Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Foodie Field Trip- Wheatsfield Cooperative and a very cool recipe

I carry a list in my purse. Old school style. In a teeny little spiral notebook I actually have lists- restaurants I want to try, recipes I want to make, places I want to visit/check out such as ethnic markets. Without the lists, I'd never remember all the cool stuff I want to see, like the Wheatsfield Cooperative in Ames. The Co-op is a very cool store with roots reaching all the way back to 1974, when a group of like-minded citizens decided to form a sort of buying club. Today the co-op serves its member-owners as well as the general public with a full service grocery store that focuses on local produce, organic foods, sustainability, environmental and social issues.

The co-op enriches the community as well, with educational programs focusing on health, diet and nutrition. The co-op's calendar is loaded with classes and programs with something for everyone, like a class on fermenting and kimchi, brewing beer at home, classes focusing on essential oils and using them for self-healing, recipe, baking and cooking classes of all kinds, and much more.

Kids 12 and under can join the Co-op Explorers Club. Programming with children in mind and free fruit when kids stop in to shop and cookies on birthdays make it fun for kids to learn all about where their food comes home and how to be a good citizen of the planet. The Nickel Club encourages shoppers to use reusable bags. For each reusable bag used the shopper gets a Co-op Nickel. The nickels can be redeemed on purchases or donated to the monthly cause. Since the program began in 2013 over $22,000 has been raised. That, my friends, is a LOT of nickels!

This is one time I'm ok with a sticker on my produce!
As you guys have been with me on several different shopping trips, you know the bulk of my food dollars are spent in the produce section. We all know fresh fruits and vegetables are good for us, and I live by those words. Checking out the unique and beautiful fresh produce in the Co-op store was my favorite part of the visit. Loads and loads of organic items and most, seriously, most of the produce was not only in-season but locally grown. That is hugely important to me and a lot of other people out there. Those huge grocery chains get produce from all over the world and it makes no sense to me to buy an imported tomato that was artificially ripened in a warehouse before being shipped when I can get a beautiful red ripe Iowa-grown tomato. Local wins every time for me. Not only is the quality better, the food is fresher and my purchase is putting money into the pocket of a local grower, who will then spend the money locally, and our economy is happy.

This weekend The Chef and I are committed to using up what we have in the house already- from our pantry, our freezer, and leftovers. I love repurposing leftovers into a whole new dish and the pasta sauce he made the other night was in the fridge waiting to be used. I've been craving zucchini for the last few days and that was all I really needed to make this dish happen. The Co-op had some gorgeous local zucchini, the cutest organic baby bella mushrooms and freshly baked baguette so my dinner was complete with just those three ingredients!

One tip I simply must share for making the zucchini boats- use a melon baller! After you cut the zucchini in half lengthwise you have to scoop out all the guts, and a melon baller is the perfect tool. The sharp edge of the cutting scoop makes it easy to get exactly the right thickness of remaining shell without poking through the bottom. Be sure to save all the scooped out zucchini because you'll chop it and add it to the filling.

Another tip for making this recipe successful is to use the super high quality olive oils and seasoning from Sinful Food. I used the Italian Herb oil but the basil or garlic would have been equally delicious. The garlic olive oil is also perfect for brushing over thick cut slices of Italian bread or baguette and grilled for easy garlic bread. Of course, the Signature Seasoning also makes the dish even better- no need to measure out a bunch of spices, the seasoning mix has it all!

To get your Sinful Food products for your own creations, click HERE.

Summer Zucchini Boats

2 medium zucchini, about 1 lb each
1/2 medium onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Sinful Food Italian Herb olive oil
1 teaspoon Sinful Food Signature Seasoning

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. I left the stem attached but you can remove that if you want. Scoop out the inside of the squash, leaving about 1/2 inch shell. Place the zucchini boats on a baking sheet and set aside.

Chop the squash that has been scooped out and add to a bowl. Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms and tomatoes. Season with the Signature Seasoning. 

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add the Italian Herb Olive Oil. Add the chopped vegetables to the skillet and cook over medium high heat until softened and all the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in the breadcrumbs and the marinara sauce.

Spoon the mixture into the zucchini boats. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the boats. 

Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

So delicious! Not only is this an easy recipe, it's healthy and low in calories. It's a great option for meatless dinners, and can be vegan if you swap out the Parm for a non-dairy cheese. My recipe was not vegetarian since I was using up some of The Chef's pasta sauce from the night before and the sauce was made with pork loin and salami. This dish had something to make everyone happy- locally grown zucchini, organic mushrooms, purchased from a food Co-op and finished with recycled pasta sauce! How's that for thinking outside of the box?

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a "sponsored post." As a Brand Ambassador for Sinful Food, the company compensated me via a cash payment, gift or something of value. Regardless,  I only recommend products or services I believe are of good quality and safe. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, July 15, 2017

ArtWeek and Al Pastor

Des Moines' summer season of festivals is in full swing. This weekend Des Moines hosted it's 20th annual Arts Festival in Western Gateway Park. What started decades ago as Art in The Park near the Des Moines Art Center has grown and evolved into a huge festival with nearly two hundred artists from all over, features food and live music, and has been the recipient of a number of major awards including the Gold Grand Pinnacle Award for the past three consecutive years. It's hard to believe but more than two million people have visited the festival. I remember around the ten year anniversary the festival was usually held on the downtown bridges, but it quickly outgrew the limited space in that part of downtown and found it's current home in Western Gateway Park.

The same weekend as the downtown arts festival there is also an equally popular arts festival held at the State Fairgrounds called ArtFest Midwest. The Varied Industries Building on the fairgrounds is the scene and 250 regional artists display their works. It's a bit more casual than the downtown festival but just as exciting- and air conditioned! Besides being able to view, and purchase, art from local and regional artists, there are also a lot of activities for kids and a lot of tasty food choices as well, with many vendors who will also be there for the State Fair in August. There is a free shuttle bus to take visitors back and forth so you can catch both without having to drive and park. Pretty convenient.

You might wonder what this has to do with food...... there actually is a roundabout connection. The festival in Western Gateway Park is not only a showcase for artists from all across the country, it's also a preview of coming attractions for "fair food" and a great opportunity to try out some of the food trucks that are increasing in number every summer. Since the city loosened the restrictions allowing food trucks, it's been growing like a wildfire. This year downtown Des Moines, the Capitol complex, and many of the larger office parks regularly see food trucks parked and open for service during the lunch hour. People here are embracing this new way to try food you might not normally try. The city has come a long way from the early days of Mexican food trucks set up in odd locations, often out of the way from the action of downtown, and around office areas. It wasn't that long ago that truly was the only kind of food truck in the city, and although some of them looked a little sketchy, alot of people swore by them for authentic Mexican food at great prices. For a lot of us, it was an introduction to tacos like we'd never seen before.

Tacos al Pastor is becoming a very popular menu item in Latin restaurants and food trucks these days, and for good reason. The tender juicy pork takes on the sweet pineapple flavors and hint of spice from the peppers. You often see the pork cooked on rotisseries like the ones used for gyros, and carved off the pile of stacked pork cuts for each serving. It's fantastic and one of my favorite Mexican/Latin dishes. Of course at home, we don't have one of those fancy rotisseries and don't need to make that much pork at one time. That's where the pork chop comes in. As an Iowa girl I grew up loving a juicy Iowa pork chop as much as any other all American food and as an adult I appreciate the way pork lends itself to many different flavors and cuisines. In this simple version of al Pastor the chops are marinated in sweet pineapple and orange juices, warmed up with chili powder, cumin and chipotle pepper, with onion and garlic for kick. I grill these chops to get some good caramelization and grill marks from the sugars in the marinade. I had more marinade than I needed for my pork chops so I threw a couple chicken breasts in there as an experiment. I bet they will be just as delicious. I might even make a little bowl of pineapple, cilantro and jalapeno salsa to serve with the chops. This recipe is perfect for thick-cut Iowa chops.

Pork Chops Al Pastor

1 cup crushed pineapple with juice
zest and juice of one orange 
zest and juice of one lime
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2-3 chipotle chilies with a little adobo sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
6-8 inch thick pork chops, bone-in

In a blender or food processor, place the onion, garlic and chipotle peppers. Add some of the pineapple and puree the vegetables. Combine all other ingredients except chops and mix. 

Pour over chops in a large zip top bag and distribute over the chops. Allow the chops to marinate in the mixture for at least four hours.

When ready to cook, remove chops from marinade and discard marinade. 

Grill chops using a grill or grill pan to 145 degrees for pork. Since I threw a couple chicken breasts in the marinade those guys will cook to 165 degrees.

Check out those grill marks!
Serve chops with cilantro rice or some roasted potatoes and avocado tomato salad or grilled corn. I just love the combo of pineapple, citrus and a bit of heat from chilies and you know I am allllll about the Iowa pork. 

The chicken turned out delicious!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Girls Night IN with pasta and Greek Salad

Girls Night In. Now that is my kind of evening! Jessica and I have been spending a lot of time together in recent weeks, getting back to the way we used to hang out and cook, read through cookbooks, drink a bottle of wine, watch a movie and just relax. Since we've been thrift shopping we both have some cool new cookbooks to flip through and that means lots of recipes to try. We pick a weekend night, buy a bottle or two of wine, and pick a movie. We cook, we laugh, we sit on the deck and enjoy the cool evening breeze and just catch up. 

Friday night we went to see a new movie that's out- Paris Can Wait. It's a cute story of a woman, played by Diane Lane, and friend, played by Arnaud Viard, traveling across France to get to Paris. She is in a hurry, but the friend, her husband's business partner, is a Frenchman and wants to share the beauty of his homeland with his new friend. The places they stop are fascinating, as she learns about the ancient history of France, and along the way they stop to eat. And eat. And have wine. Beautiful wines, beautiful foods. She is not only learning about France, but also about herself along the way. It's great movie, Jessica and I both loved it and swore we would go there one of these days. Since we had enjoyed this moving so much she asked if I had ever seen Midnight in Paris. I had not, so she said hey, let's make some dinner, open a bottle of wine and watch the movie! So just like the old days, we had a girls night in planned.

I offered to cook, and I was craving spaghetti and meat sauce. A quick trip to the grocery store, a side trip to Starbucks for a beverage, and we headed back to my house for our evening. First on the agenda- let that beautiful bottle of wine breathe while I cut up the vegetables for salad. I've also been craving The Chef's Greek salad for a while so I got that going while Jessica got the meat started for the sauce. Once the salad was chilling in the fridge and the meat sauce was simmering, we poured a glass of wine and headed for the deck. The sounds of the city made a nice backdrop to our conversation on my tiny deck packed with pots of herbs and peppers growing. We played music- all kinds of music, some rock, some Amy Winehouse, some Lady Gaga, some Latin, some 70s.....and worked our way through that bottle of wine.

After dinner we watched the movie and the evening wound down with a slice of apple pie and cinnamon swirl ice cream. That, my friends, is my idea of a perfect Girls Night.

The Baker's Greek Salad

1 English cucumber
4 Roma tomatoes
2 medium bell peppers
1 red onion
1 cup Kalamata olives
8 oz chunk Feta cheese*
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper

Cut the cucumber into quarters lengthwise, then crosswise into 1/4 inch chunks. Place in large salad bowl.

Cut the Roma tomatoes into quarters lengthwise, then similar sized chunks. Cut the bell peppers and red onion into chunks. Halve the olives. Add to the bowl.

Cut the Feta cheese into bite sized chunks. Add to vegetables in the bowl. Drizzles the olive oil over, then the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently to coat everything but not so rough that the cheese breaks up. Serve. Salad also holds well in the fridge.

* I used HyVee brand Tomato and Basil Feta. It was so delicious in this recipe I highly suggest you find a tomato and basil Feta for your salad. If HyVee is not in your area, I'm sure other brands are available. 

The Greek salad was the perfect side dish to our homemade meat sauce and spaghetti. We paired it with a Tempranillo and Malbec blend that was the perfect dry red for pasta. Innovac!on is an Argentinian wine from the Santa Rosa vineyard in Mendoza. 70% Tempranillo and 30% Malbec, the hand-picked grapes are handles in small batches. The grapes are sustainably farmed with irrigation provided by pure mountain spring water in he vineyard that is wildlife friendly and conservation-minded.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Summer School- All About Tea Chapter One

So........I signed up for an online class about tea. Yep. I figured, why not, it's free and I love tea, always have loved hot tea and believe it or not, I have finally learned to love iced tea too, so I might as well learn a little bit about it, right? And guess what!! I'm going to share it with you! To help me with my Tea Project I have asked friends to share their tea pictures with me, whether it's a fancy china teacup or a big and chunky mug, I want to see what everyone drinks their tea from. I think it would be fun to also include pictures of tea, tea collections, kettles, anything! I'll be sharing these pictures, and some of my own, throughout the series of Tea 101.

This beauty is owned by Sherri Chapin.
Chapter One focused on the different types of tea and how they're grown and processed. The very first thing I learned was that there are more varieties of tea in China than there are varietals of wine grapes in France. That caught my attention and I knew I'd be hooked. The chapter starts with black tea, which is the most common tea in the United States. To make black tea, the tea leaves are allowed to wither, then they are rolled up and allowed to oxidize. Much like foods like apples, potatoes and avocados will turn dark when exposed to the air, the same thing happens to the rolled up withered leaves. When the leaves have reached just the right stage in oxidation they are "fired", or heated to dry the leaves and stop the oxidation process.

Next on the list was green tea. I had to giggle as I realized that as I was reading I was sipping an iced green tea! Green tea is HUGE in Japan and China and gaining popularity here in the U.S. as well, mostly because of the health benefits associated with it. The first notable difference from black tea is the steaming process. The leaves are harvested then steamed to bring on a bright green color. This also prevents oxidation so the leaves don't turn black.  After steaming the leaves are rolled or twisted into shape, then fired. Green tea has many anti-oxidant properties and is very light and flavorful. I personally am addicted to iced green tea lemonade and could drink it all year long, maybe even heated. I bet it would be very soothing when winter cold season rolls around. I'll have to keep that in mind!

Laura Duffield Biegger's teacup is almost
exactly like some my mother owned.
The third tea discussed just so happens to be one of my current obsessions- matcha. Matcha is green tea's close relative. To make matcha, the green tea plants are grown in shade then ground into a fine powder. Instead of steeping in tea bags, the powder is whisked into hot water and served in all kinds of ways- by itself, over ice, or in lattes and similar beverages. The dry powder is also used in any dishes, such as baked goods. I'm constantly playing with desserts containing matcha. If you are familiar at all with Japanese history, you know that matcha is the form of tea used in ancient tea ceremonies. I have always been drawn to matcha ever since I first heard of it so I am excited to learn even more later.

A Chinese tea was the next tea covered. I remember oolong tea from the old Chinese Restaurant, King Ying Low, that was in downtown Des Moines when I was a child. My mom never learned to drive so we would take a taxi downtown to do our shopping, and we'd almost always have lunch there. Mom always had oolong tea. Oolong tea leaves get their oxidation time in direct sunlight, and when they become fragrant like peaches or apples, they are fired to halt the process and preserve the fruitiness. I prefer oolong over black tea.

White tea is something I discovered about ten years ago. White tea buds are picked the day before they open and can only be harvested in the spring. The leaves are not rolled or twisted, but left to dry as they are. The chapter said white tea was introduced to the West in 2002 but I'm not so sure that's accurate. I'd swear I've had it before that.

I had never heard of the next tea- pu-erh tea. Pu-erh tea can only come from the Yunnan Province in China, much like wine restrictions in France, and cheese and sausage restrictions in Italy. This type of tea is processed similar to green tea but it's then piled up and heated with moisture added to get a little fermentation going. When the tea is just the right stage it's partially fired, which stops the bacterial activity but still allows the tea leaves to age, like wine, and they stay good, always changing, for decades. Pretty amazing actually.

Last, but not least, we learned a little about herbal teas, which are not really teas at all but steeped herbs and fruits, and those types of teas will get a chapter of their own later on.

Did you learn anything new about tea in this brief overview of teas? I did! I can't wait to see what Chapter Two brings!    

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Peachy Summer Chicken Salad

Who likes thrift store shopping? This girl does, that's who. I love spending a leisurely day strolling through the aisles and seeing all the fun things for sale. Many of the items bring back memories. I see lots of vintage dishes and Tupperware pieces that my mom or friends' moms had in their kitchen when I was young. Many times I will find souvenir glasses from different places, restaurants, breweries, festivals, and I always wonder about the person who first bought this item, and how it ended up at the Goodwill. I primarily look through the dishes and cookware, and books, sometimes I'll find a cool piece of framed art or something like that. I'm mostly on the lookout for unique dishes, serving pieces, cast iron, and cookbooks. Some of the really old utensils and dishes spark my imagination about the original owner of these things. Who was she? Did she have a large family? What was her favorite thing to cook? 

Check out these little thrift shop gems!
Sometimes I will get little hints and peeks at the original owners, especially when I'm flipping through cookbooks. I get super excited when I see handwritten notes on the pages, or a news clipping of a recipe tucked between the pages. Sometimes I've found carefully pressed and preserved labels from long gone canned foods with a recipe using whatever was in the can. Those are always fun. Some of those vintage recipes are a little cringe-worthy by today's standards, with lots of weird canned meat products and more gelatin than I can even imagine. Seems like everything was jellied and molded back in the fifties and sixties. I'm actually thankful that trend died off!

Antique stores are another goldmine for vintage and unique kitchen things, although they can get a little spendy at times. Small towns in rural Iowa are fantastic for finding reasonably priced vintage pieces. During the years The Chef and I lived at the lake I often popped in to a couple different antique shops in nearby towns and picked up some beautiful old canning jars and cool glassware pieces, and a number of great local church and community cookbooks. Those are also always fun. I love those cookbooks because you get a name to associate with the recipe, and more than a couple of those names in those old books were familiar. They might be my neighbors' grandmother or mother in law or aunt. I loved finding those connections because then I really could ask about the person and what they were like.

My friend Jessica and I have long been thrift store shopping buddies. A handful of years ago, when we were throwing around the ideas and dreams of owning a tearoom/bistro/gourmet shop together, we often scoured the thrift shops in search of beautiful china pieces and tea services. My garage became the storage facility for things we bought in anticipation of starting this dream business. As it sometimes does, our lives took different paths for a couple years, with real life becoming more urgent than our dream business. That dream is not gone, it's just moved on the ladder of priorities right now. Anyway. we still love thrift shopping, and a couple recent trips yielded some jackpot purchases. I've been able to score some pretty cool cast iron pieces- a pair of matching red enameled cast iron mini Coquettes and a pair of individual cast iron gratin dishes, some very awesome cookbooks, some even signed by the author, and some cool framed art for my dining area.

One of the cookbooks Jessica nabbed was written by Clotilde Dusoulier, and her cookbook, Chocolate and Zucchini, is amazing. Amazon says: "Clotilde Dusoulier is a twenty-seven-year-old Parisian who adores sharing her love of all things food-related—recipes, inspirations, restaurant experiences, and above all the pleasure of cooking with the fresh ingredients found in her local Montmartre shops. But her infatuation with food was born not in her mother’s Parisian kitchen, but in San Francisco, where she moved after college and discovered a new world of tastes. When she returned to her beloved France, her culinary exploits inspired her popular and critically acclaimed blog, ChocolateandZucchini.com.

In her first book, Dusoulier provides a glimpse into the life of a young Parisian as she savors all that the city has to offer and shares her cooking philosophy in the form of more than 75 recipes that call for healthy ingredients (such as zucchini) and more indulgent tastes (such as chocolate). The Los Angeles Times calls her recipes "simple, charming, and fun."

Appetizers such as Cumin Cheese Puffs, sandwiches and tarts like Tomato Tatin, soups like Chestnut and Mushroom, main dishes including Mustard Chicken Stew, and desserts like Chocolate and Caramel Tart can all be found alongside menus for entertaining, as well as tips for throwing cocktail or dinner parties with French flair. Chocolate & Zucchini is the book for anyone who has journeyed to Paris and can still recall the delicious flavors and aromas—or for those of us who only dream about them."

As I flipped through the book I found loads of recipes I knew I would love. including this salad. This is my version of the recipe, with very little change from the original. I prefer to leave my peaches' peel intact, since we like the peel, and I have made both with regular balsamic and white balsamic and it's equally delicious with both. Her original recipe used hazelnuts which, sadly, I was not able to find, so I substituted broken English walnuts.

Peachy Summer Chicken Salad

3 ripe peaches or nectarines
3 tablespoons hazelnut oil or olive oil 
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 pound chicken breast, cooked and cut in cubes (about 3 cups)
2/3 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
8 cups (1/2 pound) half baby spinach and half arugula
salt and pepper

Peel the peaches, if desired, and cut into bite sized chunks. Place in a large salad bowl with the chicken, hazelnuts, and baby spinach.

In a small bowl whisk together the oil and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over the salad. Season with salt and pepper, toss to coat with dressing. 

Serve this salad with a cold and crisp white wine such as a German Riesling or a good California Pinot Grigio. I served mine with an iced green tea lemonade and it was the perfect summer dinner. I kinda knew I'd like this salad, but holy smokes, it was so good, so much better than I expected. Perfect mix of sweet and savory, with plenty of protein from the chicken and the walnuts, I didn't even feel like I needed bread to go along with it, and the juicy summer peaches fed that craving for something sweet. You simply must try this recipe!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, July 3, 2017

YouTube Idols and a Fresh Grilled Corn Salad

It's been about five years since the first time I put pen-to-paper so to speak and began writing about my cooking experiences. There was been a lot of changes in those five years, different social media sources, those clever super sped up cooking videos, and YouTube. YouTube is a goldmine of information and videos to watch, everything from a short clip of a single recipe to fully produced 30 minute "shows" by everyone from amateurs to professional chefs getting in on it. During the last year I really got to thinking of YouTube as a great way to keep up with some of my personal favorites, like Rachel Khoo, since I am rarely able to catch her shows on American satellite tv, and a YouTube favorite, Hilah Cooking. The brainchild of Texas cook and YouTube sensation Hilah Johnson, Hilah Cooking is a fun and "real woman" cooking show and companion blog that I find highly entertaining! Besides her great sense of humor, her recipes are killer! Hilah makes real food- fresh, pretty much in live-time and her recipes are not filled with pricey ingredients, she doesn't use an army of ridiculously expensive and unnecessary tools and gadgets, and the finished dishes look like something I want to eat. Right now. 

Recently I watched a Hilah Cooking video in which Hilah was making a fresh corn salad, starting with slightly charred ears of fresh corn. Raw corn. Still sweet and juicy and touched by a little grill heat to give you just a few bits of grilled taste. Her video is hilarious, taking a jab at that current Pinterest trendy phrase "Mexican street corn" and bringing out the giggles in me. I would soooo love to hang out with this woman! Her recipe sounded delicious, with that corn that's not really cooked. I was immediately convinced I needed to make this- or something a lot like it. I mean, come on, I am a Minnesota turned Iowa girl after all- we are all about the corn. Hilah's recipe sounds totally delicious with a nice kick of heat from those fresh Serrano chilies. I am going to switch up her recipe a bit and add some avocado maybe or even toss some pan seared scallops in there to make it an entree salad. I cheated and roasted my corn and scallions over the burner on my gas range- worked like a charm! Here is how I did it.

Tex Mex Iowa Sweet Corn Salad with Scallops

4 ears fresh Iowa sweet corn
3 scallions
1 Jalapeno or Serrano chili
1 cup halved heirloom cherry tomatoes
1 avocado, cut into cubes
1 package large scallops, thawed if frozen
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 limes
1/2 cup cotija cheese
1/4 olive oil, plus more
2 cloves garlic, grated
salt and pepper
1 package arugula
1 small bunch fresh cilantro

Clean the ears of corn, removing as much of the silk as possible. Rub each ear of corn with a small drizzle of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat a grill to high, or heat a heavy skillet or grill pan over high heat. Add the corn and grill over high heat, turning so that you get char on all sides. Set corn aside to cool. Throw the scallions on there for a just a minute or two to get some char marks and flavor. Set them aside. 

Place the scallops in a bowl and squeeze half of one of the limes and a tablespoon of olive oil over and sprinkle with the chili powder. 

Sear the scallops in a hot skillet until just cooked and they have the beautiful golden brown crust. Remove to a plate and set aside.

This is the golden brown sear you're looking for.
Cut the corn off the cobs and discard the cobs. Place the corn in a large bowl, add the tomatoes, avocado, and the scallions, which have been chopped. Add a handful of chopped cilantro.

In a small bowl or jar, juice the remaining limes. For an intense lime flavor you can also add some of the zest to the dressing. Whisk in the 1/4 cup olive oil, grated garlic and salt and pepper to taste. 

Cotija cheese crumbles like a charm.
Drizzle half the dressing over the vegetables, toss to coat everything, then add the cheese, toss again, and serve the corn salad on top of a handful of arugula with remaining dressing on the side. Top the salad with the scallops.

So fresh! This is a great party recipe for when you are having friends over on a summer evening- very limited indoor cooking IF you go the skillet route and lots of fresh flavors. Like that super trendy, if not slightly irritating recipe for Mexican street corn, this dish has a TexMex hint of flavor but it's totally Iowa with that crunchy sweet corn. I love it because it doesn't have any mayonnaise in the recipe, and I find the whole idea of cooking mayo on an ear of corn completely yuck. I hope you'll try it. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."