Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

When I got my braces on in middle school, my orthodontist gave me a rather long list of foods I’d have to strike from my diet for two or so years – it included but was not limited to, bubble gum, pizza, and corn on the cob. Quite a price to pay for straight choppers – especially when summertime barbecues rolled around. If it wasn’t bad enough that I had to eat pizza with a fork and knife, backyard picnics weren’t quite the same now that corn and I couldn’t be together anymore.

Eventually, though, my mom came to the rescue – instead of chewing the corn straight off the cob, she used a knife to slice it off the cob off in beautiful yellow slabs. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this “new” delicacy – in fact, I’ve been braces-free for almost a decade now, but this is still my preferred method when it comes to corn.

With Memorial Day weekend in progress and summer on the horizon, the time for corn is now. Make sure you get fresh, sweet corn for this recipe – canned corn has a tendency to get mushy. To make sure you pick a winner, pull the husk and silk back slightly and prick one of the kernels with your nail. It emits milky white juice, you’re good to go!

I roasted my corn, but this would be fabulous with grilled corn as well! Either of these methods will highlight the corn’s natural sweetness.

Enjoy as a side dish at a barbecue, or add some crumbled pressed tofu to make it a substantial lunch.

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad
Serves 4

2 ears fresh white or yellow corn, husks on
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed 
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
3 green onions, sliced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Hot sauce, to taste
Salt & Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Place corn directly on oven rack and roast for 30 minutes, or until corn is soft. Let cool slightly before removing husks and silks. Holding the cob vertically at a slight angle, slice corn off in large slabs. Place kernels in a large bowl.

2. Add the beans, bell pepper, green onions and cilantro to the corn and mix thoroughly.

3. In a small bowl, mix together lime juice, oil, spices, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Dress salad and mix well. Refrigerate until serving.

Nutrition per Serving: 148 calories, 1g fat, 32g carbohydrates, 9g protein.

Five Fab Tips for Making Your Spring Cleaning Last!

Spring is here, and around our house, that means cleaning out the house. A clean, clutter-free house just makes you feel better, and there’s no better time to flush out the house then with the renewed energy that spring gives us.

I love to throw open the windows, turn up the music and clean, clean, clean. My husband knows that when this weather starts, he will be doing lots of runs to the local donation bins because it’s out with the old!

Cleaning the house out seems like such a no-brainer, but surprisingly, many people don’t know how to do this effectively, and how to make it last! We all know the drill because we’ve all been there, we spend the day cleaning out closets, dusting, organizing, and within a week, it seems like the counter is full of papers again, and the closets are bursting at the hinges. But don’t worry, help is on its way! Here are 5 tips to make your hard work last longer, so you have more time to spend outside, which is what we all really want to be doing anyway!

Baskets– I have baskets all over my house, especially in the “hot spots”. I define hot spots, as those spots in your house where things seem to gather. For us, it’s the shelf when you come in the door, the edge of the kitchen counter, and Mom and Dad’s dresser.  The baskets are great because instead of piling things in these spots, we can throw those things into the basket, keeping things neat-ish,  contained and seemingly in order. Once a week, I go through all the baskets and put things where they actually belong, but between the times when they are cleaned out, our “junk” doesn’t look so junky inside of a pretty little basket!

The 10 Minute Hustle – After dinner, we like to do Mom’s 10-Minute-Hustles! There are 5 of us in this house, 4 of us who are big enough to help out, so after dinner, I set the timer on the stove for 10 minutes, and everyone races around and picks up things that aren’t put away, sweep the floor, throws dirty laundry in the basket, wipes off counters.. anything they can do to contribute to the neatness of our house! It may not be done perfectly, but it’s been attempted! And let’s face it, if 4 people are doing the 10-minute hustle, it’s like 40 minutes of cleaning by myself, and that means more time to hang out with the kids or watch Dr. Phil from the PVR!

Stick to Necessities – The less you have, the less you need to pick up or clean up. I am a very minimal person, and I’m not advocating that for everyone, however, if you find yourself picking up things you rarely use, dusting objects you don’t enjoy anymore, working around things that serve no purpose, or if you’re not really sure what’s in the back of that closet, or why you have 5 spatulas – it’s time to evaluate what you need to have. Getting rid of some things that are just laying around and not really being used can free up storage for things you really do need to have! When you start digging, you’ll be amazed how much you have that you don’t really need.

Routine – Sometimes all we need is a little structure to keep things in order. There is no, one-size-fits-all solution to this one because we all have very different lives, and pressing things to do but getting into some sort of cleaning routine will help you stick to keeping up with everything. Some people find it easiest to focus on one room a day, others find taking one weekend day and getting the whole house cleaned is more effective for them. I’m on maternity leave right now, so I kind of incorporate a whole bunch of ideas into one.  I find that first thing in the morning, I get a load of laundry in, sweep, wipe down the counters, and for the rest of the day I attempt to get at something I’ve noticed needs done. If I can get all of this done by the time nap time is over, I have the rest of the day to play! The goal is to find something that works for your family and stick with it. If you’re both working, try sitting down and delegating things that need to be done, and stick it to the fridge! And don’t forget the kids. Give them something they can handle to do every single day. (My 5-year-old LOVES to have a “job” and the bathroom is her domain. She cleans the counter off, wipes it down, and keeps the toilet paper dispenser stocked with rolls of paper for us!)

The final Tip is to relax. We’re all in the same boat, and I know when someone shows up unannounced and you and looking around your house wondering what they MUST be thinking about you and your stay of a house, you are mortified. But chances are, they’re going home to a less than perfect house too, and we’re all hard-working adults, who are all trying to work out the delicate balance between fun time, kid time, grown-up time, and cleaning.…

Let’s Be Safe – Not A Victim

As we sit here after Thanksgiving, thinking we ate too much — we now start to think about Christmas and the start of the Christmas shopping rush. It begins with Black Friday and continues until the night before Christmas. Let’s take a few minutes to stop and think about our safety.

When we leave to go shopping, there are others out there who are not going to a store to buy their Christmas gifts. They are looking for an easy target to steal from. Take a few minutes and stop and think about not being an easy target.

  • When I leave my residence did I check and make sure I have locked the doors and windows? An unlocked door makes it so much easier for a thief to do his or her Christmas shopping in your living room.
  • If you take gifts out of the boxes when you return home, conceal the boxes or packaging within garbage bags, rather than placing the packaging in the recycling bin. The packaging, especially for high-ticket items, advertises what is inside your home.
  • Make sure gifts and valuables are not in plain view. Close curtains at night.

Many of us do some of our shopping online and have the packages delivered to our homes. If you are not at home when the packages are delivered, they are usually left on your front steps. An unattended package sitting for just a few minutes is an open invitation for thieves to help themselves.

  • Modern technology gives us the ability to track our packages and we usually know when they will be delivered. Arrange your schedule to be home when the package is to be delivered.
  • Make arrangements with a neighbor you know and trust, and who is going to be home to either have the packages delivered to their home or willing to pick up the packages from your front steps and hold them until you get home.

A lot of us enjoy the hustle and bustle of the shopping experience. We travel to our local shopping mall and find a good central parking spot. We spend the better part of a day going from store to store, finding just the right gifts for everyone on our list. After we make our purchases and do not want to carry them from store to store, we take them out and lock them in our car.

  • Remember you are not the only one using the parking lot. The thief is also out there looking for an opportunity to do his or her Christmas shopping. When you store a purchase in your vehicle — remember out of sight is out of mind. Place the packages in the trunk, lock the vehicle, and set the alarm if the vehicle is equipped with one.
  • Park in a well-lit area, preferably right next to a parking lot light. This increases the chance of thieves being seen, and they know it.
  • Remember your personal safety; be cautious when walking out to your vehicle. Know your surroundings, if something seems wrong, turn around and go back into the store. Have your keys ready. Most of all, there is nothing worth getting hurt for. Any item can be replaced, getting hurt can really dampen or ruin your Christmas.

Recipes, Scarves and Jewlery!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Stella + Dot has a collection where 100% of the proceeds go to Breast Cancer research. Everyone needs a little more pink in their life.

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And speaking of charitable shopping. Are you familiar with A.Barclay scarves?

“For every scarf that is purchased, A.BARCLAY buys an item of need from a Tanzanian for a Tanzanian, supplying multiple orphanages in the country with day to day necessities and stimulating local markets.  Depending on what the orphanages need, the items we donate will vary from season to season.”

Anna, the founder of this amazing lines of scarves has generously offered TTS readers 20% off your purchase until Monday at midnight using the code EXTRA20.

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On Tuesday night, after 2 full weeks of eating out, I decided we need a delicious (and healthy) home-cooked meal. After some convincing Spencer let me make some spaghetti squash. I posted a picture on Instagram and you guys requested the recipe, so here it is!

You will need:
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • Amylu Italian Chicken Sausage (I have tried a lot of brands and this is by far the best one)
  • Yellow peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Basil
  • Pine nuts
  • Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half horizontally (this part is tough but just keep pushing). Pull out all of the seeds.
Step 2: Put a little bit of salt, pepper and olive oil on the flesh of the squash and lay it flesh side down on to a cookie sheet.
Step 3: Bake for 30-40 minutes. Use a dinner fork to pull out the “noodles” from inside the squash.
Step 4: Cut zucchini and yellow pepper into small pieces and cook on the stove top with salt and pepper.
Step 4: Combine basil, olive oil, parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts in a food processor to make pesto.
Step 5: Cut pre-cooked chicken sausage into bite-sized pieces and brown in a nonstick pan (no oil is needed)
Step 6: When sausage, pesto and squash are all finished combine in a bowl and feast!
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Sorry for all the randomness, but I needed a break for the wedding pics to squeeze in some important things like shopping and food.Have a great weekend! …

Rich French Buttercream – The Ultimate Cake Frosting Recipe

Cake frosting or icing is almost always misleading, it looks so delicious and decadent on beautifully decorated cakes, but then the first taste of it either feels like a greasy gob of sweet shortening on your tongue or the sweetness of it has burned your taste buds. Also, have you ever really just tasted powdered sugar by itself? It has corn starch in it, and I swear I can taste it.

Whipped cream frosting is good, but doesn’t have the same stability as a shortening and powder sugar based decorating frosting. In my opinion, the taste of it is missing a little something-something.

So thankfully, there are real buttercream recipes in existence. The kind of buttercream you’ll find on a $6.00 slice of cake served at a quality restaurant. The two more popular buttercreams are Swiss meringue buttercream and Italian buttercream, which are usually egg white based and are very similar to each other, except the methods are different. These are the elite frostings usually reserved for wedding cakes because of their silky textures and light flavors. As long as the weather isn’t too hot, they are stable and hold up well.

French buttercream isn’t as well known, it’s the naughty little cousin to the other buttercreams. It’s naughty because one tablespoon of the stuff has 5 grams of fat. This isn’t an everyday kind of frosting, friends. This should be reserved for special occasions, or when you want to present a knock-out dessert. The buttercream has a very creamy pale yellow color, so cakes will not be a true white color. The richness and silky texture are amazing, and the light flavor is complemented by just enough sweetness. I will never make a powdered sugar based frosting again!

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: Makes 4.5 cups
Ingredients
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pound unsalted butter (4 sticks) brought to room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Directions
  1. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg yolks until light lemon yellow colored.
  2. Carefully combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  3. Simmer the sugar mixture over medium heat (without stirring) until 215°F is reached on a candy thermometer. If sugar crystals form on the inside of the pan, carefully brush the insides of the pan with a wet pastry brush.
  4. With the mixer on low, slowly stream the hot sugar mixture into the egg yolks, if done slowly and properly, this “cooks” the egg yolks but doesn’t cause them to curdle.
  5. Once the sugar mixture is in, turn the mixer to high and beat the mixture until the sides of the mixing bowl have reached room temperature, approximately 10-12 minutes. The mixture will be smooth and creamy.
  6. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla, and slowly add the softened butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, until all the butter is incorporated and the mixture resembles a spreadable frosting. If your mixture is too warm, put the mixing bowl and buttercream in the refrigerator for 15 minutes – and beat with the mixer until smooth.
  7. The frosting can be stored for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before spreading.
Notes

This recipe makes enough frosting to fill and decorate a 2-layer 9X9 inch round cake.