Chili Corn Casserole

Chili Corn Casserole Corn Fed
Can someone tell me where the month of May went? Yesterday I blinked and now all of a sudden we are staring Memorial day in the face. The fact that Memorial Day weekend is upon us is a good thing in my opinion, if only because it is the herald of summer weather, fun, and a slower pace.

For me, and a lot of other people, Memorial Day marks the beginning of BBQ season as well as the arrival of the summer produce. I’ve noticed the peaches and nectarines have started to appear as well as the English peas and the good strawberries. What makes me happiest though is when the local corn starts coming in.

I love fresh corn on the cob and when it’s at its peak, sometimes I don’t even bother to steam it. Corn the cob can be a pain in a BBQ setting ‘cause you aren’t always able to sit and eat. And, managing it one handed can lead to either serious butter stains or corn in the dirt. So, it’s nice to do something with corn that is more paper plate friendly.

Per usual, I will be spending Memorial Day enjoying America’s pastime from the bleachers in Brentwood. But, there will still be time to throw some steaks on the grill and celebrate. So, I am crossing my fingers there will be some corn on the way to the baseball fields ‘cause there is still one more family birthday to celebrate and I’m in charge of sides.

I found this take on cheesy corn casserole in one of my magazines and I can’t wait to give it a try this weekend. The original recipe called for green onions. But, since I am a rebel, I am going to swap those out for diced green chilies. Feel free to try the onions for less of a kick.

Happy Memorial Day!

Chili Corn Casserole
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Yields 8 to 10 serving  Read more…

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Chocolate Birthday CakeBirthday Week
Every year the hours between May 12th and May 18th are utterly chaotic. During that time there are three birthdays, usually one Mother’s Day and dozens of sports activities. This year we added drama performances, band performances, and other end-of-year school activities just to spice things up.

Despite all of this, we managed to have a family celebration to cover all birthdays and Mother’s Day. My husband ordered a bunch of catered BBQ and my sister made a birthday dessert for those who were celebrating. This is how we ended up with a chocolate cake, 2 dozen red velvet cupcakes, and this Berry Blitz Torte.

The chocolate cake was for my boys, the cupcakes for my daughter, and the torte was for me. All was tasty. But, I am torn as to which recipe to highlight…because of a gift I got from my sister.

My regular readers may remember my inner debate about whether or not to get an Instant Pot. Well, that problem has been solved. And, I have already used it.

Not gonna lie, it’s pretty cool. 

I made a chicken and couscous dinner in 15 minutes. Yes, I could have done something similar the old fashioned way in about 45. But, the promise of being able to make actual food quickly on a busy night when we would normally get take-out is just fantastic. I’m still trying to get the hang of it and the kids are begging me to try the yogurt setting. So, I’ll have to give you an update once I’ve used it a bit more.

In the meantime, you need to make this cake if for no other reason than you want to… 

Chocolate Birthday Cake
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Cocoa-Buttermilk Layer Cake
The frosting on this cake needs an hour in the fridge to set, so make it in plenty of time to set the icing and bring the cake back to room temperature.  Read more…

Peach Scones

Peach Scones Recipe

Peachy Keen
For the past few weeks, I have been getting rather dire predictions from my produce manager about the state of this year’s stone fruit crop. The short version is this: small crop, big prices. (Thank you Mother Nature). I look forward to stone fruit season every year. Even my kids have been asking if it is time for nectarines yet but the outlook hasn’t been great.

Imagine my surprise when, the other day, I was walking through our produce department and saw a lovely stack of peaches from California. It made me stop in my tracks and stare for a while because if anything is a beacon of Summer and warmer weather, it is the arrival of the peaches.

I have to admit I have been losing hope of there ever being summer weather. Last Saturday I sat in the bleachers at a baseball tournament freezing to death. (It was Cinco de Mayo! It should be warm enough already to melt your margarita not cold enough for Kahlua and coffee!) This weekend looks to be a bit better and Sunday is Mother’s Day—the perfect opportunity to make something I want…‘cause it’s all about me!

So I‘m gonna make these Peach Scones. They are a perfect tasty treat for Mother’s Day brunch, or just because. And, the peaches are there to remind you that summer is not too far away. One thing to be aware of, early peaches aren’t necessarily sweet peaches, You might need to toss ‘em in some sugar before you use them…or go with frozen.

Peach Scones Recipe
Yields 12 scones
The simplest way to make these scones is to drop the batter by the 1/4-cupful onto a baking sheet. If you want to get fancier, you can form the dough into a disc that is about 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick, and slice it (like a pizza) into 12 sections—first, cut cross-wise at right angles, and then divide those four sections into three wedges each. Either way, make certain there is enough space on the baking sheet for the scones to rise while in the oven. Read more…

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches CakeViva Cake! 
We eat Mexican food a lot—easily twice a week if not more. So, when Cinco de Mayo rolls around it makes it kinda difficult to come up with something “special” to mark the occasion. The easiest way to do something different, in my opinion, is with dessert. (And don’t forget the tequila…)

About four years ago we took a trip to Mexico and while down there I came across a gorgeous neon pink tome of a cookbook called, appropriately, Mexico, The Cookbook. It is 704 pages long and filled with recipes that come from all regions and categories—like classic, everyday, and special occasions. Since it has been part of my collection, I haven’t even come close to making a dent. But, when I am looking for something authentically Mexican, this is where I turn.

I chose the recipe because it’s tasty and also because very few desserts scream Mexico as much as this one. (Except maybe flan.) If you have never had a truly good Tres Leches Cake you are in for a treat. (Plus it’s way less frustrating than flan…)

This particular recipe has strawberries in it. You could leave them out if you wish. I’ve eaten it both ways. If you are planning a get together for Cinco de Mayo, or even if you are not, I highly encourage you to give this cake a shot.

Tres Leches Cake
Adapted from Mexico, The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte Read more…

Strawberry Rye Tart

Strawberry Rye TartStrawberry Fields Forever
I planted my summer garden the weekend we got back from our Spring Break trip and already the plants are getting big.

I chose to move my garden closer to the house this year for a few reasons. The first is that with our busy schedule it is easier to remember to water the plants if the droopy garden is staring you in the face.

The second reason is chickens. My chickens will eat my entire garden if I let them—not just the bugs. Tomatoes are their favorite with peppers a close second.

The last and probably the most important reason is that having my veggies in a planter box by the side of my patio forces me to only grow the stuff that we will actually eat. I have a tendency to over-plant because I find it fun to share the wealth with others who love home grown veggies but don’t like to garden (or can’t because of space). My husband doesn’t see it the way I do. He just sees waste—and he may have a very tiny point. So I limited myself to four tomatoes, a bell pepper, green beans, cucumbers, and snap peas.

However, our plans went sideways because I took my daughter with me on the trip to the nursery. She is my gardening partner-in-crime and a bit of a bad influence. When she gets excited about growing something, I have a hard time saying no. This is how I ended up with two square planters full of strawberries…

Assuming I can keep the kids from devouring them off the vine, the potential for a lot of strawberries means that I have been looking for something other than shortcakes, jams, or pies as a way to use them.

This recipe came up in two different searches on two different websites. I couldn’t escape it. So I had to try it—if only because I was intrigued by the rye flour. The original recipe called for vanilla sugar in the mascarpone. I decided to use regular sugar and the seeds from one vanilla bean because I love that vanilla flavor. I also substituted honey for the sugar in the mascarpone because it tastes like spring.

Strawberry Rye Tart
Adapted from King Arthur Flour 
Read more…