Fiesta Salad

Fiesta Salad

It’s not even warm yet and this is currently my favorite salad. I can only imagine how refreshing it will taste in the summer! It has lots of crunch, which I love, and it’s dressed with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette. You can adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. I’ll give you the recipe I use, and you go from there!

Not only is this a great salad to have for lunch, or for dinner on a hot summer night — but it is also a delicious salad to take to a barbecue. It has no mayo so it can sit out for a while, making it the perfect side dish to bring!

I’m not sure where the original recipe came from as she didn’t say, but I got the recipe from a teaspoon of happiness ‘ blog and adapted it to my taste. If you think you don’t want the chickpeas in there, give them a try. I reduced the amount from the other recipe and for me it’s a good balance. They are full of protein and so healthy. I used frozen corn that I roasted for mine which added a great flavor, but you can use any type of corn. So make it yours and enjoy!

**Note: I will tell you how to quickly roast up some frozen corn after the recipe! **

fiesta salad no title

Fiesta Salad with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

Ingredients for Salad:
12 oz. corn (frozen bag), roasted – or any cooked corn of your choice. If you use canned, drain and rinse first.
1 can (16 oz.) chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 to 1   1/2 chopped English cucumber (the long ones with ridges)
A few shy of a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
Small red onion or 1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 small bell pepper, diced (use whatever color you like or mix it up!)

Ingredients for Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice from 2 limes (about 4 tablespoons)
1 clove garlic, mined -or- 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic in jar
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar

1. Chop up all veggies and put into a large bowl. Rinse and drain the chickpeas and put them into the bowl. Add your corn. Mix well.
2. Combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Whisk together. Pour over the salad and mix well, making sure everything is coated.
3. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour or two, but overnight is best!

**If you want to roast up some corn quickly, just take a bag of frozen corn and pour it onto a baking sheet. Add a little oil, salt, and pepper and combine. Put under the broiler for about 5-8 minutes and you have roasted corn! (Just keep an eye on it so you don’t have burnt corn…you know how tricky those broilers can be.)

I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as I do!

Green Bean Casserole Bites

green bean casserole bites

Green Bean Casserole? There’s an app for that! If you like the traditional green bean casserole normally served at holidays, you will love these little bites of green bean goodness for all your parties. I happen to love the casserole and I make it on occasion. After the holidays were over, I was still craving some and had an idea. Why not pair the ingredients with my leftover pie crust? They came out wonderful and I wanted to share them with you. These are perfect for entertaining, especially during the holidays, since they are bite-sized. So many are watching their figures these days, right? You and your guests can enjoy what they love about the traditional casserole in a much smaller portion! Plus, they make a delicious option for vegetarians.

(Recipe follows photos)

Roll out your refrigerated pie crust dough slightly to thin the dough out. Use a round cutter to make circles approximately 2 1/4″ in diameter. I used a cookie cutter with a scalloped edge.

green bean casserole dough

Tuck the pie crust circles into mini muffin tins that have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Make your filling by first chopping up the green beans into smaller pieces.

green bean casserole beans

Combine all filling ingredients and spoon into pie crust cups, being careful not to overfill them. They should be about level with the top of the pie crust or just a little above it, as shown below.

green bean casserole filling

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15-17 minutes, or until the crusts are golden in color. Add additional fried onions and bake for up to 5 minutes to toast them.

green bean casserole topping

Let cool slightly, and they should pop right out of the muffin tins. Serve while still warm!

green bean casserole bites close

Tools you will need: Mini muffin tin/s, rolling pin, round cookie cutter approx. 2 1/4 inches in diameter, large cutting board or clean, smooth surface, and cooking spray.

Green Bean Casserole Bites
1 package refrigerated pie crusts (14.1 oz.) ~ 2 crusts
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) of cut green beans, DRAINED, or 1 lb. of frozen green beans thawed, or 1 lb. of fresh green beans, cooked until soft
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup
Splash of milk ~ about 1/8 cup
Freshly ground black pepper to taste, or about 1/4 tsp.
1 1/3 cup French’s fried onions ~ divided in half

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray mini muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Roll out first pie crust slightly to thin and smooth out. Cut out as many mini pie crusts as you can and set scraps aside. Roll out second pie crust slightly and cut out more pie crusts. You can stop here, but you will get a lot more appetizers if you roll out the leftover dough. Combine the scraps from both crusts and roll out more dough, trying to make it as thin as the first two crusts. You may need to add just a little flour if your crust sticks to your board. Tuck these mini crusts into your prepared mini muffin tins.
4. Prepare your filling: Drain green beans and chop them up into smaller pieces as in photo above. Add to large bowl. Scoop out cream of mushroom soup and add that to the bowl. Add your splash of milk. (Note: You don’t want to add as much as the original recipe calls for. You don’t want it too wet or the pie crusts will be soggy. I think 1/8 cup is perfect.) Add in the black pepper.
5. Take the fried onions and crush them up. I just use my (clean!) hands, but if you prefer not to, you can put them in a ziploc bag and crush them, or take your rolling pin over them in the bag. Half goes into the filling bowl (2/3 cup). Set aside the other half (2/3 cup).
6. Combine all the ingredients together with a spoon, with the exception of the fried onions that you set aside.
7. With a small spoon, fill the mini pie crusts with the filling. You don’t want them to be overfilled. If you fill to the top of the pie crust edge, you will be fine. (Note: You will have some leftover filling.)
8. Bake in preheated oven (middle rack) at 350 degrees for about 15-17 minutes. You will see the crusts a nice golden color and that’s when you take them out.
9. Using the crushed fried onions that you set aside earlier, sprinkle them on the tops of your mini pies.
10. Put the pans back in the oven for about 5 minutes to crisp up the onion topping until they are golden.
11. Let cool just a couple minutes until you can handle them, and they should pop right out of your muffin tins. If they don’t, just take a butter knife to help them along. Serve while still warm and enjoy!

Note: If you only roll out the 2 crusts and don’t re-roll the scraps, you will get about 24-30 green bean casserole bites. If you keep re-rolling the scraps, you will get up to 44 of them!
You will have leftover filling so you can just put that in a casserole dish, bake it, (don’t forget the onion topping) and then refrigerate or freeze for another time! Waste not, want not!

Hope you try these for your next party!

Spicy Sweet Potatoes

If you enjoy a combination of sweet and spicy, you will love this tasty side dish. I’ve been making my sweet potatoes like this for about 10 years and they are still a favorite! Even those that don’t really like things spicy appreciate them this way. The brown sugar really balances out the chili powder and cayenne pepper, while the roasting melds the flavors together to bring happiness to your mouth!

If my memory serves me right, I believe I found this recipe many years ago from a Taste of Home magazine that I had at the time. I changed it slightly and copied it into my recipe booklet. It was definitely a keeper and one I use at most holidays. It’s so easy and you’ll find it’s a go-to side dish for you as well…

{Recipe follows photos}

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Start by peeling 3 large sweet potatoes or yams (about 2 1/2 lbs.) Cut them in half lengthwise and place flat side down on your cutting board.

Now slice each half into 4 or 5 pieces.

Cut slices into cubes/chunks.

Throw all the chunks into a large resealable bag and add 4 tablespoons of olive oil (or canola oil). Seal bag and shake to coat the potatoes well. Add in the brown sugar, chili powder, salt, and cayenne pepper. With bag sealed well, toss to coat the potatoes so the spices are distributed evenly.

Transfer potatoes to a baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes or until tender. You will need to stir them up every 15 minutes, so they bake evenly. Serve and enjoy! (They are really yummy heated up the next day as well!)

Spicy Sweet Potatoes
3 large sweet potatoes or yams (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
4 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I use 1/2 tsp., but you might want to try it first with 1/4 tsp. depending on your taste)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cut potatoes into chunks about 1 inch. Put into a large resealable bag and add oil. Shake to coat evenly. Add the brown sugar, chili powder, salt, and cayenne pepper and shake the bag to coat potatoes evenly. Transfer to a baking dish and bake in oven for 40-45 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring them every 15 minutes so they cook evenly.