Guest Cooking

I’ve been putting off making the Brie/Chocolate Panini, so I’ll talk about some tasty dinners my two roommates have made in the past week.

Shelley tried out two side dishes from both of the new cookbooks I received for Christmas – The Pioneer Woman Cooks and So Easy. From TPWC, Shelley made “Katie’s Roasted Corn Salad,” which was really tasty and would be even better over the summer at a cookout. It has some really pretty colors, and it’s pretty versatile – a lot of different vegetables could work in this side dish, like zucchini,cucumbers, different peppers, celery…maybe even avocados? I’m not really into avocados, but it could be an interesting addition. Don’t blame me if you try it and it’s nasty, though.

ANYWAYS, we kept to the recipe, vegetable wise, but we added in some lemon juice and some Italian Dressing seasoning – we thought it needed something salty. PW advises that you grill fresh corn and the onions before assembling the salad, but seeing as we don’t have a grill (well, we do have the George Foreman…logging that way for next time..), we opted for getting frozen corn and leaving the onions un-grilled. We ate it as a side dish to hotdogs (fancy, right? They were turkey hotdogs, which weren’t as flavorful as the traditional mixed fake beef kind, but I felt healthier, at least). It’s also good with tortilla chips, and PW recommends using it as a steak topper.

Katie’s Roasted Corn Salad, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
For the Vegetables:
– Olive Oil
– 8 fresh corn ears ((aka one regular sized bag of frozen corn…in retrospect, however, I think it might have been better with 1.5 or 2 bags – the dressing was a little strong for the amount of veggies we had)
– 1 red onion ((definitely use red over yellow; it adds so much flavor)
– 1 red bell pepper
– 2 medium tomatoes

For the Dressing:
– 1/2 cup olive oil
– 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
– 12 basil leaves ((maybe we underestimate the true power of fresh herbs, but we just use dry basil)
– 1 teaspoon kosher salt
– 2 garlic cloves, chopped

This made a TON of salad, but it’s great as a leftover, too – the flavors really marry together. Here’s a picture, which doesn’t really do the salad justice at all…crappy camera+ugly blue bowl+poor lighting = not so pretty food picture

Shelley also made some Parmesan steak fries from Ellie Kreiger’s So Easy cookbook. For plain potatoes with just Parmesan cheese on top, these fries were really tasty and are healthy as well. We used the powdery (probably fake) Parm. cheese, so I’m curious to see how it would taste with real Parmesan…it probably won’t happen anytime soon, though. $7+ cheese doesn’t mix well with cheapos like myself.

Parmesan Steak “Fries” from So Easy

– Cooking spray
– 2 large russet potatoes
– 1 tablespoon canola oil
– 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

This cookbook says to bake the fries at 450 for 20 minutes; however, if you have a retarded oven like we do, you might want to try a little longer.

It took ours 40 minutes. So sad.

The thinner you cut the fries though, the quicker they’ll cook and ours were pretty thick. And here’s a picture, excuse the tacky nail polish.

The soup Kayla made was really awesome, and it was even better because I finally had the chance to try the mystical kale I always see on Foodnetwork. I was under the impression that kale was a fancy kind of lettuce and that it would be hard to find.

I am still stupid about food.

It was at Walmart, and cheap as well. I was afraid it would taste bitter like arugula and endives, but it tasted like collard greens. Here’s kale for those of you (like me) who don’t know what it looks like:

That’s probably a turn off for some, but it really works in the soup/stew. Officially, it’s called Bean and Sausage Stew and it’s from the Real Simple website.

– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 13-ounce package chicken sausage links, sliced 1/4 inch thick (We used turkey breakfast sausage…chicken sausage is a luxury not available at Kroger)
– 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
– 1 19-ounce can white beans, drained
– 1 14.5-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
– 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
– 1 bunch kale
– 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
– 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

The kale was really pretty in this dish and it wilted very nicely. We all agreed that we should have cut it into smaller pieces..it’s not so attractive to watch someone try to chew a HUGE kale leaf. I actually liked the turkey sausage in the stew – I don’t think the chicken sausage would have had much taste at all. I also think this stew would have been good spicy – maybe add some red pepper flakes, chili powder, a little bit of cayenne and use spiced Italian turkey sausage for even more flavor.

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