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Make your standard dinners supreme

By on March 6, 2008

cranberry rice
If your family is the meat-and-potatoes type like mine, it can be challenging to introduce new side dishes without someone giving it a thumbs down. You need side dishes that are so simple and delicious that they become center stage. Opening a can is convenient, but if you’ve been relying on that, you’ve got to try the following recipes that will give a fresh twist to your side dishes. All three taste fantastic the next day, so they’re perfect to make ahead.

Fettuccine Alfredo

10 ounces fettuccine pasta or wide egg noodles
1/4 to 1/2 cup butter
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg yolk
1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
parsley, dried or fresh to taste

Cook’s note: The amount of butter you use depends on how much onion and garlic you use. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with milk. Add broccoli and chicken to make it a main dish.

Add pasta to a large pot of boiling water and cook until al dente; drain and set aside.
In a large pot, melt butter and add the garlic and onion. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until vegetables soften. Whisk in flour 1 tablespoon at a time to make a roux.

Pour 1/4 cup of the heavy cream into a small bowl. Add egg yolk and beat together with a fork; set aside. Pour the remaining 3/4 cup of heavy cream into the pot. Increase the heat to medium. As the cream starts to bubble, whisk while gradually adding the cream/egg mix. Continue whisking until well blended.

Add 1 cup Parmesan cheese, and continue to whisk the cream mixture in the pot. Pour in the remaining Parmesan and parsley, and mix until smooth. Immediately remove from stove. Add pasta to pot and toss to combine.

Sweet and Savory Carrots

1 (16-ounce) package fresh baby carrots
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 packet dry ranch-dressing mix

Boil or steam carrots. Drain if boiled. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add ranch mix, then add carrots and stir until ranch mix is dissolved and carrots are coated and glazed.

Cranberry Wild Rice

7-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup dried cranberries
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup wild rice
2 cups brown rice
1 cup slivered almonds
salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup broth to a boil. Stir in dried cranberries and mix until coated. Remove from heat, don’t drain broth, and set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of broth and 2 tablespoons of butter to a boil. Add wild rice; cover and simmer on low heat for an hour or until the rice is tender and broth has absorbed.

In a separate large saucepan, combine 4 tablespoons butter, 4 cups of broth and the brown rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until rice is tender and broth has absorbed.

In a skillet, saute the almonds in 2 tablespoons of butter until lightly browned. In a bowl, combine the wild rice, brown rice, cranberry/broth mixture and almonds, and season with salt and pepper.

Cook’s note: If there’s still a bit of broth that doesn’t absorb, either drain it off or place your rice in a covered baking dish with the temperature on warming. To keep the cost down, make with all brown rice, use margarine and rehydrate cranberries with water instead of broth.


  1. Marie78

    3/8/2008 at 3:28 pm

    These recipes sound great and I am going to add the fettuccine alfredo to our menu this week. I have such a craving for it now. I’ll make it a meal by adding chicken or shrimp to it.

  2. DixieJ

    3/9/2008 at 6:05 pm

    I love fettuccine, I like to add broccoli to it–helps get the veggies in. The cranberry rice sounds good too, I’ve got some dried cranberries in the freezer so I will for sure try that recipe.

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