Quick & Easy Side Dishes (or Meatless Main Dishes)

Want to pair some tasty side dishes with your main? Check out these quick and easy side dishes that fit the budget and please the palate.

Quick and Easy Side Dishes - Want to pair some tasty side dishes with your main? Check out these quick and easy side dishes that fit the budget and please the palate.

One of the most frequent questions I receive revolves around side dishes. Folks are often confused about what to pair with their main dishes or find themselves in a rut of same old, same old.

I’ve heard more than one hooray about my new cookbook and the fact that the recipes are organized as meals instead of traditional soup, salad, beef, chicken, etc. chapters. While you can mix and match the recipes however you like, if you’re side dish-challenged, some of the work is done for you already.

I think it’s pretty funny how the lines are drawn with food preferences at our house. My daughters and I typically enjoy the sides more than the main dish. Unless steak is on the menu, I’m happy with potatoes and a salad. My boys and husband are the opposite. They’d fill up on meat and starch and maybe eat a few vegetables. Of course, there are exceptions to all this, depending on what is served.

My main point is that these recipes are great as quick and easy side dishes, but they will double as meatless main dishes when you combine a few together. Either way you go, I recommend choosing some from both the starch and vegetable categories. [Continue reading...]

Shrimp on the Barbie

Ready for something awesome to come off the grill? This easy and quick grilled shrimp would be that dish.

Shrimp on the Barbie - Ready for something awesome to come off the grill? This easy and quick grilled shrimp would be that dish.

I’m sorry, but I did grow up in the era of Crocodile Dundee. I really can’t think or talk about shrimp without hearing Paul Hogan’s voice yapping about a barbecue. What can I say? I’m a child of the 80′s.

I’ve found that shrimp is hit or miss in terms of good deals. You gotta keep your eyes open. When you see a deal ($5 or less/pound in these here parts), grab it and run. Buy enough to stash in the freezer for a few months.

Shrimp shortages are expected this season so it may be a precious good eat this year. But, if you see a deal — or just want to splurge, be sure to make this grilled shrimp dish.

FishPapa, upon first trying this dish, said, “What did you put on this shrimp?” My confident reply was, “Awesome sauce.” He honestly couldn’t disagree with me. The simple flavors of the spice mixture complement the smoky shrimp perfectly. This is a favorite at our house. [Continue reading...]

Meal Planning for the Dog Days of Summer

Meal Planning for the Dog Days of Summer - Hot weather meal planning calls for different strategies than other times in the year. Here are some techniques to help you keep your cool in the kitchen.

Hot weather meal planning calls for different strategies than other times in the year. Here are some techniques to help you keep your cool in the kitchen. My friend Andrea, also a native Southern California girl, worded it perfectly this week: Now’s about the time things really start to heat up in Southern California, and […]

[Continue reading...]

Spice-Rubbed Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Custom-mixed spices are an economical and tasty way to add flavor and texture to grilled meats. Try this grilled pork tenderloin. Over the last few weeks since hubby and I have been “watching what we eat,” our meals have become simpler. With a hearty protein at the center and lots of fruits and veg all […]

[Continue reading...]

Grocery Geek Q&A: Reducing Grocery Spending

Reducing Grocery Spending - Grocery budgets are tight. How can you trim the bill?

Grocery budgets are tight. How can you trim the bill? Sarah wrote in with the following dilemma: I currently live in a four person household (five if you count my dog). I am the only female, I live with three males, my husband and two sons (age 8 and 11). I have currently whittled my […]

[Continue reading...]

Wines to Pair with Good Cheap Eats

Bonus Feature #3 - Did you preorder a copy (or two) of my new book, Good Cheap Eats? I’ve got another bonus feature waiting for you.

Did you preorder a copy (or two) of my new book, Good Cheap Eats? I’ve got another bonus feature waiting for you.  Blogging has been such a wonderful experience for me. I’ve met so many great people over the years, yourself included. One of those sweet people is my friend Amy. We met at a blogging conference almost […]

[Continue reading...]

5 Quick & Easy Meals to Freeze

Quick & Easy Meals to Freeze - Save money and eat better with these quick and easy freezer meals.

Save money and eat better with these quick and easy freezer meals. You’ve probably heard that making a bulk batch of something is a surefire way to save money and eat better. It’s totally true. Freezer cooking has helped us bridge the gap between a small budget and great food for years. If you’re not already […]

[Continue reading...]

Oven Roasted Ratatouille

ratatouille close

Enjoy the flavors of summer eggplant and squash in this easy oven-roasted ratatouille.   I’m a lifelong francophile. I’ve loved French culture since I was about five years old. I studied French literature in college, just because really, since there are few “practical” reasons for majoring in French literature. I had the amazing opportunity — […]

[Continue reading...]

Make Your Meal Plan Happen This Week

Make Your Meal Plan Happen This Week - Take these steps to make great meals, save money, and enjoy time with the people you love.

You can be a freezer cook extraordinaire or a whiz at grocery shopping on a budget or even a dynamo when it comes to creating a delicious and nutritious meal plan, but if you don’t get food on the table in a timely manner, all your prior efforts kinda fall on their faces. If the […]

[Continue reading...]

Presentation is Everything

Food doesn’t need to be expensive to look special. In fact, the way you present the simplest, cheapest eats can deliver a powerful punch.  This post was originally posted on June 26, 2009. The lessons still hold true. Years ago I worked in a catering kitchen, assembling deli and cheese trays, preparing cocktail sandwiches, and […]

[Continue reading...]