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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It’s OK To Be In The Can: Spicy Easy Bean Dip

spicy bean dip vegetarian recipe

It’s in the Can

I heart my iPhone 5…even though it has some glitches. Like I had to get the speaker replaced when all noises – text pings, Twitter tweets, phone chime, email bings etc stopped. And, for whatever reason…when my phone reaches 35% battery and I try to take and post a picture (sort of the way of life of a food blogger) it just shuts off. Telling me in it’s own Apple way that it’s done with the social media thing for that day. I’m OK with it, though.

iphone 5 texting vegetarian corn dip

Heat

One thing that does drive me crazy is the auto text correct. Sure, generally, the phone is right and I mean to type rosé, not rose. The phone seems to have picked up on summer wine season. So smart.

But, I almost…wait, I actually never mean to type that ‘I’m in the can.’ For whatever reason – maybe it’s because the iPhone speaks ‘Californian’ and those people don’t take cabs like we do in NYC – the iPhone refuses to accept that I’m in the ‘Cab’ not the ‘Can’. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to text ‘I mean Cab, not Can’ to people who are waiting for me and now think I have an ‘issue’.

That said, there are times when it’s OK to be in the Can….Like when people are coming over and it’s national hot and spicy food day and you need to quickly get an appropriate array of appetizers ready.

My most recent favorite mix is:

Spicy Easy Bean Dip (serves a bunch – but lasts two days, so just make it all)

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. You should probably always have these ingredients on hand, they don’t take a ton of space and last a long time…Oh, and they’re inexpensive too
  2. You don’t need or have room for an electric can opener…I was guest chef-ing…and the kitchen had one…fun, but sorta silly and a space waster for NYC apartments.

Ingredients:

  • Gindo's Spice of Life fresh and spicy pepper sauce

    That’s Hot!

    2 Cans Shoe-Peg or Whole Corn Kernels

  • 1 Can Black Beans
  • 1 Can Garbanzo Beans
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro – Like a hearty handful of leaves
  • 1/2 Medium Red Onion
  • Gindo’s Spice of Life Fresh and Spicy Honey Habanero Pepper Sauce…You can use the green mild sauce or the original Pepper Sauce but since it’s National Hot and Spicy Food Day…Go for the gusto!

Pay attention – this is tricky…

1. Open the cans of corn kernels and pour into the bottom of a large mixing bowl

2. Open the can (or box, sometimes it’s a box like 365 brand at Whole Foods) of Garbanzo Beans, drain, and pour into the bowl

bean dip recipe vegetarian dips hot an dspicy

This is exhausting!

3. Dice the 1/2 red onion and pour dices in

4. Open the can of black beans, rinse thoroughly, and throw them in the bowl

can opener electric bean dip vegetarian recipe

Who still has an electric can opener???

5. Chop up the cilantro – chop it pretty well…and, yes, if you absolutely hate cilantro, you can use parsley… whatever makes you happy. I don’t judge.

6. Pour 3 TBSP-ish of the salad dressing over the mixture

7. Toss in a few dashes of Gindo’s Spice of Life Fresh and Spicy Pepper Sauce – this’ll get your guests to go ‘hmmmm…wow!’ as the heat hits their tongues. Don’t be afraid here, the smooth taste of the garbanzo beans and the cool, fresh, sweet avocado will balance out the spicy hot sauce.

vegetarian bean dip hot and spicey

I guess at the amount of the dressing – it’ a pretty design!

8. Mix…just get in there and mix

bean dip vegetaran cold dips

This really is TOUGH

9. Cube up about a whole avocado and gently fold in…This part isn’t shown, because our avocados weren’t ripe enough and we had to do without…But, I recommend including them if you can

This dip is best if allowed to sit, chill for a while – at least 2 hours…The flavors all meld together and add to the deliciousness.

Serve with the dippers – you know the Tostito Scoops corn chips…

I can’t really think of an appropriate time to text anyone that you are ‘in the can’…still can’t figure out why my iPhone wants me to say that. Unless the iPhone thinks that somehow I’m shoe-peg corn or black beans or garbanzo beans. Then, being in the can is totes OK.

Happy National Hot and Spicy Food Day! Enjoy the dip!

Souper Season: Vegan Butternut & Avocado Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup. Bowl by DG designs

At 10:48am this past Saturday, it began. Fall is officially upon us. Try as you may, you can’t stop the seasons from changing. All you can do is hope against a repeat of 2011’s Snow-Tober and embrace the cooler, darker mornings, the earlier sunsets, the changing leaves and all that comes with fall.

A few positives about the onset of autumn – The return of boots – wrestle them out of their summer hiding places – backs and tops of closets and wear them proudly! Sweaters, fashion tights, football, the NYC Marathon, season premieres of your favorite shows. Oh yes! Fall is filled with wonderful things.

The chill in the air also ignites a desire for sipping, savory soups.

Let me just be honest: a bowl of soup does not a meal make. Those girls in their Manolos and Pashminas who would smile as they popped a head into my office at lunchtime and say: ‘Hey, I’m going to get some soup, wanna come?’ drove me insane. Hot soup is a starter. Cold soup is a pallet cleanser. Neither is a meal.

I don’t care if it’s loaded with rice or pasta or jam packed with vegetables and infused with cream. Soup isn’t a meal. OK, yes when the proportion of protein – beef, chicken or turkey NOT tofu or egg – far outweighs the amount of liquid, it can be a meal. But that’s a stew or a chili – not a soup.

So, to celebrate the season of soup and kick off #SquashWeek….A Souper Starter:

Vegan Butternut & Avocado Squash Soup (serves 4-6)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

1. Cut a 3lb Butternut Squash in half and remove the seeds….The 3lbs is a guideline and unless you have a food scale, you may never know how heavy your squash is as under 5lbs generally won’t register on a regular scale. Because I was curious, I stood on my bathroom scale and weighed myself and then weighed myself with the squash – exactly 3lbs. Just lucked out on this.

OK, splitting the squash is the hardest part and requires patience, strength, courage and the right tools….sharp knife and knife resistant glove. These tools do look like murder weapons, but the only thing murdered was the squash I assure you….

Squash Splitting Tools. Not murder weapons…

Butternut Squash hacked in two and de-seeded

2. Drizzle the cut side of the Butternut squash with Olive Oil and a little salt and place cut side down on a rimmed baking dish lined with tin foil

3. Cut an Avocado Squash in half, drizzle the cut side with Olive Oil and salt and put cut side down on the baking dish with the butternut squash

Avocado Squash: purchased at local farmer’s market

NOTE: The avocado squash added another layer of flavor. It’s sweeter and a bit more delicate. The seeds are small, and since I was going to puree the soup, I left them in…

Butternut and Avocado Squash ready for the oven

4. After 30 – 35 minutes, remove the Avocado Squash from the oven and allow to cool.

Avocado Squash Roasted and Ready for Scooping

5. Once cooled scoop out the flesh from the squash and set aside

6. The Butternut squash will take longer to soften – closer to :60 minutes. You will know it’s done when you can easily pierce it with a fork. Remove from oven, allow to cool and then scoop out the flesh and set aside

Butternut Squash, roasted, softened and ready for scoopin

7. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of Olive Oil and then add in two diced shallots and saute until fragrant and softened – about :06 mins

Shallots Sauteing and Softening

8. Add the squash flesh, 1 qt of Vegetable Stock and 1 1/5 tsp of Curry Powder and bring to a boil – I used mild, but you can go as spicy as you like

Bringing the mixture to a boil

9. Reduce to a simmer and cover for :10mins until the squash flesh is broken down

10. Remove from heat and allow to cool for :05 – :10 minutes

11. Working in batches, transfer some of the mixture to a blender and puree. If you like a little chunk in your soup….just chop, don’t puree. Transfer post-blended soup to a new saucepan on the stove and keep over low heat. Repeat until all of the mixture is blended and soup-ified

BE CAREFUL! If the soup is too hot…it will blow the top off of the blender – seriously, let it cool!

Butternut and Avocado Squash Mix in Blender

Butternut and Avocado Mixture to Soup Staging Area

12. Once heated through, garnish with parsley and a drizzle of Olive Oil and serve hot.

NOTE: If you are not Vegan, you can add a dollop of Sour Cream

Fall is here. Celebrate it! And with the dawning of fall, Squashweek has officially begun. So, get some colorful squash from your farmer’s market, grab a sweater, put on those boots, tune in to football or the newest episodes of your favorite TV shows and start any fall meal with this Souper Squash Soup.

No Need to Be Afraid of Vegan Alfredo

Vegan Fusili Alfredo with Roasted Vegetables

We are all afraid of something. I mean, as New Yorkers, we’re afraid of more things than people from other cities – quote ‘Rent’ ‘I’m a New Yorker. Fear’s my life.’ But, everyone is afraid of something.

Some of these fears are totally rational: falling, heights, being buried alive, cockroaches, zombies.

Michael Strahan Kelly Ripa

Pain-O-Phobic Michael Strahan

On Live! With Kelly and Michael, Michael Strahan admitted that he is afraid of needles and, oddly, pain. In spite of the fact that the ex-Giant must have endured great pain and doled some out as well during his football career, Michael Strahan fears pain.

Some people are afraid of things that crawl; mice, rats, gophers, gerbils etc. Some fears are so common that they can draw huge audiences at the box office – Fear of spiders, Arachnophobia. Fear of snakes – Snakes on a Plane. Fear that your house was built on a cemetery where the builder ‘moved the headstones but not the bodies’ : Poltergeist.

It’s amazing where our heads can go in times of great fear. One minute everything is fine and safe, then, a loud noise in the distance and you think ‘Gun fire! Take cover!’ Generally just a car engine backfiring, but, sure, it could have been gun fire.

Scary Evil Witchy Poo

Growing up I was most afraid of Witchy Poo. She was the evil witch on HR Pufnstuf’s television show that ran in reruns on Saturday mornings in our house.

I spent my nights shaking in fear, waking in a pool of sweat from the nightmare of Witchy Poo. I mean, look at her…very scary.

Some fears, however, are less than rational. In California, it’s pretty common to have an awareness and fear of earthquakes – because they happen out there with relative frequency. This is a geographically rational fear.

Earthquakes in New York, however…not so common. We had an earthquake in New York last summer – like summer of 2011. I was home and the building started to just shimmy shake a little. Then, I heard a rattle-y noise and noticed that the handles on my dresser were shaking. I thought it might be an earthquake, but my head went to a completely different place. At that moment, as the rolling 5.8 earthquake rolled through my apartment, shook my floors and rattled the handles on my furniture, I thought….

‘ALIEN INVASION!’…..uhm…What?

Another fear that is not wholly rational is a fear of Vegan cuisine. Last night I went Vegan for no reason and made…

Vegan Fusilli Alfredo with Roasted Vegetables (serves 4)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and bring a large pot of water to a boil.

1. Cube 1 medium sized sweet potato and cut the florets from one stalk of broccoli  into bite size pieces. (Note you can save the broccoli stalk for vegetable stock if you so choose.)

SuperFood Sweet Potatoes Cubed

Broccoli

Broccoli Florets in Bite Size Pieces

2. In a bowl, toss the vegetables in olive oil, salt and pepper…you can use Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt as well. Just toss enough to lightly coat the veggies.

3. Arrange the vegetables on a rimmed baking pan lined with parchment paper and roast in the oven for :20minutes, turning the vegetables about halfway through the roasting. Once the veggies are softened and gently beginning to brown, remove from the oven and set aside.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli

Pretty Roasted SuperFoods

4. Once the water is boiling, drop in about 1 cup of fusilli per person. Then season the water generously with salt and a little olive oil.

NOTE: Waiting to add the salt until the water is boiling will help prevent salt stains on the bottom of your pot.

NOW – time to make the sauce…

Vegan Alfredo Sauce Mise En Place

5. While the pasta is boiling…In a food processor, puree 1/4 cup of raw cashews until fine.

Finely Ground Cashews

6. Add in:

  • 1 TBSP of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 TSP of Dijon mustard
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 TSP of Soy Sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 TBSP of Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 cup of boiling water from the Pasta Pot
  • 1/2 cup of Almond Milk (at room temperature)

Puree until creamy – you’ll see gentle bubbles of frothiness form. This can take about a minute or so…

Vegan Alfredo Sauce Frothy

7. Drain the pasta, but reserve at least one cup of the pasta water

8. Put the pasta back into the pot over low heat and pour the sauce over it. Stir to combine and heat through. If the sauce is too thick, use the pasta water to thin it just a bit.

9. Once heated through, transfer to a serving bowl and add the vegetables on top. You can also add some sliced cherry tomatoes. Very pretty!

Pretty Vegan Fusilli Alfredo With Veggies

10. Toss and serve. I served with a side of garlic bread and should have served a salad as well…but didn’t.

When I was about 10, I awoke from a dream in which I had witnessed the exile of Witchy Poo. In the dream, the evil witch was sent off to an island in the middle of the ocean. With her in exile, I took back the nights and could finally sleep without fear.

Last night, my guests for Vegan dinner were two cautiously supportive friends. When I served the Vegan Fusilli Alfredo, they each politely took about a spoonful and a half onto their plates. Each smiled through their fear as they went in for the first bite…I waited.

We had a back up plan to order in if the meal proved to be inedible.

‘Wow. It’s actually good.’ One of my friends finally said with surprise breaking the silence and the mystery aura surrounding Vegan cuisine. The other agreed and each helped herself to and finished a real portion of the dish.

I admit…I was skeptical too. I am not a Vegan, but wanted to give this dish a shot. And, I’m glad I did. It was a great, low-calorie option…And, more importantly, I am no longer afraid of Vegan Alfredo.