Crazy for Corn
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Crazy for Corn

Ready, set, husk! Check out these recipes for everything from corn chowder to corn tacos -- plus creative party ideas you'll love.

Crazy for Corn

The bounty of the season belongs to sweet, tender, delicious corn. And it is one versatile vegetable. Besides grilling it and smearing it with butter, you can use it for zip and zest in dishes like soups, salads, and tacos. Best of all, you can go wild with a whole corn-themed party. All over the country, families are spending hours playing hide-and-seek in corn mazes on farms, making corny arts-and-crafts projects -- like building "Mr. Corn Head" -- and then settling down to a pass-the-yummies lunch. Simply a-maize-ing!

Perfect Lemonade

The perfect party isn't complete without a nice, cold drink. Here's a simple lemonade recipe to go with the all the fun corn dishes.

Makes about 2 Quarts
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups fresh lemon juice (from 15 to 18 lemons)
5 cups ice water
1 lemon, washed and thinly sliced, for garnish

Directions

1. Bring 1 cup water and the sugar to a boil in a saucepan over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute, for syrup. Cool.

2. Combine syrup, juice and ice water in a pitcher. Pour into glasses and garnish with lemon slices, if desired.

Nutrition facts per serving (1 cup):
calories: 170
fat: 0
saturated fat: 0
sodium: 2mg
carbohydrate: 47g
cholesterol: 0
calcium: 0
protein: 1g
fiber: 0

Seasoned Butters for Corn

Cumin-Cilantro Butter

Makes 1 cup (16 Tablespoons)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprig for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, plus 3 slices for garnish
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt

Directions

1. Using a fork, mix together all ingredients in a bowl until blended well.

2. Spoon into a corn dish or shallow bowl. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes; garnish with lime slices and cilantro sprig, if desired.

Nutrition facts per serving (1 tablespoon):
calories: 100 total
fat: 11.5g
saturated fat: 7g
sodium: 94mg
carbohydrate: 0
calcium: 5mg
cholesterol: 31mg
protein: 0
fiber: 0

Lemon-Thyme Butter

Makes 1 cup (16 Tablespoons)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest, plus 3 slices for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions

1. Using a fork, mix together all ingredients in a bowl until blended well.

2. Spoon into a corn dish or shallow bowl. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes; garnish with lemon slices and thyme sprigs, if desired.

Nutrition facts per serving (1 tablespoon):
calories: 100 total
fat: 11.5g
saturated fat:7g
sodium: 94mg
carbohydrate: 0
calcium: 5 mg
cholesterol: 31mg
protein: 0
fiber: 0

Turkey, Zucchini, and Corn Tacos

Serves 10
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. lean ground turkey or chicken
3/4 lb. zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 lbs. grape tomatoes, halved
3 cups fresh (cut from about 6 ears) or frozen corn kernels, thawed if frozen
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup purchased salsa, plus 1 cup for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
20 purchased taco shells
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 cup coarsely shredded part-skim cheddar
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 cup sliced red onion
1 recipe chunky guacamole (recipe follows)

Directions

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add turkey and cook, stirring and breaking up lumps, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add zucchini, yellow onion, garlic, chili powder, and cumin to skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to bowl with turkey. Add 1/2 tablespoon oil and the tomatoes to skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to bowl with turkey and discard juices. Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and the corn to skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender, about 2 minutes. Return ingredients in bowl to skillet; stir in beans and salsa. Cook until hot, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in cilantro; salt and pepper to taste, for filling.

2. Serve filling and remaining ingredients in separate bowls to assemble tacos as desired.

Nutrition facts per serving (without guacamole):
calories: 395
total fat: 16g
saturated fat: 5g
sodium: 685 mg
carbohydrate: 47g
calcium: 202 mg
cholesterol: 49mg
protein: 19g
fiber: 7g

Chunky Guacamole

Makes 5 cups
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
6 firm-ripe avocados
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup finely chopped scallion, dark green part only
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste 3 garlic cloves, minced

Directions

Halve avocados lengthwise, remove pits and scoop out flesh into a large bowl. Cut into bite-size chunks. Fold in remaining ingredients until combined well; salt and pepper to taste. (Can be made ahead. Completely cover surface with plastic wrap and chill up to 1 hour.)

Nutrition facts per serving (1/4 cup):
calories:100
total fat: 9g
saturated fat: 1.5g
sodium: 7 mg
carbohydrate: 5g
calcium: 9mg
cholesterol: 0
protein: 2g
fiber: 2g

Applewood-Smoked Bacon-Corn Chowder

Makes 18 cups
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients
12 applewood-smoked bacon slices
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 orange bell peppers, seeded, ribbed and finely chopped
3 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
4 cups half-and-half
4 cups whole milk
7 cups fresh (cut from about 12 ears) or frozen corn kernels, thawed if frozen
1 1/2 lbs. red potatoes, washed and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus additional for garnish
1 recipe mini Pepperoni-Cheddar Corn Sticks (recipe follows)

Directions

1. Heat a 5-quart pot over moderate heat. Add bacon and cook, turning once, until crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Reserve 2 tablespoons fat in pot. Coarsely crumble bacon and reserve.

2. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and thyme to pot with bacon fat. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add half-and-half, milk, corn, and potatoes; simmer (do not boil), stirring occasionally, until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in basil and half of reserved bacon; salt and pepper to taste.

3. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with remaining bacon and garnish with basil, if desired. Serve chowder hot with corn sticks.

Nutrition facts per serving (per cup without corn sticks):
calories: 230
total fat: 12g
saturated fat: 6g
sodium: 141mg
carbohydrate: 25g
calcium: 138 mg
cholesterol: 32 mg
protein: 8 g
fiber: 3 g

Mini Pepperoni-Cheddar Corn Sticks

Makes 42
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

Vegetable cooking spray
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup grated part-skim yellow cheddar
1/2 cup fresh (cut from 1 ear) or frozen corn kernels, thawed if frozen
1 1/2 oz. sliced pepperoni, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. and arrange rack in center. Generously coat three cast-iron mini corn-stick pans (seven 1-oz. sticks per pan) with cooking spray. Heat pans in oven while making batter.

2. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cumin, and salt in a large bowl. Add cheese, corn, pepperoni, and cilantro; toss until combined well. Whisk together buttermilk, butter, and egg in a medium bowl. Pour buttermilk mixture into cornmeal mixture and stir until combined well.

3. Carefully remove 1 pan at a time from oven and spoon 1 heaping tablespoon batter into each stick section. Immediately return to oven.

4. Bake until completely golden brown and set (if undercooked, they will stick to pan), 10 to 12 minutes. Using a knife or small metal spatula, immediately remove sticks from pans and transfer to racks to cool. Wipe out pans with a paper towel, coat with cooking spray, and repeat process with remaining batter. Serve warm.

Nutrition facts per serving (1 stick):
calories: 50
total fat: 3g
saturated fat: 1.5g
sodium: 96mg
carbohydrate: 4g
calcium: 29mg
cholesterol: 12mg
protein: 1g
fiber: 0

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, September 2007.

shim