Corn Salad

As we head in to Labor Day Weekend (another excuse to celebrate) and approach the final weeks of fresh corn season, I present to you a very cool corn salad. So put some well-being into your weekend. It’s simple to throw together but packs plenty of wow factor! I grabbed this and adapted it from the August/September issue of Garden and Gun. The recipe hails from April McGregor of Farmer’s Daughter Pickles and Preserves, right here in our own North Carolina, Hillsborough to be exact. Shop there or forever hold your peace. Peace…that’s a great idea!

Salad Corn Salad

So here’s what you need:
6 ears corn
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 small cucumber, seeds removed, and diced
1/4 cup diced jarred roasted red peppers
2 Tbs liquid from red pepper jar
1/4 cup diced Vidalia onion
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs mayonnaise
1/2 t kosher or Himalayan salt
1/2 t fresh black pepper
1/4 cup Julianne fresh basil

And here’s what you do:
Bring large pot of water to boil.
Season pot with salt.
Add corn and blanch 2 minutes.
Remove cobs from hot water and place on paper towel 15 minutes to cool.
Remove kernels from cobs.
Combine all remaining ingredients except basil, and mix well.
Add corn kernels and stir to combine.
Chill at least an hour.
Place salad on serving platter.
Sprinkle basil on top of salad.

Spicy Sesame Noodles

“It’s just another manic Monday; I wish it was Sunday, ‘Cause that’s my fun day
My I don’t have to run day. It’s just another manic Monday.”
Well said Bangles! Click the link and listen to that fun tune from 1986.
Well we’re going to make this a Meatless Manic Monday. Let’s Go Sesame or Go Home!Starch Sesame Noodles II

Here’s the ingredient list:
6 oz uncooked soba noodles
2 t dark sesame oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbs creamy peanut butter
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, minced
4 t soy sauce
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1 Tbs sesame seeds

And here’s the how to make it magic:
Cook noodles according to package directions.
Place noodles in large bowl and toss with oil.
Whisk broth and peanut butter in medium bowl until blended. (May not look smooth.)
Stir in onions, red pepper, soy sauce, jalapeño pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes.
Pour mixture over noodles.
Toss to coat.
Cover and let stand 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.
Garnish with green onion curls.

Freezing Fresh Corn

The very best thing on earth after the corn season is over is fresh Silver Queen sweet corn during the winter. So I’m going to teach you the easy peasy way to stock your freezer. I use it all fall and winter in soups, stews, and as a side starch for dinner.  I froze 2 bushels this past weekend, which made 30 quart bags. So to break it down for the less ambitious, 42 ears of corn will make 8 quart sized bags, just half filled, so that they lay flat to freeze. Yummy…So, step by step, here you go.

Freezing Corn I

Bring large pot of water to boil. Drop ears of corn in. Blanch 2 1/2 minutes.

Freezing Corn II

Using tongs, transfer cooked ears of corn to ice bath for 3 minutes to stop cooking process and cool corn. (Make an ice bath by filling sink partially with cold water, and adding ice.)

Freezing Corn III

Remove ears of corn from ice bath and place on kitchen towels to dry for 10 minutes.

Freezing Corn IV

Remove kernels from cob. I find this easiest to stand an ear on the raised part of a bundt pan, letting the kernels collect in the pan.

Freezing Corn V

I use quart size freezer bags to freeze. I fill each bag about half way, so that I can then press all air out of bags and lay them flat to freeze.

PostScript…you have about 3 weeks left here in ENC to secure your Silver Queen corn and get it frozen! Post to the PostScript…It took me one hour to process 42 ears of corn and get it in the freezer. I used 2 pots of boiling water and each held 8 ears of corn at a time.

Chicken Soup with Herbed Cornmeal Dumplings

Soup. Owned.

Everyone knows I could eat soup for every meal. Make this yummy chicken and dumplings (with a twist), and call your best friend. Some things are simply worthy of passing down, and this one will not disappoint! It’s a one bowl wonder; no need for bread on the side – it’s right there in the soup just looking up at you. Licking my lips.soup-chciken-with-herbed-cornmeal-dumplings-iv

Here’s your grocery list:
1/4 cup salted butter, divided
8 medium carrots, thinly sliced
8 stalks celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour, divided
8 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 t kosher salt
Breast meat of a rotisserie chicken, shredded
1/2 cup coarse plain yellow cornmeal
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t lemon salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 Tbs chopped flat leaf parsley
2 Tbs chopped fresh thyme

Now, here’s your “how to”:
Melt 2 Tbs of butter in soup pot over medium high heat.
Add carrots, celery, and onion.
Cook, stirring occasionally until tender, about 6 minutes.
Add 2 Tbs of flour.
Stir to combine, and cook 2 minutes.
Add half of broth, bay leaf, and 1/2 t salt.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes.
Stir in remaining broth, and chicken.
Remove pot from heat.

In medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, lemon salt, black pepper, and remaining 1/2 cup flour.
Cut remaining 2 Tbs butter into flour mixture with pastry blender, until it resembles coarse meal.
Add buttermilk, parsley, and thyme.
Stir just until dough is moistened.

soup-chciken-with-herbed-cornmeal-dumplings-iiHeat soup pot over medium heat.
Roll dumplings into 10 to 12 balls.
Drop dumplings 1/2 to 1 inch apart into soup mixture.
Cover and cook until dumplings are done, and dry to touch, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Initially they will appear to be breaking apart.
Leave them alone and they will be just fine.
Serve immediately.
Serves 6.

Next stop, Bangkok! Crossing borders. Taking cooking lessons as we venture to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Um hmm. Coming home with new talents to share. Can’t wait. Bet you can’t either!

Freezing Fresh Butter Beans

Starch Freezing Butter Beans

Ready for the Freezer, Anxiously Waiting for the Winter Yummy Stews!

The time is now! Butter beans are coming out of the fields; these are the smaller more tender beans, as opposed to the larger, tougher lima beans. So…1. Run to your local farmer, or Farmers’ Market if you dwell in a larger city 2. Grab several quarts of shelled beans (trust me, you don’t want to shell them) and 3. Get your freezing game going. On the cold dreary days of winter…yes, it will get cool then cold again, and I can’t WAIT…you will be so happy that you froze these local gems. They will be available for another three weeks in the south and a bit longer in more northern areas; so the time is plentiful! For planning purposes: I froze 22 quarts yesterday and it took roughly two and a half hours. Part of the beauty was that I was rocking to my favorite Pandora stations in my 68 degree kitchen (yep, that’s right, 68 degrees!) while some idiots great folks were running around outside in the 100 degree heat. You are aware that I abhor heat, humidity, and mosquitoes, right?!  A tutorial isn’t even necessary; here’s how you do it:

Wash shelled butter beans thoroughly, removing any debris.
Heat large pot of water to boiling.
Add as many beans as pot will hold. (My large pot holds 4 quarts.)
Blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. (Water does not have to come to a boil again.)
Drain and cool immediately in ice water bath for 5 minutes. (Mix cold water with ice in large bowl and pour in beans.)
Drain well.
Dry on large towel in thin layer.Starch Freezing Butter Beans II
Package in freezer zip top plastic bags.
Squeeze as much air out as possible.
Seal, and freeze up to 9 months.Starch Lima Beans Freezing II

Wild Rice Dressing

Starch Wild Rice Sausage Dressing III

Gathering the Ingredients

Happy Friday! Told ya I’ve been practicing for Gobble Gobble Day! So this was a hands on experiment. I’ve just never been wild about my dressing for the Holidays. So I’ve been on a crusade the last few weeks. I poured over recipes and landed on this jewel. Tried it I did. Report Card: a resounding A+. May I hear a Whoop please!! *Note: You may notice melted butter drizzled over the dressing in the casserole dish pic below. The original recipe called for this, but I didn’t think it added anything except extra calories; therefore I left it out of the recipe here! Hello delicious!

1 lb ground sausage
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 cups wild rice
4 Tbs butter
2 onions, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 t dried sage
1 1/2 t dried thyme
2 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
3 cups Panko

Butter, Onion, Celery, Herbs, Broth

Butter, Onion, Celery, Herbs, Broth

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cook sausage over medium heat until browned, about 7 minutes.
Drain on paper towels.
Chop sausage to render fine crumbles.
Bring broth, water, and bay leaf to boil in soup pot.
Add rice and reduce heat to low.
Cover and simmer 25 minutes, until rice is tender.
Strain rice through colander, reserving 1 1/2 cups liquid.
(If you don’t have that much liquid, add chicken broth to make it right amount.)
Wipe out pot.
Melt butter in pot over medium heat.
Add onions and celery.
Cook 8 minutes, until tender.
Add garlic, sage, and thyme.
Cook 30 seconds.
Add reserved rice liquid, stir, and remove from heat.
In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, salt, and pepper.
Slowly whisk this into broth and vegetable mixture.

Stir in rice, Panko, and sausage.Starch Wild Rice Sausage Dressing II
Transfer to 9 x 13 baking dish.
Cover loosely with foil.
Bake 40 minutes.
Uncover and cook additional 15 minutes until lightly browned.
Let dressing rest 10 minutes prior to cutting.Starch Wild Rice Sausage Dressing

Parmesan American Fries

Appetizer Parmesan FreisWell Yum Tum! Darn, it’s the week end and this is freaking fun easy (nod to some R. Kelly song!) Have fun with this. Forget the calories…”it’s the freaking weekend!! Baby I’m about to have me some fun!” Get out there and shout people. It’s FRIDAY, FINALLY!


1 26 oz bag Ore-Ida Extra Crispy Fast Food Fries
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/ 2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary
Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 450°.
In small bowl, combine parmesan, rosemary, and lemon zest.
Bake fries according to package directions.
*To render crispy hors d’oeuvres fries, I find that they are undercooked at package directions. I always cook them longer, checking at 2 minutes intervals until desired crispness arrives.
Remove 2 minutes before fries are finished cooking.
Sprinkle with Parmesan mixture, salt, and pepper
Return to oven and cook additional 2 minutes.

Grits with Mushroom Ragout

Now this is some Southern know how folks! My dear friend Lou, who reads 36 hours in every 24 hour day (I don’t even pretend to know how that happens) hooked me up with a clipping from the Wall Street Journal highlighting this recipe by Chef Mark Steuer. So… made these yummilicious grits, I did, tweaking it to suit my personal taste. Chef Steuer is known for bringing his Lowcountry cuisine to Chicago and spreading that taste all over the region, where he is chef/owner of Carriage House and Chef of Bedford. Take his cue and get on out there and make this tummy warming sensation. Pure Vintage Southern y’all!Brunch Mushroom Grits

What you need:
1 Tbs olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup sherry
1 cup vegetable stock
1 Tbs thyme leaves, roughly chopped
1 Tbs butter
Pinch of kosher salt
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup long cooking grits
1/2 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper

To make the ragout:
Heat oil in medium sauce pan.
Stir in shallots and garlic.
Cook 2 minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high.
Add mushrooms.
Cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often, until mushrooms soften.
Stir in sherry and cook 1 minute, until evaporated.
Add stock, thyme, butter, and salt.
Cook 4 to 5 minutes until liquid is reduced by half.
Remove from heat
Cover to keep warm.

To make grits:
Bring milk and cream to a simmer, in medium pot over medium-high heat.
Slowly stir in grits.
Reduce heat to low.
Cook grits, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed and grits are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Stir in lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

To serve:
Distribute grits among plates.
Top each serving with mushroom ragout.
*May top with poached egg if desired.

Serves 8.

*Note: making the grits with cream renders them smooth and creamy, until they are removed from the heat. Then they can become rather solid. So, I suggest that you serve the plates immediately, or add broth if you need to rewarm them prior to serving!

Brunch Mushroom Grits with Poached Egg



The Bride (T) and Groom (T) with the Groom’s Parents.

Sometimes Stars Just Align! As they did for TandT. So this past weekend we threw a partee to celebrate this bride and groom to be (thank you Jackie for sharing your magnificent home)! Served a few of our favorite things, yessiree; so I’m just going to hook you up with one of my personal favs, a bit of a surprise at a cocktail buffet. Gotta get your “starch on”! But first…a couple of pics from the partee!

Thank you Miss Bethel for the Gorgeous Arrangements!    Photograph ©PEGhardee

The Bride and her Sister!

The Bride and her Sister.  (Look at those smiles. I mean these gals should be in print ads for a dental practice…umm…I know just the right practice!)

It was the Sister's 18th, so we Made a Cake and Sang!

It was the Sister’s 18th, so we Made a Cake and Sang!

Sweets for the Sweet!

Sweets for the Sweet! (Thank you Mr. Shakespeare!)

Drum Roll...the Potatoes!

Drum Roll…the Potatoes!

Mini Potatoes with Cheese and Bacon
24 small white or red potatoes
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
8 strips precooked bacon, warmed and crumbled
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup grated Monterey jack
3 Tbs chopped green onion

Preheat oven to 400°.
Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Boil potatoes for 8 – 10 minutes, or until tender.
Drain and allow to cool.
Cut top off of potato.
Scoop out part of center of potato, leaving 1/4 inch wall.
Combine cream cheese, sour cream, half of the bacon, salt, and pepper.
Add additional cheeses, and onion, and stir.
Spoon mixture into potato shells.
Top with remaining bacon.
Place potatoes on prepared baking sheet.
Bake 15 – 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

Note: If using as an appetizer rather than as a dinner starch, I cut the potatoes in half rather than just slicing top off, before prepping, for a smaller bite.

PS…I did not use bacon this particular time as we were serving yummy brown sugar, maple syrup bacon as well! But that’s for another time.

Here are the taters with bacon!

Here are the Taters with Bacon!

Skillet Succotash

Veggies Succotash

No more old school trash! This is grown up stuff! Sorry Sylvester, no “sufferin’ succotash” here ole cat. Gray and Liam were here for 72 fast and fun hours this past weekend and we stopped by Briley’s Produce Stand to gather the goods for Saturday evening’s dinner. The fresh sweet white corn and lima beans are still in season. Hurry, it’s almost September. Gray made this yummy creation. Can you smell it yet?!

3 Tbs butter
1 sweet onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 zucchinis cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 red pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 yellow pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups lima beans
1 1/2 cups corn
1 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped
1/8 t kosher salt
1/4 t ground black pepper

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add onion.
Cook 4 minutes.
Add lima beans and corn.
Cook stirring constantly 5 minutes.
Add zucchini and peppers.
Cook 3 minutes, stirring often.
Stir in oregano, salt and pepper.
Turn heat off and cover skillet with lid.
Allow to rest 5 minutes.

Serves 8.