Kid-Friendly Veggie Night

Cracker-Barrel[1]I mentioned in a previous post, (which one friend has affectionately termed my “psychotic food manifesto”) that we have a weekly veggie night at our house.  I was inspired by Cracker Barrel since my kids love their “veggie plate,” which is really just four sides of your choice.  I figured I could do the same thing at home for a little less money and a lot less butter.  So I made a list of all our favorite Southern-style sides, and each week I pick four or five from the list below.  It’s kid-friendly, cheap, and relatively simple to prepare.  I explained how to prepare some of the less common vegetables in a previous post, and have linked them accordingly.  Just to be thorough (and not to insult your intelligence!) I’ve briefly explained how I prepare the other sides.

  1. Baked Sweet Potato–bake at 400° for about an hour and sprinkle with cinnamon.  (A tip I learned from my MIL: If you want to eat the nutrient-packed skin, rub it in olive oil.  It’ll keep it extra moist and tasty.)
  2. Biscuits/Cornbread–a “reward” for eating all the veggies 🙂
  3. Cinnamon Apples—you can mix fresh apples with some cinnamon and brown sugar and microwave them until soft, or toss them in olive oil and bake them at 400 until soft
  4. Collard Greens—I’ve linked this to my original post, but must share that a reader introduced me to Goya Ham Stock as a tasty alternative to chicken broth for collard greens.  Great tip!
  5. Corn on the Cob/Cream Corn—chop the kernels off the cob, then run the dull side of the knife blade over the cob to scrape out any milk.  Sauté kernels in butter 3-5 minutes.  Add some milk (or half and half), salt and pepper to taste.  Mix cornstarch with cold water and spoon some into the corn to thicken.
  6. Fried Okra—it’s a lot of work to make fresh, so I buy this frozen and sauté in olive oil
  7. Green Beans—simmer in chicken broth until tender (it’s also tasty to add chopped red potatoes and carrots and simmer it all together)
  8. Honey Carrots—steam carrots, then toss lightly in butter and honey
  9. Kale
  10. Lima Beans/Butter Beans—simmer frozen beans in chicken broth until tender (in traditional Southern fashion, you can add “fat back” using bacon or ham if you want extra flavor.  For a lighter version, omit the fat back)
  11. Macaroni and Cheese (recipe following)
  12. Rutabagas
  13. Squash Casserole (recipe following)
  14. Turnip/Mustard Greens

Macaroni and Cheese
(My friend, Amy Pearson shared this family recipe, and it’s my favorite!  Thanks Amy!) 

1 ½ cups elbow macaroni
2 cups small curd cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream 1 egg, lightly beaten
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
salt/pepper to taste

1. Boil and drain macaroni according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Mix together with cooked macaroni and bake uncovered at 350° for 45 min.  Let stand 5 min. before serving.

(Photo credit)

Squash Casseriole
(This delicious recipe comes from the Macon Jr League Cookbook: “Gracious Goodness.”)

3 cups yellow squash, cubed and steamed until soft
4 Tbsps chopped onion
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
3 Tbsps butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup saltine crackers, crumbled
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup scalded milk

1. Grease a 2-quart baking dish and preheat oven to 350°
2. Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl, except milk.
3. Microwave milk for 1-2 minutes (to scald) and pour into bowl.  Mix well.
4. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 1 hour.

(Photo credit)

Do you have any family dinner traditions?  Or any tasty Southern veggies we can add to the list?  Feel free to share–I’m always on the hunt for menu inspiration!

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