Spiced Corn on the Cob

One thing I am really looking forward to about the move back to Iowa is sweet corn.  There is nothing like sinking your teeth into fresh sweet corn on the cob.  I mourned sweet corn during the years I had braces and could not wait for the day to have them removed – the day AFTER yearbook pictures were taken in ninth grade.  Go figure. 
Anyway, we had our first sweet corn of the season recently and I tried out three wonderful flavor mixtures the last time we made corn on the cob.  Check them out below.  
After husking the corn, see here for a secret to husking corn that I will have to try next time, place corn onto parchment paper and prepare with seasonings.  I broke my ears in half so Eric and I could try all three flavors and choose our favorite.  
For the first ear, I used a smear of margarine, a sprinkling of coconut sugar, and Cajun seasoning.  

For the second ear, I used Sriracha hot sauce and minced garlic.  

The last ear, I used a smear of margarine, a sprinkling of crushed red peppers, and a sprinkling of lime juice.  

I was pretty sure this one would be my favorite – there is just something about hot peppers and limes that get me every time!

Roll the parchment around the corn cobs and then place in aluminum foil.  Fold the edges over the points of the cob first and then pinch long flaps together to make a mohawk on your corn.  Pinch the mohawk together to ensure no loss of flavorings.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  Open foil packets and allow to cool slightly before serving.  
Pretty sure we’d put this cookbook to good use.
Eric’s favorite was the Sriracha combination, due to its spicy heat, but let’s face it, we’ll put Sriracha on anything around here.  I liked the pepper and lime corn – the lime juice made the flavors of the corn and pepper so much brighter.  The Cajun one was equally good –  I could see that flavoring served with hush puppies.  

Zesty Beet Greens

For the most part, food fads annoy me.  Low carb, South Beach, grapefruit diet, Atkins, cabbage soup, juicing….I could go on but am not trying to offend anyone.  I just figure one should eat well-rounded healthy foods, avoid processed foods, go heavy on the fruits and vegetables, and above all enjoy food.   This can include a vice or two, but with moderation.  My father always says, “Eat to live, don’t live to eat.”

I love that people are jumping on the idea of clean eating.  My only beef with it is why can’t this just be accepted as the way to eat instead of being labeled with a cutesy and catchy term?  Clean eating just gives this (duh, in my mind) way of eating a fad feeling.  Now off my soap box I go – here’s an easy way to eat more greens and really enjoy them too.

Beets are fantastic.  The candy of the vegetable world, as my grandmother calls them.  The leafy greens are equally delectable, something I had to learn much later in life.  My parents grew beets when we were kids and we would often eat the beet tops as a part of our summer meals, much to my dismay.

To prepare beet greens, wash first, and then simply chop the beet tops off, and slice the greens off of red stem.  Discard red stem and chop greens down to smaller, more manageable bite-size pieces.  Turn the beets into beet chips.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat.  Add greens when pan is hot.  Stir frequently.

Add generous dusting of fresh ground pepper, 1 – 2 cloves minced garlic, and a generous dusting of ginger powder.  Cook until greens are slightly wilted, do not overcook to a soggy mash.

I knew these were a big hit when Eric eyed my bowl and said, “These are really good, are you going to finish yours?”

Now I am just hoping I get to harvest some kale before we leave in June.  It’s a stretch, I know.  55 days from the planting day should be the week we are moving out so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Zesty Beet Greens

1. Remove beet tops from 3 beets, wash thoroughly.  Slice the greens off of the red stem with a knife.  Discard the woody red stems and chop greens down to smaller, more manageable bite-size pieces.

2.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat.  Add greens when pan is hot.  Combine a generous dusting of fresh ground pepper, 1 – 2 cloves minced garlic, and a generous dusting of ginger powder (1 – 2 teaspoons?).  Stir frequently, cooking until greens are slightly wilted, do not overcook to a soggy mash.

Pinto & Broccoli Hot Pizza

This recipe came about due to and outing during our first open house.  It is the perfect blend of veggies, hearty wheat crust topped with bean spread, savory onions and garlic, and zing of chipotle peppers.  
We headed to Sticks and Stones Clay Oven Pizza this weekend after a walk with the dog to wait out our first open house.  I had read about the special pizza on their Facebook page and wanted to try it.  

The atmosphere of this place relaxed.  The lobby has a fish tank that enthralls Greta while we wait on food or bills.

 Can I just take a moment to say how much I will miss this restaurant?  Des Moines people, you will have to help me find a new Sticks.

 I stay entertained reading the random cards and objects stuck under the glass of the table.  I found this basketball card a little on the creepy side…

 The Rescue Blues rosemary garlic fries are my absolute favorite.  Greta even looked at me and said, “Mama, mine!” about these fries.

The pizza turned out to be fantastic – refried bean base, roasted chicken, sauteed broccoli, mozzarella, fontina and chili oil drizzled on top.  I have been wanting to make a pizza with a bean base for a while now – let’s face it, I get tired of eating the same old recipes prepared the same old way.  Pizza isn’t meant to be eaten only with tomato as its base.  At least that is my feeling on the subject. 
Start by sautéing 1 cup chopped broccoli, ½ yellow onion, and 3 cloves chopped garlic in oil until soft.  
Puree 1-15 oz can of pinto beans with 1 tablespoon oil and 2 tablespoons water until smooth. 
If using my favorite crust recipe, bake the crust for about 5 to 10 minutes at 425 degrees before adding any toppings.  This prevents a soggy middle.  Spread the bean paste over the pizza crust.  Add the broccoli mixture on top of the bean paste. 

 Top with chopped chipotle peppers and a shredding of cheddar cheese.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or til the crust is done and toppings are melted.

Pinto & Broccoli Hot Pizza 
1. Sauté 1 cup chopped broccoli½ yellow onion, and 3 cloves chopped garlic in oil until soft.  
2. Puree 1-15 oz can of pinto beans with 1 tablespoon oil and 2 tablespoons water until smooth. 
3. If using my favorite crust recipe, bake the crust for about 5 to 10 minutes at 425 degrees before adding any toppings.  This prevents a soggy middle.  Spread the bean paste over the pizza crust.  Add the broccoli mixture on top of the bean paste. 
4. Top with chopped chipotle peppers and a shredding of cheddar cheese.  Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or til the crust is done and toppings are melted.  

Best.Pizza.Crust.Ever.  ~ from Food Networks Kitchens, Making it Easy, 2004.
1 cup tepid water (105 degree water)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons agave syrup
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (optional)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 packet active dry yeast
1. Mix flour and yeast in a bowl.
2. Mix warm water, olive oil, agave syrup, and salt in a bowl.  
3.  Make a well in the dry ingredients.  Add liquid ingredients and mix well.  
4.  Knead for about 5 minutes, use extra flour if the dough is really sticky.  
5.  Place in a greased bowl and let rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes.  

6.  Punch down dough and let rest for 10 minutes.  In the meantime, preheat oven to 425 degrees and prepare pizza  pan(s).  

7.  Stretch (or hand toss, if you are really talented) into desired size.  

8.  If you are making a thick crust pizza, bake the dough at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes before adding and toppings.  This will ensure you do not get the doughy, uncooked center.  

9.  While your crust is baking, prepare toppings.
10. Bake pizza in 425 degree oven for about 12 more minutes or til done, on the lowest oven rack.

Dreaming of Key West + Lemon Garlic Roasted Carrots

Key West, Florida is a family favorite locale.  My parents and sister have been there more frequently than Eric and I – we have only been twice now.  I know, the shame!  Poor Greta has yet to experience Key West.  I have been daydreaming of spring break trips this year, as we are not likely to have one with the process of packing, selling a house, and moving on our radar this spring.  So, on this nice and sunny, 60 degree day in Greensboro, I dream of Key West.  Read on to find some highlights of our last trip to Key West in April of 2010 plus an easy side, a Key West inspired recipe – Lemon Garlic Roasted Carrots.

My family always stays in the same place – the Eden House.  This place is heaven.  This is the elaborate system of walkways with privacy fences between the pool and one of the houses that has been converted to suites.  We stayed on the second floor of one such suite.  There are a variety of rooms, suites, and even condo-like setups.

The front porch of the Eden House – I could spend an entire day sitting here watching Key West amble by.

This is our post wake-up and pre-breakfast meet-up.  This particular trip included myself, Eric, Brady (brother-in-law), Caroline (sister), my dad and my mom.  

Our suite had a porch off the back with chairs and a swing.  We spent most of our evenings out here watching the tour buses and people go by.

Eric and I love to take our Diana camera along on vacations – it takes lovely dreamy photos.  Analog film is still better than Instagram, if you ask me.  I was working on a watercolor painting of Eric sitting in the swing.

The Southernmost Point is a fun place to visit.  Be prepared to wait in line for your turn to take a photo, though.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is a great place to ride your bike to.  They always have interesting sculptures set up along the walkways.  This year was no exception – this one made from twigs framed the water beautifully.  
Bring water along – the ride is warmer and sunnier than you think, but there are concessions to purchase at the park.  
You can also swim, rent chairs,
wade in the water, and enjoy a walk on their paths.  

We ride our rental bikes everywhere on the island.  The island is flat and the roads easy enough to ride on – cars are well-versed in tourists on bicycles.  We enjoy riding around the entire edge of the island at least once.  This trip always takes us out to the pier. Everyone smiles in Key West – how could you not with this backdrop?

Usually we see pelicans on the pier.

The wide path behind Eric is what we ride on for a good length along the beaches.  I can almost feel the ocean breeze now.  Sigh. 

We always make time for the Ernest Hemingway home.  This beautiful home was built in 1851 and became the famous author’s home in 1931.  I love the two-story porches and green shutters. 

 The furniture inside the home was used by Hemingway and his family.

The different shades of green are fitting for a Key West home.  I love the painted floors!

 The home and gardens are filled with cats.  There are about 40-50 poly dactyl cats around the house and grounds – all descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s 6-toed cat named Snowball.  This particular marmalade enjoys its place on the bed.

There are signs of the cats everywhere – footprints in the concrete around the house and pool.

 The cats are sleeping on furniture, in the gardens, and in the house.

 There is even a little cat graveyard in the garden, complete with a cat house for the living.

This last trip, we headed over to the Martello Tower, which is now the Key West Garden Club.  This is a free destination in Key West and was once a fort during the Civil war, but now home to a lush garden full of interesting plants.

These white angel trumpet flowers formed a shady canopy overhead.  

The colors were just a riot.

 The lizards are everywhere.

This spiny tree was my favorite.  
Eric even found a coconut.  

The inside of the Key West Garden Club still looks very much like a military fort, except for the motorized wooden chair mounted on the wall.  This was another one of the artworks that can be found all over the island.  
Blue Heaven is our favorite breakfast place in Key West.  This pretty calico was sunning herself on the porch at the entrance of this interesting place.  
The walkway into the restaurant’s courtyard is paved in brick and lined in lush foliage.  

Once inside the courtyard, you are in, well Blue Heaven.  The stage hosts live music, the bar is stocked for breakfast or drinks, and the ground is sand and usually teeming with chickens.

We watched this hen and rooster scratch around while enjoying some of the best banana bread on earth.

Another fun place to eat is Kelly’s Caribbean Bar, Grill & Brewery.  This is in the former headquarters of Pan American Airlines and boasts themselves as the southern most brewery.  It has a wonderful second floor deck/patio we like to sit at while we enjoy its very own beer.  I enjoyed the coconut shrimp and Havana Red Ale.

A great place to eat with a killer view is Turtle Kraals.  We found ourselves at here after a day of wandering around the island, before heading to Mallory Square for the evening entertainment.  

The rooftop views of the boats and the marina can’t be beat.  This is a lovely place to enjoy drinks while the sun sets.

I ordered an amazing meal of mango crab cakes with coconut rice and a creamy, tropical coleslaw.  Heaven on a plate!
Just down the street from the Eden House, is the Help Yourself Cafe & Market.  The menu here is everything healthy – smoothies, salads, wraps, noodle dishes, raw food dishes, and amazing breakfasts. I highly recommend you check this place out, if you get the chance.  If only it were down the street from me now…
But I will have to make do with Lemon Garlic Roasted Carrots in the meantime.  

This recipe is so easy – it takes only the above ingredients, and after slicing my carrots, I prepared the rest with only one arm, due to a Greta Monster.  These are a delicious side to any meal, are fast, easy, and cheap!

Lemon Garlic Roasted Carrots
1. Slice 4 to 6 carrots in half, lengthwise and again in half, vertically.  Arrange carrots on a rimmed baking sheet.  Spray with olive oil.  Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper, dried garlic flakes, and lemon juice.  
2.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until softened and sauce is bubbly.  

Roasted Red Cabbage

I have been seeing roast cabbage everywhere, it seems.  I think I have a Pinterest buddy who wants to make roast cabbage and it has rubbed off on me now.  I threw this together for dinner the other night, using items in the pantry.  This is an example of how I cook – with little to no measurements.  In order to blog, I have to keep a pad of paper and a pencil next to the stove to jot down my quantities and items.  Otherwise, I would never be able to duplicate recipes.

 Start with 1 small head of red cabbage and sliced it into sections no more than 1-1/2 inches thick.  Spread the cabbage out on a rimmed baking sheet.  Spray or brush with olive oil.

These are the only ingredients I used, plus the cabbage.

Using a spoon or brush, add balsamic vinegar to each cabbage slice.  Flip cabbage to ensure even coverage of oil and vinegar.  

Sprinkle each cabbage slice with dried minced garlic.  Add fresh ground pepper.  Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  
Goodness, they are so gorgeously purple and wrinkled – I just want to get out my paints and document them through artists’ eyes.  

 Our weekend flew by – we made a trip to Ikea to get a few things.  I found this amazing couch which will someday be mine.  I know there are plenty of orange haters out there, but it is my color.  I am attracted to all things orange like a moth to a porch light.

 Greta got to the self serve aisles and just wanted to run.

 Back at home, Greta was very helpful in putting together a new coffee table.  She even knew how to put screws in and that the screwdriver was the tool to use.

Sunday was the fun day – we took Greta to a UNCG basketball game.  She loved the spirit teams and the music.  We are off to a late start already this week due to freezing rain, I guess.  Hope your Monday is off to a great start!
Roasted Red Cabbage
1.  Slice 1 small head of red cabbage and sliced it into sections no more than 1-1/2 inches thick.  Spread the cabbage out on a rimmed baking sheet.  Spray or brush with olive oil.  Using a spoon or brush, add balsamic vinegar to each cabbage slice.  Flip cabbage to ensure even coverage of oil and vinegar.  
2.  Sprinkle each cabbage slice with dried minced garlic.  Add fresh ground pepper.  Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  
This bowl would be perfect with this dish.  My great grandmother had a bowl with a lid that was in the form of a cabbage.  She kept candies in it for us and it was the first thing we checked on after hellos at her house as a child.  

Baked Egg, Broccoli & Marinara

This is the perfect fill the belly and warm the house meal for a winter week night.  It is tasty, has vegetables, and cheap protein.  Perfect for families!  This is one of those meals I always wish was on restaurant menus, but I am sure it would come out of the deep freeze and only disappoint.  
 Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add 2 cloves minced garlic.   Or the equivalent in dried minced garlic if you are all out of fresh garlic, like I was.  Saute until slightly browned, about 2 minutes.  Add a sprig of freshly chopped rosemary.  Add 1/2 jar of marinara sauce.  
Cook sauce until thickened.  Pour sauce into 2 oven-safe bowls set on a rimmed baking sheet, reserving about 1/4 cup.  The rimmed sheet will allow you to transfer the bowls in and out of the oven more easily. 
Crack 2 eggs per bowl, depending on personal preferences, top with remaining sauce, and top in shredded cheese.  I used fake cheese this time.  

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Whites of eggs should not be runny, the yolks will look runny, but will harden up as the dishes cool off.  
I served this meal with a simple salad with carrots, cucumber, and this delicious dressing.  

I recently switched from the typical brand of crescent rolls to Immaculate. I must say, I am never going back.  The taste is so much better!
While it all baked, I watched this cutie work on a masterpiece.  We used super strong magnets to hang a piece of paper up for her to work on while I cook.  She loves to be in the kitchen and “help,” but this is much more fun for her.  
Enjoy on cool night after a busy day of work.  This filling meal with a good dose of veggies, is just what I needed tonight.  By the way, the cute bicycle cloth napkins are from my aunt, who just so happens to sell them on Etsy.  Check out her shop if you are interested in your own set.  


Baked Egg, Broccoli & Marinara – serves 2
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add 2 cloves minced garlic.  Saute until slightly browned, about 2 minutes.  Add a sprig of freshly chopped rosemary.  Add 1/2 jar of marinara sauce.  Cook sauce until thickened.  Pour sauce into 2 bowls set on a rimmed baking sheet, reserving about 1/4 cup.  
3. Crack 1-2 eggs per bowl, top with remaining sauce, and top in shredded cheese
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Whites of eggs should not be runny, the yolks will look runny, but will harden up as the dishes cool off.