Mexican Roasted Corn Salad

I love salads, especially in the summer. J made this the other night for dinner with a seared flank steak and chimichurri sauce. Don’t get me wrong, the steak was delicious but the corn stole the show. Plus, it’s simple enough for a weeknight dinner. He got the recipe here.

Salad Ingredients:
4 ears of corn 3 cups cooked kernels
1/2 cup red onion diced, ¼-inch dice
1/2 cup red bell pepper ¼-inch dice
1/2 cup cucumber ¼-inch dice
1 avocado ¼-inch dice
1 clove garlic minced
1 jalapeño minced (we accidentally left this out the first time and didn’t miss it)
1 tablespoon cilantro chopped, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup queso fresco or cotija cheese (cotija is our preferred!)

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup greek yogurt non-fat, plain
2 tablespoons lime juice and zest of one lime
1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper ground, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon cumin ground
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
black pepper freshly ground, to taste

Directions:
Lightly brush each corn cob with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. We roasted ours in the oven under the broiler. Cook about 2-3 minutes on each side, flipping for about 12 minutes total. You want to achieve some char marks on each side. Set corn aside and allow to cool enough to handle. Carefully cut the corn kernels off the cob on a cutting board. In a large bowl combine corn, onion, bell pepper, cucumber, avocado, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro and ¼ cup of cheese.

For the dressing, whisk together yogurt, lime juice, zest, chipotle pepper, cumin, and salt. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and whisk into dressing until smooth. Taste dressing and add more salt and pepper as desired.

We served the salad and the dressing and extra cheese on the side. You can also add some avocado and more cilantro if you’d like. You can also serve with a side of tortilla chips and eat it like a dip. Delicious!

My opinion:
I was so sad when it was all gone. Luckily, we still had some dressing left over, which made an excellent chicken breast marinade!

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Telling people what you do

 

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

So you’ve 
started your own business – congratulations! What’s next? How do you make sure that people know about your products and services? 

Find Your Message
First, you need to figure out what exactly it is that you want to communicate. If you’re a digital marketing agency then you need to know what exactly it is that makes you different from your competitors and why people should work with you. If you work in sales, what exactly do you do to ensure that your business is better than the rest and that you provide great customer service? Make sure that you have an elevator pitch – a couple of sentences that explain exactly what you do to anyone who asks you when you’re out and about so that they understand your company and you don’t have to waste a lot of time going back on what you’ve already said!

Learn How To Network
Even if you feel uncomfortable and awkward doing it, networking is absolutely essential if you want your business to be successful. Go to networking events and conferences with a wallet full of business cards and a smile on your face. Make sure that you talk to everyone that you can and you make a connection with each person – ask them questions, listen carefully to the answers and figure out how you can work together in a way that benefits both of you. Finally, remember not to take advantage of all those free glasses of wine – you want to stay clear-headed when you’re trying to network.

Get Advertising
One of the best ways to really get word out there about your business is to advertise it. If that isn’t your area of expertise, it can be hard to know exactly where to start and what you should do. If you aren’t certain, you could bring in an advertising agency – you can work with them so that you can develop the right publicity and advertising campaign for your company which puts across the right message while remaining true to what you are and what you do. Bringing in an ad agency will mean that you can focus on the task at hand, which is the business itself.

 

Use Social Media
You should also develop a social media strategy. Use sites such as Twitter and Facebook and make sure that every tweet or update is checked for spelling, punctuation and grammar issues before they’re sent out. If your company is design focused you could also use Instagram to upload photos that represent your style and taste. Your social media channels will allow you to make your company more human and to completely develop your voice. Keep it professional and light at the same time. 

Small Business Freedom Comes at a Price

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

There’s something special about being an entrepreneur or part of an amazing startup. All that freedom comes with the price of accounting for every detail. Here are a few you should keep a close eye on.

Your Office Space
There are a lot of freelancers who have taken to renting out an office rather than working from home. The distractions in a familiar environment can be too much. Some solopreneurs feel like they can’t really get to grips and concentrate on what they need to at home. If you are thinking about renting an office space, find a location in a safe area and consider protections specific to the space, such as skylight protection, building and contents insurance and a general a safety survey.

Your Accounts
When you were employed, there is every chance that there was somebody else taking care of your payroll. If you are not good with numbers yourself, consider hiring an accountant. Not only is this good in terms of keeping you on top of the books and in compliance with the taxes and other financial responsibilities but it frees up time for you to invest in revenue-generating jobs rather than spending time doing things which aren’t really profitable to your business.

Your Profit
It can be easy to get carried away when you know that you have turned a profit, even if it’s in your first week as a sole trader – but don’t count your eggs before they’ve hatched. If you get into the game of spending everything that you have earned, you won’t be able to fully invest back into your business or cover your liabilities. 

Brussel Sprouts and Bacon

I’ve never liked brussel sprouts. I can recall once that I’ve eaten more than two in one sitting. It was at a local restaurant and the roasted brussel sprouts were covered in marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese and came as an accidental side to the dish I’d ordered. Then one day Miss A’s best friend’s mom introduced me to these magical, delectable, drool-worthy brussel sprouts. I’ve eaten them four times in the last two weeks. The leftovers are even good microwaved the next day!

Ingredients:
1 package brussel sprouts
4-6 slices of your favorite bacon
olive oil*
white wine or chicken stock (can also use vegetable stock)
maple syrup
salt and pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425. Cook the bacon until crisp in an oven proof pan. While the bacon is cooking, rinse the brussel sprouts under cool water. Chop off the ends and peel off the outer leaves. (I have no idea why you do this, you just do.) when the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan leaving the drippings. Then crumble the bacon. If you don’t think you have enough drippings *add a bit of the olive oil. Over medium to medium-high heat, sautee the brussel sprouts until they start to caramelize, stirring occasionally. Use white wine or chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Add the brussle sprouts to the oven. Cook for about 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally. If you think the brussel sprouts are getting too done, add some more of the white wine or stock. Remove the brussel sprouts and while the pan is still hot drizzle maple syrup over the cooked brussel sprouts. Stir again. Salt and pepper the brussel sprouts. Stir. Add the crumbled bacon. Stir. Serve warm.

My opinion:
I really, really, really like this dish. It’s very hard not to eat the whole pan in one sitting.

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

We’ve been using our crockpot quite a bit lately. We’ve also discovered the wonderful boneless skinless chicken thighs from one of our favorite grocery stores (or go-see store as our toddler calls them). The benefit of cooking the thighs in the crockpot is they dry out less and are more flavorful than the traditional chicken breasts. Cooking Light’s crockpot recipes have become a go-to source. I did not expect this recipe to be as good as it was. Even the toddler ate some of it!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
1/2 cup white wine (or chicken stock)
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano (we ended up using dried)
1/4 cup drained capers
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (we left this out because the toddler was eating with us)
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28-oz.) container diced tomatoes (such as Pomì) (I accidentally used only the 14.5 ounce can)
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cremini mushrooms, quartered (the grocery store was out of these, so we just left them out)
8 (6-oz.) bone-in chicken thighs, skinned (about 3 lb.) (we only had three boneless ones left, it worked fine)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken in half
5 ounces baby spinach
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)

Directions:
Combine 1/2 cup water and flour in your favorite crockpot, stirring with a whisk. (Note: You can also use corn starch, which we will do next time.) Stir in stock and next 8 ingredients (through mushrooms). Add chicken thighs to the stock mixture; submerge in liquid. Cover and cook on LOW 7 1/2 hours (ours cooked about 9). Remove chicken. Leave whole or chop if using boneless skinless. If using bone-in, wait for them to cool, then remove bones.
Add oil and pasta to slow cooker sauce; cover and cook on HIGH 15 minutes or until pasta is done to your liking. (It took a little longer than 15 minutes for us.) Stir in spinach until wilted. Divide pasta mixture and top evenly with chicken. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

My opinion:
I didn’t expect the capers to add so much to the dish. It was the right amount of salt and sweet from the tomatoes. The pasta cooked perfectly. Next time, I will use the corn starch and reduce the amount of liquid a little for the initial cooking phase. If we need more to cook the pasta, I’ll add more at that time. All in all a good, flavorful dish that is perfect for a weeknight.