Sauteed Sweet Corn

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Many of you read about my latest food adventure of helping to put up sweet corn at my aunt and uncle’s stock farm in Iowa. If you haven’t read it yet, you can read it here.

When I got home from the farm, I was excited to try a few different ways to prepare my pickin’ of sweet corn. One of my favorite ways to cook the corn is so simple, I debated on whether it was even a recipe or worthy of posting for your reading pleasure. Sometimes simple recipes are the best, so I decided it was worth sharing.

Farm-fresh sweet corn, creamy butter, a pinch of salt, and a dash of black pepper was all it took to make this simple, yet flavorful dish a hit.

Note: This recipe calls for one to two ears of corn, but you can easily double or triple this recipe.

Sauteed Sweet Corn:
Serves: 1-2

1-2 ears of fresh sweet corn
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Remove the outer husk and silk threads from each ear of corn; discard. Rinse each ear of corn under cool running water. Pat dry with a paper towel.

Place one ear at a time on the cutting board. Place the ear so the pointed top is resting on a cutting board and the bottom is pointed up. Using a large chef’s knife, cut the kernels off each ear of corn.

Place a non-stick skillet over medium-low to medium heat. Melt butter in the skillet. Add the corn kernels. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the kernels uncovered for 8-10 minutes or until tender.

EnJOY!

A Shuckin’ Good Time

Children of the corn.

Children of the corn.

This past Saturday I woke up with the sun and made the hour-long drive with my husband and a good old cup o’ Joe back down to my aunt and uncle’s farm in Iowa. My memories of putting up sweet corn were not all rosy! As a child, putting up sweet corn always came the day after the week-long county fair came to an end. Needless to say, I was less than enthusiastic to help put up sweet corn when it was joined with an early morning and a long day of hard work. Yet here I was excitedly making the trek down to help.

Putting up sweet corn begins with picking the fresh ears off the stalk. The corn stalks stand at approximately six feet tall and field corn can easily reach 12 feet tall!

Picking fresh ears of sweet corn.

Picking fresh ears of sweet corn.

Once the corn has been picked, the corn husking begins…or is it corn shucking?! My uncle George and I debated this very thing while sitting on the tailgate of the truck shucking corn. I decided to do a little digging around online and found that either term is correct. I tend to use them interchangeably. We had a good laugh that as a Nebraska native and Cornhusker fan, I was corn husking in Iowa!

Corn husking or is it corn shucking?!

Corn husking or is it corn shucking?!

Carrying the shucked corn by the bucket full up to be silked and rinsed.

Carrying the shucked corn by the bucket full up to be silked and rinsed.

After removing the outer husk from the corn, we carried the shucked corn by the bucket full up near the farmhouse to be silked and rinsed. Silking corn involves removing the silks, or thread-like strands, from the ears of corn. Typically, we rinse each ear while we silk the corn. We were able to speed up this process by renting a corn desilker machine from a fellow farmer. This machine was truly amazing as it removed the silk and rinsed the corn at the same time!

Uncle George silking.

Uncle George silking.

Love the desilker machine!

Love the desilker machine!

One of my favorite pictures with Uncle George in his element!

One of my favorite pictures with Uncle George in his element!

Once all the ears had been shucked, silked, and rinsed, the operation moves inside!

Moving the operation inside.

Moving the operation inside.

Next up was cutting the kernels off each ear of corn. The only way to do this is by using an electric knife. My aunt Laurie and I both tried our hand at this job multiple times throughout the day, but ultimately we decided that my uncle George took the cake on this one. We were in awe as he just zipped right through each bucket of corn. In our defense, he has been doing this for years! He has been putting up sweet corn since he was a child growing up on his mother and father’s farm in the same town.

Trying my hand at cutting the kernels.

Trying my hand at cutting the kernels.

After cutting the kernels off each ear of corn, we measured the corn kernels in big pots to cook in batches over the stove. We ended up cooking a little over five batches. A few batches used 36 cups of corn and a couple batches held 45 cups of corn!

One of many batches of corn.

One of many batches of corn.

Each batch included sweet cream butter, sugar, salt, and water. The corn was placed on the stove, brought to a soft boil, and boiled for seven minutes. Next, we placed the corn in a colander over a large kettle, and drained off the liquid from the corn kernels. Then we laid out the corn on cookie sheets to cool.

One of the big batches of corn.

One of the big batches of corn.

Labor of love.

Labor of love.

Yummy!

Yummy!

Once the cooked corn has cooled, it is time to bag it. We primarily scooped the corn into pint-sized zip lock bags, however we also had several quart-sized bags, and a few gallon bags too. We added a few tablespoons of the melted butter and cooking liquid back into each bag and sealed them to be put in the freezer.

Bagging cooked sweet corn with my sweet Aunt Laurie.

Bagging cooked sweet corn with my sweet Aunt Laurie.

Putting up sweet corn DONE!

Putting up sweet corn DONE!

And there you have it folks…putting up sweet corn in a nutshell! That’s a wrap!

A Berry Good Time

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When my brother and I were young kids we spent a couple weeks each summer down at my aunt and uncle’s stock farm in southwest Iowa. Our summers on the farm consisted of walks to the “Red Shed” on the gravel road, hay bale jumping, playing with the dogs and kittens, tractor rides, lawn mower rides, long days and nights at the county fair, raspberry picking, and putting up sweet corn (more on that to come soon). A few weeks ago I returned to the farm to pick fresh wild raspberries and make jelly. Needless to say it was a “berry good time”!

cows

My short stay on the farm began with a two mile walk to the pond joined by my aunt Laurie and the pups. On one side we were greeted by some of my uncle George’s Angus cattle grazing in the pasture, and on the other, there were tall rows of corn that seemed to go on forever. The sun began its descent as we reached the pond. Why would you ever want to walk or run on a treadmill in a gym when you can walk with this view in sight?!

sunset over pond

The next morning we began our trek down the Wabash Trace to pick plump wild raspberries. We came out of the thorny bushes with 17 cups (over a gallon) of fresh wild raspberries…and three ticks! As Aunt Laurie says: “The ticks come with the territory of living on the farm!”.

Three ticks later.

Three ticks later.

With our fruit in tow, we headed for home to begin making jelly. Let me tell you it is a little bit of a process, but it is so worth it! I’m tellin’ ya this homemade wild raspberry jelly is simply the best!

The fruits of our labor (literally!).

The fruits of our labor (literally!).

PB2 Bites

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I am always looking to try new recipes for healthy snacks to get me through the work week. My students and I have the last lunch period of the day so we don’t eat lunch until approximately 1:30pm. Therefore, I rely on healthy snacks to sustain me from breakfast to lunch.

I made a batch of these PB2 Bites last Sunday afternoon when I had some free time. I whip up the “dough”, roll the bites, and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Our supply quickly dwindles as we put a few bites in our lunch bag each day.

These bites are a snack that you can feel good about. Because they are made with PB2 they contain 85% less fat calories compared to regular peanut butter. Packed with old-fashioned oats, they supply complex carbohydrates for energy. Ground flaxseed meal is a good source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Speaking of omega-3 fatty acids…I have also included some chia seeds. Agave nectar gives these bites a natural hint of sweetness. Agave is a great substitute for sugar and honey. Finally, semi-sweet chocolate chips add a touch of chocolate flavor to these already delicious bites!

PB2 Bites:
Yield: 22-24

1/3 c. prepared PB2 peanut butter
1 c. old-fashioned oats
1/2 c. flaked coconut
1/3 c. ground flaxseed meal
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. chocolate chips
3-4 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 Tbsp. chia seeds

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Using a 1 tablespoon (or smaller) cookie or ice cream scoop, scoop mixture to form bites. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week…ours didn’t last that long!

EnJOY!

Easy Crockpot Shredded Chicken

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The last few weeks have been crazy busy with wrapping up my evening classes and with the school year coming to a close. This Crockpot Shredded Chicken recipe saved me a couple times the last few weeks. There is something to be said for letting my Crockpot do the cooking for me. There is much relief in coming home from a hard day’s work or running errands to have dinner already cooked and ready to go. Simply shred chicken when fully cooked. Add this Easy Crockpot Shredded Chicken to a dinner salad, savory soup, sandwich wrap, simple pasta dish, the possibilities are endless!

Easy Crockpot Shredded Chicken:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Reduced-sodium chicken broth OR water
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Lightly spray non-stick cooking spray in the Crockpot. Place chicken breasts in Crockpot. Pour chicken broth OR water over chicken breasts until just covered. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper to liquid. Stir to combine seasoning with liquid and chicken.

Cover with lid and cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or on low for 6 hours.

Remove chicken breasts to cutting board. Shred with two forks.

EnJOY!

The BEST Carrot Cupcakes

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I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but these are The BEST Carrot Cupcakes! While discussing what to name these sweet little cakes, my husband said I might be a little full of myself upon deciding to call them The BEST Carrot Cupcakes. He is neglecting to tell you that he does indeed think they are simply the best…better than all the rest! (Excuse the Tina Turner insert).

Grated carrot, warm cinnamon, crushed pineapple, flaked coconut, sweet frosting, and nutty pecan pieces make for a mini masterpiece. We will be enJOYing these little cakes during our Easter dinner this weekend. Carrot desserts are fitting for spring weather and Easter. When my husband asked me to make these cupcakes this weekend, I knew they would be the perfect finish to a satisfying dinner spent with family and friends. Hope you all enJOY your Easter weekend! Many blessings!

The BEST Carrot Cupcakes:
Yield: 24-28 cupcakes

For the Cake:
1 1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 c. sugar
4 large eggs
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 c. carrots, peeled and grated (about 4 whole carrots)
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the oil, sugar, and eggs until well combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Mix until well combined. Add carrots and drained pineapple, mixing until combined.

Using an ice cream scoop (equivalent to 1/4 c. per scoop), scoop batter into lined muffin pans.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cupcakes completely on a cooling rack.

For the Frosting:
2 (8 oz.) blocks cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 c. sifted powdered sugar
1 c. flaked coconut
1/2 c. chopped pecan

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed until creamy.

Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Add flaked coconut.

Spread frosting on the top of each cooled cupcake. Top with pecan pieces.

EnJOY!

Recipe slightly adapted from Southern Cakes 2012.

Strawberry, Pineapple, and Mango Smoothie

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Can you believe we are already a week into April?! I have been so busy this past month! After returning from spring break, I started teaching a new class at work. Along with teaching a new class, I am taking a graduate class toward my Master’s degree. Needless to say, I am looking forward to when things slow down a little.

When life gets busy in the Casey household, my husband and I like to stick to simple and quick meals. This Strawberry, Pineapple, and Mango Smoothie has been our go to breakfast recently. It makes for a nutritious breakfast to get us off to a good start in the morning.

One of my favorite tips is to do all of your prep work for the week ahead during the weekend. I assemble the blender the night before and portion out all my ingredients into zip lock bags or reusable plastic containers. All that is left to do is throw everything into the blender, fire it up, and then pour into a tumbler to take for the drive to work.

Strawberry, Pineapple, and Mango Smoothie:
Serves: 2

1 1/2 c. frozen strawberry, pineapple, and mango chunks
1 banana, sliced and frozen
3/4 c. vanilla Greek yogurt
1 c. milk

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Puree until thick and smooth. Pour into drinking glasses or tumblers and serve.

EnJOY!

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