Cilantro Sweet Corn Side Dish

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One of my favorite nutritionist bloggers, Snack Girl, was bragging one July morning on her Easiest Corn Salad. It did look easy and tasty. Of course I had to try it.CC Pics 029

But with my own twist of course. Snack Girl’s was more of a salad, whereas mine is more correctly identified as a corn side with a little cilantro sass.

I’ve changed some of the ingredients to make a side that has a hint of sweet alongside herby cilantro and zesty lime. I quite like the outcome.

Per usual, this recipe makes on serving, but you can make more. See Snack Girl’s post for resizing or comment below if you need help adjusting.

Ingredients

1/2 cup fresh sweet corn kernels

twist of lime

pinch of steviaCC Pics 027

1 T diced tomato-onion mix

dash of freshly chopped cilantro

dash of paprika

Directions

Simply combine the corn and veggies. Squeeze lime over the top. Sprinkle on the stevia and add in the cilantro.

Toss. Toss. Toss.

Top with paprika and more cilantro, if desired. Enjoy!

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Appetizer Idea: Shortcake Bites

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With this post, the challenge to think of as many creative ways as possible to use wonton/ eggroll wrappers…CC Pics 008

Continues.

It started with those zesty Mini Fajita Bowls. It may have spiraled out of control. But just maybe. Because now we’re moving into desserts.

The things my brain comes up with. I’m not clever, but I’ve got an unusual resourcefulness (I’m also quite cheap or “thrifty”) and an unwavering interest in trying new culinary creations.

I like this one. The wonton wrapper forms the base of shortcake and gives it an interesting contrast in flavor. I still can’t quite explain it. Not quite a slight of saltiness, but something along those lines.

And of course, who doesn’t love some fresh chopped strawberries and a little whipped cream?CC Pics 004

No, I don’t do Cool Whip. Those sugars and preservatives aren’t kosher with me (or my stomach), but in small does my tummy can handle this wonderful product called “Tru Whip.” I love it. Pick it up in your health food section or store next time you’re ready to call it quites on a recipe that calls for Cool Whip and offers no alternatives.

Sweet with a little cream and crunch. Perfect.

1 serving (Of course, you can make many more if you have company.)

Ingredients

1 egg roll wrapper

2 T diced strawberries

1-2 T Tru WhipCC Pics 007

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a mini-muffin tin. Set aside.

Using a cookie cutter you like, cut as many shapes out of the egg roll wrapper as you can. I got four with a a small flower cutter, but a slightly larger one would have been perfect. Circles and other shapes would work great, too.

Tuck wrapper gently into each tin slot. Bake until crispy and golden brown, only about 3-5 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove and let cool.

Once cool, spoon even amounts of strawberries into each and finish off with a pretty dollop of Tru Whip. Enjoy the sweet crunch!

Cool Cantaloupe Pops

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There’s a bad apple in every bunch. And there’s often a lot of bad bunches of produce. It’s especially true these days. It can be so hard to find a bunch, bushel, or bag of fruit that’s not bad. As someone who eats an exorbitant amount of fresh produce on the regular, I know this to be true. I sometimes wonder if producers know that American markets know nothing about picking ripe, fresh produce. I’m no expert, by any means, but for all the time I’ve spent picking out produce, I’ve come to question this.CC Pics 024

The positive is that I’ve also learned a few how-to’s along the way. Sometimes when I’ve had one too many bad picks–pale, tasteless grapefruit and old, flavorless spaghetti squash being the biggest repeat offenders–I look online for tips. Other times, I look to whoever is standing close to me and looks like they know what they’re doing.

So when I was standing at Hy-Vee contemplating cantaloupe, I asked the woman to my right, who was also thumbing through, thumping, and smelling every melon in the bin. And let me tell you, she knew what she was doing. In an all-business tone, she let me know that a nice golden rind is going to be the freshest, juiciest, most flavorful pick. She was also frustrated that we couldn’t smell them. I knew about the smelling-for-sweetness trick, but what she told me next surprised me: If they wash them well, you can’t smell them for ripeness; the smell gets scrubbed off.CC Pics 025

Did I pick a winner?

You bet. It was good. Plus I let it sit on my warm kitchen countertop in my anti-AC apartment for a few days to ripen up a bit more. Oh, my sweetness! It was…

And then I turned 1/4 of that Candy Cantaloupe into this: Pops! You know I’m a popsicle fiend, especially during these hot summer days. So while I resist faux coolant, I find a pleasurable defense in popsicles. And these ones are good! I know I say that often, but seriously, the cantaloupe, a little stevia for sweetness, and a little yo for smoothness makes this recipe better than any Dreamsicle I’ve had. Cross my heart and have my cantaloupe if I’d steer you wrong. Try it!

Makes 4 medium-sized popsicles or six small ones.CC Pics 026

Ingredients

1 cup cantaloupe chunks

spritz of lemon

splash of vanilla

1 T stevia

1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt (dairy-free coconut is the best!)

Directions

Cover of Pops! by Krystina Castella whom I interviewed for a summer 2011 feature in the Kansas City Star. Click the image to link to that story.

Cover of Pops! by Krystina Castella whom I interviewed for a summer 2011 feature in the Kansas City Star. Click the image to link to that story.

So easy. Place your fruit and all other ingredients in blender. Blend ’til smooth.

If you like, drop a few more thin slices of cantaloupe (or other pretty fruit, like orange slices without the rind) down the sides of your pop molds and then distribute your blended concoction evenly between the molds. Freeze for 3-4 hours or until solid.

Appetizer Idea: Baked Egg Rolls

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Ever admired an egg roll for its fresh veggie crunch? photo (30)

I have. What I’ve loathed, though, is the fact that the crispiness is usually fried. You know how I feel about that. NOT a fan. I love my arteries a bit too much.

Yes, so my health-snobbish ways have me trying another recipe of my own. My usual approach plays out here. I’m not drawing from any one specific recipe. Instead I snoop around on Pinterest, get a feel for how the traditional, unhealthy recipes are made, get the steps and ingredients down pat, modify to my liking, and

love it.

Everything’s better when you make it to your liking. I wanted a crispy, unfried roll with stir-fry-like veggie filling. You could modify the half-cup of veggies with rice, meats, beans, essentially anything you like. Have fun, experiment, and make it something you would want to eat.photo (28)

Again and again and again.

Ingreidents

3 egg roll wrappers (I love Nasoya)

1/2 cup stir-fry veggies

1 t low-sodium soy sauce

dash of ginger

bigger dash of red pepper flakes

optional: 1/2 t Asian dressing (like Newman’s Own Ginger-Sesame)photo (27)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.

In a small pan, fry up veggies in soy sauce, and then mix in ginger, red pepper, and dressing if you’re using that. Saute it up on high ’til tasty coating forms, then turn down to low after a few minutes. Juices will begin to thicken. Let saute a few more minutes.

When ready, evenly distribute the veggies on the three wrappers, laying them out in a thick line. At the ends of each line, fold edges in. Flip one of the adjacent edges over and roll. You’ll roll ’til you can’t roll anymore. Flip the egg roll over on its side or seal with a dab of water so the wrapper holds (but not much).photo (31)

Bake for about 8-9 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce.

Hope you love it! I definitely want to try it as an appetizer for a group.

 

Satisfying Salads: Zesty Southwestern Black Bean

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Salads are not for rabbits or desperate dieters. If done right, they are a healthy, filling, nutritionally-generous meal (or side) you won’t regret.

To date, I’ve features these protein- and fiber-packed recipes:

The Sesame Steak Salad

The Garden of Eden Salad

If Asian-inspired beef and veggies isn’t for you and neither is fruit-cheese-and-nut combos–or perhaps you prefer a meat-free option (?)–then try a little Zesty Southwestern Black Bean Salad.image

This is the salad I make when I’m at home and can’t pull myself away from work for long. It’s sort of the kitchen-sink recipe I go to when time is limited. Why?

Because I always have these ingredients in my fridge and pantry, can dump them on top of a bed of lettuce at the drop of the hat, and the protein and fiber in the beans and veggies assures me I won’t be aching for a more filling meal as I work through the rest of my afternoon. The zesty dressing gives it a little bite that keeps my tastebuds happy, too.

Try it!

Ingredients

2 cups Romaine lettuce

1/4 cup black beansimage

dash of cumin

dash of chili powder

dash of red pepper flakes

1 small Roma tomato and a few slices of onion sauteed

-or-

1/4 cup canned tomatoes and green chiles

1 oz. Newman’s Own Southwestern Ranch (or something comparable)

Directions

Toss all ingredients until dressing coats the salad leaves. Or if you’re like me and prefer layers in your salad instead of a mix, start with salad base, and then top with beans, sprinkle seasonings on top, veggies, and finally drizzle dressing on top.

 

Satisfying Salads: Garden of Eden

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Welcome back to a satisfying salads: Garden of Eden Edition! Like the Sesame Steak Salad I crafted in June, this salad has plenty of protein to keep you full and feeling satisfied. No skimpy salads to be had.image

A cheesy introduction for a salad that isn’t cheesy in the hokey sense, but is in a Gorgonzola-and-fruit pairing fantastic one. On a trip to KC earlier this summer, I was pleasantly reunited with my favorite salad, ever. I realize I’m speaking in hyperboles beyond reason, but forgive those and believe that the Garden of Eden Salad from The Mixx restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri is special. If you like savory-sweet combinations, you’re sure to love the savory-sweet ingredients tossed in this one. We’re talking cheeses, fresh apples, pecans, grilled chicken, and a champagne-honey vinaigrette that can’t be matched.

The downside for those wanting to try this recipe at home? I’ve yet to find a recipe or substitute dressing that stands up to the deliciousness of The Mixx’s. As you’ll see in the pictures, I saved a little cup from The Mixx and brought it back home with me.

The good news is that the most comparable dressing I’ve found can be bought at Trader Joe’s, TJ’s Champagne-Pear Dressing. Very good, that one, and it comes with small chunks of bleu cheese I believe. So your cheese and nut selections for this one can range. The Mixx uses Gorgonzola and candied pecans. For my slightly less sugary version, I used slivered almonds and chopped garlic-herb cheese. I also used a fresh Fuji apple, but a Granny Smith would do, and a Pink Lady would be equally delightful.image

So simple, but just in case you need it…

Ingredients

2 cups spring greens mix or Romaine lettuce

1/2 apple, sliced into matchsticks or very thin wedges

1 T nuts (walnuts, pecans, or almonds)

1 oz. cheese (Gorgonzola, bleu, etc.)

3 oz. grilled chicken

1 oz. dressing–whatever champagne-based one you can locateimage

sprinkle of black pepper

Directions

Toss all ingredients until dressing and cheese coat the salad leaves. Or if you’re like me and prefer layers in your salad instead of a mix, start with salad base, and then top with nuts, cheese, chicken, apples, pepper, and finally drizzle dressing on top.

Appetizer Idea: Basil-Tomato Margarita Bites

four tomato

So continues my obsession with egg roll and won ton wrappers.tres tomato aerial

If you’ll recall my post “Appetizer Idea: Bite-Sized Fajita Bowls,” I picked up a pack of  Nasoya egg-roll wrappers at HyVee. It’s been true love ever since.

Another one of the won-ton wrapper apps I see floating around on Pinterest.com features a combination of tomato and mozzarella.

For this first one, I wasn’t feeling mozzarella. I’ve been using a soy-based garlic-herb cheese a lot lately, so I crumbled that over the top instead, tossed in some basil, parm, and spice, and felt my eyes roll back in my head when I tasted the crispy-cheesy-flavorful crunch of this appetizer.

Hope you get a pow in the yum like I did. These appetizers are right up my alley. I’m sure I’ll continue to make them for myself, but I suspect they might become my new favorite stand-by for potlucks and dinner parties, too. Very easy, and very good.

Ingredientsbite tomato

1 egg roll wrapper (Get a good healthy brand like Nasoya)

1/2 Roma tomato, diced into medium chunks

red pepper flakes

1 oz. cheese of choice, mozzarella or a heartier herb one will do

dash of parmesan

1 t basil

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a mini-muffin tin. Set aside.

Take the egg roll wrapper and slice into four equal squares. Press into pan, folding sides to fit down as necessary, but not pushing too hard.

In a small pan, saute the tomatoes in a little cooking oil for a few minutes, adding in the basil, then the red pepper flakes. Evenly  distribute among the wrappers.four bore tomato

Bake for about 7 minutes or until edges of wrappers turn golden brown. Top with cheese of choice (cubed or crumbled), dash of parm, and more basil if you like. Bake another 2-3 minutes until cheese melts.

Serve right away and warm, if possible. Enjoy!

Pink Lemonade Pops!

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Ever since I interviewed Pops! author Krystina Castella in 2011 for the Kansas City Star, I’ve associate summer with popsicles. I’m sort of anti-AC, so oftentimes a cold sweet pop on a sticky hot day is a saving grace.photo (23)

Plus, after you chat with a pro-popsicle innovator about how much thought can go into one simple pop, you gain a new appreciation for these simple sweets. I look forward to blending, pouring, and freezing new flavors to try and it’s made all the easier when you know exactly what makes for a tasty, easy-to-remove, attractive looking popsicle. If you’re interested, read my 2011 story by clicking here.

Cover of

Castella is actually a college professor with a background in structural design. At the time, she was teaching and writing the book–when I talked to at least–and so she put a lot of thought into what makes for a beautiful structure, form that follows flavor, and entertaining on a purpose. Very smart and savvy, that one.

These pops, they aren’t particularly smart or savvy.

But they are good. And easy to make. Everybody loves lemonade in the summer, myself included, so I put it in pop form and gave it a little pink sweetness.

Makes 6 medium-sized popsicles or seven to eight smaller ones.photo (21)

Ingredients

2 T vanilla yogurt

10 medium-sized strawberries, sliced

a few lemon slices

splash of vanilla

1 T stevia

8 oz. VitaminWater Zero – Lemonade

Directions

Cooling off with a pink lemonade pop right before the Ames Independence Day Parade. Always have some pops ready in the fridge!

Cooling off with a pink lemonade pop right before the Ames Independence Day Parade. Always have some pops ready in the fridge!

So easy. Place all ingredients–except lemon slices and leave out a few strawberries if you want to drop some in for effect later–in the blender and blend ’til smooth. Squeeze the lemon slices over the top. Blend once more until perfectly smooth.

If you saved some strawberries, drop those few slices down the sides of your pop molds and then distribute your blended concoction evenly between the molds. Freeze for 3-4 hours or until solid.

When it comes time to serve, remove carefully and correctly by letting them stand on a counter for a minute or so, or running them under lukewarm water for about 10-15 seconds. They should slide right out. If not, don’t wiggle the stick back and forth too much or else it may come out of the center, leaving the pop in the mold. Just wait and pull gently.

Strawberry-Lemonade Pops

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Cover of

Cover of Pops!: Icy Treats for Everyone

Ever since I interviewed Pops! author Krystina Castella in 2011 for the Kansas City Star, I’ve begun to associate the coming of summer with the coming of fruity, sweet popsicles. I’m sort of anti-AC, so a cold sweet pop on a sticky hot day tastes like heaven.

Plus, after you chat with a pro-popsicle innovator about how much thought can go into one simple pop, you gain a new appreciation for these simple sweets. I look forward to blending, pouring, and freezing new flavors to try and it’s made all the easier when you know exactly what makes for a tasty, easy-to-remove, attractive looking popsicle. If you’re interested, read my 2011 story by clicking here.

Castella is actually a college professor with a background in structural design. At the time, she was teaching and writing the book–when I talked to at least–and so she put a lot of thought into what makes for a beautiful structure, form that follows flavor, and entertaining on a purpose. Very smart and savvy, that one.

These pops, they aren’t particularly smart or savvy.

But they are good. And easy to make. Everybody loves strawberry lemonade in the summer, myself included, so I put it in pop form.

Makes 4 medium-sized popsicles or six small ones.photo (10)

Ingredients

1/2 grapefruit, sliced up

10 medium-sized strawberries, sliced

a few lemon slices

splash of vanilla

1 T steviaphoto (11)

8 oz. VitaminWater Zero – Lemonade

Directions

So easy. Place your grapefruit and almost all the strawberries in the blender. Blend ’til smooth. Squeeze a few lemon slices over the top, and then add in vanilla extract, stevia, and VZ0 Lemonade. Blend again until perfectly smooth.

Drop a few slices down the sides of your pop molds and then distribute your blended concoction evenly between the molds. Freeze for 3-4 hours or until solid.

Appetizer Idea: Bite-Sized Fajita Bowls

pretty lime fajita

With this post, I begin the first of what I imagine will become a long series of appetizer ideas using my new favorite ingredient for entertaining…fjita aerial

This weekend, I picked up a package of egg-roll wrappers. And since I opened them tonight and starting playing around with them, my mind has been racing with ideas.

I often see won-ton wrappers used to make lots of creative appetizers on Pinterest.com. I finally picked up a package for my own culinary experimentation. But note, I went with egg roll wrappers instead. Why? They’re similar, but bigger. So if I want to cut them to different shapes and sizes with a knife, then I can have whatever I need, including won tons, by slicing accordingly.

Occasionally I am clever.

For this first one, I had some venison steak strips leftover, some peppers, limes, chiles, and tomatoes. The rest is history. I love these. It’s like a perfect appetizer compliment to my own meal and I can’t wait to try them out on a group.tres fajitas

Ingredients

1 egg roll wrapper (Get a good healthy brand like Nasoya)

2 oz. steak, sliced into strips

red pepper flakes

1.5 T red and green chiles

1 slice of lime

a few diced tomatoes

a few thinly-sliced peppers

dash of cumin and chili powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a mini-muffin tin. Set aside.bite fajita

Take the egg roll wrapper and slice into four equal squares. Press into pan, folding sides to fit down as necessary, but not pushing too hard.

In a small pan, sear the steak with the vegetables, cumin, and chili powder. You can use other vegetables, of course, I used common fajita ingredients I had sitting in the fridge, but you might also try corn, avocado (not seared in pan though), tomatoes, black beans, etc. Saute for a few minutes, then evenly  distribute among the wrappers. Spritz some lime juice over the top to keep the steak moist–and a little more after it comes out of the oven–but not too much or else they’ll get soggy.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until edges of wrappers turn golden brown. Top with chiles and a dash of red pepper flakes. Serve right away and warm!