Archive for October, 2010

October 31, 2010

Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salad

I signed up to bring a corn & black bean salad to my grandmother’s 81st birthday party yesterday where we were having a taco bar for dinner.  #1 – how awesome to celebrate 81 years?!  Go MaMa!   #2 – Taco bar?  Yes please.  I love mexican food.. and I love it even more when its MYO (make your own) and I can load up on guacamole and refried beans (yes, I’m admitting that).

Anywho, back to the real subject of the blog – the Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad.  I went out on the internet Saturday morning in search of 1) something with ingredients I mostly had on hand, 2) wouldn’t take a long time to prepare and 3) would ultimately be tasty (of course).  This was the winner!  I blended a few recipes together to get this one, and I was pleased with the outcome.

Before we get into the recipe, this is a good time to throw in a “lesson learned”.  When you can, ALWAYS decide what you’re going to be cooking BEFORE you go to the grocery store.  I like going to the grocery store, but I don’t enjoy hemming and hawing over what I’m going to buy and I most certainly don’t like buying stuff that I end up throwing away (=$$ in the trash can).  This isn’t to say that I always follow this advice… but I should.  I am much less stressed out when I know what my plan of attack is and have a grocery list in hand.  Knowing what you’re going to buy ahead of time also helps you pick the best place to shop.  Do I need something obscure (Harris Teeter or Fresh Market) or can I get it at Trader Joe’s?  Am I getting a lot of produce (Farmers Market or my Food Lion over on South Blvd…)?  You get the picture 🙂


Servings: Hmm… it fills a whole casserole dish?  You can easily cut this in half or in a quarter if you don’t want leftovers.


  • 1 lb frozen corn kernels (I got mine from Trader Joe’s for $1.50 or something)
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed  ($.69 each @ Food Lion)
  • Optional Veggies of your Choice!  I added..
  1. 1 jalapeno, diced
  2. 1 green bell pepper, diced
  3. 1/2 red onion, diced
  • Marinade / Sauce:
  1. 1 teaspoon of each:  salt, ground black pepper, white sugar, cumin, chili powder
  2. 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  3. 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Chopped Fresh Cilantro (~ 6-7 stems or 3ish tablespoons, totally up to you)


Empty bag of frozen corn kernels into skillet (I used my cast iron) on med-high heat and cook until browned on the outside.  Combine corn with rinsed black beans and the other diced produce directly in your casserole or serving dish.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the marinade.  Pour over the corn/beans/etc in the casserole dish and gently stir.  Spinkle the cilantro over top, cover and refrigerate!  Tastes best if done overnight, but you can certainly do a few hours ahead too.

You can take all sorts of variations on this (sauté the onions and or garlic with the corn first.. mix up the veggies.. etc).  I got the main recipe from (my favorite go-to site), but then incorporated the roasted corn from a Food Network recipe.


October 12, 2010

Germans and Swiss Folk Know How to Eat!

Kirk and I just spent two weeks in Germany and Switzerland – and boy, did we eat.  Not only did we eat a lot, we ate well.  As you can imagine, a lot of the foods relied on or were enhanced by their fresh breads, cheeses and meats like prosciutto or local dried beef.  On top of that, they use a lot of locally produced oils like Sunflower Seed Oil and Raps (made from another bright yellow flower).

Some of my favorite dishes or techniques that I never (or rarely) see here are:

  • PRETZELS!! Kirk will vigorously nod his head on this one, he probably already misses them).  Why have American bakeries not picked up on this fabulous european item?  We saw them in all sorts of variety.  Big, small – covered in salt, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, or a version of “everything”.
  • Herbed Butter. This was most widely served on steak, and it is FABULOUS.  This is on my to-do list of things to make.
  • Maggi Sauce. This is a European version of Soy Sauce and is made by Nestle.  You can get it at places like Fresh Market.  In Switzerland, it is served on most tables as a condiment and my Aunt uses it daily for cooking.  Delicious.  I brought a bottle back with me and am making salad dressing with it tomorrow night.
  • Knodle – This potato dumpling is served with gravy and is a popular dish at Oktoberfest.  We ate a ton!  Our friend Ralf made them for us too while we were visiting and we just couldn’t get enough. 

    Knodle with Red Cabbage and Braised Pork

  • Obatzda – This cheeseball made with Camebert and Blue Cheese is strong, but tasty.  An Americanized version uses Brie instead of Camebert.   Tastes awesome on one of those fresh soft pretzles!
  • Spaetzle – This is a twirly little pasta served with cheese and onions in a casserole form.  YUM.  Really.  And it is so easy to make.  Tyler Florence has a version that is a little different than what we made in the mountains, but it looks pretty similar. 

    Homemade Spaetzle

  • Kaseschnitte – Bread, Cheese, Sunny side up egg, Pesto, and Speck (bacon) – all in a little personal sized frying pan.  Does it get much better than that?  Nope, not in my world it doesn’t.. 🙂 
  • Racklette – Table top grill so each person can make their own meat and/or veggies and then you top it with a chesse that melts in a little pan under the grill.  Genious.  Only hitch is that the Racklette cheese can be kind of strong.  But I think you can use any kind of hard cheese that melts.
  • Fondue – This wasn’t my favorite, but my Aunt told me that most people (Americans) don’t like their version of fondue the first time.  It has both white wine and kirsch (cherry liquor) in it, on top of the strong cheese.  Day old bread and fondue sticks sitting around a table was still fun and filling though.  Maybe we’ll register for a fondue set so we can give it another go here at home 🙂

If you’re feeling a little experimental, give these a shot at home!  There are lots of recipes online.  I’ll post more when I tackle these myself back in the states.  Please post as you try these, or if you have more recipes to recommend!!

And I must say, although I thoroughly enjoyed the food abroad – there is no place like home.  Kirk and I are off to enjoy some Great Wall of China South as a welcome back to the US of A.  General Tso Chicken with All White Meat and Stir-fried, add Brocolli… here I come 🙂