52 Simple But Next Level Dishes

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"Simple but Next Level Dishes"

Kind of an odd title for these posts.  But the longer sentence is... Simple recipes that are easy and inexpensive that will take your cooking to the next level... Things like easy pickled items (I always have a jar of pickled red onions for sandwiches in my fridge).  Or how about the easiest bread to make in the world... Beer Bread that is tasty on it;s own but also makes a wonderful open face pizza style sandwich... With easy to make tomato sauce.  Or how about roasting garlic for a spread on toast points for a unique appetizer.  Infusing oil with herbs or spices or spicy peppers.  Or how about making your own BBQ sauce.  Nothing sets you apart as a grill master like setting out a jar of your own specialty BBQ sauce.

You get the idea.  These recipes are very simple, take very little time but will set you apart as a better cook...

BTW, 52 is a goal.  This page is a work in progress.  Each week for a year I will add something new that made me a better cook and allowed me to make something a little special for my friends and family...

Whipped Basil Butter

It sounds so simple (and It Is). Only 3 ingredients, takes about a minute to WHIP Together but this simple easy dish will take a batch of store bought dinner rolls to the NEXT LEVEL!

And once you master this easy combination you can figure out your favorite way to flavor butter!


Infused flavored oils are FANTASTIC! and a hot Chili Pepper Oil is among the most popular. No need to spend BIG BUCKS to get the same taste when you can EASILY (AND I MEAN REALLY REALLY EASILY) make this at home. Just a bit more complicated than dropping a pepper in a bottle. PLENTY of HOW TO Hints, tips and PHOTOS to make this a success!  Learn the process so you can easily make any infused oil you might imagine!

BBQ Sauce, Make Your Own! You're NoBody til SomeBody Loves your BBQ SAUCE! And this sauce even the most gentle palates will love. Made with Sweet Pineapple and just enough Jalapeno to let you know you are eating BBQ. The sauce uses ketchup as a base so it really is very easy to make and of course nothing gives you bragging rights in the hood like a jar of your own BBQ Sauce!


YOU CAN BAKE BREAD! You can really. Beer bread takes all the worry part out of the process. NO YEAST, NO RISING, Just mix and heat and your house smells wonderful and the bread is ready to enjoy. Alcohol gets cooked out leaving the rich goodness of the malts and hops from the seasonings. SIMPLE but SPECTACULAR


And this is simple... just a tiny bit of measuring and SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE. Limited sugar, limited salt, fresh made salad dressing is easy but will make fresh garden salad vegetables GLOW!

Once you see how easy this is you will never buy processed again!!!

Zippy Pickled Red Onions

Will make your table sing with color and that delicious unique taste. ABOUT the EASIEST dish to CAN, no boiling or complicated canning process. Plus these are spiced with a little extra ZING! EASY, ZESTY AND ZINGY!


Used in Many mixed drinks (Hurricanes, Daiquiris, etc.) BUT Mostly I use simple syrup to make AUTHENTIC Southern Sweet TEA. Silky Smooth Sweetener that will indeed take your tea to the NEXT LEVEL! And tip for keeping fresh in the fridge for 6 months... just as easy to make a GALLON as a pint and then it's always ready!


Pepper Bacon (but works same without the pepper if you like "Normal" Bacon).  This is SOOOOO EASY. This is how most restaurants make bacon. Fast, no extra effort, comes out flat and pretty every time. Crispy crunchy or soft and chewy if you like! Great for sandwiches


It is very simple to mix your own tarter sauce. Around our house we simply do not use tarter sauce enough so that jar that has been in the fridge for years has been replaced bu a small "made to order" recipe... With a few extra ingredients to personalize the batch... Easy and Delicious


The recipe is very simple and as good as any restaurant. I made this out of anger after being overcharged for a terrible dip. This one is thick, rich, LOADED with artichokes and spinach, DELICIOUS and you CAN EASILY DIY at home!

BBQ Vidalia Sweet Candy Onions

VERY SIMPLE SIDE DISH for a BBQ... Really Easy, only 3 ingredients, but this grilled side dish was simply spectacular. The already sweet onions are slow roasted to bring out even more natural sweetness, topped with a sweet BBQ sauce, these were like no onions you have ever had. A unique side dish that really pays off BIG!  AND EASY

Root Beer HomeMade BBQ Sauce

Oh Boy... A SWEET Sauce with just a tiny bit of spice. We had a BBQ with lots of family (kids) and I wanted to make something unusual that the kids would love. I even had one of the 7 year olds help stir and now she brags of making her own. This is deliciously flavored with sweet root beer, reduced to a sauce and thickened with pantry items... A WINNER FOR A FAMILY EVENT AND EASY EASY EASY


Jam Jar Salad dressings are Sooooo EASY to make. Best of all, you control the amounts of sugar and salt. This is loaded with flavors from the Raspberry to the tiny amount of POP from the minced pepper. Easy to make, Easy to store, Delicious and low salt low sugar... AND EASY!


Roasted Garlic turns into SWEET (yes, Sweet, no bitter bite you may know from raw garlic)... Sweet, spreadable condiment. Spread on bread or add a unique flavor to any dish! SIMPLE TO DO and will add a special treat to your table!


Small Batch Canning... It is that rarest of ingredients... Something absolutely FREE that will make sauces, soups, rice dishes and more something even MORE SPECIAL! Save the bones from a store bought rotisserie chicken and make this in a crock pot. It freezes and stores easy and you never run out... and FREE FREE FREE


It is FANTASTIC! The recipe is very easy to duplicate and has never failed me. Deliciously soft and flaky biscuits, tangy and flavorful gravy, just the right consistency and all OLD SCHOOL TASTINESS! Gravy and biscuit recipe in this pin! EASY, FAST and DELICIOUS!!!

Sauteed Snap Beans with Caramelized Shallots

SIMPLE - TASTY - And FAST!!!  This is the recipe and technique that fine dining restaurants use to make their snappy crisp yet cooked through Green Beans.  This will set your table apart as something special.  Only 4 ingredients, 5 minutes to cook the beans and MEMORABLE as the best Green beans EVER!

Rosemary Sea Salt

2 ingredients... HUNDREDS OF USES!!!  Keep a jar of this close as you cook... Something simple like fried eggs and you have a treat. Any vegetable, instead of just salt, add a little savory zip. Bake a loaf of bread... Do an egg wash on the top and sprinkle this for added flavor and rustic beauty. Fried potatoes become an Italian treat...

And SHHH... Don't tell anyone but you add flavor while using less salt!

Really Good Cowboy Breakfast Taters - Rosemary Potatoes

Really good as is with some scrambled eggs or Really Good as a base for a scramble skillet breakfast diner specialty meal, these are good... really really good!  And simple to make, only 4 ingredients, takes only a few minutes (mostly hands off cooking so you can multi-task).  Herbal salty DELICIOUSNESS!

European 'Kraut, Brats and Beer!

Flavors of the old countries (Germany and Poland primarily but anywhere the Sausages are loved)!  This SIMPLE (4 ingredients and a bottle of beer, ONE SAUTE PAN), EASY, FAST Dish is simply LOADED with flavors.  Simmered vegetables and Braised Sausage and the ease of cooking makes this a FANTASTIC Weeknight meal!

Smoked Pimento Cheese Dip

Easy to make and a delicious Southern classic... This is a simple measure and mix "dip" or sandwich spread.  Perfect as a dip, spread, hostess gift, or welcome addition to a Holiday buffet.  The taste is addictive and sure to be a favorite among family and friends... and did I say EASY.  The payoff for the amount of work is worth all the effort to make fresh!
Candy Bacon Green Bean Stir Fry

This dish is SOOOOO Easy, Only FOUR Ingredients, but the taste will become a family special event favorite.  The Beans are crisp quick fried in garlic and bacon with just a bit of brown sugar added to caramelize the whole dish!  Tastes like vegetable candy and is AMAZING!!!

This is about the EASIEST thing you can make. The payoff is 4-5 pounds of pork, perfect for any big gathering, party, neighborhood PotLuck or to take to church. Sweet and spicy and delicious and did I mention easy???

Easy DIY Scratch Buttermilk Pepper Biscuits

Biscuits and Breakfast just seem to go together.  Scratch made biscuits are so very easy and worth what little effort there is.  Just add a little honey and you have a wonderful quick breakfast snack to go or use as a base for so many things... Sandwiches, fancy gravies and Skillet Meals.  The pepper adds an extra layer of deliciousness!!!  and did I say EASY!

Baked Maple Dijon Glazed Bacon - THE BEST BACON!!!

OH BOY, I LOVE BACON... And this is the absolute best.  The Bacon is baked in the oven for an easy fast clean-up.  You also get those perfect flat pieces... This is how about every restaurant in the world makes their bacon.  BUT... Add Sweet (the Maple) and the Savory (The Dijon Mustard) to the Salty Bacon and you have the BEST BACON YOU WILL EVERY EAT... And Sooooo EASY!

Spaghetti Squash with a Brown Butter Sage Sauce

The EASIEST side dish ever... Just Slice, Scoop, Slather, Season and bake and you end up with strands that look like spaghetti noodles.  Season as you would spaghetti... You can eat spaghetti squash plain with a little butter and herbs (as directed below), but once you start making it regularly, you'll begin thinking of all kinds of things to do with it: stir in sauteed leeks and bacon, fold in roasted kale and mushrooms, or make a proper pasta sauce to spoon on top.

Baked Chicken Thighs, Mustard Slathered, Cajun Spiced 

ONLY THREE INGREDIENTS, but These pieces of chicken are ALWAYS Moist, Tender yet with a crispy crunchy topping. FILLED with layers of flavors, it;s the SIMPLE cooking technique that has the chicken steaming from below. EASY EASY EASY and always DELICIOUS!!!

Ramon Noodle Asian Salad

It is FAST to put together. Total kitchen hands on time, about 15 minutes.  It is EASY to put together. This is a matter of opening a few bags. It TRAVELS WELL and actually TASTE BEST WHEN MADE IN ADVANCE. Which leads to ... Delicious! Hints of Asia, lots of greens (even well hidden Broccoli), Salty, Sweet from the sugar, A little crunchy for texture and ... Well... DELICIOUS!

BEST Rice Krispie Treats

It must be the world's EASIEST Dessert since every 8 year old Girl Scout can make them.  BUT there are hints, tricks and DIY Tips to make them just a little bit better than the rest.  NEVER HARD, always soft and chewy and a few tips to dress them up pretty to stand out on any buffet table... THESE ARE BETTER!!!

Pork Cutlet on Marinated Vegetables
Less than a 30 Minute Meal

Just 'cause it's fast to make doesn't mean it isn't DELICIOUS... Panko bread crumbs coat thin slices of Pork Loin and then fried.  The vegetables are marinated for a few minutes in an easy to make Honey Mustard Vinaigrette.  A little crispy but seasoned and flavored perfect!  LOVE THIS EASY FAST EASY DISH!

Cooked in an Oven, NOT Grilled

OK, not outside grilled, but almost as good.  And it is EASY EASY EASY.  Only three simple tips to get big name Steak House Restaurant flavors, texture and quality.  YOU CAN DO THIS... SIMPLE, but Amazingly delicious Beef.  The prices are going up, cook these perfect every time!

Herb Spiced Peach Slices

This is a "Duh, Really is that all there is" recipe.  Meaning it gets NO EASIER than this, but the pay off is a wonderful complex tasting side dish.  Savory, Sweet, Herbal and versatil.  Serve as a dessert or as a side dish (Delicious when topped on fish)!
Orange Roughy with an Herbal Peach Salsa

Cooking fish can be intimidating the first time.  But really this is Sooo EASY!  Set up three "dredging stations", Flour, Egg and Panko Bread Crumbs.  Braised in Butter until golden brown and delicious.  EASY EASY EASY and you can DIY PERFECT FISH!

Scallion Cream Cheese Crescent Sandwich

A very simple warm sandwich. Cream cheese flavored with herbal onion Cream Cheese is baked inside a crescent roll. Best when served warm, right out of the oven.  Simple to make yet complex flavors throughout.  Delicious!


NOTHING COULD BE EASIER.  The recipe for the sauce is a simple, "Add Ingredients in a Jar and Shake like Heck" sauce.  No cooking but BIG in payoff.  Turns a simple Store Bought Pre-Cooked Bird into a Special Occasion Dinner!


This is very easy and is perfect for an upgrade of that simple Store Bought Rotisserie Chicken.  Best of all, if you make the Stock from the bones of a Rotisserie Chicken, almost the entire sauce is made from parts that many toss...A simple DIY Upgrade that costs almost nothing!!!  And is perfect with Mashed Potatoes!

Mini Fruit on a Stick Skewers - Appetizers

Anything on a stick is fun!  Serve these up as an appetizer, or pop in the freezer for an hour and then use for a stir stick for white wine or sangria.  Simple enough to make, just a few tips and suggestions in the pin to make these beautiful fun and festive little treats!

Fried Green Tomato Sliders

a Southern CLASSIC! Dressed up a bit for a crowd. I love the contrast of a sweet cool fresh ripe tomato slice with the crunchy coating over a mushy cooked tomato still warm from the fryer!  Flavor dressed up with Cajun Spices and flavored Mayo, these pack an Oooh and Aaah factor from all your guests!

And very very easy!

Lemon Sugar

This is one of those - "You can't cook this without first cooking That" Dishes.  Lemon Sugar is a fantastic for so many uses... Like some AMAZING Lemon Lemon Cookies.  The Simple (only 2 ingredients) recipe is made in seconds and adds such a Powerful PUNCH of Flavor!

HUMMUS - 5 Minute Lemon Garlic Hummus!

WOW Is this easy!!!  A Whirl through the food processor is the only cooking instructions. Ingredients are probably in your pantry right now (well, you may have to shop for a can of chickpeas),  The fresh toasted pita triangles are just as easy and just as fast. Start to finish, 5 minutes!

Grilled Garlic Bread Crostini with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Little Crostini... OK, little fancy garlic bread.  You could actually make these Really Really Fancy by using a round cookie cutter to make these round circles of crustless toast.  ME... I like to make these on the grill.  The recipe itself is simple enough, just a simple Goat Cheese spread with a piece or two of Walnut on Garlic Toast. A few hints to make it special, but really incredibly easy.


Bacon is AWESOME!
And Bacon Salt is even more AWESOME! Anything you use salt for you can use BACON SALT and add extra flavors. Simplest, try some on Popcorn... Add it to baked potatoes, macaroni and cheese, seared steak—anything savory that needs a kiss of salt. Bacon truly does make it better.   ENJOY INDEED!

Easiest Tastiest 3 Ingredient Slow Cooker EASY

OH MY is this ever EASY... Only three ingredients, but LOTS of flavor.  Crock Pot set and forget easy.  About 8 pounds of cooked meat with minutes of hands on work.  BIG payoff in taste!  Will make about 50 small slider size sandwiches, great for any Pass a Plate PotLuck!

TANG - Creamsickle Ice Cream Float

A double barreled BLAST in the face of  nostalgia.  Not only is this an AMAZING taste of those classic Orange Dreamsickle ice cream treats from the 60's and 70's, BUT ALSO made with TANG - the drinks the astronauts took into space!  Cool and refreshing reminder of childhood.. And DELICIOUS!


One of the best bargains in Appetizers!  Less than 50 cents each, 2 ingredients (EASY), can be grilled or baked in the oven and best of all, UNIVERSALLY LOVED!!!

This is the classic recipe I learned, just a meatball, wrapped in Bacon with a sweet BBQ dipping sauce. there are dozens of variations, Chicken Meatballs (Cloinks?), Pork Meatballs (the Oink-Oink), add a piece of pineapple for the Hawaiian Moik or even Turkey Bacon with Vegetarian Meatballs (The Veggie Gobbler).

Sprinkle a spice rub on them for spicey balls, brush with the dipping sauce as a glaze during the last 10 minutes of cooking for that glowing wet look ball.

You can bake them, grill them or even use that toaster oven!

Here's the basic recipe... now just imagine your interpretation!

#46"Old School" Chicken with Chicken Gravy

This is Soooo Old School.  Only two ingredients, a few hours in the crock pot and you have the most tender, juicy and delicious chicken... PLUS it makes it's own gravy.  Simple in every way yet amazingly old school delicious and PERFECT!

Dr Pepper Spicy Pulled Pork

This is an "OMG, really that easy???" recipe.
Only three ingredients, a few hours in the crock pot and an amazing spicy moist flavorful BIG batch of meat.  Feed an army with only a few minutes hands on work.  Very economical and about as good as it gets!

And great fun to brag about the "Secret" Ingredient

Cloink Balls (Cluck + Oink = CloinkBACON wrapped Chicken Sausages with BBQ Dip

Amazing in their simplicity yet about the most delicious of appetizers.  A new take on the legendary Moink Balls.  But with more healthy version with chicken!  Be sure to make the suggested dip, sweet as can be with hints of spicy deliciousness.  These are GREAT crowd Pleasers!

Herb Cheese Beer Bread - The Easiest of all Breads

And indeed, beer bread is the easiest of all breads to make.  And this one is LOADED with herbal hints and the fantastic Beer and Cheddar combination!
Loaded Smashed Red Potatoes (Xtra FAST Xtra EASY)

I had a quicky BBQ the other night. Just a few Pork Chop sandwiches from the grill. This was my side dish.  SUPER FAST (I cooked the potatoes in the microwave, just a few minutes.  SUPER EASY. I did grate the cheese (a couple of minutes). I did have the bacon left over from a breakfast dish, but really how long does it take to fry bacon.

Simple Buttery Herb Peppered Spaghetti Squash

I LOVE SPaghetti Squash.  Must be the inner 10 year old that is fascinated by turning a gourd into spaghetti.  VERY SIMPLE to DIY, and this recipe is especially simple.  Buttery goodness with extra pepper!  YUM!

1 comment:

  1. Going to start with a loaf of beer bread; we have at least five small breweries here, so I can find one that has the right beer, I'm sure (I dislike alcohol, so will have to rely on the brewers to guide me).

    You have lots of good-sounding recipes; I've always hated garlic, but perhaps if I roast it and it's sweet, I might learn to like it, so that will be tried in my pasta sauce (I've been cooking since I was eight years old, and have a huge "Brain cookbook" stored in my head :-) ).

    Looking forward to the bread first.