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Summer sides, part 3

By Angie Sutton


Ah. Summer. That season that so many songs are written about and movie plots are centered around. Those quintessential things that represent America like baseball, apple pie, ice cream and firing up the grill conjure memories from our past and even a bit of hope for the future in a time when politicians can’t agree on anything.

Summer is a three-month window when things just seem right. Sitting on the porch swing and listening to cheers rising up from the ballfield down the hill. The cracking sound that a deliciously ripe watermelon makes when you cut into it. The satisfaction you feel when the last field of beans has been planted and you’re headed for home.

We live in a time of busyness and stress. A time when you’ve got to be achieving great things by the time you’re 10 years old or you may be behind in the race. What happened to slowing down in the summer and enjoying life? Do you say to yourself, “If I can just get through this month…” or “When things slow down a little I’ll…” I do. I catch myself saying this pretty often.

So this summer, I am slowing down. I’m doing more front-porch-sittin’, day dreaming and bucket list activities. I’m saying YES to more of the things the kids want to do, without rolling my eyes and grumbling.

Summer sides is a month-long series that is designed to help you bring enjoyment to the table with ease. This week we’re exploring warm sides that hit the spot and fill you up!

Spanish Rice

6 strips of bacon, crisply fried and crumbled
2 Tbsp. bacon grease
1/2 small green bell pepper
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. garlic clove, minced
1 c. long-grain rice
2 c. chicken broth or stock
1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt

After browning bacon, remove to paper-towel. To the skillet, add the green pepper, onion, garlic and rice. Saute until vegetables are translucent and tender and rice is browned. Stir in broth and tomatoes. Season with cumin, chili powder and salt. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is cooked through and liquid is absorbed.

Texas Hash Browns

1 pkg. hash browns
1 c. sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. yellow onion, diced
2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper


2 c. cornflakes, crushed
1/4 c. melted butter

Mix together all ingredients except topping. Spread into a greased 9- by 13-inch glass baking dish. Then mix cornflakes and melted butter and spread evenly on the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Zucchini Casserole

3 c. zucchini, grated
1 c. crushed saltine crackers
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. yellow onion, diced
2 Tbsp. margarine or butter
3/4 c. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Transfer to a greased 9- by 13-inch glass baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Add some zip with 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Make a topping with 1 cup crushed saltines mixed with 2 tablespoons melted butter and spread evenly on top before baking.

Cottage Potatoes

8 medium potatoes
1/2 lb. processed cheese
1 small green pepper, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 ( 4 oz.) jar diced pimeto, drained
1 slice bread, dried and crumbled
1 c. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
8 Tbsp. butter

Bake potatoes in skins. Chill and then peel and dice (I’ve used canned potatoes to save time!). Combine potatoes with all remaining ingredients except butter. Spread in a greased 9- by 13-inch glass casserole dish. Melt butter and evenly distribute over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes, stirring once at 30 minutes.

Crunchy Vegetable Bake

1 celery rib, chopped
1/2 c. red onion, diced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream
1 (16 oz.) pkg. frozen cut green beans, thawed
1 (16 oz.) pkg. frozen super sweet corn, thawed
1 (8 oz.) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 (8 oz.) pkg. butter-flavored crackers, crushed
1 c. slivered almonds
1/2 c. butter, melted

In a skillet, saute celery and onions in olive oil until translucent. Remove from heat. Stir in soup and sour cream until combined. Stir in beans, corn and water chestnuts until well combined. Dump into a greased 9- by 13-inch glass baking dish. In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs, almonds and melted butter. Spread evenly over dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Macaroni and Corn Casserole

1 can whole kernel sweet corn
1 can cream-style corn
3/4 c. uncooked elbow macaroni noodles
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. yellow onion, diced
1 c. processed cheese, cubed

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and pour into a greased 9- by 3-inch glass baking dish and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 30 more minutes.

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