Monday, August 29, 2011

Corn and Black Bean Salad

As you may have noticed, I'm on a bit of a sweet corn kick. I just can't help it. It's August, and the corn tastes like candy. It's Halloween for grown-ups.

I snagged a few ears at the farmer's market, and set off to make this recipe for a BBQ we were having. Burgers on the grill and fresh sweet corn. It smelled like summer. It tasted like summer. It WAS summer. 

Serve this as a side dish. Scoop it up with tortilla chips, if you're so inclined. But do it quickly because the sweet corn won't last forever.

P.S. Although I looove raw onion, it doesn't always love me back. I like to make the dressing for this recipe an hour or two before I finish the salad. I find the vinegar in the dressing takes the bite out of the raw scallions when it sits for a bit. Please note: This is not at all scientifically based; there's a good chance it's in my head. But I'm a firm believer in the placebo effect.

Corn and Black Bean Salad
Serves: 8

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (Use the good stuff here.)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1.5 small limes)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 large scallions, thinly sliced (Use the white, light, and dark green parts.)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

8 ears corn on the cob, husks and silk removed
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (or quartered if large)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk together. If you'd like to let the onion mellow, set dressing aside for about an hour.

Meanwhile, bring a very large pot of water to a boil. Add the corn and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until it's cooled to the touch. Cut the corn off the cob and place in a large bowl. (See my post on Therese's Corn and Tomato Salad for pictures of this step.)

Add black beans and cilantro to the corn. Whisk dressing again to combine, and stir it into the salad. Stop to appreciate how beautiful summer heirloom tomatoes really are.

Then, gently fold tomatoes into the salad. Taste and, if necessary, add more salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve (up to a day.) If desired, serve with tortilla chips.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Beer Marinated Flank Steak

Serendipitously, the husband was out of town on a boy's weekend the same time my pal Mo's husband was out of town at a bachelor party. Since we were ladies of leisure without our men, we got together to cook dinner. And chat. Ok, honestly it was mostly chatting interrupted by cooking.

Anyway, Mo and I (with the help of her grill-savvy father-in-law), made a fan-freaking-tastic flank steak. I've shared with you the husband's Lime Cilantro Marinade, and this one is just as good. We only had time to marinade our steak for a couple hours, but I bet it'd be even better if you let this sucker rest in the fridge overnight. (If you give the overnight marinade a try, please let me know how it is!)

Beer Marinated Flank Steak
From Bon Apetit via
Serves: 6

2 pounds flank steak
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
6 green onions, sliced
12 ounces dark beer (we used Guinness)
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce (or a little more if you love this stuff as much as Mo and I do)

Score the flank steak in a crisscross pattern. (Your scoring should only be about 1/8" deep.) Place steak in a glass baking dish large enough to hold it. Sprinkle oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper all over the steak. Pour oil over the top, and rub it into the meat, making sure you cover both sides. Add green onions, beer, and Worcestershire, flipping the steaks to make sure they're coated evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and marinade at room temperature for an hour or in the fridge overnight.

Once the meat is marinated, grill over medium-high heat. Cooking about 3-4 minutes per side should result in a medium-rare steak. Let steak rest 5 minutes and thinly slice across the grain to serve.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Who Wants Cake?

I've been flipping through my cookbooks and pining over all the Autumn inspired recipes. (Thanks, San Francisco, for this despicable ahem! Summer weather!) You know things are bad when the urge to make cake, only in order to stand warmed and cozy beside the oven, is the first thought upon waking to yet another dreary, foggy, pea soup day.

I'm justifying this post because TA DA! it's lemon pound cake, and it seems to harness those last days of summer, while hinting at the warm buttery goodness just around the corner. (Yes, it's nearly September! Meaning, it's basically the week before Christmas.)

This is the perfect cake to drop off at your neighbor's door, bring to tea with the girls or nibble in the kitchen, justifying each dirty fork as you pop them in the dishwasher, one by one..."my LAST bite!"
Here's what you'll need...

  • 3 cups cake flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 3 cups sugar

  • 6 eggs, room temperature

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • The Glaze is easy...

  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • And here's how to do it...

    Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two loaf pans with parchment paper.

    Sift flour, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl at medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add sugar and beat 5 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until combined after each addition. Beat in lemon juice and peel. Using rubber spatula, mix in dry ingredients. Mix in sour cream. Be gentle. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

    Bake cake until tester inserted near center(s) comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Turn out cake.

    Carefully turn cake right side up on rack and cool completely. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Wrap in foil and let stand at room temperature.)

    Once cool, drizzle with glaze. Yum!

    { Lady of the House }

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Therese's Corn and Tomato Salad

    A friend of a friend has a great summer project going on with his kids. They are raising corn in their backyard garden and selling their bounty for, get this, $2 a dozen. (TWO MEASLY BUCKS!) The kids are allowed to keep 50% of their profits, but the other 50% gets divided evenly between their college savings accounts, church, and the charity of their choice (the Humane Society.) I could not pass up helping the kids learn such a great life lesson in saving and giving to good causes, so I signed up for a dozen ears of summer sweet corn.

    My friend brought me the bag of corn on Friday, and it was at that point I thought to myself, "What in the world am I going to do with all this corn?"

    I chatted with Therese, of dinner co-op fame, and she shared a recipe for corn salad. It was easy. EA-SY. And delicious. DUH-LICIOUS. So, I'm sharing it with you here.

    Visit your local purveyor of sweet corn, be it the grocery store, farm stand, or kids learning a life lesson, and make this up before summer passes you by.

    Therese's Corn and Tomato Salad
    From: Therese (Obviously.)
    Serves: 6

    6 ears corn on the cob, husks and silk removed
    1 pint grape tomatoes, halved if large
    1/2 - 1 cup basil (to taste or as much as your garden can handle), chopped
    6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    4 tablespoons olive oil (the good stuff)
    Salt and pepper

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the corn and boil for 3-4 minutes. Remove corn to a colander and place under cold, running water to stop the cooking process and cool it down quickly. (Alternatively, if you plan ahead, you can shock the corn in an ice bath. I, obviously, didn't plan ahead.)

    Using a very sharp knife, cut the corn kernels off the cob. (Note: As you can see from the photo, I attempted to catch runaway kernels by placing the cutting board on a rimmed baking sheet. I'm pleased to report that it worked!)

    In a large bowl, combine corn kernels, tomatoes, and basil. In a separate bowl, whisk together cider vinegar and olive oil. Pour dressing over the salad and stir gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Go have fun! It's an order!

    I was all set to make chicken and some delightful basil carrots for dinner, and I was planning to share that recipe with you folks today.

    But then I got a better offer. Some pals invited us to eat a picnic dinner with them at Jazz in the Park, a summer tradition in Milwaukee.

    My little mind started running away with me when we got the invite. What about the carrots? What will I share with the good readers of HDHH? And shouldn't I fold that laundry that's been languishing in my dryer all day? And what will I bring to Jazz in the Park? I don't have time to bake an apple pie after work!

    Uh, hello, Erin! Who cares about the carrots?! (If you care, please comment. I'll owe you a serious apology.) The skivvies in the dryer will be there tomorrow, no wrinklier than they are now. And you will bring chips to Jazz in the Park. And no one will judge you for it.

    So, the husband and I threw together some quick sandwiches for our picnic in the park. (PB&J for me, leftover chicken and cheese for him.) We rinsed some grapes, snagged a bag of chips, and we were off. And we had a grand time.

    This is the lesson I learned for today, and I'm sharing it with you in place of the carrot recipe. Don't take yourself too seriously. And when a friend calls with a better offer for dinner, or your little one asks you to play trucks, take them up on it. You won't regret it.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    The New Kid in Town by Lady of the House

    Hey, speaking of the Food Pyramid...

    Funny to think of our kids growing up with the "plate" eh?

    From a visual standpoint, this is working out a lot better for me. From a guilty-as-charged standpoint, not so much.

    I'm just wondering where the donuts and gummy bears fit in...


    { Lady of the House }

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Sunday Night

    Know what I just did? Made a lunch for the husband. It's sitting in the fridge; ready for him to grab before work in the morning. See it there? Right in front of the lemonade? That there's lunch.

    The husband recently had a bit of a schedule change at work, and now he's brown bagging it as opposed to dining a la cafeteria. Usually I take lunch-making as an opportunity to show him how much I love him in the middle of the day. Last week, though, I was feeling under the weather, and I neglected my lunch-making duties. He was very understanding, and I just assumed he was thinking outside the bun and eating some fast food for a few days. Once I was back on my A-game, the husband looked at me sheepishly. "Can I tell you a secret?" he asked, shuffling his feet with obvious guilt.

    "Of course."

    "I didn't eat lunch all week."

    He is such a sweetie pie, but making himself lunch isn't one of the husband's strong suits.

    So this evening I tried to prepare a few items to make it easier for lunch-making throughout the week. To help keep the husband's arteries unclogged, I sliced up a bunch of carrot and celery sticks. I'll pop a couple in a baggie each day, and voila! Veggies.

    Then, I cut up some fruit. It's just not lunch without fruit. And since it's prepped for me, it'll make it easier to feed the husband fresh melon instead of fruit roll-ups. (Are fruit roll-ups part of the food pyramid?)

    That's what I did to get ready for lunches this week. How about you? What do you do to make lunch prep easier? Comment below, or share your ideas on our Facebook page.

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Butterscotch Cashew Bars

    Every time I visit my family in Buffalo (hi, family!!), my mom and I find an excuse to make these glorious Butterscotch Cashew Bars. They sound fancy (cashews always sound fancy), but they're pretty darn easy to make.

     My mom has discovered only one problem with these bars: If you bring Butterscotch Cashew Bars to a church potluck, you will be expected to bring Butterscotch Cashew Bars to every subsequent church potluck. Be warned.

    Also, Mom recommends cutting the bars into teenie tiny squares. This way, they go farther at the aforementioned potluck. And if you happen to have any leftovers, the petite portion is a perfect excuse to eat about 10 of them.


    Butterscotch Cashew Bars
    From: Taste of Home

    1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
    3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
    2.5 cups flour
    1.75 teaspoons salt
    1 package (10-11 ounces) butterscotch chips
    1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    3 tablespoons butter
    2 teaspoons water
    2.5 cups salted cashew halves

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and brown sugar in a mixing bowl.

    In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt. Add dry ingredients to creamed butter and sugar until just combined. Line a 15"x10"x1" baking pan with parchment paper. Press crust mixture into pan. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

    Meanwhile, combine butterscotch chips, corn syrup, butter, and water in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, just until chips and butter are melted.

    Spread over baked crust. Sprinkle with cashews, and press down gently so cashews adhere to the butterscotch.

    Bake for another 11-13 minutes, until topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack and cut into bars.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    fig & stilton pizza or something like that

    Cooking inspiration tends to strike me at odd times. To be honest, I'm pretty useless when it comes to menu planning, grocery shopping, and just generally having a handle on what's in my pantry and fridge. But every once in a while, a rare burst of culinary genius manages to emerge, and it's usually due in large part to a temporary love affair with an ingredient. On Sunday night, I fell in love with these gorgeous figs at Whole Foods, and it was the start of something beautiful.

    I was downright delighted with the results, so I thought I'd share my recipe. Here's what you'll need...
    -one packet of lavash bread or plain naan bread. (I used Whole Foods 365 brand of plain naan.)
    -figs, thinly sliced
    -baby shiitake mushrooms thinly sliced
    -mozzarella (the wet stuff) thinly sliced
    -Stilton blue cheese
    -good olive oil
    -salt & pepper
    -pecans finely chopped (I added these to my second "pizza" and it was exactly the crunch I wanted.

    -preheat your oven to 450, and if you're the proud owner of a pizza stone, make sure it's in the oven when you turn it on
    -first brush your naan or lavash bread with a little olive oil
    -salt & pepper
    -top it with a few slices of mozzarella, and crumble some Stilton in the spaces between. Go easy on the Stilton--it's stinky!
    -next throw on your mushrooms, figs and sprinkle the pecans lastly
    -pop it in the oven for about 5 minutes. I stuck around and watched my pizzas closely, as I wanted all the ingredients to taste really fresh, and be just slightly cooked.
    -chop this into little bites and serve as an hors d'oeuvres, or eat the whole darn thing yourself like I did

    { Lady of the House }

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    A Dinner Recipe from Lady of the House!

    It's probably no surprise that I have a thing for parchment paper. I love the zing it makes as you rip it from the roll, the crisp folds it allows, and there's nothing quite like its sweet smell while it toasts in the oven. The other night I had a few fillets of salmon and some vegetables that were on their way out, so I reached for my parchment paper.

    This one's easy, and you'll have a really lovely meal in no time.

    Here's what you'll need...
    -salmon fillet(s)
    -scallion (spring/green onion--whatever you call it) 1/2 per fillet
    -red skin potatoes (about 2-3 per fillet)
    -fresh sprig of parsley
    -fresh sprig of tarragon
    -white wine (whatever's in the fridge or cheap at the store will do)
    -salt & pepper
    -parchment paper
    And here's how to do it...
    First we need to get the potatoes chopped, drizzled with a bit of oil, salted and peppered and popped in the oven at 425 for a good 20 minutes. Make certain to check on them at the half way mark, and give them a toss so they cook evenly.

    Next, prep your other ingredients. Chop the tarragon and parsley finely. (You'll need just a healthy sprinkle per fillet.) Peel the carrot, then chop it in half and cut it into thin strips. Same with the zucchini, but leave the skin on. Peel the ginger, and aim for about 6 little strips per fillet. With the ginger you're cutting discs, then strips. Ya dig? Half, then quarter lengthwise the scallion. Think LONG and skinny with all these vegetables. They have to fit in the suitcase.
    Ding ding! The potatoes are done and the kitchen smells ah-mazing! Grab those guys and set them aside.

    Take each fillet individually, and skin them if you didn't manage to get the frazzled fish monger at your grocery store to do it for you already. Fetch the parchment paper, and "zing" a sheet per fillet. Take your sheet (about an 18 inch tear) and fold it in half. Wiggle the fillet in that fold.
    Grab your veggies and pile them atop the fillet. Don't forget the potatoes, salt and pepper, and fresh herbs--this is a complete meal in one little parcel. Do your best to get three sides of the parcel stable and packed, then grab the white wine and give it a drizzle. Then fold, fold, fold so everything's sealed and safe. (As you can see from my photo, I made sure to sample the white. It's only wise! And the chef deserves a tipple, eh?)
    Hopefully you left the oven on. Pop your parcel in at 425, just on a cookie sheet, and wait about 20 minutes. When you smell the salmon, and that sweet toasted parchment paper, you'll know they're ready. Unwrap the steamy goodness and plop it on the plate. Enjoy!

    { Lady of the House }

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    There are plenty of things I'm good at. For example, smiling, being cautious, and making a killer PB&J are some of my skills. One thing I'm not good at? Gardening. 

    One look at the withered geranium on my front stoop, and you'll know I'm hopeless. I lack the discipline to water regularly. I try to outsmart the garden center people and plant "full sun" flowers where the sun don't shine. It's just not my thing. 

    In the past, I have managed to keep a bucket of herbs alive in my backyard. Yes, I fully believe this is an annual summer miracle, and I praise the good Lord when I pluck a stem of basil from my bounty. This year, things got real crazy, and I planted green beans. 

    Hold the presses.

    Did I say PLANT the green beans? I meant I bought a friendly plastic bin labeled "patio garden!" at the Home Depot and stuck it in my yard. So, yeah. I planted it. 

    Anyway, I am proud to announce that the husband and I have harvested two full crops of green beans. The first crop had six beans, but by the second, we were up to 12! Now, there's a chance that I missed the most recent crop and spent a few minutes this evening picking deflated bean pods from my plant, but I've learned my lesson. Crop #4 is in my sights. 

    So, if you're hopeless in the garden, consider growing green beans next year. And if you want to make an actual meal of your veggies, maybe think about planting two.

    Any other easy veggies I should try in my garden? Comment away!

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Technical Difficulties

    The Lady of the House is having a bit of trouble with her trusty computer this week. The poor machine is, well, not working.

    I'm taking advantage of this opportunity to share a public service announcement:

    Don't forget to back up your photos on an external hard drive.

    I think that's all I need to say about that.

    Send happy thoughts to the Lady of the House as she brings her computer into the good folks at the genius bar. And look forward to her triumphant return next week!

    Helpful hint: Lenovo coupons are always available for external hard drives.

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    Chicken Salad with Feta & Fruit

    Lately when I get home from work, the last thing on my mind is cooking dinner. I want to take a walk, spend time with the husband and our friends, watch the fireflies, water the plants, read a book, watch TV...but I'm not in the mood to slave over a hot stove. (The scorching temperatures could have something to do with that!)

    I was still in this mindset when my gal pals came over to cook dinner last week. Also, admittedly, I was looking for an easy meal so we could focus on gabbing and drinking wine instead of a complicated ingredient list. I stumbled on this gorgeous salad recipe in an old issue of Eating Well, and it was just the ticket. Using chicken from a rotisserie bird I picked up at the grocery store made it even simpler.

    So next time you don't feel like cooking, give this a whirl. It looks fancy and tastes unbelievable.

    Chicken Salad with Feta & Fruit
    Adapted from Eating Well magazine
    Serves: 4 (as a main dish)

    1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
    3 tablespoons fruit-flavored vinegar (I used strawberry balsamic)
    4 teaspoons sugar
    1.5 teaspoons poppy seeds
    Salt and pepper
    8 cups salad greens
    2 (cooked) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
    2 cups cubed cantaloupe
    1 pound strawberries hulled and halved (or quartered, if large)
    1/3 cup toasted chopped pecans
    1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

    Whisk together sour cream, vinegar, sugar, and poppy seeds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a large bowl (or on individual plates) combine salad greens, chicken, cantaloupe, strawberries, pecans, and feta cheese. Drizzle with dressing and serve.