Saturday, November 7, 2009

La Cuisine Gourmande des Tout-Petits

Oh how I love that the French can make anything sound beautiful. So the title, for those French impaired translates- "Healthy, Gourmet Meals for the Little Ones"
This week I was reading a few emails. I came across an email of my husband's. He belongs to Memphis Online Garage Sale which is where we got Landon's toy box from last year. I have to say the site has been a little gold-mine this week!
I have had my eye on a very pricey baby food making contraption for some time. The French make it, which was even more interesting. It is called the Beaba Cook.
This particular machine retails for $150.00. Yes, you read right. What does it do? It steams, puree's, and even reheats fresh baby food. So, I have read the reviews and most are pleased by this all-in-one baby food maker.
Get this, I got mine for $30.00!!!!!!!!!! How excited was I when I emailed the lady selling it and found out it was still available, brand new-never used, and still in the box! Of course it was a done deal and hubby picked it up on Friday.
To celebrate my new machine (I love gadgets, yes I do!), I cleaned out the kitchen pantry, cabinets, and fridge/freezer in preparation for a day of cooking.

Our freezer is now full of Lou's new baby foods. She is now 8 months so I got to add more variety to the mix including; tofu, chicken, fish, and other delicious items!

I used some prior recipes and some new ones that I hope Lou will love. Most of the new recipes came from (love her!)

So here is the run down of Lou's new menu:

1. Silken Tofu, Avocado, and Banana (just blend-no need to cook it, yay!)
2. Plums and Bananas
3. California Style Veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots)
4. Sweet potatoes, green peas, green beans, and carrots
5. Pears
6. Pears and Green Beans
7. Peaches
8. Broccoli, Tofu, and Apricots
9. Talapia, potatoes, carrots, and peas
11.Celery Root and Potato Puree'
12.Carrot, Sweet Potato and Chicken
13.Lima Bean, Corn, and Chicken
14.Turkey and Pumpkin
15.Carrot and Cauliflower Puree'
16.Veggie Stew (white beans with california veggies)
17.Edamame and Cod
18.Tropical fruit blend
19.Fruit Medley
20.Cannelini Beans, Spinach, and yellow carrots

I think there is more but that is what I can remember I made today. Tomorrow I am roasting some butternut squash and blending some yellow squash gratin with another veggie since Lou didn't seem to love the gratin by itself. I will also be adding some beef to the veggie stew mix to make beef stew.
Whew! Long post, long day, but well worth it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fools Toffee=Bite

Since it is fall and time for all things sticky and sweet (or so it seems). I thought I would try my hand at making some toffee. Not just any toffee would do. It had to be covered in chocolate as well. Off I went to search for a decent recipe that didn't take too much effort, but tastes like it does.
I got my recipe from

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
36 saltines
11 1/2 oz chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds

-Lay out 36 saltine crackers on a foil lined baking sheet with an edge (10x15 is what recipe calls for I used a 9x12 with no problems).
-Melt the butter and sugar in a sauce pan. Cook for 4 minutes on high stirring it (when working with sugar always use a wooden spoon!)
-Once cooked for 4 minutes, pour over the crackers and place in a 375 degree oven for 5 minutes.
-When you remove it from the oven immediately top with chocolate.
-Once the chocolate has melted spread with the back of a spoon or off-set icing spatula.
-Sprinkle on nuts.
-Place in fridge to harden for at least 2 hours, overnite is probably best.
*For quicker set, use freezer!

Since I didn't have saltines in the house the night I decided to try this out, I used club crackers. Though it turned out good, it was too buttery (yes, really Paula Deen you can have too much butter). Needless to say hubby ate it all the same. I topped it with semi-sweet chocolate and almonds for that batch.
A few nights later I revisited the recipe with reduced sodium saltines. This turned out much better. I also used dark chocolate and chopped hazelnuts. I much preferred my second batch.

I gave this recipe a BITE for a few reasons.
1. I used a 9x12 baking sheet
2. I first used Club crackers and then reduced sodium saltines
3. I melted my chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 second intervals and stirred in between. Once all were melted and the toffee was out of the oven, I poured the melted chocolate over the toffee and spread it out evenly.

This is such a treat. I prepared the second batch mainly for a study session I had for a certification test last week. The girls loved it too! Hubby liked it so much he asked I make it again this week (I haven't yet though). It is really inexpensive to make and would be a great treat for the upcoming holiday gatherings.

Hope you try it and like it! The not too salty, not too sweet combination is delicious!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Roasted Vegetables=Apple

When thinking of something warm and inviting to top my barley risotto (see below for recipe), I came up with the idea of roasted veggies. I love roasted vegetables. I think the flavor is kind of sweet and still savory (think caramelization!)

It is fall and the weather here in Memphis, at least for the next few days is following the trend. The lows in the mornings are in the upper 40's and highs are in the 70's. Pleasant and mild! Just like these veggies!

Here is the recipe:

Sweet and Savory Roasted Vegetables

-1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed and cut into 1/2 pieces (each stalk gives you about three pieces when cut)
-6 carrots, peeled and cut on a diagonal in 1/2 inch (or so) pieces-this is rustic so do not get out the ruler!
-1 large sweet yellow onion cut into large pieces
-1 package (or equal to 1/2 pound or so) brussle sprouts-rinse them to remove sand and cut off bottom stem end and then slice in half (don't know em till you try em roasted!)
-1 package or bag of sliced mushrooms
-1-2 pints of grape tomatoes rinsed

For the Marinade
-1 cup olive oil
-1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
-1/2 cup dijon mustard
-1/2 cup honey
-2 tablespoons pepper
-1 teaspoon sea salt (if you prefer use Ms. Dash original blend)
*dressings and marinades are one of the few places I use salt, but it has to be sea salt for me!


-Put all cut up veg in a large mixing bowl-EXCEPT for TOMATOES, pour over marinade and toss all to coat evenly.
-Line a roasting pan or large casserole dish (9x12) with foil (easy clean up, yes mam!)-I double line mine.
-Place all veggies on the pan. but do not pour the marinade over them (too much marinade equals burnt veggies)
-Using a spoon lightly drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons of the marinade over the veggies.
-Reserve the remaining marinade for later in the process
-Heat the oven to 400 degrees
-Place the veggies in the oven for 30-45 minutes
-Half way through check the veggies and see if they look dry, if so place extra marinade over the top and continue roasting
-When the veggies have about 5-10 left (think fork tender) add the tomatoes
-Remove from oven when the tomatoes are split and softened
-Toss all veg in the roasting juices

They are ready to top the risotto or whatever you like. A couple of ideas would be over a baked sweet potato, whole wheat penne (no sauce needed), or as a side with lemon chicken (that recipe will be coming soon!)

I gave this an APPLE as it is my own recipe. It is savory, sweet, nutritious, and versatile! Feel free to substitute other veggies like bell pepper, zuchinni, squash, eggplant, sweet potato, cauliflower, or whatever you prefer. The method is just about the same for all the veggies you can think of!
* If you aren't up to making your own or don't have the ingredients on hand italian dressing or balsamic dressing is an easy fix for the marinade!

Slow Cooker Barley Butternut Risotto!=Apple

This is really my own creation. I went in search of an alternative to one of my favorites, risotto. It is so good but not so good for the hips!

I found a few recipes like this one:

Pearled barley is an excellent whole grain that is good for you. It has a nice chewy texture that is perfect for risotto. What makes this recipe so friendly is there is no standing over a pot of rice and stock and stirring for an eternity. It is healthy too as there is no cream, butter (unless you just have to have it), or added salt! I do not cook with salt very often, but find spices a good replacement for salt.

So here is my recipe:

-1 crockpot!
-2 cups of pearled barley (look for this on the organic or healthfood isle, it is a light brown color)
-2 32 oz containers of veggie stock
-1 container of Campbells V8 Golden Butternut Squash soup
-1 teaspoon minced roasted garlic
-1 teaspoom poultry seasoning
-1 teaspoon Ms. Dash Original Blend
-1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
-1 teaspoon oregano (I used dried, but you can use fresh if you have it just use 1/2 teaspoon)
-1 teaspoon french four spice
-1 teaspoon onion powder
-1 teaspoom garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
-1 tablespoon olive oil

Turn crock pot to high. Add stock and all spices, garlic, and olive oil.
Let liquid come to a simmer, add barley.
Turn crock pot to low setting (mine is the 10 hour setting on a Rival brand crock pot)
Put lid on slightly ajar to steam can escape.

Let the barley cook for about 6 hours. (I did this overnight, it was done at 4am.)
Check on it at least twice, stirring to make sure all grains are seperate.
When all liquid is absorbed, add about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of the butternut squash soup.
Stir and turn off crock pot.
If it needs more liquid, add water to desired consistency.

This is not only yummy, but so good for you! Now if only Landon would eat this!

I gave this an APPLE for taste, consistency, and nutrition. Because I didn't follow a recipe, there was nothing I would change! Hopefully, my co-worker Meghan will find it delicious as well with the roasted veggies I prepared to top it (that recipe is next!)

What's for Breakfast!?!=Bite

For work this week, I thought I would approach breakfast and lunch a little different. Because I have an office mate who is nutrition minded like me (still trying to shed pounds, now that the baby weight is gone...), I decided to make enough for us both.

She found a recipe from her daily Prevention magazine email that I adapted.

Whole Wheat Cranberry-Orange Muffins
-1 tablespoon trans-free margarine or butter, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-2 cups whole wheat flour or whole grain pastry flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-3 tablespoons grated orange zest
-1 cup orange juice
-1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
-2 lightly beaten eggs
-1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
-1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

I gave this a BITE for a few reasons. I didn't have fresh cranberries, so I used dried. I also added 3/4 cup of rolled oats to the batter. I used fresh squeezed orange juice instead of bottled. I added more cinnamon than the recipe called for (1 teaspoon). I haven't tried them yet, but my hubby has and said they were good. I love the fact that these are made with whole wheat flour :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Menu Planning Monday

I thought this may help with planning my menu and passing on some of my adapted recipes. I got this idea from a friend of mine who started this last week (thanks Lindsey!). If you want more info please check out this great site !

Tonight 9/28/09:

Seared filet, sauteed cherry tomatos from the garden, and quick herbed risotto

Tuesday 9/29/09:

Filet Quesadillas with corn and black beans, served with mango salsa and fat free sour cream

Wednesday 9/30/09:

Daddy's Chili with mini corn muffins (recipe for muffins coming soon!)

Thursday 10/1/2009:

Yummy left over chili with queso fresco and corn chips

Friday 10/2/09:

turkey, bacon, cheddar wraps and sweet potato fries

* I made some mini cheesecakes at the end of last week that we are still enjoying this week. Bakerella is another fav site of mine. The recipe is here (I will be reviewing it and giving my spin a little later on!)

I had to alter my menu for Tuesday. Hubby decided to cut our jungle of a yard Tuesday after work. Since we had extra steaks he threw 2 more on the grill Monday night. This will make for a quick meal after he tackles the yard!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Toddler Eats that You Will Like Too!=Bite

*Sorry it has been a while. Mommy (me) has been sick and unable to cook. Luckily my mom and my husband's mom lended a helping hand while I was under the weather.

A new fav site of mine has to be
We love trying out new and quick recipes that maybe Landon will eat too.
Quesadillas are a quick fix dinner and the left-overs make a good lunch the next day with soup for mom!
Two recipes we have found lately:
Avocado and Cheese Quesadillas And Apple and Cheese Quesadillas

For the Avocado and Cheese
-You can use flour, corn, or the flavored tortillas-burrito size. (One tortilla in half is like a lunch portion and two tortillas one on top of the other is like a dinner portion)
-Just thinly slice an avocado and add as many or as few slices to your taste
-Sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese, we like the mexican 4 cheese blend
-I add some freshly ground black pepper to mine as well
-either fold over the tortilla or place another on top and heat like the directions below!

Directions for cooking both types of quesadillas:
Using either a quesadilla maker (too cool, we love ours!) or a large enough skillet to accomodate the tortilla and some cooking spray so it doesn't stick; heat the quesadilla until golden brown and the cheese melted through. Make sure to flip if using the skillet method. Watch them carefully so the cheese doesn't all ooze out though! If making multiple quesadillas, turn the oven on to 170 degrees to keep the quesadillas warm and crisp!

For the Apple and Cheese
- I like the multi-grain or wheat tortillas for this the best. It imparts a nutty flavor when heated.
- You can use thinly sliced cored red delicious apples (like paper thin) or applesauce. I liked the applesauce because you just spread like a 1/2-1 teaspoon on the tortilla.
-sprinkle with shredded cheese, we like a white cheese like a pizza blend for this mild quesadilla
-drizzle with 1/4 teaspoon of honey
-either fold over or top with another tortilla and heat like the directions above!

I gave this a BITE for the slight variations I made with tortilla types, cheeses, and the addition of spices. Give it try. I think you will see on a night or afternoon when you just aren't in the mood for a heavy meal, these hit the spot!

Not only are they good, you are sneaking in highly nutrient ingredients. Avocados are full of those good fats that kids and adults need more of (in moderation of course). If your little ones don't care for fruit, the apple and cheese quesadillas will at least sneak in some fruit in a clever, cheesy package!

Try the Progresso Zesty Southwestern Style Veggie Soup with two pieces of quesadilla for lunch! It is filling and half a can (a serving of soup) is zero weight watchers points (if you follow that). Otherwise, the soup is 60 calories and 0.5gm of fat! Yummy!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Picky Eater Beware!!!

Since we are trying to introduce new foods to Landon that are school lunch friendly, I have done a little research. Long gone are the days of PB&J with the crust cut off. Kids now have peanut allergies and peanut butter is a banned substance.
So off in search of other replacements for chicken nuggets since that seems to be most of what Landon's diet consists of.
I found a blog that had an item on it I just had to try called Mochi. No, it is not some coffee creation at Starbucks (but, who doesn't love Starbucks? I digress). Mochi is made of brown rice and puffs when baked. We got the plain brown rice Mochi and the cinnamon raisin. I made some last night. They are chewy and golden and pretty good. Since Landon loves pizza and they make a pizza flavor, I am in search of it! These little bites are full of goodness!!!

Saving $$$$

A few posts back I showed how to freeze cubes of pureed fruits/veggies for baby food. While Shopping at Whole Foods yesterday I did a little research. Whole Foods carries frozen baby food cubes. 6 of them for $7.49. WOW!!!!! So glad I make my own. I buy a bag of frozen peas (for example) for $1.19 (a large bag at that). I can fill 6 ice cube trays, if not more, with peas alone. Now, I am terrible at math but even I can tell when I saved some dough!

Here is Lou loving her blueberries I made for her! Sorry it is blurry she was laughing when I took this!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mexican Chicken Spaghetti="Bite"

A few weeks ago we attended a family get together. My cousin Chris has a sweet wife Kathy who made Mexican chicken spaghetti. I am used to rotel chicken casserole, but the change was welcomed. It was yummy!
Because it is raining and we cannot get in the pool, I decided to give this recipe a stab. I didn't have hers written down, but remembered the basic ingredients. Those ingredients are:

-4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless); boiled and shredded
-2-3 ribs of diced celery???
-2 medium size jars or 1 large and 1 small jar of diced red pimentos
-2 cans cream of mushroom soup
-1 lb of spaghetti
-1 green bell pepper
-I am sure salt/pepper to taste

I gave this a "Bite" because I added:
-1 tbsp Mexcian Oregano
-1 tbsp Ms. Dash Southwest Chipotle spice
-I omitted the celery (we do not care for it)
-replaced cream of mushroom for cream of chicken soup (Dennis hates mushrooms)
-1 small can of diced green chiles
-1 red gypsy pepper from my garden
-2 red hot cherry peppers from my garden (we like it hot!)
-1 orange tequila sunrise pepper from my garden
-1 cup frozen onion
-1 lb of linguine
-1/3 cup milk to thin mixture
-2/3 cup pasta cooking liquid (or if you didn't reserve any, extra milk can be added)
-1 cup sharp shredded cheese

-So boil the pasta to aldente , and strain. (5-6 minutes)
-Sautee the onions and peppers with a tsp of olive oil and add the seasonings
-In a bowl, mix the shredded chicken, pimentos, chiles, onion and peppers, and 1/2 cup cheese with the cream of chicken soup
-Add the milk and cooking liquid depending on how thin/thick the mixture is
-Mix in the pasta, combine all ingredients
-Pour into a casserole dish and top with 1/2 cup shredded cheese

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake until spaghetti is hot and bubbly and thickened.

Enjoy! I am thinking a side of fresh golden pineapple or watermelon would be a nice addition. A veggie of corn would be great as well.

*Since this is my first attempt to make this I will let Dennis leave a comment with his thoughts!!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Baby Food Tips!

All is going well in the land of baby food! Lou loves her food. her daycare teachers tell us daily that she gobbles it up! This is also evidences by her 2lb weight gain in a month!!!
Thus far we have tried carrots, peas, green beans/applesauce combo, spinach, parsnips, peaches, pears, sweet potatos, corn, and today the addition of blueberries with the peaches. We have yet to try the cherries!
Over the weekend I made a month's worth (or just about) of baby food. My cousin's sweet wife, Kathy had given us some of her surplus a month ago. Because of my busy schedule I was not able to make my own when Lou started eating it. We have gone through most of cousin's Garret's surplus and I decided it was time to make my own!
It is very economical and really only takes about 2 hours.
The process is simple. Take fresh or frozen veggies and fruit, cook them, puree them, and if needed strain them (corn, blueberries, and cherries). After letting them cool I put them in ice cube trays and freeze them. Unfrozen, the food lasts for 72 hours in the fridge. Frozen, it lasts up to 3 months. I do season lightly with salt and pepper so that Lou will be used to seasoned food! If the food is of a bland variety (green beans for example), I add 100% fruit juice (apple usually) as cooking liquid to impart flavor.

Here are pictures!

So as you can see the ice cube trays are full of yummy goodness for Lou! When I am getting ready for the next day I take out 2 cubes (which is a perfect serving) and defrost overnight in the fridge.
I found the most perfect containers to hold her food with hot pink lids. I found them in the dollar bin at Target. There were 6 containers for $1. How great is that!?!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thyme for Yorkshire Pudding=Bite

This recipe is from "5-Ingredient Fix" on Food Network. When I first saw the recipe, I was thinking it was a sweet dish. I was wrong. Yorkshire pudding is a savory pop-over type creation. It is delectable! I gave it a "bite" because I did not have any fresh or dried thyme leaves in the garden/pantry.

Lesley's Take: I have made this side several times and used fresh lemon basil, dried parsley, and dried bouqet garni (mix of herbs). All substitutions worked well.

1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup olive oil (or pan drippings from a roast if you are cooking it)

*Cook's note: olive oil can replace cooking fat if none is available
Sift the salt and the flour into a large bowl. Add half the milk and all the eggs into the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Whisk in remaining milk, and then the thyme. Cover; let batter sit at room temperature, for at least 30 minutes, ideally 45 minutes.
Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Divide the rendered beef fat or oil, 1/4 cup total, between a 12-cup nonstick muffin tin or 12-hole Yorkshire pudding tray. Heat in oven until the fat is almost smoking hot. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any fat drippings - this will help prevent any oven fires!
Uncover batter and whisk one more time. Pour batter into each cup, about 3/4 full and immediately place back into the oven. The batter will sizzle when being poured into the hot fat. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until risen and golden brown in color. Turn oven off and leave puddings in the oven for just 5 more minutes to help set. Remove puddings and serve while hot and puffed

* These are great for soaking up gravy or any pan sauce with roast, steak, and pork. I am sure chicken would go well too. I serve them with meat and a veggie for a complete meal. Love it!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gadgets-Everyone should have this!

Being a "food snob" (as a co-worker calls me), I like my gadgets. I like spatulas, scoops, knives, wisks, etc...
One of my go-to tools is the ice cream scoop. Not just the regular size though, the mini one. The scoop is not just for ice cream though. It makes the perfect chocolate chip cookie (round, uniform, and all the same size). It is the perfect scoop for mini-muffin tins. And, as mentioned in the Oreo Truffle Recipe, makes pretty uniform truffles too!
I got mine at the William Sonoma Outlet (we are lucky to have this in Memphis!). It is spring loaded, stainless steel, and very durable! These mini scoops are available almost anywhere you can get a kitchen gadget.
Pick one up, I am sure you can find a use I haven't thought of yet! If you do, please share it!

From the Costco Cookbook-Oreo Chocolate Truffles="Apple"

My mother-in-law gave me the Costco Cookbook about 6 months ago. It has recipes from Food Network personalities as well as people from Top Chef, even Katie Joel (soon to be ex of Billy Joel, but that is for another blog :).
Anyways, I have made this recipe from Kraft Kitchens once before and it was a hit with my work crowd. Dennis needed a treat for today, so last night I went back to this no-bake sweet. It is as good, if not better than I remember.

Lesley's Rating=Apple

Oreo Chocolate Truffles

1 18oz bag of plain oreos
1 80z package of softened cream cheese
2 8 oz bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips

-Simply place the cream cheese in a mixer (I have a kitchenaid stand mixer, but a hand-held will do just fine). Using the beater attachment (not wisk), blend the cream cheese until smooth.

-Either crumble up the oreos with a rolling pin in a gallon freezer bag OR if you have the stand type mixer throw them in 5-6 at a time and blend (they crumble without any effort in the stand mixer).

-Once the cream cheese and oreos are well mixed to the consistency of thick brownie batter, place in fridge to set for about 20 minutes.

-Using a small spoon or mini ice cream scoop (heck even the large end of a melon baller); scoop out the mixture, roll to form a ball and place on a wax paper line cookie sheet or tray.

-Again place the formed balls back in the fridge while you melt the chocolate.

-Using the double-boiler method, melt the chocolate chips (both bags). Once melted you are ready to dip!

-I used a wooden kabob skewer to dip the balls in the melted chocolate until coated.

-Drag the bottoms of the truffles on the side of the chocolate bowl to get off the excess.

-Place on the wax paper lined tray.

-Once all are dipped, place in freezer over-night (makes about 24 truffles).

-When ready to serve, take out of the freezer 5 minutes in advance. And then eat!

*These are good frozen too!

Happy Eating!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gadgets for First Foods!

Lou is 4 months old now and we have started her on rice cereal and stage one fruits. Last week I tried out a new gadget and I love it! No mess, no fuss!
It is the Boon Squirt spoon. You simply place the food in the bulb and when ready to feed squeeze and out comes the perfect amount! I don't think this will work so well with stage 2 foods or thickened cereal preparations but for the first stages and thinned cereals it works great!
It comes in hot pink and orange. Of course, for my little girl, it had to be hot pink. I am thinking we might even need another one!
The cool part is the spoon has a cap so when you are done you can place the cap on and pop it in the fridge. Or, when on the go, I think this would a great alternative to the baby food jar and spoon in the diaper bag.
Here it is:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Aida's Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad="Bite"

Ask Aida is a show featured on the Food Network. I tested her corn salad over Memorial Day weekend as a replacement for coleslaw. What I found was not only is the salad a great replacement for slaw, but a staple for summer meals (no oven required ladies!)

So here is Aida's Recipe:

For the dressing:
1 1/2 cups packed fresh cilantro
1/2 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salad:
4 ears corn, kernels removed (about 3 cups)
1 1/2 pounds grape tomatoes, halved (about 3 cups)
1 pound fresh mozzarella, diced
2 medium avocados, diced
Combine the dressing ingredients in a blender, using 2 teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste; process until smooth. Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Lesley's Take:
-Ok, NIX the dressing. There is too much cilantro in it and placing cilantro in a blender is a no-no as it makes the cilantro turn bitter (burns it actually). If cilantro is your thing, I would suggest to cut the amount in half , tear by hand and throw it in dressing at the end!

Instead try my dressing, or heck use a bottle of Italian, Balsamic, or Rasberry Vinegrette. It will still be yummy.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lime or lemon or orange juice (fresh or bottled is OK!)
2 tablespoons fresh zest of lime, or lemon, or orange.
1-2 tablespoons of creamy dijon mustard (or mix 1 tbsp of mayo with 1 tbsp regular mustard, I prefer the creamy dijon though)
1/4 cup of honey

-Use 3 cups frozen corn (1/2 white corn and 1/2 yellow) thawed or cook from frozen in a skillet (roasting it bascially) until slightly brown and cooked evenly.
-Cut the grape tomatoes in half
-If you like avocado, add it on top of the salad at the end, do not mix it in with other ingredients as it does not keep well and turns brown (oxidizes) quickly. If you are not a fan of avocado or do not have it on hand, the salad is good without it.
-Fresh mozzarella is best, but if you have shredded, throw it in.

We have eaten this salad topped with grilled chicken, roasted turkey breast, grilled salmon, and next on the list is with steak. We have even thrown in pasta! It is great as a side or a main even without meat.

Try it and let me know if you like it! Comments always appreciated! If you tried it and tweaked it, let us know your take on it!


I like to cook. Some people...not so much. So what I do is take a recipe (from books, foodtv, web sites-all of which will be given credit!), test it, tweak it, and rate it for those who like the no muss, no fuss approach to figuring out what's for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! I also will offer tips along the way for preparing meals for a crowd, sneaky nutrition for kids meals like carrot mac n' cheese (and if my 4 year old ate it!), preparing homemade baby food (saves you $$), and many others!

Looking at the time I have and how often I can give my words of wisdom (having been there and cooked that), I will share a new recipe with my test, tweaks, tips, and rating once a week. Sooner, if time stands still.

So the way this will work is each week I will share a recipe I have tested. If I feel that no tweaking was needed I will give it an "apple" rating. If I made changes (due to taste, not having the needed ingredient handy, etc), I will give it a "bite". If I tested it and I felt it was not worth my time to make or didn't care for it, I will say it was "rotten" (harsh, I know, but it goes with the theme).

How bout them apples???