Side dishes take the main stage

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

As I was thinking about what to include here today, I ran across a book on my shelf that I really like. In the Doctor-cookbook series, "The Dinner Doctor" is one of my favorites. I also really like "The Cupcake Doctor," but "The Dinner Doctor" has a lot of great recipes for busy families. I included one entree here, then went into the side dish section and never left. I will go back to this book for next week's column as well. I hope you enjoy!

Italian Style Mini Meat Loaves

2 large eggs

1 cup plain bread crumbs or stuffing mix

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1/2 medium-size onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

1 teaspoon Italian seasonings

1 pound ground beef round

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat with a fork until light and lemon-colored. Stir in the bread crumbs and tomato sauce. Cut the onion in half. Place the onion halves, garlic and parsley in a food processor. Pulse several times until finely chopped. Add the onion mixture to the bread crumb mixture along with the Italian seasonings and stir to combine. Add the ground round to the bread crumb mixture and mash it with a fork to combine. Divide the ground round mixture into 6 even portions and form these into loaves. Place the meat loaves in a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Bake until the tops brown and the meat loaves have cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately, or refrigerate or freeze for later use. Serves 4 to 6.

Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

1 (32-ounce) package frozen hash brown potatoes, slightly thawed

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

2 to 3 cloves garlic, sliced

Salt and pepper

2 cups heavy whipping cream


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place half of the hash browns in an even layer in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese and garlic slices evenly over the top. Season with salt and pepper. Place the remaining hash browns in an even layer on the top of the Parmesan cheese. Pour the cream over the potatoes, then dust the cream with paprika. Cover the baking dish with foil. Bake the potatoes until the cream bubbles and the potatoes are tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes after removing from oven to set. Serves 8 to 10.

Coconut and Curry Peas and Rice

1 cup long-grain white rice, basmati or jasmine

1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas

1 (13.5-ounce) can light unsweetened coconut milk

3/4 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or water

3 scallions (green onions) both white and light green parts, chopped to make 1/3 cup

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Place the rice, peas, coconut milk, chicken broth, scallions, curry powder and salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir to combine, then cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, covered, until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 17 minutes. Spoon the peas and rice onto plates and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (24-ounce) package frozen potato wedges

Coarse salt

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 teaspoon fresh whole rosemary leaves

1 bunch thin asparagus stalks, 16 to 20 spears

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the potatoes on the baking sheet, season with salt, and drizzle the remaining oil over them. Toss the potatoes with a large spoon or spatula to coat them well. Spread into a single layer. Scatter the feta cheese and rosemary over the potatoes. Bake the potatoes until softened, about 7 minutes. Rinse the asparagus and pat dry. Snap off and discard their tough end. Place the spears on top of the potatoes and return to the oven. Bake until the potatoes are crisp and the asparagus has cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven and toss all together. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Garlic Green Beans

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 (9-ounce) package frozen French-cut green beans


1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Place the oil and butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the garlic and cook, stirring just 2 or 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside. Place the green beans in a glass bowl and heat in the microwave on high power until the beans are hot, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pour the garlic mixture over them. Stir to combine. Serves 4.

Succotash with Tomatoes

1 (10-ounce) package frozen lima beans

1 (10-ounce) package frozen white shoepeg corn

1 cup chopped tomato, about 2 medium

1/2 cup chopped onion

Salt and black pepper

1 tablespoon butter

Place the lima beans in a 2-quart saucepan with water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and let the beans simmer until they are just tender, about 9 minutes. Add the corn, tomato and onion and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the tomato just softens, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain. Add the butter and stir until it melts. Serve immediately. Serves 4. For an added touch, cook the limas in chicken broth and garnish with crisp fried crumbled bacon.

Stir-Fried Carrots

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 (8-ounce) package shredded carrots

1/4 cup orange juice

2 teaspoons light brown sugar


1 green onion

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the carrots and cook, stirring constantly, until they soften, 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to let the carrots stick. Add the orange juice and brown sugar and season with salt. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to low and let the carrots simmer until they soften a bit more, 2 minutes longer. Sprinkle the green onions over the top and serve the carrots immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

I am out of room, so I will wish you a great week and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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