SPICY CORN SALAD: A Wake-up Call To Your Mouth!

spicy corn salad2 textAh, summer! Longer days, sunny weather, and fresh produce. Besides fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes, corn on the cob ranks at the top.

Of course, delicious as eating a perfectly cooked corn on the cob is, it’s one of those foods best eaten in privacy or with close friends/family. No one looks to impress with a kernel or two stuck between their teeth.

And that’s where Spicy Corn Salad comes to the rescue! You get the mouth-pleasing crunch of fresh corn with the kick of serrano thrown in, all the while flashing those pearly whites without fear.

Spicy Corn Salad is a fast and easy side dish that can be eaten warm or cold.

SPICY CORN SALAD

  • 3 T sour cream
  • 3 T lime juice
  • 1 T mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp + 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1-2 serrano chilis (use your own judgment – 1½ was our preference)
  • 6 ears of white corn (or yellow)
  • 2 T + 1 tsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3 scallions, white and green part, sliced

Remove and discard the ends on the serranos. Slice into thin discs, leaving the seeds and ribs intact. spicy corn salad9In a large bowl, whisk the sour cream, lime juice, mayonnaise, 1/4 tsp salt, and the sliced chilis. spicy corn salad10Remove the husk and silk from the corn cobs, then wash and dry the ears. Next (this may sound daunting, but I promise you it’s not), holding each cob at an angle, remove the kernels by running a sharp knife down the sides. It’s easiest to begin a couple of inches from the top and work downwards, away from you. Then flip the cob, and remove the bit that was at the top in the same manner. (You can help cut down on flying kernels by holding the ear in a large bowl.) You’ll get about 3/4 cup of corn from each cob – I found that amazing. spicy corn salad8In a large nonstick skillet, put 1 T of the oil, half (approximately) of the corn, and 1/4 tsp of the salt. Spread corn out evenly in the skillet. spicy corn salad7Turn heat to medium/high, cover and let cook untouched for 3 minutes – this will char the corn. Remove covered skillet from burner and let set for an additional 15 seconds to allow the corn to stop popping before removing the lid. Pour cooked corn into into the sour cream mixture. Repeat the charring process with 1 T oil, the remaining corn, and 1/4 tsp salt. Pour into bowl.spicy corn salad4 In the now empty skillet, put 1 tsp oil in the center. Top the oil with the garlic and chili powder and cook for about 30 seconds to bloom the flavors. Add to the corn mixture and stir together. spicy corn salad3Let cool for 15 minutes. Add in the Feta, cilantro, and scallions. spicy corn salad5Serve at room temperature or chilled.

ROASTED POTATO SALAD: Not My Mother’s Potato Salad!

roasted potato salad8 textSometimes you just have to shake things up a little.

Growing up, my mother had only one recipe for potato salad: russet potatoes, celery, hard boiled eggs, and mayonnaise. We loved it.

But, as an adult, I’ve since learnt there are other types of potato salads AND other types of potatoes other than russets. This last part is more important than the first – russets tend to crumble and don’t hold firm. Yukon gold or red potatoes are firmer and will hold their shape. While I may return to my mother’s recipe, I will NOT use russet potatoes in potato salad ever again.

Roasted Potato Salad has a bit of a tang due to the vinegar and Dijon. I wouldn’t say it was better nor worse than my mother’s blander potato salad – just different. And, sometimes, different is nice.

Note: If you can find them, use the tiny Yukon potatoes. This way you only have to cut them in half and can let them roast without stirring.

ROASTED POTATO SALAD

  • 2 lbs of 1″ Yukon Gold (or red potatoes)
  • 1 shallot, cut in half lengthwise
  • 4 cloves of garlic, whole
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp + 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp + 3/4 tsp ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 red bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped into 3/4″ pieces
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup chives, chopped

Preheat oven to 425º Fahrenheit.

Wash potatoes, leaving skin intact. If using 1″-ish sized potatoes, cut in half. If using larger sized, cut into bite-sized pieces.

Place cut potatoes in a bowl and mix in the shallot, garlic, olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground pepper, and the red pepper. roasted potato salad2Pour onto a rimmed sheet with the potatoes laying cut side down. Roast undisturbed in the preheated 425º F oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool a little while you mix the dressing.roasted potato salad1 In the same bowl you used to mix the potatoes (you don’t have to wash it), mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, Dijon, 3/4 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp ground pepper, and celery. When cool enough to handle, chop the roasted shallot and garlic, and add to the dressing. Mix in the potatoes. roasted potato salad5You can serve it as a warm salad or chilled – it’s up to you. Just before serving, mix in the chopped chives.

 

MASHED POTATO CAKES: Crunchy Outside, Creamy Inside!!!

mashed pot cakes textI’ve rarely met a potato dish I didn’t like. However, I was never very happy with homemade potato cakes. There’s a slight difference between potato patties, latkes, hashbrowns, and pancakes. I’ve tried making them all and never been very happy with any…until America’s Test Kitchen came to the rescue.

Their idea was to NOT use leftover mashed potatoes because the consistency will vary from batch to batch – ranging from dry to mushy.  Rather, use a recipe specifically developed for patties. Another brilliant idea was to coat the cakes with panko, which gives them a nice crunch without all the oil.

MASHED POTATO CAKES – makes 8 patties

  • 2½ lbs russet potatoes
  • 1 T + 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 whole egg
  • about 2 cups panko crumbs
  • about 6 T vegetable oil for frying
  • optional:  toppings such as sour cream, ketchup, aioli sauce

Peel potatoes and cut into 1/4″ slices. Put into pot and add enough water to cover potatoes with 1″ water. Add in the 1 T salt. Bring to boil and cook 10 minutes. mashed pot cakes6Drain, then return potatoes to pot or large bowl. mashed pot cakes7Mash potatoes until smooth and let cool about 10 minutes.

Add the Parmesan, egg yolk, chives, 3/4 tsp salt, and pepper to the pot and mash all together. Let cool 1 hour. mashed pot cakes8Form 8  3″ patties – they’ll each need about 1/2 cup’s worth of potatoes. Make sure to press the patties together firmly so they don’t fall apart. mashed pot cakes9Beat the whole egg with a fork and pour onto a plate. Pour the panko onto another plate. Dip each pattie on both sides into the egg, followed by the panko. mashed pot cakes3mashed pot cakes4Set all the patties aside for 5 minutes before frying.

Preheat oven to 200º Fahrenheit oven.

Heat 3 T oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet and place 4 of the patties. Fry until bottom is golden brown (about 3 minutes), then flip and fry until golden brown. mashed pot cakes5Place on a cookie sheet and keep warm in the 200º F oven. Cook the remaining 4 patties in the same manner. Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven until ready to eat.

 

 

STUFFED SWEET POTATOES: A Thanksgiving (Or Anytime) Treat!

stuffed sweet potatoes text

Sweet potatoes of some sort have become an integral part of Thanksgiving in the US. Sadly, they’re often dumped out of a can, sprinkled with brown sugar, then topped with marshmallows. Sigh!

I will agree that sweet potatoes can use some flavoring, so I decided to find a better way than covering them with sugar. Stuffing them offers the benefit of utilizing the skin, PLUS being able to assemble them ahead of time – a huge bonus when you’re trying to get a holiday dinner on the table.

STUFFED SWEET POTATOES – makes 2 servings

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed & minced
  • 1/3 cup scallions, sliced (use whites and greens)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 oz (1/2 cup) jack cheese, shredded (I like jalapeño jack for an extra kick)

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

Wash unpeeled sweet potato and pierce with a sharp knife a few times. Microwave 2 minutes each side until soft in center – (about 6-8 minutes total). (You can bake them in the oven if you’d rather.) Set cooked sweet potato aside to completely cook in center while you prepare the filling.

Melt butter in a saucepan, and sauté jalapeño and scallions over medium flame for about 3-4 minutes – until the butter has browned, but not the scallions. Remove from heat and add in salt and pepper.stuffed sweet potatoes4 Slice sweet potato in half lengthwise and scrap out pulp, leaving a 1/4″ border intact. stuffed sweet potatoes7Chop pulp to break up strings, then mash. stuffed sweet potatoes5Stir mashed sweet potato into jalapeño mixture along with all but 2 T of the cheese.stuffed sweet potatoes6Fill each sweet potato shell with the mixture. Sprinkle 1 T cheese on each half.  At this point they can be covered and baked just before serving.stuffed sweet potatoes1Bake at 375º F for about 8 minutes, until sweet potatoes are hot and the cheese is melted. stuffed sweet potatoes2Serve immediately.

EGGPLANT-TOMATO STIR-FRY

eggplant-tomato stir fry

The old saying proves true: you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

I was given the recipe for Eggplant-Tomato Stir-Fry years ago when my husband and I were in a gourmet group. Looking at the ingredients, I was completely unimpressed. However, when I made and tasted it, I was completely IMpressed by how well the flavors blended.

As with most stir-frys, it’s all about the prep. With Eggplant-Tomato Stir-Fry, you wash and chop the veggies, and the cooking goes quickly. Yes, at the end, you do need to cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, but that’s hands-off.

EGGPLANT/TOMATO STIR-FRY

  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, cut into bite-sized slices
  • 1 medium eggplant, unpeeled and 1″ cubed
  • 1 red pepper, cut into slices or cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 3½ oz (3½cups) fresh spinach leaves, chopped (or 1 frozen 10 oz package chopped)
  • 1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise then cut into half moons
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Prepare veggies.tomato veg medley4

Heat oil in large skillet – I used a 14″ stainless steel pan. When oil is shimmering, add onions and sauté over medium/high for 2 minutes. tomato veg medley5One by one, continue to add eggplant, red pepper, garlic & spinach together, zucchini, and finally the tomatoes, cooking each 2 minutes before adding the next. Stir in the salt and pepper.

Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until veggies are tender but not mushy. tomato veg medley1Taste for seasoning, adjusting as needed.

ROASTED POTATOES: Irresistible!

roasted potatoes textI’ve almost never found a potato recipe I didn’t like. My love of potatoes (and chocolate) are most likely passed down from my Irish mam. While baked, hashed browns, mashed, and braised are all delicious, roasting potatoes kicks it up a notch making them one of my favorites.

Roasted Potatoes have a caramelized outside with a creamy inside.  What’s not to like?! And if that’s not enough, they’re easy to prepare.

ROASTED POTATOES

  • 6 Yukon gold potatoes
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 T vegetable oil
  • optional:  2 T parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 425º Fahrenheit.

Cut off ends of potatoes so there’s a flat, exposed surface on both sides. (Discard the ends.) Slice potatoes into 1/2″ discs. Place in a saucepan and cover with 1″ of water. roasted potatoes1Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes – until there’s a little resistance when you poke the centers with a sharp knife. (You don’t want to fully cook them at this point.) roasted potatoes7Drain potatoesroasted potatoes2 then empty them into a large bowl. Add in the salt and vegetable oil. Gently blend. roasted potatoes3Pour potatoes onto a rimmed baking sheet, making sure you scrape out all of the oil. Lay all the potato discs flat, spreading the oil under each piece.roasted potatoes4 Bake at 425º F for 15-20 minutes, until bottom is well browned. Flip potatoes and bake for another 10-20 minutes, until both sides are well browned.roasted potatoes5 Remove from oven and sprinkle with parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.

 

BELIZEAN RICE AND BEANS: A One-Pot Wonder!

Belezian rice and beans textThis is probably the easiest meal you’ll ever make. Simply chop the onion, cilantro, and red pepper, then throw everything into the pot and cook for 30 minutes.

This recipe is a lovely combination of subtle flavors. Try not to leave out any of the spices – I know most are only 1/8 tsp, but they’re important for the overall effect.

NOTE: Belizean Rice & Beans is super good topped with Avocado Sauce!

BELIZEAN RICE AND BEANS – makes about 5 cups

  • 1  15-oz can pinto beans, including liquid
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 T butter
  • 1  15-oz can coconut milk (or 1/2 cup powdered coconut milk plus enough water to make 15 oz)
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp celery seed
  • 1/8 tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in a 2-quart saucepan. Belezian rice and beans3Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for a total of 30 minutes. At first, stir now and then – until it’s been cooking for about 20 minutes. At this point most of the liquid will have been absorbed into the rice. Stir more often now to prevent burning. If all the liquid has been incorporated before the 30 minutes is up, turn off the heat and let the covered pot sit on the hot burner. This is to make sure the rice is completely cooked. belezian rice and beans2Eat as is, or do something crazy (like I do) and serve as an open faced sandwich on a homemade English Muffin or arepa, topped with avocado. Yummmm!

SPICY MACARONI SALAD: Nothing Bland About This!

spicy mac & cheese textWhen asked to attend a potluck, my Spicy Macaroni Salad is often specifically requested. Unlike the usual bland pasta salads, this recipe will wake up your mouth…in a good way!

It’s super easy to make and does well with being made in advance so the flavors have time to blend.

SPICY MACARONI SALAD

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic, pressed or minced
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Tabasco (or other hot sauce)
  • 8 oz small elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped radishes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/4 cup scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 T dried dill (or 3 T fresh)

In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, Dijon, garlic, pepper, and Tabasco. spicy mac & cheese1Stir the carrots, radishes, cucumber, scallions, parsley, and dill into the dressing. Mix well and chill.spicy mac & cheese2Cook pasta in salted water until just tender. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking (don’t worry, it will continue to soften when mixed with the dressing) and drain. Mix into the dressing. Chill at least an hour to allow the flavors to penetrate the pasta.spicy mac & cheese3

 

AVOCADO SAUCE: Add A Creamy Tang To…Well, Everything!

AVOCADO SAUCE textAvocado Sauce is a quick and easy topping for tacos, salads, quesadillas, or anything else you want. As opposed to guacamole, which is usually chunkier, it’s meant to pour – thus covering more territory.

Queen of Freeze Bonus:  This sauce can be successfully frozen!!! So take advantage of avocados when they’re at bargain prices in the market (or if you’re lucky enough to have your own tree). Make up large batches (make sure you try the recipe first) and freeze in portion sized containers.

AVOCADO SAUCE

  • 8 oz tomatillos
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1 tsp garlic, pressed
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Remove and discard papery wrap from tomatillos. Wash thoroughly and cut into quarters. Place all ingredients in food processor.avocado sauce4Pulse until creamy – scraping down sides as needed.avocado sauce3 Adjust seasoning to your preference.

GREEK POTATOES -A Lemony Wake Up Call!

GREEK POTATOES textOne of my favorite flavor combinations is lemon and garlic, so it’s no surprise that Greek Potatoes are a go-to side dish in our house. Not only is it delicious, but it’s super fast and easy to prepare. (It does take about 40 minutes to bake, but that’s hands-off.)

I highly recommend using a firm potato such as Yukon Gold or a red potato – the pieces will retain their shape. I’ve made this dish with russets, and they tend to kind of mash.

GREEK POTATOES – makes about 5 cups

  • 1½ lbs Yukon Gold or red potatoes
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2½ T vegetable oil
  • 1/2 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1-3 cloves garlic, pressed (I use 2)
  • 1½ cups boiling water
  • about 2 T chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 475º Fahrenheit.

Chop unpeeled potatoes into chunks that are no smaller than 3/4″. (If they’re too small, you’ll lose the balance of a firm outside and creamy inside of each piece.)

Into a flat bottomed, high sided casserole dish combine the potatoes, lemon juice, vegetable oil, olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic, and boiling water.GREEK POTATOES3 Place in 475º F oven uncovered. Bake, stirring gently every 20 minutes, until almost all the water is evaporated. This will take about 40-60 minutes. There will still be oil remaining on the bottom.GREEK POTATOES2 Remove from oven and sprinkle on parsley. Serve while hot.