Corn and Black Bean Salsa: Quick, easy, and versatile

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I truly believe that in cooking sometimes the last thing you want to do is make a whole bunch of different things.  However, if you can create one thing that can serve multiple purposes then you have a real  advantage in making life easy.  This salsa is the perfect example.  This week we had two different Mexican inspired dishes on our menu.  You will see one tomorrow and the other in the next week.  This chunky, fresh salsa found its way into both meals.  And actually if we decided to, dipping was not required.  This is my very favorite dipping salsa.  I exclude the tomatoes because I don’t like them but you can add them if you want.  The beans, and actually the cumin in the dish make it a very refreshing change from your typical everyday salsa.

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The two versatile ways that I used it this week were actually to enhance starches.  For the meal you will see tomorrow, I added it to the quinoa that went into our vegetarian fajita burritos.  It gave a nice body and richness to the main ingredient. The other time I used it as a non-dip, I added some spoonfuls to a brown rice that was a side dish for a Mexican spiced chicken.  The absolute best part of this salsa is that there is no cooking involved, just add all the ingredients into a bowl, mix, and refrigerate for a few hours to merry the flavors.  Its quick and easy and can be used as a great party appetizer or incorporated into other dishes.

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Corn and Black Bean Salsa

  • 2 cans black beans, drained
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 6 Tbs olive oil
  • the juice of two limes
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup green onion , minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
  1. Mix everything except the tomatoes in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. When ready to serve, mix in the tomatoes

JUST THAT EASY!

Garlic Parmesan Pull Apart Bread: You won’t be able to wait until dinner is ready

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So if I have one true weakness that could stop me from saving the world, it would be garlic bread.  Really any bread would do it but I have a special place in my heart for buttery white bread with garlic, herbs, and often Parmesan cheese.  I think that it is genetic because my mother is afflicted with the same issue.  Both of us would often be willing to pass on dessert entirely if it meant another piece or two of the bread that came with dinner.

Yesterday, Sunday, turned into quite the adventure as I made three different things (all of which you will see over the next three days) as well as purchasing and decorating our Christmas tree, and doing some cleaning.  I made a lasagna so I could not resist the opportunity to make a bread to go along with it.  I didn’t really feel like trying to make a yeast dough and go through all of the extra steps involved in making it, because I wanted to make a mash up of two pull apart/ monkey bread recipes that I found while perusing Foodgawker, so I decided to use frozen white rolls from the store to make things easier.

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Using those rolls was the first part of my cut up, The recipe that I used for the seasoning and flavoring used refrigerated biscuits, and that just didn’t sound good to me.  So I used a second recipe to get the method for using frozen dinner rolls as the medium.  The seasoning couldn’t have been easier and simpler.  Garlic, butter, Italian seasoning, and plenty of Parmesan cheese is the holy quartet when it comes to bread.  Also, doing a pull apart bread makes it easy to share with your special someone and keeps it easy.

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Maybe the most amazing part is seeing the half filled bundt pan you put into the oven magically come out filled to the brim with a perfectly baked pull apart bread just waiting to be devoured.  If you just want to try and make the bread and don’t have plans for a meal to serve it with, this recipe could be a great entertaining appetizer.  Just serve with a warm marinara sauce and dip to enjoy all by itself.

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Garlic Parmesan Pull Apart Bread

  • 24 frozen dinner rolls, thawed
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.  While preheating melt the butter in the bundt pan in the oven
  2. Break each roll into two pieces and place in a bowl.  Add the Parmesan, seasoning, and garlic and stir.  When the butter is melted, carefully remove the pan from the oven.  Rotate the pan around, coating the interior in butter, then pour the remaining butter over the rolls and stir again.
  3. Place about half of the roll pieces into the bundt pan and sprinkle some of the cheese mixture in the bottom of the bowl over the rolls in the pan.  Repeat with the rest of the rolls going into the pan and then sprinkling the rest of the cheese mixture.
  4. Bake in the bundt pan for 30 minutes.  Remove and let cool slightly in the pan.  Turn out onto a serving plate and enjoy.

Smoky Brussels Sprouts: A tasty indoor preparation of an outdoor recipe

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I must apologize for not posting yesterday.  I worked a 9am-6pm shift at work and all i wanted to do was come home and sit mindlessly.  While I made no commitment to post every day, it is my goal to and thus I will need to adjust to posting after a full day’s work.

Today’s cut up is inspired by a couple of different things.  First of all, I wanted to try a recipe out of a particular cookbook.  As I mentioned before, Alton Brown, of Food Network fame, is really my cooking idol.  I have 4 of his cookbooks, all three “Good Eats” volumes as well as “I’m Just Here for the Food.”  I must admit that I have failed to appropriately utilize these books and I wanted to do so.  I realized while making the macaroni and cheese from my last post that I needed a vegetable to accompany it.  We had some Brussels sprouts in the fridge and decided to look up the section in his “Good Eats” books where he prepares them and try my hand.  Unfortunately,  upon finding the chapter I realized there were two options: a simple recipe that uses no flavor-ants whatsoever (which we usually do, just salt and oil), or a grilled application.  This reminded me of the second thing that I wanted to cut up.  I love just about everything prepared on the grill outside.  And while I love the cold wet weather, I don’t like the forced indoor cooking.  So I decided that my attempt at a cut up would be to use his grilled recipe but adjust the cooking method for indoors.  This meant finding a vessel that could provide sustained, high-heat and good direct contact.  The answer: our new cast iron skillet.

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After determining the method, and locating the few spices necessary, the rest was quite simple.  The dry mustard offered a nice note that pulled the mac n cheese and the Brussels together.  The paprika gave a nice smoky finish to each Brussel and best of all it was like a Southern Summer cookout, all indoors.

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Smoky Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  1. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat
  2. Trim the stem off of each sprout and microwave, uncovered, in a bowl for three minutes
  3. Add the oil, salt, pepper, mustard and paprika and toss to coat
  4. Cook in the skillet, stirring regularly, until the sprouts are cooked through.  This took about 7 minutes for me but it could take up to 10 depending on the size of the sprouts you are using
  5. Serve warm, tossing in a little more oil in the same bowl if necessary

This recipe was adapted from “Good Eats, Volume 3” by Alton brown