Mexican Hot Dogs with Grilled Corn Salsa

by Amanda Paa on August 15, 2014

Mexican Hot Dogs with Grilled Corn SalsaChances are when you think of hot dogs, healthy and sexy aren’t the first things that come to mind. Au contraire my friends! Let’s talk about these these Spicy Mexican Hot Dogs, all dressed up with grilled corn salsa and smashed avocado.

It’s always fun to join Elizabeth and Steven on Twin Cities Live, and yesterday I met up with them and the MN Beef Council for their 12 Days of Grilling. I wanted to give people an easy, healthy grilling option that showcased tasty beef and peak of the season vegetables. I love to bring a sense of “spiffed up easy” to lots of things I make, especially when I’m entertaining, and these hot-to-trot dogs fit right into that category.

When I had to go gluten free a few summers ago, I quickly realized that many veggie and chicken sausages have hidden gluten from the binders that help hold them together, lots of sodium, and a rather long ingredient list. And some pork hot dogs? Well, seeing that they contain a “variety of meats” was not something I even wanted to think about.

That’s when I discovered 100% all beef hot dogs, one of the healthiest grilling options out there. I seek out uncured, organic or grass-fed versions, which are higher in omega-3s and vitamins, and are raised on a vegetarian diet. They’re actually lower in fat content and calories than most hot dogs too.  And because they’re all beef, you don’t have to wonder if you’ve eating whatever they call “a variety of meats.” Thousand Hills Beef (a MN company which I used here and bought at Golden Fig) or Applegate both make juicy, delicious all beef hot dogs, and you can find them at most Target stores.

Spicy Mexican Hot Dog with Grilled Corn Salsa And here’s where easy gourmet comes in. At the same time you’re grilling the meat, you throw a few cobs of fresh sweet corn next to them and give them a good char. Any grilled veggie puts a smile on my face, and because its such a seasonal cooking method, I do it as often as I can as a Midwest girl. And grilled sweet corn – dang, I could live off of it.

This salsa is everything I love which is why I’m eating it on just about everything these days. Sweet slightly charred grilled corn, pickled jalapenos, cilantro, red pepper and some fresh lime juice mingle, then a hit of smoked paprika and crushed red pepper flakes bring the heat. It’s perfect with these hot dogs, salty tortilla chips, scrambled eggs and heck, even by the spoonful.

All that’s left to do is make your margarita, build your spicy hot dog and get ready to do the Mexican Hat Dance once you take a bite.

Spicy Mexican Hot Dogs with Grilled Corn Salsa

To keep things as simple as possible, husk the corn, don’t soak it, just grease it up a little and put it on the grill. Keep an eye on the cobs to ensure they don’t burn, and check that the heat is around medium high.

6  (100% all beef) hotdogs
3 ears of sweet corn, shucked and husked
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup of finely diced red pepper
1/3 cup finely diced pickled jalapenos (I love Jeff’s Naturals)
1/3 cup diced green onion (white and green parts)
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
juice of one lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

For Serving:
6 hotdog buns
2 avocados, pitted and mashed
thinly sliced red cabbage (optional)

Heat grill to medium high. Brush corn with olive oil, then set on grill. Grill for a few minutes on all sides until char marks appear, signaling more flavor. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Turn grill down to medium and cook hotdogs until golden brown on all sides.

Cut corn off of cobs and add to a large bowl. Mix in remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust salt as needed. Serve hotdogs in bun with salsa, some mashed avocado and red cabbage.


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Homemade Gluten Free Rosemary Crackers

by Amanda Paa on August 6, 2014

Gluten Free Nutty Rosemary CrackersDon’t get me wrong – I’m very thankful for companies that make gluten free crackers. They’re convenient, taste pretty good, and fairly easy to find at most stores. But let’s be honest, they just aren’t the same.  Mostly because they’re made of rice or they’re trying to be a whole bunch of things – vegan, dairy free, wheat free, gluten free, whole grain, kosher, and the list goes on. Selfishly I decided I would make my own gluten free rosemary crackers just the way I wanted.

It’s not unusual for several of my dinners throughout the week to be a pretty cheese plate with a glass of wine. Simple, yet satisfying and quick to put together. When I found out that I had a gluten allergy several years ago, I knew I was going to miss a certain rosemary cracker from Whole Foods that was always part of my cheese plate.

It’s not unusual for several of my dinners throughout the week to be a pretty cheese plate with a glass of wine. Simple, yet satisfying and quick to put together. When I find out that I had a gluten allergy several years ago, I knew I was going to miss a certain rosemary cracker from Whole Foods that was always part of my cheese plate. – See more at:
It’s not unusual for several of my dinners throughout the week to be a pretty cheese plate with a glass of wine. Simple, yet satisfying and quick to put together. When I find out that I had a gluten allergy several years ago, I knew I was going to miss a certain rosemary cracker from Whole Foods that was always part of my cheese plate. – See more at:

I played around with a few different options and finally landed on these: with a combination of nuts, seeds and freshly ground millet flour they’re a natural, yet flavorful cracker with just the texture and taste I was looking for. They’re the real deal – buttery, crisp but not crunchy, lightly sweet + salty and they hold toppings well.

Gluten Free Nutty Rosemary CrackersCashews, almonds, sesame and flax seeds are all part of the equation, lending healthy fats and protein to make this a good-for-you snack. Whole grain millet flour helps gives them a softer, buttery texture than rice crackers. I made my own flour in my Wondermill, (really loving the convenience of making flour at home so quickly!) but you can find millet flour in most bulk bins. Otherwise oat flour would work too.

You simply add all of the dry ingredients to a food processor and process until it forms a coarse crumb. Then a little bit of honey, oil, and fresh rosemary is pulsed in. Soon you’ll find yourself with a slightly crumbly ball of dough that you pack together, resembling a softball.

Homemade Gluten Free Almond Cashew Crackers A short stint in the refrigerator helps strengthen the dough so you can roll out the crackers pretty thin. And then we bake!

I’m in love with these babies. Their toasty flavor and soft, yet durable texture is fantastic. And the protein is a nice cushion for that glass of wine you’ll be sipping along with them. They turned out so well with such little effort that I think I’ll be hard pressed to buy packaged gluten free crackers unless I’m in a pinch. Enjoy them with your favorite cheese, hummus, or homemade chutney, and as always, your favorite glass of vino.

homemade gluten free rosemary crackers | heartbeetkitchenSide note: If you’re around this weekend, I’ll be doing a demo and book signing at the Minneapolis Farmers Market, 10:30 am, on Saturday, August 9th and would love to see you there! I’ll being talking about the book, some hints on how to use up all that summer squash and have samples. {Books will also be available for purchase, cash or check.}

Homemade Gluten Free Rosemary Crackers

makes about 20 crackers
adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

1/3 cup millet flour (30 grams)
1/2 cup almond meal (50 grams)
1/2 cup raw cashews (50 grams)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons flax seeds
a sprig of fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water

Combine the millet flour, almond meal, cashews, flax seeds and sesame seeds in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a meal. Add the leaves from your sprig of rosemary, salt, honey and the olive oil and pulse for a few more seconds until the rosemary is chopped up. Drizzle in water and pulse until everything comes together into a ball. If it doesn’t, add a tiny bit more water.Place the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.When ready, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out with a rolling pin on a sheet of parchment paper. This will be easier if you put another sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough and then roll out to ⅛ inch thickness. If it starts to crack at the edges you can gently push it back together before continuing.

Cut the crackers into squares using a pizza cutter, then transfer them, still on parchment paper, onto the baking sheet.Bake for about 12-14 minutes until toasted and brown. Store in an airtight container for 10 days.


This post is part 2 of a 3 part series that I am writing and developing for Wondermill, a brand whose mission is to inspire others to make their own flour at home with ease. All opinions are 100% my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make this site possible!

23 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Appetizer, Fall, Recipe Box, Spring, Summer, Vegetarian, Winter

Cherry Cheesecake Bars with Nutty Shortbread Crust {gluten free}I have to admit these dreamy Cherry Cheesecake Bars are a welcomed departure from squash. With the book finally being available in stores, last week was quite busy. It included a little TV appearance, radio interview, cooking class, a blog celebration and my first book signing. Whew. It was one of the most joyful weeks of my life, with so many thanks to all of you and your support. You are the ones who made it so memorable.

Cherry Cheesecake Bars with Nutty Shortbread Crust {gluten free}I planned on having a quiet little celebration, just Brian and I, once the book signing commenced on Friday. Nothing sounded better than staying at home with fancy bubbles I’d been saving and a special dessert to pair. The sweet cherries have been downright amazing this year and I had yet to do anything more than eat them by the handful. One day I couldn’t even wait until I got home from the store to dig in, which classically ended with a crimson red stain on my white cardigan. Well worth it.

Cherry Cheesecake Bars with Nutty Shortbread Crust {gluten free}In the summer I’m a big fan of chilled desserts. I know pies are the favorite of many - they definitely showcase the beautiful berries, rhubarb, peaches, plums and nectarines, but it’s true – pies still intimidate me a little bit. I tend to lean towards something that’s cool, creamy and easy to make.

Something like these cheesecake bars, studded with sweet cherries that look like jewels and a rockin’ coconutty shortbread crust.

Cherry Cheesecake Bars with Coconutty Shortbread Crust {gluten free} I’m excited to be teaming up with Sahale Snacks to bring you a few recipes that incorporate their new Fruit and Nut mixes, so when I was aiming to give this dessert something different than a traditional graham cracker crust, the Berry Macaroon Almond blend became just the answer.

Cherry Cheesecake Bars with Nutty Shortbread Crust {gluten free}It’s a combination of lightly toasted coconut flakes, crunchy almonds and cashews, with dried blueberries and a touch of lemon for a little sweetness. Ummm…. YUM! I love that they’re just simple, real ingredients. Not only did they really make this recipe special, I’m finding them to be a great, pure and natural snack when I need some mid afternoon fuel.

I’ve had success adding ground nuts to cookie crusts before, so I decided to try grinding up about a cup of this blend with gluten free flour, melted butter, and a little brown sugar.  As it was baking, the toasty, nutty smell of macaroons started to dance around the kitchen. And then I did too.

CherryinBowl-1-2Half of the juicy cherries are folded into the cheesecake batter, then the other half are dropped on top to create the cute-as-a-button polka dot pattern. In the oven they go for about 30 minutes and out comes a dessert that’s definitely too good to have just one piece. The cherries are a fantastic complement to the the creamy tang of the cheesecake, and they retain their lovely shape as they roast in the filling.

I really should have made an extra batch for all of you because I definitely owe you for your support. But….. I didn’t, so go ahead and make a pan of these tasty treats before cherry season passes. I think you’ll fall in love with them just as much as I did.


Cherry Cheesecake Bars with Coconutty Shortbread Crust

Make 16-18 bars

1 cup (140 grams) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Cup4Cup)
3/4 cup Sahale Snacks Berry Macaroon Almond Blend
5 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cheesecake Layer:
1 (8 ounce) package full fat cream cheese
1 (8 ounce) package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
20 cherries, pitted and cut in half

In a food processor, blend berry macaroon blend, flour, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan. Bake crust for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack while making filling.

Halve cherries and remove pits. In the bowl of a food processor, process cream cheese until it becomes smooth, then add eggs, sugar and vanilla. Pour into a bowl, then gently stir in half of they cherry halves, reserving 20 cherry halves for the top. Pour filling onto cooled crust. Arrange remaining 20 cherry halves, cut side up, on top.

Bake at 325°F for 35-40 minutes, until the center just barely jiggles, or a thermometer inserted in the middle of the pan reads 155-160°F. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours. Cut into 16 squares and serve. Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 days.


This post is sponsored by Sahale Snacks, a brand whose mission of  seeking out and delivering the highest quality snacks from pure ingredients that are sourced with integrity and care. They’re committed to the community and strive to improve the environment and lives of the suppliers they work with.  All opinions are 100% my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make this site possible!

15 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Spring, Summer, Sweets

Summer Squash Peach Kisses

by Amanda Paa on July 22, 2014

Summer Squash Peach KissesJust wanted to pop in with the segment from Twin Cities Live today and give you a chance to WIN a copy of Smitten with Squash as part of my Summer Squash Celebration Week! As always, I had a wonderful time with Elizabeth and new co-host Steve making delicious recipes with the zucchini and summer squash that might be taking over your garden right now.

Take a peek at the segment and learn how easy it is to make squash ribbons for the Summer Squash Peach Kisses (recipe below), as well as noodles for this Refreshing Summer Squash & Watermelon Tangle Salad. Although a spiralizer is the most popular thing for making vegetable noodles right now, save your moola and the kitchen space. Instead, a julienne peeler and y-peeler will get you the same results.

I had a few people ask where to buy the book locally so here are some spots where I know they have them in stock:

  • Bibelot
  • Common Good Books
  • Cooks of Crocus Hill (next week)
  • Golden Fig (next week)
  • Minnesota Historical Society Store

Or it’s always available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Happy cooking!

Summer Squash & Peach Kisses

makes about 18 kisses

2–3 medium zucchini or yellow squash
5 ounces ricotta cheese (or goat cheese)
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
2 peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
20–30 leaves fresh basil

Rinse zucchini, then slice off top and bottom so you have flat surfaces. Use a mandoline slicer or very sharp knife to cut zucchini lengthwise into thin slices, about 1/16 of an inch if possible. Pat dry with paper towels. Combine ricotta, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste, mixing well. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of ricotta mixture into the center of each zucchini slice and spread it out evenly. Leave a little space at the narrowest end, as the mixture will spread a bit when you roll it up. At one end of the strip, place a slice of peach and 1 to 2 basil leaves; the basil should stick out a little. Roll up zucchini strips and place seam side down on a platter. Serve chilled.

11 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Appetizer, Market Talk, Recipe Box, Salad, Spring, Summer, Vegetarian

A Summer Squash Celebration

by Amanda Paa on July 21, 2014

Zucchini Noodles with Fresh Herbs + Tahini | heartbeet kitchenOver the last month, this whole writing a book thing has became real in many ways. I still feel a little weird when people ask me what the book is about and I respond bashfully with “Squash, both summer and winter varieties. You know, endless ways of turning them into delicious eats and how to figure out what is what at the market.” Some look at me like I’m a little crazy, some talk about how they’re totally not a squash person, yet I still feel support and encouragement from them all.

Humbly I admit that seeing Smitten with Squash in an actual store was something I had dreamed of since I began testing & writing. Knowing that it was supposed to be shipped out last week, I called a local shop to see if they had received it. Not revealing that I was the author when I asked, the gal said “Why yes we do. In fact I just bought one yesterday. It’s wonderful. Do you want me to set one aside for you?”

Smitten with Squash {written by Amanda Paa}My heart skipped a few beats. There’s a bit of doubting that goes along with anything you do like this….. Will people like the book? Will the recipes turn out when they make them at home? Is my writing good enough? What if nobody buys it? So when I heard the praise from the woman on the other end of the phone, I felt some of the anxiety leave.

And to top that off, six fabulous ladies whom I am so thankful to have met through this beautiful online world are helping me celebrate by sharing a summer recipe from Smitten with Squash. (I’ll share some of the winter recipes a little later this fall.) One of these gals will be posting each day this week, so stayed tuned as I’ll add the links to their posts throughout the week.

PLUS, each of us is giving away a copy of Smitten with Squash (enter below) so you can win one for your own kitchen! Be sure to hop around and see all these beautiful blogs and find some new recipes for your bumper crop of summer squash and zucchini. Oh, and if you’re on Twitter or Instagram, we’re using the #SquashLove to spread the word.

Monday: Brenda from a Farmgirls Dabbles – Spicy Summer Squash Refrigerator Pickles
Tuesday: Stephanie from Fresh Tart - Chimichurri Chicken and Veggie Kabobs
Wednesday: Robin from Robin WritesGaram Masala Dusted Pattypans & Crispy Chickpeas with Tahini Sauce
Thursday: Lindsey from Dolly & OatmealBanana Oat Streusel Summer Squash Muffins
Friday: Laurie from Relishing ItCauliflower Zucchini Summer Gratin
Saturday: Winnie from Healthy Green KitchenCherry Tomato & Summer Squash Cobbler with Rosemary Biscuits
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to US residents only and will conclude on 7/28/2014 at 12:00am. I will email the winner within the next two days.

Zucchini Noodles for One with Fresh Herbs & Tahini

This recipe is a foundation for so many possibilities of zucchini noodle goodness. There are two recipes for this type of dish in the book, and I’m sharing this extra one today to tell you that you don’t need a fancy spiralizer to make squash noodles. A $10 julienne peeler and watching this quick video is all you need to create strands and tangles of vegetable delight.

1 medium zucchini or summer squash, julienned into noodles using method above
handful of minced fresh parsley and mint
big squeeze of fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt & a few cracks of black pepper
1 tablespoon tahini

In a bowl combine zucchini noodles, herbs, lemon juice, olive oil and salt/pepper. Toss to coat and taste. Add more salt or lemon juice as needed. Mound onto a plate and drizzle with tahini.


7 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Market Talk, Recipe Box, Salad, Seasonal, Summer, Vegetarian