Raw Rainbow Corn Salad

{a bowl of summer}

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August 1st.  Wow, is it just me or has this year flown by?  I honestly cannot believe it is already August.  That being said, summer is in its last month & before I know it Bryan, Chase and I will be heading out to the apple orchard for our annual fall trip.  Then we will be bundled up trudging through the snow to go pick out the perfect Christmas tree.  But just not quite yet…. There are far too many summer days to soak up & recipes to create.

Has anyone tried to freeze corn on the cob before?  I see them at the grocery store, but am thinking about trying it out so I have some of this amazing summer sweet corn for the winter.

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This summer corn has appeared in several of my recipes and oftentimes is our side dish.  Not only are they so easy to make, but there are so many ways to cook (or not) them.  I grilled the corn, which I used in the Kale & Corn Salad I posted on Paige’s site.  I also added them to my summer Shrimp & Corn Chowder.  For this recipe, I left the kernels as is, straight up raw off the cob.

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Originally, I made this salad for my sister & her husband’s going away party.  If I do say so myself, it was a pretty decent hit.  I whipped it up for one of my girlfriend’s bachelorette parties…again a successful dish.  It also makes for some great leftovers.  All of the flavors meld together & become bolder as they sit.  Another added bonus, the beautiful colors.  I used literally every color of the rainbow.. ok I didn’t use blue so I made sure to use a blue bowl for serving.  This dish is definitely eye-catching & I loved photographing it!

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If you know how to chop & you love an easy, yet crowd-pleasing dish this is your winner.  No cooking involved.  Simply chop, mix, serve.  I hope you are enjoying these beautiful (cool in MI) summer nights & taking time to cook delicious food, relax with family & truly enjoy life!  I know I am :)

Raw Rainbow Corn salad

Recipe by: Sara
Prep Time:  15 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 0 minutes   |||   Servings: 8-10   |||   Difficulty: Very Low

Ingredients
8 ears of corn, husked & silk removed
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced and zest
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chipotle seasoning
1 Tbsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
5 oz queso fresca, crumbled

Directions
1.  Remove the kernels from their cobs by placing a coffee cup upside-down in a large bowl.  Hold the cob vertically, using the base of the coffee mug as its platform.  Use your knife to slice down the cob.  The kernels will fall into the bowl.
2.  Add all other ingredients, except about 1 oz. of the cheese.  Stir together.
3.  Chill in the fridge until ready to serve & top with remaining cheese.

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Grilled Corn & Kale Salad

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Hey everyone!  Happy Tuesday!  I am excited to announce that I will be a recipe contributor to A Dose of Paige.  What does that mean?  Well, you may remember when Paige & I swapped blogs a while back.  She shared a DIY for spices jar labels & I shared a DIY homemade taco seasoning on her blog.  We loved doing the swap and both had a ton of great feedback from our readers.  That being said, she asked if I would contribute a monthly recipe to her blog.

Be sure to check out her blog every 3rd week of the month for a delicious dose of Paige.  June’s pilot recipe features a lot of fresh ingredients while using the grill.  Grilled Sweet Corn & Kale Salad!  Yum.  Sweet & smokey corn, crunchy kale, juicy tomatoes.  Have I got you intrigued yet?  Head over to her blog to get all the details:

A dose of Paige:  Grilled sweet corn & kale salad

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Strawberry Tomato Basil Salad

{deconstructed tomato mozzarella}

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It baffles me knowing that when I was younger I hated cheese.  I really don’t understand people who don’t like it.  It is one of the items I would take with me on a deserted island (given the island is thriving with assorted fruits and veggies).  I blame a portion of a little excess weight gain solely on cheese.  The devil, I swear.  It tastes just so damn good.  The whole lot:  cheddar, blue, mozzarella, brie, parmesan – I love them all.

I always thought fresh mozzarella was one of the more gross looking cheeses.  Soft, white, jiggly pieces.  They often made an appearance throughout my life and I always avoided the creepy things.  Until one day, I decided at a family Christmas party I would give it a try (this was in the midst of my growing cheese obsession).  Needless to say, I think I ate the entire platter with sliced tomatoes – something I have always loved.

Remember when I did the love your lunch series?  I shared a quick lunch idea for a Tomato Mozzarella Flatbread.  I’m pretty sure I spilled my love for this amazing combination in that post.  It has only since grown as the weather warms and sometimes just a light little lunch or dinner is needed.  After eating a late lunch the other day, I wanted to come home and prepare something very simple, quick and light.  I was craving a Tomato Mozzarella salad, but didn’t have any mozzarella on hand.  I scrounged the fridge for what I had and set to work reconstructing a unique version of my beloved salad.

Enter the characters:  Sweet, plump strawberries.  Tart tomatoes.  Refreshing basil.  Creamy feta.

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I started by halving the strawberries and dicing the tomatoes.  I cut the basil into julienned ribbons and mixed the three together.  A simple balsamic honey dressing was drizzled over and topped with the feta cheese.  The sweet, salty, and tart flavors create a great combination.  This salad can be made to serve at a BBQ or as a simple lunch or side dish.

strawberry tomato basil Salad

Recipe By: Sara
Prep Time:  5 minutes   |||   Cook TIme:  0 minutes   |||   Servings: 2 |||   Difficult Level:  Low

Ingredients:
1 cup strawberries, halved
1 cup tomatoes, diced
6-7 large basil leaves, julienned *see photos*
1/4 cup reduced fat feta cheese
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper
dash of cayenne pepper

Directions:
1.  In a bowl, combine the strawberries, tomato and basil.  Stir to combine.
2.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil and honey.  Season with salt and peppers.
3.  Pour over strawberries and tomatoes, stir to combine.
4.  Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.

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Simple Fresh Herbed Reds

{meat & potatoes}

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Another side dish strikes again!  I love red potatoes.  Well, I love potatoes.  However, I know my body doesn’t necessarily need the sugars and carbs that come along with them.  However, for some reason I pretend eating red potatoes is healthier.

I’ve made them every which way:  mashed, smashed, boiled, roasted, potato salad, sauted into a hash.  Their mild flavor allows any flavor to stick nicely to them.  Also, their small shape results in a quick cooking potato.  My go-to definitely is a simple roasted red potato.  I usually quarter them and then roast with some olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Boom.  Done and done.  However, the night I decided to make these I had no intention of putting on the oven (I had the self cleaner on and it already made the house hot enough).

Now, my method for making this little side dish isn’t the most nutrient-saver friendly, but it was quick and tasty.  Sometimes, quick and tasty are my best friends.  I took a few of the potatoes (washed) and put them into a plastic bag and cut a small vent.  Into the microwave they went to steam to perfection.  It was about 6-8 minutes until they were fork tender.  Tossed them in my fresh herbs and plated them with our spicy sausages.

Sometimes there’s just something delicious and comforting about a basic meat and potatoes dinner.  This super simple side dish is ready in minutes, but tastes fresh & flavorful.  If you are a busy mom/dad/person, this is something to add to your “quick dinners” list.  They go well with any type of meat, poultry or fish.  Afraid of the ol’ microwave?  Half the potatoes and roast in the oven then toss with the herbs.

I hope you all are having a great week thus far and enjoying our beautiful summer weather!  Speaking of… wouldn’t these potatoes pair nicely with a delicious juicy grilled steak??

simple fresh herbed red potatoes

Recipe By:  Sara
Prep Time:  5 minutes   |||   Cook TIme:  6-8 minutes   |||   Servings: 2 |||   Difficult Level:  Way Low

Ingredients:
6-8 medium red potatoes
1 Tbsp extra virg olive oil
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp fresh sage
1 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Directions:
1.  In a ziplock bag, place the clean potatoes and close.  Pierce a small hole for a vent.
2.  Microwave for 6-8 minutes or until fork tender.
3.  While they cook, chop the herbs then combine with the oil, salt, pepper and parm.  Stir to combine.
4.  Carefully remove from the steam bag from the microwave.  Let cool 1 minute.
5.  Remove potatoes and half them.  Instantly toss with the oil/herb mixture.  The heat from the inner potato will warm and wilt the herbs.
6.  Serve immediately.

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Enjoy!

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Speedy Parmesan Thyme Risotto

{creamy, savory goodness}

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If you follow along with me on Instagram, you most likely saw my picture of my visit to the meat market.  I was introduced to this little gem and will be headed there on a weekly basis.  The place is called Market Place Meats & Deli and is relatively close to our house.  It was bright and sunny 2 Sundays ago so I went on a solo adventure to the meat market.  I fell in love.  Not only are there a huge selection, but the prices are amazing.  Added bonus, my butcher is Polish and said each Sunday he will teach me a couple of words/sayings.

He suggested some “petite steaks” which were sliced flat iron pieces.  He said they are great for weeknight meals because they can be put on the grill for a few minutes and be done.  I got a couple of other things:  chicken breasts, chicken sausages, and ground chuck, all for $19.00.

The night I planned to make the steak I wanted to pair them with some bold side dishes.  I planned to make my Lemon Parmesan Risotto recipe, but knew I had to hurry home from work in order to get it going in time.  Needless to say, I didn’t get home early enough.  However, I still wanted to make it.

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PHOTO BOMB!!!!!

Do you have a recipe that you love, but wish it was easier/quicker to prepare?  Risotto is one on my list.  I love risotto.  I don’t have time for risotto.  Therefore, our relationship is very weak.  To make an absolutely delicious and A+++ risotto you must be prepared to be patient and have about an hour to stand around, periodically stir a pot for about an hour.  This working lady ain’t got no time for that kinda dinner.

Fear no more.  I cheated on the slow cooking risotto and sped up the process resulting in a creamy risotto.  I even used brown rice!  The key to my speedy risotto is to cook the rice according to the directions on the package and before all the water is absorbed you add a little more at a time.  At first I thought there was no way this was going to work, but it did and I am happy & ready to experiment with different flavor combinations.

In the next few posts, you will notice that I will be featuring a lot of side dishes.  This is because the meat market pieces don’t require a lot of jazzy sauces and recipes.  They are simple and can be accompanied by a fancy side dish for a perfect weeknight meal!

Sara’s speedy parmesan thyme risotto

Recipe by:  Sara
Prep Time:  5 minutes   |||   Cook TIme:  25 minutes   |||   Servings: 4-6  |||   Difficult Level:  Low

Ingredients:
1 cup brown rice [preferably 15 min or less cook time rice]
2 cups water + an additional ~2 cups
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Directions:
1.  Combine rice and water in a medium sauce pan.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat.
2.  When a small bit of water remains, add 1/2 cup and increase heat to medium.  Stir often.
3.  Slowly add 1/4-1/2 cup water at a time until the rice start to become creamy.
4.  Add butter, parmesan and spices.  Stir to combine.  You may need a small amount of water again.
5.  Stir in thyme and season with salt and pepper.IMG_4016

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it’s my birthday, I’ll eat quinoa if I want to…

…but in all reality, I definitely don’t want to.  Who eats quinoa on their birthday?? Birthdays are supposed to be about cupcakes, sprinkles, cheesecakes, drinks and whatever ones birthday heart desires to eat, right?

So yes.  Today marks the 6th anniversary of my 21st birthday:

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Or the 26th anniversary of this pretty cute DOUGHIE baby.:

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I am not a huge fan of being a grown up and having a birthday. Everyone should get their birthday off work, it be acceptable to still wear a crown, and drink all day long while carrying a Strawberry Shortcake balloon around town. Unfortunately, that’s not much of the case anymore and I am working all day instead. However, I will be enjoying a beautiful evening dining somewhere delicious with Bryan.  So back to food talk….

So don’t get me wrong.  I do really like quinoa and we already reviewed its amazing benefits here.  However, today in fact is my birthday and I choose to not eat quinoa today.

I am choosing to share this delicious quinoa salad recipe with you all.  I made it over the weekend to bring to Easter dinner at Bryan’s grandparents.  They are trying to eat really healthy and I was on the list to bring a cold, non-lettuce, salad.  At first, I thought perhaps my jicama or cabbage salad, but those didn’t have enough UMPH to be served as an Easter side dish.

My recent quinoa experience steered my brain towards a healthy grain salad.  In addition, I wanted to incorporate bright, springy vegetables considering it was going to be gorgeous spring weather.  While at the store, I bought a variety of peppers and a pop of crunchy sweet corn. I decided on a pretty simple Honey Lime Vinaigrette to marry the quinoa and veggies together.  It was very flavorful, but not overpowering and it accentuated the sweet notes of the peppers.

I am also choosing to share this post today as part of the Love Your Lunch series.  It definitely is a salad that is better the next day.  The flavors are much stronger and delicious after marinating together overnight in the fridge.  Since we had plenty of leftovers, I took a tupperware to lunch & it was so tasty and kept me full and satisfied until dinner.

My main plan was to just use the sweet corn, cilantro and the vinaigrette in this salad, but the peppers were on sale and too pretty to pass up.  The vegetables can be easily swapped for whatever is your preference or on sale at the time.  Try a combination on snap peas, red pepper, and feta cheese.  Or asparagus, eggplant and goat cheese.  The options are endless.

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So no.  I will not be eating quinoa today because I ate it all up yesterday.  Today, I am allowing myself to wander outside the office walls for lunch for some fresh air… it is Earth Day after all!

spring quinoa salad with honey lime vinaigrette
recipe by:  Sara
Hands on Time:  15 minutes   ///   Cook Time:  15-20 minutes   ///   Servings:  6-8

Ingredients:
1 & 1/2 cups quinoa
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 orange pepper
3 ears of sweet corn
1 jalapeno, minced
1 tsp ground chipotle powder
1/4 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

Directions
1.  Cook quinoa according to package instructions then place in fridge to cool.
2.  Cut the peppers into a small dice and remove the corn from the ears.  Combine in a bowl with the chipotle seasoning and jalapeno.
3.  In a small bowl, combine the lime, honey, olive oil, and garlic with a whisk until thoroughly mixed.
4.  Season with salt and pepper.
5.  Add the cooled quinoa to the pepper and corn mixture.
6.  Pour dressing over salad and stir to combine.
7.  Stir in cheese and season salad with salt and pepper to taste.
8. Chill for 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

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