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From VIP entrances in Versace to service entrances in my apron

  • Julie Anne Rhodes

Plain Jane Rut? Spice Up Your Sides

I think one of the easiest menu planning ruts to fall into is relying on the same old side dishes over and over. Especially when they tend to be Plain Jane boiled or steamed vegetables. Here are a few ideas to get your inspired creative juices flowing. Please sign up for Free Membership or Premium Membership to view more.

Chive New Potatoes & Green Beans

It can be as simple as chopping up some fresh herbs with a little butter or olive oil to give sides pizazz as in these Chive New Potatoes with Green Beans (above). I like to serve this with fresh salmon. Serving lamb tonight? Why not try the same recipe with fresh mint instead of chives? Be bold, adjust the herbs to fit the entree.

Roasted Mixed Root Vegetables with Garlic & Rosemary

One of the greatest parts of making a yummy roast chicken or pork roast (any kind of roast really), is that it can usually be a one pan meal. This roasted root vegetable recipe makes a welcome change from everyday roast potatoes, and you can throw them into the same pan as the roast to save on clean-up later. Roasting brings out the natural sugars in the vegetables (which usually appeals to more discerning young taste buds), while garlic and fresh rosemary add a hint of sophistication.

Swiss Chard with Golden Raisins & Toasted Pine Nuts

Get your taste buds popping on all accounts here plus your antioxidants! The chewy golden raisins add a sweet contrast to the slight bitterness of the Swiss chard, and the toasted pine nuts add a crunchy-nutty element to round this deceivingly healthy yet yummy at the same time, side dish. Substitute any greens of your choice.

Simple Grilled Vegetables

Grilling vegetables, as I did for my friend’s lunch in Party Accomplished automatically adds more flavor, but you can spruce them up even further by using different seasonings, herbs, or marinades. I like mine spicy, so I’ll sprinkle with cajun seasoning or toss in a little cilantro-almond pesto (with minced jalapeno in it).

Chipotle Cauliflower Mash

I’m usually looking for the lower calorie option, so I often substitute mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes, but of course this works brilliantly with potatoes too. No one can accuse you of being a Plain Jane when you make this spicy version! You control the heat and delicious smokey flavor by how many chipotle peppers in adobo you add to the dish.



3 cloves of roasted garlic (from1 head of garlic, roasted) 2 pounds red potatoes, skins on but well scrubbed and quartered 1-2 chipotle chiles in adobo, seeded and finely chopped 2 tablespoons butter 1/4 cup sour cream 2- 3 tablespoons milk Salt and pepper to taste


1). Bring a large saucepan, 3/4’s full with water, to a boil. Add potatoes, and boil for 25-30 minutes, or until just tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from heat and drain.

2). In a large bowl, add potatoes, roasted garlic, chiles, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper to taste. Mash, using a potato masher, until desired consistency.


Serve with Tex Mex Black Bean Chili.

Note: If you prefer your smashed potatoes less spicy, omit the one or both chiles. It will still be delicious.

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