Mexican Corn Salad

If you’re in a jam and need a quick, easy and delicious side dish – this one can be made in less than 10 minutes and is a crowd-pleaser. It’s a spin on elote (Mexican grilled corn), which is the best way to eat corn. The creaminess of the feta and mayo gets cut by the citrusy punch of the lime and sweetness of the corn. And if fresh corn is not in season, frozen corn (and specifically Trader Joe’s fire-roasted frozen corn) is a good substitute.

Ingredients
  • 1 bag frozen corn or ~3 cups fresh corn kernels
  • 1 tbl unsalted butter
  • 4 tbl crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tbl mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbl sriracha (optional)
Directions
  1. In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add corn kernels, tossing once or twice. Cook about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Mix together feta cheese, mayo, cilantro, garlic, paprika, lime juice and sriracha.
  3. Combine with corn kernels and adjust seasoning to taste.

Serves 6

Peruvian Grilled Chicken

There’s nothing I love more than grilling a whole chicken. It’s perfect for cook once, eat twice or more weekend meals. It’s perfect for sharing when we’re entertaining. This has been our go-to chicken recipe and we’re not sick of it yet. The smell of it on the grill will make you wait in keen anticipation. And the flavor – the mix of spices and grill flavor – is absolutely delicious.

Our preferred whole bird preparation is to spatchcock. It sounds more intimidating than it actually is. It’s really just butterflying the chicken it rests flat on the grill, allowing it to cook evenly (and faster). Turn the bird so its back (the side that’s connected to the tail) is facing up (meaning breast side is on the cutting board) and use kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the back from the tail to the neck. You’ve just cut out the chicken’s back. Then flip the bird over and flatten the breast with the heel of your hand. That’s it!

After spatchcocking, I separate the skin from the meat so I can spread the rub paste all over the bird. Then I let it sit in the fridge for 24-36 hours before grilling.

For the paste, I recommend using dried/powdered (but still fresh in flavor) ingredients. All of the flavor will come through these dried ingredients so getting the most flavorful ones will go a long way.

Ingredients
  • 4 lb. chicken, spatchcocked, skin loosely separated from meat
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbl cumin
  • 1 tbl paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 1 tbl white vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon (approx. 2-3 tbl for a medium lemon)
Directions
  1. Mix together ingredients to form a paste. Rub into meat underneath the skin and on the skin. Marinate up to 36 hours.
  2. Preheat gas grill on high for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn grill to low and place chicken skin side up on the direct heat. Leave it on the grill for 30 minutes.
  4. Flip the chicken so that the skin side is down. Leave it on the grill for another 30 minutes.
Notes
  • If you don’t have lemon on hand but you do have white wine, you can substitute lemon for wine one-to-one.
  • Here are the ingredients that I especially like for the garlic, paprika and black pepper:

Fudgy Two-Bite Brownies

Need a dessert idea? You can’t go wrong with chocolatey, sea salty, fudgy bite-sized brownies. They’re the ultimate crowd-pleaser and these brownies will leave them wanting more.

Ingredients
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1¼ cups white sugar
  • ¾ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder or very finely ground coffee (optional)
  • 2 cold large eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped, or ⅓ cup chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the lower third of the oven.
  2. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Cook the butter, while whisking constantly, until it’s a pale golden brown and the particles suspended in it are reddish brown. This usually takes about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the sugar. Then add the cocoa powder, sea salt, baking powder and espresso powder. Stir until the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula after each one. When the mixture looks thick, shiny and well blended, add the vanilla extract and the flour. Stir until you no longer see streaks of flour. Then beat vigorously for 50 strokes with the wooden spoon or spatula.
  6. At this point, the mixture should be no more than slightly warm (if not, let it cool for a few more minutes). Fold in the chocolate chunks or chips.
  7. Spread the batter in the lined pan. Bake on the lower rack for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Cool the brownies in the pan on a baking rack.
  8. Once the brownies are completely cool, lift the edges of the parchment paper and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the brownies into 16 squares.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

The holidays are creeping up and it’s an excuse for me to start baking more desserts. Generally I don’t bake too often because it’s just myself and Dan…and it’s usually myself who ends up eating the desserts. So generally if dessert posts show up, then you know we’ve been to a potluck or our co-workers have been well fed.

This year, we’re taking part in the 2nd Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap hosted by our friends at Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen. So I’m getting started with testing cookie recipes to share. A few months ago, I made the chocolate crinkle cookies from Hummingbird on High and loved them! So the other day, I put my own spin on these and made a few other types of cookies and brownies. My co-workers (as well as Dan’s) loved this cookie the most! They were surprised by how few ingredients were in them too! These cookies, adapted from Williams Sonoma, have a moist brownie-like texture in the middle but the outside has a thin crunch and a coating of powdered sugar. These cookies definitely taste great and turn out beautifully. They’re perfect for serving to guests or enjoying for yourself!

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 baking sheets with butter or use parchment paper.
  2. Put the powdered sugar into a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, using a wooden spoon, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Turn off the mixture and scrape down sides. Add 1 egg and beat on medium speed until blended. Add the other egg and vanilla and beat until blended.
  6. Turn off the mixer and add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until just blended.
  7. Using a tablespoon, scoop up a rounded spoonful of dough.
  8. Roll dough into a ball using your hands and roll the ball in the powdered sugar until covered.
  9. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat, spacing the balls 1-2 inches apart.
  10. Bake until the cookies are cracked and puffed, about 10-12 minutes.
  11. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes.
  12. Using a spatula, move the cookies onto the rack and let cool completely.

Cook’s Notes

When I started to beat the butter and sugar together, I realized that the butter was not soft/warm enough and instead of getting creamy, it started becoming crumbly. If this happens, just turn off the mixer and microwave the butter and sugar mixture for 10 seconds, but be sure to not melt the butter. If this does happen, just refrigerate the mixture for about a minute.

Mussels with Tomato Broth and Goat Cheese

I can confidently state that mussels are in my top 3 of favorite seafood dishes. Although you can hardly consider them as a singular dish, especially with all the different broths like tomato, cream and beer that are used. With all these combinations I don’t think I’ll get tired of mussels anytime soon! But the best part of mussels is the ritual of eating them: breaking open the shell and taking a bite, and a sip of the broth. And of course, mopping up the sauce with some crusty bread. The flavor is usually savory from the broth and slightly sweet and oceany from the mussels. Delicious!

When we were along the southern coast of Turkey, we took a 2 day side trip to the island of Rhodes in Greece. For dinner, we went to this restaurant called Agalma in the Rhodes new town. As an appetizer, we had these mussels in a savory tomato broth that was sprinkled with goat cheese. We loved this dish and wanted to recreate it when we got home. If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, feel free to leave it out. But either way, pair this dish with our garlic bread and you’ve got a great meal!

Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato juice and celery seeds. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Discard any mussels that are broken or do not shut when tapped.
  5. Add the mussels to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil.
  6. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until mussels are open, about 3 minutes.
  7. Remove the mussels and place into a large bowl, leaving the broth in the pot.
  8. Add the cheese into the broth and whisk over low heat for 1 minute.
  9. Pour broth over mussels and serve.

Cook’s Notes

I didn’t buy tomato juice for this recipe. Our grocery store only sells them in huge bottles, and this recipe only calls for a little bit. Instead, I had regular tomato sauce (not spaghetti or pizza sauce) on hand and mixed 3/4 cup tomato sauce with 3/4 cup water to get the 1 1/2 cups tomato juice.

For some added flavor, we used herb goat cheese.