Corn & Black Bean Salad with Grilled Pork

As we have already discussed, colorful food is pretty much always the best. Nutrition experts say that in order to ensure you’re getting the best range of nutrients, you should try to eat every color of the rainbow in your foods. We Americans really don’t have a lot of dishes we can take credit for that are incredibly colorful and good for you… we pretty much can boast hot dogs and fried chicken, neither of which are exceptionally high on the “eat this because it helps your health” meter. As I mentioned in my Greek Salad recipe, the Greeks are super well-known for being ultra health conscious in their food. However, today we are traveling to Mexico with a very classic Mexican dish known as corn salad. The cool thing about this is that it can be eaten hot, or cooked and then chilled and served cold, so it makes an awesome cookout side dish if you serve it without the meat.

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There are a lot of elements to this that actually work well on their own, so I’ll separate it out that way. Check the recipe at the bottom if you’re unsure about how to time it so it all comes out at the same time. For the pork, I used boneless pork chops. This is so easy guys, I mean really. All you do is rub both sides of the pork chops with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cilantro, and ground cayenne. (The cayenne is what adds the heat, so bear that in mind when seasoning. If you don’t really like your food spicy, leave it out altogether.) Then, just put them on a grill over medium heat and grill for about 6-7 minutes per side, or until the internal temp reaches 160 degrees. This recipe serves 4 people, so use 4 pork chops.

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To really make this fresh and delicious, I used fresh corn on the cob for the corn base for the salad. This recipe for grilled corn is so super good, so feel free to steal it from this recipe and just make this bangin’ corn on the cob for your next barbecue! The key is seasoning the corn and then grilling it, instead of just boiling it in a pot of water. The real magic is in a seasoned butter – soften about 3 tablespoons of butter and add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cilantro. (If you’re making the corn on the cob on its own, feel free to sub in whatever herbs you like!) Mix the seasonings into the butter and then slather it on 3 ears of corn. I have found that it’s easier to spread it on one side (as shown in the photo) and then use your hands to rub it around the whole ear.

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Once they are rubbed with the herb butter, wrap them tightly in aluminum foil and grill for about 15-20 minutes, over indirect heat, turning occasionally. Once it’s done, take it out of the foil and then cut it off the cob and set aside. The base of the salad gets made on the stove, not on the grill, so get a large skillet with about 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat. To the heated pan, add a diced bell pepper and either one diced yellow onion or one diced red onion. (The red onion gives more powerful flavor and more color!) Once these have sweated (about 2 minutes), add in 3 cloves of minced garlic, a drained can of black beans, and 4 diced Roma tomatoes. (If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, use a can of diced tomatoes, drained.)

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Stir this together and add two teaspoons of salt and pepper, a teaspoon of dried cilantro, and a half teaspoon of cayenne. (Use more or less depending on your preferred heat level!) Let simmer for about two minutes and then add your reserved corn. Give it a final stir and then plate it, topping each plate with a sliced pork chop. Top with freshly chopped cilantro!

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This is a total crowd pleaser and a great way to shake up dinner in the middle of the week! The whole thing can also be made inside on a griddle or on the stove, so it works for all seasons, but it’s really a great summer dish!

Full Recipe:

Mexican Corn & Black Bean Salad with Grilled Pork

Yield: 4 servings (8 if you are making it as a side and not a main dish.)

Ingredients:

3 ears of fresh corn, husked
3 tablespoons softened butter
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cilantro (to taste)

4 boneless pork chops
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, cilantro, and cayenne (to taste)

2 tbsp canola oil
1 bell pepper, diced
1 yellow or red onion, diced
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 can black beans, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt, pepper, cilantro, and cayenne (to taste)

Process:

1) Heat half of your grill to medium heat.

2) Combine softened butter and spices and spread over ears of corn. Wrap corn in aluminum foil and place over indirect heat on your grill. (Remember to turn every few minutes. Corn should be done after about 15-20 minutes.)

3) Rub pork chops with spices on both sides. Spray heated half of grill with cooking spray and then place pork chops on heated side. (Cook for approximately 6-7 minutes per side, or until internal temp reaches 160 degrees.)

4) In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil and add diced pepper and onion. Let sweat for two minutes, then add the garlic, beans, and tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, cilantro, and cayenne, to taste.

5) While salad is simmering, take corn off the grill and cut the corn off the cobs. Once it’s all cut, add into the salad, give it a final stir, and then turn off the heat.

6) Plate the corn salad and put a sliced pork chop on top of each plate. Serve immediately.

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Chicken & Pepper Mexican Rice

The other day I had an intense craving for chicken fajitas. Over the last year I have developed a real love for Mexican food, and fajitas are probably my favorite Mexican creation to make at home. I tore through my kitchen for the necessary ingredients and was disappointed to find that I had everything I needed – EXCEPT tortillas. Which are sort of the most necessary part of a fajita. Otherwise it’s just a pile of delicious chicken and vegetables.

*Bing.* Light bulb. It’s just a pile of delicious chicken and vegetables … until you add ANOTHER starch to it. And thus, the idea for this dish was born. All the goodness of fajitas, but on top of a bed of cilantro lime wild rice instead! This recipe serves two.

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Wild rice takes a little longer to cook than regular white rice, so you’ll want to get the rice going first. In a small saucepan, add 1/2 cup wild rice and a 1 cup of water plus a couple more tablespoons. Put it over high heat and then add 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, the zest & juice of one lime, 1/2 tsp cilantro, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover until all the water is absorbed. (Wild rice takes 20-25 minutes or so to cook.)

While you’re waiting for your rice to cook, dice 1/4 of an onion and 1/4 of a green pepper and set them aside. Then take one chicken breast and slice it into thin pieces.

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When your rice is nearly done, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat and then add your chicken to it. Spice the chicken by adding 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp cilantro, 1/2 tsp cayenne, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Toss to coat, and continue to toss occasionally to ensure even cooking.

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It should only take a few minutes to cook the chicken. Once it’s cooked through, add your diced onion and pepper, reduce heat to low, and cover.

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Allow this to simmer for a few more minutes to soften the onion and pepper, then uncover and add 1/2 cup of your preferred salsa. Stir this in, and then serve by plating the rice first between 2 plates and then dividing the chicken evenly between them on top of the rice. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and enjoy!

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Of course, you could always modify this by julienning the onions and peppers instead of dicing them and serving this all on nice flour tortillas with sour cream to make fajitas!

Full Recipe:

Chicken & Pepper Mexican Rice

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

Rice:
1/2 cup uncooked wild rice
1 cup plus 2 tbsp water
Zest & juice of 1 lime
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cilantro
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Chicken:
1 large chicken breast, cut into thin slices
1 tbsp oil
1/4 onion, diced
1/4 green pepper, diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cilantro
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish.

Process:

1) In a small sauce pan, combine all ingredients for rice over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 20-25 minutes or until water is cooked through.

2) In a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and chicken. Season with spices listed and toss to coat, continuing to toss occasionally to ensure even cooking.

3) After about 3 minutes, once chicken is cooked through, add diced onion and pepper and cover. Let simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes.

4) Once onion and pepper have softened, uncover and stir in 1/2 cup salsa. Allow this to heat through for about a minute and then remove from heat. Plate the rice first and then add the chicken on top, and garnish with cheddar cheese. Serve immediately.

*Super Bowl Week* Beef Taco Crescent Rolls

It doesn’t seem like that long ago we were all counting down the days until the start of pre-season, and now suddenly the ever-anticipated Super Bowl is upon us again!

I’m a huge football fan, and of course I love to cook for people, so my house is normally a gathering place for Super Bowl every year, since I love to entertain! I’m going to focus this week on some awesome recipes for entertaining on the big day, so keep checking back for more new ideas!

I decided to kick things off (pun intended!) with a great finger food with a Mexican flair – all the goodness of tacos, wrapped up in easy to eat crescent rolls! As I already stated in my Handheld Apple Pie recipe, I just adore the versatility of crescent roll dough!

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Wrapped up in delicious crescents is one of many ways to use this recipe – it would also make a fabulous hearty dip for chips or you could even use it to make sliders or full size sandwiches. However, I really like the neatness and compactness of the crescents.

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees and lining two baking sheets with non-stick foil. Then, coat a frying pan in about 1 tbsp of oil and brown about 1/4 pound of ground beef in the pan over medium low-heat. (2-3 minutes.)

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While the meat is browning, dice up 1/2 of a green pepper and 1/4 of a red onion.

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Once the meat has browned, turn the heat down to low, add the onion and pepper, and sprinkle with seasonings. I used 1/2 tsp salt and then cheated a little by using 2 tsp of McCormick’s “Perfect Pinch” Mexican spice mix. If you don’t have a Mexican spice mix, you can do 1/2 tsp each of cayenne, garlic powder, cumin, and cilantro.

Simmer

Stir to combine, and then cover and let simmer for about 3 minutes.

While that is cooking, prepare your crescent dough. You’ll need two packages (8 crescents each) of the dough; Unroll each section of dough and separate out the triangles so they are all lying flat your prepared baking sheets.

After you’ve let your beef, onions, and peppers simmer, remove the lid and add 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa. (I personally like medium, but feel free to kick it up a notch with a hotter salsa!) Stir this in and then remove the pan from the heat.

Assemble the crescents by spooning about 1 tbsp of the filling onto each crescent, sprinkling cheddar cheese on top, and then rolling them up.

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MAKE OR BREAK TIP: Do each crescent one at a time! (Place the filling, sprinkle cheese, roll up.) The heat from the filling will make the dough soft very quickly, and if you let it sit too long, it will become too thin and fragile to roll up properly!

Once all the crescents are rolled, bake them for 12 minutes or until they are golden brown. Let them cool for a minute or two, and then serve with sour cream!

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They really are fabulous, and there’s just enough filling inside to give it a nice kick without being messy!

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Like I said earlier, feel free to try the filling served with tortilla chips or on sliders, too!

Full Recipe:

Beef Taco Crescent Rolls

Yield: 16 rolls

Ingredients:

2 packages crescent roll dough
1 tbsp oil
1/4 pound ground beef
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp McCormick Mexican spice mix (or 1/2 tsp each cayenne, garlic powder, cumin, & cilantro)
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Process:

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with non-stick aluminum foil.

2) Coat a frying pan in 1 tbsp of oil over medium-low heat. Brown ground beef in the pan, about 2-3 minutes.

3) Once the beef is cooked through, add onions, peppers, and spices. Stir to combine, cover and let simmer for about 3 minutes.

4) Uncover and add salsa. Stir to combine and remove from heat.

5) Unroll each section of crescent dough and separate the triangles so they are all lying flat. Spoon 1 tbsp of filling onto one triangle at the wide end, sprinkle with cheese, and then roll up the crescent. Repeat with all 16 dough triangles.

6) Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool for 1-2 minutes, and then serve with sour cream.