Category Archives: Side Dishes

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to have a backyard again… After spending years living in brick apartment buildings, I’ve been soaking up every second I can outside! It feels like a luxury being able to sit under a tree with a book without having to get in my car and drive to a park. Jeff and I have also been learning how to grill! He found a perfectly good Weber grill on Craigslist, cleaned it up, and we’ve been grilling up burgers and veggies over the past few weeks.

Our friends Kelly and Pat came to visit from Toronto this past weekend. Kelly is one of my nearest and dearest friends in the world, and her culinary knowledge and talent never ceases to amaze me! Before I met Kelly, the only green vegetable I ate was iceberg lettuce. So I blame my current, much, MUCH more sophisticated palate on her. 😉

Her visit coincided with an invitation from OXO to participate in their #WhatAGrillWants blogger campaign, which was perfect because Jeff and I invited a bunch of people over for a cookout. OXO sent a bunch of new grilling tools to try out – a bladed meat tenderizer, a little salad dressing shaker, a corn stripper, a silicone basting brush, and 16 inch tongs.

OXO #WhatAGrillWants

I’m not quite sure what Kelly and Jeff are thumb wrestling over, but it was a fun moment in the kitchen as we prepared everything for the grill! Using a bladed meat tenderizer was interesting… I grew up with my mom and grandmother using a fork to do it, so I wasn’t quite sure how beneficial this tool would be. With 50 blades in the OXO bladed meat tenderizer, we sure saved some time! This tool is used like a stamp, and you have to push down really hard to get the blades through the meat. (With 50 blades in a tool, I’m GLAD it takes some muscle to press it down!)

OXO #WhatAGrillWants

OXO also sent a super cute and handy little salad dressing shaker, which we used to make a marinade for the pork.

OXO #WhatAGrillWants

I love this salad dressing shaker! You can’t really see it in the photo, but one side of the cup has measuring lines for cups, and the other has lines for ounces. And the cap has an airtight, leakproof seal, so it’s perfect for shaking up salad dressings or marinades. I wouldn’t hesitate bringing this to other cookouts or picnics!

While the pork marinaded, I decided to throw together a Cajun-style grilled corn salad. I looooove Mexican-style corn on the cob, but don’t really enjoy the mess that comes along with eating it. And I’ve been dying to use this delicious Cajun spice blend I picked up at the New Orleans School of Cooking during a recent vacation.

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad - OXO #WhatAGrillWants

Onto the grill the corn went. We turned the corn every couple of minutes, and left them on the grill just long enough to get a nice, charred look. The OXO tongs came in really handy here – the tips don’t have sharp edges like a lot of other grill tools, so later on when we grilled other veggies wrapped in foil, Jeff didn’t accidentally poke holes through the foil with the tongs.

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad - OXO #WhatAGrillWants

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad - OXO #WhatAGrillWants

Then we got to use my favorite tool out of the whole kit – the corn stripper. This tool is so easy to use! There’s a blade on the bottom, which cuts the kernels off the cob, and they collect inside a little cup attached to it instead of spilling all over the place.

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad - OXO #WhatAGrillWants

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad - OXO #WhatAGrillWantsOnce all the kernels were shed, I mixed in cheese, a tiny bit of mayonnaise, garlic, the Cajun spice mix, and some fresh green onions from our garden to create the corn salad. You can get the recipe at the bottom of this post! It’s a super easy cookout recipe everyone will love. It can be served warm right off the grill or chilled. I made a little more this week with an ear of leftover corn, and tossed it in with a regular salad. So good!

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad - OXO #WhatAGrillWants

Anyway, the tongs came in handy again when it was time to put the pork on the grill. The basting brush was pretty cool to use as well – there are gaps in the center bristles that trap liquids, so we were able to spread a lot more marinade on the roasts.

OXO #WhatAGrillWants

OXO #WhatAGrillWants

It was so fun cooking outside with wonderful friends we don’t get to see very often. It’s just what we do. 🙂 Thanks to OXO for making our cookout a little more fun and easy!

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad - OXO #WhatAGrillWants

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for OXO, and I received the grill tools from them for free. No other compensation was provided, and opinions here are my own.

3.0 from 1 reviews
Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • Vegetable oil (for the grill)
  • ½ cup Pecorino Romano grated cheese
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon Cajun spice blend (or chili powder)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • green onions, sliced thin
  • 6 large ears of corn, husks removed
Instructions
  1. Turn all the burners on high and allow the grill to become very hot.
  2. Once you scrape the grate clean, oil it by dipping a paper towel in vegetable oil. Use tongs to oil the grate!
  3. Place the ears of corn on the grill, turning them every 2 minutes or so until the kernels start to char.
  4. Combine the cheese, mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic, Cajun spice mix (or chili powder), black pepper, and salt.
  5. When the corn is done, allow to cool for a few minutes. Using the OXO corn stripper, remove the kernels from the cob and empty the container into a medium mixing bowl.
  6. Toss in the cheese, mayo, and spice mixture and mix until the corn kernels are coated. Top with green onions, to taste.

 

Food Bloggers Support For Sandy – Roasted Butternut Squash

We watched and waited… A storm so big, weather models tracking it all over the place, and not knowing how bad Sandy would be if or when she hit. So odd that some models showed Hurricane Sandy taking a sharp left hand turn into New Jersey…

I was 11 years old when Hurricane Bob hit Rhode Island. Although the eye of the category 2 storm drifted right over us, I don’t recall the destruction being nearly as bad as what Hurricane Sandy brought. But then again, I was 11, living in the middle of the woods, and we lived without power for a week. Our neighborhood made the best out of the situation – we sat in each other’s garages, listening to battery-powered radios, and cooking on a camp grill. We ate a lot of canned soup and pasta.

I do remember the Coast Guard House being heavily damaged, and how big of a deal that was… It’s a Rhode Island landmark and institution – there is really nothing better than hanging out on their roof deck bar, overlooking Narragansett Bay during the summer. Once again, it has to be rebuilt. The wrath of Sandy stirred up the ocean, hurling the rocky shoreline up into the restaurant and all over the road, causing a lot of damage to what we Rhode Islanders call “The Wall”. But as the owner of the Coast Guard House said on the news, they’ll be “better than ever before”. Rebuilding has already begun.

In Westerly, RI, the damage is much worse. Houses were lifted off their foundations and tossed around like toys. Sand is everywhere. And to think that my little home state was spared the worst…

When I heard about Food Bloggers Support for Sandy, I decided to participate because it’s the least I can do to help my Rhode Island neighbors, and our friends in New Jersey and New York. In times of crisis, we tend to come together, and find some comfort through meals and the loving company of others. Warm, hearty meals are so soothing and satisfying…

Butternut Squash

I chose to share this recipe for roasted butternut squash because squash is so plentiful right now, and it can be roasted in an oven, or on a grill.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash

 

In times of stress, pasta is one of my go-to foods – it’s cheap, quick to make, and it reminds me of home. And it’s so versatile – you can add anything to it and have a wonderful meal within minutes, so adding the butternut squash over a bowl of pasta makes a perfect fall comfort meal.

The worst of Hurricane Sandy could have hit any of us who live on the East Coast. Those of us in New England are incredibly lucky this time around. Please consider donating just a few dollars to the Red Cross to help provide warm meals and shelter to our neighbors who have to rebuild.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash

 
 
Food Bloggers Support For Sandy - Roasted Butternut Squash
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • All purpose seasoning, to taste
Instructions
  1. Peel the butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes.
  3. Place the cubes in a large bowl.
  4. Combine the squash with the onion, garlic, olive oil, and salt.
  5. Spread the mixture in a roasting pan, and sprinkle all purpose seasoning on top. (Salt and pepper work too.)
  6. Bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees.

 

Beet Quinoa Salad

How often do you go to the market for one thing, but end up walking out with more items than what you intended to buy? A few days ago, I went to my local Whole Foods for one thing and came across this gem:

Local Produce Box at Whole Foods

Similar to a CSA box, this local produce share included lettuce, kale, red chard, tomatoes, beets, carrots, zucchini, squash, and cucumbers. Salad in a box! No sifting through items in the produce section! SOLD! (I really hope Whole Foods at Fresh Pond starts to carry these on a regular basis!) This package was a little more than salad in a box though. The fun part about CSA-like boxes is that there may be something unfamiliar in there…like beets.

 

Beet Quinoa Salad

 

I don’t know how or why, but I’ve never bought or cooked beets. All you have to do is clean them, and boil for 40-minutes to an hour. Peel, slice, and you’re done – simple! Not wanting to waste anything in this box, I found a recipe in Béatrice Peltre’s book, La Tartine Gourmande, for Beet Quinoa Salad. Beets, quinoa, onion, tomatoes, lemon juice, and a mixture of herbs combine to make a salad bursting with the flavors of summer. (Not to mention completely beautiful to photograph!)

 

Beet Quinoa Salad

 

 

 

Summer Baked Tomatoes

Baked Tomatoes

 

More often than not, I am a highly unorganized grocery shopper. I pick up random fresh ingredients, having the best intentions of throwing something together once I get home. I had big plans for these tomatoes – an herb chicken and tomato crockpot recipe. But then I realized I wouldn’t be home from dinner for most of the week and, whoops, the chicken was still in the freezer! D’oh! So I found some inspiration from an Italian vegetable cookbook and baked these tomatoes into a delicious side dish. A little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and thyme. Simple, simple, simple!

Baked Tomatoes

Zucchini fritters

The herb chicken I made in the crock-pot for dinner was ready to go. Jeff was on his way over, and I needed a vegetable side dish to whip up in a pinch. Let’s face it – steamed vegetables can get boring really quickly. There’s only so many times a girl can eat steamed zucchini sprinkled with sea salt, pepper, and some Italian seasonings as a side dish. With two zucchinis in my refrigerator, I wanted to create something different with them.  So I found a recipe for zucchini fritters on Smitten Kitchen and modified it a bit to be gluten-free.

Out came my box grater, and naturally a mess resulted on tiny counter top. If you don’t already know, be aware –  zucchini is a very watery vegetable. Zucchini water ended up EVERYWHERE. (I’m not a neat cook.) But the shredded vegetable inside the box grater looked delicious!

As I’ve started reading more about cooking and baking gluten-free foods, I learned that gluten-free flours taste better when they are combined together. So instead of all-purpose flour, I mixed millet and amaranth flour together. The flours added a wonderful nutty taste to the fritters. The recipe I used had extra ingredients for toppings, but we really enjoyed them completely plain. I made another batch to bring to a cookout over the weekend, and they were a fantastic appetizer!

 

Zucchini Fritters (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Makes about 10 fritters

1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium)

1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt, extra to taste

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Ground black pepper

1/4 cup Millet flour

1/4 cup Amaranth flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons Olive oil (for frying)

 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Trim off the ends of the zucchini. Using a box grater or the shredding blade in a food processor, grate the zucchini.

In a large bowl, toss the zucchini and salt together. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then wring out excess water from the zucchini. As the Smitten Kitchen recipe suggested, I pressed the zucchini against the sides of colander with a spoon. That didn’t seem to get all the water out, so I switched to towels. I couldn’t believe how much water drained out!

Place the shredded zucchini back into a bowl and mix in the egg and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine the millet and amaranth flours, and the baking powder. Toss the mixture in with the zucchini and stir until everything is combined.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Once the pan is nice and hot, drop small spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan. Slightly flatten each spoonful with a spatula and cook 3-4 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Flip each fritter and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Place each fritter on a paper towel to drain, then transfer them onto a cookie sheet. Repeat this process with the remaining batter. Place the cookie sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes.