National Corn Fritters Day~

Welcome to MN sign

Greetings food-lovin’ friends!

It’s late-July…did you notice? I don’t know about you, but this summer has been flying by! Between a busy Real Estate market (know someone needing my help?) and trying to squeeze in fun with the family, it’s been a master juggling act! I think we are fairing pretty well, having just come off of two short but fun camping trips; one with the kids and the other without! Yes, I know, awesome! We hardly ever go anywhere without them; they are always so much fun to be with, that it’s hard for us to leave them behind.

Interstate Park MN

Our first camping trip, with the kids, was to Interstate State Park, in the quaint little town of Taylors Falls, Minnesota. It’s just a short drive from where we live, so we go there often just to hike. Our campsite was riverside, as the park resides along the St. Croix River. We didn’t have the greatest view though, compared to some of the other sites next to us. But that was okay, as all of our hiking allowed us plenty of river views.  One of the fun things about Taylors Falls, are the daily boat tours! (pictured above)

The following week, the hubby and I went up to Wild River State Park. Again, nestled along the St. Croix River, this gem of a state park was just what we needed! Quiet, remote, with lots of hiking opportunities! Oh and another awesome benefit to no kids…we got to eat what WE wanted! Yep, we definitely pigged out.

Dinner night 1

In addition to this steak, mushrooms, onions & herbs, corn and potato packet meal, we had stuffed french toast…and the best meal (at least to me) was the Carpet Picnic! I can’t remember if I’ve ever talked to you about our Carpet Picnic’s…in fact, that might be a fun thing to blog about! Basically we roast up some Roma tomatoes, caramelize a sweet onion-sliced very thin, roast a big head of garlic, buy a good salami, a loaf of crusty french bread (ciabbata works great too) and cheese…usually it’s Brie or Camembert when at home, warmed in the oven so it’s gooey. But this time we splurged and got a Triple Cream Brie and a creamy Blue, neither needing warming so they were good choices for camping. We also sautéed some Kale from our garden and instead of the roasted garlic, we bought some fermented black garlic from Trader Joes. It was SO good!

Camping Carpet Picnic

Anyway, the hubby is back at work and I am back trying to get into a routine that works for the rest of the summer. One of the things I miss, is this blog! I miss writing and talking about food with you! So, I’ve challenged myself to blog one recipe, each week, for the rest of 2014! Help hold me accountable, if you go without seeing something from me each week, going forward!  I have all the recipes picked out, from my overflowing collection of things I’ve been wanting to make.  That should make it easier…hopefully!

Food Fest 365

This weeks recipe was found in a great little book I picked up at a garage sale earlier this summer, called Food Fest 365!  July 16th is National Corn Fritters Day and with the sweet corn season underway here in Minnesota, I thought this would be a fantastic recipe to share! One note though, the recipe calls for canned corn, so I substituted fresh, roasted then cooled corn, as you’ll see in the directions.

Corn Fritters

Sweet Corn Fritters with creamy Basil-Lime dipping sauce:

Oil for pan-frying
2 eggs
salt, pepper & seasonings*
fresh herbs**
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
sea salt (for sprinkling on fritters once cooked)
2 cups of fresh roasted corn, removed from the cob (don’t forget to juice it!)

Basil-Lime Dipping Sauce

Basil-Lime Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons of milk
zest & juice of a half of a lime
Basil, chiffonade
seasonings of your choice (I used Cajun!)

Mix all ingredients together until smooth and chill until ready to use.  (use any leftover dip on sandwiches or as a dressing for your next salad!)

Roasted Corn

First step for this recipe is to roast your corn. (Ideally, this would be done on the grill, but you could also boil or steam them in the microwave) Take the first layer of husks off your corn and remove the tassel from the top. Place on a medium high grill and roast for about a half hour, turning every ten minutes or so, a quarter turn each time. Your corn will be done when, you can smell it & when the husks have dried and turned brown to black in color. Let the corn cool until you can easily touch it.

Then, using a sharp knife, place the cob on the cutting board, vertically. Remove the kernels from the cob, starting at one, sliding away from you towards the cutting board. Once you’ve removed the kernels, flip the knife over, using the back of it and “juice” the cob. Trust me, you don’t want any of that fresh corn to go to waste! Set your corn kernels and juice aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine your eggs, salt, pepper and seasonings. Then sift in your flour (sifting it in, helps it incorporate better, so you don’t have chunks of flour floating about) and then add your corn and fresh herbs. Let the batter sit while you heat your oil.

Set a plate, lined with a paper towel, next to your frying pan.

Fritters be a fryin

In a large skillet pan, add oil 1/4” deep and heat to medium-high. You are ready to start cooking once the oil begins to smoke. Using a large spoon, CAREFULLY drop a spoonful of the batter into the pan, continuing until you have four or so fritters, with plenty of room for the oil to get around each one. You are going to cook these for about two minutes on each side, but carefully check them, as you may want them lighter in color. *PLEASE NOTE that you are frying wet ingredients in very hot oil, and with corn, you can have flying missiles of hot oil, so if you have some sort of metal screen or vendable lid, I would use it. I went it to flip mine the first time out and got splattered in about five different places from my face to my belly 😦

Fantastic Fritters!

Once you’ve cooked both sides of the fritters, remove to your lined plate and sprinkle immediately with sea salt (or plain salt if you have only that).  Serve with your Basil-Lime dipping sauce and enjoy! ❤

Panaroma of St. Croix River

I’ll be working on my next blog post soon, S’mores Brownies, so stay tuned for more deliciousness soon!

Let me know if you make these Sweet Corn Fritters, and what you think of them!

xoxo Shawn

 

 

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Summer of Salads, let’s talk potato…

Happy Memorial Day 2013

Well hello there!

Okay, so this is post number ONE in our #summerofsalads posts and I really had a hard time allowing myself to start with potato salads!  I wanted to ease you in, start off by talking about the different kinds of greens available and then move on to dressings…but, Memorial Day is coming this weekend and when I think of Memorial Day eats, I think of BBQ & potato salads!  I’m saving coleslaw for the 4th of July 🙂

So, the objective of these posts this summer, is to inspire you with different takes on salads.  So, instead of your basic potato salad, made with mayo, mustard, eggs etc. I am giving you a few twists on that.  Don’t get me wrong, I do love me some traditional potato salad!  When I was a little girl, my Grandmother would make potato salad, putting HUGE pieces of raw onion in it.  (okay maybe they weren’t that big, but to a punk kid that didn’t like onions back then, they were!) I told her that once and she would make a little for me, without onions.  She also did that with chocolate chip cookies sans nuts, fudge the same.  That woman spoiled me for sure.

Anyway, back to this post!  Today I am making you Tarragon Potato Salad.  We pretty much just stumbled on this salad one day, looking for ways to use up our gigantic Tarragon plant in the garden.  We make pork chops quite often with Tarragon & mustard & garlic, so this salad is pretty much all that, minus the pig of course.

Tarragon Potato Salad, #summerofsalads

Tarragon Potato Salad:

potatoes (use whatever type you’d like & one potato for each person you are feeding-I used six small-medium sized russets)

Fresh Tarragon

Fresh Chives and/or onions

mayo (I used 1 cup)

Dijon & whole grain mustards (I used 1 T. of each)

apple cider vinegar (I used 2 tablespoons)

sugar, salt, pepper, a bit of garlic (to your taste…)

Begin by washing up your potatoes and then boiling them until fork tender.  Let cool & remove skins from potatoes.

Whole Grain Mustard

In a separate bowl, mix together your apple cider vinegar, sugar, mayo & Dijon mustard.  Taste to be sure you have a balance of sweet, sour etc.

Fresh ChivesFresh Tarragon

Chop up your fresh herbs.  It’s really important for this recipe that you use fresh Tarragon, so if you don’t have it, look in the produce section at the grocery store.  And if you live close to me, you are always welcome to some of mine!

Herbs mixed in...

Then mix in the herbs to your potato salad dressing and taste again.  Adjust seasonings as you prefer.  Then mix in your potatoes, carefully not to crush them in the process.  Put this in the fridge to chill out and let the flavors get all groovy together!  Enjoy with your favorite BBQ grub!

As I did a little research for this post, I came across the following unique “potato” salads I wanted to share with you!

Warm Bacon Potato Salad – via Steamy Kitchen.  Don’t know where I first saw this recipe, but when I got a look at the picture, I knew I HAD to make it!  You had me at Bacon…and warm…

Sweet Potato Salad  – via The Loveless Cafe.  I am SO glad I found this website!  OMG, wait till you see some of the other recipes they have!  Can you say Bacon Pralines?  Or Carrot Puddin’ or Chow Chow Deviled Eggs….check them out!

Sour Cream-Dill Potato Salad – via Cooking Light.  I’m not usually one for Cooking Light recipes (because this girl likes her fat!) but I do love me a sour cream & onion potato chip so I thought this sounded intriguing!  I haven’t made it yet, so if you do, let me know how you like it!

Grilled Southwestern Potato Salad – via Fine Cooking.  I love this salad because you grill all the veggies first and then make the salad.  It has corn, chiles, red onions, peppers, and some crisp bacon. Yes more bacon. YUM!

Potato Salad with fresh stir-ins –  via Recipe.com.  Now this idea is great!  It’s kinda like a potato salad bar, if you will.  Make your basic base potato salad (with or without mayo/mustard) and then set out different “stir-in” that your guests can add.  This post gives you some ideas but you could really go crazy with this idea!

Wishing you & yours a wonderful & relaxing Memorial Day weekend!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s first #summersippers cocktail post & next week we’ll talk salad basics!

Cheers, Shawn

Last minute Thanksgiving favorites…

Well, I don’t know about you, but good ol’ Turkey day sure snuck up on me!  It’s not a stressful holiday for me, but it’s more of a final breathing point.  I try to remember to relax…breathe…enjoy.  After that, it’s all baskets & shred & bubble wrap…oh my!  I am hoping this year’s holiday orders are off the hook!  If you are interested, check out my Holiday Gift collection & let me know if I can help you this holiday season!

Okay, enough self promotion!  We typically spend the day at my brother & sister-in-law’s house, and I am usually charged with bringing one of my delicious Cheesecakes!  But that does leave me missing some of my favorites side dishes…and this year’s Thanksgiving recipe suggestions from friends & favorite sites, has left me drooling and thinking that for Christmas, I just might make a bunch of sides and skip the big main course!

So, if you haven’t made your final dish list yet, and are looking for a few suggestions, here you go!  Some of these, tried & true, are my favorite sides that would be great for Thanksgiving.  Others look amazing and will hopefully grace my Christmas table!

Potato Fennel Gratin~  probably my all-time favorite potato dish!  An Ina Garten recipe…aka The Barefoot Contessa.  Every time I make this, we clean the dish…no leftovers, so if that’s what you want for Turkey Day, don’t make this 🙂  She has lots of other great ideas on her website, so be sure to click on the link and check them out!

Zucchini Fritters~  another favorite recipe, this would be a great appetizer to tide everyone over while you finish off the big feast.  I originally found this recipe in a copy of my favorite food magazine, Saveur.  Taking a quick peek at their website I see lots of other delicious recipes for the big day!  Sauce isn’t needed for these, but if you wanted, you could whip up a quick Horseradish sauce or even a tomato Tarter sauce.  The picture above was a recipe I found on the Home to Homestead blog, written by the gorgeous Elizabeth Ries of Twin Cities Live, and has the added deliciousness of corn & fresh herbs!  She made a quick sour cream sauce that looks delish!

Baked Risotto with Grilled Asparagus~  wait, what?  Baked Risotto?  Yes, I know, it doesn’t make sense.  But I’ve tried it!  It’s very good, not as creamy as the traditional method of making Risotto (and great biceps at the same time!) but good nonetheless.  I found this recipe on the Williams-Sonoma website.  They have great recipes there!  Have you ever been to a store?  I LOVE that place!!  And now the hubby has a Professional Chef discount, so I can spend more!  Sorry, focus Shawn…. So if you are looking for an easy & delicious rice side dish that doesn’t involve alot of hassle or time, this is the dish for you!  And Asparagus, while know to grace the Easter or Spring table, can be just as good in the late fall!

Apple-Raisin Stuffing with Sausage~  my co-worker, Nikki, brought some of this in as her lunch one day after Thanksgiving last year.  It smelled so good I begged for a bite.  Her brilliant husband added Sausage (he used Jimmy Dean, but use whatever you like) which made this sweet, salty, savory & perfect!!!  Sometimes that Turkey table can get too full of salty side dishes, so adding this mixes it up a bit!  YUM!

Braised Kale & Chickpeas in Coconut Milk~  My sweet fellow food blogger friend Kate posted this dish on her website last December.  I was just falling in love with Coconut Milk at the time and also beginning my love affair with greens…KaleSwiss ChardCollards.  People, if you haven’t discovered these, you MUST!  They are SO good for you!  We grew Rainbow Chard this summer & along with how beautiful they were, they grew like crazy!!  When I made this dish the first time, I added Bacon (uh duh) but it’s not required, as without it, it’s just as good!  And I would encourage you to use curry paste.  You can get small jars of it in the ethnic section of most grocery stores.  I love Thai Kitchens- Green Curry Paste.  Give it a try!  Oh yeah, and while you are there, check out her recipe for Boursin Spinach Gratin – I’ve wanted to make that for a long time now & might make another great side dish!

Red Cabbage Braised in Cider & Beer~  I recently made this dish in one of my Beer for a Year posts and man, it’s amazing!  It will bring a gorgeous color to your table!  When I made it, I included the beer & bacon, but if you want, you can omit both and use apple cider, which I have done.  Either way, it will become a new favorite in your house and not just on Thanksgiving!

Deviled Mushrooms~  so I am not totally sure where I came across this recipe.  As a mushroom lover, it appealed to me for a few reasons; first, it seemed really easy!  It also looks delicious, with those plump mustard seeds and the silky sauce coating each mushroom.  I think this would be great on your table, at Thanksgiving and anytime!  I am linking you to the Amazon page where the cookbook this recipe is in, can be purchased.  But I did make a copy of the recipe and am attaching that as a PDF File for you to print off yourself!

So, that’s my list!  Of course I could go on & on…..and there’s always desserts I could share…maybe next year!  I do plan on doing a holiday baking list of some of my favorites, so stay tuned for that!

And as we join together this coming Thursday, I want you to know that I am truly thankful for you!  It’s been an amazing year and I feel so honored you have taken the time from your busy lives to read my blog posts!

Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours!  ox Shawn

Beer for a Year, month nine…

Yikes, month nine already!

Well, here in Minnesota, we recently had a week or so of fall-like weather and it had me thinking of Oktoberfest…this months beer!  Summit Brewery describes this beer as “Brewed in the classic Märzen style with Northern Brewer hops from Germany. Rich, toffee malt flavors up front with a clean hop finish as crisp as the autumn air.”   It’s gorgeous color had me at first glance…much like the Minnesota landscape in October!  Read more about it here.

So, thinking of cooler temps (because we are again back in the heat here) I wanted to do something that would go good with sausages or pork…and because I had just picked up a whole head of purple cabbage from my CSA, I thought Beer Braised Red Cabbage would be perfect!  I found the original recipe here, but as I do with most recipes, I doctored it up to suit my needs.

Beer Braised Red Cabbage

1/2 head purple cabbage, thinly sliced

1/4 pound of bacon, diced & fried until almost crisp

2 tablespoons of butter

1 whole onion, (I used red), sliced thin

1 green apple, peeled, cored & thinly sliced

1 tablespoon of sugar (or honey & more if needed)

1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup of chicken stock

1 bottle (more or less) of Summit Oktoberfest beer

1 whole cinnamon stick

salt, pepper, (more bacon) dried fruits, etc!

So you’ll need to begin by slicing up the cabbage, as thin as you like it either by hand or in your food processor.  Slice the onion and apple as well.  Put a fairly large pan on medium heat and when warm, add the bacon.  Once the bacon has given off most of its fat, add the onion and continue cooking until the onions have started to caramelize and the bacon is almost crisp.  At this point, add the butter…yum!  Sorry, I get distracted by butter sometimes…and bacon…

At this point, you’ll then want to put in the cabbage and apple; Stir until fully coated in the butter etc.  Let this start to wilt down a bit and then add your chicken stock, vinegar, cinnamon stick and sugar.  Again, stir a bit to coat and let wilt for a couple of minutes.  The add your beer, turn the heat down and cover to simmer for 30 minutes (plus or minus depending on how you like the texture of your cabbage) stirring every so often and ensuring it’s not losing liquid and/or sticking to the bottom of the pan. About halfway thru this time, taste the cabbage to check for adequate sweetness & “done-ness”.  Both of which are very selective.  Adjust as necessary and feel free to add a bit of salt & pepper at this point as well.  Continue cooking until the cabbage is as tender as you’d like it.

This dish could be made more amazing by adding more bacon, more apples or other delicious fruit (figs, apricots, etc.) fresh herbs like Thyme and even some fall seasonings like clove, nutmeg. The picture above is with Mission Figs & Thyme (in addition to the above ingredients) that I actually cooked in my cast iron skillet on the grill the other day!  Provided you add enough liquid and really keep an eye on it, you could cook this under a small pork roast in the oven as well and the cabbage can absorb all those succulent meat juices while it cooks!  YUM!

So my friends, I hope you give this recipe a try, and find a nice place to cozy up, eat it outside, and enjoy the changing weather and beautiful landscape in your part of the country!

Until next time,

Shawn

Beer for a Year, month six…

Being a huge lover of food, I think about it constantly.  What I want to eat, what I am actually making to eat (sometimes the two don’t match) and what others are eating…I am obsessed!  Seriously, it drives me crazy, because I am always hungry!    This month’s post has been on my mind, not because it’s just food, but because it’s one of my ultimate favorite things to eat.  But, it’s also one of those simple dishes that I am bittersweet about.  Not just because of the fat factor.  No, I won’t be skimping on the ingredients in this post, so don’t even think about the calorie count.  But also because a really good, homemade Mac & Cheese has always eluded me in my kitchen.  I either over cook the noodles, which results in mush, or the sauce is too thin going into the oven so that when it comes out, it’s dry.  You’d think homemade Mac & Cheese would be a no-brainer!  Well, maybe it is for some and maybe because it’s one of my cherished foods, I tend to over think it.  Either way, today, I am going to ROCK this Mac & Cheese!!  I have big plans for it, starting with the fact it will include BEER!  Yes!  And, this month, Summit Brewing gave me a special treat; Dunkel Weizen!  Let’s talk about it!

This is what Summit Brewing has to say about this beer:  “For Summit Unchained 9, brewer Eric Blomquist created a genuine Dunkel Weizen – an often-overlooked German wheat beer style. Similar to Hefe Weizen but darker (“Dunkel” means “dark”), this brew offers up complex and rounded flavors like biscuit, toffee and chocolate from the malts along with hints of banana and clove esters.  Batch 9 was inspired by a memorable brew Eric enjoyed while on his honeymoon in Bavaria (yep, he married his true soul mate). Eric also created Unchained Batch 2, 90/- Scottish Style Ale.”  And like with all of the Unchained series, it is only available for a limited time…

I found this recipe on this website; www.livelovepasta.com  I am always searching for recipes with beer and was excited to find this one!  Of course I kicked the original recipe up a bit….(Truffle Oil, Pancetta & Garlic) but that’s what is great about pasta dishes, you can make it your signature dish!

Beer Mac & Cheese:

2 and a half cups uncooked pasta (I used Cavatappi)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

8 ounces of Milk (I used 1%)

8 ounces of Beer, (I used Dunkel Weizen, but you could use any Amber)

1 tablespoon or more of Truffle Oil (optional, but OMG it’s SO good!)

8 ounces of freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese

4 ounces freshly grated Gouda cheese

1/2 cup of freshly grated Romano cheese

1/4 teaspoon of paprika

pinch of black pepper

pinch of nutmeg

1/2 cup of Panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon of granulated garlic

4 ounces of Pancetta, diced (I partially cooked…see note below)

handful of chopped fresh parsley (garnish)

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees and getting your pasta water ready on the stove.  Remember to cut back the cooking time of whatever type of pasta you use by 1-2 minutes, as it will continue to cook in the oven.  Cook according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

At this time, I like to get all my cheesy goodness ready……including the Panko topping.  Mix together the Panko, Garlic, Romano cheese and Pancetta.  For this attempt, I actually partially cooked the Pancetta, but I would say you could try putting it on raw and if you feel it needs a bit more cooking at the end, you can pop the broiler on and finish them off.  I just like them a bit more tender than how they turned out for me….

Heat a small saucepan and add butter.  Once the butter has melted and is starting to sizzle, whisk in the flour to create a Roux and continue cooking & stirring until the mixture is golden in color.  Add milk and beer to mixture and continue whisking.  Add the Cheddar & Gouda cheeses and stir until melted.  Turn heat down to low and and continue to stir until mixture thickens.  It won’t thicken like normal Mac & Cheese, because of the Beer, but it will a bit.  Turn off heat and add the Truffle Oil, Black Pepper, Paprika and Nutmeg.

Place cooked pasta into casserole dish and pour cheese mixture over top, mixing gently to combine.  Sprinkle entire top with the Panko mixture and bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown on top.  (I actually doubled this recipe because I was making some for two very lucky girls at work!)

I was SO excited how this turned out!  As my husband put it best, you could taste all of the flavors, from the beer to the Truffle Oil, to the Pancetta.  I am glad I didn’t use bacon (yes, I said that) as that might have been a bit overwhelming.  However, next time, I might add some Cream Cheese or a higher fat content milk so it would be a bit more smooth & creamier.  And maybe some fresh herbs…or Blue Cheese…or….. Oh geez, there is so much you can do with Mac & Cheese!!!

As a side note, I found a new favorite food love today….Coconut Oil!  Oh my gosh, if you haven’t tried it, GET IT!!  I sautéed the fresh green beans you see with the Beer Mac & Cheese in a tablespoon of Coconut Oil tonight and some fresh chopped Garlic.  It was out of this world!  Sigh.  I might just do a post using this magic oil…

Anyway, I hope you’ll give this Beer Mac & Cheese a shot and join me next time for Beer for a Year, month seven!

Cheers,

Shawn