July 2012

Grilled Corn Salad

grilled-corn-salad

Finally! Good corn! It is never as good in Texas as it is in Wisconsin, but I have learned to settle. Even bad corn is still better than 90% of the food out there. That’s not really true, but I love corn and feel as strongly about its versatility as I do about potatoes’. In fact, I think I need to try Twice Baked Corn-Stuffed Potatoes.

This is a perrrrfect side dish for your next grilling extravaganza.

Recipe

  • 6-8 ears corn, husked
  • 1 package cherub tomatoes
  • 2 ripe avocadoes
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 lime
  • S&P

Grill the corn on high until all sides are sufficiently charred – about 15 minutes. Let the corn cool, then cut the kernels off using a serrated knife. Throw the tomatoes in a grill basket or directly on the grill, and grill for just a few minutes. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the corn, cumin, S&P, and stir to combine. Stir in the sour cream, and heat through. Slice the avocadoes, then drizzle with lime juice and toss to coat. In a large bowl combine the corn mixture, tomatoes, and avocado. Squeeze the remaining lime juice into the bowl and stir.

grilled-pizzas-with-thin-and-crispy

I’m obsessed with homemade pizza. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pizza Hut (yes Pizza Hut), Domino’s, Louie’s and Coal Vines (Dallas pizza joints), but from time to time I want my own. Many people (i.e., my husband) are of the mindset that there is just no reason to make homemade pizza, when it has already been perfected elsewhere. But the truth is I’m not trying to be Louie, or the Pizza Hut man with the hat. It is a different type of pizza, lighter and fresher perhaps, but delicious all the same.

John’s brother and his wife were visiting from Geneva, Illinois this weekend, and we wanted to have everyone over for dinner on Sunday night. We wanted to grill, but I was sick of the same old grilling options. Aha! A grilled pizza party. It sounded fun, and it was.

The secret to perfect homemade pizza is obviously the crust. I tried a new technique this time, and I will never go back. We like thin and crispy crust, so if you like chewy then this is not for you.

I used this recipe and technique here, which requires a 24-hour rising period. I also used bread flour, which has a higher gluten content than all-purpose, and helps produce the crispiness. The crust was amazing – very crispy, and very flavorful from the overnight refrigeration.

After letting the dough rise for 24 hours, I took it out of the fridge to bring to room temperature before rolling – this took about 1.5 hours. I divided it into three pizzas for ease of grilling and to maximize my options for pizza toppings (one of the benefits of homemade pizza – multiple varieties!). Preheat the grill to high (about 500 degrees), and brush both sides of the pizza dough with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Brush the grates with olive oil as well, then throw the pizza dough onto the grill. Close the lid and let cook for a few minutes. When the bottom has dark grate marks and is firm enough to flip, use a couple spatulas to turn it over, and cook a few more minutes. I did this with each crust, then brought them inside for topping. I made 3 varieties – BBQ chicken,

Sausage and Red Pepper,

and Margherita.

For the margherita pizza, I topped the crust with pizza sauce, fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and thinly sliced fresh basil. I then threw each pizza in a 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes to melt the cheese and finish baking the crust.

I feel really happy all over again looking at that picture. And really happy to know there are some leftover slices in my fridge at home…

Here is my helpful husband doing the wretched job of slicing the pizzas (I can’t explain my unfound hatred for this process)..

And here are the happy pizza party attendees (aka John’s family):

Baked Eggs in Ham

baked-eggs-in-ha
These things are about as fun as it gets. Eggs baked in a mini ham cup. I love the combination of eggs and ham, so this morning I decided to bake some eggs in some ham, and the result was one fabulously easy and delicious breakfast. I have a few left over and plan to refrigerate them for breakfast this week!
Preheat the oven to 375. Spray the cups of a muffin tin with Pam, and line each one with 1 or 2 pieces of thinly sliced ham (make sure there are no holes). Crack an egg in each one, and sprinkle with pepper. This is the only time in life when I will tell you that you don’t really need salt – the ham is pretty salty on its own. I still added some, of course, but not much. Then I topped each egg with a sliced cherry tomato, and baked for about 12 minutes. Then I sprinkled each egg with a little cheddar cheese, and baked for about 3-5 minutes more.
Amazing!
the-best-salad-have-ever-made

Woah. I had no idea I liked salads so much, until I made this dressing.

Recipe

  • 1/3 cup light mayo
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons fat free milk (or more mayo, to balance the vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan (more if you’re from Wisconsin)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • S&P

Whisk all of the ingredients together and then refrigerate until ready to use. I made my own croutons by cutting french bread into cubes, drizzling with olive oil and salt, and baking at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Yum.

Then I mixed a salad of romaine, plenty of tomatoes, mushrooms, and parmesan. Toss with dressing and croutons, there you go. It’s very Olive Garden-esque, and who doesn’t love that salad? No one.

grilled-chicken-with-lemon-and-oregano

Nothing says summer like grilled chicken. Ok, maybe that’s not true. Popsicles and slip-n-slides might win over. But grilled chicken is a close 3rd. What makes it even summery-er is if you marinate it in a super simple, light, fresh marinade like this one: fresh lemon, fresh oregano, dijon mustard, and olive oil. Perfect for boneless/skinless or bone-in chicken – a go-to recipe for summer grilling. I opted for the bone-in stuff because it’s better. That’s a fact.

Recipe

  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3-4 tablespoons freshly chopped oregano
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Mix of bone-in, skin-off chicken – breasts, drumsticks, thighs

I marinated this chicken for about 5 hours, but I think you could easily do less if you have time. They say you should marinate chicken for at least 30 minutes. I don’t know who ‘they’ is, but they seem to have an opinion about everything.

I cut tiny little slits in my chicken when I marinate, because I’m pretty sure the result is more flavorful, moist chicken. Not totally sure, but pretty sure.

When you are done marinating the chicken, remove it from the fridge to rest at room temp for about 30 minutes. Heat half of the grill to medium (prepare for indirect heat – I recommend for bone-in). Remove the chicken from the marinade, and sprinkle with a pinch more S&P.  Place the chicken pieces over indirect heat, close the grill, and cook for 15 minutes. Flip the chicken over, and cook for about 10 more. To finish up the chicken with some nice charred grill marks, place it over direct heat (medium to medium high), for about 5 minutes more. Drumsticks will take less time than the breasts…chicken should feel firm and juices run clear (165 degrees). But don’t overcook! Then I took an extra lemon, cut it in half, and grilled for a few minutes. Squeeze a little more lemon over the chicken, and use the reserved lemon as a garnish.  Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving, to let the juice recirculate through the meat (according to Bobby Flay).

banana-applesauce-muffins
My mom’s Applesauce Muffins are one of my all-time favorites. And there isn’t even chocolate involved, which speaks volumes for their insanely delicious flavor. Last weekend I woke up craving them, but since I had already shared the recipe with you, I decided to be adventurous and modify. It was a really, really good decision.
Recipe
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cream the butter and sugars in a bowl with a standing mixer. Add in the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, soda, and spices. Add to the butter mixture, alternating with the bananas. Mix in the applesauce. Pour the batter into greased muffin tins (or lined), and bake for 13-15 minutes. Eat immediately with coffee. Or chocolate milk.
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