Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Stuffed Squash Blossoms

I’ve always been curious about squash blossoms, but I had never tried one. I’ve never had the nerve to take them off of my own squash plants, preferring to let them become their destined squash. A couple of summers ago I got some blossoms at the farmer’s market with the intention of stuffing them, but they got pushed back to the abyss of the refrigerator and I forgot about them, until they turned up on my next fridge clean shriveled and beyond use. That little foray in to squash blossoms was the end of my curiosity until I saw them again recently at a local farmer’s market. This time however I would be scrumptiously victorious!

Edible flowers have always amused me. When Alexis was three, she became obsessed with them. At the time we lived near a Whole Foods, and they usually had packages of them in their produce section, so we’d pick one up from time to time. A particular favorite of both of ours were Nasturtiums, which sort of have a peppery taste about them, and also violets, which tend to be a bit sweeter. I also have fond childhood memories of eating rose petals from my mom’s roses with my sister. I even introduced this tradition to Alexis on one of our trips to Tennessee. If you’re curious about some of the flowers that can be safely eaten, Wikipedia has a nice section on the topic.

Squash blossoms are a lovely, golden yellow color and are slightly sticky to the touch. Sometimes when you purchase the blossoms, they will have small squash attached to the end, but most of the time when you buy the blossoms, you’ll get just the blossom. You can eat them raw, use them in stir fry, or as I have done, you can stuff, bread and fry them. Any way you make them though, they’re a fun little treat.

What You’ll Need:
1 small package of button or baby bella mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 – 10.5 ounce package of goat cheese
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, chopped
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup of parmesan cheese
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
Extra virgin olive oil

In a medium sized skillet, sauté mushrooms and garlic in a little extra virgin olive oil, until tender. Set aside.

In a glass bowl add goat cheese and microwave on high for 10 seconds, to soften. Stir in mushroom/garlic mixture, thyme, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until well incorporated. Set aside.

Add about an inch of olive oil to a deep skillet and heat over medium heat until hot.

While your oil is heating, mix breading and then stuff/bread your blossoms.

To make the breading, in a pie dish stir together panko crumbs and parmesan. Depending on how salty your parmesan is, you might want to add a bit of sea salt too. The easiest way to decide is to take a taste of the breading/cheese mixture and see if it needs a bit of salt. You can also add in some black pepper if wanted.

Beat your eggs in a separate dish.

You can stuff the blossoms one of two ways…

First you can fill a pastry bag with the mushroom/cheese mixture and gently pipe the mixture down in to the blossoms until each one is relatively full…

Or you can gently tear the blossom down one side and put a dollop of the mushroom mixture in each, then wrap the blossom back together, using the cheese mixture to stick it closed. This is the method I used.

Once the blossoms are filled roll the blossom in the beaten egg to coat and then roll the egg washed blossom in the bread crumbs until completely covered.

Place breaded blossom in the oil and cook for about 20 to 30 seconds until the side in the oil is browned. Then slowly and gently rotate the blossom in the oil until all sides are browned. It takes 1 – 2 minutes per blossom depending on its size. I usually brown 4 “sides” and once it is browned all over place cooked blossom on a paper towel lined plate to drain and then serve while still hot.

Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Notes: You could play around with the goat cheese mixture and add onions or other herbs. You could add a mixture of cheeses, blue cheese would be heavenly. You could also replace the goat cheese with cream cheese if you liked. It’s a fun dish to play around with. If you have any of the cheese/mushroom mixture left over, it makes a good spread on bagels.

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

As some of you know Jamison is a pick eater. On top of this, a few years back, we found out he can’t really tolerate gluten. Not a big deal, but when the majority of your diet is in some form of gluten, you’ve got problems. Every once in a while, I go out on a limb and try to make something different for him to eat, though he’s not much of a “Let’s try something new!” sort of person. I get bored with his food. He suffers through, but I’m completely bored to tears, and this is how this came about.

He’ll eat bacon, he’ll eat cheese, he’ll eat potatoes, why not toss them all together and make something new. I knew it was a crap shoot whether he’d eat it or not, but hey, I like all those things too, so it was all good, and that’s exactly what this was…all good! Jamison even liked it, and Jamison liking something, especially food, well that’s not a common occurrence.

The great thing about this, is there are no wrong answers. A little more of this, a little more of that, it all works. This is also a good dish for using left over baked or mashed potatoes. I always like something that takes leftovers to a new level. It’s a win, win, win, win situation! 😉

What You’ll Need:
10-12 potatoes, baked and peeled (Note: Just fill up most of a 13 X 9 inch dish with potatoes.)
1 package of uncured, natural bacon, chopped and cooked and drained
1 cup of half and half or heavy cream, divided
1 stick of butter, melted
Sea salt (Note: If you want to just go crazy use season salt instead!)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 – 8 ounce block of cheddar cheese, shredded and divided

First you want to bake your potatoes and let them cool. Or you can use left over potatoes. It’s all up to you. You want enough potatoes to basically fill a 13 X 9 inch dish with mashed potatoes when it’s done. This go around I baked them for the recipe specifically.

Bake those potatoes, let them cool, peel the skin off. Set aside.

While the potatoes are baking, chop up a package of bacon and cook until crispy. Drain and set aside.

Next shred your cheese. I can’t stress this enough…take the time and shred it yourself. The stuff you buy pre-shredded is weird and has stuff in it to keep it “separate” and from molding. You want cheese, not fillers. It’s so much better when you start with a block of cheese and shred it yourself.

Trust me.

After your potatoes are cooled, and all of your ingredients are ready, turn your oven on and start mixing!

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl mash the potatoes with butter, 1/2 cup of half and half or cream, salt, pepper, 1 cup of cheese and sour cream. You want the consistency of mashed potatoes. If you need to add a bit more dairy or sour cream to get it right, go for it. Once you hit the right consistency stop adding. Just add a bit at a time. Sometimes you won’t need to, others you might. Sometimes potatoes are more dry than others.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch dish with non-stick spray. You can use the dish you baked the potatoes in if you like, that’s what I did. Spread potato mixture in to the dish. Sprinkle the top of the mixture with the rest of the cheese and all of the bacon. Then pour 1/2 cup of half and half or heavy cream over the top of the cheese and bacon evenly.

Bake for for 25 minutes covered. Uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until slightly golden and bubbly.

Let sit for 5 minutes and then serve.

Notes: You could serve this by topping it with a bit of sour cream and some chives or green onion if you wanted, but trust me, it’s good just as it is!

Asian Peanut Salad

Asian Peanut Salad

I’ve been on a peanut kick lately. If there’s something that can be done with peanut butter I’m there! This salad is satisfying as a main meal, or lovely as a side dish, and it has a delectable, fresh flavor with a satisfying crunch. It really hits the spot on a hot summer day, when you just want to eat something cool and refreshing and not have to bother with the stove or oven. It’s also easy to make subtle differences by switching things up a bit, and it is ready in under 15 minutes. What’s not to like about that?

Asian Peanut Salad: Ingredients

What You’ll Need for the Salad:
1/2 of a large head of savoy cabbage, chopped or shredded
2 cups of snow pea pods
3 big or 6 small carrots, chopped
1 cup of sliced almonds or chopped peanuts
2 cups of chow mein noodles

Chop cabbage and place in a large bowl:

Asian Peanut Salad: Savoy Cabbage

Next add snow peas:

Asian Peanut Salad: Snow Peas

Then carrots:
Asian Peanut Salad: Carrots

Then Nuts:

Asian Peanut Salad: Nuts

And finally the chow mein noodles:

Asian Peanut Salad: Ready for Dressing

Set the bowl aside and mix the dressing (see below). Once the dressing is made pour the dressing over the top of vegetables and noodles in the bowl and toss to coat.

Asian Peanut Salad: Tossed

Serve immediately

Notes: You can use any type of cabbage with this, though I wouldn’t recommend red cabbage since the vinegar makes its color leech and though it might taste OK, the visual isn’t pretty. Also this really is an eat it now sort of salad. It might hold up for one day in the fridge, but the noodles will become mushy if you try to store it much past that time.

Asian Peanut Salad: Peanut Dressing

What You’ll Need for the Peanut Dressing:
1 cup of sesame oil
2 tablespoons of natural brown sugar
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1/3 cup of peanut butter (Note: You can use creamy or chunky if you want a bit more of a peanut crunch.)
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup of brown rice vinegar

Place all ingredients in a jar:

Asian Peanut Salad: Peanut Dressing Ready to Mix

Place the lid on the jar and make sure its tight. Shake the jar for a minute or two until the contents are completely mixed.

Now the dressing is ready to use!

Notes: You can use regular cane sugar if you want, but the brown sugar really gives it a nice flavor punch.

Rustic Vegetable Soup

Rustic Vegetable Soup

I love soup. I’m a big fan year round, but especially in the winter. This soup came about from my wanting to incorporate the vegetables I got from our local CSA like vegetable/fruit delivery service this week. I had an eggplant, some bok choy, some chard, along with some left over black eyed peas from New Year’s Day. Before long this soup was “born”.

This soup is BIG. It makes a lot of soup. It has big chunks of vegetables and is very hearty, all while being healthy too. Pair it with some sour dough or corn bread and a side salad you’ve got a meal. In reality though the soup itself is hearty enough to be a meal, so you can enjoy it as is too!

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 large carrots, cut into round pieces
1 large red onion, chopped
2 cups of sliced mushrooms
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large potato, cut into bite sized cubes
1 large bunch of Swiss or rainbow chard, chopped
1 bunch of bok choy, chopped
1 large eggplant, cut into bite sized cubes
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 quart of chicken broth
2 quarts of tomato sauce
1 – 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 cups of frozen corn
1 – 10 package of frozen lima beans
2 cups of cooked black eyed peas, undrained

First up let me be clear…You’re going to need a very BIG pot for this soup!

In a very large stockpot saute carrots, onion, garlic, mushrooms and potato in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil until tender, stirring often. Add chard and bok choy and stir until just wilted.

Add oregano, thyme, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper and stir to mix.

Next add chicken broth, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Also add corn, lima beans and black eyed peas and stir to incorporate.

Bring to a quick boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring often for at least an hour.

Serve immediately. Left overs are great too and freeze fabulously!

Notes: If you wanted to make this vegetarian/vegan use water or vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth. You could also use other vegetables like leeks, celery, white beans, etc. Shake it up!

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Canning, Preserving and Freezing, Oh My!

It’s that time of year again…The time to save some of your harvest for use during the winter. My three favorite methods include canning, preserving and freezing. I also dry things like fruit or tomatoes from time to time too.

Living on the side of a mountain has its perks. It’s cooler up here than down in the valley, even though we’ve had some miserably hot days this summer all together, we tend to get a bit more rain and you can’t beat the view! Well the view isn’t really a perk I suppose, but it’s enjoyable none the less. I’m an ocean/water girl by nature, but I have to say this view has really, really grown on me.

The bad thing about living on the side of a mountain in the middle of nowhere Central Maryland is the wildlife! Daily residents in our yard include ground hogs, who are voracious little rats, rabbits, who are pretty voracious themselves, deer, who well are pretty voracious too, along with a sundry other creatures (including a few SNAKES eek!) that all mill about. The thing these beasties have in common? They love to eat anything that I plant in my “garden”!

Meet one of our resident groundhogs:

One of our resident groundhogs: AKA Satan

Or Satan as I have dubbed him. Sure he looks all sweet and cute sitting there munching on rotten apples that have fallen from the tree, which I’m more than happy to share with him and his little fuzzy family, but he’s really an evil little thief of massive proportions! Don’t let his charming little demeanor fool you…This guy is trouble!

Despite having numerous tomato plants this year all of the ripe ones have been eaten by the deer, ground hogs and rabbits before I have gotten to enjoy them. Luckily we have a few nice Farmer’s Markets around the area each week as well as a nearby orchard that has a multitude of various fruits and vegetables so I’ve been buying my tomatoes from them.

I have beautiful tomatoes:

Green Tomato

But once this sucker starts turning the least bit red one of my yard critters will end up eating it before I get the chance. Excuse me while I grumble a moment about evil animals…..

Where was I?

Tomatoes!

The only type of tomatoes I’ve grown this year they haven’t munched is my cherry tomatoes:

Cherry Tomatoes

And let me tell you these little guys are good, but sometimes you want something a little bigger than these little gems.

Tomato Sauce

For the past few years toward the end of summer I’ve purchased bushels upon bushels of what they call “second tomatoes”. What are second tomatoes? They’re the tomatoes that grow into a weird shape, or have a blemish here, or a spot there. There is nothing wrong with these tomatoes, but some people can’t see past their “ugly” (And I use this term sarcastically…Who cares what it looks like as long as it tastes ok??!!?!) exterior. You may have to cut a spot out here or there, but they are still perfectly good tomatoes to eat, can or even freeze. Don’t let the look of something fool you. You know like the groundhog we mentioned above! ;oP

The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a bevy of information if you’re interested in preserving your own food. They have detailed information on the methods you need to use and their instructions on canning is invaluable. The recipes, the techniques and everything are right there. My mom got their “cookbook” a few years ago and I’ve used the soup out of that thing! I use their water bath method to can my tomatoes and tomato sauce.

I also like to take fresh fruit and make fruit fillings for desserts during the winter by freezing them for use later. So far this summer I’ve froze several jars of peach, cherry and blueberry fillings. It’s extremely easy to do these, you just cook them with a little sugar until the berries are soft. You remove the fruit from the heat, let it cool (it will thicken as it cools) and then place the mixture in a wide mouthed quart sized glass jar with an inch of head room at the top, put the lid on and then freeze them.

How easy is that?

To use the fillings you just take them out of the freezer, let them thaw and then you can make pie, cake, pastries, sauce, ice cream, etc. The blueberries just go in whole, with the juice and zest of a lemon, the cherries just have to be pitted and the peaches peeled, pitted and mashed. As I mentioned above you add a little sugar and cook until the fruit is soft. These little fillings are pretty easy to do and taste better than anything you’d ever buy at the grocery store.

Another favorite thing this time of year for me is pickling cucumbers! These cucumbers have such a lovely, crisp, fresh taste and as their name implies they make fabulous pickles! I’m going to share with you a really simple, quick refrigerator pickle that are simply fabulous! Let’s get to it shall we?

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

What You’ll Need For The Refrigerator Dill Pickles:
1/4 cup of black peppercorns
1 tablespoon of sea salt
2 teaspoons of organic cane sugar
2-4 cloves of garlic, crushed (optional)
2 tablespoons of dried dill
~OR~
1 bunch of fresh dill
Pickling cucumbers (Note: These are the smaller, crisp cucumbers that are abundant during the summer.)
1 1/2 cups of vinegar (Note: I like apple cider vinegar for this, but you can use plain white vinegar instead.)
Water

Place peppercorns, sea salt, sugar, garlic and dill in a quart sized canning jar. Slice cucumbers and add to the jar until you reach 1/2 inch from the top of the jar. Pour in vinegar and then fill up the rest of the jar with water. Give the jar a shake to mix up the ingredients and place in the fridge for at least 24 hours before serving.

Pickles last about 2 months in the fridge.

Notes: You could also add in some red or Vidalia onion strips to the mix as well.

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Garnished

I’ve become obsessed with grilling. When I was in my late teens and early twenties I loved to grill! But once I met Jamison I didn’t grill as much because he’s very picky about how his food is prepared and hates being outside.

I know, I know! Have I mentioned lately my culinary skills are lost on him?

Anyway, I’m becoming snarky at my old age of 37 and I’ve decided by golly I’m going to grill more often and I have been! I like to grill in the spring, fall and winter, because I’m also not so keen on the heat during the summer. I don’t want to stand over a scorching grill when it’s 90+ degrees outside. But really that’s neither here nor there in the grand scheme of this salad, so we’ll move on.

I started thinking about making a grilled salad. The idea of warm salads intrigues me, but up until this point I had not had a warm salad that I actually cared for. I like potato salad warm occasionally, right after it’s been made, but that isn’t really what you think about when you think about a salad.

I’ve heard of people grilling lettuce chunks before, but that didn’t really appeal to me. I might try it someday, but for this I wanted more hearty/sturdy vegetables and definitely bread. What’s not to like about bread?

I also decided I wanted some sort of grilled seafood added to the mix. Alexis and I both love shrimp and lobster so I decided to go with one of those. I had some lobster tails in the freezer so that ended up being what I went with this night. Our local store puts them on sale occasionally for $3 to $5 for a nice sized tail, so when they do I buy a few and freeze them for later use.

The lobster is really a great grilling “fish” because of its shell. You don’t have to worry about putting it on a cedar plank because it will flake away on the grill like you would with a fillet of fish. When it’s a bright red color it’s ready to go! This usually takes 15-20 minutes depending on the heat of your grill.

So after I had the idea I started chopping and this is what resulted. This is a perfect summer time dinner that doesn’t take a lot of time, but you end up with a really fabulous result. My kind of dinner!

What You’ll Need for the Salad:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tomatoes cut in half
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 small package of button or baby Portabella mushrooms
1-2 bell peppers, cut into big chunks
2 carrots, cut into thick sticks
1 large zucchini, cut into big chunks
1 large red onion, cut into thick strips
1/2 loaf of day old french or Callah bread, cut into cubes
1-2 lobster tails
Grated Parmesan

First mix up your dressing and set aside:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Dressing

See the recipe below for the dressing. Shake again really well before adding to the salad.

Then sprinkle your veggies with a little sea salt and pepper and then toss with some extra virgin olive oil to thinly coat:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Veggies Ready to Grill

Next sprinkle your cubes of bread with sea salt and toss with a little olive oil as well:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Bread Tossed with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Now we’re ready for the fun part…Grilling!

I like to use natural charcoal. It gives the food such a wonder flavor and it doesn’t have any of the weird chemicals in them that many other brands do. I like to use Stubb’s. They don’t have their charcoal listed on their website, but I’ve found it at Lowe’s.

Now to use a charcoal chimney or not?

I really love the ease of use of a charcoal chimney. You don’t need lighter fluid, which is again an accelerant and who wants to add that to your food, because if you’re cooking over it your food is absorbing whatever is burning underneath it.

BUT

I don’t think that a charcoal chimney holds enough charcoal to actually cook something well. I like a lot of coals going beneath my food. So lately I’ve been using brown craft paper spread throughout the coals to use as “wicks” if you will and splash a little PGA on top of the coals to get it going. Be careful if you’re using the pure grain alcohol because that stuff ignites fast and big!

Once your coals are hot you’re ready to start grilling!

I like to do the “sturdier” vegetables first. The softer the vegetable is the faster it will grill. You also want to get your lobster tails on first as well. The bread will come last.

So you grill and flip:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Grilling

And grill and flip:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Grilling

And grill and flip some more:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Grilling

As you can see some of my veggies “jumped” into the grill because I was careless when turning them. The bigger the chunk of vegetable, the less likely you are to lose it through the slits of the grill. Live and learn as they say. Or maybe in this case it would be do and learn.

When things become done you’ll remove them to a plate or platter and set them aside until the other aspects of the salad become done:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Grilled Lobster and Bread

When you grill the bread be careful. Each side will literally grill in 30 seconds or less over direct coals!

Once everything is grilled it’s time to assemble your salad!

First place the bread in the bottom of a bowl:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Bread

Next cut the grilled tomatoes into wedges and then add to the bread:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Tomatoes

And then the mushrooms:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Mushrooms

And the bell peppers:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Bell Pepper and Carrots

Zucchini:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Zucchini

Onions:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Onions

And then add the carrots and roughly chop the lobster meat and add to the bowl as well:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Lobster

Finally sprinkle the veggies with some Parmesan:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Parmesan

And some of the dressing (see recipe below):

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Ready Toss

And it’s ready to toss!

Now dig in and enjoy!

Notes on the Salad: As I mentioned above you could use shrimp in place of the lobster or even a cedar grilled salmon would be great too. I sometimes like to serve this with extra grilled vegetables as you can see in the picture at the top of the entry. You could also use grilled squash or cherry tomatoes, or whatever you like in place of, or in addition to what I used.

What You’ll Need for the Dressing:
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of balsamic or champagne vinegar
A pinch of sea salt
Black pepper
1 tablespoon of dried Italian Seasoning mix
~OR~
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried basil
2 teaspoons of dried oregano

Add all ingredients to a glass jar. Put on an air tight lid and shake until mixed. Use to toss the salad.

Notes on the Dressing: You can use either type of vinegar that you like. I like to use balsamic when I want a bigger flavor punch. I use champagne when I want it a more delicate flavor.

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes

I have always loved scalloped potatoes. I mean what’s not to like? Potatoes, cheese? It’s the perfect comfort food! I always had this impression that they would be hard to make. It’s another one of those things I just assumed was difficult and well you know what they say about assuming….

Lately I’ve grown tired of mashed potatoes because Jamison eats way too many of them so I thought I’d play around with this mixture and see what I came up with. The result? The result is a creamy, savory bite of fabulousness! Even Jamison liked these and that’s saying something!

This dish is simple, quick and makes a really great side dish that is just perfect for a holiday or even a weeknight dinner. Try it and see!

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
Russet potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
Sea salt
Black pepper
Cheddar, shredded
Half and half or heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Brush a baking dish with olive oil to prevent sticking.

Add a layer of potatoes to the bottom of the dish:

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes: Potatoes

Next sprinkle with sea salt and finely ground black pepper:

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes: Sea Salt and Pepper

Top with a layer of cheese:

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes: Cheese

Repeat this process until you reach the top of your baking dish and top with a thick layer of cheddar.

Next pour half and half or heavy cream over the entire mixture until 1/4th of the dish is filled with the liquid. Makes sure you spread it out all over the top as you pour.

Place on a baking sheet to prevent spills and bake for 35-45 minutes until fork tender:

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes

Let sit for 5-10 minutes and then serve.

Notes: You can use a mix of different cheeses if you like. Monterrey Jack, Gruyere, Parmesan, Gouda, etc. I like to bake this in individual serving dishes sometimes.

Creamed Corn

Creamed Corn

Even though fall weather is settling in (And thank goodness for that! I’m more than tired of this way too hot summer we’ve had!) you can still find fabulous, fresh local produce. One of my favorite summer gems after tomatoes and cucumbers is corn. This grain is so versatile!

Fresh corn is fabulous, but after a few rounds of corn on the cob, or corn removed from the cob I like to shake things up a bit. Soups are always a good choice. Or you can make a multitude of salads utilizing fresh corn.

As a child I used to love creamed corn. I haven’t had it in years because I rarely eat things out of metal cans anymore and prefer frozen vegetables instead. I have never found a frozen version of the creamed variety. I keep looking, but I’ve never had any luck.

A while ago I saw a recipe for creamed corn in Washingtonian magazine. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, given it had shallots in it among other things I can’t remember at the moment, and I wanted something a little more pure…A little more old fashioned if you will. So I took their theory and went out on my own as I often do and the results were fabulous!

I ended up freezing most of what I made since I’m the only one that would eat creamed corn in the house. I plan on using some to make corn casserole at Thanksgiving. Whether you eat it now, or freeze it for later, you have a really fabulous, really basic creamed corn that will hit the spot!

What You’ll Need:
4 tablespoons of butter, divided
10 ears of corn, kernels removed
2+ cups of half and half, divided

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large stock pot. Be careful not to brown the butter.

Creamed Corn: Corn Removed From Cob

While butter is melting remove corn kernels from the cob. When all the kernels are loose place 1/2 of the kernels in the melted butter and saute for 5 minutes stirring often. You want the corn to become slightly tender, you don’t want it to brown.

Creamed Corn: Corn Kernels

While corn kernels are cooking take remaining kernels and process until relatively smooth in a food processor or blender:

Creamed Corn: Corn Creamed

Add corn mixture to the kernels in the pot, along with a cup of half and half and 1 tablespoon of butter. Cook over low heat, stirring often to prevent browning. Cook until the mixture thickens and the half and half is reduced.

Creamed Corn: Cooking

Next repeat the previous step and cook again until it has thicken and reduced more. At this point you have a pretty fabulous creamed corn. If the corn still seems that it needs to be a bit more tender you can repeat the step of adding the half and half minus the butter as often as you like until it reaches the consistency you like, but two rounds should do it.

Let rest for 5 or 10 minutes and serve.

Notes: A lot of the recipes I came across called for sugar to be added. I don’t see that is necessary since corn is sweet in and of itself.

Summer Time Mexican Rice

Summer Time Mexican Rice

I’ve mentioned in the past (many, many, many times) my adoration of Mexican cuisine. Any time someone suggests Mexican I’m there! I make my versions of Mexican dishes at home as well and this is one of my favorites. It’s not completely authentic, but it’s tasty so that’s all that matters!

This time of year I like to utilize the abundance of tomatoes and peppers that sometimes pile up. This is a quick and easy dish that you cook entirely in the microwave, making it ideal for those hot summer days! Not to mention the fact it’s really delicious. What’s not to like about that?

So grab those summer veggies and lets get started!

What You’ll Need:
1 cup of instant rice (Note: You can use white or brown.)
2 cups of tomatoes, chopped
2 ears of corn, kernels removed (Note: You can use left over corn that is cooked or add it in raw. Either way works.)
1/2 a large red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 tablespoon of paprika
1/4 to 1 teaspoon of cayenne (Note: More if you like it hot, less if you don’t. You can leave this out all together if you prefer.)
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 bunch of chives, chopped (Note: About 1/3 to 1/2 cup.)
2 cups of water

First place rice in the bottom of a large glass dish. (Note: You’ll need one with a lid.) Next add tomatoes:

Summer Time Mexican Rice: Rice and Tomatoes

Then add corn kernels:

Summer Time Mexican Rice: Corn

Then add red onion:

Summer Time Mexican Rice: Red Onion

Have I mentioned lately how much it annoys me that something that is purple is called red? No? Well then there you go! ;oP

Anyway….

After the onion add bell pepper:

Summer Time Mexican Rice: Bell Pepper

You can use whatever color you have on hand. I used a yellow variety this go around.

Sprinkle chili powder, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, chives and sea salt over the top of the veggies:

Summer Time Mexican Rice: Spices

And last add the water:

Summer Time Mexican Rice: Ready to Cook

Place lid on the dish and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Remove lid and stir. Replace lid and microwave on 3-5 minute intervals until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Be sure to keep an eye on this toward the end. You don’t want it to “boil” over in the microwave and make a mess. Not that I’ve done that before or anything! ;oP

Remove lid and stir. Place lid back on the dish and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: You can add in beans too if you like. I like black or red in this dish.

Another Summer Salad

Another Summer Salad

It’s been hot. Really, really, really hot. And when it gets like this I have zero interest in cooking. It’s too hot to grill and I most certainly don’t want to heat up the house, so I’ve been eating a lot of salads. It’s the perfect solution to dinner in the summer when you can get all sorts of produce from literally under the sun!

So we’ve established that it is easy to come up with all sorts of salads, but it’s hard to name them all! Therefore this is simply “Another Summer Salad” but don’t let the bland name fool you. This one is packed full of flavor and is just perfect for that hot summer day!

What You’ll Need:
1/2 cup of cabbage, chopped
2 ears of corn, kernels removed (Note: I used some I had grilled earlier in the week when we actually had a day that wasn’t blazing hot.)
1 small red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (Note: I actually used 1/2 of a green pepper and 1/2 of a yellow.)
1 large cucumber, cut in half and sliced
1-2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of brown rice vinegar
A pinch of sea salt
Finely ground black pepper
1/3 cup of Parmesan, shredded

Another Summer Salad

In a large glass bowl toss together cabbage, corn, red onion, bell pepper and tomatoes until well mixed. Set aside.

In a small glass bowl whisk together extra virgin olive oil, brown rice vinegar, a pinch of sea salt and some finely ground black pepper until incorporated. Pour oil and vinegar over vegetables and toss to coat.

Sprinkle the salad with Parmesan and toss once more to mix in the cheese. Serve immediately.

Another Summer Salad

Notes: This time of year there are so many things you could add to this mix! Banana peppers would be great, or how about some shredded carrots? Peas are also a favorite. Don’t be afraid to mix it up! You could also top it off with some fresh herbs like chives or parsley.