Mom’s Three Bean Salad #CookoutWeek

Three bean salad… a simple, classic cookout dish. I can’t get enough of this make-ahead salad!

Three bean salad... a simple, classic cookout dish. I can't get enough of this make-ahead salad! #CookoutWeek2017

I’m not sure when I switched from being a three bean salad hater to a three bean salad lover, but I’m glad I gave this classic cookout dish another try! My mom always makes her three bean salad with green beans, wax beans, and kidney beans, so naturally, that’s what I do too. What I love the most about this simple side dish is that you can make it ahead. In fact, I highly recommend doing so, as the flavor gets better over time.

Three bean salad... a simple, classic cookout dish. I can't get enough of this make-ahead salad! #CookoutWeek2017

This recipe is one of the few things I ever make with canned vegetables. There’s something about the texture of canned veggies that just isn’t my favorite. But I think the softness of the canned green beans and wax beans really make this dish. If canned veggies aren’t your thing, try frozen… or even cook your own green and wax beans and use them here. I use frozen veggies in this dish frequently. Just make sure to thaw them first!

Three bean salad... a simple, classic cookout dish. I can't get enough of this make-ahead salad! #CookoutWeek2017

As I’ve made this three bean salad more often over the years, I’ve slowly adapted it *just a bit* from my mom’s recipe. I go heavier on the pepper than she does (but that’s true with about anything I make… I heart black pepper!), usually make a little less dressing and reduce the sugar, AND (game changer) add fresh herbs when I have them on hand! Fresh dill is my FAVE in this dish, but parsley and chives are also excellent. A little bit of chopped fresh herbs adds a little extra pop that we love. Totally optional, but highly recommended.

Three bean salad... a simple, classic cookout dish. I can't get enough of this make-ahead salad! #CookoutWeek2017

Speaking of totally optional but highly recommended… be sure to enter the #CookoutWeek 2017 giveaway, happening NOW! Lots of great prizes and an easy entry!

one year ago: No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars
two years ago: Cherry Chipotle Chicken Salad with Cherry Lime Salsa
three years ago: Tabbouleh
four years ago: Pretzel Rolls
five years ago: Strawberry Coconut Baked Oatmeal
six years ago: Strawberry Chocolate Coconut Pancakes

Check out other new and yummy cookout recipes here: An InLinkz Link-up

So tell me… are you a three bean salad hater or lover… and how do you make it??

Mom's Three Bean Salad

  • Servings: makes about 6 cups
  • Time: 10 minutes plus time to chill
  • Print

from my mom 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup oil (a light olive, canola, grapeseed, etc.)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (can also be cut down to 1/2 cup if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 – 15 ounce can green beans, drained and rinsed (no salt added if possible) – frozen, thawed green beans are also great here too
  • 1 – 15 ounce can wax beans, drained and rinsed (no salt added if possible) – frozen, thawed wax beans also work well too
  • 1 – 15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (no salt added if possible)
  • 1 small onion, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2-1 cup green pepper, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs, optional – try dill, parsley, or chives

Directions:

Whisk together vinegar, oil, sugar, and pepper in a medium bowl. Fold in green beans, wax beans, kidney beans, onion, and green pepper. Stir in chopped fresh herbs, if desired.

Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to marry.

In my opinion, this salad tastes best the next day. There will be extra liquid so you could reduce the vinegar and oil down to 1/3 cup if desired, or add an extra can of beans. Or just leave as-is… that’s what I always do! Enjoy!

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Kale and Brown Rice Gratin

Cozy up to fall with this hearty and cheesy side dish. Kale and Brown Rice Gratin… filling enough for a meatless dinner, but fancy enough for a holiday side dish. The best of both worlds!

Cozy up to fall with this hearty and cheesy side dish. Kale and Brown Rice Gratin... filling enough for a meatless dinner, but fancy enough for a holiday side dish. The best of both worlds!

Every year, I have this huge internal debate with myself… fall vs. spring, which season is best? I love the chill that comes in the air with fall mornings (especially after a hot summer), but the warm afternoons of spring are delightful too (especially after a cold winter). Both seasons are great for running and long walks with Ben [and now our lil baby!!]… and both seasons bring a plethora of amazing recipes.

Spring means lots of new produce and the first farmer’s market and going to purchase herbs and tomatoes to plant in the backyard. But fall means cozy recipes, cheesy recipes, roasted root veggies, and evenings tucked under my favorite soft blankets.

So I simply cannot decide… each fall I think I love fall the best, and each spring I think I love spring the best. It is so tough, ya know? THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!

Am I alone in this? Please tell me I’m not alone…

Cozy up to fall with this hearty and cheesy side dish. Kale and Brown Rice Gratin... filling enough for a meatless dinner, but fancy enough for a holiday side dish. The best of both worlds!

All that to say… I’m going to embrace the fall now that it is here and STOP THE DEBATE. Because this election has enough of that drama. Did I just say that? Whoops… 🙂

Moving on… And what better way to do that than with a cheesy side dish made with kale, caramelized onions, garlic, and brown rice? This dish is absolutely fabulous, and is a great way to introduce kale to the skeptics. Are there still any kale skeptics out there? Probably.

Anyways, this delicious dish has a few steps, but it can basically be summed up in this way: make rice. Caramelize onions, add garlic and kale. Make a cheese sauce [don’t forget to use room temp milk/cream… mucho easier that way, trust me, I know!]. Stir together and bake til ooey gooey. Enjoy!

Cozy up to fall with this hearty and cheesy side dish. Kale and Brown Rice Gratin... filling enough for a meatless dinner, but fancy enough for a holiday side dish. The best of both worlds!

Like I said before, this dish is hearty enough for a meatless meal, but it is also perfecto for a holiday side dish. Anyway you serve it you’ll be sure to love it! Have a great day, friends!

one year ago: Crockpot Barbacoa
two years ago: Baked Caramel Apple Mini Doughnuts
three years ago: Baked Strawberry French Toast with Strawberry Maple Syrup
four years ago: Maple Cornmeal Drop Biscuits
five years ago: Pumpkin Spread
six years ago: Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal

Kale and Brown Rice Gratin

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 75 minutes
  • Print

from Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, cut in half then into thin slices [or other sweet onion]
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chopped kale, packed [original recipe used lacinato but I just used curly kale – this is about 1/2 a bunch]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, cream, or half and half – at room temperature [you can use skim milk, but this is used to make a cheese sauce so you may want to use something fattier  – when I use skim milk in this, I use half skim milk, half half and half]
  • white pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup shredded fontina cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup shredded smoked gouda cheese, divided [you could also use ALL fontina, ALL gouda, or half fontina or gouda and half mozzarella/white cheddar/etc.]

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, combine chicken broth and rice. Bring to a boil and stir. Reduce heat to low and cover, cooking for about 30-40 minutes until rice is tender. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

While rice cooks, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions, then season with salt and pepper. Stir together to combine, then cook for 25-30 minutes, until onions are caramelized and very soft. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant, then top with kale. Cover skillet with a lid for a minute or so to let kale wilt a bit, then remove lid, season kale with salt and pepper, and stir together. Cook for another 2-3 minutes then transfer kale and onion mixture to a large bowl.

In the same skillet set over medium-low heat, melt butter and then whisk flour into melted butter. Cook for a minute, then slowly pour in room temperature milk/cream. Whisk constantly to avoid lumps, then season with white pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Cook until thick — mixture should be able to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently! Remove from heat and stir in half of each type of cheese until incorporated.

Meanwhile, grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Add cooked rice to kale mixture in large bowl, stirring to combine. Fold in cheese sauce and stir again. Transfer mixture to prepared pan, then top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting to serve. Enjoy!

Apple Cranberry Relish Salad

A fun, flavorful, refreshing salad combining seasonal favorites: cranberries, apples, and jello! Mmm! 

Apple Cranberry Relish Salad... A fun, flavorful, refreshing salad combining seasonal favorites: cranberries, apples, and jello! Mmm!

Happy New Year! 2016–woo! It’s fitting that my first recipe of the new year is a festive dish like this. My mom made this salad for our early family Christmas dinner and we devoured it… so naturally, I had to make it for Ben and I to enjoy at home… and for you too! 🙂 I highly suggest making it before the holiday season ends because it’s just so good it can’t wait til next year.

Apple Cranberry Relish Salad... A fun, flavorful, refreshing salad combining seasonal favorites: cranberries, apples, and jello! Mmm!

Dishes like this aren’t fancy by any means, but they are one of my favorite parts of a good holiday meal. There’s something so refreshing about the sweetness, simplicity [no cooking required!], and tartness of a side dish like this combining fruit and jello in one marvelous dish! Growing up, we always had some sort of jello dish for every big occasion, but cranberries usually weren’t part of that. But this time… they are. It’s like cranberry relish + jello in one!

Apple Cranberry Relish Salad... A fun, flavorful, refreshing salad combining seasonal favorites: cranberries, apples, and jello! Mmm!

Enjoy!

one year ago: Chewy Ginger Cookies
two years ago: Sweet Potato Chorizo Chile Mac
three years ago: Chicken Tinga Tacos
four years ago: Crock Pot Cran-Apple Sauce
five years ago: Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Apple Cranberry Relish Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 10 minutes + 4 hours to chill
  • Print

from Taste of Home Magazine, by Edna Means of Iola, Kansas

Ingredients:

  • 1 small package strawberry gelatin [3 ounces]
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 package fresh/frozen cranberries, chopped [I used a food processor]
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and chopped [I used a Granny Smith apple and didn’t peel]
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together strawberry gelatin, boiling water, and orange juice concentrate. When gelatin is dissolved and orange juice is melted, fold in cranberries, apple, and sugar. Stir to combine, then cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight to set.

Cranberry Pear Sauce #bookclubcookbookCC

My favorite Thanksgiving side dish… cranberry sauce jazzed up with pears, vanilla, and a secret ingredient that’s totally appropriate when you think about it. And, there’s a Harry Potter connection too! Crazy. 🙂 Read on to find out more!

Jazz up your cranberry sauce with pear, vanilla, & a secret [yet totally appropriate] ingredient! YUM!

Most Thanksgiving dishes I can take or leave. Turkey, meh. I’ll eat it if it’s there, but if not, no big loss [my husband is crying in the corner right about now]. Mashed potatoes? Alright, but these are better. Stuffing, YUM. Green bean casserole, BLECH. Sweet potatoes, yes, if you hold the marshmallows. Rolls, only if they’re homemade. So, basically we’re at about two of six for my list of Thanksgiving classic necessities. I know every family has their own “necessity” and mine certainly does too–Mixed Vegetables Mornay is one of my faves. But for me? My ultimate fave is cranberry sauce! There are so many ways I like it… as long as it isn’t jellied in a log from a can. 🙂

So, it was to my pleasant surprise when I was brainstorming recipe ideas for this month’s edition of The Book Club Cookbook project that I remembered via reading/flipping through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that Harry’s Christmas feast at Hogwarts included all the traditional holiday fixings–turkey, potatoes, rolls… and cranberry sauce! Erin from The Spiffy Cookie is this month’s host and she selected the first Harry Potter as this month’s book selection. She made Treacle Tart [YUM] but I decided to go for another kind of sweetness, one that will be perfect on your Thanksgiving table! 🙂 Or Christmas table, just like Harry’s.

Jazz up your cranberry sauce with pear, vanilla, & a secret [yet totally appropriate] ingredient! YUM!

In the past, I’ve enjoyed my mom’s traditional cranberry orange relish. For a long time, that’s the only way I could imagine it. But then I branched out and have made a cranberry-mint relish, a cranberry pineapple sauce, and even a gingered cranberry-apple sauce. Over the years, there have probably been some other iterations that just haven’t made it to the blog [gasp!]. Sorry, guys. I just keep dreaming up new variations every year, and this year was no different. Since I was making this for a Harry Potter event I knew I wanted to make this something special. I got into reading the Harry Potter books late, but then read them all in one summer… maybe even six weeks. It was crazy, but so fun. Someday I want to re-read them, or even listen to the audiobooks [I’ve heard they’re really good!]. But for now, I’ll just enjoy this cranberry sauce. 🙂

Jazz up your cranberry sauce with pear, vanilla, & a secret [yet totally appropriate] ingredient! YUM!

Lately pears have been super cheap at the grocery store [don’t you love it when they practically give away produce?], and I had the idea to add pears to my cranberry sauce when a bunch of them all ripened on the counter on the same day. Since pears are so delightfully sweet, they’re a great pairing [ha – sorry, I had to] with the beautiful, albeit tart, cranberries. You can just cook them down on the stove together with some sugar and water and watch the delicious transformation happen before your eyes! That’s the magic of making homemade cranberry sauce instead of relish–all those popping berries are just so fun to see. Or is that just me? 🙂 But wait! This time, there’s a little extra bit of magic because in addition to the cranberries, pear, and sugar, I added PUMPKIN PIE SPICE to spice up this cranberry sauce! Yup, that’s my secret ingredient. Told you it’s seasonally appropriate! 🙂 And appropriate for a Harry Potter-themed cranberry sauce… since Harry spices up life wherever he goes. Ha ha!

Jazz up your cranberry sauce with pear, vanilla, & a secret [yet totally appropriate] ingredient! YUM!

Pumpkin pie spice has all sorts of goodness like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and lemon peel and by adding just a little bit of your [hopefully homemade] blend, your cranberry pear sauce is fruity and scented with warm spices for an unforgettable taste. After everything has cooked down, I added some vanilla extract to mellow things out and that just made it absolutely perfect. 🙂 Good thing cranberries freeze so well–you’ll want to pick up a few extra bags this week so you can make this cranberry sauce whenever you please… even in the middle of summer. 🙂 I know I’ll still be thinking about it then. Ha! Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving! Be sure to scroll down to enter the giveaway to win a copy of The Book Club Cookbook–it is so great! What a fun book choice. Thanks for hosting, Erin!

one year ago: Apple Fritters
two years ago: Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast
three years ago: Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies
four years ago: KC’s Dilled Carrots
five years ago: CranApple Stuffing

Cranberry Pear Sauce

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 25 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2-1 cup sugar, depending on preferred level of sweetness
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 Bartlett pear, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
  • dash of vanilla extract

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, bring water and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil. When boiling, stir in cranberries and reduce heat to medium-low. Let cook for about 10 minutes, until cranberries begin to burst. Then fold in pear and pumpkin pie spice.

Remove from heat and stir to combine, breaking up some of the whole cranberries with a wooden spoon. Cover and let rest for about 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla, then taste [be careful, it’s hot!] and add more sugar if desired. Cool at room temperature, then refrigerate for up to one week.

Giveaway
This month Erin at The Spiffy Cookie, this month’s host, is giving away a copy of the book.* Enter to win a copy of the cookbook so you can join us in future months, if you wish!
One of our lucky readers – US and Canada only! – can enter to win a copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-Penguin. Giveaway runs from November 1st till November 30th at 4 o’clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.
*Disclosure: Erin received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp as an opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.

Mashed Potato Casserole

A cheesy, creamy, baked mashed potato casserole that’s perfect for ANY holiday or just a special meal with family and friends. 🙂

A cheesy, creamy baked mashed potato casserole... perfect for every special meal!

Sometimes it’s the simplest recipes that are the best, aren’t they? My family has long tried to find the best cheesy potato recipe because everyone loves them. My sister is pretty much the biggest cheesy potato fan I know, and my husband is pretty much the biggest mashed potato fan I know, so this is a dish to please them both!

A cheesy, creamy baked mashed potato casserole... perfect for every special meal!

Regular ‘ole mashed potatoes aren’t my favorite Thanksgiving side dish of all time, but add in a bunch of cheddar and parmesan, and you make this girl veryyy happy! All that cheese + some sour cream or greek yogurt jazz up plain mashed potatoes, but it’s the baking of them that take this dish over the edge! I don’t know what it is about baking dishes but that just adds an extra layer of deliciousness to the final product… especially when there’s cheese involved. Think about stovetop mac & cheese vs. baked mac & cheese. I’m right, aren’t I? There’s just no competition! Baked wins every single day. 🙂

A cheesy, creamy baked mashed potato casserole... perfect for every special meal!

I’ll admit that some may take issues with this dish because it’s not traditional enough… and there isn’t even any butter in it [gasp!]. But all the cheese and sour cream sure makes up for it. One of the best parts about this creamy ‘n cheesy side dish is that you can make it ahead AND it reheats beautifully in the microwave. Regular mashed potatoes can get kinda weird after the microwave but these absolutely do not! Have I convinced you to make them yet?!? I sure hope so, because they’re pretty much the tastiest version of mashed potatoes I’ve ever enjoyed and I bet you will too!

one year ago: Pumpkin Pie Peanut Butter Cups
two years ago: Chipotle-Cilantro Mashed Potatoes

three years ago: Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese
four years ago: Crockpot Saucy Italian Chicken
five years ago: Layered Taco Dip

Mashed Potato Casserole

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Print

from The Kitchn

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 8 ounces sour cream or plain yogurt [regular or greek]
  • 1/2 cup half and half or milk
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 large shallots, minced – about 1/2 cup
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place potatoes in a large stock pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are tender, when a fork easily pierces through. Drain and return potatoes to pot.

Off heat, add sour cream and half and half to potatoes, then stir to combine. Use a potato masher to smash until desired texture is achieved. Stir in cheddar, shallots, and pepper. [If desired, shallots could be sauteed in butter or olive oil for a few minutes to soften.]

Transfer potatoes to a medium baking dish – a 10 inch round, 8×8 square, or the like, at least 2.5 quarts. Bake for 30 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle with Parmesan and extra freshly ground black pepper, and broil for about 2 minutes until golden brown.

Notes:

Dish can be prepared up until the baking step up to 24 hours in advance. Let dish come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before baking.

If desired, shallots could be sauteed in butter or olive oil for a few minutes to soften before adding to the potatoes. The flavor was fine when raw, but even though they were minced small, we found them a little crunchy, especially the ones that were left on the top of the dish.