RECIPE: Corn and Black Bean Salad

If you know me, you know how grumpy I get in the heat of the summer. However, THIS salad makes it all better! Seriously, it’s all better now…

The salad tastes great, comes together quickly and can be made from items in your own garden (if you’re into gardening, of course)… here’s where I started.

Corn, black beans, sweet red pepper, red onion, cilantro, canola oil and some seasonings for the viniagrette.

I start by mixing together the viniagrette… lime juice, canola oil, onion powder, ground cumin, kosher salt/pepper and at the last minute I also decided to add some dried oregano.

Then I added the red onion to the viniagrette so it could sit for about 15 minutes. I prefer the red onions to be “pickled” a little… letting them sit in the viniagrette for a bit tames them down a bit, just to perfection. But it’s here that I also added a few teaspoons of our favorite hot sauce.

After 15 minutes or so I added the corn, black beans, sweet red pepper …

Oh yeah, and the cilantro… and then it sits for another 30 minutes or so…

This time we served it up with our “house grilled chicken”… yummy! Make this salad this summer … your loved ones will love you more for it!

Corn and Black bean Salad
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

2 cups frozen corn
1 can (14 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 sweet red pepper, finely diced
½ red onion, finely diced
¼ cup cilantro, diced
2 limes, juiced
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch onion powder
1 tablespoon cumin powder
Salt/pepper to taste

In a large bowl make vinaigrette by whisking together lime juice, hot sauce, oil and spices. Add red onion and mix well; set aside. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes.

Add corn kernels, black beans, red pepper and cilantro. Mix well. Allow to sit for another 30 minutes or so, for the tastes to marry. Salt/pepper to taste before serving.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…


do i like brussel sprouts?

Quite a few people wince when brussel sprouts are mentioned. And I cannot recall ever attempting them before (probably because of all of the wincing)…

So, today I bought some. I felt so proud of myself as I bagged up several brussel sprouts… all the while Gramma’s sarcastic tone rings in my ear: “How do you know you don’t like it if you’ve never given it a good chance?!”

I brought them home… did some online researching and found a quick method that looked easy, sounded good and had some potential.

I started with preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. Then I hit the cutting board… I cut off part of the stem and peeled back the yellowish and/or loose leaves. I will note, these things look and act like mini-iceberg lettuce heads. The layers of leaves even peel back similarly… but don’t let them fool you. They taste NOTHING like iceberg lettuce (afterall, iceberg doesn’t have much flavor anyway).

But let’s take another rabbit trail… while I was roasting I decided it was time to roast some garlic and maybe some cauliflower too. See?

Chop off the pointy top, drizzle some oil and sprinkle on some kosher salt… wrap it tightly and voila!

Then I tossed the brussel sprouts (not pictured here) in a little bit of olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper. And onto the sheet tray with the garlic…

But since brussel sprouts take a bit longer than the cauliflower I’m going to wait on that part for now.

Roasting, roasting, roasting…

After about 15 mins it was time to roll the brussel sprouts around the sheet tray a little bit (so they roast evenly)… so this is when I added the cauliflower. (And yes, I also drizzled the cauliflower with a bit of olive oil and kosher salt.)

Another 15 mins went by… and it was time for another turn.

10-15 mins later … it all looks good. Time to find out if I like brussel sprouts. (I already KNOW I love roasted garlic and cauliflower… just doing double duty with the hot oven on this post.)

The cauliflower was scrumptious. The brussel sprouts? Crispy on the outside – and salt always helps. Cooked well inside – soft and not overdone. But there is that overwhelming brussel sprout flavor… I can understand the wincing, completely.

So, what’s the verdict? I still don’t know if I like brussel sprouts.

Why don’t I know? Well, I ate the brussel sprouts. But I’m not yet convinced. i promise to give these poor things will get a second try from me (using a different cooking method) along with some different flavors. Any suggestions? Leave me a comment…

Stay tuned… I’d like to be a champion for brussel sprouts. But they have yet to prove themselves…

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: The BETTER Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

Note to self: when you wake up from a nap with a food idea (Hmmm… I wonder what that under-used potato ricer would do for the cauliflower?!)… OH, JUST TRY IT FOR GOODNESS SAKE!

Trust those instincts… or am I the only one that wakes up with food ideas?!

I do believe this version of the ‘mashed cauliflower’ recipe is better than the previous one… so scratch the other one. OK, you can make the other one if you want… but I like this one better.So, join me half way through the process here. What you see below is cauliflower that has been boiled. And I’m getting ready to drain it.

And these are the ‘tools’ you will need… a large bowl, a measuring cup and a potato ricer. (And yes, I’m convinced… the potato ricer is THE most under-used kitchen tool – but OH SO WORTH IT!)

In the picture below you will see the “press” that pushes the food through the “ricer” at the bottom of the cup.

I put about a cup worth of boiled cauliflower into the cup and first pushed out water, gently.

Once cauliflower started to come through the bottom I moved to the large bowl and firmly pressed out the rest of the cauliflower.

Then I loaded up the cup again and repeated the process until all of the cauliflower was riced…

See all of that water that got pushed out of that cooked vegetable? You want to save this… because you might want to add some back to the mash to bring it to the consistency you want. But at least your cauliflower won’t be all runny…

Then we move on to the flavor that will be added… sour cream, butter, nutmeg, garlic powder, parmesan cheese and salt/pepper.

Mix everything into the cauliflower…

If you think it needs it, add a little bit of water… just a touch. Mix well. You can always add a little more water if you want to… so a little bit at a time.

And there you have it…. what I now consider my best version of mashed cauliflower.

And shhh… my hero-of-a-hubby still thinks he’s eating mashed potatoes!

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

4 cups cauliflower
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons light sour cream
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Kosher salt/pepper to taste

Boil cauliflower until well done, in well-salted water. Drain and add 1 cup of boiled cauliflower to a potato ricer. Over a 2 cup measuring cup, first press the water out of cauliflower. Once the water is out, press the cauliflower through the ricer (into a large bowl). Continue until all of the cauliflower has been pressed through the ricer. Save some of the drained water in case you want to add some at the end. Transfer the riced cauliflower to a hot saucepan. Add butter, sour cream, garlic powder, nutmeg and mix well. Stir in parmesan cheese until it is melted. Add salt/pepper to taste. And now is when you would add some of the drained water if you feel it would improve the consistency of the “mash”. Serve hot.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

Cauliflower can easily masquerade as mashed potatoes when butter, cream and garlic are added. And it’s much healthier than potatoes (1/4 of the calories, in fact!)… even though you’re still adding butter and cream. So, why not?!

Here’s where I started…

I cut out the stem and branches and found the cute little florets hidden in this “tree” …

(Tee hee! It really DOES look like a tree, doesn’t it?! I just love playing with food!)

While I worked on the short ribs I set aside all the ingredients and waited for the right time to start…

::: USE YOUR IMAGINATION HERE: I forgot to take a picture of the boiling cauliflower :::

Then I drained it… and started on the butter, oil and garlic… then added the cream and let it simmer for a minute or so.

I added the cauliflower back in … and mashed.

Confession: I was wishing I could find my immersion blender. It would have whipped up this mashed goodness in a hurry and made it a bit more creamy. The potato masher only got it semi-creamy-mostly-lumpy. But DANG, it was good!

And now I’d like to proudly announce that my hero-of-a-hubby is once again eating cauliflower. (He had previously told me he didn’t like cauliflower. Well, once you add butter, cream and garlic to ANYTHING it’s always better! Who could blame him?!)

Tonight I served this up with Braised Beef Short Ribs. Y-U-M!!!

But don’t take my word for it… try it for yourself!!!
Creamy Mashed Cauliflower
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

4-6 cups bite-size cauliflower florets (about 1 large head)
3 cloves garlic, crushed and diced
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
kosher salt/freshly ground pepper to taste
Snipped fresh chives for garnish

Place cauliflower in boiling water, allow to boil for about 8-10 mins. Drain and set aside. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil, butter and garlic to hot sauce pan. Allow garlic to cook on medium-low heat for about 3-5 mins. Return
Cooked cauliflower to hot sauce pan. Add cream, salt/pepper to taste. Transfer to food processor for or a quick turn or mash with potato masher. Serve immediately. Garnish with chives, if desired.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Spinach Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Here’s what I started with…

And it’s this easy… except I learned that I should have chopped the spinach a few times before I threw it in the dish.

Boil the potatoes and then drain them. (I didn’t even take a picture of that part – you know what it looks like.)

Then we get busy… melt butter, saute garlic…

Then add the cream and the spinach and toss until the spinach cooks down.

Add the cooked potatoes back to the pot and find your potato masher.

Next? Serve it up as a side dish for a yummy dinner.


Spinach Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

6 medium yukon gold potatoes, diced into 1” pieces
1 ½ cups fresh spinach, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup cream
Kosher salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Salt water generously and boil potatoes until tender, 10-12 minutes. Drain potatoes and set aside. Reduce heat to medium low, melt butter and cook garlic for 3 – 5 minutes. Stir in cream, add the chopped spinach, stir well. Season spinach with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add potatoes to the pot and mash to desired consistency. Taste to see if you need to add another pinch of salt or another nob of butter.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Quinoa with Almond-crusted Tilapia

If I could eat NOTHING but almond-crusted tilapia for the rest of my days… I’d be one happy girl!

Confession – I’ve eaten it many times but I’ve never made it myself. UNTIL TONIGHT! Go me!!!

Tonight I’m also playing with quinoa for the first time. Again… I’ve ENJOYED it before. But I’ve never MADE it… before tonight.

(And I do believe my hero-of-a-hubby isn’t that much of a fan. But I WILL try one more time with some slightly different flavors – just for him. But that’s NEXT time. And right now we’re working on tonight!)

This is what quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) looks like… it cooks into a nice fluffy texture and can often replace rice or cous cous in most recipes. (Some people even use it for breakfast, like oatmeal… adding flavors suitable for breakfast.)

But tonight we are going to make a veggie quinoa and serve it up with almond-crusted tilapia. Oh heck ya!

It’s this easy… 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water. Bring it to a boil. Put a lid on it… and it’s ready in approximately 15 minutes.

While that’s cooking I’m moving on to the tilapia… starting with almond slivers (toasted and unsalted). Cut, chop and slice until it looks more like a powder.

Mix together the ingredients for one of the dredging stations… I used heavy cream and agave nectar. (Another recipe I found online used coconut milk and agave nectar. THAT would be good too!) I don’t have measurements for this… so if it tastes too sweet, just add more cream.

Lightly season the fillets with kosher salt and set out your dredging stations. Here I have (from left to right)… corn starch, cream/agave mixture and almonds.

One step at a time… move the fish through the dredging stations and into the hot saute pan. Medium-high heat… a few minutes on each side… and voila!

And now for the veggies…

Everyone in … please…

Zucchini, tomatoes, oil/paprika mixture… then beans…

And the cooked quinoa…

Give ‘er a stir…

Taste and see… yep, it needed a little more kosher salt.

Plate up the quinoa and vegetables… and top with the fish.

I’m telling you… just LOOK at that beautiful crust! And just wait until you taste it… oh man!

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Vegetable Quinoa
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

1 cup quinoa
1 can black beans
1-2 small roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup sliced zucchini
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt/pepper to taste
4 tilapia fillets
1/3 cup sliced green onions

– Following directions on package, cook quinoa.
– In small ingredient bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and paprika.
– In a saucepan over medium heat, cook beans and vegetables with oil/lemon juice mixture until warm, about 5 minutes. Salt/pepper to taste.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Braised Yukon Golds

Tonight we made Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches and needed a good side dish to go along with them. And braising is yummy.

Easy decision.

The picture shows what you need… except I’ve pictured 5 potatoes here and I really only used 3 because these are on the larger side.

Slice them up… thick is good here. They don’t have to be super thin. In fact, too thin and they’ll just fall apart during braising.

Lay them out in a large skillet, add oil, chicken stock, garlic and salt/pepper. Place the lid on the skillet and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes…

2o minutes later… remove the lid and allow the chicken stock to reduce…

Serve them up by themselves or with some killer french dip sandwiches… that’s what we did! YUMMY!

Braised Yukon Golds
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

3-4 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic-infused
1 cup chicken stock
3 garlic cloves , smashed
Kosher salt and pepper

Slice potatoes and lay into a large skillet, on medium-high heat. Add garlic-infused olive oil and the chicken stock. Toss in the garlic cloves and a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Place cover on skillet and allow the stock to come to a slight boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, turn the heat to medium-high; cooking while the liquid reduces. Toss the potatoes once or twice. They are ready when the liquid thickens and coats the potatoes. Plate potatoes, sprinkling with freshly shaved parmesan or chopped rosemary. Season with additional kosher salt and pepper, if needed.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Grilled Stuffed Portobello

It’s Sunday… and you know what that means! I’m playing in the kitchen!

Turn on the grill and get ready for a REALLY yummy lunch (or dinner)…

This is where I started… my special garlic infused olive oil, parsley and basil from my garden, an heirloom tomato, a lemon, soy sauce and a few other things…

But first let me show you some of the bounty of my garden: italian flat-leaf parsley and african blue basil.

The basil is so fancy that it deserves a fancy chiffonade…

It’s so fancy we’re going to make confetti out of it…

Set it aside… we’ll use it later.

Next we mix together the goods that are gonna go inside the grilled portobello: cheese, tomato, black pepper and some of that yummy oil.

Prep that portobello…

Take out the stem, scoop out the gills and clean it up…

And then it gets some great flavor …

To the grill we go (or, in this case, the panini pan… the most versatile tool in my kitchen)…

Stem side down to start with… then give her a flip… and fill her up…

Sprinkle with basil and cover for the last couple of minutes grilling. This will help the cheese melt faster and partly steam the tomatoes… mmm…

Serving it up with bread is a must… because the mushroom will leave behind some amazing juices that you’ll want to sop up. Just trust me on this one…

But trust me soon… because you want to make one within the week. Especially while the GOOD tomatoes are still in season.

Grilled Stuffed Portobello
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

2 portobello mushrooms
1 medium heirloom tomato, diced
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon garlic-infused olive oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Juice from one lemon
Fresh parsley, chiffonade
Fresh basil, chiffonade

Prepare the grill. Combine cheese, tomatoes, black pepper and ½ teaspoon of oil. Remove stems and gills from inside of Portobello. Mix together soy sauce, other ½ teaspoon of olive oil and juice from one lemon. Brush both sides of Portobello with soy mixture. Place Portobello on hot grill, stem side down. Grill for 3 to 5 minutes and turn over. Once turned over, fill each Portobello with tomato and cheese mixture. Sprinkle basil on top. Cover with domed lid and allow to cook for another 3 – 5 minutes. After cooking, sprinkle with parsley. Serve with bread, to sop up the juices that run off the Portobello.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Creamed Corn and Leek Risotto

Tried another new recipe tonight. Note to self: Use the optional ingredients next time! (I didn’t this time ‘cuz I didn’t have them). But after tasting this, it changed my mind on the “optional” term. Going forward, recipe will read “mandatory”.

This is where I started… with the “mise en place” [meez-on-plos]. That’s a froo-froo sounding French term for “everything has it’s place”. I always start with the prep of the ingredients.

I cut the kernels off the cob, leaving the root in tact on the ear. I wanted to get at that beautiful cream inside the kernel to add even more flavor to this risotto.

To extract that flavor, I ran the back side of the knife down corn kernels and it pushed the cream right out. I mean just LOOK at that flavor! And believe me, you want all of it!

The upper row of corn still has the cream in it. The bottom row of corn shows the openings where the cream had been hanging out… waiting for this exact moment in time.

I also cut up my leeks. You know what a leek is … it’s what looks like a green onion, only on steroids! They taste kinda oniony… but with a rather mellow taste. Since leeks are layered like onions and grow up through the soil, they are likely to trap some dirt between their layers. So, I cut the leek lengthwise, and then diced into half-moon shapes. Then I threw the leeks in a large bowl of water. The dirt sank to the bottom while the leeks floated on top. I strained them out, and onto a rag for a quick pat-dry.

Then I moved to the stove…

First: Butter, oil and leeks…

Second: add arborio rice, allowed to hang out for a while to take on the oil. Before I moved on, I added the wine and allowed it a few minutes to evaporate/soak up into the rice…

Third: add creamed corn (cream and all), followed by 1/2 cup of boiling stock and the stirring begins.

Watch those beatiful rice grains puff up … they are puffing up with the cream from the corn, the chicken stock and a great leek flavor! Good stuff!

I kept adding more and more chicken stock… all the while continuing to stir until I just couldn’t stir anymore. After tasting it for flavor (does it need some salt? Yes!) I added the parmesan cheese and another small nob of butter… the perfect finishing touches!

We enjoyed this alongside some freshly grown green beans and grilled chicken tenders topped with more of that yummy anchovy dressing! < — we LOVE that stuff!

But don’t take my word for it… it’s so easy! You should try it too!

Creamed Corn and Leek Risotto
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

½ tablespoon butter
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 medium leek, finely sliced
1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups boiling chicken stock
2 ears of sweet corn
¼ cup white wine
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Kosher salt to taste

Optional additions:
6 slices of prosciutto, diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

In a large bowl (using smaller bowl turned upside down as a platform) cut corn kernels off the ears, cutting down the middle of the kernel (not at the root). Run the back of the knife along the spine of the ear, where the remaining kernels are still attached to ear. This will “press” the cream out of the corn and into the bowl below with the kernels. This is good flavor!

Heat butter/oil together in a large pan, add leek and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Stir in Arborio rice and cook for 1-2 minutes or until rice changes color.

Add wine and stir until it is dissolved/soaked up by rice. Gradually pour in boiling stock, one ½ cup at a time, stirring continually. Add creamed corn and stir well. Leave uncovered and continue to add stock ½ cup at a time. Stir well and sample for taste. When nearly done add parmesan cheese and another nob of butter, stir well until all melted. Serve immediately.

Optional: When adding parmesan cheese also stir in prosciutto and thyme leaves.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Saffron Risotto and sauteed Mahi Mahi with anchovy dressing

Well, I wasn’t sure I could get my hubby to eat this dish. I was going out on the ledge with so many vegetables! And I simply didn’t think he would be OK with the anchovy dressing.

But eat it he did! AND he enjoyed it…

Confession time: I may or may not have told him what the sauce was called before he ate it. OK, I did tell him… and he wasn’t as weirded out by it as I thought he’d be. Then I broke it to him that there are anchovies in a classic caesar salad dressing.

Starting with the risotto… thank you Mario Batali for giving me a recipe to start with. I’ll be tweaking it a little in the future. Hope you don’t mind…

I’ve been waiting to make this risotto ever since I bought saffron. And I’d been waiting to buy saffron ever since I ate at CinCin! in Poway, California. It was there that we enjoyed an appetizer that was my inspiration.

So come with me on a journey… and every journey begins with the first step.

Here is the first step… sweating the onions.

Then I added the saffron to the hot chicken stock so it would infuse the flavor nicely.

Next add the arborio rice to the onion and oil, stirring well to make sure all of the grains are coated with oil. Let the rice toast up for several minutes…

… add a little wine, a good dry white wine. The wine will evaporate pretty quickly but leave behind a really great flavor.

Then the process of ladling starts. And get ready for some stirring…

Look at that color! I can’t wait to eat this!

Keep ladling… one ladle at a time…

Yes, just keep stirring…

To break up the monotony a little I’ll take a break and get the veggies started. Tonight I’m grilling these in my panini pan. But first I tossed them in a little bit of olive oil and kosher salt.

AAAANNNNND… we’re back to ladling and stirring…

And more ladling and stirring… I know that my persistence will eventually pay off! I just know it…

In the meantime, it was time to start the mahi mahi. I sauteed it in just a little bit of oil and butter, seasoned with some kosher salt.

After checking the risotto, giving it a taste and checking for doneness, I put the final touches on the risotto (nothing like a lil’ butter and parmesan to top it all off!).

Still stirring… but almost done.

…and then it was ready!

And this is where the anchovy dressing comes into the picture. It will get ladled over the fish once it’s all plated up.

Can I have another piece of mahi mahi now?! That dressing is so darn GOOD!!!

Saffron Risotto aka Risotto Milanese
Recipe courtesy Mario Batali

1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, cut into ¼” dice
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
2 cups chicken stock, hot
1 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for sprinkling

In a 12-14″ skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and translucent but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile add the saffron to the stock, stirring to infuse. Once the onions are translucent add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until toasted and opaque, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the wine to the toasting rice, and then add a 4-6 ounce ladle of the saffron-infused stock and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladle at a time, waiting until the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Cook until the rice is tender and creamy and yet still a little al dente, about 15 minutes. Stir in the butter and cheese until well mixed. Serve as desired… makes two “healthy” portions.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…