Tag Archives: salsa

Love at first bite

It’s August of 2000, at the end of a weeklong family reunion.

First thing in the morning, a little girl with long braids bounds out of bed.

As the awkward middle between eight older boy cousins and three younger, cuter girls, the girl with the braids often feels lost in the crowd.

Now is her chance to shine.

With her is a carefully squirreled away box of “Jiffy Corn Muffin” mix. She’s sure her family will be impressed…

Bursting with excitement, she makes it down to the kitchen. She isn’t the first one there, however. At the counter her uncle has just cracked some eggs and poured some salsa in a bowl to make scrambled eggs.

These aren’t just any eggs. They are the last eggs. And, being 10 miles from civilization on the last day in town, no one is inclined to go buy another half-dozen.

The girl with the braids is crushed. Her moment, stripped away.

Then her uncle, with a keen sense of awareness, notices her sadness.

“I haven’t mixed the eggs together yet,” he says. “See, the yolk isn’t even broken.”

“But there’s already salsa mixed in,” the girl with braids dispassionately replies.

“Just give it a try,” her uncle urges.

Having nothing to lose, the girl carefully scoops out the necessary eggs. The salsa was unavoidable, so she ends up with a jalepeno-speckled corn muffin mix.

Still a little down, she puts the spicy batter in the oven and waits.

Before long, the scent of fresh corn muffins wafts through the air. Her aunts, uncles and even teenage cousins (who usually sleep well into the day) are lured down the stairs.

The buzzer goes off and the little girl with braids takes the muffins out of the oven. Her family gathers around.

“They’re messed up,” she tries to explain.

It’s no use; her family is already digging in.

The little girl wonders if they are just being nice. How could a recipe that went wrong end up so right? Still skeptical, she samples a muffin for herself.


Finally, she cracks a smile. Maybe she can do something right, after all.

Here’s the kicker: That little girl was me (I bet no one caught on to that!) and that moment was when I fell in love with cooking.

My kitchen blunder-turned-success boosted my confidence and taught me it’s good to roll with the punches, both in and out of the kitchen.

Since that time, I’ve developed plenty more recipes.

But, those “fiesta corn muffins” still hold a special place in my heart. I’ve since moved on from boxed Jiffy mix (although it is still good). I’ve done some trial-and-error, but the fun part about the recipe is that it’s constantly evolving.

On that note, here is the latest development:

Fiesta Corn Muffins


  • 3/4 C corn meal
  • 1 1/4 C WW flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 1 C skim milk
  • 1 flax egg
  • 1/4 C apple sauce
  • 1/4 C salsa
  • 2 T low-fat cream cheese


  • Mix corn meal, flour, baking powder and salt in medium-sized bowl.
  • Mix honey, milk, “egg” and apple sauce in large-sized mixing bowl. Slowly add the corn meal-mixture while mixing. Combine thoroughly, but be careful not to over-beat.
  • In small-sized bowl, combine salsa and cream cheese.
  • Spoon approximately 1 T of corn batter into each section of a greased muffin tin. Top approximately 1 t of cheese mixture to each muffin cup. Evenly top with remaining corn batter.
  • Bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until the tops are browned and muffins are firm to the touch.

Questions: Do you enjoy cooking or baking? Do you remember when you first fell in love with it?


In living color

I can be kind of embarrassing. I know it. I accept it.

Usually, in considerations for my friends and family, I try to act at least remotely normal when I’m in public. But, sometimes I just can’t help but reveal my true dorkiness.

This is especially true when it comes to food.

Although I love cooking at home, there is always something special about going out for a meal. I’m awed by the artful presentations, the unexpected flavor combinations and the vibrant colors.

“Oh my gosh, look at that! Have you ever seen such an impressive dish?” I say, as my company rolls their eyes and dig into the actual food.

It’s just true what they say: I eat first with my eyes and then with my stomach.

Although I enjoyed Germany, the general color palette of food is light brown or dark brown. The food would taste different, but it would often look the same. In time it just got boring…

To make up for it, these past few days, I’ve been trying to pack color and into my meals.

A few examples and a recipe…

Consumed: Green Monster with vanilla yogurt, 1/2 banana, 1 T PB, ice cubes and “Fruit Not Fat” granola.

Consumed: Noodles and Co. trio with Bangkok Curry, tofu and small side salad.

He wants to roll his eyes, but instead he puts on a good face…

That’s why I like him.

Consumed: Blueberry overnight oats with vanilla yogurt, 1/4 oats, 1 t Chia seeds, frozen blueberries, granola and PB2.

Rainbow Sweet Potato


  • 2 ears fresh corn on the cob
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 T cilantro
  • 1 T EVOO
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sweet potatoes


  • Steam corn on the cob. Allow to cool slightly, then slice off corn kernels.
  • Thoroughly rinse black beans. Dice tomatoes and onion. Shred cilantro.
  • Combine everything, expect the potatoes, in a large bowl. Refrigerate.
  • Meanwhile, cook sweet potatoes either in the oven or in the microwave. I baked my potato in the microwave by piercing it with a fork, wrapping it in a paper towel, heating on high for 4 minutes. Then feel the potato to see if it needs to be cooked more. Bake for another 2-3 minutes, if necessary.
  • Top each baked sweet potato with 1/2 C corn-bean mixture.

This is one of my favorite summer dishes, but it also transitions well into the fall.

Question: Do you appreciate the presentation of food, or do you go more for taste?

I really love the aesthetics of food. But, even the most beautiful dish is going to be a failure if it doesn’t taste good!