Life Shifts and BBQ Sauce

My life is about to shift.  We used this past summer as our last-ditch effort to get pregnant, undergoing 3 rounds of fertility stuff.  And then {to put it in a very abbreviated and a hovering-above-the-emotions manner} it comes to a point where you have to simply close the door…for your emotional and mental well-being.  And so I spent the first few months of fall updating my CV and composing a personal statement to apply for a Masters program.

I’ve worked since I was 14, and when I had my first baby at 30, decided it was time to stay home full-time.  I have loved every minute of being a full-time mama, but I have to say, it was a little daunting pulling everything together for professional purposes.  I hope I’m not the first one to let you know how hard a stay at home mama works, but let’s be honest–how many daily to-do’s are seriously resume builders?  I got a little creative with filling in the past 6 years, and after hunting down a former professor and former Nurse Practitioner boss lady to write letters of recommendation for me…voilá–I’m starting a Masters of Health Science program in January.

I know life is going to shift a little.  Until I can figure out how to be one of those people that magically transforms their food blog into a paycheck, these posts will be fewer and farther between.  I may not make bread on a weekly basis, and dinners may be more of the pull-together-in-the-pan variety,  but I am also going to have to have my kitchen days.

Here’s a great recipe that comes together fast.  Forget the store bought BBQ Sauces with tons of high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and preservatives.  It’s sweet, tangy, smoky, and has just a little hint of heat at the end.  Feel free to add more heat if you’d like–a jalapeño, poblano, etc.  Lentils cook up quickly without having to pre-soak, so your whole meal can come together with minimal prep time, and quick cook time.  Or you could let your BBQ sauce hang out in the slow cooker all day, and just cook up the lentils in about 20 minutes and you’re done!

bbq-sauce-2  The first meal I made with the BBQ Sauce was lentil sloppy joe’s.  Then I topped my bean burgers with the sauce and caramelized onions.  Oh man.  Talk about a life changer.  It’s just the right amount of messy and deliciously BBQ-y.

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BBQ SAUCE

  • Servings: Yields about 3 cups
  • Time: 15 minutes prep, roughly 30 minutes cook time
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Gourmet Grilling 2011

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, cut in half
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons ground mustard
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 5 teaspoons black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Coat a large pot with olive oil and heat to medium.  Add onion and garlic and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until softened.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, lower heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn off heat and let the sauce cool to room temperature.
  3. Purée the sauce in batches in a blender until smooth.

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LENTIL SLOPPY JOE'S WITH APPLE SLAW

  • Servings: 4 sandwiches
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2-3 cups BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 apple, thinly sliced (your choice, although sharp apples work best–granny smith, fuji, or even an asian pear would work!)
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 sandwich buns

DIRECTIONS

  1. Bring vegetable stock to a boil in a large pot.  Add the lentils, salt and pepper to taste, and cover.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer until lentils are cooked through and stock is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the apple slaw.  Add the sliced apple, sliced red onion, cilantro, vinegar, and salt and pepper in a bowl and stir together.  Set aside.
  3. When the lentils are done, add BBQ sauce and stir until it comes together as one big saucy mess.  Add 2-3 cups of sauce, depending on your sauce-ness preference.
  4. Toast the sandwich buns, scoop BBQ lentils and top with apple slaw.

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Tomato Jam Magic

I’m not sure what else to call this recipe, other than “Tomato Jam Magic”.  I know you’re going to read through the ingredients and think, “What?!?!  Lime juice and cloves?  No way that goes together…”  Trust me on this one.  This jam is a warm, amazing, flavor explosion that’ll shake up your grilled cheese sandwich, be THE gourmet dip at your next dinner party, or be the new pizza red sauce ALL your neighbors will beg you for again and again.

All you have to do is throw everything in your pot and let it simmer–Who knew gourmet would be so easy to make?!

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Let it simmer and cook down until most of the liquid is cooked off and your spoon runs through the jam and it stays separated.

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This will last in your fridge for a while, or you can can it following the traditional canning method and share as Christmas gifts.

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Here’s the grilled cheese {just throw some fresh basil and mozzarella on your bread with that jammy goodness}:

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I made cornmeal hush puppies and use the tomato jam as a dip…Some Sort of Carb + Dip is seriously the best dinner on the planet.

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TOMATO JAM MAGIC

  • Servings: makes 1 pint
  • Time: 10 minutes prep, 30-45 minutes cook time
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from The Joy of Cooking’s Tomato Jam

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound tomatoes, cored and finely diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot.  Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to low.
  2. Let the jam simmer for 30-45 minutes, taking care to stir very frequently.  The liquid will evaporate while simmering, and the jam will reduce  to a sticky, globby jam.  You’ll know it’s done when it’s glossy, not runny/watery, and when you run your spoon across the bottom of the pot, the jam will separate and won’t come back together.  Be sure to stir more frequently toward the end, as it’ll get stickier and more likely to burn.

*You can spoon into a pint jar to keep in your fridge for up to 4 months, or can according to traditional canning methods to preserve longer.

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HODGSON MILL'S HUSH PUPPIES

  • Servings: makes 15-20 hush puppies
  • Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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I used the hush puppies recipe directly from the Hodgson Mill Brand Cornmeal, with the only change being adding 1 cup fresh corn kernels. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

DIRECTIONS

  1. Fill a large stockpot with 3-4 inches oil and preheat to 375F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl.  Blend well.  Add onions, corn, egg, water, and buttermilk in another mixing bowl.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.  Let dough sit for 5 minutes before using.
  3. Drop by rounded teaspoons (I use a #40 cookie scoop, which is about 3 teaspoons, so a bit larger) into the hot oil and fry until dark golden brown, turning frequently (approximately 2 minutes for 1 teaspoons scoop, 3-4 minutes for the #40 scoop).  Let drain on a cooling rack.  Serve warm with Tomato Jam Magic.

 

 

Soup and Sandwich…Gourmet

When Fall hits our small part of the world, amazing deep grey clouds roll in, full of character, and sometimes full of rain.  We had two straight days of cold, cold rain last weekend.  The weekend my husband happened to be riding in Salt to Saint, a relay cycling race from Salt Lake City to St. George.  While my boys and I drove through 200+ miles of rain, my husband and his team rode through it on their bikes.  Good thing St. George is always sunny and warm.  We met the team at the finish line with homemade cinnamon rolls, hot chocolate, apple cider, and the good ol’ St. George sun.

Just in case your Fall is starting out cold and rainy, here’s a gourmet soup + sandwich combo you are going to just love: Creamy Corn and Potato Chowder + Tomato Asparagus Tart.

Sauté the veggies for bit, add stock and let simmer until the flavors have had time to shimmy and the veggies are perfectly soft, then add the half and half at the end until warm and creamy and heated through.

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Our town’s Farmers Market runs through October, and we can still find a couple large heirloom tomatoes.  I love the vibrant colors of heirlooms–they look just like the leaves!  Mop up some of the tomato juice with paper towels while poking holes in the pastry.

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Arrange the tomatoes and asparagus, bake, and sprinkle with a little love…aka…chopped walnuts and grated Parmigiano-Regiano cheese…

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CORN AND POTATO CHOWDER

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 medium celery rib, diced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 6 red potatoes, diced
  • 2 ears fresh corn, cut from the cob
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 3-4 cups half and half
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Coat the bottom of a large stockpot with olive oil and heat to medium.  Sauté the carrot, celery, onion, potatoes, and corn, with salt and pepper to taste, until the onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add the stock and parsley, and reduce heat to low.  Allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are soft and tender, then add the half and half at the end, to get creamy and chowder-ish.  {Be careful to not let the soup come back to a simmer or boil, or the milk will curdle and your soup will separate.}

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TOMATO AND ASPARAGUS TART

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30-45
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 store-bought puff pastry
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • grated Parmigiano-Regiano to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the oven to 425F.
  2. Prepare a large un-rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Unwrap the thawed but chilled pastry and lay on the parchment paper.  Don’t worry about rolling or cutting or spreading it at all, just unwrap and lay flat on the sheet pan.  Poke with holes, using a fork.
  3. Prepare the tomatoes–they are too juicy and will make the pastry mushy.  Prepare by slicing thinly and placing on a paper towel.  Gently press the tops of the tomatoes with another paper towel.  When ready, arrange the tomato sliced on the pastry, leaving a 1-2 inch border (this allows the pastry to puff; without the border, it won’t puff as nicely).  Top with the asparagus.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.
  5. Before serving, sprinkle with chopped walnuts and freshly grated cheese.

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LDS Living Contributor!!

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LDS Living September/October 2016 Issue

I know this is a photo of Steve Young, retired football player.  But in the upper right hand corner, above Steve’s head, it says, “Fall Pumpkin Recipes”.  And that’s where I step in.

Last fall, a friend sent me a Facebook message that LDS Living Magazine was having a pumpkin contest, and that I should enter.  I got to work creating pumpkin goodness: pastas, sauces, dips, burgers, bakes, pumpkin custard pie…all told, I submitted 10 recipes to the magazine.  And then heard nothing.  I finally emailed them in January, asking what the results were.  They said they didn’t receive enough submissions to go through with the contest, but they wanted to feature my recipes in their next fall’s issue.  I was thrilled, to say the least.

I didn’t tell anyone, in fear it really wouldn’t happen.  But they kept in touch with me, asked for my photos to go with my recipes, and then sent me a draft copy so I could make sure it was all how it was supposed to be.  My recipes, my photos, in print!!  And they mailed me 5 extra copies, so I could mail them out to my fan base.  My mom got 3.  She asked me to sign them, too…{I didn’t do that}

My favorite part?  Being listed in the table of contents as an “LDS Living Contributor”.  The magazine came out on the one-year anniversary I’ve had this blog up and running.  And I’m a contributor.  This is me smiling.

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End of Summer Treats

Between the grocery stores putting flats and boxes of fruits on crazy outrageous sale prices, and neighbors asking us to help pick the abundant fruits falling off their trees, I have been a mad-jam-making woman in the kitchen this past week.  Got Jam?  Yes:  Strawberry, Strawberry Peach, Peach, Peach Orange, Apple Cranberry, Pear Butter…You know what I’m giving for Christmas now…Shhh, don’t tell!

Other than mad-jam-making, I’m also currently training for a half, and training hard to PR–I’m determined to run this one sub-2 hours (I was 2 measley minutes over the last half I ran, so it’s in my head now…).  I’ve upped my training schedule and cross-training schedule, and I’ve cut sugar.  So a little jam + buttermilk biscuit is a nice treat at the end of a long day.  And don’t tell me how much sugar is in jam.  It’s fruit, right??!

And after jam + biscuits, you gotta have a veggie pie.  This is a great pie to use up your summer veggies–zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, basil.  And it makes a super pie for a crowd, or little individual pies for a small dinner.  I decided to go individual.

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Just roughly (rustically?) fit the pie dough into your pie plate or individual bowls, mix up the ricotta cheese with an egg and seasonings, layer the veggies on top, and you’ve got a veggie pie!

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VEGGIE PIE

  • Servings: makes 4 individual pies or 1 regular-sized pie
  • Time: Hands-on time: 25-30 minutes, Total time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: mediumish
  • Print

Adapted from Cooking Light

INGREDIENTS FOR THE PIE DOUGH

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 T sugar
  • 6 T unsalted very cold butter
  • 1/4 cup very cold vegetable shortening
  • 4-5 T ice water

INGREDIENTS FOR THE FILLING

  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced in thin rounds
  • 1 medium yellow squash, sliced in thin rounds
  • 1 medium red pepper, cut into 2-inch matchsticks
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, julienned
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 more egg, beaten (for brushing the pie dough before baking)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start with the pie crust.  Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in the cold butter and shortening.  Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time.  Stir together with a spoon until a ball of dough starts to form.  Continue to form using your hands, kneading the dough together in 5-6 quick smooshes (The heat from your hands will melt the butter and shortening, and your dough won’t be as flaky, so work quickly!).  Flatten the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F.
  3. Combine the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, basil, lemon zest and juice, and egg in a large mixing bowl.  If you haven’t yet, this would be a good time to slice up the veggies.  Put the sliced veggies in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a floured surface.  Roll into one large disc to fit a 9-10-inch pie plate, or use to cut 4 smaller discs to fit 4-5-inch round baking dishes.  Fit the dough into the baking dish, and spread the ricotta mixture over the bottom of the pie.  If you are making one large pie, pour the veggies in the pie plate, overtop the ricotta mixture.  If you are making individual pies, evenly divide the veggies among the four baking bowls.
  5. Fold the edges of the pie dough toward the middle of the pie.  Brush the pie dough with the egg and bake at 400F for 40 minutes for a large pie, and 20-30 for the smaller pies.

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Melty Leeks

One of my favorite spring and summer finds is the leek.  This is an onion, but when cooked down is all melty sweet goodness and none of the usual onion sharpness.  Leeks work as a great topping, accompaniment, flavor addition, etc. etc.–they do it all!  In this recipe, they are going to add flavor to my favorite quick dinner:  a frittata.  I love frittatas because in a pinch you can still have a filling and veggie-laden dinner on the table within 20 minutes.  Serve with fruit and maybe some whole grain bread, and you’re set!

Leeks are pretty easy to clean.  First, slice in half lengthwise, second, rinse all the fronds individually and let dry, third slice thinly, and fourth, cook down with olive oil, salt and pepper.  It looks like a lot of onions in the pan, but they cook down quite a bit.

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This frittata has leeks, potatoes, red pepper, and mixed greens.

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Once you cook down the leeks, add the red pepper and cook just a few minutes more.  Add the leeks and red pepper in a bowl with the greens and set aside.

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Sauté the potato rounds, add the greens back to the pan, pour on the eggs.

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Let it cook for 7-10 minutes on the burner, then slide the oven-safe pan into the oven to finish cooking through.

Frittatas also work great as a sandwich on the go!

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VEGGIE FRITTATA

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 15 minutes prep, 20 minutes cook time
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 6-10 eggs
  • 1 cup milk or half-and-half
  • 2 leek stalks, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 3 small potatoes (red or gold preferable), thinly sliced
  • 2 loosely-packed cups of mixed greens

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Beat the eggs and milk or half-and half, salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.  Set the mixed greens in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Coat a large (oven-proof) sauté pan with olive oil and heat to medium-low.  Add the leeks and salt and pepper to taste, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are golden and melty looking.  Add the red pepper and sauté for a few minutes more until the pepper is crisp tender.  Remove from the heat and add to the bowl with the mixed greens.
  4. Put the sauté pan back on the heat and coat with olive oil.  Raise heat to medium-high and add the sliced potatoes in one single layer.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown.  Flip and cook again until golden brown on the other side.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the mixed green mixture on top of the potatoes.  Pour the egg mixture evenly over top of all the veggies.  Cook until the egg is just set on the bottom, about 7-10 minutes.  Place the pan in the oven and cook for about 15-20 more minutes, until the eggs are slightly jiggly in the center but not wet.

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Farm Stand Harvest

My oldest started kindergarten a couple weeks ago.  He’s done fantastically well, no tears at all, and comes home every day with a grin on his face.  After his first week, though, he did ask if he was done.  So we had the conversation about what the school year means vs. summer break, and “first kid school” {elementary school}, “second kid school” {middle school}, and third kid school {high school}, and then there’s even more school–“adult school” {college}, and then more adult school, for more specialty {graduate school}!  Yesterday my son said to me, “Mommy, when you grow up you’re going to be a cooker, right?  You love to cook.  Are you going to cooker school when you grow up?”

I just smiled and said, “Yup.”

You don’t need cooker school for this recipe–just a Farmer’s Stand–Run and get some corn, zucchini, and tomatoes, and you’re halfway there to making a fresh summer succotash!  The rest:  leftover rice, a can of cannellini beans, breadcrumbs…and you have a crispy rice cake to have with the succotash.

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Chop up all your succotash ingredients about the same size and start sautéing,

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RICE CAKES WITH SUMMER SUCCOTASH

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy, but there are two different components you have to keep and eye on
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INGREDIENTS FOR THE SUCCOTASH

  • 4 ears fresh corn, shucked and kernels cut off into a bowl
  • 2 small to medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons butter

INGREDIENTS FOR THE RICE CAKES

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups bread crumbs

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start with forming the rice cakes.  Prepare two shallow bowls, one with  2 eggs, beaten, and the other bowl with the breadcrumbs.  Place a sheet of parchment paper on your work counter to place the rice cakes on to rest.
  2. Mix the rice, 1 cup of corn, the other beaten egg, and salt and pepper to taste in a mixing bowl.  Divide the rice mixture into 4 or 6 equal balls, and press each ball firmly together.  Gently flatten to form a patty.  First cover the rice cake with egg, and then pass to the breadcrumb bowl and cover both sides.  Lay on the parchment paper to rest.
  3. Prepare the succotash:  Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and heat to medium high heat.  Add the remaining corn, zucchini, onion, and beans, and salt and pepper to taste.  Sauce until the onion is translucent, and the other vegetables are crisp tender, about 7-10 minutes.
  4. Add the water, tomatoes, and parsley and let simmer until the broth has reduced by half.  Reduce heat to low, add butter and stir until a thin sauce develops.  Let the succotash stay warm on low heat while pan frying the rice cakes.
  5. To pan-fry the rice cakes, coat another sauté pan with olive oil and heat to medium.  Add the rice cakes, 2-3 at a time, and fry on each side until golden brown.  To serve, place a rice cake on the plate and top with a few spoonfuls of the succotash.

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