Elotes Corn Salad – lazy way

I know, I never post anything anymore. See what having a kid will do to you? But I wanted to get this written down because I keep making it!

Based heavily on Elotes Corn Salad by fiveandspice.com, but with some lazy person’s changes. Mainly, buying “fire roasted” corn, which is apparently a thing, and is SO good. (I have seen it at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.) It is like you grilled corn on the cob, cut it off, and then froze it. Which maybe someone did, but that someone wasn’t me.

Elotes Salad (serves 4)

  • One bag of “fire roasted” frozen corn
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled Cotija cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (make sure it’s not parsley… not that this has ever happened to me…)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into chunks
  1. Microwave the corn per bag instructions.
  2. Add salt, pepper, mayo, lime juice, chili, and cayenne.
  3. Fold in cheese and cilantro.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.
    (If you’re preparing ahead of time, like, say, for your coworker’s babyshower the next day, pause here. If not, march onward.)
  5. Stir in the avocado chunks.

Serve warm, cold, over tortillas, over the bowl with a spoon after your kid is asleep… I love this stuff.

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Sesame Noodles… guidelines

To say this is a recipe is pushing it. It’s mostly just a bunch of guidelines…

Sauté a bunch of finely sliced onions in sesame oil. Add a few cloves of crushed garlic and a hunk of grated ginger. Season with salt and pepper. Toast some sesame seeds and throw those in. Add a bunch of soy sauce and see how that tastes. If it doesn’t taste exciting yet or isn’t enough sauce, add some or all of the following: Rice wine vinegar, more garlic/ginger, red pepper flakes, fish sauce, sautéed scallions, etc. This last time, I even heated some brown sugar up with the rice wine vinegar and added that, too. The flavors you’re going for are a little sweet (onions and sugar and fish sauce), a little sour (garlic and ginger and fish sauce and rice wine vinegar), and a little salty (soy sauce and fish sauce). I also like a little kick (red pepper flakes). Once you get a good sauce, toss it with cooked noodles of your choice (rice works fine, I’ve also used regular spaghetti noodles and that’s been good too). If you’re being fancy, garnish with toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions. You could probably also add in some green veggies to this and it would taste good, but I’ve never gone that far!

What to do with your leftover keg of beer

Look, obviously if you have a keg at a party and the party ends and there’s still beer left — OBVIOUSLY you are going to try and drink it. This is reasonable. But there is a limit to one’s individual beer consumption, even if you invite all your neighbors and friends over. So the natural question is: Now that the keg’s no longer ice cold, what do you do with the beer?

Enter: Beer chicken!

Beer Chicken: Take however many filets of chicken you want. (I took three out of the freezer, but fresh would work as well. You could also use drumsticks, wings, whatever.) Marinate the chicken in beer. The meat should be fully covered. I just threw the frozen fillets into the beer and stuck it all in the fridge. Let sit at least overnight. Then, preheat the oven to 375. Coat all sides of the chicken with spices (I used a Cajun seasoning mix.) Pour some of the beer marinade into the roasting dish to keep it all moist. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked through.

Then eat, and delight in not having let that delicious beer go to waste.

Energy Balls (Vegan Hiking Snack)

I have been reading the blog Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon for a while now. She showcases vegan recipes that are tasty, nutritious, and show that vegan food does not consist solely of salads. I’m always fascinated by her recipes—I’m not vegan, but I like thinking about cooking vegan.

To me, any food/dietary restriction is like a challenge, whether it is being kosher, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc (and it’s especially challenging if it is more than one of those!). When I was in college, I lived in an 18-person co-op that had several vegans, many vegetarians, and many meat lovers. We all took turns cooking meals, and while we could make almost anything we wanted, the rules were that it had to be food everyone could eat. So we became experts at making side-by-side foods, like spaghetti with meat sauce and a vegan sauce. Or easily convertible foods, like mashed potatoes (vegan margarine instead of butter/milk—it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference).

I also like that vegan foods often challenge me to eat healthier, by focusing a lot on fruits/veggies/grains. (Don’t get me wrong, though, there are a lot of unhealthy vegan recipes out there! Chocolate chip cookies are still dessert, even if you make them with Earth Balance instead of butter.) So periodically I try out a vegan recipe to see if it will work in my life. Today I tried a great one!

This morning, in preparation for a hike in the Blue Hills, I whipped up a modified version of Angela’s recipe for dark chocolate energy bites. It took around ten minutes total, used ingredients I had on hand, and involved no baking or cooking. The combination of fruit and nuts and chocolate was perfect for the midpoint of our hike—there was sugar to jump start our engines, and protein to keep us going until our late, very non-vegan lunch at Miami Restaurant.

Recipe: The real beauty of this recipe is that you can vary the basic ingredients based on what you have on hand. The essential elements are sticky dried fruits, nuts, and chocolate. If you don’t get the consistency right, just add more of whatever you need until you do! I put one cup of almonds into a hand-held food processor and finely ground them. Setting aside 1/4th of a cup of the almonds, I put the rest in a bowl. Then I blended a generous handful of apricots with about a third of a cup of dried cranberries and a quarter of a bar of dark chocolate. Once that was all finely chopped, I threw it into the bowl with the almonds and stirred until it was well-mixed. It was a little dry (probably because my apricots weren’t as moist as they could’ve been), so I added some non-vegan moisture with a bit of honey. You could also use agave syrup or maple syrup. Then I picked up about a tablespoon or so of the mix in my hand and squeezed and rolled it into a ball. My balls were about the size of Lindt truffle balls. (This is a well-known comparative measurement in my life!) I rolled each one in the reserved ground almonds, and then set aside.

You can freeze or refrigerate the balls if you’re not going to eat them right away. I found that after a few hours in the freezer, they became much more like a solid mass rather than a bunch of ingredients stuck together. But either way they were delicious! This batch made about 14 balls—two per person on the hike was a great little snack. (Honestly, I would’ve had a third if I’d brought more!) I will definitely be making them again.

Champagne Punch

For your new year’s party, very appropriate. Also lovely for a summer party, as it is very fruity and refreshing!

Adapted from a recipe from Food.com:

  • 1 (12 ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate (small can)
  • 1 (12 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate (small can)
  • 1 (12 ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate (or 1 small can pineapple juice concentrate)
  • 1 (2 liter) bottle ginger ale
  • 1 (2 liter) bottle champagne
 Dump concentrates into punch container and add ginger ale. Stir to dissolve. Dump in a cheap champagne (such as Andre), and then don’t stir anymore (otherwise you lose all the bubbles)! Top with orange slices.
(If you’re lucky, like me, and have a friend named Melanie who can lend you her awesome punch dispenser, you can use that, which will keep everything cool. If not, I recommend freezing your orange slices in advance, and maybe investing in one of those neat ice cube trays that lets you make fun shapes.)

Easy Baked Chicken Recipe

When I lived in a co-op in college, everything was bought in bulk— rice, flour, oats, sugar, etc. So whenever my cooking partner Honor and I decided to make chicken for our assigned dinner night, we obviously had to get whole chickens. Since they were bought several days in advance, they came frozen, too. Which was fine, except when Honor and I forgot to thaw the chickens overnight in the fridge.

me & honor during a post-college kitchen reunion

me & honor

The scene the next afternoon would be this:

Me: Hey, what time do you think we should start cooking tonight?

Honor: Well, dinner’s at seven, the tabbouleh’s already in the fridge, the hummus shouldn’t take too long… how long do you think the chicken will take?

*beat*

Honor: Oh no.

Me: We forgot to defrost the chicken.

What would then follow was a series of creative defrosting attempts. If we remembered early enough, we’d put the chickens in the fridge. Then, that afternoon, we’d give them a cold water bath while we prepped everything else. Still, the chicken was often not completely thawed by the time we were planning to prep it for roasting. So we went to plan B: shish-kebabs. Honor would take a pair of sturdy kitchen scissors and cut the meat up into cubes, which she then marinated in some sort of lemon-y concoction while I attended to the rest of the dinner.

Whatever Honor made always tasted delicious. So much so, that I started paying attention to what she was putting into the marinade, and then experimenting with it myself— not with shish-kebab’d pieces, but with chicken thighs and tenders. Over the years, as I was only cooking for myself, it became my go-to recipe for baking moist chicken that was full of flavor. The best part is, you can marinate a bunch in advance, and then just pull out the pieces of chicken you want, bake those, and go. I like to eat it plain, but sometimes I also chop it up and serve it with rice, pasta, or over a salad.

Easy Baked Chicken Recipe Continue reading

Winter Salad Fantasy

Now that I’m a working woman again (more on the end of grad school soon), I get to partake in the grand tradition of commuting. I don’t mind it, really. In the morning I can read the Metro and do the crossword, allowing me to both stay informed and mentally agile. In the evening I do the sudoku and fantasize about what I’m making for dinner.

Today, there was no question about it. I was craving what I’ll call my winter salad fantasy— it’s a salad of mixed greens, blue cheese, almonds, and dried cranberries. The tangy blue cheese, sweet cranberries, crunchy almonds and fresh greens become irresistible to me when tossed in a light garlic salad dressing. I paired it with a baked acorn squash and some chicken. Delish.

Winter Salad Fantasy (makes 2 big salads or 4 side salads)

Ingredients:

  • store-bought “fresh herb and greens” salad mix (if you’re not into pre-washed salad mixes, I recommend arugula or baby spinach)
  • dried cranberries, approximately 1/2 cup
  • almonds (crushed, sliced, or whole), approximately 1/2 cup
  • blue cheese (about 2 oz, or 1/3 cup crumbled)
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • one or two cloves garlic
  • salt & pepper

Toss salad, cranberries, almonds, and blue cheese together. (Add more of any ingredients if you don’t like the distributive quantities I suggest! In a separate dish, mix about three or four tablespoons olive oil with about one tablespoon lemon juice. Mix in one (or two, if you want) crushed garlic cloves, add salt & pepper to taste. Adjust other ingredients as necessary until the dressing tastes good to you. Drizzle over salad and toss. YUM.