Lately, my Instagram feed is populated with photos that I refer to as #quarantinegoals. Instant ramen doctored with about 20 different ingredients, none of which I have in my pantry. Perfectly shaped loaves of sourdough bread. Elaborate brunch spreads for two. Fancy cocktails for Zoom happy hours.
For a variety of reasons, my life is not very #quarantinegoals right now. And I know that lots of you are struggling, too. Unemployment, underemployment, and other income loss. The losing battle to balance work demands with homeschooling and increased parenting responsibilities. Trying to cope with mental illnesses aggravated by stress and uncertainty. The loneliness and grief and anxiety and hopelessness.
If baking layer cakes is how you cope, that is a truly beautiful thing. But if you're just trying to put one foot in front of the other, that's okay too. Survival is just as magnificent, even if it doesn't rack up likes and comments.
In that spirit, here's a #pandemicsurvival recipe for you: elote-inspired microwaved corn that I made with leftover cotija cheese from my Homi Restaurant takeout meal (more about pandemic takeout here). Elote is a Mexican snack made by spreading grilled corn with a mixture of mayonnaise, crema, and chili powder and then coating it with cheese. This dish incorporates some of those flavors and is a tasty way to dress up frozen corn.
I've included substitutions if you can't get to the grocery store, although the frozen corn is kind of essential. Grated Parmesan is a good stand in for cotija. If you don't like much heat, I'd substitute ancho chili powder or chili powder for the chipotle powder. If you do like heat but don't have chipotle powder, I'd add more ancho chili powder or chili powder to taste. I think this will taste best with fresh lime juice, but any touch of acid will work—bottled lime juice, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar.
Yield: 2 small side dish portions
- 1 1/3 cup frozen corn
- 2 tablespoons grated cotija cheese (substitute: grated Parmesan)
- 1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder (substitutes: ancho chili powder or chili powder)
- lime wedge (substitutes: bottled lime juice, lemon juice, lemon wedge, apple cider vinegar)
Place corn in a microwave-safe container, cover, and microwave at full power until warmed, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the cheese and chipotle powder in a small bowl.
Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the cooked corn and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
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