Saturday, March 29, 2008

Three Bean and Corn Salad with Salsa Vinaigrette

If you invite me to a potluck barbecue, chances are I'm bringing this. I love it because it's easy, it's healthy, and it's so good. The original recipe came from a chef on the Today show a few years ago, but I've made a couple of changes.

1 can each kidney beans, Great Northern beans, and black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
3 green onions, chopped
1 bell pepper (any color), seeded and chopped
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup tomato salsa
2 to 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a bowl, combine all the beans with the corn, green onions and bell pepper. Mix well.

2. In a small bowl*, whisk together the oil, salsa, vinegar, garlic and cumin. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and stir to mix. Let stand for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.

4. Just before serving, garnish with cilantro.

*I put all of the dressing ingredients into a jar, put the lid on and shake it up- especially if I'm making this ahead of time or taking it somewhere, since I can just leave it in the jar until I'm ready to use it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


So, I was in the Mart of the Wal persuasion today, picking up a few things, and I found myself in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle looking for shredded carrots. I did not find shredded carrots, but you know what I did find? Pre-sliced onions. Who on earth buys a pre-sliced onion? Especially at two or three bucks a pop? Who is that supremely lazy or knife-challenged? One might argue that it is not much different from shredded carrots, but I would. Shredding carrots is a pain in my butt. I have no fancy food processor which shreds them for me, and so my options are really to cut them into tiny matchsticks or grate them on my box grater, thus not producing a substantial enough section of carrot to truly be a shred. But slicing an onion? Takes about ten seconds, a minute if you truly suck at it. I posed the "who buys a pre-sliced onion" question to the hubs at dinner, and here's what we came up with: If you own no knives and are on your way to a barbeque in which you are expected to bring sliced onions for topping burgers and the person who is hosting the barbeque also has no knives and you can't afford to spring for a knife, you might buy a pre-sliced onion. Or if you have no fingers. Or hands. Or arms.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mmmm.... Cake.

For my daughter's birthday, I decided to be A Real Mom and make a cake. In all honesty, I decided to do it because A. I'm cheap and B. last year we got cupcakes from a bakery and I was totally pissed about the crapola decorating job they did that was SO NOT WHAT I ASKED FOR. So, this year, I would do it myself. Let me first say this: I am a good baker, as we have established in previous posts. But, I rarely make cake and I don't think I've ever decorated one before. So, naturally, I decided to take it on the day before my daughter's birthday party. Because that makes sense.

My daughter's party was on a Saturday. So, mid-morning Friday I decided to bake the cake so it would have ample time to cool before I decorated it. I pulled out the boxes of cake mix, prepped my pan, mixed everything up, poured it into the pan, and sent it happily into the oven. About 40 minutes later, I pulled out a lovely, huge and delicious-smelling cake. I let it cool for a little while, then attempted to remove it from the pan. I reached into my bag o' cooking-show-learned tricks and put a sheet pan on top of the cake before inverting it. Then I tried to lift off the pan. The cake was not moving. Hijinx ensued, and this is what happened to the cake:

Apparently, simply greasing the pan is not enough if you hope to actually take the cake out of the pan. You know, like for serving it. Mary called just then, and she was able to school me in cake making/decorating 101. She informed me that if one hopes to remove a cake from a pan, after greasing and flouring a pan one should line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. So, I ran back to the store for cake mixes #3 & 4, came home and started over. Mary knows her stuff- this time it worked like a charm!

After a few hours of cooling, it was time for me to attempt the cake decorating. My toddler couldn't decide between a flower cake and a Funshine Bear cake, so I made a flower cake and stuck a couple of Care Bear figurines on it the next day.

SO much better than what the bakery did last year!

This is art.

Highly edible, delicious art.

Let's just be honest: I rock at cake decorating.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Easiest Dessert EVER.

And it's delicious, too!

Here's what you do:

BUY: 1 Angel Food Cake bar
1 carton of Cool-Whip
1 bag of frozen berries (I like the mixed berries, but it's really your choice)

When it's time for dessert, pour the frozen berries into a small saucepan. Add a little fruit juice (or fruit-flavored juice, whatever you have on hand will work), a spoonful of sugar, put the pot on the stove and crank the burner up to medium-high. Stir it a little and then let it do its thing. The fruit will break down and start to get all bubbly. Add a little cornstarch, stir it in, drop the heat to medium-low-ish and let it do its thing again. Now, slice the angel food cake bar, putting one slice in each person's bowl. Go back to the fruit sauce. If it's thick enough for you, pour it over the angel food cake. If it's not, add some more cornstarch, stir it in and give it a minute to thicken up. Once you've poured the fruit compote-y-ness over the cake, top with Cool-Whip. Viola! You're done!

I made this up about a year and a half ago and everyone I've served it to just oohs and ahhs over it. (I'm sure plenty of other people have come up with it before me, but that's when I figured it out.) There's roughly 82,000 variations on this, it takes about ten minutes, and it's delicious. I think I'm in love.