This past weekend my older daughter, Megan, and I hosted a baby shower for younger daughter, Sarah, due April 27. Megan did all of the planning and the food was to be ‘baby size’. One of the recipes that we chose was Mini Corn Dog Muffins. Served with mustard and ketchup they were a big hit for the little ones and grown-ups alike. Let me warn you…they are addictive!
MINI CORN DOG MUFFINS
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal (yellow)
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8-10 all-beef hot dogs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine butter and sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add eggs and whisk to incorporate. Add buttermilk and whisk again.
In a separate bowl, combine baking soda, cornmeal, flour and salt. Stir to combine. Whisk into wet ingredients.
Spray mini muffin tins with non-stick spray. Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each mini muffin cup. Place one hot dog bite into the middle of each cup.
Bake for 8-12 minutes (oven temperatures may vary) or until cornbread is golden brown. Cool in mini muffin tin for 5 minutes before removing and serving. I found using a small bamboo skewer was the perfect way to loosen the edges of the muffins to remove from the muffin tin.
Serve with sides of mustard and ketchup.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator and re-heat for 20-30 seconds in the microwave before serving.
Every two months a group of great friends meet for a themed potluck before our book club gathering. This month, an hour before our meeting, I had nothing. It had been a busy day and I was fresh out of ideas and time. After writing about food it seemed tacky to run to the grocery store and buy something…God forbid!
I stood in my kitchen and contemplated my next move when suddenly I saw a bowl of sun gold tomatoes from my garden and an avocado. Hmmmm. I quickly looked up a few recipes using those ingredients and then decided, ‘what the heck’, I’ll just through a bunch of vegetables in a bowl and toss with Greek Dressing (or vinaigrette) and call it good.
What resulted was a yummy refreshing summer’s harvest salad. It’s a keeper!
SUMMER’S HARVEST SALAD
Sun Gold (or cherry tomatoes) halved
Fresh Sweet corn, cooked and cut from the cob
Chopped green or sweet white onion
Chopped fresh basil
Salt & Pepper
Balsamic vinaigrette (or Greek Dressing)
When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up to be a rootin’, tootin’ cowgirl just like I saw on TV…Sky King, Roy Rogers, Gunsmoke and so many more. I really have dated myself. My parents indulged my desire, with my dreamy cowgirl outfit and boots. Smokin’ hot, right?
Now, the closest I get to being a cowgirl is 1) taking my once a decade horse ride or 2) making Cowboy Caviar. I feel so rustic, and healthy, when I eat it, aside from the chips that are a ‘must serve’. Ordinary tortilla chips are good but my new favorite, Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Chips, are the best! Even better, they are gluten-free.
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons salad oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 firm-ripe avocado
15 ounce can black-eyed peas
11 ounce can corn kernels
2/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 pound Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
fresh cilantro to taste
1 bag tortilla chips (or 2 cups finely shredded cabbage for salad)
In a large bowl, mix vinegar, hot sauce, oil, garlic, and pepper. Peel, pit and cut avocado into 1/2 inch cubes. Add to vinegar mixture and mix gently to coat.
Drain and rinse peas and corn. Add peas, corn, onions, cilantro and tomatoes to avocado, mix gently to coat. Add salt to taste.
Serve pea mixture with chips as an appetizer or add cabbage to make a salad.
As we hiked back up the hill to the dining lodge, I was anxious for fresh fruit juice and a delightful lunch. Today, we enjoyed fresh juice and salad, and chicken/vegetable curry over rice. Notice the gorgeous fresh flowers that graced our tables.
Fresh salad for lunch
Our afternoon activity was right up my alley. We were making corn tortillas with the staff over a wood stove as well as roasting and grinding coffee beans from the farm (coffee grinding to be covered in a future post of my full coffee experience). I will never take corn tortilla making for granted!
Step one for authentic corn tortillas involves Masa, Spanish for dough. Masa is made from field corn which is dried and treated with a lime water solution.
Next, we ground the corn by hand with a grinder. If we Americans did this every day, there would no more flabby upper arms…this is hard work!
After the corn was ground it was time to make the tortillas. Our teacher was a pro but this virgin tortilla maker failed miserably. I’ll spare you a photo of my alien-shaped wonder.
The final step was the taste test. The packaged corn tortillas from the grocery store don’t stand a chance compared to the real thing.
The women of Nicaragua are amazing. Many do not enjoy the modern conveniences that we take for granted, yet are full of joy working hard to serve their families and guests wonderful food and hospitality. I feel so blessed to experience this with our wonderful teacher. I yearn for more!
During my trip to Nicaragua, I had the opportunity to stay with a host family in San Ramon. My roommate, Sally, and I had the great pleasure of staying with Neyda and her family. We enjoyed many wonderful meals at Neyda’s home. One evening our ecotour group were treated to an evening of native Nicaraguan food and music. It was wonderful and highlighted by a light shower and a gorgeous rainbow.
The food served that evening included an unusual, sweet yet savory corn cake, baked in an outdoor wood-fired oven. The cake was baking when we arrived and like hungry baby birds, we all flocked to see what was in the oven. Our hostesses were kind enough to share the cake while it was still warm. Heavenly! The three photos below were taken the night of our dinner in San Ramon.
Our Nicaraguan hostess serving corn cake
Nicaraguan Corn Cake
Once returning home, the hunt was on for corn cake. My sister-in-law, Betty, discovered a similar recipe and shared it with our ecotour group. I baked the corn cake to share with my gal pals. By chance, I also brought a bowl of fresh pineapple and found it to be a wonderful side dish to serve with the bread. This recipe is slightly sweeter than the cake in Nicaragua, but delicious. A winner! However, I will continue my search to match the exact experience of our memorable Nicaraguan dinner.
NOTE: During our special evening in San Ramon we were also served the traditional Nicaraguan Nacatamal, a steamed corn cake filled with meat and vegetables, steamed in banana leaves. They, too, were fabulous and will be covered in a separate post at a later date. Stay tuned!
PERERREQUE (CORN CAKE)
1 pound fine white corn meal (I used regular white corn meal and ground again with the food processor)
1 pound crumbly cheese, grated finely (try Monterey Jack or Wensleydale)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons margarine
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 ½ cups milk
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the corn meal with the cheese and sugar. Cut/crumble in the margarine. Mix the baking soda into a little of the milk and pour into the dry ingredients. Add the remaining milk until the mixture is well blended.
Place the cake mixture into a greased baking pan. The mixture should be about 1 inch thick.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the cake is golden brown. After this time, remove it from the oven, allow to cool and then cut into small pieces or squares before serving. I found the bread to be at it’s best when served warm, about an hour after baking.
I love quinoa! There, I’ve said it. I love quinoa salad and always looking for new ways to cook with this protein-rich, healthy grain. This Mexican Quinoa Casserole is now an honored member of my recipe collection. I made the recipe without the ground beef and taco seasoning, enjoying every wonderful bite! If you are vegan, make it without the ground beef and substitute a vegan cheese. If you’re a meat lover, go for the whole enchilada…um, I mean casserole!
MEXICAN QUINOA CASSEROLE
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14.5 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup canned corn
1/4 cup green chiles
1/4 cup salsa
1/3 cup broth (vegetable or chicken)
1 cup toasted quinoa
1 pound lean ground beef (optional)
2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix (optional)
3/4 cup water (optional)
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
chopped fresh cilantro
wedge of fresh limes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix together the tomatoes, black beans, corn, chiles, salsa, broth, and quinoa. Pour into a greased 2 quart baking dish and cover with baking lid or foil.
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and stir and bake another 30 minutes.
While the quinoa is baking, brown the ground beef. Add taco seasoning and water. Simmer until water has evaporated. Stir in beef mixture with quinoa mixture. Top with grated cheese and brown under the broiler.
Serve with sides of sour cream, fresh cilantro and lime wedges.
Posole (puh-SO-lay) is a dried hominy stew that I first experienced when I lived in Arizona in the late ’80s. Having Iowa roots and a true affection to anything corn, I was drawn to this wonderful, comforting Mexican stew. It’s not that much different from the hominy my Mother served in her Iowa farm kitchen. Posole is known to bring good luck for the New Year, or anytime you need a little luck (or just plain comfort food) in your life.
Bring in the New Year with a little luck and Posole. Your tummy will thank you!
2 cups dried posole
6 cups water (more as needed)
1 pound lean pork, cubed
1 teaspoon chile caribe
1 tablespoon minced onion
2 teaspoons salt
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon saffron (optional and I do not use)
avocado slices for garnish
Brown pork cubes in a small amount of olive oil until starting to brown.
Add water and add dried posole, chili caribe, onion, garlic, oregano.
Cover and cook over low heat until done (4+ hours). Check often and add water as needed. Add salt immediately before serving. Garnish with avocado slice. Serve with guacamole and chips, hot sauce or any other Mexican favorite sides.