Mexican Corn Salad

This was a dish we tried for the first time last week.  The first time around we did it as a main dish, but found it to be much more suitable as a side item.  Tonight, we used it as a side dish to go with some beautifully grilled ribeye steaks and some spicy ranch style beans with sliced jalapenos… the flavors really complemented one another.

Okay, first, the ingredients:

Ingredients:

  • 4 large fresh cobs of corn
  • 2 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp fat-free Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice (from half a lime)
  • 1 tbsp minced cilantro
  • 2 tbsp scallions, minced
  • 1/2 cup (40 g) cotija cheese, grated
  • 5 lime wedges for serving (optional)

Pretty easy prep work.  The first step is to grate the cotija cheese.  Cotija is a Mexican cheese which is made from cow’s milk and is a hard cheese.  If you can’t find cotija in your area, then feta cheese would be a suitable replacement.  You can go ahead and mince up your scallions and cilantro and have them ready to go as well as they will enter the recipe at the same time as the cheese.

Grated cotija cheese, minced scallions, and cilantro.

The next step is to boil your corn.  Corn cooks very quickly, cooking too long can dry it out.  My recommendation is to get your water boiling and put your corn in… let it boil for 5 minutes and remove it from the water.  It will be hot so use tongs and let it sit aside and cool for a bit until you can pick it up.

Comes out the same way it goes in… weird!

While the corn is cooling, go ahead and get your sauce together.  Mix the Chobani Greek yogurt, light mayo, lime juice, and chili powder!  I’ve tried several Greek yogurts, and believe me that Chobani is by far the best of the bunch… so smooth, creamy, and delicious… it is increasingly becoming an ingredient in several dishes.

A simple yet delicious sauce!

Now you’ll want to cut the corn off the cobs… this is a simple process if you’ve never done it before.  Simply hold the corn up and slice straight down the corn at the base of the kernels.  In 4 easy swipes you should be able to easily take off 1/4th of each corn cob from end to end.  Once you have the corn removed… add it to the sauce you just made and give it a good stir to coat the corn.

Corn and its coat of many colors.

The final step will be to add the scallions, cilantro, and cheese… give it another stir and serve warm.  A creamy, delicious, and overall wonderful warm corn salad!

Ready to plate!

Please comment if you like what you see, share away on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. and as always… happy cooking and enjoy eating!

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Bubbly Enchilada Casserole

This is an old Weight Watchers recipe which has been altered and posted on tons of recipe sites… here’s how we did it tonight:

Ingredients:
Heb – Tomato Sauce (8 oz)
Goya – Black Beans Low Sodium, 1 container (1 4/5 cups)
Old El Paso – Mild Green Chile Enchilada Sauce – 1 Can
Jennie-O – Extra Lean Ground Turkey Breast, 1.25 pounds
Kraft Natural Shredded Cheese – Mexican Four Cheese 2% Milk, 1 cup
Pillsbury Grands Biscuits – Homestyle Buttermilk – Small Container (5 biscuits)

First thing first, the prep work… this is honestly one of the easiest recipes you’re ever going to find.  Your prep work consists of rinsing and draining your black beans and then cutting your biscuits into quarters:

What’s better than 5 biscuits? 20 biscuits!

Turn your oven to 350 degrees.  Get a 9X13 baking dish and spray it lightly.  Set it aside.  In a large skillet, brown your turkey.  Once it is browned then you’re going to add the tomato sauce, enchilada sauce, and black beans (again, make sure they’re drained and rinsed!).

Building flavor!

Flavor built!

Once you’ve got everything added, give it a good stir to combine.  Now you’re going to add your biscuit quarters and mix everything together before placing in the casserole dish and spreading evenly.

Spread ’em!

Put the mixture into the oven for 25 minutes.  Pull it out and evenly spread 1 cup of the Mexican style cheese over the top.  Place it back in the oven for 10 minutes.  Take it out again and (In-N-Out, In-N-Out… that’s what a casseroles all about…) let it set for 5 minutes to firm up.  Makes 6 servings at just under 400 calories each.

A thing of beauty!

Delicious as is, I added a bit of Tapatio to the top of mine as I love Tapatio on all hispanic inspired foods!

Plated… SO good!

Hope everyone enjoys this entry… let us know what you think by commenting below and be sure to come back and let us know if you’ve tried this!

Until next time… happy cooking and enjoy eating!

Chicken Italian Sausage and Summer Vegetables

Since the end of June, the SMTR crew has been on a quest to eat healthier and you’ve probably noticed that through some of the recent posts.  The American palate is so used to flavor being mostly fat, that building flavor can be a challenge… we think this dish does a great job of solving that problem!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb baby red potatoes, cut in half or quartered
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 package Bilinski’s Organic Chicken Italian Herb Sausages with Porcini Mushrooms, sliced 1 inch thick
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, diced 1-inch squares
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced 1-inch squares
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced 1-inch squares
  • 2 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 2 cups zucchini, 1/2 inch thick and quartered

You have a couple of choices to start off here… if you’re good with your knife and prep work, you can cut your potatoes and get those started while you cut up the rest of the vegetables and the sausages.  If you prefer, you can always cut everything up ahead of time so you’re just ready to go.  If you’re rich, post a job on CareerBuilder or Monster for a prep cook and eliminate the hardest part of the work altogether!

Quartered, smashed, and chopped… medieval torture or getting ready for dinner?

The Bilinski sausages and some zucchini.

Okay, first thing is first… get your oil and potatoes in a large skillet (season with the garlic powder, some salt and pepper), covered.  Turn the burner onto high heat to get the skillet warmed up and sizzling… once you’ve achieved that state, turn the burner to low and leave covered for 25 minutes.  Give the pan a little shake and shimmy every few minutes to prevent scorching the taters.  Remove from the heat for 5 minutes and then put the potatoes on a plate like this:

Don’t be haters… eat your taters!

Once the potatoes are set aside, you’ll want to get your sausages and vegetables (also seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper and the rosemary) in the skillet on medium.  Set the zucchini aside for now, it will cook fast and doesn’t need to go in yet! Now we want to get the veggies in and browning along with the sausages.  I can’t tell you enough how great of a decision it was to go with these sausages… they are so flavorful and at only 80 calories per link, it packs a punch to the end result that I don’t think you can beat for the same or lower calories.

Sausages, peppers, onion, rosemary, and garlic.

Stir every few minutes while the vegetables brown and soften.  Now we’re going to add the zucchini and cook another 5 minutes.

It’s a zucchini beach party!

Add the potatoes back in and mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste, cover, and cook another 5 minutes or until potatoes are done.  All that’s left now is the serving and the eating.  You end up with 4 servings that come in around 300 calories each with 39g of carbohydrates and 21g of protein.

Dinner is served!

This recipe is a keeper… we were extremely satisfied with the taste, the portion, and the leftovers are going to make a great lunch.

Please be sure to comment below to let us know what you think, and definitely provide some feedback if you give this a try.  As always, happy cooking and enjoy eating!

Cassoulet Chicken Thighs and Sausage

Typically, the first thing people want to know when I tell them about Cassoulet Chicken & Sausage, is what in the world is Cassoulet?

In simple terms, it’s a French style of cooking which typically contains meat (many different varieties) and white beans.  Cassoulet is common enough in France to be sold in grocery stores in cans.  The higher-end dishes may include lamb, duck, goose, etc.  But, we’re balling on a budget here so this is in the cassoulet with ingredients available to the every day shopper (and not terribly unhealthy either).  Assuming you have the spices and keep cooking wine on hand (also not expensive), you can make this recipe for under $15.

First off… the ingredients:

  • 2 cans of white beans (great northern or cannellini work great)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (or “EVOO” as Rachael Ray calls it)
  • 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken thighs (trim the fat!)
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Black Pepper
  • White wine
  • Reduced-sodium fat free chicken broth
  • Water
  • 1 package Bilinski’s Organic Chicken Italian Herb Sausages with Porcini Mushrooms, sliced 1 inch thick

For a time saving tip… use 2 cutting boards, one for your raw chicken and one for your ready to eat sausage and veggies (avoid cross contamination!).  Trim the fat from the chicken, cut into 1/3 size pieces and then cut each 1/3 size piece in half.  In a large skillet, heat up about a tablespoon of “EVOO” on medium high heat and then add the chicken in a single layer (if it’s piled up it will not cook evenly) with the heat turned down to medium.

Who are you calling chicken?!?

While the chicken is cooking, this is a great chance to prep the other items.  Cut the sausage into about half-inch pieces, and give the garlic and onion a rough chop.  You don’t want to dice or mince the garlic and onion as the bigger chunks will equal bigger flavors and texture in the final dish.

Somewhere in here (usually 3 or 4 minutes in) you would want to turn the pieces of chicken over to brown the other side and cook it another 3 or 4 minutes.  Once the chicken is nicely browned, remove it from the skillet. Do not rinse the skillet… you want the oil and pan drippings for the nextstep.

Pollo!

Now you will want to add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes.  Stir every minute or two.  You want the onion and garlic to soften but not deeply browned.  While the onions and garlic are cooking, take a handful of the white beans and mash them up with a fork.

Onions and garlic, one of life’s great couples!

What beans look like on the inside.

After the onions and garlic have softened, you will now want to add the rosemary, pepper, and thyme.  Seasonings, as always, are to taste… go for somewhere between 1/2 teaspoon and one teaspoon each, but keep the measurements about equal so no one flavor profile is dominating the dish.  Keep stirring and you’re about 30 seconds away from aroma central (this is about the time neighbors will start peeking their heads around your windows to find out what you’re cooking in there).  After about half a minute, add 1/2 cup of white wine.

Onions, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and black pepper.

 Disclaimer:  Normally I do not recommend (in fact, I insist against) stove top cooking on high… your stove has a “high” option which is pretty much meant to boil water, but the point here is to reduce the white wine by about half… so on high it goes!

Once the wine has reduced by half, it’s time to bring the entire flavor party onto the dance floor (i.e. put everything in the skillet).  Add in 1/2 cup of chicken broth, 1/2 cup of water, the sausage, beans (mashed from earlier along with the remaining whole beans) and the chicken.  Give everything a good stir and let it come to a boil.  Once it comes to a boil, put a lid on it, reduce to medium heat, and let simmer for about 5 minutes until the chicken is done.

You should end up with a delicious, fragrant, filling, and economic (see: budget friendly) recipe the whole family should love.  Our 4-year old loves this so much he actually eats as much of it (if not more) than the adults.

The finished product!

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think of this recipe, and of course definitely let us know if you try it for yourself!

Until next time… happy cooking… and enjoy eating!

Ultimate Beer Brats

Beer bathed bratwurst (beer brats) are a staple in some parts of the country and virtually unknown in others.  I think this is a great first recipe to share as it’s simple and has been a hit every time with both people who have eaten brats their whole lives and those who are being introduced to them for the first time.

The most important piece of this recipe is to get the correct bratwurst.  You want Johnsonville uncooked (usually in the meat section near the hamburger) original bratwurst.  I’ve tried other brands in the past and trust me, Johnsonville is where it’s at.  Here are the items you will need:

  • Beer (3 pints or 4 12 oz. bottles or cans… brand is entirely up to you)
  • 1 large onion (as big as you can get your hands on) diced
  • 10 Johnsonville bratwurst (did I mention it should be Johnsonville if you’re going to do it right?)
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 4 Tbs (or 1/2 of a stick) of butter

The first thing I always do is get my grill ready.  A common mistake for grillers is to cook on it before it’s ready.  For charcoal users, light the coals and then let them burn down and get hot.  You want to cook over heat, not fire!  For gas grillers, turn the grill on and let it come to temperature (usually 20-30 minutes) so that your meat cooks and not just over the flame… you want to keep your juices and flavor in your meats!

The next step is to get the seasonings together.  I feel strongly that seasonings should be to taste but here’s some approximate starting points (note:  I like to bring a bit of heat, so you may want less crushed red pepper if you don’t like a bit of spice in your food):  2 Tbs crushed red pepper, 1 Tbs each of garlic powder and salt and 1/2 Tbs of black pepper.

Brat Seasonings!

The next step is to bring the beer, butter, and onion to a boil in a large pot (make sure it is good size as you’re going to be adding 10 good size bratwurst into the pot):

Onions, butter, and beer… oh my!

Next add the brats and the seasonings to the mix and simmer on medium to medium-high for 12 minutes.

We’re On the Way!

Once the brats have been in the bath for 12 minutes, it’s time to get them over to our medium-high grill.  Put the brats on the grill and cook for 5-10 minutes (depending on heat of the grill).  Do not keep flipping your brats from side to side as this will not allow for even cooking.  Put them on the grill and leave them alone.  When they’re halfway done… flip them and leave them until they’re done!

Fired Up!

While the brats are on the grill, leave the onions cooking in the beer mixture over medium low as this will make a great topping for the brats once they are done.  The onions simmering with the beer and seasonings (particularly the red pepper flakes) will add some good heat and flavor… the red pepper infused into them will really build heat with each bite.

If done properly, you should end up with something like this:

Good To Go!

Onions Too!

It’s been a fun journey and now you’re ready to eat.  Use toppings of your choice.  While hot dog buns are acceptable, check with your local bread monger to see if they carry actual brat rolls as they are ideal.  If you try these… please come back and leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Happy cooking, and enjoy eating!

Beginning to End!