Southern Street Corn Salad

Southern Street Corn Salad

In my opinion, corn is a great compliment to any BBQ.  As summer draws near, magazines and the internet abound with a variety of grilled corn recipes, including street corn recipes.  It is hard to read the recipes without making your mouth water, but I have always wondered how I could serve the slathered corn cobs at a party without (a) making a giant mess or (b) compromising time with by guests. What about making a salad with grilled corn instead?

I searched for street corn salads, and most had a Mexican flavor profile.  In this recipe I went for a Southern spin, with the idea of mixing in flavors that would be similar to pimento cheese.  This Southern Street Corn Salad was a hit with my family and I can’t wait to serve it at a BBQ gathering. Enjoy!


Southern Street Corn Salad

Southern Street Corn Salad

6 ears fresh corn, husked
½ tablespoon melted butter
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6 tablespoons diced green onions
2 tablespoons real bacon bits
2 ounce jar diced pimentos, drained
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning


Preheat grill on medium high heat. Brush corn with melted butter, then grill corn for 8-10 minutes, turning every 2 minutes, until slightly charred on all sides. Cool and cut corn kernels off cob (will make approximately 4 cups of kernels).

In a large bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, green onions, bacon bits, pimentos, and Old Bay seasoning.  Add the corn kernels and stir until coated.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: recipe was entered in the Firehouse Subs Side Dish Challenge


Apple Cheddar Bread

Apple-Cheddar Bread

One of the cooking contests I am currently experimenting for is the Our Family Garden applesauce contest.  This contest has been so much fun, in part due to the enthusiasm of the host.  He has been giving contestants frequent insights into their products and business, making it a joy to share my cooking hobby with them. 

The other reason this contest has been so much fun is that the applesauce line is amazing.  Their products taste like your favorite, homemade batch – so much so that I had to be diligent to bake with it, rather than eat it right out of the jar.

One of my favorite recipe creations so far was an Apple-Cheddar Bread.  The bread is sweet, with a hint of savory, even with using the unsweetened applesauce. I loved the end result, as did my kids.  They kept requesting slices, which meant we polished off the loaf in under 24 hours.  I enjoyed eating it warm as an afternoon snack and as a breakfast treat.  I can’t wait to hear which way you prefer to eat this delightful Apple-Cheddar Bread!

Apple Cheddar Bread

Apple Cheddar Bread

2 cups flour (plus some for dusting pan)
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened Our Family Garden applesauce
4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
2 large eggs
1 cup shredded, sharp cheddar
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9-inch by 5 inch loaf pan and then dust with flour.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the 2 cups of flour, baking soda, baking powder, basil, and salt; set aside.  In a separate large bowl mix together the applesauce, melted butter, and eggs and stir to mix evenly.  Gently stir in the flour mixture in small batches until it is all incorporated.  Gently fold in the cheddar, then pour into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool to desired temperature, then cut to serve. Can be served warm or cold.


ultimate beet spiral salad

Ultimate Beet Spiral Salad

Every January, Healthy Solutions Spice Blends hosts a recipe contest. Of course this means I can’t wait to enter.  All of their products are great low salt and low sugar options, without sacrificing taste.

This year I decided to experiment with the Ultimate Burger blend.  While the namesake might lead you to think that my recipe entry is a juicy burger, think again! I used it to make an amazing vinaigrette to create my Ultimate Beet Spiral Salad.

ultimate beet spiral salad

The Healthy Solutions Ultimate Burger blend is mixed with a bit of olive oil and red wine vinegar to make a well balanced and low salt dressing. I used the vinaigrette to dress a salad of raw beet spirals, shelled edamame, baby tomatoes, and feta for a light and healthy salad that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

ultimate beet spiral salad

Ultimate Beet Spiral Salad

10.7 oz. (~4 cups) red beet spirals
½ cup shelled edamame, cooked and cooled
1 cup orange baby tomatoes
½ cup feta cheese
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar

2teaspoons Healthy Solutions Spice BlendsTM Ultimate Burger


Place the beet spirals, edamame, baby tomatoes, and feta in a large bowl and stir to toss.  In a separate, small container, mix together the oil, vinegar, and Ultimate Burger spice blend until uniform.  Pour the dressing over the beet salad and toss to coat.  Serve.


Corn Alfredo Sauce

Corn Alfredo Sauce with Penne and Chicken

I love watching cooking shows (I’m sure you aren’t surprised), including Chopped.  I am always amazed by the random mix of ingredients in the baskets and the creative recipes that the chefs create.  I guess that is why I just had to try the Chopped contest sponsored by Del Monte and Food Network.  The virtual basket included fresh lemon, fresh basil, feta cheese, and one can of Del Monte corn. I had a few ideas that came to mind, but one I wanted to try was a Corn Alfredo served over Penne and Chicken.

corn alfredo sauce

  I replaced some the cream and flour typically used in an alfredo sauce with pureed corn, which also was a great way to sneak in some veggies. The alfredo sauce was seasoned with fresh lemon zest and feta to create a fresh and unique sauce that wowed my family.  I made a simple dish by tossing it with pasta and chicken, and then garnished it with fresh basil and black pepper. 

My recipe ended up in the middle of the gallery of entries for the contest.  Just browsing the submittals makes me hungry.  I can’t wait to try some of these other corn inspired dishes!

Corn Alfredo Sauce

Corn Alfredo Sauce with Penne, Chicken, and Basil

1 ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
15.25 ounce can of Del Monte Whole Kernel Corn, drained
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 pound penne pasta, cooked and drained
1 cup chopped, pre-cooked chicken
0.25 ounces fresh basil chiffonade
Black pepper for garnish

To make the corn alfredo sauce, place  whipping cream, corn, and lemon zest in a medium sized sauce pan and use an immersion blender to process until smooth.  Heat over medium heat until it reaches a simmer, then stir in feta cheese. Use the immersion blender again to process until smooth, then bring the sauce back up to a simmer. Place the pasta in a large bowl, remove the sauce from the heat and pour over the pasta.  Add the chicken, and stir until the pasta and chicken are coated with the corn alfredo sauce.  Garnish with the fresh basil and a dusting of black pepper and serve.


Saucy Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Apricots

Saucy Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Apricots

Who doesn’t love bacon? Right? Now combine bacon with one of my favorite blogger contests – the Saucy Mama Blogger Contest – and I couldn’t wait to get started.  First comes the hard part of choosing products to sample since they all sound so good.  From the variety of mustards, sauces, and marinades I finally narrowed it down to the Saucy Mama® orange habanero wing sauce and Saucy Mama® cracked pepper marinade to work into my dish.

My entry for this year’s contest is a blend of one of my favorite appetizers (bacon wrapped blue cheese stuffed dates) and Turkish apricots to create Saucy Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Apricots.

I mixed the Saucy Mama® cracked pepper marinade (and a bit of green onions and bacon) into some ricotta cheese for a well spiced, creamy stuffing. Once stuffed and wrapped with bacon, the apricots got a coating of Saucy Mama® orange habanero wing sauce for a sweet kick.  The Saucy Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Apricots are baked until the bacon is crisp, and the wing sauce has caramelized.

My family loved them so much I don’t know if I could make enough for a party since they fly off the plate so fast.  Give them a try and see what I mean!

Saucy Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Apricots

You can find other Saucy Mama recipes and products on their facebook and pinterest pages

Saucy Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Apricots

14 slices (1 ½ pounds) applewood smoked bacon, divided
4 ounces ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons minced green onions
2 teaspoons Saucy Mama® cracked pepper marinade
24 dried apricots
24 toothpicks
¼ cup Saucy Mama® orange habanero wing sauce


Pre-heat the oven to 375 °F.

Place 2 pieces of bacon in a 12-inch skillet.  Pan fry the bacon over medium heat, turning occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until crisp; cool and crumble.

Mix ricotta cheese, green onion, crumbled bacon, and Saucy Mama® cracked pepper marinade, stirring to combine.   Gently pull open the cavity in the dried apricots and place ~1 teaspoon of ricotta in the center of each (i.e. equally divide the ricotta mixture between the apricots). Cut the remaining bacon slices in half, wrap one around each apricot, and secure with a toothpick. Place on a large baking sheet (13 inches x 18 inches), and evenly brush the tops of the wrapped apricots with the Saucy Mama® orange habanero wing sauce.  Bake for 40-45 minutes or until bacon is crispy.  Remove from the oven, cool slightly, and serve.


Coconut Crusted Sea Scallops

Coconut Crusted Sea Scallops

One of my favorite cooking tips is to bake scallops.  This results in tender scallops that turn out perfect every time. I enjoy sharing this tip so much, I decided to build my entry for the create TV cooking challenge around it (below).

Buried in my entry are two other tips: (1) toast flour and (2) use quick pre-prepared items to really build up flavor in an easy way.

I chose to coat my scallops with a coconut flour to create a nice tropical flavor, that isn’t too over powering yet that stays well. The first step though is to toast the flour to eliminate the raw flour taste, and enhance the coconut flavor.

Coconut Crusted Sea Scallops

I also paired the scallops with jasmine rice, which is a floral scented, long grain rice. To the rice I added some lemongrass puree to give it that extra oomph (You can find the puree in a tube in the produce section of your local grocery store).

 Plating was simply layering the rice, coconut crusted sea scallops, and salsa for an impressive, yet easy dinner.

Coconut Crusted Sea ScallopsCoconut Crusted Sea Scallops

Coconut Crusted Sea Scallops with Jasmine Rice and Mango Salsa

½ cup coconut flour
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup butter, melted
1 pound sea scallops
1 cup jasmine rice
2 ½ cups water
1 tablespoon lemongrass puree
1 mango, diced
1 avocado, diced
¼ cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons cilantro
Zest and juice of one lime

Preheat the oven to  350 °F.

While the oven heats, toast the flour. Add the flour to a nonstick pan over high heat, and stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes until the flour has an even, light brown color. Remove from the heat and add to a large bowl. Add the ginger, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to the toasted flour and stir to mix.

Dunk the scallops in the butter, coat in the toasted coconut flour, and then place in an 8×8 glass pan treated with non-stick spray. Bake the scallops for 30 minutes.

While the scallops bake, make the rice and salsa. To make the rice, bring the water, jasmine rice, and lemongrass puree to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until all of the water is absorbed.

To make the mango salsa, combine the  mango, avocado, red onion, cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice.

To plate, place ¾ cup rice on a plate, top with some of the sea scallops, and garnish with the mango salsa. Serve immediately.


pistachio chai tiramisu

Pistachio Chai Tiramisu

‘Tis the season for baking, so why not combine it with a cooking contest? This week’s recipe was inspired by the Simply Sesame Blogger Recipe Challenge hosted by Simply Sesame. Simply Sesame sent me their three different flavors of Simply Sesame spread: Pistachio-Cardamom, Vanilla-Almond, and plain. I instantly gravitated toward the subtly exotic pistachio-cardamom (though I enjoy all of the creamy flavors) to make my Pistachio Chai Tiramisu. The other great thing about these spreads is that they are gluten free and peanut free.

pistachio chai tiramisu

Tiramisu is an Italian dessert which typically consists of ladyfinger cookies soaked in a coffee-rum mixture and layered with a mascarpone cream layer then dusted with chocolate.  For this recipe I decided to play on the cardamom flavor of the Simply Sesame spread and soaked the ladyfingers in a chai-brandy mixture. Next, I folded the pistachio-cardamom simply sesame spread into the mascarpone (along with a bit of powdered sugar) to create my creamy layer.  Finally, the top of the tiramisu was decorated with a bit of caramel syrup and crushed pistachios.  The result was a beautifully presented tiramisu unlike any you have tasted.

pistachio chai tiramisu

It received a thumbs up from my hubby who is a tiramisu aficionado. I hope you enjoy it just as much!

pistachio chai tiramisuLooking for even more sesame spread recipe ideas? Follow Simply Sesame on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook.

Pistachio Chai Tiramisu

½ cup boiling water
1 chai tea bag
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup Simply Sesame Pistachio-Cardamom spread
4 tablespoons brandy, divided
16 lady finger cookies
2 tablespoons caramel syrup
2 tablespoons shelled, crushed pistachios
Place the chai tea bag in the boiling water and let steep for 3-5 minutes; set aside.  While the tea is steeping, prepare the cream filling.  Add the mascarpone cheese to a standing mixer bowl along with the powdered sugar.  On low speed, stir until combined.  Add the Simply Sesame Pistachio-cardamom spread to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed until combined. Finally, stir in 2 tablespoons of the brandy until well mixed and set aside.

Remove the tea bag from the water and place the tea in a shallow bowl along with the remaining 2 tablespoons of brandy and stir to combine.  Dunk the ladyfingers in the chai tea mixture one at a time, 2-3 seconds per side and place in the bottom of an 8 x 8 dish or trifle dish (you should only need half of the cookies to cover the bottom of the dish).  Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers, then add another layer of the soaked ladyfingers on top. Spread the remaining mascarpone mixture over the top to coat the cookies (you should have two layers of cookies and two mascarpone layers). Refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 2 hours.  Just before serving, drizzle the top of the tiramisu with the caramel syrup and then evenly cover the top with the crushed pistachios.  Cut and serve the pistachio chai tiramisu.


Mulled Pomegranate Martini

Mulled Pomegranate Martini

My latest cooking contest endeavor is the “Stir It Up Holiday Blogger Mixology Challenge” hosted by Stirrings and if proving to be a fun way to kick off the holiday season.  Stirrings makes premium cocktail mixers and rimmers and challenged bloggers to develop a creative, attractive, and delicious holiday cocktail.

Mulled Pomegranate Martini

One of the first things that comes to mind for a go-to holiday drink is a warm and spiced concoction. To add to your winter beverage repertoire I off the Mulled Pomegranate Martini.

Mulling means to sweeten, spice, and warm a drink.   For this cocktail I mulled the Stirrings® Simple Pomegranate Martini Cocktail Mixer and orange juice with cloves, anise, nutmeg, and ginger. After simmering for a few minutes, the mixer is strained and combined with a cinnamon-sugar vodka to add depth to the spice profile. The end result is a Mulled Pomegranate Martini that is a well-rounded delight.

The martini is served in a martini glass rimmed with Stirrings® Cosmopolitan Rimmer (which adds color and a slight hint of citrus) and garnished with an orange peel twist.

Mulled Pomegranate Martini

I can’t wait to experiment with the other Stirrings® products. You can find additional recipes on their social media sites (Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook).  Some of the locations that sell the Stirrings® products include: Hazel’s Beverage World, Davidson’s Liquors, Argonaut Wine & Spirits, Keg Liquors, Whole Foods Wine & Spirits, and Applejack Wine & Spirits.


Mulled Pomegranate Martini

Mulled Pomegranate Martini

7 ounces Stirrings® Simple Pomegranate Martini Cocktail Mixer
2 ounces pulp-free orange juice
15 whole cloves
3 whole star anise
1 whole nutmeg
1/3 teaspoon crystalized ginger
3 ounces cinnamon-sugar vodka
Garnish: Stirrings® Cosmopolitan Rimmer
Garnish: 2 Orange peel twists

Rim two martini glasses with Cosmopolitan Rimmer. Place the pomegranate mixer, orange juice, cloves, anise, nutmeg, and ginger in a medium sized, non-reactive sauce pan.  Bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes (liquids will reduce by 1/3).  Remove from the heat, strain, and add to a cocktail shaker along with the vodka and shake vigorously. Pour into the rimmed martini glasses, dividing the drink evenly between the two glasses. Garnish each glass with an orange peel twist and serve.


Hot&Spicy Hero Salad

Hot and Spicy Hero Salad

My latest cooking contest challenge was to use any one of the Fortune Asian noodles in a cold salad or casserole for their Blogger Recipe Challenge. I chose to go with their Hot & Spicy noodles for a cold salad creation, hoping to capitalize on the built in flavor of the sauce.  After some kitchen tinkering this Hot & Spicy Hero Salad was born, which is a cold salad version of the classic hero sandwich.

Hot&Spicy Hero Salad

The salad is stocked full of colorful mix-ins that add tons of flavor: mild pepper rings, pimentos, red onions, tomatoes, baby spinach, mozzarella, and chicken.  The star of the salad is the hot & spicy sauce, which is used in the dressing as well as in to cooking of the noodles.

Hot&Spicy Hero Salad

While this may sound complicated, it is really easy to put together.  The Fortune brand noodles are precooked and only take an additional 3-4 minutes to prepare. Similarly, the popcorn chicken pieces only take a few minutes to cook, which means cooking really only consists of a bit of chop and stir time.

Hot and Spicy Hero Salad

Hot&Spicy Hero Salad

Fortune has many other noodles to choose from, and some other great recipes being submitted for the contest.  You can find the recipes and other details on JSL food’s facebook page or their twitter page.  Many big grocery stores carry the Fortune noodles, including Safeway, Albertson’s, Shaws, Star Markets, Tom Thumb, and Target. I encourage you to give them a try!

Hot and Spicy Hero Salad

½ cup mayonnaise
One 7.7 ounce package of Fortune Brand Hot & Spicy Yakisoba stir fry noodles
4 ounces frozen popcorn chicken pieces
½ cup diced red onion
½ cup quartered baby tomatoes
¼ cup jarred mild pepper rings, drained
¼ cup jarred pimentos, drained
2 ounces fresh baby spinach
¾ cup shredded mozzarella


Place the mayonnaise in a small bowl, then add two teaspoons of the sauce package from the noodles, reserving the remainder of the sauce package.  Stir the mayonnaise until the sauce mix is completely incorporated; set aside.  Place the noodles and the remaining sauce in a microwave safe bowl along with ¼ cup of water.  Microwave on high for 4 minutes, stir, then drain and let cool. Place the popcorn chicken pieces on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Once cooked, cut chicken into bite size pieces.  Roughly cut the noodle in quarters then add to a large bowl, along with the red onion, tomatoes, pepper rings, and pimentos.  Pour the mayonnaise over the noodles and stir to coat. Add the spinach, chicken, and mozzarella and stir gently until everything is coated with the dressing and the ingredients are mixed.  Divide between two plates and serve.


Apricot Ginger Salmon

Apricot Ginger Salmon with Poblano Cauliflower Puree, and Wilted Watercress

I couldn’t wait for The Saucy Mama blogger challenge to open this year.  I absolutely fell in love with the Saucy Mama products when I entered my Baked Tarragon Lemon Sea Scallops in last year’s contest and I must admit I trolled their website the weeks leading up to this year’s contest to make sure I didn’t miss it.  The products I chose to experiment with in the kitchen were:

  • Saucy Mama Poblano Ranch Dressing
  • Saucy Mama White Balsamic & Honey Dressing
  • Saucy Mama Parmesan Marinade
  • Smoky Garlic Mustard
  • Champagne and Honey Mustard
  • Apricot Ginger Mustard

 Saucy Mama

Once I tasted the Apricot Ginger Mustard I just knew I had to build a recipe around it.  The sweetness of the apricot and zing of the ginger are perfectly balanced, which I thought would make an excellent topper for salmon. I complimented the Apricot Ginger Mustard with a bit of Saigon cinnamon and I divided the cooking time of the salmon between searing for a textured crust and baking for even tenderness.

Apricot-Ginger Salmon

Even though the Apricot Ginger Salmon is the main attraction, I utilized two other Saucy Mama products in the equally as tasty accompaniments. A cauliflower puree with the consistency of mashed potatoes earns its flavor from the Poblano Ranch Dressing, and the watercress that has been wilted to tame its spiciness (and pack in more servings per plate) is tossed with a bit of White Balsamic & Honey Dressing.

Apricot-Ginger Salmon

The plated dish, which was garnished with a dusting of kumquats, blackberries, and pistachios, made my husband utter an audible “wow”, which is always a welcome compliment to any cooking contester.  Even better, he said he felt like he had dined in a fancy restaurant – I just hope the judges agree with his review!

Apricot-Ginger Salmon

Apricot Ginger Salmon with Poblano Cauliflower Puree, and Wilted Watercress

2 tablespoons crushed pistachio meat
4 blackberries, diced (~ 2 tablespoons)
2 kumquats, diced (~2 tablespoons)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
2, 6-7 ounce boneless, skinless salmon filets
8 ounces frozen cauliflower
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Saucy Mama Poblano Ranch Dressing
2 tablespoons Saucy Mama Apricot Ginger Mustard
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces fresh watercress leaves
2 tablespoons Saucy Mama White Balsamic & Honey dressing

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

In a small bowl, stir together the pistachios, blackberries, and kumquats; set aside.

In a separate small bowl, stir together the salt, pepper, and Saigon cinnamon; set aside.

Place the cauliflower and water in a microwave safe bowl with a lid and microwave for 6-8 minutes, or until cooked throughout.  Drain the cauliflower than add to a food processor. Process the cauliflower until rice sized chunks are formed, pour in the Poblano Ranch dressing and then process again until smooth; keep warm.

Place a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the salmon filets dry, then sprinkle the salt mixture evenly over the top side of both filets, spreading with your fingers to cover the entire top evenly. Once the cast iron skillet is hot, place the salmon filets in the pan, salted side down, and sear for 3 minutes. Turn off the stove, flip the filets over, top each filet with 1 tablespoon of the apricot-ginger mustard, spreading evenly over the entire surface, then transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 6 minutes.

While the salmon is baking, melt the butter in a large saute pan.  Add the watercress and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until watercress is just wilted.  Add the Saucy Mama white balsamic & honey dressing and stir to coat.

To plate, divide the watercress between two plates, top with even amounts of the pureed cauliflower, then place one salmon filet over each pile of pureed cauliflower.  Evenly sprinkle the kumquat relish over both filets and serve immediately.


Spinach and Goat Cheese Steel Cut Oat Risotto

Spinach and Goat Cheese Steel Cut Oat Risotto

I’ve mentioned before that I love when I can use a premixed spice blend as a time saving measuring in my cooking. That is one of the reasons I enjoy the Healthy Solutions Spice Blends Blogger Challenge.  I get my creative cooking thinking cap on and experiment with a new spice mix, with the goal of creating a recipe that blends healthy eating with tasting great while upholding the low salt and low sugar goal of the spices. Challenge accepted!

Out of the 16 different blends offered by Healthy Solutions Spice Blends, I chose to use the Encrusted Haddock (which is a mix of garlic, celery, onion, and dried cranberry) since I felt it could be used in a wide variety of dishes. While I think this spice mix would be great for both chicken or seafood, I chose to make a meatless dish as my entry – Spinach and Goat Cheese Steel Cut Oat Risotto.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Steel Cut Oat Risotto

As compared to an Arborio rice risotto, steel cut oats are a much healthier choice. Steel cut oats pack a fair amount of protein, fiber, and iron per serving, making them a great meat substitute for a meal.  I was also able to keep my Spinach and Goat Cheese Steel Cut Oat Risotto true to the theme of low salt/low sugar by using an unsalted boxed stock.  When I surveyed the grocery store most of the unsalted box stocks had only 40-70 mg of sodium per 1 cup, which is well below the cut-off for low sodium items.  Similarly, goat cheese falls into the category of low sodium. See – eating healthy CAN still taste great.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Steel Cut Oat Risotto

Much like an Arborio rice risotto, I ladled stock into the steel cut oats, letting the stock get absorbed before the next addition.  Once all the liquid had been absorbed and the oats were tender-chewy, I stirred in the fresh spinach, Encrusted Haddock seasoning, red onions, pecans, and goat cheese. Simple, yet a healthy, impressive, and satisfying dish. Enjoy!

Spinach and Goat Cheese Steel Cut Oat Risotto

Spinach and Goat Cheese Steel Cut Oat Risotto

4 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 cup steel cut oats
Zest and juice of 1 lemon (juice is equivalent to ¼ cup lemon juice)
2 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 ounce pecan bits
¼ cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon Healthy Solutions encrusted haddock seasoning
4 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled
Chopped parsley for garnish, if desired
Additional lemon zest for garnish, if desired


Heat the chicken stock in a medium sized sauce pan and keep warm. Add the steel cut oats to a large sauce pan (~ 3 quarts), add one ladle of the warm stock and heat over medium heat.  As the stock is absorbed, add another ladle of stock, stirring frequently.  Repeat until all the stock has been added to the oats, adding the lemon juice with the last bit of stock.  Once the stock and lemon juice have been absorbed and the oats are tender and chewy (about 20-30 minutes), remove from the heat. Next, stir in the spinach until wilted, about 1 minute.  Then stir in the lemon zest, pecans, red onion, Healthy Solutions encrusted haddock seasoning, and goat cheese until well mixed. Transfer the Spinach and Goat Cheese Risotto to two serving bowls, sprinkle with parsley and additional lemon zest if desired, and serve.


Baked Tarragon Lemon Sea Scallops with Parmesan Succotash and Lemon Brodetto

In my house, my husband and I celebrate our birthdays with a weekend of nice meals. This year my hubby picked out quite the spread for mine. . . . and then mentioned that I should make some of it to ensure it came out perfect. The item in particular he had in mind was scallops, which turned out to be serendipitous since scallops are a key ingredient in a recipe I wanted to enter in the Saucy Mama contest.

The Saucy Mama contest involves a select number of food bloggers who create inventive and tasty dishes with at least one of the Saucy Mama products to vie for a spot in the Word Food Championships. Since I love the time saving benefits of adding a delicious pre-made sauce to my recipes (and I would love to win a trip to Orlando to compete in the seafood category of the WFC) I jumped at the chance to compete.

The hardest part of the qualification form was selecting the six products to try for my entry. The six products I chose were:

  • Parmesan Garlic Marinade
  • Tarragon Lemon Mustard
  • Miso Orange Sesame Dressing & Marinade
  • Four Leaf Balsamic Dressing & Marinade
  • Hatch Chili Mustard
  • Creamy Horseradish

After tasting each, I had recipe ideas for all of them, but I ultimately chose the first two to showcase in my baked sea scallops recipe. The remaining four are equally as tasty, so don’t be surprised if you see other upcoming posts featuring one of them.

The Parmesan Garlic Marinade I thought would be perfect on a fresh succotash. I decided to use fresh corn right off the cob, and then swapped out the typical lima beans for fresh, blanched fava beans.



A bit of grape tomatoes, and bacon (you can’t leave out the bacon!) completed the succotash, which got a coating of the Saucy Mama Parmesan Garlic Marinade. Don’t be fooled by the marinade title – the concentrated flavors are mellowed by the salad, creating a perfectly seasoned succotash.

The Saucy Mama Tarragon Lemon Mustard is just the flavoring I was looking for to add to the crust for the scallops. I stirred it into panko before sprinkling on top of the sea scallops, and reserved a bit to stir into a lemon brodetto.

You may be surprised that I chose to bake the sea scallops, since often scallops get the lightest of sears. However,  I have found baking to produce the most reproducible and tender results, which is why I chose it as my preferred cooking method.

The plated dish is a feast for both eyes and stomach. The baked sea scallops sits on top of an island of the succotash, which is surrounded by the lemon brodetto.


I must say that enjoying a dinner of Baked Tarragon Lemon Sea Scallops with Parmesan Succotash and Lemon Brodetto was a great way to celebrate my birthday. Being chosen as the winning recipe for the Saucy Mama contest would be icing on the cake (pun intended).

Baked Tarragon Lemon Sea Scallops with Parmesan Succotash and Lemon Brodetto

1 ½ pounds fresh fava bean pods
1 large ear fresh corn
6 slices hickory smoked bacon
2 shallots, diced (equals ½ cup)
2 cups chicken stock
Juice from two lemons (equals 1/3 cup)
Zest of two lemons
1 pound sea scallops, rinsed, drained, and patted dry, plus tough muscle removed from side
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
4 tablespoons Saucy Mama tarragon lemon mustard, divided
½ cup diced grape tomatoes
½ cup Saucy Mama Parmesan marinade
Fresh tarragon as garnish


Remove the fava beans from the pod, then place the beans in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove from boiling water and plunge into a cold water bath. Once cooled, remove the outer shell from the fava beans. Place the shelled, cooked fava beans in a large bowl and set aside.

Shuck the corn, then cut the kernels from the cob, and chop the fresh kernels until no large chunks remain. Add the kernels to the fava beans and refrigerate until ready to prepare the succotash.

In a large skillet, fry the bacon, turning once, until crispy, about 8 minutes total. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on paper towels. Drain the bacon fat from the skillet, reserving two tablespoons of the fat in the pan. Place the pan over medium heat and add the shallots to the pan. Saute until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest to make the brodetto and keep warm.

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Place sea scallops, and melted butter and in a bowl. Season with salt, and pepper. Stir gently to combine. Transfer to a lightly greased 8-inch by 8-inch casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, combine panko and 3 tablespoons of the Saucy Mama tarragon lemon mustard. Sprinkle on top of the sea scallops and pat down.

Bake in preheated oven until crumbs are brown and sea scallops are done, about 15 minutes or until center of scallop reaches 130 °F and they are opaque and milky white.

While the scallops are baking, prepare the succotash. Remove the fava beans and corn from the refrigerator and add the grape tomatoes, and then dice the cooked bacon and add to the fava bean mixture. Pour the Saucy Mama parmesan marinade over the fava beans and stir until well coated and the succotash is mixed.

When the sea scallops are done, remove them from the oven and begin to plate. Stir the remaining mustard into the lemon brodetto, and divide between four shallow dishes. Evenly divide the succotash between the four shallow dishes, placing in a circular pile in the center of the dish. Evenly top the succotash with the baked scallops, about 6 per dish. Sprinkle each dish with some of the fresh tarragon and serve immediately.

Note: If fresh corn and fava beans cannot be found, 1 cup of thawed, frozen corn and ¾ cup of thawed, frozen fava beans can be used as substitution.