Grilled Corn, Cilantro, & Black Bean Salad with Balsamic Dressing

The other night I had this creative idea for turkey burgers. Instead of pairing the burgers with fries, I decided to go with a salad. I didn’t want a traditional leafy green salad, so I looked in my fridge at all the produce I bought this past weekend. I saw 4 ears of corn, Roma tomatoes, cilantro, red onions, and jalapenos. I went to my pantry and found a can of black beans. I searched around on Google for some recipes and after finding a few with these ingredients, I came up with the recipe below.

Not only is It refreshing, but very colorful and quick (less than 30 minutes). This is a great summer recipe and you can eat it warm or cold. It’d be a great side dish to bring to a picnic or BBQ.

INGREDIENTS

4 ears of corn

1 tablespoon of olive oil

15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

4 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

2 tsp jalapeno, chopped

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

FOR DRESSING

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat grill to high. Rub olive oil on the corn and grill, covered, for about 6-8 minutes. Continue to rotate the corn every 2 minutes for even cooking. Set aside to cool.(TIP: to get the corn cooked evenly, PRIOR to rubbing olive oil, wrap corn with damp paper towel and microwave two at a time for about 6 minutes. Let cool then rub the olive oil on the corn)

2. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.

3. Slice the corn off the cob and place in a bowl. Add the chopped tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, jalapenos, and black beans.

4. Add dressing and gently toss. Serve warm or cold.

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Peanut Butter Blossoms

This year I decided to give baked goods as a gift. On Sunday I spent mostly all day making chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter blossoms – if you love chocolate and peanut butter, this is the cookie for you. This is one of my husband’s favorite cookie. In the past, every Christmas his sweet grandmother (we miss you Granny M) would make him a batch of these cookies. For the past few years I’ve tried making them but something never turns out right with the dough. The cookies get too hard or they don’t have enough of a peanut butter taste.

I finally found the right recipe and they turned out beautifully. The cookies were soft and delicious the next day. Hooray!

Thanks to BrownEyedBaker for sharing this recipe.

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS

48 Hershey Kisses

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

3/4 cup peanut butter (use creamy)

1/3 cup white sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

sugar

DIRECTIONS

1. Set oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap Hershey’s Kisses.

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat shortening and peanut butter until well blended. Add sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat until well blended.

4. Gradually add flour mixture to peanut butter mix. Stir after each addition until well blended.

5. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar in a small bowl. Place on cookie sheet about 2-inches apart.

6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Once out of the oven, immediately press a kiss into the center of each cookie and remove cookies to a wire rack. Cool completely.

Glazed Brownies with Mint Cookies

This past summer, a couple of people at work challenged me to make brownies topped with Girl Scout’s Thin Mint Cookies. Genius idea, right? So I told them, I would accept their challenge and I went on a brownie recipe hunt. I’ve always made brownies from a box mix, so I wanted to prove that I could make them from scratch. So low and behold, I found a simple enough recipe from The Food Network website – it’s not a fancy brownie from any of the big name stars featured on there, it’s a solid recipe that got good reviews. So I said, why not?

I am pleased to say that the brownies turned out excellent. And since I couldn’t find any Thin Mint cookies, I used Oreo’s Mint Fudge Cremes. Not only did the brownies look good, but they were very satisfying. It’s not too strong in the mint flavor, so those that aren’t big fans of mint will enjoy it.

During the holiday season, mint is one of my favorite flavors to work with – so I wanted to share this recipe. You’ll impress your family, friends, and co-workers if you bring a tray of these to a holiday party. Enjoy and bon appetit!

INGREDIENTS for BROWNIES

1 ½ cups flour

1 ½  teaspoon baking powder

¼  teaspoon fine salt

10 oz. finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate (I used Baker’s Chocolate Squares)

2 oz. finely chopped unsweetened chocolate (I used Baker’s Chocolate Squares)

½  cup unsalted butter

2 cups white sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

INGREDIENTS for GLAZE

6 oz. chopped semi-sweet chocolate

½  cup heavy whipping cream

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENT

Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies or Oreo Mint Fudge Cremes – 1/2 box of cookies, chopped

DIRECTIONS

1. Line a 13 x 9 inch pan with parchment paper, with edges hanging over the sides (for easy lift out of pan), lightly butter

2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. Combine chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl (like Pyrex glass bowls). Fill a sauce pan with water and simmer over medium-high heat. Once water is simmering, turn off heat. Set bowl on top of sauce pan and whisk until smooth.

4. In a large bowl, whisk sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir chocolate mixture in and blend evenly. Add dry ingredients and stir just until blended. DO NOT OVER MIX.

5. Pour batter (the batter will be thick) into pan and bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into brownie comes out coated with a fudgey crumb. Cool the brownies in the pan on a wire rack.

6. While brownies are cooling, make glaze. Put chocolate in medium bowl. Boil heavy cream and pour over chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes. Then stir.

7. Pour glaze and spread evenly over the brownies. Add the chopped cookies on top. Let brownies set at room temperature.

8. Once cooled, lift the brownies out of the pan and cut into 24 squares.

30 Minute Turkey Chili

It’s officially getting colder  in the Bay Area. Soon the sun will be gone and we’ll get days of rain and windy weather (the temperature will remain at low 40s and 50s at the most). For Californians, that’s cold (and I grew up in Minnesota, so go figure…), but yes, these days it will be colder, which means I need warm comfort food. A few Saturdays ago I made my quick 30 minute Turkey Chili. This is one of my favorite meals to make during the fall/winter season. I make it 2-3 times during the year. Our favorite thing to eat with the chili is sprinkling some shredded cheddar cheese on top and using Fritos Scoops as our eating utensil. This recipe is quick and easy and has so much flavor. Enjoy and bon appetit!

INGREDIENTS

1 ½  teaspoons olive oil

1 pound ground turkey

1 medium or large onion, chopped

2 cups water

1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes

1 can (16 oz.) black beans (or kidney beans) – up to you

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon cayenne

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1. Heat oil in medium-large pot on medium heat. Cook turkey in pot until brown. (You won’t need to drain oil since turkey is very lean)

2. Add onions and cook until tender (about 4-5 minutes)

3. Pour water into pot. Mix in tomatoes, beans, and garlic. And all spices and herbs (I usually add all the spices into a small mixing bowl – see the picture below – aren’t the colors beautiful?)

4. Bring chili to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Feel free to make this chili for a football game or on a cold and dreary night. It is a winner. Enjoy it with your favorite chili condiments. It’s so easy to make and so good!

Caramel Pecan Pie

This is my husband’s favorite pie that I make – and I’ve been making it for the last five years for every Thanksgiving. Not only is it just a pecan pie…but it has caramel in the filling. It can be a little rich so I usually eat it with a nice generous dollop of Cool Whip. I usually make 2-3 pecan pies each year and my husband will usually ask to keep one pie at home all to himself. This recipe is very easy and it doesn’t take long to make the filling. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

1 unbaked pie crust (9 inch) – I recommend using Marie Callender’s frozen deep dish pie crust

36 individually wrapped caramels (I use Werther’s Chewy Caramels)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup milk

3/4 cup white sugar

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup pecan halves

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C.) In a saucepan over low heat, combine caramels, butter and milk. Cook, stirring frequently, until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt. Gradually mix in the melted caramel mixture. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust.

3. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown. Allow to cool until filling is firm.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

One of my favorite things about fall is baking with pumpkin. It truly is one of those ingredients that you like or don’t like. I always get excited when I see pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pies, and even pumpkin bagels at the local bakeries in my neighborhood. One of my specialty is the elusive and oh-so-delicious pumpkin bar with cream cheese frosting.

At work, I’m the resident baker. I love to bring in goodies for my colleagues. I truly love to bake and I know it’s because I love seeing the satisfaction on the faces of those that are eating it. This is by far one of the easiest recipes to use and I’ve had it since 2004. After I graduated from college, I worked at Marshall Field’s that summer before I found a “real” job and one of the best things about working at MF was the cooking demos they had in the kitchen department. One summery day, they were demonstrating pumpkin bars and giving out samples. I think this is where I really had a pumpkin bar for the first time and I fell in love with the flavors. It was so tasty that I had to nab a copy of the recipe that they were handing out, and now I’m sharing that recipe (with minor alterations) with you. Enjoy and happy baking!

INGREDIENTS for FROSTING:

1/2 cup butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese

3-3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

INGREDIENTS for BARS

4 eggs

1 2/3 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 can (15 oz.)  solid pack pumpkin (DO NOT BUY PUMPKIN PIE MIX)

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. To prepare the frosting, beat softened butter and cream cheese until well

blended. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until creamy.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin. In a separate

bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt;

gradually add the dry mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix well.

4. Pour into an ungreased 9 x 13″ pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool

completely. Ice with Cream Cheese Frosting.

MAKES 48 bars.

NOTES and TIPS: You can also use an 11 x 14″ pan – cook time is still between 25-30 minutes. Line the pan with parchment paper and let it hang over the sides so that you can easily lift the bars out of the pan after their cooled – so much easier to ice them and cut them afterwards.