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Jessica Karley: Topping steak with bacon

Warm Bacon, Corn and Tomato Salad give grilled flank steak a seasonal flare. (Photo by Jessica Karley)1 / 2
Smoked Paprika adds warmth and subtle smokiness to oven roasted red potataoes. (Photo by Jessica Karley)2 / 2

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- September is here, and that means backyard grilling will soon come to an end. But it also means some of my favorite foods are in season and at the peak of deliciousness.

After a few trips to the farmers' market and leaving with my bags and arms full, I am back on my annual sweet corn kick.

Homegrown corn is so sweet and almost candy-like, I can't resist. We always had a very large patch of sweet corn on our farm when I was younger and I still remember the enthusiasm at the first sweet corn meal of the season. It was greatly anticipated, and we tried our best to not let any go to waste. We ate it, we froze it, and as young entrepreneurs, we sold it.

My younger brother, sister and I would load up our Radio Flyer wagon and sell it for $1 per dozen to our neighbors in Gilby. As a good business practice, we always put in a 13th ear just in case there was an undesirable one. Once my older sister could drive us into Grand Forks, we expanded our business selling it out of a pickup and finally to a few grocery stores. But my favorite was and still is eating it. I will tell you that I do hold the record in my family for the most ears eaten at one sitting, but because I am a lady, I won't discuss how many!

Consequently, it's not surprising that sweet corn is one of my son's favorite vegetables, too. We eat it a few times a week. The other night, my son was in luck because I served sweet corn with his other favorite food, steak, or "STEAK!" as he likes to yell when we go through the meat section.

I decided to put both of these foods together into one dish that he couldn't resist. I am sure you will love this Grilled Flank Steak with Warm Bacon, Corn, Tomato Salad. The salad couldn't be simpler and is a perfect accompaniment to the grilled flank steak. This recipe creation combines crispy bacon, bi-color sweet corn, garden tomatoes, fresh bell and jalapeno peppers, chopped red onion and cilantro. Start by sautéing bacon pieces and use the leftover bacon grease to sauté the onions, peppers and corn. At the last minute, toss in tomatoes and seasonings, cooking just long enough to awaken the flavors. A quick squeeze of lime juice and I dare you to not eat this by the cup full!

As a side dish to this meal, I am sharing my recipe for Smoked Paprika Parmesan Potatoes. The grated parmesan cheese and the high temperature help form a wonderfully crispy crust on the potato wedges. The smoked paprika adds a distinctive, slightly spicy, very crave-able flavor. It's one of my favorite spices because of the warm, subtle smokiness it adds to dishes. I add smoked paprika to my taco meat, chili, grilled meats, hummus and other dips. The possibilities are really endless. I think you'll find many great uses for it, so give it a try and enjoy!

Grilled Flank Steak with Warm Bacon, Corn, Tomato Salad

1 12-ounce flank steak

2 teaspoons kosher salt (for steak seasoning)

1 tablespoon cracked black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 ounces bacon, thick cut, diced

1/4 cup red onion

1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups bi-color sweet corn kernels

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (for tomatoes mixture)

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Preheat grill to medium high heat. Season flank steak on both sides with first amount of kosher salt, pepper and garlic powder. Grill steak until desired level of doneness. (I prefer a medium rare on a flank steak, so it doesn't get too tough or dry.) Remove steak from grill and cover in foil until ready to serve. (About 5 minutes) Meanwhile, in a medium sauté pan, cook bacon over high heat until crispy. Remove bacon bits from the pan and add onions, peppers, garlic and corn. Sauté until corn is cooked, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, red pepper and vinegar. Gently stir until heated through. Remove from heat and add chopped cilantro. Slice flank steak across the grain about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Spoon bacon, corn, tomato salad over the top.

Serves 4.

Smoked Paprika Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

8 new potatoes, cut into 8 pieces each

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a resealable plastic bag, seal and shake until all the potatoes are evenly coated. Spread into single layer onto a baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes or until crispy and cooked through