Category Archives: Sides

The Best Cranberry Salad Recipe

When I think Thanksgiving this best creamy cranberry salad recipe is one of the first things that comes to mind. In fact, my family loves it so much it also makes an appearance at our Christmas Eve dinner.

This is the best creamy cranberry salad recipe ever! This recipe will be passed down to your kids and you will be asked to make it every holiday! It's my FAV!

One of the things that sets this recipe apart is that it uses fresh cranberries. No canned cranberries allowed here. ūüėČ

I like to stock up on cranberry discounts after Thanksgiving is over and store several bags in the freezer to last through the year. They are perfect for this salad, muffins, and any other fresh cranberry recipes.

This particular recipe came from my grandma. It was one of the ones that my continued to make and now so do my siblings and I. Recipes that hold special memories are the best kind. Add this cranberry salad recipe to your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner (or really, just meal) and it will be the dish you are always asked to make.

Ground cranberries and sugar mixed together.


What are the other components of this dish besides good old cranberries?

  • Marshmallows
  • Crushed pineapple
  • Sugar
  • Heavy cream, whipped

That’s it! See how easy it is?

You can also make this dish the day before. The marshmallows absorb any liquid and turn into this delightfully light and airy bite.

Cooking for a crowd, be sure and double this recipe! Besides, you will want leftovers too.

Let’s talk sugar for a minute.

This recipe calls for 1 cup. I¬†never make it with the full cup. Not even when making it for company. To me, what’s the point of cranberries if you aren’t going to have a little tart. Your first time making it, try with 3/4 of a cup and see what you think. If you think it’s too tart, you can always add more. (But I don’t think you’ll need too – the pineapple and marshmallows add sweetness as well.)

When I made this cranberry salad recipe for these pictures, I used just 1/3 cup of sugar and a sprinkle of stevia. It’s a little tart, but still good! Disclaimer: I would not recommend starting with that small of amount of sugar your first time making it!

The Best Creamy Cranberry Salad Recipe

The Best Cranberry Salad Recipe
  • 10 ounce bag of cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 20 can of crushed pineapple, well drained
  • 1½ -2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  1. Using a food processor or blender, grind the bag of cranberries. Pulse button works well. I like them to to be ground but with some large pieces mixed in.
  2. Drain the can of crushed pineapple very well. It yields approximately 1⅓ cups after drained.
  3. Add the drained pineapple and sugar to the cranberries and mix well. Stir in the marshmallows.
  4. Whip the heavy cream until medium to stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into the cranberry mixture.
  5. Refrigerate until serving (at least several hours or up to a day early).
  6. Enjoy!


This is the best creamy cranberry salad recipe ever! This recipe will be passed down to your kids and you will be asked to make it every holiday! It's my FAV!

Best Simple Fried Rice Recipe

I love, love, love fried rice! When you combine it with easy and get a simple fried rice recipe, it’s a winner all around!

best simple fried rice recipe

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Secret ingredients are always a good sign! This recipe has a couple and the extra pop of flavor makes it the best fried rice.

I love using basmati rice when making this. I’ve even used brown basmati. If you don’t have that, try using a long grain white rice.

Try using cauliflower rice if you are limiting your carbs. Shredded cabbage you saute with the rest of the veggies would also likely work.

bowl of dry rice for simple fried rice recipe

If you have a super busy day, this recipe is perfect because you can prep your vegetables the day before (or even several days before). You can also use leftover rice because day old rice makes the best fried rice. See, I told you this is a simple fried rice recipe. ūüôā

Did you know you can also freeze fried rice? (I wouldn’t do this with cauliflower rice.) Simply make the fried rice and let cool completely. Place in freezer storage bags or food storage containers and place in freezer. Pull out of the freezer the night before or morning of when you are going to use them and let thaw in the fridge. Saute in a skillet for 5-10 minutes until warm

simple fried rice recipe ingredients

If you don’t mind reheating in the microwave, this would also be perfect to freezer in single serving amounts to pack for work lunches.

Secret Ingredients!

There are a couple ingredients that put this simple fried rice recipe over the top.

  1. Fresh ginger. Of course fresh garlic is involved, but the ginger adds a little something special.
  2. Toasted sesame oil. If you’ve never had this, you are missing out! My picky, opinionated 5 smelled the bottle and proclaimed how good it smelled. Do yourself a favor and get some for this recipe and for making the best Asian salad dressings. (I’ve linked to it on Amazon, but I’ve found it at Aldi for a great price before.)
  3. Sambal. Okay, this is totally optional. My kids don’t use it, but I’m obsessed. It adds a kick and a little extra punch of flavor. I blame my dad for turning me onto this years ago. You could also use siracha¬†(I’ve also found the equivalent of this at Aldi).

simple fried rice recipe square picture

Favorite tool!

I LOVE using a microplane for the ginger and garlic. It makes it fast and super easy.

P.S. I love using fried rice to sneak in¬†lots of veggies. ūüôā¬† In these pictures, it’s the amounts listed in the recipe, but often times I add in extra.

Simple Fried Rice Recipe

Best Simple Fried Rice Recipe
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • ½ inch ginger, peeled and minced/micro-planed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced/micro-planed
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen green beans
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 6 cups cooked cold rice
  • 1-2 cups cooked, diced meat (optional)
  • 3 scrambled eggs (optional)
  • oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Sambal or siracha (optional)
  1. Heat a large pan over medium heat and add a little cooking oil (can use butter).
  2. After heated, add the onions and stir and cook 5 minutes. (Lower heat if needed.) When beginning to soften add garlic and ginger and continue to cook another 3-7 minutes until fragrant and tender.
  3. Add carrots and continue to saute. After a few minutes add the frozen vegetables and continue to saute until everything is hot and tender. (Add meat at the end of this time if using.)
  4. Add rice to the pan and stir over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add soy sauce and and sesame oil and stir to combine.
  5. Take off heat and adjust soy sauce and salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Add scrambled eggs if using.
  7. Serve with sambal or siracha on the side.


The best simple fried rice recipebest simple fried rice recipe ingredients


Healthy Side Dishes for Grilling


Delicious real food (healthy) side dishes for grilling! Perfect for the next time you fire up the grill. Yummy, so many great ideas.

There is just something delicious about supper from the grill. Our grill has been fired up multiple times a week lately and we are nearing 4th of July weekend where I think the majority of the country will be throwing some meat on the grill or packing a picnic. Now we need to tackle healthy side dishes for grilling!

The meat is the easy part – add some marinade or rub and you are good to go. Figuring out side dishes for grilling is where the problem comes in. Especially if you want healthy sides!

Don’t worry, I’ve rounded up a great list of 26 healthy side dishes for grilling! These would make the perfect addition to your next grilled supper – in fact, there are enough real food options to keep you going all summer.

Healthy Side Dishes for Grilling


Delicious real food (healthy) side dishes for grilling! Perfect for the next time you fire up the grill. Yummy, so many great ideas.

Garbanzo Bean and Roasted Corn Salad

Red White and Blue Fruit Salad

Patriotic Taco Salad

Greek Pasta Salad

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Broccoli Salad


Simple Potato Salad with Thyme and Olive Oil

Potato Salad

Texas Caviar


Delicious real food (healthy) side dishes for grilling! Perfect for the next time you fire up the grill. Yummy, so many great ideas.

Homemade Guacamole

7 Layer Taco Dip

Healthier Cheese Dip (No Velveeta)

Homemade Salsa

Strawberry Peach Salsa

Easy, Delicious Hummus

Veggies, Beans, and Potatoes

Citrus Grilled Asparagus Final copy

Citrus Grilled Asparagus

Homemade French Fries Better Than Fast Food

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Maple Baked Beans

Cheesy Hashbrown Potatoes

Easy Grilled Vegetables

Grilled Potatoes with Rosemary and Smoked Paprika

Asparagus and Peppers

Oven Roasted Corn

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

What are your favorite real food side dishes for grilling?

Delicious real food (healthy) side dishes for grilling! Perfect for the next time you fire up the grill. Yummy, so many great ideas.

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Easy Crockpot Refried Beans

I suppose these would actually be called unrefried beans and not be considered authentic as there is nothing fried about them but they have become a staple in our home the last several years.

Easy and yummy refried beans in the crock pot (or on the stove). I love making a huge batch and freezing the leftovers!


I make up a pound or two of dried pinto beans at a time and turn them into refried beans. I portion what we won’t use that week into plastic containers and store them in the freezer for us to use the next several weeks. Just set a frozen container of refried beans in the refrigerator overnight to defrost and they will be ready to reheat for a quick meal. Things such as bean tostadas or bean and cheese tortillas make an easy lunch or supper in little time. (Perfect for a day crazier than planned or for one of those meals you forgot to buy an important ingredient for.)

If you don’t have dried beans, you can still use the same seasonings on canned beans. It really doesn’t add on any more hands on time to use the dried beans and you’ll be saving yourself money. I highly recommend you give it a try.

Using fresh onion and garlic (and deseeded jalapeno too if you like a kick) in the cooking of the beans is completely optional. If I’m out, I’ll still make up the beans with no seasonings in the cooking liquid and add extra onion and garlic powder when I’m smashing them up.

Easy and yummy refried beans in the crock pot. I love making a huge batch and freezing the leftovers!

These beans can also be made on the stove instead of the crock pot. You’ll just want to watch the water level and add more if needed. There are concerns of toxins not being removed from the beans when cooked in the crock pot, but I’ve found that on high my pot gets the beans up to a full boil. If yours doesn’t, you can boil them on the stove for 10 minutes and then return to the crock pot to finish cooking.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Easy Crockpot Refried Beans
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 deseeded jalapeno
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 2 t. seasoning salt
  • Optional, ½-1 teaspoon garlic and onion powder
  1. Rinse and soak the pinto beans overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse beans and place in the crock pot and cover with water.
  3. Add a peeled and quartered onion and peeled and smashed garlic cloves if you are using (and a deseeded jalapeno if you like a little kick).
  4. Cook on low for 5 hours.
  5. Turn to high for the last hour to allow beans to come to a boil for at least 10 minutes and finish cooking.
  6. When beans are tender and falling apart, use a slotted spoon and scoop beans into a bowl. Reserve the cooking liquid.
  7. Add cumin powder and seasoning salt. Add garlic and onion powder if you didn't use fresh in the cooking process.
  8. Use a potato masher and stir and mash the bean mixture until it is as smooth as you like. Add some of the reserved cooking liquid to make it as soupy as you like. It will thicken up as it sits at room temperature.
  9. Cool and separate into storage containers and freeze what you won't use the first week.
You can also cook the beans on the stove top for several hours until tender and falling apart.


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Cucumber Tomato Salad

Today I’m excited to have another contributor post up on The Best Blog Recipes. I’m sharing one of my favorites things to have for lunch or as a side dish.

Refreshing cucumber tomato salad! My daughter and I love to have this for lunch all week long. Super yummy and easy.

“I have to fight my 3 year old daughter for eating rights of this salad. I try not to mind too much. After all, I should be happy she’s wanting, begging even, to load up on her veggies. She even spooned every last drop of the juice into her mouth.

Cucumbers, vine ripened tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and feta cheese. What’s not to love? This dish is so simple to make¬†it is ridiculous. You can have it done in under 10 minutes. That would probably include the time it would take to wash the dishes, too. When I make it, I don’t measure. Put a splash of this and a dash of that in and taste as you go. It will turn out amazing as it’s hard to mess up. I also use what I have in the house. Fresh basil, dried basil, fresh minced garlic, garlic powder, red, white, or yellow onion, olives, celery. You get the picture. Don’t be afraid to switch things up and add an extra ingredient or two.”

Head over to The Best Blog Recipes for the whole scoop!

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Garbanzo Bean and Roasted Corn Salad

This Garbanzo Bean and Roasted Corn Salad came together on a whim a couple weeks ago. I needed a dish to bring someplace and wanted to use ingredients that sounded good and were in my house.

Garbanzo Bean and Roasted Corn Salad | Perfect side dish for grilling and the leftovers make a tasty lunch. I love this!!!

Garbanzo beans are one of my favorite things so I decided to determine the rest of the salad around that ingredient. Onion and jalapeno make pretty much everything better so those made an appearance as well. Saut√©ing them before adding them to the salad gives them more¬†of a subtle flavor. I like my salads lightly dressed, mostly because I’m cheap and I hate to see all of the dressing left at the bottom of the dish.¬†Because it’s not sitting in gobs of dressing, this will keep well for several days depending on what add ins you use. The perfect amount of citrus and oil flavors came through, but if you’d like to add more, go for it.

This salad is super easy to adapt based on what you have on hand. Look and see what vegetables you need to use up and add them in.

I enjoyed eating the leftovers for my lunch and will definitely be making it again. My 3 year old also loved it and had to keep taking bites from my bowl instead of her lunch. Little stinker. I suppose I should be happy she enjoys eating her vegetables.

4.3 from 4 reviews
Garbanzo Bean and Roasted Corn Salad
Serves: 7 cups - 8-12 servings
  • 1 (16 ounces) package frozen corn
  • 3 cups garbanzo beans (or two cans drained and rinsed)
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ a small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
Add Ins (use what you like):
  • ½-1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 avocados, chopped
  • ½-1 cup red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lime (or lemon) juice
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Turn your oven on to high broil. Spread the corn onto a large baking sheet and place in the oven around 10 minutes. You don't want to over cook and dry out the corn so watch it and stir one or two times.
  2. In a skillet sauté the jalapeno, onion, and garlic.
  3. In a large bowl combine the corn, garbanzo beans, onion mixture and dressing ingredients.
  4. Adjust seasons to taste. Can also add a little garlic powder if needed.
  5. Gently stir in add ins.
  6. Can serve room temperature or chilled.


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Indian Pea Pilaf (peas pilau)

Indian Pea Pilaf (peas pilau). My favorite rice side dish. Easy and super tasty.

This is another recipe from my sister. She makes some awesome Indian food. The flavors are subtle but tasty and different. Something different about this recipe is that there is no heat from peppers which makes if perfect for those with sensitive palates.

I made Indian Pea Pilaf or¬†Peas Pilau for my first time a year ago and fell in love. What a simple dish to prepare and it has a unique twist. This is my favorite recipe to use when I want to serve a side dish of rice with any recipe. Last week I make it to go with roasted chicken. My husband is not a fan of peas but this was tasty enough that he said he didn’t mind them.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Indian Pea Pilaf (peas pilau)
Serves: 8-10
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons butter or expeller pressed coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablepoon ginger garlic paste (or 1½ teaspoons finely minced ginger an 1/12 teaspoons finely minced garlic)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (may need a little more)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 cups water
  1. Melt butter in a skillet. Add cumin seeds, bay leaf, cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon stick. Saute until fragrant - around a minute. Watch carefully so the spices don't burn.
  2. Add the onions and saute until tender.
  3. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté another minute.
  4. Stir in peas and salt. Turn off heat.
  5. Place rice, pea mixture, and water into a rice cooker and cook according to cooker instructions.


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How to Cook Quinoa

Quinoa is a little seed that packs a powerful punch. The World’s Healthiest Foods talks about the many benefits of this product.

Although you can find quinoa at your local Wal-Mart you will pay more for it. Sam’s Club has it for a great price or you can order it through (affiliate link)¬†Amazon,¬†Vitacost¬†(this is my referral link – if you sign up through it you will receive $10 off a $30 purchase), or your food co-op. If you have never had quinoa before, you might want to buy a cup or two from the bulk bins in a health food store so you aren’t stuck with something else in your pantry you’ll never use.

How to Cook Quinoa

So, now that you’ve gone out and bought this little seed you might wonder how to cook quinoa. It is very simple and you can have it ready to eat in under 25 minutes. Doesn’t get much better than that. Even though the quinoa you buy has already had most of the saponins removed, there is enough residue left that rinsing the quinoa is very important! Don’t skip or you will end up with a bitter tasting dish. If you don’t have a mesh strainer fine enough, line what you have with cheese cloth. If you are making this as a side dish feel free to add saut√©ed onions, garlic, and herbs in with the quinoa and liquid.

Come back next week for a list of recipes to use your quinoa in!

5.0 from 1 reviews
  • 1 C. Quinoa
  • 2 C. liquid (water or broth)
  • optional, ¼ t. salt
  1. Rinse quinoa well in a fine mesh strainer.
  2. Place liquid, quinoa, and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer.
  4. Cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
  6. Fluff with fork.


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