This past weekend, my family celebrated a milestone, my great grandfather’s 96th birthday.
He is the oldest living member of the family, and as such, a celebration was in order.
The meal consisted of one of his favorites, Kentucky Fried Chicken.
I don’t know if you have been to KFC lately, but it is not cheap. My grandparents, who supplied the main course, doled out just short of $100 on chicken to feed the family.
The side dishes are also rather pricey now, so we stepped in and offered a solution. They buy the chicken, we’ll make the sides.
So, we set out to make some side dishes that would pair well with the fried chicken we would be having.
I will discuss three here. These are the three that require a little effort (more than just heating a can of beans), but are still simple and cost effective.
The three dishes were homemade macaroni and cheese, Cajun rice and homemade coleslaw.
My personal favorite is the homemade mac and cheese. I have always loved good mac and cheese, and this was no exception.
We even varied our recipe a bit, largely due to the cost of the cheese we normally use, and used shredded cheddar cheese, which offered a unique flavor and consistency.
Full disclosure, I did not eat the other two dishes, but everyone in attendance that did eat them spoke highly of them, so I continue with confidence in their flavorful offerings.
The Cajun rice was a product of my brothers once again. Having already established that they like Cajun seasoned foods, the spicier the better.
This time, they decided to apply that to rice, a sort of uncharted territory for them. So far, their only experience with rice had been out of a box, but this time, they were trying their hand at using raw, bag rice.
The end result was a success.
The final dish, homemade coleslaw, is exactly as it sounds. It is just the homemade version of the dish.
As mentioned, all of these dishes offer a cheaper alternative to the store/restaurant bought sides, and to their credit, they offer a larger serving as well.
HOMEMADE MACARONI AND CHEESE
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1 ½ tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups milk
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
■ Boil water in a large pot over high heat and cook macaroni. Drain well.
■ Using the same pot, melt the butter on medium heat and stir in the flour. Mix until it becomes a paste and slowly add the milk. Cook on low heat until thickened.
■ Remove the pot from the heat and slowly add the shredded cheese. Mix well until smooth.
■ Stir in the macaroni and mix until combined. It can be cooked on low heat if it needs to thicken.
■ Season with salt and pepper to taste if desired.
2 cups rice
½ cup unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
½ cup fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
4 cups chicken broth or stock
■ Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the rice, stirring continuously, and sauté for 5 minutes.
■ Stir in the onions and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
■ Add the soy sauce, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne and parsley.
■ Pour the broth and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
■ Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 12-15 minutes to allow the liquid to fully absorb.
■ Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
½ cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup milk
¼ cup butter milk
2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons white vinegar
½ tablespoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
8 cups chopped cabbage
¼ cup shredded carrots
2 tablespoons minced onion
■ Combine the ingredients.
■ Add the cabbage, carrots and onions.
■ Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
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