corn salsa with cilantro

Summer is about being outside. Because around here, winter lasts for like nine months. Not even kidding. So when it warms up, we go out. We cook outside, work outside, play outside, sleep outside, and eat outside. Grilling becomes second nature and any side dish that pairs with the dark earthy taste of charbroil, makes for happy tastebuds.
This corn salsa makes for especially emotive tastebuds. Because cilantro.
Cilantro, to me, takes like summer. Fresh, clean, bright. The more the merrier!
This salsa can be paired with a bowl of tortilla chips or served all on it’s own as a side salad.
Enjoy!

CORN SALSA WITH  CILANTRO

2 15oz cans of yellow corn, drained
1/2 red onion, diced
2 sweet red peppers, chopped
1 15 oz can black beans, drained
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, diced
1/4 cup lemon juice (or lime!)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

In a large mixing bowl gently blend the corn, onions, peppers, black beans, and cilantro. A soft spatula works best—you don’t want to smash the beans and corn together. Set aside.
Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper together in a small dish or dressing jar, and then drizzle over the corn mixture. Stir well to coat and then refrigerate before serving.

 

what I want for mother’s day—a list

Mother’s Day is a week away.
I know this because Target has a massive display of cards that says so. I probably would have forgotten otherwise. Also, Target has several end-caps full of whimsical gift ideas that are sure to delight every mom in your life. Like coffee mugs and sticky notes that say things like “Beautiful” “Lovely” and “Breathe.”
They’re nice. But they’re not on my list of things I want for Mother’s Day.
Do you have a list?
Mine is long. And it’s kind of unlikely that I’ll get anything on it. But just in case you’re looking for ideas— *cough* *cough*—well, here you go.

• The knowledge that I’m getting this Mom stuff right—the certainty of it.
• Freedom from the endless cycle of pants through my closet that fit and then don’t and then do and then don’t and then do and then don’t . . . .
• More sleep.
• Less fear over what could happen to my tiny Loves in the course of a day, week, month, lifetime . . . minute.
• A minute to pee. In privacy.
• The ability to articulate my thoughts without excessive quantities of emotion. Especially when talking about babies. The future. And food.
• More time to write, garden, sleep, read, tuck my babies in, eat, sleep, shower, watch my babies sleep, sleep, and clean the fridge.
• A clean fridge.
• Laundry that stays done.
• Landry that stays folded.
• Laundry that folds itself.
• No laundry.
• Strawberries that aren’t on “the dirty dozen” list.
• More kisses and hugs from my Littles.
• Fewer concerned looks when I forget to wear makeup.
• The ability to run without my backside slapping my legs.
• The promise that my Mom will live forever—because that’s how long I’m going to need her. Also my Dad.
• The ability to love perfectly. Courageously. Selflessly.
• The ability to walk down stairs silently. Also open doors silently.
• The eradication of the stomach flu from the face of the earth for all eternity future.
• All the coffee.
• Forest animals who clean my kitchen.
• A place for all the stuff.
• Elimination of the word “should.”
• Longer summers.
• Deeper stronger faith.
• Cashew carmel cluster ice-cream in my freezer right . . . now.
• More kissing practice. (You can always get better at that).
• No more bullying—of anyone. Anywhere. Ever.
• Groceries that put themselves away. In my clean fridge.
• The right words to explain how thankful I am, how blessed I feel, how emotional I get, how inadequate I feel to fill this honored, wonderful, holy, fearful, beautiful, messy, broken, ordinary position of being mama to my people. Every. Blessed. Day.

Happy Mother’s Day my fellow moms—you who love on children across the world whether they are yours by birth, by adoption, by association, by relation, or by the outpouring of love you so graciously extend. Thank you for doing your part, however great or small, to give the world these little people. There is no such thing as other people’s children—we are all moms.

I’m draping you in purple

This could be an unpopular post. Forewarning. Also, it’s not really a foodie post. Ah well. Good to break format once in a while.

875097-purple-wallpaper

Two things happened yesterday. A MUCH prayed for baby was born to a friend of mine—healthy and well, despite some early indications that it would not be so.
And the artist Prince died.

The contrast of these two things struck me this morning. I watched brief clips of people flooding the streets singing Prince’s music, weeping, while the city of Minneapolis draped itself in purple. And I thought how interesting it is, that we take so personally, so intimately, the loss of someone we never truly knew, because of how his work impacted our lives. And it made me think about how we value those around us.

Is value imparted because of how a person made us feel? Or because of the work they contributed to the world? Or because of who they knew? Is the life of Prince more valuable than the life of the baby that was born yesterday?

. . . My perspective is different because my heart was not tied to Prince’s music the way so many of my peer’s hearts are. He was amazing! And I am certain, now, that I missed out. I wish my teen years had been a little more touched by his work. But my perspective lends me a emotional distance. And here’s what I believe: Every life should be draped in purple.
Not because of what we bring with our accomplishments (or the lack of them). Not because of who we know (or don’t). Not because of the various social media votes we receive in all their numerous forms. But because of the intrinsic value placed on us from before the dawn of time by the hand of God. (This is the probably-unpopular part of the post I warned you about). I believe this with my whole heart. Every life, no matter how small, accomplished, flawed, broken, criminal, or deserving of death . . . no matter how celebrated, revered, awarded, or enthroned, has value. Only because God made it and God can redeem it. Even the very worst. Because, if I can’t believe this, then there is no hope. We are all capable of the very best—and the very worst.
So here’s what I’m doing today. I’m draping you all in purple. Every face I see today. Every voice I hear. Every man, woman, child, and unborn baby. I’m throwing that royal color around you in my heart and mind. Your life has intrinsic value. You are beautiful and loved and important. You are worth singing in the streets for. You are worth illuminated bridges and buildings.
You matter because God said so.
And I’m pretty sure He’s got a corner on the market when it comes to that kind of thing.
Right. I’m done. Off my soapbox.
Back to typical posts about my kitchen, things my kids say, and soup.
xo

carmelized sweet-potato and apple pie with sharp cheddar cheese in a rosemary-buttermilk crust

I’ve been making pie for three days straight trying to get this recipe right, you guys.

First there was the crust. Measurements were off, I overworked the dough and it went flat, too salty, etc . . .

Then once I got the crust right, the filling was wrong. I tried grading the sweet potatoes with the chopped apples but the texture was way off. Plus sweet potatoes are more dense than apples so they cook unevenly. Nasty.

But today, TODAY I GOT IT RIGHT.

 I am so excited about this pie.
It’s just a pie, I know, but in my dream world, when I open a pie shop and farmer’s market, this pie will be on the short and selective menu. That’s how good it is.

Close your eyes for a minute and I’ll take you there. . .

The glass door swings wide and a small brass bell jingles over your head as you cross the threshold. Someone across the room greets you with a smile—a wave maybe—and you instantly feel at home. Your people come here.

The floors are rough planks, comfortable and unpretentious, but the handful of tables are flung with white table cloths. Fresh. Like white linen on laundry day. Rustic chandeliers hang from the pressed-tin ceiling and the generous front windows spill sunshine across the spacious room.

But the smell of the place is what sticks with you. Baked goods. Like Grandma’s kitchen—or maybe your aunt’s. Fresh berry and fruit pies wait under the long glass counter and a chalkboard menu against one of the raw-brick walls assures you the variety isn’t lacking. Three stand out: Rhubarb and current pie with cardamon. Custard pear and raspberry. Caramelized Sweet-Potato Apple with Sharp Cheddar in a Rosemary-Buttermilk crust. You’ll have to think on it. Decisions are hard . . .

Every pie here is made from scratch, the crust mixed up with butter and buttermilk from local dairy farmer’s bounty. The fruit, herbs, and produce that fill the crusts are local and seasonal, and you wonder for a moment if maybe you can just live here. Eat pie forever. The oversized leather chairs in the corner windows would be fine. Add a book, a cup of coffee, and you’ll be just fine, thank you very much . . .
You decide on the Caramelized Sweet-Potato Apple with Sharp Cheddar in a Rosemary-Buttermilk crust. Almost like lunch, right? Pie for lunch. Totally legit. 

Okay. Open your eyes.
I promise to serve your pie warm when you arrive. 🙂 In the mean time, here’s the recipe so you can make your own.

Enjoy!

CARMELIZED SWEET-POTATO AND APPLE PIE WITH SHARP CHEDDAR CHEESE IN A ROSEMARY-BUTTERMILK CRUST

Let’s start with the crust. I used the Buttermilk Pie Crust recipe from my last post with the addition of:
1 teaspoon dried and crushed rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon savory herb blend (basil/oregano/onion/thyme)

Mix up two crusts and refrigerate while you work on the filling.

FILLING:
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
6 pie apples (Grannysmith work great!) peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons flour
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Over medium-high heat, melt butter in a flat-bottom pan and brown sweet potatoes until they begin to soften. Add apples and cook, covered, for a couple minutes. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, and salt to the pan and mix until the spices and sugar are well incorporated. Remove pan from heat and transfer the filling to a large mixing bowl. Add flour and mix well until juices thicken. Set aside and allow to cool a bit.

Roll out the bottom crust and press it into your pie plate.
Add cheese to the slightly-cooled fruit, spice, and apple mixture and stir until ingredients are well-mixed. Fill the prepared bottom crust with the fruit and potatoes, roll out the top crust and fit it to the top of your pie. Press the top and bottom edges together and then crimp. Poke a hole in the top crust to vent, and sprinkle with paprika.
Bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned over the top.
Allow to cool a bit before cutting—this will help the juices re-incorporate into the filling.

Harry Potter and buttermilk pie crust

Ever notice how what you’re reading influences what you eat and cook, or what you WANT to eat and cook?

I finally started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to my two older kids this weekend, and oh my goodness. SO. MUCH. FUN. Only a couple chapters into the first book and they are already picking up on the challenges of making good choices, courage, the reality that adults don’t always get it right, that life isn’t fair, and that doing the right thing is always the right thing.

And the food . . . Rowling got it. I love how she details food.
Bags of stale crips.
A can of tomatoes on toast for breakfast.
Fried bacon.
A package of squishy sausages in Hagrid’s pocket.
Candy and sweets with so many odd names and flavors I can’t even remember them all at the moment. Except those jelly beans of all different flavors—because Jelly Belly, obviously, have jumped on that train.
I need to write about food in my own stories some more . . .

Today is about pie, though. Rowling’s description of the pies and tarts at the Hogwart’s feast got me itching to try a new pie crust recipe I’ve been thinking about. Plus I made butter again this weekend, so there is both icy cold buttermilk and fresh butter in my fridge waiting for experimentation.

Hope you had a great weekend, friends.
Here’s to good books and good food.
Enjoy!

BUTTERMILK PIE CRUST
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup chilled buttermilk

In a food processor, whirl the butter, flour, and salt until crumbly. Then, one teaspoon at a time, add the buttermilk until a dough forms. The trick here is not to overwork the dough or let it get warm. You don’t want the butter melting into the dough, but rather staying rather crumbled within it—those butter bits are what will make the dough flaky when it bakes.

Note: these measurements make a single crust, so you’ll need to double the recipe for a top and bottom crust.

I prefer using wax paper or parchment paper to roll out pasty dough because it means I don’t have to try and scrape it from my counter top or risk over-flouring it. Also, refrigerate whatever dough you aren’t currently working with.

Lay the bottom crust in the plate and add the filling of your choice (I’m going with apple, cheddar, and sweet-potato today).

Roll out the top crust as you did with the bottom, fit over top the pie, trim any excess around the edges and crimp.

Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown across the top and bubbling. About 40 minutes or so. Allow to cool before cutting so the juices can re-incorporate.

For a full tutorial on how I use wax paper and crimping, check out my earlier pie crust recipe tutorial. —Different recipe, same method. 🙂

Sour Cream and Buttermilk Banana Muffins with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

You know when you set out to do something super healthy in the kitchen and then it goes completely sideways? My mission: Greek Yogurt Banana Bread. The final outcome: Sour Cream and Buttermilk Banana Muffins (with chocolate chips) and Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.

Oops.

Also, this brings up a very important question:
At what point does a muffin become a cupcake?
I would like an answer to this or I may not sleep tonight.

I can promise you though, every muffin/cupcake calorie accrued in these incredibly tasty healthy-turned-not-so-much treats earned me glowing smiles, shining eyes, and beaming praise from my people. So I’m going to say it was a successful mission. And hey, there are many different kinds of healthy. My heart was very healthy yesterday. Lots of hugs, sticky kisses, and frosting-bedecked cheeks to smooch. So it’s all good.

Enjoy!

SOUR CREAM AND BUTTERMILK BANANA MUFFINS WITH VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk (make your own!)
2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips (white chocolate chips would be amazing too!)

In a large mixing bowl or using a stand mixer combine butter, vanilla, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, sour cream, and buttermilk. Blend until smooth and all of the ingredients are incorporated. Add flour and chocolate chips and blend again. Scoop batter into greased (but un-lined) muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown around the edges and across the tops. Roughly 15 minutes, but adjust time accordingly as every oven is a little different.

Remove muffins from baking tin and allow to cool. While they are cooling, you can mix up the frosting.

VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

3/4 cup frosting
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups (or so) powdered/confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Soften butter and whip with vanilla. Add powered sugar using hand or stand mixer and adjust consistency of the frosting, alternating with cream and sugar, until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated and the frosting is to your liking.

Frost muffins/cupcakes generously and sprinkle with raw sugar crystals.

buttermilk ranch dressing

I have the distinct pleasure of weekly access to fresh raw milk from a local farmer friend of mine, and it has been so much fun figuring out all kinds of new ways to use it, besides yaknow, just drinking it. I’ve made yogurt, Kiefer, butter, and I skim off the rich heavy cream for my coffee. I’ve yet to try cheese, but it’s on my list, and today I’m using up the last of the buttermilk from my butter-making this week, in a salad dressing recipe.

If you’ve not made butter before, it’s as easy as (literally) whipping heavy cream. And it doesn’t even have to be raw. Take pint (or quart if you prefer) of whole cream and dump it into a mixing bowl. I use my stand mixer for this job but you can use a hand mixer, or even a glass jar with a tightly sealed lid to shake the cream rather than whip it. Add a bit of salt for flavor and whip on medium high until the cream thickens—first to whipped cream, and then past that to butter—which will separate, leaving behind buttermilk.

You’ll need about a cup or more of buttermilk for this recipe, which you can buy in your local grocery store’s dairy department. Or you can make your own butter, and use the leftover buttermilk. Either way is fine.

Enjoy!

BUTTERMILK RANCH DRESSING

This recipe starts with a base of mayo, and I’ve linked to this whole30 recipe before, but it truly is the most fantastic mayo recipe I’m aware of. It’s the one I return to over and over again. So go ahead and whip up a batch.

Once the mayo is ready, add to it:

1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon fresh pressed garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves (or fresh if you have them!)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dry dill weed (or fresh if you have it!)
2 tablespoons white cooking wine
1 cup buttermilk

Blend well and store in an air tight container.