Foodie Blog Roll 2

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cucumber Black Bean and Feta Salad

For my 26th week of the Pregnancy Foodie Project, Baby is the length of an English hothouse cucumber. I've seen these things in the store several times but just didn't know what they were called. I actually think I've even bought them before, again not realizing that they had a super cool name. One great thing about these cucumbers verses the "regular" ones is that their seeds are much smaller and there is no need to remove them before adding them to a salad. The green skin is also a lot thinner meaning you don't have to peel them before chopping and adding to a dish. Oh, and I never realized just how many variations of cucumbers or "cukes" there were until I found this page in the cooks thesaurus. Kind of interesting.

Cucumber Black Bean and Feta Salad

So, while deciding what to add to this salad, I think my original idea was to make sort of a Greek style salad with salty black olives and feta cheese. However, when I looked down in my basket and noticed the black beans and cilantro that I just had to have, I realized it also seemed a little Mexican or Latin. Oh well; it's a small world, after all! 

I really like the light lemon dressing with all these fresh ingredients. Mix it up and add to taste. 

Cucumber Black Bean and Feta Salad
2 English hothouse cucumbers, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 14oz can artichoke hearts*, drained
1 5oz can sliced black olives*, drained
5-6 oz fat free feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh cilantro leaves, washed and torn
For the dressing
Freshly squeezed lemon juice (approximately 2 lemons)
Olive oil (a few tablespoons)
Salt and pepper to taste

Add the cucumber, red bell pepper, onion, black beans, artichoke hearts and black olives in a large bowl and gently toss to mix together. One important thing is to drain everything really well. I normally just use the top of the can that I have removed to drain the liquid out of canned goods before adding them to dishes, but for this salad I went ahead and strained everything in a mesh colander. I wanted this salad to stay fresh for a few days and not have liquid pooling in the bottom of the bowl. The second thing to note is the feta cheese, cilantro and dressing should be added right before serving.

*The other thing I make sure to do is buy the canned artichokes and sliced olives in "water" not oil. Yes, there is oil in the dressing, but you can control how much of that you add. I am not a huge fan of adding oil soaked veggies to a salad that I want to stay crisp. It also cuts back on calories. 

This is great to serve with fish or meat dishes or to eat by itself. And if you like the Greek idea of this salad, try this Greek Dip or My Big Fat Greek Nachos!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Oven-Baked Rutabaga Fries

If I have learned anything from this Pregnancy Foodie Project, it's that I can eat weird vegetables and survive! Remember the turnip? I did a mashed-potato-wannabe dish with those and lived to tell about it. Remember the kumquats? That's one crazy fruit, but I'm still here. And if you had asked me a week ago to pick a rutabaga out of a line up I wouldn't have been able to, but now I know what they are and I ate a whole 2 pounder, by myself! In fact, it took 3 of the grocers at the store to make for sure which root vegetable actually was the rutabaga. They're learning along with me!

Oven-Baked Rutabaga Fries

I did a facebook poll and asked y'all what the heck I should do with this crazy thing, and my favorite idea was from Layna Edd. She suggested Rutabaga French Fries, so that's what I did. Thanks, Layna!

Oven-Baked Rutabaga Fries
2 lb rutabaga
Olive oil
Garlic salt
Smoked paprika
Cayenne pepper
Ground red Chipotle

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet in parchment paper or foil.

Peal and cut into strips.

Place in a bowl.. Drizzle in enough olive oil to just barely coat all of the strips. Season liberally. I used quite a lot of the smoked paprika and a little bit of all the other seasonings. 

Spread the fries out on prepared baking sheet and place in the oven. You will either need to do this on two pans or in two batches so that the pan is not over crowded.

The tricky part is the baking time. I actually cooked these for quite a while. I saw one recipe for these hat said 15 minutes, but mine were still raw at that point. You need to bake them past the raw stage where they  are still hard, then past the stage where they are soft, and finally they will start to crisp up. I kept checking mine after every 5 minutes, and I finally took them out after about 35-40 minutes.

The end result is different than French fries or potatoes, but the seasoning on them is great! They definitely have a "healthy" taste to them, but I liked it. And for a healthy low-carb, and much lower fat option than regular fries, these babies are worth a try!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Skillet Corn Bread with Grilled Sweet Corn

 Is is crazy to put corn in a corn bread? Not if you ask my Kansas husband! An ear of corn was this weeks Pregnancy Foodie Project ingredient, and believe me, he was much more excited about this ingredient than the turnip. Or the rutabaga....which is next week.

I really though this corn bread would be spicy, or at least more spicy than it was. If you don't like things hot, this corn bread is still for you! The seeded jalapeño and hot sauce only added flavor to the bread. What did the grilled corn add? A great texture and a nice sweetness, of course. {They don't call it "sweet corn" for nothin'!}

Skillet Corn Bread with Grilled Sweet Corn
I used a 10 inch cast iron skillet for this and it worked beautifully. Oh, and lots of butter. Don't let the butter scare you, it's for greasing the skillet, not for the batter. Will some of this butter stick to your bones? Probably. But who wants to make a delicious corn bread only to have it stick to the bottom of the skillet? Not me!
If you don't have a cast iron skillet you can use an 8X8 baking dish. Just know that you will have to cook it longer, any where from 5-10 minutes.

Skillet Corn Bread with Grilled Sweet Corn
     serves 8
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix {8.5oz}
1 egg
1/3 C milk
1 ear of corn, grilled
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
2 T hot sauce {I use Louisiana Hot Sauce}
1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
1-2 T butter

Slice downward along the sides of the ear of corn and remove the grilled kernels.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put cast iron skillet in oven to preheat.

To make the batter, in a medium bowl, mix together the corn muffin mix, egg and milk. The batter will be a little lumpy. Add the grilled corn kernels, hot sauce, chopped jalapenos and cheese and stir to combine.

Before pouring the batter into the skillet, grease hot skillet with butter.

Pour the batter into the greased skillet and bake for 15 minutes.{You can see the butter on the sides of the skillet. This prevented the corn bread from sticking and helped the bottom get nice and golden brown.}

Bake until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean. {See that crazy edge? That's from the butter! Mmmm}

Slice into wedges and serve warm.

I like being able to see all the additions in the bread. This would be great with a big bowl of chili, or if your eating for two, just about anything! {I may have had 3 pieces right when it came out of the oven....but who's counting?}

If you're looking for another recipe with grilled corn, try my favorite pasta! Chipotle Queso Grilled Corn and Chicken Pasta.

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