Archive for Side Dishes

Black Rice with Cilantro

You all have heard about my friend Kayla by now. She’s my taste-tester friend (and an amazing local jazz singer) who I also work out with. On occasion, we will go for a run and then treat ourselves to the most incredible lunch in Atlanta at Breadwinner Cafe. Any time we eat there, Kayla orders their black rice salad. I had never seen or heard of black rice before Breadwinner.  Eventually, she convinced me to try the black rice salad and I have to say that it was AH-MAZING!!! Since I’m always looking a cooking challenge, I decided to try and make black rice with cilantro. It is by no means a substitute to Breadwinner’s black rice salad, but it’s an amazing dish you can make at home!

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 10 min; Cook Time –  30 min. 


1 c. black rice

3 roma tomatoes, diced 

2 fresh jalapeños, diced

1 avocado, cut into cubes

1 bunch fresh cilantro

4 limes

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. salt

Preparing Black Rice with Cilantro:

Cook the rice according to directions. While the rice is cooking, dice your tomatoes, jalapeños, and cut your avocado. Put them in a bowl. Add fresh cilantro (no set quantity on this, it’s all about taste), the juice of 4 limes. Add the cooked rice, cumin and salt. Mix well. Chill. 

Spicy Black Rice


Sauteed Corn

Sauteed corn is a great alternative to corn on the cob or canned corn (I think Melissa’s heart just skipped a beat on the thought of that one). It really is not hard to make and is a great compliment to any nice piece of protein!

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 25 minutes


4 ears of corn (or one ear per person)

2 Tbsp. butter

1  tsp. sugar

salt and pepper to taste

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Cast Iron Skillet (or other skillet)

Preparing Sauteed Corn:

Cut the kernels off of the cob into a bowl. Make sure you go back and scrape the milky liquid into the bowl as well. Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn and sauté for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened. Stir in sugar, salt and pepper. 

Skillet Corn

Important Tips:

You have to be patient and get the milky liquid from the corn. 

Got Leftovers?:

Leftover sauteed corn is great on a salad or in vegetable soup!

Haricots Verts with Prosciutto

I’m always looking for new ways to make vegetables for my family. I could eat just about any vegetable cooked any way, but I am challenged with getting greens into the kids. I gave these haricots verts with prosciutto a try with the hopes that the kids would eat them since they were similar to garlic green beans, with a few extra yummy ingredients. After I assured them that the prosciutto was not plain ham, they dug right in! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 15 min; Cook Time – 15 min.


1 pound haricots verts, trimmed

4-6 slices prosciutto (skin on), diced

1 tsp. olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 c. panko breadcrumbs

Kosher Salt

Fresh Ground Pepper

Lemon Wedges (if desired)

Preparing Haricots Verts with Prosciutto:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the haricots verts. Cook about 3-4 minutes. Drain and immediately put them in an bowl of ice water to halt the cooking process. Drain again and dry thoroughly on a paper towel.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the prosciutto and cook until crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, drain on a paper towel. Add the garlic to the drippings in the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the panko and cook, stirring constantly until toasted, about 1 additional minute. 

Add the haricots verts back to the skillet and mix all ingredients well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired. 

Haricots Verts with Prosciutto

Important Tips:

Don’t forget to “shock your green beans”, otherwise they will end up mushy. 


If you don’t have prosciutto, you could substitute bacon or pancetta for the meat. 

Meal Ideas:

I served this with balsamic chicken breasts and a simple baked potato.


Cabbage Steaks

I saw another recipe on Facebook this, this time from Health is Wealth, and knew I had to try it. This one was for cabbage steaks! I thought it needed a bit more garlic than the original recipe called for and also needed less cooking time, so the below recipe is how I cooked them. That’s the great thing about cooking…adjust the quantities and amounts to suit your particular tastes! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 5 min; Cook Time – 1 hour

Ingredients for 4:

1 large head of cabbage

8 gloves of garlic, crushed

Olive oil

Kosher Salt

Fresh Ground Pepper

Preparing Cabbage Steaks:

Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Pull outer leaf/leaves off cabbage.  Cut cabbage into 1″ thick slices. Rub both sides of cabbage with crushed garlic (Make sure you actually rub it in…don’t just sprinkle it on). Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of each cabbage slice with olive oil. Sprinkle each side with a bit of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Cabbage Steaks

Roast 20 minutes. Carefully flip the cabbage steaks and roast for an additional 20 minutes until edges are brown and crispy.


Skillet Potatoes

Skillet Potatoes

I saw a picture on Facebook the other day from Cast Iron Cooking that showed delicious looking skillet potatoes. I don’t make potatoes often, but I had some leftover from making Low Fat Potato Soup that I wanted to use. I followed the same process as the one on Facebook, but added a few ingredients and had to come up with my own amounts. I must say, these were pretty amazing. 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 15 min; Cook Time – 1 hour 20 minutes


Olive Oil

6 Baking Potatoes

6 Garlic Cloves, crushed

 1 tsp. Oregano

1 tsp. Salt

1/2 tsp. Pepper

2 T. Butter

2 T Flat Leaf Parsley

1/2 c. Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Mandolin or Very Sharp Knife

Cast Iron Skillet

Preparing Skillet Potatoes:

Brush bottom and sides of a baking dish or cast iron skillet with olive oil.

Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, slice potatoes crosswise into desired thickness. Arrange potato slices vertically and loosely in prepared dish or skillet.

Preheat oven to 375. Sprinkle garlic and oregano on top of potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Put small pats of butter over the potatoes.

 Skillet Potatoes

Cover skillet with foil and bake for about 1 hour or until potatoes are tender. Remove foil, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Skillet Potatoes

Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until crisp.

Skillet Potatoes

Important Tips:

In order for these potatoes to look as good as they taste, they really do need to be cut evenly!

Meal Ideas:

I served these skillet potatoes with baked chicken and sautéed sugar snap peas! My family was in heaven!


Melon with Thyme and Parmesan

In my household, hardly anyone likes melon. It doesn’t matter if it is watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew or some other kind of melon, they just don’t like it. I, for the life of me, don’t get it. Certainly I can understand why people say they don’t like honey dew because you so often get served the hard, tasteless, unripen version. But good, cold, ripe, sweet, and juicy melon is delicious!

This is an elegant way to serve it and make it taste even better. There is something about the nutty parmesan cheese that makes this a dish you’ll go back to for seconds and thirds!

Level of Difficulty:Easy (only thing ‘hard’ is getting a ripe melon)

Time Required:Prep Time – 30min; Cook Time – 1 hour

Ingredients for about 6 servings:

1/2 honey dew, canary or cantaloupe melon

Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 T fresh thyme leaves (lemon thyme if you have it)

Fresh cracked black pepper

4 oz Parmigiano Regianno Cheese

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Vegetable Peeler

How to make melon with thyme and parmesan:

Pick a good, ripe melon. Wash your melon. Slice it in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Remove the peel. The links here will provide more detail on picking, washing and peeling a melon if you need it.

Slice the melon thinly into about 3 inch strips. The thinner the better really. I’ve had versions of this at a restaurant where they called this a melon carpaccio.

Place on a  platter.

Drizzle lightly with the olive oil. Crack some fresh pepper on top. Add your fresh thyme leaves.

Using your vegetable peeler, shave thin but long strips of the parmesan and add on top.

Oh my is this a fresh summer treat!!

melon with thyme and parmesan

Important Tips:

Get a fresh melon and serve cold.

Use the real deal for the parmesan. Powdered or already shredded is not going to cut it for this dish!


Change out the melon variety or dry small amount of rosemary instead of the thyme.

My kids absolutely love melon. This is something they would eat for sure!! ~Denise

Roasted Okra and Tomatoes

Roasted Okra and Tomatoes

Like a true Southerner, I love okra! A friend of mine (other than Melissa) has a beautiful garden. The other day, she gave me a bunch of okra and tomatoes. She had told me that she recently made stewed okra and tomatoes for her husband and it was delicious. Fast forward a couple of days…the kids are starving when they get home from school, and I had about an hour to get them fed, make sure homework was done, and out the door to volleyball practice. I wanted a little something to eat, but not what I was making the family. I looked at the fresh produce sitting in my basket and thought, “Let me try roasted okra and tomatoes!” This dish really could not have been easier to make or more delicious to eat!!

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 5 minutes; Cook Time – 20 minutes


Fresh Okra, desired amount, cut in half lengthwise

1-2 plum tomatoes, diced

Olive Oil

Slavo Salt, or you favorite seasoning salt

Preparing Roasted Okra and Tomatoes:

Preheat oven to 425 Degrees. Put okra in a large mixing bowl. Add just enough olive oil to coat the okra and add a few shakes of Slavo Salt. Mix well and put on baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, put the tomatoes in a small mixing bowl. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the tomatoes and add a bit of Slavo Salt. Mix well. Add the tomatoes to the okra and roast for 5 minutes. That’s all!!! 

Important Tips:

Make sure you don’t cook the tomatoes and the okra together the whole time. If you do, the tomatoes will be very mushy and watery!