Corn and Cilantro Fritters.

The Midwestern US is known for our amazing summer sweet corn. Every year my family and I look forward to corn’s seasonal grocery store debut, and anytime we’re driving around rural Illinois and Iowa in the summer, we can’t help but stop at the roadside sweet corn stands to pick up an ear or twenty. Despite the awful drought we’ve had here this summer, my local farmers market had a lot of sweet corn this weekend, and for cheap too! I bought a bag and took it home to make yummy things. Here is one of them!


1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 egg
1/4 cup milk or cream
1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for frying
1/4 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 small ears of corn (1 large ear), cooked, with the kernels cut off
handful chopped cilantro


Whisk together flour, egg, milk or cream, oil, baking powder, and salt and pepper.

Add cilantro and corn and stir to combine.

Heat a pan over medium and add a splash of vegetable oil. Spoon batter into pan and cook until the bottoms are golden brown.

Flip and fry until the other side is browned and the middles are cooked through.

Garnish with Greek yogurt and more cilantro and serve immediately. Thank you, farmers of the Midwest!!


Balsamic Watermelon with Goat Cheese and Basil.

Last night, my cousins and aunts and I met for a Girls Night Out at my cousin Colleen’s fabulous apartment. We all brought drinks and apps to share while we danced and chatted, and it was such a nice night! Earlier in the day, we were emailing to decide who was to bring what, and I noticed that there were a lot of carb and cheese bites. When my girlfriends and I lived in Ireland, we ran into the same situation (and we had gluten-allergic gal and a cheese hater!). It’s a real challenge to come up with good apps that aren’t heavy on the bread and cheese. I had a great recipe for mango chutney mini grilled cheeses in mind, but I decided to go with something lighter and fruitier this time. These watermelon bites are fast, adorable, and totally refreshing! I scooped the melon beforehand and then assembled them at my cousin’s place, because they’re not particularly portable.

Thanks for a fun night, girls!


2 cups watermelon, cut into whatever shape you like (I used a melon baller for dome-shaped)
1-2 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
handful of fresh basil leaves, ripped into bite-sized pieces
3 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar


There’s really just one step: assembly. Using a small spoon, scoop a bit of goat cheese onto a piece of basil and stick it to the top of a watermelon bite. Pierce it through the center with a toothpick and dip the bottom of the watermelon into the balsamic vinegar. Then arrange them on a platter and you’re all set. Yum.

Toasted Pecan Coleslaw.

Happy Fourth of July!! And to all friends in Chicago, Boston, and anywhere else that is brutally, disgustingly hot and humid today, I feel your pain. I think I’ve mentioned before that my apartment doesn’t have air conditioning, but as long as I don’t turn the oven on, it’s actually pretty pleasant. Today I volunteered to make coleslaw for a barbecue, and I was excited to riff on a Nigella Lawson recipe that I saw on one of her shows. One thing I wanted to do was oven-roast some pecans to top off the coleslaw, but on a hot hot hot day like today, even I have enough self-control to stay away from the oven. So instead of an elegant “roasted pecan coleslaw,” I made a much more down-to-earth “pan-toasted pecan coleslaw”—and just as important, my apartment is still livably cool. Besides, it’s Independence Day, and I have the right to prepare my pecans any way I want!


1 head white cabbage, shredded
3 carrots, peeled and grated
3 green onions, white and green parts, sliced thin
1 scant cup olive oil mayo
1 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp honey
2 tbsp Greek yogurt
dash of hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups unsalted pecans, rough chop


Combine cabbage, carrot, and green onions in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together mayo, vinegar, honey, yogurt, and hot sauce.

Pour sauce over the cabbage mixture, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Put coleslaw in the fridge until ready to serve.

Heat a large pan over medium flame and add the pecans. As soon as they start to release that beautiful nutty smell, start to watch them carefully, because they’ll burn pretty quickly. When they’ve darkened slightly in color and they smell strong, but not burned, remove them from heat.

Just before you serve, sprinkle the coleslaw with your toasted pecans. Enjoy it on a burger or pulled pork sandwich or eat it with baked beans, then have some apple pie, and watch some fireworks. Happy 4th!

Homemade Pickles.

When I found myself in possession of some cute miniature pickling cucumbers, I wanted to try making pickles in my humble little apartment kitchen. Canning your own food is an art—-and it’s an art I have not mastered. I’d love to get the proper equipment and learn to home-can, but for now, this method will do the trick. The bright cucumbers and spices make for such a pretty jar in your fridge, and they crunch and taste just like store-bought pickles! This recipe will make a jar of garlicy dill pickles with a bit of spice, and while they won’t last as long as the properly-canned kind, they’ll keep in your fridge for about 3-4 weeks of crunchy pickle goodness.


6 pickling cucumbers, cut into whatever shape you want (I cut them into spears)
3/4 cups distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup cold water
pinch of ground coriander
pinch of turmeric
1/4 tsp dried dill
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes


In a stainless steel or teflon pot over medium heat, whisk together vinegar, salt, and sugar until dissolved. Pour into a bowl and whisk in cold water. Refrigerate the brine until chilled.

Fill a clean jar (I used an old salsa jar and they fit perfectly) with cucumbers. Sprinkle the flavorings around the jar and then pour in the brine.

Refrigerate at least 24 hours before you dig in. Try your pickles on a Chicago dog or with a buffalo chicken grilled cheese!

Warm Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese and Roasted Beets.

The end of a bag of lentils sitting in my pantry, a great little beet stand at the farmers market, and a passionate and undying love of goat cheese contributed to my creation of this lentil salad. Goat cheese and lentils are fine and dandy, but I’m definitely not a beet lover. I do enjoy them from time to time, but I’m picky about how they’re prepared. Luckily, goat cheese is a beet’s best friend. Throw these two buddies over a well-dressed lentil salad and you’ve got yourself a dish that will make non-members of the beet chorus change their tune! Oh, and I forgot to mention, there’s bacon, too. Just in case you needed more convincing.


3 small beets, scrubbed clean
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for the beets
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme, plus 3 sprigs
squeeze of honey
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cup French lentils
bay leaf
3 sprigs parsley
4 cups chicken stock
4 strips bacon
2 shallots, minced
goat cheese


First, get the beets a-roastin’.  Preheat oven to 375 F. Rub the beets with a bit of olive oil and wrap them in foil. Set them on a pan and roast for about 45 minutes, until fork tender.

When the beets have cooled enough to touch, slice them.

Next, the dressing. Whisk together 1/2 cup olive oil, vinegar, mustard, 1 tsp chopped thyme, honey, and salt and pepper. Let it sit a while so the flavors can marry.

To prepare the lentils, bring stock, bay leaf, and sprigs of thyme and parsley to a boil.

Stir in lentils, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.

In a large frying pan, cook bacon until browned to your liking and remove from pan. Don’t drain off the grease.

Turn off the heat and add shallots to pan with hot bacon grease. Cook for 1 minute, until they just start to brown.

Drain lentils and remove bay leaf, parsley, and thyme, and add lentils to warm pan with the shallot. Stir in most of the dressing and then taste, and add more dressing if you need it. Garnish with bacon bits, crumbled goat cheese, and sliced beets. Dig in!

Herbed White Bean Dip.

I made chili with the first can of accidentally-purchased white beans; now, what to do with the second can? I considered making another batch of that heavenly chili, but a brave chef would branch out and try something new. And I really do try to be a brave chef, after all. So I took the advice of my cousin Caitie and my reader Laurie and made a bean dip. This herby, spicy dip is a great substitute for hummus (ironically, that’s what I meant to make when I picked up these cans of beans in the first place!), but spread a hefty scoop on a sandwich and you’ll go nuts! A totally guilt-free dip or spread–what more could I ask for from an ingredient I bought by accident?!


2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/8 tsp fresh lemon balm, minced
1/4 tsp fresh parsley, minced
1/4 tsp cumin
generous pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste (you’re gonna need more salt that you think, so go easy and add more as needed)
1 can great northern beans or other white beans, drained
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed


Combine all ingredients in a food processor: first the gorgeous garlic, herbs, and spices.

Then the beans and olive oil.

Blitz everything until you reach desired consistency. Add more olive oil as needed. Then add more cayenne pepper because you didn’t add enough the first time.

Garnish with parsley and serve with warm pita bread, tortilla chips, spread on a sandwich, or my favorite, with orange and purple carrot sticks.