Skeptical of Microwave Corn? Don’t Give a Shuck

corn, microwave, vegetarian

Sheath. Corn. Just that easy

My business partner (for my manderpants company) tells me I’m the skeptical one. I’m the one that asks the questions. That brings up the potential for disastrous outcomes. That reads the Yelp reviews, all of them, before we book hotels – I mean, bed bugs are a real thing, people.That may be prone to thinking something just isn’t quite right. That maybe – just maybe – Googles too much – I’m a really good Googler.

So when the microwave corn video started showing up all over Facebook and in my other social media feeds – because I follow food stuff and stuff – I didn’t really believe it. I mean, people do lie on the Internet.

I thought I had mastered the most succulent and fabulous corn the old fashioned way…a best friend who is ‘corn-psychic’ and selects perfect cobs every time, lots of shucking, big pot of water, butter and whole milk (or cream, who cares?) in the boiling water…add corn, cover, turn off heat – wait 12 mins, eat.

But this is no longer the best way. Plus, if there’s one KP job I hate – it’s shucking. I said ‘shucking’…

So…the microwave corn with no shucking at all intrigued me.

Ingredients:

Corn IN the cob – 1, 2, 22 pieces, I don’t care – ps, it was on sale at Whole Foods this week, so, bonus!

Preheat the……wait, you don’t need to do that

Fill a large pot with water….nope, not that either

1. Open the microwave. Yeah. Do that.

2. Put an ear of corn or two or three, whatever, in the microwave – DO NOT GIVE A SHUCK

corn, microwave

I just made one to test – cuz I really didn’t believe it would work – ps, look how clean my microwave is. yep.

3. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, just 3

microwave, kitchenaid, corn

It’s very hard to photograph my microwave. but you get it

4. It’s very very hot – wear an oven mitt, please…AND – Remove from microwave and cut the base off – you need to cut about a 1/2 inch into the kernel part – it’s fine, you’ll have enough corn, promise, trust me, google it.

corn, microwave, whole foods

I had to cut twice as the first time I didm’t get enough of it – see two cuts…I was proceeding in doubt and with caution

5. Hold the icky hairy top part of the corn with an oven mitt and shake it like a Polaroid picture….this is sorta the hard part – you have to really shake to get it moving out of the sheath

corn, microwave

Hold and shake – fer reels. PS, my oven mitt reminds me of Muppet hands.

6. As the corn starts to come clean of the sheath, you can assist by pulling the perfect corn with a second oven mitt

corn, microwave, vegetables

AHHHHnd…it’s working! Shock and Awe.

7. et voila – perfect corn, no sheath, no hairy stuff and you don’t have to give a shuck

corn, vegetables

Seriously, perfect. Hardest part is the shake-ification

Test was so successful, that I zapped two more ears and made magical toasted corn.

Is the lesson have more faith in things you see/read on the Internet? Uh…don’t think so – but keep reading, investigating, googling, if you will…and ultimately, test it for yourself. Sometimes it’s best to be skeptical, sometimes it’s best to not give a shuck.

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Snakes and Maggots Couldn’t Drive Me Away: Roasted Potatoes

A lot more than she bargained for

A lot more than she bargained for

WARNING: THIS POST ISN’T REALLY ABOUT THE RECIPE.

There’s a story today on Yahoo! about some woman who found a snake, yep, snake, in a bag of potatoes she purchased at Walmart.

This got me thinking about the unwanteds I have found in foods over the past 100 years. I had an infestation of small brownish bugs in my kitchen once – by once I mean for about 2 weeks a year for 3 years I would find them creepy crawling up my cabinets or sneaking around in my breadcrumbs…eww. Blamed the flowers a male suitor had sent me. Anyone who has ever dated me since knows never to send me flowers. Take note.

sidney place brooklyn heights potatoes roasted

26 Sidney Place

When I first moved to NYC and my age was my salary – which we all thought was pretty cool at the time – I lived with about 1,000 other kids in an amazing brownstone in Brooklyn Heights. I didn’t really cook, and by ‘really’, I mean not at all. So, many nights I existed on fried rice from the local Chinese place on Montague Street – $4.75 and I could make it last for three meals.

Sure, I dabbled. There were tuna melts, grilled cheese and Raman noodle nights (I could fry stuff and boil water!). But, mostly when I didn’t have any left over fried rice, dinner was cold cereal. That’s right, ‘ready-to-eat’ cereal that we would purchase at the bodega between the Borough Hall Subway Stop and our house.

One night, my roommate/ BFF and I were walking home together – a rarity as she was an I-banker (read, worked late and made a lot more money) and I was in publishing (read, left work between 5 – 6pm and, well, we already discussed my salary). We stopped at the bodega to get some ‘dinner’. Jane, as she prefers to be called these days, selected a lovely box of Raisin Bran. I…it doesn’t matter what I got – the story is about her cereal.

Anyhoo, we trekked home, poured our cereals into bowls and topped with milk. We were hungry – growing girls – and stood together in the kitchen, shoveling it in. At about bite three, Jane started frothing at the mouth…literally spitting the tasty bran and raisins back in to the bowl.

‘What!’ I shrieked ‘Are you doing?’

She slammed the bowl on to the kitchen counter, continued spitting, wiping her tongue with a paper towel and just pointed her shaking finger at the bowl.

So…I looked….Still wish I hadn’t…But, I looked. How could I not? And, there it was…the cereal was….uhmmmm…moving. Yeah….Her cereal was moving. Like totally moving. Like horror movie moving.

I looked more closely and the cereal was alive with maggots. Still makes me shiver. Haven’t eaten raisin bran since…OK, no big sacrifice cuz this blogger hates the raisins. But, still…uhmmmm…ewww.

Roasted Potatoes Recipe food

Uhmmmm…EWWWW

So, after what I went through with the maggots and then with the floral delivery bug invasion…you might think that the Walmart-Snake-in-the-Potatoes story might scare me off of a starchy potato treat. Au contraire…It would take a truck load of maggots to move me off of potatoes.

Here is my go-to simple, crowd-pleasing, snake and maggot-free roasted potato side dish.

Soup Packet Roasted Potatoes (Serves 4-6)

Tiny apartment tips:

  1. Buy tiny potatoes – not just because they’re tiny like your kitchen, but because they cook more quickly, they’re cute and mostly because you don’t have to peel them or do much chopping
  2. When you buy the french onion soup mix – Lipton, of course – take the packets out of the box and store upright in a cabinet – the box takes up too much space.
  3. No…you can’t make these ahead of time. So, stop asking 🙂
  4. Heed the Parchment Paper lining tip – or you will ruin your baking pan

Ingredients

  • lipton soup dinner recipe side dish vegetarian

    Side Dishes Don’t Have To Be Difficult

    Like a pound of small potatoes – new potatoes or purple potatoes are good or if you’re fancy those bags with the three colors of potatoes…maybe not Yukon gold potatoes – they’re too soft.

  • 1/3 Cup of Olive Oil – IG would say ‘really good olive oil’
  • 1 Packet of Dry Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix
  • 1 TSP of Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt

Preheat oven to 425…or 450 doesn’t really matter

(I wish this was more difficult…but, like deciding to eat or not eat maggots…it’s not – I did warn you that this post wasn’t about the dish)

1. Wash the potatoes

roasted new potatoes dinner vegetarian

I might have chopped first and washed second…whatever. It’s all good

2. Quarter or halve the potatoes – you want bite size pieces – so depends on how big the taters you bought are

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the packet of french onion soup, Krazy Mixed Up Salt and Olive Oil

4. Pour the potatoes in to a Ziplock baggie – gallon style. Pour the olive oil mixture over the potatoes in the baggie

french onion soup lipton roasted potatoes recipe

Taters covered in EVOO and soup mix

6. Zip the bag…mix it around – with your hands move the contents –  making sure you cover all of the potatoes

7. Line a rimmed baking dish with parchment paper

8. Pour the potato, french onion soup / olive oil mix on to the lined baking dish making sure the potatoes are in a single layer

Roasted potatoes side french onion soup lipton dinner vegetarian

Single Layer! Very Important!

9. Put in the oven and bake for :45 – :60 minutes tossing a few times during the cooking process. Cooking time depends on how crispy you like ’em.

10. Serve immediately

roasted potatoes lipton soup side dish vegetarian

Piping Hot, Crisped And Ready

I like my potatoes crispy. My favorite late night fry is the one that is actually void of any potato flesh. Truth.

I like potatoes. Is there a support group for that? Even though there was APPARENTLY a smallish snake in one particular package at one particular Walmart – I will continue to eat the potatoes. I might even buy them at Walmart. When it comes to potatoes – even maggots couldn’t drive me away.

Bacon Makes It Better: Bacon-Y Bean Bundles

french green beans bacon evoo

Nestled and Oven Ready

Everyone’s family has different rules about what and how much a child must eat at any given meal. Some families go with praise cheering their kids who are members of the ‘clean your plate club’. Others threaten punishment if kids didn’t finish every morsel on their plates.

Salisbury steak

Salisbury Steak ’70’s Style

In our house, we just had to try what was served. I’m not saying that if we hated it that something else would be served. I’m just saying that even the most detestable of dishes had to be at least sampled. Once taste tested, we could decide whether to eat on or go hungry. There were a few key dishes in the dinner rotation at our house – your basic chicken, fancier chicken and dumplings, Salisbury steak, breakfast for dinner – all easy and kind to the pickiest of kids. But, for the most part, we were pretty easy to feed. OK my type-A brother had to change forks and plates between courses, cuz like one food can’t touch another – but that was probably the biggest challenge.

There was really only one staple in my mother’s dinner table rotation that killed us….Liver. Like pan fried liver ’70’s style. It was dry and sorta smelly and chewy and….Hated it.

So, charged with having ‘at least one bite’, my brothers and I had a strategy. Cut the tiniest of tiny pieces of the stuff, wrap it in 4-5 pieces of bacon, fill a large cup with water and swallow the bacon wrapped ickiness whole.

Since then I’ve known that I can eat almost anything if it’s wrapped in bacon. Bacon makes the worst things tolerable and the best things even better. I like green beans and have noticed that they tend to go unfinished when served alongside other sides like potatoes. One way to ensure that your beans are consumed is to wrap them in bacon.

Bacon-Y French Bean Bundles (Serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • green beans pricechopper

    Pre-Washed is the way to go

    1 bag of prewashed french beans – yes, you can use regular green beans, but I like the smaller more delicate taste of the French beans – they sell these bags everywhere now. Ours were from Price Chopper upstate.

  • 9-10 pieces of bacon cut in half
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TSP of freshly grated parmesan cheese

You can also sub out the EVOO + Parmesan Cheese and use an Italian Parmesan Salad Dressing instead….

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1. Wrap 5-6 beans in one half-slice of bacon and lay in a baking dish

green beans and bacon

Wrapped and Ready

2. Repeat until 2-3 bundles per person are created and the bundles are nestled in the pan

3. Sprinkle the bacon-y bean bundles with the olive oil and parmesan cheese

side dish bacon wrapped beans

Gently Sprinkled with EVOO and Parm

4. Bake for :45 mins to 1 hour – until beans are well roasted and bacon is fully cooked

french beans in bacon recipe

Beans & Bacon Well Crisped

5. Serve 2 – 3 bundles per person

That’s really it.

In my own apartment, I do subscribe to the ‘just try one bite’ philosophy. Doesn’t always work. But if I can eat ’70’s style pan fried liver, the toughest of taste buds can certainly give bundles of bacon-y beans a try.

New Year’s Resolution – Finish What You Start: Bleu Cheese Mashed and Potato Pancakes

whole foods yukon gold potatoes

Light Fluffy and Bleu Cheesy

Some people have a hard time finishing things. I, myself, have added ‘finish the books I start’ to my list of New Year’s Resolutions. It just happens – maybe you grew bored of the thing you’ve started or maybe you think it’s taking too long to get to the good parts of 50 Shades of Grey – whatever the reason, certain tasks just aren’t completed.

It’s hard to believe that this could happen with something as delectable as mashed potatoes. But it does. You made too much of the stuff. You didn’t know that some of your dinner guests are strict carnivores or veggie-free. They don’t eat side dishes. They didn’t show. Or, God forbid, they just don’t like potatoes!

Regardless of how it happened, you might find yourself left with a bowlful of cold, rapidly aging mashed potatoes in your fridge following such a party.

If you’re like most Americans…You’ve probably had a mashed potato or two in the past four weeks. One way to avoid having leftover mashed potatoes is to doctor them up a bit – make something unexpected out of the expected.

Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes (Serves 8)

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes – washed and quartered…no need to peel
  • 1/2 Cup of Breakstone’s Sour Cream at room temperature
  • 1/2 Cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 6 TBSP of butter
  • 8 oz of crumbled bleu cheese
  • Salt and Pepper

1. Place the potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with water – enough water so that the water is at least two inches higher than the potatoes

Note: If, like most of us…You want to get ahead and cut the potatoes early…Just keep them in a large stock pot covered with ice water – this will keep them from turning an icky brown color

2. Bring the pot of potato filled water to a boil

Whole Foods yukon Gold potatoes

Bringing to a boil

3. Reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are fork tender – about 15 minutes

4. In a separate saucepan, heat the cream and butter

bleu cheese mashed potatoes

Heating the Cream and Butter

5. Drain the potatoes and then place them back into the still hot stock pot. This helps to steam the extra water out of the potatoes so you don’t get watery mashed potatoes

6. Using a masher, ricer or fork, mash the potatoes to your own desired consistency – I like ’em pretty smooth

Williams-Sonoma Potato Masher

This one’s from WS

Potato Ricer

From Wolfgang Puck

7. While mashing, ricing or forking, add the warmed milk/butter and whip in

8. Add in the sour cream and bleu cheese and mix until well combined

9. Add salt and pepper to taste

10. Serve immediately OR (thank you, Rachael Ray) you can put the mashed bleu cheese potato mixture in a separate bowl, cover and place over a bowl of simmering water on the stove top and keep warm for up to an hour or more. Shut the front door!

Now….In spite of how fab and different this potato dish was…it’s the next day and your lame non-mashed potato eating friends couldn’t finish this tasty side dish. Sure, you could toss the extra mashed potatoes…But in the spirit of the New Year and finishing what you start…Get creative and make…

Potato Pancakes (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Whatever left over mashed potatoes you have, but at least 2 1/2 cups with ratio of other ingredients below
  • 1/3 Cup of Breakstone’s Sour Cream
  • 1/4 Cup of Bisquick Baking Mix
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 TSP of sugar – you can leave this out, but it really helps to crisp up the edges of the pancakes
  • Butter for frying

1. Bring the mashed potatoes, Sour Cream and egg to room temperature

2. To the bowl of leftover mashed potatoes, add the sour cream, egg, sugar and Bisquick and mix to well combined.

bleu cheese potato pancakes

Just eyeball the ingredient amounts

NOTE: eyeball the consistency – you want it somewhat thick – not as thin as pancakes. Depending upon how much of the mashed potatoes you have left over, you may need to add a little more baking mix or another egg.

mashed potato left over pancakes

Not totally smooth, you want to taste the potatoes

3. Heat the butter in a large skillet over med/high heat – you can use vegetable oil/canola oil as well…just not olive oil

4. Drop pancake-y sized dollops of the mixture into the hot skillet and fry until lightly golden brown on one side

bleu cheese mash left over

Browning side one

5. Flip the pancakes and fry the second side

mash potato pancakes

See the crispy edges…that’s the sugar at work

6. Serve warm as a fab day two side dish….Or for breakfast – but, I wouldn’t put syrup on these…Just a little butter, maybe a chive or two would be great.

Some things prove harder to finish than others. But, you can get creative. For me, maybe that means finishing the books I start by watching the movie. Don’t judge, the end result is the same. To finish off your mashed potatoes, try whipping up a day two side dish of potato pancakes.

Bitchin’ Brussels Sprouts, So Not Meh

Fresh Farmer’s Market Brussels Sprouts

Last week, Joe Biden reminded us all of a different time. A time when ‘malarkey’ was an

Joe Biden Malarkey

That’s Malarkey!

effective way to call someone out on a lie, an untruth. A time when someone could say ‘malarkey’ and everyone would know what he meant. Joe thought some of what that other guy said was simply, malarkey.

Languages evolve and colloquialisms come and go. At some point, ‘eh’ was replaced by ‘meh’ – meant to convey indifference and signify a sense of ‘whatever’ or ‘not so much’. ‘Meh’ is so much in use that this past weekend’s New York Times Magazine actually included ‘The Meh List’…certainly a sign that ‘meh’ is on its way out.

I remember a few years ago when I asked my nephew where my niece was, he, then about 10, told me that his sister was ‘lolly-gagging in the kitchen with Mommy’ – Hmmm, ‘lolly-gagging’? And, no, by a few years I don’t mean that I asked him this question in 1950. He must have picked that up somewhere, and it sounded funny out of a 10-year old in 2008.

Other words and sayings that have sadly and not so sadly fallen out of favor:

Golly…as in ‘Golly, Davey, if we lie…Dad…And, the Lord, will be mad at us’

Davey and Goliath

Golly, Davey!

Piss-Ant, as in ‘Mom! Mary-Ellen called me a Piss-Ant’

Before Mary-Ellen ever whispered those evil words

Groovy…as in ‘Hey there, groovy chicks. You’re all hep in far out ways’

Groovy Johnny Bravo

And others:

Loosey-Goosey

Willie-Nillie

Fuddy-Duddy

Whipper-Snapper

Interestingly, many of these long gone expressions rhymed…maybe a sign of happier times when Opie skipped by a watering hole toting his fishing pole, whistling on his way home after a long day at school.

Another thing that evolves is the way we prepare foods…The way you first experience a food can sear an impression about that food forever. Like when it was all the rage to boil vegetables until they drooped and sagged, lost all color and even more taste. No wonder kids hated vegetables.

But, thankfully, this trend has passed and is no longer a hip and rad way to prepare veggies. Even the most daunting of greens when prepared well, can be a lot more than just nutritious.

Bitchin’ Brussels Sprouts (side dish for 4)

1. Slice the bottoms off of about 20-25 Brussels sprouts and peel off the outer layer of leaves. You can keep these outer leaves and quick fry them – they’re like chips! Or, toss them

2. Slice each sprout in half lengthwise and submerge cut side down in a bowl of ice water with the juice from one half of a lemon. The acid from the lemon will kill any critters hiding between the leaves…eww

Acidy Water Kills Bugs

3. Melt 2 TBSP of butter in a medium fry pan over med/high heat. You can sub 1 tbsp olive oil for 1/2 of the butter…

Melt that Butter!

4. Remove the soaking sprouts from the ice bath and pat dry with a paper towel

5. Carefully place each sprout cut side down into the simmering butter bath

From Icy Bath to Butter Bath

6. Cook until well browned and then carefully flip each sprout over

sprouts vegetables

I Totally Flipped for them!

7. Whisk together 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock and 1 TBSP of Dijon mustard

Steaming Liquid

Steaming Stock and Dijon Mixture

8. Pour the mixture over the simmering vegetables and allow to steam the sprouts to tenderness. You can at this point add salt and pepper to taste – bear in mind that if you used chicken stock, it’ll be salty enough.

Vegetable Side Dish

Simmering Sprouts

9. Once most of the liquid has evaporated, sprinkle about 1 TBSP of freshly grated parmesan cheese over the sprouts, transfer to a dish and serve

Vegetable side dish

Table-Ready

These groovy sprouts are totally bitchin’ and quick and easy to prepare. So, any of you old fuddy-duddies who think you hate Brussels sprouts because you suffered over-boiled vegetables in the 1970s. Don’t lollygag or dilly-dally, get out there and sear, simmer and saute your sprouts. They’re totally not meh. And that’s not malarkey!