Southwestern Roasted Potato Salad with Corn and Black Beans

Roasted Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes pair with roasted corn and black beans in a sour cream based tomatillo and cilantro dressing.

Roasted Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes pair with roasted corn and black beans in a sour cream based tomatillo and cilantro dressing.

I created this dish for the neighborhood Memorial Day “Mexican Fiesta” party.  I truly think it could also be called “salad of many bowls and dishes” based on the volume of dishes I washed during the creation….  It was worth it though!  The sour cream dressing is a favorite recipe from my friend, Jackie.  I thought it would taste especially delicious with this potato and vegetable combination.  And it did!  Thanks, Jackie 🙂  As typical for Ms. Creative Recipe, very little measuring went on during the preparation of this dish, other than the dressing which had Jackie’s exact measurements.  I also used whatever veggies I had on hand, so feel free to swap out as you like.

Ingredients – Salad

8 to 10 small Yukon Gold Potatoes – washed and cut into evenly sized chunks

2 to 3 Sweet Potatoes (or yams) – peeled and cut into evenly sized chunks

4 ears Sweet Corn – husked

Butter and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Fresh Lime Juice – 1/2 lime

Salt and Pepper

Sweet Vidalia Onion or Green Onions – very thinly sliced and chopped

Celery – finely chopped

Sweet Bell Peppers – chopped

Yellow Cherry Tomatoes – quartered

1 can Black Beans – drained and rinsed well


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss the potatoes in a bowl with olive oil and coarsely ground black pepper.  Spread on a baking pan in an even layer.  I used “release” foil for easy clean up.


Melt butter with salt and lime juice in a small bowl.  Brush liberally over the corn and wrap in a foil packet.


Roast the corn and potatoes for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender, but not mushy.  Turn the potatoes half way to maximize browning.  Corn may finish before the potatoes. Cool.


Cut the corn off the cob.


Combine the corn with the veggies and tomatoes in a large bowl.


Dice the potatoes and add to the mixture.


Toss gently with the dressing (recipe below) to coat.  Gently toss the black beans with some dressing in a small bowl to coat well without breaking up (so you don’t discolor the salad).  Gently fold the black beans into the potato salad and transfer to a serving bowl.

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Jackie’s Jalapeno Ranch Salad Dressing


3 fresh Tomatillos, husked, washed and quartered

1/2 bunch fresh Cilantro – washed

2 pickled Jalapeno peppers

2 cups Sour Cream

2 envelopes (1 oz each) Ranch dressing mix


Place the tomatillos, cilantro and jalapenos in a food processor.


Blend until smooth, scraping down as necessary.


Combine with the sour cream and ranch mix, blending well.







Quinoa Salad with a Hint of Orange

Believe it or not, this was my first effort using quinoa.  I just kept slicing and dicing and mixing and tasting and the end result was pretty good.  Our neighbors were grilling some lamb with mint jelly for a sunset party and I thought this might make a nice side dish.  I garnished the finished salad with crumbled feta cheese and served some extra cheese on the side, which added a nice creaminess and a bit of salt to each bite.   Leftovers were delicious used the next day as an hors d’oeuvres scooped up on pita chips.  I’m documenting from memory here so I can try again with photos when I next have the time.


1 cup Quinoa

2 cups Water

Combine in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cook five minutes.  Turn off heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes.  Fluff and cool.  Toss in a large bowl with the salad ingredients and dressing below.

Salad Ingredients

Use as much or as little as you like and any variety you like, in true Creative Recipe fashion.  This is what I used:

Fresh Carrots – peeled and grated.  I used fresh unpeeled carrots because they really do taste better than the prepackaged minis.  I used the small shred on my hand grater.

Celery – very small dice

Sweet Red Bell Pepper – very small chop (I chose red for the color)

Red Onion – very fine dice

Yellow Squash – grated.  I used one small squash (tastes better than the large) and grated it with the skin on, using the large shred on my hand grater .

Radicchio – thinly sliced and chopped.  This adds a great color and a nice bitter contrast

Mandarin Oranges – 1 can, drained and chopped.  This was an after thought – or I should say after I tasted the salad.  It seemed too much on the bitter side from the radicchio, and the oranges added a nice sweetness and balanced the radicchio.


Juice of 1 small Lemon

2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard

Sugar or Honey to taste (start with 1 teaspoon and go from there)

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 teaspoon dried Dill Weed

Coarsely ground Black Pepper to taste





Guacamole Freeze

avocado frozen

This guacamole was made from frozen avocado – yes, believe it or not!

I am so happy to have learned some preservation tips over the past year for avocados.  I love to eat them with almost everything but they are so difficult to buy at just the right level of ripeness.  If they don’t get used immediately they turn dark quickly.  And of course, I hate wasting food!  I read a tip that once ripe, you can store whole avocados in the refrigerator until ready to use and it really does work.  I now buy them a little on the hard side, leave them on the counter until ready to use and whatever I can’t use, I simply refrigerate (whole, uncut) until I am ready for them again.  It really works.  Then my sis experimented with another trick with great success.  She peeled and froze some ripe avocado in a baggie.  She added the seeds to the bag for extra preservation/luck, and this post demonstrates the test results – a very fast and easy guacamole!

Straight out of the freezer, the avocadoes looked fresh and green!  As they began to thaw, I thought they were perhaps beginning to turn brown, so I squeezed a bit of fresh lime juice in the bag and lightly smashed up the avocado.

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Once thawed, I removed the seeds and mushed up the avocado in the bag (no mess!)

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I added some fire-roasted salsa, mixed it up a bit in the bag and presto!  Guacamole!  Toss the bag for the easiest clean up ever.


The Cabbage Compromise – St. Patrick’s Day Grill

Grilled Cabbage and Sausage St. Patrick's Day Platter

Grilled Cabbage and Sausage St. Patrick’s Day Platter

Wanting to go green for St. Patrick’s Day and eager to grill again after a long winter, Scott and I decided to ditch the traditional corned beef and cabbage for a grilled sausage and “cabbage steak” feast.  You may have seen the posts floating around the Internet for grilled “cabbage steaks.”  After our first effort, featured in this post, we determined they are both easy and delicious.  To complete our St. Patrick’s Day platter, we grilled up some spicy sausages, Yukon Gold potato coins (for the “pot o’ gold”) and asparagus, to maximize on the green.   I threw in some red pepper for color and crunch.  Grape tomatoes would have been delicious, too. All in all, it was a delightful variation on a theme. This is how we did it.

Cabbage Steaks

Wash a small head of cabbage.  Slice vertically through the entire head into thick, round “steaks.”  I trimmed out the “heart” or core during this prep and then skewered the cabbage to keep the leaves together.  Most photos I saw on the Internet leave the heart intact – likely to help the cabbage stay together better on the grill – and you can eat around the core.  It’s your preference, so google around.  I also saw “wedges” instead of the rounds.

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Butter Thyme (1280x1172)

Melt a few tablespoons of butter with some salt and pepper, garlic and dried thyme.  Brush the cabbage liberally with the butter.

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Potato Coins

Wash and slice small Yukon Gold potatoes.  Toss in a bowl with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Wrap up in “release (non-stick)” foil for the grill.

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Asparagus and Red Pepper

Slice the pepper into matchsticks so it will cook in approximately the same time as the asparagus.  Trim and cut the asparagus.  Toss both with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Wrap up in “release (non-stick)” foil for the grill.

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Timing on the Grill

These times are approximate and will depend on your grill, heat setting and the thickness of your vegetables.  Our feast took about 35 minutes total.  We put the potatoes on first at medium high, the sausages about 10 minutes later, and the cabbage 5 minutes later.  We started the cabbage on medium high, and as it charred, we lowered the heat under it, eventually moving to the upper rack while the potatoes finished cooking.  The asparagus packet took only about 7 minutes.  We flipped the potato packet every 5 to 10 minutes or so.  Scott likes to grill everything on “release (non-stick)” foil for easy clean up.  He still gets the grill marks on the food (amazing!), so I say “Okay!”

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The grilled plate!

The grilled St. Patrick’s Day plate!

Speedy Grilled Fish Tacos

I plated one taco with the veggie garnish on the tortilla and on the side...

I plated one taco with the veggie garnish on the tortilla and on the side…

...and the second taco with the garnish under the tortilla.  Both were delicious and appealing!

…and the second taco with the garnish under the tortilla. Both were delicious and appealing!

I was inspired to make these at home after ordering in a restaurant.  The restaurant served with a side of torn iceberg lettuce and a sprinkling of pico de gallo.  I decided to up the nutritional punch with sliced avocado, shredded cabbage, sweet red bell pepper, red onion and a creamy tomatillo sauce.  I started with a simple, quick citrus marinade for the fish while I shredded the veggies.  This is how I did it (with no measuring!).  Get creative on this one and customize to your taste!

Ingredients for Marinade for Fish

Sturdy grilling fish – I used Mahi Mahi – approximately one pound

Fresh squeezed Orange, Lemon and Lime juices – I used about 5 clementine oranges, 1 small  and 1/2 lemon.  I added 2 peeled and chopped clementine oranges as well.  You could substitute bottled orange juice (“Not from Concentrate”) to be even quicker.

Your favorite Salsa Verde (Tomatillo Salsa) – I used Frontera brand fire-roasted tomatillo salsa – approximately 1/4 cup

1 to 2 tablespoons Honey

Finely minced Garlic and Red onion – 1 clove garlic and approximately 1 tablespoon onion – I used the bottled Litehouse brand because it was super speedy – no mincing required.

Crushed Hot Red Pepper Flakes to taste – I used some dried peppers from our garden.  This is totally optional.


Combine everything except the fish and taste it.  Adjust to your taste – if too tart add a bit more honey and/or orange juice.  If you want it a little less sweet, add a bit more tomatillo salsa.  Pour over fish in a glass pan.  Let marinate no more than 30 minutes.  I let the Mahi Mahi marinate for as long as it took me to prepare the other ingredients.

Ingredients for Tacos

Finely shredded Cabbage – I used a fresh head, washed it and sliced it thinly with a chef’s knife – if you’re in a super hurry, buy the bagged shredded cabbage

Finely sliced Sweet Red Bell Pepper – use any color and/or color combination you like – red, orange, yellow

Very thinly sliced Red Onion

Thinly sliced ripe Avocado

Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt (Plain)

Your favorite Salsa Verde (Tomatillo Salsa) – I used Frontera brand fire-roasted tomatillo salsa, same as in the marinade

Corn Tortillas

Shredded Cheese – your favorite Mexican Blend, Cheddar, Colby Jack. etc


Combine equal parts sour cream or yogurt with the salsa verde and reserve.  Grill the fish on a medium hot grill until it flakes easily with a fork.  If you took the time to chop up some orange, press a few on top of the fish when you place it on the grill for extra citrus zip.  Discard the raw marinade.  When the fish is close to being done, place the corn tortillas on the grill for the last minute or two to soften and char slightly.

To assemble, place a few slices of avocado on the corn tortilla and top with a sprinkling of the veggies and some fish.  Drizzle the sauce over the fish and top with shredded cheese.  Serve additional cabbage, pepper slices and red onion on the side.  OR place a bed of cabbage, pepper slices and red onion on the plate.  Top with a corn tortilla and layer avocado, then fish, then sauce then cheese.  OR assemble to your favorite whim.  OR let everyone assemble their own!






Chicken and Potato Corn Chowder

I whipped up this hearty chowder from pantry and freezer staples and a leftover chicken breast in less than 30 minutes.

I whipped up this hearty chowder from pantry and freezer staples and a leftover chicken breast in less than 30 minutes.

Since we’re gearing up for a huge winter blizzard in this part of the country, my mind has shifted towards soup.  Steaming hot, hearty soup – chowder even!  I had a few minutes to organize my refrigerator and freezer this morning, so I pulled out some ingredients to whip up a small chowder (seriously, I say small because this was only two servings – so adjust accordingly for your family size).  I had a leftover Meyer Lemon Dijon Mustard Chicken breast, spied some red potatoes and frozen corn – thus my inspiration.  Here is how I did it, and as I often do, I did not really measure.  So the amounts are approximate and the ingredients are flexible, which means you can improvise to your taste.  I hope you will be creative and dish up a chowder that’s perfect for you.


Any blend of minced onion, celery, and sweet and/or hot peppers.  Because I always process lots and lots of peppers in the summer into frozen ice cube or mini muffin tin sized “cubes” (see The Big Pepper Freeze), adding them for flavor, color and extra vitamins to a soup is a snap.  This is what I pulled out of my freezer this morning:  1 “cube” each Vidalia onion, green bell pepper, sweet red bell pepper, hot red Hungarian wax pepper.  A cube is approximately 1 tablespoon.

1 to 2 cups low sodium chicken broth

Sliced carrots – approximately 1/2 cup

2 red potatoes, peeled and diced

Frozen corn – approximately 1/2 to 1 cup

Pinch of garlic and dried thyme, salt and pepper to taste

1 – 4 ounce cooked or baked chicken breast, diced small (seasoned, plain, whatever you have – mine was tangy and lemony, which gave a fresh zip to the chowder)

Low fat evaporated milk


Simmer the veggies with garlic and thyme in 1 cup of broth approximately 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes and additional broth to just cover the potatoes.  Cook until almost tender, then add the corn.  Add broth if necessary, but you really only want the broth to cover the potatoes so that when you add the milk it will be a chunky, hearty chowder, as opposed to a thin and brothy soup.  When the potatoes and corn are tender, add the cooked chicken.  Heat through.  Smash up a few cubes of potatoes to thicken the soup if desired.  Add the evaporated milk to the soup in the pan until it is your desired consistency.  Heat through.  Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and some freshly ground black pepper if you like.

Meyer Lemon Dijon Mustard Chicken

Always very excited to snag my first bag of the season!

Always very excited to snag my first bag of the season!

Have you noticed that Meyer lemons have arrived in the produce department?  A winter treat,  they have a marvelous aroma and are far less sour-tart than regular lemons.  One of my favorite super quick ways to use them is for a tangy, low fat baked chicken breast.  I make a simple marinade of Meyer lemon juice and Dijon mustard with a splash of low-sodium chicken broth.  For a variation, I sometimes add herbs.  Once baked, they are delicious as part of a meal, leftover sliced on salad or for a sandwich, and today I even made a simple chicken, corn and potato chowder using some leftover chicken.  This is how I do it….

This version used the marinade without the herbs.  Delicious with the roasted veggies and potatoes.

This version used the marinade without the herbs. Delicious with the roasted veggies and potatoes.

The herbs add a bright burst of color as well as flavor.

The herbs add a bright burst of color as well as flavor.

Just one of many ways to turn the leftovers into a new creation.  The mustard and lemon on the chicken added a fresh zip to the chowder.

Just one of many ways to turn the leftovers into a new creation. The mustard and lemon on the chicken added a fresh zip to the chowder.


4 each – 4 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I use small chicken breasts because they are tender and cook faster.  Also great for portion control!)

Fresh juice from 2 Meyer lemons

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Optional:  2 Tablespoons herbs – anything you like – fresh, chopped.  Or… since I was cooking out of my pantry,  and in a hurry, I used Litehouse Salad Seasoning, a blend of basil, dill, parsley, chives, onion and garlic.

3 Tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth


In a glass baking pan, mix the lemon juice, mustard, and herbs if using.  Whisk in the chicken broth.  Lay the chicken breasts on top and spoon marinade over them.  Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes until done.  Let rest, then slice.