home cooking recipes                                            home cooking recipes

Summer sides

Story and photos by Angie Sutton


June is a month chock-full of ball games, 4-H projects, harvest and summer camps. If you're like me, that means a lot of extra miles on the ol' van. Don't get me wrong, being busy is a good thing. Really it's a good balance between running from one activity to another and sitting in the backyard playing an unplanned game of yard darts and laughing until your sides hurt.

When I think back to my summer days as a youth, I recall bicycle riding until the street lights came on, running after the ice cream truck for a cosmic bomb pop and late evenings at the county fair. Sure, I played softball, took dance class, attempted once to learn to play the guitar (or was it the drums?) and going to summer camp. I remember all of these activities, but the ones that created special memories are those I recall fondly.

I remember my dad piling the charcoal in the perfect mound to grill our burgers and the smell of the likely unsafe amount of lighter fluid doused on it. I now laugh at how the kids got to be involved cranking the ice cream maker and then being let down when we realized it still had to go into the freezer for two hours after we cranked it. Like most kids, we never really noticed the bugs and insects and always insisted on eating out in the backyard. The parents weren't always so keen on that.

Like many of my favorite memories, the best ones relate somehow to food. My mom always came up with the best side salads. Some of them deserved to be the center salad, for lack of a better description. Her macaroni salad heavy with those ham cubes and cheese shreds was enough for a meal by itself. The light texture and fresh taste of the gelatin salad laden with strawberries and topped with creamy whipped topping was either a side salad or dessert. It was probably the one time I would eat random things like cabbage and kidney beans as a kid and didn't care because it tasted so good. Or maybe it was because during those summer months I was just darned hungry and had a robust appetite.

So for the month of June I'll be featuring as many side salads as I can fit on this page. Perhaps one of these will be your new family favorite or just what you were looking for to add to your harvest menu.

Simple Coleslaw

So simple and so good.

1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. canola oil
2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. vinegar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. ground black pepper
1 bag coleslaw mix

Place all ingredients except coleslaw mix in a blender and pulse until well combined. Pour over coleslaw and toss until coated. Refrigerate overnight.

Bacon Coleslaw

3/4 c. salad dressing (like Miracle Whip)
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 8-oz. package coleslaw blend
1/2 c. chopped peanuts
1/4 c. shredded red cabbage
8 slices bacon, browned and crumbled

Depending on the coleslaw mix, I often go ahead and give it a whirl with a few tablespoons of water in my food processor to make the shreds a bit smaller. Just be sure to drain and squeeze out the excess water before using.

Grape Salad

If you don't have almonds, don't fret--just skip them. I only add them when I'm toting this to a potluck.

3 c. green grapes
3 c. red grapes
1/2 c. slivered almonds
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. granulated sugar

Mix salad dressing and sugar in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and fold together until combined. Refrigerate for several hours.

Whip together last four ingredients. Stir in slivered almonds. Fold in grapes until completely covered.

Hot Wing Salad

2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. hot sauce
1/3 c. bread crumbs
1 lb. chicken breast tenderlions
1 10-oz. bag mixed green salad
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 c. croutons
1/4 c. banana peppers
1/2 c. ranch salad dressing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter and hot sauce in a pie plate. Put bread crumbs in a shallow container. Dredge each tenderloin in butter mixture and roll in bread crumbs to coat. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake 15 minutes, turning halfway through. Chicken should no longer be pink in center. Meanwhile, dump remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. Cut cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces and fold in.

Calico Beans

A little more bacon is always in order. I like mine to be fried crispy, knowing that it will absorb some of the juice from the other ingredients. Different flavors of pork and beans can be used to change up the flavor a bit.

2 lbs. lean ground beef
1/2 c. yellow onion, chopped
1/4 lb. bacon, browned and crumbled
1 20-oz. can pork and beans
1 16-oz. can kidney beans, drained
1 16-oz can butter beans, drained
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. prepared mustard

Brown ground beef and onions together. Add remaining ingredients and combine. Bake in 300 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours or in slow cooker on high for 3 hours.

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