provolone cheese

  1. Cook brown rice in water according to package directions.

  2. Brown sausage, onion and garlic in skillet over medium heat until sausage is cooked fully.

  3. Add zucchini to the skillet 5 or 7 minutes before sausage is done.

  4. Drain meat and rinse with hot water to remove extra grease.

  5. Return meat to the skillet.

  6. Stir in tomato sauce and oregano.

  7. Stir cottage cheese into cooked rice.

  8. Pour rice into greased casserole dish.

  9. Top with meat mixture.

  10. Place Sargento cheese slices over top of meat.

  11. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until hot.

Sargento Natural Cheese comes in many varieties.  My cheese drawer almost always has several types.  We especially love the ultra-thin slices.

 photo 1bf050ab-3488-4cc1-ac11-a58262cac36a_zpsf75a1da0.jpg

What's your favorite kind of real lunch?

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Slow Cooker Spicy Chicken Soup – with variations to fit your pantry

This soup has a lot of things going for it.

It can be made entirely in the slow cooker.

The chicken cooks in the soup, so no need for an extra step.

Just like taco soup, there are a million variations.  Use what you’ve got available in your pantry.

Here’s what I used:  [Read more...]

Chicken and Broccoli “Stir Fry” in the Slow Cooker

Stir fry is a cooking method that can’t really be replicated in a slow cooker.

But you can make a pretty good fake!

I’ve made this recipe twice now.  It’s easy and quick to fix.  The chicken gets cooked in stir fry sauce for several hours.  The veggies are added later, so they don’t get mushy.

No ingredient photo this time.  I was in a big hurry both times I’ve made it. [Read more...]

Tropical Tilapia with Pineapple Salsa and Coconut Rice – Easy & Special!

This is one of those dinners that tastes special, like you’ve gone to extra trouble.

Good news!  This dish is quick to fix.  I had it finished in about 30 minutes and that included time to line up ingredients, take photos and jot down my recipe.  Not bad.

I did start with another recipe as inspiration.  I wasn’t sure what should go into the Pineapple Salsa, so I searched Tasty Kitchen and came up with a recipe for Tropical Chicken and Coconut Rice Bowl.  It’s from Katie at The College Culinarian.

I wanted fish instead of chicken, so I turned the marinade into a sauce for the tilapia.  And I tweaked her salsa recipe a bit too.  The result was delicious!

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

Kung Pao Chicken

Let me say, that when I decided to make this I had no idea what really goes in Kung Pao Chicken.  I just saw a bottle of the sauce in Walmart and bought it.  The rest was decided by what I had on hand.

The result turned out delicious.  The Kung Pao sauce had just enough spice to lend and interesting kick.  I used chicken that I had already grilled, sliced and frozen, so it was quick to make.

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

Slow Cooker Ham and Vegetable Soup

The wonders never cease.  My kids actually tried the pearl onions in this soup.  And they liked them!  Amazing.

This is one of those fantastic “assembly only” type recipes.  Basically, you dump everything in the slow cooker and let it do its thing.

You don’t have to use pearl onions, if your kids are averse (but you might give it a go, because you never know…).  The bag of frozen veggies I used included the onions.  There are only 5 ingredients in this soup and they can be changed up as you wish.

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

Meatballs and Spanish Rice

I found this recipe in Whole Foods for the Whole Family cookbook.  I’ve done a little altering to it though.  First, it calls for brown rice, which I swear I bought, but is nowhere to be found in my pantry.  So I subbed white rice.

The method for making this involves baking the raw meatballs on top of the rice.  Because of this, you’re going to need to use very lean meat or else the dish will be too greasy.  I’ve made it before with ground bison.  This time I used some of the 88 meatballs I made and froze.  I froze some of them raw, specifically to use in this dish.  A quick thaw in the microwave was all they needed.  It sped up the prep work a lot to start with the meatballs already made.

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

Cheesy Rice and Meatball Skillet Dish

Remember all the 88 meatballs I made and froze?  Some of them were destined for this dish.

This is based on a recipe in an old church cookbook.  I made it according to the recipe the first time (unusual for me to follow a recipe exactly!), which means I used the Velveeta it called for.  Much as we like Velveeta, it was too gooey and sticky for us.

A week later, I gave the recipe a make-over.  I swapped out the Velveeta for Italian blend cheese and added garlic and Italian seasonings.  It’s still a quick stove-top meal, but with much better flavor.

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

Ingredient Spotlight: Rice, Barley, Quinoa and Other Grains

Is any ingredient more of a staple than rice?  I know it’s a staple in my pantry.  I’ve taken to buying 5 pound bags of Jasmine rice, we go through it so fast.

I don’t use barley nearly as much as rice.  And we tried quinoa a few months ago, but didn’t care for it.  I made it plain, so that could have been part of the problem.  I’m looking forward to seeing your recipes for both barley and quinoa.  Maybe I’ll learn to like quinoa if I try a good recipe for it.

I have a lot of rice recipes posted on this blog.  So many, that I had trouble narrowing it down to a few to share.  Here are a few of my favorite recipes that use rice: [Read more...]

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